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The Best (and Worst) New Yorkers of 2016

New Yorkers are fond of patting ourselves on the back. “We live in the greatest city in the world,” we say to literally anyone who will listen. “Come live in our large and inexpensive apartments. Don’t worry about the child-size rats or inexplicable mounds of trash.”

In many ways, 2016 was an inexplicable mound of trash. Let’s sift through it.

THE TEN WORST NEW YORKERS of 2016.

10) Norman Seabrook

The former head of the Correctional Officers Benevolent Association suffered a truly spectacular fall from power in 2016 after years of preventing meaningful reform from reaching Rikers Island. Seabrook was arrested in early June on the orders of modern day Untouchable Preet Bharara after allegedly taking thousands of dollars in kickbacks for steering his union’s money toward a friendly Ponzi scheme (which quickly fell apart after Seabrook’s arrest). According to the indictment, Seabrook once received $60,000 in an $800 Ferragamo bag, and then complained that the amount simply wasn’t enough. Seabrook, who has maintained his innocence, then successfully argued that he should be allowed to go to Disney World while out on bail. While Seabrook was enjoying hang time with Goofy, his union was assessing the damage he left, including a double-digit loss to their pension fund. This week, Seabrook compared his persecution to Jesus Christ. His trial should start this spring. It will be quite enjoyable.

9) Landlords

Average rents in New York City went slightly down in 2016, but most of that decrease came from concessions on the higher end of the market. So if you are of modest means, housing was still hell, exacerbated by landlords with little to no regard for the law or human decency. Just to pick two exemplars of the real estate community, we’ll single out Steve Croman and Raphael Toledano, recommended for this list by Brick Underground’s Virginia K. Smith. Croman was finally indicted this year after being on the Voice’s radar for decades for pressuring older, poorer tenants to move out of downtown properties, often through intimidation, lack of maintenance, and using former NYPD officers to track down tenants and harass them until they move. Raphael Toledano, a veritable prodigy of predatory management at the ripe age of 26, has apparently followed in Croman’s footsteps, with tenants complaining that Toledano’s employees have been harassing them so they will move out of their rent-stabilized homes. A letter sent to Toledano by tenants pleaded with him to stop sending his people “in and around their buildings, after hours, on the street, and close to where they live.” In an interview with The Real Deal, Toledano asked a reporter whether he believed in god, then told him, “I’m worth a fuckload of money, bro.”

8) Gregg T.

Gregg T. suffered a brutal fall from grace, much like fellow once-beloved 2016 meme Ken Bone. An intrepid journalist, with the help of a friendly civil rights lawyer, sussed out that Gregg T. was not just a rumpled, lovable “See Something, Say Something” icon, but rather an NYPD lawyer who bullied civil rights protesters into submission. Gregg T, a/k/a Gregg Turkin, tried to get Black Lives Matter protesters to admit that the NYPD had probable cause in arresting them before a judge would dismiss their case so that the protesters would lose the ability to sue the department later for their bogus arrests.

In 2016, we just couldn’t have nice things. We couldn’t even have our memes. And in the end, we probably should have been way more wary of the literal poster boy for snitching.

7) Subway Cricket Woman

Ah, Subway Cricket Woman, why did you think this was a good idea? Because it was not a good idea. It was, in fact, a terrible idea.

On a crowded rush hour D train, Zaida Pugh decided to release hundreds of crickets and then urinate herself in a piece of performance art meant to bring attention to the plight of homeless New Yorkers. And while her intention was noble, the execution was decidedly not, setting off a panic and forcing New Yorkers to deal with even more human urine than their normal commute dosage. It was scary for riders, it was a dumb idea, and Pugh immediately got piled on by people for her action. We fervently hope things have turned around for you, Zaida, but no more crickets on the train, OK?

6) The Cop Who Shot the Family Dog

Despite a new police commissioner, a record-low crime rate, and renewed promises to institute community policing, the NYPD had another checkered year of civil rights violations and fatal shootings of unarmed mentally ill people. It’s tough to single out just one bad cop, but we’ll go with officer Ruben Cuesta, who shot a friendly dog at point-blank range on February 13th. Spike, a four-year-old pit bull, came out of an apartment to greet Cuesta when Cuesta immediately fired on the unarmed dog, killing it instantly. The Civilian Complaints Review Board found that Cuesta abused his authority in killing Spike, and that he should be retrained. Tell that to poor Spike, who was a very good boy. RIP Spike.

5) The Man Who Stole From A 96-year-old Woman’s Bra in Harlem

We get it: Times are tough. People have to do some drastic things just to get by. But stealing from a 96-year-old wheelchair-bound woman? Maria Vazquez had just cashed her social security check when Broyoan Lopez, seventy years her junior, allegedly reached into her bra and stole $600. Lopez was caught on video and swiftly arrested and charged with the crime.

4) Andrew Cuomo vs. Bill de Blasio

Taken separately, both Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio were pretty terrible in 2016. Both administrations are facing serious corruption investigations. Cuomo’s top lieutenant was indicted in Preet Bharara’s ruthless crusade to weed out what ails Albany, while de Blasio, on the other hand, couldn’t get out of his own way pretty much the entire year, from awkwardly campaigning for Hillary Clinton, to picking fights with a press corps that has more important things to write about than his gym membership or hokey pseudo-campaign videos.

But most enraging of all was the ongoing beef between the mayor and the governor, completely to the detriment of New York residents. Cuomo and de Blasio started the year by fighting over affordable housing (when Cuomo nixed bonds that the mayor wanted for his affordable housing plan) and finished it by fighting over the dead body of a deer, which the governor’s press office obliquely intoned that de Blasio might have ordered killed. And that was after they fought over the circumstances surrounding the death of a six-year-old boy. These are the two people who are supposed to save New York from the ravages of incoming president Donald Trump? The future, to say the least, does not look promising.

3) Nicole Malliotakis and Ron Castorina

Even though they’re not currently being parodied on any HBO shows, New York City does, in fact, have Republican residents (see #1 on our list). They tend to congregate in blue-collar places like Maspeth, Whitestone, or Staten Island, where they get to wield minimal power, constantly outvoted by their Democratic neighbors when it comes to city politics. But Nicole Malliotakis and Ron Castorina, two State Assembly members, have found a way to throw a wrench into New York City’s plans to shield its immigrant communities from the predations of the Trump deportation apparatus. By filing an Article 78, which grants an injunction, the two lawmakers put a stop to the city destroying its IDNYC records, in case they were to be seized by the federal government under a Trump administration. Malliotakis and Castorina went out of their way to subvert the will of the large majority of New Yorkers to help put New York’s most vulnerable populations at risk, and for that, they should be constantly vilified for the callous bigots they are.

2) Carl Paladino

Speaking of bigots, where to begin with our good buddy Carl? Paladino, the Western New York businessman and failed gubernatorial candidate, was one of the first major political figures to support Donald Trump’s quest for the White House. Through the year, Paladino grew more emboldened to spew racist vitriol (well, so did the country), as Trump mainstreamed white supremacist ideology. He bullied GOP politicians from New York who didn’t support Trump, and then tweeted that Attorney General Loretta Lynch should be “lynched” (he later claimed it was tweeted in error). Paladino finished the year by wishing that President Obama die of mad cow disease and Michelle Obama “return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.” He later issued a half-hearted apology for the statement. Paladino continues to enjoy an extremely close relationship with President-elect Trump.

1) Donald Trump

Well, New York, we did it. By failing to completely sink or destroy this absolute garbage human and instead letting him play out his phallic insecurities, we’ve probably ended up destroying the world. It stands as a testament to our importance in world affairs (go us), and might bring us comfort in the irradiated days to come, but it’s a hollow victory to be sure. There’s nothing that can be said about this man that hasn’t already been, and we’re left to stare down the harrowing thoughts that the worst is truly yet to come. Fuck this guy. No matter how much we want to blame fake news or disgruntled Midwesterners, this is ultimately our fault. We could have stopped him. We could have pilloried him endlessly as the child he is. We could have kept him off SNL. We could have voted for the stronger candidate in the Democratic primary. And we didn’t. This is the legacy we have to live with, bastion of liberalism that we are. That’s our legacy for 2016, like it or not. We are all the worst New Yorkers.

But maybe things aren’t so grim…

THE TEN BEST NEW YORKERS of 2016

10) Subway Dog

Where is this Subway dog going? Why does it look so comfortable? Is it on the way to the beach? A party? Who knows? All we know is, this is a great New Yorker. One of the best.

9) Kristaps Porzingis

Our giant Latvian son will guide us to glory… in a couple of years. For now, the savior of the Knicks just needs to keep improving his game, and also being an all-around really nice guy. He’s only been here for eighteen months, which is longer than half of Brooklyn, so we bestow upon him official “New Yorker: status. Never leave us, Kristaps!

8) Dalilah Muhammad

The Queens-born Muhammad became the first American winner of the women’s 400 meter hurdles when she competed at the Rio Olympics this past summer. Muhammad’s Muslim faith was central to her training, and her parents came all the way from Jamaica, Queens to Rio to watch her win the gold.

7) A Tribe Called Quest

Sprung on us the week of Trump’s election, Tribe’s surprise final album was not only very, very good, but served as a blueprint for how to create great art in the face of overwhelming despair. It’s rare that a group can come back sharp after an eighteen-year-hiatus, but even during Phife Dawg’s last days, Tribe was still creating at an incredibly high level, reminding listeners why the Queens group changed the course of hip-hop all those years ago.

6) Klaus Jacob

Perhaps the most quoted geophysicist in the country, Jacob’s words appeared in Rolling Stone, New York Magazine, and the Village Voice this past year, the hottest year on record. A member of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, Jacob’s pointed barbs at the city’s lack of preparedness in the face of humanity’s gravest threat — climate change — serve as a vital counterbalance to our Empire State of Solopsism. He’s the closest thing we have to the Lorax.

5) @placardabuse

An anonymous twitter account that is pretty much Batman, but for when municipal employees misuse their parking placards and block streets and fire hydrants. Petty corruption, to be sure, but infuriating for cyclists and pedestrians, as well as dangerous in the case of blocking hydrants. While the NYPD rarely ever responds favorably to this stalwart citizen’s chronicle of their abuse, it’s still a necessary service, a lone voice in the concrete wilderness, whispering in the world’s weary ear that people shouldn’t be allowed to just park anywhere they want.

4) Colson Whitehead

In a harsh political climate, Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad provided a pathway for hope in dark times. Envisioning an actual physical train transporting runaway slaves up North, the book is relentless in its brutality and depiction of cruelty, but still a testament to the need to push forward to a better life in a more just society. Whitehead’s a New Yorker through and through (see The Intuitionist), so it doesn’t have the most optimistic of endings (we’re a pessimistic lot); it mirrors our political and social moment in a way that not even Whitehead could have seen coming as he wrote it.

3) Bernie Sanders

All right, this one’s a stretch, but once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker. Although he ditched us for the even more liberal climes of Vermont long ago, Bernie brought his Brooklyn accent and values with him, and put on quite a show during the presidential primary back in April. If we have to take responsibility for Trump, then let us also shower our more visionary and caring former resident with praise. For the next four years at least, the heart of every real New Yorker will beat with the hidden truth that Bernie Would Have Won.

2) Steve Banks

Steve Banks did not have an easy year. As the head of Human Resources Administration as well as the Department of Social Services (and the former chief antagonist of a city hostile to its most vulnerable), Banks has been given an incredibly heavy load as New York deals with a homelessness crisis that has only intensified under the de Blasio administration. Without serious help coming from Albany, Banks has been left to stand up for low-income New Yorkers in the face of incredibly hostile opposition. When Maspeth residents got riled up about a hotel being converted into a homeless shelter, he had to deal with protesters chanting outside his home and some serious threats. Banks stayed the course, and has also done much-needed work restructuring the city’s social service apparatus. He doesn’t make headlines when things go right, but New York would be an even greater city if more civil servants like Banks took a stand for what’s right.

1) New Yorkers Who Laughed in Donald Trump’s Face When He Went to Vote

Before the horror set in, anonymous New Yorkers laughed at Trump as he went to vote on November 8th. Of course, turned out the joke was on us, but in the face of the gravest threat the country has faced in over fifty years, New Yorkers let out a chuckle and told the man he was going to lose. We were wrong then, but standing up to Trump will be New Yorkers greatest strength over the next four years. If we can keep this spirit, maybe we can stop the worst from happening.

On that upbeat note, here’s hoping for a better 2017! Can’t be worse than 2016, right? RIGHT?

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New York City’s Best Restaurants of 2016

If nothing (okay, very little) else, this was at least a great year for dining in New York City. Despite the lofty challenges posed by rising costs on both sides of the kitchen pass, New York City continues to draw strength from its dense cultural patchwork, and our best restaurants broadly reflect this virtue. From the resurgence of both Gallic luxury and Nordic austerity at the high end, to the emergence of Indian cuisine across the spectrum; to earnestly risk-taking, affordable New American (and Himalayan) cooking in Prospect Heights and Woodside; and killer Bolivian street food sold in an MTA commuter passageway — it’s a legitimately exciting time to eat out in New York. We could probably cool it with the poké, though.

In the past, we’ve kept this list to a strict ’10 Best,’ but who knows what fresh surprises 2017 will bring. So please join us as we cackle in the face of convention and this jaw-dropping year to present our best restaurants of 2016.

Indian Accent's dal gosht
Indian Accent’s dal gosht

16. Indian Accent (123 West 56th Street, 212-842-8070)

For a glimpse into India’s haute cuisine scene, look no further than chef Manish Mehrotra and Rohit Kattar’s splashy Delhi import, where northern Indian bone marrow stew inspires a luxe sauce for beef kebabs, and the tasting menu includes whole-fried wild morel mushrooms sourced from Kashmir. The wide marble bar is great for dining a la carte solo, with the added bonus of having immediate access to Indian Accent’s cocktails, which take advantage of the kitchen’s deep pantry, and are among the best quaffs to be quaffed in midtown.

Lilia's malfadine
Lilia’s malfadine

15. Lilia (567 Union Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-576-3095)

If Brooklyn can be said to have any kind of a power scene, it’s here under the glow of Missy Robbins’ wood-fired hearth, where a well-dressed and well-heeled clientele look right at home chomping away on exceptionally cheesy cacio e pepe fritelle. At this expansive Williamsburg restaurant, a magnificent return for the celebrated chef, her contemporary Italian recipes are as big and brassy as the dining room, set in a former auto body shop. From outstanding pastas and bold seafood to a lamb leg steak with enough char to make a steakhouse blush, there are hardly any tune-ups needed here.

El Atoradero's mole poblano
El Atoradero’s mole poblano

14. El Atoradero (708 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-399-8226)

Forced to close her South Bronx hit Carnitas El Atoradero due to a rent increase, Denisse Lina Chavez joined forces with Noah Arenstein, Josh Kaplan, and Jared DeLine at the end of 2015, reopening in Brooklyn with a fresh look to fit the neighborhood. She recently left her post due to a health issue, but you can still go here for her fragrant tortillas, made from blue-corn hominy and used in superlative nachos and tacos. While you can score chipotle meatballs and beautifully murky mahogany colored mole poblano, we’re hoping for even more dishes from the original, like avocado leaf-roasted goat and cheese-stuffed pig’s trotters, to show up in 2017. In the meantime, be on the lookout for hearty brunch pozoles and the occasional grasshopper taco special.

King's monkfish
King’s monkfish

13. King (18 King Street, 917-825-1618)

King might be the ideal neighborhood restaurant for current-day Soho, which, like the rest of Manhattan, can’t help but escape the island’s glossy makeover. There’s British expat chefs Jess Shadbolt and Clare de Boer’s rustically posh Mediterranean cooking, honed at London’s famed River Café, which yields daily changing pleasures like veal tongue poached with cotechino sausage, or a chestnut-gilded roasted guinea hen that threatened to undermine this year’s Thanksgiving. Partner Annie Shi deftly handles wines and runs both cream-toned rooms with the kind of warm generosity that makes you want to become a regular.

Hail Mary's fried chicken
Hail Mary’s fried chicken

12. Hail Mary (68 Greenpoint Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-422-0645)

Combat your winter SAD, or cheer yourself up just because at Sohla and Hisham El-Waylly’s gonzo neo-diner, where the fine dining veterans let their hair down and cultivate an atmosphere that encourages you to do the same. There’s the industrial-meets-retro décor, a playlist that might get explicit about oral sex, Sohla’s towering buttercream-frosted layer cakes, and a plate of fried chicken spiced so powerfully with cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns, and star anise that it nearly gets your lips tingling before the first bite. The newly instituted $29 three-course prix-fixe is a bargain, and at brunch the El Wayllys dish up their takes on greasy spoon standards, including a relish-topped double-cheeseburger and duck hash made with potatoes and rice for extra crunch.

Sushi Inoue's sashimi course
Sushi Inoue’s sashimi course

11. Sushi Inoue (381 Lenox Avenue, 646-766- 0555)

Like the unassumingly marvelous sushi bars tucked away in Tokyo’s train stations, this stealthy seafood oasis hides behind bamboo window shades on the ground floor of a luxury Harlem low-rise. As exacting as he is waggishly entertaining (“Tuna is my girlfriend,” he once told VICE Munchies), chef Shinichi Inoue has a hand in everything at his namesake restaurant, including pickling his own ginger, which is slightly sweet with a gentle bite. Fish, sourced locally and flown in from Japan daily, dictates the evening’s offerings (omakase options start at $90), and specials like torched blowfish sperm offer nigiri nerds a real opportunity to expand their repertoire. There are frankly too many places in this town where you can blow hundreds of dollars on sea creatures, but Inoue never makes a visit to his broad counter feel like anything less than a proper voyage.

High Street on Hudson's Pennsylvania beef
High Street on Hudson’s Pennsylvania beef

10. High Street on Hudson (637 Hudson Street, 917-388-3944)

New Yorkers owe Philly restauratuers a debt of gratitude this year for giving us a number of Gotham outposts of their hottest eateries, including Ellen Yin and chef Eli Kulp’s excellent sibling spot to their original High Street on Market. The all-day operation — part bakery, part café, and part experimental New American restaurant — shines no matter when you show up, whether it’s to grab a coffee-gravy-and-ham-packed red-eye danish in the morning, or a duck meatball sandwich during lunch. At night, you can go the small-plates route or settle in for a $65 multi-course tasting. The kitchen’s ability to juggle so many moving parts with such consistency is almost more impressive than the food that comes out of it… almost.

Izzy's beef rib
Izzy’s beef rib

9. Izzy’s Brooklyn Smokehouse (397 Troy Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-425-0524)

Who knew Jews could ‘que? We were certainly unenlightened until we set foot inside Sruli “Izzy” Eidelman’s sliver of a meat palace in Hasidic Crown Heights, where the bearded Brooklynite pitmaster doles out heavily crusted, Flinstonian beef ribs and gloriously fatty lamb breasts from behind swinging saloon doors. If you don’t adhere to a kosher diet, the prices might come as a surprise, but even at $20 for a half-pound, Eidelman’s brisket — smoked for up to eighteen hours using a combination of oak and cherry woods — is some of the moistest and smokiest we’ve ever come across. In true smokehouse fashion, you can complement your meats with homey sides, like beefy pit beans and baked sweet potatoes loaded with candied pecans. Given the dietary restrictions, everything, including the pies for dessert, are dairy free, though they’re mostly no worse off for it.

