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Food & Drink

  • Best Jamaican Goat Roti

    ST. JOHN'S

    When downing a Trinidadian or Guyanese goat roti, the extra potato-and-chickpea filling is an asset. By contrast, the Jamaican version is better filler-free, and that's the kind you can score at ST. JOHN'S, where the crumbly flatbread is stuffed only with chunks of curried goat. Wash it down with a squat green bottle of grapefruit Ting. The friendly staff and… More >>
  • Best Trinidadian Goat Roti

    ALI'S TRINIDAD ROTI SHOP

    A dozen blocks north of St. John's, find ALI'S TRINIDAD ROTI SHOP, decorated with a sign that intones: "Hurry, Hurry, Come for Curry," and purveying the city's best goat roti, crammed with strongly flavored meat and lubricated with a thyme-inflected gravy. Wash it down with the frothy peanut punch. The shrimp and conch rotis are also fab.… More >>
  • Best Extraordinary Octopod

    FELIDIA

    The two-decade-old midtown Italian with an Istrian twist has remained popular based on its near-perfect pastas, and its connections with restaurateurs Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali. But on a recent visit to FELIDIA, I was knocked out by a simple octopus salad, tender white swatches bedded on a row of creamy potatoes, punctuated by sweet grape tomatoes and black olives… More >>
  • Best Heavy Hard-Shell Crabs

    RENCHER'S CRABB INN

    It's difficult to believe that old-timer RENCHER'S CRABB INN is still in business. Hewing to the principal that great seafood is not just for the wealthy, they boil up anything that crawls on the ocean floor in a manner inspired by the Maryland shore. The hard-shells are wonderful, rife with orange coral and lump crabmeat. Just remember to bring your… More >>
  • Best Succulent Soft-Shell Crabs

    ILO

    Sure, lots of places sling soft-shells all year round, but do you know what that means? For nine months of the year, the specimens you get have been languishing in the freezer. At ILO, the moist crabs are always fresh, and are thus available only from May till August. Like sentries, two are posted at opposite ends of the long… More >>
  • Best Bizarre Bread

    BOWNIE

    Places like Sullivan Street Bakery (see Pizza Box, below) have long been pushing the envelope as far as bread is concerned, innovating with herbs, olives, sea salt, and other flavor sensations. Still, even the strongest sourdough can't compare with the innate weirdness of Sri Lankan egg appam, available Sundays at BOWNIE. As you peer into the delicious, bowl-shaped bread, you'll… More >>
  • Best Phat Tso's

    FORTUNE GARDEN

    The much discredited General Tso's chicken is served with renewed vigor at FORTUNE GARDEN, a somber and hulking presence on Hylan Boulevard. Bone-in chicken fragments are fried, then coated with a sauce whose sweetness is redeemed by a good dose of chiles and side of perfectly cooked broccoli. Also recommended: fried rice with "Fuchow" sauce.… More >>
  • Best Yummy Yogurt

    YOGHURT PLACE II - CLOSED

    Other yogurts will turn to sawdust in your mouth once you've tried the homemade product at Soho newcomer the YOGHURT PLACE II. The full-fat product (called "Greek Strained Yogurt") is the tastiest, but so thick, it's best spread on bread or crackers. To eat plain or serve with fruit, thin it out with water. Also don't miss the garlic-laced tzatziki.… More >>
  • Best Graceful Grilled Fish

    STAMATIS - CLOSED

    The sea bass at Astoria's STAMATIS, one of the neighborhood's old-timers, is cooked over charcoal, and develops a burnished skin with little charred sections imprinted by the cooking basket that held it. Doused with pungent olive oil and a handful of dried oregano, the flesh is sweet, tender, and smoky. Though the bass is large enough to share, you won't… More >>
  • Best Tasty Tongue

    KARAM

    The rich veal tongue comes laved in piquant vinegar, shredded and tender. It's the best thing on an impressive menu at KARAM, a tiny Lebanese lunch counter open very late into the evening at the heart of Bay Ridge's bustling business district. Side the tongue with the glistening skin-on fries and the excellent garlic sauce, a spin on Greek skordalia… More >>
  • Best Formidable Fries

