Everywhere You Need to Eat in NYC Right Now
Dining rooms and “ambiance” are back!
It’s been a tumultuous year since NYC’s first government-mandated shutdown of restaurant dining rooms last March due to COVID-19. But more than a year later, eateries are now once again allowed to operate their dining rooms at full capacity (as long as six feet is still maintained). And while we’re sad for all of our favorite spots that have permanently closed, the good news is, some of the city's most celebrated restaurants still remain (including high-end spots like Eleven Madison Park who are plotting imminent comebacks), in addition to celebrated classics like Gramercy Tavern and Momofuku Ssam Bar already having made triumphant returns.
And against all odds, new restaurants also continue to open across NYC, with many of them making strong impressions that offer a glimmer of an exciting summer season of dining inside real walls again. Here’s a glance at some of our favorite new spots, along with a few other new-ish top picks that we recommend checking out.
Gage & Tollner
The gist: After a 13-month delay due to COVID-19, Gage & Tollner in Downtown Brooklyn made its highly anticipated debut last month. The legendary oyster and chop house’s origins date back to 1879, and its revival is brought to you by veteran restaurateurs Sohui Kim and Ben Schneider (the wife-and-husband duo behind The Good Fork and Insa), and St. John Frizell (Fort Defiance). Inside its intimate dining room that stuns with its Gilded Age glory, alongside an impressive menu featuring towering seafood platters and robust chops, the keyword here is decadence—and after a year of trying to survive the pandemic, we’re all for it. Gage & Tollner is just the type of restaurant that’s necessary at this moment in history and is more than just a fantastic place to go eat, but also symbolic of NYC’s culinary past, in addition to what we have to look forward to.
The food: Classic steakhouse fare with a hefty side of opulence. Think raw oysters, chilled Maine lobster, and towering seafood platters as starters, followed by oysters Rockefeller, crab cakes, chicken liver pate, pillowy house rolls, and a wedge salad. Mains include seafood like porgy and hearty options such as pork pot pot, fried chicken, and roasted chicken breast. Steaks and chop include t-bone sirloin, bone-in ribeye, NY strip, or twice-cooked cauliflower for plant-forward eaters. Add on sides like creamed spinach, cornmeal fritters, and the butter roasted hash brown before finishing it off with desserts like coconut cake; malted milk and dark chocolate torte; or the baked alaska.
The cost: Raw bar and appetizers are $8-$85 (and $255 for the seafood royale), sides are $7-14, entrees are $27-36, steaks are $52-MP, and desserts are $5-24. A dedicated martini selection comes in at $16 each; and stirred cocktails, smashes, sours, cobblers, and long drinks are $15. Beer is $5-8, and wines by the glass are $12-30.
The gist: By highlighting dishes from underrepresented regions of India, Dhamaka aims to transform the experience that many New Yorkers have when it comes to eating Indian cuisine. Located just off the Manhattan side of the Williamsburg Bridge, this restaurant from chef/partner Chintan Pandya and restaurateur Roni Mazumdar, the duo behind lauded spots Rahi and Adda Indian Canteen, offers vibrancy in all that they do. From the menu and hand-painted murals inside the dining room, to the dish presentations and colorful cocktails, the restaurant name’s Hindi translation of “explosion” says it all.
The food: Indian cuisine with dishes unlike anywhere else in NYC. Through traditional cooking methods like pressure cookers, clay pots, open fire cooking, and grills, expect snacks like ragda pattice with potato patty, white pea, and green chili; and gurda kapoora with goat kidney & testicles, red onion, and pao. Grilled items include goat belly seekh with cilantro, coriander seeds, and garam masala. And for mains, choose from macher jhol made with baby shark, turmeric, and tomatoes; along with the Rajasthani Khargosh, a whole rabbit special that must be ordered 48 hours in advance.
The cost: Snacks are $9-14, grilled items are $9-16, pulao & biryani are $27-35, mains are $25-32 (and $190 for the special), and breads/rice/sides are $3-9. Cocktails are $16-18, and beer is $9-12.
The gist: This casual spot currently serving Singaporean dishes through counter service, takeout, and delivery was born out of a successful 2019 run as a vendor at the Queens Night Market. A signature laksa dish by founder and Singapore native, Amy Pryke, helped make Native Noodles a hit, and her plans to open a Washington Heights storefront in 2020 were delayed to February of this year because of the pandemic. Operating in partnership with executive chef Joseph Medina (co-owner of Hawaiian restaurant, Makana), the uptown eatery expects to eventually offer table service with expanded indoor and outdoor seating, but for now, diners can grab a seat within its informal accommodations. And later this summer, Queens devotees in Long Island City and Sunnyside will be able to order takeout/delivery through a new ghost kitchen in the works.
