Food & Drink

The 12 Most Underrated Restaurants in New York City

Published On 05/14/2015 Published On 05/14/2015
Thrillist

There are 24,000-ish restaurants in NYC. Twenty-four thousand. Ish. And yet, the same handful of restaurants end up on virtually all of NYC's Best Of lists. WELL NOT TODAY, PAL. Today we highlight the 12 most underrated restaurants in NYC, none of which are on any of the most recent "Best NYC Restaurants" lists from Zagat, NY Mag, TimeOut, or Eater, but all of which totally deserve to be.

Andrew Zimmer/Thrillist

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Cocoron

Venue node id

3045959

Kew Gardens
You won’t find it on any of the annual pizza Best Ofs, but this old-school slice joint is everything you want it to be.

Thrillist

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Duck's Eatery

Venue node id

3045735

Murray Hill
When you think of Mexican in Murray Hill you probably envision the least self-aware person you know slamming margs and arguing over the merits of passionfruit floaters, but this spot on 34th near 1st Ave is low key, friendly, and most importantly, damn good. The Pollo Parador is a interesting take on fried chicken with a bit of a vinegary flavor, the taco plate is ample and satisfyingly DIY, and the banana rum cake with grilled pineapple is, umm, really fucking good.

Flickr/brian

Williamsburg
On North 6th St in Williamsburg, since before the high rises rolled in, this prime example of first-wave new Brooklyn bistros has a distressed, old-school, Euro feel, a damn good burger served on an English muffin with cheddar and caramelized onions, and other eats like salt & chili calamari or pork tenderloin wrapped in prosciutto.

Flickr/lulun & kame

Cobble Hill and Long Island City
It may not be a secret that we’re fans, but we still think not enough people know about the Kyoto-style hako sushi (made by pressing layers of rice, shiso leaves, and fish into a box), don’t-knock-it-'til-you-try-it tofu, and always-changing daily obanzai board.

Flickr/ht

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Bobwhite

Venue node id

3043274

Gowanus
Around since before Whole Foods moved into the area and increased everyone’s kale consumption by 10, this no-pretense neighborhood anchor was rocking its great old-school Italian vibes, with Frank Sinatra portraits hung around the place, a Mets game on the TV in corner, and what-you-see-is-what-you-get eats like house-made mozzarella, broccoli rabe, sausage pies, and a never-fail chicken Parm.

Flickr/Gary Wong

Lower East Side
Way more people should be making it a point to put this place on their sandwich bucket lists -- the chicken on a biscuit is great and the po’boys are some of the best in the city.

Andrew Zimmer/Thrillist

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The Saint Austere

Venue node id

3041891

Crown Heights
First things first, this place does not F around when it comes to tequila and mescal -- the margaritas are on tap and amazing, and it’s happy hour is on point with $1 tacos and $5 micheladas that are somehow exactly as spicy as you want them to be. The food is also no joke -- you’ll probably be happy with anything from the menu, but the move is to share a bunch of stuff and make sure you get the smoked trout guac, the crispy crab meat tacos, and the pork short ribs in green sauce.

Courtesy of Mokbar

Chelsea
This Korean ramen spot within Chelsea Market serves ramen on par with the shops making it onto all the Best Of lists; it uses Sun Noodles, and whips up goods like the kimchi ramen, which is based off the Korean stew jjigae and is filled with bacon and braised pork.

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Andrew Zimmer is Thrillist’s NYC Editor and he’s always looking for more restaurants to put on his radar. Follow him on Instagram and Facebook.

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1. Cocoron 61 Delancey St, New York, NY 10002 (Nolita)

Cocoron serves up noodles for days (literally)! Specializing in handmade noodles made to dip in delicious broths along with chicken meatballs or kimchee pork, in addition to warm "Stamina Soba," whose noodles are much softer than the name might imply.

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2. Dani's House of Pizza 81-28 Lefferts Blvd, Kew Gardens, NY 11415 (Queens)

This pizza spot has been around since slices were going at 25 cents a pice (1963 to be exact). There's a larger Italian restaurant connected next door, but this is the place to hit up when you're in desperate need of a quick, tasty, no-frills slice.

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3. Ducks Eatery 351 E 12th St, New York, NY 10003 (East Village)

Texas barbecue and Vietnamese fare are the perfect couple at Ducks Eatery in the East Village, where the two cuisines come together to create fusion, one-of-a-kind meat dishes like brisket marinated in fish sauce and chili paste, and curry-laced goat neck. Most plates are meant to be shared -- and paired with an unpretentious cocktail or beer from the sizable roster.

