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5 Restaurants to Try This Weekend in NYC

Weekly inspiration for last-minute dining

A cannoli being filled at Madonia Brothers Bakery
A cannoli being filled at Madonia Brothers Bakery
Alex Staniloff/Eater

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 22

For affordable roast chicken near the Theater District: New York doesn’t lack for rotisserie spots, but Pio Pio 8 in Hell’s Kitchen occupies a strong space in this competitive category. It manages to balance affordability with deliciousness and the need to get diners in and out quickly before a spendy Broadway show. One can find oodles of Peruvian classics here, from grilled heart skewers to ceviches to lomo saltado (stir-fried filet mignon). But the slow-roasted chicken is the resident stunner, exhibiting a nice level of seasoning and a fatty succulence. Quarter birds start at just $6, while half a chicken runs all of $10. Pair with a cold beer and there’s your clutch meal before a showing of Jagged Little Pill. 604 10th Avenue, near 44th Street, Hell’s Kitchen — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

For rice noodle rolls without the wait: Yes, you can wait in line 45 minutes or more to get a taste of the rice noodle rolls called cheung fun at Yin Ji Chang Fen on Bayard Street. But why not just saunter up to the small lefthand enclosure with three or four seats at Happy Star Bakery? Step up to the counter and order one or two of the 19 rice noodle rolls offered. They’re bargain priced at $2 to $3.25, the former for scallions and cilantro, the latter for beef stew. My favorite is fresh shrimp and spam. While you’re there, scan the orange menu board posted overhead, which lists combination Western breakfasts, sandwiches, congee, noodles, and special lunches and dinners, including some killer omelet-on-rice selections. 160 East Broadway, corner of Essex Street, Lower East Side — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For haunting cannoli in the Bronx: Centenarian Bronx bakery Madonia Brothers has a reputation that precedes it, so I knew it was going to rule — but I wasn’t fully prepared for just how hard it would do so. They bake everything from breads and cakes to biscotti (pistachio was my favorite) and little pignoli cookies that are great to take home. But devour some cannoli on the spot: astonishingly creamy ricotta with chocolate chips filled to order in crisp-but-sturdy shells. I sobbed. Cash only. 2348 Arthur Avenue between Crescent Avenue and 186th Street — Caleb Pershan, contributing reporter

For lush grandma pizza slices: This walk-down pizzeria is located right on 145th Street as it descends from Hamilton Heights, which doesn’t make it remarkable, simply easy to access from the A, B, C, and D trains. What makes it unique is that Victorio’s Pizza represents one of the few pizzerias in Manhattan that also serves Mexican food, an arrangement seen often enough in Queens. The al pastor taco is the one to get, a single corn tortilla piled high with pork and pineapple, though the burritos, nachos, and fajitas are also worth checking out. Pizzawise, the fresh mozzarella grandma slice is one of the lusher ones in these latitudes. 348 West 145 Street, between St. Nicholas and Edgecombe avenues, Harlem — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a quick, warming miso soup on the LES: Essex Crossing will likely be packed this weekend with the opening of the Market Line. Go check it out, but if you haven’t done a walk around the upstairs Essex Market yet, it’s worth stopping by Ni Japanese Deli for a cup of miso soup to walk sip on in this chilly weather. This is not watery stuff that comes as a side dish at neighborhood sushi restaurants. It’s light, but with a far more round flavor that makes it enticing as a meal. It’s also stacked with a few veggies. Accompany it with one of the other snacks available there, and then spend some time perusing something else to eat. 88 Essex Street, at Delancey Street, Lower East Side — Serena Dai, editor

November 15

For new-school Cantonese: Cantonese restaurants with expanded, crowd-pleasing menus continue to fly into the city’s Chinatowns. NB Wing Wong has a luscious display of charcuterie in the window, plainish dining room, and inexpensive prices. Dine well for $5 or less with a pair of steamed rice noodle rolls or bowl of congee; for a dollar or two more discover dozens of over-rice choices involving pork chops, spare ribs, shrimp omelets, or very tender beef stir fried with bitter melon, broccoli, or hot green chiles. Priced around $10, Cantonese noodle dishes are so voluminous they can feed a whole table. Virtually nothing on the 170 item menu is over $20. 42 Bowery, between Canal and Bayard streets, Chinatown — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a group dinner convenient to everyone: On a recent Monday night, the dining room at GupShup was just the right amount of crowded to allow our party of six — coming from Midtown West, the Upper East Side, and Brooklyn — to catch up without screaming over dinner and cocktails. The restaurant opened on 18th Street about a year ago and serves a menu of Indian food with some fun presentations — our table loved the guacamole with crispy okra and the chicken banno kebab topped with a melted layer of Amul cheese. People who have been to Mumbai will appreciate many of owner Jimmy Rizvi’s thoughtful design touches that evoke some major old-Bombay nostalgia; everyone will like the soft, stuffed flatbreads called kulchas and the pulled jackfruit that comes out taco-style in thin lentil pancakes called chillas. Get cocktails, and end the meal with hot chai. 115 East 18th Street, between Park Avenue South and Irving Place, Gramercy — Sonia Chopra, director of editorial strategy