Win Son's mantou ice cream sandwich
Win Son’s mantou ice cream sandwich

8. Win Son (159 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-457-6010)

Taiwan’s multitudinous, multicultural cooking traditions are the jumping-off point at Josh Ku and chef Trigg Brown’s comfortable East Williamsburg haunt, which matches a dressed-down Brooklyn aesthetic to a crafty and inexpensive lineup of small plates. The kitchen seems to only know how to season at full throttle, so that even fried eggplant stands out among the pig-heavy menu, the nightshades electrified by scatterings of chopped cashews, cilantro, black-vinegar caramel, and tangy yogurt. Even when Brown stays traditional there are surprises, as with the musky pull of fermented black beans lacing his “flies head,” a heady dish of ground red wattle pork shoulder and finely minced garlic chives. The sole dessert relies not on impressive sugar wizardry, but store-bought vanilla bean ice cream, which gets stuffed inside an oversized fried mantou bun drenched in condensed milk.

Atoboy's pork-stuffed squid
Atoboy’s pork-stuffed squid

7. Atoboy (43 East 28th Street, 646-476-7217)

Banchan, the procession of sides that traditionally launch a Korean meal, get the star treatment at this boisterous NoMad canteen from fine dining veterans Ellia and chef Junghyun Park. In a chicly spartan concrete-and-wood room, the wife-and-husband team serve a three-course menu of share plates for a remarkably reasonable $36 at dinner. Park’s focused and aesthetically adventurous cooking — in which green chile broth nudges gently cooked mackerel, peanut butter sets off fried chicken, and salsa verde splashes pork-stuffed squid with an eye-opening kick — would impress at any cost; at these prices, it’s kind of astonishing.

Steelhead trout at Mr. Donahue's
Steelhead trout at Mr. Donahue’s

6. Mr. Donahue’s (203 Mott Street, 646-850-9480)

Throwbacks aren’t solely reserved for Thursdays at Anne Redding and Matt Danzer’s eminently bewitching second act quick, a sentimental follow-up to cult favorite Uncle Boons. At their jewel-box Nolita lunch counter, the spouses produce elegant updates of old-fashioned stalwarts, like broiled fish steaks and chicken-fried pork cheeks that are wonderful smothered in spicy gravy or stacked between a sesame potato bun for a pepperoncini-topped, mayo-slicked slam dunk of a sandwich. Best of all, the vintage delights (creamy crab imperial rendered peppery and profound, fudgy deviled duck eggs) come with near-vintage pricing: most meals that include a main, a sauce, and two sides fetch $20.

Dawa's blood sausage
Dawa’s blood sausage

5. Dawa’s (51-18 Skillman Avenue, Queens; 718-899-8629)

Taken as a whole, the split menus (one market-driven New American, the other full of Himalayan specialties) at this charming Woodside café tell two parts of the same story. It’s one authored by chef Dawa Bhuti, whose family hails from Tibet and who herself was born in Nepal and raised in India. At her namesake restaurant, which soaks up natural light during the day, she shares the kitchen with her father Ngodup Gyaltsen, cooking gorgeous, affordable brunch plates like grain salads of black rice punctuated alluringly with coconut dressing and a $14.50 herb-poached cod with bok choy and celery root puree. Their Tibetan, Nepali, and Bhutanese dishes — from exceedingly crispy shabaley beef patties, to fiery chile pepper pork, to gyuma, the blood sausage thickened with tripe, heart, and bulgur wheat — are terrific, too, standing out in a neighborhood intimately familiar with these recipes. Smartly arranged on dinnerware from cult potter Jordan Colón, these elevated tastes of home bridge the gap between the spot’s farm fresh fare and what Dawa’s proudly dubs “ETHNIC PLATES,” which are as excitingly bold as the all-caps would imply.

MIMI's duck à l'orange
MIMI’s duck à l’orange

4. MIMI (185 Sullivan Street, 212-418-1260)

The young talents fueling this snug and stylish Greenwich Village retreat continue to make MIMI a must-try for those in search of exhilarating bistro cooking. Under opening chef Liz Johnson and her fiancé Will Aghajanian, the place earned a reputation for daredevil-ish theatrics on both palate and plate; ducks were set ablaze, slabs of foie gras-stuffed eel arrived dripping with blood sauce, and if you showed up more than an hour after opening, your chances of snagging some of their outrageous turtle soup, served ceremoniously beneath its shell, were slim-to-none. Twenty-six-year-old Ivan Corona, their pal and former sous chef, took over last month, and has kept the restaurant’s rambunctious kitchen spirit (and some of Johnson’s most popular recipes) alive, so there’s no risk of losing mainstays like MIMI’s eminently approachable, mustardy roast chicken or the wedge of dense chocolate cake that comes with a snowball-sized scoop of silky ice milk.

Olmsted's carrot crepe
Olmsted’s carrot crepe

3. Olmsted (659 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-552-2610)

For all the farm-to-table jokes you can lob at them — about the heated backyard garden with its cooing quails and claw foot tub full of crawfish, or the “living wall” of plants that runs the length of the dining room — it’s clear that farmer/co-owner Ian Rothman and chef-owner Greg Baxtrom have something special in Olmsted, their perennially mobbed Prospect Heights sensation. It’s evident in the smiles of the blanket-clad guests toasting marshmallows outdoors in the middle of winter, and in the U-shaped planting beds lined with radishes and kale, which the kitchen purees into soup and folds with crab for rangoons respectively. Even with all of the agricultural razzle dazzle, Baxtrom’s moderately priced and overtly ambitious menu (the most expensive dish is a $24 two-act main course of guinea hen; the breast roasted, the dark meat confited and piled high alongside in a separate wooden bowl) remains the star.

Le Coucou's rabbit
Le Coucou’s rabbit

2. Le Coucou (138 Lafayette Street, 212-271-4252)

Everything old may eventually be new again, but few restaurants balance such a beguilingly timeless mix of baroque aesthetic opulence, laidback yet painstakingly generous service, and superb old-school French cooking as this striking downtown newcomer from mega-restaurateur Stephen Starr and chef Daniel Rose. Befitting the cavernous room decked out with chandeliers and a set-piece open kitchen that seems to stretch back forever, you’ll pay a pretty penny for Le Coucou’s stunning renditions of Lyonnaise fried calf’s head, caul fat-wrapped chicken crepinettes topped with foie gras and roasted plums, and airy pike quenelles plied with lobster claws and briny, buttery sauce Américaine. Though rooted in centuries-old traditions, Rose’s food has an au courant sheen that backs up substance with style.

Aska's bladderwrack seaweed with mussel emulsion
Aska’s bladderwrack seaweed with mussel emulsion

1. Aska (47 South 5th Street, Brooklyn; 929-337-6792)

If the pop-up he ran from inside art and nightlife space Kinfolk Studios was his chrysalis phase, Frederik Berselius has gone full-on, beautiful wing-flapping butterfly at this grand revival of Aska, his high-minded Scandinavian restaurant now housed in a circa-1860s warehouse under the Williamsburg Bridge. What separates these blowout chef’s tastings (ten or nineteen courses for $145 or $215, respectively) from the current crop of New Nordic restaurants is that they feel so intensely personal, down to the lamb heart ashes inspired by a dream, and the reindeer lichen the chef sources from Stephanie Charlene, the Catskills potter who also supplies the restaurant’s stoneware. It also helps that during his hiatus, the lithe and lanky Berselius seemingly figured out how to commune with Mother Nature in ways that would make Captain Planet and Al Gore jealous, compressing cucumbers with linden flower oil and sneaking blood into petit fours. Downstairs, the Edda Bar gives guests who don’t want to commit to an hours-long authoritarian dinner a taste of the action taking place on ground level with a selection of stately, under $20 snacks, like carrots and fennel with house-made cheese and curls of smoked pork shoulder mean for dragging through chanterelle cream.

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The 15 Best Sandwiches in New York City, 2015

There are countless sandwiches in the world, from basic PB&Js to fancy open-faced fare. But at their core, they’re all pretty much just bread and filling. A dish so simple risks being boring, but when you bite into a sandwich that’s been crafted with the golden ratio of bread, meat (or veggies), and condiments…it’s like the scene in Ratatouille when Remy discovers the firework-inducing magic of combining the right ingredients at the same time.

In honor of National Sandwich Day, we’ve collected fifteen of the finest sammies in the city for you. But rest assured, these glorious creations are just as tasty any day of the year.

Breakfast Sandwich at Dimes

A good breakfast sandwich is as comforting and messy as any great romance. It’s unique, and it’s not easy. But Dimes (49 Canal Street, 212-925-1300) makes theirs look that way, in Sabrina De Sousa and Alissa Wagner’s afternoon-sunlit room down the east end of Canal Street.

In a kitchen as slight as a whisper, cooks fold plush cashmere-like blankets of scrambled eggs with cheddar and avocado, nubby with pickled jalapeños, stained with a bright bell-pepper hot sauce, and burning sweetly with brown sugar and cayenne, for the sleepwalking beautiful people who press as close together as the tables: elbow to elbow, cheek to cheek. — Adam Robb

The Vegetarian at Meat Hook Sandwich Shop

The folks behind the beloved Meat Hook butcher shop in Williamsburg serve a somewhat ironic vegetarian option ($13) at Meat Hook Sandwich Shop (495 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn; 718-302-4665). But it might even be better than most of the carnivorous selections on the menu. It includes every sandwich ingredient in the kitchen that isn’t meat, some of it pickled, some fried, some fresh. Fried eggplant, pickled cipollini, marinated artichokes, marinated tomatoes, fennel, cabbage, watercress, escarole, frisée, red onion, herbs, hash browns, and fried onions are piled high on an airy kaiser roll. It’s sealed with an earthy and sweet spread made from fried beets, parsnips, and carrots. With so many flavors and elements mixed in, you won’t even notice there’s no meat between the bun — unless, of course, that’s your goal. — Sara Ventiera

Ippudo’s Pork Buns

New Yorkers are serious about food, but they’re currently crazy about ramen. Few other food items would inspire multi-hour lines in the cold. Yet the prospect of hot bowls of flavorful broth garners such strong desires that intrepid diners are more than willing to do so — as long as it’s good. Ippudo (65 Fourth Avenue, 212-388-0088), one of the first Japanese noodle spots on the scene in NYC, still attracts three-hour wait times on a Wednesday night. The bowls here are rich, deeply satisfying, and utterly delicious. It’s hailed as the best of the best.

The secret, however, is that the star of the show isn’t even what the place is known for. The hirata buns ($9) are the best thing on the menu. The freshly steamed rice flour rolls are warm and pillowy; one order comes with two, filled with juicy pork belly slathered in a tangy and slightly spicy special sauce. Each is layered with iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise, which lends a bit of cream and a nice crisp crunch. If you don’t do pork, the chicken ($9) and vegetable ($8) are also topnotch. — Sara Ventiera

Junior’s Something Different

What started out as a mostly kosher restaurant in downtown Brooklyn sixty years ago has transformed into a neighborhood institution serving something for everyone, representing the area’s changing demographics. Now at Junior’s (386 Flatbush Avenue Extension, Brooklyn; 718-852-5257) there’s crab and barbecue pork ribs and Caribbean-style lobster tails, though the Jewish staples still top the list of menu items. There’s excellent brisket. Killer latkes. The “Something Different,” which brings both together in indulgent form: tender brisket sandwiched between two well-seasoned potato pancakes, all of it about the size of a construction worker’s fist. Sour cream, apple sauce, and au jus or mushroom gravy come on the side. It’s hearty, maybe gluttonous, actually, and it most certainly is something different. But, after one go, this decadent dish is something you’ll crave. — Sara Ventiera

Uncle Jesse Bao at Baohaus

What Baohaus (238 East 14th Street, 646-684-3835) lacks in space (the Taiwanese eatery is small and easily crowded) it more than makes up for in its signature bao dishes — snack sandwiches served on mantou bread, a steamed variety native to China. Though baos aren’t usually vegetarian, owners and brothers Eddie and Evan Huang took it upon themselves to create a meat-free bao as a nod to their vegetarian patrons. The Uncle Jesse bao, which features organic fried tofu, crushed peanuts, and Haus sauce, is simultaneously crunchy, soft, sweet, savory, and spicy.

In addition to making damn good bao, Baohaus offers much in the way of pleasant atmosphere: The Huangs have created a chic, laid-back space. It’s a perfect spot to hang out and shoot the shit; tables are stacked with stickers, and a far-back wall is plastered with Polaroids, art pieces, and newspaper clippings — a millennial’s dream. — Tara Mahadevan

Shelsky’s Hot Pastrami Sandwich

Shelsky’s of Brooklyn (141 Court Street, Brooklyn; 718-855-8817) started off by bringing smoked fish to the borough. Since then, the shop has branched out from aquatic creatures to smoked and cured meats. Everything from the pastrami and corned beef to the tongue is cured in-house then shipped off to Fletcher’s in Gowanus for a touch of smoke. That’s what makes the hot pastrami sandwich ($18.99) so good. The piles of steamed beef are set between two slices of Orwasher’s plain rye bread (seeded and pumpernickel are also available), one of which is slathered with mustard. The meat is offered lean, moist, or extra moist — go for the extra. The sandwich could throw down with anything you’ll find on the L.E.S., but fortunately, it comes without the crowds. — Sara Ventiera

Hippie Banjo at Pies ‘n’ Thighs

Though simple, there’s something about Pies ‘n’ Thighs’ (166 South 4th Street, 347-529-6090) hippie banjo sandwich ($7.50) that really hits the spot. No ordinary fried egg sandwich, the hippie banjo is a hotbed of textures and flavors: Stacked between two pieces of buttery, crunchy, straight-from-the-grill anadama bread sit an over-easy fried egg, cheddar cheese, avocado, tomato, sprouts, and mayo. The sprouts, in particular, elevate the overall sandwich, acting as a palate-refresher after the cheese and mayo.

Pies ‘n’ Thighs’ homefries ($5) — classic rosemary potatoes cooked to crispy perfection — and cheese grits ($5) complete the meal, if you’re really ravenous. — Tara Mahadevan

Graffiti’s Graffiti Burger

If Superiority Burger’s namesake sandwich is too extreme a trip into vegetarianism, Graffiti Food & Wine Bar (222 East 10th Street, 212-677-0695) chef Jehangir Mehta’s signature sliders are a gateway drug. The acclaimed former pastry chef has spent years hooking regulars on these exquisitely seasoned guilty pleasures, which feature a global trove of produce and spices and trump a gratuitous heft of Pat LaFrieda beef fat. The diners at his stalwart hole-in-the-wall continue to only want more, not different, because Mehta’s menu’s been nearly untouched since he first opened the intimate dining room’s shutters on a quiet stretch in 2007.

Just as they did on day one, Graffiti burgers come by the pair. Divided by a handful of baked garlic fingerlings that absorb the punch of Mehta’s house-made tomato-chipotle mayonnaise, the burgers are in no way overshadowed. At 60% pure Angus, they’re cut with a blend of fresh, diced onions, tomatoes, green chiles, and mushrooms heady with coriander, cumin, ginger, and mint. And — as with any business-minded pusher, knowing that media and finance types want a taste of what downtowners want to keep to themselves — you’ll find the burgers farther south when Mehta opens Graffiti Earth in Tribeca’s Duane Street Hotel this October. — Adam Robb

Herbie’s International at Ivan Ramen

At Ivan Ramen (25 Clinton Street, 646-678-3859), owner Ivan Orkin gets up to all sorts of East-meets-West shenanigans, like coating cubes of fried tofu in Coney Island–style chili and serving Chinese thousand-year deviled eggs. In the same vein, his Herbie’s International sandwich has us wishing Mel Brooks would Kickstarter a Young Frankenstein sequel, because mad genius Orkin has resurrected one hero of a hoagie.

Based on a sandwich first served at Herbie’s restaurant in Loch Sheldrake, New York, and once popular throughout the Catskills, this creation — named for a sibling restaurant that once operated in Canarsie — stuffs heaps of thinly sliced Chinese-style barbecued pork onto a miso-garlic toasted hero roll. Available during lunch and brunch, it’s served with a shiso-spiked citrus slaw, a slick of sinus-searing Chinese-style mustard, and a ramekin of syrupy roasted-garlic duck sauce. Its flavors are unsubtle in a seriously satisfying way, with sumptuous fluctuation between sweet, meaty, and spicy tastes from bite to bite. Like everyone else, we love ramen, but Orkin’s cultural experiments always grab our attention. — Zachary Feldman

Emily’s Emmy Burger

Breakout Clinton Hill pizzeria Emily (919 Fulton Street, Brooklyn; 347-844-9588), run by Brooklyn-raised Matthew Hyland and his wife (the restaurant’s namesake), takes inspiration from Naples as the jumping-off point for its quirky pies, which are categorized according to sauce color (red, pink, green, or white/sauceless).

Hyland’s burger, a two-handed affair, has gained a following of its own by design, thanks to its limited availability. Just 25 of the dry-aged patties are prepared each night (they’re “unlimited” during Sunday lunch), and they sell out quickly. Majorly beefy, the coarsely ground meat hides beneath a veil of melted Grafton cheddar, sautéed onions, and “EMMY” sauce — a garlic-butter-laced Korean gochujang mayonnaise with a funky tang. Its pretzel bun, made by the venerable Tom Cat bakery, manages to be both soft and resilient, containing the whole juicy affair without giving way. The sandwich has proven so popular that Hyland even combined his two specialties into a dastardly “burger pizza” special that sounds like an edible regression therapy session. — Zachary Feldman

Lobster Roll at Fairway Market

Eating a lobster roll by the water is a tradition that just about every sane person enjoys. And while a supermarket isn’t usually the best place for lobster rolls, Fairway Market (480-500 Van Brunt Street, 718-254-0923) in Red Hook has one of the best (and cheapest).

Located directly on the water, this Fairway has a large and comfortable outdoor seating area — you could enjoy the prodigious passing shipping vessels while scarfing down the two pounds of trail mix you just bought, but a far better option is getting a lobster roll, made fresh to order and simply prepared on a toasted roll with lightly mayo-tossed lobster meat. At $10, it’s just as tasty as at any of those $17 lobster roll chains found in the city, with its no-fail combination of sweet crustacean and sapid starch. — Kevin Kessler

Eisenberg’s Patty Melt

Eating at Eisenberg’s (174 Fifth Avenue, 212-675-5096), which has one of the longest deli counters found anywhere, is a throwback to the New York days of old, when spots just like this dotted the entire city. The ultimate in no-frills, Eisenberg’s is a reliable diner in an area now clogged with chain restaurants and overpriced Italian markets. From egg creams to pastrami and fried bologna sandwiches, Eisenberg’s serves all the classic diner hits, including this delicious patty melt. Served on heavenly toasted rye bread with gooey swiss cheese and sautéed onions along with the burger patty, it qualifies as a two-meal sandwich. Rich and perfectly textured, it’s best enjoyed with a side of pickles and some Russian dressing for dipping. — Kevin Kessler

Trini Gyul’s Doubles

After relocating to Queens, Ro Ramcharan added late-night hours to her charming and communal Trini Gyul (112-16 Liberty Avenue, Queens; 718-659-1020) restaurant in order to fully utilize its new space, outfitted with a J-shaped bar opposite the steam-tray table in back. At night, her intensely flavored cassareep chicken and other Trinidadian snacks rule, but the doubles she sells every morning usually disappear before lunch, and for good reason.

