BEST UNDER-THE-SEA BYOB
Petite Crevette 144 Union St, Brooklyn. Look no further than Chef Neil Ganic’s cozy Carroll Gardens French bistro for fresh seafood prepared expertly. The Thai curry cod and cioppino are great dishes to pair with the bottles of wine you brought along.
BEST GLUTEN-FREE ITALIAN
Bistango 415 Third Ave at E 29th St, bistango nyc.com. Gluten-free diners can have their Italian cuisine and eat it, too! This allergy-conscious hot spot offers some of the best glutenfree pasta around. Everything on the menu, even the ravioli, can be made gluten-free. Your taste buds will be singing “Mambo Italiano” for the rest of the night.
BEST DINNERTIME DIM SUM
Nom Wah Tea Parlor 13 Doyers St, nomwah.com. Dim sum for dinner? That’s right—at Nom Wah, the portions are large, the dress is casual, and if you’re dining with lessthan- adventurous pals, there are plenty of menu items to ease them into this traditional culinary experience.
BEST NON-KOSHER DATE SPOT
Traif 229 S 4th St, Brooklyn, traifny.com. In case you didn’t know that “traif” means “unkosher” in Yiddish, the eatery’s menu full of pork and shellfish should give you a hint. There's an assortment of delectable small plates or, even better, a tasting menu. Try their sister restaurant a few doors away, Xixa—pronounced “shiksa.”
BEST RESTAURANT IN AN INDUSTRIAL PARK
Bun-ker 46-63 Metropolitan Ave, Ridgewood, Queens, bunkervietnamese.com. Let’s be honest— Bun-ker makes you work for your meal, but it’s worth the effort. A 15-minute stroll from the nearest subway stop, it’s a trek through warehouses and factories to get to this tiny spot. Yet the food is nothing short of spectacular. And at least one thing is easy: this BYOB is a stone’s throw from a liquor store. Swoon!
BEST PLACE TO IMPRESS A GIRL WITH PIZZA
Roberta’s 261 Moore St, Brooklyn, robertas pizza.com. Roberta's is an easy-to-miss spot, but once you pull back the doorway curtain to reveal a homey space with a wood-burning pizza oven and superb cocktails, you will fall in love. And so will your date. Mention that Bill and Hillary recently ate there for bonus points.
BEST LATKES NOT MADE BY YOUR GRANDMA
Karloff 254 Court St, Brooklyn, karloffnyc.com. If it weren’t for the billboard outside this Cobble Hill joint, with “latkes” handwritten between other menu items, you might miss out. Go ahead, dive face-first into the crispy, savory goodness of Karloff’s potato pancakes. Another must-try on the menu? Cabbage varenikis with grilled onions.
BEST HOMEMADE SANDWICHES
Knife 330 S 3rd St, Brooklyn, knifenyc.com. Sandwiches are a staple, but not all are created equal. With fresh, seasonal ingredients and a variety of flavorful sauces—not to mention friendly service—Knife is a must-try. Pork lovers should sample the Kawaii Buta, meaning "cute pig" in Japanese, marrying the droolicious flavors of smoked pork belly, teriyaki, avocado and homemade wasabi aioli. Burger fanatics need to get their mouths on the Memo Burger—a signature sammie of this Williamsburg shop.
BEST SPOT TO SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM
Big Gay Ice Cream 125 E 7th St, biggayice cream.com. This delightful ice cream shop is as magical and fun as its rainbow soft-serve logo. The ice cream itself is yummy, but it’s the special orders that are the cherry on top of your big gay sundae. Grab yourself a Bea Arthur or a Salty Pimp and enjoy.
EST MAC AND CHEESE
S’mac 345 E 12th St, smacnyc.com. Winter is here, and that means a constant craving for something warm and cozy. S’mac’s menu is stuffed with scrumptious mac and cheese varieties. Plus, every single item can be ordered gluten-free, thanks to brown rice elbow macaroni and cornflake breadcrumbs. Gastro-hugs for everyone!
BEST LATE-NIGHT BITES
Crif Dogs 113 St. Marks Pl, crifdogs.com. Two words: Tater tots! For those who don’t get fancy with their dogs, they’ve got you covered. Adventurous? Try the bacon-wrapped specials, like the Tsunami and BLT. Just don’t be weirded out by the droves of people entering the phone booth and never coming back. The hidden bar, PDT, is behind the wall.
BEST CHICKEN AND WAFFLES
Amy Ruth’s 113 W 116th St. amyruthsharlem .com. Sylvia’s gets all the attention (it’s a legend, after all), but Amy Ruth's offers no fewer than a dozen affordable waffle pairings in addition to the celebrated fried chicken and waffles, known on the menu as The Rev. Al Sharpton. Drool over combos you never considered, such as The Jennifer Holiday (waffles and crispy shrimp).
BEST SPICY TONKATSU RAMEN
Jin Ramen 3183 Broadway, jinramen.com. It may be busy here, but the appealing menu serves as your reward for the wait. Warn your kosher/halal/vegan friends that the hakata ramen noodles are prepared in tonkatsu, a pork rib broth—as an alternative, try the veggie miso ramen option.
BEST BIG TACOS
Brooklyn Taco 120 Essex St, brooklyntaco.com. Not actually in Brooklyn, this Lower East Side taqueria specializes in supersized snacks to keep you sated. Avocado enthusiasts should belly up to the Guaco Taco. And if you’re in the mood for something unusual, dig in to their award-winning Chilorio Brisket Taco.