The food: Singaporean street food that’s become a NYC mainstay. Expect the traditional influences of Chinese, Indian, Malay, and other ethnic flavors showcased through dishes like the signature laksa with coconut shrimp-based curry and thick rice noodles; wok-fried thin rice noodles with mixed vegetables and shredded egg; and the Roti John Sandwich Omelette, (an item not easily found in NYC) with ground beef, caramelized onions, and spicy ketchup on a toasted baguette. Be sure to add on an order of pork & shrimp wontons and the chili crab pasta with egg drop sauce, linguine, and spring onions.
The cost: Snacks are up to $8, mains are $9-14, and dessert is $6.
The gist: The menu at restaurateur Simon Oren’s (Nice Matin, Bouillon Marseille, 5 Napkin Burger) newest spot, Dagon, is helmed by executive chef Ari Bokovza (Claudette). Here, the chef takes inspiration from his Israeli roots for Mediterranean offerings served inside a dining room with beautiful interiors and ‘70s vintage wallpaper that transports guests to a relaxing seaside home. The extensive wine list includes over 100 varieties from the Mediterranean and the cocktails menu offers spritzes options that are perfect for the summer weather.
The food: Mediterranean-inspired offerings including the flavors of Cyprus, Israel, Jordan, Palestine, and Turkey. Signature mezze includes whipped eggplant, labneh, chicken liver mousse, and Moroccan carrots. Small plates include shish barak (dumplings) with warm yogurt, pine nuts, and spicy herb sauce; and flash fried cauliflower with shishito peppers, olives, and lemon-feta aioli. Entrees include crispy roasted lamb with cucumbers, dates, walnuts, and wild rice; whole charcoal grilled branzino; harissa BBQ chicken; and steak au poivre. Desserts include silan, lemon tart, labneh cheesecake, and passion fruit sabrina.
The cost: Mezze is $10 each or 3 for $24/6 for $36, small plates are $15-21, breads and salads are $4-18, entrees are $29-41, and desserts are $14. Wines by the glass are $12-18, beer is $7-10, cocktails are $14-16, and limonadas are $8.
The gist: This Upper West Side eatery from owner and chef Jun Park (also of Jun-Men Ramen) doesn’t just limit itself as a Korean fried chicken restaurant, but instead, considers itself as a fried chicken destination in general. At Chick Chick, Korean-inspired items cooked with a batter of 15 spices are crunchy and juicy sans an overtly greasy flavor, and additional menu options include classic American-style dishes along with choices like chicken ramen (are you also seeing the theme here?). If you’re too hungry to share your food, grab one of their counter seats that offer a primetime view of their open kitchen.
The food: Korean fried chicken and more. Korean fried chicken is available in half/whole chicken, wings, and tenders with the option for sauces like Korean sweet gochujang and hot honey. American-style dishes include a Nashville hot chicken sandwich and chicken & French toast. Add on homemade biscuits, truffle fries, salads, ramen, and kimchi fried rice or opt for fried chicken sets that go as big as 50 wings with 3 sides.
The cost: Korean fried chicken is $8-28, sandwiches are $12-15, sides are $3-9, ramen is $18-22, salads & fried rice is $15-18, and sets run $60-85.
The gist: The Victorian vibes of Irving Place in Gramercy Park have an exciting dining destination from the team behind Korean gastropub Osamil. Highlighting new American cuisine with accents of Korean flavors, Café Salmagundi is a self-proclaimed love letter to its historic neighborhood and features seasonal ingredients from the nearby Union Square Farmers Market. Here, enjoy stellar food along with a cocktail program designed by Gelo Honrade (Osamil, Jeepney) inside the dining room or at one of the covetable sidewalk tables that’s ideal for people-watching to anyone again braving the dating game.
The food: New-American with accents of Korean flavors. Expect starters like tender calamari with pickled jalapeño; an uni bowl with seaweed purée; and pan-seared cauliflower with grilled kale, smoked carrot, omija, pine nuts, and creme fraiche. Oh, and don’t sleep on the hand-cut Korean sweet potato fries with jalapeno mayo dip. Mains include pork belly with burnt sunchoke puree, fig glaze, and crackling pork skin; striped bass with asparagus and leek; and a mussel pot with smoked fish broth and sourdough. Signature cocktails include The Irving with Scotch, Punt e Mes, and local honey; in addition to favorites like a penicillin, mezcal negroni, and Pimm’s Cup.
The cost: Small dishes and appetizers are $7-28, and shared dishes are $24-34. Cocktails are $17, draft beers are $9, and wines by the glass are $13-16.
