Best Oysters in New York
298 Bedford Ave, between S1st and S2nd
It's almost heresy to claim that the Grand Central Oyster Bar isn't the best oyster spot in New York, but once you've slurped down a few of the 30 available oysters (including an amazing selection of West Coast varieties) at Maison Premiere, you're sure to be a convert. (Photo Joe Hume)
Best Meatball Sub
33 Havemeyer St, between N7th and N8th
Yes, this tiny pizza shop makes an excellent pie. The real star of the menu, however, is the meatball sub ($9), which features Pat LaFrieda beef, aged pecorino Romano and a savory, anchovy-rich sauce all stuffed into a crispy roll (baked fresh at Roberta's.)
Best Manhattan Restaurant That Should Be in
162 Avenue A, between 10th and 11th
Seeing as Portland is basically Brooklyn West, you would expect transplants from some of the Rose City's top restaurants to set up shop in Kings County. No such luck; to taste the restaurant's magnificent, foie gras-and-cheese-filled half-chicken ($25) and the meticulously crafted cocktails, you're going to have to cross the East River into Manhattan.
Do or Dine
110 Bedford Ave, between Lexington and Quincy
Fuck gourmet mac and cheese! These Bed-Stuy mavericks ditch the tired comfort food trend and go for broke with bizarre concoctions like fried gyoza smothered in nacho toppings ($6), tempura deviled eggs ($5) and, most controversially, foie gras doughnuts ($11). Even more impressive? All of it actually tastes pretty good.
355 Metropolitan Ave, at Havemeyer
Joe Carroll of Fette Sau and Spuyten Duyvil moves on from barbecue and beer to open the best grill in Williamsburg. For $15, the price of a gourmet hamburger in this town, you can get a beautiful hangar steak, grilled to a tender pink and served with a generous slathering of garlic butter. (Photo Joe Hume)
1073 Manhattan Avenue
Best lobster roll? Not quite. Best crab roll? Definitely. Lightly seasoned piles of sweet, shredded blue crab and tartar sauce stuffed into a buttery, griddled bun ($14) make for one of the best sandwiches in Brooklyn, especially when paired with vodka-spiked lemonade.
Neapolitan Pizza in Brooklyn
485 Lorimer, between Grand and Powers
This title belonged to Motorino before the Department of Buildings shut the place down. Now that honor belongs to Giulio Adriani's Forcella, a restaurant so authentic that almost everything, from the ingredients to the wood-fired oven, are imported from Italy. Two words that should convince you to visit: fried pizza.
Best Dinner and a Movie
163 Metropolitan Avenue
What's more Williamsburg than an independent theater? How about an independent theater that serves a gourmet menu concocted by Saul Bolton, owner of the Michelin-starred restaurant Saul. Expect inventive small plates, snacks and casual entrees, plus special movie-themed meals such as the country paté and cognac cocktail served during Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris.
Best Burger-and-Fries Combo
Rockaway Beach Boardwalk, at 86th St, Queens
Maybe it's the ocean view, but we just can't enough of both the cheeseburger ($6), made with two savory patties of Meat Hook grass-fed beef on a soft potato roll, and the peppery, thin-cut fries ($4), dusted in seasoned flour and sprinkled with seasoning salt, at this Roberta's-backed burger stand.
Most Fun Brooklyn Restaurant
645 Manhattan Ave, between Nassau and Norman
Cheap, boozy and loud: these are the ingredients for a wild night out. Welcome to Calexico, where, amidst a throng of clamoring young Greenpointers, you can get one of the best carne asada burritos ($9) in Brooklyn along with a growler of Sixpoint's El Barrio Brown Ale ($20), made especially for the restaurant.
Best Use of a
33 Nassau Ave, at Guernsey
Every beer hall has pretzels and sausages. Only this one, the sister establishment to the Lower East Side's Spitzer's Corner, combines the two into one heavenly dish, stuffing a hot, snappy bratwurst, beer-smothered onions and Dusseldorf mustard into a warm, salty pretzel roll ($7), perfect for soaking up a Pilsner or six. (Photo Joe Hume)
Best Bar Food
The Anchored Inn
57 Waterbury Street, at Scholes
Chef David Peterson, formerly of beloved Chelsea tapas spot Tia Pol, does bar food right at this kitschy, nautical-themed bar in Bushwick, including a bacon-wrapped, deep-fried hot dog topped with refried beans, mayo and onions ($5) and French fries smothered in Oaxaca cheese, white cheddar, bacon, scallions and chipotle mayo ($8).