    B. FRITES

    Remember the Belgian Fries craze of a couple years back? Well, it's not over yet. Corporate-looking B. FRITES, just north of Times Square, double-fries and dispenses the best frites in town. I avoid the sauces in warm weather because they're not refrigerated, and sweltering mayo—Dutch or not—is a drag. Luckily, the fries are great by themselves—crusty, brown, greasy, and served… More >>
  • Best Indian Greasy Spoon

    SIRTAJ

    The late lamented Chinar used to waltz away with the prize, but it was simply too good and cheap for the modern Times Square to tolerate. So the award goes to the more obscure SIRTAJ. In contrast to your usual Indian steam-table joint, this greasy spoon assembles the dishes to order, resulting in significantly fresher-tasting eats. Recommended: onion kulcha, vegetable… More >>
  • Best Queens Indian Buffet

    PUNJABI KEBAB HOUSE

    The corner of Atlantic Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard in Richmond Hill is the new Jackson Heights, and the food is a damn sight better. Marvel at the all-you-can-eat buffet at PUNJABI KEBAB HOUSE (11 a.m. to 3 p.m., $5). There are more vegetarian selections than you'd expect, and the curries are well sauced and meaty. Neither are the other niceties… More >>
  • Best Manhattan Indian Buffet

    CHOLA

    The competition boiled down to two places, both mounting a great upscale lunch buffet. Priced at $13.95, CHOLA cops the prize (runner-up: UTSAV), not only for the excellence and fecundity of its meat and poultry, and its willingness to offer items outside the standard Mughal canon, but because the waiter appeared with unexpected freebies at various junctures during the meal,… More >>
  • Best Tasty Tandoori

    TANDOORI HUT

    Catty-corner from Punjabi Kebab House and adjacent to a Sikh temple with some impressive blue neon lurks TANDOORI HUT, a brilliant innovator in the use of the vertical clay oven. Tandoori chicken comes in several psychedelic colors, and Chinese food jiggered for Indian tastes occupies its own section of the menu. They'll tandoori anything!… More >>
  • Best Funky Fare

    MY THAI

    Japanese natto beans, West African stockfish, stinky Spanish cabrales cheese—"funkiest fare" is always a thronged and hotly contested category. After sampling many dishes that made me wrinkle up my nose (and, sometimes, wonder if I was going to puke), the award goes to kana pla lem at MY THAI, a dish described as "dried salted fish sautéed with Chinese broccoli."… More >>
  • Best Choice Chicken

    YEAH SHANGHAI DELUXE

    In all the boroughs, the roast Northern China chicken at YEAH SHANGHAI DELUXE (sounds like a band name) is unique. Pulled like barbecued pork, the flesh is heaped up wigwam-style, then covered with the skin, which has developed an interesting leathery texture. Best of all, a thin dressing laced with sweet spices is provided on the side, which serves as… More >>
  • Best Downscale Burger

    KARAVAS

    This is going to get a little kinky, but bear with me. Go to Greek stalwart KARAVAS and order the burger, and don't be discouraged when the cook pulls the large patty from the freezer and plops it on the griddle. Request fried onions and the so-called white sauce usually used on the gyro, which is really Hellenic tzatziki. The… More >>
  • Best Absurdly Upscale Burger

    DB BISTRO

    It used to be that Patroon served the most expensive burger in town, and at $23, it failed to justify the price. Now along comes Daniel Boulud, who applies his playful artistic sensibilities to America's favorite meal. With a well-browned exterior, and a rare interior of exemplary beef, the burger ($28) at DB BISTRO is further stuffed with foie gras… More >>
  • Best Breakfast Burger

    ON THE PARK

    Actually, it's the only breakfast burger that I've ever heard of. Harlem's hamburger specialist ON THE PARK recently moved to more luxurious digs on Central Park, bringing along its breathtaking 29-burger array, of which my fave is the breakfast burger, a half-pound of good ground beef topped with bacon, two fried eggs, and yellow cheese-food product. Yum, and not just… More >>
  • Best Excellent Egg Salad

    EISENBERG'S SANDWICH SHOP

    Step into the past at EISENBERG'S SANDWICH SHOP, when sandwiches weren't made with faddish ingredients like arugula, pesto, and ciabattas. In 1929, New York City was paved with these places. A lonely presence on this stretch of Fifth Avenue among fast-food emporia and pita palaces, it steadfastly retains the standard lunch menu of soups, sandwiches, and sour pickles. The egg… More >>
  • Best Speedy Rocket to Youthful Memories

