Food & Drink

  • Tastiest tacos

    De Guerreros Taquería - CLOSED

    Since the Volkswagen plant shut down in the 1980s in the southern Mexican city of Puebla, our own city has sprouted a thousand taquerías like night-blooming flowers, some mounted on wheels parked up and down Roosevelt Avenue from Woodside to Corona. My nonwheeled favorite is in Sunset Park and hails from the state of Guerrero: De Guerreros Taquería. Sure, the… More >>
  • World's best noodles

    Super Taste

    Think I'm exaggerating? Why not visit the tiny and humble Super Taste and find out? The hand-pulled wheat noodles—which originated in the Inner Mongolian city of Lanzhou—are made right before your eyes. Eschew the "vermicelli" and stick to the hand-pulled half of the menu, where your choices run to 20 varieties. Tops is "hand-pull noodle w. Beef in… More >>
  • Best gallery-hopping feed


    Cookshop came as a relief to the overworked Red Cat, an eatery where you could put up your feet, enjoy a glass of white wine, order from a mature menu of dependable food, and get down to chatting about art. Early favorites included a substantial entrée of short ribs braised in chile sauce sided with stone-ground grits, and a wild-mushroom… More >>
  • Farthest-flung Asian

    Thai Food House

    I guess if you look at the map, Thailand, Yunnan, and Burma don't seem that far apart, and the tart salads common to these cuisines kick ass at Thai Food House, but Malaysian and Cantonese, as well? Yet all these diverse cooking styles are executed with aplomb. Check out the Burmese baby-ginger salad, Yunnan yellow bean curd, or the "oat… More >>
  • Best fantastic franchise fries

    Joe's Bestburger

    The appearance of a new burger chain wouldn't necessarily merit more than a yawn, except that the french fries at Joe's Bestburger are totally dope, beating the pants off McDonald's, Burger King, and all their hairy pals. Even by French-bistro standards the fries are superlative: high-moisture potatoes cut into irregular thick matchsticks, with little swatches of skin adhering here and… More >>
  • Brainiest science restaurant


    New York has traditionally lagged behind Chicago in its appreciation of molecular gastronomy, but we finally seem to be catching up. While we now have Gilt and Degustation, it's Wylie Dufresne's WD-50 that remains our foremost exponent, a cool room on Clinton where the chef is prone to foam, emulsify, and amalgamate, transforming ordinary ingredients into a sleek product at… More >>
  • Best use of clams

    Road House

    Just off the corner of Clove and Victory, not far from Wagner College, Road House has been a fixture of the pleasant neighborhood of Sunny Side since 1971. Most of that time it was a rambling frame structure, but a complete redo has left it looking like a mausoleum done in bulky cut stone. No matter, the clam pie is… More >>
  • Best grooviest goo


    The bubbling pot of goo known as salta is Yemen's national dish, a deep-desert concoction of cubed veggies, lamb, and gravy topped with an emulsion of fenugreek that's a dead ringer for the foamy stuff put on cocktails. This stew at Sanaa is unforgettable, especially when dipped with fragments of their homemade pitas. Apart from a few more Yemeni specialties,… More >>
  • Most old-fashioned kosher deli


    Second Avenue Deli, R.I.P. Katz's provides backup, of course, but here is Katz's dirty little secret: It ain't kosher. For a good substitute we must look far to the north, to Riverdale in the Bronx, where Liebman's has been dishing knishes since 1953, and will hopefully continue doing so when downtown Manhattan kosher delis are a distant memory. I'm not… More >>
  • Grandest ground meat

    Bulgara - CLOSED

    Doing stupendous things with ground meat is a challenge, and nobody does it better than Bulgara. This obscurely located mehana (a Bulgarian bar-cum-clubhouse) occupies a former warehouse in a decrepit neighborhood, generating amazing ground-pork patties (kufte), skinny pork-and-beef sausages (kebache), and even skinnier all-pork sausages (karnache), all grilled over charcoal till they get stripy, ooze, and pop. Take your pick—they're… More >>
  • Toniest tuna

    Falai Panetteria - CLOSED

    Offshoot of the beloved Italian trattoria Falai, Falai Panetteria slices some amazing bread. Their sandwiches come on either sea-salted focaccia or black cabbage bread—flecked with a subtly flavored leaf popular in Tuscany. The scintillating tuna salad, with just a hint of lemon rind, is a knockout on the black cabbage bread, while the spicy salami with taleggio and onion confit… More >>
  • Best unexpected outdoor dining

    Taam Tov

    Old-timer Taam Tov loped across the street this year into roomier digs, and the diamond district Uzbek now offers—gasp!—an outdoor dining area. It's really just a narrow balcony, but it is outdoors, and if you peer intently through the chinks in the barricade, you can look down on the bustling street while you eat your bargain charcoal-grilled kebabs, contemplate the… More >>
  • Best brawny bar food


