Food & Drink

  • Best Sake Bar


    Sure, you can sip sake at 350 Japanese joints in Manhattan, but none seems more righteously relaxing than dark, tiny CHIBITINI with 27 carefully chosen sakes, all stocked. They range from fragrant Kaori ($6, small glass) to the power-packed, 20-year-old Oninote ($12, small glass). The staff helps newbies along without condescension. Plus, the amicable French bulldog looks happily languid, like… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Screamed at by a Bartender for Ordering a Drink


    At NANCY WHISKEY PUB, a spectacularly authentic dive located in—what the fuck?—Tribeca, the ornery staff will not hesitate to put you in your place. If you attempt to order a drink with more than one ingredient, prepare yourself for eternal shame ("Who do you think I am? Your slave?!") at the hands of a hysterical, cockeyed bartender named Barry. So… More >>
  • Best Shot-and-a-Beer Bar


    For bespectacled Columbia students, there are precious few ways to gain acceptance among Amsterdam Avenue alkies, and by far the most appealing of these is double-fisting a Johnnie Walker Red and a Bud Light. At NIGHT CAFÉ it's just six bucks for the pair, and since everyone else is also drinking in twos, the pool table offers a chance to… More >>
  • Best Place to Flirt With a Genius


    Sick of the Neanderthals at your local bar? Pop on over to the APPLE STORE GENIUS BAR, the only bar where a brilliant person is always present, waiting to tend to your needs. Your NYU drama background will finally pay off as you fake like your computer's been freezing up—just to while away a few tender moments with a living… More >>
  • Best House Tap Beer

    12 INCH BAR

    At first taste, 12-Inch Pale Ale seems pretty pedestrian. But send more than a pint down the hatch (easy to do during 12 INCH BAR's value-packed happy hour), and you find that the eponymous draught wields a benevolent magic. Friendly, fascinating people begin to materialize. Weirdly listenable music howls forth from ancient "record albums." Before long, the bartender shape-shifts into… More >>
  • Best Drunken Scrabble


    As if you weren't already bad enough at this A-student-English-majors-only game, try getting the double-letter bonus after a few beers. Sundays, 4 p.m. at COMMONWEALTH is the best place to practice. It's not pretty, but really fun to make up your own drunken vocabulary. Good thing everyone else is drinking too.… More >>
  • Best Fanzine for Hops Fanatics


    Want to know which bars dispense purportedly cask-fresh beer from fake taps? Then check out THE GOTHAM IMBIBER, where those allegations read like juicy blind items in the New York Post. But more importantly for you fat-bottomed girls and beer-gutted dudes, the zine also features a useful calendar (and for once, useful ads!) for the multitude of local beer events… More >>
  • Best Sports Bar for Guys Who Don't Like Sports


    With nine large-screen TVs and a digital-cable package spanning everything from Auburn college baseball to Argentinean pro soccer, the GYM SPORTS BAR should be a haven for "festive" sports fanatics. Instead, it's a haven for the other athletic supporters: Buff bartenders who don't know the difference between the Mets and the Nets compete for attention with muscle Marys who glare… More >>
  • Best High-End Beer Tasting


    Every Tuesday evening in the tightly packed aisles of BIERKRAFT, mulleted, beer-bellied experts offer samplings of obscure beers and cheeses. Learn how Original Flag Porter beer was lost in an 1825 shipwreck, only to be recovered in 1988 and resurrected by brewers at the University of Sunderland. Such a beer can only be matched by the Banon de Chalais, a… More >>
  • Best Bar to Be a Philly Sports Fan


    Just as Chase Utley unseated Placido Polanco for the second-baseman job this year, an upstart rookie has dislodged an aging veteran as the place to go for one's Eagles and Phillies phix. WOGIE'S has quickly established a foothold in the West Village with its inexpensive cheesesteaks and affable bartenders. Demerits, though, for discontinuing those $3 Philly Lagers.… More >>
  • Best Hangover Remedy That Tastes Like Beer


    Russians drink a lot. They drink so much that even their preferred hangover cure tastes like beer. KVASS, a Russian drink made from stale rye bread, found primarily in Brighton Beach, is malty, fortifying, and non-alcoholic—perfect after a night of too much vodka.… More >>
  • Best Bar to Play Unimpeded Pool


    A pool table plunked down in a pint-size bar is doubly dangerous: to that junior exec from Bear Stearns who takes a backstroke to the gut, and to you, who gets punched. Those sawed-off cue sticks with which some bars solve "the wall problem" are certainly no healthier for a player's ego, so head to THE ABBEY, which offers Cribs-worthy… More >>
  • Best Bar in Which to Pretend You Are in a Snowy Mountain Lodge


    At Greenpoint's PENCIL FACTORY, on a wintry weekend afternoon, you can relax in the cozy wood-paneled bar, nurse a hot toddy for hours, and admire how the floor-to-ceiling picture windows frame the blustery weather. Other patrons do the crossword, play cards, or read books at the large communal tables—just like the Adirondack living room of your dreams!… More >>
  • Best Bar to Play Big Buck Hunter II: Sportsman's Paradise, Since Sophie's Replaced It With Some Lesser Game


    At Sophie's there was always the killer Stardust song on the jukebox and the big dude to talk to about peripheral vision. CHEAP SHOTS is almost as good a place to handle arcade buck hunting. The console is next to the bathrooms, so hits of inorganic salt from wafts of pissy air cut right through any wooziness or nausea induced… More >>
  • Best, and Perhaps Only, Reason to Visit the South Street Seaport