    DAWGS ON PARK

    Remember your first bite of corn dog at the state fair? Well, I do, and it tasted just like the corn dog at DAWGS ON PARK, picturesquely located on the south end of Tompkins Square, and decorated with snapshots of neighborhood hounds. The corn dog is fried to order in decent grease and deposited in one of those little paper… More >>
  • Best Forceful Pho

    PHO NAM BO

    The broth for the tour-de-force Vietnamese soup called pho is a long-boiled stock in the French tradition, and nobody in town makes it better than PHO NAM BO, unexpectedly located in Bensonhurst, reflecting the diaspora of Viet restaurants from Chinatown five years ago. The huge bowl comes with rice noodles and your choice of thin-sliced beef cuts. Throw in the… More >>
  • Best Crazy Korean 'cue

    SOL BAWOO

    Intended to restore male vigor, the selection of dishes at the rustic SOL BAWOO runs to pork belly with raw oysters, goat dishes (including the cryptic "goat meat special part"), and eel—still twitching, and cooked over a charcoal brazier in the center of your table. Or opt for the more conservative cuts of beef or pork. Wear a cowboy hat… More >>
  • Best Incendiary Mouthful

    BRICK LANE CURRY HOUSE

    Newcomer BRICK LANE CURRY HOUSE seeks to present English-style Indian food to an American audience, and in this it enjoys a certain amount of success. Where it really roars, however, is in delivering the hottest dish in the city, a little something called phaal. The restaurant dares you to finish it, and if you do, you get a free beer.… More >>
  • Best Big Brooklyn Gutbomb

    JOHN'S DELI

    Nothing in the borough is quite as challenging as the roast beef hero at JOHN'S DELI—masses of warm, pink meat on a crusty hero, topped with melting slices of mozzarella and gobbed with a midnight gravy. Just close your eyes and bite. Hint: Wear something washable. Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday only.… More >>
  • Best Righteous Use of Cephalopod

    PEPOLINO

    When the partners at PEPOLINO finished up their stint at Florence's renowned Il Cibreo and emigrated to the U.S., they took a couple of signature dishes with them. Inzimeno, associated with the Tuscan town of Torre del Lago, begins with squid rings, escarole, and spinach, then cooks them down to a dark green sludge. The appearance: off-putting. The flavor: delightful.… More >>
  • Best Dazzling Dumplings

    DUMPLING HOUSE

    The pork-and-chive pot stickers at DUMPLING HOUSE are fabricated right before your eyes, then simultaneously fried and steamed in a round contraption, making them crispy on the bottom and soft on the top. Five for a dollar, there's no cheaper meal in town. Also don't miss "chives and egg pancake," a vermicelli-laden turnover fried in blazing oil to blistered brownness.… More >>
  • Best Groovy Greek

    SCOUNA TAVERNA

    Go on Sunday afternoon, and see what remains of Astoria's Greek community strut their stuff at SCOUNA TAVERNA. This unassuming eatery hails from Crete, though it serves a Panhellenic menu of fresh grilled fish, tangy bread dips, and a roster of stewed seafood and meat dishes that may be viewed on the steam table. Porgy is my fish of choice,… More >>
  • Best Toothsome Tajines

    LA MAISON DU COUSCOUS - CLOSED

    In spite of the restaurant name, the tajines are the best things on the menu at Bay Ridge's LA MAISON DU COUSCOUS. The permutations of olives, raisins, preserved lemons, onions, root vegetables, and artichokes matched with chicken or lamb are seemingly limitless, and these stews are actually cooked in the ceramic vessel that goes by the same name.… More >>
  • Best Superior Shawarma

    KOSHER DELIGHT - CLOSED

    Broadway north of Macy's is home to several kosher eateries, and which twirls the best chicken shawarma is a hotly contested issue. KOSHER DELIGHT puts the mystery meat right in the front window, flinging off rich odors of ground coriander and schmaltz. Though the sandwich (pick pita or baguette) is stratospherically priced at $6.50, this expenditure entitles you to cruise… More >>
  • Best Meat-Market Eatery

    ZITOUNE

    Let's face it, most of the restaurants that have opened in Manhattan's meatpacking district have turned out to be duds—configured to be of more interest to tourists and gossip columnists than avid diners. The restaurant that consistently serves up the best food is ZITOUNE, presenting Moroccan fare in a relaxed and celebrity-free setting. My favorite dish is tangia, a bachelor's… More >>
  • Best Perfect Pig

