An editor's guide to eating around NYC

Taking a bite out of the Big Apple's food scene can end up being more than some folks can chew. Thankfully, noted glutton and Executive Editor Hayden Lynch has made his picks for where you can do the city's best eating, and he's sharing them all right here. Favorite Restaurant: This is a tough one, but at the moment I'd have to go with RedFarm. The dumplings are insanely good, and specials like shrimp-stuffed crispy chicken are icing on the steamed rice cake. No matter what the hostess tells you, though, do not go around the corner to a bar and expect them to call you. Best Prix Fixe: I had heard mixed things going in, but Blanca is worth the price of admission in my book. The preparations are focused on skill & precision instead of molecular wizardry, and the wine list is dominated by funky, affordable labels they'll gladly steer you towards if you'd like to be budget conscious whilst dropping $195 on a tasting menu. An exceptional experience in almost every way. Best Dish: The kanpachi jalapeno with fried julienned potatoes at Bar Masa is so addictive that I usually end up making a second order, then promptly leave before going broke trying to fill up on $20 slices of toro. Best Fine Dining: It can't be easy to pull off French seasonal cuisine without coming across as precious, but Mas (farmhouse) somehow manages exactly that. The biggest problem with the menu is deciding, but fortunately their prix fixe gives you free reign. A meal that's worth one of the vintage Burgundies on their wine list. Best for Work: Le Bernardin. It's literally the best meal in the city, the vibe won't leave a client wondering if you two are on a date, and you'll be thankful that you aren't paying. Most Romantic: For a serious celebration, I'd go with Bouley. The space isn't quite as sultry as the former spot across the street was, but one bite of the silken chawanmushi with black truffles and barely-cooked Alaskan king crab is enough to make you question whether one should so gleefully dance around the dying embers of "high end" New York dining. For a more dressed-down occasion, Peasant seems to hit all of the right notes when it comes to straddling the line between modern & rustic, spacious & cozy. More importantly, they bring out ricotta instead of olive oil with their bread. Best Latenight Eats: To hit Crif Dogs on St Marks at 330a is to be faced with an artery-clogging decision of Solomonic proportions: do you get the bacon, egg, & cheese Good Morning dog, or the chili/slaw/jalapeno Spicy Redneck? And true to King Solomon, you should order as many as you want and cut them in half to share with an equally inebriated friend. Best Cheap Eats: There aren't many things cheaper than Chinatown dumplings, which often clock in at five for a buck. Nom Wah's are a little more expensive (four for $3.50, baller), but sometimes you have to spend some dough on your dough. Best Sandwich: The Roast Porchetta at Il Buco Alimentari offsets moist, fatty slices of swine with crispy skin, an acidic salsa verde, and bitter arugula packed into the top of a hollowed-out roll. It has left me deeply, deeply fat. Best Italian: Esca. Where else can you try half a dozen kinds of raw fish, get a platter of perfectly fried shellfish, and follow up some seriously tasty uni & crab pasta with a salt-cooked branzino? Best Steakhouse: If everybody could get Peter Luger's man-bits out of their mouth long enough to have a rational conversation about it, they might understand why I actually prefer BLT Prime's truffled mash, imported Chianina porterhouse, and gratis giant popover w/ pate to Peter Luger's German potatoes, American beef, and chocolate coins. But they won't. Best Thai: I actually think that Andy Ricker's Brooklyn iteration of Pok Pok is better than the Portland original. Worth the trip, worth the wait, and worth overeating yourself to death in order to sample as much of the menu as possible. Best Ramen: After a recent ramen binge, I'm currently really feeling Minca. Their pork isn't the best I've ever had, but the broth has serious depth, and there's something contagious about the sitting at the bar and watching the crew work. Best Sushi: There are a million places to get insanely good sushi (Sasabune, Yasuda, Bar Masa, etc.), but there's nothing quite like the omakase at Sushi of Gari. Every individual piece has the complexity of an entire composed dish, incorporating savory elements ranging from charred tomatoes to foie gras. Best Mexican: I'm not sure that Des Moines doesn't have more authentic Mexican food than NYC, but subterranean hole-in-the-wall Cafe El Portal at least tries to bring a taste of home cooking to SoHo. If you walk in at lunch you'll quickly realize that the mother in the black & white photos lining the wall is actually sitting next to you eating the staff meal. Because she's the staff. Best Burger: It's a dirty little secret in the restaurant industry that other chefs get the exact same blend from Pat LaFrieda that Minetta Tavern uses in their Black Label burger (they just can't legally say so), but nobody does it quite as well. It has a certain musty funk that lingers in the back of your throat, like olfactory umami. It's the rare burger that stands out for more than just excellent execution on a simple premise. Best Pizza: I would have advised driving to New Haven and waiting in line for Sally's Apizza until I blew out a tire on my way through town and ended up stranded for hours. Instead of getting caught in a pizza imbroglio, I'll go ahead and say that the most surprising pizza is probably Adrienne's. Who would have guessed you could get anything worthwhile on Stone St? Most Gut-busting Dish: Not only does the pig's foot at The Breslin sport a crisp, fried exterior protecting the gelatinous, mouth-coating fat inside, but it's portioned for two people. They say that the collagen makes your skin look more youthful, but so does stretching it out by getting all fat as hell. Best Large Format: Resto's Whole Beast Feast. Ma Peche's Beef 7 Ways. Suckling pigs pretty much everywhere. There are plenty of group-worthy specials meals worthy of rounding up a crew, but I was surprised to find that Back Forty's might take the cake. A recent feast of lamb liverwurst, lamb lentil stew, lamb merguez, and a massive platter sporting herb-marinated chops, grilled racks & slow-smoked shoulder was over-the-top good without gouging the wallet. Best for Partying: You can become an uninhibited sh*t show at Sammy's Roumanian and nobody will bat an eyelash. The last time I was there I watched someone drink an entire bottle of schmaltz straight from the cup. Ice-encrusted bottles of vodka and the borscht belt stylings of musician/comedian Dani Luv ignite a nightly bar mitzvah, but you'll stink like garlic for weeks. Best Breakfast: Should you find yourself in the rare position of having time to eat a breakfast out, Cafe Sabarsky will remind you why they call it a Viennese Hour. Great coffee and insanely good Austrian pastries. Best Lunch: Mile End Deli's NoHo-based Sandwich Shop is only open from 10a-6p, which means lunch is prime time for one of their killer bread bombs. A hearty schmear of chopped liver makes their BLT something of a revelation, and seeing as you're intent on murdering your arteries in the middle of the day, don't skip on the poutine. Best Brunch: Brunch is always a disappointment in my book, if only because I'm somehow voluntarily having one meal when I could have had two, so I prefer to head down to Oriental Garden for a crushing stream of pushcart dim sum. If you need a bloody mary, though, Jeffrey's Grocery makes the only one in the city I can tolerate, and optionally garnishes it with shrimp and raw oysters to boot. Weirdest Food: The "live octopus" at Sik Gaek in Flushing is about as bizarre as things get. When the writhing, chopped up tentacles actually manage to dig in with their suction cups, it leaves a faint numbing sensation on your tongue, not to mention a foreboding sense that they might get some traction in your esophagus on the way down. Most Local Food: It's worth going out to Blue Hill at Stone Barns just for the minuscule vegetables they pluck from the farm and stick on a series of skewers planted vertically in a wooden block, like heads on the outskirts of a village of cannibalistic carrots. Best Wings: NYC is decidedly not a place to get good Buffalo wings, though how this vacuum developed is totally beyond my comprehension. If you need spice, the ones at the Waterfront Cafe balance the lemony tinge of habanero with the acidic sweetness of tomato sauce. But the best wings are definitely the Ike's Vietnamese Fish Sauce wings at Pok Pok. It's just a shame that Pok Pok wing in Manhattan was converted into Pok Pok Phat Thai.