    Shareable platters of meat and seafood are the order of the day at glitzy Colombian café and bar Mazorca. Most distinguished is the picada mixta mazorca—a heap of fried yuca, salt-boiled potatoes, onions, and tomatoes, interspersed with strips of rare steak, roast pork ribs, chorizo, and chicharrones (fried pig-skin tidbits). Take a sip of your drink, then reach for a… More >>
  • Freshest fish

    Morgan Seafood

    It used to be that "Go to the Greeks" was the best advice for someone seeking the freshest, unfussiest seafood, and we can remember many splendid Astorian meals of grilled whole fish with a just a squeeze of lemon, a handful of fries, and a feta-planked salad. But let us turn now to the Egyptians of Alexandria, who have an… More >>
  • Best top-notch Teutonic

    Chalet Alpina

    Floating in a the middle of a cemetery, Niederstein's was our German flagship, encapsulating 150 years of German American history in a single restaurant. With its closure we must look further for Deutsche essen. At Chalet Alpina, the waitresses dress like vampires, but there's no denying the excellence of the wiener schnitzel, or its pork cousin, and there's nothing better… More >>
  • Better Brooklyn burger

    Dumont Burger

    Just as a child often outshines its parents, Dumont Burger is way better than Dumont, concentrating on big juicy burgers, dairy- intensive mac and cheese (called "Dumac and cheese," haha), better-than-average fries and onion rings, and a serious wine and beer list to wash down all the grease. Not a restau- rant to get comfortable in, but a place to… More >>
  • Top Texas barbecue

    Halal Food

    Ha! Trick category! Because the best Texas-style barbecue (with the possible exception of the fatty brisket at Blue Smoke) isn't even Texas-derived. The stall with no English name but Halal Food is a northern Chinese charcuterie, turning out admirable whole rabbits, soy-sauced tripe, and boiled peanuts (just like Georgia) in addition to a wonderful barbecued chicken, with smoky flesh and… More >>
  • Best choice churrascaria

    Boi Na Brasa

    The all-you-can-eat meat feast called churrascaria has become commonplace around town; in fact, I even spotted one on Avenue B. Still, to save money and rub elbows with actual Brazilians one has to go to Newark's Ironbound, an easy ride on the PATH. Of the several I've reviewed there, current fave is Boi Na Brasa, off the beaten path in… More >>
  • Choicest concealed chow

    Nuevo Mexico

    From the outside, this 24-hour grocery in a non-neighborhood between Woodside and Elmhurst doesn't look like much, and clutter greets you as you enter. But persevere to find a steam table with a chalkboard menu at Nuevo Mexico, and besides tacos and quesadillas, some rather ambitious southern Mexican fare. We loved the half-chicken "en adobo"—smothered in a gritty red chile… More >>
  • Best Japanese— downscale


    No, the winner of this coveted prize isn't in the East Village. Rather, the award goes to Sapporo, longtime delighter of homesick Nipponese, located right off Times Square, where places that are good and cheap are as scarce as inflatable clown shoes. The gyoza are the city's best—crisp and brown on the bottom, yet soft and yielding on top like… More >>
  • Best Japanese— midscale

    En Japanese Brasserie

    In Los Angeles, the most robust segment of the Japanese dining scene is the izakaya—a pub that serves snacks. Our own En Japanese Brasserie is a prime example. Thrill to the homemade bean curd served in a box, bobbing in soy milk that will astonish you with its savor, and aji sashimi—a whole fish flayed into sashimi for your enjoyment.… More >>
  • Best Japanese— upscale


    The latest project of the original Iron Chef Japan, Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, Morimoto is an import, not from Tokyo but from Philadelphia. In a billowy white circus tent of a space, offering spectacular sight lines from nearly every table, brilliant variants on traditional Japanese cuisine are turned out. The fare ranges from an enhanced sushi list that contains multiple mackerels, to… More >>
  • Finest fried chicken

    Mitchell's Soul Food

    Evidence of a matriarchal chicken-production system going back nearly a century that originated in the Carolinas, the wonderful fried chicken at Mitchell's Soul Food is made to order from scratch. Dark skinned, succulent, salty, it doesn't get any better than this. Go for a half-bird, or economize with the cryptic "chicken leg sandwich." Fresh garden vegetables make late summer and… More >>
  • Awesomest Austrian

    Blaue Gans

    Hot off his successes at Wallsé, Café Sabarsky, and Thor, chef Kurt Gutenbrunner (the original chef at Danube) turned to the more homely and commonplace—a neighborhood bistro such as you might find in Vienna, sans the creativity of Wallsé, and Sabarsky's towering pastries. Blaue Gans is little changed, roomwise, from when it was the hapless Le Zinc, but now the… More >>
  • Oy! Okinawan


    Remote from the rest of Japan, the island of Okinawa enjoys its own distinctive cuisine, influenced by Korean, Chinese, and, yes, American cooking. At midtown's Suibi, it all comes together in goyachampuru, a strange scramble of bitter melon, scallions, Spam, and soft tofu—hey, it manages to taste like eggs and bacon! Besides such other Okinawan items as red… More >>
  • Best freaky fries

