Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
Wafels & Dinges owner Thomas DeGeest started his business almost six years ago, serving fluffy Belgian waffles with a barrage of sweet toppings out of a 1968 Chevy box truck that he parked in front of Fairway on the Upper West Side. Today, he's running a small fleet: two trucks, five carts, and now, a new, sleek storefront in the East Village. So why, finally, a store?
"The laws of New York City street vending are extremely ambiguous," DeGeest told me recently. "You need to have microscopic knowledge of every corner of the city."
He said that the daily complications of operating his kiosks and trucks made him start to think seriously about finding a brick-and-mortar. Plus, he said, his customers had been asking for a place to sit and eat.
They have plenty of space to do just that at the new café, an open, airy space on the corner of Avenue B and East 2nd Street. And they have a much wider range of options to choose from: in addition to their two signature types of waffles—the lighter, airier Brussels waffle and the denser, chewier Liège waffle—Wafels & Dinges has added a full espresso line as well as all-new ice cream shakes and sundaes to its menu. Plus, it's expanded its line of savory waffles, topped with luxurious ingredients like smoked salmon, fried eggs, and serrano ham.
"In Belgium, savory waffles don't exist," DeGeest said with a laugh. "But it's a free country, right?"
DeGeest said he was thrilled to find a storefront in the East Village—the café is just down the street from his apartment—and said he has taken the neighborhood's habits into account. On weekends, Wafels & Dinges stays open until one a.m. in order to serve the night owls, and because the area is underserved on coffee options, DeGeest said, he's opening Wafels & Dinges opens at 7 am every day. Not that they see too many customers at that hour.
"The East Village wakes up a little later," DeGeest said.
Click through the slideshow above to see Wafels & Dinges' new savory waffles, ice cream shakes, sundaes and more.
About the author: Lauren Rothman is a former Serious Eats intern, a journalism student, and an obsessive chronicler of all things culinary. Try the original recipes on her blog, For the Love of Food, and follow her on Twitter @Lochina186.