Food & Drink

  • Best Yuppie Burger

    Bar Six

    If you ever wanted to prove what a bunch of weenies the people who fill out the Zagat forms are, turn to the section of the index called "Hamburgers," and find a collection of the dullest, driest burgers in town. Instead check out Bar Six, where burgers are consistently big, moist, pink in the middle, and fairly priced. The generous… More >>
  • Best Working-Class Burger

    Eureka Luncheonette

    It's a miracle that Eureka Luncheonette is still standing, but count on them to do a nearly perfect, under-$5 hamburger. The trick is that they cook it first on the griddle, then finish it on a flame grill, done to order every time. I dream about these babies.… More >>
  • Tastiest Hot Dog

    San Antonio Bakery #2

    Contrary to expectations, turn not to Nathan's but to the Chileans for the best hot dog in town. San Antonio Bakery #2 tenders them on homemade buns, slathered with guacamole, heaped with diced tomatoes, then decorated with mayo squirted from a pastry bag. There are plenty of comfortable tables where you can contemplate your weenie while enjoying the roar of… More >>
  • Best Kebabs

    Eastern Feast - CLOSED

    In most parts of the city you'll find kebabs on every block, since this delicacy—probably invented by the Persians—is now pressed to the bosom of every country from Egypt to Indonesia. Hey, it's humankind's favorite dish. Accordingly, we can afford to be very picky in our choice of kebab joints. I look for fresh and tender meat in small pieces,… More >>
  • Best Fries

    Baku

    Screw the Belgian fry places in town, which have gradually diverged from the real product to offer french fries habitually too brown and too dry in the middle. Instead, seek out places that sling the fare of the former Soviet Central Asian republics, where fries arrive hot and glistening with oil and heaped with dill and crushed garlic for an… More >>
  • World's Best Pizza

    Patsy's/Lombardi's

    I'll cop out by picking two places: the original Patsy's (2291 First Avenue, 534-9783) in East Harlem serves a primordial slice, the thin crust nicely charred around the edges and the slice topped with modest amounts of fresh mozzarella and unspiced tomato sauce. Lombardi's (32 Spring Street, 941-7994), where American pizza was invented on the Neapolitan model a century ago,… More >>
  • Best Italian Hero

    West Brighton Italian Grocery

    Where better to go for an overloaded Italian hero than an old-fashioned salumneria? West Brighton Italian Grocery specializes in all sorts of cured meats, and turns out impressive heroes as well. Check out the specimen heaped with mortadella, capicola, provolone, lettuce, and tomato, then inundated with wine vinegar and tasty olive oil.… More >>
  • Best Corned Beef Sandwich

    Katz's/Second Avenue Deli

    There's nothing like the sight of the deli man with his long fork poised like a harpoon as he prepares to stab a fresh corned beef out of the steaming brine at Katz's (205 East Houston Street, 212-254-2246). Ask for a club roll if you want an even bigger sandwich, and skip the salami, even if you have a boy… More >>
  • Best Barbecue

    Pearson's Texas Barbecue

    After a hiatus of well over a year, Pearson's Texas Barbecue has returned to Queens, sandwiched into a sports bar in Jackson Heights. The Texas-style barbecue is still the best, especially the brisket, pork ribs, and hot links. The brisket is a little drier than before, but the ribs are moister, and every bit as good as those served at… More >>
  • Cheesiest Mac and Cheese

    Mama's

    For nearly five years Mama's has been one of the East Village's best bets for a cheap feed. Popular main dishes include fried chicken, meat loaf, and salmon, but I usually go for the intensely rich mac and cheese, whose wonderful flavor becomes more concentrated the longer it languishes on the steam table.… More >>
  • Best Fried Chicken

    All State Cafe

    At All State Cafe—no relation to the insurance company—they use the old Dominican trick for making fried chicken wonderful: soaking the bird in vinegar before breading and frying it, resulting in a slightly tart undertaste that cuts the grease before it hits your stomach.… More >>
  • Best Chicken and Waffles in the Wee Hours

    Well's

    It's been around since God was a child, and your grandmama probably headed uptown to indulge in late-night fried chicken and waffles when Harlem was chic the last time around. After 60 years, Well's is quite simply a fixture, serving up Southern black food classics complete with a live swing band on Mondays and jazz on weekends. Note: currently closed… More >>
  • Best Rotisserie Chicken

    Gabriela's

    The Peruvians have made a mighty effort to corner the market, and their version is very engaging, but the award (drumroll) goes to—Gabriela's, a not-bad regional Mexican restaurant with excellent rotisserie chicken. Pick from three sauces, of which the most unusual is mancha manteles, an orange puree of bananas and chiles from Sinaloa.… More >>
  • Best Molasses Chicken in Brooklyn

    New City Bar & Grill

    No one who has eaten in the New City Bar & Grill (formerly known as the New City Café) before its move will recognize it now. It has been transformed into a slick, sophisticated boîte that is practically in BAM's lobby. One thing, though, hasn't changed: the wonderfully Southern taste of the molasses-glazed chicken, its still-crispy bits topped with a… More >>
  • Best Roast Chicken in Midtown

    Chez Louis

    Chez Louis is a prime lunch spot where mega-deals percolate and tourists in half-Clevelands have their first taste of foie gras. The lure for me, though, is the perfect-every-time roast chicken. Crisp-skinned, succulent, and dense with flavor, it offers a glorified taste of home.… More >>
  • Most Tonic Chicken Soup

    Casa Adela

    If you want a great dose of chicken soup that's also a complete meal, Casa Adela is your place. In the bowl find a big hunk of bone-in chicken, carrots, potatoes, and orange squash, seasoned with oregano and plenty of garlic. In the Caribbean style, tendrils of spaghetti also stream in the broth at this excellent Puerto Rican lunch counter.… More >>
  • Best Nostalgic Brooklyn Bowl of New York Red

    Lundy Bros. Restaurant

    Gotham's entrant in the chowder sweepstakes is one of the standbys at Lundy Bros. Restaurant, where you're treated to a hot, soothing, and tasty combination of chewy clams and chunks of carrot, potato, celery, and onion in a minestrone-like broth that is zesty and piquant, unlike New England's butter-and-cream-rich finest, which is also available. Don't miss the egg creams with… More >>
  • Charmingest Chowder

    Pearl Oyster Bar

    Even devotees of the inexpensive bowl of clam chowder slurped at the bar of the Grand Central Oyster Bar probably know that Pearl Oyster Bar's, be it fish or clam, is superior. It's that little touch of smoky bacon.… More >>
  • Best Turtle Soup

    Bayou

    Turtle soup was 19th-century New York's favorite dish, and no meal at 19th-century fave Delmonico's would be complete without a bowl of it chased with a dozen oysters. Today, it's hopelessly out of fashion everywhere except New Orleans. To find a great bowl here, go to Bayou, where the Louisiana-trained chef knows to make it dark, dense, and slightly oily.… More >>
  • Best Down-Home Diner in Queens

    Carmichael's

    On weekdays, it's filled with local businessmen and retirees, but on Sundays it's church ladies with their husbands in tow sitting at the booths in Carmichael's, where the welcome is Southern to the bone. Crisply fried porgies are a must—complete with sides of vinegar-drenched, onion-topped collards or a slab of mac and cheese—as is the lightly sauced North Carolina­style chopped… More >>
  • Best East Side '50s Food

    Billy's

    Tucked away amid the dolled-up delis, new wave eateries, and sushi bars, this venerable East Sider hosted the likes of Walter Winchell and had a liquor license in the 1880s. Today, Billy's offers blasts from the past like a meat-filled shepherd's pie topped with real mash, a creamy chicken à la king complete with the too green peas I remember… More >>
  • Best Home Away from Home

    Home

    Whether or not your mother could cook, you'll enjoy this wistful evocation of things past—from the owners' cookbook collection cluttering the shop windows to the ready-for-the-Sunday-table roast chicken. Home celebrates the joys of well-prepared American comfort food and places the accent on homemade, like the ginger-and-black-pepper salami and the tangy ketchup. You don't have to click your ruby slippers to… More >>
  • Best Down-Home Breakfast

    Pink Tea Cup

    Some mornings, the cholesterol-reducing oatmeal just doesn't do it and you really don't care about being a Wheaties champion. Some mornings, you need bacon fat, a puck or two of sausage meat, biscuits, and a few eggs, with some grits on the side for good measure. When the urge to dine like a field hand occurs, do what the Village… More >>
  • Weirdest Breakfast

    Norma's

    If brioche French toast with foie gras or duck confit hash is your idea of breakfast, hie thyself down to Norma's, just off the lobby of the architecturally distinguished Parker Meridien Hotel. Come to think of it, the breakfasts there are not half as weird as an Egg McMuffin.… More >>
  • Crispest Fried Fish

