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The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

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Takeout and delivery gems in NYC, plus recipes and grocery items that are must-tries

The front of a small Mexican restaurant in the East Village, with signs advertising an ATM and a sandwich board with daily specials
Zaragoza in the East Village
Luke Fortney/Eater

Many NYC restaurants are now back for takeout and delivery — and thousands are offering outdoor dining as well. With the ongoing crisis, many are experimenting with new recipes at home too. In this feature, Eater NY staffers share their favorites each week — whether it’s a grocery item, a recipe, or a dish from a restaurant that’s reopened. Check back weekly.

August 31

Crumbled sausage and orange potato cubes on a pair of soft bright blue corn tortillas. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Potato and chorizo taco at Zaragoza Grocery

This micro-sized Mexican grocery established 20 years ago incorporates a wonderful taqueria in front, and is the East Village’s only example of the sainted bodega taqueria that established Mexican food in the city. Among the handful of specialties at Zaragoza is this potato and chorizo taco ($4.50), mounted on two soft corn tortillas. It’s dressed simply with onions, cilantro, and lettuce, and the texture of the ingredients is just as exciting as the salty and meaty flavor. Choose between homemade red and green salsas, the former hotter. 215 Avenue A, between 13th and 14th streets, East Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Smoked shrimp roll at Bar Meridian

Pretty much all summer long I crave seafood, and Bar Meridian offers a compelling alternative to the popular lobster roll. The cute corner bar in Prospect Heights serves a smoked shrimp roll, which makes for a delicious afternoon snack ($16). It’s tossed with mayo, some herbs and spices and pickled celery. The dish, served on a buttery toasted roll with a side of chips, pairs perfectly with a glass of rosé. 406 Prospect Place, at Grand Avenue, Prospect Heights — Stephen Pelletteri, executive producer

A hand holds a to-go cup of meaty consomme soup with cilantro, onion, and fatty spots swirling about
Consomme at Cinco de Mayo Taco Truck in Williamsburg
Luke Fortney/Eater

Birria consomme at Cinco de Mayo Taco Truck

This Jackson Heights food truck has been making the rounds in Williamsburg and Greenpoint recently. At Cinco de Mayo, daily specials, availability, and prices are advertised on handmade signs, and on a recent visit one posted to the truck’s rear doors called my name. “Birria tacos $2 each.” It’s one of few vendors in the neighborhood where you can still find tacos at that price, let alone made with birria, the sacred meat that’s beginning to find its way to New York City streets. While the tacos themselves are worth a detour if you live in the neighborhood, the undeniable star of the menu is the broth they’re cooked in, a meaty consomme topped with cilantro and onion. The soup isn’t advertised on the menu, but ask for a cup to sip while you wait for your order and tip accordingly. Call (929) 530-2178 for Cinco de Mayo’s daily location. On the corner of Berry Street and North 15th Street, Williamsburg — Luke Fortney, reporter

Focaccia from @NeighborhoodBread

One of the few positives to emerge from the mess of the pandemic is the surge in Instagram bakeries. I regularly order sourdough from @Fleche, just reserved a box of pastries from Ban Be, and have bought plenty of cookies, cakes, and pastries from bakers via @Bakersagainstracism. My new favorite regular order, though, is the focaccia at @Neighborhoodbread, an outfit from two out-of-work restaurant bakers who borrow a restaurant kitchen in Clinton Hill every Monday to Wednesday. It’s chewy, firm, salty, a little sweet, dotted with olives and roasted tomatoes ready to burst. It’s the perfect snack to bring to your socially distanced park hang. They also make pitch-perfect Portuguese tarts and cardamom buns. Pick-up is in Clinton Hill, but delivery is also available. Amanda Kludt, editor in chief

August 24

A hand holds a plastic to-go container of pan-fried dumplings over a New York City sidewalk
Pan-fried pork and chive dumplings at North Dumpling
Luke Fortney/Eater

