Food & Drink

  • best bar bathroom in which to conduct a lobotomy

    MOTO

    "South" Williamsburg intellectuals in search of a sentimental education come to MOTO for glasses of rich, chocolaty Corsendonk beer and tasty, reasonably priced panini. Far more compelling, though, is the bar-café's shadowy lavatory: Reminiscent of a physician's office in some gothic horror novel, it's got an old-fashioned pull-chain toilet; flickering candles casting sidelong sepia-toned glances; and a dark, almost murderous… More >>
  • best bar for a night of the living dead

    ZOMBIE HUT

    A mixologist pal swears the ZOMBIE HUT muddles up the worst cocktails, pouring in stupefying quantities of liquor without heed to proportion or taste. But one man's poison is another man's party, especially when it comes to the Frozen Zombie—a cocktail with three rums and a mystery floater available in four sizes, including a volcano bowl for four. If you… More >>
  • best bar to go to feel like you're on the set of blade runner

    DECIBEL

    Everything about DECIBEL seems like it's a secret between you and Harrison Ford. The downstairs unmarked entrance, the roped- off front room, the grimy color of the walls, the burnished wood of the counters—even my favorite drink, a lychee martini, looks like it's from the otherworld, with a weird pink, fleshy fruit floating in the glass. You expect the replicants… More >>
  • best bar in which to pretend you're tripping ass

    ASSENZIO

    "I think the walls are moving!" you say after drinking a glass of absinthe, carefully poured over flaming sugar cubes, at the East Village's ASSENZIO wine bar. Then you realize that the absinthe is actually Absente, a brand that replaces the illegal wormwood with southernwood, a weaker botanical cousin. Bummer!… More >>
  • best real irish pub

    ROCKY SULLIVAN'S

    Surrounded by scads of EPCOT-Ireland "pubs" populated by suits and mooks with tweed hats and leprechaun tats, ROCKY SULLIVAN'S is the real deal. The grubby underground hole has real Irish music on the box and tiny stage, real Irish authors at its superb Wednesday night readings series, and real Irish language classes in the back room. The "Unrepentant Fenian Bastard"… More >>
  • best place to avoid the meat market bar scene

    MILK & HONEY - CLOSED

    The secret Lower East Side bar MILK & HONEY takes its reputation as a high-end drinking establishment seriously. So much so that it's posted a list of rules for wooing in the bathroom (and what better time to inform its clientele than when their pants are down). Should a "gentleman" wish to meet a woman, he must first ask the… More >>
  • best margarita to go with your souvlaki

    RENAISSANCE

    Diners are great for late-night cheeseburger-cheeseburger Greece-fests, but when's the last time you felt compelled to wash the grub down with anything but Pepsi Pepsi? Enter RENAISSANCE, a 24/7 "restaurant" with a candlelit back lounge serving $2.95 champagne flutes, $5.95 frozen margaritas, and $6 North Coast wines alongside the usual turkey triple-deckers and chicken souvlaki platters.… More >>
  • best drink to throw in a bad date's face

    DO HWA

    Personally, I'd just be so grateful to be grilling chicken and bok choy with anyone. But should the need arise, in self-defense or self-sabotage, sling back a flute and liberally splash DO HWA's lemon ginger champagne. Aim for the eyes, groin, or back of knee, punctuate with a dramatic half-turn, and stomp out of the Korean barbecue joint.… More >>
  • best coffee shop for plotting rapture and revenge

    HIGHER GROUNDS CAFÉ

    A covenant diabolique seems stipulated at HIGHER GROUNDS CAFÉ, a bewitching pussycat of a place run by a comely group of gallant muchachos. The coffee will brace you for hatching cunning love hexes and avenging hat tricks both. Pinch blueprints for slaying hearts or wreaking malice from domino players while nursing a barrel-sized iced Red Eye (perk with espresso). And… More >>
  • best place to watch a fish asphyxiate while you drink coffee

    DRAGON LAND BAKERY

    The scum-soaked glass-top tables at Chinatown's DRAGON LAND BAKERY each contain a fish or two, gasping on its last breath of air. There is something infinitely artistic about sitting in the windowed street-corner bakeshop, munching an 80 cent sponge cake, sipping a coffee, and watching a gimmick die before your eyes. Shared tables intensify the sweet intimacy of people watching… More >>
  • best gratuitous indoor moat

    GALAPAGOS

    Perhaps in an effort to flaunt what used to be the low cost of real estate in Williamsburg, the design team at GALAPAGOS decided to fill an enormous sunken basin at the entrance of its mayonnaise factory turned bar with murky glowing water. Well, just regular water, but it looks ominous in Galapagos's alternately swanky and dungeon-like interior. Patrons delicately… More >>
  • best nautical-themed hipster hangout

    GREAT LAKES - CLOSED

    GREAT LAKES attracts the kinds of beer drinkers that like to rock out internally to indie-influenced, overly loud jukebox music around candlelit round wooden tables. Papered with maps of Lake Ontario and such, the bar's conceit is that it's kind of cool to reminisce about upstate New York and the Midwest when you are cozied up with pretty young professionals… More >>
  • best bar in which to win transsexual porn

    GLOBAL 33

    Misstress Formika's Monday-night bingo at GLOBAL 33 is a lot like your mama's game, what with all the cutthroat competition and valuable prizes—including cash, pitchers of cosmos, packs of cigarettes, and, um, transsexual porn videos. It's even more fun than gambling in church, and here, the old hags are actually civil to one another! You get one free bingo board… More >>
  • best place to win drinks in exchange for useless trivia

    PETE'S CANDY STORE

    A rotating cast of self-proclaimed nerds compete for tables at what looks like a burlesque show turned spelling bee to play "the only sport we're good at." MC Quizz Off! at PETE'S CANDY STORE takes place weekly, and leads up to a "superbowl" noteworthy for its additional sensory rounds. If you can identify the top 10 losing vice presidential candidates,… More >>
  • best fun-to-say cheap glass of red

