We are all foodies, now. The last decade has seen high-end food culture infiltrate every aspect of American life, with cameras in the kitchens of five-star restaurants, Michael Pollan writing kids' books, and fancy truffles on mac 'n' cheese. This is not a bad thing. Food is who we are, culturally and biologically, and as the focus returns more and more to eating local, we realize how lucky we are to live in New York, where great restaurants pop up every week in every neighborhood. Here are forty of our favorites.
Best Lobster Rolls: Luke's Lobster
Best French Fries: Pearl Oyster Bar
Best Chinese: Shang
Best Italian: Locanda Verde
Best Wine Bar: Terroir
Best Arepas: Caracas
Best Bar Snack: Char No. 4
Best Sandwiches: Defonte's
Best Japanese: Ki
Best Noodles: Eton
Best Condiments: Resto
Best New Restaurant: Buttermilk Channel
Best Charcuterie: Bar Boulud
Best Bakery: Bakeri
Best Doughnuts: Peter Pan
Best Gastropub: Wilfie and Nell
Best Mexican: La Superior
Best Falafel: Taim
Best Ramen: Ippudo
Best Hot Dog: Bark Hot Dog
Best Barbeque: Fette Sau
Best Burrito: Calexico
Best Dim Sum: Seafood Restaurant
Best Neighborhood Pizzeria: Roberta's Pizza
Meatiest Meat Pie: Dub Pies
Best Tofu: Cho Dang Gol
Best Late Night Eatery: Walter Foods
Best Cheese Plate: Jake Walk
Best Vegetarian: Dirt Candy
Best Splurge: Momofuku Ko
Best Korean: Dokebi
Best Greek: Agnanti
Best Brunch: Cafe Luluc
Best New French (sort of): Joseph Leonard
Best Locally Sourced: Marlowe & Sons
Best Bar Food: Fort Defiance
Best Indian: Aamchi Pao
Best Coffee: Cafe Pedlar
Best German: Prime Meats
Best Small Plates Txikito
BEST LOBSTER ROLLS
93 E. 7th St.
It's the fresh, lightly adorned meat that stands out at Luke's Lobster
. The dusting of spices, smear of mayo and butter, and no-name white bun pressure the lobster, crab, and shrimp to be as succulent and flavorful as their destiny will allow. We're lucky owner Luke Holden has tight Maine connections (his dad) and was brought up to share.
BEST FRENCH FRIES
Pearl Oyster Bar
18 Cornelia St.
Thin and crisp: two of the best fry adjectives sum up POB
's shoestring spuds. Theirs are perfectly salted and not too dry, despite their diminutive circumference. You'll never encounter a soggy fry (one of life's saddest potato fates), unless it's been buried beneath some drippy lobster meat, which we don't have to tell you is not a bad way to go.
187 Orchard St.
The large round tables at the Thompson LES Hotel
's dining room make it easy to bring a group and share Chef Susur Lee
's inventive Chinese fare. Look for traditional Chinese specialties from the dim sum menu and fusion dishes like the supremely flavorful Hunan spicy chicken ($19), which takes a few hints from Jamaican jerk stands and is served with a Scotch bonnet chili sauce and ginger and mango puree.
377 Greenwich St.
Pass the foyer's enticing boxes of fresh fruit and veg and enter a gorgeous, richly decorated space
where your senses are further assaulted by the flavor-bomb food. Don't miss homemade cotechino in any form, be it with pickled ramps on ciabatta crostini or beneath a wobbly poached egg and silken tomato hollandaise. Karen DeMasco
's desserts are the kind to write blogs about.
BEST WINE BAR
413 E. 12th St.
The folks behind Hearth
geek out, but with an intentionally un-stuffy approach to wine. The menu features tangential rants—Mark Sanford needs a Riesling for its "transparency, purity and truthfulness"—and, as a wino friend put it, Terroir has an almost confrontational eclecticism in their selections.
93 1/2 E. 7th St.
Arepas should enjoy more fame than their subpar street fair mozzarepa counterpart, and Caracas
is doing their best to see that New Yorkers obsess over this Latin American corn flour treat. Two small spots in the East Village and the more spacious Williamsburg locale offer crispy pan-fried arepas with their soft polenta insides that are hugged by more than a dozen combinations of tasty meat, cheese, beans and veggie fillings.