    Little Pepper

    Calmly poached in oil—rather than violently fried—the french fries at Little Pepper are pale, soothing the tongue with their creamy texture. But what they're dusted with provides an opposite experience: The crinkle-cuts come thickly coated with a ground mixture of cumin and Sichuan peppercorns. Little Pepper is the foremost dispenser of huajiao (Sichuan peppercorns) in town, shrub buds that leave… More >>
  • Best prodigious pies


    Uzbek-Israeli newcomer Aron's might not provide the best plov or kebabs in the vicinity of the diamond district, but the meat pies called samsa are the borough's best—well browned, strewn with sesame seeds, bulging with lamb and onions. Two make a meal. Just don't let the insides spill on your pants, or you'll never get the grease stain out. Also… More >>
  • Best deadly dosas

    Sri Ganesh's Dosa House

    My favorite vegetarian cuisine is southern India's, and there's no better place to dig it than Newark Avenue, just north of Journal Square, where a dozen places make the stuffed crepes called dosas. Best so far are found at Sri Ganesh's Dosa House, which is a little like calling a hot-dog place Jesus' Weenie Hut. There are over 50 dosa… More >>
  • Best sexy sausages


    Drum roll. As you gaze at the badly limned mountain landscape plastered across the wall in the indoor beer garden, the heaping plate of wurst at Lederhosen arrives, sided with portions of purple cabbage, sautéed onions, and, natürlich, sauerkraut. It's up to you—at three bucks or so apiece—to pick out your own sausage collection, which will be laid in formation… More >>
  • Best extraordinary oxtails

    Les' Restaurant

    Les' Restaurant is one of those old-time Brooklyn soul-food spots where the menu reflects the Carolinian colonization of Bed-Stuy beginning in the 1920s, with a few Jamaican influences added subsequently. The fried chicken is great, of course, but even better is the Tuesday special of oxtails, coin-shaped fragments of bony meat in a gravy brown as a Brooklyn midnight. The… More >>
  • Most versatile Turk

    Ali Baba

    Most Ottoman restaurants fall into one of two categories: fast-food kebab shack or sit-down fancy place. Ali Baba bridges the gap. Visit the front of the restaurant for casual dining and carryout, where you can get a fiery ezme salad on a pita, or pizza-style pides festooned with ground lamb, Turkish pastrami, feta, or potatoes. Or venture further inside to… More >>
  • Fabulous old-fashioned malted milk


    Open for 70 years, Egger's is the big island's most respected purveyor of custom-made chocolates and homemade ice cream. This sit-down ice cream parlor also features a soda fountain with twirling stools, which is the best place to enjoy such arcane and rapidly disappearing delights as egg creams; root beer floats; mixed-to-order sodas in flavors like black cherry, chocolate, cherry… More >>
  • Best outrageously good organic

    Counter - CLOSED

    Counter styles itself as organic and vegetarian, but brilliantly avoids the stereotypes associated with both. Rather than being dense and dank and dopey with oat groats, the food is light and flavorful, taking its cue from various European and Mediterranean cuisines. The potato-almond gnocchi kissed with butter and sage is the best gnocchi I've had all year, while a novel… More >>
  • Most atavistic African

    Florence's - CLOSED

    No sweeter place to dine in Harlem than Florence's, where the menu merges West African food from Ghana and the Ivory Coast. (Note that the southern Ivory Coast hosts many Ghanaian refugees.) Treat yourself to a ball of white yam fufu sided with fresh okra soup (from Ghana), or a snapper braised or fried and sided with the Ivorian staple… More >>
  • Best groovy gyro

    Spartan Souvlaki

    Contrary to its name, at Spartan Souvlaki, gyro is the thing to snap up. In this ornate bunker of a restaurant, with its pleasant sidewalk dining area, far from the hurly-burly of south Brooklyn, the unctuous, compacted, curling, composed meat is abundantly cradled in a pocket-free pita, with red ripe tomatoes, purple onions, and lettuce, then hosed with scrumptious tzatziki—a… More >>
  • Best butcher

    Pino's Meat Market

    Across the street from the sainted Joe's Dairy, and right next door to the Cathedral of St. Anthony, Pino's Meat Market delivers some of the most well-marbled porterhouse steaks imaginable, dry aged and bursting with the flavor of raw flesh. Sear them lightly, my friends, but don't buy them too often—at a thickness of an inch and a half, they… More >>
  • Strangest sandwich—pork

    Noodle Bar

    Dropping onto Carmine Street's mediocre restaurant strip like manna from heaven, Noodle Bar offers cheap fusion food that's every bit as good as fancy restaurant fare five times as expensive. One of their strangest inventions is an Asian spin on the Cuban sandwich. Cut on the bias, and oozing Russian dressing from every side, Noodle Bar's take on this Caribbean… More >>
  • Strangest sandwich—seafood

