People coming to NYC always ask me for recommendations on where to dine, so here’s the list of my current favorites with just a short blurb on each. The restaurants with a star in front are my all time favorites.  Also have an another post that include new restaurants that I have heard great things about and plan on trying soon, and ones I have tried and recommend you don’t waste your time and money on.

Three things you should know about me before reading my list.  First, is that I prefer to eat at the bar, and my list includes many restaurants that encourage foodies to do just that.  Second, I prefer the city’s downtown energy, so not many uptown restaurants included.  And lastly, I don’t like steak houses…touristy, power lunch/dinner places.  Other than that, just enjoy these great places as I do on a regular basis.

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My Favorite Restaurants

  • ABC Kitchen – 35 E. 18th St., 1212-475-5829  – Chef Jean-Georges rustic, casual, farm-to-table restaurant, located in the ABC Carpet & Home department store. Perfect if you want to browse for chic Italian linens or furniture before drinks or dinner. It serves good food, but not quite the same standard before their chef, Dan Kluger, moved on (opened his own restaurant, Loring Place, reviewed below).  Something is just missing with the new chef.  If you go after this review order the crab toast appetizer.  (abchome.com/eat/abc-kitchen)
  • *Aldea – 31 W 17th St., 1212-675-7223 – Chef George Mendes’ Portuguese / Spanish restaurant in NYC.  The menu is inspired by Mendes’ home on the Iberian Peninsula, but with a modern, seasonal approach.  The menu features lots of shellfish, various preparations of salt-cod, or bacalhau, rice dishes and Iberian-cured hams. The interior is lovely, soothing and welcoming.    The chefs table and the wood bar with six coveted seats at the Chef’s Counter overlooks the activity of the kitchen. Their is also a Mezzanine level.  Must orders:  Appetizers – Bacalhau A Bras, Hokkaido Urchin Toast, Grilled Octopus, Country Pork Pate, Shrimp Alhinh, Mains – Arroz De Pato, House Salt Cod,  Beef and Braised Shortribs.

  • *Aqua Grill –  210 Spring St., 1212-274-0505 – this casual seafood restaurant has been around for 20 years and once you taste the food you will know why. The bar is packed with regulars and bartenders have been there for ages, treating you like one of the family.  Great fresh seafood, cooked in creative ways, with oysters one of the highlights.   They fly in 25+ varieties of oysters every day – the freshest in the city.  And the specials are not to be missed (but do try the Cod in Truffle Cream and the Grilled Salmon with Falafel Crust and Lemon Coriander Vinaigrette on the main menu).  Bartenders are the some of the best in town – tell Stacy or Ted hello for me. (aquagrill.com)

  • Augustine – 5 Beekman St / Nassau St. in the Beekman Thompson Hotel – Keith McNally’s new Art Nouveau bistro serving French food from that era (think saucisson en brioche with a frisee salad, salad of foie gras, artichokes, haricots verts & lettuce… My fellow foodie, Allison, really enjoyed the restaurant so that is a good enough recommendation to add it.
  • Bar Bolonat – 611 Hudson St., 1212-390-1545 – Einat Admony’s third restaurant (Balaboosta in Nolita, and Taim her falafel shack) is in my opinion the best of all three.  They all feature her middle eastern roots, and  Bar Bolonat has an interesting array of exotic small plates.  Loved the kibbeh, any vegetable dish, and the baby chicken over crispy rice with walnuts and pomegranates.  They also have a great happy hour at the bar.  (barbolonatny.com)
  • *Bar Boulud & Boulud Sud – 1900 Broadway, 1212-595-0303 & 20 W 64th St., 1212-595-1313 – OK, my two token uptown restaurants!  Both Daniel Boulud’s and on the casual side. Bar Boulud focuses on wine and charcuterie, Boulud Sud has a Mediterranean theme and food is really, really good. Some of my favorites at Boulud Sud; Appetizers – Lamb Flatbread, Sicilian Sardines, Crudo, Octopus.  Mains – Any of the Pastas, Sea Bass or Lamb. And don’t forget the sides, all interesting and delicious. (barboulud.com and bouludsud.com).

