Food & Drink

  • Best neighborhood wine store

    BIG NOSE, FULL BODY

    A great wine store requires a knowledgeable staff, cheap prices, and no "Don't you think it's time you joined AA" attitude when you buy another magnum-sized bottle of Orvieto Classico on your daily walk home from work. The enablers at BIG NOSE, FULL BODY meet all these requirements, and provide a wide selection of vinos, from the $7 party gift… More >>
  • Best bar light-years from a subway

    SUNNY'S

    You have to take the F train to Smith Street, hop on the B77 bus, and hike several blocks to get to SUNNY'Sin Red Hook, Brooklyn. But it's worth it. It feels like the middle of someone's living room, and no wonder—Sunny Balzano, the bar's long-haired namesake, thinks of it as an extension of his home next door. His great-grandfather… More >>
  • Best place to ensconce yourself in velvet

    VILLARD BAR AND LOUNGE

    If only George Costanza had known about the VILLARD BAR AND LOUNGE, adjacent to the Palace Hotel in midtown. This basement lounge begs the question: Why stop at red velvet couches when you can put velvet on the walls and ceilings? You'll rack up quite a bill with the midtown drink prices, but for those on a budget, endless bowls… More >>
  • Best former Italian social club now open to nonmembers

    BROOKLYN SOCIAL

    The best new bar in the Carroll Gardens/Cobble Hill area is indubitably BROOKLYN SOCIAL, a former old-man's club in a largely Italian neighborhood, where charming, ancient photos of gaggles of club dudes line the elegantly adorned walls, and one may sip cocktails in dim haze with low lighting. Plus, the Social serves grilled cheese at all hours.… More >>
  • Best Russian-Mafia bathrooms

    TATIANA RESTAURANT AND TATIANA CAFÉ

    TATIANA RESTAURANT AND TATIANA CAFÉ, only two short blocks away from each other in Brighton Beach, provide the only facilities open to beachgoers not invited to nearby private Russian wedding parties. Descend into Tatiana and you will discover a waiting area lined with red-and-black mannequined women as well as lush bathrooms complete with old-world attendants.… More >>
  • Best (and only) place to get Armadale vodka

    40/40 CLUB

    What's the point of owning a brand of liquor if no one sees fit to serve it? The Roc-a-Fella folk bought Armadale a couple of years back, apparently solely to spill over women in their videos. But in the club? I'll tell you this: The only place I've seen it stocked is on the shelf behind the bar in Jiggaman's… More >>
  • Best place to watch local actors network

    EAST 4TH STREET BAR

    There is a little tradition where all these up-and-coming NYC actors (as well as playwrights and directors) meet to drink and hang out at local EAST 4TH STREET BAR on Monday nights. For outsiders, it's like witnessing a weird informal audition all night long. Lots of affected smiles and robust chuckles! For actors, it is a sense of community.… More >>
  • Best surprisingly cheap happy hour

    SUGAR

    Tribeca is home to tasty (and pricey!) drink spot SUGAR. In this sleek neighborhood—where Veronica Webb and Christy Turlington are often seen trotting about being moms—it's a shock to find a thrifty happy hour. $3 cocktails, $3 wine?! At $12-a-drink Sugar? It almost makes the post-work "suits" melt into nothingness.… More >>
  • Best pandering to thick-necked frat boys

    2 BY 4

    For those seeking an East Village bar with trashy female help, Coyote Ugly has long been the obvious choice. But now that same predictable debauchery can be found at nearby 2 BY 4 as well. It hosts Van Halen wet-T-shirt contests, posts help-wanted flyers for "sexy, vivacious female bartenders—bar dancing mandatory!" and occasionally plants bikini-clad girls out front to lure… More >>
  • Best place to drink on Fridays

    JEREMY'S ALE HOUSE

    If there's one bar with plenty of fans—and we're not talking the whirling kind—it's JEREMY'S ALE HOUSE. How else do you explain the die-hard regulars who meet up at this South Street Seaport institution every Friday after work, no matter the weather or the bar's location (there've been five incarnations since 1974)? Actually, any day's a good day to chug… More >>
  • Best place to watch snow fall

    ANGEL'S SHARE

    Scratch a cynic, they say, and a romantic bleeds. Stanch this cruel and senseless exsanguination in yourself (or a deserving loved one) by camping out behind those tastefully draped, multi-paned windows at petite ANGEL'S SHARE bar during the next blizzard. Secreted behind an unmarked door inside a second-floor Japanese restaurant, you can sip a sublime manhattan while watching hapless pedestrians… More >>
  • Best Sunday-afternoon martinis for the dead of winter

    FIVE POINTS

    All too often afternoon drinking is consigned to warmer climes—but why stop just because the patios are closed? FIVE POINTS makes an easy winter destination spot with half-priced martinis from 5 to 7, complemented by an assortment of flatbread pizzas. The interior is all red velvet banquettes, wood accents, and dim lighting accentuated by candles—a perfect refuge from the cold… More >>
  • Best mango martini

    CAFÉ URGE

    While the cosmopolitan has been the drink of choice for countless urban girls inspired by Sex and the City, CAFÉ URGE's mango martini may be enough to banish that sweet pink concoction forever. Tasting like liquid fruit, it goes down easy, taking you far from the Gotham crowds and whisking you, or at least your mouth, away to a beautiful… More >>
  • Best pyrotechnic drinks

    WAIKIKI WALLY'S - CLOSED

    There's more—though admittedly not much more—to a Hawaiian-themed bar than waitresses in grass skirts and "getting lei'd" ribaldry. Witness the volcano bowl at WAIKIKI WALLY'S. This big kahuna of a tipple has delicious alcohol concoctions on the outside and flaming rum at the center. If you are kind to the bartender, she may even show you how to dip your… More >>
  • Best glasses in the shape of skulls

    OTTO'S SHRUNKEN HEAD

    You're a bad man. Oh yes, a bad, bad man. But it's hard to feel dangerous when you're sipping anything as positively girly as a Blue Hawaii or a piña colada. The solution? Scary skull-shaped mugs at sleazy tiki bar extraordinaire OTTO'S SHRUNKEN HEAD. Sure, you'll need to leave a $5 deposit, but these totems beat ordinary glassware any day.… More >>
  • Best bar in which to hide from ex in a tropical forest of bamboo

    CROBAR - CLOSED

    Upon entering CROBAR you'll find yourself navigating a maze-like hallway laden with T.G.I. Friday's-esque signage before entering the chic central bar, connected by an illuminated tunnel to a seemingly unfillable dance arena. The bar is made cozier and swankier by stalks of fake bamboo that haphazardly surround posh multicolored stools, sectioning off high-art fashion types into intimate pods. While it… More >>
  • Best nasty-hangover specialty drinks

    ZOMBIE HUT

    That is, to create your horrible hangover, not to nurse one. Bistro-lined Smith Street's ZOMBIE HUT appears so incongruously, wretchedly cheesy from the outside (bamboo, native masks, etc.) that it actually looks fun. Inside, drinks are cheap and all sorts of colors—electric blue, volcanic red—and so sugary sweet that one drinks rapidly and happily, only to wake up staggered with… More >>
  • Best place to drink with Village Voice alkies

