We're a few years into Grand Central Market's renaissance, but it's not yet old news. Somehow, with the exception of a very few missteps (Anheuser-Busch? Seriously, guys?), GCM only becomes more of a culinary wonderland every day. The most glorious addition of the year is Sari Sari Store, a stall in the seating area that's been designed to look like — and is named after — convenience stores in the Philippines. But there's an excellent chance the food served at this uppercase Sari Sari Store is better than the rest. That's due to its owners, Margarita and Walter Manzke, a restaurateur dream team. The rice bowls and other savory items are excellent, but it's the buko pie, the star of the dessert menu, that will imprint itself on you after just one bite. “Buko” means “young coconut” in Tagalog — in other words, a coconut that still has a green and smooth exterior. This is a custard pie made with the liquid from the fruit, but mixed into that custard are big slices of coconut meat, just firm to the bite and perfectly (with apologies for using a foodie word) succulent. Topped with shredded coconut, served in Margarita's famous pie crust (usually only available at République), a slice of buko pie is rich enough to fulfill the day's caloric needs, and ethereal enough to make you rethink everything you knew about pie.
This is the porridge, not the buko.; Credit: Courtesy Sari Sari Store