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5 Restaurants to Try This Weekend in NYC

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Weekly inspiration for last-minute dining

Robert Sietsema

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.

March 22

For a dive bar reimagined: Once it was Bait & Tackle, a dive bar in a corner location in downtown Red Hook. (If Red Hook can be said to have a downtown, that is.) The new menu is Mexican, under chef Norberto Piattoni, and the tavern is now known as the San Pedro Inn. A sense of decrepit age reflects calculated renovations on the part of the proprietors. Now the chef can be seen up a few steps through a kitchen window, making tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, and tamales. Standouts on an early visit included a tostada heaped with ceviche, and a trio of black bean quesadillas oozing cheese. The margaritas are excellent, and so are the micheladas. 320 Van Brunt St., at Pioneer Street, Red Hook — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For quick and easy breakfast or brunch in Bushwick: Alongside the sandwich and salad options (and the expensive groceries) at Foster Sundry is a portion of the menu dedicated to biscuit sandwiches, all of which are stacked high. It’s impossible to go wrong with fillings like scrambled eggs and ham which can be accompanied by a drizzle of Mike’s Hot Honey, or even just a sandwich with egg and sausage. No matter the filling, it’ll all be complemented by the biscuit: a moist, crispy, and highly buttery marvel. Diners can also always opt for a toasted biscuit with butter and jam. 215 Knickerbocker Ave., at Troutman Street, Bushwick — Patty Diez, editorial coordinator

For a pastrami sandwich in the Theater District: Against all odds, the Upper East Side’s Pastrami Queen has cloned itself, though in far larger form. The new premises lies across the street from the Eugene O’Neill Theater, and its long running Book of Mormon, and has taken maybe a little design inspiration from the Russ & Daughters Café. The $18.95 pastrami sandwich is thicker and cheaper than expected, the meat sliced thinner than usual for the genre, but it works. That price also includes a pickle and dish of slaw or potato salad, making a very good deal, and the meat is nicely fatty. 233 West 49th St., between Broadway and Eighth Avenue, Times Square — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a pleasant Indian dinner on the Upper East Side: I had a delicious meal at Moti Mahal Delux this week, enjoying everything from the samosas paired with tamarind chutney to the roasted cauliflower with potatoes served in a slightly spicy tomato sauce (dum ki gobhi aloo). There was no wait, and my date and I were seated promptly in a dimly lit two-top surrounded by windows. Even better than the food was the service, and the dishware was especially pretty, too. 1149 First Ave., between 62nd and 63rd streets, UES — Carla Vianna, reporter

For a relaxing and refined last-minute brunch: A friend and I were able to make day-of brunch reservations at Union Square Cafe this past Sunday, so try your luck this weekend on Resy. It was such a pleasant way to spend a Sunday morning, with the restaurant’s renowned hospitality and satisfying brunch fare. Be sure to order the duck fat tater tots. 101 East 19th St., at Park Avenue, Gramercy — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

March 15

For a new twist on a wine bar in Hamilton Heights: There are no shortage of wine bars, but most of them involve food that is basically Italian, French, or Spanish. Now a new formula has emerged. With a sophisticated wine list by the bottle — including Chilean, Argentine, and Uruguayan wines, in addition to more usual offerings — Barepas highlights Venezuelan food in miniature versions. Sure, there are the usual stuffed arepas, but there are also creative twists to cachapas and pabellon, and a very nice salad of sour mango and fennel. 1792 Amsterdam Ave., between 148th and 149th streets, Hamilton Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For an afternoon of fancy tea and pristinely cooked Chinese food: One of the new restaurants in the crew of sleek East Village Chinese restaurants specializes in tea and pan-regional fare, including dim sum and luxurious pots of tea — all of which are both plated for Instagram and delicious. Uluh Tea House has a long menu, and everything I tried was on-point, including a jellyfish and pulled chicken dish, the shumai, and a heaping plate of boneless pig trotter. I initially got sticker shock from a $14 pot of tea for one, but it was a pleasant departure from having a cocktail during a meal, and servers actively refilled the pot when needed. 152A Second Ave., between East Ninth and 10th streets — Serena Dai, editor