    Servants of God/A Taste of Seafood

    Deep-frying whiting is an evolved art form at Servants of God/A Taste of Seafood, where the chef gyrates between a bank of bubbling Fry-O-Lators and keeps an eye on each one, whether it holds whiting fillets, french fries, shrimp, or the wonderful chicken wings that take an extra 15 minutes to cook. The line out the door means there often… More >>
  • Best Bronx Version of a Cape Cod Shore Dinner

    Lobster Box

    If Nantucket is too far and Fire Island doesn't fire you up, you can enjoy Gotham's own weather-beaten shingles and lobster pots on City Island. There, the Lobster Box offers summer specials like a creamy lobster bisque filled with chunks of crustacean and your choice of chowders—creamy New England or tomato-flavored Manhattan. The eponymous crustacean is available in all sizes… More >>
  • Loveliest Langoustines

    Meigas

    Lovers of outsize shrimplike creatures should check out the grilled prawns at Meigas, an ambitious, expensive, and obscurely located restaurant that's rewritten the book on how Spanish food is prepared. The shells still clinging, these gigantic prawns arrive split, grilled, and strewn with garlic, and are so good you might become obsessed with them—in which case you can zip in… More >>
  • Best Piscatory Palace

    Fish

    There are other seafood spots in the city, but few combine raw bar, restaurant, and fishmonger to better effect than Fish. Try the simple grilled sardines, if they're available, or the poisson du jour in a spicy tandoori marinade. Late hours allow noctambulists to enjoy their mussels in the midnight hour.… More >>
  • Best Fish Palace in the Theater District

    Esca

    The Bastianich boys have done it again, this time with Esca, an elegant piscatory pleasure palace on the edge of the theater district. Those who must rush off to their front-row seats arrive early and sample from the extensive raw bar. Those with time for leisurely dining savor the service and sup on finely wrought dishes like diver scallops in… More >>
  • Best Place for a Carmen Miranda Bash

    Churrascaria Plantation

    Deco decor and enough mirrors to keep the banana-hat-wearing lady happy are hallmarks of Churrascaria Plantation, a rodizio-style churrascaria that keeps Midtown flesh-eaters happy with a never-ending whirl of meat—from pork loin to lamb to the tender hump of beef known in Brazil as cupim. Go easy on the salad bar—which boasts seafood like oysters on the half shell, crayfish,… More >>
  • Best Brazilian Meat on a Stick in Queens

    Greenfield Churrascaria

    The churrascaria rodizio movement has hit the burbs. Greenfield Churrascaria is one of the leaders of the pack, with a gigantic salad bar that offers not only veggies like hearts of palm, beets and artichokes, and greens—including a wonderfully bitey watercress—but an array of seafood and specialty dishes like chicken à la passarinha. Then there's the endless array of meat… More >>
  • Best Micro-Rodizio

    Churrascaria Girassol

    Tired of the giant overpriced meat malls that have cornered the Brazilian barbecue market? Drop by Churrascaria Girassol, where a modest charge of $14 gets you an all-you-can-eat feast served in an intimate atmosphere.… More >>
  • Best DoÑA Flor Dining In The Village

    Casa

    Although it looks for all the world like the dining room of a home in northwestern Brazil—complete with lace curtains, embroidered place mats, dark wood, and folk art—Casa is a restaurant, which serves up the food of that continent-sized country. The menu's regional offerings include a stewed chicken with okra that harkens back to Bahia and the churrascaria-style steak that… More >>
  • Best Lunchtime Feijoada

    Via Brasil

    Brazilians know the only day to have feijoada for lunch is Saturday. They surround their national dish of black beans and pig parts with caipirinhas, icy cold beer, and dips in a nearby beach. Ipanema is 10 hours away, but at Via Brasil there's always a luncheon feijoada rich with sausage, carne de sol, beans, and served with the traditional… More >>
  • Best Peruvian Breakfast

    La Pericholi

    I could work all day on the hefty helping of caramelized fried sweet potato strips and chewy garlic-marinated pork chunks topped with lemon-infused onions that pass for a day-starter at La Pericholi. And that's before I wash it down with a glass or two of chicha morada, the beverage that looks like grape Kool-Aid, but is made from purple corn… More >>
  • Cheapest Abalone

    El Arrayan

    Go to a Hong Kong joint and pay $100 for a modest dose of abalone, the rock-clinging mollusk muscle that requires extensive pounding to be edible and is considered a great delicacy in China and Japan. Well, a similar organism exists on the Chilean coastline, where it grows to gigantic size and is known as locos. Savor it at El… More >>
  • Best Guinea Pig

    Salinas

    It arrives poised on all fours, standing at attention in a patch of boiled potatoes. Not really a guinea pig, but a distant cousin, cuy has a chewy skin and dense, stringy, flavorful meat. These two-pound beauties are farmed in Ecuador and imported by Salinas, and if you can get over your initial squeamishness, cuy is one of the city's… More >>
  • Tastiest Deployment of Tapioca

    Chicama

    Though we didn't like a lot of the food tasted at Chicama, Douglas Rodriguez's newish pan-Latin, we were blown away by the tapioca pudding, made with giant tapioca pearls, further thickened with coconut milk, and spectacularly served in a coconut shell.… More >>
  • Best Upscale Cuban Food Bembe

    Isla

    Like most bembes, this one can be found only by those in the know. Look for the twin palms that mark the spot and listen for the rhumbas and sons that punctuate the air. Elbow your way to the bar at Isla, call for a mojito, and settle in for a feast that begins with a changing array of empanaditas… More >>
  • Most Pungent Pulpo

    Havana Chelsea Luncheonette

    Justly notorious for its black beans and Cuban sandwich, Havana Chelsea Luncheonette turns out the best octopus salad in town—oily, vinegar-tart, olive-dotted, and loaded with chewy pink tentacles. There's also a hammer blow of raw garlic, of course.… More >>
  • Best Pressed Sandwiches

    'ino - CLOSED

    You're expecting the best Cuban sandwich? Well, even cream-of-the-crop Cuban is no match for the pressed sandwiches, called panini, at 'ino, where various combinations of Italian charcuterie and cheeses are heat-pressed into grooviness, figuratively and literally.… More >>
  • Best Upscale China Latina

    Asia de Cuba - CLOSED

    Models and model wannabes mixed with bridge-and-tunnel Latins flock to Asia de Cuba to see and be seen, or to sit at the large communal table in the hopes of rubbing elbows with someone famous. Most important, they come to eat dishes like hacked chicken flavored with chile and lime or duck ropa vieja, all served family style. Old Havana… More >>
  • Best Cheap Trip to the Tropics in Soho

    Ideya - CLOSED

    Let your eyes salute the altars to Yemaya and Ochun at the entrance to Ideya, where bodega and bistro blend. Snag a table and indulge in one of the myriad riffs on a rum theme, or signal for a beer. Then let the light bacalaitos and the cheese-filled arepas take you south of the border. Some of the appetizers, like… More >>
  • Best Upscale Chicharrones De Pollo in Queens

    Cabana

    Entering Cabana is a little bit like falling into a ripe mango. The sunshine yellow walls and artificial palm trees conjure up tropical heat, even on a snowy January day. The food warms as well, with tropical twists on menu standbys, like a tangerine-glazed salmon served with coconut-flavored white rice. There are also Caribbean classics like Dominican chicharrones de pollo—pieces… More >>
  • Best Suckling Pig

    El Rincon Boricua

    Every day a whole baby pig, roasted to perfection, appears in the window of El Rincon Boricua, a Puerto Rican restaurant located in the venerable neighborhood known as El Barrio. The brown skin crackles, while the meat tenderly yields to teeth and tongue—flavorful, but not garlicky like pernil. Soup there is also a thing of beauty.… More >>
  • Best Mofongo

    National Cafe

    Plopped into the wooden mortar, the plantain is vigorously pounded with the pestle to make the world-class mofongo at the National Cafe, the only place, as far as I know, that makes this delicacy to order. The fricassee chicken, black beans, and pernil are also excellent, but plan your entry carefully, since the excellence of the food and the smallness… More >>
  • Greatest Grillades

    Yo Yo Fritaille

    One of the greatest attainments of the multinuanced Haitian cuisine is griot, pork chunks marinated in garlic and bitter orange, boiled in the marinade till it anneals to the surface, then fried till they're crispy on the outside and damp within. Get 'em at Yo Yo Fritaille.… More >>
  • Best Escovitched Fish

    Po'k Knockers

    It took several years of history and numerous culinary conquests for the siquisbe of the Persians to transform into the escabeche of the Spanish and finally end up as the Jamaican escovitched fish that is served at Po'k Knockers, but travel it did. The result was worth the journey—tender fried porgies, plump enough for good bone sucking and smothered in… More >>
  • Best Culinary Meeting of Jamaica, West Indies, and Jamaica, Queens