In her new neighborhood, she’s tripled her orders of the breakfast favorite, a sandwich of fried bread and channa, or curried chickpeas. Vendors in Trinidad and Tobago are as common as slice joints here, and each puts his or her own spin on the specialty. Ramcharan’s start with sunset-hued fried turmeric buns, flaky and soft on the inside. She layers cool and tart mango and mint chutneys over the chunky chickpea stew, already brimming with herbal notes of culantro and Cuban oregano. The vegetarian sandwich beats the pants off most wan bacon-egg-and-cheeses, with a delicate crunch that holds up nicely under the stew and condiments. — Zachary Feldman

Meat Hook Sandwich’s Hot Chicken Sandwich

It’s been a great year for fried-chicken sandwiches. And at Meat Hook Sandwich (495 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn), the bready offshoot of cult Brooklyn butcher shop the Meat Hook, Gil Calderon puts together a crow-worthy crown jewel to top his cast of quirky, mammoth creations. His hot chicken sandwich pays tribute to Nashville’s tongue-searing delicacy of the same name, with a disk of shredded thigh meat that’s been brined in hot sauce, poached, and then fried. With potent poultry flavor and a slathering of peppery schmaltz, this sandwich practically squawks back at you with a relentless, steady heat. Calderon cuts through the chicken’s richness and spice by adding pickled vegetables and a tart, sweet Polynesian barbecue-style sauce into the mix. Both a mainline tap into the zeitgeist and a captivating take on a regional specialty, the sandwich proves its worth on first mouth-tingling taste. Suggestion: The puck of bird meat dwarfs its soft wheat roll, so give the whole thing a squeeze before digging in to allow for manageable bites. — Village Voice staff

Emily’s Pork Store’s Sandwiches

In a city now chockablock with green-juice emporiums and chopped-salad bodegas, it’s actually become quite challenging to find a truly great sandwich. But for over forty years, in the once predominantly Italian neighborhood surrounding the Graham L stop, Emily’s Pork Store (426 Graham Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-383-7216) has been making some of the finest sandwiches anywhere (to go along with its reputation as the finest butcher shop in Williamsburg). Consisting of four or five options, Emily’s sandwich menu is short, and its salami-and-mozzarella concoction reigns supreme. Served on a crunchy baguette, the sandwich is composed of house-made salami, fresh dark-roasted red peppers, and thick mozzarella slices. Served with a little olive oil and vinegar, it’s essentially the world’s greatest antipasto served between bread, which is made just down the street at Napoli Bakery. The combination is sweet and salty and achieves what so many other sandwiches lack: texture. — Village Voice staff

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The Village Voice’s Ten Favorite Dishes in New York City

The Village Voice searched the five boroughs to find the best of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and everything in between. And here they are: the ten dishes you’ll want to put on your must-eat list this year. Before you know it, you’ll revisit these New York City gems over and over again, savoring each and every bite.

We shared our first ninety favorite dishes in no particular order, but these shining top ten have won their hard-earned spots thanks to their innovation, attention to culinary detail, and (of course) taste.

10. Bar Goto’s Okonomiyaki

After nearly a decade entertaining thirsty patrons at some of the city’s swankiest and most esteemed watering holes, barman Kenta Goto has finally struck out on his own. Years in the making, Bar Goto (245 Eldridge Street, 212-475-4411) showcases its owner’s talents with a selection of expressive and elegant cocktails. He infuses vodka with mushrooms for bloody marys and riffs on the Tom Collins using Calpico, a Japanese milk soda. Chef Kiyo Shinoki oversees the food menu, delivering lighter fare like yuzu-pepper pickles and celery treated with seaweed and sesame, as well as more recognizable bar fare including burdock-root fries and miso-hot-sauce chicken wings.

Chief among the kitchen’s offerings are Shinoki’s okonomiyaki, savory Japanese pancakes made with grated yam and cabbage and delivered in rectangular cast-iron skillets. The five highbrow flapjacks served here come in winning combinations like mushrooms and leeks and chicken and pork belly. And while you can indulge in classic Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki, griddled with a layer of yakisoba noodles in the batter (along with a satisfying mix of pork belly and rock shrimp), don’t miss out on the “Fisherman” and “Grilled Cheese” versions. The former adds an oceanic feast of octopus, calamari, and shrimp, while the latter melts together cheddar, parmesan, and gruyère with lush, piquant sun-dried tomatoes.

Every pancake gets doused in Kewpie mayonnaise and tangy Worcestershire-like okonomiyaki sauce and arrives with bowls of shaved bonito flakes and diced pickles meant for scattering across the top. It all amounts to some of the city’s most refined bar food and best drunk munchies, the pancakes simultaneously crisp, fluffy, and dense with hearty flavors.

9. Peasant’s Risotto

Frank DeCarlo built his kitchen with his bare hands and his wood-fired ovens brick by brick. At Peasant (194 Elizabeth Street; 212-965-9511), his rustic Nolita restaurant going fifteen years strong, the seasoned chef and a small crew cook a lineup of traditional — and, in many cases, ancient — Italian recipes learned through his time spent cooking throughout the country. From his roiling furnace and rotisserie, he produces thin-crust pizzas topped with spicy peppers and chile-spiked salami and lasagnas layered with tomato-braised goat or shredded rabbit and béchamel, while his burners are reserved for classics like risottos served in wide, shallow dishes.

Accoutrements for the wondrously soupy and creamy grains change seasonally. Sometimes they hold porcini mushrooms, sometimes asparagus; sometimes peas and shrimp. Our favorite version is DeCarlo’s squid ink risotto, the black rice dotted with plump whole cuttlefish. Red and yellow cherry tomatoes, basil, and edible flowers add pops of color and bright, fresh flavor to the dish’s earthy richness. Peasant’s wood-fired items, like head-on squab and crisp-skinned suckling pigs with potatoes simmered in milk, are arguably its biggest draw, but the risottos — offered in portions large enough to share — illustrate why the restaurant hasn’t missed a step.

8. Empellon Cocina’s Cucumbers

For the past four years, pastry chef turned Mexican-cooking savant Alex Stupak has wowed diners with his creative take on this complex cuisine, delving deep and playing with flavors, techniques, and textures both familiar and unconventional. At Empellon Cocina (105 First Avenue; 212-780-0999), the most formal and experimental of his three establishments, he’s tinkered with his dining-room menu numerous times and even installed a chef’s counter in the back of the restaurant that entertains four select guests with a procession of ingenious bites served in two seatings.

If you can’t snag a reservation for the wild ride taking place in back, several dishes on Cocina’s main menu offer similarly evocative highs. One such plate is Stupak’s surreptitiously intricate jumble of cucumbers. Sitting in a puddle of black-cumin-spiked buttermilk, the raw and pickled cucumbers chill out under a dusting of lemon ice squirted with lime-basil oil (referencing the Mexican snow cones known as respados). The refreshing, sour granita, tangy and spicy dairy, and gently sweet vegetables conspire to generate a composition that feels far more nuanced and luxurious than cucumbers have any right to be — yet it’s something that would also feel right at home alongside a michelada.

7. La Vara’s Gurullos

Jewish- and Moorish-influenced Spanish flavors pervade at La Vara (268 Clinton Street, Brooklyn; 718-422-0065), Alex Raij and Eder Montero’s spot located along a sleepy residential Brooklyn street. Whether seated alongside exposed brick or beneath the massive tree that juts into the tiny outdoor seating area, diners enjoy the couple’s evocative and often hearty plates, like cumin-spiced half-chicken and bricks of shredded lamb served with scallions. But we were also delighted to find out that Spain has a pasta tradition.

Hailing from the southeastern city of Murcia, gurullos are airy and hand-rolled stubby semolina noodles poached in milk. Sometimes flavored with saffron, the pasta is, at La Vara, drenched in grassy goat butter and seasoned with bright, lemony sumac. For an extra barnyardy taste, you can (and should) get this primo pasta with the addition of ground goat meat — the animal’s usual gaminess is only hinted at, while its richness and texture bolster the rest of the ingredients on the plate.

6. Gui Lin Mi Fen’s Noodle Soups

Flushing overflows with all kinds of no-holds-barred dining experiences boasting ample (and occasionally too much) spice and gluttony. Which is why the neighborhood’s blessed to have a place like Gui Lin Mi Fen (135-25 40th Road, Queens; 718-939-2025) situated off the vibrant community’s main thoroughfare, where diners can indulge in a slow-cooked regional delicacy with a subtle approach to complexity.

The specialty here, springy and thin mi fen rice noodles floating in soup, arrives at the table deconstructed — but it’s no modernist touch. Hailing from Guilin, a city in southern China, the dish presents starch and soup separately in deep bowls. Sip the pristine stock, a cloudy and only slightly oleaginous elixir made from chicken, pork, and beef bones simmered for twelve hours. Don’t forget the noodles in the other bowl. They sit in pungent soy marinade and come topped with simply prepared meats like fresh-killed poached chicken, thinly sliced brisket, and deep-fried pork belly. After you’ve tasted each separately, combine them into one seriously fortifying soup. Smoked pork makes a compelling accoutrement, its streaks of fat melting into the elixir, and the vegetarian “Good Friends” version plays nice with peppery bamboo shoots, mushrooms, pickled green beans, cilantro, scallions, and roasted soy nuts.

5. Coney Shack’s Hainan Chicken Burrito

“Fusion” is still a four-letter word in many kitchens, but after a visit to affable street-vending newcomer Coney Shack (2875 West 8th Street, Brooklyn), you’re likely to utter a few oaths of your own. At Lawrence Mach’s Coney Island cart and roving food truck (spotted in midtown and the financial district), the kitchens churn out sizzling Southeast Asian takes on popular American snack foods.

We can’t argue with messy double-animal hot dogs, which throw everything from garlic-lemongrass grilled chicken to garlic-glazed pork and even beer-battered fish atop snappy beef frankfurters. Sans tube steak, all three are available as tacos or quesadillas (sweet-sticky Vietnamese caramelized pork is our favorite). Then there’s Mach’s Hainan burrito, an ode to Malaysian and Singaporean Hainanese chicken over rice. To make it, he layers zippy ginger-scallion sauce with grilled chicken and jasmine rice. The flavor-packed condiment adds an electric-green vein of oily savor throughout the multicultural gut-bomb that soaks into the soft grains, bolstered by bright pico de gallo, chile oil, spicy mayonnaise, and chopped pickled long pepper.

4. Safari’s Hilib Ari 

Maymuuna Birjeeb’s Harlem restaurant Safari (219 West 116th Street; 646-964-4252), the first to bring Somali cuisine to New York City, delights diners with its globally influenced flavors. Birjeeb and her crew serve up aromatic plates of pasta and broiled fish ladled with Italian-influenced, alfredo-like “Fantastic” sauce, as well as goat so supple the plate arrives with the meat already sliding off the bone.

Called hilib ari on the menu, the animal has been roasted for six hours until its exterior attains some char. Seasoned generously with coriander and cumin, the sweet meat retains little trace of the barnyard. The kitchen stirs the goat with onions and bell peppers before plating with rice pilaf stained yellow with turmeric. You’ll want plenty of basbaas, a Somali hot sauce that gets its bite from cilantro, lime, jalapeños, and yogurt.

3. The Ron Darling Pizza at GG’s

At Nick Morgenstern’s well-dressed East Village carbohydrate canteen GG’s (511 East 5th Street; 212-687-3641), Bobby Hellen taps into his Italian-American roots to offer an exciting, modern pizzeria that’s worlds away from the average slice shop. Despite flourishes like splashing basil oil over square pies decorated with radishes and spreadable sausage, the Staten Island–reared chef manages to cultivate a neighborhood feel here.

A lifelong Mets fan, Hellen has produced a few yeasty sonnets in honor of his favorite baseball team. One such combination is a round number named after Hawaiian-born Ron Darling, former Mets pitcher and current MLB announcer. Recalling the island state’s infamous fruit-and-meat pizza, the kitchen dots a layer of mozzarella with pickled pineapple and extra-smoky ham, and in another refreshing twist, Hellen squirts curlicues of al pastor marinade over the top (a nod to the Mexican pork-and-pineapple combo). Fruity and fiery guajillo chiles in the sauce lend an unexpected and incredibly satisfying punch.

2. Kurumazushi’s Lunch Specials 

Climbing the stairs to Kurumazushi (7 East 47th Street; 212-317-2802), Toshihiro Uezu’s unassuming maguro mecca on the second floor of a midtown low-rise, you might understandably get cold feet. After all, this is the same 69-year-old itamae who has been slicing traditional edomae sushi since 1977, and whose dinnertime omakase starts at $300.

But breathe easy — you’ve come for lunch, when a platter of ten pieces of glistening nigiri (plus a roll, usually tuna) can be yours for $35 or $60, depending on the rarity of the cuts desired. You’re likely to encounter tuna, yellowtail, chopped crab, and a slab of sweet, creamy tamago egg. Uezu, whose lightly vinegared rice supports generous portions of fish, also smokes salmon in-house, giving the fatty fish a wonderfully faint woodsy aroma.


1. Mekelburg’s Baked Potatoes

“How the hell do you make a baked potato unforgettable?” is not a question most people are dying to answer, but at Mekelburg’s (293 Grand Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-399-2337), a subterranean grocery and restaurant in Clinton Hill, the kitchen delivers two salt-roasted, irrefutable answers.

One holds a puddle of melted raclette and is otherwise stacked with sour cream, pickled peppers, and a slab of crisp, deeply smoky pork belly; the other contains an appetizing counter’s worth of hot-smoked sable, the buttery fish mingling with crème fraîche and caviar. Hulking and affordable (at $8 and $10, respectively), both esteemed tubers prove that elevated comfort food doesn’t have to feel cliché.

Don’t forget to check out our other 90 favorite dishes in New York City and the entire list of Best of New York City Food & Drink winners

 

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Best of New York City 2015: Food and Drink Winners

After counting down dozens of our absolute favorite bites in the city this year, our Best of New York City issue finally hit the stands. But with hundreds of categories — from Best Cheap Thrill to Best Place for a Grown-Up’s Birthday Party, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

That’s why we’ve made it that much simpler for you to find your new favorite late-night spot, the absolute best slice in the city, and every other food- and drink-related winner in this year’s Best of NYC®. Here’s the complete list of our esteemed (and tasty) winners:

Best-Kept Secret (Restaurant Division)

Best Chef

Best Pastry Chef

Best Dessert

Best New Restaurant

Best Comeback

Best Late-Night Dining

Best Health-Conscious Restaurant

Best Vegetarian Restaurant

Best Vegetable Dish

Best Tasting Menu

Best Pasta

Best Restaurant on the Lower East Side

Best Restaurant in Chinatown/Financial District

Best Restaurant in Soho

Best Restaurant in the East Village

Best Restaurant in the West Village

Best Restaurant in the Flatiron/Union Square

Best Restaurant in Gramercy

Best Restaurant in Chelsea

Best Restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen/Theater District

Best Restaurant on the Upper West Side

Best Restaurant on the Upper East Side

Best Restaurant in Harlem

Best Restaurant in West Harlem

Best Restaurant in the Bronx

Best Restaurant in Brooklyn Heights/DUMBO/Downtown

Best Restaurant in Williamsburg

Best Restaurant in Fort Greene/Vinegar Hill/Clinton Hill

Best Restaurant in Greenpoint

Best Restaurant in Gowanus/Park Slope

Best Restaurant in Crown Heights

Best Restaurant in Bushwick

Best Restaurant in Red Hook

Best Restaurant in Bed-Stuy

Best Restaurant in Ditmas Park

Best Restaurant in Long Island City

Best Restaurant in Astoria

Best Restaurant in Sunnyside

Best Restaurant in Jackson Heights

Best Restaurant in Flushing

Best Restaurant in Far Rockaway

Best African Restaurant

Best Caribbean Restaurant

Best Chinese Restaurant

Best French Restaurant

Best Greek Restaurant

Best Indian Restaurant

Best Italian Restaurant

Best Japanese Restaurant

Best Sushi

Best Korean Restaurant

Best Mexican Restaurant

Best Tex-Mex Restaurant

Best Middle Eastern Restaurant

Best Spanish Restaurant

Best Thai Restaurant

Best Vietnamese Restaurant

Best Pizza

Best Pizza (Slice)

Best Deli/Sandwich Shop

Best Soup

Best Sandwich

Best Burger

Best Burger (Non-Beef Division)

Best Hot Dog

Best Fried-Chicken Sandwich

Best Fried Chicken

Best Taco

Best Torta

Best Chicken Wings

Best Barbecue

Best Ramen

Best Dumplings

Best Falafel

Best Food on a Stick

Best Power Lunch

Best Restaurant When Someone Else Pays

Best Steakhouse

Best Butcher

Best Buffet

Best Diner

Best Cheap Eats

Best Fast/Casual Restaurant

Best Food Truck

Best Food You Can Have Delivered

Best Coffee Shop (For Coffee)

Best Breakfast

Best Brunch

Best Dim Sum

Best Bakery

Best Bagel

Best Doughnuts

Best Ice Cream

Best New Ice Cream Shop

Best Ice Cream Sandwich

Best Wine List in a Restaurant

Best Wine Shop

Best Wine Bar

Best Oyster Bar

Best Bar Food

Best New Bar

Best Hotel Bar

Best LGBTQ Bar (Manhattan)

Best LGBTQ Bar (Not Manhattan)

Best Aperitif Bar

Best Whiskey Bar

Best Cocktail Bar

Best Cocktails With a View

Best Beach Bar

Best Bloody Mary

Best Beer Selection in a Bar

Best Cider Bar

Best Place to Drown Your Sorrows

Best Local Brewery

Best Local Distillery

Best Dive Bar (Bronx)

Best Dive Bar (Brooklyn)

Best Dive Bar (Manhattan)

Best Dive Bar (Queens)

Best Dive Bar (Staten Island)

Best Restaurant Restroom

Best Harbinger of Impending Gentrification

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Best Oyster Bar

Any bar can shuck a few bivalves at happy hour, but if you want real oyster expertise, Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. is North Brooklyn’s safest bet. Carefully sourcing sustainable staples for every item on a menu full of thoughtful, elegant seafood dishes (like green curry mussels, fish tacos, or kelp noodle pad thai) is a labor of love for business partners Adam Geringer-Dunn and Vincent Milburn. That rings especially true for their raw-bar selection, featuring mouthwatering mollusks from both coasts, like Pacific-harvested creamy Kumamotos in their deep, rounded shells, or the big and briny East Dennis variety from Cape Cod, with hints of grapefruit and seaweed. There are also show-stoppers like live sea scallops served in the shell (if you can snag one before they sell out). Combo platters offer one way to save a few — ahem — clams; alternatively, stop in from 2 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for $1 Noanks, a “sweet and salty staff favorite” from Connecticut. 114 Nassau Avenue, Brooklyn 11222, 718-349-0400, greenpointfish.com

Readers’ Choice: Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant

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Here Are the Village Voice’s 90 (and Counting!) Favorite Dishes in New York City

The Village Voice is always on the lookout for the next delicious bite, and we’ve scoured New York City in search of the tastiest dishes this year. To celebrate the release of our Best of New York City issue this October, we’ve spent the past few months counting down the 100 very best bites in the city, just for you. As we roll out our Top 10 favorites, which we started doing yesterday, we decided to catch you up on the first 90. Be forewarned: You’ll want to try every last one of these.

100. Laminated Blueberry Brioche at Dominique Ansel Kitchen

Dominique Ansel and his Cronut. While his namesake Soho bakery still attracts long lines for the doughnut/croissant hybrid, the pastry virtuoso has moved on.

Ansel’s made-to-order concept, Dominique Ansel Kitchen (137 Seventh Avenue South; 212-242-5111), is Cronut-free. Here he puts a personal spin on classics such as sage-smoked brownies and a pain au chocolat with sea salt. But the star of the show is an under-the-radar laminated blueberry brioche. The tender and airy base of the pastry is filled with bright, sweet blueberry-balsamic compote, fresh berries, and mascarpone cream. Before it’s brought to the table, the top of the brioche is dusted with sugar and brûléed, producing a crisp, caramelized top.

99. Egg Shop’s Golden Bucket Fried Chicken

There’s no question what comes first at Nolita’s Egg Shop (151 Elizabeth Street, 646-666-0810), but breakfast dishes pale next to chef Nick Korbee’s glistening Golden Bucket after dark, when boneless hunks of prime birds (from neighborhood butcher Pino’s Prime Meats) are chopped, brined, and soaked in buttermilk before they’re pitched into the open kitchen’s fryer. Still sizzling, the cluckers are tossed with sea salt and scallions and smothered in a house-made honey concoction that balances wildflower succulence with a sweltering hit of habanero.

