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5 Restaurants to Try This Weekend in NYC

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Weekly inspiration for last-minute dining

Pizza Moto Pizza Moto

Welcome to your weekend planner, where Eater editors recommend restaurants, cafes, and bars — whether they’re new and hot or the old standbys. As always, please let us know if you’d like to see something specific.

November 30

When craving pizza in Carroll Gardens: Remember that the consistently mobbed Lucali isn’t the only option in the area worth a trip. Pizza Moto serves Neapolitan-style pies in a warmly space, made all the more inviting in contrast with its location — pretty much directly under the BQE. Go for pizzas with a chewy sourdough crust and a nice char from the wood-burning oven that’s been in the space since its days as a 19th century bakery. There are plenty of non-pizza, “fork/knife” dishes that are just as good, like the smoked trout caesar salad, which comes with a generous amount of fish. For dessert, the dark chocolate olive oil cake is always a good idea. 338 Hamilton Ave., between Mill and Centre streets, Carroll Gardens — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

For Afghan food from a longtime venue: Kebabs cooked over charcoal are the forte of this Hell’s Kitchen old timer, dating to the 1980s and decorated with an accumulation of ethnographic items. The list of seafood kebabs is large at Afghan Kebab House, but then there are big floppy dumplings like aushak and mantu, the former topped with yogurt and dried mint, and rice dishes such as pulao and palow. Finally, the menu abounds with well-seasoned vegetable side dishes, of which the pumpkin shouldn’t be missed. 764 Ninth Ave., between 51st and 52nd streets, Hell’s Kitchen — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For inimitable Bushwick Thai food: If all the MTA changes happening on weekends have you “trapped” in north Brooklyn, make a beeline for Klom Klorm — just off the Dekalb L — and its quality Thai food. The team here is the best kind of attentive and on the menu you’ll find all the warming Thai dishes you’d hope for. Among the knockouts are the pad see ew, the khao soi, pad thai, and tom yum. Most of which are a part of Klom Klorm’s (it means perfectly delicious) lunch special, too: $9 for an appetizer and entree, all the way until 4 p.m. Next door is an attached cafe, if dessert is what you’re looking for afterward. 181 Wyckoff Ave., between Stanhope and Himrod streets, Bushwick — Patty Diez, editorial coordinator

For comforting and affordable Persian fare in Chelsea: Hidden inside an unassuming pizzeria on 18th Street is Taste of Persia, a small counter peddling extraordinarily comforting food. Dishes rotate, but tend to include ash reshteh, a Persian noodle soup that takes owner Saeed Pourkay eight hours to make, khoresht lobia, a slow-cooked green bean and beef stew, and sargonjeshki, or Persian meatballs. There’s some seating inside the pizzeria, making it a perfect and quick pit-stop during Fifth Avenue shopping. 12 West 18th St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues, Chelsea — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For pho to fortify a journey: Sometimes a pang of hunger assails you just before entering the Holland Tunnel on the way back to New York from New Jersey. Well, pull over at New Thanh Hoi, where there’s plenty of parking on adjacent streets. It’s one of the best places in town to get the legendary “shaking beef” (bo luc lac), and the pho is some of the best in the metropolitan area. There’s a full bar, too. 234 10th St., between Jersey Avenue and Erie Street, Jersey City, NJ — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

November 16

For unrivaled Pakistani steam table: Once it was merely a gyro joint, but two years ago, it turned into Lahori Chilli, a steam table institution right on bustling Coney Island Avenue in West Midwood, Brooklyn. The tandoori breads emerge from the clay oven smoking and are brushed with tallow so that they glisten, and every tray of food comes with a chickpea studded green salad. Composed of shank meat and bone marrow, beef nihari is one of the richest curries you’re ever likely to find, but you’ll also relish the vegetable selections — such as good saag, loofah, or bitter melon — that are every bit as highly spiced. Open 24 hours. 1026 Coney Island Ave., between Parkville and Foster avenues, West Midwood — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a hefty lunch during a stroll through Industry City: There are tons of dining options in Industry City’s Sunset Park food hall. Don’t wander around aimlessly; head to butcher shop and counter-service restaurant Ends Meat, which has newly expanded with space for seats. All the meat is super high-quality, so go for whatever fills your fancy. Dishes include a “hogfather” sandwich with salami, pancetta, provolone, iceberg, red onion, and mayo or daily changing specials like a dry-aged steak with mushroom sauce. Afterward, explore the rest of the sprawling complex, filled with a vintage shop, a locally made-homeware store, a chocolate factory, and more. 274 36th St., between Second and Third avenues, Sunset Park — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For a salty-sweet beverage: Desserts with a sweet-savory mix are among the best kinds of desserts, and a tea topped with a salty cheese foam is a fun example of this. The salted cheese drinks at chain Happy Lemon are an indulgent delight. I’d go for milk tea, and ask to reduce the sugar. It will be a satisfying meal ender after hitting up any of the places around Sunset Park. 5701 Eighth Ave., at 57th Street, Sunset Park — Serena Dai, editor