The gist: Casa Ora’s story is what NYC dreams are made of: Ivo Diaz, a hospitality industry veteran of over 18 years (The Nomad Hotel, Eleven Madison Park, One Hotel Brooklyn Bridge) opens his own restaurant. He based the menu off childhood Venezulean dishes he loved and appointed his mother, Isbelis Diaz, as executive chef, and his partner, Rachel Diaz Pirard, as pastry chef. A portion of proceeds go to Venezulean families seeking asylum.
The food: Upscale Venezuelan-American cuisine made with a mother’s love. Offerings include varieties of arepitas chicken salad and queso blanco; shredded beef & cheddar; and curry mayo and tomato black beans. Table snacks and appetizers include bollitos pelones with ground beef & spicy tomato sauce; hallaca; sopa with caramelized coconut milk and avocado; and ceviche with grapefruit, orange, papaya, ginger, and pickled red onion. Entrees include scallops with corn dumplings; pabellon with brisket, sofrito, and refried rice & beans; and asado negro with burnt papelón sauce, yucca, pickled papaya, and peanuts praline. A creative cocktail menu provides plenty of pairing options.
The cost: Snacks and appetizers are $10-$18, and entrees are $25-$38. Signature cocktails are $14-$16.
The gist: Scott Tacinelli and Angie Rito fell in love while working at restaurants together in the 2010s including Park Avenue Summer and Quality Italian in midtown. Their love eventually led to marriage and working together on projects as a chef duo like a pasta omakase pop-up and even a speakeasy concept called dinnertable before they returned to the Quality Branded family to open and helm this smash-hit homage to Italian-American fare in 2017. Believe it or not, it’s still a notoriously tough table four years later, and held strong even with the limitations of COVID-19. Recently the West Village restaurant received a Michelin star, making the clamor for reservations even trickier.
The food: You’ve likely seen their viral lasagna rolls dish all over your Instagram—and handmade pasta is definitely what DA does best. But you won’t want to miss creative starters like the stuffed garlic flatbread; chrysanthemum salad; and BBQ calamari. And you’ll want to double down on orders of their stracchino gnocchi with zucchini flowers; garnarnelli giganti; and sourdough pasta cacciatore with mezcal-braised chicken and nduja. For mains, scope the veal “da Pepi” and Campari duck all-arancia in addition to the famed lasagna for two.
The cost: Starters and appetizers are $14-20, pasta is $26-29, mains are $29-116, and desserts are $8-12. Wines by the glass are $14-33, cocktails are $12-17, American maros are $9, and sweet wines are $15-35.
Dante West Village
The gist: Last summer, the team behind the beloved Negroni spot and Greenwich Village bar, Dante, opened a second location further west on Hudson Street, dubbed Dante West Village. As the younger sibling to the MacDougal Street stalwart (that has origins dating back more than a century), this newer locale in one of NYC’s most picturesque neighborhoods offers serious style in all that they do. Expertly concocted aperitivos and martinis served in elegant glassware are listed on the menu in categories such as cosmo collection, martini hour, spritz selections, Dante’s signatures, and negroni sessions. Pair them with a seafood-focused menu featuring dishes straight from a wood-fired grill and charcoal oven.
The food: Mediterranean-inspired dishes with a focus on seafood invoking Northern Spain and Southern Italy. Offerings include small dishes like a salad with pistachio, parmigiano reggiano, crispy pancetta and Dante dressing; and shrimp cocktail with pimenton aioli. Mains include crispy fried calamari with spicy marinara sauce; roasted branzino with salmoriglio sauce gribiche and sauteed zucchini; a signature beef burger with smoked bacon, gruyere, beets, tomato, and lettuce on a housemade brioche bun; and skirt steak with salbitxada and grilled spring onions. For dessert, order up flourless chocolate cake or tres leches with strawberry salad and cinnamon.
The cost: Small plates are $8-30, salads and raw dishes are $16-24, mains are $18-33, sides are $12, and desserts are $12-16. Cocktails are $16-17.
How to order: Outdoor dining is first come, first served. Order to-go drinks by calling 212-982-8799, visiting the storefront, or downloading the Dante app.
Đi ăn Đi
The gist: This hip Greenpoint restaurant remains one of NYC’s most talked about spots. At Đi Ăn Đi, chef Dennis Ngo’s Vietnamese-American menu offers an approach that’s become pervasive at dining tables across the country: An amalgam of traditional recipes and the chef’s own personal interpretations of them, inspired by the tastes each of us grew up with in towns and cities across the U.S. For chef Ngo, that means dishes influenced by Vietnam and Texas. The dining room’s signature lush greenery (with plants everywhere) and natural sunlight is expected to reopen any day now, but in the meantime, their pho and other popular items are available in their outdoor seating along with takeout and delivery.