    $6 MONTEPULCIANO AT NEWLY REVAMPED VIA DELLA PACE

    Wine lists are lengthy and anonymous. Make the $6 MONTEPULCIANO AT NEWLY REVAMPED VIA DELLA PACE your pal. Spend a single night with her and anytime you return she'll stare boldly out at you off of the menu, just begging you to take her in your hand. Say her luxurious name. There's the mmmmm and ooooooo bookends . . .… More >>
  • best drink names

    WAIKIKI WALLY'S - CLOSED

    Start off with a Jealous Tiki God, switch to a Throw the Virgin in the Volcano, move on to a Greenwich Connecticut Deb—the latter two available in tiki mugs, scorpion bowls, or volcano bowls—and hold onto your lei. The martikis and grogs at East Village newbie WAIKIKI WALLY'S are reason enough to visit; convincing Polynesian decor and a menu that… More >>
  • best place to get the bartender to laugh at your drink order

    MOTOR CITY - CLOSED

    Sloe gin and Coke, known as Mexican Cough Syrup to its few fans, is too sickly sweet to even be a girl drink. Ordering is a masochist's job: bartenders frown, make you repeat yourself six times, or have to dig around the bar just to find their one bottle of sloe gin. But at MOTOR CITY, the bartender will actually… More >>
  • best trashy new bar

    THE HOLE

    It used to be the Fat Cock, and while that version was sleazy too, THE HOLE is a far more appropriate name. The Hole is really a hole in the wall: the walls are black, covered in graffiti, the chairs and couches are falling apart, no doubt stained with beer, cigarette burns, and who knows what else. The place stinks… More >>
  • best ritzy yet tacky bar

    RISE AT THE BATTERY PARK RITZ CARLTON

    At RISE AT THE BATTERY PARK RITZ CARLTON you can toast Lady Liberty with a martini generous enough for two—the bar, which sits on the 14th floor of the do-tell hotel, overlooks New York Harbor. Ritzy! Yet the decor more closely resembles that of a Motel 6 than a four-star establishment, and the service sucks. Tacky!… More >>
  • best annual sporting event at which to glug free champagne

    BASTILLE DAY PÉTANQUE TOURNAMENT

    A large, local Francophile community guarantees fêtes fantastiques come July 14, the day the French Revolution erupted. But only outside Soho restaurant Provence can you revel in free Veuve Clicquot (and ignore the fact that such luxuries would have gotten you to the guillotine alongside Ms. Marie Antoinette) while an enthusiastic BASTILLE DAY PÉTANQUE TOURNAMENT (a cross between horseshoes and… More >>
  • best undercover-cop bar

    DISTINGUISHED WAKAMBA COCKTAIL LOUNGE

    In March 2000, an undercover cop murdered Patrick Dorismond after unsuccessfully trying to buy drugs from him at the DISTINGUISHED WAKAMBA COCKTAIL LOUNGE. Located adjacent to a Gray's Papaya and a DVD porn palace on a sullied midtown strip, the Wakamba still attracts a late-night blue-collar crowd, and we're pretty sure these fellas don't work for the phone company. Also… More >>
  • best marketing campaign co-opting hipster drinking habits

    RHEINGOLD BEER

    It's time to stop apologizing for RHEINGOLD BEER's treacly malt taste—the underdog no more. Their recent marketing blitz aimed at young New Yorkers included "Rheingold" stickers plastering every phone booth on Ludlow Street and bottles of the stuff littering Vice parties at the Park. Only slightly less grating than the Budweiser "whazzup" frog: Rheingold's weekly bombardment of e-mails from "Marisa"… More >>
  • best bar for celeb sightings without bouncers or velvet ropes

    CEDAR TAVERN - CLOSED

    There's Winona sipping a drink. There's Turlington chatting with a guy who's not Ed Burns. Brad Pitt. Matt Dillon. Paltrow, Norton, Spacey. Is this Centro-Fly? Nope. Lot 61? Uh-uh. Just good ol' CEDAR TAVERN. No V.I.P. room, no Cristal, no goddamn Hiltons. So what the hell's the A-list doing here? "It's totally low-key," says a server. "People don't talk to… More >>
  • best place to shoot deer while drinking

    7B

    Some follow the creed "If it's good enough for Jack White, it's good enough for me." These folks love Loretta Lynn, dress in white and red, and drink at 7B. But it's not just the indie rock clientele that makes this bar hot. Drinks are cheap and the jukebox has all the right rock tunes for slinging back brews.… More >>
  • best free happy hour

    ASTOR WINES AND SPIRITS

    It's after work on Friday, and Astor Place is humming with the usual assortment of invaders. Watch them cruise by from the sanctity of the free wine-tasting at ASTOR WINES AND SPIRITS. Tonight it's Spain. Next Wednesday it's California, Thursday, South Africa. Samples are small but continuous. Tune out the couple arguing whether a Gewurtztraminer is buttery or barnyardy, and… More >>
  • best beers that taste nothing like beer

    THE GINGER MAN

    When first published in 1955, J.P. Donleavy's comic novel THE GINGER MAN was banned in the U.S. But it did eventually reach the States and lend its name to this midtown bar specializing in single-malt scotches and a whole mess of beers that taste like soda pop with a kick. At last count, the menu featured two ciders, three fruit… More >>
  • best innovative icies

    NYC ICY

    "We're not just the guy on the corner," says John, who's been making multi-flavored gelatos and icies since he was a kid. He was inspired to open NYC ICY because his kid Noah is lactose intolerant. The seasonal shop serves fruity flavors such as green apple, passion fruit, NYPD Raspberry, licorice, and (their most popular flavor) apricot-ginger. "The ginger is… More >>
  • best upscale fish and chips

    ARTISANAL

    A master of cheese in its myriad forms, capable of using it in every course, ARTISANAL is the rare restaurant that started out good but has become spectacular. This confident Parisian-style brasserie offers something for every taste, including a wonderful fish and chips that features featherweight catfish sided with wobbly fries and a cup of unusual slaw.… More >>
  • best choco cake