For quick bite on the Dumbo tourist path: A walk from downtown Brooklyn to the Brooklyn Bridge Park turned into a walk through Dumbo — and all that walking made us hungry. There’s nothing easier and quicker than a counter-service taco joint, so I popped into Los Tacos Al Pastor for an al pastor taco that was quite delicious. It’s probably not the largest taco one could get for $3.75, but the sweet and savory flavors of pineapple and pork were on point. Also, it’s extremely close to the iconic cobblestone street where the Manhattan bridge perfectly aligns itself between the buildings, making it a pretty decent spot to grab a bite when touristing around with visiting friends and family. 141 Front St., at Pearl Street, Dumbo — Carla Vianna, reporter

For Guyanese rotis in downtown Jersey City: A few blocks from the Grove Street station on the PATH find some of the metropolitan area’s best and most reasonably priced rotis, the Guyanese national dish consisting of a flatbread loosely wrapped around a filling of highly spiced chicken, goat, beef, or oxtail. Nicole’s Caribbean has been on this spot nearly 20 years, and is among the friendliest and most welcoming restaurants in Jersey City. A dollop of pureed vegetable such as pumpkin or eggplant may be added to the formulation. 521 Jersey Ave., at Columbus Drive, Jersey City, NJ — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

November 9

For some warming and filling soup: It’s hot pot season and cold season, and for that one germaphobe friend who’s weary of communal hot pot, new Bowery restaurant Zhen Wei Fang from the Congee Village owner might be a good choice for this weekend. It’s a little fancier than most hot pot restaurants around town, with an emphasis on presentation. Every seat gets an individual hot pot, and raw ingredients are stacked on a tower. Choices are a more limited than at other spots, but it’s all tasty. Get skewers to start and the mushroom basket for hot pot. 207 Bowery, between Rivington and Delancey streets, Lower East Side — Serena Dai, editor

Skip the new Port Authority branch and go to Woodside Jollibee: Sometimes called the McDonald’s of the Philippines, the recent appearance of Jollibee in Manhattan was an event of some importance. Problem is that the new location has a severely restricted menu that concentrates on spaghetti and fried chicken. Sure, the fried chicken is great, along the lines of KFC extra crispy, but one is advised to go to our long standing Jollibee in Woodside to get the real lowdown on a fascinating fast food chain. There, find the Aloha burger with bacon and pineapple, fiesta noodles with garlic sauce and pork cracklings, and breakfast options featuring corned beef and spam. 62-29 Roosevelt Ave., between 62nd and 63rd streets, Woodside — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For an Italian trip back in time: Servers in suits, white tablecloths, and appetizer and dessert carts abound at Il Tinello, an old-school Italian restaurant in Midtown West open since 1986. Simple dishes like spaghetti al pomodoro, chicken scarpariello, and veal parmesan are all made to feel more fancy in these environs. You will feel quite well taken care of, but beware the upsell — servers at Il Tinello are quite adept at padding a check with items offered tableside. 16 West 56th St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For lush Uruguayan sandwiches on the LES: The sandwiches called chivitos form the heart of Charrua’s menu, including the city’s best choripan, featuring a chorizo slathered with chimichurri. But my favorite sandwich is el Canadiense (“the Canadian”), which begins with filet mignon, ham, and bacon, and then piles on several more ingredients, making a meal for big appetites. The menu goes on further to Italian-leaning pastas, croquettes, fondue, blood sausage, and breaded chicken and steak cutlets. 131 Essex St., between Rivington and Stanton streets, Lower East Side — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For tasty Spanish tapas: Hop over to El Quinto Pino in Chelsea and grab a seat at the bar because odds are the rest of the restaurant will be fully reserved. The dishes are fairly tiny, so if you’ve come with a big appetite, consider ordering a couple of items from each section of the menu, which includes Spanish bocadillos and warm tapas. My personal favorites were the calamar a la plancha, a garlicky squid dish, and the uni panini, which came in crispy-toasted bread. It reminded me of the Cuban tostadas I lived off of in Miami. 401 West 24th St., between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, Chelsea — Carla Vianna, reporter