The food: Vietnamese-American cuisine via Texas that’s a Brooklyn original. Appetizers include cha gio served with butter lettuce for wrapping; goi xoai with poached shrimp and Thai basil dressed in ginger nuoc cham with sesame crackers for scooping; and cuon diep with a spicy coconut dipping sauce. Mains include bun suon bo nuong with grilled lemongrass short rib and Vietnamese shiso; thit kho with pork belly braised in Coco Rico soda; and mi xao gion chay with fried tofu, mixed vegetables, and shiitake mushroom caps. Pho varieties include pho thin with wok-seared brisket; pho ga; and pho chay oyster and shitake mushrooms. During lunch, add on a variety of banh mi that comes with housemade salt and pepper potato chips.
The cost: Appetizers are $12-15 and mains are $17-26. Beer and sake is $7-26, cocktails are $15, and Vietnamese iced coffee is $7.
How to order: Outdoor seating is first come, first served. Order takeout and delivery via website, Caviar, Grubhub.
The gist: Chef Ryan Bartlow’s (Quality Eats and Frenchette) first independent project draws inspiration from early in his career while cooking at Akelarre, an award-winning spot in the Basque region of Spain. When it comes to the celebrated cuisine from this part of the world, think fish, meats and veggies that have been salted, grilled, fried, and seared and often served in appetizer style portions called pintxos. Like so many great restaurants in NYC, a low-key vibe and outstanding food go hand-in-hand here.
The food: Basque-inspired pintxos and mains from a menu that changes daily. In addition to their housemade chips with sliced Iberico ham piled high that’s an IG favorite, popular items include gildas; croquetas de gallina; pulpo a la plantxa; cabacero asado; and rodaballo a la parrilla. Dessert options include torrijas con sorbete de chocolate; pastel de chocolate con helado de fresa milhojas; and more. Also choose from cheeses along with natural wines and Spanish-influenced aperitif cocktails.
The cost: Para picar are $10-14, entradas are $16-$27, platos principales are $23-$40, and desserts are $13-$18. Beer is $7-14, signature cocktails are $16, and wines by the glass are $12-$19.
The gist: In addition to their popular Tribeca restaurant and the Frenchette Crepe Truck at Rockefeller Plaza, chef-owners Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr (formerly of Keith McNally spots and the opening team behind Balthazar in 1997) teamed up with Peter Edris (Bourke Street Bakery) and Frenchette's pastry chef, Michelle Palazzo, to open Frenchette Bakery last October. Located in Tribeca at the former Arcade bakery (which previously baked Frenchette’s bread), this hidden downtown destination is a great spot to pop in for offerings to-go, and can be found on the ground level of a generic office building towards the back of the lobby. Once you spot the sleek signage above a no smoking placard at 220 Church Street, you’ll know you’re in the right place.
The food: Breads, savory baked goods, and pastries from an award-winning culinary team. Whole breads baked with local grains that are milled inhouse include a baguette made with bolle wheat; a city loaf made with spelt, rye, oat, and wheat; and a sesame rustique. Savory items include the signature eggs savory available in kimchi, market greens, or mortadella; three pizz’ettes (tarte flambeé, la margherite, and l’anchois) only available from 12 pm-3 pm; and sandwiches. Pastries include Sicilian pistachio twice-baked croissant; pain au chocolat; canele; breakfast cookies, and more.
The cost: Whole breads are $3-10; savory baked goods and pastries are $4-8; pizz’ettes are $14; and coffee, tea, and beverages are $3-6.
How to order: Storefront.
The gist: At this spot from chef Sam Yoo (Torrisi Italian Specialties, Momofuku Ko), nostalgic diner classics with an Asian twist and renditions inspired by its Chinatown neighborhood are served up in a picturesque location below the Manhattan Bridge. Yoo’s talents made Golden Diner a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2020 for Best New Restaurant, and in addition to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the eatery often takes part in pop-ups with other restaurants along with social justice collaborations like Chefs Stopping AAPI Hate Dinner Series taking place this weekend.
The food: An “Asian Diner” rooted in NYC classics with influences from its Chinatown neighborhood. Offerings include breakfast items like honey butter pancakes; the Chinatown egg and cheese sando with soft scrambled eggs; green tea coffee cake; and kale and Parmesan biscuits with chicken gravy. Lunch and mains include Matzo ball soup; Korean fried chicken wings; chicken katsu club with chicken cutlet, blt, and bulldog sauce; vegan nachos; and the signature Golden cheeseburger with mushroom gochujang sauce. Pair everything with cocktails based on Korean liquors like bloody mary with soju or a makgeolli horchata; wine, beer, and Korean spirits.
