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Concierge.com

New York Restaurants

Hotel Photo
ABC Kitchen
35 E. 18th Street
Gramercy
New York City , New York
10003
Tel: 212 475 5829
www.abckitchennyc.com

Star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten opens new restaurants at a ferocious pace—in Vancouver one week, Barcelona the next. But he saved the best for his home base of New York City. This greenmarket-focused restaurant is two blocks north of the Union Square famers' market and tucked into ABC Carpet & Home, the city's most stylish home-furnishings store. That might explain why it's decked out with reclaimed wood tables and shabby-chic antique silver and china. The ecological ethos at the core of this project might make you feel good about supporting the business, but it's the food you'll come back for. While there's a healthful bent to the seasonal bounty—gorgeous salads of sugar snap peas or sweet roasted carrots—flavor's not sacrificed. And so there are also more indulgent detours, like a top-notch clam pizza and veal meatballs with bowtie pasta and crème fraîche, not to mention the sweet treats on display in the adjoining café at the edge of the store.—Jay Cheshes

Open Mondays through Thursdays noon to 10:30 pm, Fridays noon to 11 pm, Saturdays 11 am to 11 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 10:30 pm.

Al Di Là Trattoria
248 Fifth Avenue (at Carroll Street)
Park Slope
Brooklyn , New York
11215
Tel: 718 783 4565
Subway: D, N, or R trains to Union Street
www.aldilatrattoria.com

The pioneer of the Fifth Avenue scene, this convivial Venetian place, with its wooden tables, rickety chairs, and understated yellow dining room, has held up just fine against ever-increasing competition—in fact, as the long weekend lines and the next-door wine bar suggest, it's still the best. This is due to the passion of the owners, Emiliano Coppa and his wife, the chef Anna Klinger, who has everyone addicted to her braised rabbit with black olives, her classic saltimbocca and calf's liver alla Veneziana, her ricotta gnocchi with brown butter and sage, and the risotto col nero—cuttlefish ink—that takes 20 minutes because she stirs every serving to order.

Open Mondays noon to 3 pm and 6 to 10:30 pm, Tuesdays 6 to 10:30 pm, Wednesdays through Fridays noon to 3 pm and 6 to 10:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to 3:30 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm.

Alma
187 Columbia Street
Carroll Gardens
Brooklyn , New York
11231
Tel: 718 643 5400
Subway: F train to Carroll Street
www.almarestaurant.com

The secret may be out by now, but you'll still feel in the know as you sip your Patron Silver premium tequila on the rooftop terrace of this tri-level Nuevo cantina—the drop-dead view of the Manhattan skyline across the harbor is one of the best in the city. Chef Hans Dannerhoj's creative, multiregional Mexican dishes are generally top-notch: Highlights include picada de puerco carnitas (orange-braised pork with pickled onions and guacamole); chicken in the most toothsome mole north of Oaxaca; cazuela Borrego (shredded lamb with guajillo chili, tomato, potato, and zucchini); poblano relleno con picadillo (poblano chili stuffed with pork, raisins, and olives); and sides of spinach with garlic and Cotija cheese. If the deck is packed, try heading downstairs to the convivial main dining room on the second level. B61, on the ground floor, is a mellow affair with a long walnut bar, jukebox, and pool table.

Open Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 2:30 pm, Sunday through Thursday 5:30 to 10 pm, Friday and Saturday 5:30 to 11 pm.

The American Hotel Restaurant
49 Main Street
Sag Harbor , New York
11963
Tel: 631 725 3535
www.theamericanhotel.com/restaurant%20home.htm

The restaurant at the American Hotel in Sag Harbor is as much of a Hamptons classic as the hotel itself, and more vibrant than the somewhat frayed guest rooms. Just past the wood-paneled parlor, with its armchairs and fragrant cigar case, the restaurant opens up into four separate dining rooms. The French-inspired menu changes seasonally; dishes might include duck-liver terrine with black truffles; steak au poivre; and oysters on the half shell from nearby Hog Neck Bay. (The lobster BLT is a popular lunch option.) But the real draw, apart from the celebrated wine list, has always been the lively and unpretentious social scene, which over the years has drawn the likes of Billy Joel, who's been known to play tunes on the house piano, and everyone's favorite Hamptons fixture, Alec Baldwin.—Darrell Hartman

Open Mondays through Sundays 8 to 10 am, 12 to 4 pm, and 5 to 10:30 pm, summer; 5 to 9:30 pm, winter.

Babbo Ristorante e Enoteca
110 Waverly Place
West Village
New York City , New York
10011
Tel: 212 777 0303
www.babbonyc.com

Former American presidents seated at table 3? Check. Beef cheek ravioli with crushed squab liver and black truffles served at table 6? Check. Large-and-in-charge man with red hair in a ponytail, shorts, and clogs walking the aisles? Check. Such is a typical night at Babbo, Mario Batali's perennially hot and rollicking restaurant just off Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. Batali launched the place in 1998 with partner Joseph Bastianich, son of Lidia and a renowned vintner-restaurateur in his own right, and it was one of the first restaurants in New York to offer such an inventive and sophisticated take on Italian cuisine—with a voluminous wine list to match. The phones haven't stopped ringing since. Although the team recently opened the garish Del Posto (85 Tenth Ave.; 212-497-8090; www.delposto.com), Babbo (with its must-try pasta tasting menu) is still our favorite.

Back Forty
190 Avenue B
East Village
New York City , New York
10009
Tel: 212 388 1990
www.backfortynyc.com

Pioneering locavore Peter Hoffman opened Back Forty in the East Village to spread the good word about New York's Greenmarket produce—and the good food he makes with it—to a younger, more budget-minded audience. (Savoy, his original, pricier Soho restaurant, has been packing them in since 1990.) The low-key neighborhood spot features minimal rustic decor (farm implements on the walls, a country mural behind the bar) and an abbreviated menu of hearty entrées and seasonal sides. Hoffman's superior burger is made with grass-fed beef, farmhouse Cheddar, and thick heritage pig bacon. His whole rotisserie chicken in a green-garlic marinade is a succulent centerpiece of a shareable feast. Among the earthy side dishes don't miss the rich cheese-drenched "drunken potato melt" or the unusual green wheat with minted yogurt. Wash it all down with one of a half-dozen New York beers or Back Forty's own wine, bottled specifically for the restaurant on the North Fork of Long Island.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 6 to 11 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 6 pm to midnight, and Sundays noon to 3:30 and 6 to 10 pm.

Balthazar
80 Spring Street
Soho
New York City , New York
10012
Tel: 212 965 1785
www.balthazarny.com

Balthazar reinvented the downtown hot spot when it opened in the late '90s, and it's already a New York classic. Impresario Keith McNally, still the reigning king of effortless restaurant cool, did such a fine job cloning a Beaux Arts Paris brasserie that Balthazar felt decades old the minute it opened. The spacious restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, still gets its share of high-wattage diners like Kate Moss and Jude Law. Over the years, the straightforward, often delicious, bistro fare has remained as consistent as the crowds. The gargantuan shellfish platters are a dazzling indulgence, particularly with a bottle of chilled Muscadet. The steak tartare, zingy with mustard and capers, is among the best in town, as is the grill-marked steak with silky béarnaise and slim, greaseless frites. Though you'll no longer need a secret phone number to secure a table for dinner, you'll still probably want to book well in advance. The attached bakery offers top-notch French pastries and sandwiches to eat on the run.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 7:30 to 11:30 am, noon to 5 pm, and 5:45 pm to 1 am, Fridays 7:30 to 11:30 am, noon to 5 pm, and 5:45 pm to 2 am, Saturdays 8 am to 4 pm and 5:45 pm to 2 am, and Sundays 8 am to 4 pm and 5:30 pm to midnight.

Hotel Photo
Barney Greengrass
541 Amsterdam Avenue
Upper West Side
New York City , New York
10024
Tel: 212 724 4707
www.barneygreengrass.com

That this old-school Jewish appetizing store now has a location in Beverly Hills speaks to the supernal power of sturgeon. Since the original New York shop opened in 1908, no other restaurant has trafficked in such high-quality smoked fish. Add to that toasted bialys, chocolate babka, and excellent chopped liver, and you can see why the timeworn dining room, jammed with rickety tables, teems with Upper West Siders during brunch hours. Once inside, you may spot Anthony Bourdain digging into an omelet packed with caramelized onions and salty lox—if you had come decades ago, you might have seen Alfred Hitchcock or Groucho Marx doing the same.

Closed Mondays.

Black Iron Burger Shop
540 East 5th Street
East Village
New York City , New York
10009
Tel: 212 677 6067
www.blackironburger.com

New York is full of great neighborhoods but none more fun than the East Village, where walking around the funky streets on a sunny weekend can convince you that college never really ended. The wall-to-wall bars and restaurants are hit or miss, but one spot, Black Iron Burger Shop, is a jewel in the rough. The place is tiny—a dozen high-top tables with stools—and has sublime burgers, like nothing you've tasted before, unless you, too, cook on a $3,000 grill. The signature Black Iron burger is a pair of patties with grilled onions and horseradish-infused Cheddar on a toasted poppy-seed bun and served on a sheet of tin foil. The patty melt comes on rye. Nobody bothers to ask how you want your meat cooked because it's perfect as is—just brought to medium and greasy in a way that makes "juicy" seem inadequate, soaking up the right amount of flavor into both slices of bread. Onion rings are insane, thick but lightly coated. There are also a few other sandwiches—turkey burger, BLT, a grilled cheese—draft beer (only), and one prized booth, which you can forget about because it's always full. No reservations, no credit cards, no worries.—William Sertl, first published on Gourmet.com

Open Mondays through Sundays 11am until late.

Blaue Gans
139 Duane Street
Tribeca
New York City , New York
10013
Tel: 212 571 8880
kg-ny.com/blaue-gans

Kurt Gutenbrunner, by far New York's most accomplished Austrian chef (there's not much competition), runs an ambitious jewel box restaurant in the West Village and an adorable café with superlative Viennese sweets at the Neue Galerie museum in Upper East Side. His third spot, a neighborhood restaurant way downtown in Tribeca, is his most casual and consistently endearing outpost. Wallpapered with art posters, the Austrian bistro traffics in simple hearty food presented with a touch of haute cuisine flair. Swing by weekday mornings for soufflé omelets and plump sugary donuts filled with apricot jam. Come lunchtime, grab a newspaper from the rack, pull up a seat at the oversize tin bar, and settle in with a frothy pint of lemony wheat beer and a plump bratwurst with kraut. More involved dinner entrées include pitch-perfect schnitzel and crisp-skinned trout fillets drizzled in brown butter and bright tarragon sauce. Rich desserts like Salzburger nockerl (pillowy meringue with tart huckleberries) are hard to pronounce but, oh, so easy to finish.

Open daily 11 am to midnight.

Blue Ribbon
97 Sullivan Street
Soho
New York City , New York
10012
Tel: 212 274 0404
www.blueribbonrestaurants.com

Blue Ribbon serves its entire enormous menu until 4 in the morning to night owls and chefs coming off of work. The Soho spot is the most popular of the Blue Ribbon empire, a chain of six Manhattan restaurants (plus three in Brooklyn) focusing on everything from sushi to comfort food to pastries. The candlelit brasserie with dark wood booths and a raw bar up front is the perfect place to indulge your nocturnal cravings, whether they be for raw oysters, roasted marrow bones, Southern fried chicken, or paella with chicken, chorizo, and lobster. Though the scene is rambunctious and the menu all over the map, the cooking is of a remarkably high quality, and we're not just talking by middle-of-the-night standards.

Open daily 4 pm to 4 am.