For overlooked and underrated Greenwich Village pizza: In the shadows of pizza greats like Joe’s, John’s, and Keste, Fiore’s lies hidden. The slice shop is fairly average on the inside, with a few tables, white tiled walls, and a case displaying what’s available. But the thin-crust pizza has a crunchy bottom and tender dough, with above average ingredients on top — including the uber-trendy roni cups. It’s a very ideal way to end a night in the area. 165 Bleecker St., between Sullivan and Thompson streets, Greenwich Village — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For reliable Greek fare in a semi-posh setting: Pylos has been serving Greek food in the East Village since the early aughts. I hadn’t been for nearly a decade, but on a visit earlier this week, I was relieved to see that not much has changed. While the restaurant advertises “rustic Greek home cooking,” the vibe is a bit upscale, with dim lighting and comfortable seating arranged under a ceiling covered in hanging clay pots. The meze at the top of the menu, like gigantes in a tomato-dill sauce or saganaki cooked in a clay pot, are the real draw; but entrees, like egg noodles with scallops and shrimp in an ouzo cream sauce, are served in refreshingly substantial portions. Dessert, a stack of custard-filled crispy phyllo triangles drizzled with honey and cinnamon, was the best thing I’ve eaten all week. 128 East Seventh St., between First Avenue and Avenue A, East Village — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

For satay-centric Thai on the fringes of Chinatown: Who would’ve thought a Korean fried chicken chain would spawn such a good Thai restaurant? But Bonchon Chicken has done just that at Noree Thai Bazaar, adjusting our expectations only slightly. That adjustment features an enhanced emphasis on satays, exploiting their compatibility with mixed drinks and other forms of alcohol. Starting at $2 each, and perfectly grilled, choices run to shrimp, chicken, pork, and a host of vegetables, dunked in peanut sauce, marinated in lemongrass, or rubbed with cumin, Xinjiang style. Lots of good curries, salads, and noodles, too. 274 Grand St., between Forsyth and Eldridge streets, Lower East Side — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

March 8

For premium fusion Cantonese not in Chinatown: If you’re tired of the dozen or so types of regional Chinese food available in the city (though I’ve never met anyone who was), you might give the cryptically named August Gatherings a try. On a stretch of Canal considerably to the west of Chinatown, it provides a very staid and elegant dining room, and a menu that stretches your idea of what traditional Cantonese food is. The restaurant serves up premium seafood and well-aged steaks and chops, with all sorts of Japanese and French flourishes, including truffles and foie gras. Expect prices to match. 266 Canal St., between Broadway and Cortlandt Alley, Tribeca — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For charming Italian food in Brooklyn: Locanda Vini e Olii in Clinton Hill has so many charms to recommend it. The corner restaurant exudes warmth with plates of satisfying Tuscan fare and decor that recalls the early 20th century pharmacy it once was. There’s a long list of Italian wines, orange included, and with some of the bottles, you can choose to pay for only what you drink. With four or more people, opt for the four-course tasting menu for $55 per person. Dishes like black pepper pici, parpadelle with braised rabbit, and roasted cod are all served in heaping family-style portions. Share them with your favorite friends. 129 Gates Ave., at Cambridge Place, Clinton Hill — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

For a restaurant that feels like an upscale pizza party: My future parents-in-law were in town recently and suggested we meet them in Tribeca for dinner. I was expecting something either too hip or too stuffy, but we ended up at Adoro Lei, a loungey Italian restaurant on Hudson Street. The space is big, the service is great, and the food is really, really good. A favorite of the night was the extremely well done eggplant parm pizza, and I particularly appreciated that the menu tells you how many arancini come in the risotto ball appetizer so there’s no awkward halving when they come to the table. Most of our party had wine, but there’s also a smoked cocktail section from which drinks will be poured tableside for a little extra dinner theatre. 287 Hudson St., between Spring and Canal streets, Tribeca — Sonia Chopra, director of editorial strategy

For good bargain sushi that still exists in a high rent neighborhood: In the world of sushi, it seems like there are only two options these days: buy your sushi as a fast-casual chain and perch on a stool to eat it, or pay $200 or so for an omakase in a place that still looks like a sushi bar. Yes, there are a couple of discount sushi bar where $50 gets a meager eight pieces or so and the quality is acceptable, but these expect you to eat up fast and pay for extras to stay longer. Enter the unfortunately named Umami Sushi in Greenwich Village, where $25.95 gets you a 10 piece sushi deluxe with a maki roll thrown in for good measure. The selection runs to arctic char, flounder, and sardine, with the occasional piece of medium fatty tuna thrown in for good measure, and the fish is notably fresh. Sake is a bargain, too. 50 Greenwich Ave., between Perry and Charles streets, Greenwich Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a cute breakfast in Bed-Stuy: The breakfast sandwich at Bed-Stuy Provisions comes on a crispy seeded slab of ciabatta, loaded up with avocado, cheese, and a soft boiled egg. Add a preserved duck egg for something a little funkier. There are other sandwiches and various congee options on the menu, and the casual, cozy space is the perfect setting for a low-key brunch or breakfast. For those in the neighborhood, the sandwiches also hold up when delivered. 563 Gates Ave., near Tompkins Avenue, Bed-Stuy — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter