Food & Drink

The James Beard Award finalists are in: how many have you eaten at?

Published On 03/18/2014 Published On 03/18/2014
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1. Betony 41 W 57th St, New York, NY 10019 (Midtown West)

Betony is a new-American, chic grubspot that's doling out fresh and innovative eats in a 35-seat bar and lounge, and 85-seat dining room.

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2. Carbone 181 Thompson St, New York, NY 10012 (Greenwich Village)

With all due respect to Italian grandmothers everywhere, Carbone -- under the leadership of Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi, and Jeff Zalaznick -- may just have the best red sauce, ever. It's not a surprise that this Greenwich Village restaurant requires a reservation a month in advance. If you can get in, be sure to order the outstanding spicy rigatoni vodka. You can believe the Instagram hype.

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3. Estela 47 E Houston St, New York, NY 10003 (Nolita)

From sommelier Thomas Carter, Chef Ignacio Mattos (formerly of Isa), and Mark Connell (Botanica), Estela is a tiny Houston St walk-up focusing on carefully constructed small plates like burrata with radishes, raw scallops with fennel, and beef tartare. Part-bar, part-restaurant, Estela is also known for a serious wine list.

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4. The NoMad 1170 Broadway, New York, NY 10001 (Nomad)

Housed in a historic arts building, The NoMad hotel is a stylish, Parisian-inspired luxury hotel with hardwood floors and handmade rugs. Inside the hotel is a bi-level library, an opulent lounge with a mahogany bar, and an upscale restaurant. Around the corner from the hotel is the much-lauded NoMad Bar (10 W 28th St), serving refined cocktails and upscale pub fare in a hip, lively space.

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5. Maison Premiere 298 Bedford Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

This cosmopolitan city-inspired oyster bar and cocktail den is a classy Williamsburg spot where you can enjoy a stocked raw bar, and lounge outdoors on its greenery-filled patio. We suggest bringing a first date here, as the swank and intimate atmosphere & delicious menu will be sure to wow them.

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6. Gramercy Tavern 42 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003 (Flatiron)

This upscale, Michelin-starred restaurant from the mind behind Union Square Cafe, Blue Smoke, and Shake Shack revives the classic American tavern with sophisticated (and affordable) entrees, such as shrimp and squash stew, jerk chicken, and a chocolate peanut butter pie for two. But more popular than GT's entrees, wine list, and refined cocktails is its off-menu Tavern Burger, which is expertly made with a specially sourced blended patty (50% chuck, 25% brisket, 25% short rib), and blanketed in melted cheddar with smoky bacon strips on a house-baked bun.

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7. Dominique Ansel Bakery 189 Spring St, New York, NY 10012 (Soho)

Master pastry chef Dominique Ansel’s eponymous SoHo bakeshop is best known as the birthplace of the Cronut, a croissant-doughnut mash-up that attracts lines of tourists every morning. There’s a limit of two Cronuts per customer, but luckily the hybrid pastry isn’t all Ansel has in store. The shop sells bite-size fruit tarts, rich chocolate cookies, and Ansel’s other signature sweet, the kouign amann.

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8. Momofuku Milk Bar 251 E 13th St, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

The original, pint-size location of pastry wizard Christina Tosi's Milk Bar serves all of her signature confections: the sugar-and-butter-based crack pie, birthday cake truffle balls, and the pretzel-potato-chip-coffee-oatmeal-butterscotch-and-chocolate-chip creation known as the compost cookie. Milk Bar's most famous outpost is arguably its cereal milk soft serve, which tastes like a creamier and sweeter version of the leftover milk in a bowl of cornflakes.

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9. Hearth 403 E 12th St, New York, NY 10009 (East Village)

An East Village mainstay for more than a decade, Marco Canora's Italian-American restaurant focuses on healthy cooking, which means good-for-you animal fats, fresh grains, and no processed ingredients. The result is a sophisticated menu where every dish feels like it's home-cooked, especially the meatballs. The restaurant feels like home too with wood floors, an open kitchen, and cozy leather banquette seating. Perhaps the most unique thing about Hearth is Brodo, its take-out window on First Ave that solely serves broth.

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10. wd~50 50 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Wylie Dufresne's world-famous, Michelin-starred resto's dishing out innovative new American eats of the molecular gastronomy variety.

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11. ABC Kitchen 35 E 18th St, New York, NY 10003 (Union Square)

Helmed by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, ABC Kitchen serves a locally sourced, ingredient-driven menu from its space within the ABC Carpet & Home department store. The menu, though not vegetarian in the slightest, feels healthy -- an impression that probably has to do with the abundance of vegetable dishes and the use of whole-wheat flour in lieu of bleached white in individual pizzas. Both lunch and dinner are exquisite here, but it's the former that draws the power-lunching masses from the nearby offices of Park Ave South.