November 2

For empanadas at any time on the Lower East Side: It’s a bit of an embarrassment of riches when it comes to late night dining options in New York — but for me, nothing holds a candle to Empanada Mama. I ended a lot of my weekend nights here when I lived in the area, and now find myself traveling back at all times of the day for corn empanadas stuffed with shredded chicken, an arepa platter with sweet plantains and beans, fried yuca, and mariquitas. Instead of taking out, dine in for friendly service. 95 Allen St., between Delancey and Broome streets, Lower East Side — Patty Diez, editorial coordinator

For delectable food with Somalian influences: Safari is a rare NYC restaurant hailing from Somalia. The menu shows lots of Arab Peninsula influences, and Indian influences, too, via East Africa’s large and long-standing Indian community. For instance, sambusas are little triangular pies much like samosas. They make a perfect app. Entrees usually feature stewed or grilled meats with rice pilaf, of which the most popular, hilib ari, showcases grilled goat. Safari is a small and comfortable spot with delectable food. 219 West 116th St., between Adam Clayton Powel and Frederick Douglass boulevards, East Harlem — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a standout bellini: To make summer’s best flavor last a little while longer, order a bellini ($13) at chef Missy Robbins’ new Brooklyn hot spot Misi. It arrives in a tall, sleek glass cylinder, an ombre of peachy pink made from white peach puree, Aperol, a squeeze of lemon, foamy egg whites, and crisp but clean Nino Franco ‘rustico’ Prosecco. The original, which is said to have been invented by Giuseppe Cipriani, can be found a few miles away in Midtown. But Missy’s version is so good I ordered two. 329 Kent Ave., between South Third and Fourth Streets, Brookyn — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

For sweet and savory Ethiopian brunch: Bunna Cafe is a Bushwick go-to for its vegan Ethiopian cooking, but at weekend brunch, the restaurant swaps its menu of injera and wots for a short list of breakfast dishes, less common at the other Ethiopian restaurants around town. There are two sweet options and four savory, like butecha, a chickpea scramble with onions, peppers, garlic, and ginger. Rather than injera, most dishes come with kita bread, a flaky, toasted flat bread. Order the whole menu (it’s short, after all), and wash it down with coffee or an herbal tea. 1084 Flushing Ave., between Porter and Varick avenues, Bushwick — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

For Jamaican fare in a stylish space: East Flatbush boasts a few upscale Jamaican restaurants that embroider on the island’s culinary traditions. Suede is a stylish place with a long bar, dining room with dimpled banquettes and a forest motif, and a mezzanine lounge up above visible from the ground floor. Food runs to an oxtail pizza, fish and chips made with a whole snapper, and both chicken curry and jerk chicken, all washed down with strong cocktails. For those economizing, the chicken and goat curries may be enjoyed as cheaper rotis. 5610 Clarendon Rd., between East 56th and East 57th streets, East Flatbush — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

October 26

For a fast and filling Indian meal: Indian food recs in New York come far too often with caveats — this place is too expensive, this one is hit or miss. But for a quickish dinner after work, I stop at Indikitch any time it’s convenient. The fast-casual Flatiron restaurant offers Indian food in a choose-your-own style — pick a main protein, then add a sauce, a dal, a chopped-vegetable salad (called kachumber), and a type of naan. Or opt for that same main protein in a kati roll, biryani, green salad, or dosa. Any way you build the meal, the food comes fast and hot, and portions are filling. Service is good and there’s ample seating. 25 West 23rd St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues, Flatiron — Sonia Chopra, director of editorial strategy

For a new West Village hideaway: At the picturesque spot where Commerce Street takes a crazy turn and runs into Barrow, Fifty occupies a historic space that was once the Blue Mill, a Portuguese restaurant that was a neighborhood favorite. Now the elongated barroom and dining room (with separate entrances) is home to Fifty, a restaurant serving upscale food with South American spices and techniques, via Ecuadorean-born chef Luis Jaramillo. The classic potato soup locro is improved with trout roe and avocado, while giant prawns — shell, head and all — swim in an agreeable peanut sauce. A good spot to try new flavors in a luxury setting. 50 Commerce St., at Barrow Street, West Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a tapas-style brunch in Cobble Hill: La Vara has a beautiful brunch menu with a decently sized list of egg dishes, ranging from poached to scrambled, and they come accompanied with ingredients that give them a Spanish twist. The El Quim was my favorite dish: Fried eggs draped on top of a warm pile of boqueria-style squid. Order a dish from each section of the menu — which includes small bites, larger entrees, the egg dishes, breads, and sweets — and it’ll be an ideal tapas-style brunch. 268 Clinton St., between Warren Street and Verandah Place, Cobble Hill — Carla Vianna, reporter

