Xi’an Famous Foods is beneath the Manhattan Bridge near the corner of East Broadway and Forsyth, next to where the original Saigon Bakery used to be (for banh mi trivia experts). There’s as much room for customers as there is for one more person to squeeze into the last car of a Brooklyn-bound L at 1st Ave during rush hour. Stake out the tiny metal counter in the corner, or have a spot to eat nearby in mind. Hint: there are two Starbucks within about eight blocks.
Of course, the dish that put the “Famous” in Xi’an Famous Foods is the incredible Asian cumin spiced lamb “burger” on flat bread. The muttony, powerful, cumin-flavored meat totally delivers on its reputation. The pork “burger” will make you forget about David Chang’s Momofuku buns (for a moment). They’re spectacular and are 50 cents less then the lamb at $2.00 and $2.50, respectively.
For the thrill seeker, there’s the Spicy and Tingly Lamb Face Salad. The cold, fatty, spicy meat has just enough greens mixed in to be put in that category. The Lamb Treasure’s Soup (exactly what you think), and the Stewed Lamb Spine and Rib are also not for the faint of heart. The noodles in the Stewed Lamb Spine Hand-Pulled Noodles in Soup are amazing, and the soup gets better and better as you reach the bottom. If they run out of the lamb spine, try the pig spine— it’s delicious too. Wash it all down with sour Hawberry tea made from the fruit of the Chinese Hawthorne tree and you’ll think you’re in Xi’an City instead of New York City.