    EL GRAN BOHIO

    Pride of East Tremont is EL GRAN BOHIO, a real Puerto Rican lechonera with glistening pig parts mounded in the window. Nearly everything is $6 per pound, including the portions of roast pork carefully assembled for each customer by the machete-wielding wranglers—skin, fat, dark meat and light. If you don't receive the nearly colorless garlic sauce, demand it.… More >>
  • Best Champion Vegetarian Chinese

    BUDDHA BODAI

    There are about 10 strictly vegetarian Chinese restaurants in town, offering a menu combining Cantonese standards minus the meat with Shanghai meatless appetizers, including faux takes on sliced duck, roast pork, etc. BUDDHA BODAI takes this concept a step further, concocting entertaining and delicious vegetable simulacra of entire small animals. Arf!… More >>
  • Best Pretty Ice Cream Parlor

    EDDIE'S SWEET SHOP

    The homemade ice cream is old-fashioned tasting, and the soda fountain drinks of the remote past are all available. There's no denying the antiquarian appeal of EDDIE'S SWEET SHOP, founded in 1909 and showing every year of its age, from the uncomfortable wooden stools to the marble counter to the soda jets to the refrigerator that looks like it once… More >>
  • Best Delicious Museum Dining

    CAFE SABARSKY

    Attached to the diverting and amusing Neue Gallerie, CAFE SABARSKY is a real Viennese konditerei, with pastries on display in the glass case and along the sideboard, architectural triumphs of fondant, whipped cream, chocolate, fresh fruits, and kompots. There are short dishes of charcuterie, cheese, and pickled things; sandwiches; and larger plates like boiled beef tafelspitz, smoked trout crepes, und… More >>
  • Best Delicious Museum Dining

    CAFE SABARSKY

    Attached to the diverting and amusing Neue Gallerie, CAFE SABARSKY is a real Viennese konditerei, with pastries on display in the glass case and along the sideboard, architectural triumphs of fondant, whipped cream, chocolate, fresh fruits, and kompots. There are short dishes of charcuterie, cheese, and pickled things; sandwiches; and larger plates like boiled beef tafelspitz, smoked trout crepes, und… More >>
  • Best New Steak House

    MARK JOSEPH

    While most new steak houses in town have descended to gimmicks or frippery, MARK JOSEPH has stuck with the basics: well-aged and well-marbled meat. Taking Peter Luger as its model, the porterhouse for two comes presliced but still clinging to the bone, buttery and smoky. The accoutrements are also firmly in place: pristine shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad with anchovy dressing,… More >>
  • Best Prize Pastrami

    DELI MASTERS

    Sorry to disappoint all the fans of Second Avenue Deli, Katz's, and Carnegie Deli, but I had my best pastrami sandwich of the year late one evening at DELI MASTERS, an obscure kosher deli that hangs above the LIE like a goiter. Served on rye, the sandwich is full but not overstuffed, and the meat is greasy and flavorful.… More >>
  • Best Daring Use of Fatty Tuna

    FRESH

    Somewhere it's written in stone that the fat-marbled meat on the tuna's belly can only be served as sashimi, or, in the style of places like Nobu and Bond Street, lightly seared. Flying in the face of this inflexible doctrine, newcomer FRESH sautés toro into oblivion, developing a garlicky caramelized crust on the outside, and rendering the flesh into something… More >>
  • Best Use of Lobster

    MARY'S FISH CAMP

    So-called "lobster knuckles" are delicate and delicious—it's the meat from the appendage that ends in the claw—and getting at it requires less effort than dismembering an entire lobster. One serving demolishes a herd of lobsters and involves only a modest expenditure on your part. MARY'S FISH CAMP is the only place wily enough to present this specialty.… More >>
  • Best Oyster Po' Boy

    PEARL

    OK, New Orleans is over a thousand miles away, and you're not going to get a real oyster po' boy in these precincts. The closest you're likely to come is the oyster roll at PEARL. Mounted on a Maine-style lobster roll, the fried oysters tumble out pell-mell, and the homemade tartar sauce is enlivened with capers, dill pickles, and bits… More >>
  • Best Almost Barbecued Ribs