For some of the best jerk chicken in town: Fisherman’s Cove is a local chain with branches that spread from Flatbush to Canarsie. While the original focus was inexpensive fried fish sandwiches, the storefront at Church and Utica in East Flatbush specializes in some of the best jerk chicken in town. Done in the front window over flame, the well-browned bird remains juicy inside, and the jerk sauce (ask for it on the side) ratchets up the spice level. Dishes such as goat curry and mac and cheese are memorably good, too. 4917 Church Ave., at Utica Avenue, East Flatbush — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a brunch of light, crisp Belgian waffles: All of the breakfast standards are served at unassuming neighborhood spot B Cafe East, but the thing to order is a Brussels waffle ($12-$17). There are three options — one topped with bacon, one with a tarragon-flecked chicken stew, and one with cream and berries. The rectangular waffle arrives hot, with salty butter and syrup on the side. This is nothing like those overblown round “Belgian” waffles diners and IHOP serve — these are crisp and impossibly light. Whatever you do, eat this waffle while it’s hot, with a side of coffee and a few bites of bacon, for the best effect. If you’re feeling especially hungry: Order a couple of eggs and Belgian frites on the side, too. 240 East 75th St., between Second and Third avenues, Upper East Side — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

October 19

For burgers and more at Harlem Burger: This informal corner restaurant where you order at the counter and then sit at picnic tables waiting for your number to be called is especially popular with families. The menu is limited to burgers, chicken sandwiches, wieners, wings, milkshakes, and either french fries or sweet potato fries. I especially dig the flagship “company burger.” The modest-sized patty is well seared, and if you order it with garlicky Greek tzatziki, it’s one of the best burgers in the neighborhood. 2190 Frederick Douglass Blvd., at 118th Street, Harlem — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a filling, warming lunch: New York’s quick slide from fall to winter temperatures makes Taiwan Pork Chop House extra-appealing for a weekend lunch. Warming soups like the braised chicken take the edge off the dropping mercury, especially paired with a big serving of crispy Taiwanese popcorn chicken. The titular pork chop over rice with mustard greens is a fantastic order too, coming in under $6. 3 Doyers St., between Bowery and Pell Street, Chinatown — Adam Moussa, senior social media manager

For lots of choices from award-winning food trucks: There are still two weekends left to make it down to the Red Hook Ball Fields for pupusas, agua frescas, cemitas, and more from the marketplace’s Vendy Award-winning food trucks. The longest line will likely be at El Salvadoran El Olomega food truck, but the plantain chips, sweet tamales, and of course, pupusas (with loroco flowers, zuchinni, chicken, beans, and other stuffings) are entirely worth the wait. Pick up an horchata at the agua fresca truck to its left for an on-line treat. 160 Bay St. at Clinton Street, Red Hook — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

For an Uzbek feast with your own wine: In the running for the best Uzbek in town is Taste of Samarkand, where, on a Sunday afternoon, you can enjoy live music and watch the family restaurant turn into a Russian party right before you. Bring a big group, plus some syrah blends and a Chateauneuf du Pape or two. An extra brut champagne will pair well with all the buttery breads dotting your table. Not-to-be-missed dishes include the beef kebab, Korean carrot salad, manti, and the salad Samarkand. 62-16 Woodhaven Blvd., between 62nd Avenue and 62nd Road, Middle Village — Patty Diez, editorial coordinator

For regional Mexican fare at Tacos Morelos: It started out as a humble cart right on Roosevelt Avenue, and then moved into an expansive storefront seven years ago. Tacos Morelos presents the food of the state of Morelos in southern Mexico. In addition to tacos placeros (filled with boiled eggs, rice, and fried chiles); mole ranchero; and grilled steaks in various guises, the menu showcases a wonderful and unique mole pipian rojo — a thick, dark red sauce of dried chiles and pumpkin seeds that may be had with chicken or pork ribs. Shots of tequila are also available, for brunching. 94-13 37th Ave., between 93rd and 94th streets, Jackson Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

