Food & Drink

  • Karczma

    Best Bacon


    Bacon has been made in America since colonial times by curing and smoking pork belly. Yanks prefer what the Brits call "streaky bacon"—bacon sliced so that the layers of fat and meat alternate. This year, we've been bombarded with bacon, finding it in the most unexpected places: in salads, in vinaigrettes, draped across scallops, in ice cream, as sides, and… More >>
  • Mouths Wide Open

    Our town—what a dish! By Robert Sietsema and Sarah DiGregorio

    Some of us look back nostalgically to a decade ago, when food-related matters were far simpler. Each year, there was a score of significant restaurant openings to be covered, a small passle of important new products, a few memorable cookbooks, and just a handful of dishes that knocked us on our collective asses. Now, the food scene has exploded. So… More >>
  • Best Banh Mi

    Nhà Tôi - CLOSED

    Banh mi spread like a particularly fatty strain of pig flu this year—and while we may weary of hearing about these Vietnamese sandwiches, we'll never tire of eating them. While first-generation banh mi makers preside over agreeably spartan Chinatown joints in Manhattan and Sunset Park—the best is Ba Xuyen on Eighth Avenue in Brooklyn—second-generation sandwich moguls have spread across the… More >>
  • Best Bone Marrow

    Minetta Tavern

    Among variety meats, bone marrow—the slimy generative tissue in the hollow interior of long bones—has been neglected by all but the French, who consider it the perfect thing to spread on toast. The popularity of marrow has multiplied in the last year, so that now there are a half-dozen or more restaurants in town that feature it. Though we've long… More >>
  • Best Brunch

    The Clerkenwell - CLOSED

    The definition of "brunch": Obligatory social occasion for which one must stand in long lines for overpriced eggs on a pre-packaged English muffin. Although it seems so very New York, the mash-up of breakfast and lunch actually originated in England around 1896, when Punch magazine informed readers that "to be fashionable nowadays, we must 'brunch.' " How things change, and… More >>
  • Desnuda

    Best Ceviche


    At a traditional ceviche spot, you might not expect the bespectacled cook to haul out his homemade gravity bong, pack a load of Sichuan peppercorns in the bowl, and get his oysters "toasted." But Desnuda is no ordinary restaurant—it offers "new world ceviche," which seems to mean that the chef does whatever the hell he wants with his cache of… More >>
  • Best Cream Puffs

    Beard Papa

    We're a bit creeped out by the visage of Beard Papa, who looks like a refugee from a Long John Silver's ad. The Japanese bakery with that name and mascot first opened in Osaka, where the head baker supposedly had a big, fluffy beard, and decided to make a dessert that would be just as puffy. Perhaps it's best not… More >>
  • Best Cupcakes

    Out of the Kitchen! - CLOSED

    We're the wrong people to ask about cupcakes. Generally, we hate 'em. Spun off like snot from the dripping nose of Sex and the City, the fad started at Magnolia Bakery, which a friend of ours calls "Mongolia Bakery." There, in multiple convection ovens and near-slavery conditions, oppressed workers turn out the tiny cakes, then smother them in enough bad… More >>
  • Best Dan Dan Noodles

    Grand Sichuan House

    The throbbing heart of Sichuan cuisine, which hit the city during the past year like a ton of ma po bean curd, is the dish known as dan dan noodles. The "dan dan" refers to the shoulder stick on which the mobile noodle vendor hangs his pots of ingredients. Of the many estimable versions in town, some are found in… More >>
  • Aldea

    Best Duck


    Ducks are sweet, funny little creatures. Too bad the lipid elixir they grow under their skin and in their livers is the most perfect fat known to humankind. This year, duck fat got its proper due in the heart-stopping duck rice at Aldea. The dish is an extravagant take on paella, complete with the bits of browned, crunchy rice that… More >>
  • Best Fish Heads

    Hunan House

    Chinese diners have been appreciating fish heads for years. Not only do they add a pleasing gooey texture to the broth, but the individual parts of the fish face have estimable flavors all their own: The skin on the forehead and chin is crisp and slides off easily, the eyeballs pop when bitten into, and the flesh below the eye,… More >>
  • Bar Boulud

