Best of 2009

by |
12/23/2009 2:00 AM |

Luke’s Lobster
93 E 7h St.
Luke’s Lobster stays with you; as in, you’ll crave it again the next day… and probably the day after that. The seafood—lobster, shrimp or crab—is delivered from Maine each day and then piled onto a toasted white bun with mayonnaise and butter for a delicious roll. There’s also delicious Maine Root soda, Miss Vickie’s chips, and, forthcoming, lobster tails, chowders and bisques. It’s a simple menu to rival the best seafood in New York.

DBGB Kitchen and Bar
299 Bowery
The French elite from Daniel are embracing the downtown crowd in the form of offshoot restaurant DBGB, their first foray into the sausage and burger domain. The casual fare matches the casual crowd, and even the most faithful Boulud disciples follow suit and embrace the vast beer selection. Considering the Michelin-starred chef, the prices are almost affordable, and, again, considering the Michelin-starred chef, the fries are delicious! Ground meat lovers will love DBGB.

Calexico Carne Asada
122 Union St.
The staple Soho taco trucks are now stationary, which means California-like tacos are now available all day long. Also available: CRACK SAUCE for dipping (chili-infused Thousand Island perhaps?), trademark rolled quesadillas, and statement-making burritos. The wait improves with each return visit, and the SoCal level of taco ingenuity is consistent. Sadly, there’s still no sign of Southern-inspired white cheese dip, but, finally, we have Mexican food in New York that is better than just tolerable.

Rockmeisha
11 Barrow St.
Rockmeisha is an izakaya, that is, a bar that serves food. The house sake and Sapporo beer alternatives are great, but nothing compares to the food. Perfection was the theme of our evening and seems to be repeated with each return visit. Meat, vegetables, or ramen, you can’t go wrong here, unless you try to find it online. The lack of PR keeps the dining room half-full, but from your belly to your expectations, it’s the only thing that won’t reach capacity.

Dirt Candy
430 E 9th St.
Although it’s vegetarian, and vegan-friendly, this is not a health food restaurant. Chef Amanda Cohen wields vegetables that any carnivore/picky kid will eat with enthusiasm. From grits to soups to tofu dishes, Dirt Candy makes you understand the name with just one bite: decadence from the ground. There’s even a pastry chef, a rare flaunt for a restaurant that seats 20. Whether or not you’re a vegetarian, you’ll enjoy this against-type, meat-free East Village restaurant.

Wilfie & Nell
228 W 4th St.
Despite its West Village location, Wilfie and Nell boasts good beer, good food, good prices and good clientele. This traditional public house offers both a comfy chair where you can read a good book, and a communal table where you can make new friends. The wait staff is not necessarily on point (or concerned about it), but the bartender makes up for it, as does the menu of comfort food and ale.

Henry Public
329 Henry St.
The folks behind Brooklyn Social opened the newest old-fashioned bar in Cobble Hill without giving into the Prohibition/speakeasy trend. Henry Public recalls “more of an early Brooklyn tavern,” according co-owner Jen Albano, which makes the antique lighting, iron-legged tables and old-timey bar offerings that much more appealing. Of course, the strong, perfectly poured cocktails and unique, upscale bar menu go a long way on their own, as well. If Whitman were a drinker, he’d have liked it here.

Berry Park
4 Berry St.
This work-in-progress bar is in a spacious loft with an amazing roof deck that’s open year-round. Although it stocks a full bar, beer is the focus, with draught offerings that are creative, diverse, and thoroughly described on the menu. The late-recession biergarten craze has a fine new addition with Berry Park, and our advice is to get in there before it turns into yet another garten-variety hot spot for douches.

Ontario Bar
559 Grand St.
Despite their contrasting reasons for adoring flannel, Brooklyn and Canada seem to blend perfectly at Ontario Bar. The cheap booze and decent jukebox instantly attracted the elusive crowd of neighborhood locals who have marked the bar for themselves rather than for weekend warriors, Dane Cooks or scenesters. (Yeah, we know it’s in Williamsburg, but there’s an open-mouthed trout on the wall, and it somehow works.)

Lucky Dog
303 Bedford Ave.
The name says it all, really: a beer-nerd haven without pretension, a thoughtful selection without fuss, and a high-end selection without a high-end pricelist. Also, lots of dogs. Lucky for us, this bar offers the charms of the Rust Belt from the comforts of Bedford Ave, including, but not limited to, a perfect back garden, a George Jones meets the Smiths jukebox, and a $6 meat and cheese plate. Grab a friend and a pitcher and settle in for the night.

Fort Defiance
365 Van Brunt St.
Much like freedom from monarchy, a great cocktail is worth fighting for. We’re not denying the trek to Red Hook is a hassle, but we’re confident that you won’t mind once you arrive at Fort Defiance. The cocktails are Pegu-perfected, the locals are friendly, and the schedule caters to your breakfast and siesta needs. The writing is (literally) on the wall for Fort Defiance: it’s “tu oportunidad de brillar!” (That is, it’s “your time to shine.”)

Mayahuel
304 E 6th St.
Mayahuel is the antidote to the Patron party that made you swear off tequila in college. There’s tequila in unexpected, imaginative concoctions (punch, sangria, tea, and about two dozen cocktails), and they’re all really delicious. Everyone gets a table at this decidedly-not-Señor Frog establishment, but that makes ordering from the menu much easier and more tempting. This lovely surprise will likely be the new date night destination in the East Village. You won’t be sorry.