Best Second Date
190 Dean St, at Bond
This dimly lit Italian eatery tucked into a residential corner feels hidden and romantic—until you find out you've got to wait over an hour for table. Get your first-date small talk out of the way elsewhere, and head here when you're ready to wait together on the street until seats open up at the bar.
El Nuevo Cibao
172 Smith St, between Warren and Wyckoff
Smith Street's El Nuevo Cibao changed its name, updated its look, and kept its menu. Now, trendy pendant lamps fashioned from repurposed coffee cans hang over the regulars at the bar. Old-neighborhood Dominicanos dig into the same pernil and monfongo they've been enjoying for years. Everybody wins.
Hecho En Dumbo
354 Bowery, at E. 4th
Though it kept its name, this Mexican eatery now resides on the Bowery. We selfishly hoped that forsaking its roots would send the establishment downhill. Not the case. The decadent carnitas torta, served in a bowl of chile de arbol au jus, is worth waiting through a few more stops on the F train.
127 Atlantic Avenue, between Clinton and Henry
Locally sourced ingredients? Check. Dramatic open kitchen? Check. Eco-fabulous décor and cutely named cocktails? Um, there's a living wall of herbs and a Cool Hand Cuke, people. Menu changes often (duh!) but get the ricotta crostini with honey and mint and the octopus with citrus-pickled onions if you can.
305 Franklin Avenue, at Lafayette
America may run on Dunkin' but Brooklyn yupsters run on Dough. At this little Bed-Stuy shop, large and airy yeast donuts get filled with chai cream or topped with passionfruit glaze and cocoa nibs. Other fancy varieties include chocolate-Earl Grey, lemon-poppyseed, and hot pink hibiscus with dried hibiscus flowers.
Best Gut-Busting Fare
593 Lorimer Street
The “Big Plates” at Joaquin Baca's resurrected Southern restaurant are exactly that—giant, coma-inducing plates of artery-clogging goodness. One country-fried steak ($15), served with insanely buttery mashed potatoes, can easily feed two, while the thick meatloaf sandwich ($10) is probably the only sandwich outside of Katz's pastrami where a doggy-bag is de rigeur. (Photo Dana DeCoursey)
Char No. 4
196 Smith St, between Warren and Baltic
Char knows that bar food is best when bite-sized and deep-fried, and every whiskey nerd in the borough has snacked on their pork nuggets and crispy cheddar curds. But have you sampled their fried jambalaya rice balls with andouille aioli? For best results, wash ‘em down with an off-menu Sazerac.
Best Fancy Lunch
Al Di La
248 5th Avenue, between Carroll and President
This Park Slope favorite deserves its hype—enjoy it with less of a wait at lunchtime. Treat yourself to a pork belly sandwich or go bonkers with the funghi e polenta—the poached egg, wild mushroom, beet greens and parmigiano polenta combo is so rich you may skip dinner.
333 Henry Street, between Atlantic and Pacific
You can't beat the sushi here—whether it's served in pieces, basic rolls or pressed into cubes—but don't miss the house-made tofu or the obanzai (small plates that change daily) such as simmered sanma (pike mackerel) with sansho pepper. They've got a swell bento box lunch deal, too.
77 North 6th Street, between Berry and Wythe
Since 2006, this labyrinthine Japanese restaurant has been seating patrons in private cubbies, and it's still fun every time our server rolls down the bamboo curtain to leave us alone with our ocean-fresh sashimi or light-as-air tempura with green tea salt. Get the eight-course omakase and a sake flight, too.
234 Court Street, between Baltic and Warren
Old school meets new school at this sweet little Italian spot. Young, hip servers push stick-to-your-ribs spaghetti and meatballs alongside a rotating menu of inventive and market-fresh seasonal options. Think crispy pork belly with rhubarb and watermelon or tagliatelle with tomato butter, Brussels sprouts and burrata. Everything's drop-dead delicious.
279 Grand St, between Roebling and Havemeyer
Here, the Philly-style ribeye sandwich is piled with melted American cheese and sautéed onions and can be enjoyed two ways—either scarfed with a beer in the pleasantly divey indoor space, or savored with a frozen sweet tea in Maracuja's leafy little backyard, amid twinkling lanterns and Christmas lights.