98. Ramen Lab’s Torigara Shoyu

Ramen shops have proliferated in NYC like hangovers on Saturday mornings, perhaps in direct relation to each other. However, to our taste buds, many bowls smack of the same super-rich tonkotsu stock and the same spicy sauce. Then Ramen Lab (70 Kenmare Street; 646-613-7522) came to town.

Owned by Sun Noodle, the 30-year-old noodle company that supplies most shops in the city, Ramen Lab focuses on one thing: excellent bowls of noodles in broth. At the standing-only counter, chef Jack Nakamura serves two bowls of soup, each designed with the proper noodle in mind. Of the two, the Torigara Shoyu ramen ($13), an “homage to circa-1910 Tokyo shoyu ramen,” may be the most perfect rendition we’ve ever tried. Schmaltzy chicken stock is ladled over succulent pork chashu, fermented bamboo shoots, nori, and spinach. A naruto fish cake floats on top. In the middle, delicate #0106 24W noodles soak it all in.

97. Cannoli at Ferdinando’s

This cannoli, found at Ferdinando’s Focacceria Ristorante Cucina Siciliana (151 Union Street, Brooklyn; 718-855-1545), blows away the cannoli disappointments of the past: the soggy, the stodgy, the stale, the cardboardy. 

It will restore your faith in — well, faith, really. Freshly made, crisply shattering shell, softly billowing mascarpone, thickly dusted powdered sugar, no messing about. “My father-in-law taught me all the recipes,” says Francesco (Frank) Buffa, the owner and supervising chef of the 110-year-old focacceria-ristorante-cucina. “People love them. So why would you change?”

96. Breakfast Sandwich at Dimes

A good breakfast sandwich is as comforting and messy as any great romance. It’s unique, and it’s not easy. But Dimes (49 Canal Street, 212-925-1300) makes theirs look that way, in Sabrina De Sousa and Alissa Wagner’s afternoon sun-lit room down the east end of Canal Street.

In a kitchen as slight as a whisper, cooks fold plush cashmere-like blankets of scrambled eggs with cheddar and avocado, nubby with pickled jalapeños, stained with a bright bell pepper hot sauce, and burning sweetly with brown sugar and cayenne, for the sleepwalking beautiful people who press as close together as the tables: elbow to elbow, cheek to cheek.

95. Banana Royal at Eddie’s Sweet Shop

Nostalgia seems like an ongoing trend in restaurant concepts; we’ve lost count of the number of places employing vintage-inspired wood wainscoting and faux-antique tin ceilings as part of their design. Old-fashioned ice cream parlors have jumped on that train, as well. But then, there’s Eddie’s Sweet Shop (105-29 Metropolitan Ave #1, Queens; 718-520-8514), the real deal. Since 1909, this corner store has been serving scoops to adoring fans, barely changing a thing. The humongous banana royal ($9) at Eddie’s is a delicious throwback; served on a fluted silver dish, it’s piled high with three scoops of ice cream, sliced banana, syrup (ranging from chocolate and caramel to marshmallow and strawberry), sprinkles, chopped nuts, fresh whipped cream, and a cherry on top. Ice cream is house-made, in flavors developed during the shop’s early days. Expect to see classics like cherry vanilla, mint chip, coffee chip, pistachio pineapple, rum raisin, strawberry, and butter pecan. The Banana Royal is large enough to share, but so good you’ll want it all to yourself.

94. Fletcher’s Burnt Ends

One smell of Fletcher’s (433 Third Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-763-2680) incomparable burnt ends — smoked for an entire day over fresh red oak and sugar maple — is enough to make a person’s mouth water. One bite is enough to convince any BBQ enthusiast of the supremacy of this particular preparation of beef.

The cut comes from the edge of the brisket, positioned perilously close to the fire. The wise folks of Kansas City helped spread the burnt-end gospel in the mid-Seventies, exalting what was once considered throwaway meat. Fletcher’s pitmaster Matt Fisher cut his teeth in this very same region. His burnt ends are caked in a thick layer of deckle, a gelatinous rim sealing criminal amounts of fatty flavor into each smoke-ringed cube of meat. It contrasts beautifully against a caramelized, crunchy-rubbed crust. And at just $7 per quarter-pound, it’s far and away the best bargain per calorie in the entire city.

Although Fletcher’s also excels at a variety of house-made sauces, Fisher recommends trying his burnt ends as is. “It’s such a pure thing that I don’t want to sauce it or fuck with it any more,” he warns. “It’s just like beef candy.” More like beef butter. And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

93. Almayass’s Mante

The New York outpost of one of Beirut’s best-known restaurants, Almayass (24 East 21st Street; 212-473-3100) blends the flavors and dishes of Shant and Rita Alexandrian’s Armenian heritage with those of their former Lebanese homeland. Some dishes are more Lebanese, some are traditional Armenian; most are the Alexandrians’ own blend. Manti is on the Armenian side, and it’s absolutely delicious: kind of like canoe-shaped ravioli. They’re filled with ground beef ($18) or spinach ($16) and baked, creating a delectable texture on top that’s like a prime corner-slice of lasagna — crisp and chewy, yet soft and succulent on the bottom from the juices that form in the pan. While the dumpling is still hot, it’s topped with a creamy garlic yogurt sauce and sprinkled with sumac (beef) or red-pepper powder (spinach).

92. Empellon Taqueria’s Fish Taco

Of all the tacos in New York, it’s the fish taco at Empellón Taqueria (230 West 4th Street, 212-367-0999) that most tempts our hunger. First, be sure to request the peerless house-made white-corn tortillas — it matters. Then get ready; the tacos are made to order, delivered mere seconds after tender, battered dogfish emerges from the fryer. The tempura-like crust shatters like Pop Rocks when you bite in, and each palm-size taco (three to an order; $21) has just the right balance of zingy lime mayo, subtly hot green salsa, sparkling-fresh shredded cabbage and jicama, and shaved radish. Accompany the tacos with one of the equally spot-on fresh-juice margaritas from the bar, and go ahead and cancel that flight to Baja.

91. El Rey’s Sardine Tostada

At El Rey Coffee Bar & Luncheonette (100 Stanton Street, 212-260-3950) chef Gerardo Gonzalez draws from his SoCal upbringing with playful baking and cooking. His favorite preparation is also our own. He celebrates fatty, oily Portuguese sardines by arranging the boned fillets around a fragrant and supremely crunchy corn tostada. The fish are held in place by a layer of whipped Greek-yogurt butter, whose low-fat tang mellows out their aggressive brininess. Shaved radishes and carrots accompany carrot-top salsa verde to complete the colorful display with punches of brightness and acidity. This is exciting cooking, a plated party in every sense of the word, and those humble bait fish? They’re vogue battling.

90. General Tso’s Pig’s Head at the Cannibal

While the precise origin of General Tso’s chicken remains sketchy, the Cannibal (113 East 29th Street; 212-686-5480) has discovered a surefire way to up the ante on the Chinese-American staple dish: Sub out the poultry for half a hog’s roasted head. The $85 dish takes nearly 45 minutes to prepare, and arrives in a cast-iron cooking pan with the pig’s profile literally gazing into the void (its eye remains in the socket).

The pork, heightened with a house-made chile-pepper glaze, is joined by a broccoli rabe, fried shallot–studded side salad. A half-dozen thin flour pancakes provide a burrito-like delivery mechanism. Unctuous flavor of coarse tongue, tender jowl meat, and crunchy ear cartilage contrast in a textural odyssey. But the true adventure comes from scavenging the nooks and crannies of the skull in search of hidden caches of carnivorous delight. Cut through the sweet and spice of the sauce with any hop-forward I.P.A. from Cannibal’s exhaustive selection of craft beers on tap or in bottle.

Although the menu claims it’s for two, the pig’s head easily provides enough meat to satisfy four grown humans. The squeamish need not apply. If you can’t look an animal in the eye while you’re eating it, consider vegetarianism. To the true believer, however, this is more than a meal. It’s an experience.

89. The Vegetarian at Meat Hook Sandwich Shop

The folks behind the beloved Meat Hook butcher shop in Williamsburg serve a somewhat ironic vegetarian option ($13) at Meat Hook Sandwich Shop (495 Lorimer Street, Brooklyn; 718-302-4665). But it might even be better than most of the carnivorous selections on the menu. It includes every sandwich ingredient in the kitchen that isn’t meat, some of it pickled, some fried, some fresh. Fried eggplant, pickled cippoline, marinated artichokes, marinated tomatoes, fennel, cabbage, watercress, escarole, frisée, red onion, herbs, hash browns, and fried onion are piled high on an airy kaiser roll. It’s sealed with an earthy and sweet spread made from fried beets, parsnips, and carrots. With so many flavors and elements mixed in, you won’t even notice there’s no meat between the bun — unless, of course, that’s your goal.

88. The 21 Club’s Creamy Chicken Hash

It’s no wonder the Prohibition era would give birth to certain overindulgent suppers that are still with us today. Sopping up boozy pours is no less necessary now, at a time when spirited holidays like Negroni Week and National Bourbon Day draw trending hashtags, than when locating bootlegged hooch was a word-of-mouth affair. And while the Hot Brown, a turkey-and-bacon variation on Welsh rarebit, will always be associated with Louisville’s Brown Hotel, creamy chicken hash is the business of midtown’s 21 Club (21 West 52nd Street, 212-582-7200), where regulars continue to pony up for the toasted bounty of hefty poached chicken cubes on a bed of wild rice and spinach, sloshed in mornay sauce, and messily tucked under crusty gruyère cheese. Sure, it may never be the memorable part of a night at 21, but it’s lasted this long because it’s the only reason you can still remember your evening at all.

87. Deep-Fried Olives at Via Carota

Take a plump green olive, pit it, then stuff it with ricotta. Next, wrap it in sausage meat, dip it in egg wash and breadcrumbs, then fry it until it looks like a tiny scotch egg, only so much better. Intensely savory, briny, crunchy, and ridiculously moreish. Or, better idea, you let Jody Williams and Rita Sodi do all that, and you settle in to your seat at the bar of Via Carota (51 Grove Street; 212-255-1962), order an Aperol spritz and a round or two of fried olives, and experience deep, deep pleasure. We are so goddamn lucky to live in New York and do things like this, you will think to yourself, and the world will be a better place.

86. Pougi at Loi Estiatorio

As soon as you step in the door of Loi Estiatorio (132 West 58th Street; 212-713-0015), a waft of fresh herbs, cucumbers, and something indescribably savory fills your senses; it’s an olfactory welcome mat into chef Maria Loi’s elegantly simple restaurant, where she serves a modern take on the rustic food of her Greek homeland. 

Loi’s pougi appetizer is an ode to her childhood; growing up on a farm in the small village of Thermos, her mother would offer guests whatever was in the kitchen, and in their house that often meant yogurt, feta, olive oil, tomatoes, and oregano. She’d combine the ingredients, wrap them in a type of butcher paper called hasapoharto, and put it in the oven, to be served warm with her homemade pita bread.

Loi’s version of her mother’s dish comes to the table wrapped in a clear plastic pouch with a side of crisp pita slices; the top of the pouch is snipped by a server and the contents spilled into a small bowl. The warm temperature of the mixture is a sensual delight — this isn’t the typical cold dip, such as tzatziki, that you’d expect — this is a bowl of creamy feta, thick homemade Greek yogurt, roasted grape tomatoes, and pungent dried herbs with a golden, liquid ring of olive oil, as fragrant and delicious as a Mediterranean breeze on a field of wild oregano.

85. Pearl & Ash’s Smoked Bread with Chicken Butter

The culinary wizards at Pearl & Ash (220 Bowery; 212-837-2370) actually figured out a way to make butter better. What was it missing all this time? Chicken fat, it turns out. And maybe a wisp of maple syrup. Although it seems so simple, the additions are legitimate game-changers, not only adding an unctuous depth to the cream, but elevating its very texture into something sublimely satisfying. 

A spread this decadent demands a suitable delivery mechanism. Thankfully, their housemade smoked bread fits the bill. It’s served warm, and a discerning nose might detect remnants of the smoldering wood chips that helped birth it. You’re only afforded two slices, in all their unapologetically glutenous glory, but that’s more than enough with which to properly attack the cream. 

Rendered chicken fat, in the form of schmaltz, has long served as a Jewish culinary staple. Although it obviously informed their chicken butter, Pearl & Ash smears their brand of unique sophistication into a dish that maintains the simplicity of pure comfort. While some are reluctant to sing its praises, don’t be a chicken — at $4, it’s worth rendering your own verdict.

84. Gluten-Free Pizza at Rossopomodoro

If you’ve recently walked by the intersection of Greenwich Avenue and 13th Street during lunchtime, your curiosity may have been piqued by the wide windows on the corner looking into Rossopomodoro (118 Greenwich Avenue; 212-242-2310). Opened late in 2014 by Simone Falco (who owns a slice of New York’s Eataly and a few restaurants back home in Italy), the restaurant is quiet and somewhat empty midday, resting in anticipation of the dinner rush that floods in nightly.

Those daylight hours are the best time to settle in for a lunch meeting or post-imbibing weekend brunch. The staff is energized and attentive, the wood-fired oven manned by pizzaiolo Rosario Granieri is ready to sizzle and char, and executive chef Kenneth Welch is already turning out creamy pastas with house-made mozzarella, thinly pounded chicken, market vegetables grilled until just-soft, and chunks of marinated and stewed meat.

However, the most pressing reason for some particular New Yorkers to race to Rossopomodoro is its phenomenal gluten-free pizza crust. Yes, it exists, and the non-gluten-free eaters who have joined me there for several lunches agree.

The crust, made primarily with a combination of rice and potato flour, is not at all reminiscent of flavorless cardboard. Rather, it’s thin and pliable enough in the center to be folded for optimum slice-devouring; the dough itself tastes salty and chewy and satisfying, and the dark char on the rim provides oh-so-satisfying crunch. Topped with a rich, sweet San Marzano tomato sauce, pickled red onions, buffalo mozzarella, and basil, it’s exquisite; a white version teeming with spring onions and drizzled Neapolitan olive oil is equally satisfying. Order sides of the rotating market vegetables, such as artichoke hearts or asparagus, pair it all with a chilled rosé or classic Italian cocktail, and you’re ready to tackle the rest of the workday (or a walk on the High Line).

A note for those with Celiac disease: The pizzas are made in a shared oven, so if cross-contamination is a worry, opt for one of the many gluten-free pastas (including the gnocchi!), which are also delicious.

83. Perry St’s Chocolate Pudding with Candied Violets 

Jean-Georges Vongerichten himself created the Valrhona chocolate pudding at Perry St (176 Perry Street, 212-352-1900), a confection topped with a textured split of whipped cream and candied violets. Like a smattering of dishes preceding it, most similarly a clean, crisp-edged rice-cracker-crusted ahi tuna, this vibrant dessert has been a mainstay on Perry St’s menu since 2005. The pudding, served at Vongerichten’s jewel-box waterfront restaurant, preserves the spirit of a millennial dining scene like a Damien Hirst installation, without the inflation.

82. Whit’s End’s ‘Fuckin’ Bluefish Dip’

Whitney Aycock has a filthy mouth, and a menu littered with profanities to prove it. It’s one of the many reasons we love his edgy Rockaway Park pizzeria Whit’s End (97-14 Rockaway Beach Boulevard). 

Funny, then, that we found ourselves uttering a few expletives of our own after tasting Aycock’s velvety smoked-fish dips, which hit the table next to a towering stack of salted pizza-dough breadsticks. The chef aggressively smokes his catch behind the restaurant, which tames the oily fish (locally caught bluefish or mackerel, depending on what’s in season) and produces a wildly flavorful dip.

A touch of imported olive oil, a sprinkle of chopped scallions and freshly cracked black pepper, and you’ve got yourself some of the most rugged and refined beach cuisine around. Spread the pâté over a slab of charred pizza dough and you’ll wonder why Domino’s wasted everyone’s time with cheesy bread when they could’ve been selling this stuff like figurative fishy hotcakes.

81. Morgenstern’s Salt and Pepper Pine Nut Ice Cream

The line at Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream (2 Rivington Street, 212-209-7684) usually stretches onto the sidewalk, and it serves some of the most delicious and unusual ice cream in the city. On a hot summer day in this concrete jungle, few things are as satisfying as cooling down with a scoop of one of their frozen delights. 

At Morgenstern’s, flavors abound — from durian banana to raw milk to burnt honey vanilla. The choices are complex, yet always compelling enough to prompt the urge for a second scoop. Of all the whimsical flavors, their salt and pepper pine nut might be their greatest creation.

The creamy concoction is seasoned perfectly, with just the right amount of salt and pepper in each lick. The pine nuts, scattered whole throughout the scoop, bring a roundness and texture not often found in desserts; it’s somehow crunchy and smooth simultaneously. Served on one of their fresh monster waffle cones, this flavor is well worth the out-the-door wait.

80. Levain Bakery’s Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie

Freshly baked cookies studded with chocolate and nuts can be described in one of two ways: good and great. But the chocolate chip walnut cookie from Levain Bakery (167 West 74th Street, 212-874-6080; 2167 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, 646-455-0952) transcends greatness, beelining from the oven into a realm of unimagined bliss. Ours is an imperfect world. Yet for the two minutes or so it takes to devour this sizable slab of golden-brown goodness, everything is in its right place. Jarring reality anxiously awaits your return, so chew slowly.

All baked goods benefit from obscene amounts of butter, and Levain’s masterpiece is no exception. But their cookie succeeds where pedestrian junk foods fail, bringing a yin/yang balance to its flavor, texture, and consistency. Scattered morsels of dark chocolate anchor the sweetness of the dough, allowing a faint saltiness to declare its presence. The gooey center provides textural relief in the form of crunchy, half-crushed walnuts. The outer crust speaks of an almost biscuit-like quality.

Hardly a city secret, you are likely to endure a (fast-moving) line for the privilege of forking over $4 for a cookie. But we all know of the rewards bestowed upon those who wait, and many folks walk away from here so enamored, they’re left craving a cigarette. A glass of cold milk is far preferable.

79. Delmar Pizzeria’s Pizza

New York’s best pizzerias serve their communities above all else, and Delmar Pizzeria (1668 Sheepshead Bay Road, Brooklyn; 718-769-7766) has been doing just that for nearly 60 years. The Sheepshead Bay pizzeria brands itself as the first to introduce sauceless “white” pizza to New York, and the classic Italian-American warhorse puts its denaro where its dairy is, loading slices with dollops of ricotta embedded into melty mozzarella. Resuscitated after Hurricane Sandy, it retains an old-school charm (check out the murals and vintage menu posted on the walls). In addition to the white pies, the seasoned ovens churn out nicely crisp grandma slices and cheese pizzas with herbal, savory tomato sauce.

78. Cafe Cluny’s Avocado Toast

At this point in 2015, it’s safe to say that avocado toast has surpassed trend status and become a thing.The healthy snack, originally hailing from Australia, moved beyond its burgeoning role as a Brooklyn “it” food; variations of it are now to be found in cookbooks, on social media and restaurant menus all over the Western Hemisphere —  especially in this great city of ours. According to those who keep track of such things, New Yorkers exist in an avocado-toast mecca, apparently craving it more than the residents of any other U.S. city.

While we’re willing to admit the simple fact that the dish is basically smooshed-up (or artfully sliced) avocado on a slice of bread, it must also be said that avocado toast has merits – it’s filling, tasty and nutritious. Come on! The version served in the comfortably lived-in dining room at Cafe Cluny (284 W. 12th Street; 212-255-6900) is a stand-out contender on NYC’s list; the avocado is mashed to a good, chunky texture, seasoned with a subtle, sparky hit of citrusy yuzu, spread on seedy, thick-sliced multigrain toast and topped with a softly poached egg. It’s one of our favorite things to eat, any day, any time.

