Welcome to Year in Eater 2020, Eater’s annual ritual of eulogizing the past 12 months. In 2020’s final days, Eater NY will be posting questions about New York City’s restaurant scene in the past year, with answers from food writers, photographers, chefs, restaurateurs, entrepreneurs, and even a few local legislators who helped to support the industry through this enormously difficult year. Now, we ask: What were your regular go-to destinations for takeout, delivery, and outdoor dining in 2020?
Mimi Sheraton, food writer, critic, and cookbook author: Café Cluny. Beatrice Inn. Mémé Mediterranean for their marvelous meze platter. The one where I’ve done really charming outdoor dining is Pastis, and for delivery, I especially like Angie Mar’s meat pies from Beatrice Inn.
Clay Williams, food photographer and co-founder of Black Food Folks: For months, I didn’t go anywhere I couldn’t walk to, so I ended up spending a lot more time in and around Sunset Park since all this began. That meant outdoor wine at Judy’s, to-go cocktails from L’Wren, tortas to-go from La Flor de Izucar, chicken curry out front at Parlay, and beer in the backyard at Sea Witch in Greenwood. When I found myself further afield, I was usually visiting Hunky Dory, where the cocktails, regular pop-ups, conscious safety measures, and gratuity-free policy made me feel like I could relax, try something new, and enjoy myself without guilt or fear.
Keith Powers, NYC council member: I have stayed loyal to my neighborhood restaurants like: Joe’s Pizza, Ess-a-Bagel, and Veselka. I wanted to keep my spending local during a difficult year.
Tae Yoon, NYC editor, Thrillist: I live in Harlem near Sugar Hill and blocks away from Falafel Tarboosh, which has pretty much been my neighborhood go-to for takeout in 2020. I also often walk to Riverbank State Park and love grabbing pina coladas and food from Sofrito to enjoy alone while looking out at the Hudson. When it comes to getting out of my area, I went to Golden Diner on the regular for takeout and outdoor dining; they always have new specials posted on IG, and also I can’t live without their honey butter pancakes.
Chris Crowley, writer, Grub Street: It’s nowhere near me, but when I can, I go to Long Island Bar. What can I say, I’m a sucker for Toby’s Cosmo. I started biking again a lot this year, and have hopped on my bike to go to Ayada in Elmhurst, For All Good Things in Bed-Stuy, East Wind Snack Shop when I’ve met my friend Gabriella in Park Slope, and to Chinatown for some of my favorites: Shu Jiao Fu Zhou (the benefit of Shu Jiao is you can walk a block to Williamsburg Pizza.) Also, New York Noodle Town, Wu’s Wonton King, Kopitiam, and 88 Lan Zhou (RIP). I’m still working through my dwindling supply of 88 Lan Zhou’s frozen dumplings.
Priya Krishna, food writer and author of the best-selling cookbook Indian-ish: Haenyeo (especially when they were doing kimbap to go), and the Tacos Morelos truck.
Jennifer Tam, co-founder of non-profit Welcome to Chinatown: Wo Hop is a constant for us — the upstairs (street level) one. We’ve been regulars for years, and our go to are beef chow fun and the salt and pepper fried squid over rice with a runny egg. They’ve always nailed down takeout, even before COVID, with perfect wok hei (wok’s breath).
Carlina Rivera, NYC council member: Without question, that would be my local favorite Il Posto Accanto.
Melissa McCart, editor of Heated and former Eater NY editor: I live in Jersey City and love Bangladeshi restaurant Korai Kitchen; the food is delicious and the family is so nice. We also got take out from Yu Kitchen quite a lot. I’m obsessed with the Xi’an Beef Dumping In Sour Spicy Soup. Of course, Superiority Burger. And I don’t get Ho Foods enough. I’m never fast enough to get beef noodle soup and I’m too lazy to pick up breakfast.
Brad Hoylman, New York state senator: Our girls love the pizza at Ribalta, Roey’s, Emily and Numero 28. I like Claudette for outdoor dining with friends. For special occasions, my husband and I like Loring Place. They’ve offered these remarkable dinner kits during the pandemic for events like election night and the holidays, when we’re used to family cooking.
Kat Kinsman, senior editor, Food & Wine: If I could have my paycheck direct-deposited to Red Hot, Nuevo Mexico, El Viejo Yayo, Slow Loris, Kiku, and Stone Park, that might just be easier. I couldn’t bring myself to sit and dine outside (my mom died of COVID in August, so as you might imagine, I have some pretty intense emotions around the whole thing), but takeout and delivery from all these neighborhood places was deeply important to me. I desperately want them to be there on the other side of all this.
Adam Friedlander, freelance photographer for the New York Times, Eater, etc.: Taqueria Al Pastor (takeout), Ops (outdoor dining), and Merriweather (favorite cafe with outdoor seating).
Nikita Richardson, senior staff editor, NYT Food: I didn’t really do much outdoor dining, though I had a fantastic meal at Ras Plant Based at the end of summer. I also ordered takeout pretty regularly from Bombay Kitchen (2 puri, saag chana, extra basmati) and Sally’s. I also ate more Calexico Baja Fish bowls than I care to remember. But the undisputed highlight of my year was going to Hart’s for their “grocery store,” which was one of the first successful pivots I saw in the throes of the pandemic.
Joanne Kwong, president of NYC institution Pearl River Mart and Pearl River Mart Foods: In Chinatown, my go-to joints are Jing Fong, Nom Wah, Dim Sum Go Go, and, most recently, Sichuan Hot Pot since they have a nice outdoor dining setup on Pell Street. At the start of the pandemic, I inadvertently placed an $800 take out order at Jing Fong because the hoarding tendency in me is strong. I felt like I needed to buy six of every dish so that I had ample leftovers and could drop off dim sum for my mom and sister. When I came to pick up, I asked how business was going, and they said, “Great, now that you’re here!” Haha, it was the best purchase I ever made. I’m also a ride-or-die Wo Hop Upstairs gal, so their fried flounder chunks with choy sum has been in heavy rotation. I live on the Upper West Side, where we order in Halal Guys once a week, eat indoors or outdoors at City Diner once a week, and alternate between Sushi Yasaka, Jing Fong and Carmines for special occasions.
Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President: I love patronizing our local institutions, whether in-person or through takeout. Some of my favorites from this year included Longevity — Brooklyn Market & Cafe, Spicy Moon, and Modern Love.
Gary He, writer and photographer, author of Astrolabe newsletter: I live in North Williamsburg, and the best restaurant in the area is Birds of a Feather. I’ve ordered from them once a week this year, doing my part to help keep them alive. Whenever I was depressed, which was fairly often, I would order a burger and a shake from Shake Shack. It was terrible for my body but it sparked joy and got me through the worst of the pandemic.
Note: Some answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.