Hotel Photo
Bobo
181 West 10th Street
West Village
New York City , New York
10014
Tel: 212 488 2626
bobonyc.com

Bobo may be the most accessible of New York's glitzy insider restaurants. Unlike Freemans (hidden in an alley) and the Waverly Inn (co-owned by Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter), there's no need to know a guy who knows a guy. Mere mortals can score prime-time reservations with relative ease by calling a week or two in advance. The bi-level brownstone jewel box feels like a shabby-chic European apartment, with mismatched antiques in the dining room, old family photos on the walls, a few inviting tables on a backyard patio, and lively greenmarket food served on hand-me-down china. Though they nailed the style down immediately, it took awhile to back it up with substance, going through three chefs in the first year. Patrick Connolly, on board since August 2008, seems to have gotten it right, focusing on seasonal ingredients, such as crispy veal sweetbreads paired with pear, lentils, and Serrano ham, or duck lavished with a date puree, hazelnuts, and chorizo. Many dishes reference Asia, from pork chops with curry and carmelized fennel to daurade with miso consommé and ginger butter. Desserts range from homespun (plum-blackberry crisp) to luxurious (panna cotta with huckleberries and white chocolate), just like the decor.

Open Sundays through Wednesdays 6 to 11 pm, Thursdays through Saturdays 6 pm to midnight.

Hotel Photo
The Breslin
Ace Hotel New York
16 W. 29th Street
Midtown West
New York City , New York
10001
Tel: 212 679 1939
www.thebreslin.com

British chef April Bloomfield launched the gastropub craze in New York City when she opened the Spotted Pig back in 2004. The Breslin, Bloomfield's meat-centric sequel in the Ace Hotel, moved the Anglo theme into hunting lodge territory when it opened in 2009 with woodsy knickknacks filling the dark bilevel space. There's often a long wait for a table (like the Spotted Pig, the Breslin does not take reservations), but you can head to the bar for fried lamb-belly scrumpets and a frosty pint of Spotted Pig Bitter. Dishes here are hearty, to say the least, including a gargantuan pig's foot for two that serves a minimum of four. If possible, save room at dessert for British boarding-school treats like the extra-gooey, sticky toffee pudding. Looking for something from the sea instead? Bloomfield also runs the hotel's John Dory Oyster Bar.—Jay Cheshes

Open daily 7 am to midnight.

Buddakan
75 Ninth Avenue
Chelsea
New York City , New York
10011
Tel: 212 989 6699
www.buddakannyc.com

New York's Buddakan outpost—offshoot of the Philadelphia original—is the biggest, splashiest, most visually stunning of the big-box restaurants that have invaded the theme park–ish Meatpacking District. It is also among the most accessible with its intended-for-sharing pan-Asian fare and inviting lounge with less pricey bar menu. This gorgeous $13 million maze of a restaurant—the work of French design star Christian Liaigre—features an enclosed soaring centerpiece courtyard with baroque chandeliers and a communal table fit for Louis XIV. Request a seat downstairs in the library, lined in faux-golden books like Goldfinger's lair, then order up a feast of delicious lobster-stuffed egg roll cigars, chicken-filled General Tso's soup dumplings, and chile-glazed tempura rock shrimp.—Jay Cheshes

Open Sundays and Mondays 5:30 to 11 pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays 5:30 pm to midnight, and Thursdays through Saturdays 5:30 pm to 1 am. Bar and lounge open Sundays through Tuesdays until 2 am, Wednesdays through Saturdays until 3 am.

Hotel Photo
Burger Joint
Le Parker Meridien Hotel
118 W. 57th Street
Midtown West
New York City , New York
10019
Tel: 212 708 7414

Hidden behind a floor-to-ceiling curtain in the lobby of an anonymously upscale midtown hotel, this retro café won locals' hearts by serving nothing but juicy burgers, crisp fries, beer, and brownies, all at bargain prices and for cash only. Vinyl booths, 1950s basement wood paneling, and prominently displayed bags of supermarket buns just add to the appeal.

Buttermilk Channel
524 Court Street (at Huntington Street)
Carroll Gardens
Brooklyn , New York
11231
Tel: 718 852 8490
Subway: F train to Smith & Ninth Street or Carroll Street
www.buttermilkchannelnyc.com

Meals get off to a sweet start at Buttermilk Channel, when warm popovers dripping with honey and sea salt arrive instead of a bread basket. Named for a nearby canal that was once used to transport milk from Brooklyn's farms to Manhattan's markets, the restaurant makes liberal use of the dairy product in Southern-influenced dishes like buttermilk fried chicken and flatbread coated in the house-made buttermilk ricotta. This is the Italian end of Carroll Gardens, and Buttermilk Channel pays homage to the neighborhood by getting its mozzarella, pasta, and sausage from nearby institutions Caputo's and Esposito's. Weekend brunch starts at 10 am (an hour earlier than at most neighborhood spots) and is packed with families until about noon, when late risers come for pecan-pie French toast and fried pork chops with cheddar waffles.—Danielle Contray

Open Mondays through Thursdays 5 to 11 pm, Fridays 5 pm to midnight, Saturdays 10 am to 3 pm and 5 pm to midnight, and Sundays 10 am to 3 pm and 5 to 11 pm.

Clam Bar
2025 Montauk Highway
Amagansett , New York
Tel: 631 267 6348
www.clambaronline.com

Less flashy and storied than the Lobster Roll, just a stone's throw down Montauk Highway, the Clam Bar serves up quality fried clams, burgers, and, to some minds, a superior lobster roll from a diminutive red roadside shack. Eating this close to the road is like driving in a convertible—the wind blows your hair, and it really feels like summer. Plus, there is something comforting about the non-ambience and limited charms of picnic tables shaded by umbrellas and the posted signs warning against letting children wander freely.—Updated by Darrell Hartman

Open daily from 12 pm until dark, April through November.

Co.
230 Ninth Avenue
Chelsea
New York City , New York
10001
Tel: 212 243 1105
www.co-pane.com

A pizza revolution has been brewing in New York, with Neapolitan-style thin-crust beauties edging out the classic street slice. Co., in north Chelsea, helped kick off the trend, with fine, blistered pies handcrafted by cult baker Jim Lahey (longtime supplier of bread to some of the city's top restaurants) and finished off in an 800-degree oven. Though the food comes out fast and furious from the no-nonsense kitchen, you should still expect a considerable wait (up to 20 minutes) for a seat. Those seats, by the way, are strictly no-frills: picnic benches around communal wood tables. But the pizza, not the ambience, is the reason to come here (the menu also offers a smattering of salads, crostini, and charcuterie plates). Lahey's chewy crust, showered with toppings both classic (sausage, buffalo mozzarella) and newfangled (asparagus, black truffle, quail eggs), is among the best in New York.—Jay Cheshes

Open Mondays 5 to 11 pm, Tuesdays through Saturdays 11:30 am to 11 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 10 pm.

Corton
239 West Broadway
Tribeca
New York City , New York
10013
Tel: 212 219 2777
www.cortonnyc.com

Tribeca restaurateur Drew Nieporent discovered chef David Bouley and helped put Nobu Matsuhisa on the New York food map. His latest show pony is wunderkind Paul Liebrandt. The star-crossed young British chef—he was best known for receiving three stars from The New York Times, then promptly losing his job—has hit his stride at Corton, a minimalist space that showcases his complex cuisine. Within the dining room's barely adorned white walls, you'll find some of the most assured haute cuisine in New York: gorgeous, delicious, and—at $85 for three courses—surprisingly reasonable (the wine list has many good values as well). Though the menu changes frequently, it always features the chef's signature In the Garden appetizer, a seasonal medley of boutique vegetables that's so inventive it'll win over even the most ardent carnivore. Liebrandt works wonders with meat and seafood as well, transforming squab breast into an ethereal slow-poached roulade (with black truffle and ginger jus) and combining candy-sweet scallops with shaved Marcona almonds and sushi-grade uni. Pastry chef Robert Truitt (an El Bulli veteran) offers desserts like passion-fruit brioche with brioche-infused ice cream, which easily keep pace with Liebrandt's savory magic.—Jay Cheshes

Open Mondays through Thursdays 5:30 to 10:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm.

Hotel Photo
Counter
105 First Avenue
East Village
New York City , New York
10003
Tel: 212 982 5870
www.counternyc.com

Yes, vegetarian restaurants are cheap, but few of them are fun. That's not the case at Counter, an East Village café that bills itself as a Vegetarian Bistro and Wine Bar. Sit at the semicircular bar or in a booth, sip a glass of wine from a surprisingly long list of organic and biodynamic bottles, and prepare to be impressed by dishes like potato-almond gnocchi in a lemon-thyme sauce, tornados of seitan with mustard sauce, and a root beer float martini dessert—sarsaparilla-infused vodka with vanilla ice cream.

Cyril's Fish House
2167 Montauk Highway
Amagansett , New York
11954
Tel: 631 267 7993

Timing is everything at this Caribbean-style seafood shack. At lunchtime, families sit under umbrellas, taking plastic flatware to citrus-accented broiled bass fillet and lightly fried squid with Buffalo-style sauce and blue cheese dressing. In the late afternoon and evening, crowds of beach-tanned singles in flip-flops and tank tops quaff rum punch and frozen margaritas, transforming the roadside eatery into a buzzing pickup scene. Cyril, with his white beard, funky sunglasses, straw hat, and (if you're lucky) flowing sarong, works the crowd. The bohemian proprietor is quick to accept a drink, but he doesn't accept credit cards—so bring cash or you'll be saddled with his high ATM fee.

Open daily 11 am to 10 pm, mid-April through early October.

Hotel Photo
Daniel
60 E. 65th Street
Upper East Side
New York City , New York
10065
Tel: 212 288 0033
www.danielnyc.com

Why go to Daniel? Because you owe it to yourself to experience the real thing at least once. French haute-cuisine restaurants are vanishing from New York, but Daniel, on the Upper East Side, remains and flourishes because chef Boulud is almost always in the kitchen, ensuring that the dishes balance classic technique with new culinary influences. What other kitchen wraps shrimp in kadaifa, the Arab shredded wheat? Or puts crispy calf's head "ballotine" on the $96 prix-fixe? If you don't want to commit to a whole meal, you can choose from a shorter, à la carte menu in the lounge, where you'll be as coddled as you would be in the opulent dining room.

Closed Sundays.

DBGB
299 Bowery
East Village
New York City , New York
10003
Tel: 212 933 5300
www.danielnyc.com/dbgb.html

Daniel Boulud is best known for his haute cuisine palace, Daniel, on the Upper East Side, but the French chef pretty much invented the high-end burger when he introduced a foie gras–stuffed version back in 2001 at his DB Bistro Moderne in Midtown. Now there's DBGB, Boulud's full-fledged foray into even more accessible fare. The enormous menu at this populist restaurant—the name is a play on legendary rock club CBGB, which was just up the street—features a few new Boulud burger creations (one features pork belly and melted Morbier cheese). But the headliners here are the international panoply of house-made sausages. The plump, flavorsome links, designed for tapas-style sharing, include earthy boudin, fiery merguez, and a smoked pork and Vermont cheddar creation. As befits a sausage and burger joint, beer is the big seller at DBGB, not wine. But those in the mood for more classic bistro fare can get their escargots and steak-frites fix as well.—Jay Cheshes

Open Mondays 5:30 to 11 pm, Tuesdays through Thursdays noon to 11 pm, Fridays noon to 1 am, Saturdays 11 am to 1 am, and Sundays 11 am to 11 pm.