    HAVANA CENTRAL - CLOSED

    The costillas Cubanas at Union Square newcomer HAVANA CENTRAL taste just like real barbecued ribs, rich, smoky, and dripping a slightly sweet mango-habanero sauce that wouldn't be out of place in the Carolinas, Memphis, or even Texas. And the rice-and-bean sides go just as well with ribs as, say, dill pickles and Wonder Bread.… More >>
  • Best Oven-Barbecued Ribs

    ROYAL RIB HOUSE

    You'll feel like a king when you hoist a meaty pork rib at Bed-Stuy's ROYAL RIB HOUSE. These scepter-size pork beauties ooze a tart tomato barbecue sauce (pick mild or hot) that will make you want to lick every drop. Also don't miss the pulled pork and pickle-juice-propelled potato salad. Open only Thursday through Saturday.… More >>
  • Best Savvy Sardines

    ALLIOLI

    The grilled sardines at Catalonian tapas bar ALLIOLI come planted on a piece of toast, so no juices go to waste, and heaped with a zesty tomato relish that contrasts nicely with the dark flavor of Iberia's favorite fish. Order a glass of rioja and side the sardines with the excellent bowl of mixed olives—laced with garlic, rosemary, and lemon… More >>
  • Best Fantastic Flatbreads

    DESI VILLAGE

    If you're on your way back from Brooklyn beaches, there's no better supper spot than DESI VILLAGE, an oddly isolated Indian with good tandoori, lots of vegetarian, and a bread list that encompasses a stunning 12 varieties. My favorite is the Afghan-leaning Kabuli naan, studded with nuts and dried fruit, with village naan—the South Asian equivalent of an everything bagel—running… More >>
  • Best Sicilian Spiedini

    MISS WILLIAMSBURG DINER

    Sicilian spiedini, now popular all over Italy, are meats and fish skewered on a spiedo and cooked over an open fire, a vestige of Moorish influence on the island that lies only 90 miles from North Africa. The best spiedini are found at MISS WILLIAMSBURG DINER, where pieces of delicate squid torso are threaded on a stick and lightly charred,… More >>
  • Best Roman Spiedini

    ROMANO

    In Roman cooking, the same spiedo is used to hold toasted cheese sandwiches as they deep fry, creating spiedini unlike those anywhere else. At ROMANO in Dyker Heights, the sandwich is an especially lush double-decker the size of a small dog, made with fresh mozzarella and dipped in beaten egg before frying. Then anchovies are laid along the seams, and… More >>
  • Best Brains

    ALL STAR CAFE RESTAURANT

    Ever since the advent of mad cow disease, the popular passion for brains has abated somewhat, although brain fanciers can still find some succor at doctrinaire French places like Lunchonette. Most highly recommended in the gray-matter category is Arthur Avenue's premier Albanian, the ALL STAR CAFE RESTAURANT, where you can have your nervous tissue two ways: simply grilled and drizzled… More >>
  • Best Italian Hero

    FAICCO'S

    Improvising within the hallowed canon of the Italian hero, Village pork store FAICCO'S takes advantage of its superior access to cold cuts to create the city's most formidable hero. With a flick of the knife, the crusty roll is laid open, then successively piled with San Daniele prosciutto, hot cappicola, Genoa salami, house-made soppressata, fresh mozzarella, pickled red peppers, lettuce,… More >>
  • Best Freakin' Fried Clams—bourgeois

    THE HARRISON

    The buzz has bounced back and forth across downtown all season, and as you step inside the restaurant, a complete stranger might even turn to you and mouth the words "fried clams." It is in Clamville that the almost stuffy THE HARRISON has most distinguished itself, with a plethora of perfectly fried shellfish interleaved with fried parsley and sided with… More >>
  • Best Freakin' Fried Clams—proletarian

    RANDAZZO'S

    You want great proletarian clams? You go to a clam house. One of the few real ones left is RANDAZZO'S, poised on the lip of Sheepshead Bay's concrete bathtub. The clams are crisp, abundant, and come gobbed with a hot, dark, red sauce slagged with oregano, which is more than adequate to the task of further lubricating those surfside honeys.… More >>
  • Best Choice Restaurant Cheese

