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5 Restaurants to Try This Weekend in NYC

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Weekly inspiration for last-minute dining

Taïm [Official Photo]

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.

April 12

For a cafe-bar that transitions well from day to night: Sunrise/Sunset in Bushwick has an impressive wine list and cocktail menu for a low-key, neighborhood cafe. It’s an ideal place to do work at during the day, with coffee and bites like a breakfast sandwich and avocado toast. But then it transitions well into evening, with heartier food including a simple but excellent chicken and rice dish and a braised beef sandwich. 351 Evergreen Ave., at Bleecker Street, Bushwick — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

For NYC’s oldest French cuisine: Dating to 1937, the East Side’s La Veau D’Or (“the golden calf”) is the city’s oldest French restaurant, and eating there is to travel back in time. The dining room is decorated with watercolor landscapes of France, and red banquettes ring the dining room. Head for the most traditional fare, including leeks vinaigrette, onion soup, roast duck with cherry sauce, and tripe Caen style. And don’t neglect dessert. Not a bad spot for an unusual date. 129 East 60th St., between Park and Lexington avenues, Upper East Side — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For an easy meal in Nolita: Lower Manhattan on the first nice day of the year feels a little hectic, to say the least. There are people everywhere, all trying to go to the exact same places, and half of them are on their phones instead of paying attention to anything. The restaurants that have any sort of outdoor seating boast interminable waits — doubled if there’s a brunch menu — and if hunger pangs hit and you need something fast, it can be a nightmare to find a place that will serve you an easy, healthy snack. Enter vegetarian Israeli hummus stop Taïm! It’s in the perfect location at Spring and Mulberry, and a side of falafel, served in a cute brown bag with tahini to dip ’em in, and a smoothie (date-lime-banana or strawberry-raspberry-Thai basil sound pretty great) makes an order that could tide even the hungriest shopper over until their next meal. 45 Spring St., at Mulberry Street, Nolita — Sonia Chopra, director of editorial strategy

For breakfast and coffee to-go in Bushwick: The warmer weather forecasted for this weekend means it’s not out of the question to enjoy a bagel out on a street corner, and easy-to-miss Mixtape under the M train is one of the best places for it around Bushwick. The tiny storefront serves expert bagel sandwiches — with bagels provided by Bagelsmith — from a staff that is as lovely as they are quick. They’ve also never served me a bad coffee or tea. Take your order to go, maybe to enjoy at Maria Hernandez Park, or from one of the benches or stools underneath the train’s overpass. 1533 Myrtle Ave., between Linden Street and Gates Avenue, Bushwick — Patty Diez, editorial coordinator

For crisp-bottomed soup dumplings: Some of NYC’s best soup dumplings are served on Saint Mark’s Place at the Bao, a spin-off of Flushing restaurant Kung Fu Xiao Long Bao that serves various regional specialties from China. On the XLB front, there are the traditional pork-filled variety, but then there’s also ones with wasabi and chocolate. Hidden on the menu under a different name, though, are “12 finger bao,” ones that are pan-fried and served in the pan, so they come even more hot than usual and with a crispy bottom. Be super careful before you eat one, but once it’s cooled off a bit, you’ll be rewarded with hot dog-like pork and savory soup inside a crispy and soft dumpling. 13 St. Mark’s Pl., between Second and Third avenues, East Village — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

April 5

For some of the city’s best new pastries: With the addition of pastries from Melissa Weller, now is the perfect time to head to High Street on Hudson for brunch. The former Sadelle’s baker is putting out familiar baked goods with twists, like pistachio croissants and black sesame kouign amanns. Best of all, brunch at High Street on Hudson includes all the comforting brunch foods you could want (like hearty breakfast sandwiches and crispy old bay fried potatoes) in relaxed, coffee shop-like environs absent the brunch crowd. On Sunday, the host even let me sit down before my full party had arrived — a rarity in New York! 637 Hudson St., at Horatio Street, West Village — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

For Bushwick brunch with any size group, including for one: Bushwick’s Le Garage is a naturally lit space that’s very choice in the daytime hours when the sun comes pouring in from nearly every angle. (The chicken for two that’s served during dinner is alternatively the strongest argument for dining here during the evening.) The weekend lunch menu holds its own with dishes like steak and eggs ($17) that’s accompanied by crispy and fatty duck fat potatoes, as well as a seasonally topped pain perdu (French toast), and a homey croque monsieur. You’ll likely find that each bar seat is occupied by a solo diner, enjoying their plate of eggs and a brunch cocktail, too. 157 Suydam St., between Wilson and Central avenues, Bushwick — Patty Diez, editorial coordinator