    John's Famous Deli

    Flying the twin flags of Sicily and the U.S., and located on the thoroughfare that leads to Coney Island, John's Famous Deli will put almost anything on a hero. While Italian roast beef —heaped with rare meat, mozzarella, and very dark gravy of uncertain origin—is the sandwich that made them famous, my favorite is the calamari hero, made with fried… More >>
  • Strangest sandwich—poultry

    Ciccio's Pizza

    Ciccio's Pizza makes several marvelous slices, including a square Sicilian, an upside-down Sicilian, and a deep dish using fresh mozzarella, in addition to a Neapolitan slice with sesame seeds implanted in the crust. They also make garlic knots soft as a baby's bottom and dabbed with so much garlic your mouth will catch fire. But the real distinction for this… More >>
  • Strangest sandwich—Sausage

    Havana Sandwich Queen

    Cantinpalo is a giant Spanish salami craved by Dominicans, splendidly deployed at Havana Sandwich Queen to make a salami sandwich on an eight- or 12-inch length of baguette. Joining the chorizo on the splayed-open and toasted length of bread are lettuce, tomato, mayo, and—strangest of all—crispy potato sticks poured from the can, giving the sandwich an authoritative crunch. Other offerings… More >>
  • Best baby chicken


    Make sure you get the chicken kebab with the bone in (joujeh kebab chelo) at Colbeh, a kosher Iranian restaurant near Times Square popular with expatriate carpet merchants from Tehran, and Russian Jews too. The kebabs are slicked with saffron-tinted yogurt before being charcoal grilled, which leaves them moist and supremely flavorful. The dining room is an oasis of retro… More >>
  • World's foremost dumplings

    Lao Bei Fang

    Though a colorful banner flaunts the hand-pulled noodles, they can't compete with the ones at Super Taste. Instead, go to Lao Bei Fang for their wondrous dumplings. The plain chive-pork potstickers are served four for a dollar, which is one dumpling fewer than you get at the dollar dumpling stalls of the Lower East Side. But, oh, those dumplings! Bigger,… More >>
  • Second-best Staten Island pizza

    Larocca's - CLOSED

    Well, first place always goes to Denino's or Joe and Pat's, but who deserves second place? I would have said Nunzio's, except I can't stand it since they moved from the beach shack to the new facility, which is sterile and off-putting. Nearby is Larocca's, which serves a wide range of pies in various styles, both ancient and modern. The… More >>
  • Best use of beans

    Bosna Express

    Sit-down successor to a revered Bosnian hamburger stand in Ridgewood, Bosna Express shares the same name as its progenitor. The pljeskavica (giant lamb burgers) are nearly as good at the new place, which feels like a church basement, but the real star of the show is the dull-sounding grah. This homely stew of white beans is punched up with fibrous… More >>
  • Best juicy jerk

    Danny Express

    The city's best jerk chicken joint for nearly a decade, Danny & Pepper broke into two places last year, across the street from each other, and soon thereafter we conducted an experiment to find out which deserves the coveted designation Best Jerk Chicken. We ordered up batches from both Danny Express and Peppa's Jerk Chicken and brought them to… More >>
  • Best use of Lamb


    We're not talking about the shaggy beast, but about East 5th Street impresarios and local dandies Grace and Jack Lamb, who are often to be seen prowling the neighborhood. Their latest mini-restaurant features mini-dishes, making Degustation one of their greatest successes. The modest choice of 15 or so includes many novel creations in a scientific vein—including an egg poached at… More >>
  • Liveliest and most livid llapingachos

    El Patio

    Llapingachos (which doesn't really alliterate with "Liveliest," since the LL is pronounced as a Y) are the potato-cheese pancakes of Ecuador, colored bright yellow and fried to a golden brown. Find them at El Patio, a former diner clad in flagstone on Northern Boulevard that has been turned to South American usages. While you can order the llapingachos separately, why… More >>
  • Best newfangled Italian

    Frankies 457 Spuntino

    It can't decide whether it wants to be a sandwich shop, wine bar, or sit-down restaurant—and manages to succeed admirably at all three. Frankies 457 Spuntino is the rare newfangled spot that actually feels like it belongs in its Carroll Gardens neighborhood, where religious shrines commemorate the origin of many immigrants in Apulia, Italy. Frankies concentrates on using Italian American… More >>
  • Best old-fashioned Italian


    Overlooked by all but the most stalwart foodies, located in a concrete-block structure that looks like a bunker in southern Lebanon, Frost is named not after the frozen rime that accumulates on your window around Christmas, but after the street on which it stands. Anything labeled Sicilian is totally cool, including the bone-in chicken pieces swimming in grease and garlic… More >>
  • Most vivacious veranda

    Garden Bay - CLOSED

    Sheepshead Bay is a mixed bag when it comes to eateries. Apart from the sainted Randazzo's and a Turkish spot or two, the food is uneven. One of your best all-around choices is Garden Bay, one of Gotham's few Armenian cafés (Armenians are more prone to open grocery stores). The twin lures are the kebabs grilling over lump charcoal right… More >>
  • Magnificent mountain