Dim Sum Go Go
5 East Broadway
Chinatown
New York City , New York
10038
Tel: 212 732 0797

Chinatown's most playfully modern dim sum parlor offers the traditional Chinese brunch from morning till night. The red and white facade may scream fast-food joint, but Dim Sum Go Go is a serious restaurant with a serious chef at the helm (Hong Kong– trained Guy Lieu). During the busy lunch rush expect long waits for a table in the spare bi-level dining room—followed by well-worth-it waits for the food, steamed to order instead of paraded on carts. Among the 45 savory dim sum options you'll find traditional offerings like pork shiu mai and plump shrimp har gow along with some of the city's most unusual, and visually stunning, dumpling creations. Delicate wrappers in hues of pink, yellow, and green encase bamboo heart, shark's fin, and roast shredded duck. Overcome option paralysis with the personal-steamer ten-dumpling sampler.

Open daily 10 am to 10:30 pm.

Double Crown
316 Bowery
East Village
New York City , New York
10012
Tel: 212 254 0350
www.doublecrown-nyc.com

As much of a draw for the scene as for the food, Double Crown is a restaurant homage to the British Empire in Asia and a sprawling follow-up to Public and Monday Room in Nolita. Chef Brad Farmerie draws culinary inspiration from both Mother Britain and her former East Asian colonies, offering up elegant riffs on bangers and mash (featuring boar sausage and beet relish) and a classic Wellington (stuffed with elk instead of the usual tenderloin). The Raj gets a nod in a spicy side of garam masala potatoes. There are Singaporean laksas and Hong Kong–style steamed buns with duck. The eclectic cuisine reflects the decor, which features a vibrant hodgepodge of far-flung knickknacks (Fu dogs, soapstone lanterns from India) courtesy of restaurant designers du jour AvroKo, who also co-own the joint. The party in the annex bar—a cozy shoebox dubbed Madam Geneva, where hip young things huddle around shareable nibbles and potent old-school libations (Pimm's Cups, Singapore Slings)—often spills into the main dining room. On weekends, hungover brunches segue into afternoon parties with boozy high teas, complete with crusts-off sandwiches, clotted cream scones, and gin-spiked Earl Grey.—Jay Cheshes

Open Mondays through Thursdays 6 to 11 pm, Fridays 6 pm to 12 am, Saturdays 11 am to 12 am, and Sundays 11 am to 11 pm.

Dovetail
103 W. 77th Street
Upper West Side
New York City , New York
10024
Tel: 212 362 3800
www.dovetailnyc.com

Beyond bagels and lox, the Upper West Side has long been one of New York's least exciting food neighborhoods. Though a few high-end restaurants have survived and thrived over the years, it wasn't until John Fraser opened Dovetail near the Museum of Natural History that the area really got New York foodies buzzing. You'll have to reserve at least a week ahead to score a seat in the low-slung modern space behind a barely marked door with tablecloth-free candlelit tables and a casual jeans-with-heels vibe (it's still the Upper West Side after all). Fraser's upscale American food is just safe enough to captivate even the most timid neighborhood palates. A delicious gnocchi starter, featuring corned beef and cabbage, plays to his audience while still managing to be refined and distinct. Beautifully seared cod in a bowl of deconstructed chowder is mostly an excuse to spoil us with bacon, bacon, and more bacon. Desserts, like a peanut butter candy bar on a bed of crumbled pretzels, are equally crowd-pleasing, if a tad on the quirky side.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm, Sundays 5:30 to 10 pm.

Dressler
149 Broadway
Williamsburg
Brooklyn , New York
11211
Tel: 718 384 6343
Subway: J train to Marcy Avenue
www.dresslernyc.com

This New American standout in South Williamsburg undoubtedly raised a few eyebrows when it set up shop across the street from hallowed Peter Luger in 2006. But chefs Polo Dobkin and Cal Elliott, both alums of Gramercy Tavern, helm a kitchen that's just as consistent and certainly more creative. Seasonal specials can include the likes of smoked squid with barbecue glaze over bitter endive, with delicious acidity provided by a tangerine accompaniment. Entrées are dressed-up versions of classics, such as monk loin wrapped in Benton's bacon over kale, beluga, lentils, and red wine, or grilled, aged rib eye with onion jam, spinach, and bordelaise. The Art Deco interior is undeniably atmospheric, with filigreed ironwork crafted by local Navy Yard sculptors that pays homage to the brasserie's industrial surroundings. Service is spot on—some of Dressler's staff decamped from the Keith McNally and Jean Georges empires, so there's a polish that can be hard to come by in these parts.

Open Monday through Thursday 6 to 11 pm, Friday and Saturday 6 to midnight, Sunday 11 am to 3:30 pm, and 5:30 to 10:30 pm.

Dumpling House
118 Eldridge Street
Chinatown
New York City , New York
10002
Tel: 212 625 8008

Hardly a restaurant, this sliver of space in the part of Chinatown that bleeds into the Lower East Side makes and sells fabulous dumplings. These little parcels are notable not only for their impossibly crisp bottoms and luscious pork-and-chive filling but also for their unbeatable price-to-tastiness ratio: Five cost just $1. Compared with that deal, a triangular slice of puffy, golden sesame pancake split horizontally and laid with preserved beef, pickled carrots, and cilantro sprigs seems like a splurge at a buck fifty. The decor is not just no-frills but virtually nonexistent, so hunker down at one of a half dozen stools at the counter in the back if you must. Or better still, lug your cheap feast a block west to the park.

Hotel Photo
Eataly
200 Fifth Avenue
Gramercy
New York City , New York
10010
Tel: 212 229 2560
www.eatalyny.com

This 42,500-square-foot food and drink complex—part grocery store, part high-end food court—is an Italophile's fever dream. Inspired by the original Eataly just outside Turin, the New York City outpost was launched in 2010 by Mario Batali and business partner Joe Bastianich (their other collaborations include Babbo), along with Bastianich's über-chef mother, Lidia. The collection of Italian ingredients is comprehensive, and among the aisles of pasta, olive oil, anchovies, salumi, and cheese are a half-dozen great spots to hunker down for a bite. Manzo, the only one that takes reservations, features ambitious white-tablecloth fare utilizing top-shelf red meat from Eataly's butcher case (try the delicate ravioli filled with evanescent braised beef). The casual seafood spot—next to the beer aisle—is run by Batali cohort Dave Pasternack (of Esca in midtown) and serves lightly cured crudo and simply grilled fish that are just as remarkable as Manzo's meats. Rounding out the space are two espresso bars and a gelato counter that draw crowds, to the point that on weekends there can be a wait just to enter the building.—Jay Cheshes

Open daily 10 am to 11 pm.

El Quinto Pino
401 W. 24th Street
Chelsea
New York City , New York
10011
Tel: 212 206 6900
www.elquintopinonyc.com

El Quinto Pino may be New York's most authentic tapas bar, as frenetic and cramped as the best spots in Madrid. An offshoot of the larger Tía Pol, this sliver of a restaurant offers few surfaces to dine on (just a bar-top and ledges) and even fewer places to sit. Still, the small plates of fried, grilled, and marinated morsels are hard to resist, particularly after a few glasses of chilled Txakoli (an effervescent Basque vintage from the all-Spanish wine list). You'll come for a snack but end up staying for dinner. Share crisp salt-cod beignets, anchovy fillets, and the irresistible signature sea urchin panino. Though there are no sweets scribbled onto the menu above the bar, insiders know to request the unadvertised casadielles, delicious fried ravioli with walnuts and honey.

Open Sundays through Thursdays 5 pm to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays 5 pm to 1 am.

Emporio
231 Mott Street
NoLita
New York City , New York
10012
Tel: 212 966 1234
www.auroraristorante.com/emporiohome.html

I hate the menu at the sort-of-Roman downtown restaurant called Emporio—hate it because choosing just a few things from it is all but impossible. Whipped baccalà with crispy polenta; roasted beets with pickled onion and smoked ricotta; risotto with wild mushrooms and fava beans—how to decide? Here, I'll narrow it down a little: Forget the bland mozzarella-stuffed squash blossoms and the gristly porchetta. Otherwise, you're golden. Baby favas with mint, wisps of pecorino, and tangles of pea shoots; plump sardines with panzanella; tender grilled octopus with tiny, perfectly cooked risina beans flavored with preserved lemon (the best beans I've tasted in New York City in years); offhandedly excellent pizza with Tuscan kale, guanciale, and pecorino cream; exquisite Frascati-braised rabbit with olives… This is vivid, confident, often unusual Italian cooking. Added value: a warm, wonderful dining room beneath a peaked glass roof (the space used to house François Payard's short-lived InTent), lots of local and/or organic products, and, for now at least, a BYOB policy with no corkage for the first two bottles.—Colman Andrews, first published on Gourmet.com

Esca
402 W. 43rd Street
Midtown West
New York City , New York
10036
Tel: 212 564 7272
www.esca-nyc.com

You might not expect an austere-looking fish place near the Port Authority Bus Terminal to be a hot table for six years running, but Esca—the name means "bait"—is still reeling in the foodies. Its success has as much to do with its big-name backers (Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich) as it does with its chef/owner: David Pasternack grew up fishing on Long Island and still catches much of what he cooks up in the kitchen—if it's cooked at all. His specialty is crudo, best described as the Italian love child of sushi and ceviche: bite-size pieces of raw big-eye tuna with unfiltered olive oil and chives, say, or sweet Nantucket bay scallops with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, and chervil. From there, things get progressively hotter, both in temperature and kick. Our favorites include the grilled octopus with preserved lemon and corona beans; spaghetti with lobster, chilis, and mint; and the day's catch, grilled and served with salsa verde. The all-Italian wine list promotes lesser-known varietals, but the sommelier is as approachable as you'd expect from a branch of the populist Batali empire.

Esca is our top choice for pre- and post-theater dining, but if it's booked solid (call up to a month in advance), avoid Restaurant Row, the block of W. 46th St. between Eighth and Ninth avenues, lined with brownstones and mediocre food. Head slightly farther afield instead: ViceVersa has interesting but solid pasta (325 W. 51st St., 212-399-9291; www.viceversarestaurant.com); Sushi Zen flies in fish daily from Japan (108 W. 44th St., 212-302-0707; www.sushizen-ny.com); and the ethnic joints on Ninth Avenue—Thai, Puerto Rican, Greek, you name it—are cheerful, reliable, and cheap.

Farm Stands in the Hamptons

The East End is loaded with gourmet grocery stores peddling the stuff of fabulous dinner parties ($100/pound lobster salad, anyone?) But there's also great local produce at the area's farm stands, which make good bicycling pit stops as well as prime prospects for surreptitious celebrity sightings. The Halsey family sells apples, peaches, and cider donuts from the Milk Pail Country Store on Montauk Highway near Bridgehampton, and from September through October at their nearby U-Pick Apple and Pumpkin Farm (631-537-2565). Round Swamp Farm, in Springs, is popular for its fresh juices and homemade salsas (631-324-4438). Fairview Farm on Horsemill Lane in Bridgehampton has cheese from local Mecox Bay Dairy, fresh iced ginger tea, and other local treats; the farm also runs a cornfield maze each year between September and November (631-537-6154). Pike Farms, located on bucolic Sagg Main Street in Sagaponack, is known for its tomatoes and corn, which are sweetest during late summer.—Updated by Darrell Hartman

Fatty Crab
643 Hudson Street
West Village
New York City , New York
10014
Tel: 212 352 3590
www.fattycrab.com

Before building a cult following in New York, Chef Zak Pelaccio lived for a time in Malaysia. The country's street food, served up at this casual West Village roadhouse, caters directly to his fan base. The squeamish and spice-averse might look elsewhere for dinner; these dishes are rich, fiery, complex, fatty, and messy. Intense, tangy aromas infuse the cramped dining room, with its lacquer-red walls and lazily spinning ceiling fans; the hip young waitstaff delivers small plates—perfect for sharing—from the tiny kitchen as soon as they're ready. Tart pickled watermelon contrasts with luscious cubes of crispy pork belly; various spicy sambals top delicate quail-egg shooters; and slices of green mango are served with an evilly addictive dipping powder of chili, sugar, and salt. The delicious main courses, like the pile of sticky-sweet chicken wings, or hunks of Fatty Duck (steamed, then fried), are ten-napkin affairs. Indeed, the specialty of the house, chili crab, nearly requires foul-weather gear; there's nothing to do but surrender to the mess, lick your fingers, and wash everything down with a cold, economy-size Hitachino beer.