    SCRATCHER

    Any Voice employees left by the time this is published are sure to celebrate with some Maker's Mark across the street at SCRATCHER. There's no sign, just a Celtic emblem. Just follow the trail of shredded copy till you reach the woody haven that would make Norman Mailer blush with pride.… More >>
  • Best bar at which to start a soccer riot

    THE RED LION

    THE RED LION may look like the NYU-frat-boy faves lining Bleecker, but inside it's a haven for football-hooligan expats. Aside from the constantly airing games, the only things approximating Blighty for limeys on the go are a lone phone booth and bartenders pulling Newcastle. It's the only place in the city below 14th Street where, on game night, you can… More >>
  • Best place to be a Red Sox fan

    RIVIERA

    I despise Boston and the meatheads who live there—and, now that I think of it, sports in general—but having grown up in New England, attendance at RIVIERA during the World Series was compulsory. We, clad in the Masshole uniform of Sox caps and dress shirts tucked into khakis, ignored jeers from across the street and, of course, kept beers to… More >>
  • Best place to be a Philly fan

    THE DUPLEX

    While Boston fans are holding court across the street at the Riviera, Philly expats are finding an unlikely place of their own to congregate: THE DUPLEX, far better known for its downstairs piano cabaret sing-alongs, is slowly cultivating a coterie of Philadelphia sports fans in its upstairs game room. Evening bar-meister Ed Gaines serves up the suds while breaking down… More >>
  • Best piston-shaped beer taps

    MOTOR CITY

    If the steering-wheel bathroom doorknob, the passenger-seating couches, or the car-model names mounted on the bar don't tip you off, then the heavy taps mounted with old pistons (no, they don't look like Bill Lambeer or the Microwave) will. MOTOR CITYain't no biker bar, but a spacious, rocking ode to Detroit Rock City, replete with the Igster booming from the… More >>
  • Best beer garden

    CROXLEY ALES

    Three alfresco drinking options await the imbiber at CROXLEY ALES: the back garden, where smoking is permitted and trees provide a lovely canopy; the tent-covered deck with the game on a giant-screen TV; and the brick patio, with swell views of Loisaida pedestrian traffic. And speaking of drinking options: Will it be one of 30 drafts, 60 bottled beers, 10… More >>
  • Best fake indoor trees

    ZUM SCHNEIDER

    Sure, you can serve Wiener schnitzel and Hefeweizen and call yourself a beer garden, but ZUM SCHNEIDER took things further, crafting elaborate trees out of plaster. Patrons snack on pretzels and down liters of beer in this mini-forest, where sprawling branches are draped in red-rose-and-leaf garlands.… More >>
  • Best place to take a road trip without leaving your barstool

    TRASH

    As most New Yorkers know, automobiles are inconvenient pollution machines. But that doesn't mean we don't enjoy the feel of leather under our butts or laughing at rest stop rednecks. At Williamsburg's TRASH (formerly electroclash ground zero Luxx), relax in a ripped-out car seat while perusing the bar's collection of license plates and roadside-attraction kitsch, or play a game of… More >>
  • Best handmade bar furniture

    LOUIS

    Doubling as a showroom for owner and furniture designer Andrew Rumpler, the cozy and elegant LOUIS showcases the man's capable craftsmanship, luring customers with custom-made smooth wooden tables and durable benches, an unglazed porcelain-tile-covered bar top, simple pull-down cabinets, and 1930s art deco lighting designs. Contiguous to the bar is a studio and gallery where Rumpler curates neighborhood patrons' napkin… More >>
  • Best bar at which to contract possible STDs from furniture

    SIBERIA

    From the cocktails served in four-ounce Dixie cups to the rickety wooden riser with tetanus-laced nails, something from the two-story SIBERIA always threatens to infect you. Located at the mouth (depending on your perspective) of Lincoln Tunnel, the bar is short on cleanliness but big on atmosphere. Relocated from a 42nd Street subway stop, it's packed with furniture that could've… More >>
  • Best bar to avoid hipsters in Williamsburg

    R BAR

    The bartenders don't wear studded leather bracelets, and there are no '80s haircuts. Welcome to R BAR: A place where patrons speak with thick Brooklyn accents and are quick to share a tale about local history, the establishment offers more than just great happy-hour prices.… More >>
  • Best non-gentrified L.E.S. bar

    THREE OF CUPS

    Well, all I really know is that THREE OF CUPS is a fine hole in which to drunkenly pass a night. Pluses: It's underground and stuffed with comfy seating. Minuses: Getting the rocker chick bartender's attention can be tough, unless you're going into the spacious one-person facilities with a friend. Of course, the bar's best feature is how it encourages… More >>
  • Best working-class gay bar

    METROPOLITAN

    Flannel-sportin' beer bellies outnumber Louis Vuitton six-packs at METROPOLITAN, a bar boasting two fireplaces, a large backyard garden, and a fair share of hot-to-trot union laborers. The owners also operate the East Village's low-key Phoenix, and as the only gay watering hole in Williamsburg, this joint remains surprisingly unaffected. For a time, a bankrolled blond flailed on a tabletop in… More >>
  • Best suburban-style gay bar

    EXCELSIOR

    Some contend that Park Slope is just the suburbs, and the Fifth Avenue gay bar EXCELSIOR ably demonstrates that that's not such a bad thing. The interior—bathrooms included—is spotless; the bartenders are gentlemen, not shirtless himbos; and the cruising-to-drinking ratio (just enough of the former, plenty of the latter) makes Excelsior what all gay bars promise to be but few… More >>
  • Best gay bar you don't have to be gay to enjoy

    THE BOYSROOM

    Gender is indistinguishable, sexual preference blurred, the level of fabulousness immeasurable, and the air filled with sounds of electroclash and moans: As the drinks go down Saturday night at THE BOYSROOM, the clothes often follow. Although predominantly a gay establishment, the Boysroom's bathroom door is open to everyone with an open mind and mouth.… More >>
  • Best stiff cocktail

    SCHILLER'S LIQUOR BAR

    It's a sad fact in this town that crap bartenders outnumber good ones three to one, easy. They'll mix you a margarita using sour mix without batting an eye, or most heinous of all, serve you your straight-up drink lukewarm, after a halfhearted swish with ice. Not so at Keith McNally's new L.E.S. bistro, SCHILLER'S LIQUOR BAR, where the bartenders… More >>
  • Best bar name double entendre

    LAVA GINA - CLOSED

    You have to be careful who you mention LAVA GINA to, and how you emphasize your words, lest they think you're talking about something dirty (unless that's what you're trying to do). This upscale, intimate Alphabet City establishment caters to women and their admirers, offering up a chic, sexy mood for a cozy evening.… More >>
  • Best bar to meet a dozen girls named Ileana