    Yemen Cuisine

    This is the year when Yemeni restaurants re-invaded Atlantic Avenue, with their mixture of rustic desert fare and mainstream Middle Eastern. The grandly named Yemen Cuisine, which previously went by the mundane but charming name of 145 Luncheonette, remade itself from a table d'hôte place that offered one complete meal of lamb or chicken into an à la carte café.… More >>
  • Superlative steak


    Though it doesn't style itself a steak house, Tribeca landmark Landmarc does an amazing rib eye, charred on the outside, blood red in the middle. Moreover, it's cooked on the flaming hearth at the end of the room the way they do it in Tuscany. Nothing better than sitting at the bar with a glass of the low-markup wine and… More >>
  • Best innovative Jamaican

    M & A

    The jerk chicken is very good—but it's what they do with it that makes M & A remarkable. This spotless joint under the J tracks takes a chicken breast, jerks it, then thrusts it into a coco bread—usually used to cradle a meat patty—for the year's most creative sandwich. Another useful feature of this handy spot is breakfast. Come before… More >>
  • Greatest grits

    Ditch Plains

    Surf-themed Ditch Plains departs deliciously from the seafood-shack formula to offer all-day breakfasts that include the usual eggs and bacon, and the unusual, too: an entire menu of add-ins to be mixed in with stone-ground grits. Go haute cuisine with lobster or earthy with chorizo or healthy with spinach. The lobster rolls are every bit as good as they need… More >>
  • Best gnarly noodles—Queens

    Ja Gal Chi

    Queens has long been the bastion of Korean joints specializing in the northern Chinese noodles called cha chiang mein. These noodles are made by hand, involving much noisy thwamping and thumping of the dough upon the metal prep surface. Hearing this being done while you wait, drooling, is your guarantee of fresh noodles. The best this year are found at… More >>
  • Best Star Wars noodles

    Menkui Tei

    Relative newcomer Menkui Tei would be welcome if only because it's an excellent source of cheap eats on Cooper Square, but the place gives Tokyo La Men a run for its money when it comes to punning with ramen, recognized in Japan as an alien import from China, but also beloved as a source of quick nutrition. Thus, in addition… More >>
  • Best suave Sicilian


    Many attempts have been made to create an upscale Sicilian spot, but it was left to former Tribeca Grill chef Don Pintabona to make a success of it at Dani. He did it with a number of amazing dishes, including fresh homemade ricotta drizzled with grated almonds and wildflower honey, fried calamari with a smoked-paprika crust, and, best of all,… More >>
  • Surest sushi—Brooklyn


    Let's face it, Brooklyn is not known for its sushi—in fact most of the places I've sampled sucked. But Bozu—a maze-like restaurant relentlessly decorated with red-lacquered heads of Daruma—offers sushi that's not just fresh, but original, too. The favored form of sushi is not the finger-shaped filet on a lozenge of rice, but the "bomb"—fish mounted atop a button of… More >>
  • Surest sushi—downtown Manhattan

    Sushi à la Kawa

    Like Brooklyn, downtown Manhattan is not the first place you're likely to look for superior sushi. But one place frequented by suit-wearing Wall Streeters bears closer examination. Sushi à la Kawa. Oh, the rich profusion you'll find there, displayed right in front in the dark, dumbbell-shaped dining room. Depending on availability, you'll see belly tuna (traditionally eaten as sashimi, the… More >>
  • Most titillating tortilla

    Barca 18

    I wasn't much impressed by nuevo tapas bar Barca 18 when it opened late last year, but I sure loved the tortilla. No, not the floppy flatbread that is the Mexican tortilla, but the Spanish version—a firm egg omelet cooked in a pie and sliced into wedges. Barca 18's enfolds asparagus, black olives, and blood sausage that gives the tortilla… More >>
  • Superior Senegalese

    Africa Kine

    West African restaurants have become user-savvy. At least that's the conclusion you'll come to as you mount the grand curving stairs at Africa Kine, crazily decorated with Chinese ceramics. Go at lunch for traditional tribal fare of cheb (African paella), mafe (peanut-sauced lamb or chicken), or yassa (lemon-mustard chicken), or do dinner and find French-leaning fare like grilled lamb… More >>
  • Raunchiest rabbit

    Brasserie Ruhlmann

    A feast for Elmer Fudd, the braised bunny at Brasserie Ruhlmann comes bathed in mustard sauce and deposited on a cushy bed of pappardelle (the widest fettuccine), and ensconced in a fiery red Creuset casserole, making for a fulsome toothsome feed. Other highlights at this latest project of chef Laurent Tourondel on a menu that strikes regional French notes include… More >>
  • Best use of prunes


    The wonderful Tunisian pastry called brik— stuffed with tuna, capers, and a semi-cooked egg—is hard to come by in these parts, but an estimable rendition is found at Nomad. The same flaky warka pastry goes into the Moroccan pie bastilla, which arrives prettily brocaded with cinnamon and powdered sugar, even though it's not a dessert. Sugar fiends take note. There… More >>
  • Best fiery food