    BLUE SMOKE

    Triple-tiered, chocolaty, and smeared with a modest amount of very rich frosting with a hint of salt, the cake at BLUE SMOKE easily wins the prize, with not a speck of mousse or a chocolate chip in sight. This is the way God intended chocolate cake to be.… More >>
  • best jerk pork

    BLUE MOUNTAIN - CLOSED

    This is a trick category. Although pig preceded chicken in Jamaica itself, chicken has always ruled in Brooklyn. But Brownsville's BLUE MOUNTAIN does amazing jerk pork in its 60-gallon drum, meaty nuggets thickly coated with a fragrant allspice rub. The jerk sauce is not as hot as it might be—which should come as a relief to many.… More >>
  • best vegetarian snack

    A & A BAKE AND DOUBLES

    Can't beat the doubles at A & A BAKE AND DOUBLES. Doubles—the term is both singular and plural—refers to a Trinidadian sandwich made by pressing curried chickpeas between a pair of infant flatbreads. The sweet and hot sauces hit doubles for a home run.… More >>
  • best meatball parmesan hero

    CORONA PIZZA

    Ben Faremo, the Lemon Ice King of Corona, wakes from his slumber and stares across the street at CORONA PIZZA, thinking dreamily of the wonderful meatball hero, heaped with melted mozzarella. Then he falls back to sleep.… More >>
  • best hash

    SARGE'S

    No, not that kind of hash! Corned beef hash, and not from a can, either. At SARGE'S, a 40-year-old establishment founded by a beat cop, the hash is made from scratch with tiny nubs of potato and slivers of house-cured corned beef. Fried until crisp, the hash is best surmounted by the optional trio of poached eggs. You won't find… More >>
  • best south american sex tonic

    LA POLLADA DE LAURA

    The name suggests competence in poultry preparation, and the rotisserie chicken at LA POLLADA DE LAURA is indeed top-notch. But look to the extensive ceviche list for the biggest thrills, from octopus in pungent olive oil to the crab-and-shrimp sex tonic called leche de tigre, served in a cocktail glass and waggishly known as "viagra peruano."… More >>
  • best mollusk collection

    LA PIAZZETTA

    Clams, mussels, and scallops come immersed in a whisper-light tomato sauce laced with white wine, garlic, and parsley in the old Neapolitan favorite, guazzetto. Find it at LA PIAZZETTA, a relative newcomer in Italian Williamsburg. In a bravura presentation, croutons brushed with garlic and olive oil ring the bowl.… More >>
  • best gumbo

    BAYOU

    Big Easy creole gumbo ain't too easy to find in these parts, which is why it's worth traipsing to Harlem for the gumbo at BAYOU. The twin thickeners of roux and disintegrated okra make for a very thick pottage, buoying the shrimp and hot tasso ham. Topside, a clump of white rice slakes the righteous heat.… More >>
  • best spaghetti with meatballs

    ROCCO'S

    Thanks to the celebrity chef's mother, ROCCO'S—focus of a lame-o reality TV series—slings the best version of this homely dish. The recipe imitates the sainted Neapolitan joints scattered across Brooklyn and Queens, but with a slightly perkier sauce. Maybe $15 is more than you want to pay, but the plate is large enough for two.… More >>
  • best breakfast

    BALTHAZAR

    Bakery-cum-brasserie BALTHAZAR turns out the best breakfast in town, a $10 tour de force of baked goodies dubbed Le Panier. Varying by day, it includes the choicest morsels from the patisserie next door. Recently the basket contained a sugar-dusted brioche, chocolate bread, a fruit-and-nut focaccia, walnut cranberry bread, and best of all, a caramel roll with plenty of crunch.… More >>
  • best cheese

    BEDFORD CHEESE SHOP

    Bet you thought I'd pick Murray's for the umpteenth time. Well, this year the palm goes to newcomer the BEDFORD CHEESE SHOP, wedged into a former girdle factory in the heart of the 'Burg. The display case is jammed with twice as many cheeses as it can well hold, most at the peak of ripeness. A recent foray turned up… More >>
  • best use of roast beef

    JACKIE'S DELICATESSEN

    Brooklyn roast beef heroes are a bona fide genre unto themselves, with enough variations to keep an ethnologist busy. The year's best is found at JACKIE'S DELICATESSEN, where a line of eager guys poised on the balls of their feet awaits your order. The beef is homemade—when matched with fresh mozzarella on a hot garlicked baguette in the "Roast Beef… More >>
  • best noodles

    HONMURA AN

    The decade-old HONMURA AN has stayed the course, turning out perfect soba every day, starting with imported Japanese buckwheat. While it seemed expensive when the place first opened, now the $21.75 bowl of soba and broth—topped with two tempura shrimps so large they must have frightened swimmers—seems like a deal.… More >>
  • best assortment of tiny dishes to go with wine

    LE ZOCCOLE - CLOSED

    Specializing in Venetian food, LE ZOCCOLE puts its best foot forward with its selection of tiny drinking dishes called chicchetti. The broad tray sails in with at least 10 selections ensconced in small bowls, often including oil-bathed octopus, prosciutto wrapped in a Parmesan basket, fried baby artichokes, and other delectable morsels. Don't dare call them tapas!… More >>
  • best octopod

    GIORGIONE

    This summer I found myself in a small Italian town kibitzing with a bunch of California foodies. What was the topic of conversation? The octopus at GIORGIONE. Four adolescent specimens in a spectacular vinaigrette provide just the right combo of tentacle and flesh, crunch and rubber, oil and ooze.… More >>
  • best schwarma, or is it shawarma?