BEST BAR SNACK
Char No. 4
96 Smith St., Bklyn
These cheddar curds are panko-crusted, deep-fried, and served piping hot with a spicy pimento sauce ($7), which is quite a fancy way of dressing up some fried cheese. Think of these bar bites as the mozzarella stick's Southern cousin—refined on the outside, but a redneck at heart. They're the perfect accompaniment to Char
's whiskey menu, featuring over 150 bottles.
261 Third Ave.
This sandwich shop has been serving Red Hook since 1922, and now its Gramercy outpost
brings killer heroes to Manhattan. Defonte's is famous for their fried eggplant, which is sliced super-thin and fried in a light, savory, zeppole-like batter. Try 'em on a hot roast beef hero with fresh mozzarella and a few ladlefuls of jus ($9.75) for a sandwich that tastes even greater than the sum of its parts.
122 Smith St., Bklyn
loads up on Yelp stars thanks to incredibly fresh—though not bank-breaking—sushi and a team of super friendly chefs, each and every one of whom, in between sessions of precision tuna carving, will say hello as you make for your table. You pretty much have to try the Ki Roll at least once; it's topped with flecks of real gold and is totally the Japanese answer to Goldschlager.
205 Sackett St., Bklyn
At Eton Chan's eponymous dumpling shop
—and now at its Sackett Street outpost, Eton II—the meat and vegetable noodle soups are the perfect winter-warmer. The broth is rich and full-bodied, and the noodles themselves are pulled into shape by hand, without the help of any tools or machines. Staffers train for months to learn the technique, and the result—an impossibly delicate, melt-in-your-mouth noodle—is worth the wait.
111 E. 29th St.
might be known for upscale Belgian comfort food and great beer, but it's ideal for eaters who like to dip things in other things. Their frites could be crisper, but all criticisms fade behind a dizzying array of sauces. Lime pickle? Check. Sriracha? Check. Gribiche? No idea what this is, but check.
BEST NEW RESTAURANT
524 Court St., Bklyn
From the maple and bacon-roasted almonds ($3) at the bar, to the freebie honey and sea salt popovers, to the decadent pecan pie sundae ($7), Buttermilk Channel
has the sweet-salty balance down to a science. The staff is friendly, portions are hearty (though no entree costs more than $21), and the room is warm and inviting. The long wait for a table is more evidence of this new-ish spot's sure start.
Somewhere in between the grandeur of Daniel Boulud's UES flagship and the beery sausage-fest at DBGB
is Bar Boulud
. It's relatively casual, almost affordable, and head cheese has never tasted so good. Also, we're pretty sure PETA has two reps devoted exclusively to Bar Boulud's Big Bird quantity of mish-mashed poultry liver.
150 Wythe Ave., Bklyn
The folks from Sweetwater
have given North Williamsburg something the area sorely lacked: a beautifully appointed little cafe
where the baked goods—whether savory or sweet—are careful, flavorful little gems, the espresso drinks are top-notch and the atmosphere oozes calming charm. We already miss the courtyard out back (they have real turtles out there!), but we can't wait for their new, bigger oven to be up and running.
727 Manhattan Ave., Bklyn
The Doughnut Plant
gets all the attention, but there's a certain charm in Formica, aging Polish regulars and fat, sugary old-school doughnuts. Peter Pan
's plain-glazed deserves a monument in nearby McCarren Park.
Wilfie and Nell
228 W. 4th St.
, no one should use the phrase gastropub
ever again. But in the case of Wilfie and Nell
, we're allowing ourselves the slip, since this West Village newcomer does both pubby atmosphere and Guinness shepherd's pie so well. And also because we couldn't think of any other way to describe it.
295 Berry St., Bklyn
This no-frills Williamsburg joint
serves up some serious Mexican street food—think sesadillas (that is, pork brain quesadillas, $3), gorditas de chorizo con papas (corn masa cakes stuffed with meat and potatoes, $5), and deliciously creamy ezquites (a little pots of corn kernels with fresh cheese, lime, and mayo, $5). The tasty tacos are priced at $2.50, and the brunch-time egg, bean, and tortilla combinations offer reliable hangover helpers.
224 Waverly Pl.
Though the chalkboard menus staring down at you while you order at this tiny West Village falafel joint
seem daunting, there are really only three things on there: red pepper, parsley-cilantro-mint, and spicy falafels. Pick one to go in your pita ($5.25), or take all three of the lightly fried, tender and aromatic spheres on a platter ($10) with hummus and tabouli—which aren't bad either.