October 12

For a hearty biscuit breakfast sandwich in Park Slope: The 5th Street, Fifth Avenue farmers market is tiny but filled with delights on Sundays, including oversized breakfast sandwiches from Brooklyn Biscuit Company. Basically any of the biscuits will be great, including the cheddar jalapeño and the “everything.” The egg’s cooked perfectly, the bacon’s an ideal chewy texture, and the cheese sweetens the deal. It’s splittable, but eating the whole thing solo might be the move. Fifth street at Fifth Avenue, Park Slope, Sunday only — Serena Dai, editor

For early morning Vietnamese brunch in Soho: If you don’t feel like waiting for brunch on the weekend until 1 p.m. or 2 p.m., why not eat it early for a change, handily avoiding the crowds and that empty feeling in the pit of your stomach that comes from waiting too long to eat. BòCàPhê opens at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and from that early hour onward you can regale yourself with a bowl of chicken pho at the hour it’s often eaten in Houston or Vietnam itself; or an egg banh mi featuring an omelet, pickled vegetables, and fresh jalapeños, plus an unexpected layer of French cheese. Drinks are available, too. 222 Lafayette St., between Spring and Broome streets, Soho — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For Chinese food that hits the spot toward the end of the night: If hungry and wanting toward the midnight hour in Chelsea, as I was last night, head to Excellent Dumpling House. There’s a fairly standard Cantonese bill of fare, plus some dim sum, and I particularly enjoyed the soup dumplings and sauteed string beans. Service is straightforward and efficient, something one wants when just trying to get some food on the table. 165 West 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh avenues, Chelsea — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For exceptional Shanghai fare in Forest Hills: Maybe hop on the R train this weekend and head for Forest Hills, where a very nice Shanghai-style Chinese restaurant is located steps away from the R train stop at 67th Avenue. At the Bund, named after a historic region in downtown Shanghai, try a plate of smoked fish with crisp skin, a bowl of pork soup with tofu knots, roast pork hock with flesh that pulls away from the bone in dark unctuous strips, or flounder filet in hot chile oil with Sichuan peppercorns. The restaurant is elegant and comfortable, the perfect place to linger over a leisurely afternoon meal. 100-30 Queens Blvd., at 67th Road, Forest Hills — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a warming bowl of udon: It’s really, truly, finally fall, which means it’s the perfect time for a bowl of udon. And the newer Soho location of East Village udon restaurant Raku is the most comfortable place for a bowl of the hot noodle soup. On a quiet block on MacDougal, it’s bigger and airier than the original. Plus, it takes reservations. The Chikara udon with mochi and chicken is a comforting go-to, and if udon isn’t sufficient, there’s a lengthy list of appetizers and donburi. Don’t sleep on the sabazushi (pressed mackerel sushi), only available at dinner. 48 Macdougal St., between West Houston and Prince streets, Soho — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

October 5

For baked pastas and fresh mozzarella at old-school Italian: Michael’s of Marine Park is an Italian restaurant that dates to 1964, and the elegant and nostalgic interior — where a pianist tinkles away on a piano on a raised platform — shows it. Skip the newfangled stuff on the menu and head for the mozzarella with roasted red peppers, linguine with red clam sauce, baked ravioli, a flattened and breaded veal chop with the bone sticking out, and, for dessert, a bowl of spumoni ice cream. Also check out Michael’s Pastry Shop across the street. 2929 Ave. R, at Nostrand Avenue, Marine Park — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For an intimate date with beer in the East Village: A power move for a first or second date would be at longtime East Village beer bar Burp Castle, a bar where patrons are required to whisper. It’s a rule firmly enforced by bartenders, who spend a fair amount of time shooshing the room. The whole thing is annoying for a group of people — particularly for the individuals whose voices naturally project, like, ahem, me — but for a date, leaning in close for hushed tones might be just the right vibe. 41 E. 7th St., near 2nd Avenue, East Village — Serena Dai, editor

