Picking my top five restaurants is a bit like herding cats: the list changes constantly, depending on my budget, cravings, and degree of hunger. I have a difficult time keeping track, though I tend to be drawn to anything that features conservative prices, liberal use of spices, and a chef who know his or her way around a Brussels sprout. Years spent in Michigan consuming Midwestern Tex-Mex resulted in an aversion to Mexican food that I’ve now thankfully overcome, and I’ve accepted the fact that if a restaurant serves an exemplary interpretation of either herring or hummus, I’ll be more inclined to overlook its other faults. Since I’m Southern by birth, I’m a sucker for a buttermilk biscuit. And for reasons that have nothing to do with nature or nurture, I harbor a deep and longstanding obsession with octopus. So my Top 5 list reflects all of that — and, more to the point, what I’d rather be eating at this very moment if my keyboard weren’t in the way.
1. Tanoreen (7704 3rd Avenue, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, 718-748-5600)
2. Cafe Katja (79 Orchard Street, 212-219-9545)
3. Tortilleria Nixtamal (10405 47th Avenue, Flushing, Queens, 718-699-2434)
4. Convivio (11 East 53rd Street, 212-599-5045)
5. Egg (135 North 5th Street #A, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-302-5151)