    Maroons

    Usually when I see fried chicken on the same menu as jerked, I know that one will suffer. Not so at Maroons. There, the Southern yardbird is done to tender juiciness under a crisp coating while the jerk keeps some of its pungent heat. Sides of callaloo or collards play on the same north-versus-south culinary themes and remind all that… More >>
  • Best Jamaican Janga

    Island Cuisine

    The tiny river crustaceans that are offered for sale up and down the Martha Brae in Port Antonio are not usually found on the menus at spots in the city, but Island Cuisine often has its adaptation of them packaged and waiting near the service counter where you place your order. Try to snag one of the few seats, then… More >>
  • Best Red Pea Soup with Spinners

    Jimbojean

    Traditional Jamaican soups are not for the faint of heart or the casual eater. Dense with vegetables and meat, rich in long-cooked flavor, they are hearty fare for hardy folk. Jimbojean serves up a luscious red pea soup that would give many a Jamaican granny a run for her money. Thick with creamy cooked-to-melting peas, scented with fresh thyme and… More >>
  • Best Brooklyn Roast Corn

    Blue Mountain Café

    I'm considered dangerous by Caribbean friends because as we drive the roads of Barbados and Jamaica, I've been known to screech, "STOP!" at the sight of a roast-corn stand. I just love the fire-grilled, slightly charred taste of the corn that the vendors grill over tire-rim braziers. I'm too lazy to fire up the barby here, and it's not readily… More >>
  • Best Upscale Jamaican in Brooklyn

    Brawta - CLOSED

    It's practically spawned its own block-long urban renewal. A decor that blends Africa and the Caribbean and food that's straight out of Jamaica have made this corner spot a standby for years. Fare like jerk chicken and curried goat may not have the authentic bite of the real deal on the other side of town, but the daters and business… More >>
  • Best Ital Victuals

    Original Vegetarian Restaurant

    The rude boys will be talking trash under the photos of Marley and there will be a line at lunchtime, but get on the end and wait your turn at Original Vegetarian Restaurant. The plate food is fantastic and dished up in workingman-sized helpings. The macaroni pie, prepared from soy cheese, is a wonderfully substantial brick of nourishment. Wash it… More >>
  • Most Righteous Roti

    Roti Plus/Ali's Roti

    Turn to the Trinidadians for the best roti, made from a flatbread with crushed yellow peas between its layers wrapped around a filling of potato and chickpeas plus "X" and eaten like a sandwich. "X" can be chicken or beef curry, conch or shrimp, or a selection of vegetables. I enthusiastically recommend the conch roti at Roti Plus (2345 Eighth… More >>
  • Best Crown Heights Roti

    Glenda's

    Before it was a wrap, it was a roti, the Caribbean's twist on Indian flatbread. Glenda's specializes in the Trinidadian treat that fills a crepelike pancake with a rich, savory curry in which the main ingredient may be anything from conch to chickpeas. The simple chicken roti is superb—a mix of curried bone-in fowl and potato scented with cumin and… More >>
  • Best Celebrity Spotting and Flatbread

    Malatesta

    Obscurely located and with a darkened interior, Malatesta is a favorite of slumming celebrities. You won't break the bank with the lusty fare from Emilia-Romagna, including a delicious oven-baked flatbread called piadina, which comes wrapped around a handful of fillings (my favorite: spinach). A certain tow-headed star who distinguished himself as an acting tour de force in the blockbuster The… More >>
  • Best Couscous

    La Kasbah

    Though the place ain't much to look at, La Kasbah cooks up the best couscous—moist without being sloppy, with each grain functioning as a separate entity. There's a choice of three, of which tfaya is most recommended, topping the semolina with a sweet skullcap of onions, raisins, chickpeas, and shredded chicken.… More >>
  • Best Moroccan Fantasy

    Chez Es Saada

    By night, the shadows of 1st Street's tenements turn into the walls of a Marrakesh kasbah, and the light flickering from the darkened entrance of Chez Es Saada seems to beckon from a welcoming caravansary. Then it's through the doorway, past the upstairs Franco-Moroccan café, and down the rose-petal-strewn steps to the dining room, which features dishes that play modern… More >>
  • Best Chicken Yassa

    Keur N'Deye

    This Fulton Street standby was one of the city's first Senegalese eateries. Now they've blossomed in the boroughs like hair-braider shops in Bed-Stuy. Keur N'Deye, though, remains a classic, and still offers a magnificent rendering of the lemon-and-onion-marinated chicken yassa that is traditional to the Casamance region of Southern Senegal. Moist, tender, with the slip of the cooked onions and… More >>
  • Best Ethiopian Vegetarian Plate

    Awash

    You've got to know where you're headed to find Awash. But once inside, you'll find you've just joined the long list of Ethiopian expatriates who turn up nightly to reminisce of home while eating doro wat, the nation's signature stewed chicken, fire-grilled beef strips here called Awash tibs, or the vegetable combo plates. I keep returning for Combo Plate Number… More >>
  • Monster Mash

    In God We Trust

    In God We Trust is a Ghanaian restaurant in the Bronx neighborhood known as the Hub. A disco that cranks up on weekend evenings provides a lure for a few hours a week, but the rest of the time customers come for the excellent West African mashes. Choose from a list that includes yam fufu, omo tuo made from rice,… More >>
  • Best Fufu on Staten Island

    Korto's Place

    Surprisingly, the best fufu on Staten Island is not the only fufu on the island. A small knot of West African eateries plants the continent's culinary banner amid the more frequently purveyed Italian red sauce. Korto's Place offers the best of Liberian fare, including okra sauce with rice and fried fish topped with a mix of bell pepper, onion, and… More >>
  • Best Indian with a Garden

    Surya - CLOSED

    Surya, a sleek and sophisticated West Village eatery, serves the food of Southern India with a few nouvelle twists. Don't miss any of the dishes that pay homage to the spice merchants of the subcontinent's south, and be sure to make a reservation to dine in the garden. There, under the night sky and by twinkling candlelight, the spot is… More >>
  • Best Cheap and Accessible (to Manhattanites) Indian

    Curry in a Hurry

    Hey, I love Curry in a Hurry, and not just for the name. The second-floor dining room is kinda elegant, and boasts the city's first chutney bar, with unlimited soupy rice pudding. And the food downstairs is several notches above OK. Particularly good are the masala dosa, goat curry, chicken tikka, or any of the vegetarian curries.… More >>
  • Best Vegetarian South Indian

    Dosa Hutt

    Hunkered next to Flushing's magnificent Hindu temple, Dosa Hutt is open only sporadically, but the dosa—a savory potato crepe with a wrapper of ground rice and lentils leavened by natural fermentation—is by far the best in town, and it's worth the wait even if you have to camp out overnight. Among a half dozen choices, tops is the "butter masala… More >>
  • Most Attractive Restaurant that Looks Like a Village

    Vatan

    Vatan is a restaurant serving an all-you-can-eat feast from India's easternmost territory of Gujarat (where half the people are named Patel). The food—which includes miniature pooris, vegetable curries like eggplant and peas, and black mustard potatoes—is of the plain and tasty sort, and the decor features tables inside a two-story colonial- style building, and under spreading faux trees. Relax and… More >>
  • Best Blow-A-Wad-Of-Cash Indian

    Chola

    Chola is a pricey haven for discerning eaters of Indian food. The menu breezes through several regional styles, many unavailable in cheaper renditions. There's "more kozhambu"—baby okra and spongy dumplings in a mustardy stew thickened with buttermilk—and avial malabar, a saucy vegetable combination from the former Dutch colony of Cochin. Whatever the region or origin of the dish, you'll find… More >>
  • Best Malawach

    Rectangles

    This multilayered and plate-eclipsing Yemenite invention may be the world's tastiest pancake, making for a very satisfying breakfast or lunch. Get it at Rectangles, where it's accompanied by an egg boiled in tea, a fresh tomato dip, and zhoug, a mouth-searing green-chile relish.… More >>
  • Best Pumpkin Turnover

    Bahar Shishkebab House

    Bolani kadu is a delicious, plate-sized pumpkin turnover cut into wedges and served with herbed yogurt. For an Afghani restaurant, Bahar Shishkebab House has a surprising number of other vegetarian dishes, including homemade noodles dressed with yogurt and kidney beans.… More >>
  • Best Cheap Mexican

    Los Dos Rancheros Mexicanos

    The proprietors of Los Dos Rancheros Mexicanos are from the Mexican state of Puebla, where sauces are a source of great pride. The most famous is mole poblano, a dark sauce with a surprising chocolate component (don't worry, it's nothing like hot fudge). Have it over chicken or enchiladas. Other noteworthy sauces are mole pipian, made with pureed pumpkin seeds,… More >>
  • Tastiest Tacos

    Mister Taco - CLOSED

    White Plains Road might not be where you'd expect to look for a great taqueria, but Mister Taco rolls some of the tastiest and most overstuffed in the city. Go for the type made with two fresh corn tortillas rather than the gringo variety made with a stale shell, or incur my wrath. Choose from a list of fillings that… More >>
  • Best Guacamole with Panache