For a cupping pepperoni slice in the West Village: If you crave a slice with the currently fashionable cupping pepperoni, you don’t have to stand in line at Prince Street Pizza. Instead, drop by Il Mattone, a newish pizzeria that constitutes a slightly premium establishment, with slices about 30 percent more expensive than the usual neighborhood pizza parlor. In this case, the $5 wedge-shaped slice with cupping pepperoni also comes optionally with fresh jalapeños. Pastas and compact heroes are also available at this cute spot near the gardens of St. Luke’s Church. Carry out a slice and sit in the garden, weather permitting. 450 Hudson St., between Barrow and Morton streets, West Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a varied, homey Brazilian meal in East Harlem: When Eater critic Robert Sietsema told me he found a buffet-like Brazilian restaurant that casually served churrasco from a tiny grill, I instantly knew I had to check Paladar out. These restaurants are called “kilo restaurants” in Brazil because you pay by the kilogram. Here, of course, it’s by the pound, but the idea is the same: It’s a self-service situation in which you pile on various salads — like Brazilian-style potato salad with lots of mayo and veggies — as well as traditional churrasco pairings like rice, beans, and farofa. Then you make some room on your plate for the meat; I personally suggest going with the extra salty picanha (sirloin cap) and crispy-pink pork sausages. Top it all off with a guaraná, the sweet Brazilian soda. It’s a fun place to get to know Brazilian gastronomy, especially since you can pick and choose a little bit of everything. 358 East 112th St., near First Avenue, East Harlem — Carla Vianna, reporter

For a biryani specialist that surpasses its competitors: There are currently a half dozen places specializing in biryani along Newark Avenue’s India Square. At least that many more have opened and closed in the last few years in the ultra-competitive realm of Hyderabad-style biryani in Jersey City. My current favorite is Biryani Darbar, which offers 16 varieties of the composed rice dish, each with unique flavorings and treatments. Some offer geographic identifications, as in Vijayawada biryani, from a town in the Southern state of Andhra Pradesh. But the menu of this fantastic place goes beyond biryani, featuring breads, vegetable dishes, plenty of seafood and goat, and a smattering of Indian Chinese. 769 Newark Ave., between John F. Kennedy Boulevard and Herbert Place, Jersey City, NJ — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

March 29

For fine fare to fuel a night out in Brooklyn: A small group dinner can often be the best pregame, one that starts the night off with a meal that will fuel the maybe long evening ahead, and soak up any and all alcohol to be had. Since Loosie Rouge may very well be one of the stops in mind for a night in North Brooklyn, it’s a no-brainer to have sit down dinner first at Loosie’s Kitchen — the bar’s attached and equally charming restaurant. The dual space provides an excellent double header evening. Start with bowls of risotto with Chinese sausage and the addicting braised beef with a parsnip-garlic puree, and follow it with a cocktail at the moody bar upfront. A dish that shouldn’t be missed is the charcuterie board, a collection of chicken liver mousse, that Chinese sausage, and brisket rillette — all made in house by chef Henry Lu. 91A South Sixth St., between Berry Street and Bedford Avenue, Williamsburg — Patty Diez, editorial coordinator

For a simple, satisfying diner burger: Nothing quite hit the spots like a no-frills diner burger, and Bonnie’s Grill in Park Slope does the trick, especially since during primetime, when many other restaurants along that section of Fifth Avenue tend to have long waits. The meat gets cooked to the requested temperature, and it’s spiced — though it’s still more simple than bold. The accompanying french fries, too, are crispy. Every table will have a portion of wings; might as well get some of those (plus a cheap beer) as well. 278 Fifth Ave., Garfield Place and 1st Street, Park Slope — Serena Dai, editor

For a chill restaurant to catch up with friends: Playa Betty’s on the Upper West Side is a great service to the neighborhood, providing a place to gather with a group around tacos and beer and margaritas in a breezy, California-inspired space. No one rushes you, making it a good venue to catch up and linger over a casual dinner. Beyond tacos, there are salads and bowls, making it an ideal place for people with any dietary restriction. 320 Amsterdam Ave., at 75th Street, UWS — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For food 24 hours in Chelsea: It may not be the hotspot it was during the Sex and the City era, but Cafeteria is still a nostalgic throwback to a specific NYC vibe, especially now that most of the other SATC restaurants have shuttered. The drinks are still strong, and the menu of American, occasionally fusion-y comfort foods is dependable. The meatloaf is a surprise winner. 119 Seventh Ave., at West 17th Street, Chelsea — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

For an affordable steak dinner (and other options) on the Upper East Side: I swung by Quality Eats for the first time last week for a family dinner. Although I’m not a huge steak fanatic myself, everyone around me is, and I have to say, this is a great spot for people like me. While everyone thoroughly enjoyed their $28 steak dishes — which I happily tried, and yes, they were very good — I enjoyed a patty melt served with a citrusy and spicy slaw, mixed in with tangy pickles. One of us also ordered the salmon, which looked like a beautiful alternative to the bountiful steak dishes on the table. Next time, I may even go for that. 1496 Second Ave., at 78th St., UES — Carla Vianna, reporter

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