BEST DIPPER’S DELIGHT
Mezze Place 31-18 Broadway, Astoria, Queens, mezzeplace.com. This Middle Eastern eatery is an ideal spot to get your dip on. Grab some warm, fresh-baked pita bread and shove it into creamy hummus, spicy feta, labaneh, green tahini and eggplant dip. If all that dipping doesn’t do you in, the butternut squash schnitzel is a must-try.
BEST PLACE TO IMPRESS A VEGAN
Candle 79 154 E 79th St, candle79.com. Bart Potenza and Joy Pierson prepare elegant meatless plates with organic ingredients so that vegans can enjoy fine dining, just like the rest of us. Don’t miss the rosemary truffled potatoes or grilled oyster mushrooms with jalapeño vinaigrette before digging into your entrée.
BEST JOINT FOR CARNIVORES
Churrascaria 316 W 49th St, churrascaria plataforma.com. Spend quality time with a variety of succulent meats and a blade-wielding wait staff at the prix fixe, all-you-can-eat Churrascaria. And don’t worry—if you must cleanse your palate with leafy greens, the salad bar is chock-full of healthy delights.
BEST S’MORES INDOORS
Distilled New York 211 W Broadway, distilledny.com. Relive a childhood treat by diving face-first into Distilled New York’s s’mores. They're all grown up now, and made with homemade graham crackers, vanilla ice cream, chocolate mousse, chunks of graham cracker cake and the coup de grace, seared marshmallows.
Sushi Yasuda 204 E 43rd St, sushiyasuda.com. Sure, there are tables. But if you want to make the most of your meal, grab a seat at the bar, order a Japanese beer and watch chefs create the edible art you’re about to feast upon. There’s a reason why Anthony Bourdain called Sushi Yasuda his favorite sushi spot in the city.
BEST ANNIVERSARY DINNER
Brooklyn Fare 212 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, brooklynfare.com. Reserve your seats at the chef’s table in advance, and when the time comes, dress to impress. This is the only three- Michelin-starred restaurant in Brooklyn—and it’s easy to taste why. Chef Cesar Ramirez dazzles with more than 20 small plates per seating. While the menu changes daily, most dishes spotlight seafood.
Wolfgang’s Steakhouse 4 Park Ave, wolfgangs steakhouse.net. Don’t mistake this for one of Wolfgang Puck’s restaurants. This steakhouse belongs to Wolfgang Zwiener, who worked under the eminent Peter Luger for four decades. A handsome spot specializing in fine dining, Wolfgang’s superb steak and lobster dishes are nothing short of world class.
Papatzul 55 Grand St, papatzul.com. Walk through the colorful doors of this SoHo eatery whenever you crave Mexican for lunch. Light yet filling, Papatzul’s ceviche is fresh, toothsome and attractively presented. It’s just to keep you full, but it won’t lull you into an impromptu nap at your desk.
BEST LAMB DISHES
Casablanca Restaurant 484 77th St, Brooklyn. When you’re in the mood for lamb, head to this warm, inviting Bay Ridge eatery where the flavors of Morocco burst forth in hearty dishes with tender meat, fresh vegetables and fluffy couscous. The taste is so authentic, you may just belly dance your way out.
BEST SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY
Maysville 17 W 26th St, maysvillenyc.com. When you want rib-stickin' yet ritzy food served with Southern charm, this is the place to go. Order a heap of country grits and crispy Brussels sprouts to start, then peruse the menu while nibbling complimentary homemade cornbread. Bourbon lovers will swoon over the wellstocked whiskey selection.
BEST PRE-THEATRE TAPAS
Meson Sevilla 344 W 46th St, meson sevilla.com. This cute bistro serves tasty traditional Spanish tapas, as well as some Italian and Mediterranean fare. It’s a perfect stop for a pre-theater prix fixe. If you’re not afraid to fall asleep before curtain time, the lip-smacking sangria is also highly recommended.
BEST GLUTEN-FREE DONUTS
Tu Lus 338 E 11th St, tu-lusbakery.com. The world is becoming a kinder, gentler place for the gluten-free these days. You’ll surely delight in the moist, flavorful yum-yums like cinnamon sugar donuts and raspberry almond crumble muffins. Also a good bet? Red velvet cupcakes.
BEST KEY LIME PIE
Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pies 185 Van Dyke St, Brooklyn, stevesauthentic.com. A frills-free zone, but a scrumptious one—bet on that. You can find Steve and his majestic key lime pies in the garage space of a warehouse in Red Hook. These tart treats can also be dipped in chocolate and are best savored on Valentino Pier.
BEST BOTTOMLESS BRUNCH
Bell Book & Candle 141 W 10th St, bbandcnyc .com. When the morning calls for bottomless brunch, Bell Book & Candle is ready to answer. $20 gets you unlimited pourings of mimosas, bellinis, bloody marys or spritzers. Nosh on fare created with seasonal vegetables, fresh herbs and spices grown mostly on their aeroponic rooftop garden. Dig in and drink up!
BEST HIDDEN GEM
Govinda’s Kitchen 305 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, radhagovinda nyc.com. Delicious vegetarian food served out of the basement of a Hare Krishna Temple? Yes, indeed! On weekdays, you can sample their tantalizing buffet offerings. Your belly (and your wallet) will leave feeling happy and spiritually fulfilled.
BEST SICILIAN PIZZA
L&B Spumoni Gardens 2725 86th St, Brooklyn, spumonigardens.com. Jon Stewart seems to have a lot to say on the topic of New York pizza, so we wonder what he’d think after munching L&B’s melty, mouthwatering Sicilian squares. Most likely, nothing, because his face would be stuffed with sauce, cheese and savory crust. As their name suggests, they’ve also got killer spumoni.