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The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

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Mining the latest dining gems NYC has to offer

Agnolotti in a grey bowl
Agnolotti from Lilia
Paul Crispin Quitoriano

The amount of excellent food available in New York City is dizzying, yet mediocre meals somehow keep worming their way into our lives. With Eater editors dining out sometimes several times a day, we do come across lots of standout dishes, and we don’t want to keep any secrets. Check back weekly for the best things we ate this week — so you can, too.


August 27

Black sesame ice cream with frozen yogurt at Cosme
Black sesame ice cream with frozen yogurt at Cosme
Ryan Sutton

Black sesame ice cream with frozen yogurt at Cosme

I don’t like to go to bed on an angry stomach, even if I’m full, so after a very “meh” review dinner, I swung by the bar at Cosme for a little dessert snack. I ordered the black sesame ice cream with frozen yogurt ($14) because I’m somewhat obsessed with monochromatic platings; I love how lack of color of can belie a dish’s immense layers of flavor. How was it? Brilliant. The white, tangy yogurt was a perfect foil to the rich, black sesame ice cream. It was the haute equivalent of that eternal elementary school staple: peanut butter with milk. 35 East 21st St., between Park Avenue and Broadway, Gramercy — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Fataya djeun at Joloff
Fataya djeun at Joloff
Robert Sietsema

Fataya djeun at Joloff

This long running Senegalese restaurant offers a fuller menu than most West African establishments, including appetizers that contrast nicely with the main courses. There are nems, or spring rolls that came to Dakar via Saigon when Vietnam was also a French colony. But every bit as good at Joloff are fataya djeun ($4), little pastries filled with mashed mackerel that contrasts nicely with the crisp dough. Dip in the accompanying chile sauce and enjoy. 1168 Bedford Ave., at Madison Street, Bedford-Stuyvesant — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Agnolotti at Lilia
Agnolotti at Lilia
Stefanie Tuder

Agnolotti at Lilia

I had a really disappointing experience at Williamsburg pasta hype machine Lilia — made to feel unwelcome, spotty service, and icy soft serve among the issues — but the agnolotti was truly stunning. The delicate, al dente pasta pouches are filled with sheep’s milk cheese and sit in a buttery, saffron sauce with honey, red chile flakes, and dried tomato. Each bite was a revelation of heat, sweet, and cream, enough to make me consider going back just for that and a glass of wine. 567 Union Ave. at North 10th Street, Williamsburg — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

Braised chickpeas at the Bread and Salt pop-up at Bruno Pizza
Braised chickpeas
Daniela Galarza

Braised chickpeas at the Bread and Salt pop-up at Bruno Pizza

I usually don’t write about dishes I had at pop-ups, particularly ones that end after tonight, but here’s my pitch: Go to chef and baker Rick Easton’s pop-up at Bruno Pizza tonight, Monday, August 27. Pizza is not on the menu, but there are six or seven small plates of dips and smears and roasted things Easton found at the market or got from a guy he knows or was sent by some really cool friend based in Italy. You should go with another human or a small group and order all the things — including the roasted peppers with the knot of mozzarella Easton makes by hand and the pappa al pomodoro — but definitely ask for the chickpeas ($7). Braised for hours and hours, they’re then cooked in a stock made from their own broth (this is a vegetarian dish) and spiked with Calabrian chiles, a few errant grape tomatoes, and rosemary. They’re astonishingly memorable. 204 East 13th St., near Third Avenue, East Village — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

corn and miso sundae
Corn and miso sundae
Photo by Serena Dai

Corn and miso sundae at Union Square Cafe

I’m a sucker for desserts with a savory element and also a fan of Union Square Cafe’s pastry chef Daniel Alvarez, which made this corn and miso sundae ($12) a no-brainer order. It met all my expectations and beyond. Every bite was a new savory-sweet surprise, and the beautiful, smashed corn bread bottom made the whole thing feel spontaneous — the way a sundae made at home might feel, if you too were an acclaimed pastry chef. The fruit compote accompanying the ice cream added just the right amount of tart flavoring, too. 101 East 19th St., at Park Avenue South, Union Square — Serena Dai, editor

August 20

Beef noodle soup at Ho Foods
Beef noodle soup at Ho Foods
Stefanie Tuder

Beef noodle soup at Ho Foods

Basically the sole offering at Ho Foods, a sliver of a Taiwanese restaurant in the East Village, is the beef noodle soup — and with good reason. This soup ($14.50) is deeply flavored and pristine, with a dramatically dark beef broth, tender pieces of beef shank, and noodles that still snap. Order it rich and spicy for a lusher experience. 110 East Seventh St., between First Avenue and Avenue A, East Village — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

Chocolate-cherry cake at Kos Kaffe

Kos Kaffe in Park Slope is almost the perfect neighborhood cafe. It’s big and sunny, the coffee’s outstanding, and the food hits the mark, too. I don’t go as often as I should. Last week, I was delighted to nix all the benefits of my workout by indulging in a huge slice of chocolate-cherry cake at Kos afterward. It was ultra-moist, extremely rich, and a lovely tartness from the cherry. Totally worth it. 251 Fifth Ave. near Garfield Place, Park Slope — Serena Dai, editor

Chili cheese toast at Drunken Munkey
Chili cheese toast at Drunken Munkey
Robert Sietsema

Chili cheese toast at Drunken Munkey

Yes, the name of this Greenwich Village newcomer — Drunken Munkey, a branch of an Upper East Side Indian restaurant — is awful, and the menu seems more concerned with alcohol than food. But its concentration on recipes from the colonial era in India is always instructive and sometimes fascinating. Witness the appetizer chili cheese toast ($9). Made with a thick slice of spongy white bread and carpet of mild cheddar cheese, the contrast provided by chiles and other spices makes this about the best toasted cheese sandwich you’ve ever tasted. 31 Cornelia St., between Bleecker and West Fourth streets, Greenwich Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Caramel, coffee, and chocolate cake at Burrow
Caramel, coffee, and chocolate cake at Burrow
Daniela Galarza