For revived Middle Eastern fare in West Village: As if picked up and moved by a cyclone, Balaboosta left Little Italy earlier this year and then reappeared in the West Village in the old Bar Bolonat space, reasserting itself as Einat Admony’s flagship. Gone are the shrimp wrapped in phyllo, semi-deconstructed hummus, and honeydew gazpacho, and a whole host of new and playful dishes enliven the menu. Among new ones, crisp cauliflower with currents and pine nuts, and lamb neck sweetened with dates on a bed of freekeh (a green durum wheat rubbed like couscous) stand out. For veterans, the signature chicken under a brick with pomegranate sauce remains. 611 Hudson St., at West 12th Street, West Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a relaxed date night in Harlem: The tiny, candle-lit tables at Italian restaurant Babbalucci are ideal for the casual date night. One can also sit on the patio, or grab a seat at the dimly-lit bar for some pre-dinner cocktails. When it’s time for dinner, indulge in a glass or bottle of wine, which start at $ 10 and $40, respectively, and choose between pizzas or pastas. The fusilli with sausage and mushroom was particularly tasty. 331 Lenox Ave., between West 126th and 127th Streets, Harlem — Carla Vianna, reporter

For great kebabs in Park Slope: In the U.S., there’s surely no better place than Brooklyn or Queens to sample Uzbek fare, with its diverse Persian, Slavic, Turkic, and Korean influences. Nargis in Park Slope, Boris Bangiyev’s sequel to his Sheepshead Bay flagship, is among the best of the bunch. Expect staples like kimchi carrots and lamb-studded plov, but really, the main event here is the stunning array of kebabs, seared to a preternatural juiciness over charcoals (cooks use hairdryers to regulate the heat). Try the cumin-laced chicken thighs, funky lamb chuck, or beefy skirt steak. 155 Fifth Ave., between Lincoln Place and Douglass Street — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

September 29

For surprising and delightful desserts: I love seeing what pastry chef Miro Uskokovic has in store for each season. Late summer brings out all of the best fruit, and Uskokovic is a master at using berries, stone fruits, and melon to great effect. He also loves to surprise. Not many people outside of Austria and Germany know the souffle-like dessert nockerl. It looks almost exactly like a toasty brown cloud. At Gramercy Tavern, Uskokovic spikes it with vanilla bean and sets the batter atop jammy blackberries before pushing it into a hot oven. There, it grows to twice its size, and arrives at the table still warm and trembling. Dive into it and get at that hot fruit; a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side provides a nice temperature contrast. 42 East 20th St., between Park Avenue South and Broadway, Gramercy — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

For Alexandrian food: Ali El Sayed is a maverick creative chef not unlike Kenny Shopsin, who has maintained a small dining establishment in Astoria for 26 years called Kabab Café. The narrow storefront contains three or four tables, the walls hung with antique Egyptian photos and tchotchkes. El Sayed develops his menu in consultation with the diners on the spur of the moment based on what he’s shopped for that day. On a recent occasion, a dinner included falafel made from fava beans served with hummus and apples, salad of cauliflower dressed with pomegranate syrup, shrimp kufta, and a platter of lamb chops and ground-lamb kebabs. 25-12 Steinway St., at 25th Avenue, Astoria — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a Chelsea Chinese change-up: In personal news, longtime Chelsea Chinese restaurant Legend — my neighborhood go-to — is under new ownership with a new chef. Now called Chengdu House, the focus is still on fiery Sichuan fare that is already promising. Mapo tofu was appropriately spicy and savory, while fried chicken in chile peppers was crunchy and addictive. Stick to the Sichuan side of the menu, as the more Americanized dishes, like bok choy and mushrooms in brown sauce, weren’t as expertly rendered. 88 Seventh Ave., between 15th and 16th streets, Chelsea — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For almost a French dip: This weekend promises to be sunny and temperate, so why not trek out to Sheepshead Bay and cop a roast beef sandwich at Brennan & Carr? This 1930s Irish roast beef joint specializes in hot sandwiches something like Los Angeles’ famous French dip, with both sides of the round roll coated with salty meat juices. Yes, the beef is rendered well-done, but in this case that’s an asset. Apres-sandwich, take a stroll along the Salt Marsh Nature Trail in nearby Marine Park. 3432 Nostrand Ave., between Avenue U and Gravesend Neck Road, Sheepshead Bay — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For outdoor hangs before a Brooklyn favorite closes: Atlantic Avenue outdoor-indoor bar Hot Bird closes in December, and the temperatures this weekend suggest that it’s a fine time to spend some time there before the end. (It’s getting replaced by a skyscraper.) Grab either the pork or chicken taco, settle in with a beer or two, and perhaps mourn the ongoing “end of Brooklyn” or something. 564 Clinton St., at Atlantic Avenue, Clinton Hill — Serena Dai, editor