    NO IDEA BAR

    Always wanted a girlfriend named Karen or a boyfriend named Bob? At the NO IDEA BAR, each night is assigned a different first name, and anyone so named drinks free. Name Night features a wide variety of monikers, from Sharon to Solanchy, Kevin to Khoon-Ying. (The name schedule is posted at noideabar.com.) On a good night, you'll drink free; on… More >>
  • Best bar to get romantic and play grown-up

    JOE'S PUB

    Pull out your date's chair and, without missing a beat, boldly ask for "two of your finest mojitos." The waitress replies, "Good choice"; you nod. Private tables, and when the lights go down, you can actually see the performers. This is JOE'S PUB. Dance, comedy, poetry, and music from folk to hip-hop; sooner or later, it turns up here.… More >>
  • Best mixologist

    AUDREY SAUNDERS

    'If you don't care or don't take the job seriously," says AUDREY SAUNDERS, beverage director of Bemelman's Bar, "then you don't belong behind the bar." Serious words from a serious mixer and shaker: On any given night, Saunders, like some mad scientist, tinkers with foams, infusions, and flavor profiles, reworking formulas over and over again until she gets them right.… More >>
  • Best name for a tea shop

    SYMPATHY FOR THE KETTLE - CLOSED

    Tea shops bring to mind dainty cups, square sandwiches, and all manner of cuteness—very Laura Ashley. But despite the pink on the walls, that does not describe SYMPATHY FOR THE KETTLE, which wears its rock 'n' roll front and center. Jodi Holiday's teeny East Village spot will meet all your tea needs (including tea-infused cookies) without trying to Brit things… More >>
  • Best bubble tea

    JENNY'S CAFÉ - CLOSED

    Tiny, adorable, and cozy, JENNY'S CAFÉ is the kind of uncrowded, independently run place—harder and harder to find in NYC—where one may sit unmolested for hours, attended by patient and kindly waitpersons. Most importantly, their carefully prepared, fresh bubble teas are hands down the best anywhere (try taro green milk tea with tapioca), and Jenny's also serves snacky food, such… More >>
  • Best ginger beer guaranteed to blow the top of your head off

    KEUR N' DEYE - CLOSED

    In West Africa, ginger beer is frequently enjoyed at wedding receptions and during the month-long fast that accompanies Ramadan. In the U.S., it's just another tasty beverage: that is, unless you're partaking of the brew at the popular Senegalese restaurant KEUR N' DEYE. Loaded with fresh ginger, this sweet and spicy drink is pungent enough to unclog sinuses and/or clear… More >>
  • Best coffee empire

    MUD

    The East Village loves the hip mom-and-pop MUD, and vice versa. You can load up on their strong classic brew at the original orange trucks at Astor Place, Union Square, and Wall Street, or sip it from handmade ceramic mugs at their tiny, j'adorable café, which also features noshes, wine, and beer. Just don't open a stand at the airport,… More >>
  • Best espresso outside of Seattle

    NINTH STREET ESPRESSO

    It doesn't hurt that the only cute guys in the entire city congregate at NINTH STREET ESPRESSO, but that's not why we go to this far-east café. The owner, Ken Nye, uses a Colombian brand, and (unlike at Starbucks) I never have to tell the baristas how to make the drink. The espresso is smooth and not bitter in the… More >>
  • Best breakfast burritos

    PUEBLA MEXICAN FOOD

    Nothing better on a weekday morning than watching the East Village wake up through the windows of PUEBLA MEXICAN FOOD, a former Italian bakery that gradually morphed into a Mexican eatery over the last decade. The breakfast burritos are fab, including a vegetarian model that enfolds scrambled eggs and potatoes. My fave is "chorizo," featuring eggs, beans, and—in a brilliant… More >>
  • Most transcendental onion rings

    BLT STEAK

    Diaphanous with grease and perfectly piled on the plate like a Chinese lantern or maybe the Michelin Man's thigh, the onion rings at BLT STEAK seem to glow with some inner light, and picked up one after another and consumed with a word of blessing, they could constitute a religion.… More >>
  • Best cryptically named dish

    IZBA - CLOSED

    IZBA means "rural Russian hut," but there's nothing rustic about the location on grim Coney Island Avenue. Relaxing in the flowery garden, I ordered "ancient windmill, a dish for gourmets," which my Russian friend had never heard of. It turned out to be pork cutlets deep-fried with rings of fresh apple. We fought over the plate.… More >>
  • Most audacious kebab

    CHEBURECHNAYA

    The charcoal-filled trough at CHEBURECHNAYA is your guarantee of great kebabs, and the list goes way beyond what you've come to expect in Central Asian spots. Sure, the kufta and lamb rib are grand, but why not take a walk on the wild side with "lamb fat"—toasty and greasy and good by itself, but knocked into orbit if implanted in… More >>
  • Tastiest midtown Turk

    AKDENIZ

    Eating around Times Square continues to be a problem, both from the standpoint of quality and price. Jumping into the breach, AKDENIZ offers a slightly upscale rendition of Turkish, with a plethora of vegetarian meze and an emphasis on shareable fish entrées. Go skanky with the fried anchovies, or bland with a crisp-skinned Mediterranean sea bass.… More >>
  • Best Bronx coal-oven pizza

    TOSCA

    Bronx has always lagged behind Brooklyn and Manhattan in pizza of the old-fashioned sort, made in a coal oven rather than a gas-burning Bari. That was before the proprietor of TOSCA discovered an ex-bakery in Throg's Neck with the coal oven still intact and set about imitating the pizza masters like Giovanni Lombardi, who invented the thin-crust, cheesy, and charred… More >>
  • Best use of potatoes and eggs

    NONNA'S

    The best sandwiches are often found at the lower end of the price scale, including the humble potato-and-egg hero. After downing over a dozen, I found my favorite at NONNA'S, a Sicilian pizzeria in the city's most obscure Little Italy. Well-stuffed and lush, using french fries for the potato component, the sandwich can be further improved—if you know to ask… More >>
  • Best use of pig blood

    SEOUL SOONDAE

    OK, this category probably calls to mind Carrie, but what I had in mind is the North Korean blood sausage called soondae, the specialty of Flushing pig palace SEOUL SOONDAE. The sausage is rich, crumbly, and ramified with clear vermicelli made from sweet-potato starch. Served alongside slices of pig ear and heart, it's an offal tour de force.… More >>
  • Superior Sephardic fare

    ALIBABA

    Minuscule in size, supremely well organized, and friendly to boot, ALIBABA is the Upper West's best cheap eatery. The glatt kosher menu offers Israeli fare, including a memorably moist turkey shawarma, exemplary falafel, and less-familiar specialties, including the Yemenite soup koobah: a chile-laced broth that, in a marvel of culinary architecture, features a meatball inside a matzo ball.… More >>
  • Best Staten Island African

    SKIPPERS

    The hilly, isolated island isn't where you'd expect to find Nigerian food, but there it is, hunkered near Bailey Seton Hospital. SKIPPERS pre-matches the components of a meal, taking the guesswork out of mashes, soups, and meats. Enjoy mashed white yams accompanied by a palm-oil-laced goat soup, and catch up on what's going on at the hospital.… More >>
  • Greatest meaty Gree