    Rosa Mexicano

    It's become cliché, something that's whipped up for Super Bowl parties with a package of this, a dash of that, but Rosa Mexicano reminds diners of the joys of a well-made guacamole. Prepared to your desired heat tableside with the freshest ingredients—avocado, cilantro, tomato, onion, and more—it combines culinary showmanship and fantastic taste with results that are seriously habit-forming.… More >>
  • Best Megabuck Mexican

    Maya

    For many, south of the border means burritos. But for those who occasionally hanker for huitlacoche's smoky flavor, which blends the best of corn and mushroom, and want to know just how magnificent a pumpkin-seed-flecked mole can be, Maya offers a view of the sophisticated complexity of one of the hemisphere's first cuisines.… More >>
  • Most Refreshing Beverage Containing Pork Belly

    Atlixco Deli

    When I first sampled champurrado at Atlixco Deli, I thought it was hot horchata with cocoa. Then I noticed the chewy little fragments bobbing around. Champurrado is one of the world's oddest beverages—a sort of chocolate-laced oatmeal tea fortified with pork belly. Use it to wash down one of the excellent tortas or tacos at this popular Mexican deli. Served… More >>
  • Best All-You-Can-Eat Pan-Asian Buffet in Flushing

    Eastern Buffet

    The clatter of plates and the babble of companionable conversation from dining families and large tables of coworkers provide the ambient noise at Eastern Buffet. There, for under $10 at lunchtime, you can indulge in an all-you-can-eat Pan-Asian gorge, including everything from sushi appetizers and miso and hot-and-sour soup through braised beef ribs, crab pieces, pork buns, and mussels to… More >>
  • Cheapest Asian Meal in Town

    Fried Dumpling

    The Chinese have aced out every other nationality in their quest for cheap meals, and a new string of dollar eateries has appeared on the margins of Chinatown. One greenback at Fried Dumpling gets you a Styrofoam container of wonderful, meat-stuffed dumplings laced with scallions and a dipping sauce marrying soy and vinegar, while another dollar buys a bowl of… More >>
  • Best Shabu Shabu

    Yodo of Japan

    I'm a sucker for shabu shabu, the Japanese nabemono dish that is cooked at the table over a brazier. The one offered at Yodo of Japan wins out with its assortment of carrots, scallions, tofu, watercress, two kinds of noodles, spinach, and more. They even seem to offer more of the thinly sliced beef, which gets swished in the broth… More >>
  • Freshest Sushi

    Sushi Yasuda

    You must sit at the sushi bar, of course, and enjoy an omakase programmed by the itamae. Let him regulate your meal, but suggest he start with the fattiest belly tuna. The sequence will undoubtedly include some really interesting things flown in from Japan, like weird shrimplike creatures and great sea urchin, unlike any you've ever tasted (no iodine odor).… More >>
  • Best West Village Roykan

    Yoko

    Wood-paneled in Japanese rustic style, Yoko purveys Nipponese food with flair and care. The edamame arrive piping hot, and the tofu is silky and sweet. Sushi is flopping fresh, and there are frequent specials like hotategai, tasty huge scallops, and a maki roll of fluke, bass, and sea trout. It's almost as good as an evening in the Japanese countryside.… More >>
  • Best Sushi Happy Hour in Brooklyn

    Lotus One

    It's always happy hour at Lotus One, where dollar-a-piece sushi and half-price hand rolls and maki rolls are the rule. Those who don't wish to indulge in things piscatorial should get there early, between 11:30 and 3:30, for an array of luncheon specials that feature salad, rice, soup, and a selection of teriyakis, tempuras, and specials.… More >>
  • Gooiest Okonomiyaki

    Otafuku

    Cruise up to the window on 9th Street and put in your order for okonomiyaki ("eat what you like"), the Japanese street-food snack. These eggy rice-starch pancakes are loaded, at your direction, with goodies like shrimp, squid, pork, green onions, corn, cabbage, and pickled ginger and nicely browned on both sides. Otafuku has one other specialty—fried octopus fritters called takoyaki.… More >>
  • Most Dangerous Feed

    Chikubu

    Fall and winter is the time to eat fugu, the poisonous blowfish that must be prepared by a licensed practitioner in Japan. Most places in Manhattan serve a farmed version lacking in toxin, but seek out Chikubu if you want the real thing (the chef's qualifying certificate is in the cloak closet if you want to see it). The best… More >>
  • Valedictory Vietnamese

    Cong Ly

    I'm a sucker for great working-class places, and am willing to ignore their foibles. At Cong Ly, much of the cabby clientele chain-smokes during their repast, but the food is so good, I'm willing to hold my nose. I'd walk miles for their Vietnamese crepe, which comes wrapped in rice noodle rather than the thin omelet you get in most… More >>
  • Best Vietnamese Vittles in Downtown Brooklyn

    Saigon Garden

    The block is nothing to brag about, just blank facades that scream bureaucracy. Frankly, inside Saigon Garden isn't much better, until you notice the illuminated shadow box of Kwan Ty, the god of good business, on the wall over the service door. He holds true to his promise of good things to come. Try the canh ga chien bo, batter-fried… More >>
  • Best Banh Mi

    Saigon Banh Mi So 1

    The Vietnamese sandwich is the best example of Euro-Asian cooperation I can think of, beginning with the very Gallic baguette that bedrocks this delicious treat. Next heap on the Chinese anise-roast pork, pickled vegetables, pale pâté, squirt of chile paste, and a sprig of cilantro, and, voilà! Saigon Banh Mi So 1 is a humble carryout shop that makes great… More >>
  • Best Korean 'cue in Queens

    Kum Gang San

    Korean barbecue is that country's entrant in the cooking-at-the-table sweepstakes, which includes entrants ranging from Japan's shabu shabu to Switzerland's fondue. The grill is fired up; the ingredients are cooked and then wrapped in lettuce leaves with the condiments of choice. At Kum Gang San, there's sushi to start, and then on to the meat of choice. Try the shrimp… More >>
  • Best Flushing Chinese Pig-Out

    Chao Zhou Restaurant

    I'm sure it's not p.c., but I do believe that one of the tests of an ethnic restaurant is its diners. Do they look as though they know what the food was like in the old country? The answer to this at Chao Zhou Restaurant is a resounding yes. The food is serious, down-home Chinese and includes such goodies as… More >>
  • Best Flushing Noodles

    Flushing Noodle Shop

    Flushing's Chinatown—which many regard as the best in New York—is jammed with busy restaurants specializing in noodles and other working-class fare. With a menu far longer than its tiny premises suggest, Flushing Noodle Shop is my favorite. Check out "sam see e-fu noodles," deep-fried wheat noodles with a chewy texture dotted with ham, pork, egg, and mushrooms.… More >>
  • Best Peking Duck with Photos

    Chin Chin Restaurant

    It's a bit premature for Chinese New Year, but for me, peking duck is a celebratory dish that can be savored at any time. One of my favorite spots to sample it is under the vintage black-and-white photographs at Chin Chin Restaurant. From the for-once aptly named hot-and-sour soup through the duck skin and pancakes, the duck meat with julienne… More >>
  • Best Fried Spinach

    China Grill

    Looking for all the world like verdant shards of stained glass, it melts on the tongue, leaving only a whisper of Popeye's favorite taste behind. The crisp greenery is one of the classics of China Grill, and one of the city's best ways to add deep fat to healthy eating.… More >>
  • Top Thai

    Sripraphai

    In general, Thai lovers must go to Queens, where there's a resurgence of good Thai restaurants along Broadway in Elmhurst. The best Siamese in town, however, remains Woodside's Sripraphai. Don't miss the mouth-searing jungle curry, the much milder rice with mixed vegetables and budu sauce, or, best of all, the crispy fried catfish, which comes in a delicate lattice with… More >>
  • Most Extensive Organ Meat Selection

    Ihawan

    Though you may not be a member of the Organ Meat Society, that shouldn't prevent you from enjoying the kinky thrill of variety meats once in a while. The award for the most extensive list goes, not to a French or Taiwanese joint, but to Ihawan, a Filipino barbecue place, where the list of victuals includes nearly all parts of… More >>
  • Cheapest European Meal in Town

    Old Poland Restaurant - CLOSED

    You can't beat the Polish joints for a bargain tuck-in so immense, you can take half of it home and eat it for breakfast. My current fave is Greenpoint's Old Poland Restaurant, where $3.50 gets you a full dinner of sautéed chicken livers, two big scoops of mashed potatoes, and a choice of two vegetables served on a separate plate… More >>
  • Heaviest Paella

    Spain

    Hey, old-fashioned West Village Spanish paella is supposed to be heavy, so's you can share one with two or three friends. And this objective is admirably achieved at Spain, a 40-year-old dowager that looks much older. The garlicky paella devotes as much volume to lobster, mussels, shrimp, clams, chorizo, and chicken as it does to the rice, which is shockingly… More >>
  • Best Bunny

