Charles Mathes' Top NYC Lobster

And the winner is...

FRANCISCO'S CENTRO VASCO
159 West 23rd Street
 (between 6th and 7th Avenues)
(212) 645-6224

The first time I walked into this place I couldn't figure out what was with the boxing gloves.  There were these enormous pairs of boxing gloves hanging from the ceiling, some of them so huge that I was certain that whoever wore them couldn't have been human.  

Surprise.  Whoever wore them wasn't human.  These aren't boxing gloves, my friends, they are lobster claws.  And up close the strange inscriptions they bear aren't so strange, either.  26 lbs.  32 lbs.  36 lbs. Well, maybe that is pretty strange.  Eaten any 36 pound lobsters lately?

If all this sounds intriguing, if you're in the Big Apple and are hankering for a BIG lobster, then this is the place to you.  Oh, sure, you can go to one of the top steakhouses in Midtown -- Sparks, The Palm, Smith and Wollensky -- and get yourself a giant lobster, but their "market prices" are going to run maybe $35 per pound.  At Francisco's Centro Vasco, depending on the time of the year and the lobster business, you have a very good chance of getting a two pound lobster for under $30, and sometimes for under $27.  And if you want bigger, the sky (or rather, the bottom of the sea) is the limit.

This is a no-frills, down home, kinda funky Spanish place that doesn't feel at all like New York City.  But then you're not here for sophistication, are you?  And don't worry about the neighborhood.  Centro Vasco is definitely off the usual tourist route, but you are in a perfectly nice part of the city -- Chelsea (the famous Chelsea Hotel is right down the block) -- so relax and enjoy.  


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