  • Bohemian – 57 Great Jones St. – “Exclusive” (referral-only) Japanese restaurant / bar hidden behind a butcher shop (butcher shop specializes & supplies them with Kobe beef – so don’t miss the beef tartar or one of the Kobe dishes).  You need to email them requesting the phone number with a compelling “foodie” reason (www.playearth.jp).  The space is small and dining room seats only 25, including a couple of couches and a six-seat bar (open to 2 AM, so after dinner it takes on a lounge vibe with jazz and Japanese music).  The Chef, Kiyo Shinoki, serves a mix of American, French, and Japanese small plates.  My favorites:  beef tartare, poke, sashimi, branzino, and the smoked tuna with micro greens!
  • Bond Street – 6 Bond St., 212-777-2500 – creative sushi & Japanses dishes in a trendy atmosphere.   Was “the” hot spot 8-10 years ago but hasn’t lost any of its appeal.  Food is fresh and innovative, don’t miss Big Eye Tuna Tarts (add the black truffles), the Red Snapper Tacos, or the special Sushi/Sashimi Omakase. (http://bondstrestaurant.com)
  • *Buvette – 42 Grove Street, West Village (no reservations) – Cozy, rustic-chic French bistro serving small-plates at breakfast, lunch & dinner. Chef Jody Williams opened a second bistro in Paris so you can enjoy her food in both cities.  Small plates include plenty of vegetarian options (salads with fennel or beets, ratatouille, a croque with wild mushrooms and tangy cheese) alongside satisfying miniature versions of coq au vin, os à moelle, and cassoulet. 
  • Casa Mono – 52 Irving Pl., 1212-253-2773–  one of Batali’s restaurants with very creative Spanish tapas, in a small cozy setting. Large bar for walk-ins with a spill over bar around the corner.  (http://asasmononyc.com)
  • Chumley’s –  86 Bedford St, 1212-675-2081 – the renowned West Village speakeasy reopened after being closed for around 10 years.  It’s a cozy, welcoming restaurant owned by Alessandro Borgognone (Sushi Nakazawa). He took over the space and has turned this pub into a great restaurant with food from Atera alum chef Victoria Blamey.  Must try’s are the pretzel, steak tartar, hamburger (below) and fried chicken.

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  • *Cosme – 35 E 21st St., 1212-913-9659 – Enrique Olvera, very famous Mexican chef opened his first NYC restaurant.  Don’t expect the usual Mexican fare as Chef Olvera did his research on what NY’ers want and has incorporated his research in his space and cooking.  What you have is a inviting,  hip space and innovative Mexican inspired dishes.  But this is the only bar I will recommend skipping.  High, awkward, and uncomfortable chairs don’t make the dining experience pleasant (or getting on or off them!).  Not to be missed, the Duck Carnitas (really, really amazing).  (cosmenyc.com)
  • Covina– 127 E 27th Street (212-204-0225) – Warm and friendly, with a large inviting bar and bartenders.  Owners of O Ya, Tim and Nancy Cushman opened a second NYC restaurant in the Park South Hotel.  Mediterranean and American cuisine featuring great share plates, home made pastas, pizzas that they cook in a specially built oven, and wood-grilled fresh and beef .  Don’t miss the warm hummus with grilled pita and fresh vegetables, kale salad, or any of the meat pizzas.
  • dell’anima38 Eighth Ave (Jane), 1212-366-6633 – former Babbo sommelier and an ex–Del Posto kitchen whiz, Chef Gabe Thompson, got together to open this unassuming little Italian trattoria.   Small copy place, filled with locals who genuinely love food.  This is a place for foodies!
  • Estela – 47 Houston St., 1212-219-7693 – you will probably walk right by this bar / restaurant on Houston without knowing it is there, but it is a hidden gem you should seek out.  Mediterranean small dishes (with a few entree size ones) whose flavors continue to open up and get better with each mouthful.  Great bar and cocktail menu also. (estelanyc.com)
  • *Fedora239 W. 4th St. (Charles St) – Loved this place at first sight and only got better all evening.  Amazing bartender, Amy, who made us want to come back night after night.  Gabriel Stulman’s (former partner in the Little Owl) specialty is taking small spaces, and turning them into the kind of corner-bar destinations that you’re more likely to find in Williamsburg or Fort Greene. Fedora has eight tables, a great bar (with many very friendly regulars), and a menu filled with hearty choices like Shiitake, Trumpet, Oyster Mushrooms with Poached Egg and Brown Butter; Pork Belly Salad; Spring Chechen with Foie Gras Stuffing & Fava Beans; Ricotta Gnocchi with Braised Lamb and English Peas.  But also has oysters on the half-shell and a wonderful Yellowfin Tuna Crudo!
Fedora Bar and Restaurant, 239 W 4th St in Greenwich Village, New York.
  • *Fusco – 43 E 20th Street, 212-777-5314 – Scott Conant is back in the old Veritas space with very creative Italian dishes, featuring seasonal ingredients that will change with what is fresh at the markets.  We felt at home the minute we walked through the door.  David, at the bar, is warm and welcoming, and Scott comes out during your meal to chat for a while.  This is definitely a place you want to return to over and over again.   And now the food!  Oh my, was it delicious.  We had the Stromboli with our cocktails, warm and filled with salami & smoked mozzarella, that got our taste buds wanting more.  Hard decision on what to order as everything sounded wonderful.  We finally chose, with David’s help, the Tuna Tartare with pickled ramps, black olive & tonnato cream (one of the best tartare we have ever had), Short Rib of Beef with fava been salsa verde & tarragon spatzle – SO GOOD!, Black Cod with potato froth, ramps & hazelnut salsa verde, and the Eggplant with asparagus & pine nut gremolata..  We finished off with the Meyer Lemon Curd Tart with torone & ginger gelato that exploded with flavor (and David sent us out pre and post desserts and dessert wine that pared perfectly with all three).  OK, you can tell, we LOVED this place! See you there next week.

