deb’s new york
“Where should I eat when I come to New York City?”
… is the most Frequently Unanswered Frequently Asked Question on this site. If you’ve emailed me or left me a comment asking the same in the last 9 years, odds are good that I didn’t respond. I never meant to be rude; I just didn’t have a response. I’m ridiculously uncomfortable telling people where and how to spend their hard-earned money; maybe I went gaga over a triple-digit steak for two (hi, North Fork Table and Inn! I love you.) that you know you make better on your grill every Friday night; maybe there’s a restaurant on 7th Avenue I went back to once a week for three years (until they changed owners, sigh) for the artichoke salad alone — it’s my weird thing, perhaps not yours. Plus, there’s nothing exhaustive or carefully considered about my choices. I’ll never be a restaurant reviewer; I’d be too much like this guy.
But! We love going out to eat. It’s not always a restaurant, sometimes it’s just a little something-something we picked up en route to the playground. Sometimes, we mapped out a walk to a playground just because it would take us by something tasty. Essentially, I’m always enamored with some food outside my apartment and so I’ve decided to take a list-type approach instead. It will be updated whenever I find something new to obsess over. I kind of hope it is today.
A sporadically updated list of my favorite tasty things in New York City:
Barbuto | West Village | favorite restaurant; if you skip the legendary kale salad, potatoes, pesto pasta, hangar steak and/or chicken, we can no longer be friends
Cafe Gitane | Soho | the avocado toast that launched the avocado toast trend over a decade ago
Cafe Gletchik | Brighton Beach, has sadly closed, Sheepshead Bay has not | potato vareniki, siberian pelmeni and much more Ukranian deliciousness, they’ve been doing the Russian dumpling thing long before it was trendy, and will be doing it long after. Unquestionably the best in the city.
Huertas | East Village | huevos rotos, tortilla, strange and wonderful red wine coke cocktail, with or without rum, or you can just skip with the txakoli
M. Shanghai | Williamsburg | my favorite soup dumplings, vegetable wontons in spicy peanut sauce, beef in “awesome” sauce and string beans, anywhere
St. Anselm | Williamsburg | everything comes off a grill and is exquisite; we’ve never had a bad meal
Decoy | West Village | not easy to get a reservation but when you do, I dare you to find a better Peking Duck anywhere
Estela | Nolita | If you’re tired of achingly precious fancy food or it’s opposite, faux-rustica, down to the splintered tabletops, you’ll likely find this cozy but simple fancy occasion restaurant as lovely as we do. The food feels really direct. Don’t miss the burrata, mussels, quail or anything else you see someone else eating that looks like fun. It’s how we ordered and we had one of our best meals of the year. Get a reservation.
King’s County Imperial | Williamsburg | A little bit tiki bar, a little bit retro (Sietsema called it “a canny accumulation of regional recipes that have succeeded in America”), we went here on a whim and have not shut up about the crispy garlic chicken (and my oddball favorite, the sweet and sour walnuts) since.
Llama Inn | Williamsburg | I didn’t even know you could make a wedge of a space under the BQE look so pretty, but this Peruvian restaurant has pulled it off. (I’d like them to redesign my living room next.) Look to Pete Wells for an in-depth tour of dishes; I only want to implore you not to miss the whole roasted, blackened chicken, the actually-good quinoa salad and a pisco sour.
Maison Premiere | Williamsburg | great place for celebrations of the oysters and champagne variety and more; a little bit Paris, a little bit New Orleans
Mimi Cheng’s | East Village | just dumplings, which are all excellent and made with quality ingredients
Motorino | East Village | when ramps are in season, I always get the ramp pizza, recreated here
Ngam | East Village | exceptional Thai in a city with mostly mediocre, the pad thai especially is a revelation
North End Grill | Battery Park City | A great restaurants in an area low on them. Let someone else talk about their pizzas, other grilled wonders and mile-high lemon meringue pie — I only want to tell you that they make the most epic Dutch Baby I’ve ever seen at brunch and it tastes pretty amazing too.
Parm | Soho | Italian-American sandwiches that manage to be delicious and yet not as guttingly heavy as expected; Italian combo sub, chicken parm and omg those ice cream cakes
Via Carota | West Village | a new favorite from the chefs behind Buvette and I Sodi, obsessed with every single dish on the changing verdure menu, chicken liver toasts. we often skip the pasta and split an entree or two, which are all tiny; they make a mean Negroni
Back Forty | Soho | great food, even better drinks including my two favorites, ever: the black and red and their house cocktail, which I riffed here. get both and some bar snacks; thank me later.
Donna | Williamsburg | rum-driven cocktails
BAKERIES and SWEET STUFF
Balthazar Bakery | Soho | sure, they’ve got amazing breads and pastries, but I’m mostly obsessed with the almost bittersweet chocolate sable cookie, which I attempted here
Breads Bakery | Union Square | insane hamantaschen selection, famed chocolate babka, almond croissants
Davey’s Ice Cream | East Village | best pistachio I’ve had outside Italy, chocolate almost truffle-decadent and my husband’s favorite cookies and cream
Doughnut Plant | Lower East Side | my favorite: the crème brûlée; husband’s: valrhona chocolate
Fresco Gelateria | East Village | ludicrously good homemade croissants, ferrero chocolate/hazelnut gelato and the nicest service in town
Orwashers | Upper East Side | 99 year-old bakery with awesome black and white cookies, homemade bread, doughnuts filled to order with your choice wonders, and, oh, and a pb&j bar
Zucker | East Village | chocolate roses, avocado challah toast with za’atar, party balls
GROCERIES and SPECIALTY STORES
All The Greenmarkets | Union Square + Grand Army Plaza especially | there’s a reason why NYC Greenmarkets are so special: every single thing, including the flour for bread, is grown within a 100-mile radius of NYC; you’d be crazy to come to NYC in the summer and not walk through Union Square piled high with everything fresh and delicious on earth at least once
Buon Italia | Chelsea Market | Italian specialties, but mostly I load up on my favorite pasta, Setaro, which is inexpensive to boot
Beecher’s | Flatiron District | Really great cheese, but really I’m just in it for the Flagship Cheedar, a strong competitor for the best in category on this side of the pond
Despaña Foods | Soho | imported Spanish specialties including amazing selection of sherry vinegars, jamon, tinned fish + great simple tapas and sandwiches
Kalustyan’s | Kip’s Bay | stock up on every spice on earth; the most enchanting baklava selection. the mujadarra and vegetable soup from the tiny cafe upstairs are excellent
Murray’s Cheese | Greenwich Village | famous for a reason; not to be missed if you love cheese
New York Cake and Baking Co. | Madison Square/Chelsea | if you’re a baker, it’s not to be missed
Pickle Guys | Lower East Side | have been there since before pickles were hip; old-school Jewish pickles and more; amazing fresh horseradish for Passover, really nice staff
Saxelby Cheese | Lower East Side | 100% American farmstead cheese, mostly from the Northeast; a unique selection!
Bonnie Slotnick | East Village | possibly the greatest place on earth for a cooking lover, Bonnie sells used cookbooks and is an encyclopedia of cookbook knowledge; she is almost always there and one of the nicest people in New York; the shop recently relocated from its longtime home in the West Village
Kitchen Arts & Letters | Upper East Side | a (new) cookbook store with passionate staff
* I kind of hate having to say this at all, but just wanted to footnote that I still have a ‘no free stuff’ policy on Smitten Kitchen. Everything listed on this page is a reflection of something we sought out on our own, and paid for with our own pocket change. And Jacob’s. We shake him down all of the time for loose change.