    VILLAGE SHUWARMA

    As a result of cunning, or maybe orthographic disinterest, VILLAGE SHUWARMA adopted a new spelling for the mystery meat hacked from a rotating cylinder and deposited in a pita. While other places have switched to chicken, it often has lamb. Decorate your sandwich from a salad bar that has plenty of crunchy pickled vegetables and a couple of Yemenite sauces.… More >>
  • best mouth-searing dish

    SICHUAN DYNASTY

    You've got to look to the Sichuanese for the world's fieriest food, mainly because of their penchant for the simultaneous use of fresh chiles, chile flakes, and—most important of all—Sichuan peppercorns. To torture your mouth, go to SICHUAN DYNASTY and order "rabbit stew meat." Experience waves of searing heat, followed by the strange metallic prickle of the peppercorns.… More >>
  • best somewhat expensive almost vegan restaurant

    GOBO

    Founded by descendants of the Zen Palate chain, GOBO handily dispels the notion that vegan food must be bland. Hitting the place again while researching this issue, I found both the butternut squash risotto and the oyster mushrooms—shredded and cooked just like Chinese salt-and-pepper squid—excellent, and the other offerings at least interesting.… More >>
  • best non-italian enoteca

    PARADOU

    It took some bravery, but PARADOU has thrown down the gauntlet to challenge the 30-odd Italian wine bars in Gotham by mounting a list composed entirely of French wines and reinterpreting the panini in Gallic terms. In fine weather, the rear garden is the most hopping spot in Manhattan's meat market.… More >>
  • best italian enoteca

    'INOTECA - CLOSED

    Following in the footsteps of 'Ino, which invented the genre here in New York, 'INOTECA is the most perfect exemplum so far, with an Italian wine list filled with unexpected finds, a fine list of cheeses and cured meats, fritters, and the trademark panini and tramezzini that made its forebear justly famous.… More >>
  • best espresso

    BUREKTORJA DUKAGJINI

    Anyone who's motored up Italy's Autostrada knows that even truck stops generate amazing espresso. Not so in this country, where great coffee has to be searched out. Pay homage to the Platonic ideal of espresso by pilgriming to the Pelham Parkway neighborhood, where BUREKTORJA DUKAGJINI squirts out the city's best.… More >>
  • best burek

    HOUSE OF PIZZA - CLOSED

    Though Burektorja Dukagjini clearly produces the best espresso, the prize for burek formation belongs to an Astorian joint: HOUSE OF PIZZA. Pick cheese, spinach and cheese, or meat, and get a well-browned spare tire of a pie that feeds four, made from flaky pastry sheets something like filo.… More >>
  • best use of lobster

    RANDAZZO'S CLAM BAR

    The working-class clam castle RANDAZZO'S CLAM BAR, glowing along the concrete bathtub of Sheepshead Bay, scores some surprising hits in the pricier parts of its menu. The $14.95 linguine with lobster sauce laves more fluffy white meat than we probably deserve with cream and deposits it on masses of linguine cooked just long enough to serve as a perfect backdrop.… More >>
  • best lobster pound

    JORDAN'S

    Though you wouldn't expect to find a real lobster pound south of, say, Rhode Island, Brooklyn boasts two. JORDAN'S even looks the part, situated in a peeling saltbox house on an estuary lined with lobster boats. The whole steamed lobster is a thing of beauty, served with drawn butter, french fries, and an overcooked ear of corn.… More >>
  • best curry hill establishment

    HAANDI

    In the battle among vegetarian Indian, meat-bearing Indian, and Pakistani food raging along lower Lexington Avenue, HAANDI takes the cake. This modest café slings such rare fare as lamb in a camphor-laced rutabaga sauce, plump tandoori quails, and a particularly lacy take on aloo paratha, the potato-stuffed bread.… More >>
  • best tandoor

    UZBEKISTAN COMMUNITY CENTER

    Manufactured from horsehair and Central Asian mud, the tandoor oven at UZBEKISTAN COMMUNITY CENTER is like none you've ever seen before, and the kebabs, meat pies called samsa, and, especially, the turban-shaped loaf beloved of Central Asians all come out crisp and tasting prodigiously of wood smoke.… More >>
  • best-looking bar

    KILLMEYER'S OLD BAVARIA INN

    The ornate carved wood bar at KILLMEYER'S OLD BAVARIA INN is over 150 years old, and so are the recipes for German standards like sauerbraten and roast pork with dumplings. Just finding the place will be a test of your cartographic skills.… More >>
  • Best use of dried chiles

    LA CASA DE LOS TACOS - CLOSED

    The world-class pozole served weekends at LA CASA DE LOS TACOS contains not only the requisite pork and hominy, but loads of crushed red chiles of various sorts, enough to make you gasp for air. Fried tortillas are offered on the side for fragmenting and tossing into the soup.… More >>
  • Best non-ho-hum breakfast

    CRIF DOGS

    Can't resist hot dogs for breakfast but want to avoid the embarrassment of gobbling them before noon? CRIF DOGS features a ballpark frank wrapped with bacon, deep-fried, and then deposited on a bun with a fried egg and melted cheese. It's called "Good Morning."… More >>
  • best audience participation meal

    HAPPY SHABU SHABU

    Claiming mood-elevating properties, HAPPY SHABU SHABU provides each participant with a radiant heat station, a pail of bubbling broth, and a choice of main dishes (meat, poultry, fish, or vegan) for around $10, and provides a cast of supporting players that includes all sorts of sprouts, veggies, tofu products, and seasonings. It's up to you to do the cooking.… More >>
  • best use of tripe

    TONY'S & ELENA RISTORANTE - CLOSED

    The stomach lining of a cow has never had it so good as at the antiquarian New Utrecht lunch counter TONY'S & ELENA RISTORANTE. Tenderized, dumped in a rudimentary red sauce, and poured over perfect linguine, it will have you exclaiming, "It's da bomb!"… More >>
  • best fast food

    PIE

    No better snack on the run than at PIE, my Union Square hangout. Pick any of the elongated thin crust pizzas reclining on the counter, and one of the perky servers will measure it by the inch and pop it in the convection oven. Plenty of veggie-heavy choices, plus weird ingredients like eggs and bacon, and you can get exactly… More >>
  • best pizza

    JOE & PAT'S

    Proving that the coal-oven-style pizza invented by Lombardi's is still alive and kicking, JOE & PAT'S reopened after a fire last year, serving the same luscious high-temp pies that have made them Staten Island's favorite pizza. Their highest achievement is the scungilli pie, loaded with rubbery slices of conch.… More >>
  • best buss-up shot