  • *Gato – 324 Lafayette St., 1212-334-6400– Bobby Flay’s latest restaurant, where he is cooking a few days a week, has become one of our regular hangouts.  Food is creative and very flavorful, service great from the moment you walk in (welcoming front desk, sommeliers , managers – Becky makes you feel instantly at home, and GREAT bartenders), wine list creative , and atmosphere comfortable and inviting.  For small plates, order the three small tastes from the top of the menu, the scrambled eggs (pictured below),  the garlic shrimp and the octopus.  For your second course try all the vegetable sides, the vegetarian paella, the rabbit, and they have the best pork chop in town.  Say hello to Megan, Rosalie, Kelly and Steven at the bar for me and make sure my favorite sommelier, Simon, picks out your wines (and if your thing is eating at a table, request Steven or Steven)!  (http://gatonyc.com)

  • Il Buco – 47 Bond St., 1212-533-1932 – Been around for over 25 years and has turned out many wonderful chefs who are now on their own.  Very cozy, with the look of an Italian farmhouse.  Mediterranean and Italian small plates with daily specials.  Nice, small bar.  (ilbuco.com)
  • High Street on Hudson – 637 Hudson St (at Horatio) – Partners Ellen Yin and chef Eli Kulp (of Philly fame for hearty breakfasts, interesting tweaks on classic sandwiches, serious breads & showstopping pastries) opened a similar NYC restaurant with Philly signatures such as smoked whitefish on black bialy, roasted turkey with green-goddess dressing (all available for retail sale).  Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner (with a $60 “Leave It To Us” prix fixe).
  • I Sodi – 105 Christopher St., 1212-414-5774 – small, intimate space with some of the best Tuscan cooking in NY.  Delightful service at the bar or at a table. (isodinyc.com)
  • Italiene – 19 W 24th St, 1212-600-5139 – Chef Jared Sippel, from Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, has opened his first New York restaurant (Oct 2016).  Menu is a mix of Northern Italy and Southern France cuisine.  And from all the hype, he seems to be in the position of becoming one of New York’s best new chefs.  The food is elegant and refined and offers two different experiences, casual and more reasonable, and formal and more expensive. The casual taverna is styled after a neighborhood osteria and offers funky small plates like grilled octopus, multiple pastas and pizzas, dumplings, and “electric goat” (which has no goat in it to my surprise!).  In the dining room, you can chose a four-course, $98 tasting menu.
  • *Junoon – 27 W 24th St ( 212-490-2100) – new Indian dining in the Flatiron district with upscale French service in the main dining room where they only serve a pre-fixe menu. But also have a more casual a la carte cafe. Don’t  miss the Goan shrimp in a fiery piri-piri sauce, the Lahsooni Gobi  cauliflower (crisp-fried with a garam masala crust), the spicy Ghost Chili Murgh Tikka (chicken in pistachio puree, spaghetti squash, and sundried tomatoes) . The numerous house baked naans are excellent, and so is the raita, which the kitchen folds with pomegranate seeds and shreds of fresh mint.

