Nashville: The Ultimate Local's Guide
The old Mr. Donahue’s space has been transformed into an Uncle Boons spinoff, focusing on fast-casual Thai take-out at more affordable prices ($9-16) than the OG restaurant. The menu ranges from small plates and soups to large plates inspired by Thai street food and classic NYC takeout -- like the Phat Thai with prawn rice noodles and peanuts in tamarind sauce. While there are a few tables to post up at, the place can get cramped, so your best bet is to take your meal to-go.
A second outpost of the famed Chicago cocktail bar, the Aviary is the latest addition to the Mandarin Oriental (located next to The Office, from the same team) and boasts Central Park views, fancy lounge seating, and cocktails that are given as much dedicated prep as dishes -- with price tags to match. If you’re in a position to spend nearly $40 on a Bloody Mary (congratulations!) you’ll find that here, along with other seriously decadent drinks and a globally inspired food menu.
From the team behind Freek’s Mill (one of the best restaurants of last year), Claro is an ode to Oaxaca in Gowanus. Everything from the restaurant’s tiles and dishware to the menu’s ingredients are sourced from Mexico, and the food leans heavily on barbacoa and corn. Order a few dishes to share, including salmon crudo and rabbit consommé, and pair those with a mezcal-based cocktail. Be sure to grab a seat in the backyard while the weather's still nice.
Lower East Side
New York is hardly lacking in pricey sushi at the moment, but this 10-seat omakase spot is still worth taking note of. Famed sushi chef Eiji Ichimura is behind the 18-22 course tasting menu (which will set you back a nice $300) comprised of extremely fresh seafood, including Italian-sourced caviar and fish imported from Japan, prepared in a variety of ways. If you suddenly come into a large sum of money, make a reservation ahead of time to secure a seat, and don’t miss out on the excellent cocktails that lean heavily on craft Japanese whisky.
From the chef behind the widely acclaimed (and now-shuttered) Kao Soy in Red Hook, Ugly Baby is your new go-to for traditional, unfussy Thai food. The colorfully designed spot draws inspiration from different Thai regions for spice-centric dishes like the standout kua kling (dry shank beef curry), which is probably one of the spiciest things you’ll try all year.
The latest bar from the crew behind the much-loved Wayland has opened just a few feet away, offering the same quintessential neighborhood-bar feel with a jukebox, shuffleboard table, and completely unpretentious cocktail and food menus (think frozen banana daiquiris and tacos).
Pig & Khao chef Leah Cohen’s latest venture will take you across the river to Jersey City, but the trip is worth it for the laidback but unique Asian-American menu and Hudson River views of lower Manhattan. Expect kitschy fast-casual fusion dishes like a mapo chili dog, a kimchi pulled pork sandwich, and “Disco Phories” (aka waffles fries topped with cheese sauce, pho gravy, and short rib).
Located on the first floor of the Jane Hotel, Old Rose comes from the owners of The Smile, with a focus on light-ish Italian dishes made with fresh ingredients. The menu, which spans breakfast to dinner, features sandwiches and salads in the early hours and pizzas topped with things like vodka sauce and burrata at night.
This New American brassiere from John Fraser (Narcissa, Dovetail) is your new easy West Village dinner go-to. The menu takes inspiration from quintessential tavern fare for slightly dressy comfort food dishes like buttery Parker House rolls, eggs with chili oil and sea salt, shrimp scampi, and a plump cheeseburger on a sesame seed bun. Pair those with an Old Fashioned or wine from the 100-bottle list.