Frankie's 457 Spuntino
457 Court Street (at Luquer Street)
Carroll Gardens
Brooklyn , New York
11231
Tel: 718 403 0033
Subway: F train to Carroll Street
www.frankiesspuntino.com

A spuntino, according to Frankie Falcinelli's nonna, is a snack and also a place that serves them—so what else could Falcinelli and Frankie Castronovo call their brick-walled, tin-ceilinged restaurant? As you might have guessed, the Frankies have impeccable Italian-American roots; before opening this tiny Carroll Gardens restaurant in 2004, they did stints behind the stove in both achingly hip (specifically, Falcinelli's days at Moomba) and perfectly serious (Aureole, Bocuse, Bouley) restaurants. The food here is rustic, fresh, and shareable: roasted vegetables, plates of cheeses and salumi, amazing sandwiches on Sullivan Street Bakery focaccia, superb salads with micro greens, a few hot dishes such as meatballs in "gravy" (Italian-American for marinara) and pork braciola (braised pork shoulder slow-cooked for four hours in spices). Add to this a short but excellent wine list, good cocktails, and a sizable garden out back, and you have the perfect restaurant for a hip neighborhood. You'll probably have to wait for a table unless, like some smart locals, you go at 11:30 am or 5:30 pm). Alternatively, try Prime Meats, another restaurant from this team, just a few doors down.

Open Sundays through Thursdays 11 am to 11 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11 am to midnight.

Hotel Photo
Franny's
295 Flatbush Avenue
Park Slope
Brooklyn , New York
11217
Tel: 718 230 0221
Subway: B or Q train to Seventh Avenue
www.frannysbrooklyn.com

At first glance, this unassuming trattoria on the northern fringe of Park Slope might seem an unlikely candidate for what some glossies (most notably New York magazine) have christened the Best Restaurant in Brooklyn. Its humble vibe (butcher-block bar, stroller-heavy clientele) takes some easing into, but nibble on one of the starters and you start to realize what the fuss is about. Not only is the pancetta sourced from Eden Natural farm in Iowa, it's cured in-house in a separate room downstairs. Owners Andrew Feinberg and Francine Stephens take Franny's earnest mantra of sustainability as seriously as any restaurant in the borough—just about every ingredient is sourced on the back of the menu—but it's also backed up with surprisingly accomplished cooking. Feinberg trained at some of Manhattan's top kitchens, and his pizzas, such as the tomato, buffalo mozzarella, and basil, or the clam, chile, and parsley, are pitch-perfect. The comprehensive wine list is Piedmont-heavy, and there's an adventuresome cocktail list—try the Quince, made from homemade quince grappa, Carpano Antica Formula (red vermouth) and fresh lemon sour. The garden out back is lovely during the warmer months.

Open Tuesdays through Fridays 5:30 to 11 pm, Saturday and Sunday noon to 10 pm.

Gotham Bar and Grill
12 E. 12th Street
East Village
New York City , New York
10003
Tel: 212 620 4020
www.gothambarandgrill.com

After more than 20 years, Greenwich Village institution Gotham Bar and Grill still feels like New York's most expertly run bustling restaurant. A destination for birthdays, anniversaries, and expense account feasts, the lofty dining room—with light fixtures festooned in white parachute fabric—remains as inviting as the day that it opened. Though founding chef Alfred Portale has neither an empire (Gotham is his only restaurant) nor a show on TV, he is widely recognized by his peers as one of the most influential chefs in America (half the restaurants in New York are manned by Gotham alums). Portale, who all but invented vertical food presentation, is best known for his precarious, towering, seasonal compositions. A slice of silky pistachio-studded foie gras terrine leans, like a charcuterie Tower of Pisa, against a boutique lettuce mountain; roasted butter-drenched lobster in its split shell stands tall atop a jasmine rice molehill with fragrant puddles of coconut nage and bouillabaisse sauce. Desserts—like an indulgent pair of chocolate peanut butter bars—tend to be more homey, and horizontal. Service here is as precise as a German automobile but never fussy or formal.

Open Mondays through Thursdays noon to 10 pm, Fridays noon to 11 pm, Saturdays 5 to 11 pm, and Sundays 5 to 10 pm.

Hotel Photo
Gramercy Tavern
42 East 20th Street
New York City , New York
10003
Tel: 212 477 0777
www.gramercytavern.com

Before Tom Colicchio hosted Top Chef, he was cooking bold and creative New American food at Gramercy Tavern, the place that took the starch out of New York fine dining and became one of the city's best-loved restaurants. Colicchio exited in 2006, but executive chef Michael Anthony, previously with Blue Hill at Stone Barns, has taken the helm of this dual-personality establishment (raucous and no-reservations in the front; more sedate, with white tablecloths and prix-fixe menus, in the back) and continues to put out seasonal dishes with an emphasis on fresh, local vegetables and ingredients. Much of the fare is delicate and considered: A "risotto" made with farro grains and carrot juice, sprinkled with pine nuts and edamame; an "open" ravioli of tender crabmeat and herbs, surrounded by exquisite mussels removed from their shells. There are still a few choices that evoke the gusto of the Colicchio days, such as a massive meatball stuffed with fontina and served over a potato puree, its richness cut by a tart onion marmalade. As always, the service is precise and astute, but never stiff or pretentious. New Yorkers and foodies everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief.

Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 2 pm, Sunday through Thursdays 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 to 11 pm.

Great New York Noodletown
28 1/2 Bowery
Chinatown
New York City , New York
10002
Tel: 212 349 0923

Everyone knows the real deals are in Chinatown, from fake designer bags to restaurants like this fluorescent-lit feeding pit that's crowded till the 3 a.m. closing. Compensating for the dingy decor and slapdash service are authentic Hong Kong–style dishes such as salt-baked soft-shell crab, duck with flowering chives, wonderful noodle dishes, and killer suckling pig with fragile, crunchy skin.

Ici
246 DeKalb Avenue
Fort Greene
Brooklyn , New York
11205
Tel: 718 789 2778
Subway: G train to Clinton & Washington
www.icirestaurant.com

Fort Greene's abundance of 19th century brownstones and French expats can lend it a decidedly European feel. This haute bistro certainly plays a role as well, with its spare, whitewashed interior, heavily accented waiters, and good rosé selection. When Ici's menu quotes Alice Waters, it's not just lip service: Owners Laurent and Catherine Saillard are keen on using fresh, naturally grown ingredients from local farms. And while the Gallic bent here is pronounced, they've thankfully had the good sense not to bog the freshness down in heavy sauces. Dishes change seasonally, but might include a wilted dandelion salad with poached eggs and bacon in an anchovy cream. Entrées are spare but flavorful—try the sautéed skate with collard greens and brown butter. The outdoor patio's herb garden and white picket fence are a delight; the ample space between tables unheard of in this town. Service is competent and assiduous, with just the right touch of French attitude. The restaurant is a good spot for pre- or post-BAM performances, and also serves a popular brunch on weekends.

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 9 am to 10 pm.

Inoteca
98 Rivington Street
Lower East Side
New York City , New York
10002
Tel: 212 614 0473
www.inotecanyc.com

First there was 'ino, a tiny, charming West Village panini bar (21 Bedford St.; 212-989-5769; www.cafeino.com). Then there was 'inoteca, a newer, larger, equally charming crosstown sibling with huge windows, wooden tables, and shelves stocked with well-priced Italian wines. It was so successful, it spawned yet another outpost on 3rd Avenue and 24th Street. Order a carafe of Sicilian red and enjoy a plate of eggplant lasagna, fried shrimp wrapped in pancetta, or a voluptuous grilled sandwich of chocolate Nutella spread on firm white bread. Hangover sufferers swear by the breakfast panino of scrambled eggs, mortadella, and basil pesto.

Islands
803 Washington Avenue
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn , New York
11238
Tel: 718 398 3575
Subway: 2 or 3 train to Brooklyn Museum

You might think you've wandered into someone's kitchen by accident at this Caribbean hideaway across from the Brooklyn Museum—the exposed oven, narrow wood countertop, and three stools certainly don't encourage you to linger. Stick around, though: Islands does a fabulous, fiery jerk chicken that fairly melts off the bone and comes accompanied with a humble veggie slaw and short-grained rice that soaks up the jerk juices perfectly. The curried goat is also superb, particularly when paired with a side of roti, a kind of doughy, homemade tortilla. Wash your meal down with a sorrel—a tart, herbaceous beverage made from the roselle plant.

Open daily noon to 10:30 pm.

Jean Georges
1 Central Park West
Midtown West
New York City , New York
10023
Tel: 212 299 3900
www.jean-georges.com

Open since 1997, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's signature restaurant on Columbus Circle remains one of the world's greatest, despite the fact that the jet-setting chef's ever-expanding empire now comprises 17 restaurants across the globe. The nexus of this greatness springs from the master himself, who is often in the kitchen, checking plates as they go out. In the elegant dining room (resplendent in quiet beiges and whites with floor-to-ceiling windows), Vongerichten's army of impeccably trained waitstaff flits about, spooning Château Chalon sauce over turbot and rich jus over squab. The experience is swoon-worthy and you're charged accordingly, though thanks to the gently priced lunch (one of the city's best bargains) and the more casual Nougatine next door, even mere mortals can join the fun.

Jewel Bako
239 E. Fifth Street
East Village
New York City , New York
10003
Tel: 212 979 1012

Gorgeous sushi, superb sake, and impeccable service keep drawing diners to this pricey-but-worth-it bamboo-lined tunnel. It's owned by entrepreneurial cute couple Jack and Grace Lamb, whose rapidly expanding East Village empire also includes Degustation Wine & Tasting Bar (239 E. Fifth St.) and Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar (101 Second Ave.). If you can score a seat at the sushi bar, you're golden. (Reservations for all three: 212-979-1012.)

Hotel Photo
John Dory Oyster Bar
1196 Broadway
New York City , New York
10001
Tel: 212 792 9000
kate@thebreslin.com
thejohndory.com

April Bloomfield has a strict no-condiments policy when it comes to burgers. In fact, she's quite specific about many things, from the dress code for her sous-chefs to the proportion of nuts to greens in her salads. But Bloomfield's precision is what makes her food so dazzling: Since opening the Spotted Pig in Greenwich Village in February 2004, she has turned out hit after hit, amassing a cult following and earning two Michelin stars. Her latest endeavor, a turn-of-the-century-style oyster bar, is a departure from her porcine obsession, but don't expect tepid flavors—there's smoked haddock terrine, eel and parsley pie, and of course her famous oyster pan roast with uni butter crostini (entrées, $11-$21).

Must eat: The bar's happy hour special (5 p.m.-7 p.m. or midnight-2 a.m.) includes a half-dozen oysters and a 20-ounce pint of stout or a glass of cava ($15).