Pan-fried pork and chive dumplings at North Dumpling

Some of New York City’s best pan-fried dumplings aren’t to be found in Chinatown, but a few blocks east at North Dumpling on the Lower East Side. When fall and winter roll around, we’ll all meet back here to talk about the restaurant’s wonton and other soup options, but in the summer the move is an order of 10 pan-fried pork and chive dumplings ($3). Drench the dumplings — or the lid of their to-go container — in the restaurant’s bottled dumpling and hot sauces and throw on an order of two scallion pancakes to sop up the mess ($2). If the dumplings are to your liking, frozen versions of the restaurant’s pan-fried and steamed dumplings are also available for takeout in bags of 30 ($5). 27A Essex Street, near Hester Street, Lower East Side — Luke Fortney, reporter

The cross-section of a croissant with a dark chocolate filling and flakey exterior
The za’atar croissant at Nick + Sons
Adam Moussa/Eater

Za’atar croissant at Nick + Sons

The pastries and bread at Nick + Sons Bakery in Williamsburg were recommended to me by a friend in early March, just before I stopped traveling further than walking distance from my apartment in Harlem. On Saturday, my first time back in Brooklyn in five months, I planned a mini bakery crawl to make up for it. I had no familiarity with the menu at Nick+ Sons, but I couldn’t help interrupting the woman behind the counter as she listed out to me what was on offer — “Did you say ‘za’atar croissant?’” I was too impatient to wait and tore into the paper bag halfway down the block. The croissant is heavy and dense, and doesn’t shy away from piling on the za’atar. It’s like a manousheh made stunningly flaky. As a savory breakfast treat, it’s practically everything I want — though at home I found myself wishing I’d brought another to stuff with cucumber, tomato, and mint. 205 Leonard Street, between Grand and Maujer Streets — Adam Moussa, senior social media manager

Thick slices of fish, a shiso leaf, soy soy in a small vessel, and a mound of green wasabi.
Yellowtail sashimi at The Izakaya NYC
Robert Sietsema/Eater

Yellowtail Sashimi at The Izakaya NYC

Izakaya aren’t allowed to serve sushi, but they often make up for it in the quality of their sashimi. Such is the case with this izakaya, located on the burgeoning outdoor dining strip of East 6th Street in the East Village. Sliced thick, the red-rimmed swatches of filet are neatly assembled leaning against a shiso leaf that mildly scents the evening air. The flavor is supremely cool and buttery, and you may even be tempted not to dunk them in the accompanying soy sauce and wasabi. But at least make sure you nibble the shiso after each delectable bite of yellowtail sashimi ($16). 326 East 6th Street, between First and Second Avenues — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A turquoise bowl filled with brown broth, noodles, and a boiled egg cut in half, set on a dark counter
Showa Classic ramen at Karazishi Botan
Erika Adams/Eater

Showa Classic ramen at Karazishi Botan

Karazishi Botan — the self-proclaimed “ramen diner” opened by a veteran Ippudo chef at the beginning of this year — has successfully adapted a handful of its ramens to a to-go format throughout the pandemic, including this wonderfully smoky, salty showa ramen ($16). Opt to have the noodles delivered uncooked and then submerge them briefly in boiling water before assembling the dish (don’t worry; there’s an instruction sheet). It took sub-10 minutes to put together and was so delicious that I nearly kept the dregs of the broth to reheat and sip the following morning. 255 Smith Street, between Douglass and Degraw Streets, Cobble Hill — Erika Adams, reporter

August 17

A pastry shell surmounted by a squiggling chocolate topping.
Wildair’s chocolate tart
Robert Sietsema/Eater

Chocolate hazelnut tart at Wildair

Wildair’s chocolate tart is famous for a reason. It’s a looker, yes, But it’s also a textural wonder, at once crunchy and luxuriously smooth and so richly flavored with chocolate and hazelnut and the buttery crust. Experiencing the familiar flavors after all these months away from restaurants was more helpful for my psyche than an hour of therapy and comforting enough on a drab Friday afternoon to let the surroundings (abandoned LES block) and circumstances (terrifying pandemic) temporarily slip away. 142 Orchard Street, near Rivington Street, Lower East Side — Amanda Kludt, editor in chief