Caramel, coffee, and chocolate cake at Burrow

Burrow, a petite pastry counter hidden in a Brooklyn building’s belly, makes some of the city’s best pastries. The techniques are flawless and the flavors familiar but special. Everything is lovely, but I recently tried a slice of the shop’s caramel, coffee, and chocolate layer cake ($6). Dark chocolate sponge cake sandwiches cool, airy caramel mousse and coffee cream; it gets a shiny caramel glaze and a curl of unsweetened whipped cream. The flavors meld together on the tongue and then melt away almost immediately, leaving you wanting another bite, and then another. 68 Jay St., between Front and Water streets, Dumbo — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

Chorizo tacos at Vida Verde

I walked by this Hell’s Kitchen Mexican spot on Friday and saw a DJ spinning inside from the sidewalk. Normally this would be a deal breaker, but I’d been before, and I knew what I wanted before hitting the hay early for a bike race on Saturday: a frozen margarita and an order of chorizo tacos ($14). The margaritas at Vida Verde are squirted out of a soft serve-style machine and are served so cold they literally burn your tongue — ideal for our city’s obscene, Washington, D.C.-like humidity. And the tacos were everything they needed to be: crispy, greasy, griddled pork sausage on warm corn tortillas. I dug it, even if I don’t dig the Tao-style vibe. 248 West 55th St., near Eighth Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

August 13

Hao Noodle shrimp and pork wontons
Shrimp and pork wontons at Hao Noodle
Serena Dai

Shrimp and pork wontons at Hao Noodle

At the recommendation of several of my colleagues, I went to check out the new Hao Noodle on 14th Street, and it’s just as gorgeous as the photos suggest. Not all the food stood out — the soup dumplings had virtually no soup when I went, and beef in the noodle soup a little too gristly — but the shrimp and pork wontons in chile oil were a delight. The texture was perfect, and the shrimp was unbelievably sweet. The sauce that it came in was just the right amount of spicy, and tasty enough that we doused some noodles in it, too. 343 West 14th St., between Eighth and Ninth avenues, Chelsea — Serena Dai, editor

Tamal at Llamita
Tamal at Llamita
Ryan Sutton

Tamal at Llamita

Last week I wrote about the stellar, if expensive, squid sandwiches and strawberry smoothies at the West Village spinoff of Williamsburg’s Llama Inn. I swung by for a final visit on Friday morning to try a shake made from lucuma, an Andean fruit that supposedly tastes like maple syrup. Alas, Llamita was having supply problems (they might want to take it off the online menu in the meantime), and the venue only serves breakfast on the weekends, so I opted for the Peruvian tamal — and it was absolutely epic. The sweet, aromatic corn boasted a custard-like texture, a pile of crunchy onions, and a drizzle of tart lime. And while $12 was a tough price to pay for this street snack, it was really, truly, perfect. 80 Carmine St., near Seventh Ave., West Village — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Genco Burger at Russo’s Grill
Genco Burger at Russo’s Grill
Robert Sietsema

Genco Burger at Russo’s Grill

Red-sauced Italian restaurants established themselves upstate in the Mohawk Valley over a century ago, and, though they retained many aspects of traditional southern Italian cuisine, they also developed their own innovations, partly based on the ingredients available to them. One of the most spectacular is found at Russo’s Grill, a restaurant ensconced in a frame house directly opposite Lock 11 of the Erie Canal, founded in 1920. The Genco burger ($9.99) plants a large burger patty on a pair of slices of white bread baked in-house, then tops it with eggplant parm, making one of the most interesting burgers you’ve ever tasted. 366 West Main St., at Evelyn Street, Amsterdam, New York — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Lamb and chicken kebabs at Cheburechnaya
Lamb and chicken kebabs at Cheburechnaya
Stefanie Tuder

Lamb and chicken kebabs at Cheburechnaya

While out in Forest Hills this weekend, I couldn’t not stop by Cheburechnaya — an Eater 38 member and frequent rave of Robert Sietsema’s — on my way home. And I’m so glad I did. The Rego Park restaurant makes Kosher Uzbek fare, which means many kebabs, lamb dumplings called manti, and more. The highlight for me was those kebabs, of which I got bone-in chicken and lamb ribs ($3.75 each). Both were succulent, highly seasoned, and perfectly charred from a charcoal grill. In fact, I don’t think I’ve had better skewers in NYC. 9209 63rd Dr., between Wetherole and Austin streets, Rego Park — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

August 6

The Malaysian Project Photo via the Malaysian Project/Facebook

Hamburger at the Malaysian Project

My friend and number one advocate of Queens Katie Honan has been trying to get me to go to the Queens Night Market ever since it launched, and I’m so glad I finally joined her. It’s everything that Smorgasburg is not, as far as popular outdoor food markets go: It’s affordable (everything is under $6), and the crowd is composed largely of locals instead of tourists. The most delightful bite came from the Malaysian Project, where they wrap a spiced hamburger patty in egg and plop it on a buttery bun. It’s plenty spicy, perfectly juicy, and totally dreamy. I’d eat it again right now. New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, 47-01 111th St., Corona — Serena Dai, editor