For satisfying bowls in Harlem: Definitely visit this pleasant, quick-service spot from chef JJ Johnson (the James Beard Award-winning writer, Eater Young Gun, and former chef at the Cecil and Henry at the Life Hotel). Sure, FieldTrip could be thrown into the big category of trendy, casual grain bowl carryout places with clean wood tables and walls, but it really shouldn’t be. The culture here is real, and you can taste it in globe-trotting dishes like Chinese black rice topped with perfectly cooked salmon and warming piri piri sauce. All the rice — basmati, Texas brown, Carolina gold — is sourced directly from farmers. The Nana’s bread with red curry carrot dip is small, but it’s still a buttery must-order. 109 Lenox Ave., between 115th and 116th streets — Caleb Pershan, contributing reporter

For smoked fish platters on the UES: It’s not often I find myself in Yorkville, but I still somehow have the impression that there’s not much good eating to be done there. The Russ & Daughters Cafe at the Jewish Museum, however, is an exception to this. You don’t have to pay for museum admission to visit this restaurant location of the Lower East Side appetizing shop, and once inside, you have all of the Russ & Daughters hits to choose from: Smoked fish platters! Knishes! Egg creams! Given the museum location the restaurant is, naturally, very kid friendly and unlike the Lower East Side Russ & Daughters Cafe, this one’s kosher. On Sunday afternoons the place is packed, but if waiting for a table feels overwhelming, there’s always the option to get a bagel to go from the takeout appetizing counter. 1109 Fifth Avenue, at East 92nd Street, Upper East Side — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

For a taste of Egyptian seafood in Jersey City: There are several Egyptian seafood restaurants sprinkled around Jersey City, and Morgan Seafood is one of the best and most accessible. Located two blocks from the PATH station at Journal Square, it contains a bustling kitchen right inside the front door, and an adjacent dining room so pink it almost burns your retina. It doesn’t interfere with the bargain fish meals, which feature entire grilled branzino, orata, or red snapper for $21.99. Fried calamari and Sicilian leaning seafood pastas also available, along with sides that include babaganoush, hummus, fried eggplant with tomato sauce, and chopped salads. 2801 John F Kennedy Blvd, between Sip and Tonnele avenues, Jersey City — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

November 8

For a fast pasta in FiDi: Among fast-casual gimmicks, fresh pasta is one that’s currently in relatively short supply, ever since Pasta Flyer folded. But there’s a new place that does it equally well in FiDi — Maestro Pasta. The noodle machine is right inside the front door, and it’s massive and red. The pastas are mainly in a fettuccine vein, and several sauces are available, plus a special sauce every day. I loved my amatriciana, which was sprinkled with extra bacon at the last moment. The place is narrow and brightly lit, and its greatest drawback is a lack of comfortable seating. Most pastas $10 to $13. 45 John St, between Dutch and Nassau streets, Financial District — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For wine and light fare in East Williamsburg: The food menu is tight and bright at Apollonia, where the focus is on dishes pulling from flavors around the Mediterranean. It’s light food, but everything packs more flavor than it suggests on the menu. The whipped feta dip with smoked paprika doesn’t play around with the smokiness. Two long octopus legs — grilled to a pleasing chewy texture inside and a crispy char on the outside — come with beans that are doused in a spicy, chimichurri-like sauce. And even the seemingly low-key spaghetti with beans and tuna conserva contained punches of garlic in every bite. The wine menu is written with lots of enticing descriptions, and the must-try chilled red from Greece, described as “juicy” and “velvety,” was not oversold. Get a glass. 128 Meserole Street, at Manhattan Avenue, East Williamsburg — Serena Dai, editor

For Chinese food in a grand space: The high-backed yellow chairs and tall ceilings at Royal Seafood drew me and my dining companion in recently as we were trying to decide on a destination in Chinatown by just walking around. The menu was enormous, but we settled on the roast chicken with garlic, which was crisp-skinned with juicy and tender meat, as well as assorted mushrooms with silky tofu and a stunningly beautiful black rice dish that came topped with edible flowers. Major bonus: the clearly expertly made food only totaled to $52.50 after tax. There’s dim sum during the day, and I can’t wait to return for it. 103 Mott Street, between Hester and Canal streets, Chinatown — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For an engaging chicken shawarma roll: Specializing in Middle Eastern street food from several nations, Sakib is located on the southern end of Bedford near the Williamsburg Bridge. The modest space is decorated inside like a castle, and the menu promises more than it can deliver, but you’ll be very happy eating there with what is on hand. The cracked wheat kibbeh stuffed with ground lamb and served with pickles and olives makes a great hand-held snack, while the chicken shawarma engagingly rolls the poultry into thin pitas dabbed with garlic sauce and arranges them around pools of hummus and babaganoush, with sumac-dusted fries in the middle. 349 Bedford Ave, between South Third and Fourth streets, Williamsburg — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a relaxed American meal: Bubby’s has long been serving American comfort food fare in a chill environment at reasonable prices. The fried chicken is the obvious go-to here, but don’t overlook the chili or the biscuits. Or if you’re there for brunch, go for the pancakes. Either location works, though the Tribeca location did just have a facelift. 120 Hudson Street, at North Moore Street, Tribeca — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

