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The Top Restaurant Standbys of 2015

These are the restaurants that NYC's food writers kept visiting throughout the year

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As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. This year, we asked the group eight questions running the gamut from meal of the year to top restaurant newcomers. Their answers will appear throughout the week. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited herein. Please, add your answers in the comments.

Foster Kamer, Mental Floss executive editor — Jack's Wife Freda—specifically, dinner, specifically, their Peri-Peri Chicken, my standby dish, and the one plate in New York I'd keep if I had to get rid of all the others. Elsewhere: Diner/Marlow, Roberta's, Russ & Daughters Cafe, La Superior, and Variety Coffee.

Hillary Dixler, senior reports editor at Eater — ​My standbys this year were top newcomers from 2014: Russ & Daughters Cafe, Kang Ho Dong Baekjong, and Mission Chinese Food 2.0. Another standby for me this year was Sushi Dojo, but with David Bouhadana ​out, that wouldn't be a standby going forward. And if I'm being totally honest and up front, other standbys this year include the Chinese place across the street from Eater HQ, Savour Sichuan, Pies 'N' Thighs on Canal (a mere two subway stops from my apartment), sandwiches from Saltie in Williamsburg, and Shake Shack.

Levi Dalton, Eater wine editor/host of I'll Drink to That — Charlie Bird and Maialino were the go to, regular spots for me. For lots of other wine people as well. When wine people come from out of town and they want to go somewhere, that's where they want to go.

Helen Rosner, Eater features editor/co-host of The Eater Upsell — Outside of my regular rotation of neighborhood spots (Glady's, Tom's, Gueros), this was hands-down the year of Santina for me. I've eaten there easily two dozen times, to the point where I don't even need the menu to order: Tuna cecina, fritto misto, either the tricolore salad or the guanciale rice, depending on how gluttonous I'm feeling. Skip the cocktails, skip the desserts. Heaven, especially on a gray, rainy day.

Lockhart Steele, Vox Editorial Director and Eater co-founder — Checking my Foursquare/Swarm history — one of the great under-appreciated benefits of those apps — the two restaurants I had dinner at most often in 2015 were, let’s see here, Upland and Estela. No surprise there, I guess, and that’s not even counting the numerous folks I directed to both places throughout the year. These are two restaurants where no one, both in my experience and those relayed to me, have ever gone wrong.

Erik Torkells, editor/publisher of Tribeca Citizen — Houseman, North End Grill, Little Park. And Court Street Grocers for lunch: The Village outpost only opened two months ago, but I've been five times. And Arcade Bakery, if that counts, but I'm really trying to limit myself to four visits a week.

Kat Kinsman, Tasting Table editor-at-large — None of these are new: Batard (I can't pretend I can be objective about that one), Craftbar, Hearth, Vic's, Beatrice Inn, Cho Dang Gol, Legend, Stone Park, Talde, Thistle Hill Tavern, Nuevo Mexico. I traveled a ridiculous amount in 2015 so when I was in town, I tended toward my version of comfort food. I have a feeling Khe-Yo will be on my list for 2016. I also drank at The Butterfly (R.I.P.) on multiple occasions and hope it flutters free again because damn, those Grasshoppers. I also ended up at Kingside by geographic default on multiple occasions but was never sad about it.

Mimi Sheraton, former Times restaurant critic and author of 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You DieBoulud Sud, Upland, Narcissa, Vic's, Da Silvano, La Mangeoire, Elephant & Castle, Good, Meme, North End Grill, Corner Bistro, Charlie Bird, The Clam.

Devra Ferst, Tasting Table senior editor — Estela, Buvette, Court Street Grocers, Sadelle's, Prime Meats.

Serena Dai, Eater NY reporter — Spicy Village is still my favorite place to eat in New York City. I'm an evangelist for it and hope to always be one. Roberta's, Heavy Woods, and Forrest Point have been my great go-to neighborhood spots, and I had more cold skin noodles from various locations of Xi'an Famous Foods than I care to admit.

Matt Duckor, Epicurious senior editor — Just like any other year, I found myself at all of Andrew Tarlow's restaurants an embarrassing number of times. But especially at Achilles Heel and Reynard, which have both grown/settled into amazing grooves.

Jordana Rothman, NYC-based food writer — Prime Meats, this year, last year and, I imagine, every foreseeable year. I also spent a lot of time at Hometown Bar-B-Que in 2015. Both places just feel like home, at not only because they are indeed extremely close to my home.

Kat Odell, Eater Drinks editor — Sushi Dojo, Taboonette, Betony, Marta, El Rey, Inday, Union Square Cafe, Sushi Azabu, Shuko.