    Before the Fulton Fish Market relocated to the Bronx, morning passersby to café-bar FRESH SALT could enjoy an outlandish sight: trawlermen downing whiskey during the 8 a.m. dollar-off special. But even without the odd-smelling clientele, there's still much to recommend this boîte-hidden locale: generous pours, a decent wine list, and quite possibly Manhattan's most unspeakably handsome bartender.… More >>
  • Best Bar With a Shtick Inspired by a Silly Pun


    Better for boys' night out than first-date romance—I found out the hard way—this Williamsburg half-bar half-arcade (so, BARCADE) looks like the foot soldier hangout from the first Ninja Turtles movie. The epitome of misspent youth, Barcade doesn't have Shredder, but Smash TV is there; so are Tapper, 1943, and Tetris (though FYI that game's joystick is broken). If you do… More >>
  • Best Bar at the End of the Universe


    Though you will have to traverse a train and a bus ride, then walk past an abandoned overgrown lot littered with beer cans, drinking at LILLIE'S, the most welcoming bar in Red Hook, makes the traveling worthwhile. Outside it looks like Gangs of New York territory, but inside the drinks are cheap, seating is plentiful, and the regulars are friendly.… More >>
  • Best Overused, Overcrowded, and Overrated Bar for Hipster Birthday Parties


    Don't expect to get anywhere near the bar at THE MAGICIAN on a weekend, when at least three tragically hip media folks will be celebrating their latest twentysomething age gain. The mob scene utterly ruins any redeeming aspects of this rather nondescript locale; thankfully, it's near several other cool ones you can decamp to after showing your face for the… More >>
  • Best Place to Call Your Friends and Sing, "Hello, hello-I'm at a place called Vertigo"


    Thanks to new Gramercy restaurant and nightspot VERTIGO, you too can be U2. Vertigo offers an upscale take on pub grub, a section that opens up to the sidewalk, U2 (and others) on the sound system, and a wide range of draft beers. By pint number catorce, the cell phone karaoke just gets funnier.… More >>
  • Best Place to Get a Serious Cocktail That Involves Kiwi


    Behind the heavy wood-paneled doors on a dark block of Essex Street at EAST SIDE COMPANY BAR there are professionals who want to serve you really, really good cocktails. Served without umbrellas, the fresh kiwi tastes pure, and the pours, per Sasha Petraske (Milk & Honey, Little Branch), who trains his staff with military grade accuracy, are strong.… More >>
  • Best Bottle Service


    No, not that kind. Actually, just the opposite of those banker bars that charge $300 for a table and a bottle of vodka with good PR. The owners of LANDMARC, a newish, unpretentious Tribeca bistro, had the wild idea that if wine were priced accessibly, more people would buy it. Profit on volume—go figure. They charge just above retail, which… More >>
  • Best Secret Illegal-Milk Listserv


    Perhaps the only way for New Yorkers to get milk straight from the teat, without a stint in the flavor-sapping pasteurizer, is by joining THE RAW MILK CLUB. The raw milk is trucked in to New York from Pennsylvania, where it's legal to sell it, and dispensed at clandestine drop points in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Sorry, being any more specific… More >>
  • Best Bar to Spot Seemingly 17-Year-Old Hotties


    Trendy, blow-dried young girls; aging macho men who have no chance of getting in their pants. The two don't often successfully mix, but at BAR NONE, they rub shoulders with ease—so much that one wonders whether "$1 drinks for ladies" on Wednesdays was created to accommodate the girls' high-school allowances—or to provide an inexpensive come-on opportunity for the old fogies… More >>
  • Most Delicious South Asian Bread


    How low-end can an eatery be? TAWA DELI is modest in the extreme, a splendid Jackson Heights spot that turns out Indian breads and nothing else. Brought smoking from the grill, the mixed-veggie paratha is heavenly.… More >>
  • Wackiest Wine Bar


    One of the quirkiest institutions to open in recent years, TOTAL WINE BAR occupies a closet of a space and begins its reasonably priced list with a Lambrusco (hooray!). It also offers some of the strangest vittles to go with the wine, from a small but excellent dish of mac and cheese to an astonishing crawfish étouffée.… More >>
  • Least Horrible Franchise—Brooklyn


    When Guatemala's POLLO CAMPERO debuted last year, there were half-hour lines of devotees waiting to taste the citrusy, spice-smeared chicken. Now you can walk in anytime and get a box of it, and the bird provides a fine alternative to Colonel Sanders and the Peruvian and Dominican rotisseries.… More >>
  • Greatest Gujarati


    Due to Gujarat's Jain traditions, much of its fare is vegetarian. SUKHADIA'S is partly a sweet shop, partly a purveyor of vegetarian Indian food, which can be sampled in a sumptuous buffet at lunch or partaken of as a series of snacks called chaats in the evening, when the place turns into a sort of vegetarian clubhouse.… More >>
  • Least Horrible Franchise—Downtown


    The take on fast food is pure 50th state at L&L HAWAIIAN BARBECUE. No poi, but there are Spam-filled nori rolls, glazed beef short ribs, and barbecued pork that actually tastes smoky. Everything comes with volcanic mountains of white rice and a mayo-drenched macaroni salad that makes you think of school picnics.… More >>
  • Most Romantic