Spicy chicken arepa at Empanada Mama

Whenever I write about a venue for a formal review, a first look, or for Buy Hold Sell, I make sure to get some proper research eating done — for context or simply to refresh my taste memory. So before filing a piece on Arepa Factory, whose Venezuelan corn cakes and cachapas I praised, I swung by the nearby Empanada Mama, whose culinary predilections skew more Colombian. The arepa I sampled ($7.95) didn’t have as robust of a corn flavor here, and was a touch chewier, but was stunning in its own right. The key was the spicy chicken filling, which was as fiery as anything coming out of the kitchen at a good Sichuan joint. To quell the heat I partook of two frozen margaritas. They worked! 765 Ninth Ave. near 51st Street, Hell’s Kitchen — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Cold pork soba at Ennju
Cold pork soba at Ennju
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Cold pork soba at Ennju

Ennju has long been a favorite pit stop at Union Square, providing bargain Japanese meals and sushi that doesn’t suck. It has recently been renovated and now provides more food on a steam table, but the made-to-order noodles and donburi remain my favorites. The other day I was knocked over by a dish of cold soba ($13) in a sweet soy broth heaped with sauteed miso pork and a tart cucumber salad, and scattered other goodies. Nothing more refreshing on a hot and humid day. 20 East 17th St., between Fifth Avenue and Broadway, Union Square — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Vegetarian combo at Patacon Pisao

Just last month I wrote that any dish with black beans and plantains is my north star on a menu, and luckily I found the delighting combo again over the weekend — this time in the vegetarian cachapa ($10.50) at Patacon Pisao. A cachapa is a Venezuelan dish that’s typically a giant corn pancake that’s folded in half and stuffed. The vegetarian, aside from sweet plantains and black beans, is filled with sliced avocado and a creamy salsa verde. The lightly grilled and corn-studded pancake is perfect as-is, its sweetness complemented by the even sweeter plantains. All together it’s the ideal expression of Venezuelan comfort. 139 Essex St., between Rivington and Stanton streets, Lower East Side — Patty Diez, editorial coordinator

July 30

Peach-coconut cake at Popina
Peach-coconut cake at Popina
Photo by Serena Dai

Peach-coconut cake at Popina

This doesn’t happen often, but I actually went to a restaurant this weekend that one of my colleagues recommended last Friday — and was delighted by it even though it was a 15-minute walk to the train in the rain. Popina, which does an Italian plus American South thing, delivered several lovely options, including a creamy, buttermilk version of cacio e pepe. But my favorite was dessert, a coconut layer cake with juicy slices of peach stuffed in with icing ($9). The cake itself was also juicy and overly moist in the way that the best dulce de leche cakes are. It was a surprise, and a good one. 127 Columbia St., between Kane and DeGraw streets, Cobble Hill — Serena Dai, editor

Chop cheese at Harlem Taste
Chop cheese at Harlem Taste
Robert Sietsema

Chop cheese at Harlem Taste

This deli in the southeast corner of East Harlem has gone by many names, including Rajii’s Deli and Blue Sky. A sandwich maker who worked there is said to be the inventor of the famed chop cheese sandwich, celebrated by hip hop artists and imitated by every deli in Harlem. It can be had on a roll ($3.75) or on a hero ($4), and features extensively seared ground beef and minced American cheese (hence the name). Add lettuce, tomato, and onion, slather with mayo and ketchup, and you’ve got a very gloppy sandwich — which, according to one story, had its earliest origins in Yemen. 2135 First Ave., at 110th Street, East Harlem — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

<span data-author="3002112">Salteña at Bolivian Llama Party</span>
Salteña at Bolivian Llama Party
Photo by Stefanie Tuder

Salteña at Bolivian Llama Party

My esteemed colleague Ryan Sutton is completely obsessed with the salteñas at Bolivian Llama Party, and despite multiple pleas, he has not brought one into the office for me. So I procured one myself last week as I walked through the Columbus Circle subway station, and they are indeed all that and more. The sweet empanada-like pastries ($6) are filled with a soupy beef stew that reminds me of another favorite food of mine: soup dumplings. Warning, though: Despite my very best efforts not to, I spilled some of the stew on my shirt. 1000 S Eighth Ave., between 57th and 58th streets, Midtown West — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

Grilled branzino at Platia
Grilled branzino at Platia
Photo by Ryan Sutton

Grilled branzino at Platia

I just returned from an eight-day cycling vacation to Nice and Barcelona, which means I got to experience a slew of firsts back home in the states. First movie? A re-watch of Dennis Villeneuve’s Sicario. First song? Starman by David Bowie (while watching Ridley Scott’s The Martian). First drink? An ice cold beer. First meal? A nice Greek spread at Platia on Long Island. There was fried calamari, spit-roast pork, and what I was craving most: A whole-grilled branzino ($29). The fish was doused in luscious olive oil and salty capers; the stark white flesh was as soft as tofu. There was nothing new about it; I just wanted something familiar and delicious while catching up with my parents. 4 Berry Hill Rd. near Muttontown Eastwoods Road, Syosset, Long Island — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Peaches and cream at Le Coucou
Peaches and cream at Le Coucou
Photo by Daniela Galarza

Peaches and cream at Le Coucou

I treated myself to lunch at Le Coucou over the weekend. It’s been well-established that chef Daniel Rose knows his way around French classics, but don’t forget that there’s another Daniel in the kitchen: Pastry chef Daniel Skurnick presides over the sweets. Formerly of Jean-Georges, Skurnick also spent time with legendary pastry chef Claudia Fleming at Gramercy Tavern where he learned to apply French technique to American ingredients. There isn’t a miss on his menu at Le Coucou, but since it’s summer and specifically peach season, do go try his peaches and cream dessert ($16) as soon as humanly possible. He cuts off two halves of a very round peach, slices them thin as a dime, poaches them until they’re transparent, and then fans them across a pillow of vanilla pastry cream that’s been studded with candied pistachio bits. Droplets of olive oil float on the pool of poaching liquid. Order a glass of champagne with it for a sort of deconstructed bellini effect. 138 Lafayette St. at Howard Street, Soho — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