November 1

For an old-fashioned Chinese-American meal: There are so many new Chinese restaurants in town peddling cuisines heretofore rarely seen in the city, it’s fun to drop in an old-fashioned place once in a while. Located way downtown in the Financial District on Broadway, China Chalet is such a place. Make your way up the worn carpet to the upstairs bar and dining room, which have a bit of glitz left, and chow down on kung pao shrimp, moo shu pork with four pancakes, or General Tso’s chicken. An aggressive dim sum service runs to 16 varieties. Open seven days beginning at 11 a.m. 47 Broadway, between Morris and Rector streets, Financial District — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For breakfast tacos in South Brooklyn: An outpost of Guero’s, the Crown Heights taco staple, opened about a month ago on Fourth Avenue and 12th Street in South Slope. The taco list is broad — it includes chorizo, blackened catfish, and fried avocado and jalapeño — and on weekends until 4 p.m., there’s a menu of build-your-own breakfast tacos, as well as a migas option. In a stretch of the Slope with a lot of turnover and without a lot of foot traffic, it’s encouraging to see a good brunch option pop up. 494 Fourth Avenue, at 12th Street, Park Slope — Sonia Chopra, director of editorial strategy

For a quick and warming noodle soup in the East Village: It’d been a while since I’d hit up the tiny Taiwanese restaurant Ho Foods, but for those who have been avoiding due to long waits, the East Village shop has chilled out a bit and is absolutely still worth a visit. The flagship beef noodle soup’s beef shank is tender, the soup is aromatic and flavor-packed without being heavy, and the thin noodles boast a robust chew. It’s a cozy dish for a cozy restaurant. Newcomers to Taiwanese cuisine will find a service staff that will warmly and enthusiastically share more info on both the food and dining culture. 110 E. 7th Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A, East Village — Serena Dai, editor

For no-frills dim sum: Head to Chinatown and join the crowds waiting for dumplings and other dim sum ferried to tables via cart at New Chatham Seafood. The dim sum here is fresh and hot, and I highly recommend the rice rolls in soy sauce, tacky chicken feet, and shrimpy har gow. Finish up with sweet red bean paste-filled sesame balls, and if you’re feeling especially peckish, ultimately end up at Chinatown Ice Cream Factory nearby. 6 Chatham Square, between Mott and Doyers streets, Chinatown — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For an iconic New York slice without the wait: Yes, you can go and stand in line at Midwood’s famous Di Fara Pizza for an hour and still won’t have your pie. And here’s the kicker: Dom DeMarco, now 82 years old, probably won’t even be there. Better to go to the outpost at Williamsburg’s North 3rd Street Market, and order the $5 plain cheese slice. Thereupon the same grana padano is grated not once, but twice, and the same bunch of fresh basil shorn on top of the slice right before serving. Slices and pies at the two locations are virtually the same. 103 North Third Street, between Berry Street and Wythe Avenue, Williamsburg — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

October 25

For Indian and Nepalese food in Queens: Maspeth is a neighborhood in Queens rarely mentioned in connection with food, principally because of its isolated location with no subway line. But there are great restaurants there, including Spice Kitchen, which specializes in Indian and Nepalese cuisine. The latter runs to excellent momos and grilled meats served surprisingly with puffed rice, while the former includes tandoori and classic northern Indian curries of meat and vegetables, with a particularly large vegetarian selection. But the dish my friends I and went crazy for was a creamy coconut chicken shot with mustard seeds and curry leaves. All meat halal, and it’s on the same Grand Avenue that starts out in Williamsburg if you want to drive or ride a bike. 71-04 Grand Ave, between 71st and 72nd streets, Maspeth — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For an even more interactive hot pot meal: The hype over hot pot chain HaiDiLao is real. I knew that there would be plenty of accoutrements in the waiting area like hand massages and snacks — but the extent of the warmth and service still surprised and delighted me on my visit to the Flushing location. There’s lemon water, there’s fresh fruit, and in the women’s bathroom, there’s Mario Badescu face spray and Chanel No. 5. Plus, as critic Robert Sietsema noted, the hot pot broths are among the most complex and pleasing ones in town. Overall, the engaging staff, a noisy but charming robot that carried trays of ingredients, and the young man who danced as he hand-pulled our noodles made it one of the most fun group dinners I’ve had in New York. Do not miss the soft serve, whose creamy texture and rich, milky flavor gives far fancier restaurants a run for their money. 138-23 39th Ave., near Union Street, Flushing — Serena Dai, editor