    ARTISANAL

    Since it opened a couple of years ago, the hands-down favorite for cheese has been ARTISANAL. An affineur is on call all day, and you may stray to the side of the dining room to inspect the aging cheeses on the counter or in the "cave." Cheese-bearing menu selections include the baked puffs called gougeres and other cheesy appetizers, toasted… More >>
  • Best Choice Retail Cheese

    MURRAY'S CHEESE

    How many types of blue cheese does one person need? I counted 11 the other day at MURRAY'S CHEESE. The counter staff is bizarrely knowledgeable (they must hurry home at night and eat cheese) and the selection outstrips any other fromagerie in town. And there's always a special cheese-producing region of the globe being spotlighted, if you arrive with no… More >>
  • Best Diner Breakfast

    WAVERLY RESTAURANT

    Nobody's tried the breakfasts at all of the hundreds of diners in town, so this call is from instinct. I find myself returning consistently for the two eggs sunny-side up, two fat sausage links, two pieces of buttered whole-wheat toast, shredded hash browns, fresh orange juice, and coffee at Village stalwart WAVERLY RESTAURANT. The serenity-amid-hubbub of the premises, and relentless… More >>
  • Best Friendly Diner

    TOM'S

    TOM'S has slung hash since 1936, and it functions as the village square of Prospect Heights—a place where you can depend on a warm greeting, decent chow, and a chance to socialize with your nabies. If you don't want the all-day breakfast, wash down the brisket sandwich with a non-alcoholic lime rickey.… More >>
  • Best Fake Diner

    DINER

    Located under the Williamsburg Bridge, the decrepit premises of DINER really did once contain a diner. Now it's Williamsburg's hippest eatery, with a limited menu of crowd pleasers like steak frites and hamburgers, both memorable. All of the culinary action, however, is on the ever-changing specials menu, which might include an eggplant sandwich one day at lunch, and an ambi-tious… More >>
  • Best Bronx Diner

    TIBBETT DINER

    Talk about obscure locations! Just try to find Tibbett Avenue. When you do, you'll be in view of TIBBETT DINER. The eclectic menu goes from whole broiled fish (impressively fresh) to Italian to Greek to Irish, all better than your average diner. From the final category comes a savory chicken pot pie, loaded with poultry and hand-hewn vegetables. The pebbly… More >>
  • Best Brave Diner

    RIVER DINER

    The plucky RIVER DINER performs an aesthetic face-off against the evil mass of the Javits Center across the concrete river of Eleventh Avenue, challenging the fast-food kiosks of the convention center with its predictable menu of toasted cheese, enhanced canned soups, burgers, and fries. Guess what? The diner wins every time.,… More >>
  • Best Fair Not-Too-Far-From-Javits Eats

    MARKET CAFE

    Though nominally a French bistro, the long-running MARKET CAFE also proffers a menu of delicious individual pizzas (my favorite: clam and mozzarella) and formidable pasta choices, in addition to maverick Swedish specials come Christmastide. The Formica fixtures date from an earlier establishment, and the neighborhood hipsters and in-the-know tourists who frequent the place like it that way.… More >>
  • Best Brawny Buffalo Wings

    PLUCK U

    You want great wings? Go to a specialist. I'm partial to PLUCK U. Choose from several levels of hotness, and peer through the mortise in the wall as the attendant takes your fried poultry appendages and shakes them vigorously with the appropriate Tabasco-based sauce. The five-wing combo with fries and soda is a great lure, but only the 10-wing box… More >>
  • Best Fresh Sushi

    KURUMA ZUSHI

    Toshihiro Uezu is a towering figure on the New York sushi scene, a seafood impresario who surveys the ichthyological world for the freshest and tastiest specimens, then superintends their transformation into modest-sized lozenges streamlined for maximum flavor. Fifteen minutes in his care at KURUMA ZUSHI is bliss; two hours spells bankruptcy. Expect the fattiest tuna belly you've ever seen.… More >>
  • Best Fresh East Village Sushi

    HASAKI

    Some of the E.V.'s best sushi parlors have fallen like stricken gladiators. Researching this item I stopped into an old favorite on Avenue A, and was shocked to discover that much of the sushi in now pre-sliced, separated by dodgy pieces of paper towel. Among old-timers, HASAKI continues to produce excellent sushi the hard way, with careful selection of ingredients… More >>
  • Best Wonderful Whiting—Brooklyn

    CAROLINA CREEK

    When Southern cooking was reformulated for local ingredients by African American immigrants to the city in the 1920s, one of the prime dilemmas was what to substitute for catfish. Whiting was the answer, and it remains the premier soul fish in these parts. Lightly dusted with cornmeal and fried in fresh oil, the whiting at CAROLINA CREEK is this year's… More >>
  • Best Swish And Hips

    CHIP SHOP

    The attempt at Cockney slang notwithstanding, the fish and chips at Park Slope's CHIP SHOP are superb. My fave is cod—crisp and mellow, with that slightly skanky edge that only carefully aged grease can confer. If you know what's good for you, skip the Brit culinary obsessions like mushy peas and deep-fried candy bars.… More >>
  • Best Choice Chowder

    OYSTER BAR

    Nothing beats the creamy New England clam chowder at the OYSTER BAR, under the exhilarating vaulted ceiling in the bowels of Grand Central Terminal (skip the nearby food court—it's a wasteland). Sit at the bar and watch the shuckers shuck and the chowder cooks wield that weird, counter-mounted metal contraption. Amazingly, a big bowl served with oyster crackers is still… More >>
  • Best Fantastic Falafel

    AZURI CAFE

    Flat like a flying saucer, studded with extra sesame seeds for added crunch, and cooked long enough to not be mushy in the middle, AZURI CAFE's falafel are generally regarded as the best in town, and somebody or other offers me this tip about once a month. Though the falafel themselves are fantastic, the real payoff lies with the dozen… More >>
  • Best Tasty Taco

    JUQUILA

    Man, there must be hundreds or even thousands of taquerias in the five boroughs, and it's way beyond my abilities to try every one, though it would be a worthwhile project. I can, however, easily point to the best taco I've had in the last month: the goat tacos at JUQUILA. Three to an order, they're minimally dressed with onions… More >>
  • Best Proley Cannoli

    CAFFE CAPRI

    There's no place I'd rather nurse an espresso than CAFFE CAPRI, a charming Italian coffee shop that transplanted a little bit of glamorous Capri to Williamsburg in 1974, and never changed one bit thereafter. The shells are trucked in, but the ricotta filling is concocted on the spot, white as driven snow. The cannoli are filled when you order them,… More >>
  • Best Fabulous Fuzhou

    118 LUCKY

    The wave of Fujianese immigrants has crested in the last couple of years, creating new parts of Chinatown on the Lower East Side, now teeming with bargain cafés that charge $3 for a selection of three dishes served over a mountain of rice. In addition to a diverting steam table, 118 LUCKY offers a menu of standards like sweet dumpling… More >>
  • Best Choice Cheb

    DABAKH-MALIK

    Cheb, the national dish of Senegal, is now available in four boroughs in a range of renditions. Current best is that found at DABAKH-MALIK, picturesquely located right across the street from the Slave #1 Theatre on Bed-Stuy's main drag—a mountain of red rice incorporating hunks of stuffed bluefish, cabbage, cassava, and carrot, the flavor darkened with wisps of stockfish.… More >>
  • Best Perfect Pupusas

    EL REFUGIO

    The Salvadoran pupusa is the world's most overlooked pancake. Versatile and humble, they function as snacks, accompaniments, or entire meals. The best are found far out on the Rockaway Peninsula at EL REFUGIO, which sports a broader range than just the usual bean, cheese, and pork. One is stuffed with leathery zucchini, while the plain cheese is engagingly tweaked with… More >>
  • Best Bubbles

    SAINT'S ALP - CLOSED

    There are so many jive renditions of bubble tea floating around lately that the bubble fancier has to beware. Some are made with cut-rate fruit powders, some substitute nondairy creamer for milk, while others are just incompetently formulated and incompletely mixed. Avoid all these problems at SAINT'S ALP, the little tea parlor that mistook its possessive. But, for Pete's sake,… More >>
  • Best Tasty Crime Scene

    BAR VELOCE

    The city's best wine bar and panini shop not only endured the shooting and hostage drama of earlier this year, it overcame and survived. BAR VELOCE's shopcoated wine geek and sandwich fabricator still pour good Italian vintages and serve up exceptional accompanying grub in an oddly lit and relaxing setting. Go for the eggplant panini and, if pocketbook permits, a… More >>
  • Best Brazilian Carryout