    SINGH'S ROTI SHOP #3 - CLOSED

    You may be accustomed to eating a roti like a sandwich, the skin wrapped firmly around the filling. In Trinidad there's an alternative: known as "buss-up shot." The roti skin is served on the side and used to pick up bits of filling. At fast-food palace SINGH'S ROTI SHOP #3, the goat and the conch rule.… More >>
  • best formerly soviet dumplings

    HARCHEVNYA - CLOSED

    Taking large parts of Asia and Europe as its purview, HARCHEVNYA fashions all sorts of dumplings, from thumb-size Siberian pelmeni to ponderous and thick-skinned Uzbeki manti. And all are available to eat in, carry out, or take home frozen.… More >>
  • best new chinese restaurant

    CONGEE

    Taking a cue from the wildly popular Congee Village, CONGEE appeared late last year, offering rice gruels for every taste, including "snail and frog porridge," which sounds like it was inspired by an Aesop's fable. Going upscale are all sorts of Hong Kong dishes, including the delicious and long-winded "sauteed dried squid and dried shrimp with green and yellow chives."… More >>
  • best place to blow a wad, midtown

    CITARELLA

    Spawned by an Upper West Side fishmonger, CITARELLA astonished foodies by turning into the best upscale fish restaurant in town, if you don't count Le Bernardin. The menu moves effortlessly from sautéed fish fillets to sashimi to farmers'-market produce creations, all of it delivered in elegant presentations.… More >>
  • best place to blow a wad way downtown

    BAYARD'S

    Go on Saturday, when Hanover Square is nearly deserted and the city seems to have returned to its 19th-century self. In the elegant India House, BAYARD'S mounts a classic French menu, and a meal there might begin with crab salad bathed in wild mushroom and garlic dressing, then progress to an entrée of roast pheasant in foie gras sauce.… More >>
  • best place to blow a wad, flatiron

    ELEVEN MADISON PARK

    The shy young sibling of the Danny Meyer empire is ELEVEN MADISON PARK. Ensconced in a former bank lobby, the restaurant has soaring windows that offer a romantic view of the city's prettiest park. Service is fussy, and the fare tends toward the opulent and old-fashioned where meat and fish are concerned, but switches to modern when farmers' market produce… More >>
  • best display of preserved fish

    ULRIKA'S

    Demonstrating the Scandinavian obsession with preserved fish is the magnificent herring platter at ULRIKA'S. Mounded miniature herring swatches kick like a chorus line with cures that range from herbal to tomato to mustard. Also find matjes ("maiden") herring, made from younger specimens, and a herring salad winkingly called "gentleman's delight."… More >>
  • best suckling pig

    EL GRAN BOHIO

    The Bronx boasts several Puerto Rican lechoneras, where young pig is put on a pedestal and then hacked to pieces. The machete-wielding carver at EL GRAN BOHIO carefully portions out the parts. Ancillary bits go to make mofongo and blood sausage; in fact, there's little on the menu that isn't swine-derived.… More >>
  • best u.w.s. cheese plate

    CELESTE

    Modest prices, and great pizzas and pastas, made CELESTE an instant Upper West Side hit last year. But the Italian cheese plate has been inconsistent, thanks to the wanderings and occasional absence of the monger who presides over it. When it's on, there's no better in town, the carefully chosen and well-aged specimens dabbed with preserves and honeys and strewn… More >>
  • best picnic fixin's

    UNION PICNIC

    Located across from the sprawling but admittedly lackluster McCarren Park (where the world's largest outdoor pool was closed permanently in the early '80s when non-whites started using it), UNION PICNIC provides exemplary fried chicken, sandwiches, composed salads, banana pudding, and a fabulous fried fish sandwich.… More >>
  • best decor

    LOCANDA VINI & OLII

    When I was a small-town kid, I made a fetish of an ancient apothecary with a high counter that concealed the pharmacist. There were bottles with Latin names, and retorts filled with colored waters. So, in addition to the eggplant ravioli, I love the intact drugstore decor of LOCANDA VINI & OLII. So sue me!… More >>
  • best queens beans

    LA POLLERA COLORADA

    Colombian rotisserie LA POLLERA COLORADA makes the best beans in Queens—brown, slippery, oily, and garlicky, a meal in themselves. The chicken is pretty damn good, too, with an unexpected jolt of cumin.… More >>
  • best use of pig-face parts

    COCK'S

    The cool salad called souse is mainly a pickle of pig face parts: crunchy ear, rubbery cheek, yielding lips, with trotters thrown in for good measure. It comes surmounted by a cucumber and cilantro relish. Find it at COCK'S, along with a dozen other Bajan specialties and a full range of Anglo-Caribbean baked goods.… More >>
  • best-tasting hot dog

    SCHNÄCK

    Red Hook's latest dive SCHNÄCK utilizes sumptuous Stahl-Meyer franks, pink and moist and salty and fresh tasting, more aggressively flavored than most. Their tiny hamburgers—the same size as White Castle but much better tasting—are also worth checking out.… More >>
  • best restaurateuring brainstorm

    MERMAID INN

    The free dessert at the MERMAID INN is an idea whose time has come. Knowledge that you won't be further nicked at the end of the meal probably makes you spend more anyway. To justify their faith in you, invest in the darkly seared scallops served with napa cabbage.… More >>
  • best brooklyn beef brisket

    DAVID'S BRISKET HOUSE

    Old-school rye bread. A mountain of thin-sliced brisket that's been roasted rather than steamed, caramelizing the edges and concentrating the beefiness. A trickle of saline brown gravy. The big brisket sandwich at DAVID'S BRISKET HOUSE is the best in Brooklyn, best in the city, maybe best in the world.… More >>
  • best bronx sandwich