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  • L’Amico – Eventi Hotel, 849 Ave of Americas (30th St.) 1212-201-4065 – Brasserie from Laurent Tourondel has an open kitchen and two wood-burning ovens to produce crisp, charred pizzas and chickens and steaks.  Casual food for the Vine hotel bar that has a spacious outdoor patio with a big movie screen.  Very noisy and difficult for conversation but lively.(http://lamico.nyc)
  • *L’Artusi -228 W. 10th St., 1212-255-5757 – creative small-plate Italian fare, eating bar-centric restaurant with 30 seats. You must order one of the Crudos, and don’t miss the pastas, and side vegetables.  Two bar areas with good bartenders.  (lartusi.com)
  • L’Atelier De Joel Robuchon – 85 10th Avenue, 212.488.8885 –  this Michelin-starred chef just reopened another NY restaurant (he closed the one in the Four Season’s hotel) in Chelsea.  Tasting menu restaurant and will also have a casual bar and lounge.  Been to his restaurant in London and Las Vegas – they are all quite expensive, so a special treat place – but love them all.
  • Le Coq Rico – 30 East 20th St., 1212-267-7426 – Antoine Westermann (Alsatian chef with 3 Michelin stars & 3 restaurants in Paris with the same name) opened  his “palace of poulet”.   They have a comfortable dining room and two bars.  One bar only snacks and the other, in front of the open kitchen with rotisseries, has a full menu (and of course my favorite place to dine).  They have found an American bird with the flavor of the highly prized French poulet de Bresse, and it is like no other chicken I have ever tasted.  You must order the Baecheoffe (which won Westermann his Michelin stars). Expensive but will easily feed 3-4 people. Other birds are served, plus innards, and creative takes on eggs. Chef and staff are extremely friendly and helpful, I really felt at home and can’t wait to return. (lecoqriconyc.com)

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  • *Le Coucou – 138 Lafayette Street (Howard Street), 212-271-4252 – OK the hottest new chef in NYC, Daniel Rose, (Chicago native whose fame is from Spring and La Bourse et La Vie in Paris) and the hardest to get reservations in the city.  I was lucky enough to have a dear friend who is one of their bartenders, and she was able to get us a much coveted reservation.   And I now know first hand what the raves are based on…it was perfect in every way.  First the decor, it is one of the loveliest restaurants I have eaten in (first picture in my post).  The service was excellent, and you couldn’t ask for a better wine list.  And then the food…I don’t know what to say but WOW!  Do not miss (here’s the list):  Warmed oysters, Fried veal head (yes I am serious, it was one of the best dishes), sweetbreads, Crepinette (chicken, foie gras, roasted plum), Pike quenelle with lobster sauce, Rabbit (all of the rabbit), Lamb loin, and all the rest of the main courses.  Cannot wait to go back!

