Salvation Burger: The "Classic" is one of New York’s best burgers. It’s like a Big Mac, but the patties are super juicy with pleasantly crispy edges, and the puffy sesame seed bun does a good job of keeping everything together. The desserts are also awesome — get the fried lemon curd pie if it’s available. The space lacks all the charm of The Breslin, The John Dory, and The Spotted Pig, but I’ll be back for the burgers and the wine. — Morabito
Roberta's: I swung by Roberta's on Saturday, grabbed three seats at the bar, and watched college basketball over a four-course meal. Carlo Mirarchi’s Bushwick gem has a special plate in my critical heart, as it was my first formal review for Eater back in 2014; I generally drop by once every two months to see if there's anything new on the menu worth eating for contextual reference on the larger dining scene (and because the food here is just plain delicious).
Roberta's continues to rock the "vegetables seasoned with meat" trend in a very hard and compelling way, dishing up thin-sliced turnips with dry-aged beef fat and carrots with funky XO sauce. And now that every other restaurant is charging $46 and up for chicken as a luxury item, it's worth noting that Roberta's $30 Sasso chicken is as good as (if not better than) any of the others, with a chicharron-like skin alone meriting the price tag. My only gripe is one I've expressed before: Too many diners exclusively stick to the pizza menu, which is a shame since Roberta's continues to put out some of the city's most exciting composed dishes, not something that can be said of most restaurants that show college basketball. — Sutton
Superiority Burger: I visited Brooks Headley's veggie burger hotspot for a second time on Monday. My burger and side of beets were tasty, but I somehow left feeling even hungrier than when I had arrived, just like when I went the first time. Maybe the whole thing was a dream? – Dai
Bar Chuko: At 10:50pm on a Thursday I realized I hadn’t eaten dinner yet, and my plan was to swing by Chuko Ramen for a bowl of tonkotsu to put me to bed. (So much better than warm milk!) Turns out they’re closed for "deep cleaning" right now, so I went up the block to Bar Chuko, which was still packed five minutes before the kitchen last call. Here’s how to feel good on a cold night: A grilled rice ball with miso butter, some cumin-pickled carrots, a slew of chicken yakitori skewers (obviously the best was the ultra-crispy skin spritzed with lemon), and a fresh-squeezed limeade. Limeade! Who knew?! Totally into limeade now. — Rosner
Downtown Bakery Cocina Mexicana: There's no better place to eat breakfast in the East Village than Downtown Bakery, a formerly Italian institution taken over by Pueblans over 20 years ago. It’s also one of the few purveyors of breakfast tacos and burritos in the neighborhood, available in a dozen permutations of eggs, salsas, beans, chorizo, and potatoes. These are so good, it’s easy to ignore the Mexican-style egg breakfasts.
That's why I never tried their huevos rancheros before, since this is a dodgy choice in many taquerias, a sunnyside-up afterthought propelled by a thin trickle of sauce. Imagine my surprise in encountering Downtown Bakery’s rendition: two eggs perfectly cooked in the sandwich press sit atop a pair of warmed corn tortillas along with black beans, the whole thing flooded with the joint’s amazing guajillo sauce — red as a brick, spicy and slightly gritty. It’s a close cousin of mancha manteles ("tablecloth stainer"), a mole popular across the border in Oaxaca. Don’t spill it on your shirt! — Sietsema
Mr. Donahue's: Mr. Donahue's is a weird little restaurant, and I mean that in a good way. I love the super-narrow scope of the whole thing: Five tall stools at the counter, five short stools at a little table. Five entrees, pick a sauce, pick a side. One white wine, one red, one bubbly, one beer, one dessert. And the food's good! Two of us had the roast beef (perfect, tender and salty and peppery) and the rotisserie chicken (fine, supermarket-quality) and a slew of sides that ranged from spectacular (spicy crab imperial with saltines, half of a steamed artichoke with a briny shrimp mayo, utterly wonderful angel hair pasta with zucchini, garlic, and shaved bottarga) to unmemorable (a random veg medley, one other thing so boring I literally cannot remember it).