    JOEY'S COLD HEROES

    Heroes on excellent bread are the forte of JOEY'S COLD HEROES, with a selection of cold cuts unrivaled in the Bronx. The $3.75 (!) special marries good Virginia ham, Italian hard salami, and provolone that doesn't taste like rubber. The potential add-ons—displayed in a glass case—include thin floppy slices of egg- plant, sautéed onions, and pickled hot peppers.… More >>
  • best use of conch

    VENICE

    The scungilli salad at the strangely located VENICE makes me cry, it's so good: the gray gastropod sliced thin and abundantly heaped on a toss of iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, and giardinera—the puckering pickled veggies of Sicily. As a chaser, try the entrée of fennel sausage and broccoli rabe.… More >>
  • best chicken cook-up

    ALICE'S PALACE

    Poultry doesn't get any better than this. The Guyanese dish with the homely name of chicken cook-up actually shows great culinary sophistication, featuring the bird stewed in a coconut sauce that conceals miniature chickpeas in its rich brown opulence. Get it at ALICE'S PALACE.… More >>
  • best piss clams

    LENNY'S CLAM BAR

    Beloved of children at the beach, a piss clam hides under the sand and squirts liquid through a protruding siphon when kids stomp on it. Carefully soaked to remove the sand that accumulates in the digestive tract, this New York seaside favorite is steamed and served in a bucket at LENNY'S CLAM BAR, with drawn butter and clam broth on… More >>
  • best atypical steak house

    CARNE

    Afraid to be labeled a steak house, despite specializing in well-aged cuts of beef, CARNE materialized on the Upper West Side with an intention to dabble in trendy weirdnesses like blue-corn calamari and foie gras in something that tastes like Chinese duck sauce. Head straight for the New York strip steak, and appreciate that—unlike the practice at other steak houses—it… More >>
  • best east village pizza

    LIL' FRANKIE'S

    Offspring of the off-price Frank's Restaurant, LIL' FRANKIE'S overtook the challengers and has remained in the lead ever since it opened last year as the East Village's best pizza parlor. Hipsters seek out the rear room, with its classic view of a tenement garden, and bolt pizzas like the polpettine, littered with sage leaves and small savory meatballs.… More >>
  • best williamsburg pizza

    BRICK OVEN GALLERY - CLOSED

    Never could quite understand why everyone hangs out at that dump on Bedford Avenue while BRICK OVEN GALLERY exists just a couple of blocks away. The pizza puttanesca ("whore's pizza") more than lives up to its name; another good choice is Peter's Favorite, festooned with prosciutto, arugula, and parmesan shavings.… More >>
  • best new bistro

    FADA

    A firestorm of criticism has been leveled against FADA on food message boards, and I'm not sure why. The salade niçoise at this Provençale-themed bistro is exemplary, with a vinaigrette of just the right consistency to coat the leaves but not oppress them, while the aioli garni is duplicated nowhere else in town with its hunk of cod and profusion… More >>
  • best provençale restaurant

    NICE MATIN

    Folks who've eaten their way through the upscale restaurants that claim to serve Provençale food were pleasantly surprised by the recently opened NICE MATIN, named after the Riviera's newspaper. The selection of hors d'oeuvres—a menu category separate from the appetizers—is a delight, perfect with a bottle of rosé. And big-ticket items like beef short ribs keep pace.… More >>
  • best food court

    FLUSHING MALL FOOD COURT

    The mall is kind of a dud when it comes to salable merchandise, but where food is concerned, the FLUSHING MALL FOOD COURT kicks ass! Choose from 11 counters purveying Taiwanese, Sichuan, Cantonese, and sushi, plus an inscrutable counter called Beggar Dish, which specializes in miscellaneous duck and pig parts done up in a graceful julienne.… More >>
  • best fried whiting sandwich

    CAROLINA CREEK - CLOSED

    Pride of Weeksville, CAROLINA CREEK fries up the best whiting in town, which lays easily and flavorfully on white bread slathered with tartar sauce to make the city's best fish sandwich. Don't forget to squirt on the hot sauce. The neighborhood also depends on the Creek's excellent chicken, french fries, and ribs.… More >>
  • best brik

    EPICES DU TRAITEUR - CLOSED

    The Tunisian pastry named brik is hardly a household word in the city; in fact, it's nearly impossible to find, a handheld warka pie stuffed with tuna and a runny egg. The brik at EPICES DU TRAITEUR is likely to squirt yellow all over your shirt unless you take precautions.… More >>
  • best curry goat

    "C" ITAL SHAK

    This is a problematic category, but an important one. Zillions of versions can be found in the so-called "outer boroughs," so it's something of a crapshoot which gets selected. This year, I most enjoyed the rendition at "C" ITAL SHAK, where the big, nearly boneless chunks of goat are stewed to melting tenderness, and benefit from a light hand on… More >>
  • best fries

    FLORENT - CLOSED

    No dusting of spices. No strew of fresh herbs. The perfect unfussy fries at meat-market old-timer FLORENT are cut from fresh potatoes in the shoestring style popularized by McDonald's, leaving bits of skin adhering here and there, then fried to crisp brownness and aggressively salted. None better.… More >>
  • best baba

    ALI BABA

    I passed ALI BABA—brooding over the L.I.E. on the elevated access road—several times before I stopped, then was rewarded with great kebabs and Persian-leaning stews. Best of all, however, was the baba ganoush, made from flame-roasted eggplant and enough garlic to leave your mouth burning.… More >>
  • best new west village hangout

    WESTVILLE

    The moment it opened alongside the M8 bus stop, WESTVILLE was mobbed with a cross-section of the Village, grooving on low-end stuff like burgers and hot dogs in multiple permutations, and more luxurious but still moderately priced crab cakes, steak, and grilled fish.… More >>
  • best east village italian

    TRATTORIA PAOLINA

    I scrupulously try to visit every new Italian in the East Village, but who can keep up? My favorite in the past year has been TRATTORIA PAOLINA, a pan-Italian with a special focus on the food of Romagna. That the Bolognese sauce (here called by its proper name of ragu) is perfect goes without saying, but also superb are the… More >>
  • best unusual vegetarian dish

