Food

Fresh Bites: Where to Eat in NYC This Spring

by and

Critic’s Pick: Fancy Casual

International culinary superstar and Mexico City’s patron saint of mole Enrique Olvera can’t wait for you to try the tlacoyos and consomés at ATLA (372 Lafayette Street, no phone or website yet), the all-day café he’s opening soon in Noho with chef de cuisine Daniela Soto-Innes. The heady soups and toasted masa cakes, Olvera tells the Voice, “are my all-time favorites to eat in Mexico, and we have never served them [here] before. Not even at Cosme’s brunch.” The cerebral chef’s first foray into NYC fine dining, which opened in 2014 in the Flatiron district, Cosme serves tostadas loaded with sea urchin and bone marrow salsa and offers a $90 platter of duck carnitas with all the fixings. Olvera swears this new project will be a more modest affair where the “beauty is in the flavors, not in the plating.” The decision to keep things pared down “is a reflection of the moment I’m going through,” he says. “I want to make food that I like to eat, that is tasty, healthy, and not pretentious. I want our customers to have the chance to visit us daily, not only for special occasions.” That translates to a casual atmosphere (think neutral tones and blond wood furniture) and under-$20 dishes. In the morning, that might mean Instagram-ready chia seed oatmeal topped with nuts and raisins, or a nod to the city’s appetizing counters and bagel shops in the form of a cured arctic char tostada with farmer’s cheese and capers. On the beverage front, expect sweetened aguas frescas plus hot options including coffee, Mexican hot chocolate, and almond atole, a frothy, viscous drink typically enjoyed with tamales. Lunch and dinner can be quick or leisurely, as your schedule allows, with an array of small plates that will include such traditional dishes as chicharrón stewed in salsa verde as well as newfangled takes on classics, like the steak tartare relleno Soto-Innes will serve in a hollowed-out poblano chile pepper. — Zachary Feldman

Smorgasburg

Opening April 1

The ultimate sign of spring in New York City isn’t cherry blossoms or allergy attacks, but rather the re-emergence of outdoor eating. Just as bar backyards reopen and sidewalk seating returns, so does the alfresco behemoth Smorgasburg bring its tents and grills to the hungry, vitamin D–deficient masses. Around a hundred local vendors will set up at both locations: Saturdays beginning April 1 in Williamsburg, and Sundays beginning April 2 in Prospect Park. Smorgasburg was previously responsible for the Ramen Burger and Wowfulls, so as you wander, be on the lookout for the next weird food craze. 90 Kent Avenue, Williamsburg, and Breeze Hill, East Drive at Lincoln Road, Prospect Park, Brooklyn, smorgasburg.com — Mary Bakija

DeKalb Market Hall

Opening April

This massive food hall opens in April, joining the Alamo Drafthouse, Target, and other businesses in the City Point development project on the site of Downtown Brooklyn’s old Albee Square Mall. Options for takeout and sit-down eats will come from about forty local and regional spots like Hard Times Sundaes, Ample Hills Creamery, and Katz’s Delicatessen; there will also be a butcher, fishmonger, and bakery, among other attractions. DeKalb Stage, a show kitchen and event space, will put on workshops and live entertainment for young and grown foodies alike.

DeKalb Market Hall, 445 Albee Square West, Brooklyn, dekalbmarkethall.com

Du’s Donuts and Coffee

Opening April

If you’ve somehow grown bored with donuts, Wylie Dufresne’s got your back. The innovative chef helped popularize molecular gastronomy with wd~50, but now he’s made donuts his main focus. Though he hasn’t revealed any hints about what this version will be like, we expect they’ll push the cruller envelope a bit. With both wd~50 and his more accessible East Village spot, Alder, now closed and another planned space having fallen through, Dufresne has poured his creative energy into this project. The establishment is scheduled to open in mid-April at the William Vale Hotel; we’re eager to see if Du’s Donuts stay straight, or if Dufresne lets his wild side show.

William Vale Hotel, 107 North 12th Street, Brooklyn, dusdonuts.com

The Grill, at the Landmark Rooms

Opening April

When Major Food Group — the team behind Parm, Carbone, and Sadelle’s — reveals its new take on the old Four Seasons space in the Seagram Building, it may be all this city’s culinary scene talks about for a while. The details have already consumed us: The historic venue will be divided into three separate restaurants, collectively known as the Landmark Rooms, with the first scheduled to open in April. (We’re still waiting to see if a lawsuit over the name, filed by Marc Murphy of nearby Landmarc, gums up the works.) That first space will be the Grill, a steakhouse that promises much of the grandeur of its predecessor, but with modern flourishes that will introduce updated classic dishes to a new generation.

99 East 52nd Street, Manhattan, majorfood.com

The Queens Taste

May 2

This city is home to countless all-you-can-eat and -drink events, but very few come with admission to a fun interactive museum. That’s what you’ll get at the Queens Taste, where you can sample goods from more than forty Queens bakeries, chocolatiers, and restaurants, including Sabor de Cuba and F. Ottomanelli; sip cocktails from breweries, wine stores, and distillers, like Queens Courage; and wander the Hall of Science, where your curiosity will be piqued by exhibits on science, technology, engineering, and math. You’ll leave stuffed with food, drink, and quirky science facts.

New York Hall of Science, 47-01 111th Street, Queens, thequeenstaste.com

Food Book Fair

May 11–14

Whether your nightstand is weighted down with cookbooks or you’ve got an idea for a cookbook of your own, you’ll find your people at the Food Book Fair, a festival and conference that celebrates food and the printed page. Highlights include an interactive, multisensory experience with Dinner author Melissa Clark and photographer-author Melanie Dunea; a breakfast with Elisabeth Prueitt to celebrate her new book, Tartine All Day; and “literary speed dating” with top agents and editors. In addition, expect discussions and workshops on food and, of course, plenty of things to nibble on — think fancy cheese, beer, and more.

Ace Hotel New York, 20 West 29th Street, Manhattan, foodbookfair.com

NYC Vegetarian Food Festival

May 20–21

This is for anyone who likes a side of good feels with their food fests. Yes, you will eat — dozens of exhibitors will serve tasty and creative vegetarian and vegan samples, which have even managed to impress a few carnivores over the event’s first six years. But other panelists will put their personal spin on this dietary way of life, including Michael Suchman and Ethan Ciment of the blog Vegan Mos, whose first cookbook, out this spring, will feature vegan takes on such New York City dishes as pizza, cheesecake, and even the reuben sandwich.

Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, Manhattan, nycvegfoodfest.com

Hometown Pan Fried Chicken

Opening June

Billy Durney, the chef behind the well- regarded Hometown Bar-B-Que, has another restaurant in the works just a few blocks away from the massive Red Hook barbecue space. And if his fried chicken is anything like his brisket, we’re all in for a treat. But just as we’ll have to wait after putting in an order for the chicken — which could take a little patience, since pan-frying takes a bit longer than deep-frying — we’ll also have to wait a bit longer for the restaurant to open: Complications along the way have pushed the date again and again, but Durney says he’s currently hoping to have the space ready in June.

329 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn, no website yet