77. Brooklyn Star’s Cinnamon Bun

Ahh, the simple pleasures of weekend life: sleeping in on Sundays. The smell and sound of bacon sizzling on the grill. And cinnamon buns?! For a confection so seemingly over-the-top, Brooklyn Star’s (593 Lorimer St, 718-599-8999) entry is surprisingly restrained in the chew. It maintains a satisfying dryness throughout, refusing to surrender into over-sweetened slop.

There’s enough subtlety here to differentiate between alternating layers of pecan-like nuttiness; cinnamon spice, and slightly moistened starch, enveloped within the warm caress of a gooey, saccharine paste rounding out each bite. While it’s rarely envisioned as a brunch mainstay, The Brooklyn Star reapplies relevance to this treat traditionally dismissed as shopping mall fare. Drowning in vanilla frosting, and served piping hot in a cast iron skillet, their bun is a sight worth savoring — its very smell alone is intoxicating. Priced at $6, the side is subversive enough to become your newest weekend ritual.

76. Pork Belly Cotton Candy at Carnem

A polarizing pick for sure, but love it or hate it, you have to admire the sheer unexpected whimsy of a pork-belly-filled cotton candy coming out of the kitchen of Carnem Prime (318 Fifth Avenue, Brooklyn; 718- 499-5600), an old-school-style steakhouse.

“I love pork belly,” says chef David DiSalvo. “And this is really good quality pork. We skin it, score it, brine it, and braise it; then we crisp it to order and spin it with cotton candy. It’s a dish inspired by Jose Andres’s Foie Gras Cotton Candy. But it’s a bit more familiar and accessible.”

Why does it work? Pork loves sweet, and this is sweet. One melting morsel of meat, shrouded in a cloud of sugar that quickly becomes a glaze in your mouth. One crazy Willie Wonka bite that delights from the moment it arrives, poking out of a specially made serving board like a state-fair snack made by Tim Burton.

You gotta try it.

75. Ippudo’s Pork Buns

New Yorkers are serious about food, but they’re currently crazy about ramen. Few other food items would inspire multi-hour lines in the cold. Yet the prospect of hot bowls of flavorful broth garners such strong desires that intrepid diners are more than willing to do so — as long as it’s good. Ippudo (65 Fourth Avenue; 212-388-0088), one of the first Japanese noodle spots on the scene in NYC, still attracts three-hour wait times on a Wednesday night. The bowls here are rich, deeply satisfying, and utterly delicious. It’s hailed as the best of the best.

The secret, however, is that the star of the show isn’t even what the place is known for. The hirata buns ($9) are the best thing on the menu. Freshly steamed rice flour rolls are warm and pillowy. One order comes with two, filled with juicy pork belly slathered in a tangy and slightly spicy special sauce. Each one is layered with iceberg lettuce and mayonnaise, which lends a bit of cream and a nice crisp crunch. If you don’t do pork, the chicken ($9) and vegetable ($8) are also top-notch.

74. Mission Chinese Food’s Oil-Cured Anchovies

When Danny Bowien reopened his hit Mission Chinese Food (171 East Broadway) in a larger, more stately space, appointing Angela Dimayuga to run the kitchen, the playful chef and restaurateur added so many new dishes to the menu that the incendiary Sichuan cuisine for which he’d become famous all but disappeared into the background. While you can still get your kung pao pastrami fix, there are plenty of hits among the restaurant’s newer offerings.

Taming chile heat with sourness and fat, Dimayuga smothers oil-cured anchovies with a heap of mashed pickled chiles. Served simply in their tin, the fish buzz with brine and spice, set against fresh sprigs of parsley and a squeeze of lemon. Tear off hunks of the accompanying round of puffy sourdough bread, baked in the wood-fired oven the Mission crew inherited from the space’s previous tenant. If you feel like inspiring some of the punk-rock ethos of the restaurant’s original incarnation, consider ordering a pepperoni pizza (the breads are made from the same yeast starter) and topping it — Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles–style — with some bodacious seafood.

73. Johnnycakes at LoLo’s Seafood Shack

LoLo’s Seafood Shack (303 West 116th Street; 646-649-3356) is an island oasis in the middle of Harlem, a full tropical embrace of the Caribbean with a splash of Cape Cod. The eatery itself evokes island vibes, its blue and orange walls lined with vivid artwork that makes you wish you were sipping rum in Jamaica.

The menu certainly mirrors that Caribbean way of life as well. Here, the johnnycake — a cornmeal fritter — makes a delectable debut, slathered in honey butter and infused with thyme and scallions. Carried throughout are sugary notes from the honey butter and piquant overtures from the herbs and green onions.

You could get one of the bakes — we recommend the avocado bake — but the sweetened, savory fritters really do stand alone. LoLo’s also has a profusion of chutneys, salsas, and, if you ask nicely, extra honey butter, which all mate well with the johnnycakes.

72. The Starving Artists Steak at Belle Reve

The longer you’ve lived in New York, the harder it seems to find restaurants that feel like old New York. But in Tribeca, with all of its high-fashioned, high-ceilinged and high-ticketed lifestyle nowadays, a new neighborhood gem, Belle Reve (305 Church Street; 212-680-0101), comes close.

Bedecked in dark wood, orange-tinged lighting and legitimately old odds and ends, it’s the kind of place that draws an eclectic crowd, be they suited professionals, day drinkers or silver-haired tourists enjoying a leisurely sidewalk lunch. Revelers pack in at night for live music, burlesque dancers, and really-late-night festive debauchery. The chef, Paul Gerard, has evidently found fitting partners in fellow New Yorkers Billy Gilroy (of Employees Only, Macao Trading Co., Lucky Strike, Match) and Patrick Fahey (of Macao Trading Co., Naked Lunch, Peggy Sue’s). Together, the three like to push the ambiance above the food which, considering how quickly Belle Reve has found its footing as a good ol’ neighborhood joint, is valid. But the food alone is worth many a return trip.

Among many stellar plates, the Starving Artists Steak delivers Gerard’s gospel of simple, “three-chord cuisine” loud and clear. It’s salted and seared to perfection, drizzled with either a whiskey peppercorn sauce, or (my personal favorite), a robust but refined herb puree. It comes with two sides, meaning that you can indulge in the fatty-salty-crispy fries dredged in bone marrow, or partner up with a cauliflower-cherry pepper-caper pesto combo (above), asparagus drizzled with lemon, or any other equally delicious vegetable sides which could, alone, be a fully satisfying meal. Gerard applies his mad skills and many years at the stove to simple, satisfying dishes that pair perfectly with the upscale-but-down-home bar feel at which his partners equally excel. Yes, the burlesque and go-go dancers and random people tickling the keys are reason enough to head down to Church Street. But the food is, too. Welcome to old New York.

71. The Spotted Pig’s Gnudi

The cheeseburger at the Spotted Pig hogs so much attention, it’s tempting to overlook many of the other sensational dishes at the West Village’s premier gastropub. This is a mistake. While you can track down a sensational burger all over our fine city, good luck procuring a plate of pasta to rival the ricotta gnudi on the menu here. 

Halfway between ravioli and dumplings, these delicate, moist spheres of savory sheep’s-milk cheese are jacketed by a thin membrane of semolina. An $18 plate features seven of them, bathed in a blend of parmesan cheese, butter, and pasta water. That sauce is deceptively light, delivering a warmth of flavor without any creaminess to speak of. Instead you get to focus on the salty tang of the cheeses, the pleasing chewiness of the semolina “shell,” and the garden-fresh herbal punch of a summer basil pesto, carefully spooned atop each gnudi.  
As fall approaches, the house-made summer basil pesto yields to a heartier brown-butter-and-sage topping. But that optimal blend of pine nuts, basil, and parmesan reigns supreme. Don’t wait. They may look petite, but great things come in small packages, and these pasta dumplings certainly won’t leave you wanting for a burger. You won’t be missing it, either.

70. Xi’an Famous Foods’ Tiger Vegetable Salad

Renowned for their hand-pulled noodles and lamb dumplings, Xi’an Famous Foods (multiple locations) started as a small basement stall in Flushing before serving throngs of Manhattan- and Brooklynites. While the menu leans heavy on carnivorous options, it’s their Tiger Vegetable Salad that inspires return visits. The mixture of cilantro, celery, green onions, and tiny long horn peppers, lightly dressed in sesame oil, is fresh-tasting and textural, a “salad” that seems neither Chinese nor American. Essentially, the dish is a delicious medley of herbaceousness and crunch — miles away from your everyday romaine caesar.

69. Crème Brûlée Truffle at Kee’s Chocolates

Kee Ling Tong started her eponymous Soho chocolate shop Kee’s Chocolates (80 Thompson Street, 212-334-3284) over a decade ago, and today the friendly and knowledgeable chocolatier sells her fastidiously crafted chocolates and macarons from a trio of shops and kiosks. Of her many flavors, which largely incorporate Eastern and Southeast Asian flavors to wondrous effect (like mango–green tea or white chocolate with yuzu), the hexagonal crème brûlée truffle reigns supreme.

Don’t worry if you get the impulse to scarf one down. “Eat the whole thing in one bite,” suggests Tong. Take her advice: Half-assing this chocolate yields messy results, thanks to the luscious vanilla custard locked within the dark chocolate shell. Tong also recommends eating them within two days. And while normally we’d consume our chocolate at room temperature, refrigerating these babies gives the chilled custard some welcome stiffness. Wonka can keep his factory — Tong’s created an enlightened, stylish dessert that’s halfway between an ice cream bonbon and a chocolate truffle.

68. Pok Pok’s Muu Paa Kham Wong

Andy Ricker, chef/owner of Pok Pok Ny (117 Columbia Street, Brooklyn; 718-923-9322), is a genius — he almost single-handedly reinvented the American idea of Thai cuisine. Once upon a time, most stateside restaurants served watered-down curries and overly sweet pad Thais, but these days determined eaters can find sweat-bursting, funky-hot Isaan-style papaya salad and wings coated in fish sauce much more readily.

Everything on the menu at Pok Pok Ny is worthy of a spot on our 100 Favorite Dishes, but the unsung hero is the Muu Paa Kham Wong($18). The dish begins with boar collar, which is rubbed with garlic, pepper, and coriander root, brushed with seasoning sauce and sugar, then grilled over charcoal. When it’s done, the meat is sliced thin and drenched in a briny, mouth-searing sauce made from lime, fish sauce, garlic, chiles, and coriander leaf — the result is only for serious spice lovers. Iced mustard greens are served on the side for a crisp textural contrast to the rich meat, and also for the sake of authenticity — Thais believe that protein must be balanced with vegetables for nutrition and proper digestion.

The dish is typical pub grub or drinking food in Thailand, as it has all the customary elements: extreme spice, chewy texture, and salt. “All those things make you want to drink more beer or booze, which in turn makes you want to eat more of that kind of dish,” says Ricker. “They go hand in hand.” We’ll most certainly raise a glass (and some chopsticks) to that.

67. Cacio e Pepe at Upland 

Although Justin Smillie labels his creation a “grown-up mac ‘n’ cheese,” the head chef at Upland is merely being modest. The only similarity between his cacio e pepe and the classic cuisine of childhood is unmistakable comfort. A menu staple since the establishment opened in October, the $17 pasta dish incorporates bucatini — a thick, hollow spaghetti noodle — into a simple medley of black pepper, pecorino, and parmesan. Minimal ingredients, maximum flavor.

To give the starch its smooth, creamy coating, it’s whipped, to order, in a bath of butter, pasta water, and the two Italian cheeses. It hits the bowl immediately thereafter, doctored only by the addition of pecorino shavings and cracked peppercorns. On the tongue, it delivers a precious, understated tang and space. The true marvel of the dish, however, is the textural contrast of chewy, al dente pasta against the lush backdrop of its sauce.

Inspired by the fare of Rome, the uncomplicated yet elegant cacio e pepe at Upland echoes what Italian chefs have been demonstrating for generations: that less is more.

66. Pulpo at Toro

Complicated as it can be to cook, octopus has emerged as something of a common menu item across the city. Few and far between, however, are the eateries that truly excel at this maritime delicacy. For a high-minded example of tasty tentacles as they are meant to be served, head straight to Toro, a Spanish-styled tapas bar in the West Village. Their pulpo — braised and seared in its own juices — reflects a traditional Galician preparation. An impossibly delicate exterior char provides only a slight crunch, before revealing an unending tenderness within.

Gilding the round tendril of seafood is a golden array of garnishes, including a charred-onion vinaigrette and crisped fingerling potatoes, peppered liberally with garden oregano fresh from the farmers’ market. The starch glides over the excess liquid, soaking up the deluge of flavor — saltiness from the octopus, caramelized sweetness in the dressing, even a subtle nod to smokiness. The tastes run analogous to any number of Toro’s well-balanced mezcal cocktails, most notably its TBD — a tongue tickler enhanced with smoked chile bitters, lime, and grapefruit zest.

Skip the rest — when you want octopus done right, Toro is leading the charge.

65. Junior’s Something Different

What started out as a mostly kosher restaurant in downtown Brooklyn 60 years ago has transformed into a neighborhood institution serving something for everyone, representing the area’s changing demographics. Now at Junior’s (386 Flatbush Avenue Extension, Brooklyn; 718-852-5257) there’s crab and barbecue pork ribs and Caribbean-style lobster tails, though the Jewish staples still top the list of menu items. There’s excellent brisket. Killer latkes. The “Something Different,” which brings both together in indulgent form: tender brisket sandwiched between two well-seasoned potato pancakes, all of it about the size of a construction worker’s fist. Sour cream, apple sauce, and au jus or mushroom gravy come on the side. It’s hearty, maybe gluttonous, actually, and it most certainly is something different. But, after one go, this decadent dish is something you’ll crave.

64. Duck Carnitas at Cosme

Cosme’s rapid ascent to superstardom owes nothing to hype; it’s all about the grub. To earn its status as one of the best Mexican restaurants in the city, it uses more than high-quality ingredients; it relies on an inventive kitchen to reimagine familiar fare as something entirely fresh: crunchy tostadas topped with arctic char or eel, moistened by bone marrow salsa — a delicate, flaky fish enhanced by spices and fruits typically associated with spit-roasted pork. Each of these dishes would have rightfully contended for a top spot on our list of favorites, if they weren’t eclipsed by the mouth-watering masterpiece that is the duck carnitas.

Served in a skillet, this crisped, sizable portion of fowl, made for two, is probably the best date dish in the city — so long as you don’t fight over who gets the last piece. It arrives at the table with warm, housemade blue corn tortillas, and two types of salsa: a tangy, acidic verde, made with tomato and serrano peppers, and the slightly more picante salsa de árbol. The fajita-style preparation allows you to build your own tacos. Allocate ample chunks of moist, juicy duck meat, crunchy, fatted skin, fresh cilantro, peppers, raw onions; however you see fit. 

The $59 price tag is surely enough to deter some. But if you get past the sticker shock, you’re rewarded with half a duck breast — enough to fill nearly a dozen tortillas with tender meat, sweetened slightly by an extended marinade in Mexican Coca-Cola. As savory as that all is, the skin knocks it up to the next level — it has a satisfying crunch of salt and fat that will make it difficult for you to enjoy Mexican food anywhere else in the city.

63. Banana Miso Ice Cream Sandwich at Neta

Neta (61 West 8th Street; 212-505-2610), one of those pricy-stylish sushi places that have mushroomed all over the West Village in recent years, has been a safe bet for smart omakase or a luxurious late-night sliver or two of toro. But we were surprised to hear a new summer addition, an ice cream sandwich, was causing a storm.

Chef Sungchul Shim tells the Voice “the inspiration came from a rice waffle,” a traditional rice-flour wafer, often used in miniature as a topping for ice creams in Japan.“I kept seeing monaka [rice wafers filled with adzuki bean jam] desserts when I was shopping in Japanese supermarkets, and I had the thought to combine the two. I started experimenting, and this is the result.”

The dessert starts with great ice cream, made in-house. The banana miso flavor is particularly good, with an almost savory note and a balanced creamy sweetness. And honestly, a ball or two of that would be worth the trip alone. But then the ice cream is placed within a clamshell of the rice wafers and topped with a sweet huckleberry jam. The crisp of the wafer with the cool, smooth ice cream is serious stuff.

Granted, this is more of a spoon-fork ice cream sandwich than a straight-up, fist-to-mouth one, but if you don’t mind diving in despite the somewhat rarefied surroundings, it’s well worth the sticky fingers. The sandwich is available à la carte and as part of the tasting menu — get it while the summer lasts.

62. Breads Bakery’s Chocolate Babka

It’s hard to pin down the category in which to slot the sweet treat known as babka; is it a bread, pastry, cake — or something in between? The chocolate babka that emerges several times a day from the oven at Breads Bakery (18 East 16th Street; 212-633-2253) is a perfect storm of all of the above. The compact loaf has the heft of a newborn baby, and its lacquered crust boasts the deeply burnished color and crackle of a Peking duck.

Neither too sweet for snacking nor too humble for dessert, this babka is to ordinary yeast bread what a croissant is to an English muffin. And come to think of it, the combination of twisted, buttery dough — folded in a pleasing ratio to the inner coils of oozing, melting hazelnut-scented chocolate — has more in common with a decadent pain au chocolat from a French patisserie than a humble, comforting slice of coffee cake from your neighborhood Ukrainian bakery.

61. Braised Lamb Neck at the Gorbals

Lamb can be tricky to get right. Its gamy nature can easily be bungled by a sloppy preparation, but when cooked properly, it’s a sensory revelation. At the Gorbals (98 North 6th Street, Brooklyn; 718-387-0195) in Williamsburg, celebrity chef Ilan Hall and his adroit kitchen crew offer a mouthwatering, $33 course demonstrating how to knock lamb out of the park. 

The first step is in the cut selection — Hall opts for the neck, which is padded in colossal chunks of tender meat. In fact, the portion is hefty enough for the dish to be classified as a shared entrée on the menu. To enhance the meat’s tenderness, the chef stews the lamb neck in a lengthy braise; what emerges is a football-size mass of fatted flesh that slides eagerly off the bone.

Solidifying the magnificence of the meal is the way in which the lamb is dressed before it hits the runway. In the Middle East, where lamb is a culinary staple, mint and yogurt have long served as preferred accoutrements. The Gorbals pays homage to this traditional preparation, while infusing its own spin: Instead of yogurt, a thick layer of creamy oats separates the meat from the plate; the buttery texture of the cooked grain helps blanket the lamb’s subtle gaminess. Augmenting the dish further is a savory red-wine reduction drizzled atop, which packages every bite with a robust juiciness while allowing generous flecks of mint to bind to the lamb’s outer crust.

60. Dough’s Passionfruit Doughnut

It’s not just cops who appreciate a good doughnut these days; gourmet shops proffering fancy circular pastries have been on the rise for quite some time now. Offering flavors ranging from hibiscus and tropical chile to dulce de leche and café au lait, Dough (multiple locations) is one of the best purveyors in town. Still, the passionfruit is number one.

What makes this doughnut so worthy of praise? Everything.

Let’s start with the base — the doughnuts at Dough are yeast-risen, meaning the batter is lighter and airier than their denser cake-based counterparts. Pastry chef Fany Gerson’s doughnuts are even more refined than most, so light and springy that sinking your teeth into one calls to mind a pillowy, steamed hirata bun.

Then there’s the topping: Unlike so many sickly-sweet fried doughnuts, this specimen mixes in tart tropical notes in the crystallized, sugary glaze, made from fresh passionfruit purée. Flecks of cocoa nibs are sprinkled on top of the pastry, mimicking the appearance of the interior of the fruit while adding pops of chalky-dark chocolate.