    YANG TZE RIVER

    One recent evening we stared in wonder at "gluten and black mushroom," dozens of pale bulbous globs of cloudlike gluten interspersed with black mushrooms in a tasty brown gravy. Shanghai newcomer YANG TZE RIVER assembles this spectacular vegetarian tour de force.… More >>
  • best upscale mexican

    ROSA MEXICANO

    With the exception of the guacamole, the Mexican food used to be abysmal at ROSA MEXICANO. Now, wonder of wonders, a chef change has left it the best expensive south-of-the-border joint in town, with the soaring Lincoln Center branch preferred.… More >>
  • best downscale mexican

    MEXICO DOS

    Skip the Tex-Mex stuff, 'cause most of the action is in that part of the menu that hails from southern Mexico—specifically, Guerrero—at MEXICO DOS. Our faves include green mole chilaquiles, dried-beef machaca, pollo en chipotle, and anything sauced with mole rojo or flavored with dried chiles, raisins, and almonds.… More >>
  • best obscure deli

    GOTTLIEB'S RESTAURANT

    Who would have imagined there's a great kosher deli a stone's throw from the Bedford Avenue tenderloin? On the edge of the Satmar Hasidic community, GOTTLIEB'S RESTAURANT ignores the fripperies of modern deli science, like wraps and lo-cal salads, in favor of hi-cal Jewish soul food: kishke, potato knishes, Hungarian goulash, and, especially, a zinger of a brisket sandwich.… More >>
  • best turkish coffee

    CAFÉ RAKKA - CLOSED

    Two-decade-old St. Marks stalwart CAFÉ RAKKA has spawned an offspring on Avenue B. And the kid is as good as the parent, maybe better when it comes to coffee. When you get the cardamon-scented cup of java, it comes with a free refill cradled in an elegant brass pot. Note to caffeine fiends: you're supposed to leave the mud in… More >>
  • best ham

    EAST VILLAGE MEAT MARKET

    A painstaking trek among the Polish and Ukrainian meat markets of Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and the East Village has revealed that EAST VILLAGE MEAT MARKET smokes the best ham in town, moist and pink, with enough fat to stand up to a sandpaper slice of rye. If you're in the mood for a sandwich, you can choose from among 13 mustards,… More >>
  • best jerk chicken

    BOSTON JERK CITY

    The coveted title has been caroming between Brooklyn and the Bronx for several years, and now it has come to rest in East Flatbush at BOSTON JERK CITY, where an oil-drum barbecue fumes out front. The bird therein is tasty and well coated with jerk spices, and the sauce is properly thin, vinegary, and hot.… More >>
  • best baklava

    THALASSA

    Trust an upscale Greek seafood palace to embroider the old baklava formula. Tribeca newcomer THALASSA adds toasted almonds in pro- fusion between the layers of honeyed phyllo dough, and sides the substantial portion with a scoop of rose-petal sorbet. Desserts don't get any better.… More >>
  • best frozen treat

    PALETERIA LA MICHOACANA

    Tired of FrozFruits, Italian ices, fatty ice creams, and dietetic frozen desserts? Hie on down to PALETERIA LA MICHOACANA and acquire some of their stick-mounted, fruit-juice-containing frozen treats. Paletas come in predictable tropical flavors like lime and coconut. For aficionados there is also a parallel set of flavors like cactus fruit, yellow cherry, and mango that come inflected with chile… More >>
  • best sardinian wine bar (tie)

    D.O.C. WINE BAR and ASSENZIO

    In this very uncrowded category, D.O.C. WINE BAR and ASSENZIO deserve equal commendation, both offering a relatively inexpensive list of Italian wines accompanied by the crackling flatbread called carta da musica. The former establishment excels at cheeses and cured pork products, while the latter whips up more ambitious fare like suckling pig and pasta with wild boar sauce.… More >>
  • best carryout

    FAST & DELICIOUS

    The steam table gleams like Boston Market, only the food is really, really good. FAST & DELICIOUS is a new carryout that favors the European-leaning half of the Brazilian menu, including praiseworthy rotisserie chicken, tasty charcoal-grilled churrasco, bay-leafy black beans, and a rotating special of the day such as beef stew with plenty of vegetables and big hunks of meat.… More >>
  • best cannoli

    EMILIO'S BALLATO

    To win, the entrant shell must be filled to order with a sweet ricotta stuffing and delivered in a timely fashion to the table, keeping the cannoli crisp. Village old-timer EMILIO'S BALLATO does it just that way, and the pastry is big enough for two to share.… More >>
  • best burger

    PETITE ABEILLE

    As a life-size statue of Tintin gazes down from the bar, inhale your juicy burger in a good bun at the downtownest and largest-yet PETITE ABEILLE. Though the meat is good enough to stand by itself, the gloppiness factor is elevated with the mild cheddar, strips of pancetta, and a smear of red dressing that holds the whole contraption together.… More >>
  • best ribs

    UNCLE SAL'S RIBS AND BIBS

    The Bronx is not a place you might go looking for great barbecue, but there in the industrial and automotive welter of East Tremont Avenue you'll find this tiny, multifarious carryout. The baby-back ribs are moist and succulent at UNCLE SAL'S RIBS AND BIBS, and the meat falls from the bone the moment you touch it.… More >>
  • best shepherd's pie

    RAMBLING HOUSE

    Trust an Irish bar to excel in this category. The aforementioned pie features a stratum of oily mince shot through with bits of vegetable crowned by mashed potatoes whipped to a fare-thee-well. Expect the Guinness that is its proper accompaniment to be maintained at just the right temperature. Note: At RAMBLING HOUSE, the first beer is free at weekend brunch.… More >>
  • best $5 buffet

    PUNJABI KABAB HOUSE

    The corner of Lefferts Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue now boasts five Indian restaurants, each of which has its particular attractions. If it's lunchtime, the obvious choice is the buffet at PUNJABI KABAB HOUSE, including curries, plenty of vegetarian selections, and dessert, offered in a relentlessly pink dining room with a view of this bucolic Queens corner.… More >>
  • best pho