    Flagstones, cream-colored stucco, exposed timber, and soft lighting give the interior of ITHAKA a rustic, romantic vibe, which, combined with a strumming guitar player—who thankfully sits mid-restaurant rather than approaching the tables—makes this the perfect date spot. The simple fare runs from oregano-dusted roast chicken to charcoal-grilled whole fish.… More >>
  • Magnificent Mole


    A decade ago New Yorkers were introduced to mole poblano, an irresistible sauce laced with chiles, nuts, and chocolate, with the consistency of mud. With the advent of Red Hook's EL HUIPIL, we began to explore variations. Sprinkled with sesame seeds, the Guerrero version is toastier, and there's no better place for it than in this café's chicken enchiladas.… More >>
  • Grandest Gyro


    Bless the Greek gyro for the denseness and greasiness of its mystery meat, and bless the version found at Bayside's GYRO CORNER, heaping great wads of meat, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, yogurt, and hot sauce onto a thick, heated pita. None better in the five boroughs.… More >>
  • Suavest Saag Paneer


    Centerpiece of Mogul (and muggle?) cuisine, saag paneer is a toothsome curry of spinach or mustard greens and the homemade cheese called paneer. It's rarely as piquant or as cheese studded as it should be, so the lush example sautéed at SUPERFINE provides a pleasurable jolt. … More >>
  • Most Sensational Sushi


    Named after a 12th-century Japanese superhero in his youthful evocation, USHIWAKA MARU fields a menu that goes way beyond the predictable offerings of downtown sushi bars, including differing degrees of fatty tuna, multiple forms of clam and mackerel, and such additional peculiarities as turban crustacean cooked in its own shell.… More >>
  • Superior Cemitas


    Cemitas—the round sandwiches of Puebla, Mexico—are not as common in Brooklyn as you'd expect, maybe because the seeded rolls are hard to find. TAQUERIA COCOYOC in Bushwick assembles the best, crammed with barbacoa (steamed goat), string cheese, avocado, sun-dried chiles, lettuce, and tomato, then smeared with beans and crema.… More >>
  • Truest Transplant


    SENTOSA left Manhattan's Chinatown only to reappear in Queens on Prince Street's hopping restaurant strip. The chile-sauced skate is as good as ever, and so is the sea bass that founders in a chafing dish surrounded by mangoes, candlenuts, and green chiles. But the cut-rate roti canai and its egg-stuffed sibling roti telur deserve equal attention.… More >>
  • Ultimate Staten Island Sandwich


    The finest sandwich found in Staten Island this year is a torta issuing from a Mexican grocery store a stone's throw from the beach.MONTALVO'S layers the thinly breaded beefsteak called milanesa with stringy Oaxacan cheese, avocado, beans, jalapeños, and crema, then piles on assorted greenery and onions. Eat it while the beef is still warm.… More >>
  • Quirkiest Queens Ices


    The maverick corner ice dispenser is a neighborhood gem, turning out ices sweeter and more intensely flavored than its Queens prototype, Lemon Ice King of Corona. In order of descending lickability, our Best Of posse ranked cola first at CRISPINO'S FAMOUS ITALIAN ICES, followed by pistachio, raspberry, honeydew, and lemon.… More >>
  • Slickest Sicilian Slice


    Maybe because of its association with a nearby bakery, LA SORRENTINA produces the city's best Sicilian slice, mopped with a bright, sweet tomato sauce and featuring memorably good cheese. The dough cooks up light and airy, with a deeply browned crust, producing an audible crunch when you chomp down.… More >>
  • Dandiest Dim Sum


    Over the last decade, dim sum has been moribund in the five boroughs. Now up steps WORLD TONG, a marble-clad Hong Kong pleasure palace, bizarrely located in Bensonhurst. The siu mai, har gow, and turnip cakes are delicate and scintillatingly fresh, and I guarantee you've never seen such large-size shrimp deployed in dim sum before.… More >>
  • Slickest Regular Slice


    The slice at marble-clad J&V PIZZERIA in New Utrecht is a paragon of the neighborhood type: cheesy without being overwhelmingly so, well browned, on the salty side, and boasting one of the city's best irregular crusts. Smacking her lips, Marisa noted: "It tastes like a seaside slice in Wildwood, New Jersey."… More >>
  • Finest Fish Tacos


    For years we suffered from taco envy, begrudging L.A. its wonderful fish tacos. But recently we began to have our own credible examples. The current best is at LA ESQUINA, a new taco shack fashioned from an old hamburger stand at Cleveland Place. The generous fish fillet comes heaped with slaw and salsa, and you might as well be in… More >>
  • Most Satisfying Salad


    The Greek village salad horiataki finds its zingiest evocation at ALIADA, surpassing any other in town. The perfectly balanced list of ingredients stimulates every taste bud on the tongue: tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, arugula, scallions, cabbage, cilantro, feta, green and black olives, and—stealth ingredient—caper leaves.… More >>
  • Biggest Burger


    The city's best burger is technically not a burger—it's a pljeskavica, a Bosnian beef-lamb patty with an engagingly rubbery consistency that sprawls across a bun called a lepinja. Cruise up to BOSNA EXPRESS and enjoy one dressed with raw onions and a homemade white sauce like créme fraîche.… More >>
  • Most Admirable All-You-Can-Eat