  • Locanda Verde – 377 Greenwich St., 1212-925-3797  – casual, but sophisticated, neighborhood Italian, this is another place for Chef Andrew Carmellini to shine.   Don’t miss their pasta dishes (especially in  Truffle season),  and they have a great brunch.  (locandaverdenyc.com)
  • Loring Place – 21 W 8th Street, 1212-388-1831 – After a 2 year wait, Dan Kluger (ABC Kitchen) has finally opened his own place.  And it was well worth waiting for!  The restaurant is lovely, and has, what makes this girl very happy, a bar room with a comfortable bar where I can eat and drink.  Kluger trained under the greats; Danny Meyer and Tom Colicchio before making his mark at ABC Kitchen.   Of course, everything is locally sourced, and seasonal, preparing a large part of the menu in his wood burning oven, grill and smoker box.  At ABC Kitchen he was known for his vegetables and he is continuing the tradition with delicious wood-grilled broccoli with pistachio-mint dressing, and a celery Caesar salad that was sooo good I wanted to order another.  He also house-mills his flour for the in-house baked bread and pizza’s.  All wonderful.
  • Loyal – 289 Bleecker St (Seventh Ave) – Chef, John Fraser (Nix and Dovetail) opened an American brasserie in the West Village.  Loved Dovetail, but afraid I can’t recommend his new addition.  I loved the bartender, Matthew, and the atmosphere is inviting, if you arrive very early, but gets packed and very noisy quickly.  And the food…boring is the first word that comes to mind.  And we tried quite a few items, each more disappointing than the next.  The only thing that looked interesting was the burger with duck fat fried tater totters…we gave up at this point and didn’t try it.  Skip this place. 
  • Mimi – 185 Sullivan St (nr. Bleeker), 212-418-1260  – Little friendly, warm, Village bistro with French roots but a interesting twist on each dish.  Chef Liz Johnson (25 years old) changes the menu constantly serving odd little flavorful wonders.  Some examples are the asparagus dressed in smoky porridge with bits of fresh uni,  the duck a l’orange presented with the head on, douced in Grand Marnier, then lit on fire at your table, or fresh-made gnocchi layered with uni and white asparagus.  Has gotten rave reviews but I am still undecided.  Food tasted good, but was visually unappealing.  Might have been an off night so will try again before I remove them from this list. (http://miminyc.com)
  • Minetta Tavern –  113 MacDougal St., 1212-475-3850 – Keith McNally remodeled this old Greenwich Village mainstay.  French cuisine (try the specials), the famous Black Label Burger is a must, and great steaks.  Hard to get reservations, but if you arrive when they open, or just time it perfectly, you can get a seat a the inviting bar and have dinner with the friendly and helpful bartenders.   (minettatavernnyc.com)
  • *Nur – 34 E 20th Street, 212-505-3420 – modern Middle Eastern food including “street food elevated to fine dining”.  Chef Meir Adoni is pretty famous in Tel Aviv for Middle Eastern food with elements of French technique, infused with his Moroccan heritage and a global flair.  A mouthful, but it seems to work. Menu is designed for sharing so you can sample many of his culinary delights. Loved the octopus, sea bass, smoked eggplant carpaccio, the Horias (lamb kebab in grilled pita with pine nuts and eggplant.  And you must are any of his breads as Adoni’s partner is the founder of Breads Bakery.

  • The Musket Room – 265 Elizabeth St., 1212-219-0764  –  A taste of New Zealand, and a special favorite, which earned a Michelin Star within only 4 months of opening. Service is incredibly hospitable, the mixologist at the bar makes some mean cocktails, and the decor is farmhouse-chic.  Chef Matt Lambert’s specialty is modern New Zealand cuisine, and he crafts dishes that are seasonal, delicious, and sometimes wildly creative. A rum-cured torchon of foie gras is dense yet melting upon contact, accompanied by sweet dates, tart green apple gel, and buttery brioche. And the quail appetizer with a delicious bread sauce shouldn’t be missed (below).  For dessert you must order the slim chocolate torte, so smooth and sinfully rich, that my choolateholic dining companion persuaded me to get a second order (didn’t take too much persuading). (themusketroom.com)