For diner food that’s a notch more clever but just as comforting: Golden Diner, once a great option for lunch, is now also a great option for dinner on the border of the Lower East Side and Two Bridges. Much of the breakfast menu is still available, but at night, you can add to it dishes that keep with the diner vibe, like an excellent rendition of a tuna melt (on rye, with American cheese and potato chips). And Golden Diner not being an ordinary diner, there are also dishes that venture beyond the genre like salt and pepper calamari or a noodle special that’s the restaurant’s Instagram describes as “lovechild of classic Italian linguine vongole and Asian black bean noodles.” 123 Madison St. at Market Street, Lower East Side — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

For affordable Italian on Manhattan’s far west side: An ambitious sub-$20 pasta in New York is a rarity, akin to a gourmet burger and fries for $18. This is why Hell’s Kitchen is lucky to have Dell’anima, which makes its new, smaller home at a chef’s counter at Gotham West Food Hall. As projectors show the nightly game on nearby walls, chef Andrew Whitney whips up some serious a la minute noodles. Consider his orecchiette; the little ears sop up the meaty juices of braised lamb ragu and fresh shavings of horseradish ($17). Then follow up with his stellar carbonara ($19). A tangle of golden tajarin comes showered in tart pecorino, salty speck, and an aggressively warming dose of black pepper. And of course, an entire egg yolk sits on top to amp up all the richness even further. 600 11th Ave., near 44th Street, Hell’s Kitchen — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

For a quick, pre-movie bite in the West Village: Tiny, counter-service restaurant Taco Mahal sounds like it could be an overreaching fusion restaurant, but it’s really just a fast-casual version of very straightforward neighborhood Indian take-out classics. The tacos in question include a fluffy, oversized naan that’s folded in half over fillings like chana masala, saag paneer, or lamb curry. But get it with the chicken tikka masala, where the chicken is tender and the sauce isn’t too sweet. Also available: both mango-flavored White Claw and a tart mango lassi. Either one pairs wonderfully with the food, which comes out fast and is ideal to consume right before a move at the IFC Center. 73 Seventh Avenue South, at Barrow Street, West Village — Serena Dai, editor

October 18

For satisfying pan-Mexican fare: Former chef of Austin’s fabled Fonda San Miguel, Roberto Santibanez now operates three Mexican restaurants in New York City. The menu at the East Village branch of Fonda is much more sophisticated that those normally found on the hard-drinking stretch of Avenue B that runs south of Tompkins Square Park. A recent memorable meal included chiles en nogada (roasted peppers stuffed with picadillo in almond sauce), and duck in a black mole that originated in Oaxaca. With its historic and nuanced approach to pan-Mexican cooking, Fonda is nearly unique in the city. 40 Avenue B, between Third and Fourth streets, East Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For Barcelona-style small plates and happy hour in Greenpoint: The early dinner crowd is rewarded at tapas bar El Born with lengthy happy hour options and a bill that won’t jet over $30 per person (that’s with tip included). On Saturday and Sunday happy hour here ends at 6 p.m., and lasts one extra hour on Friday. You’ll find everything you want if classic tapas are what you’re craving: crispy patatas bravas, tortilla Española, daily croquetas, and Spanish meats and cheeses. On the larger dinner menu, the boquerones (anchovies) are a requirement and the grilled octopus a staple. If it’s what you’re into, El Born also offers a bottomless brunch for $27. 651 Manhattan Avenue, between Norman and Bedford avenues, Greenpoint — Patty Diez, editorial coordinator

For a no-fuss brunch: I’m not sure I’d call breakfast/lunch at a diner brunch, but that’s my preferred weekend morning mode to trendier places. One of my favorites is Viand Cafe on the Upper West Side, now spread to two locations in the neighborhood. All the diner classics are there, though I particularly recommend the corned beef hash, which the restaurant makes in-house. 2130 Broadway, at 75th Street, Upper West Side — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For Brazilian bar snacks and drinks: Beija Flor — “hummingbird” in Portuguese — is a part restaurant, part cocktail lounge in Long Island City. Huge murals grace the outside, and the interior provides comfortable seating around a bar overhung with strings of flowers. The Brazilian liquor called cachaça is the focus here, with several invented cocktails as well as ramped-up caipirinhas, but the food menu is equally likable, focusing on simpler dishes featuring meat and seafood. Bar snacks such as pão de queijo (cheese bread) and linguiça (sausage) are also offered. 38-02 29th Street, at 38th Avenue, Long Island City — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For brown sugar bubble tea without the wait: New locations of bubble tea chains like Tiger Sugar and the Alley have been racking up long lines, primarily for their brown sugar boba drinks. If you’re eager to try the style without waiting until the buzz at the other spots dies down, give Moge Tea a shot. The chain has locations across the city, with a long menu best known for its smooth cheese cream on top of its fresh fruit drinks and brewed-to-order teas. But it also has a solid brown sugar boba drink, which can also be topped with that cheese cream. The drink is rich but not overly sweet, and the bouncy, chewy bubbles taste sort of fruity. I liked my version at the Alley slightly more, but I’d still drink one from Moge Tea in a heartbeat. 90 Canal St., between Forsyth and Eldridge streets, Chinatown — Serena Dai, editor

