Shopsin’s is technically a restaurant in New York City, but it’s also a state of mind, a lifestyle, and a philosophy for existence.
The restaurant started as a Greenwich Village greasy spoon run by proprietor Kenny Shopsin, his wife, and their children. The menu featured items that only a very hungry maniac could dream up, like Cheeseburger Soup and Mac ‘n Cheese French Toast Sandwich and “Aztec” pancakes (served with avocado, cilantro, jalapeño, key lime, and ricotta cheese). The restaurant was (and is!) famous for its strict rules: no copying the order next to you, no asking for “the best thing on the menu,” no allergies, no parties larger than four, and no jerks. If you violated one of these rules, you were kicked out.
One of Kenny Shopsin’s children is Tamara Shopsin, who has written a memoir of her youth in the restaurant called Arbitrary Stupid Goal. It’s a record of lost New York, mingling history with geography with recollection with dirty anecdotes. It’s delicious and mystically sui-generis, like the restaurant at the heart of it. Read it and plan a pilgrimage.