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12. Jean-Georges 1 Central Park W, New York, NY 10023 (Midtown)

There are plenty of fine dining opportunities in New York City, but none of them can compare to Jean-Georges. Since its opening to critical acclaim in 1997, Jean-Georges has been known for its beautifully crafted dishes that blend French, American, and Asian cultural influences. The menu here changes seasonally and is created with locally sourced ingredients to ensure that every visitor can enjoy a truly exceptional meal.

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13. Blue Hill 75 Washington Pl, New York, NY 10011 (Greenwich Village)

You’ve heard of Blue Hill, maybe even of Chef Dan Barber, the brains behind the iconic restaurant in Greenwich Village, and Blue Hill at Stone Barnes, the Pocantico Hills iteration that’s situated on a Chef’s farm. You’ve also heard the term “farm-to-table;” a movement pioneered by Barber. When Blue Hill opened in the city, Chef -- along with every other chef at the time -- sought to use fresh, local, and sustainable ingredients. But at Stone Barns, he took it to a whole new level, which makes sense, because his restaurant is… on a farm. Stone Barns is also home to Barber’s research and education program wherein he works with agriculturalists to control what grows, how it grows or is raised, in turn controlling how it looks and how it tastes. So you should probably spring for a meal at either of the Blue Hills, because even though it’s a tall order for your wallet, it’s a culinary experience that might just change how you feel about eating your vegetables (and grains, and meat).

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14. Bar Boulud 1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

Bar Boulud is part of the culinary umbrella that's taking over taste buds in NYC left and right. Their innovative eats are surely worth the pretty penny.

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15. Brooklyn Brewery 79 N 11th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Since opening in 1988 with its signature Brooklyn lager, this Williamsburg microbrewery has become one of the best breweries in New York State. The space offers reservation-only brewery tours, and the warehouse-like bar serves all of the brand’s ten-plus beers, plus seasonal pours like summer and pumpkin ales. It’s good for groups, but know that tables can’t be reserved ahead of time.

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16. The Spotted Pig 314 W 11th St, New York, NY 10014-2369 (West Village)

April Bloomfield's West Village restaurant and bar is a fan-favorite among celebrities, lifetime New Yorkers, and tourists, known for its bucket list-worthy chargrilled roquefort burger with shoestring fries. The British-meets-Italian gastropub famously doesn't take reservations, but it's also open until 2am nightly, so if you can't get a table during peak dinner hours, then a late-night seat at the bar is your best bet -- and probably the most quintessential New York experience.

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17. Del Posto 85 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011 (Chelsea)

Brought to you by Mario Batali et al., Del Posto is arguably one of the best upscale Italian restaurants in New York. On a Chelsea block near the High Line, the large, loft-like space has an elegant interior with lots of black, red, and gold decor, as well as a candle-lit marble staircase in the center of the dining room. In true Batali fashion, the menu is rich but classic in nature, featuring delicious house-made pastas (gnocchi with caviar, oxtail ravioli) and beautiful cuts of meat (seared lamb chop, braised veal).

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18. Barbuto 775 Washington St, New York, NY 10014 (West Village)

This popular West Village eatery serves upscale American-Italian plates in a repurposed garage. The open kitchen, tucked between walls of white-washed exposed brick, hosts a culinary team helmed by celeb chef Jonathan Waxman. The dining room is lined with Italian wine-crammed shelves, vintage tin signage, and communal tables built of heavy re-claimed wood. The menu focuses primarily on small plates and antipasti, while the brick oven pizzas are made-to-order, and the entrees -- think orange-roasted duck breast over Brussels sprouts -- are equally unforgettable. The wine list is an event of its own, stretching across pages (at Barbuto, there is no such thing as too much wine), and brunch here is something of a hand-made sausage fest, well-worth attending. Last but not least, when weather permits, the window-studded back-wall of the dining room slides up, in true garage-door fashion, to make room for airy side-walk seating.

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19. Marea 240 Central Park South, New York, NY 10023 (Midtown West)

Michael White’s seafood-centric destination off Central Park aims to impress with its elegant interior and high-end Italian ingredients. The house-made pastas will have you coming back for more, like the fusilli with red wine-braised octopus and bone marrow, an elevated homage to surf-n-turf with baby octopus braised in red wine and buttery Pat LaFrieda marrow.

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