65 Fourth Ave., Bklyn
's zen-like mastery of the art of ramen is one that's not bound by any stodgy rules. Interpreting other cuisine's noodles of fame into their studded soup du jour, they've been known to throw down a mean tiger tan tan ramen with black sesame paste broth inspired by the Chinese dan-dan
, as well as a molten mozzarella and tomato broth bowl that'll make you wonder while you slurp, "Why not?"
BEST HOT DOG
Bark Hot Dog
474 Bergen St., Bklyn
A critical advancement to the nightlife of North Park Slope has got to be the addition of Bark Dogs
, which is open until (gasp!) midnight. Bark also does the hot dog well by elevating the quality of their ingredients while keeping true to the greasy spirit (there're disco fries). If the $5 and up per dog price turns you off, you'll be refreshed by the $3 cups of Sixpoint.
354 Metropolitan Ave., Bklyn
gets to the heart of Texas barbecue if only for serving on shabby plastic cafeteria trays. However, pork is the main player on this menu: house-smoked parts of pasture-raised Berkshire swine from the tail to the cheeks. There isn't much fuss over sides, and vegetables are scant, but a world-class Bourbon selection gamely fills in. Vegetarians beware.
122 Union St, Bklyn
We've gushed about the glories of crack sauce in the past, but Calexico
's mysterious salad-dressing-y drizzle continues to fascinate us. So much so that our weekly burrito binge has grown from routine to imperative.
BEST DIM SUM
4418 Eighth Ave., Bklyn
If you feel dizzy in the dancehall-sized dim sum joints of Sunset Park or Flushing, you'll find the atmosphere of Seafood Restaurant
relatively cozy. The hole-in-the-wall joint is clearly a neighborhood favorite, with families and groups crowding large tables by the twos and threes each weekend. The food is stand-out, as this would indicate, and for nearly dollar-menu prices to boot.
BEST NEIGHBORHOOD PIZZERIA
261 Moore St., Bklyn
Where else can you eat wood-fired brick oven pizza topped with vegetables from a rooftop greenhouse in the backyard, and catch glimpses of Heritage Radio Network taping live in a converted shipping container underneath said greenery? On an industrial corner of Bushwick, where Roberta
's is humbly situated. The formula might not fly alone if the pizzas—and urban farming efforts that Roberta's is frequently fostering—were anything to sneeze at. But their pies are some of the city's finest, with intense toppings like guanciale and eggs. It shouldn't be possible, but the fried chicken is truly great, too.
MEATIEST MEAT PIE
193 Columbia St., Bklyn
For a snack-sized pie, Dub
's classic Aussie minced steak pastry comes close to sating the appetite completely. Better to double up, though, and try some of their more creative fillings, like curry vegetables or chili and cheese ensconced in a savory, flaky crust
Cho Dang Gol
55 W. 35th St.
It's no secret to tofu aficionados that the homemade curd at this refined K-town resto
is a winner: fresh-tasting, custardy and slightly nutty. Think of it as buffalo mozzarella to the grocery-aisle standard. A bubbling, clay-pot casserole is the best way to try it here.
BEST LATE NIGHT EATERY
253 Grand St., Bklyn
The persnickety and pseudo-refined of Williamsburg can rejoice that such a well-groomed atmosphere
with impeccable service is within walking distance when they're completely smashed. The kitchen's open until 2am, serving lively classics like the lobster club, French dip and oysters. Late-night dessert fans, too, are in for a treat.
BEST CHEESE PLATE
282 Smith St., Bklyn
Brought to you by the owners of Smith Street's cheese shop, Stinky Brooklyn
, and Smith & Vine
, the wine store across the street, Jake Walk
offers some expert wine and cheese pairings. You can choose your own adventure with the cheese plate here—all cheeses cost $4 and options include the blue-veined Point Reyes, the dense, gouda-like Midnight Moon, and the creamy Salvatore Ricotta made in Brooklyn.
430 E. 9th St.
Unlike some vegetarian standouts in this city (Blossom
, Candle 79
), Dirt Candy
isn't interested in the ersatz meat dish—nor are they particularly interested in health food. Instead, chef and owner Amanda Cohen
focuses "on what you can eat, not what you can't" and applies haute cusine inventiveness to just about every vegetable you can think of. And it is glorious.
163 First Ave.
is expensive. Like holy-shit- I-just-spent-$150-on-dinner for-one expensive. But don't expect to be coddled by an alert team of Frenchie servers with impeccable posture. Instead you'll get loud music, uncomfortable bar stools and one of the best meals in New York. Hurry before the Chang backlash begins.