    ANNA'S CORNER - CLOSED

    When seafood specialist Scouna tanked last year, it was replaced by an even better restaurant. ANNA'S CORNER specializes in flesh, and a goat surveys the dining room from a corner perch. No goat on the menu, but the roast pork is wonderful, crisp, and herb flecked, and so's the roast baby lamb, presented in a fragrant, boxcar-shaped pile.… More >>
  • Fiercest fish tacos

    PAMPANO TAQUERIA

    Though the monkfish tacos at Clinton Street Bakery are also fab, the golden lure goes to PAMPANO TAQUERIA, mired in an ugly mall inside a skyscraper hilariously dubbed the Crystal Palace. Made from a shifting catalog of fish and deploying flour tortillas, these folded beauties come dressed with onion and cilantro, and freshly made sauces stand ready as garnishment.… More >>
  • Best Brazilian

    TAPAJOS RIVER STEAKHOUSE

    The most hopping Little Brazil is no longer found in Astoria, but in Newark's Ironbound. TAPAJOS RIVER STEAKHOUSE is named after an Amazon tributary, and the menu combines the churrascaria menu we've come to love (pick the rump-cut beef called picanha) with such fare from coastal Bahia as muqueca, a shrimp stew thickened with coconut milk and flavored with orange… More >>
  • Best marzipan

    VILLABATE PASTICCERIA

    The North African-inspired almond-and-sugar paste scented with rose essence—some say like a bar of soap—is not for everyone, but the quality of the fresh marzipan at VILLABATE PASTICCERIA is astonishing. It's available in dozens of shapes that, by virtue of delicate hand-painting, ape fresh fruit and vegetables. A box makes an excellent gift for your foodie friends.… More >>
  • Best cheese store

    DIPALO DAIRY

    Starting out as a conventional latticini, DIPALO DAIRY has fulfilled its mandate to produce excellent mozzarella, and then some. But they've also reached back to the old country for a stunning selection of imported cheeses and charcuterie, sliced by Louis DiPalo and staff, who are never in such a hurry that they can't pause to discuss the merits of a… More >>
  • Best fish store

    CITARELLA

    Less cramped than the Upper West Side store and shorter on attitude, the Greenwich Village CITARELLA flaunts a bewildering selection of fresh seafood, including, by recent count, 38 types of fillet, 32 whole fish, and 15 crustaceans, all of scintillating freshness, displayed on vast beds of crushed ice like January in July.… More >>
  • Best Manhattan chocolatier

    LA MAISON DU CHOCOLAT

    Ha ha! That leaves Jacques Torres—chocolatier de DUMBO extraordinaire—out in the cold, allowing LA MAISON DU CHOCOLAT to sweep the field. Can't beat the knowledgeable clerks in brown tailored shop coats, or the dense dark chocolate, so smooth you might think it's been cooked for weeks. But oh! the price.… More >>
  • Best eatery in a supermarket

    FAIRWAY CAFÉ

    Ensconced comfortably above Fairway, a space that might be mistaken for a custodian's lair beneath an elementary school, FAIRWAY CAFÉ produces some of the best off-price fare on the Upper West, including lush sandwiches (try dilled egg salad or roast beef), burgers, and platters that mirror the abundance of vegetables and fruit downstairs.… More >>
  • Best wine store

    CROSSROADS - CLOSED

    By my calculation, based on an unfortunate yen for Italian wines more expensive than I can afford, I've found 70 percent of the wines to be less expensive at CROSSROADS than anywhere else. And the selection can best be described as brilliant and quirky. Best part: Long-ago vintages of obscure wines sometimes pop up for brief periods.… More >>
  • Best water

    CRICKETER'S CAFÉ

    At the very proper CRICKETER'S CAFÉ in Prospect Heights, the theme is the ancient game of cricket, and the Antiguan food is out of this world. Don't miss the raisin-studded tamales called ducana, served with stewed saltfish, but even better is goat water, a meaty stew with a pungent and slightly anesthetic clove gravy.… More >>
  • Best place to find yourself surrounded by hookahs

    EASTERN NIGHTS

    Take a close look at the giant oven as you traipse in the door to see what's cookin', then sit in the tented backyard to enjoy wonderful Egyptian food at EASTERN NIGHTS, which runs to freek-stuffed pigeon and fatta, a lasagna-type lamb casserole in which toasted pitas replace noodles. What is freek, freak? you ask me. A toasted wheat berry.… More >>
  • Best broth

    PHO

    French restaurants try to cop this title, but they don't have a chance this year with PHO (sounds like a gangsta rapper, right?) in the running. This humble noodle shop in the heart of Flushing long-simmers beef bones and aromatics to attain a mahogany-colored broth that serves as the basis for its rice-noodle-and-beef soups.… More >>
  • Best scallion pancakes

    AA PLAZA

    What you expect when you order scallion pancakes in a Chinese restaurant is a plate of thick wedges cut from a pair of unspeakably greasy circles tasting of rancid oil. Not so at AA PLAZA, a line of windows that sell traveling food just outside the LIRR's Main Street station. Here the 10-inch-diameter bread is a buttery multilayer production, a… More >>
  • Finest food court

    FOOD COURT, CANAAN TAIWANESE - CLOSED

    Probably the most decrepit of Flushing's food courts, the bi-level space disarmingly called FOOD COURT is my favorite. Choose from among Thai, dumplings, bubble tea and bentos, organ-oriented Sichuan, and best of all, the counter called CANAAN TAIWANESE, where splendid pork and chicken dishes arrive over rice spritzed with chunky garlic sauce, accompanied by boiled white yam.… More >>
  • Best moles

    DEL VALLE

    Bet you thought I meant the burrowing animal with beady eyes—but, no, I'm talking about "moe-lays," the pre-Colombian Mexican sauces laboriously made from dozens of ingredients. The recently expanded DEL VALLE makes all the usual green, brown, and red versions, and several rarely seen ones as well, including a soupy mole from the town in south Puebla where the owners… More >>
  • Best use of Sichuan peppercorns

    SPICY & TASTY

    A dozen or more Sichuan places have sprung up in the last year, most of them pretty good, but none hoses its scarf with fiery, tingly, weird-tasting Sichuan peppercorns like SPICY & TASTY does. The hotter dishes employ red chile oil and green chiles in addition to peppercorns. Hottest of all is "beef tripe in hot pepper sauce." Be forewarned.… More >>
  • Best big-eye crudo

    VENTO

    Crudo is the Venetian answer to sashimi, delicate slices of fish sluiced with fruity olive oil and sea salt, with maybe a bit of herb or chile or fruit preserves to modify the flavor. King of Crudo is Esca, but VENTO surprised me one summer evening with its excellent big-eye crudo, five violently red swatches of raw tuna bathed in… More >>
  • Daintiest dim sum

    SUNNY PALACE

    The breakfast of champions, dim sum, has been lagging lately in the five boroughs, and I'm not sure how to account for it. Lately, I've found myself sneaking into New Jersey for my dim sum fix. Serving it weekends only, SUNNY PALACE specializes in shrimp dim sum, and whether you knock back plates of pearly har gow or shrimp noodles,… More >>
  • Best Brooklyn bistro

