Hey New York: Go out and eat. We know it’s been a brutally cold January, and that means that lots of us would rather stay huddled up with Netflix in our living room, even if we have to ingest food of questionable provenance or eat canned soup. Thing is, though, restaurants are small businesses, and we want small businesses to survive in our city. And how do they survive? By you going out and eating.
To get you started, we’ve rounded up a handful of dishes that we’ve been digging around town.
Hot Chicken at Peaches HotHouse, 415 Tompkins Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-483-9111
We understand how it’d be possible to write off this Bed-Stuy fried chicken joint as more of a summertime destination — crisp thighs and wings are nothing if not traditional picnic fare — but we think we’re actually enjoying it more this winter because the food actually make us sweat. The hot chicken is imbued with plenty of spice, but if you really want something that’ll make you shed your extra layers, try the extra hot. It’ll just about blow your face off. Pair it to a soothing side of mac and cheese and a beer.
Steak Frites at Cafe Cluny, 284 West 12th Street, 212-255-6900
Hibernation weather is meat weather, and no better to satisfy that craving than a juicy hanger steak sided by a pile of crisp salty frites. Find one of the best in the city at Cafe Cluny; the beef spills its juices — plus a melted pat of garlic butter — into the pile of fried potatoes, adding robust tang to the side. Best paired with a glass of fat red wine. Try the Rhone or the Rioja.
Pho Ga at Bunker, 46-63 Metropolitan Avenue, 718-386-4282
We made the trek (and it is a trek, unless you live on a Metropolitan Avenue bus line) out to this side of Ridgewood and were reminded that this spot is doing Vietnamese food that far surpasses most of what you can find anywhere in this city. The pho ga is perfect for the weather, a bone-warming soup made of supple chicken broth, chewy noodles, gobs of poultry, and all the usual accoutrements, like basil, bean sprouts, and jalapeños. It’s rude to add more chili sauce to your pho — and this is the only place in the boroughs where you really and truly don’t need it; the broth stands for itself.
Pizza at Keste, 271 Bleecker Street, 212-243-1500
Sure, you’re likely going to find a wait when you stop by this postage stamp-sized pizza parlor, but still this place is underrated. Possibly even vastly so. We can’t think of a spot on the island of Manhattan that serves better Neapolitan style pizza, the blistered crusts soft in the center, the tang of tomato making magic with fresh mozzarella. And it’s easy enough to get into that it really should be in your regular rotation if you even occasionally pass through the West Village.
Clean Slate at Little Chef, Gotham West Market, 600 Eleventh Avenue, 212-582-7944
Caroline Fidanza’s Gotham West Market lunch counter turns out wholesome food you can feel good about eating, even if you’re sticking to a New Year’s resolution or trying to make, you know, a lifestyle change ahead of Spring. But it’s also worth visiting if your only requirement for a meal is that it’s tasty. We dug the clean slate, a sort of naan-based open-face sandwich piled with hummus, quinoa, pickled vegetables, and a drizzle of yogurt sauce.