October 11

For small snacks and natural wine: After hearing about its charm for months, I finally made my way to Tailfeather, a Clinton Hill natural wine bar from the owners of Brooklyn Kolache. It added food recently, which makes it easier to warrant the trek if you don’t already live in the neighborhood. Nothing’s wildly substantial if you’re super hungry, but it’s all well-executed, ideal snacking food while sampling its fun list of wines. There’s a “sausage roll” that’s essentially a flakier and bigger version of pigs in a blanket, a grilled cheese with a spicy kick, and huge slices of cake, right now an apple cider one with cream cheese frosting and a ton of sprinkles. If seeking some truly odd but still appealing wine, go for the Georgian chilled red or the Georgian skin contact. 581 Myrtle Avenue, between Classon Avenue and Taaffe Place, Clinton Hill — Serena Dai, editor

For a cheap Chinese lunch plate: Chinatown’s wonderful meat markets have long provided carryout meals as a sideline, incorporating meats and seafood sold on the premises. The best I’ve found lately is at 57 Bayard Meat Market, where an over-rice feed of black-bean-braised pork riblets and a deep-fried egg, with stewed greens draped over the top, will set you back only $2.50, making it possibly the cheapest full meal in the neighborhood. Prepackaged meals are displayed, but you can also create a meal from the steam table, featuring extra vegetables, for example, with the selections sold by the pound. 57 Bayard Street, between Mott and Elizabeth streets, Chinatown — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a wine bar that’s also kosher: A kosher wine bar is a rare thing. Because of kashrut laws that dictate meat and dairy can’t be served together, Kosher restaurants, unfortunately, tend to encompass a narrow range of food genres — burger places, pizza places, “meat” places, and, well, that’s about it. Which is why Vino Levantino is noteworthy. Tucked on an Upper West Side block, the bar serves a full menu of dairy and veggie-focused small plates and entrees, as well as an extensive wine menu that includes kosher and non-kosher wines. The ambiance is nothing to write home about and there are no trendy natural or skin-contact wines here, but a pleasant, intimate spot where kosher folks can enjoy tapas and wine like the rest of NYC is worthwhile. 210 West 94th Street, between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway, Upper West Side — Ellie Krupnick, managing editor

For a trendy slice of pizza: F&F Pizzeria is the latest in a seemingly endless line of cheffed-up slice shops. And while Carroll Gardens isn’t hurting for pizza, the new shop from local restaurateurs Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli, with consulting help from Tartine’s Chad Robertson and Chris Bianco of Phoenix’s Pizza Bianco, is a welcome addition to the neighborhood. There are just three slices for now: Sicilian, tomato, and a classic cheese. So far, I’ve only ordered slices of the classic, topped with a few basil leaves and featuring a crisp crust that’s definitely an upgrade from the usual New York City slice. Seating is available in the backyard, at least while the weather’s still tolerable, but I’m already looking forward to ordering a whole pie for a night in. 457 Court Street, between Fourth Place and Luquer Street, Clinton Hill — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

For expertly shucked oysters: Located in a corner storefront in the 1897 Rawitzer Building, Canal Street Oysters’s sprawling space has a woody and nostalgic feel, with booths and twirling bar stools. The place doubles as a beer, wine, and cocktail bar, but the oyster selection is the best in the area, with 17 expertly shucked varieties. Several, like the Baby Redheads from Long Island, originate not far away. 380 Canal Street, at West Broadway, Tribeca — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

October 4

For seasonal Italian fare in a relaxed environment: Roman’s in Clinton Hill lives up to its reputation as a charming neighborhood restaurant. From the team behind Marlow & Sons, it prioritizes seasonality in its Italian-leaning dishes. On a recent visit this meant a fava bean puree, tuna conserva with eggplant, and a Roman pasta dish with a cauliflower and anchovy sauce, doused in bread crumbs. The portions are generous, and the service is too. 243 Dekalb Avenue, between Vanderbilt and Clermont avenues, Clinton Hill — Monica Burton, associate restaurnat editor