Chef April Bloomfield's favorite new restaurant: Michael White's Osteria Morini, New York City

Joseph Leonard
170 Waverly Place
West Village
New York City , New York
Tel: 646 429 8383
www.josephleonard.com

From Times Square to Wall Street bonuses (again), it's easy to get the impression that in New York, bigger is inescapably better. But I've always believed that small can be just as swell, so I was won over the moment I walked into Gabriel Stulman's new place Joseph Leonard. This little gem of a spot—there's seating for only 31—is located on a picturesque corner just off Sheridan Square. Despite the restaurant's size, chef Jim McDuffee's tiny four-person kitchen manages to turn out a diverse array of shellfish, charcuterie, and market-fresh dishes. Corn soup is chock-full of sweet kernels and topped with a dollop of onion crème fraîche; a flaky croissant-crusted tart is layered, pizza-like, with a sweet heirloom tomato jam, brie, and an array of fresh tomatoes. And my baked Chatham cod—seared quickly before getting finished in the oven, then served with peas, chanterelles, and orzo—was about as perfect a piece of fish as I've had in awhile. They don't take reservations, and those 31 seats fill up fast (on a recent Sunday evening, there was already a waiting list at 6:30) because another thing that's small about this joint are the prices.—Lawrence Karol, first published on Gourmet.com

Open Mondays 5:30pm to midnight, Tuesdays through Fridays 8am to 2am, Saturdays 10:30am to 2am, Sundays 10:30am to midnight.

Katz's Delicatessen
205 E. Houston Street
Lower East Side
New York City , New York
10002
Tel: 212 254 2246
www.katzdeli.com

Sure, it's tacky, noisy, and rushed. Sure, the Formica is worn, the service gruff, and the sandwiches way too big. But New York wouldn't be New York without this classic Lower East Side Jewish deli and its kosher-style corned beef, chopped liver, and pastrami. Remember When Harry Met Sally? This is where the "I'll have what she's having" scene was filmed. P.S. Don't forget to tip your carver.

Hotel Photo
Kin Shop
469 Sixth Avenue
New York City , New York
10011
Tel: 212 675 4295
eat@kinshopnyc.com
www.kinshopnyc.com

Mario Batali skips across continents in pursuit of the perfect prosciutto, but this year the restaurant that most impressed him was close to home. "Harold Dieterle is cooking simply delicious Thai-inspired food that feels more Thai than a lot of 'authentic' places," says Batali. Most items on Kin Shop's menu are either interpretations of traditional dishes or wholly new creations that fuse Thai ingredients with Western cooking methods, but Dieterle masters the balance between spicy and sweet (entrées, $14-$27).

Must eat: The duck laab salad skates that thin line between insanely hot and divinely delicious.

Chef Harold Dieterle's favorite new restaurant: Jamie Oliver and Adam Perry Lang's Barbecoa, London

Hotel Photo
La Esquina
106 Kenmare Street
Soho
New York City , New York
10012
Tel: 646 613 7100
www.esquinanyc.com

La Esquina is not a single restaurant but an entire Mexican food complex anchored by a grungy corner taqueria serving fine dirt-cheap soft tacos (grilled pork with pineapple, chorizo with cactus) until five in the morning. Around the corner, you'll find a mid-priced cantina—with outdoor seating in summer—offering those same toothsome tacos on an actual plate along with more involved dishes like stuffed poblanos and carne asada. Meanwhile, the main hot spot attraction, run by nightlife impresario Serge Becker (of the 205 Club, Joe's Pub, and the Box fame), is hidden like a Mexican speakeasy behind an unmarked door that's guarded at night by a gatekeeper with clipboard in hand. Accessible by reservation only, this subterranean brasserie features a velvet-rope vibe, potent icy margaritas, and big portions of high-end Mexican fare including an exceptionally succulent half chicken smothered in rich, complex mole.

Taqueria open Mondays through Fridays 8 to 11:30 am and noon to 5 am, Saturdays and Sundays noon to 5 am.

Café open Mondays through Fridays noon to midnight, Saturdays and Sundays 11 am to midnight.

Brasserie open Mondays through Sundays 6 pm to 2 am.

Le Bernardin
155 W. 51st Street
Midtown West
New York City , New York
10019
Tel: 212 554 1515
www.le-bernardin.com

How do you stay on top for more than ten years? Ask Le Bernardin chef Eric Ripert, a technician with the heart of an artist. Months after Gilbert Le Coze opened this elegant fish restaurant in 1986, it got four stars from The New York Times. After Le Coze died, Ripert took over, and it hasn't missed a step since. If this very grown-up Midtown place remains the one to beat despite astronomical prices and what many consider a too-sedate corporate decor, it's because of Ripert's always-evolving menu, which includes such worldly dishes as lobster in lemon-miso broth and masala-spiced crispy black bass. Go for broke with the $155 chef's tasting menu. You won't regret it.

Closed Sundays.

The Living Room
207 Main Street
East Hampton , New York
11937
Tel: 631 324 5440
www.careofhotels.com/maidstone/food/default-en.html

Attached to the Maidstone hotel, the Living Room takes the typical Hamptons experience (white linens, grilled meats and fish) and injects it with Swedish flavor—a blend of familiar and exotic that pleases some of the East End's most finicky summer folk. Brace yourself for some vibrant upholstery (a riot of Svenskt Tenn floral prints) and an appetizer list that includes gravlax, pickled herring, and a super-canapé called Toast Pelle Jansson: neat stacks of silky beef carpaccio garnished with caviar, chives, and crème fraîche. Chef James Carpenter, formerly of the American Hotel and the late Della Femina, sources much of his meat and dairy products from local providers. And his lamb meatballs with ricotta dumplings in fragrant tomato broth are hard to beat. For the budget-conscious, the restaurant serves up complimentary hors d'oeuvres and wine discounts every Wednesday from 5:30 to 7 pm.—Darrell Hartman

Open Mondays through Thursdays 8 to 10:30 am, 12 to 3 pm, and 5:30 to 10 pm; Fridays 8 to 10:30 am, 12 to 3 pm, and 5:30 to 11 pm; and Saturdays and Sundays 8 to 10:30 am, 11 am to 3 pm, and 5:30 to 10 pm.

Lobster Roll (a.k.a Lunch)
1980 Montauk Highway
Amagansett , New York
11930
Tel: 631 267 3740

Since 1965, the Lobster Roll has been the quintessential Long Island seafood joint. Also known as Lunch, thanks to the sign on top of its roof, this seasonal spot welcomes families with a kid-friendly menu, a warm staff, fast service, and a casual dining space. Groups gather on benches for bowls of mellow lobster bisque; tender, well-spiced crab cakes; old-fashioned egg creams; homemade rhubarb pie; and, of course, the famous lobster roll, a classic that comes on an overstuffed hot-dog bun with creamy mayo and crunchy celery. Lunch (which also serves dinner) recently reintroduced a hot lobster roll, served with scampi butter, and offers other surprises, too, including a gluten-free menu and tempura-style blowfish.—Updated by Darrell Hartman

Open May through October; weekends only before Memorial Day and after Labor Day.

Locanda Verde
The Greenwich Hotel
377 Greenwich Street
Tribeca
New York City , New York
10013
Tel: 212 925 3797
www.locandaverdenyc.com

The Greenwich Hotel, Robert De Niro's first starring role as a hotelier, has been a smash hit, but the restaurant, Ago, was an immediate flop. The actor wisely responded by shuttering the place and reopening months later with a new name and new chef. Locanda Verde is not just an improvement on its ghost-town predecessor, it's one of the city's most popular new restaurants. Andrew Carmellini, its immensely talented Italian-American chef, creates lusty, family-style food intended for sharing—this is a trattoria best enjoyed with a hungry group. Everything—from charred octopus to heaping bowls of red-sauce pasta to hearty platters of roast porchetta and chicken—arrives in the center of the table. Pass the dishes around for a Sunday-supper banquet any night of the week.—Jay Cheshes

Open daily 7 am to 11 pm.

Marlow & Sons
81 Broadway (at Berry Street)
Williamsburg
Brooklyn , New York
11211
Tel: 718 384 1441
Subway: J/Z to Marcy Avenue or L to Bedford Avenue
www.marlowandsons.com

Marlow & Sons was one of the first hipster restaurants in Brooklyn to take the seasonal movement to the masses (at least those prepared to trek to this industrial part of Williamsburg) when it opened in 2004. The menu dutifully changes with the turn of the seasons, but standards are the brick chicken (a deboned half chicken that has been mashed down with a piece of salvaged metal) and a pulled pork sandwich dripping with vinegary barbecue sauce. The raw bar overflows with the best oysters the East Coast has to offer. Score a table out on the sidewalk—all the better for observing the tragically hip. The general store up front sells a small selection of veggies as well as locally made sweets and sodas, and the nose-to-tail philosophy continues at the affiliated Marlow & Daughters butcher shop down the street, where you can even pick up bags made from the hides of the butchered animals.—Danielle Contray

Open daily 8 am to 4 pm and 5 pm to midnight.

Masa
Time Warner Center, 4th Floor
10 Columbus Circle
Midtown West
New York City , New York
10019
Tel: 212 823 9800
www.masanyc.com

Masa Takayama sold Ginza Sushiko, his Beverly Hills restaurant, to open this austere space. The tasting menu costs $400 before you take a sip of sake, but for fans, that's simply the price of perfection: Masa has been known to jet over to Japan to choose his impeccable fish. The question is: Does he have enough deep-pocketed devotees to fill the restaurant on a regular basis? There are only ten spots at the 27-foot-long sushi bar—the place to be if you want to see the maestro himself in action—and 16 more at the widely spaced tables, and yet rumors of empty seats are already circulating.

Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal Street
West Village
New York City , New York
10012
Tel: 212 475 3850
www.minettatavernny.com

Restaurateur Keith McNally (Balthazar, Pastis) ought to teach classes on building restaurant buzz. The moment it opened in March 2009, Minetta Tavern became New York's latest restaurant sensation and its hardest reservation to score. The original Minetta Tavern—haunt of starlets, boxers, and beatnik writers back in the '40s and '50s—had fallen on hard times by the time McNally swept in and spiffed up the original decor. The restaurant still offers a window on a long-vanished West Village, but the bygone celebrities pictured in the frayed snapshots and caricatures lining the walls stare out on their modern-day counterparts. Despite the nightly star power, the menu—classic steak house meets neighborhood bistro—was designed with the recession in mind: not cheap, but reasonably priced. The homey fare includes roasted beef bones oozing scalding marrow; roast chicken; pig's trotter; giant grilled steaks and chops; and the city's most talked-about burger, a $26 dry-aged masterpiece that tastes like a ground-up porterhouse steak. To score a prime time-table, try your luck with a walk-in—or find a friend who's got a line on the super-secret private reservation number.—Jay Cheshes

Open daily 5:30 pm to 2 am.

Mirko's
670 Montauk Highway
Water Mill , New York
11976
Tel: 631 726 4444
mirkosrestaurant.com

It takes a little work to find Mirko's, located behind an enclave of shops and through a small parking lot. Ferraris and Jaguars mark the spot—they belong to the restaurant's rich, sometimes famous, and intensely devoted clientele. The dining room's crisp white linens are complemented in summer by a private patio and in winter by a crackling fireplace. For nearly three decades, chef Mirko Zagar has worked his magic here: An artfully presented vegetable risotto is dotted with crisp slices of asparagus and snap peas, a grilled shrimp curls around a chive flower and a sprig of oregano, and the rigatoni bolognese inspires serious cravings. On the otherwise descriptive dessert menu, one item is listed simply as "The Pear." This house specialty is poached, dipped in rich dark chocolate, and served whole over vanilla ice cream—delicious beyond words.—Updated by Darrell Hartman

Open Tuesdays through Sundays 5:30 to 10:30 pm.