    Best Foie Gras

    Bar Boulud

    Despite hectoring by the PETA people and others, foie gras remains one of the city's most popular organs. Foie gras by itself is an over-unctuous thing, a limp gland oozing grease that can barely stand the heat of the skillet before disappearing completely. (If you want a traditional French foie gras presentation, head for Gascogne.) Accordingly, we prefer to eat… More >>
  • Best Goat


    If pork is the other white meat, then goat must be the other brown meat. Like lamb, it is mildly flavored, and sports enough sinew to make chewing fun. While we're inordinately fond of goat rotis scored at Brooklyn places like Ali's Trinidad Roti Shop, the palm this year goes to Scott Conant's Scarpetta (the name means "little shoe"), where… More >>
  • Best Grass-Fed Steaks

    United Meat Market

    In this economy, the best grass-fed steak is the one you make yourself. Get your cast-iron skillet scarily hot, sear that sucker, and top it with a pat of butter. Although corn-fed beef has the fatty savor that Americans are accustomed to, grass-fed (and finished) beef is better for the animals and the environment. Plus, it's lower in saturated fat,… More >>
  • Best Grits

    Dirt Candy

    Ballads have been written about cornmeal, the humble ground grain that brings us some of the world's best dishes—arepas, tamales, and polenta among them. In America, we slake the corn kernels and call it hominy grits, and serve it with loads of cheese, or with butter for breakfast, or with spicy shrimp. The best possible rendition can be found at… More >>
  • Best Hamburgers

    Andy's Seafood and Grill - CLOSED

    We're going to step out of the American hamburger arms race in favor of a burger from another mother. Gua bao is identified on the menu at Andy's Seafood and Grill as a "Taiwanese hamburger." It's actually the mantou-wrapped pork bun that many people might recognize from Momofuku (but it was certainly not invented there). This superior burger is made… More >>
  • Best Hand-Pumped Cask Ales

    Water Taxi Beach

    Among beer fanciers, ales that have been cured in casks—from which it has to be pumped by hand at the bar—have been all the rage. These beers are lower in carbonation, but display a richer flavor, after having undergone two fermentations. Though originally British in origin, many of these ales are now made locally, especially in Brooklyn. Kelso—which never comes… More >>
  • Best Headcheese


    Headcheese, that glorious loaf of Jell-O-like, fatty, and lush pork yielded from a long-boiled pig's head, has been used to good effect all around the city this past year, whether in a high-end, quivering incarnation at Bar Boulud, or as a rich swath of pig tucked into a banh mi in Sunset Park's Chinatown. The most satisfying headcheese this year… More >>
  • Fatty Crab

    Best Hot Dogs, Newfangled

    Fatty Crab - CLOSED

    Sure, the Korean hot dogs at NY Hot Dog & Coffee are fab, heaped with kimchee, bulgogi, or both. And we certainly appreciate the mild burn (but we're saving that for the smackdown). We also double-dig the Chang dog at Crif Dogs. But you can further ramp up the dog-burn by copping a "Fatty dog" or two at the new… More >>
  • Gray\'s Papaya

    Best Hot Dogs, Old-Fashioned

    Gray's Papaya

    Sure, we love Nathan's franks, especially if they're consumed by the sea. And we love waggish Crif Dogs, too, especially the bacon-wrapped beauty known as the "spicy redneck." And the chile-onion relish that gets spooned on top of the weenie at Boulevard Franks in Jersey City also makes us swoon. But the best dog, as far as this dog round-up… More >>
  • Best House-Purified Water

    The Smith

    Spawned by rampant locavorism, fear of plastic bottles, and an eye on the bottom line, fancy restaurants have started purifying and sometimes carbonating New York's beloved tap water. Some ferry it to the table in a carafe, without mentioning that it will appear on your tab at three bucks or more a throw. Getting its revenge on those feckless establishments,… More >>
  • Best Indo-Chinese

    Masala 2 Wok

    Indo-Chinese food is the creation of Chinese restaurateurs in India cooking to local tastes—heavy on the chilies, ginger, soy, sugar, and sometimes MSG (not knocking it!), plus lots of frying. It's wildly popular in India, the second-most-eaten restaurant food after Indian cuisine. One of the jewels in the sweet and spicy Indo-Chinese crown is cauliflower Manchurian, in which the cauliflower… More >>
  • Best Italian Gelato

