As the resident food and wine expert on Netflix’s Queer Eye, Antoni Porowski knows his way around a kitchen — even if the Twitter trolls find his guacamole to be overly simplistic. (Since when was simple a bad thing?)
Next month, Porowski will prove that he belongs in New York’s food scene when he reopens the Village Den in New York City’s West Village, this time as a market-driven all-day restaurant. His main role is developing the menu. “New Yorkers today are savvy about food and want to lead a healthy lifestyle,” he said over email. “Although we’ll be market and seasonal-driven, we’ll also offer an homage to old-school TV dinners, adapted in a healthy but tasty way.”
And in addition to serving up good eats, Porowski sees the new space fitting right in with the Village’s unstuffy, communal vibe. “It was so important for us to create a space locals could feel a sense of coming together and community as much as tourists would feel like they were experiencing the New York way of life,” he said.
When you’re opening a restaurant while also filming a season of Queen Eye, it means you don’t get much time to sit back and enjoy your own city. (Porowski lives in Brooklyn.) “While New York is technically home, I’ve been traveling so much for press and filming this past year that I kind of feel like a visitor sometimes, so I’m re-discovering it in a very new way,” he said. Here’s where you’ll find him in downtown Manhattan (and a little beyond) when he has time to wander.
Where to stay
Porowski’s favorite place to hide out is the NoMad Hotel. “It has old-world charm, an inviting darkness and a wonderful sense of drama,” he said of the Paris-inspired hotel. “It’s not too big or small and perfect for a good night’s sleep after a day out on the town.” It’s also home to the NoMad Restaurant, where chef Daniel Humm serves up a legendary whole roast chicken stuffed with foie gras.
Where to find the city’s best breakfast
In the mornings, Porowski heads to Moroccan-inspired staple Cafe Mogador, where he orders the shakshuka, a Moroccan tomato-based stew with eggs, with a side of halloumi.
The best touristy hangouts that are worth it
On a day off, you’ll probably find Porowski uptown at one of the city’s many museums. “MoMA never ceases to amaze me. The Met is virtually endless, and its Egyptian wing is a humbling experience,” he said. “When I’m feeling like a kid, I opt for the natural history museum to see the dinosaur bones and impressive taxidermy collection.”
Where to stop for coffee
When he needs a caffeine fix, Porowski gets a black cold brew at La Colombe in NoHo. “It’s great for people watching and the location is spacious and close to pretty much everything,” he said.
Where to get a late-night snack
Though he’s generally pretty healthy, when it’s been a long night, Porowski goes for a New York classic: “A pizza slice (read: two) just about anywhere,” he said. His toppings? “Cheese, with powdered parm and chili flakes.”
How he gives back
Porowski gets involved with City Harvest, an organization that repurposes food from restaurants and grocery stores to those in need. He also makes visits to the Center, a group offering help and guidance to the city’s LGBTQ communities. “It also has a very special gem,” he said. “One of its gender neutral bathrooms is covered in original Keith Haring artwork, which reminds us of the continued fight for HIV/AIDS awareness.”