    I'm not too fond of the massive Chinese all-you-can-eats of Queens—I prefer food made to order—but I've got to admit a grudging admiration for MINADO, a Koreatown newcomer where even the sushi is perfectly acceptable. Expect 150 choices, with lots of good desserts.… More >>
  • Crispiest Calamari


    Squid is star of the show at ROCCO'S CALAMARI, where the cephalopod is fried so quickly that it turns pale brown and doesn't become dry or grease sodden. Of the two tomato-driven dipping sauces, make sure to pick spicy, and sit out on the front porch if weather permits. … More >>
  • Craziest Carrot Cake


    Carrot cake is one of the glories of Jamaican baking—dense, sweet, more brown than orange, radiating an aura of healthfulness. Best this year comes from CONCOURSE JAMAICAN BAKERY, just off the Grand Concourse, which also boasts savory daily meal specials, often including goat curry and jerk chicken.… More >>
  • Nerviest Name


    The award for ballsiest restaurant name goes to the SCHNITZEL KING. His highness surveys the kingdom from a throne on busy Coney Island Avenue, where the chicken schnitzels are of the crowd- pleasing breaded and fried variety, though you can also get them simply grilled. Of the wild assortment of schmear-ons, my favorite is "Wild West barbecue."… More >>
  • Dopest Dumplings


    You'd never think that the pale flattened purses glistening on the plate were the city's best. KO HANG SOFT TOFU, a soon doo boo parlor in downtown Flushing, turns out excellent dumplings that combine scallions with pork and beef. The envelope is silky and fine textured, and the frying oil beyond reproach.… More >>
  • Heaviest Heros


    Though you may associate Flatbush Avenue with Jamaican, if you go far enough seaward, you'll run into an ancient Italian nabe, where FRANK'S PIZZA turns out the borough's best heros. The meatball parmigiana sandwich is magnificent, but you can also get working-class combos like pepper and egg, mushroom and egg, and salami and egg.… More >>
  • Coziest Cuban


    My favorite Cuban sandwich issues from an obscure corner in Greenpoint. FRANKLIN CORNER STORE is a well-kept secret, specializing in sandwiches launched hot and gooey from the press. Their Cuban features layers of pickles, ham, pork roast, and—secret of its success—two types of white cheese.… More >>
  • Ever Best


    No menu is posted outside, and the marquee at EVERBEST RESTAURANT is fantastically faded, so you might have just walked on by, had you not seen the wavering line extending out the door and down the block, everyone eager for a taste of the moist and crisp-skinned roast pork, with its delightful smoky flavor.… More >>
  • Beefiest Barbecued Brisket


    Proud descendant of Stick to Your Ribs and Pearson's Texas Barbecue is the RANGER TEXAS BARBECUE. The brisket remains superb—moist, fatty, and smoky as a fireman's underpants. Slather with the hottest barbecue sauce, if you dare.… More >>
  • Most Impressive Indonesian


    New York has never been able to boast about its Indonesian restaurants; in fact, we've never had more than three or four. But now the spice-exporting archipelago has fielded UPI JAYA, furnishing a Sumatran perspective on the complicated cuisine. Sumatra sate come with wiggly blocks of rice starch, while the beef rendang is as dense as a refractory schoolboy.… More >>
  • Greatest Grape Leaves


    The dolma at Port Authority newcomer TROY (named after the lameass movie?) are quite obviously homemade: outsize grape leaves gloriously stuffed with oily, dill-scented rice and crunchy pine nuts. Served three to an order on a bed of salad, the dolma are decorated with a lemon wedge. Open till midnight.… More >>
  • Sturdiest Brooklyn Siamese


    Brooklyn has no shortage of glitzy cocktail-driven Thai spots. Yet none can match MYRTLE THAI, where the larbs are every bit as good as Sripraphai's, and fish sauce flows like ketchup at a Greek diner.… More >>
  • Most Savory Slope Carryout


    Until recently, the most common complaint I heard from Park Slope denizens was "There's no good Indian carryout." Then along came KINARA, with fantastic chicken vindaloo, lamb seekh kebab, and—contrary to restaurant type, which is principally Punjabi—spicy crab curry.… More >>
  • Niftiest Korean Noodles


    The homemade noodles called cha chiang mien fall apart in square strands as the dough ropes are beaten, and you can find them only rarely in Manhattan. Check out Koreatown's KUM RYONG ("Golden Dragon"), where "noodles with special brown sauce" comes with an inky sauce of onions, pork, and bean paste.… More >>
  • Superior Soup


    The cow foot potage at BUTCHA'S in East Flatbush offers a quadruple-threat starch attack, engulfing potatoes, red beans, dumplings, and the stray strand of spaghetti; and the loosey-goosey cow foot component is a rich and slippery broth, easily making the big $3 Styrofoam carryout cup the soup of the year.… More >>
  • Niftiest Japanese Noodles


    Sunnyside may seem like the last place to look for Japanese food, but the noodles at newcomer YAMAKAZE are damn near perfect, including the summery soba salad of buckwheat noodles, veggies, and pine nuts, and the colder-weather spicy miso men—a shrimp and lo mein extravaganza with a fiery, brick-red broth.… More >>
  • Best New Vegetarian Restaurant (tie)