July 23

Spicy crinkled potatoes at Chengdu Street Kitchen
Spicy crinkled potatoes at Chengdu Street Kitchen
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Spicy crinkled potatoes at Chengdu Street Kitchen

Yes, they look like french fries, but they’re not. The $3.50 choice at this Chelsea Chinese fast casual newcomer is a riff on the shredded, nearly uncooked potatoes flecked with green chiles that can be found on many Sichuan menus. Well, someone got ahold of a french fry cutter, and the dish will never be the same. Now, the slightly cooked potatoes glisten with Sichuan peppercorn oil, smell of black vinegar, and arrive flecked with crushed red chiles. And these flavorings make the potatoes taste more like potatoes than potatoes ever have before. 158 West 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh avenues, Chelsea — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Blueberry-cream cheese long john at Pies n’ Thighs

The blueberry-cream cheese long john ($3.50) at Brooklyn’s Pies n’ Thighs looks like a rectangular hand pie — but it’s not. The shop lines them up on a half sheet tray behind a smudged sheet of glass, next to the register, near pies filled with pecans and apples and berries, and and not far from perfectly round and raised doughnuts. A stiff glaze of cream cheese clings to this long john’s burnished edges, and a dribble of dark purple leaks out of the corners. I had never seen a long john stuffed before it was fried. Here’s a pastry marriage that’s better than either a fried pie OR a standard doughnut. There were six left when I walked in; none remained by the time I walked out. 166 South Fourth St. at Driggs Avenue, Williamsburg — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

Tuna and tomato salad at Chez Ma Tante

Greenpoint bistro Chez Ma Tante is exactly the kind of restaurant I crave — an unpretentious space with simple-sounding dishes that end up being extraordinary and complex. Also: The food feels light and breathable, but the decor has little of the fashiony signaling that tends to befall restaurants that serve less heavy fare. I ordered four things, and all but one exceeded expectations. The best among them was the tuna and tomato salad ($18), a description that elsewhere suggests raw tuna (because, lol: popularity of poke), but here comes with perfectly-cooked pieces of fish. All of it is dressed with just the right level of sharp acidity, with little crumbs of something adding a crunchy texture to every bite. It was perfect. 90 Calyer St. at Franklin Street, Greenpoint — Serena Dai, editor

Sioux&nbsp;City&nbsp;sandwich at Existing Conditions
Sioux City sandwich at Existing Conditions
Photo by Stefanie Tuder

Sioux City sandwich at Existing Conditions

With all the hoopla surrounding Dave Arnold’s much-anticipated return to NYC’s drinkmaking scene at Existing Conditions, I had to get myself a cocktail. I did enjoy my drinks, but what I most remember from the meal was the Sioux City sandwich ($21), a massive boneless rib chop cutlet with gribiche sauce, pickled tomato paste, shaved red onions, and something called bulldog sauce on toasted white bread. I admittedly have no idea what’s in that, but I loved the crispy pork chop with what’s essentially very saucy egg salad on top. The crunch of the pork with the glop of the egg and the softness of the white bread made for a mix of very pleasing textures and flavors, akin to the increasingly prolific katsu sandos. Cut into six pieces, it’s a perfectly shareable plate that pairs excellently with a drink. 35 West Eighth St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues, Greenwich Village — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

July 16

Pastries at Cafe Sabarsky
Pastries at Cafe Sabarsky
Photo by Daniela Galarza

Pastries at Cafe Sabarsky in Neue Galerie

I think everyone knows about the salon inside the Neue Galerie on the Upper East Side? And that from dawn until dusk, a dozen or more classic German and Austrian cakes and pastries line the mahogany walls of the dining room? If you don’t know, now you know. And if you did know and weren’t sure if they were still top notch, I’m here to confirm: These are some of the city’s best strudels, streusels, tortes, and tarts. I went two weekends in a row, and my favorites are the topfentorte (a cheesecake made from quark), frucht-streuselkuchen (an almond crumble tart topped with fresh and jammed fruit), and a passion fruit topped coconut cream cake called the adele schnitte. Bonus: Each pastry is served with its own miniature mountain of freshly whipped cream. 1048 5th Ave., at East 86th St., Upper East Side — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

Pan Mee at Kopitiam
Pan Mee at Kopitiam
Photo by Serena Dai

Pan Mee at Kopitiam

I’ve been antsy to try the reboot of Malaysian cafe Kopitiam ever since it opened, and man, did it meet all my expectations and more. Snacks like the kaya toast and pandan chicken were delightful, but what I know I’ll be craving again is the pan mee ($10), a soup with slips of thick flour noodle and a pile of salty anchovies and minced pork on top. The broth is light and savory, perfectly comforting and addictive. It’s what I want to eat every day. 151 East Broadway between Rutgers and Pike streets, Lower East Side — Serena Dai, editor

Ramen at Donburiya

So I have this longstanding personal policy: I don’t order ramen at regular restaurants. Really, there are dedicated ramen spots in this city that can’t get ramen right, from the firmness of the noodles, to the emulsion of fat and broth, to the balance of the chile oil and other spices. So against my better judgement, I ordered the tantanmen ramen (a cousin of sorts to Chinese dandan) at Donburiya because it was late and I was hungry and I didn’t want anything else off the 100-item menu lolz. And guess what? It was literally perfect. The noodles were extra al dente and the sesame chile broth was spicy, smooth, and so hot it was practically boiling in the bowl — all the better to soften up those noodles. I might just have to go back for the tonkotsu. 253 West 55th St., between Eighth Avenue and Broadway, Midtown West — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Hoja santa curd at Oxomoco
Hoja santa curd at Oxomoco
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Hoja santa curd at Oxomoco