    L'Arte del Gelato

    Last year, lines formed four blocks long at the Upper West Side Grom, the Milanese gelato maker. Despite all this enthusiasm, we found the product gritty and not particularly flavorful. Then, a Village Grom opened to near-universal huzzahs, in an area that has become known as the Gelato Triangle, and we were still unimpressed. Another point in that triangle is… More >>
  • Best Japanese Pub Fare

    Qoo Robata Bar

    Japanese pubs, collectively known as izakayas, have been popping up all over lately, bringing spirited drinking and a motley crew of snacks wherever they go. At Qoo Robata Bar, the food runs a delicious gamut from restorative rice porridge and onigiri rice balls to grilled yakitori, and includes awesomely crisp chicken skin, beef liver, and quail eggs wrapped with bacon.… More >>
  • Best Kati Rolls

    Aamchi Pao - CLOSED

    In Mumbai, they call them frankies, but Kolkata claims the kati roll. The story goes that a street cart vendor named Nizam-Uddin came up with the snack one day, when orders for parathas and spiced beef kebabs came in so fast that there was no time to wash the plates. So he tucked the kebabs into the parathas, and the… More >>
  • Best Lardo

    Del Posto

    Now that we know that lard is twice as good for you as butter—it has half the saturated fat, pound for pound—we're wondering why so few places bother to serve it. In Italy, it is a ubiquitous part of the salumi menu—as lardo, which is pig fat that has been cured so it becomes firm and develops an engagingly musky… More >>
  • Saxelby Cheesemongers

    Best Local Cheeses

    Saxelby Cheesemongers

    Wanting our cheeses to come from nearby is a modern affectation, but a pleasing one, even if there's no evidence to prove that one's carbon footprint is diminished. There's no question that these cheeses have terroir—that is, they taste like they're from our part of the country. Most come from New England, especially Vermont and New Hampshire, but oftentimes, our… More >>
  • Best Mac-and-Cheese

    The Obama Flavor C & S Food - CLOSED

    Mac-and-cheese is a soul-food staple, along with collard greens and potato salad. Under the name "macaroni pie," the same dish is often a standout at Anglophone Caribbean establishments peddling the cuisine of Jamaica, Barbados, Nevis, St. Vincent, and Grenada. Of course, any number of Southern cooking places and comfort-food restaurants have it, too. Mac-and-cheese, this year, has been more popular… More >>
  • Best Mackerel

    Café Glechik

    Holy mackerel! Funny that, because of its newly acquired "sustainable" status, mackerel has become one of the most revered of fishes. We can remember when diners, encountering it in East Village Japanese restaurants for the first time, stuck out their tongues and hollered, "Yuck!" Now we're seeing the strongly flavored fish—which has oily flesh a color somewhere between brown and… More >>
  • Roberta\'s

    Best Naples-Style Pizza


    Naples-style pizza is the fad that won't go away. And who can blame us? While New York pizzas were traditionally humongous contraptions scaled to feed several people at once per pie at the lowest possible cost, the Naples version generally feeds a single person, and sometimes none too well. Moreover, the "true pie of Naples" is almost unbelievably bland. At… More >>
  • Best Pastrami

    Bussaco - CLOSED

    Everyone knows that the world's best pastrami is found at Katz's (right?), where it's hand-sliced and fatty. The machine-sliced product at Carnegie Deli and Second Avenue Deli can't compare. But what can compare are the products that derive from the weird-ass fad of making pastrami out of other animals than cow. At über-bistro Bussaco in the Slope, the duck-breast pastrami… More >>
  • Best Panini


    We've come to think of panini as toasted, pressed deli sandwiches, like those you can get at Pax, the scourge of the earth. But "panini" just means "bread" or "rolls"—simply, it's a sandwich of any sort. At Ballaró, temple to the cured pig leg and all the wonderful things that issue from it, find marvelous cold-cut-stuffed paninis on focaccia or… More >>
  • Best Penis Pho

    Pho Sure

    The pleasure of a bowl of pho is principally in the broth, which should be aromatic and round, a brew made of beef bones, sweet charred ginger, star anise, and cloves. The pho at Pho Sure—a jokey name predicated on a mispronunciation of the soup, which is actually pronounced "fuh"—wins more than half the battle with its properly beefy, flavorful… More >>
  • Best Pigs' Ears