    Los Dos Molinos - CLOSED

    While chefs like Bobby Flay were merely dawdling in the Southwestern food canon, Los Dos Molinos (the only East Coast branch of a Phoenix chain) took its Hatch green chiles seriously, reproducing the Sonoran desert cuisine of Arizona, New Mexico, and northwestern Mexico with fidelity. The result is hot-as-hell bar food that will make you grateful you're clutching that ice-cold… More >>
  • Most efficacious dog


    When franks pose as dinner, the economy is surely on the skids. The problem is, you have to eat several to fill yourself up. Not so at Coney's. Theirs is not the impish Nathan's frank we associate with Coney Island, but the dog that the rest of the country calls a coney: a smoky, all-beef foot-long that comes on a… More >>
  • Best use of spine

    Ebisu - CLOSED

    The East Village has always been a bastion of the most reasonably priced sushi, but has rarely approached midtown places in quality, with a few exceptions like Hasaki and Koi. Joining their number, with scintillating sushi at sub-midtown prices, is Ebisu. In an elegant wood-clad premises, the sushi bar is front and center, and in its glass case Spanish mackerel… More >>
  • Loveliest liverwurst


    Named after a rather mournful classic of Ger- man poetry, new wave beer garden Loreley has a wonderful wood-clad back patio, offering all manner of Central European viands, including sauerbraten, Rhineland goulash that's all meat and no potatoes, and of course, the frying miracle called wiener schnitzel. But the best thing on the menu is the homemade liverwurst, a long-discredited… More >>
  • Chillest chili

    Taquería D.F

    While it mostly soft-soaps Mexican cuisine into something that might be called Cal-Mex, Taquería D.F. serves a splendid chili con carne, an honest, brick-red bowl of beef and beans with a topside lavishment of cheddar and crema—a great feed if you can avoid the glare of so many Frida Kahlo portraits. Other foodstuffs on the menu that don't suck include… More >>
  • Best vegan feed

    Café Viva

    Quasi-organic, vegetarian, semi-vegan, and kosher-dairy, Café Viva is very serious when it comes to their perception of healthy dining, and the display of pizza slices in the glass case near the door is indeed impressive. Of those I've tried, foremost was the one called Zen. Deploying a spelt crust laced with green tea—and hence having alleged antioxidant properties—Zen is heaped… More >>
  • Best steak house alternative

    Buenos Aires

    Argentines with their alternative steak agenda have been infiltrating Steak World for the last decade or so. Instead of a roster of porterhouses and rib eyes, they offer picanhas and bife de chorizos, further seducing us with real chorizo and excellent blood sausage, and sometimes even tripe, meaning a cow's small intestines. Enter Buenos Aires into the steak- poor East… More >>
  • Weirdest wobbly yellow stuff

    Himalayan Yak

    Earlier this year, Tibetan Yak undertook a campaign of conquest, expanding their culinary borders to include Nepali and Indo-Chinese food. I'm pleased to report that the attempt was successful, and my friends and I have been digging the Nepalese sadeko gundruk, a pile of dehydrated, oil-soaked greens, providing many minutes of enjoyable chewing, and the ubiquitous Indo-Chinese fave chili chicken.… More >>
  • Coolest Koreatown noodles

    Kum Ryong

    Maybe you don't want to drag your ass to Flushing for the best cha chiang mein, the handmade wheat noodles that came to Korea during World War II with Chinese refugees and became a Korean passion. Koreatown's best rendition is found at the Korean-Chinese restaurant Kum Ryong. (The name has nothing to do with faulty ejaculation; it means "Golden… More >>
  • Wildest weenies

    Boulevard Drinks

    Jersey shouldn't be called the Garden State, it should be re-dubbed the Hot Dog State. From the ripped glory of a Rutt's Hut frank, to the buttermilk-sided wonder of a Hot Dog Johnny's dog, the state excels in wild weenies. Our own nearest outpost is Journal Square's ancient Boulevard Drinks. What a civilized name, calling up to the imagination, maybe,… More >>
  • Daintiest dim sum—champ

    Oriental Food Restaurant - CLOSED

    The question that I'm most frequently asked is, "Where can I find decent dim sum?" For the last decade, I've shaken my head sadly, and sent people to half-satisfactory places in Flushing and Sunset Park, but now great sum has returned to Manhattan with the recent debut of the bizarrely named Oriental Food Restaurant. One specialty is char sui soo,… More >>
  • Daintiest dim sum—runner-up

    World Tong - CLOSED

    So what are some of the outer-borough places I'd recommend for the best dim sum? Foremost is World Tong, which sounds like the clubhouse of a comic-book band of superheroes. Anomalously located near the N-track trench in New Utrecht, World Tong prides itself in unusual dim sum, in addition to the expected har gow, cha siu bao, and chicken feet.… More >>
  • Studliest soup dumplings