Everyone has their own definition of what constitutes a refreshing summer dessert, one that can indemnify you against the blast of evening heat as you leave the restaurant. Mine is the hoja santa curd ($12) at Greenpoint’s wood-driven Mexican newcomer Oxomoco. That wood is used to smoke the strawberries that go into a refreshing shaved ice that sits atop the curd like a cloud. Curd is normally a British dessert custard flavored with lemon, but here, it’s bright green and tasting of hoja santa, a signature Mexican herb that’s a pungent cousin of mint. 128 Greenpoint Ave., between Manhattan Avenue and Franklin Street, Greenpoint — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Chickpea noodle with broth at Hao Noodle and Tea
Chickpea noodle with broth at Hao Noodle and Tea
Stefanie Tuder

Chickpea noodle with broth at Hao Noodle and Tea

I was psyched that Hao Noodle and Tea opened its second location in my neighborhood — even if I’m perplexed by how close it is to the original space in the West Village — so I went the first night possible. And despite it being a brand-new restaurant, everything was spot-on. My favorite in a parade of winners was the chickpea noodle with broth; the chickpeas are creamy and soft with pickled vegetables, minced pork, broth, noodles, and plenty of fiery Sichuan peppercorns and chiles. Every bite was flavorful, but the leftover broth at the bottom with the chickpeas, chiles, pork, and remaining noodle strands was truly addictive. My tablemates were not pleased when I stole the bowl and finished it off. 343 West 14th St., between Eighth and Ninth avenues, Chelsea — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

July 9

Bengoli fish curry at Bajeko Sekuwa
Bengoli fish curry at Bajeko Sekuwa
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Bengoli fish curry at Bajeko Sekuwa

New to Sunnyside, Queens and also to the United States is Nepalese chain Bajeko Sekuwa, the name of which means “Grandfather’s Barbecue.” But the barbecue here — mainly kebabs — is only a fraction of the menu. My favorite dish so far is Bengoli fish curry ($14.95), an atypical transliteration of “Bengali,” which designates food of both Bangladesh and West Bengal, India. The curry is made from fragmented freshwater fish in a delicate sauce made with tomatoes and laced with mustard oil, which imparts a delightful burn with every swallow. 43-16 Queens Blvd., between 43rd and 44th streets, Sunnyside — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Kaya butter toast at Kopitiam

I never made it to the original Kopitiam, which closed last year, so made it a priority to go as soon as I could after it opened in a bigger space at the end of last month. All of the small savory bites I tried were fantastic, but the Kaya butter toast ($4) — a toasted white bread sandwich spread with pandan coconut jam and butter — was the most delightful surprise. Many have sung its praises, but as an avowed coconut hater, my expectations were low. On the Kaya butter toast though, the coconut flavor isn’t overwhelming, and the overall combination of jam, butter, and perfectly toasted pillowy bread makes for an ideal sweet and satisfying snack. I’m not a total coconut convert yet, but this dish has me questioning. 151 East Broadway, between Rutgers and Pike streets, Lower East Side — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

Hoja santa curd at Oxocomo
Hoja santa curd at Oxocomo
Photo by Serena Dai

Hoja santa curd at Oxomoco

Truthfully, I didn’t want to love Oxomoco as much as I did. It’s perhaps a tad too stylish, a tad too pricey for me personally — but ultimately, when the (very strong) frozen margs arrived in huge glasses that looked like they’d fit in at Chili’s, it was hard to not be delighted. Everything I tried was great, though nothing impressed me as much as dessert. The hoja santa curd ($12) — topped with smoked strawberry and a raspado of lime and strawberry, texturally felt less like a traditional curd and more like a particularly pleasing version of pudding. It wasn’t too sweet, and with that fruity and slightly soft ice, it was refreshing, too. 128 Greenpoint Ave., between Franklin Street and Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint, — Serena Dai, editor

Sorbets at Cosme
Sorbets at Cosme
Photo by Ryan Sutton

Sorbets at Cosme

I had an epically awful meal at a high-profile restaurant recently, which meant I needed a second dinner to ensure my stomach wouldn’t go to bed angry. And so I went to Cosme, a favorite spot of mine that I’ve written about over the years. I could pen a few words about the stunning shishito mole, but what truly blew me away was the duo of sorbets ($12). One was watermelon, with a touch of sal de gusano that brought out the melon’s more vegetal overtones. Another was raspberry, with the fruit’s natural aromas amplified by a floral dose of rose. They were perfect by themselves, silky and free from ice crystals. But following that earlier meal, they were clutch for more traditional sorbet reasons: They cleansed my palate. 35 East 21st St., between Park Avenue South and Broadway, Flatiron — Ryan sutton, chief critic

The Healthy One at Risbo
The Healthy One at Risbo
Photo by Patty Diez

The Healthy One bowl at Risbo

There isn’t a ton of lure for me from a dish that self proclaims as healthy, but there is a very present and intense force that pulls me to any dish with black beans and plantains. At Risbo — an idyllic restaurant on the Parkside side of Prospect Lefferts Gardens — the mighty bowl ($13) also comes with rice, sautéed greens, spicy cabbage salad, hummus, pickled cranberries, and red onions. Pepitas also topped the smoky, expertly stewed black beans. Together all the ingredients offer wide ranges of texture, heat, and delight. You might be thinking this is something you could assemble at home, and that explains a lot of Risbo’s menu, but the warming space paired with friendly staff members paying close attention to the restaurant’s plants can’t be recreated. 701 Flatbush Ave., between Winthrop Street and Parkside Avenue, Prospect Lefferts Gardens — Patty Diez, editorial coordinator