  • Otto – Greenwich Village – 1 Fifth Avenue, 1212-995-9559 – Mario Batali & Joe Bastianich’s thin crust pizza joint with great pizza, pastas, charcuterie and tapas options. The dining room is packed, noisy, and looks like a pizza parlor. So unless you are there with your young children, only eat at the long bar. This serious wine bar, has great bartenders (Dennis is my favorite), and if you’re unsure of which of the numerous wines by the glass to choose, they will happily offer you a tasting.  Weekend afternoons at the bar is almost 100% regulars (all locals) who are always friendly, engaging you in conversations about food, politics, and NYC!    Try the olive oil gelato for dessert, you’ll love it.  (ottopizzeria.com)
  • O Ya – 122 E 28th Street (adjacent to Park South Hotel)-  Maybe my new, favorite Japanese restaurant!  Boston chef Tim Cushman, 2012 James Beard Foundation Award winner,  opened this wonderful omakase restaurant (but they now have an a la carte menu) with inventive, beautifully plated sushi, sashimi and other small bites.  Good wine and sake menu also.  Modern, minimalist setting has carved wooden booths and a long sushi bar.  The Omakese is expensive, 18 – 24 courses for $185 and $285 but the a la carte menu makes it much more reasonable.  A must try (I cannot wait to go back)!
  • Pondicheri – 15 W 27th Street (646.878.4375) – pan-Indian restaurant behind a dock door in the Flatiron district.  Chef Anita Jaisinghani, is a Houston based chef (and I have eaten in her wonderful restaurant there, Indika, and Pondicheri) earned a James Beard award.  Open from Breakfast to Dinner, from a cafe in the day to elegant dining at night she serves up incredible baked goods and interesting dishes.  Don’t miss the braised-goat-lentil samosa, and the quail (stuffed with pine nuts, roasted in the tandoor, and dripping with cilantro chutney)!
  • *Prune – 54 E 1st Street (near 1st Avenue) 212-677-6221 – Chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s 17-year-old tiny restaurant where she still cooks in the kitchen. The food is delicious and ambitious, and there’s a no-nonsense vibe that reflects Hamilton’s sense of confidence.  Brunch draws a heavy tourist group  but at night it is filled with locals who understand her interesting specialties!  Love the grilled pigeon with warm-parsley dressing and the kerchief pasta with French ham, a poached egg, and toasted pine nuts. Start the flaming pistachios, brussels sprouts and cauliflower in anchovy sauce, and radishes with sweet butter.
  • Rouge Tomate Chelsea – 126 W 18th Street, 646-395-3978 – housed in a former horse stable, the restaurant is warm, cozy, and welcoming.   The food is sustainability and seasonality driven. My favorites are the Crudo’s, Roasted Cauliflower, Tomato Salad, Sea Scallops and Organic Salmon.  They have a happy hour menu at the bar from 5 – 7 PM so try one of their wines with some olives marinated in lemon & rosemary and togarashi/sesame nuts.
  • *Spotted Pig – 314 W. 11th St., 1212-620-0393– Gastro Pub with great wines as well as creative beers on tap. Try the Chicken Liver Toast, do not miss the Burger with Roquefort with the best Shoestring Fries you will find in NYC, and the Cubano Sandwich.  (thespottedpig.com)
  • Sushi Katsuei – 357 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014, 212-463-0039 – newly opened in Manhattan, in the Sushi Soto space  (original is in Park Slope, Brooklyn), serving excellent, affordable omakase and Japanese options a la carte.  Chef Anug Ko Win  told Eater ” I don’t like the prices to be too high because I want people to relax and enjoy”. This small, modern space, is comfortable with very attentive service.  Large Saki list but limited wine choices.  
  • *Sushi Nakazawa – 23 Commerce Street, 1212-924-2212, sushinakazawa.com –   you can easily walk pass this unassuming store front, but from the moment you realize the lovely brown door is the entrance, you have entered a Zen atmosphere where the tensions of the day dissolves.  John greats you in the cozy front bar with a warm welcome.  Have a drink before dinner, as John and the bartender are great company, and will engage you in lively conversation. The perfect beginning to this evening.  Then you enter the dining room.  You can either sit at the Sushi Bar (if you are lucky to snag a reservation for this coveted spot) or at a table in the small, sophisticated dining room.  Chef Daisuke Nakazawa serves a twenty-course Sushi omakase  menu with ingredients sourced domestically and internationally. He shows his love of this cuisine in each piece that is presented, oh so beautifully, and only the best and freshest find its way to your plate.  It was delicious, some of the best sushi I have every had.  Good wine and Sake list and service attentive and friendly.  A great overall experience. A tip:  you can also eat at the bar or bar tables in the front room and order a la carte!   (http://sushinakazara.com)

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  • Tapas Bar at La Sirena – Maritime Hotel, 88 Ninth Avenue (16 St.) – Don’t eat at La Sirena (big, cavernous, bad reviews) but they just opened a Tapas Bar that is really good.  Brought the chef from Casa Mono over and he is preparing the most creative tapas you will ever encounter in NYC.  Don’t miss the Shishito Peppers, Pan Con Tomate, Blood Orange Salad, Patatas Bravas, Not Babbo’s Chickpeas Cabron, Pulpo, and Braised Goat.  Skip the Gambas as they leave a nasty coating in your mouth from the olive oil mousse with shrimp bitters.
  • Tuome – 536 E. 5th Street (near Ave B), 646.833.7811 – not sure what took me so long to get here, but it will certainly become one of my regular haunts.   Chef Thomas Chen (from 11 Madison)  cooks contemporary American with Asian influences.  Space is small, rustic, intimate, with great service, and East Village casual.   Don’t miss the Octopus with pork XO sauce; Chicken Liver Mousse with New York maple; and Crispy Deviled Eggs with Chili for appetizers.  On the mains, Striped Bass with Black Lentils, Bonito and English Peas; Chicken Porridge with Basil Sauce; and the Pig Out for two (Berkshire Pork, Spicy Peanut Noodle and Condiments). like sticky rice with duck fat. SOOO Good!