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4. El Parador Cafe 325 E 34th St, New York, NY 10016 (Murray Hill)

El Parador Cafe's an unassuming joint that's serving up authentic South-of-the-Border food. With 54 years of experience under its belt, EPC is the oldest Mexican restaurant in the city, so it must be doing something right, particularly its delicious nachos.

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5. Sweetwater 105 North 6th St, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (Williamsburg)

On North 6th St in Williamsburg, since before the high rises rolled in, this prime example of first-wave new Brooklyn bistros has a distressed, old-school, Euro feel, a damn good burger served on an English muffin with cheddar and caramelized onions, and other eats like salt & chili calamari or pork tenderloin wrapped in prosciutto.

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6. Hibino 333 Henry St, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (Cobble Hill)

This neighborhood standby is one of few places in NYC doling out Kyoto-style hako sushi. The rectangular bites -- showcasing eel, grilled Spanish mackerel, or tuna -- are a must, while Hibino’s signature ultra-creamy tofu is a double-must.

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7. Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter 94 Ave C, New York, NY 10009 (Lower East Side)

The East Village foodies behind the cozy delicatessen, Bobwhite Lunch and Supper Counter, serve up local-sustainable farmed fare with a down home twist. This friendly little spot is known for a wide variety of Southern style dishes like tasty fried chicken platters and boneless chicken sandwiches. The bone-in fried chicken supper comes with a flaky hot biscuit and your choice of side (think mac & cheese, fried okra, potato salad, and all the other hearty country staples that are like what your mom makes, only better).

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8. Pizza Cotta-Bene 291 3rd Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11215 (Gowanus)

Around since before Whole Foods moved into the area and increased everyone’s kale consumption by 10, this no-pretense neighborhood anchor was rocking its great old-school Italian vibes, with Frank Sinatra portraits hung around the place, a Mets game on the TV in corner, and what-you-see-is-what-you-get eats like house-made mozzarella, broccoli rabe, sausage pies, and a never-fail chicken Parm.

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9. Cheeky Sandwiches 35 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002 (Lower East Side)

Cheeky Sandwiches bring the best flavors from New Orleans to the Lower East Side, offering a heavenly variety of po' boys as well as sweet and savory sides. The secret behind the sandwiches is the bread, shipped directly from John Gendusa Bakery in New Orleans. The Creole and Cajun spot wouldn't be complete without its Big Shot soda, Zapp’s potato chips, beignets, Chicory coffee, and other NOLA natives and staples. The small snack shop is full of charm and warmth, decorated with a white picket fence in front, brightly painted shutters, and red bar stools to match.

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10. The Saint Austere 613 Grand St, New York, NY 11211 (New York)

If you live in Williamsburg and have been in search of neighborhood bar to make your own, set your sites on Saint Austere. The space is intimate and upscale without being pretentious, and the dim lighting makes it a good spot for a date. The Italian tapas-style food menu features shareable plates like grilled octopus and broccoli rabe as well as larger, housemade pasta dishes. Make sure you order the creamy polenta with spicy sausage -- it’s the signature dish.

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11. Chavela's 736 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238 (Crown Heights)

First things first, this place does not F around when it comes to tequila and mescal -- the margaritas are on tap and amazing, and it’s happy hour is on point with $1 tacos and $5 micheladas that are somehow exactly as spicy as you want them to be. The food is also no joke -- you’ll probably be happy with anything from the menu, but the move is to share a bunch of stuff and make sure you get the smoked trout guac, the crispy crab meat tacos, and the pork short ribs in green sauce.

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12. Mokbar 75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011 (Chelsea)

This Korean-style ramen stand in Chelsea Market makes two styles of the noodle soup: "brothy" and "saucy," both of which infuse traditional Korean soups with ramen noodles. The brothy kimchi Jigae -- a kimchee bacon broth topped with braised pork, stewed kimchee, and scallion -- is by far the best bowl on the menu. The thick, bright orange soup tastes and smells pungent (spicy kimchee and smoked bacon are in a league of their own), so for the sake of others, eat your ramen at Mokbar's counter instead of taking it elsewhere in the market. Kimchee fans will find a nice selection of the fermented speciality to take home, as well.

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