    Cafe Glechik

    Brighton Beach's newcomer Cafe Glechik proffers a burnished-skin half bunny in a ceramic crock, braised in a vegetable cream sauce and heaped with crushed garlic, and wascally wabbit never gets better than this.… More >>
  • Juiciest Steak Frites

    Steak Frites

    Where else? Steak Frites, where the meat is a well-aged Black Angus sirloin (a/k/a "entrecôte") done to a turn, and the fries are abundant, crisp on the outside, and moist in the middle. And since this place is perpetually half-empty, you'll never be turned away.… More >>
  • Best Choucroute

    L'Actuel

    The Alsatian conjoining of cabbage and smoked pork known as choucroute garnie is a bit of an obsession with me, so I was delighted to find that it's a daily menu item at L'Actuel. Winter or summer, I can chow down on the mellow cumin- and-juniper-berry-scented sauerkraut that's served up as a bed for three types of sausage, a smoked… More >>
  • Best Duck Confit in Brooklyn

    Saul

    God bless the Gascons! Only the land of d'Artagnan could come up with a dish as wonderful as duck confit—salted, slow-roasted fowl cooked to fork-tender succulence in its own fat. Sometimes served up with a half a pear stuffed with funky gorgonzola, it's a dish for the gods, or at least for the regulars at Saul. It's an appetizer, but… More >>
  • Best Evocation of Provence in Soho

    Provence

    You've missed the Bastille Day boules tournament that blocks the street and brings out almost every French chef in the city, but you can still savor the tastes of the south of France at Provence. Sit in the summer garden and sup on an aioli-scented bourride or an anchovy-filled pissalidiere or indulge in the cheese selection in the main room… More >>
  • Most Perfect Imitation of a Parisian Dive

    Les Halles

    No, not Pastis—which is owned by Englishmen and succeeds more as a parody of French bistros than an emulation. Instead, the palm goes to Les Halles, imbued with the spirit of Paris's meat district, and specializing in Gallic delicacies like blood sausage, pork rillettes, and multiple variations on steak frites. The torn leather banquettes, smoke-tainted walls, and ancient molding perfect… More >>
  • Best Place to Channel the Ghost of Jacques Brel

    de Bruxelles

    Before there was a Belgian frites stand on every corner there was Café de Bruxelles. Standing at the prow of Greenwich Avenue and 13th Street, it has delighted diners with crisply authentic frites, moules marinieres, and Belgian brews at moderate prices for more than a decade. Start singing "Ne Me Quitte Pas" and pass the mayonnaise.… More >>
  • Premier Moules Frites

    Jubilee

    I'm a sucker for the plump mussel, steamed by the kilo in its shell and served in a deep bowl half-filled with broth. Plenty of Belgian places like Petit Abeille, Belgo, and Markt serve fine versions, but my heart belongs to a French joint, Jubilee. Among multiple variations, go for "poulette," swamped in a cream sauce of rich chicken stock… More >>
  • Best Far West Celeri Remoulade

    La Lunchonette

    Tenth Avenue brings to mind slaughter and stalkers more than thoughts of bistro fare. Yet faraway, funky, and usually full, La Lunchonette lures diners, including a large Gallic contingent, to its two rooms and its careful renditions of classics like the seasonal celeri remoulade. Here, the celeriac is cut into thin ribbons and liberally coated with a vinaigrette in which… More >>
  • Best Place to Say 'cheese'

    Picholine

    It'll cost you, but if you want to celebrate the marriage of milk and mold in grand style, head to Picholine. Nibble through dinner—that's not the point this time—and order the best bottle of red you can afford. Then sit back and select from the rolling cart of cheese, which offers an international variety ranging from faintly aromatic to downright… More >>
  • Best Trompe L'oeil Parfait

    Willow

    When is a parfait not a parfait? When you're dining at Willow and it's the signature appetizer of crème fraîche, avocado, and salmon served up in a parfait glass looking for all the world like something concocted by a soda jerk at a 1950s ice-cream parlor. The rest of the menu at this East Side bistro is as inventive and… More >>
  • Best Rive Gauche in Fort Greene

    Chez Oskar

    The menu's not really French, but there's something about the quirky decor and the comb- ination of Pratt students and neighborhood artists and writers that makes Chez Oskar like a Parisian hangout. Perhaps it's the live jazz or the French-speaking waitresses. It might also be the classic rendering of the frisée aux lardons—a salad of curly endive mined with chunks… More >>
  • Best Gallic Grilled Sardines

    Pastis

    Few things evoke the taste of the Mediterranean more than properly grilled sardines. Charred until the skin is silvery crisp and succulent and sweet inside, they are the stuff of seaside joints from Marseilles to Casablanca. Pastis captures this taste with two splayed fish atop a bed of bite-y arugula that masquerade as an appetizer but are really a taste… More >>
  • Best Greek Diner You Won't Be Able to Find

    Nick's Place

    The menu is muddled with all kinds of other stuff, like wraps, burgers, and humongous salads, but seek out the stuffed grape leaves, spinach pie, and, especially, the Greek burger (not on the printed menu, ask for it) topped with feta cheese. The long-running Nick's Place is secreted with no sign in the bowels of a decrepit garment center building—aficionados… More >>
  • Best Signature Cocktail

    Clay

    Nolita's cozy Korean bistro adheres to the neighborhood's ethos of sparse style—but here it comes across as tranquil rather than pretentiously minimalist. clay's house cocktail list includes a variety of concoctions made with soju, a sweet-potato vodka, but the masterpiece is the lychee martini, a perfectly blended pale pink mixture of soju, grapefruit juice, and lychee liqueur, garnished with the… More >>
  • Best Astorian Greek

    S'Agapo - CLOSED

    Among the dozens of Hellenic boîtes in Astoria, I keep going back to S'Agapo, and not just because it's near the Museum of the Moving Image, either. Grok the fresh whole fish in the glass display case, then try to decide between a whole grilled fish (get it done "savouri"—rubbed with tomato and cooked in wine and lemon) or one… More >>
  • Best Umbrella Cocktails

    Chicama

    This eclectic South American takes its interior decorating cue from next-door ABC Carpet & Home (some of the wall hangings and other artifacts actually belong to ABC). But even funkier than the decor are Chicama's drinks, some of the best island-style cocktails around. Try the Chicama Colada, a frothy blend overflowing with coconut slices, or their killer mojito, a sugarcane… More >>
  • Best Saganaki in Astoria

    Telly's Taverna

    I was introduced to Telly's Taverna by a Greek friend who came so often that she was treated like a member of the family. It's the place to go for saganaki. Indeed, the olive-oil-fried kasseri cheese was amazing. Slightly crusty on the outside and bubbling and runny within, it was perfect drizzled with a squeeze or two of lemon juice,… More >>
  • Best Manhattan (the Cocktail)

    P.J. Clarke's

    How difficult can it be? A dash or two of Angostura bitters, an ounce of Martini & Rossi and two of rye whiskey. Stir with cracked ice, strain, and plop in the cherry. And yet, a proper manhattan is almost impossible to find, even in the very borough of its birth. The real problem lies in the whiskey: Rye, once… More >>
  • Best Grilled Octopus

    Stamatis

    Lunches at Stamatis are frequently punctuated with the ringing of cell phones of dining businessmen, but I forbear because the grilled octopus appetizer is fantastic—pieces of tentacle slightly charred on the outside and tender within. They're enough for a meal when accompanied by a glass or two of retsina, a bowlful of salad, and followed by a dessert of the… More >>
  • Best Sloe-Gin Fizz

    Leshko's

    Leshko's Coffee Shop is totally not a coffee shop; it's a snappy, newish restaurant that decided to keep the former inhabitant's cozy name. Go there early in the evening and order the goofy drink, a sloe-gin fizz. This bubblegum-pink boisson has a pleasant, 1950s suburban feel, the kind of cocktail an adulteress in a John Cheever story would drink (or… More >>
  • Best West Village Taverna

    Ithaka

    Many a Village diner has been charmed on a voyage to Ithaka, which brings the whitewashed walls and blossoming geraniums of the Plaka to Barrow Street. Dishes like a lemony avgolemono and a nourishing wedge of pastitsio or a simple snapper grilled and served up with a thread of olive oil and enough lemons for zest, keep them returning like… More >>
  • Best Planter's Punch

    Marion's Continental Restaurant and Lounge

    It was muggy and sticky, and the muck smelled like pee. I had become a knight in search of the Holy Drink, the soles of my shoes worn down. Somewhere in this city somebody had to know how to mix and produce the orange-pink potion. I asked for the elixir in every bar possible, provoking the same barrage of questions… More >>
  • Best Steam Table Italian