The cost: Entire food menu is $7-17 and specials are $16-20. Coffee, freshly squeezed juices, and beverages go up to $4. Cocktails are $12-13, beer is $5-9, and Korean spirits and wines by the glass are $12-40.
The gist: Well-executed Japanese-Italian mashup dishes are the focus at Kimika, a Nolita restaurant led by executive chef Christine Lau. Bringing over 15 years of industry experience and opened by Rivers and Hills Hospitality Group—the team behind places such as homestyle Thai spot, Wayla—the dishes here successfully captivate with a delicious approach to an oft-attempted (and oft-failed) cuisine hybrid. When enjoying your meal, don’t be surprised if one of their signature dishes, the crispy rice cake lasagna, looks familiar, as it’s been an IG hit since the spot opened last summer.
The food: The focus here is Japanese-Italian dishes made with locally sourced and seasonal produce. Offerings include a pizzette fritte section of dedicated flatbreads like lobster & uni; small plates like the signature tuna tartare with spicy mayo; pasta like shrimp & prosciutto tortellini with mochi, naruto, scallions, and kanto brodo; and large plates like the eggplant katsu with caponata; porchetta with miso mustard; and ribeye with sesame ponzu and wasabi chutney. Cocktails include a chamomile negroni and a kaga milk punch.
The cost: Snacks, small plates, and sides are $6-29, pizzette fritte and pastas are $21-43, and mains are $24-52. Cocktails, beer, and wines by the glass are $8-16.
The gist: Translating into “skewers” in Korean, this restaurant’s seven-course tasting menu of mostly food on sticks seems apropos for our current times. But don’t let the sticks fool you, though, because the wonderful bites at the end of each are inspired by traditional royal cuisine of Korea and will have you feeling regal. Chef Sungchul Shim (formerly of Neta, Le Benardin, Per Se) and co-chef Byeongseok Lee’s (formerly of Neta and Commerce) dining experience also includes courses requiring utensils, in addition to offering optional add-ons like abalone with saffron miso and yucca soy.
The food: Seven-course tasting menu (in addition to a 10-course chef tasting menu) on skewers—and dishes using utensils—inspired by old-school Korean royal cuisine. Expect pine nut milk soup with burdock stuffed potato souffle; hwe with sweet pepper tiger’s milk; crispy shrimp with charred eggplant sauce and sweet and sour gochujang; doenjang marinated chargrilled fluke; slow cooked pork belly with cashew nut ssamjang; crab bibimbap with brown soy butter rice; and scorched rice cheese cake with green tea crumble. Enjoy the tasting with an alcohol pairing of Korean booze, or order drinks a la carte with signature cocktails, wines by the glass, beer, and Korean liquors.
The cost: Tasting menu is $85 with an additional charge of $75 for alcohol pairing. Cocktails are $15-$16, wines by the glass are $12-19, beer is $6-$9, and Korean liquors by the glass are $10-$13.
The gist: Wife-and-husband duo Ria and Kevol Graham have created a tropical paradise of sorts near the Williamsburg waterfront with Kokomo, a restaurant focused on Pan-Caribbean flavors. Since opening last summer, the spot’s bright energy and vibrant menu items have made it a popular addition to the local dining scene. With Ria’s industry background in Caribbean restaurants and Kevol’s hospitality experience in events of over 13 years, from decor to menu, the culinary destination they’ve created continues to be a much needed (and appreciated) place of celebration for New Yorkers.
The food: “A tasting tour across the Caribbean” with Latin, French, Asian, and African influences. Choose from signature wood-fired flatbreads, seafood, braised oxtail, jerk chicken, and Koko’s island pasta with island cream sauce. Dedicated vegan selections include jackfruit tacos; lentil meatballs in coconut curry; and a spicy portobello burger. Pair it with cocktails like a coconut negroni, special good juice mango rum punch, or a tiki Aperol spritz.
The cost: Starters are $14-16, and flatbreads and main courses are $17-32. Vegan dishes are $14-25, all sides are $8, and desserts are $12-14. Cocktails and wines by the glass range from $12-18.
The gist: After hibernating in the winter and reopening this spring, this highly acclaimed Williamsburg restaurant (from the same team behind nearby Chez Ma Tante) is back to hold its place as one of NYC’s best brasseries. At Le Crocodile, chefs Jake Leiber and Aidan O’Neal serve French fare inspired by their favorite haunts in both Paris and NYC, and offer a dining experience that distinguishes it as one of the area’s must-try culinary destinations that feels grown up, fancy, and sophisticated in a neighborhood crowded with basic food spots.