For a smorgasbord of Taiwanese rice rolls: The Taiwanese rice roll called fan tuan in growing in popularity, with new stores popping up monthly, mainly in Chinatowns. These rolls — averaging $3.50, two make a meal — consist of white or purple sticky rice wrapped in nori, with a single main ingredient included, plus things like daikon pickle, julienne cuke, lettuce, and mayo. A friend and I tried a couple of the rolls at newcomer Nuan Xin, one stuffed with duck, the other with eel. Both were quite tasty, though distinguishing the two proved difficult. The menu rounds out with milk teas, bubble teas, carbonated fruit juices, and hot beverages often containing corn or nuts, of which the warm purple yam drink was especially nice on a cool fall evening. 5103 Eighth Avenue, between 51st and 52nd streets, Sunset Park — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For takeout Indian food in Park Slope: There’s no shortage of cliches when it comes to the kind of small neighborhood or strip-mall Indian restaurants that are ubiquitous here in New York and across the country: white tablecloths, affordable lunch buffets, over-ordered garlic naan. But cliches exist for a reason, and Tikka Indian Grill — a newish white-tablecloth spot right on Park Slope’s main drag — proves that sometimes there’s nothing better than a plate of saag paneer, chana masala, and rice. Takeout orders are delivered hot and fast, and the food comes spicier than some of the other quick North Indian-focused restaurants. Plus the menu expands past the basics, including dishes like kadai chicken, patra ni machi (fish steamed in banana leaves), baingan bharta (grilled eggplant mash), and even a tofu jalfreezi. 396 Fifth Avenue, between Sixth and Seventh streets, Park Slope — Sonia Chopra, director of editorial strategy

For a solid spot to watch baseball playoffs alongside dinner: The burgers at Amsterdam Ale House on the Upper West Side are worth a visit for that alone, but when paired with baseball playoffs, it’s an especially winning combo. They all come on English muffins, and my personal favorite is the lamb version, served with tzatziki and feta cheese. But the lean bison and plain old beef are also stellar options. There are plenty of televisions, tables, and a full bar to round it all out. 340 Amsterdam Avenue, at 76th Street, Upper West Side — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For an above-average pita pocket: Founded in 1979, Jerusalem Restaurant is a Middle Eastern cafe specializing in shawarma, falafel, and shish kebabs tucked into a pocket pita or served over rice. One glance at the pristine mise-en-place of condiments and side dishes — which include perfectly chopped Israeli salad, a smoother than usual babaganoush, and savory stewed fava beans — clues you to the high quality of the food here. There’s a small, comfortable dining room and a bench out front. My favorite meal here is the shawarma and baba combo served in a pita, and don’t forget the hot sauce. All meat halal. 2715 Broadway, between 103rd and 104th streets, Upper West Side — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

September 27

For a taste of Xi’an: This new Xi’an restaurant in Williamsburg serves a lot of the same dishes the Xi’an Famous Foods empire popularized in New York City, but has some interesting features of its own, at a similar price point. Xi’an Town’s fast-casual dining room is lined with supergraphics of Chinese scenes, and its hand-ripped wheat noodles are a little thicker and wider. The bao used in the Chinese hamburgers are stiffer, though the beef in the one I tried was especially tender, tasty, and laced with onions. A few upscale options such as shrimp and prime short rib are available. And no liangpi noodles. 165 Bedford Avenue, at North Eighth Street, Williamsburg — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For outstanding focaccia: It’s focaccia Friday at Eater favorite Superiority Burger, the tiny counter-service vegetarian burger joint in the East Village. I will personally be going, and I can’t wait for whatever chef Brooks Headley throws on his bouncy, soft focaccia, and for whatever masterful flavor combo he decides for his oft-changing gelato and sorbet. For a fuller meal, the burger is always excellent. 430 East Ninth Street, between First Avenue and Avenue A — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For bouncy cheese bread balls: Find yourself in Newark’s Ironbound, and just want a quick bite rather than a sit-down meal? Bakery and coffee shop Café Pão de Queijo offers the eponymous cheese bread balls, bouncy from their tapioca flour, but also a full range of Brazilian salgados (snacks), including myriad croquettes, slender fried turnovers with your choice of fillings, fresh squeezed juices, and elaborately dressed hot dogs. Coffee and hot chocolate are good, too. 70 Adams Street, between Downing and Ferry streets, Ironbound, Newark — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a place to watch football with good food: Be forewarned that Supply House on the Upper East Side is full of bros, but it’s a sports bar that really is a step above. There’s plenty of space to watch whatever team you follow, the drinks are solid, and the food is significantly better than a lot of other bars of its kind. Grab a stool, grab a table, grab a beer and bliss out on America’s favorite sport. 1647 Second Avenue, between 85th and 86th streets, Upper East Side — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For a chill sushi meal in Midtown: I recently had a pleasant mid-week dinner at Natsumi, a chic yet unassuming sushi restaurant in Midtown. To my surprise the restaurant didn’t feel like it was in Midtown at all — it was quiet, small but spacious, and the prices quite fair, especially for the amount of fish you get. It’s an easy place to dine with a group, which was the case here, as the sushi entrees come in large sets of traditional rolls, sashimi, nigiri, and hand rolls. Each person can choose their individual set, priced from $26 to $39, and feast on a fresh spread. 226 West 50th Street, between Broadway and Eighth Avenue — Carla Vianna, reporter

