Please pass the worms isn’t something I thought I’d say, but in lieu of Halloween why not add a few creepy crawlies to the diet? Insects are a vital source of food and nutrition for many parts of the world, and Manhattan is serving them up in style.
Mexican cuisine gets innovative and modern at East Village’s Black Ant. The Tlayuda con Chapulines is a crunchy tortilla filled with giñadu, queso de rancho, chile de agua salsa and piled with sautéed grasshoppers. If you want bugs in their most fashionable form, this is your spot. The Climbing Ant cocktail uses crushed ants in the salt lining the glass, and dessert is no exception, either. From mid-October to December, pastry chef Cesar Moreno is offering the Graveyard- a roasted pumpkin, chongos ice cream and merengue infusion dappled with a blood-red mezcal gel and sprinkled with hibiscus marinated worms, and I’m not talking about Trolli Brite Crawlers. The Black Ant also serves brunch without a lame egg dish or weak Bloody Mary in sight.
Hidden on the second floor of a discrete building in Korea-town, prepare your gag reflexes for Kirakuya’s sautéed silkworms. There isn’t a sexy way to serve sautéed worms, but this luxury Korean joint claims they are good for your skin and thankfully offers over 150 types of sake to wash the little guys down.
With a range of interesting items on the menu, the most popular bug dish is the Chapulines tacos served with Oaxacan-style dried grasshoppers, onions, cilantro, jalapeños, and salsa verde. Although they never crawled, I should also mention the avocado fries.
It’s no mistake there’s a worm in your soup at this K-town dive. With tough skin and an interesting rubbery texture that could be mistaken for a mushroom, Pocha 32 offers Bundaegi, pupa in Korean, as a soup or a sauté. The hot chile-soy and salty anchovy broth make the Bundaegi silkworm dishes surprisingly easy to swallow.
Like seamless for bug-eaters, hotlix.com will deliver a lollipop with a real scorpion inside right to your door, if that’s what you prefer. They also prepare ‘larvets’ and ‘crickettes’, which are fried and salted like potato chips and great for snacking. This is one of the only sites raising insects specifically for human consumption.
Based on availability, this food truck offers a cheesy grasshopper quesadilla. For novice bug eaters, this is a great place to start. Smothered in guac, pico de gallo, and spicy chipotle mayo, the insect taste is nothing shy of a little salty crunch.
Bugs in a restaurant don’t have to mean a call to the health department. Sure eating cricket-stuffed tacos may feel like a game of Fear Factor, but if you can get past the ickiness, insects can be a valuable source of protein and a fun way to celebrate the spooky time of year.
Check out our Did You Know section for more fun round ups!
Know of any other bug places? Have you tried any of these spots and braved the creepy crawlers? Let us know in the comments below!
Lauren is a New York-based writer from Nashville. She’s lived in Paris and Italy, loves eating her way around new destinations, and considers herself a French fry connoisseur. She can often be found in Central Park training for her next marathon, hunting for the best homemade pasta in Manhattan, or petting dogs on the sidewalk. She loves dancing, camping, snowboarding and photography and considers coffee a major food group. Lauren resides in the East Village of Manhattan where she is working on a book about her big dog, Gizelle.