The food: French brasserie with an expansive menu of classics and more. Seafood starters include oysters; jonah crab with avocado and yuzu koshu; and pickled mussels with carrot, fennel, and coriander. Hors d’oeuvres include Parisian sausage and a plethora of pâtés like mushroom, chicken liver, and country with foie gras and pistachio. Entrées include venison tartare; onion soup with gruyère and lardon; orzo cacio e pepe with Pecorino Romano; and escargot with parsley, pernod, and fennel. Mains include squash tagine with olives and pistachio tabbouleh; halibut with shallot beurre blanc; omelette du fromage with lettuces and frites; skate; duck leg with beets and endive; a pork chop with sauce béarnaise, porcini mushrooms; and the roast chicken with herb jus and their signature frites. An array of desserts include sticky banana date pudding, apple tarte tatin, creme brulee, and profiteroles.
The cost: Seafood starters and hors d’oeuvres are $9-25, entrees and mains are $17-37, and desserts are $7-15. Cocktails are $16, and wines by the glass and beer run from $7-$18.
Leland Eating And Drinking House
The gist: Walk one block over from the busy-ness of Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights and you’ll find the oasis that is Leland Eating & Drinking House. As industry veteran Randi Lee’s (Del Posto, Ruschmeyer’s in Montauk) first independent project, the spot that was formerly known as the Dean Street Tavern space has been transformed into a new neighborhood favorite with plenty of natural light and a modern aesthetic. In addition to the Mediteranean-inspired cuisine, the eatery’s takeaway options include goods from a “boutique bakery” and booze from its wine and liquor shop
The food: Mediterranean-inspired cuisine by chef Delfin Jaranilla (Fedora, Quality Eats) featuring nose-to-tail butchery and seasonal ingredients from local farms. Offerings include chicken jook porridge with rice, egg, ginger, and scallions; trout rillette with with fennel, mustard seeds, and potato chips; radishes with ramp butter and sea salt; charred lemon-skillet mussels with toast; and roasted chicken with a salt-citrus brine. Baked goods include focaccia, sourdough loaves, zucchini bread, vegan cinnamon buns, and crème brûlée pie.
The cost: Baked goods are $3-10, snacks are $5-9, and plates are $11-33. A selection of four signature cocktails are $10-11, beer is $5-9, and wines by the glass are $11-14.
The gist: As a hybrid between a casual all-day cafe and bakery/pizzeria in Williamsburg, Leo is from the same team behind Bushwick’s popular pizza spot, Ops. The eatery specializes in naturally fermented breads, Neapolitan pies made with sourdough crusts, and square Roman-style slices with a thin crust, in addition to natural wines (a pairing that should replace pizza and beer). With items fired in an electric oven, order up some pizza and be sure to keep space for additional dishes like meatballs, Caesar salad, and a mortadella panino. Leo also offers breakfast from 8 am-4 pm with coffee, bagels, and egg sandwiches, in addition to pastries that are available during set hours.
The food: Naturally fermented pizza beyond the corner slice shop. Expect neapolitan pies with soft and chewy dough and square Roman-style slices with a thin crust. Pie offerings include marinara and Margherita; along with specialty pizzas like the San Giuseppe with spicy sausage, onion, olive, and provolone; and the Hill with mushrooms, shallots, taleggio cheese, parm, and greens. Roman-style offerings include mushroom; potato; and the Rossa with tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and oregano. Plates include house-made sourdough with Normandy butter; pork and beef meatballs; and an Italian combo sandwich with mortadella, finocchiona, alpine cheese, salsa verde, aioli on focaccia.
The cost: Pies are $16-34, slices are $3-$5 (including a new pepperoni addition), vegetables are $10-14, and plates are $6-12. Wines by the glass are $14, bottles of wine are $22-95.
The gist: Mihyun Han and Key Kim, the couple behind the acclaimed West Village omakase spot, Kosaka, offer a more casual, hand-rolled sushi restaurant in Flatiron with Maki Kosaka. With the flower shop, Kinka, also located inside the front space, here, executive chef Sho Boo, originally born and raised in Osaka, serves up sushi in a multitude of forms with a menu inspired by her native Japan. In addition to fresh seafood and seasonal vegetables, Maki Kosaka offers an array of combinations and sets, allowing diners one less hurdle to consider when it comes to curating a first-rate sushi meal.
The food: Japanese seafood and hand-rolled sushi, maki, temaki, onigiri, and playful “grab sushi” with the protein resting on the rice. Offerings include bluefin toro with caviar; scallop with seared uni; Japanese red snapper with Kizami wasabi; yellowtail with jalapeno miso; and more. The menu’s kitchen (non-sushi) items include shrimp balls with crispy roe; fried Chilean sea bass with ginger tartare sauce; and kale salad with walnuts and quinoa. The restaurant exclusively uses nori from the island of Kyushu in Japan, and additional specials like a Hokkaido uni cup with caviar or uni ikura and snow crab don can all be paired with beer, wine, and sake. Desserts by La Pâtisserie de Lauren are as minimal as the food, with options like matcha almond toffee or hazelnut cookies.