July 2

Beef tartare at Oxomoco
Beef tartare at Oxomoco
Photo by Ryan Sutton

Beef tartare at Oxomoco

The only thing that really drew me to Oxomoco, a Mexican spot by the Speedy Romeo folks (a pizzeria that didn’t wow me a few years back), were Instagrams from my friends drinking frozen cocktails there. And since it was really hot on Saturday, I wanted a frozen cocktail bad, and Oxomoco delivered on that front, serving up an icy marg laced with elderflower. The food was pretty good, too. I wasn’t a huge fan of the tortillas, but the steak tartare ($16) was fantastic: cubes of crimson beef on a purple tostada. The gently chewy meat acted as a cool foil to the spicy grasshopper mayo underneath. I’ll be back, for sure. I might even return to Speedy Romeo. 128 Greenpoint Ave., between Franklin Street and Manhattan Avenue, Greenpoint — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Grilled eggplant slice at Leo’s Pizza

As the city’s pizza panoply becomes more clogged with choices, the humble neighborhood pizzeria has had to evolve, too, offering more pie choices and increasingly creative takes on their genre. One thing this means is higher-quality ingredients. This is ably demonstrated by the best thing I ate this week, a grilled eggplant slice ($4.25) at Leo’s Pizza, which employs an underlying river of fresh mozzarella, and basil leaves worn on the breast of the perfectly grilled aubergine slices like a war medal. 31-01 36th Ave., at 31st Street, Astoria — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Roasted chicken at the Finch

There is plenty to gush about and lots to make me regret not going to the Finch sooner — a Clinton Hill restaurant with an aesthetic most vie for in their homes. All of the menu is aggressively of the season (think scallop crudo with rhubarb), and one of my favorite expressions of this was the chicken. It’s served roasted and juicy, with buttery morel mushrooms, asparagus, yogurt, and some dill that makes for an exceptional version of a staple. This is where the Finch stands alone, taking the familiar (like its carrot cake dessert), and making them lasting. 212 Greene Ave., between Grand Avenue and Cambridge Place, Clinton Hill — Patty Diez, editorial coordinator

<span data-author="3002112">Old Bay chicken tenders at Dorlan’s Tavern</span>
Old Bay chicken tenders at Dorlan’s Tavern
Photo via A K./Yelp

Old Bay chicken tenders at Dorlan’s Tavern and Oyster Bar

I like to fancy myself a chicken finger connoisseur — don’t we all? — and I’m pleased to announce that the ones at Dorlan’s Tavern in the Seaport District stand out. The pub has pretty typical bar food — burgers, chicken sandwiches, etc. — but it manages to be a step above what you find at many bars around the city. The chicken fingers here ($12) get their oomph with the addition of Old Bay in the batter, that flavorful spice blend with celery salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, paprika, and more. That, combined with extra-juicy breast meat, super crackly and crunchy crust, and satisfying ranch dressing, makes for a winning snack. 213 Front St. near Beekman Street, Financial District — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

Smoked eggplant at Sofreh

Persian food is one of the few cuisines I really romanticize — in part because I grew up hearing stories of the nearly two decades my grandparents and their kids spent in the Middle East; in part because who wouldn’t be captivated by dishes strewn with saffron and rose petals? So I was really excited to check out new Prospect Heights Persian restaurant Sofreh. My favorite dish at dinner was the smoked eggplant in a garlicky tomato sauce, which was served with poached eggs on top and which we ate with rice and pieces of flatbread ($19). It was perfect for sharing and was exactly what I wanted to be eating in a cool, dark restaurant safe from the absurd NYC heat. 75 St. Marks Ave. at Flatbush Avenue, Prospect Heights — Sonia Chopra, director of editorial strategy

June 25

Breakfast burrito at Madre Cocina &amp; Mezcales
Breakfast burrito at Madre Cocina & Mezcales
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Breakfast Burrito at Madre Cocina & Mezcales

El Atoradero is now called Madre Cocina & Mezcales and has mounted a new brunch menu available on Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It includes a breakfast taco adaptation that adds eggs, cheese, and avocado to any taco, but even better is a magnificent breakfast burrito ($15). Wrapped in the usual giant flour tortilla and grilled after assembly, it enfolds scrambled eggs, cheese, black beans, bacon, and boiled ham, plus surprise ingredient: french fries. It just might be the best breakfast burrito in town. 706 Washington Ave., between Prospect Place and Saint Marks Avenue, Prospect Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Mushroom and pepperoni pie at Scarr’s
Mushroom and pepperoni pie at Scarr’s
Stefanie Tuder/Eater

Mushroom and pepperoni pie at Scarr’s

Ever since reading that Scarr’s mills its own flour for the pizza dough, I’ve been curious to try the New York-style pies at the small Lower East Side pizzeria. I’m not surprised I loved it — owner Scarr Pimentel has worked at my favorite slice shop, Joe’s. The pizza we ordered, a mushroom and pepperoni hybrid for $27, was clearly made with care: The crust was thin but tender and very flavorful, the sauce to cheese proportion was just on the right side of soupy, and the pepperoni was perfectly curled and burnt on the edges. 22 Orchard St., between Canal and Hester streets, Lower East Side — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