    BELLEVILLE

    If you like your bistros decorated with fakey French enamel signs, then BELLEVILLE isn't your place. But this pleasant yellow box won't disappoint you food-wise. Recommendations include a caper-laced steak tartare, crisp-skinned Provençale roast baby chicken, and a red-wine-fortified beef daube that will have you lolling back and unhitching your belt a notch.… More >>
  • Nicest ices

    D'AIUTO'S PASTRY CORP

    I'm a Lemon Ice King of Corona kind of guy, but I didn't object when a friend swerved over to the curb just south of the Farley Post Office. He hopped over to D'AIUTO BAKERY, a place known for its cheesecake, and soon returned to the car cradling giant ices. The muskmelon was particularly delicious, boasting pieces of sweet fruit,… More >>
  • Mightiest muffins

    CLINTON ST. BAKING COMPANY

    I'm not sure whether to call it a bakery or a coffee shop or a serious restaurant; indeed, CLINTON ST. BAKING COMPANY fulfills all these mandates. Still, it's not the sandwiches, cookies, or blue-plate specials that come to mind, but the wonderful muffins, berried and clotted with streusel toppings, constructed so as to remain moist even if forgotten in a… More >>
  • Best pretzel surrogate

    PALERMO PASTRY SHOP

    The crunchy Apulian crackers called taralli are an excellent substitute for pretzels, and the best southern Italian bakeries in Brooklyn make them in several styles. One is actually pretzel shaped, flavored with cracked black peppercorns and embedded, in a way that demonstrates North African influences, with whole toasted almonds. Find them at PALERMO PASTRY SHOP.… More >>
  • Best post-BAM blast

    THOMAS BEISL - CLOSED

    Eating after a Brooklyn Academy of Music performance has always been a problem. The usual solution has been to wander over to DeKalb Avenue, but now THOMAS BEISL steps forward. Jumping on the very tiny Austrian bandwagon, this elegant space serves up all the usual Viennese schnitzels and pastries, in addition to perfect after-theater snacks.… More >>
  • Best cheap Indian

    KHUSHIE

    Aping the methods of Chinese restaurants, KHUSHIE prepares its food to order rather than pooling it on a steam table. The result is fresher tasting Punjabi fare than you've ever had before. Chicken kali mirch shotguns tasty poultry tidbits with black pepper for an enduring burn, while, more mildly, navarattan korma bathes vegetables in a rich nut sauce.… More >>
  • Amazing amuse

    JACK'S LUXURY OYSTER BAR

    The first thing that lands in front of you at the microscopic JACK'S LUXURY OYSTER BAR is a freebie, an amuse of pickled quail egg in a filigreed eggcup. Sometimes it comes sprinkled with sea salt and chives, but other toppings have also been witnessed. It's like something you might find in a Wisconsin beer bar if it were situated… More >>
  • Most meritorious Malaysian

    OVERSEAS ASIAN - CLOSED

    Last year, it looked like Manhattan's mini-Malaysian nabe was clearing out, as Sentosa pulled up stakes (steaks?) and moved to Flushing. Jumping like a pirate into the breach, OVERSEAS ASIAN proffers a diverse and pungent menu, ranging from chile-gobbed skate to that beloved collection of stuffed bean curd that goes by the soap opera-ish name of—Young Tofu.… More >>
  • Nicest noodles

    SAMWONGAHK

    You can't beat noodles made shortly before you devour them. Such is the case at SAMWONGAHK, a Korean diner in the heart of Elmhurst. Originating in northern China, the noodles are called cha chiang mein, and you'd be crazy to get them topped with anything but the meaty, beany "special brown Peking sauce."… More >>
  • Best new pasta

    BIANCA

    Dozens of new pastas are introduced to an eager public at the 50 or so Italian restaurants that define the East Village dining scene, but the one that sticks in my mind is the gramigna at BIANCA, screwy double elbows bombed with a crumbly-sleek dressing of Italian sausage and strips of sweet red bell pepper.… More >>
  • Greatest Guinean

    FATIMA - CLOSED

    The leaf-based sauces of Guinea are indeed thrilling, like what Popeye shot into his mouth, only better. Whether made with sweet-potato leaves, spinach, or manioc foliage at FATIMA, these stockfish-accented sauces provide verdant and pungent moisture for the huge plate of Uncle Ben's that's the focus of an African meal.… More >>
  • Grandest Ghanaian

    GOD'S TIME IS THE BEST

    Contrary to form at most West African restaurants, GOD'S TIME IS THE BEST offers dozens of dishes simultaneously, from fried fish to okra and palm oil sauces to rich stews of mutton and beef. Take a peek through the Plexiglas and point to any combo of ingredients, and they will be put on a plate or packaged for carryout.… More >>
  • Most soothing Sierra Leonean

    B.B. AFRICAN AND AMERICAN RESTAURANT

    The fare of Sierra Leone isn't all that different from that of its neighbor, Guinea. Discover both cuisines at B.B. AFRICAN AND AMERICAN RESTAURANT, where peanut is king, and where a particularly good soup features cassava leaf puree further thickened with crushed peanuts.… More >>
  • Freshest French bistro

    GAVROCHE - CLOSED

    With a menu evenly divided between hoary old standards and modest new inventions, GAVROCHE never overextends itself—but neither does the bill of fare become boring. Snackers relish assiettes of cheeses, smoked fish, and meat, while entrées run from hanger steak with good fries to a more ambitious wild-mushroom ravioli in truffle sauce. And the outdoor garden can't be beat.… More >>
  • Best use of foie gras

    SUMILE

    With its less-is-more Asian aesthetic, SUMILE turned heads last winter with its itsy-bitsy duck swatches awash in foie gras foam, presumably achieved with the torture of fewer geese. Other off-the-wall menu items included a duck-tongue garnish, sea urchin salad dressing, and a delicious miniaturized take on tête-de-veau.… More >>
  • Most tongue-tying dish

    LES ENFANTS TERRIBLE - CLOSED

    The food is anything but terrible at LES ENFANTS TERRIBLE, a praiseworthy bistro just east of Chinatown that fuses African elements to French peasant standards. It may be virtually unpronounceable to most of us, but korogofefemougo is a simple sirloin steak dusted with spices from Côte d'Ivoire, including ground kola nut, the flavor that underpins Pepsi, Coke, and even Coke… More >>
  • Best Bangladeshi

    LITTLE BANGLADESH

    Bangladeshi restaurateurs have been cooking a northern Indian menu on East 6th Street for decades, ignoring their own cuisine. Now the powerful Bengali food has come out of the closet at places like LITTLE BANGLADESH, where an insistent yellowness reflects the use of mustard oil as both flavor and cooking medium. Expect fish curry in coconut sauce, black chickpeas, and… More >>
  • Gnarliest N'Awlins