    Despite its diminutive size, there's a feeling of spaciousness at CURLY'S VEGETARIAN LUNCH, which recasts a New England diner in vegetable terms. Borrowing from Mexico, Greece, Buffalo, and elsewhere, the menu is broad ranging, and my favorite dish is cashews sofrito—the first time, perhaps, that the creamy nut has starred in a main dish.… More >>
  • Niftiest Chinese Noodles


    Rather than focusing on, say, lion's mane meatballs and fatty pork shank, SHANGHAI CAFÉ is the first of its sort predisposed to noodles, soups, and over-rice dishes, in addition to credible soup dumplings ("steamed tiny buns with crab meat and pork") and soul-satisfying casseroles.… More >>
  • Best New Vegetarian Restaurant (tie)


    For carnivores as well as herbivores, PUKK came as a refreshing surprise. Despite a dearth of fish sauce, the Thai food is spectacular, not depending solely on meat substitutes (though the faux duck and chicken are dope), but doing wonders with tofu, mushrooms, and composed salads.… More >>
  • Niftiest Italian Noodles


    Egg yolk, guanciale (cured hog jowl), and loads of grated cheese ennoble the spaghetti carbonara at BARBUTO, making for an unspeakably rich concoction at this latest project of California chef Jonathan Waxman, who's finally settled on Italian food as his métier.… More >>
  • Most Magnificent Seafood


    Harlem's beloved fish shack was closed for a long time, but A TASTE OF SEAFOOD reopened recently to universal huzzahs, though now the second half of the name—"Servants of God"—seems to have gone missing. Stand politely in line for the galaxy's best whiting fillets, served three to a sandwich.… More >>
  • Worst Appetizer Name


    It's one of the prettiest and best-tasting Thai appetizers I've had lately, but the testicular name is plum awful—"golden bags." These deep-fried purses stuffed with a basil-scented combo of ground shrimp and chicken can be found at FULTON THAI, a splendid addition to the Fort Greene dining scene.… More >>
  • Choicest Charcuterie


    Ever since D'Artagnan closed, we've had to turn to Chinese restaurants for charcuterie. Arrive early in the day to get the best from TOP ONE, a Sunset Park Cantonese with a beguiling display of all things pig and poultry in the window, with the occasional orange cuttlefish thrown in for culinary contrast.… More >>
  • Cleverest Restaurant Name


    At MR. TALL COFFEE & BAKERY the fare includes, according to the affable proprietor, "everything you'd want, from either Chinese or American cooking." His idea of everything may not be your idea, but the curry-stuffed pastries, over-rice specials, and frosted carrot cake are quite tasty, and cheap too.… More >>
  • Showiest Sushi


    When JEWEL BAKO MAKIMONO debuted last year as the third outpost of a microscopic East Village empire, it raised the bar on sushi, presenting an ever changing raw-fish menu that on a particular day might include amberjack, Tasmanian salmon, and the unlovely sounding but delicious gruntfish. Sharp flavors like yuzu zest and chive oil are deployed with abandon.… More >>
  • Cleverest Restaurant Name (Runner-Up)


    A year ago I took to hanging out at MAGIC DAVID PIZZA, a tiny Sunset Park spot that does an amazing nonna-style slice, made with fresh mozzarella and good plum tomatoes. It also drips an excellent, hyper-concentrated espresso, an unusual accomplishment in that neighborhood. Knock it back while contemplating the giant dried stingray on the wall.… More >>
  • Best Use of Croissants


    I'm generally opposed to brunch, but if I must brunch, I go to GREY DOG'S COFFEE, where the biggest, lightest croissants are split then flopped with an omelet and a discus of sage sausage to become the best breakfast sandwich in town. Up yours, Croissan'wich! Coffee's good too.… More >>
  • Most Excellent Espresso


    I try to avoid drinking coffee in places that have advertising budgets, and my quest has led me to some fairly obscure neighborhoods. The best espresso I've sampled lately is at Bushwick's CAFÉ ESPRESSO, an ancient Italian institution that has long since been taken over by Eastern Europeans. Bless 'em!… More >>
  • Best Use of Ground Pork


    A heap of steaming ground pork may not sound like the most appetizing thing on earth, but incorporated into the yum nam sod at MUM MAM 1 THAI CUISINE, it glows as brightly as a heap of radioactive waste. The warm salad also features chiles, ginger, red onions, and peanuts, and I wish I had a plate right now.… More >>
  • Nicest Neapolitan Pizza


    Nearly a year ago, PEPERONCINO surfaced on the Slope's Fifth Avenue. Wood-oven pizza in the Neapolitan style is its forte, and though it tried all sorts of breast-beating experiments to attract attention—including gold-leaf pizza—the elemental margherita is still the one to get, topped with a smooth-melting mozzarella called fiore di latte.… More >>
  • Best Use of Lettuce


    Wildy innovative, yet still grounded in deliciousness, PORCUPINE treads territory first prospected by Prune, and its astonishing lettuce soup taught us something the Chinese have long appreciated—lettuce is not just for salad anymore. And the rabbit ragout over homemade fettuccine is nothing to sneeze at either.… More >>
  • Peppiest Pasta


    Cacio e pepe is one of my favorite pastas, twirling damp hot tonnarelli (Roman fettuccine) in a big pecorino rind with lots of crushed black pepper. Located among the fleshpots of Second Avenue, CACIO E PEPE does it best. Given the name, are you surprised?… More >>
  • Best Use of Eyeballs