59. Uncle Jesse Bao at Baohaus

What Baohaus (238 East 14th Street; 646-684-3835) lacks in space (the Taiwanese eatery is small and easily crowded), it more than makes up for in its signature bao dishes — snack sandwiches served on mantou bread, a steamed bread native to China. Though baos aren’t usually vegetarian, owners and brothers Eddie and Evan Huang took it upon themselves to create a meat-free bao as a nod to their vegetarian patrons. The Uncle Jesse bao, which features organic fried tofu, crushed peanuts, and Haus sauce, is simultaneously crunchy, soft, sweet, savory, and spicy.

In addition to making damn good bao, Baohaus offers much in the way of pleasant atmosphere: The Huangs have created a chic, laid-back space. It’s a perfect place to hang out and shoot the shit; tables are stacked with stickers, and a far-back wall is plastered with Polaroids, art pieces, and newspaper clippings — a millennial’s dream.

58. Patatas Bravas at El Colmado

Say what you will about the French perfecting the fry, but when it comes to spicy, salty roasted potatoes, the Spaniards have the market nailed down.

At El Colmado in Gotham West Market (600 Eleventh Avenue; 212-582-7948), chef Seamus Mullen doesn’t stray far from tradition with his patatas bravas. The chunky potatoes are cut on the large side, so it takes a few bites to get through them; their crisp outsides pop open to a firm butyielding, bracingly hot interior. They’re served smothered in salt and paprika and something enticingly bright — lemon? sumac? — and drizzled liberally with garlic-laced aioli — incredibly thick, creamy, and cool in contrast. 

What stands out about them is that they’re a simple food done right. Share a plate with a glass of sherry and they’re a satisfying snack. Add some grilled octopus, shishito peppers, and an order of lamb meatballs, and you’ve got a meal. A few too many glasses in or recovering from a long night out, and they’re the best kind of comfort food. Sí, sí.

57. Lupulo’s Razor Clams

At Lupulo (835 Avenue of the Americas, 212-290-7600), the follow-up to acclaimed modern Portuguese restaurant Aldea, camera-friendly chef George Mendes takes a decidedly more relaxed approach, eschewing fine dining and tasting menus in favor of punchy recipes meant to pair with the many beers, wines, and cocktails prepared at the restaurant’s massive U-shaped bar. As such, many dishes — like grilled sardines and piri piri chicken — pack aggressive, bold flavors and sport rustic presentations. Which is why the chef’s ethereal razor clam salad feels like a cooling reprieve, as bright and refreshing as a freshly poured pint.

Rather than serve them whole in their namesake blade-like shells, Mendes chops up the clams so that they resemble plump, briny mini-marshmallows. The chewy bivalves get tossed with a trio of cucumbers: raw slivers, crescents of quick-pickle, and charred nuggets, the fruit’s sweetness multiplied thanks to the searing heat of the restaurant’s wood-burning grill. Anointed with sprigs of dill, which help accentuate the clam’s meatiness with verdant savor, it’s an elegant dish, and one that almost wouldn’t feel out of place at Aldea. That it can be enjoyed in Lupulo’s convivial dining room with a glass of vinho verde makes the offering that much sweeter.

56. Bar Masa’s Spicy Dancing Shrimp

Bar Masa (10 Columbus Circle, 4th floor; 212-823-9800) is not known for being a bargain destination. It’s known as Time Warner Center’s sole clandestine passage, walled in enough beaming igneous to make you forget its location is in a shopping mall. But among the menu’s sumptuous miso-cod bento boxes and toro rolls for the ruling class, there are guilty pleasures to be had out of proportion to their prices; there are Spicy Dancing Shrimp.

For less than the price of a champagne cocktail, Masa’s next-door kitchen fires a towering basket of hulking tiger prawns and delicate lotus root in cottonseed oil, reimagining the bread and butter of a Joe’s Crab Shack with a dusting of ichimi pepper and dip of spicy mayo. It doesn’t melt on your tongue like a sliver of unagi, but sears your palate with a burst of heat. It’s deep-fried bar food, honest American mall food, hiding there in plain sight, and while your girlfriend’s scoring V.I.P. points at Sephora, you can too.

55. Underwest Donuts’ Halva

Retail space is limited, and coveted, in New York these days, and some small businesses are so small that they’re opening inside of other businesses. That’s how Underwest Donuts (638 West 47th Street, 212-317-2359) wound up a stone’s throw from the Intrepid Museum, tucked inside a car wash flanking the West Side Highway.

The brainchild of fine-dining veteran Scott Levine, Underwest traffics in superlative, charmingly whimsical cake donuts — the halva variety in particular. Levine loads the batter with tahini and also uses the silky roasted sesame paste in a glaze. Crowned with shredded halva, the treat wears strands of ground sesame seed confection with enough flair for a couture runway show, melting with each bite. It’s surely the nuttiest, moistest donut in the entire city.

54. The Virgola Platter at Virgola

Virgola (28 Greenwich Avenue; no phone) is the kind of special spot you don’t want to praise too loudly — a minuscule 60-by-6-foot space (and half of that’s the kitchen); a dark, romantic alley that won’t fit too many of your friends. Fortunately, it has enough room for oysters: around 2,500 of them weekly, which is no small feat for a joint with only seven tiny tables. At only a buck each, even the most cash-strapped wanderer can fill up heartily. But if you’re willing to shell out a bit more ($50), the Virgola Platter is the way to go — get ready to impress the person squeezing in next to you.

The platter comes grandly presented on an elevated tray: A dozen of the day’s oysters on a bed of crushed ice, along with a few wedges of lemon, a house-made cocktail sauce with the perfect balance of sweet and spicy, fresh horseradish, and a champagne vinegar mignonette are ready for miniature forks, but the mollusks are so fresh that you might just want to slurp them down naked.

The plate is rounded out with an accompanying fluke ceviche, with chunks of whitefish, mango, finely diced peppers and red onion, fresh herbs and a simple tuna avocado tartare, and a few gigantic, extremely fresh shrimp. Wash it all down with a bottle of Virgola’s prosecco or spumante rosé — both bracingly crisp and bottled by Drusian — and you’re good to go.

53. Noreetuh’s Monkfish Liver Torchon

For all the times we’ve heard monkfish liver touted as “the foie gras of the sea,” it’s rare to come across a preparation of the finicky protein that actually lives up to the epithet. At Noreetuh (128 First Avenue, 646-892-3050), the Hawaiian restaurant and oenophile destination opened by three veterans of Per Se, chef Chung Chow prepares a monkfish liver torchon that surpasses its anatine relative.

Balancing on a jumble of jellied passionfruit and cubes of pickled pear, the disk of supremely creamy poached fish offal exhibits only a mild brininess. It spreads like butter onto accompanying slices of eggy, toasted sweet rolls from King’s Hawaiian bakery, which bolster the liver’s richness. Paired with the gussied-up fruit, it’s a ballsy, fun plate, and a wholly original take, evocative of the restaurant’s ethos, which emphasizes the multitude of influences on Hawaiian cuisine.

52. Amarena Cherry Merveilleux

Move over, pavlova. There’s a new confection in town, recently imported from France by way of Belgium — the merveilleux.

Merveilleux resemble cute, confetti-dusted snowballs, but they’re actually marvelous treats, built delicately, but not too fussily, of wafer-size meringue cookies and a mound of whipped cream. Aux Merveilleux de Fred (37 Eighth Avenue; 917-475-1992), the solo U.S. outpost of a small European chain, turns out six different flavors of merveilleux out of a petite shop in the West Village. 

While you’d be equally rewarded if your taste veered toward the original, dark Belgian chocolate version (chocolate whipped cream, rolled in shaved chocolate), it’s the L’Eccentrique — amarena-cherry-flavored merveilleux — that stand out. One or two all-in bites of this assemblage deliver a pleasurable mixture of fluffed, sweetened cream and bits of crunchy-to-caky textured meringue, laced with the grown-up, almond-like essence of Italian amarena cherries. The garnish, a candy-crunch shower of Pink Panther–colored sprinkles, brings everything together like a bouquet of tea roses in Marie Antoinette’s updo.

51. Roasted Mushrooms at Bara

Pity poor mushrooms — they’re rarely the star of a plate. Despite the abundant variety that chefs can access year round and their ability to be easily foraged in the wild — even by building-bound New Yorkers — mushrooms are often reduced to supporting players on top of a steak or in a sauce. So when a dish masterfully lets them shine, it’s worth celebrating.

At Bara (58 East 1st Street; 917-639-3197), chef Ian Alvarez combines his classic French technique with a love of Japanese flavors in a mix of roasted beech, oyster, king oyster, enoki, and cauliflower mushrooms. Soubise — traditionally made with cream, onions, and rice, but in this case with sake, short-grain rice, and onion — is set on the bottom of the plate, topped with the mushrooms and roasted sunchokes, all tossed in a bright dressing of lemon, sesame seeds, and pistou; a traditional French blend of garlic, basil, and olive oil.

The varying textures and subtle flavor differences from the mushrooms mean that each bite is somewhat unexpected — first meaty, then super sweet, then tangy, then rich, and then meaty again. Just when you think you’ve fallen for a particular varietal, like the somewhat firm heads of the tiny beeches or the feathery cauliflowers, another will stand out. In the cold of winter, the deep flavors of the roasted mushrooms and sunchokes linger long after the meal is over; in the warmer months, the dish feels brighter, the lemon and seasonal greens slightly more pronounced.

50. Fonda’s Oaxacan Black Mole Enchiladas

Mole is so much more than a sauce; it’s an obsession. I speak from personal experience. While mole assumes countless forms, chef Roberto Santibañez at Fonda (434 Seventh Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-369-3144) excels at the chocolate-imbued negro style typical to the Oaxacan region of Mexico. Because it’s most familiar to American eaters, the dish needs special attention to stand out in a crowded field. Hisenchiladas de mole negro Oaxagueño kick the competition to the curb. 

To set the mole standard, Santibañez starts by stone-grinding a proprietary blend of cacao, nuts, chiles, and herbs until the resulting sauce attains a lush viscosity. Its unctuous, roasted flavors are brightened with a gentle drizzle of sour cream, crumbled queso fresco, cilantro, and sesame seeds. All of this blankets the tender protein at the center of the dish: chicken braised for so long it falls apart with the touch of a fork, rolled into three handmade, soft corn tortillas. 

For $21, Fonda’s black mole chicken enchiladas are by no means the cheapest dish you’ll find on a Mexican menu, merely one of the best. As an added treat, pair it with their sensational mezcalita — one of the best mezcal cocktails in the city.

49. Flinders Lane’s Lamb Rump

Australians and lamb are like Americans and apple pie — the stereotype of “shrimp on the barbie” is far less common than baby sheep (and for the record: they’re actually prawns). Modern Australian eatery Flinders Lane (162 Avenue A; 212-228-6900) serves a lamb dish that could convince even the pickiest eater to love the other red meat.

The globally inspired dish nods to the diverse ethnic groups that make up modern-day Oz, starting with its seasoning: The lamb rump is crusted in wattleseed, a native spice that’s been used by the Aborigines for centuries. The cut is sliced then placed atop a Middle Eastern garlic harissa sauce and a cucumber-and-red-onion salad. The whole thing is dressed with a minted yogurt sauce. Tunisian harissa comes from the Arabic population, its heat balanced by the creaminess of the yogurt and the bold coffee-like flavors of the indigenous seed. The result is out of this world.

It’s a high-end riff of an Australian late-night classic, the souvlaki. The combination of Mediterranean flavors and ingredients is intended to mimic the popular pita filled with meat, tzatziki, tomato, chips, and onions. With the largest Greek population outside of Greece, Melbourne has adopted the Hellenic street-food snack as one of its own. Many Aussies host souvlaki nights, as Americans do Taco Tuesdays. While pork is the most commonly used meat in the dish’s homeland (chicken and lamb are used less frequently), the abundance of sheep led to a new Down Under twist on the age-old snack.

48. Blue Ribbon Sushi’s Temaki Honnin

While some industrious folk ferment their own kimchi and cure the meats for their midday salumi break (what, you don’t take daily meat repasts?), Blue Ribbon Sushi (multiple locations) offers a fresher and more instantly gratifying take on D.I.Y., opposable thumbs being the only requirement.

Blue Ribbon’s sushi chefs will happily make you temaki — uncut sheets of nori seaweed rolled into cylinders or cones and filled with rice, seafood, and, occasionally, vegetables, herbs, and condiments. And at most of the brand’s branches, the chefs adhere to a tidy and compact standard (some establishments’ hand rolls can look comically close to ice cream cones). But if you feel like giving the masters a run for their money, opt instead for temaki honnin.

The platter holds all the necessary components for an impromptu sushi-making session: bundles of seasoned rice, crisp nori squares, and five varieties of fish. There’s always tuna, salmon, and yellowtail, as well as imitation crab and avocado for the masochists who enjoy California rolls. Local whitefish like fluke and porgy are the wildcards on the platter, which changes seasonally.

Don’t despair if your handiwork doesn’t look like the pros’: The quality of Blue Ribbon’s raw ingredients ensures that the results will at least still taste great. And the hands-on aspect makes it a great play for date night.

47. Dirty French’s Chicken and Crepes

Unless it comes battered and coated in grease, chicken tends to be the least exciting dish at most restaurants: flavorless, dry, and, in many cases, served for the sole purpose of appeasing the weight-watching set. Dirty French (180 Ludlow Street; 212-254-3000), on the other hand, serves chicken and crepes that are the opposite of boring; they’re dramatic.

This chicken mixes flavors and techniques from across the globe: French confit and mustard, Southeast Asian citrus, Tunisian chile paste, Indian chutney — it’s by far one of the boldest preparations of the farmyard fowl to be found in the city.

Intended pour deux, the bird is served in two parts. The breast is presented first, sliced in a small skillet over a creamy mustard sauce scented with herbs and caramelized shallots. It’s set on a wooden board with a handful of folded crepes on the side. The dark meat comes next, two legs with feet still attached. The legs are marinated in a vibrant inspired blend of soy, kaffir lime, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger before being confited in chicken fat then grilled to order. Alongside, four sauces are offered for your sampling pleasure: spicy house-made harissa, sweet apricot chutney, hot dijon mustard, and crème fraîche. For added freshness and texture, a glass rooster filled with pickled chiles, sliced radishes, and fresh herbs comes on the side.

46. The Vegetarian Combination at Zoma

Harlem is saturated with restaurants serving delicious and plentiful food. For comforting Ethiopian cuisine, locals head to Zoma (2084 Frederick Douglass Boulevard; 212-662-0620). 

The space is simple, and the menu is unfussy. All platters come with delightfully sour, spongy injera (like a thick and chewy teff crepe) that you tear with your fingers and use to scoop up your choice of stew. The meat offerings are all delicious. But on hot summer days, a vegetarian combination fills you up without quite knocking you down.

Collard greens (gomen) are stewed until they’ve kept just enough bite, flavored lightly with ginger, garlic, and onions. Atakilt wett, with carrots, potatoes, cabbage, and onions, provides numerous shapes and textures. Misir wett is slightly spicy, with lentils cooked just to the point of breaking easily. And shiro wett, with its combination of chickpeas, lentils, and smooth, pulverized peas, is richly spiced with berbere into pure “Ethiopian comfort food.”

The combinations are meant to be shared, and while plenty of wispy women can be seen impressively downing their own platters with gusto, one will comfortably feed two moderate eaters. If you’re particularly hungry/don’t want to wait, start with an order of kategna — injera toasted and rubbed liberally with clarified butter and berbere. It’s perfect for impatient fingers, and alone worthy of the trip to Harlem’s popping restaurant district.

45. Merguez Sausage Flatbread at Irvington

If any flatbread could convince you that it’s an equal brother, not a distant country cousin, to the universal crowd-pleaser known as pizza, the merguez version found at Irvington (201 Park Avenue South; 212-677-0425) would be the one. A robust, distinctly bready base is layered with vivid romesco sauce, topped with smoky, spicy house-made merguez sausage and soft, sweet red onions. The whole dish is brightened with dabs of cool, salty ricotta.

All the flatbreads here are a good bet; there’s usually a special flatbread highlighting whatever’s fresh and inviting at the Greenmarket in neighboring Union Square that day. If you’re dining with a group, especially, you’ll want to add one to the table. However, it’s the merguez —simple, un-showy, almost austere in its commitment to brown, that we come back for time after time.

“We make the sausage in-house,” chef David Nicholls tells the Voice. “I want to be able to control the spices, to get the exact taste I’m looking for. I love to highlight ingredients, so I try to keep things simple and let the flavors really shine.”

Sit at the counter and watch hardworking chefs press the fresh dough onto a paddle before topping it and sliding it into the oven.

Cold beer. Hot flatbread. Heaven.

44. Le Grand Aioli at Marlow & Sons

Mayo is one of those ingredients you either love or hate. So it’s pretty bold for a restaurant to feature the condiment prominently — indeed, as the centerpiece of a dish. That’s exactly what Marlow & Sons (81 Broadway, Brooklyn; 718-384-1441) does every summer. On Mondays, the Williamsburg eatery offers one of our favorite audacious dishes, Le Grand Aioli, celebrating the season and the garlicky dip.

One night a week starting at 5 p.m., the local-centric restaurant serves the shareable plate with an ever-changing assortment of farm-fresh ingredients. Recent renditions have included fresh heirloom tomatoes, roasted eggplant, marinated cracked potatoes, dressed wax beans, grilled string beans, shishito peppers, fried zucchini, fried garlic, pickled egg, poached swordfish, and lamb meatballs. But, just like the growing season, you never know what you’re going to get — could be sardines, or potatoes, or pickles, or snap peas. No matter what, it’s like taking a country escape.

The bounty surrounds a big bowl of some of the best aioli you’ve ever had. It’s made from fresh certified organic eggs along with garlic, lemon juice, and a blend of high-quality oils. The grand goal is a shareable platter that truly is of the moment. Available until fall sets in, it’s one of our best-loved summer treats.

43. Shelsky’s Hot Pastrami Sandwich

Shelsky’s of Brooklyn (141 Court St, Brooklyn; 718-855-8817) started off by bringing smoked fish to the borough. Since then, the shop has branched out from aquatic creatures to smoked and cured meats. Everything from the pastrami and corned beef to the tongue is cured in-house, then shipped off to Fletcher’s in Gowanus for a touch of smoke. That’s what makes the hot pastrami sandwich ($18.99) so good. The piles of steamed beef is set between two slices of Orwasher’s plain rye bread (seeded and pumpernickel are also available); one of which is slathered with mustard. The meat is offered lean, moist, or extra moist — go for the extra. The sandwich could throw down with anything you’ll find in the LES, but fortunately, it comes without the crowds.

42. Hippie Banjo at Pies ‘n’ Thighs

Though simple, there’s something about Pies ‘n’ Thighs’ (166 South Fourth Street, 347-529-6090) hippie banjo sandwich ($7.50) that really hits the spot. No ordinary fried egg sandwich, the hippie banjo is a hotbed of textures and flavors: stacked between two pieces of buttery, crunchy, straight-from-the-grill anadama bread sit an over-easy fried egg, cheddar cheese, avocado, tomato, sprouts and mayo. The sprouts, in particular, elevate the overall sandwich, acting as a palate refresher after the cheese and mayo.

Pies ‘n’ Thighs’ homefries ($5) — classic rosemary potatoes, which have been cooked to crispy perfection — and cheese grits ($5) complete the meal, if you’re really ravenous.