The cost: Single items start at $8, sets and combos are $25-80, kitchen dishes are $15-24, desserts are $20, and beer, sake, and wine range from $6-70.
Mark's Off Madison
The gist: Variety is key at Mark’s Off Madison, and the restaurant has plenty to offer when it comes to dishes considered to be local NYC favorites. Here, Queens-born cookbook author and chef Mark Strausman takes 30 years of experience from places like legendary eatery, Freds at Barneys New York, and Italian spot, Campagna, to offer some of his greatest hits like Belgian fries and lasagna at this all-day spot and New York-style bagel bakery located off Madison Square Park. Whether opting for a warm homemade soft pretzel or a rib eye steak, expect a level of expertise that any New Yorker would approve of.
The food: Quintessential NYC dishes of Italian, Jewish, and European roots made with sophistication. Offerings include artisanal breads, pizza, salad, seafood, meats, desserts, and bagels that are available through the Bagel Take Out Counter. Expect sauteed chicken liver with port wine sauce served over sourdough crostini; Mark’s house salad with soft lettuces and bistro dressing; linguine alla vongole; and rib eye steak with Françoise string beans and mashed potatoes. Hand-rolled bagels, cream cheeses, smoked fishes, pastries, bialys, black and white cookies, and more are also available. Cocktails include customized classics like Mark’s Manhattan and the Santa Monica Citrus Martini.
The cost: Appetizers are $9-24, sides are $9-14, pasta is $25-38, pizza is $24-26, seafood is $32-38, and meats are $24-45. Bagels with toppings and baked goods range from $4-15. Cocktails are $16-18.
The gist: Medan Pasar in the East Village serves up traditional Malaysian cuisine in a laid-back atmosphere. After signing the lease in February of 2020 and dealing with delays and setbacks due to COVID-19, the restaurant debuted on 7th Street late last year and offers a select menu of offerings that all fall under $10. With previous industry experience at New Jersey eateries, for owners Chao Chen and Chuan Tan, this is the first solo venture for the duo who helm the kitchen together. From nasi lemak and soups to meats and fried prawn fritters, diners can also place orders through an electronic self-ordering kiosk located near the restaurant’s entrance.
The food: Select offerings include Malaysian style roast half chicken rice, nasi lemak with beef rendang, curry chicken wonton noodle, prawn fritters, curry ayam, barbecue samboy seasonal white fish, and more. Dessert is bubur cha cha coconut milk.
The cost: All mains are under $10, with sides $2-6, and soft drinks $1.25.
The gist: When it comes to house-made pasta, Grandma knows best—and so does Rezdôra in Flatiron. This acclaimed Italian spot from chef Stefano Secchi (an alum of what’s been previously considered the best restaurant in the world, Modena’s Osteria Francescana in Italy) and partner David Switzer is both inspired by the Emilia-Romagna region and an ode to nonnas who hand roll pasta with love from scratch. The restaurant also has a stellar outdoor dining setup on their patio with luxurious velvet curtains for extra privacy.
The food: Hand rolled pasta and Italian cuisine inspired by nonna. Signature antipasti includes burrata centered in a moat of Prosciutto di Parma and a fluffy gnocco fritto with Prosciutto di Parma, mortadella, and pancetta. An array of pasta selections include cappelletti verdi with roasted leeks and black mushroom puree; and a single large raviolo with ricotta, egg yolk, morels, asparagus, and black truffle. Secondis include scallops with “di rucola'' and “vignarola”; sirloin steak with sauces from Emilia-Romagna and herb salad; charred ribs; and a 60 day dry aged bone-in ribeye.
The cost: Antipasti are $7-19, pastas are $23-28, secondi are $29-31, and the 60-day dry aged bone-in ribeye is market price. Regional pasta tasting menu is $90 with a wine pairing for an additional $55. Cocktails are $15-18, wines by the glass are $12-30, and beer is $9-15.
The gist: Authentic and traditional Persian food takes center stage at Sofreh, a warm and inviting restaurant in Prospect Heights. Named after a Persian cloth and term that signifies celebration, sharing, and the cultural idea of spreading the fabric and blanketing it with food for everyone to enjoy, chef and owner Nasim Alikhani cooks with love while drawing inspiration from her mother and countless other strong women who’ve had an impact on her life. Here, showcased are all of the wonderfully colorful and fragrant details featured in Iranian cuisine (rice based dishes, herbs, sweet and sour flavors, and tender meats).