199 Grand St., Bklyn
Traditionalists might cavil, but Williamsburg's indie-soundtracked, hipster-filled Dokebi
has quietly become one of the strongest Korean kitchens in the city, using locally sourced ingredients (Berkshire pork! Herbs from Brooklyn!) to perfect their dishes up and down the menu, from Bimbimbap to Shabu Shabu to amazing new Korean tacos. Add to that really great music and a bar kitchen going till 1am on weekends, and we have a winner.
19-06 Ditmars Blvd., Queens
It might sound like a cliche, but to get the good Greek food in New York, you have to go to the Greeks. So it is that our choice for best Greek is Agnanti
, nestled up against the corner of beautiful, sleepy Astoria Park. This is where you'll find the best skordalia in the city, straight-up, along with all the Greek classics. We defy you to go to Agnanti and not eat way too much.
214 Smith St., Bklyn
Sunday brunch in this city is as close as most New Yorkers get to a religious experience. As such, the zeal with which brunch is debated 'round here can tear apart families... So at the risk of excommunication, we're going with effortless simplicity of Cafe Luluc
: nothing spectacular, everything perfect, with just the right mix of French aloofness and American conviviality. A great place to lose your hangover.
BEST NEW FRENCH (sort of)
170 Waverly Pl.
New York is filled with new French restaurants. And old French restaurants. And French-inflected restaurants... it can get complicated. Whatever the case, we love Gabriel Stulman's solo venture, Joseph Leonard
, a weird but perfect mix of Parisian cafe, Norman farm kitchen and New York deli, perched on a beautiful West Village street corner. And it works. (Their warm bean salad is to die for.)
BEST LOCALLY SOURCED FOOD
Marlowe & Sons
81 Broadway, Bklyn
There have been many followers, but the sister restaurants Diner
and Marlow & Sons
continue to lead the pack in sourcing locally and sustainably. Beginning with their innovative use of ordering whole animals for both kitchens—and last year, butcher shop with the addition of Marlow & Daughters
—to introducing the "rooftop salad" made with vegetables from nearby Eagle Street Rooftop Farm this summer, owners Mark Firth and Andrew Tarlow are on top of the trend.
BEST BAR FOOD
365 Van Brunt St., Bklyn
Perfectly-poured cocktails at bargain-bin prices are the main draw, but the food offerings at Fort Defiance
are nothing to scoff at. The muffuletta, piled with cured meats, cheeses, and olive salad, was reverse-engineered from the superlative sandwich at Central Grocery in New Orleans. Salads picked fresh from the nearby Added Value farm and daily specials like red beans and rice or rabbit and chorizo hash round out the menu.
194 Bleecker St.
Ten bucks will buy you a full meal of Mumbai street food at this sliver of a restaurant
. Order a $4 chicken tikka pao (a tandoori chicken slider with mint chutney and roasted onions), a $3 side of Manchurian cauliflower (the same delicious dish served at Devi, where Chef Surbhi Sahni honed her craft), and a nimbu pani (a refreshing Indian lemonade with a touch of rock salt) for $2.50.
210 Court St., Bklyn
With locations in Cobble Hill and on the Lower East Side, Cafe Pedlar
serves deeply flavorful coffee sourced from the Stumptown Roastery in Red Hook—an offshoot of the beloved Portland, Oregon coffee roastery. The full-bodied, creamy cappuccino is made with Stumptown
's Hair Bender espresso blend and local Hudson Valley Fresh milk, and complements both the savory brie-and-butter sandwich on pretzel bread and the sweet linzer torte.
465 Court St., Bklyn
The two Frankies
behind Frankies 457 and Frankies 17 have opened a Teutonic butchery.
Steaks. Burgers. Refined sausages.
Calf tongue. If it was once part of a cow, it's now part of Prime Meats
. There's also something called Landjager, described as German hunter's sausage: possibly the most metal food ever.
BEST SMALL PLATES
240 Ninth Ave.
We think all food should be served tapas style: an infinite array of small plates to satisfy any particular craving you might have, because, you know, it sucks to choose. This is what wonderful Basque outpost Txikito
understands, from their Txiki Txanpi (mushroom and shrimp bocaditos) to the amazing Txipiron Encebollado (fried squid over pine nut terrine). Just don't ask us how to pronounce anything.