41. Malted Milkshake from Dizzy’s Diner

Milkshakes, it has been suggested, bring all the boys to the yard. Dizzy’s (511 9th Street, Brooklyn; 718-499-1966) malted version is bringing a lot of people to Park Slope, where the classic diner-style eatery excels at a belly-busting dessert drink worth waiting in line for. But surely you won’t be waiting long, especially considering that each shake is handmade to order, with three heaping scoops of vanilla ice cream. 

Throwing ice cream and milk together into a stainless steel shaker doesn’t require rocket science. Yet Dizzy’s elevates their milkshake with an ideal proportion of ingredients, yielding the proper result of sugary sweetness, and savory creaminess, delivered with a unfaltering consistency. Going for an old school soda shop feel, the folks behind the counter use locally-sourced ice cream, and jack it up with a spoonful of malt. It leaves your tongue with a faint echo of cereal milk that demands repeated sipping. 

Served in a traditional Y-shaped glass, the $5.50 frappe arrives at the table blanketed by a fluffy layer of cloud-like whipped cream. It’s all that, with a cherry on top. Literally.

40. Graffiti’s Graffiti Burger

If Superiority Burger’s namesake sandwich is too extreme a trip into vegetarianism, Graffiti Food & Wine Bar (222 East 10th Street, 212-677-0695) chef Jehangir Mehta’s signature sliders are a gateway drug. The acclaimed former pastry chef has spent years hooking regulars on these exquisitely seasoned guilty pleasures that reckon a global trove of produce and spices and trump a gratuitous heft of Pat Lafrieda beef fat. The diners at his stalwart hole-in-the wall continue to only want more, not different, because Mehta’s menu’s been nearly untouched since he first opened the intimate dining room’s shutters on a quiet stretch in 2007.

Just as they did on day one, Graffiti burgers come by the pair. Divided by a handful of baked garlic fingerlings that absorb the punch of Mehta’s house-made tomato-chipotle mayonnaise, the kick of the burgers is in no way overshadowed. At 60% pure Angus, they’re cut with a blend of fresh, diced onions, tomatoes, green chiles, and mushrooms heady with coriander, cumin, ginger, and mint. And like any business-minded pusher, knowing that media and finance types want a taste of what downtowners want to keep to themselves, you’ll find the burgers farther south when Mehta opens Graffiti Earth in Tribeca’s Duane Street Hotel this October.

39. Beef Rolls at Kottu House

Related to Malaysian roti canai, Sri Lanka’s godamba roti — pancake-like griddled flatbread — enjoys a certain status among street food fiends. Chopped and stir-fried with proteins and vegetables, it forms the base of the eponymous dish at Kottu House (250 Broome Street, 646-781-9222) on the Lower East Side. From a cozy storefront, mother/son team Sandya De Silva and Chelaka Gunamuni serve takeout boxes of filling and fiery Sri Lankan fare, including briny salmon croquettes and french fries jazzed up with chili powder.

And while their lineup of kottu — from black curry chicken to seawater fish — is worth the trip alone, we can never resist an order of the house beef rolls filled with a coarse mix of ground meat, shredded vegetables, and curry powder blooming with explosive spice. Godamba roti forms a texturally appealing shell around the beef hash. It crisps up like an egg roll when fried, at once shatteringly crisp and chewy. Find the rolls listed under the menu’s “short eats” section. They’re two for $5, and come with cups of sriracha hot sauce for dipping, but we like to splurge on De Silva’s insanely flavorful sambals. The coconut and green chili one in particular, while the least spicy, still delivers a cooling, creamy tingle that works wonders on the beef.

38. Cafe Katja’s Wiener Schnitzel

Austria is known for many things: Mozart, Marie Antoinette, the former California governor, Viennese pastry. The most famous (and most frequently consumed), however, is the national dish, wiener schnitzel; the breaded cutlets are beloved across the globe. The Lower East Side’s Cafe Katja (79 Orchard Street; 212-219-9545) serves one of the best renditions in the city.

Breaded and fried meats may be found across the world — like steak Milanese and numerous incarnations of fried chicken — but the simple Austrian preparation found at Katja is hard to beat. To make the dish, pork is pounded into thin cutlets, coated in breading, then fried. The golden crust insulates the meat. Not chewy or the least bit dried out, it’s like the schnitzel version of a fresh baked baguette; soft and pillowy inside with a nice exterior bite. There’s nothing fancy or trendy about this dish, and no heavy sauces necessary — the schnitzel is killer on its own. It gets just a slice of lemon, a sprig of parsley and a smidge of preiselbeeren (lingonberry jam) on the side. Steamed new potatoes with herbs and a side salad finish off the plate.

37. Norma’s Potato Pancakes

When Westchester’s too far for a power breakfast at a Cheesecake Factory, there’s Norma’s (119 West 56th Street, 212-708-7460) at Le Parker Meridien, the hotel’s upscale, upstairs, daytime dining room where the biggest challenge isn’t whether to spend $28 on Nutella-packed flapjacks, or $1000 on a lobster frittata plied with more than a half pound of caviar, but whether you can possibly finish them.

But Norma’s doesn’t just cater to dramatic cravings, it also serves up classic dishes in dramatic doses and poses — case in point their classic potato pancakes, which saddle a pile of crisp and fluffy latkes, shredded then tenderly fried, with a monument of potato straws that can shame your table’s floral centerpiece and provide a crunchy veil to hide behind while sifting through the accompanying green salad, which features a whole, hollowed apple overflowing with a sweetened Indian carrot puree, each slice glazed with a swipe of tart cranberry-apple sauce. Unlike the Cheesecake Factory, there are no desserts on the menu here — unless cheesecake-stuffed French toast served a la mode counts — but you’ll also never blow a deal by being that guy who orders a slice of low-carb cake with strawberries.

36. Goat Milk Soft Serve at Victory Garden

New York City has some of the best ice cream, gelato and soft serve shops in the world, and there’s no better time to explore them than in the sweltering months of summer. But for those who avoid cow’s milk, the Mister Softee jingle is a cold and empty one. For those folks, there’s Victory Garden (31 Carmine Street).

The tiny spot churns soft serve made from goat’s milk and yogurt sourced from Side Hill Acres in New York state. Their happy goats wander and are fed a diet of hay and grass — without hormones or prophylactic antibiotics — which means that the milk is not only tangy and bright, but also has an incredibly clean and fresh taste. It’s then spun into a sweet array of flavors, like salted caramel, chocolate, a seasonal herbal infusion, or a straight-up plain goat milk, which has sour notes underpinning a sweetness that’s neither cloying nor oversaturated.

A cup on its own is heaven; soft and smooth and refreshing. But for those who want a bit more play in their treats, there’s an abundance of other local and artisan products to add-in, like vegan fudge from Coop’s Micro Creamery in Massachusetts, a variety of goat milk caramel sauces from Fat Toad Farm in Vermont, or crushed Heavenly Chocolate Chunk Cookies from New York City’s own Sweet Lorens, which themselves contain no dairy. No matter the combo, this is soft serve so good it’s worthy of being a destination for any and all ice cream fans.

35. Okonomi’s Onsen Egg

At Okonomi (150 Ainslie Street, Brooklyn; no phone) chefs Yuji Haraguchi and Tara Norvell devote their mornings and afternoons to ichiju sansai, a multi-course breakfast of soup, fish, and accompaniments like subtly sweet pickles made with rice vinegar and sour yuzu. Presented in gorgeous ceramic vessels, this regal morning meal also includes creamy cubes of Japanese-style rolled omelet, mixed with soy milk or heavy cream to create a deeply caramelized exterior. But even those elegant ova pale in comparison to the kitchen’s dreamy onsen egg.

Poached in the shell and cooked to the approximate temperature of a hot spring, the egg arrives in its own cup, floating in sweet soy sauce and topped with togarashi — a Japanese chile powder spiked with roasted citrus and sesame seeds. It’s served as a two-dollar supplement, meant to pair with bowls of remarkably fluffy and nutty brown rice crowned with pungent cured bonito flakes. Mix everything together and pour its viscous yolk and barely-there white over the grains to season them. The result is close to a porridge, but with loads more personality than that term suggests. Lush and salty-sweet, its depth of flavor is a delightful surprise in a meal full of them.

34. ‘Njuja Pizza at Obicà

Obicà Mozzarella Bar (928 Broadway, 212-777-2754, and 590 Madison Avenue, 212-355-2217) has locations worldwide, with origins in Rome (which sparked the concept for Mario Batali and Nancy Silverton’s Mozza, in Los Angeles). Obicà showcases handmade bufala and burrata mozzarella cheeses, imported to New York City directly from the Campania region in Italy.  

You can order the cheeses individually as part of a tasting board, but we think a pizza is the way to go. Obicà’s dough is made with authentic Italian flour and goes through a long, cool 48-hour fermentation, producing a crisp, chewy, and airy crust. Our favorite pizza takes the basic tomato-and-basil topped margherita two steps further toward greatness, with the addition of addictively salty, spicy, and smoky ‘nduja spread and four delicious blobs of the super-lactic cream bomb known as burrata.

33. Paulaner Sausage Sampler

Step into the mammoth space that is Paulaner (265 Bowery; 212-780-0300) and you may forget you’re in New York City. The ceilings are high and vast, the never-ending communal tables could seat even the largest party of chanting German football fans, and gleaming copper vats of bubbling beer barely even make a dent in the space between the bar and dining room. It’s the kind of place that seems a touch out of sorts on the Bowery, with its raucous nightly energy and, again, largeness standing out next to its somewhat subdued neighbors. That is, until you taste the food, which has all of the attention and precision you’d expect more from a mom-and-pop menu crafted from the most old-school of Bavarian German souls.

There are many dishes worthy of trying, like a bright, chilled pea soup with delicate chiffonade swirls of mint; fluffy yet chewy baked pretzels with Bavarian cheese spread; ethereally light spaetzle with vegetables; or a crisp but yielding pork knuckle you wanna bring home and call your own. But for something truly special, go to town on the sausage sampler and sauerkraut.

The selection may change the night you’re there, but a recent combo featured weisswurst, bratwurst, and merguez, all nestled on a bed of sauerkraut with a trio of mustards. The weisswurst is soft and gentle, unsmoked, the meat and herbs somehow becoming creamy. The bratwurst — traditional in the best sense of the word — is slightly spicy, and rich without being overwhelming. The merguez, with its crisp skin and fragrant balance of warm spice, offers a slightly more heated and rather exotic bite. It’s the kind of plate that’s perfect for a group with very large beers in hand, washing down a long day or smoothing the stomach for a long night ahead.

32. Triple Chocolate Chunk Cookies at The Whitney

This is a serious chocolate cookie. Triple chocolate chunks, lightly caramelized edges, a soft, molten heart, sprinkled with sparkling crystals of salt, warm and melting fresh from the oven. Deeply, deeply chocolate.

Whether enjoyed as the comforting crowning indulgence of a sophisticated vegetable-forward dinner at Untitled (99 Gansevoort Street; 212-570-3670) or a sugar-rush snack up on the patio of the Studio Café after a long afternoon of art, if you’re visiting the Whitney, you should be eating one of these cookies.

Why so good? Quality chocolate — white, dark, and milk — rice flour that lightens and gives great chew, and some serious thought and skill: You just know that if chef Michael Anthony has a cookie on the menu, it’s one you’re going to enjoy, and Miro Uskokovic (another Gramercy Tavern alum) is the master of elevated, deceptively simple traditional desserts.

At Untitled, you get a shot of cold, creamy milk to drink alongside. At Studio Café you get a view good enough to make up for the lack of milk. Either way, with this cookie you win.

31. Momofuku Ssäm Bar’s Dry Aged Rib Eye

Large-format meals — feasts that typically feature whole animals or large cuts of meat requiring multiple diners to tackle — offer an exciting alternative in this era of small plates. And the gargantuan rib steak that chef Matthew Rudofker serves at Momofuku Ssäm Bar (207 Second Avenue, 212-254-3500) is no exception. It’s just exceptional.

Rudofker uses Niman Ranch beef that’s been aged for a minimum of 50 days, and cooks the steaks with their exterior fat intact. Each one comes perfumed with roasted garlic and anointed with its bone — the rosy slices arranged around a massive stainless steel pan. It would be impressive on its own, but the kitchen also supplies thick-cut fries, an architectural caesar salad, and a quartet of condiments — bacon ketchup, dry-aged fat and brown butter jus, shallot red wine marmalade, and a flawless béarnaise.

Such bacchanalian festivities will cost you: $250, to be exact. A contract and deposit are also involved. Sign it. Sign your whole damn life away — the top-notch meat cookery yields incredible bovine funk. For steak lovers, this carnivorous orgy of elevated steakhouse fare has “bucket list” written all over it.

30. Bar Boulud’s Escargots Persillade

If you can’t keep your mouth shut at the theater, begin your evening opposite Lincoln Center at Bar Boulud (1900 Broadway, 212-595-0303), with Daniel Boulud’s classic French bistro staple, escargots persillade, a/k/a eight garlic-sopped Burgundy snails, which arrive sunken deep in the cast-iron trenches they were baked in. A topping of tomato, parsley, and chives swaddles the inside of your cheeks with a warming earthy perfume best kept to yourself as the night goes on.

But as long as it’s still appropriate to open your mouth, while making small talk between big bites at the front dining room’s communal table, continue depleting those aromatic butter cups with four accompanying fried potato croquettes, creamy as gougères, which can be halved to wedge in and sop the remaining sauce, assuming you can resist popping them whole; but they don’t need more butter to melt in your mouth. Just remember afterward, unless you’re asking for more, to then pop a mint.

29. Marta’s Roman-Style Pizza

Tucked inside the lobby of the Martha Washington hotel, Marta (29 East 29th Street, 212-651-3800) — Danny Meyer and Nick Anderer’s like-minded follow-up to their hit Roman restaurant Maialino — traffics in crunchy, airy pizzas with cracker-thin crusts, many of which reimagine classic Roman dishes for their clever toppings. The uneven rounds that Anderer and chef de cuisine Joe Tarasco pull from the flames of the kitchen’s massive wood-burning ovens, above all other offerings, are one of the city’s most constant and reliable pleasures.

With a thin layer of mozzarella and bright, acidic sauce, the margherita is textbook. Start to branch out, however, and you’ll discover that Marta has carved a charming niche for itself in our city’s pizza landscape. When the restaurant opened, there were stewed-tripe pies and pizzas covered in cured pork jowl, onions, and pecorino cheese — a riff on amatriciana sauce. Anderer’s patate alla carbonara — which also relies on guanciale for its meaty funk — loads on the potatoes and cheese. The finishing touch of coddled eggs, poured over the pizza in the same fashion that Di Fara’s Dom DeMarco drizzles olive oil, takes this white-pie-on-steroids to another level. A corner slice never gets old, but if you’ve worn out your tastebuds on too much Neapolitan pizza, Marta does the Roman staple proud.

28. Untitled’s Roasted and Fried Chicken Salad

Untitled (99 Gansevoort Street, 212-570-3670), whose name implies Danny Meyer’s restaurant at the newly relocated Whitney Museum, speaks for itself. And no dish speaks louder than chef Michael Anthony’s roasted and fried chicken salad, which carves out its personality by alternating salty slices of tender rotisserie-roasted breast meat and fleshy hunks of marinated, fried thighs that are as crunchy on the outside as the sharp radicchio and kale underfoot. And while other dishes, like a blueberry peanut butter crunch cake that acts as an edible tribute to the artist Wayne Thiebaud, honor the museum’s collection, cubism has never been the Whitney’s strong suit. So Anthony’s richly textured, contorted birds do double-duty, filling a gap in the upstairs galleries and a void in the bellies of patrons who didn’t know what they were missing.

27. Sweet Corn Goat Cheese Tamal at Confessional

Confessional‘s (308 East 6th Street; 212-477-2400) menu only has a few vegetarian dishes, but it does them well. Case in point: The sweet corn goat cheese tamal with vegetable ratatouille ($10), which features a sweet and spicy tomato stew with zucchini, carrot and corn, and a dollop of goat cheese, all on top of a corn tamal. The tamal itself is soft and melts in your mouth, the butteriness of the tamal rounding out the dish.

You wouldn’t think a Latin restaurant would have a dish like ratatouille on its menu, since it’s traditionally from France. But the catch with Confessional is that it presents the food of Latin America — Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Argentina, among others — with a European spin. As for the name, you’ll understand once you walk in to the eatery. The walls are painted with black chalkboard paint, which have been penned with patrons’ secrets. Confessional might be the perfect place for you if you want to get something off your chest.

26. Crispy Duck Necks at Trestle on Tenth

In the heart of that increasingly trendy stripe the High Line carves through Chelsea, Trestle on Tenth (242 Tenth Avenue; 212-645-5659) is a decade-old neighborhood stalwart and dining destination rolled into one. In cold weather, the intimately proportioned digs and Ralf Kuettel’s Swiss-inspired fare will warm your proverbial cockles. With the arrival of summer, the back doors open to a perfect patio oasis that mutes the traffic of Tenth Avenue to a relative murmur. That’ll warm you, and you might even find actual cockles on the menu, tossed with asparagus and basil and served over pasta.

No matter the season, we’ll always have the duck necks. An appetizer like no other, “Crispy Duck Necks With Rosemary and Garlic Aioli” might best be described as a gourmand’s chicken wing: Cleft into three-inch lengths, the necks are marinated, then dredged in a rosemary breading and crisped till all trace of fat is rendered away and the meat veritably sublimates off the bone. Not rich enough for your demanding palate? They’re served with a garlicky aioli whose tang cuts through the unctuousness even as its substance multiplies it.

Ask your server to help you choose a glass (or, better yet, a bottle) from Trestle’s iconoclastic, Eurocentric wine list — and make sure your napkin is close at hand.

25. Emily’s Emmy Burger

Breakout Clinton Hill pizzeria Emily (919 Fulton Street, Brooklyn; 347-844-9588), run by Brooklyn-raised Matthew Hyland and his wife (the restaurant’s namesake), takes inspiration from Naples as the jumping-off point for its quirky pies, which are categorized according to sauce color (red, pink, green, or white/sauceless).

Hyland’s burger, a two-handed affair, has gained a following of its own by design, thanks to its limited availability. Just 25 of the dry-aged patties are prepared each night (they’re “unlimited” during Sunday lunch) and they sell out quickly. Majorly beefy, the coarsely ground meat hides beneath a veil of melted Grafton cheddar, sautéed onions, and “EMMY” sauce — a garlic-butter-laced Korean gochujang mayonnaise with a funky tang. Its pretzel bun, made by the venerable Tom Cat bakery, manages to be both soft and resilient, containing the whole juicy affair without giving way. The sandwich has proven so popular that Hyland even combined his two specialties into a dastardly “burger pizza” special that sounds like an edible regression therapy session.

24. Manousheh’s Jibneh Manousheh

Inspired by the Lebanese street food of his youth, Ziyad Hermez opened Manousheh (193 Bleecker Street, 347-971-5778) along a busy stretch of Greenwich Village. Named for the crisp-edged flatbread that’s as popular in Beirut as pizza is here, his cheery shop sells eight varieties of the baked-to-order snack.

Enter and inhale the aromas of charred dough freshly sprung from the flames and often perfumed with zaatar, the popular Middle Eastern spice blend of thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. An otherwise nude flatbread dusted with the spice will run you $5, while a wrap stuffed with avocado, cherry tomatoes, Lebanese olives, cucumbers, and mint fetches $8. Best of all may be the $6 jibneh, which melts gooey akkawi cheese — milder and creamier than feta — onto manousheh. Fold the halves like a slice of pizza to eat New York–style, or get additional toppings like mint and cucumber to jazz up this magnificent cheap-eats entrant.