The food: Rice offerings include a take on classic tahdig (saffron rice with a crispy bottom) and entrees include Persian plum chicken with saffron sauce and barberries; the signature braised lamb shank with dill & dried lime broth and butter beans; pomegranate beef ribeye with roasted campari tomatoes and grilled onions; and smoked eggplant with slow roasted tomato garlic sauce, poached eggs, and house bread. Signature cocktails include the Saffron Vesper with gin, vodka, Lillet, saffron, and rosewater tincture; and the Sekanjabin Martini with gin, signature sekanjabin mint syrup, and cucumber.
The cost: Appetizers, salads, and rice options are $6-$14, and entrees are $22-$38. Cocktails are $15, wines by the glass are $9-$16, and traditional Persian coolers are $7.
The gist: For anyone still bummed out about the closure of Uncle Boon’s in Nolita last summer due to the pandemic, the kid-sibling energy of nearby Thai Diner is sure to cheer you up. Opened in February of 2020 by wife-and-husband team Ann Redding and Matt Danzer, Thai Diner focuses on hearty dishes inspired by chef Ann’s Thai-American background, all offered in a vibrant environment to match with plants, lacquered wood, and pops of color and excitement comforting from all sides.
The food: Thai dishes with a mix of diner-inspired classics. Offerings include breakfast items (available until 5 pm) like the Thai Diner egg sandwich with cheese, Northern Thai sausage and Thai basil; and Thai tea babka French toast with salty condensed milk syrup. House specialties include the stuffed cabbage tom kha; laab with options for mushroom, fried chicken, or lamb; and Uncle Boon’s khao pat puu of traditional crab fried rice with egg, cilantro, and lime. Additional items include wok-fired dishes; Thai disco fries smothered in massaman curry; a classic burger with an American cheese option; and desserts like warm coconut beignets, guava velvet cake, and banana rum pudding.
The cost: Breakfast, salads, soups, and sandwiches are $8-17; house specialties and mains are $17-25; and desserts are $9. Cocktails are $13 and also available in $50 pitchers, with wines by the glass and beer $6-13.
The gist: The Tyger is a Southeast Asian-inspired spot and the sophomore restaurant from owners Eddy Buckinham and Jeff Lam of Chinese Tuxedo and the cocktail bar, Peachy’s. Here, Buckingham and Lam once again replicate the distinct downtown stylish experience their projects are known for with a gorgeous 3,000-square-foot dining room lined with yellow banquettes. The menu by executive chef Paul Donnelly includes influences from his time spent cooking in Southeast Asia early in his career, in addition to stints in Sydney, Australia.
The food: Southeast and East Asian flavors with influences from Pakistan, India, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, and more. Highlights include a take on the traditional Vietnamese dish banh xeo—a crispy turmeric and coconut crepe; steak tartare with chili & lime dressing, lemongrass, and crab cracker; Phnom Penh fried chicken with lime and white pepper dressing; “Nasi Goreng” crispy squid ink fried rice; and slow-cooked beef short rib in red curry with house baked potato buns. A feast menu for $65 per person is also available. Signature cocktails include The Tyger Strype Slushie, a frozen tequila drink with a striking orange and black aesthetic.
The cost: Raw items are $12-22, small plates are $11-$18, vegetables are $14-21, rice and noodles are $18-27, and seafood & meats are $29-$54. Cocktails are $17, wines by the glass are $13-$18, with beer ranging from $8-$12.
The gist: Xilonen in Greenpoint is the latest project from the crew behind lauded Oxomoco, with chef/owner Justin Bazdarich and chef de cuisine Alan Delgado teaming up once again. Located at a bustling intersection at the northwest corner of McCarren Park, the restaurant’s plant-based offerings focus on regional Mexican fare while centered on sustainability. From the decor to its dishes, this is a stylish (and unfussy) destination that also doesn’t serve booze, and separates its food items into two available menus: Dia in the day and Noche at night.
The food: Plant-based regional Mexican fare that’s 75% vegan and 25% vegetarian (some items may contain eggs and dairy). Select offerings include a masa pancake with deep mountain maple syrup and salted butter; scrambled egg tostada with salsa mucha and queso chihuahua; the signature green chorizo quesadilla with hoja santa, black bean salsa, and avocado; crunchy tacos with red chorizo, jalapeno cashew crema, and fuego salsa; and new additions like a black bean gordita with vegan cheddar, salsa morita and a chunky black bean purée. Dessert is churros with Oaxacan chocolate.
The cost: All food items are $6-15, coffee drinks and oaxacan hot chocolate are $3-5, aguas frescas are $4, and beverages are $3-5.