    NATCHEZ

    A decade after Paul Prudhomme brought his Cajun-Creole cooking to town, and his restaurant died, elements of his dream have been slowly working their way into area restaurants. Most notable is NATCHEZ, named after a riverboat. Emphasizing the high-flown French aspects of Creole, the specialties include gumbo, crab cakes, and best of all, beef fillet in bourbon sauce.… More >>
  • Best use of peanuts

    LA MARMITE

    Nosing out an Ivory Coast establishment at the same location, and named after a Senegalese cooking vessel, LA MARMITE wins the award for the tastiest peanut sauce, known as mafe. Sometimes it smothers lamb, sometimes chicken, but either way, I ride many miles on my bike to get it once a month.… More >>
  • Tiniest taqueria

    ARIANA DELI AND GROCERY

    Though it doesn't look like much from the street, ARIANA DELI AND GROCERY conceals a tiny taqueria where they turn out the best tortas in town. My favorite remains the milanesa, a razor-thin cut of beef breaded and deep-fried, slathered with mayo and black beans and gooey avocado, then piled on a chewy roll with hot chiles.… More >>
  • Self-proclaimed best kebabs

    FIZA DINER - CLOSED

    The sign emblazoned across FIZA DINER immodestly proclaims "America's Best Grilled Kebabs," and truth be told, they're pretty damn good, whether you pick the delicately fleshed quails, dense kingfish steaks, spice-rubbed lamb chops, or the whole tandoori chicken, which, at $10, is a festive bargain.… More >>
  • Wildest way-downtown fast food

    SMORGAS CHEF

    Though Scandinavian fare is hardly flavor of the year, somebody had the bright idea of enlivening the downtown dining terrain with SMORGAS CHEF, a rather goofy name. Stars of the show are salads featuring tiny North Sea shrimp, potato flatbreads called lefse stuffed with pickled herring, and of course, Swedish meatballs every bit as good as Ikea's.… More >>
  • Best Belmont heros

    BUTCHIE'S - CLOSED

    There are perhaps a dozen places in the Arthur Avenue area where you can score a dreadnought sandwich, one of the signal achievements of Italian American cuisine and, thankfully, bigger than a panini. Innovatively, BUTCHIE'S thrusts french fries into some of its sandwiches. According to the cook, local kids invented the idea.… More >>
  • Hippest hideaway

    360

    If you believe the reports, Red Hook is booming. How come when I go there it's still a ghost town? Location is the least of the reasons to visit 360, a joint that neglects the usual froufrou and cookie-cutter menu of New York bistros, in favor of excellent, French-leaning home cooking, from a menu that includes only a handful of… More >>
  • Best use of crockery

    PYLOS

    Greek cooking has finally come of age in the East Village. With the opening of PYLOS, where pots hang from the ceiling, we have many regional specialties to choose from. Lots of it is actually cooked in crocks, like kotopoulo sartsa, a chicken from Ithaka braised with tomato sauce and topped with gooey cheese, maybe what Ulysses ate when he… More >>
  • Ballsiest barrimundi

    SUNBURNT COW - CLOSED

    Barrimundi, a fish beloved of Aussies, is available few places in the city, but you can often find this toothsome firm-fleshed fish, which divides its time between salt water and fresh, at SUNBURNT COW, a boîte with a lively back porch that seems to have mistaken Avenue C for Sydney.… More >>
  • Prettiest puttanesca

    SAN CONO PIZZERIA

    Not sure that a recipe named after a prostitute's private parts belongs in a café named after an Italian saint, but the puttanesca at SAN CONO PIZZERIA is the best in the city, reflecting the preference of the natives of Teggiano, Campania, for incendiary green peppers instead of the dried red used in most recipes.… More >>
  • Choicest Chiu Chow

    NEW CHAO CHOW RESTAURANT - CLOSED

    The cooking of Chinese expats in Southeast Asia is featured in area Chiu Chow restaurants, the best of which is that ancient Chinatown fixture NEW CHAO CHOW RESTAURANT. Experience the cuisine's delicacy and piquant flavors in the deconstructed version of pho known as "broth noodles," and in the marvelous duck braised in thick soy sauce, which renders it a weird… More >>
  • Best vegetarian Indian

    CHENNAI GARDEN - CLOSED

    I salivate every time I think of CHENNAI GARDEN, a restaurant that restricts itself to vegetarian food from several Indian regions—including Gujarat and the Punjab —without making us miss meat, fish, or poultry. The range of dosas is impressive, though not unique to the neighborhood. The exception is the "gunpowder dosa"—I leave it for you to discover what it contains.… More >>
  • Wildest pizza

    LA CABANA

    A pal of mine is obsessed with skirt steak, so naturally I steered him toward an Argentinean place. Located on an East Elmhurst strip that caters to Colombians, LA CABANA serves up all the usual barbecued meats, but what really blew us away was the skirt steak pizza, festooned with strips of barbecued meat and smeared with tomato sauce and… More >>
  • Most convincing panini parlor

    PANINO SPORTIVO ROMA - CLOSED

    Places that specialize in panini have inundated the city, and there are now at least a hundred around town by my estimate. Plain old sandwiches won't do anymore. If an authentic Italian feel is what you seek, check out PANINO SPORTIVO ROMA, decorated with soccer paraphernalia and pressing some of the best sandwiches in town, a boon to Columbia students… More >>
  • Most unpretentious Turk

    MANGAL

    Where do the real Turks go, with former MOMA-heads flooding into the grander Turkish restaurants along Queens Boulevard? Shoebox-sized MANGAL, where they won't mangle your doner kebab sandwich, Turkish programming is always on the tube, and the salads are every bit as good as at the bigger places, sometimes better. Don't miss the spicy adana kebab.… More >>
  • Best Brooklyn Thai

    TAI THAI

    Thais have been springing up over the last five years in W'burg, Greenpoint, and Carroll Gardens, offering a take on the cuisine that, while good, is blander than Queens Thais. Best is TAI THAI, located right in the 'Burg tenderloin, offering tangy salads and coconut-laced curries a cut above the rest. Favorite dish: duck with chile sauce.… More >>
  • Haute Haitian

    CHEZ MACOULE

    Only a handful of Haitian restaurants in New York rise above the level of hash houses. Foremost is CHEZ MACOULE, a Flatbushian foray into Afro-French fusion that sides goat stews and pork confits with a raft of dishes including salad, woody fried plantains, and rice and peas, making a fulsome meal.… More >>
  • Best bureks

    TONY & TINA'S PIZZA

    Don't be confused by the name. TONY & TINA'S PIZZA is an Albanian operation offering spectacular bureks, in addition to pro forma Italian stuff. It was there that I was introduced to the pumpkin burek, a flaky, many-layered pie oozing orange, a pleasant change from the meat-spinach-cheese varieties. Don't forget to dip it in the homemade yogurt.… More >>
  • Sweetest vegetarian revenge

    BOMBAY SIZZLERS

    BOMBAY SIZZLERS pokes fun at steak houses, proud of a vegetarian menu that has Mughal and South Indian cooking at its core. But the bill of fare also branches out into "sizzlers"—its term for specialties presented on sizzling platters that mimic Mexican, Italian, Hawaiian, and Chinese recipes.… More >>
  • Best fried chicken