    Northern Chinese A FAN TI regales us with—in addition to the usual stomach tripe, intestines, and poultry feet—goat eyes, testicles, and brains. If you're organ challenged (and I don't blame you one bit), pick any of the amazing Uighur items, including the excellent cumin-rubbed goat barbecue.… More >>
  • Most Obscure Regional Chinese Cuisine


    New Yorkers have been blessed with all sorts of regional Chinese cuisines in the last decade, and the most obscure so far is that of Guangxi, a region adjacent to Vietnam in southwestern China. Find it under "House Specialties" at ORIGINAL GUILIN NOODLE, where the menu favors rice noodles and lamb. … More >>
  • Best Use of Wings


    Buffalo wings have been done to death, and truth be told, we no longer care who makes the best. Enter TEBAYA, offering a Japanese twist on the tasty avian appendages, utilizing wings that seem to have come from 100-pound chickens and lacquering them with a dark, sweet sauce. Combined with a soba salad, they make an excellent meal.… More >>
  • Superlative Staten Island Ices


    Conveniently located across the street from pizza purveyor Denino's, RALPH'S FAMOUS ITALIAN ICES offers, according to the ancient designation, water ices and cream ices; it's to the former you should turn your attention. Of the dozen or so varieties, the peach really hits the spot, wit h little cubes of fresh fruit and just the right amount of sugar. A… More >>
  • Best Use of Nudity


    Bathed in butter and sage, the gnudi—creamy Florentine ravioli made with ricotta and baby spinach, minus the noodle part—are orgasmically good at FALAI, a new Italian with all sorts of newfangled notions. In fact, nearly everything in the white premises is excellent.… More >>
  • Sauciest Ceviches


    Riding the tidal wave of sushi lust, ceviches have become upscale dining staples in New York. The best downtown examples can be found at MERCADITO. One drenches raw scallops, red onion, and pickled watermelon in a tart habanero broth, and I can still taste it. Also located at: 100 Seventh Avenue South, Manhattan. 212-647-0830.… More >>
  • Best Use of Black-Eyed Peas


    A rare instance of Ghanaian-Ivory Coast cooperation, LE GRENIER DE SHERIDAN ("The Granary on Sheridan Street") features flours and frozen leaves used to make fufus and sauces. The modest steam table features joloff rice, kenkey, and chewy lamb chops, but best of all are musky-tasting black-eyed peas swimming in bright-red palm oil.… More >>
  • Choicest Cheesecake


    Well, duh! For decades the best cheesecake in town has been found at JUNIOR'S, a confection so cosmically dense that it literally oozes at the edges, with a richness so ineluctable that you and four friends can share one of the jumbo carryout slices, delicately rimmed with yellow cake.… More >>
  • Best Use of Duck


    Order curried duck at KAITEUR BAKERY (named after a Guyanese waterfall) and you won't find the usual seared breast and leg confit. Rather, the mallard is treated like a joint of mutton and stewed until the meat is dark, flavorful, and dripping with fragrant curry sauce.… More >>
  • Most Luxuriant Lamb Chops


    Ensconced in an old house, PHILOXENIA presents Greek cuisine from a mainland perspective, and lamb stands at the center of the menu. The chops are perfection, four to an order and grilled just long enough to make them tender but not dry. Also don't miss the meatballs and fried haloumi cheese.… More >>
  • Best Use of Catfish


    Avatar of true Isaan Thai cooking, ZABB surprised us earlier this year with its fiery salads, Vietnamese-leaning noodle soups, made-from-scratch curries, and especially, its Mekong River catfish. The latter explodes with flavor in laab, a salad that matches shredded fish with mint, chiles, lemongrass, lime juice, and gingery galangal.… More >>
  • Tenderest Tongue


    Primo appetizer at new steak house BOCA JUNIOR—obsessed with one particular soccer team, the Boca Juniors—is the cow tongue, sliced thin like good roast beef and laved in a vinaigrette of onion and sweet red pepper. It will leave you puckering for five minutes or more.… More >>
  • Best Use of Potatoes


    Named after an Ecuadoran cathedral, QUITO LUZ DE AMERICA mashes potatoes with cheese, then griddle-fries them into llapingachos, stunning potato pancakes accompanying the razor-thin sirloin called bifstek, served with rice, a runny fried egg, and salad to make one of the city's best under-$10 feeds.… More >>
  • Hottest Pizza


    Since 1967 the SINGAS chain has been turning out 10-inch individual pies, largely for an Indian audience. The pizzas each feature a single ingredient. One is strewn with fresh jalapeños, and the combo of cheese, sauce, crust, and hot peppers is delectable. Their slogan: "If it's not Singas, it's not famous."… More >>
  • Best Use of Strawberries


    The strawberry shortcake at SILVERLEAF TAVERN in early summer was nothing short of miraculous: cumulonimbus clouds of cream obscuring a split muffin with a granulated-sugar top strewn with the sweetest, tenderest, and brightest red strawberries, better than anything available in the farmers' market.… More >>
  • Kookiest Koshary


    It's not kosher, but it sure is good—koshary, a homely Egyptian staple of macaroni, lentils, and chickpeas flooded with piquant sauce, with frizzled fried onions perched like an unruly thatch of hair on top. Find it at SIWA GRILL, named after a desert oasis where Alexander the Great went for advice. … More >>
  • Best Use of Belly