23. Herbie’s International at Ivan Ramen

At Ivan Ramen (25 Clinton Street, 646-678-3859), owner Ivan Orkin gets up to all sorts of East-meets-West shenanigans, like coating cubes of fried tofu in Coney Island–style chili and serving Chinese thousand-year deviled eggs. In the same vein, his Herbie’s International sandwich has us wishing Mel Brooks would Kickstarter a Young Frankenstein sequel, because mad genius Orkin has resurrected one hero of a hoagie.

Based on a sandwich first served at Herbie’s restaurant in Loch Sheldrake, New York, and once popular throughout the Catskills (at the height of their popularity decades ago), the sandwich — named for a sibling restaurant that once operated in Canarsie — stuffs heaps of thinly sliced Chinese-style barbecued pork onto a miso-garlic toasted hero roll. Available during lunch and brunch, it’s served with a shiso-spiked citrus slaw, a slick of sinus-searing Chinese-style mustard, and a ramekin of syrupy roasted garlic duck sauce. Its flavors are unsubtle in a seriously satisfying way, with sumptuous fluctuation between sweet, meaty, and spicy tastes from bite to bite. Like everyone else, we love ramen, but Orkin’s cultural experiments always grab our attention.

22. Bhutanese Ema Datsi’s Namesake

Tex-Mex titans and their viscous queso have nothing on the cheese sauce at Bhutanese Ema Datsi (67-21 Woodside Avenue, Queens; 718-458-8588). At Lekay Drakpa’s modest corner spot, the only restaurant in New York City to offer a full Bhutanese menu, diners spoon the country’s signature dish of soupy cheese sauce simmered with hot green peppers over piles of nutty Bhutanese red rice. Only slightly creamy, the dairy stew can also be ordered brimming with chewy dried beef, potatoes, or beans.

Drakpa, who was born in Tibet, raised in India, and for more than a decade studied to be a monk, commands the dining room with a Zen-fueled generosity. For us, it’s his whey soup, a cloudy and gently milky liquid fortified with potatoes that accompanies the various cheese stews, that puts us in a meditative trance.

21. Lan Larb Soho’s Ba Mee

Isan cooking maven Ratchanee Sumpatboon cooks pungent and fiery northeastern Thai food at Larb Ubol in Hell’s Kitchen, and she’s likewise lent her creativity to the menus at both locations of Lan Larb (227 Centre Street, 646-895-9264). But instead of sticking rigidly to the Isan playbook — which favors intensely sour and spicy flavors — she offers a diversified roster of gems in her role as consultant, including ba mee, a straightforward and wonderfully nuanced street food staple.

The industrious dish piles yu choy greens, slices of barbecued pork, and lump crab littered with scallions over thin, springy egg noodles twirled into a nest. Mix them up and eat them dry, or pour in the accompanying bowl of aromatic pork broth to stir up some pervasively savory surf-and-turf. Both swine and crustacean bring sweetness to the table, mellowed out by rich stock and toothsome noodles. In a city that often doles out wan Southeast Asian soups, Sumpatboon’s recipes cement her status as one of New York’s best Thai chefs. The $11 bowl makes for a hearty and satisfying lunch or dinner.

20. Lobster Roll at Fairway Market

Eating a lobster roll by the water is a tradition that just about every sane person enjoys. And while a supermarket isn’t usually the best place for lobster rolls, Fairway Market (480-500 Van Brunt Street, 718-254-0923) in Red Hook has one of the best (and cheapest).

Located directly on the water, this Fairway has a large and comfortable outdoor seating area — you could enjoy the expansive shipping vessels as they pass while scarfing down the two pounds of trail mix you just bought, but a far better option is getting a lobster roll, made fresh to order and simply prepared on a toasted roll with lightly mayo-tossed lobster meat. At $10, it’s just as tasty as any of those $17 lobster-roll chains found in the city, with its no-fail combination of sweet crustacean and sapid starch.

19. Khinkali at We Are Georgians

Marina Maisuradze-Olivo worked as a seismologist before opening We Are Georgians (230 Kings Highway, Brooklyn; 718-759-6250), her BYOB Georgian restaurant, where groups call ahead to request servings of hearty meat and vegetable stews. Everything’s made to order and from scratch, often to earth-moving results.

Late into the night, Maisuradze-Olivo dispenses platters of dense, weighty Georgian dumplings called khinkali to tables littered with bottles of beer, vodka, or electric-green Georgian tarragon soda. Their dough bulges from a mixture of pork and veal, thin-skinned on the bottom but thick and pleated to form a knot up top that diners use as a handle when dipping. They’re boiled and often have a small amount of liquid in them, so bite with caution. We like them best when doused in ajika, a hot-pepper condiment radiating with spices like coriander and blue fenugreek.

18. Doughnuttery’s Paris Time

Sometimes the simplest things are the best. When they’re warm and golden from the fryer, dredged in crunchy sugar and shaken in a paper bag, it’s hard to beat a mini-doughnut, and the ones at Chelsea Market’s Doughnuttery (425 West 15th Street; 212-633-4359) are all worth a bite. But we think the best of all the place’s flavors is the Paris Time, with its dreamy coating of lavender-vanilla sugar and nubbly pistachios.

“We were actually inspired by a lavender tea from France,” says owner and doughnut maker Evan Feldman. “Hence the name. We tried a lot of combinations before we found that adding vanilla to the lavender let it be really floral without being soapy. Then the pistachios give it a great texture and a light, more exotic flavor.”

The doughnut is truly bite-size, a classic example that the best things come in small packages. “It’s more fun that way,” Feldman says. “No cutting or messing around — you just pop it in your mouth.” It’s a deco beauty, all sparkly mauve and mint, best served fresh and hot. “We fry our doughnuts to order, so you can see them floating down the fryer and flipping out into the sugar,” says Feldman. “That’s how you know they’re fresh. Simple but so good.”

17. Eisenberg’s Patty Melt

Eating at Eisenberg’s (174 Fifth Avenue; 212-675-5096), which has one of the longest deli counters found anywhere, is a throwback to the New York days of old, when spots just like this dotted the entire city. The ultimate in no-frills, Eisenberg’s is a reliable diner in an area now clogged with chain restaurants and overpriced Italian markets. From egg creams to pastrami and fried bologna sandwiches, Eisenberg’s serves all the classic diner hits, including this delicious patty melt. Served on heavenly toasted rye bread with gooey Swiss cheese and sautéed onions along with the burger patty, it qualifies as a two-meal sandwich. Rich and perfectly textured, it’s best enjoyed with a side of pickles and some Russian dressing for dipping.

16. Gabriel Kreuther’s Virginia Quail

At Gabriel Kreuther (41 West 42nd Street; 212-257-5826) the restaurant, Gabriel Kreuther the man finally oversees his very own shiny midtown kingdom after a decades-long career spent serving European-influenced New American cuisine to the discerning masses. In this fine-dining behemoth, which operates with stunning efficiency and grace, the Alsatian chef’s kitchen churns out more than 40 different dishes spread over two separate menus, and many of them are painstakingly intricate.

Kreuther’s finesse is on peacock-like display in the main space, which is decked out in comfortable padded banquettes and stork motifs (including a stork chandelier). With a Mike Tyson–like passion for winged creatures, he gently tends to Virginia quail, matching the game bird’s depth with truffles, maitake mushrooms, and nutty black rice topped with a delicate poached quail egg. It’s one bird that soars even higher than those, depicted mid-flight, that are hanging from the ceiling.

15. L’Artusi’s Garganelli with Mushroom Ragu

As the spirit of fall murmurs through the West Village, the garganelli pasta with mushroom ragu at L’Artusi (228 West 10th Street; 212-255-5757) is everything you could want as the nights begin to draw closer and cooler.

First off, there’s the pasta — soft quills that lounge in the sauce, yet retain just enough chew to elevate the dish from nursery food to sublime satisfaction. And there’s the ragu itself: slow-cooked mushrooms melting into an umami-rich pool, punctuated with salty pops of ricotta salata cheese and nubby black pepper.

“It has a depth of flavor that rivals any meat bolognese,” says Gabe Thompson, Epicurean Group’s executive chef. “Even notoriously vegetable-averse kids are into it — my son Luke can’t get enough.”

This is a mellow dish, a symphony of bosky brown that’s soothing, satisfying, and yet still elegant. It’s very “seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness,” and not to be missed.

14. Rebelle’s Clafoutis

Daniel Eddy, chef at sleek French newcomer Rebelle (218 Bowery; 917-639-3880), cooks elevated neo-bistro fare like espelette pepper-spiked lamb tartare bolstered by green chickpeas and yogurt. But while most of the food served in the crisp, high-ceilinged Lower East Side room references classics while updating them, pastry chef Jessica Yang’s clafoutis-for-two ($20) takes an old-school route and scores a big, buttery A+.

Delivered to the table in an oval ceramic baking dish, the custard, with its burnished top, hides delectably creamy innards. When the restaurant first opened, the dessert showcased juicy sour cherries. The kitchen now plunks down fat champagne grapes into the batter, nudging the sumptuous treat into flaugnarde territory. Perfumed with the fruit’s floral sweetness and served with lime-zested whipped cream (chantilly here, natch), Yang’s clafoutis adheres to simplicity in suave Francophilic style, with mouthwatering results.

13. Epaulettes at Vaucluse

If there were echelons of pasta royalty in New York City, chef Michael White would wear top crown. Known for running some of the best high-end Italian restaurants in the city, White’s pasta game is on point. At his latest outpost, Vaucluse (100 East 63rd Street; 646-869-2300), a fine French brasserie inspired by his many visits to the South of France, White and executive chef Jared Gadbaw offer just a handful of pâtes fraîches maison. The ravioli-like épaulettes blend White’s elegant Italian style with French flavor and technique, the result of which is pure gustatory perfection.

The merits of Italian versus French cooking can be a source of contention among culinarians, just as intense as the Jets-Pats rivalry. Competition makes this city go ’round, but in the case of this Italophile chef’s new restaurant, reconciliation has created a beautiful offspring. 

These handmade squares, named for their resemblance to the shoulder piece on military uniforms, have two raised pockets separating the savory fillings. One side holds tender rabbit, the other buttery French reblochon cheese. Each pouch holds its own, but together, the dish is like a chic Gallic soirée, indulgent yet refined. The pasta would be lovely with just some browned butter, maybe some olive oil, or a simple sauce. When White is involved, though, every detail is well thought-out; the plate is presented with a rich black-truffle reduction, adding some more sweetness, earth, and a hearty dose of that intoxicating truffle aroma beloved by every human (and pig) on the planet.

12. Wildair’s Georgia White Shrimp

At Fabian von Hauske and Jeremiah Stone’s leisurely, wine-focused Wildair (142 Orchard Street; 646-964-5624), the Lower East Side’s dynamic duo get up to all kinds of fun, like frying squid and lemons to dip into stormy squid ink aioli and whipping up flawless granita-topped custards and peanut-chocolate tarts. Unlike at Contra, their flagship neo-bistro down the street, recipes here are somewhat less cerebral, but the food’s no less nuanced for it — even when you’re eating with your hands.

Take their Georgia white shrimp, poached in olive oil and served whole. They’re the most elegant peel-and-eat beauties you’ve ever tasted. Briny and crisp, their shells give way to tender, sweet meat accented by grassy cilantro and bright and snappy coins of celery. Don’t forget to suck out the head fat before chomping down on those antennae-riddled noggins. As the setting calls for it, we’d suggest raising a glass of bubbly petillant-naturel (“pet-nat” to oenophiles) with your tomalley-stained shrimp mitts.

11. Trini Gyul’s Doubles

After relocating to Queens, Ro Ramcharan added late-night hours to her charming and communal Trini Gyul (112-16 Liberty Avenue, Queens; 718-659-1020) restaurant in order to fully utilize its new space, outfitted with a J-shaped bar opposite the steam-tray table in back. At night, her intensely flavored cassareep chicken and other Trinidadian snacks rule, but the doubles she sells every morning usually disappear before lunch, and for good reason.

In her new neighborhood, she’s tripled her orders of the breakfast favorite, a sandwich of fried bread and channa, or curried chickpeas. Vendors in Trinidad and Tobago are as common as slice joints here, and each puts his or her own spin on the specialty. Ramcharan’s start with sunset-hued fried turmeric buns, flaky and soft on the inside. She layers cool and tart mango and mint chutneys over the chunky chickpea stew, already brimming with herbal notes of culantro and Cuban oregano. The vegetarian sandwich beats the pants off most wan bacon-egg-and-cheeses, with a delicate crunch that holds up nicely under the stew and condiments.

Stay tuned for the top 10 best dishes of 2015

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What’s the Best Barbecue in New York?

New York’s barbecue renaissance has been well chronicled over the past few years, making for lively conversations about the best places for brisket, ribs, burnt ends, and of course, fixin’s.

From polished places in the East Village and Williamsburg to joints with a bit more character everywhere else, New Yorkers aren’t far from great barbecue, but who’s doing it best this year?

That’s one of the questions in our annual Best of NYC readers’ poll, which is now open. Make your nomination in that and 59 other categories covering food & drink, arts & entertainment, shopping & services, and sports & recreation.

Thanks in advance for voting and be sure to pick up our Best of NYC issue on October 14 in red news boxes and at villagevoice.com/voice-choices.

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Warm Up With the Best Soups in NYC

Stock, the product of boiling water with (most often) animal bones, vegetables, and savory herbs, has been around for centuries. “Bone broth,” on the other hand, reared its smugly head last year, and the trendy collagen-rich slurry has only gained in popularity, even though the two are essentially the same. Some proponents assert that for stock to be considered bone broth, it requires at least a day bubbling away on the stovetop (for the bones to release the most nutrients, naturally) and a proper drinking vessel. Just like stock, broth helps with inflammation, but its many purported benefits mostly come up short. But that hasn’t stopped celebrities from endorsing the stuff, or bone broth-ers from organizing a festival to memorialize marrow and celebrate their superior health.

Giving in to the concept of bone broth as something new feels like accepting a rebranding of oatmeal as “sipping porridge.” A $9 paper cup filled with bone-marrow-spiked beef is still a paper cup. How about a bowl of soup instead? Here are the ten best in New York. By Zachary Feldman

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The 10 Best New York City Rap Albums of 2014

New York City rap in 2014 will be remembered by many for the way Brooklyn’s Bobby Shmurda and his Shmoney Dance shenanigans shot up the Billboard charts, but the rest of the city’s scene was also busy on a grassroots level, creating some remarkably creative hip-hop. Despite being conceived, released, and performed on your doorstop, many of these hometown offerings never received the due they deserved — but that’s no reflection on the vitality of the music that was constantly seeping up from the underground. Here, then, are the 10 most essential Big Apple rap long-players of 2014 — consider them your savvy year-end playlist template.

See also:
The 10 Best New York City Rap Albums of 2013
The Ten Best New York City Rap Albums of 2012

10. Meyhem Lauren and Buckwild
Silk Pyramids
Meyhem Lauren isn’t new to this, but the Queens lifer’s profile caught a bump when his Polo pal Action Bronson’s career began to skyrocket. This year saw Lauren grab his own slice of the spotlight as he dropped his most cogent project to date, the 13-song-strong Silk Pyramids, pairing his heavyweight flow with hardscrabble production from the crate-master Buckwild. Cameos come from scene staples AG Da Coroner, Troy Ave, Retch, and that man Bronson, but the whole package is held together by Laurenovich’s steadfast spitting.

9. Armand Hammer
Furtive Movements
The most seductively eerie listen on this list, Billy Woods and Elucid’s nine-track Furtive Movements release is a subterranean gem. Over production that resonates like a gumbo of low-end tones and skewed atmospherics, the duo broadcast their lyrics live from the deep concentration zone. File under: The new heavy mental movement.


8. The Underachievers
Cellar Door: Terminus Ut Exordium
The Flatbush duo of Issa Dash and AK created a deliberate head-fuck with their latest Brainfeeder offering. Inspired by a book Issa wrote (and then duly lost on a missing laptop) when he was younger, the album’s lyrics continue to embrace an introspective and astral-gazing third-eye mentality while the project dips into duskier production climes than UA’s prior releases. It’s a new direction that suits the Beast Coast kids well.


7. Onyx
Wakedafucup
Teaming up with the Snow Goons production unit, the original grimy-voiced kids from Queens holed up in the studio and crafted 14 tracks of brilliantly murky rap. The vibe throughout is relentlessly grubby, with the highlight being a team-up with Cormega and Papoose to reminisce over rowdy days and illicit shenanigans at New York’s ultimate thug club, The Tunnel. Don’t call it a comeback as much as a rugged flashback to the ’90s.


6. The Doppelgangaz
Peace Kehd
Still broadcasting from Parts Unknown somewhere in the depths of upstate New York, the self-coined Ghastly Duo of Matter ov Fact and EP followed last year’s HARK project with the 11-track Peace Kehd. This time the music heads in a more expansive direction with songs infused with wavering synths and woozy basslines, while the lyrical ambit remains endearingly kooky. If you’re not already on board, consider Peace Kehd your entryway to the Black Cloak lifestyle.


5. Your Old Droog
Your Old Droog
Beyond the hullabaloo that teased that Your Old Droog might be a cheeky secret side-project from one Nasir Jones, the newcomer’s debut 10-track EP-turned-album impressed by dint of one simple virtue: The kid from Coney Island can rap his ass off. Fusing a lubrication-smooth flow with a nasally and nicotine-stained timbre, Your Old Droog rips through rhymes over production that bubbles with a funky swagger. Welcome to Droog’s world.

4. Pharoahe Monch
PTSD
The former Organized Konfusion mic commander has always possessed a keen eye for concepts, but his fourth solo project channeled his expansive thoughts into a beguiling body of work. Embracing the overriding topic of how stress in its many forms runs through society and daily life, Monch drops canny commentary while never tempering his razor-sharp flow. Impressively, as the album progresses it moves from a brooding and often torturous opening tone to a finale that’s swaddled in a lightness of being. Consider it your personal rap therapy session.


3. Skyzoo and Torae
Barrel Brothers
Representing live from the Planet, Skyzoo and Torae’s first full-length collaboration was pitched with an overt manifesto: “I don’t make music for Fader/I make mine for the guys that grew up how I came up.” Naturally, what follows is a taut trip through the burly Brooklyn the rappers call home, with robust flows being dropped over concrete-solid production. It all adds up to a proud hometown mission statement.


2. Bishop Nehru and MF Doom
NehruvianDOOM
There’s a good few decades between the New York City-raised (but now exiled-in-London) MF Doom and the upstate-residing Bishop Nehru, but listening to their hip-hop tryst, it’s as if they’ve been plugged in to the same creative zone all along. The formula here is simple: Doom produces, Bishop raps, and on occasion the curmudgeonly supervillain with the “Brillo Pad beard” also deigns to grab the mic, but it’s the duo’s shared off-kilter sensibility that gels the listening experience. And when they team up for the positivity-packed “Great Things,” it’s as if Doom has temporarily let his mask drop to embrace a nostalgic revisiting of the original K.M.D. vibe.

1. Homeboy Sandman
Hallways
All hail Homeboy Sand. A literal mainstay of the New York City underground scene since the days when he was plastering the 7 train with his stickers, 2014 began with the Queens-raised rapper continuing his excellent run of EP releases with the Paul White-produced White Sands project before climaxing with his creative opus Hallways. Sparked by a perky interpolation of a Boogie Down Productions anthem on the opening song “1, 2, 3,” the 12-track project charms like a svelte and smartly sequenced album of yore, with Boy Sand dipping into Big Apple sociology and spirituality during the mid-section, becoming smitten with a girl who “know all the words to O.C.’s ‘Time’s Up,’ ” and culminating with a trio of some of the most delicate and feathery rap songs you’ll ever experience. At times Boy Sand’s tricksy raps seem like they’re about to take a stream-of-consciousness turn into a cul-de-sac, but the skilled lyricist always slips out through a secret conceptual side entrance. Hallways is simply the sound of a master rap writer at work.