  • Untitled – Whitney Museum, 99 Gansevoort St., 1212-570-3670 – the latest Danny Meyer restaurant with a modern American menu.  Space has floor to ceiling windows and an extra-long bar for dining. Must haves:  Tomato & Melon Sashimi; Lobster toast; black bass; fluke with radish, sorrell & lime.  Then, after a few glasses of wine, stroll The Whitney!  (http://untitledatthewhitney.com)
  • Union Square Cafe (The New One) – Park Avenue South/ 19th St. in the space that was occupied by City Crab.  Danny Meyer relocated his longstanding restaurant, along with a 450-square-foot space next door, Daily Provisions, serving coffee, breakfast pastries, breads, and a large to-go menu of sandwiches, salads, and rotisserie items.  The restaurant is warm, cozy, and the bar inviting.  Service is great, as that is the core of Danny Meyers philosophy. Food was as good as I remembered.  Say yes to the bread, butter and olives to begin the meal (give up those carbs next week) and try one of the pasta dishes or the burger.  I had a special that day of goose stuffed ravioli, pretty special.
  • *Upland – 345 Park Ave South, 1212-686-1006  – Justin Smillie, who received 3 stars from The Times when he was at Il Buco Alimentari, is the chef.  and I think the second hottest chef in town (Daniel Rose is first).  He hooked up with Stephen Starr from Buddakan and what they have created is a Californian / Italian Brasserie that actually works.  The food is creative and  delicious.  His signature dish, and my favorite hands down, is the short ribs (I normally do not like short ribs, but I dream of this dish).  Love the kale & sausage pizza (blackened crust and enough to share with your friends).  Also excellent is the Grilled Veal Ribs, Whole Crispy Mushroom, Five Lettuce “ceasar” (trust me I NEVER order Ceasar Salad – this is quite unique), Hamachi Crudo, Slow Cooked Lamb Neck, Long Island Duck Breast.  And for lunch the burger is a must.  Large wine list with many reasonable priced finds. (uplandnyc.com).
  • Via Carota – 51 Grove Street (7th Ave), 1212-255-1962 –  Highly recommended by my fellow foodie, Mus! And I totally agree with him.  Jody Williams and Rita Sodi are the dynamic chef duo at this warm, casual, Italian restaurant.  Williams wonderful French restaurant Buvette, and Sodi’s Italian one, I Sodi, are right in the neighborhood and this is their first venture together.  And the combo really works.  The pasta’s delicious as is everything on the menu.   (viacarota.com)
  • *Vic’s – 31 Great Jones St.,212-253-5700 – Met Chef Hillary Sterling at a “Outstanding in the Field” dinner (these dinners are amazing and if you aren’t aware of them, google it and book one in your city) in Amagansett as she was the guest chef for the evening.  Instantly loved her and her cooking…man, was her food great, and cooking a perfect dinner for 200+ is not easy.  She invited us to her restaurant in the City and we were there the following week, and every week since!  The restaurant is lovely, lively and best of all, Hillary is cooking in the kitchen…turning out delicious, interesting dishes all night.  A must for anyone who loves great food, interesting wines, and a fun evening.

  • Wildair – 142 Orchard St – Wine bar with elaborate snacks from Chef’s Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske.  An ever-evolving menu serving interesting tweaks to classic dishes, like spicy tuna spread across vast slices of bread topped with a green frizzle (turned out to be scallions) – a giant Japanese bruschetta!  Try the swordfish with cranberry beans and romesco, breaded pork Milanese with egg-laden gribiche sauce, scallop tartare with grapefruit sitting in a deep-green pool of  cucumber-jalapeno-kale sauce, pork rilettes, and hazelnut tart. With an unusual wine list including mostly organic and natural bottles.
  • Zadie’s Oyster Room –  413 E. 12th St – Chef Marco Canora, from Hearth, converted his wine bar into an Oyster room with a vintage menu (tribute to the oyster rooms and cellars that dominated NYC in the 1890’s).  Oysters are served in multiple styles; raw, pickled, fried, boiled, baked, steamed and poached.  “Oysters and seaweed, they obviously go well together” states Canora, and seaweed is woven into the menu enough that he almost called it the oyster and seaweed room.
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