The Modern
9 W. 53rd Street
Midtown West
New York City , New York
10019
Tel: 212 333 1220
www.themodernnyc.com

How could The Modern not be hot? Located in the renovated and expanded Museum of Modern Art, the restaurant was created by Danny Meyer, proprietor of perennial favorite Union Square Cafe, and Alsatian chef Gabriel Kreuther of Atelier. In this stark white-walled space, they made not one but two restaurants: a hip, casual Bar Room and a refined dining room whose windows overlook the sculpture garden's Calders, Mirós, and Picassos. The Bar Room's menu of small plates is already the favorite with diners, but both spaces have ravishing Danish modern settings and Meyer's famously perfect service. Can't score a table? About half the seats in the Bar Room are first-come, first-serve.

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Momofuku Ssäm Bar
207 Second Avenue
East Village
New York City , New York
10003
Tel: 212 254 3500
www.momofuku.com

In a city where restaurants sparkle and fade faster than your average teen pop star, it's rare that a critics' darling not only lives up to but also sustains the culinary hype. Chef David Chang put his name on the Manhattan foodie map when he opened the frenetic ramen joint Momofuku Noodle Bar in 2004. Its more ambitious sibling, Ssäm Bar, gave way recently to the even more rarefied Ko, a tasting-menu only sliver of a restaurant that's become the single hardest table to score in New York. Ko's few dinner slots, available only online one week to the day before you want to dine, are gone minutes after they're made available. While you wait to win the reservation lottery, pop into the more accessible Ssäm Bar for a surprisingly well-priced pork-centric feast. The daily-changing Korean-inflected menu includes such inventive fare as sweet 'n' spicy pork spare ribs accented with tomatillos and mustard seeds, and fried cauliflower garnished with puffed rice, chiles, and mint. The much-heralded whole roasted pork butt (bo ssam) is $180 and needs to be ordered in advance. It serves six and comes with a reserved table—which is the only way to bypass the long lines out front.

Open daily 11 am to midnight.

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The Monday Room
210 Elizabeth Street
Little Italy
New York City , New York
10012
Tel: 212 343 7011
www.themondayroom.com

Downtown design firm AvroKO built the restaurant Public as a sort of living showcase, a portfolio-as-functioning-hot-spot intended to drum up more work. The gorgeous restaurant has been an enormous success, attracting what looks most nights to be the city's most beautiful crowd (or is it the lighting?). Recently, they transformed an alcove space behind Public's hostess stand into the Monday Room, a miniature restaurant within a restaurant. This stealthy spot, a clubby parlor with dark leather couches and blown-glass lights, is one of the city's most adorably intimate under-the-radar discoveries. Although some Public diners start out there with wine and nibbles before heading into the main restaurant for dinner, the Monday Room is a worthy destination in itself. Charming sommelier Ruben Ramiro, who also doubles as waiter, will help you navigate the exceptionally eclectic wine list (featuring cult rarities and bargain discoveries from little-known regions), designing personalized flights and pairing glasses (and even half glasses) with food. The wildly original small-plate menu features so many intriguing dishes you may have trouble narrowing your choice. Why not order everything instead? An intrepid party of three can easily get through all dozen or so globe-trotting dishes, ranging in size from a shot glass (filled with lobster-topped dashi custard) to a single spoonful (pickled eel with quail egg and beets) to two or three bites (scallops and pork belly in Vietnamese caramel).

Open Mondays through Thursdays 6 pm to midnight, Fridays and Saturdays 6 pm to 2 am.

Monkey Bar
60 East 54th Street
Midtown
New York City , New York
10022
Tel: 212 308 2950
www.monkeybarnewyork.com

In times like these nothing feels quite so comforting as a little piece of the past. That's the charm of restaurants like The Waverly Inn and Minetta Tavern, with their restored murals, refurbished interiors, and familiar, unthreatening menus. And that's the charm of Vanity Fair editor-in-chief Graydon Carter's Monkey Bar. Ed Sorel's wonderful murals look as if they've been there forever and the tiered restaurant, with its prominent bar, seems so much like the sophisticated New York of the wicked '30s that you'll look around to see if Nick and Nora Charles are at the next table, feeding one another witty lines. The smooth service fosters this illusion, as does the extremely likeable menu with its classic lineup of oysters Rockefeller, clams casino, and lobster Newburg. There are steaks, chops, roast chicken, roasted sea bream ("Would you like that with or without the head?"). The nods to modern tastes show up in the guise of a good burger, penne with tomato or pesto sauce, and a soft-boiled duck egg with foie gras toasts. The dessert of the moment, sticky toffee pudding, also makes an appearance. Served as it is here, with crème fraîche, it is irresistible. I suspect that, for the many who are currently in need of reassurance, the Monkey Bar will be, too.—Ruth Reichl, first published on Gourmet.com

Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30am to 12am, Saturdays 5pm to 12am.

Nha Trang
87 Baxter Street
Chinatown
New York City , New York
10013
Tel: 212 233 5948

You don't come to this little spot near City Hall for the atmosphere: 1970s cafeteria crossed with Saigon airline café. You don't come for the service: fast at best, unfriendly at worst. Rather, you come for the food—soft-shell crabs, lightly battered and tarted up with onions and basil; overflowing bowls of pho packed with rice noodles, scallions, and beef; and barbecued pork chops that are plainly done but sweet and eminently satisfying. As one of the longtime (and friendly) waiters says when he brings out the food, "Nummy, nummy."

Nick & Toni's
136 N. Main Street
East Hampton , New York
11937
Tel: 631 324 3550
www.nickandtonis.com

Here's a taste of Hamptons hospitality, accompanied by a heaping side of boldface names: A gracious hostess guides you past tables helmed by the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker and Ron Perelman, and a knowledgeable waitress delivers a comforting plate of free-range chicken with roasted vegetables and garlic jus. Granted, if you're not an A-lister, a Friday or Saturday night reservation can be impossible. (Call ten days in advance, and be prepared to redial. Alternatively, try your luck on OpenTable.com.) But if you score a seat, you'll be well taken care of, no matter who you are. During the summer, outdoor tables provide much-needed extra seating, and a pleasantly private, albeit generally celeb-free, back room is less hectic. Stroll by the kitchen counter, though, and you'll come upon a wall covered in colorful drawings by the children of Christie Brinkley, Chevy Chase, and the restaurant's other famous patrons. On slower nights—Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday—wood-oven pizzas please the regulars.—Updated by Darrell Hartman

Open nightly from 6 pm.

Oceana
1221 Avenue of the Americas
Midtown
New York City , New York
10020
Tel: 212 759 5941
www.oceanarestaurant.com/

If the old Oceana was like a luxurious little yacht whose small but devoted staff hovered lovingly while you indulged in elegant food, the new one is much closer to a stately liner. You almost expect to look up and find the captain entertaining privileged passengers in that glassed-in private room that sits smack in the middle of the vast restaurant. But while the ambiance may be different, the chef (and his food) remains the same: Ben Pollinger's seafood-focused menu offers clear flavors and innovative ideas. The fish at the entrance sparkles on its bed of ice. The raw bar lures you to one of the stools. You can have all this pristine fish plain, but you could also opt for a gorgeous tartare of fluke spangled with bits of mango and strips of young coconut. Side dishes range far beyond the usual suspects, offering okra, eggplant, and the like. In a clear bid to appeal to both lunchtime and pre-theater diners, there is even a choice of burgers (salmon or beef). Portions are large, but it's hard to resist dessert when it includes a doughnut platter whose starring player is a little number filled with salted caramel.—Ruth Reichl, first published on Gourmet.com

Open Mondays through Saturdays 11:30am to 3pm and 5pm to 11pm; Sundays 11:30am to 3pm and 4 to 10pm.

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Osteria Morini
218 Lafayette Street
New York City , New York
10012
Tel: 212-965-8777
info@osteriamorini.com
www.osteriamorini.com/

Anyone who has eaten at Michael White's previous establishments (including Marea, Alto, and Convivio) knows that the Michigan-born chef can do fancy Italian. But his newest restaurant—rather, osteria—is an ode to the dairy-rich, meat-centric food of Northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region. At Morini, explains admirer April Bloomfield, "White extrudes his pastas in-house, giving them a nice rustic texture." He also embraces simple, fatty pleasures like butter, olive oil, cream, and lard—or any other fat, for that matter. Expect deep-fried béchamel croquettes, polenta topped with lardo, and prosciutto and mortadella meatballs (entrées, $17-$28).

Must eat: The mascarpone-stuffed pasta with black truffle, and the veal and pork ragù.

Chef Michael White's favorite new restaurant: Graham Elliot's Grahamwich, Chicago

Park Avenue Spring / Summer / Winter / Autumn
100 E. 63rd Street
Upper East Side
New York City , New York
10021

Downtown design firm AvroKO transformed the once stuffy Park Avenue Cafe into one of the city's most dynamic high-concept restaurants. Every three months, the dining room undergoes a head-to-toe seasonal metamorphosis, swapping out everything from the cushions to the wall panels to the hanging decor. During the restaurant's blond-wood beach-shack summer quarter, chef Craig Koketsu's intensely seasonal menu focuses on greenmarket staples like sweet corn and summer peaches (with plump seared scallops). Come copper-toned Autumn, look for wild mushrooms (with an enormous veal chop) and Hudson Valley quail bought directly from the hunter who shot them. Pastry chef Richard Leach, a star in his own right, produces some of the city's most homey high-end desserts, summer's banana parfait with peanuts and mango giving way come fall to a confit'd bartlett pear with brown-butter cake.

Open Mondays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 3 pm and 5:30 to 10 pm, Fridays 11:30 am to 3 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm, Saturdays 11 am to 3 pm and 5:30 to 11 pm, and Sundays 11 am to 3 pm and 5 to 9 pm.

Pearl Oyster Bar
18 Cornelia Street
West Village
New York City , New York
10014
Tel: 212 691 8211
www.pearloysterbar.com

The too-tight space has been doubled, but chances are you'll still have to wait on line outside to secure a spot at the squeaky-clean counter and eat silky clam chowder, mayonnaise-drenched lobster rolls, fried fish sandwiches, and blueberry crumble. You'll swear you can almost taste the salt air. Who knew the West Village could be so much like New England?

Peking Duck House
28 Mott Street
Chinatown
New York City , New York
10013
Tel: 212 227 1810
www.pekingduckhousenyc.com

Real Peking duck is a thing of beauty. No New York restaurant does better by this traditional delicacy—or serves more of it—than the original Chinatown Peking Duck House. Refurbished a few years back with a new paint job and mood lighting, this once grungy restaurant is now as elegant and inviting as its famous fowl. Start with meaty Shanghai soup dumplings then move on to the main event (a whole duck serves three or four). The burnished bird emerges from the kitchen with considerable fanfare. Dismembered tableside by a skilled chef clutching an enormous cleaver, its crisp skin is laid out on a platter surrounding the thinly sliced meat. Grab a warm rice-flour pancake from an enormous steamer, lay down a layer of hoisin sauce, cucumber, scallion, duck meat, and skin. Then roll up your package, bite down, and swoon. While there's a full menu on offer, duck is the reason you're here.

Open Sundays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 am to 11:30 pm.

Per Se
Time Warner Center, 4th Floor
10 Columbus Circle
Midtown West
New York City , New York
10019
Tel: 212 823 9335
www.perseny.com

Can't get a reservation at Thomas Keller's quasi-mythic French Laundry in the Napa Valley? You probably won't land one here, either. You aren't even allowed to call until two months in advance of your requested date. (Try for lunch, or in July and August, when New Yorkers tend to ditch town. Tables for two are the first to book solid, so larger parties may have more luck.) The space hints at California rusticity with a fireplace, but the overall tone is sober (this is Serious Food, you know), and the pricey, French-influenced menus are strictly big city ($275 for nine courses, not including wine, with a smaller a la carte menu on offer in the lounge). A notorious perfectionist, Keller devises small-bite tasting menus that include plenty of lavish ingredients: You'll probably get the famous "oysters and pearls" (oysters with tapioca and caviar), lobster tail, and an endless stream of sweets. The staff is extraordinarily knowledgeable and relaxed, which is a good thing, since meals can last up to four hours. Only a chef of this caliber could expect time-stressed New Yorkers to sit still for that long. The surprise is that they seem to be doing just that.