September 20

For affordable but still excellent sushi: The search goes on for sushi that is both excellent and modestly priced. Right across the street from the Pratt Institute, U-gu fills the bill. The sushi is presented by the piece or in omakase combinations that you can customize yourself, or let the sushi chef do it, at prices that run from $28 to $42. The agreeable menu fills out with donburi and ramen. The ramens often have some surprising twists, such as a main ingredient that departs from the usual seared chashu pork belly: smoky Japanese sausages. The setting is breezy and enjoyable, with views of the campus. 541 Myrtle Avenue, between Steuben Street and Emerson Place, Clinton Hill — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a smoked fish spread to bring home for brunch: When it comes to smoked fish on the Upper West Side, Zabar’s and Barney Greengrass tend to eclipse all others. But Murray’s Sturgeon Shop is an overlooked, though worthy contender, too. Open since 1946, Murray’s serves Jewish appetizing classics in traditional form: hand sliced, ultra-thin. Varieties include Nova smoked salmon, sable, sturgeon, and whitefish. If you don’t want to take it home, you can also get a bagel or bialy sandwich. 2429 Broadway, between 89th and 90th streets, Upper West Side — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For solid bar food and the last of outdoor dining season: This weekend, the temperatures will be inching up, an ideal time to spend time hanging out in the big backyard of Brooklyn Ice House. The picnic tables here aren’t the perfect sleek ones of newfound Brooklyn bars, instead feeling like a hang of a friend’s backyard. Bonus is that it’s one of the rare New York bars that still serves a $6 beer-and-shot deal, and despite that low price, the food isn’t phoned in. Buffalo wings are juicy, tender, and appropriately spiced, and the crisp, freshly fried french fries come in a beautifully oversized pile. It’s worthy of an all-day hang. 318 Van Brunt Street, near Pioneer Street, Red Hook — Serena Dai, editor

For some soba: Cocoron is the Lower East Side’s soba destination. The menu is overwhelming: They’ve got cold soba, soba in soup, and dipping soba, plus appetizers that are equally worth ordering, like savory mochi with daikon radish or chicken meatballs. The mera mera soba, with a comforting chicken-based sesame broth full of ground chicken and bok choy, is billed as a signature; to satisfy just about everyone, there’s a vegan version, too. And with two Cocoron locations within just a couple of blocks of each other (the one on Delancey is the larger of the two), getting soba when you crave it is never an issue. 16 Delancey Street, between Chrystie Street and Bowery, Lower East Side — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

For hummus with a secret sauce: Descended from a truck that launched in 2002, King of Falafel and Shawarma is a two-year-old Palestinian restaurant a stone’s throw from the Astoria Broadway stop on the N and W trains. The falafel is indeed one of the best in town, big and cylindrical, with a crust that makes an emphatic crunch and an herby soft interior. Another favorite to be mopped with the puffy pitas is something the menu calls qudseia, a plate of hummus with a reservoir of stewed fava beans in the center, and an unforgettable green sauce drizzled on top. “What’s in it?” I asked. “It’s a secret,” the waitress replied. 3015 Broadway, between 30th and 31st streets, Astoria — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

September 13

For In-N-Out-style burgers: This comfortable greasy spoon, located in a soaring space a stone’s throw from the DeKalb stop on the L, wowed the borough with its evocation of In-N-Out burgers when the Williamsburg branch opened in 2012. Today, Blue Collar’s burgers are every bit as good, lushly furnished with tomato and lettuce, and smeared with something like thousand island dressing. There are hots dogs, too, along with french fries, tater tots, and Brooklyn’s best onion rings — big fatties fresh from the fat. Beer, too. 1554 DeKalb Ave, between Irving and Wyckoff avenues, Bushwick — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For new baked treats in Williamsburg: Pastries change regularly at Ceremonia Bakeshop, a petite but charming new bakery in the neighborhood with pastel tones. Slices of cake have included passionfruit raspberry or carrot crumble, and there are plenty of smaller options too, like cookies, brownies, cinnamon rolls, and a chewy coconut pandan mochi. Go for one of those mochi and a chocolate chip cookie. If feeling a savory item, the cafe also serves avocado toast, biscuit sandwiches, and other more robust items. 743 Driggs Ave., near Second Street, Williamsburg — Serena Dai, editor

For Tel Aviv vibes and a fun meal in Soho: While I’ve never been to Tel Aviv myself, I can imagine the carefree yet electric vibe of its nightlife to be somewhat similar to what I experienced at 19 Cleveland, though in a more casual, dining setting. It’s dark and loud with plants and neon signs adorning the walls, the music is upbeat, and the host generously hands out menus in the case your waiting group wants to order food before your table is ready. A bartender dramatically shakes cocktails behind the bar while plates of creamy, garlicky hummus and tangy falafel burgers with the sweetest tomatoes zip by. I recommend ordering both, plus one or two other dishes from the relatively tight menu and sharing it all among your tablemates. 19 Cleveland Place, near Kenmare Street, Soho — Carla Vianna, reporter

