Best Neighborhood Restaurant New York 2013 - Katja
Watch closely, and you'll note that the Katja staff knows just about everyone seated in its twice-expanded but still perpetually packed restaurant, and that's because a strong contingent of neighborhood denizens has adopted the spot as a go-to, the place you head when you've got nowhere to be at all. The Austrian eatery trades on its laid-back vibe, which is so welcoming, it's unsurprising to find yourself here a little too late on a school night because you're getting drunk while you chat up the owner. Because of that, this place would probably be popular if it slung nothing more than its kick-ass pretzels (served with liptauer cheese and butter, of course) and half-liters of Stiegl. But helping Katja's cause is its superb menu of schnitzel, spaetzle, sausages, and red cabbage salad. First-timers should opt for the sausage sampler, an excellent way to taste a little bit of everything, as it nets you a board sighing under the weight of the restaurant's various fat, juicy wursts plus crispy hunks of fat-ribboned pork belly, fluffy dumplings loaded with soft quark cheese, and giant nests of sauerkraut, which present needed palate-cleansing balance to the rest of the carnivorous feast.