September 21

For an outstanding Trinidadian snack shop in Brooklyn: I finally made my way to legendary Bed-Stuy shop A&A Bake and Doubles, and if you’re anywhere close to it this weekend and haven’t gone yet, go. I didn’t realize how high the ceiling was on the deliciousness on a doubles; their version is downright magical. The bouncy flatbread, which houses steaming hot curried chickpeas, is just slightly sweet and quite fresh. Get the hot sauce — it’s not overly spicy, and the sloppy delight tastes far more expensive than the $1.50 you’ll pay for it. 1337 Fulton St., near Verona Place, Bed-Stuy — Serena Dai, editor

For schnitzels and wursts: The name means something like “to the meeting house,” and Zum Stammtisch is the city’s most Bavarian restaurant, and one of its clubbiest. Sit in the dark barroom and hear German spoken, or in the stein-swaddled main dining room, where waitresses propel around in dirndls, serving bowls of goulash soup and steaming plates of jaegerschnitzel (pork cutlet smothered in mushroom gravy), sauerbraten (tart pot roast), headcheese vinaigrette, or your choice of boiled sausages served with sauerkraut. The German beer list is another plus. 69-46 Myrtle Ave., at Cooper Avenue, Glendale — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a chill, easy meet-up with friends: It’s eminently easy to hang out at Saint Austere, an Italian wine bar with lots of options. Simply get a meat plate and some wine, or go for a full-on meal with pasta or branzino. And if you happen to get there for happy hour, prices are especially friendly with $7 house wine, $5 mussels, or $4 tequila shots, if you’re feeling spicy. 613 Grand St., between Leonard and Lorimer streets, Williamsburg — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For classic Spanish tapas: We’re all familiar with the overweening modern tapas bar, places that insist on offering full-blown entrees, desserts, off-theme cocktails, shots of mezcal, and just about everything else you can think of, de-emphasizing the real mission of a tapas bar, which is to provide Spanish snacks and glasses of wine while you wait for the dinner hour to arrive. Welcome Village newcomer Lamano, which obsesses on classic tapas like tortilla and pan con tomate washed down with wine, beer, and sangria, with bargains offered before 7 p.m., seven days. 39 Christopher St., between Seventh Avenue South and Waverly Place, Greenwich Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For an affordable Sichuan meal and friendly service: The staff at Han Dynasty in Downtown Brooklyn’s DeKalb Market Hall was hospitable and caring. Someone in my group had strict dietary restrictions, and the server patiently worked through the menu to find her a suitable dish. The family-style plates were tasty and easily shared between two people — and really affordable. Start with the pork belly buns, which come topped with cilantro, and then get the “garlic sauce-style” entree, with chicken and vegetables. The cold sesame noodles were also full of flavor. 1 Dekalb Ave., at Fleet St., Downtown Brooklyn — Carla Vianna, reporter

September 14

For bistro fare in Jackson Heights: The Queensboro’s sprawling corner space on bustling Northern Boulevard, with a bar, pair of dining rooms furnished with banquettes, and large open kitchen with a flaming oven, is an oddity in this part of Queens, an eclectic bistro serving only dinner and brunch. The menu skews adventuresome, offering pizzas (like an eggplant pie with currents and cocoa), pastas (linguine with shrimp, spicy chorizo, green garlic), short dishes (masala popcorn), and more predictable salads and main courses. 80-02 Northern Blvd., at 80th Street, Jackson Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a standout Sichuan meal in East Village: New York is lucky to have a slew of Sichuan restaurants that are all pretty good at classics, ubiquitous to the point where the average New Yorker knows what mapo tofu is. (Age 12 me in suburban Tennessee would have been shocked.) For those locals who are ready to go next level, Szechuan Mountain House serves an eclectic menu that goes far beyond other Manhattan Sichuan restaurants. Many tables will have a dramatic-looking pork belly dish, where slices hang like a clothesline, but the selection of stews is worth sampling as well. The sliced beef in one sour-spicy stew is ultra-thin and an absolute delight. Prepare to wait, though it won’t be as long as they quote. 23 Saint Marks Pl., between Second and Third avenues — Serena Dai, editor

For pastas and natural wine in Prospect Heights: Small neighborhood restaurant Faun has a small menu of antipastis, pastas, and entrees like duck leg confit with cranberries and squash. But its wine list — which emphasizes natural offerings — is extensive and contains some special gems, like a few different Greek wines that are harder to find in NYC, including a dry Greek orange that pairs well with just about everything. Sit under the tree outside for a very romantic experience. And don’t skip dessert: the olive oil polenta cake is one of the best things on the menu. Order some focaccia for the table, too. 606 Vanderbilt Ave., near St. Marks Avenue — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