    Veronica Ristorante Italiano

    Originating in the days when you wanted your pasta really cooked, and not just half-cooked (yo, who is this dude I keep hearing about, Al Dente?) is Veronica Ristorante Italiano, where dozens of beautifully sauced pastas stare up at you from one of the world's longest steam tables. Dig ravioli contadina, huge homemade pillows filled with a tasty puree of… More >>
  • Best Frozen Margaritas(Made with Grain Alcohol)

    El Sombrero

    Some Lower East Side gringos refer to it as "the Hat," but El Sombrero keeps it real with lethally intoxicating margaritas, which emerge from something like an ice-cream machine. For $20 a pitcher, this may be the cheapest way to get so drunk so that you'll dance like a pro with strangers to the Mexican music booming from the jukebox… More >>
  • Best Wine Bar

    'Ino - CLOSED

    Accept no substitutes. Downtown's original wine and bruschetta bar, now in its third year, is far and away the best in its class. Tiny 'Ino, a vital part of Bedford Street's thriving café and bar scene, only accommodates about two dozen customers at a time, but therein lies its charm: It's like popping in for a glass of wine in… More >>
  • Briniest Baked Clams

    Andy's Colonial Tavern

    Forget about the unattainable Rao's (who cares what it tastes like if you can't get in?) and slip into Andy's Colonial Tavern, an East Harlem Italian bar that serves wonderful Neapolitan food, including a clams oreganata—featuring garlicky and oily bread crumbs browned to perfection—and one of the mellowest eggplant rolatinis you've ever tasted.… More >>
  • Best Tapas Bar

    Alegrias

    That tapping you hear is the sound of flamenco heels. The owner of Alegrias, Jorge Navarro, is a flamenco teacher and dancer who performs here most nights of the week, along with his students and traditional singers and dancers. But dancing is not the only attraction. The food and drink are draws, too. The tapas (from $3.99 to $9.99) and… More >>
  • Best Harlem Hideaway

    Flash Inn

    While better-known spots like Sylvia's and Copeland's are filled with tourists seeking soul food, Harlem's culinary cognoscenti are off nibbling on fried calamari at the Flash Inn. Just across the bridge from Yankee Stadium, it's been a hangout for those in the know for decades. The bar is a hot spot for local gossip while the dining room lures fork… More >>
  • Best Beer Garden

    Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden

    Upon entering Astoria's Bohemian Hall and Beer Garden, you are greeted by an array of regulars and bartenders eager to teach you Czech. And after 5 p.m. on weekdays, picnic tables are arranged in the open-air tree-lined courtyard out back, where seven different types of Czech beer, as well as 16 other kinds of suds, are served up. The garden,… More >>
  • Best Place to Drink Aussie Beer

    Eight Mile Creek

    Eight Mile Creek, a fairly new establishment with a mix of Aussie soul and New York class, has an upstairs restaurant lit by tiny candles that offers dishes you'd find only in swanky Sydney restaurants, like emu carpaccio, spiced kangaroo, and oyster meat pie (the great Aussie football food). Downstairs, a spunky collection of mostly Australian bartenders serves from an… More >>
  • Best Unknown Midtown Trattoria

    Allegria

    It looks like a tourist mecca with its outdoor tables filled with camera-toting travelers, so if you're like most Gothamites, you might skip Allegria. Don't! Head for an inside table near the open windows and order up some of the kitchen's renderings of Tuscan classics and trattoria specials. Go seasonal with a salad of arugula with cherry tomatoes and gorgonzola… More >>
  • Best Trattoria Next Door

    Da Silvano

    So what if you can't hang with the expense account at Da Silvano. If you get there early and snag a table outside at adjacent Bar Pitti, you can enjoy some of the same fare and primo people-watching at half the price. Sit back and savor the pastas and salads, and if there's vitello tonnato on the chalkboard, forgo the… More >>
  • Best Olde New York Saloon

    Old Town Bar & Restaurant

    For the second year running, the oh-so-pleasant Old Town Bar & Restaurant shapes up as our favorite old-timer. It's not that it stands alone—McSorleys, the Landmark, the Brooklyn Inn, the bar at Peter Luger, P.J. Clarke's, Fanelli's, and the White Horse all have strong claims on our affections. But the Old Town seems to have the best mix of past… More >>
  • Best Pizza Margherita

    Scopa

    The stuff of dreams is primal pizza—wafer-thin crust topped with a slather of sweetly tart tomato sauce and finished with a drizzle of cheese—and at Scopa, it's nothing like anything purveyed on Gotham's street corners. I also dote on chef Vinny Scotto's seasonal polentas made with fresh corn and his full-flavored risottos—but it's the pizza I crave.… More >>
  • Best Bar Atmosphere

    Boat

    Faux-sophisticated track lighting sheds a subtle red, orange, and green glow that provides, as my roommate Ted explains, "the perfect dimness. Everyone looks pretty fucking attractive." Although this dive-plus, which opened in May, draws the youngest clientele (mostly postcollegiate) of the burgeoning, slightly fancy Smith Street scene—so pardon the exposed-brick interior—Boat's real lure is the comfy seating area in back,… More >>
  • Best Vitello Tonnato in the East Village

    I Coppi - CLOSED

    I don't know who came up with the inspired combination of thin slices of veal roast served in a creamy tuna sauce, but bravo! This Italian classic is a summer treat that has had me racing across town in search of yet another variation. My current favorite is the one at I Coppi. While waiting, indulge in a dish of… More >>
  • Best Celebration of Things Sicilian

    Bondí

    Sicily has long been a culinary crossroads, where the olive-oil cooking of Mediterranean Europe meets up with the sweet and savory tastes of North Africa. Taste the island's history in such dishes as melanzane alla siracusana—fried eggplant with onions and tomatoes topped with a dusting of cinnamon and slivered almonds—at Bondí, where the changing menu gloriously celebrates the food of… More >>
  • Best Bar to Read The Writing On the (Bathroom) Wall

    Inside the 1/9 Downtown Station

    Ever wish you recorded the epiphanies you had when you drank a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon all by yourself? Well, if you forget to carry around your diary, maybe you should make Siberia the scene of your binge-drinking excursions. Located inside a subway station, the bar offers two great jukeboxes, a pinball machine, and several couches on which many… More >>
  • Best Place to Go Get Lit by Yourself

    Holiday Cocktail Lounge - CLOSED

    Don't expect to find any cocktails here. Holiday Cocktail Lounge has been serving cheap imported beers and stiff well drinks ($3) to the lonely and destitute for more than 15 years. The dive's horseshoe-shaped bar brings Bukowski to mind, but there are as many East Village hipsters as barflies. There's a dysfunctional Cheers-like scene (local drunk "the Rabbi"), and steady… More >>
  • Best Tapas Con Flamenco

    Alegrias

    Put on your dancing shoes and get out your castanets. Alegrias, a combination tasca/tablao, allows even the rhythmically challenged to attempt a Sevillana with their potato-rich Spanish omelet. Dance and nibble on olives and other tapas, or settle in for an evening's fiesta with mains like garlicky, moist grilled chicken Alegrias or the spinach mined with chick peas. Don't forget… More >>
  • Best Dark and Cheap Family-Owned Bar

    O'Connor's - CLOSED

    Hands down the best bar in Brooklyn, O'Connor's, run by the same family for more than 65 years, is refreshing because it is totally unpretentious. You just sit and talk and drink Budweiser, or whatever. They sell cigarettes and chips. There's not even an annoying pool table. The bathroom doors don't lock. The booths are pretty creaky. Sometimes there are… More >>
  • Best West Village Spot to Hear Singing Tuna

    El Faro - CLOSED

    A former James Baldwin hangout, El Faro is Gotham's oldest español. The Singing Tuna arrive on a weekend evening, and you might be lucky enough to catch them in their velvet capes, carrying guitars and hustling the tables for greenbacks. If not, don't worry; sit back and enjoy the huge portions of a wondrous caldo gallego, a hearty soup dense… More >>
  • Best Buybacks

    Botanica

    Unlike at some asshole joints, it appears that at dark, homey Botanica, if you clock in enough time at the bar, you will get some back. Lagging behind my Jameson-zealous friend one evening, the supernice lady pouring drinks surprised us by giving him one on the house—and sweetly telling me my next one would be, too. (Karmically, this almost made… More >>
  • Best Rockefeller Center Wine Bar

    Morrell Wine Bar & Café

    This summer's rains have left scant time for dining alfresco, but when the sun has managed to peek out, one of the prime spots has been Morrell Wine Bar & Café. There, oenophiles can indulge in their love of the grape by the glass while noshing on goodies like Tartar Times Three, a mix of raw tuna, salmon, and diver… More >>
  • Best Happy Hour on the Roof