A steak on a platter cut into pieces and sided with green relish.
Angus steak from Sal’s
Robert Sietsema/Eater

Ribeye steaks from Sal’s Traditional Meat Center

Finding steaks in the remote northwestern Catskills is a challenge. In this dairy farming region most of the supermarkets suck, and the beef you get from farmers by the roadside is frozen solid. But in the tiny hamlet of Bloomville on the western branch of the Delaware River near its source, a place called Sal’s sells wonderful Angus steaks cut to any thickness you want. Magestically marbled, inch-thick steaks sell for about $14 and are slightly less than a pound each. My family and I grilled them over charcoal, then doused them with a garden-sourced chimichurri. 51996 NY-10, Bloomville — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A green bowl filled with orange curry with folded roti on a white cardboard box to the side of the bowl
Malaysian curry chicken from Parlay
Erika Adams/Eater

Malaysian curry chicken from Parlay

Hipster coffee shop Parlay reopened for business in June with four meals on a menu that reads like a pandemic dining starter pack: A BEC on a roll, a sourdough grilled cheese, a cheeseburger with fries, and this Malaysian curry chicken dish ($11). The thick and creamy coconut milk-based curry garnered the shop plenty of attention in pre-pandemic times, and it’s just as good — maybe better? — in cozy takeout form. Definitely pay the extra $2 for the second helping of flaky roti on the side. Cash only. 4024 8th Avenue, at the corner of 41st Street, Sunset Park — Erika Adams, reporter

Two brown earthenware vessels full of the indian rice dish biryani
Goat biryani (foreground) and vegetable biryani from Biryani Bol
Tanay Warerkar/Eater

Goat Biryani at Biryani Bol

Adda and Rahi founders Chintan Pandya and Roni Mazumdar started this biryani delivery service during the pandemic, and I finally managed to snag the wonderfully fragrant rice dishes over the weekend. You can choose between chicken, vegetarian, lamb, and goat, and I went with the final option having not sampled the version of it at Long Island City’s Adda. The biryani arrives in earthenware pots sealed with dough that need to be popped in the oven before serving. I took particular delight in unsealing the vessel by running a knife along the corners, but the succulent pieces of goat and the spicy rice paired with the sweet-ish caramelized onions was just as exciting. I paired it with a homemade green apple and fennel raita I made from a Maunika Gowardhan recipe. Order biryani bol online or pick up from Adda, 31-31 Thompson Ave., near Van Dam Street or Rahi, 60 Greenwich Ave, at Perry Street — Tanay Warerkar, reporter

Grilled chicken burrito at Taqueria Al Pastor

I thought Bushwick was doing incredibly well in terms of Mexican food offerings but then I took the short walk from my apartment to Taqueria Al Pastor, and realized just what it was missing. When I arrived I decided to get the grilled chicken burrito (I might have completely had a random and intense craving for Chipotle seven or eight months ago that I never satisfied and then just forgot); and every instance since where I’ve said I’ll try a taco or tostada or gringa next time, I’m reminded of the fat-with-rice-and-beans burrito I snagged, and its stellar additions of creamy avocado and mild, homemade salsa. The answer of course is to order whatever you wish from the zero-duds menu, and maybe throw a burrito in for later. 128 Wyckoff Avenue, at Stanhope Street, BushwickPatty Diez, project manager

A hand holds half of a sandwich on a roll, while sides of tomatoes and mac and cheese sit on a bench in the background
Sandwiches and sides at Vodega
Luke Fortney/Eater