    Shanghai Café

    Shanghai cuisine—with its braised pork shoulders, lion's-head meatballs, drunken chicken, mock-meat appetizing buffets, and, most especially, soup dumplings—blew into town a decade ago and has been on the decline ever since. How wonderful, then, that our best purveyor of Shanghai-style dumplings should have appeared only recently in Chinatown. Shanghai Café turns out perfect soup dumplings right in its front window—twisted… More >>
  • Richest carrot cake

    Concourse Jamaican Bakery

    My friend Brian is a carrot cake fanatic, and thinks nothing of jumping on his bike and going from Carroll Gardens to the Bronx for his favorite example. Even on hot days, he often finds himself at Concourse Jamaican Bakery. The cake is moist and dense and flecked with tiny bits of carrot, and needs no frosting to achieve its… More >>
  • Best use of testicles


    Tuscan and cowboy are two adjectives that may have never conjoined in your mind before, but to chef Cesare Casella, they are perpetually yoked. His restaurant Maremma is named after the maritime area of Tuscany where cattle are ranched, and he playfully takes the cooking of the region and fuses it with cowboy standards from our own country, resulting in… More >>
  • Most sensational splurge


    I was never much of a fan of Bill Telepan's cooking at Judson Grill, but I sat up and took notice when he opened Telepan this year, occupying a maze-like and comfortable green room on the Upper West Side, decorated with giant farm paintings, handily telegraphing the chef's obsession with vegetables and meats produced by sustainable regional agriculture. Thus we… More >>
  • Most congenial carpetbagger


    Years ago, Ithaka was a West Village neighborhood favorite little known to outsiders. It occupied a dark warren on Grove Street that terminated in a skylit backyard room where villagers would dine late into the evening. Then one day, like some urban Ulysses, the restaurant departed home forever, and after a voyage of some years, reappeared on the Upper East… More >>
  • Perfect downtown pizza

    Adrienne's Pizza Bar

    Debuting way downtown on barricaded Stone Street, where outdoor dining is a most pleasant pastime, and counting among its genetic forebears Forest Hills' Nick's Pizza, Adrienne's Pizza Bar bridges the gap between fine pizza parlor and wine bar. Its regular pizza is dubbed "nonna" (grandma), and denotes a square slice with a crust slightly more substantial than a Neapolitan pie.… More >>
  • Best raunchy ribs


    I've made a career out of reviling New York barbecues, and made plenty of enemies in the process. Truth be told, little in town matches the kind of wood-intensive smoking you'll find in places like Lockhart, Texas; Lexington, North Carolina; or Owensboro, Kentucky (hometown of pirate Johnny Depp). One of the best we have, though, is R.U.B., which stands for… More >>
  • Latest cheesesteak

    Cheesesteak Factory

    What is it about New Yorkers and Philly cheesesteaks? We never seem to get them quite right, but we keep on trying. Latest and best attempt is Cheesesteak Factory, a franchise that lingered without opening for months on Queens Boulevard, then hopped unexpectedly onto Houston. Their rendition deploys sirloin, rather than rib eye, and, quite frankly, the taste of the… More >>
  • Most magnificent mandoo

    Shinpo Korean

    It shines like a beacon as you round the corner on Northern Boulevard: Shinpo Korean. And the slogan on the menu invites, "Come and taste original hand made man doo." Mandoo, of course, are the pork-filled dumplings that correspond to Japanese gyoza and Chinese pot stickers. At Shinpo, they've figured out how to make a series of entrées out of… More >>
  • Best trendy Turk


    There's no lack of Turks on the Upper West, but the newest is the most interesting. And it's not the ho-hum entrées that excite me, but the appetizers, which are mainly vegetarian and can easily stand alone as a full meal. Zeytin occupies a sunny corner location on Columbus, with French doors thrown open in fine weather, and a decent… More >>
  • Very best breakfast


    For years, eggs were reviled as a twin source of cholesterol and culinary dullness. Now eggs are having their revenge. Though you could pick something "healthy" at Ici like granola or a baguette with jelly, why not go lavish with one of their amazing egg dishes, available from 8 a.m. every day of the week. My current favorite is fried… More >>
  • Most adorable Dodgers shrine

    Armondo's Pizzeria

    Let's face it, Brooklynites have never ceased mourning the loss in 1957 of their beloved Dodgers to Los Angeles. The event is commemorated in a number of ways, but rarely is the memorial as touching as at Armondo's Pizzeria, where the walls are plastered with annotated photos of the Brooklyn Dodgers ("dem Bums"), including a 1947 shot of Jackie Robinson… More >>
  • Dopest non-dumpling dumplings

    Mie Jakarta

    Sumatran cuisine made a splash in Elmhurst recently, but what about the other cooking styles of the Indonesian archipelago? Enter Mie Jakarta, offering the cooking of the kind of hawker stalls known as warungs. The specialty is noodles, offered in a series of chicken noodle soups with add-ins that run to wontons and fish balls. But the most stunning… More >>
  • Sumatra symphony