    The pork belly fancifully tagged "scholar su's pork" rules at TASTE OF WEST LAKE. Blocks of dense meat alternate with layers of wobbly yellow fat, sweet like butter, both braised forever in thick, sweet soy sauce. Named after a Hangzhou tourist trap, this walk-down Flushing café specializes in the provincial food of Zhejiang, just south of Shanghai.… More >>
  • Chillest Chilaquiles


    Bushwick may not strike you as a primo dining destination, but gradually great Latin places have been appearing near Maria Hernandez Park. The chilaquiles at EL PAISA are distinguished, ripped tortillas tossed with mole verde and queso, topped with a pair of sunny-side eggs, pouring yellow yolk into the already rich concoction.… More >>
  • Best Use of Onions


    Poor onion! Lowliest of the alliums, stepsister to cruel sisters leek and shallot, it struggles to become glamorous. Never has onion come so close as at R.U.B. (Righteous Urban Barbecue), where it's offered as the odd-sounding "onion strings"—a stupendous basket of lightly battered shreds fried into a straw-like heap, enough for the whole table.… More >>
  • Most Excellent Egyptian Fish


    Don't miss the oven-roasted whole porgy at SABRY'S, an Alexandrian seafood emporium. The fish has been rubbed with spices and the cavity filled with a paste of garlic, lemon, and herbs, radiating flavor throughout the fish. It comes with a tossed salad that benefits from a dilled tahini dressing.… More >>
  • Most Outlandish Aphrodisiac


    The recently introduced empanada de BIAGARA (capitalization theirs, wink wink) at MAMA'S EMPANADAS is a giant wad of crab, scallop, and shrimp (well, OK, all of them are really surimi facsimile) crammed inside a crisp brown pastry. If you feel a bulge in your pants, thank Mama.… More >>
  • Most Osmotic Salad


    At DUSHANBE, the city's sole Tajik eatery, find wonderful kebabs, dumplings, the lush rice pilaf called plov, and the euphonious achick-chuck, a simple salad of tomatoes and red onions that depends for its flavor on the scented tomato water that accumulates by osmosis at the bottom of the bowl.… More >>
  • Spiciest Hot Wings


    Maybe named after the dude who nailed 95 theses to the Wittenberg church door, LUTHER'S FRIED CHICKEN has been flipping the bird in downtown Brooklyn for as long as anyone can remember. More distinguished than their regular chicken are their legendary hot wings, not the Buffalo sort, but still generating a lingering heat via finely ground pepper in the breading.… More >>
  • Strangest Sausage


    CARMEL is an Armenian grocery in Rego Park that stocks a plenitude of interesting cheeses and sweets. In the latter category is one of the strangest sausages we've ever seen, the foot-long and presumably Turkish uzum sucuklari, composed of raisins and walnuts. It comes bubble packed in translucent brown goo and carries the warning "aphrodisiac"!… More >>
  • Fanciest Fish Cakes


    The lowly fish cake, mainstay of ancient mariners and Caribbean staple, has never seen such tender treatment. Greenpoint's slightly upscale Jamaican BLEU DRAWES fashions the lightest pucks of salt cod imaginable then fries them to a glorious brown. The after-burn of red-chile flakes is an added fillip.… More >>
  • Wildest Williamsburger


    I'm always looking for a place to eat when going to a show at Galapagos, Northsix, or one of Todd P's venues, and SWEETWATER fills the bill. The retrograde Naugahyde and stamped-tin interior ought to be in a museum. The burger is great, but watch the specials too, since the horseradish short ribs are equally excellent.… More >>
  • Most Sensational Splurge (tie)


    The organic polenta with truffled wild mushrooms knocked me out at ALTO, and the parade of other delicate dishes, culminating in an entrée combo of lamb chop and house-cured lamb pancetta in a thick juicy slice, left me wondering just how L'Impero chef Scott Conant pulled it off. At $72, the four-course prix fixe feels like a good deal.… More >>
  • Most Sensational Splurge (tie)


    The organic polenta with truffled wild mushrooms knocked me out at ALTO, and the parade of other delicate dishes, culminating in an entrée combo of lamb chop and house-cured lamb pancetta in a thick juicy slice, left me wondering just how L'Impero chef Scott Conant pulled it off. At $72, the four-course prix fixe feels like a good deal.… More >>
  • Best Chance to Sneak Inside the Haute Cuisine Temple of Time Warner Center


    You can pay $500 for a pile of raw fish at Masa, or you can pay $50 and get a glimpse of how the rich eat at BAR MASA. Best offerings are lobster risotto and "jazzy sushi"—an updating of the ancient oshi-zushi formulation, now topped with things like foie gras, shiso leaves, and smoked mozzarella.… More >>
  • Most Sensational Splurge (tie)


    I've adored all of Laurent Tourondel's restaurants, and upstairs at BLT FISH is no exception, not only for the breadth of its fish selection—including the brilliant Cantonese red snapper—but also for providing wonderful sides like Parmesan gnocchi, salt-crusted sunchokes, and especially, the silver-dollar potatoes.… More >>
  • Sensational Sri Lankan


    Staten Island Sri Lankans tend to be miniature steam table joints with little or no seating, which is why NEW SUNSHINE RESTAURANT came as a relief. Not only is the place comfortable, it's somewhat romantic too, sporting a life-size Roman statue out front. The legacy of a previous Italian spot?… More >>
  • Cutest Logo