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Peter Luger
178 Broadway
Williamsburg
Brooklyn , New York
11211
Tel: 718 387 7400
Subway: J train to Marcy Avenue
www.peterluger.com/brooklyn.cfm

The menu is limited; the service can be brusque; and unless you have a house account, you have to bring cash. But none of that stops Manhattanites from cabbing to this old-time, wood-paneled steak house on a dusty Brooklyn block. Everything—from the porterhouse to the sliced-tomato salad to the onion-sweetened hash browns—is, in a word, prime. At lunch only, they serve a 10-ounce burger that's made from the same well-aged meat.

Open daily 11:45 am to 9:45 pm.

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Pierre's
2468 Main Street
Bridgehampton , New York
11932
Tel: 631 537 5110
www.pierresbridgehampton.com

Pierre's is the perfect Hamptons microcosm: wicker bar stools, white linens, retro-chic pressed-tin ceilings, a well-heeled but dressed-down crowd, and a hint of the sniffiness that irks even as it makes you feel just a little bit lucky to be here. More important, the food is reliably good, whether you've ordered the mussels in white wine sauce or a true plat de résistance like the lobster fricassée. The most desirable tables are in the narrow area near the front, by the pastry display that advertises extremely tasty house-made napoleons. During weekend brunch, outdoor tables offer quality people-watching along Bridgehampton's main drag. When it comes to seating, though, unless you're a very familiar face to owner Pierre Weber, you'll probably have to settle for what you get.—Darrell Hartman

Open daily 8 am to 11 pm, summer; 8 am to 10 pm, winter.

Prime Meats
465 Court Street
Carroll Gardens
Brooklyn , New York
11231
www.frankspm.com

Frankie Falcinelli and Frankie Castronovo, owners of Frankies 457 Spuntino, expanded their Court Street empire in March 2009 by opening Prime Meats a few doors down from their flagship restaurant. The old-timey decor of tin ceilings, battered mirrors, and Edison bulbs has a similar aesthetic to the Frankies' other Italian restaurants (they own Frankies 17 in Manhattan as well), but the locavore menu takes a Germanic turn. House specials include spaetzle, bratwurst with sauerkraut, and pretzels made with malt flour; we recommend the banging Black Angus burger. There are no seats at the antique bar, but you can pass the hour wait for a table there, sipping artfully crafted cocktails like the Aviation (gin, Maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette). The service at Prime Meats is a lot friendlier than the sometimes icy treatment at Frankies 457. Here, the servers even manage to make their inability to have everyone's dishes arrive at the same time seem charming.—Danielle Contray

Open Mondays through Wednesdays 7 am to 1 am, Thursdays 7 am to 2 am, Fridays 7 am to 1 pm and 3 pm to 2 am, Saturdays 7am to 3 am, and Sundays 7 am to 1 am.

Prune
54 E. First Street
East Village
New York City , New York
10003
Tel: 212 677 6221
www.prunerestaurant.com

Resist the urge to call it adorable. Yes, this East Village place is tiny and homey, and yes, the staff is almost all female, but chef Gabrielle Hamilton turns out big-flavored, decidedly noncutesy dishes such as pastrami duck breast and suckling pig. At brunch, you can choose from nine Bloody Marys and order spaghetti carbonara or grilled merguez with oysters for the ultimate anti-eggs-Benedict experience.

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Quality Meats
57 W. 58th Street
Midtown West
New York City , New York
10019
Tel: 212 371 7777
www.qualitymeatsnyc.com

Until Quality Meats opened in 2006, the New York steak house as a classic manly institution hadn't changed a lick in more than a century. But this youthful restaurant, with interiors by design stars AvroKO, pays homage not to the smoke-filled rooms of yore but to the mom-and-pop butchers who once supplied the whole city. That means white-tiled walls and butcher-block tables and portraits of butchers in blood-spattered coats. The look can be a bit macabre (see the meat cleavers as wall art), but the meat hooks repurposed into overhead lights are a real feat of design and engineering. The steaks, of course, are as straightforward as they should be: gorgeous well-aged specimens sourced by Smith & Wollensky (the owner's father runs the venerable chain), amply seasoned and nicely charred. Chef Craig Koketsu's starters and sides—such as gratinéed oysters with sweet pickled peppers and a mashed baked potato studded with andouille sausage and waffle chips—are just as delicious.—Jay Cheshes

Open Mondays through Wednesdays 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, Thursdays and Fridays 11:30 am to 11:30 pm, Saturdays 5 to 11:30 pm, and Sundays 5 to 10 pm.

Red/Bar Brasserie
210 Hampton Road
Southampton , New York
11968
Tel: 631 283 0704
www.redbarbrasserie.com

For a relaxed dinner at a French bistro, head to the Red/Bar Brasserie early on a weeknight—in the off-season. Between June and September, Red/Bar's high-wattage clientele (shock jock Howard Stern and his wife, Beth Ostrosky, are regulars) park their Land Rovers up and down Hampton Road and pack into the dining room. They come for chef Erik Nodeland's top-flight bistro fare, such as garlicky steamed Prince Edward mussels in a white wine broth, and tender, truffle-scented chicken breast paired with a hearty wild mushroom risotto. Try for one of the banquettes in the center of the dining room to best take it all in. There's also a happening scene at the tiny bar, where the crowd downs potent martinis and glasses of white wine from the nearby Channing Daughters vineyard and grooves to a Brazilian beat.

Open nightly from 6 pm.

River Deli
32 Joralemon Street (at Columbia Place)
Brooklyn Heights
Brooklyn , New York
11201
Tel: 718 254 9200
Subway: 2/3 to Clark Street

Cheers were heard throughout Brooklyn Heights when the River Deli opened in May 2010 (yes, it's by the river; no, it's not a deli). Sure, there are dozens of eateries on Montague Street, the neighborhood's main commercial drag, but they tend to be old stalwarts that coast on their reputation, or ethnic joints and national chains that cater more to office workers. Sardinian couple Giovanna Fadda and Andrea Mocci pay homage to their homeland with mussels in Vermentino wine and pappardelle with rabbit ragù. The meat platter overflows with cured meats and cheeses as well as Sardinian-style flatbread called pane carasau, and the all-Italian wine list has varietals you may never have heard of (the staff is happy to explain them all). If there's a wait for a table, the best way to kill time is to gawk at the stellar architecture along Columbia Place and then seek out one of the neighborhood's more curious attractions: the town house at 58 Joralemon, which is actually a ventilation shaft for the 4/5 subway line.—Danielle Contray

Open Tuesdays through Sundays.

Sant Ambroeus
30 Main Street
Southampton , New York
11968
Tel: 631 283 1233
www.santambroeus.com/new/home.htm

Southampton is the most self-consciously dressed-up of the Hamptons, so it makes sense that Main Street would be the spot for an outpost of this Manhattan gelateria and restaurant. This is the place to go when you've had enough of the sun-soaked beach atmosphere and feel the need to stand at a bar and be served a $6 cappuccino and an equally overpriced prosciutto-and-fresh-mozzarella focaccia sandwich by wisecracking Italian-speaking gentlemen in black ties and vests. Up front is a long glass case with many flavors of gelato (try the mango or blueberry); in the back is a small, more formal dining room that serves Italian standards such as spaghetti alla bolognese, risotto with asparagus, and breaded veal chops.

Open daily 10 am to 10 pm.

Scarpetta
355 W. 14th Street
West Village
New York City , New York
10014
Tel: 212 691 0555
www.scarpettanyc.com

Scarpetta is an unusual addition to Manhattan's Meatpacking District, home to too many overhyped, overdone, overrun velvet rope restaurants. At this inviting modern trattoria you won't have to fight your way past a clipboard gatekeeper or pay through the nose for just passable food. Instead, expect polished professional service, a real foodie crowd, and some of the city's most heavenly pasta (don't miss the Marsala-sauced duck and foie gras–filled ravioli). Chef-owner Scott Conant, one of New York's most celebrated Italian chefs, pulled a Houdini act a while back abandoning his restaurants in Midtown (Alto and L'Impero) before reappearing a year later with this new Downtown spot. The airy wood-shrouded dining room features a retractable roof, offering exhaust-free alfresco dining. Entrées, like fork-tender roast baby chicken in a sauce made from its liver, tend to be more earthy and rustic than the delicate pastas. Desserts, including a delicious caramelized apple tart with a polenta crust, find a more solid middle ground between upscale and homey.

Open Sundays through Thursdays 5:30 to 11:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 5:30 pm to midnight.

Shake Shack
E. 23rd Street and Madison Avenue
(Southeast corner of Madison Square Park)
Gramercy
New York City , New York
10010
Tel: 212 889 6600
www.shakeshacknyc.com

So beloved is Danny Meyer's pedestrian-powered New York version of a '50s drive-in that its website displays live feeds from a Shack-cam that lets you track the unrelentingly long line snaking through Madison Square Park (newer locations on the Upper East and West Sides plus the Theater District haven't tamed the crowds). Whatever its length, it's bearable, because what awaits you is a juicy (okay, greasy, but in a good way) griddle-cooked combo of hand-chopped sirloin and brisket that's topped with cheese (American, of course), garlicky mayo-based Shack Sauce, lettuce, and tomatoes. And besides, your wait gives you ample time to decide on a plan of attack: Do you get a single burger and leave room for fries and a large custard? Or a double, plus a hot dog and a Concrete Jungle (whirled custard, peanut butter, hot fudge, and bananas)? We'll let you decide, and in the meantime, we'll see you on line.

Open daily 11 am to 9 pm.

Spotted Pig
314 W. 11th Street
West Village
New York City , New York
10014
Tel: 212 620 0393
www.thespottedpig.com

When chef April Bloomfield (an alum of London's River Café) opened this happening West Village boîte in 2004 with Mario Batali as a backer, New Yorkers discovered the great joys of the gastropub, a brilliant British invention that joins convivial neighborhood bar with far-above-average food. A recent expansion has helped ease the legendary waits, but the Pig is still packed with herds of yuppies and hipsters clamoring for Bloomfield's spectacular gnudi (delicate ricotta dumplings splashed with vibrant pesto), and the rest of her inventive menu of upscale pub grub (a burger slapped with Roquefort; the best smoked haddock chowder this side of Scotland). Wash it all down with a pint of one of the hand-drawn house ales.

The Standard Grill
The Standard Hotel
848 Washington Street
West Village
New York City , New York
10014
Tel: 212 645 4100
www.thestandardgrill.com

Searching for solid cooking in the Meatpacking District is like expecting honesty from a politician: Instead of aiming high, most restaurants here pander to the lowest common denominator. The Standard Grill gives us hope for a new era of restaurant integrity in the neighborhood. Wedged under the High Line park, on the ground floor of the aggressively trendy Standard Hotel, it defies expectations with excellent food and a buzzy, inviting room. Chef Dan Silverman (formerly of the Lever House Restaurant and Union Square Café) riffs on the dining room's American chophouse decor—vaulted tiled ceilings, semicircular leather booths, a floor embedded with thousands of copper pennies—with a menu of classic grilled dishes zapped with international touches. For the traditionalist, there are oysters, charcuterie plates, an iceberg salad, and a succulent prime rib for two. More flamboyant palates will enjoy the appetizer of octopus tossed with sweet potatoes and chiles, the chilled white gazpacho with pickled grapes and almonds (Spain is an obvious influence), and the grilled trout served with a relish of pine nuts and currants. Silverman is especially talented with vegetables: His salad of haricots verts—simply dressed with yogurt, cinnamon, and fried shallots—is freshness defined, and every table gets a free dish of patatas bravas, potatoes drizzled with a smoked-paprika aïoli. Yes, free. Indeed, the most pleasant surprise about the Standard Grill is that it's very reasonable (few entrees top $25), especially considering its gouge-'em-and-leave-'em neighbors. On the down side: The room is loud (all those tiles and pennies don't help), and the front door is easily overwhelmed. That's expected in the Meatpacking District, of course. But in terms of culinary achievement, the Standard Grill raises the bar.—Peter J. Frank

Open daily 7 am to 4 am.