    Metro Café

    It seems incredible that a pig's ear can be both an excellent dog treat and a human dish of tremendous sophistication, but it's true. The cartilaginous pink flaps must first be braised or boiled to tenderness, at which point they provide a crunchy, slippery, porcine canvas for spices. But the best of the best can be found at Metro Café,… More >>
  • Best Quesadillas

    Brooklyn Flea

    No! Not bar-food quesadillas, which involve two pasty, pre-packaged flour tortillas squished together over a catalog of dodgy fillings, washed down with Bud Light. We're talkin' about the sublime soul-food quesadillas from the south of Mexico, where the masa is freshly formed into a giant pancake and wrapped around a plenitude of fillings like an oversize taco. The Red Hook… More >>
  • Best Ramen


    Humble ramen has attained total celebratory status in the past year, and, truth be told, there's no noodle we'd prefer to suck noisily up. Gone are the cut-rate packets of dried noodles you once scarfed from the bodega at college, and now, restaurants command a premium for this pasta, which had its origins in the lo meins of southern China.… More >>
  • Best Sammys

    Mumbai Xpress

    Between banh mi, mantou buns, and kati rolls, this has been the year of the sandwich—a happy occasion, but, please, let the infantile term "sammy" die. The sandwich that blew our minds this year came from street-food specialist Mumbai Xpress, where the Sichuan paneer sandwich is a delicious exercise in cultural exchange. The mild cheese is dressed with a spicy… More >>
  • Best Sardines

    Asmak Taama - CLOSED

    Once the near-exclusive province of the Spanish, Portuguese, Turks, Japanese, and Greeks, sardines—the fresh kind, not the canned—are becoming gradually more popular, partly because of their sustainability. They also have a mild flavor and an oiliness that allows them to absorb plenty of smoky flavor—and, hey, maybe the oil is good for you, since it's filled with omega this and… More >>
  • DBGB

    Best Sausages


    Although high runner-up honors go to Wechsler's Currywurst, the truth is that the best sausages of the year, by far, can be found at DBGB, Daniel Boulud's international sausage emporium. It would have been a closer contest if it weren't for DBGB's boudin Basque, which is a meat-product masterpiece. A coarse and sticky mixture of pig's blood and pig's head… More >>
  • Best Soft-Serve

    Mister Softee

    Momofuku Milk Bar's pistachio soft-serve's sheer deliciousness nearly knocked us to the ground when we first tasted it, and the bakery has continued to churn out unusual and amazing ice cream, including one flavored with cereal milk. But come on—does the Momofuku empire really need more love? The best soft-serve in the city can be found on any given night… More >>
  • Best Sustainable Fish

    Harbour - CLOSED

    Seafood sustainability is becoming a major issue in the Restaurant World, with subtle and not-so-subtle agitation on the part of the dining public in favor of more responsible seafood choices among chefs, some of whom think it's morally OK to drain the vitality of the oceans for their own picayune culinary glorification. At the forefront of the sustainability seafood movement… More >>
  • Best Toasted Cheese

    Colandrea New Corner

    Toasted cheese remains the apex of comfort food, a meal or snack that all of us can enjoy, even vegetarians. In spite of many newfangled versions available at bistros, the diner version utilizing puffy white bread and American "cheese" continues to be wonderful at places like Le Bonbonniere, in spite of its being permanently consigned to junk-food hell. But this… More >>
  • Best Restaurant Smackdown

    We wanted to do this smackdown in person, but, really, we're so busy running around town looking for new restaurants that the two of us are rarely in the same place at the same time. So we delivered the blows by IM, trying our best to hate on each other. (But the truth is, we like each other too much… More >>
  • Best Indian Restaurant

    Dosa Garden; Southern Spice

    SarahDG: If you'd let me, I'd just go on and on about Mumbai Xpress, and even Aamchi Pao, but let's mix it up a bit and talk about the excellent Dosa Garden, which opened last year in Staten Island. RobtS: Hey, no one's stopping you. SarahDG: I know you've been there and totally approve, so don't give me any crap.… More >>
  • Best Bistro

    Joseph Leonard; Standard Grill

    RobtS: You know I loved Minetta Tavern, but that can't be my favorite bistro, because the place is way too velvet-ropey. You have to be able to walk into a bistro and sit down without being scrutinized. SarahDG: Agreed. RobtS: So I'm picking Joseph Leonard, a tiny place that offers a traditional bistro menu, with a few modern notions. SarahDG:… More >>
  • Best Street Food