Brisket at Hometown

It had been about a decade since my last visit to Lucali, a pizzeria in Carroll Gardens, so I swung by on Saturday for a little status update. I arrived at around 6:45 p.m., and the host tells me that she’s no longer taking names for the night (lolz). So I reverted to an always reliable backup plan: Hometown, where the line was about an hour long. We ordered a lot as always, but the brisket was the winner — no surprises there. The key to the this cut isn’t the smoke, in my opinion, but the texture: The flat of the meat is gently firm; the deckle is softer like an accordion; and the fatty cap is as soft and sugary as a marshmallow ($14 per half pound). 454 Van Brunt St. at Reed Street, Red Hook — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Guava cream-filled muffin at Atla
Guava cream-filled muffin at Atla
Photo by Daniela Galarza

Guava cream-filled muffin at Atla

Muffins rarely get me going. But at Atla in Noho, where chefs Daniela Soto-Innes and Enrique Olvera offer elegant plates of Mexican fare, the morning muffin has been reimagined as a miniature cake ($6). Buttery and scented with vanilla and citrus, the interior is filled with a lush pink guava cream. The exterior is coated in puffed amaranth, a grain native to South America. It adds a light crunch and hint of corn flavor to the cake, which could easily double as a dessert. 372 Lafayette, at Great Jones Street, Noho — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

Yellowfin tostada at Claro

Yes, the tuna tostada at Claro is worth the hype and the price ($24). Its cubes of glistening tuna are melt-in-your-mouth good, and all the other components of the colorful dish add their own special thing to make it all come together: the bright blood orange pieces lend a tangy sweetness and the chicarrón provides that satisfying crunch up top. I felt instantly transported to the beach. 284 Third Ave., between President and Carroll streets, Gowanus — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

June 18

Tortillas at Atla
Tortillas at Atla
Photo by Ryan Sutton

Tortillas at Atla

I like Atla, as was surely clear during my two star review, and during my writeup of the $12 pork belly taco. I especially enjoy Atla during the day, when the light pours in through the giant windows, letting patrons observe the fashionable pedestrians of Noho as if they were part of a real life museum exhibit. It was during one of these luminous, Instagram-worthy brunches that I sampled something pretty incredible: the tortillas. A waiter brought over a side of them ($4), so I could sop up the red and green salsas that came with a trio of enchiladas. Thing is, each of those tortillas each had a hoja santa leaf pressed into it. The result was stunning: With every bite of sweet, earthy corn came the verdant perfume of anise. They were just as visually stunning as they were culinarily. 372 Lafayette, at Great Jones Street, Noho — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Coconut cream pie at Sweets By Chloe
Coconut cream pie at Sweets By Chloe
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Coconut cream pie at Sweets By Chloe

Yes, this is vegan, which describes all the offerings at this bakery offshoot of By Chloe, right next door in the Village. This lush pie ($8.95), so rich with its crown of faux whipped cream and sprinkle of toasted coconut, not to mention its silky pudding which almost climbs onto your spoon unbidden, is almost too much for one person to finish. 185 Bleecker St., between Macdougal and Sullivan streets, Greenwich Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Fried chicken at the Usual
Photo by Stefanie Tuder

Fried chicken at the Usual

I feel like I’ve been writing about Eggslut chef Alvin Cailan forever, through his various pop-ups in NYC, but I had yet to taste his food. So when he announced an affordable fried chicken preview of his upcoming Nolita restaurant the Usual, I couldn’t resist going. And I’m glad I did — the fried chicken was crackly and crunchy on the outside, and just barely cooked, dripping with juices, on the inside. All the accompaniments were standout, too, including the buttery mashed potatoes, refreshing elote, and free-flowing wine. The best part? All in — drinks, tax, tip, everything — it was just $20 per person. 30 Kenmare St., between Elizabeth and Mott streets, Nolita — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

Smoked pork
Smoked pork at Hunan Slurp Shop
Photo by Serena Dai

Smoked pork at Hunan Slurp Shop

My favorite trend of the last two years is the proliferation of vibey (but not fusion!) Chinese restaurants in the East Village, and with so many promising newcomers, I had to check out Hunan Slurp Shop, too. It may be named like a noodle shop, but both the bright, pristine space and the menu signal a restaurant that’s intended more for a full meal composed of both appetizers and entrees. The best thing I tried was a smoked pork and tofu dish ($18), which turned out to be pieces of sweet pork similar in flavor to the kind found in Hong Kong-style barbecue spots. It was thankfully less cloying — and also perfectly addictive when munched on over a bowl of sticky, soft white rice. 112 First Avenue between East 6th and East 7th streets, East Village — Serena Dai, editor

Mini Toscana tart at Breads Bakery

A sleeper hit inside one of NYC’s best pastry cases, Breads’ mini Toscana tart ($3.25) is a small golden brown round covered in a mosaic of toasted almond slices. It doesn’t stand out next to the colorful fruit tarts, tall cheesecakes, or swirled chocolate rugelach, but it’s my new favorite sweet treat in town. A shortbread pastry forms a crust around a silky almond paste filling, which is then covered in those aforementioned almond slices. The whole thing must get covered in thick sugar and a pinch of salt before going into the oven, because it emerges burnished and crisp around the edges, with a pillowy, chewy almond-scented filling. It needs neither jeweled fruits nor a chocolate glaze. It’s a perfect expression of almond as-is, and a steal at under $4. 18 East 16th St., between Broadway and Fifth Avenue, Union Square — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

June 11

Smoked octopus carpaccio at Kanoyama
Smoked octopus carpaccio at Kanoyama
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Smoked octopus carpaccio at Kanoyama

East Village fixture Kanoyama has been pushing the limits of the sushi bar menu. One thing that illustrates this phenomenon is smoked octopus carpaccio ($9), distributing little curled cuttings of cephalopod with a delicate barbecued flavor evenly across the plate like paint on a Van Gough canvas. Then little squiggles of fine textured Japanese pesto and edible flowers are added, making a dish that will delight you. 175 Second Ave., at 11th Street, East Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Rainbow cake at Bouchon Bakery
Rainbow cake at Bouchon Bakery
Photo by Daniela Galarza