For classic Vietnamese food: In addition to its Southern Chinese, Taiwanese, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Malaysian restaurants, Sunset Park’s Chinatown along Seventh and Eighth avenues hosts several distinguished Vietnamese establishments. Thanh Da is one of the oldest, a comfortable spot that makes you feel like you’re eating in someone’s living room. The menu is short, running to banh mi, stir fries, spring and summer rolls, soups, and pastries, and the staff couldn’t be nicer. 6008 Seventh Ave., between 60th and 61st streets, Sunset Park — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For Brazilian snacking: If you find yourself in Hell’s Kitchen this weekend stop by Rice ‘n’ Beans, whose name essentially points to the star of the menu: their rice and beans. Come by for the feijoada, a meat-filled, black bean stew meant to be consumed on weekends because you’ll most certainly have to take a nap afterwards. Or simply stop by to indulge in the snack menu, featuring fried empanadas stuffed with cheese, chicken, or beef; chicken croquettes; and pão de queijo, Brazilian-style cheese puffs. Don’t forget the caipirinha. 744 Ninth Ave., between 50th and 51st Streets — Carla Vianna, reporter

September 7

For a taste of Puglia in Greenpoint: Puglia-inspired Italian restaurant Naked Dog serves a traditional menu of antipasti, primi, secondi, and contorni. There are eight pastas to choose from on the primi menu, including ricotta- and herb-stuffed agnolotti with summer corn and tagliatelle with shiitake mushrooms and thyme-butter sauce. Drinks include Italian-influenced cocktails, as well as wine, beer, and lots of Italian after dinner drinks. Try the housemade limoncello. 47 Java St. at West Street, Greenpoint — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

For classic Spanish fare: Neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Murray Hill, and Midtown are sprinkled with old-guard Spanish restaurants dating to the middle of the last century. The menus offer pleasing renditions of a classic cuisine, including seafood-dotted paellas, brick-red chorizo, mussels in green sauce, and grilled octopus, in addition to glasses of sherry and pitchers of sangria. A bit further afield, Jackson Heights’s Café Salamanca is a good choice, a comfortable and reasonably priced spot less touristy than the Village examples. 7905 Northern Blvd., between 79th and 80th streets, Jackson Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a messy, satisfying meal of blue crabs by the water: The weather’s supposed to be slightly less hot on Saturday, which would make sitting outside by the water at Clemente’s Maryland Crabhouse in Sheepshead Bay a fine choice. This is the kind of place for people who revel in eating with their hands, who find the process of cracking open crabs just as enjoyable as consuming the delicate sweet meat inside of it. It’s tiring but thrilling. It’s safe to ignore everything else on the menu, though; the raw oysters were not properly shucked, and the fried calamari, a difficult dish to mess up, tasted old and unsalted. 3939 Emmons Ave., at Plumb 3rd Street, Sheepshead Bay — Serena Dai, editor

For a satisfying diner breakfast: Everyone knows about the Waverly Restaurant, one of the city’s most prominent holdouts among historic diners. But the Village is scattered with other examples you may find just as good. Washington Square Diner, like the name says, is close to Washington Square, ensconced in what looks like a very old frame house. As at any diner, stick with the breakfast eggs, pancakes, and french toast, or go with the Greek dishes or hamburgers offered in multiple themed variations. Open 24 hours. 150 West Fourth St., between Sixth Avenue and Washington Square West, Greenwich Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For the ultimate summer dessert: Despite its no-reservations policy, Via Carota is among my favorite restaurants in the city. I don’t need to tell you about the pasta or the vegetable dishes or the wine list — I need to tell you about the best summer dessert you can get at a restaurant in NYC right now. The chefs at Via Carota are drizzling quartered and pitted peaches with honey, roasting them in a wood oven, plating them (and all of those sweet, jammy juices) and topping them with a scoop of buttery mascarpone. The cool, creamy cheese melts, slowly, as you inevitably maneuver the plate to get the best photo. But dive in right away: Via Carota’s seasonal dessert is a simple but spectacular way to showcase summer’s best fruit. 51 Grove St., between Bleecker Street and Seventh Avenue, West Village — Daniela Galarza, senior editor