Sushi Yasuda
204 E. 43rd Street
Midtown East
New York City , New York
10017
Tel: 212 972 1001
www.sushiyasuda.com

Sushi Yasuda is one of New York's top destinations for raw fish as unadulterated edible art. Floors, walls, and ceilings of blond bamboo planks make up this Zen aerie, two blocks from the UN in Midtown's Little Tokyo. The best seats are at the matching blond bar where sushi master Naomichi Yasuda and his cohorts work their magic, depositing pristine bite-size morsels on banana leaves rather than plates. The enormous selection of fish—with nearly three dozen species, it's among New York's most comprehensive—includes the sweetest eel, the most bracing oysters, the silkiest hamachi, and the fattiest wild salmon and toro. Though you can easily blow a bundle ordering your fish à la carte (the preferred purist option if money's no object), with platters starting at around $20, a visit to Yasuda need not break the bank.

Open Mondays through Fridays noon to 10:15 pm, Saturdays 6 to 10:15 pm.

Szechuan Gourmet
21 W. 39th Street
Midtown West
New York City , New York
10018
Tel: 212 921 0233
www.szechuangourmetnyc.com

New Yorkers love their Szechuan, and Szechuan Gourmet's midtown branch (an offshoot of a hole-in-the-wall in Queens) may be the most constantly packed of the many Manhattan eateries specializing in fiery Chinese cuisine. That's due to the fact that the restaurant offers the perfect mix of chile burn and Szechuan peppercorn numbness—the ma la at the core of great Szechuan cooking. The dishes, of a generally higher caliber than at the Manhattan competition, include exceptional plump dumplings in sweet and spicy chile oil; fresh pork tossed with a beautifully balanced mix of salty black beans, green chile, and leeks; and enough daredevil dishes—duck tongues and fried frogs and hot fish-head soup—to keep serious chowhounds busy for weeks.—Jay Cheshes

Open Mondays through Fridays 11:30 am to 9:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays noon to 9:30 pm.

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Takashi
456 Hudson Street
West Village
New York City , New York
10014
Tel: 212 414 2929
www.takashinyc.com

A quirky addition to the newly resurgent West Village restaurant scene, Takashi serves a peculiar hybrid: Korean barbecue filtered through a Japanese lens. Young chef Takashi Inoue, a transplant from Osaka with Korean roots, has an obsession for beef, celebrating every part of the beast (and no other meat). His nose-to-tail (or tongue-to-tendon) approach isn't nearly as challenging as you might expect. Even the most unusual and economical bits are handled here like a pricey filet and are sourced from top-shelf purveyors, including an Oregon ranch raising washugyu beef, a cross between Black Angus and Japanese Wagyu cattle. The "first" and "fourth" stomachs, both grilled at the table, are as delicious and tender as the short rib and rib eye. Fans of steak tartare must order the notch chuck flap topped with uni and garlic-dressed liver served uncooked.—Jay CheshesOpen Mondays through Fridays 6 to 10:30 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 5:30 to 10:30 pm.

Tartine
253 W. 11th Street
West Village
New York City , New York
10014
Tel: 212 229 2611

On a pretty, tree-lined stretch of the West Village, this cafe is loved as much for its B.Y.O.B. policy as its easy-on-the-wallet Americanized French bistro fare. A young, casual crowd regularly queues up out front, chatting with each other as they gaze expectantly at seated guests chowing down on cheesy French onion soup; cheesier croque monsieurs; creamy and crusty chicken pot pie; and addictive frites. Of course there is a catch: There isn't much breathing room in the nautical-themed interior (blond wood-paneled walls, maritime pictures, and a collection of miniature lighthouses), and it's tight on the narrow sidewalk patio, too. Reservations are not accepted, and the lines sometimes verge on the absurd, especially in summer, but the convivial staff will uncork your wine bottle and proffer glasses while you wait. (The closest liquor store is Manley's Wines & Spirits at 35 Eighth Ave.; just walk up W. Fourth St., with the traffic, until you hit Eighth.)

Townline BBQ
Corner of Townline Road and Montauk Highway
Sagaponack , New York
11962
Tel: 631 537 2271
www.townlinebbq.com

If minimalist architect Richard Meier designed a BBQ joint, then Townline BBQ might be the outcome. A boar's head over the fireplace and a pool table are the only embellishments to the reclaimed wood walls and long wooden tables. Step up to the counter and order pulled pork sandwiches piled high with coleslaw, pickles, and jalapeños, substantial racks of beef or pork ribs, fried mac 'n' cheese, and rich icebox cake. And watch for Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos and their kids tucking into pork ribs, French fries, and Texas chili. Wash the tangy Texas-style, house-smoked barbecue down with a spicy Bloody Mary (crafted with Tito's Handmade Vodka from Austin, Texas) or a Blue Point Toasted Lager.—Updated by Darrell Hartman

Open Sundays through Thursdays 11:30 am to 10 pm, Fridays and Saturdays 11:30 am to 11 pm.

Hotel Photo
Tulsi
211 E. 46th Street
Midtown East
New York City , New York
10017
Tel: 212 888 0820
www.tulsinyc.com

Under head chef Hemant Mathur, Devi became the first Indian spot in New York City to earn a Michelin star, in 2007. But the restaurant still struggled, and in 2010 Mathur left to open Tulsi, a few blocks from the United Nations in Midtown. Tulsi is more opulent than the chef's last post, with golden chandeliers overhead and cushioned nooks cloaked in gauzy curtains. While the setting is different, the up-market Moghul cuisine is as fantastic as it was at the old venue downtown. In fact, many of Mathur's most beloved dishes from Devi have also made the trek north, including his sweet and spicy Manchurian cauliflower, his rich butter chicken, and his succulent lamb chops blackened in a blazing hot tandoor.—Jay Cheshes

Open Mondays through Saturdays noon to 10:30 pm, Sundays 5 to 10 pm.

Turtle Crossing
221 Pantigo Road
East Hampton , New York
11937
Tel: 631 324 7166
www.turtlecrossing.com

Although it arguably still serves up the best house-smoked meats in the Hamptons, Turtle Crossing isn't the humble barbecue joint it used to be. The restaurant's expanded concept trades cowboy kitsch for burgundy banquettes and antique bronze ceiling fans, quesadillas for grilled quail and wild mushroom orzo. There's still a solid range of Southwestern specialties on the menu, though, especially on weekends: Try the barbecue duck, the brisket, or the charred pulled-chicken sandwich, which comes on a brioche with sweet, smoky barbecue sauce and crisp pickles. The attitude-free staff delivers a glass of Cabernet as readily as they do a fresh, massive margarita.—Updated by Darrell Hartman

Open Mondays through Thursdays 5 to 10 pm, Fridays 5 to 11 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays noon to 10 pm, May through November.

The Vanderbilt
570 Vanderbilt Avenue (at Bergen Street)
Prospect Heights
Brooklyn , New York
11238
Tel: 718 623 0570
Subways: 2/3 to Bergen Street
www.thevanderbiltnyc.com

In 2005, chef Saul Bolton's restaurant, Saul, was one of the first two in the borough to earn a Michelin star (along with Peter Luger). Bolton's follow-up, the Vanderbilt, opened in 2009 and is a more casual take on Saul's fine dining menu. It's not exactly tapas, but the portions are small and best ordered in multiples for sharing. Start with the crispy Brussels spouts with Sriracha, lime, and honey and move on to charcuterie made in-house: kielbasa, spicy merguez, and blood sausage. The sunken dining room in the back is better for dinner, but grab one of the bar tables up front if you're looking for quick bites and a cocktail or one of the local brews on tap.—Danielle Contray

Open Sundays 11 am to 3 pm and 5 to 11 pm, Mondays 5 to 11 pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays 5 pm to midnight, Thursdays and Fridays 5 pm to 2 am, and Saturdays 11 am to 3 pm and 5 pm to 2 am.

Vine Street Café
41 S. Ferry Road
Shelter Island , New York
11964
Tel: 631 749 3210
www.vinestreetcafe.com

On summer evenings, this Shelter Island favorite, housed in a white-shingled ranch with flower-filled window boxes, quickly fills up with a beach-chic crowd that spills out to the picnic tables. Celebs such as actor John Malkovich, designer Jonathan Adler, and style maven Simon Doonan often stop by for the fresh fare: tuna tataki pepped up with wasabi; heirloom tomatoes with basil, Parmesan, and Vidalia onions; and perfectly prepared filet mignon. Be sure to save room for a side dish—the crisp frites with garlic aïoli are sublime.

Open Sundays, Mondays, and Thursdays 5 to 9:30 pm, Fridays 5 to 10 pm and Saturdays 5 to 11 pm.

Yerba Buena Perry
1 Perry Street
West Village
New York City , New York
10014
Tel: 212 620 0808
www.ybnyc.com

In restaurants, second acts are generally no match for the original. But Yerba Buena Perry in the West Village, younger sibling of the Lower East Side version, may be the proverbial exception that proves the rule. Open and nicely lit, with a black-and-white tile floor and white leather banquettes, the space is welcoming and chic, if a little loud. And the menu—Julian Medina's signature pan-Latin approach, though with only about 20 percent repetition from the LES incarnation—is delicious, even when it comes across as a bit forced. The watermelon fries—juicy and crisp and hot—are nothing short of brilliant; the arepas with coffee-glazed pork belly, though a little sweet, are among the best in town; and the ropa vieja de pato (tamarind-glazed duck confit with puréed plantains and fried duck egg) is rich and satisfying in the best possible meanings of those words. One small caveat: On this rather unlovely corner, it might be smarter to have a sign giving the actual name of the restaurant, rather than hoping people recognize the little curvy leaf logo.—John Willoughby, first published on Gourmet.com

Mondays through Wednesdays 5 to 11:30pm, Thursdays through Fridays 5pm to 2am, Saturdays 11:30am to 3pm and 5 to 11:30pm, Sundays 11:30am to 3pm and 5pm to 2am.

Zenkichi
77 N. Sixth Street (at Wythe Avenue)
Williamsburg
Brooklyn , New York
11211
Tel: 718 388 8985
Subways: L to Metropolitan Avenue
www.zenkichi.com

Don't worry if you get a little lost trying to find this Japanese restaurant. The door blends right into the building's exterior wood paneling, and there's no sign (look for the red light instead). Once inside, you will feel miles away from the cracked, trash-strewn sidewalk outside. The entrance is a Zen oasis with a waterfall and quiet nook where you can mellow out while waiting for a table. Upstairs, the walkway is lined with curtained private booths (there's a call button if you need a refill on your sake). The menu is updated every six weeks to reflect what's fresh, and the excellent izakaya-style dishes are for adventurous eaters. Tempura cod milt (fried fish sperm) is an early spring favorite, and the bonito shuto (a.k.a. cured fish innards) even comes with a warning of intense flavor and saltiness. The eight-course omakase menu is well worth the price.—Danielle Contray

Open Wednesdays through Saturdays 6 pm to midnight, Sundays 5:30 pm to 11:30 pm.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.