    107 WEST

    Sided by mashed potatoes and buttermilk gravy, the fried chicken at 107 WEST (who knows where the name comes from) is nothing short of miraculous, with a very thin, crisp coating of what seems like corn flakes, done to a pleasing shade of light brown. Who would have expected the best fried chicken to be found in a Washington Heights… More >>
  • Best restaurant name

    RUDY POKE TASTY DISHES

    One of the most important features of a restaurant is its name. It's got to be apropos and memorable, two features often lacking in new upscale restaurants in Manhattan, where places tend to assume forgettable names like Park, Canteen, and Dinner. You won't ever forget RUDY POKE TASTY DISHES, where the menu encompasses baked goods, Caribbean dinner standards, and a… More >>
  • Merriest merchandising gimmic

    PINCH

    We already had pizza by the pound at Pie; now along comes pizza by the inch at PINCH. And it's pretty damn good too, assembled to order and finished in the oven to your satisfaction. There's also a selection of salads and unexpectedly good pastas, and the espresso couldn't be better.… More >>
  • Soupiest dumplings

    JOE'S GINGER

    After rampant expansion, the Joe's Shanghai chain had become tiresome. Revising the formula, JOE'S GINGER appeared, and somehow, Shanghai soup dumplings—also known as "juicy buns"—became exciting again. The vast bulging pouches can barely contain the miniature pork meatball and what must be ounces of unctuous gravy.… More >>
  • Best Cobble Hill carryout

    SOUL SPOT

    SOUL SPOT excels at carryout, spanning the African diaspora from American soul food to Afro-Caribbean and even back to Mother Africa. There's jerk chicken and fried chicken and smothered chicken and especially good fried catfish. Is that bumpy rice dish American hoppin' john, Jamaican rice and peas, or Ghanaian wache?… More >>
  • Best diamond district Uzbe

    TAAM TOV

    If you thought Gan Eden was the last word in charcoal-grilled diamond district kebabs, reconsider. TAAM TOV offers stiff stick-borne competition via a menu that goes beyond the usual Uzbek to Georgian and Russian kosher standards. Lamb pilaf is offered in two varieties, including one that's a daunting green color.… More >>
  • Most pleasing pre-bhangra place

    CHINESE MIRCH - CLOSED

    The Indian club kids hang out at CHINESE MIRCH for wonderfully spicy Indo-Chinese fare before heading for the clubs, and the evening repast is a table-hopping party. Chow down on chile garlic noodles and chicken with ginger and spring onions, then hook up with a group heading for the discos.… More >>
  • Best lobster roll

    SHORE

    Newcomer SHORE, offspring of fab fish spot Fresh, is the best new casual seafood spot, a category that seemed on the verge of getting clogged early this year. Their lobster roll is tops, with cirrus clouds of white meat of prodigious freshness dressed with the correct amount of mayo, garnished minimally with a few shreds of lettuce, and deposited in… More >>
  • Most awesome Middle Eastern

    OASIS

    Conveniently materializing just above the Bedford stop on the L, OASIS immediately blew the neighborhood's other pita purveyor right out of the water. The appetizing salads are fresh, the baba is appropriately mellow and smoky, and the grilled-to-order lamb kebab and grainy sausage make this place worth going many subway miles to get to. Imagine living nearby.… More >>
  • Wimpiest haggis

    ST. ANDREWS

    The Scottish dish of sheep stomach stuffed with organ meats strikes terror into the hearts of timid diners. Luckily, the version at Manhattan's premier gastropub—ST. ANDREWS, where nearly everyone seems to be wearing plaid—has been deconstructed into its component potatoes, mashed turnips, and tiny cubes of liver, heart, and steak. Nevertheless, it's irresistible.… More >>
  • Best meal deal

    NEW BAI WEI GOURMET FOODS

    For the last few years, Fujianese cafés have delivered the city's cheapest full meals. Currently foremost in the category is NEW BAI WEI GOURMET FOODS, which piles almost three dozen tubs in the window, including shrimp, crabs, mussels, and whole fish, along with seasonal Asian vegetables, then lets you pick five to go over a big plate of rice for… More >>
  • Best Burmese

    VILLAGE MINGALA

    Burmese places have come and gone from Gotham over the last few years, though there have never been more than a half-dozen at any one time. Staying the course, VILLAGE MINGALA has been slinging relatively ungreasy thousand-layer pancakes, righteously fiery curries, and an astringent tea leaf salad for the better part of two decades.… More >>
  • Foremost Xinxiang restaurant

    CAFÉ KASHKAR

    Bridging the gap between Uzbek on one hand and Chinese on the other, CAFÉ KASHKAR serves food from the remote Silk Road province of Xinxiang. Soups are king, or perhaps pasha, including chuchara and mampar, the former dancing with dumplings, the latter squirming with homemade noodles. Plov is alternately called plow and fried rice, but you may know it better… More >>
  • Silkiest suckling pig

    A.O.C. BEDFORD

    The roast suckling pig is as perfect as that sainted dish gets at A.O.C. BEDFORD, a village restaurant with one of the loveliest and most romantic interiors in town. The serving must be ordered by two ($60) and the easily detachable skin is crunchy and just the right shade of bronze; the nice-sized and mellow hunk of flesh is well-fatted… More >>
  • Freakiest East Village falafel

    DAMASK

    A frenetic falafel foray one day turned up the following facts: falafel balls—two or three per sandwich; total ball weight: 3.2 to 3.5 ounces; cost: $3 to $3.50 per sandwich. The champion, DAMASK, produces pleasantly pale, wok-shaped falafel, three to a sandwich, high in nutty savor, slagged with good tomatoes and greenery, and dribbled with tahini and hot sauce.… More >>
  • Grossest gutbomb

    OTAFUKU

    This formidable category entails creating a foodstuff that's dense, greasy, sweet, and full of character, and the award knows no ethnic boundaries. At OTAFUKU, the beloved and authentically Japanese food stall, the foremost gutbomb is okonomiyaki, a pair of shredded-vegetable pancakes in a dense batter fried with a slice of pork belly annealed to the surface. The pancake is a… More >>
  • Best lamb chops

    HACIENDA DE ARGENTINA - CLOSED

    Fusing American and Argentine steak house menus, HACIENDA DE ARGENTINA makes better meat than you'd expect. Particularly notable are the juicy lamb chops, four to an order, that arrive pedestaled on lemon slices that add just the right tart edge to the salty charred meat. And tearing the flesh with your teeth while holding the bone between thumb and forefinger… More >>
  • Best bakery

    LAZIZA SWEETS

    The selection of cookies and pastries will knock you out at LAZIZA SWEETS, an Astorian showcase of Middle Eastern baked goods, some stuffed with dates and dotted with sesame seeds, others shaped like baskets made from multi-layered filo pastry and overflowing with crushed pistachios, still others resembling Italian cookies dabbed with apricot jelly. And the pre-assembled assortments on the counter… More >>
  • Best coffee bar [tie]