    CANTINA DE LINA

    The motherly chef at CANTINA DE LINA has been all around the block, restaurant-wise, in the last few years, now locating to a miniature storefront just off Astoria's main drag. The place is so small, she only concocts a couple of Cariocan specialties per day (Saturday: feijoada, Tuesday: chicken with okra), though fritter-type snacks are always available.… More >>
  • Best Upper-Manhattan Steak House

    EL CONDE

    You can't beat a grill right in the front window. EL CONDE's draws customers in from Broadway with the sight, sound, and smell of sizzling skirt steak. This being a Dominican establishment, you can happily side your steak with excellent octopus salad and yuca with garlic sauce.… More >>
  • Best Humble Hero

    CATENE DELI - CLOSED

    On a busy 9th Street corner, CATENE DELI has been noted by most Slope dwellers, but few have stepped inside. This ancient Italian sandwich shop does wonders with calamari, including its signature sandwich: thickly breaded and well-fried squid heaped on a hero and sluiced with tangy tomato sauce. The carbo charge alone will send you running back up the hill… More >>
  • Best Perfect Pole

    POLISH PLACE - CLOSED

    Most Manhattan Polish cafés suffer from a need to resemble Greek diners in one respect or another, serving hamburgers and American breakfasts. Spawned by a wonderful grocery limited to Eastern European products, the POLISH PLACE also has an informal restaurant serving dishes from the carryout counter. Don't miss the blintzes and sausage-dotted lima bean soup.… More >>
  • Best Rad Chocolates

    JACQUES TORRES CHOCOLATE

    . . . and also, unfortunately, the most expensive. The celebrity French chef Jacques Torres blew into town a year and a half ago to create JACQUES TORRES CHOCOLATE, flogging tiny filled chocolates for about a dollar apiece, which is cheaper than you can get them in Manhattan. My favorite is a semi-firm caramel with a salty center. A dangerous… More >>
  • Best Juicy Jerk

    CARIBBEAN TASTE INC.

    Jerk awards have skipped back and forth between Brooklyn and the Bronx the last few years, and I'm happy to report that our northernmost borough has reclaimed the title. Located on a busy Edenwald corner that throngs with rambunctious school kids around three o'clock, CARIBBEAN TASTE INC. is a carryout that dispenses the usual range of Jamaican specialties, and an… More >>
  • Best Haughty Hotel Dining

    ATELIER

    Though only a few months old, the Ritz-Carlton's ATELIER has already distinguished itself as one of the finest old-guard French restaurants in town, heavy on the foie gras and caviar, but also exploring new culinary territory with a peasant flour soup sporting a wad of frog meat in the middle, and rack of lamb crusted with five types of peppercorn.… More >>
  • Best Supreme Ice Cream

    IL LABORATORIO DEL GELATO

    Lots of fancy ice creams, gelatos, and ices in town, but none can quite match the perversely named newcomer IL LABORATORIO DEL GELATO, where the technicians and counter force wear white lab coats (cool gimmick) and bustle around like scientists. Only a handful of flavors are available every day. On a recent visit, the tastiest gelato was a puce-colored pistachio… More >>
  • Best Big and Cheap European

    OLD POLAND BAKERY AND RESTAURANT

    While Fuzhou eateries like 118 Lucky hold down the Asian end of big and cheap, the Poles take the cake when it comes to the European end. Greenpoint's OLD POLAND BAKERY AND RESTAURANT, whose symbol is a mounted knight with lance, offers plenty of meals under $5, of which the cheapest choices like chicken livers or pork shanks hover around… More >>
  • Best Communal Dining

    145 LUNCHEONETTE

    Don't bother with the menu at 145 LUNCHEONETTE. Ask what kinds of meat (always halal) are workin' on the grill, then ask for a selection—often including lamb shank, lamb shish kebab, and chicken; sometimes kidney and liver. You'll receive the meat layered on a giant mound of spice-studded rice, punctuated with puddles of potato curry. Authenticity enthusiasts will want to… More >>
  • Pizza Box

    FAVES FROM THE NEW YORK PIZZA SCENE

    In New York's expanding pizza scene, there are five types of pies to choose from: thin-crust high-temp coal oven (type A); boutiquey thin-crust high-temp wood oven (type B); standard conventional oven, usually available by the slice (type C); Sicilian (type D); and bakery pizza (type E). Following is a ranked list of my current faves. Don't blame me if your… More >>
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