Where would we be without trans fats? The joys of margarine and shortening know no end in New York. Few restaurants care to admit to using it. But going by our taste buds and instinct for human nature, we’ve got ten educated guesses at great local restaurants with foods containing the magical substance. None of these dishes would be the same with replacement fat: It would be better to stop serving them entirely. But a ban poses more risk to the business of some restaurants than others, of course. A RUB without the deep-fried Oreos would still be the city’s best barbecue, but if the Arepa Lady had to spray Pam on her griddle, even her cult might disband.
Nutella panini, ’inoteca
Given the slow-food aesthetic and the high-class crowd, you wouldn’t expect to run into trans fats here — but you didn’t reckon on the Nutella, which is crammed with the stuff.
Cuban sandwich, La Flor de Broadway
One of Rob and Robin’s top five Cuban sandwiches in the city, and we heartily agree. And the greatness, as they point out, lies entirely in the endless bastings of margarine as it rests sizzling in the sandwich press.
Fried chicken, The Pink Tea Cup
Chicken this good — shimmering prismatically with schmaltz and salty savory fat — simply cannot be made with pure vegetable oil.
Beef patties on coco bread, Christie’s
The patties themselves are undoubtedly made with flaky, delicious hydrogenated lard or vegetable shortening, but they’re as harmless as Brussels sprouts when compared to the coco bread, which is basically shortening in the shape of a loaf. And yet, it’s so puffy and sweet!
Cupcakes, Sugar Sweet Sunshine
These are some of our very favorite cupcakes in a hotly contested field. Many competitors use butter, but if Sugar’s frosting isn’t built on shortening, we’ll only eat (trans-less) Entenmann’s all winter.
Chocolate tart, The City Bakery
Again, too good — too rich, too luscious and crumbly — to be made with butter alone. This is shortbread worth fighting for.
Arepas, the Arepa Lady
A cult figure even outside of Queens, Jackson Heights’ queen of corn cakes keeps a squirt bottle of margarine at her right hand at all times.
Pot pie, Porter House New York
Michael Lomonaco is far too traditional a chef to ever make a pot pie with anything but the orthodox ingredients, including our favorite fat. (Even if it is only served on Sundays, and only a nut orders pot pie at a steakhouse.)
Deep-fried oreos, RUB
Talk about a double whammy: Oreos, filled with yummy trans-fatty filling, are breaded and deep-fried in hydrogenated lard. Genius.
Kentucky Fried Chicken
Their specialty is so rich in the good stuff that KFC was once actually sued by a group of doctors.