Szechuan Garden, 239 West 105th Street, off Broadway, reopened last Sunday for pickup, delivery, and indoor dining (50%), after being shuttered for more than a year — not just because of COVID. “The whole building was without gas for the entire time,” Ellen, a cashier, told us. “We closed before the lockdown.” Lilian, a loyal local, alerted us to the reopening with a rousing endorsement: “The food is fresh — authentic — on par with a very good Chinatown meal without the trek. Pre-pandemic the place was packed with crowds that knew what the real thing tastes like and were happy to get their fix at Szechuan Garden. My family’s been eating there for years. Three generations would go for a nice family meal. When Columbia was in session, it would be full of Asian students looking for home cooking. It’s very popular even among non Asians and ironically I was turned on to the place by a Caucasian tennis partner who used to live in China.”
Szechuan Garden is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (212) 865-8808. Thanks to Lilian and Beth for the tips.
Covacha, 368 Columbus Avenue between 77th and 78th Streets, is opening “softly” this week, replacing the popular, 25-year-old Mexican favorite Cafe Frida with “a re-awakened vision and a more profound concept,” says restaurateur Cristina Castañeda, owner of both spots, as well as el Mitote and Ella Social, also in the neighborhood. “A ‘covacha’ translates simply as a hole in the wall, unassuming, discreet, humble,” Castaneda explained. “Yet, this Covacha’s approach to food, ingredients and preparations holds a deeper meaning…the food is a tribute to the food of the western Mexican “Ranchos”; the executive chef is “one of Mexico’s finest” from the region. Signature dishes include guacamole, ceviches, aguachiles, “covachas” (regional small dishes), and rancho-style desserts. ‘I really hope that the UWS gives us the chance to show the new approach,” Castaneda said, “and we can always bring back some of Café Frida’s favorites down the road.”
Covacha is now open Tuesday-Friday 4 to 10 PM, Saturday-Sunday 12 to 10 PM. “We will extend to normal hours soon,” Castenada promised, and serve Brunch all week.” (212) 712-2929.
A new “supposedly 24/7 super bodega” called Simply Gourmet Market Place just opened on West 84th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. In fact, it’s so new there’s no sign of it yet on Google, but our stalwart tipster Amanda got a look inside on opening day. “I was able to stop by- they’re great! Here are a few photos from inside, and a receipt with the contact info.”