And yet, everything feels just a little bit off. The seating arrangement means eight of the restaurant's ten seats face inside, instead of at the lively bustle of Mott Street. The plates — like, the physical plates — are teeny tiny, too small for the normal-size portions they contain. The sauces seem to be out of a totally different playbook than everything else on the menu: a spicy lime-cilantro-avocado sauce fits in with the overall vaguely Franco-Italian midcentury dinner party vibe how, exactly? Am I really supposed to do lobster jus with chicken-fried pork cheeks? But I don't know, despite all the weirdness, I like this place. I don't know if I'll be back — maybe for a solo dinner, which I think might be the best move with the odd seating arrangement — but I really do like it. — Rosner
Pearl’s: Friendly staff, fun space, and the food was pretty good on my visit. The shark and bake had a bit too much shredded cheese for my taste, but the fish was fresh. Great breakfast sandwich, too, and I dug all the accompaniments in the sauce caddy. I think this Sweet Chick spinoff will really find its groove when the back yard opens this spring. — Morabito
Peter Luger: Went on a Wednesday afternoon with no reservation and a stroller, and they sat us immediately. This place has such a great vibe in the afternoons! It's like every table was celebrating a birthday or closing the deal of the century. The waiters were the exact opposite of gruff — one server even whipped out his iPhone to show us photos of his newborn. The porterhouse for two lived up to its reputation as the Tyrannosaurus Rex of steaks. — Morabito
Biang and Pasquale Jones: Alright, we know this winter wasn't that bad, but it's over now so it's time to ask a big question. Could fiddleheads be this year's ramps? I found them at two new-ish restaurants I tried for the first time this week: Biang in the East Village and Pasquale Jones on the Lower East Side. Biang is Jason Wang's sit-down version of cheap eats hit Xi'an Famous Foods, and it's great for a weekday date because the space has a low-key fancy vibe but a meal for two still comes in under $40. It felt like literally everybody in the restaurant but us had ordered the lamb skewers, so don't miss an order of those if you head in. But the hand-pulled noodles were great, and the fiddleheads were chopped into a cold salad with what the menu calls Szechuan pepper oil. Pasquale Jones's fiddleheads came tossed in with a tortelloni pasta; a pea shoot pizza was offered on the same night. Spring is here! — Chopra
Gentleman Farmer: "Was the name inspired by Garrison Keillor?" I asked the waiter, who scratched his head and then admitted, "I think it must have been." Either way, it’s an awful name for a bistro on Myrtle Avenue, one that had been recommended to me by a couple of neighborhood regulars who live in brownstones. The room is deep and dark and flanked with brown banquettes so tall they dwarf the diners. Edison bulbs peep down from above. The menu is expensive for Fort Greene, but the food is generally tasty, sent spinning in creative direction.
There are lots more small dishes than big ones. Bathed in a thin sauce, an octopus carpaccio comes with thin-sliced raw turnips, while a roasted cauliflower seems bathed in anchovies and butter. It was wonderful. Only the wagyu beef tongue disappointed. Though the gravy it arrived pooled in was fine, the texture of the glottal organ was rubbery and tough to chew. Tenderize, please! A friend and I shared a serving of cassoulet as a main course that not only boasted sausage and duck confit, but globs of pig fat in lieu of lardons. Tasty, but so rich we couldn’t finish it. Dinner for two with a couple of glasses of wine: $150, including tax and tip. — Sietsema
Harry and Ida's: I've been meaning to try Harry and Ida's since we ran a huge piece on Jewish delis in December, and since it's not really a place to go with a crew, I decided to show up solo one night, a little tipsy after a post-work cocktail and intent on seizing the day. I ordered a pastrami sandwich and squeezed in at the tiny counter up by the window next to a nice couple, who were sharing sandwiches. Turns out, I don't like dill that much. But aside from picking off the dill pieces, my sandwich was smokey, tender, and downright delightful. The couple agreed. – Dai
Mission Chinese Food: At this point, I think most everyone knows Mission Chinese Food is all types of wonderful, and in case you were wondering, so is the brunch here. It's pretty much the dinner menu served dim sum style with a few extras. Plus: seemingly no one knows about it yet. On Sunday, there were only about four other parties in the room, and our wait was less than 10 minutes. The salt cod rice is as good as everyone says; the bacon was even better than I remembered, and honestly, so was the service. — Diez