Rainbow cake at Bouchon Bakery

I’m not the first Eater writer to try or like Bouchon Bakery’s rainbow cake — that would be chief critic Ryan Sutton — but allow me to echo some of his glowing praise. The team at Bouchon is making Instagram-bait cake taste like fine, delicate, complex, crave-worthy pastry. It probably helps that this cake is based on the often stale, usually forgettable tri-colored cookie found at every Italian-style bakery. Those cubes of colored almond cake smell cloyingly of artificial almond extract, and taste like fruity soap. But Bouchon uses high quality almond paste in each of the cake’s six layers, from red to purple, resulting in a pastry that smells like sweet, caramelized almonds. The chefs glue each layer together with paper-thin slicks of fruit jam, and then pour shiny dark chocolate glaze over the whole thing. They’re calling it Pride cake this month. I ordered a slice ($6.25) on Friday, and went back for another on Saturday. 1 Rockefeller Plz. between Fifth and Sixth Avenues — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

Chicken nuggets at Empellon Al Pastor

Fast food chicken nuggets immediately take me back to my childhood, but I always feel guilty eating fast food. A wonderful workaround are the ones at Empellon Al Pastor, which taste remarkably similar to the ones at McDonald’s, sans the questionable meat sourcing. They’re a heavy dose of nostalgia and comfort for just $8, addictive and salty and accompanied by a sweet and sour Sichuan salsa. 132 St. Marks Pl. at Avenue A, East Village — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

Marinara pizza at Don Antonio
Marinara pizza at Don Antonio
Photo by Ryan Sutton

Marinara pizza at Don Antonio

With the young Corner Slice near the Intrepid and the rebooted Sullivan Street near 10th Ave, Midtown West is becoming a serious pizza powerhouse. And while I dine at both of those venues often, I eat at Don Antonio less frequently, and perhaps that’s a mistake on my part, based on a recent meal at the Theatre District staple (the owners also run Keste in the West Village). There were no culinary fireworks during my visit, just delicious, solid pizza (though skip the fried pizza with smoked mozz). The marinara ($9) didn’t have the same puffy outer rim as at Ops, but the tomatoes packed a gorgeously sweet, roasted flavor, with a sufficient dose of heady garlic. I washed it down with a cool sparkling red. 309 West 50th St. near Eighth Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

June 4

Lamb burger at Xi’an Famous Foods
Lamb burger at Xi’an Famous Foods
Photo by Ryan Sutton

Lamb burger at Xi’an Famous Foods

Last week I wrote about my beloved cold skin noodles at Jason Wang’s Xi’an Famous Foods, which means it’s as good of a time as any to reveal a more controversial opinion: I’ve long been a skeptic of the chain’s spicy stewed lamb burger. But so the story goes I tried it again recently and something clicked. Maybe the lamb was more expertly cooked, with a more assertively salty, cumin punch. Maybe the meat was a bit more tender — though I like a nice hearty chew every now and then. Maybe the bun was a touch less bland this time (maybe not). Or maybe nothing has changed, and it was just me. Whatever the case, I dug it. Cost: $5.65 at the Chinatown location. 45 Bayard St., between Bowery and Elizabeth Street, Chinatown — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Mouthwatering chicken thigh at the Tang
Mouthwatering chicken thigh at the Tang
Photo by Robert Sietsema

Mouthwatering chicken thigh at the Tang

The Tang is a mainly overlooked East Village noodle shop with many things going for it, despite its limited menu. It’s cozy, it has a nice mural of a walled Chinese village, and you can see your food being made in front. One of its handful of triumphs is something with the boastful name of mouthwatering chicken thigh, really a pile of julienne dark meat with a chile oil dressing, a bit of sesame paste, and a sprinkle of sesame seeds and scallions ($8.50). Plus, it’s open 24 hours. 120 First Ave., between East 7th Street and Saint Mark’s Place, East Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Oyster with seaweed butter and rye bread at La Mercerie
Oyster with seaweed butter and rye bread at La Mercerie
Photo by Serena Dai

Oyster with seaweed butter and rye bread at La Mercerie

The beautiful Roman and Williams and Starr Restaurants cafe La Mercerie dishes out absolutely on-point French fare, via chef Marie-Aude Rose — albeit very expensively. I imagine it’s the perfect place for the wealthy to dine when they want to feel just, like, super casual; an iced coffee plus ham and cheese croissant there runs close to $19. Still, I could see myself one day returning for one of the well-done classic cocktails and one of those oysters, which are accompanied by seaweed butter and little crisps of rye bread and clock in at $10 for two. Whatever West Coast oyster they were offering last week tasted exactly as a raw oyster should: like a seaside vacation in my mouth. A slab of seaweed butter right after unexpectedly continued the journey, one that I’d happily go on again. 53 Howard St. at Mercer Street, Soho — Serena Dai, editor

Vanilla gelato at Una Pizza Napoletana

I tend to gravitate toward chocolate where ice cream is concerned, so I was all the more bowled over when it was Una Pizza Napoletana’s vanilla gelato that made me ignore the chocolate side of the dish. It’s not often that vanilla has the ability to surprise, but that’s exactly what this version did, for one reason: It’s almost too salty. The key word here is almost, because it stops just before becoming too much, instead perfectly riding the line of creamy and salty, with a strong dose of vanilla flavor. Oh, and yes, the beloved pizza was all that, too. 175 Orchard St., between Stanton and Houston streets, Lower East Side — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

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