    Tacos Deliciosos; Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

    SarahDG: Sunset Park is one of the best street-food neighborhoods. RobtS: Can't disagree with that, but so what? SarahDG: I dunno, I just get excited about it—I like that Chinatown is vibrant, but relatively chill. You can get charcoal-grilled Northern Chinese skewers along Eighth Avenue, and then walk down to the taco and chimichurri trucks along Fourth and Fifth avenues.… More >>
  • Best Seafood

    Marea; Liman

    SarahDG: I'm sure you'll pick an obscure, cool Turkish joint in Bay Ridge or something, but at the risk of being square, I'm going with Marea. RobtS: I should have known you'd pick some expensive spot! SarahDG: Yes, you may have to pay with your first-born child, but it offers the most mind-boggling seafood. Anyway, I'm sure you have a… More >>
  • Best Korean

    NY Hot Dog and Coffee; Han Ah Reum Mart - CLOSED

    RobtS: The biggest news on the Korean food scene continues to be the franchise restaurants, most originating in Seoul, that have set down here. A drive down Northern Boulevard reveals nearly a dozen fried-chicken franchises. Even more curious is the hot dog chain, NY Hot Dog and Coffee—which is like carrying coals to Newcastle. SarahDG: Like, why bring hot dogs… More >>
  • Best New American

    10 Downing; Fort Defiance - CLOSED

    RobtS: The designation "New American" is absurd because it's really a catch-all for all sorts of creative food that lacks one particular ethnic influence. SarahDG: Seconded. RobtS: Where the rubber meets the road is in places designated as bistros. While Joseph Leonard is clearly a French bistro, the status of Watty & Meg is uncertain. It flaunts its regional borrowings—shrimp… More >>
  • Best Middle Eastern

    Gazala Place; Lamb and Chicken Carts, everywhere

    RobtS: Middle Eastern restaurants have been one of New York's best choices for quasi-healthy food delivered quickly and at reasonable prices—ever since Mamoun's handed its first falafel over the counter in the 1970s. SarahDG: Cut to the chase, please! RobtS: The collection of overlapping cuisines is much richer than the falafel and schwarma suggest. I was blown away this year… More >>
  • Best Southeast Asian

    Pho Sure; Thailand's Center Point

    SarahDG: I'd say Fatty Crab, but it's way too expensive. RobtS: That's very frugal of you! SarahDG: Still, I'd like to bathe in the belacan-shot sambal, while eating the nasi lemak and being spoon-fed the assam laksa. RobtS: Sounds erotic. SarahDG: Let's forget you said that. Michael "Bao" Huynh has clearly been eating his Wheaties, what with a handful of… More >>
  • Best Breakfast

    East Corner Wonton; Tartine - CLOSED

    SarahDG: Why do Westerners insist on such boring breakfasts? RobtS: A friend told me that her mother used to fry up a pound of bacon and a dozen eggs every day when she was growing up. SarahDG: Eggs are best for topping laksa, not for scrambling. Anyway, hit up East Corner Wonton, an old-school Cantonese café that serves congee to… More >>
  • Best Bakery

    Baked NYC; Grandaisy Bakery

    SarahDG: Scratchbread, which borrows the wood-burning oven at Toby's Public House, is an admirable newcomer this year, but without a main retail outlet, the breads are too hard to come by. RobtS: Never heard of it. SarahDG: Doesn't matter, I'm going with Baked NYC—a little hipster, it's true, but that doesn't stop them from mixing up some of the best… More >>
  • Best Fast Food

    Saigon Banh Mi Bakery; Ba Xuyen

    RobtS: I've got to admit that whenever I want some fast food, I get on my bike and pedal to the best banh mi shop in town. SarahDG: Hey, you were just telling me about how dull Vietnamese food had become! RobtS: A real banh mi, untinkered with, is still a joy to behold. Luckily, I don't often have to… More >>
  • Best Regional Chinese

    M & T; Metro Café

    RobtS: You know, Sarah, this is a real toughie. 2009 has been the year of the regional Chinese restaurant in the city, and between the new food stalls and stand-alone restaurants in Flushing, Bensonhurst, Sunset Park, and Bay Ridge, I could name a dozen spectacular restaurants. Instead, I'll just throw up my hands and say that the cuisine of Shandong… More >>