    JOE, THE ART OF COFFEE; JACK'S STIR BREW

    At JOE, THE ART OF COFFEE I often spot Philip Seymour Hoffman; at JACK'S STIR BREW it's Daniel Day Lewis. Which star do I prefer? Can't decide, and not sure about the coffee, either. While Joe dribbles and foams the city's most flavorful and scientifically accurate cup of cappuccino, Jack uses a domey contraption that stirs the grounds as they… More >>
  • Best new restaurant

    AUGUST

    Making spectacular use of an inherited wood-burning oven, AUGUST presents a greatest hits of greasy, garlicky, salty European food, including guinea hen cooked under a brick, deep-fried-and-festooned-with-flaky-French-sea-salt fritters called panisse, and the deceptively simple-sounding green-onion bulbs with romesco sauce. In doing so, they put to shame the city's barbecues—and maybe the porn industry too—with their clever deployment of wood.… More >>
  • Best porchetta

    'INOTECA

    Whether acquired cold from a panel truck at a rural corner, or hot from a village macelleria, porchetta is Italy's favorite sandwich meat. Though duplicating this fennel-stuffed roast with the copper crackling skin in this country is patently impossible, 'INOTECA has made a noble stab at it. Their sometime special of herb-stuffed and well-fatted porchetta, piled on an elongated roll… More >>
  • Best use of octopus

    SABRY'S

    This award often goes to an Italian or Greek restaurant, but this year the best octopus I found was at Egyptian seafood specialist SABRY'S. The tentacled creature arrives chewy and charcoal-blackened and spritzed with olive oil and lemon juice, dusted with an herb mixture finer than desert sand, and with swatches of the creature's head in the mix, delicate and… More >>
  • Best use of squid

    ROCCO'S CALAMARI

    Fried calamari has long since passed into the bar food canon, offered in hundreds of decent but not great renditions around town, everywhere beer is poured and drunk. So when a version like that at ROCCO'S CALAMARIemerges—thick tenderized rings fried golden brown and heaped in profusion on the long plate, served with lemon wedges and spicy red sauce—it behooves you… More >>
  • Best beans

    POLLO CAMPERO

    Apparently, the line stretching down the block from POLLO CAMPERO consisted of diners anxious for a shot at the fried chicken of this Guatemalan chain. I was there for the beans—juicy red nuggets in a rich broth dotted with onions, ground pork, and fingernail-sized swatches of ham, imparting a smoky and ungreasy flavor to the beans, beans good enough to… More >>
  • Best use of mutton

    HAPPY FAMILY / LITTLE FAT LAMB

    The restaurant variously called HAPPY FAMILY and more morbidly, LITTLE FAT LAMB, is the only Chinese restaurant in town to specialize in sheep. Chief among dishes are the lamb dumplings, but also delicious is the lamb stew flavored with cilantro, and the lamb shish kebab, rubbed with cumin and bargain priced at 10 for $10.… More >>
  • Best Chinatown charcuterie

    WONG'S RICE AND NOODLE

    The bronzed ducks hanging in the window are the best in Chinatown, and the pork strips redolent of star anise, plain pale scallion chicken, and further charcuterie are scarcely less excellent. Pick any two barbecued meats at WONG'S RICE AND NOODLE when ordering the special called "any roast pork combination with fried egg," and they arrive generously heaped on excellent… More >>
  • Best fried rice

    CHANOODLE - CLOSED

    Dig the "gold and silver fried rice" at CHANOODLE, a painterly masterpiece of salty fish tidbits, onions, golden raisins, and egg drops. Other masterpieces at this bastion of Chiu Chow fare include fried clams hosed with ground pork and "King of the Roast Duck."… More >>
  • Most engaging English fare

    CAFÉ TOPSY

    The premises had undergone several transformations prior to the popping up of CAFÉ TOPSY, the Village's most fun-loving English restaurant, where brisket is innovatively braised in Guinness and the chef is not above copping a recipe from across the channel, like "Topsy's coddler," an assortment of preserved meats with kraut that will remind you of an Alsatian choucroute garnie.… More >>
  • Best deal in midtown sushi

    KANG SUH

    In midtown, there are dozens of cheap sushi parlors catering to office workers and tourists, and expensive ones aimed at Japanese businesspeople, but rarely do you go to a Korean restaurant specifically in search of sushi. Nevertheless, old-timer KANG SUH mounts one of the freshest and most agreeable sushi menus in midtown, and doesn't lack such newfangled fads as spider… More >>
  • Best upscale burger

    THE SPOTTED PIG

    The burger looms supreme among the many estimable dishes at THE SPOTTED PIG, a modest premises in the West Village owned by celebrities and often called the city's first gastropub. The juicy wad of meat comes topped illogically with a thick mantle of skanky bleu cheese, and why this combination works I've never figured out, but it does.… More >>
  • Best downscale burger

    NEW YORK BURGER CO. - CLOSED

    A rash of new burger joints has sprung up recently, all looking like they yearn to be franchises. Though they all purvey decent-to-good burgers, my current fave is NEW YORK BURGER CO., where the meat slab arrives on a bun better than it needs to be, and a lush sauce bar invites experimentation. For a fast-food joint, the furniture is… More >>
  • Best burger with a view

    BOAT BASIN CAFÉ

    The BOAT BASIN CAFÉ is operated by the folks behind the defunct O'Neal's Balloon, once the most popular restaurant on the Upper West Side. The view from the porticoed stone porch—which resembles a Roman ruin—looks across the Hudson River to the Jersey Palisades, and the burger is char-grilled, well-dressed, and just the right size.… More >>
  • Best uptown burger

    JUMBO HAMBURGERS

    Acting like the old Jackson Hole chain, JUMBO HAMBURGERS has colonized certain uptown neighborhoods, grilling a great wad of meat, then partially steaming it under a metal pot lid. The result is a moist patty with a proportion of the tallow evacuated, but delicious nonetheless.… More >>
  • Best challenge to White Castle

    POP BURGER - CLOSED

    Some people's appreciation of tiny burgers verges on fetishism, others like 'em because you can eat a lot more. Outflanking the white feudal edifice, POP BURGER recently concocted a miniature product that's made with painfully red meat, fried rather than steamed, and topped with onions, tomatoes, and Russian dressing.… More >>
  • Best challenge to L.A.

    BLUE 9 BURGER

    Carefully dressed franchise burgers of exemplary freshness have heretofore been the exclusive province of Los Angeles, at places like In-N-Out Burger. Now, New York has prepared its answer at BLUE 9 BURGER, where the pristine beef patty is grilled to order, and the only accoutrements are shakes, fries, and soft drinks.… More >>
  • Best burger in a garden setting

    SHAKE SHACK

    Ace restaurateur Danny Meyer set out to re-create the parkside burger joint—nearly every town has one—of his Midwestern youth, and happily succeeded. In fact, SHAKE SHACK turns out a better unpretentious burger than any I've had in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Hand-patted, made of fresh beef cut from brisket and sirloin, it's a juicy tour de force. Thick shakes too.… More >>
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