    The logo at hot-pot expert HAPPY FAMILY features a cuddly baby lamb with a bow in its hair, and guess what? The café specializes in lamb, including cumin-dusted kebabs, bulging stuffed dumplings, and sheepish arcana that include hearts, livers, and testicles. How big could a baby-lamb testicle be?… More >>
  • Raddest Rodizio


    The flesh orgy offered by Newark's BRASILIA GRILL, frequented by actual Brazilians, is the area's best, especially if you concentrate on skirt steak, bacon-wrapped turkey breast, and top sirloin. And the price is considerably cheaper than anything in Manhattan or Queens.… More >>
  • Most Innovative Mac and Cheese


    Take a first bite of the fluorescent yellow mac and cheese at DE BAJAN BUS STOP, and you're in for a big surprise. The gooey comfort food standard has been zapped with Scotch bonnet sauce, ramping up the yellowness but also raising the heat level to A for alarming.… More >>
  • Least Horrible Franchise—Jersey


    I hope you won't hold it against me, but I'm fond of FATBURGER, the California chain that manages to incorporate maximum grease and salt into everything. Most compelling are the gloppy third-of-a-pound burgers; thick, thick milk shakes made from actual ice cream; and the sweet brown onion rings.… More >>
  • Most Preposterous Pizza


    Fifty percent of Argentineans are of Italian extraction, producing lots of Italo-Argentine culinary oddities. Tomato sauces, for example, often incorporate cream, and at NINA'S, the best pizza features cumin-scented ground beef and green olives, the pimientos poking out like pink tongues.… More >>
  • Hottest Dog


    Your best chance to get a real North Jersey Texas wiener lies at BOULEVARD DRINKS, a venerable Journal Square hangout, where a long yellow counter leads to frank nirvana. The taut-skinned weenies are dressed with cheese and chili and onions, and the place is a rocket back to 1937, its founding year.… More >>
  • Prettiest Roast Pig


    The barbecue enthusiasts at KARIHAN NI TATA BINO will readily custom cook a pig then deliver it to you. Alas, this same pig rarely appears on the menu at the associated café, an anchor of the Woodside Filipino community. The name translates into something like "The Roadside Shack of Uncle Bino."… More >>
  • Snarkiest Indian Snacks


    There are so many places with similar names I can't keep track, but my current fave is Jersey City's DOSA HUT, where the dizzying list of the crepes called dosas include some newfangled ones filled with American cheese. Adventurous diners will relish the humble upma, a tart rice-lentil porridge studded with peanuts.… More >>
  • Best Bistro—Village, Traditional


    French bistros continue to appear in the Village in spite of the incessant pelting of pasta places. METROPOL offers a doctrinaire menu, but with superior ingredients. While their moules frites is a paragon of its type, the entrée I dream about is their lobster club (not currently on the menu)—bacon and lobster meat double-deckered on well-toasted bread.… More >>
  • Best Bistro—Village, Innovative


    Quirkily, spaghetti comes with feta, cauliflower, and prosciutto—it's delicious! And there are bowls of moules awash in coconut milk and a juicy burger that's a real bargain. ALEXANDRA knows that a real bistro is not a collection of retro-French recipes but a state of mind.… More >>
  • Best Bistro—Oddball


    No need to train to Corona for pampas fare; AZUL BISTRO recasts the Argentine parrilla as a Lower East Side bistro. The magnificent meat feast for two includes skirt steak, pork sausage, blood sausage, crusty sweetbreads, two tender lamb chops, and a quarter-chicken, plus a plate of luscious fries.… More >>
  • Best Bistro-Park Slope


    Though the entrées climb above $20, the sandwich platters at STONE PARK CAFÉ—sided with salad or exceptional fries—provide a budget alternative. Our favorite is the Newport steak sandwich, done to a juicy pink in the middle, but veal tonnato (not currently on the menu), a northern Italian standard of sliced meat with tuna sauce, also rocks.… More >>
  • Best Bistro—Queens


    A great and slightly off-price wine list and a quirky menu are the formula employed at TOURNESOL, only one stop into Queens on the No. 7 and consequently overrun with Manhattan gourmands. Beef-cheek ravioli, monkfish brochettes, and the quizzical calamari with diced beets are the reasons, washed down with a budget bottle of Cahors.… More >>
  • Best Bistro—Upscale


    Refuting all the bistros anciennes of the theater district, BISTRO DU VENT returns to the combo of casual atmosphere and obscure location that characterizes many actual Parisian bistros and reverently but not slavishly reproduces a frisée aux lardons featuring huge chucks of well-smoked bacon, a Provençal bourride, and a series of smoldering rotisserie selections each day.… More >>
  • Best Bistro—Downscale


    If your mother were French she might cook this well. While most bistros feel like imitation brasseries, 360 seems real, with its mismatched furniture, artist vibe, and staff of Balthazar refugees. Heck, you might as well be in Montparnasse. The short menu and $25 prix fixe are a complete pleasure.… More >>
  • Best Bistro Alternative to the Meatpacking District


    The herby roast chicken, mushroom ravioli, and homemade duck pâté are reasons enough to visit GAVROCHE, an alternative to the tumult of the meatpacking district two blocks distant. Another, if weather permits, is the lovely rear garden.… More >>