    Upi Jaya

    This year brought a crop of Sumatran restaurants to Elmhurst. Back in Indonesia, these islanders are known as the best cooks, and they demonstrated that in Queens by serving up inky beef rendangs, jackfruit in an impressive array of contexts, and miniature satays mounted on cubes of compressed rice called longtong. While Upi Jaya is a serious restaurant with a… More >>
  • Best use of watermelon

    Fatty Crab

    I've become an addict, and I dream about the watermelon salad at neo-Malaysian Fatty Crab. But here's the trick: The watermelon is not in its native state, but pickled in brine, which adds a marvelous salty edge. There are tiny cubes of crunchy rind and bigger hunks of red flesh, dripping sweet fluid. These components are tossed with crisp fried… More >>
  • Golden blintz award


    Veselka has been feeding East Village beatniks, hippies, and hipsters since 1954, fattening them on a diet of rib-sticking Ukrainian fare that includes squarish blintzes, pierogi, fried chicken cutlets, kielbasa and eggs, muffins as big as slow-pitch softballs, blood-red borscht brightened with snowdrifts of sour cream, and—my favorite— pork-beef meatballs ramified with onions and chopped eggs, smothered in creamy mushroom… More >>
  • Marvelous Malaysian


    The part of Manhattan's Chinatown that might be called Little Penang is centered on the corner of Allen and Canal, and the shifting roster of Malaysian institutions will make your head spin. After Proton Saga tanked, and Sentosa moved to Flushing, then came Skyway, named after a mountaintop tourist trap. The Malaysian food, though, is top notch, including fried pearl… More >>
  • Tiniest Thai

    Mom Mam #1 Thai

    There's no denying the excellence of the yum nam sod at Mom Mam #1 Thai, a storefront so small that the cook has to push past the handful of diners to go downstairs whenever she needs supplies. The yum is a ground pork salad so piquant, you'll have to take a sip of water (or carry-in beer) between bites. The… More >>
  • Best Upper East Side burger

    Zip Burger - CLOSED

    Maybe it's not trying to become a franchise, but it really looks one. Zip Burger has its iconography down pat, including a Jersey cow riding a motorcycle (that's Jersey, England, not the Garden State). The done-to-order burgers are sublime, especially draped with cheddar and applewood-smoke bacon, and the Belgian-style fries have their enthusiastic adherents, too. The beef is decidedly top… More >>
  • Best use of baby goat


    The cuisine of Greece's landlocked Epirus Mountains is the focus of the menu at Metsovo. It includes several versions of the toasted cheese called saganaki, various lamb dishes, and sturdy filo pies loaded with cheese and potatoes. But best of all is the fricassee of baby goat "Ali Pasha"—named after a 19th-century Epirus leader who made the region independent for… More >>
  • Best restaurant name


    Inevitably, the barriers are coming down, and West African restaurants are featuring dishes from a range of countries—and some new American dishes too. Baza ("Buzzard") is a nominally Guinean spot among the stately homes of Flatbush's Rugby, serving that country's leaf-based sauces with rice. But wait a minute: Specialties from Senegal, Ghana, and the Ivory Coast have crept onto the… More >>
  • Best use of reindeer

    Nordic Delicacies

    Hey, foodie: Just where would you go in the five boroughs if you had an odd craving for reindeer meatballs? The gossamer potato bread called lefse? Or the unspeakably skanky fermented fish known as lutefisk? Bay Ridge, where decades ago the streets were thronged with merchant seamen wearing pea coats and wool watch caps, toting rucksacks. The only remaining culinary… More >>
  • Smallest eatery

    Brazil Café

    With only two stools at a narrow counter, does Brazil Café qualify as the city's smallest sit-down eatery? I'm waiting for someone out there to tip me to a place with only one seat. The food at Brazil Café is wonderful, while being wonderfully unambitious: sandwiches, mostly, some featuring incongruous ingredients. The beef sandwich comes with sweet corn, pineapple, and… More >>
  • Best durable Dominican

    Los Viejos Amigos

    Translating "The Old Pals," this sturdy and well-lit Dominican restaurant seems a throwback to the older, less glamorous Prospect Heights, though the new awning and renovated interior give it a bit of the neighborhood's new glamour. But while the menu at Los Viejos Amigos branches out with steaks and lobster, stick with the homey Dominican dishes, including a wonderful salt-cod… More >>
  • Most ingenious Indo-Chinese


    What looked like a minor ripple has now become a major fad. There are now at least a dozen cafés—mainly in Curry Hill, Jackson Heights, and Elmhurst—serving Chinese food geared to Indian tastes, which means lots of garlic, ginger, green onions, and chile peppers, but no curry spices. Chief expositor of this newbie cuisine is Chopstick, where the best dishes… More >>
  • Best use of eggs


    A lateral offshoot of Prune, Uovo is one of the new breed of East Village boutique restaurants in modest premises, but possessing a very ambitious culinary agenda. While the food is nominally Mediterranean, it dabbles all over the world, offering jarring juxtapositions: octopus with burdock root and preserved lemons, say, or barbecued brisket washed with coffee gravy. Eggs make subversive… More >>

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