[Clockwise from top left: Estela, Roberta's, Prime Meats, and Buvette. All photos by Daniel Krieger]

Charlotte Druckman, NYC-based food writer — Annisa, Barbuto, Barney Greengrass, Buvette, Casa Mono, El Rey, Estela, I Sodi, Mémé*, Nourish Table + Kitchen, Red Farm (Hudson St.), Sushi Yasuda.

*thank you, Mimi Sheraton.

Nick Solares, Eater NY senior editor — Based on my Instagram feed: Momofuku Ssam, Mission Chinese, Smith & Wollensky.

Kenzi Wilbur, Food 52 managing editor — You might disqualify this answer, but not one of my 2015 standbys *hit the scene* in 2015. Not a single one. Am I fired from the food industry?

The anchovy pasta, eaten at Maialino’s bar with a negroni in one of their big-bottomed double old-fashioned glasses, will never not be a standby for me. When that leaves New York, I might follow. Uncle Boons never lets me down (and recommending it always makes me new friends). Surprise: I still deeply love Estela. (They won me with the mussels escabeche, but I go back to dig for my salads like I'm digging for gold.) And I just recently moved back to Crown Heights, so I’d be remiss if I didn’t add Chris Caribbean, whose gritty, kind of dirty kitchen I turn to for piles of jerk chicken (small pile or large pile! extra jerk sauce!) at the end of a long night.

Matt Rodbard, NYC-based food writer — French Louie, Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, Nightingale 9, Hanjan, Mission Chinese, Bergen Hill (before Andrew peaced out NYC), Taro Sushi.

Ryan Sutton, Eater NY critic/data lead — For my non-work dinners, I found myself returning to the usual suspects: Estela, La Vara, Roberta's, Marta, The Bakery at Lafayette, and The Ace. But I also count two newcomers among my list of standbys: Lupulo by George Mendes and Santina by Major Food. The bars are key at both venues: They're social bars – and that's not what you think it means. Counter seating at too many venues involves sitting with your back to the restaurant, facing a wall of booze. At Santina and Lupulo, bars are u-shaped affairs, which means you can more easily interact with other patrons at the counter. And you can engage in as much people watching as the folks sitting at the tables. If you're a frequent solo diner, these are the types of design tweaks that make you feel infinitely more welcome. They make you feel part of the restaurant.

Matt Buchanan, editor at The Awl — I live on the Bed-Stuy–Clinton Hill border, so my all-time standby, when I have the money, is Speedy Romeo, which delivers both pizza and MOST IMPORTANTLY, s'mores cake right to my door. RIP my true standby of the last three years, Scratchbread, the go-to for breads and breakfasts and pizza slices whenever I was too lazy to do anything else; it was the complete and absolute definition of a perfect standby. Outside of a four-block radius from my apartment: El Rey, Roberta's, Soba-koh (maybe, secretly, the greatest restaurant in New York); Everyman for coffee; and Booker and Dax and Amor y Amargo for everything else.

Robert Sietsema, Eater NY senior critic — Taqueria Izucar, Perry St, Downtown Bakery, Gregory’s 26 Corner Taverna, Lan Larb Soho, Mighty Quinn’s.

Joe DiStefano, editor/publisher of Chopsticks + Marrow — Flushing's New York Food Court amazes with its wealth of regional Chinese specialties from Muslim lamb chop to Sichuan cold noodles. Loved Lhasa Fast Food and its chive momo. On the higher end, I really dug Crescent Grill and Bear.

Dan Saltzstein, an editor at the NYT Travel section — Cosme went from newcomer to standby real quick. Others: Pulau Penang, a terrific Malaysian place with a comically long menu in Elmhurst, Queens; Mission Chinese, which is putting the ma in magnificent; Bar Goto, where the cocktails are excellent, but the miso wings and okomomiyaki are transcendent.

Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief — I didn't have a lot of dinner standbys this year and was, for better or worse, going to new places. But I am a creature of routine when it comes to breakfast and lunch. For those I returned again and again to Keens (lunch), Santina, The Nomad, The Red Flame, Lafayette (breakfast), Egg, Allswell, and my neighborhood greasy spoon Garden Grill (weekend breakfast). That said Taverna Kyclades is a major standby for me if I'm ever in the mood for something delicious, affordable, Greek, fast, and not obnoxious in the East Village (which is a mood I'm in fairly often).

Greg Morabito, Eater NY editor and co-host of The Eater Upsell — Reynard is still one of my favorite sit-down restaurants in NYC. It was in heavy rotation this year. Propeller for coffee. In Midtown, near Vox HQ, I hit up Savor Sichuan, Wu Liang Ye, and Mmm...Enfes Shawarma Doner House quite a bit. Downtown, I love Vic's for brunch, and 456 Shanghai for dim sum. I also enjoyed many meals in the front room of Gramercy Tavern in 2015.

Top photo: Mission Chinese by Daniel Krieger

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