For a worthy Thai lunch deal: The small and stylish Siamese Black Thai is located on the northern edge of the Thai restaurant zone that engulfs Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. As the name suggests the interior is relentlessly black, with black walls and black bric-a-brac, an ambiance that proves both pleasant and chill. More importantly, the food is spot on, including a fine pork version of massaman curry, chicken drunken noodles heaped high on the plate, and a duck salad that will leave you smacking your lips. A $9.95 lunch special offers a choice of salad, soda, or soup plus rice and main course. 81-16 Northern Boulevard, between 81st and 82nd streets, Jackson Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For wine and light fare in a bright, California-esque space: Greenpoint’s chock full of worthy weekend hits, as the guide we put out this week shows, and there’s even more there than we could fit into one piece. A newer entry to the neighborhood is wine bar Coast and Valley, a blonde restaurant where the focus is entirely on California wines. Everything comes by the glass, and much of the food is light while still being thoughtful and flavorful. Case in point: the poached chicken with avocado, cucumber, and a ginger buttermilk sauce. Though it could have veered into boring territory, the tenderly cooked chicken soaked up a sharp, acidic sauce with aplomb. The meat and cheese board, too, came with punchy picks. 587 Manhattan Ave., between Nassau and Driggs avenues, Greenpoint — Serena Dai, editor

September 6

For a Sichuan-spiced whole fish: A recent visit to Chuan Tian Xia reminded me that I don’t make it to Brooklyn’s Sunset Park Chinatown enough. The Sichuan restaurant has several things to recommend it: There’s the friendly service; the roasted peanuts, that come immediately and automatically to the table; and then there’s the customizable whole grilled fish. From the first page of the menu, diners can choose among three types of fish, three different sauces (along with varying spice levels), and add ons, like glass noodles and enoki mushrooms. The dish is served sizzling in a chafing tray, and last Saturday, there was one at at nearly every table. Plus, unlike many of Manhattan’s buzzy Chinese restaurants, Chuan Tian Xia takes reservations. 5502 Seventh Ave., at 55th Street, Sunset Park — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

For some legendary meatballs: One of my favorite pizzerias in town is Wheated, a maverick establishment on Church Avenue in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park South neighborhood. The meatball app is almost legendary, benefitting from its blackening pass through the pizza oven, and the Caesar salad is at least copious and snowed with plenty of cheese, and either make a nice intro to a list of very pleasing pizzas. My favorite, the Brighton Beach, arrives planked with breakfast bacon and shotgunned with cracked black peppercorns, but there are 13 other geographically themed choices. 905 Church Ave., between East 10th Street and Coney Island Avenue, Prospect Park South — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a lovely outdoor meal: Motel Morris has settled into Chelsea as a solid, slightly upscale neighborhood spot. The big wraparound bar is a fun perch for drinks, but as September is the best weather month in NYC, this weekend you should target the outdoor seating. Go for brunch or dinner to eat dishes like a fried chicken sandwich or mustard-crusted trout while people-watching. 132 Seventh Ave., at 18th Street, Chelsea — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For a solid $60 omakase: If, like me, you’re always searching for sushi bars that are cheaper than today’s $200 or so omakase establishments, give Ushiwakamaru a try. This serene sushi parlor opened on Houston Street in the ’90s and moved to Chelsea in 2015. Under the direction of veteran sushi chef Hideo Kuribara, a $60 sushi omakase is offered that includes pristine medium fatty tuna, raw spot shrimp, bright orange sea urchin, and soy cured tuna — nine pieces in all — plus a short maki roll and a bowl of miso soup. It’s currently one of the best sushi deals in town. 362 West 23rd St., between Eighth and Ninth avenues, Chelsea — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For an indulgent brunch on the Upper West Side: Even on the rainiest of Labor Days Jacob’s Pickles was buzzing with people and an hourlong wait. The good thing is that there are plenty of places to wait around in nearby, like cafes, bars, and even that Prince Street ripoff slice shop. Try not to eat anything beforehand, though — each plate at this brunch hotspot could probably feed three. We chose to order for the table: one savory dish, one sweet, and the fried pickles that landed somewhere in between. The biscuit French toast was fluffier than expected and piled high with strawberries. It had the consistency of a sweet cornbread and was more than enough to share among three. I routinely switched back and forth between that and our cheesy buffalo chicken mac — which we still couldn’t finish split among three. But that’s fine because mac and cheese makes for delicious Sunday afternoon leftovers. 509 Amsterdam Avenue, between 84th and 85th streets, Upper West Side — Carla Vianna, reporter