    The Heights

    If you're looking to get smashed two stories above Broadway, happy hour at the Heights offers you the biggest and meanest frozen margarita and a gaze at Morningside Heights' lovely old buildings. Happy hour runs from 5 to 7 every evening ($2.75 margaritas; half-price beer), and from midnight to 1:30 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday ($3.50 margaritas; $2.50 draft beers). And… More >>
  • Best All-You-Can-Drink Wine Dinner

    Cité

    The owners of Cité had obviously not been thinking of my crowd when they instituted a post­8 p.m., one-price ($59.50), all-you-can-drink wine dinner to lure customers during the evening doldrums. We've taken it up with a vengeance, returning to swirl and swill with the best of them and savoring the fine wines that are poured endlessly throughout the evening. Some… More >>
  • Best View From a Manhattan Bar Stool

    Top of the Tower

    At Top of the Tower, on the 26th floor of the Beekman Tower Hotel, you can eye boats gliding along the East River and the Roosevelt Island tramway soaring above glittering brake lights. Upper East Side apartments provide the magical view to the west, and due south stands the Chrysler Building and the Empire State's spire. Except at the busiest… More >>
  • Best Hangover Remedy

    Turkish Café & Restaurant

    Major thoroughfares in Istanbul sport stalls that sell tripe soup, which is hurriedly slurped by drinkers on their way to the bar as a preventative measure. It also works as a remedy. The best in town is found at Turkish Café & Restaurant. Bland by itself, you must mix in the condiment of vinegar laced with garlic and chiles that… More >>
  • Best New Restaurant Chef

    Annisa

    Anita Lo dips into a bag of tricks that includes Asian and Mediterranean elements at Annisa to create a menu full of theatrical surprises, the best of which is a pig-feet-stuffed chicken that actually tastes like something. Dramatic elements include quivering rabbit kidneys the size of kidney beans, and truffle sauce that does an impersonation of black bean sauce. The… More >>
  • Best Gay-Men-Under-30 Scene

    G Lounge

    For all that they do, most Manhattan bars—even the painfully sleek, effete G lounge—make socializing less than comfortable if you aren't rocking a six-figure salary, some Gucci-something, and a body courtesy of countless years of Deca cycles. Starlight Lounge has managed to remain a heavenly oasis of good vibes thanks to three constant, refreshing features: (1) the sound system's purring… More >>
  • Friendliest Restaurant

    Culpepper's - CLOSED

    The Bajan community behaves like one big family, and Culpepper's is their clubhouse, where you—though probably not born in Barbados—will be made very welcome, too. The pastries illustrate the British heritage of the island, but the rest of the food proudly shows its African roots. Check out cou-cou, a cornmeal-and-okra porridge usually eaten with a steamed or fried flying fish.… More >>
  • Best New Pick-Up Scene

    The Half King

    Chelsea's newest bar may never amount to Sebastian Junger and pals' vision of a tavern where writers and construction workers can toss back their pints side by side—mainly because most blue-collar laborers aren't willing to shell out $5 for a beer or up to $9 for a mixed drink. But the summer's most buzzed-about tavern is already a success, packed… More >>
  • Best Name

    Proton Saga

    The hands-down winner of this difficult category is Proton Saga, a Malaysian restaurant named, not after a science-fiction movie, but for the first automobile produced in Malaysia. The marvelous sting ray served in a chile sauce will send you into orbit.… More >>
  • Tiniest Eatery

    Warteg Fortuna

    From this category we must necessarily eliminate those places that are exclusively carryout, where the public part of the premises is often limited to a mere window. Warteg Fortuna has two rows of counter seats so close, you'll be compelled to have a conversation with strangers, which is a great thing. The Indonesian food is great, too, and cheap.… More >>
  • Last Eatery on Earth Where Someone Would Find You

    Sorrento Bakery

    If you're hiding out, consider Sorrento Bakery. The front of the house is a venerable Italian bakery, and there's still an extensive selection of cookies and decorated cakes for sale. But in the rear, a steam table houses the metropolis's sole collection of dishes from the former Dutch colony of Surinam. In addition to the usual West Indian curry dishes,… More >>
  • Strangest Restaurant Location

    Niederstein's

    Do you fancy dining in a cemetery? Check out Niederstein's, the most ancient and venerable German restaurant in town, cleverly situated in the middle of Lutheran Cemetery with an eye toward capitalizing on the funeral trade. Sundays are the wildest, when the room is dotted with priests and pastors, their white collars firmly in place and pained smiles radiating in… More >>
  • Best Bar for Picking Up Writers

    KGB

    Personally, I'd avoid writers like the plague. Either they have no money and no social skills, or big advances and even bigger egos. But if you go for the authorial type, there's no better bar to cruise than KGB, an intimate upstairs boîte—all scarlet walls, photos of Lenin, and Soviet constructivist posters—that's been the hangout of New York's literary lights… More >>
  • Best Meal in a Former Mortuary

    Mike & Tony's

    You won't know it as you chomp down on the wonderfully rare steak or savor the salmon-and-cod cakes. It won't interfere with your appreciation of your wine selection or disturb your indulgence in a prime postprandial stogie at the bar. But, if you peek at the designs of the stained-glass windows in the barroom or glance down at the ceramic… More >>
  • Best-Looking Waitstaff

    Decibel

    East Village cool is all that is Japanese, sake bars are at the height of hip, and Decibel is the place to throw back some Asahi Black or a killer "Saketini." If you're overwhelmed by the list of 70 different kinds of sake—arranged according to dryness—ask a waiter for help and discover the bonus of this underground watering hole: the… More >>
  • Best Eatery in a Former Greek Diner

    Salut

    While Jackson Diner would have won hands-down a few years ago, today the best is clearly Salut, a kosher Uzbekistani establishment with the requisite Russian-style chandelier, Casio, and big-screen TV. But the resemblance stops there. There's lagman, a lamb broth with loads of vegetables and homemade noodles, and great charcoal-barbecued sweetbreads.… More >>
  • Best Civil War Decor

    Brennan & Carr

    When Brennan & Carr was founded in 1938, much of this part of Brooklyn was still fields of waving grasses, but now the stockade-style premises (with their own parking lot!) is crowded onto a little patch of Gravesend Neck Road. The bill of fare is still mainly Irish-style roast beef sandwiches au jus and things that go along with them,… More >>
  • Best Place to Be Left Waiting at The Bar for Your Date

    Rialto

    While Rialto is heralded mainly for its tented back garden and luxurious leather banquettes, the bistro's bar is equally praiseworthy. It's small but spacious, with a handful of stools and enough room to stand. The bartenders are friendly, the whiskey sours are never too sweet, and there's generally good eavesdropping to be done. Anyone alone at the bar—whether male or… More >>
  • Most Decrepit Restaurant

    City Deli

    The city's most decrepit restaurant is also the best place to get a bacon cheeseburger at 4:35 in the morning. City Deli—open seven days, 24 hours—is really just a lean-to slouching against an adjacent building, with the kitchen and counter seats crammed into a narrow sliver of space. The chow's good and cheap, and includes some off-menu items like beef… More >>
  • Best Hint Of Herbs

    Verbena

    The garden's a summer delight, but any time is the right time for a meal at Verbena. Diane Forley, executive chef, has a way with herbs that leaves plates napped with fragrant puddles redolent of chamomile, thyme, mint, and the lemon-scented verbena that gives the place its name. Don't miss the five-course vegetarian tasting menu, which could make a vegetarian… More >>
  • Best Friday-Night Hangout

    Frank's Lounge

    Although one of the better, more low-key house parties in town is upstairs at Frank's Lounge, the real party is downstairs, where Mr. Bill Morris (a/k/a Mr. B) spins '80s r&b and house. With his cowboy hat, black leather vest, and dangling gold earring, Mr. B looks as though he escaped from the Gap Band, but the tracks really do… More >>
  • Best Spot to Find Queens College Faculty During Lunch Hour

    Santoli's

    A short stroll from the madness of the campus and far enough away from prying eyes so that a glass or two of Chianti go unnoticed at lunchtime, Santoli's is the place to find frazzled faculty members. Hearty classic Italian dishes like a vegetable-filled minestrone and a substantial brick of tasty lasagna have fortified more than one generation of profs.… More >>
  • Best Brooklyn Buppie Bar

    Lucian Blue

    They pack the bar three deep and flood out onto the small outdoor café to indulge in martinis and trade notes on trading at Lucian Blue. Those with a yen for food head into the dining area, decorated in '50s style, to sample from an ever changing menu of nouvelle dishes. It beats barbecue through bulletproof glass by a… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Drunk While Listening to Drum'N'Bass

    Testpress Sundays

    NYC stalwart Swingsett hosts Testpress Sundays, a long-running swervefest where a rotating lineup of local drum'n'bass DJs of all flavors takes to the decks. Regulars like Reid Speed, Delmar, and Empress make the night a blast, week after week. And the drinks aren't shabby, either: They are quite large, pretty cheap, and really damn strong. Four bucks gets you a… More >>
  • Best Place for Three Courses in One Hour While on Brooklyn Jury Duty

    Armando Ristorante

    The Montague Street strip is aflutter with dining activity when the Brooklyn courts adjourn midday. Armando Ristorante, though, is an oasis of calm and quiet, serving three courses to D.A.s, detectives, and defendants alike. Those who have to hurry back appreciate the fact that with the solicitous waitstaff alerted, you can begin with minestrone, move on through a main like… More >>
  • Best Club Bar

    Knitting Factory

    For years, the Knitting Factory has held this title, both in its Leonard Street incarnation and previously, when it occupied the Houston Street storefront that later morphed into Botanica. But now there's some tough competition. Perhaps taking its cue from the Knit's revolutionary notion that music venues didn't just have to settle for the bad-beer-in-a-plastic-cup-and-nowhere-to-sit style of bar, Bowery Ballroom's… More >>
  • Best Pub to Bring Your Dog to

    Sparky's Ale House

    Sparky's Ale House is a refreshing antidote to the French bistro/boutique craze in Carroll Gardens. This down-to-earth pub with its frayed pool table and worn-down dartboard is so casual it welcomes dogs to traipse around the bar. So walk your canine to this local watering hole and sip a frothy Heiferweizen while your pet hobnobs. Although Sparky's has no hard… More >>
  • Best Affordable View from the Bridge

    Pete's Downtown Restaurant

    If you want the panorama of downtown Manhattan without astronomical prices, head to the Barge Music dock, then cross the street diagonally to Pete's Downtown Restaurant. While across the way at the River Café the accent is on splendid, sophisticated food and sumptuous service amid a bower of blooms, at Pete's, the name of the game is simple food—well prepared… More >>
  • Best Bar to Take Your Parents to

    The Campbell Apartment

    In case you've been pangolin hunting in Pago Pago for the past year or so, the Campbell Apartment is the joint they faked up out of Jazz Age mogul J.W. Campbell's palatial Grand Central office. Marble, wood, club chairs—it radiates couth. Good. Bad: The outrageously priced house cocktails often lack magic. Worse: Weeknights, you can't enjoy them in peace, since… More >>
  • Best Outdoor Seating

    Sahara

    Sahara is the city's premier Turkish restaurant, offering a menu that's grown over the last decade to include one of the broadest lists of kebabs. A couple of years ago a renovation added a vast backyard garden to the two dining rooms, and now you can sit under a grape arbor and enjoy warm-weather favorites like pan-fried eggplant with yogurt,… More >>
  • Best Bar to Observe Dotcom Absurdity

    Slipper Room

    If you were invited to any of the hundreds of dotcom launch parties of the last year, chances are you've passed through the storefront-y doors of Tonic and down into its dark cave of a basement. The Lower East Side bar/club has become, along with the Razorfish-sponsored Slipper Room, Silicon Alley's unlikely answer to the Algonquin. Upstairs, at street level,… More >>
  • Best Carryout Picnic

    Carry On

    Finger sandwiches like cuke and butter, cheese and walnut chutney, ham and cream cheese, tuna salad, and ripe red tomato and cheese; a green salad with balsamic dressing; quirky English soda; and scones with butter and strawberry jam make up the $12.95 picnic at Tea & Sympathy's carryout division, Carry On. For the proper effect, take it to Strawberry Fields… More >>
  • Best Bar for Watching British Football (i.e., Soccer) Games

    Nevada Smith's

    Promising there'd be loads of cute English guys, an expat friend once dragged me to Nevada Smith's to catch the Arsenal vs. Manchester Utd match—at 10 o'clock on a Saturday morning! It might've been worse: Thanks to the time difference, some games start as early as 6 a.m. No matter what the hour, faithful punters queue up to get in,… More >>
  • Best Foreign Franchise

    Pret A Manger

    No, not Belgo—the best foreign franchise is Pret A Manger, whose way-downtown location is stocked with bargain sandwiches on baguettes and good wheat bread, including a miraculous $2 egg salad and watercress. The flavored chips (rosemary, black pepper, sea salt) fried in olive oil are worth a try, as is the individual key lime pie with a buttery graham cracker… More >>
  • Best S'mores

    First

    Anyone who remembers Girl Scout Camp will recall the s'mores that combined chocolate, graham crackers, marshmallows, and flame for a gooey treat. They are transformed into a tabletop dessert at First. The rest of the menu is almost as inventive, and the BLT features prominently in my fantasies, but it's that melted chocolate and sticky charred marshmallow that gets me… More >>
  • Best Staten Island Bar

    Cargo Café - CLOSED

    You can't miss Cargo Café; it's right there on Bay Street, a few blocks east of the ferry terminal. And it's got this, I dunno, ribbon painted all over it. Before that, it's been star-spangled, plaid, decked out with flying eggbeaters. Art. Which you can contemplate while absorbing a well-pulled pint or two in the garden. You prefer inside? There's… More >>
  • Best Ices

    Lemon Ice King of Corona

    How many times have you heard it before—the Lemon Ice King of Corona makes the city's best Italian ices. The lemon is usually the best (well, duh), especially if they're making it with little flecks of peel in it, which doesn't happen as often lately. But there are dozens of other flavors to sample, including exemplary watermelon and mint—the former… More >>
  • Surest Method of Hardening the Arteries

    Custard Beach

    In Wisconsin we take frozen custard for granted. And it's nothing like Mister Softee, either. Real custard is made with plenty of cream, and further enriched with egg yolks. The only place in town you can get the real thing is at Custard Beach just opposite the yacht basin. And there's a new branch in the food court at Grand… More >>
  • Best Coffee Bar

    Original Espresso Bar

    Decorated with photos of fin de siècle Paris, the Original Espresso Bar is my favorite coffee bar in the city, not just because of the excellent sandwiches and muffins offered, or the outdoor seating under fake palm trees, but because of the characters that work there, for whom I've developed affectionate names like the Pierced Twins and Hammerhead.… More >>
  • Best Pratt Area Coffeehouse

    Tillie's - CLOSED

    Dekalb Avenue is fast becoming the dining mecca of Fort Greene, with street umbrellas marking outdoor tables and even a club or two. One of the more unusual venues on the strip is Tillie's, a welcome roost for blocked writers and distressed designers. A wall rack with magazines ranging from The Herbalist to Mustang Supercars offers an excuse for procrastination,… More >>
  • Smoothest Smoothie

    Elixir

    At Elixir, a smoothie begins with frozen banana chunks, adds fresh orange or apple juice, then a choice of further frozen fruit from a list that includes strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, melon, and peaches. Whirrrr goes the blender, and your treat is complete. Don't screw it up with bee pollen, echinacea, or any of the other add-ons.… More >>
  • Best Tea for One

    Gotham Bar

    When the bustle of Fifth Avenue gets you down, head up the stairs to the Gotham Bar at the Peninsula Hotel, where you can order a full English tea complete with scones, tiny tea sandwiches of smoked salmon or crab, and an array of minuscule pastries that look like tiny jewels. Whether it's Earl Grey or a mere herbal infusion,… More >>
  • Best Shoppers' Tea

    Felissimo

    Bypass the goodies on sale below, take a left after the entrance, grab an elevator to the tea room, and rest your heavy shopping bags on the banquette while you catch your breath and indulge in the haiku tea at Felissimo. Tasty tea sandwiches, miniature sweet scones complete with butter and preserves, and organic Japanese osenbi cookies are all part… More >>
  • Best Hell's Kitchen Bakery

    Cupcake Café

    Cupcake Café is a bakery with a delectable display of pastries in the window: elaborately decorated cupcakes, pies, pizzas, and donuts, the best of which are made with whole wheat and zinged with orange peel. They also have great soups and sandwiches.… More >>
  • Crispiest And Creamiest Cannoli

    Madonia Brothers Bakery

    Just down the street from an Italian dairy store that specializes in ricotta, Madonia Brothers Bakery cranks out the city's best cannolis. The secret is that they fill them to order, so the shell remains crisp, with none of that sodden refrigerator flavor. The semifreddo filling is dotted with bits of candied fruit, and two make a perfect meal.… More >>
  • Best Bar that Looks Like a Bordello

    Ciel Rouge

    Toulouse-Lautrec would have had a field day at Ciel Rouge. Its all-crimson interior is a perfect setting for his absinthe-hued whores and cancan girls. Although the lounge is actually populated with sharply dressed Manhattanites, it still retains that old-world ambience with enough brocade to dress the entire cast of Amadeus. The bar boasts a full menu of pricey ($7) yet… More >>
  • Bizarrest Pastries

    Payard Patisserie & Bistro

    For the last couple of years, the Daniel pastry chef has run a joint of his own on the side. Payard Patisserie & Bistro features an informal room in front where you can perch as you wash unbelievably elaborate pastries down with a demitasse of espresso. Choices include the architecturally themed Notre Dame and Mont Saint Michel, each encompassing a… More >>
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