    PHO NAM BO

    The last couple of years have seen Bensonhurst become the unexpected hot spot for Vietnamese food, especially the soups known as pho. The broth at PHO NAM BO is dark and rich and rife with star anise, and the added beef and miscellaneous cow parts pristine and well sliced.… More >>
  • best barbecued bird

    SOL BAWOO

    A double brace of quail is tossed on the charcoal and the smoke swirls skyward. Welcome to SOL BAWOO, the best Korean barbecue in Murray Hill, and one that regales with unusual grillables like eel and organ meats. And we don't mean Murray Hill in Manhattan, either.… More >>
  • best coffee bar

    THE READ CAFÉ

    The baristas are cool and quirky, and the brew thick enough to stand up to ice and milk to make the best iced coffee in the city. The shelves are lined with books, too, at THE READ CAFÉ, which combines the best aspects of coffee bar and used bookstore, and you can always pluck down Sartre's Being and Nothingness if… More >>
  • best banh mi

    BA XUYEN

    There are eight varieties of the Vietnamese sandwich called banh mi at BA XUYEN, which recently moved across Sunset Park to comfortable new premises with more than two tables. My fave is heaped with meatballs, pickled veggies, and cilantro, and I always ask them to squirt on extra chile sauce. But maybe you'd rather pick sardine or chicken.… More >>
  • best kebabs

    KASHKAR

    Trust the fanatical charcoal grillers from the remote Chinese province of Xinjiang to deliver the best kebabs in the city. Using admirable dexterity, they cram baby lamb ribs onto the skewer at KASHKAR (named after a Silk Road oasis) and thrust it into the charcoal fire. The thick, grainy hot sauce also kicks butt.… More >>
  • best biryani

    BOMBAY HARBOUR

    No better biryani than the product painstakingly produced at BOMBAY HARBOUR, a Bangladeshi/Indian restaurant hovering over the Jackson Heights express subway stop. There's a steam table joint downstairs and a formal dining room upstairs with neighborhood views, and you can get the pungent, big-chunked goat biryani either place.… More >>
  • best use of bread

    BIG EAT

    Order the dish unassumingly called "huge curry bun" at Hong Kong newcomer BIG EAT, and be shocked by what arrives: a round Italian loaf covered with sesame seeds and hollowed out. Inside is a fiery Malaysian curried chicken so good that not even the sodden crumbs at the bottom go to waste.… More >>
  • best non-chinese chinese restaurant

    66

    When chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten decided to "do Chinese," he did a much better job than he did with Thai food at Vong. Recommended dishes at 66 include Peking duck, shrimp stir-fried with lily bulb and candied walnuts, eggplant in X.O. sauce, and, especially, the "crispy garlic chicken." Go late in the evening and sit at the communal table to avoid… More >>
  • best sancocho

    EL ECONOMICO

    The best pumpkin-thickened sancocho (Dominican chicken and pork stew) is to be found at EL ECONOMICO, a hop, skip, and a jump over the bridge from Inwood. A friend raves about the rotisserie chickens, which come with a vinegary dipping sauce. The roast pork also verges on the superlative.… More >>
  • best weird panini

    BREAD

    Postage-stamp size BREAD has achieved plaudits for its general sandwich preparation skills, but no one yet has praised the weirdest panini of all. For me, it was love at first bite with the "Sicilian sardines with tomatoes and Thai pepper mayo on baguette." The only problem: finding a glass of wine that goes with it.… More >>
  • best almond croissant

    TARTINE

    Split in half, sodden with butter, and crunchy on top with slivered almonds and coagulated sugar, the almond croissant is so good at TARTINE that I'm going to give up on this item and walk out to get one right now. . . .… More >>
  • best weird pizza

    FAMOUS PIZZA

    The confusingly named FAMOUS PIZZA of Jackson Heights bears no relation to Famous Ray and his ilk, and turns out some amazing individual pies. Top of the heap is the Indo-Pak, piling onions, jalapeño peppers, and sweet curry spices on top of the usual cheese and tomato sauce. Hey, it's great!… More >>
  • best soul food startup

    COPELAND'S TAKE-OUT AND CATERING

    Regrettably, soul food places have been disappearing as fast food franchises seek to overwhelm traditional strongholds like Harlem and Bed-Stuy. Venerable jazz brunch spot Copeland's has spun off COPELAND'S TAKE-OUT AND CATERING, slinging chicken and dumplings, fried chicken, smothered chicken, and other staples in a pleasant barnlike setting.… More >>
  • best african grocery

    ICONS AFRO-WEST

    Jumbled on its crowded shelves are bottles of roasted peanuts, wooden chew sticks, palm oil glowing orange, pepper-laced vinegar sauces, stacks of newspapers, piles of roots, and cardboard boxes filled with dried fish sunburned black. ICONS AFRO-WEST isn't the most orderly grocery, but it's one of the most interesting. Added bonus: there's a Nigerian restaurant downstairs.… More >>
  • best levantine delights

    TANOREEN

    Bay Ridge's palace of pulses, TANOREEN wells fava beans, hummus with meat, and little braided turnovers filled with peas and potatoes in its expansive steam table. Also superlative are the olive spread decorated with capers, and grilled sojuk, an Armenian sausage.… More >>
  • best bar to see naked girls swimming in an aquarium

    CORAL ROOM

    Even if the crowd at the CORAL ROOM is a little rich for my blood, and even if the rest of the place is a little underwhelming, the little mermaid shows put on by the foxy ladies (like Jaiko, pictured) might make your bazillion-dollar drink worthwhile. Plus, you're allowed to stare.… More >>
  • best hot-fudge sundae

    EDDIE'S SWEET SHOP

    The cast-iron stools are uncomfortable, the premises dark and musty, and the glass cases crammed with Beanie Babies, but none of these should discourage you from seeking out the wonderful EDDIE'S SWEET SHOP, a Forest Hills old-timer that makes its own ice cream and offers the best hot-fudge sundae in the city. Bring the kids.… More >>
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