Jackfruit Cuban sandwich and spicy heirloom tomato at Vodega

This picnic bench spread comes from Vodega, a new restaurant in Dumbo that serves vegan and vegetarian versions of classic bodega sandwiches. It’s the kind of restaurant concept that I’d normally love to hate, but after trying one of the restaurant’s creations for myself, I couldn’t bring myself to. The sandwiches — down to their mustard-to-vegan cheese ratios — are near perfect. Each one comes with a choice of side, and the Jackfruit Cuban is a must-order ($13), as is the spicy heirloom tomato salad, which is topped with pickled shallot and fiery chile crisp. 140 Plymouth Street, at Anchorage Street, Dumbo — Luke Fortney, reporter

August 10

A bowl with an orange curry sitting next to a plate with crispy flatbreads
Massaman curry and roti canai at Malii Thai Kitchen
Tanay Warerkar/Eater

Massaman curry and roti canai at Malii Thai Kitchen

My biggest fear about ordering massaman curry for takeout is that it will be too watery, but that was far from the case at Malii Thai Kitchen, which served up a rich, creamy version that hit the spot. I got mine with chicken, and the tender pieces of meat fell right off the bone and into the sauce, which I mopped up with crispy-soft pieces of roti canai, the paratha-like flatbread that serves as the ideal accompaniment to this dish. I wrapped up the leftovers into an oozy kati roll-like lunch the following day. 2028 Second Avenue, near East 104th Street, East Harlem — Tanay Warerkar, reporter

Falafel pita at Zatar

I can’t tell you how many times I strolled by Zatar on my nightly walks around Bushwick, which usually happen after dinnertime, so Zatar remained a “to-do” for quite a while. I finally walked by it over the weekend during lunchtime and made the no-brainer decision of getting a falafel sandwich. You’re greeted with a few reminders that they don’t make it [your food] “until you order it;” and hot damn is everything here fresh and worth the 15 or so minute wait. It was everything I wanted in a pita when I unwrapped the foil at home: pillow-soft homemade bread, crunchy falafel, fresh tomatoes, and honestly perfect hummus. Even if the sandwich wasn’t cravable, the friendly staff alone would keep me coming back. Zatar Cafe and Bistro, 1294 Myrtle Ave, between Stockholm and Dekalb, Bushwick — Patty Diez, project manager

Flatbread that’s covered in meats, green sauces, and pieces of yellow sauce
Wah gwaan flatbread at Kokomo
Luke Fortney/Eater

Wah gwaan flatbread at Kokomo

Apologies for the close-up, but I’ve been watching Kokomo’s flatbreads from afar for too long. Flatbreads topped with braised oxtail, creamy penne pasta, and shrimp callaloo all called our name on a recent visit to the new Caribbean restaurant in Williamsburg, but our waiter pointed us in the direction of wah gwaan, a version made with shrimp, sauteed ackee, tomato confit, and cilantro puree. At times, I wished the lighter-than-air crust was made of chewy sourdough, but the flatbreads still make for a perfect patio snack — or as a warm-up for one of Kokomo’s other destination-worthy dishes, like its saucy jerk chicken. Whatever you order, be sure to ask for a side of the restaurant’s hot sauce, a housemade creation that burns slow and tastes of fresh fruit. 65 Kent Avenue, at North 10th Street — Luke Fortney, reporter

Three square pizza slices laid on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil
Three pizza slices from PQR
Erika Adams/Eater

Pizza slices from PQR

I swung by recently-reopened UES pizza hit PQR after an afternoon in Central Park this weekend, and it was a real treat. The toppings were no joke — I picked up slices layered with smoked prosciutto, truffle sauce, spicy salami, and juicy, blistered tomatoes — but the crust is what really floored me. A snappy, crunchy bottom layer protects a puffy, soft interior that rounded out each bite. The slices are pricey ($6 to $7 each) but well worth it. There were a couple of tables and chairs set up for outdoor dining, but I ended up carting my takeout box all the way back to South Brooklyn before diving in. The pizza gets bonus points for holding up well throughout the commute; one quick reheat in the oven and the slices were good to go. 1631 Second Avenue, between East 84th and 85th Streets, Upper East Side — Erika Adams, reporter

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