Later this year, we’ll pen our Best of New York issue, our annual love letter to what’s great in this town. When that paper hits the streets, you’ll find our picks for the very best this city has to offer when it comes to dozens of cuisines, restaurants, dishes and drinks. Until then, you can get a taste of our contenders as we count down, in no particular order, our 100 favorite dishes from around the boroughs, a list of laudable eats worth tracking down right now.
#99: Steamed mussels with french fries from Tartine
These days, big restaurant openings feel a little like pop songs: most of us are playing the top 25 on repeat, subbing in the next big thing for something slightly older (and we’re talking maybe two months here) without missing a beat. What’s more, it’s all fleeting — in a year, what’s cool now is going to feel dated, even though restaurants opening then will likely be a remix of a similar trendy formula. The cycle makes the old-timers like Tartine more valuable, tried and true reference points to slip on the speakers between sets that cause everyone to lament the fact that they just don’t make ’em like they used to.
Tartine has always offered a menu of simple French fare, and the list looks particularly plain now amid the faux-comfort food that graces more stylish tables. But in addition to a worthy steak au poivre and a French onion soup that will cure what ails you, this restaurant offers a nearly platonic version of steamed mussels, served fat, taut and pinkish-orange in their shiny black shells, bobbing in a light but complex broth that’s inflated by onion, lightly redolent of the sea and so imbued with garlic it’s almost tart (you’ll definitely want to share with your date if you plan on mouth-to-mouth contact later in the night). The dish comes sided with a bucket of addictive crispy, pencil-thin fries that get even better after a soak; you’ll want more of the restaurant’s soft, white baguette to sop up any remaining drops.
Hungry for more? The rest of the dishes in our countdown: