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The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

Fufu and okra soup, curried chicken, and more

Outside of Joy & Snook, a Crown Heights lunch counter whose orange storefront and faded white sign reads “GT Style.”
Outside of Joy & Snook in Crown Heights.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

The amount of excellent food available in New York City is dizzying — even during a pandemic — yet mediocre meals somehow keep worming their way into our lives. With Eater editors dining out sometimes several times a day, we do come across lots of standout dishes, and we don’t want to keep any secrets. Check back weekly for the best things we ate this week — so you can, too.

November 29

A bowl of thick stew with green onions and pieces of fish visible, with a cloud of white fufu on the side.
Fufu and okra soup from Tessey’s International Kitchen
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Fufu and okra soup from Tessey’s International Kitchen

The number of West African restaurants in the vicinity of White Plains Road along the 2 and 5 lines has multiplied lately, and Tessey’s International Kitchen is one of the newer ones. It features not only Nigerian food, but also soul food and Caribbean cooking, as well. Another admirable aspect is that most dishes come in huge portions, easily enough for a pair of people. Every day there are two or three dense Nigerian sauces, known as “soups,” to go with the humongous loaves of white yam fufu. The okra soup was particularly dense and viscous this past weekend, studded with salt cod and cow foot, the latter pleasantly chewy. Egusi soup made with crushed melon seeds was also available. The cost of soup and mash together was $20. I also ordered collard greens flavored with smoked turkey wing. It was memorable as well, and showed the fundamental connection between African-American and African food. 2542B White Plains Road, between Allerton and Mace avenues, Allerton — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

An overhead photograph of a plastic takeout tray laden with potatoes, chicken, and rice.
Curry chicken with potatoes at Joy & Snook.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Curry chicken at Joy & Snook

Like many of this neighborhood’s best restaurants, there’s no menu posted at Joy & Snook, so ask for a recommendation, or come prepared to follow your nose. Guyanese staples — cook-up rice, pepperpot, and others — are spooned from a dozen or so steam trays that rotate daily. One repeat offender is this curried chicken, a generous serving of bone-in bird that’s rounded out with quartered potatoes and rice (around $10). Pair it with one of the bakery’s pine tarts, a triangular baked good filled with tangy pineapple jam, for a reasonably priced meal that’s likely to leave you with leftovers. 762 Nostrand Avenue, at Sterling Place, Crown Heights — Luke Fortney, reporter

A largeThai-style omelette the size of a plate with crab and dots of hot sauce.
Crab kai jaew at Pinto Garden.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Crab kai jaew at Pinto Garden

My eyes glaze over any menu’s mention of an omelet (it’s too easy to make at home, I figure). At a recent brunch, however, Pinto Garden offered a version I couldn’t pass up on: crab kai jaew ($26), a crispy and golden Thai-style omelet that’s the size of a plate dotted with lumps of crab and a hidden mound of fluffy jasmine rice underneath it. After drizzling on some sriracha, I tried to make sure each bite combined the sweet bits of the crustacean with the richness of the eggs. The paper-thin omelet is something I wouldn’t have the patience to replicate at home, but I’d say it’s a dish fit for any meal of the day. 117 West 10th Street, between Sixth and Greenwich avenues, West Village — Bao Ong, editor

Lamb, almond, and harissa sausage rolls from Bourke Street Bakery

While clicking through Bourke Street Bakery’s website for a story last week on the Australian import’s second NYC location, I paused on a very important, new-to-me bit of information: The bakery sells packs of frozen meat pies and sausage rolls. Two days later, I was road tripping back home for the Thanksgiving holiday with a hefty stack of the shop’s signature lamb, almond, and harissa sausage rolls ($15 for two) wrapped in tin foil. After a quick turn in the oven, I can report that the packaged rolls — stuffed with ground lamb, mixed with a mild harissa paste, and studded with sweet currants — are nearly as good as the version handed over the counter in the bakery. My one adjustment for next time: I’ll bake them on a rack, instead of directly on a sheet pan, to avoid soggy puff pastry bottoms. 15 East 28th Street, between Fifth and Madison avenues, Nomad — Erika Adams, deputy editor

Pink cream sauce enrobes a pile of rigatoni vodka, which sits in a pattered blue and white plate; a scattering of parsley and grated cheese flecks the pasta
Rigatoni vodka at Cafe Fiorello
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Rigatoni vodka at Cafe Fiorello

By the time I got to Parm on the Upper West Side the other week, the kitchen was already starting to shut down, so I had to revert to plan b, which was to swing by Cafe Fiorello, an older Italian-American chophouse that’s been serving Lincoln Square since 1974. The fried calamari with spicy peppers were among the best I’ve sampled in the city — the squid rings bounced with an impressive tenderness — but I was even more surprised by the nuanced rigatoni vodka ($23.50). The pink tomato-cream sauce enrobed the firm pasta with a subtle richness and judicious hit of tartness, while giant hunks of bacon imparted ample smoke. No, it wasn’t the same precise balance of flavors and textures one might encounter at Carbone in the West Village, but it was still darn good, and Fiorello is a heck of a lot easier to get into. 1900 Broadway, between West 63rd Street and Lincoln Plaza, Upper West Side — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

Congee with avocado, egg, and pork presented in a paper to-go bowl on a yellow table.
The “Wake Me Up” congee.
Emma Orlow/Eater NY

Wake Me Up congee at Maya Congee Cafe

Part general store, part cafe, Maya is one of my favorite spots in Bed-Stuy that, as the name suggests, specializes in all things congee — otherwise hard to find nearby. The protein-packed “Wake Me Up” congee ($10.50) is served with spicy pork, avocado, smoked cheese, and a jammy egg. Owner Layla Chen’s Maya menu, consulted on by Matthew Tilden of 7 Grain Army, uses a unique blend of jasmine and brown rices with quinoa and dates. It’s an incredibly filling way to get day kicked into gear and usually I’ll even have leftovers to snack on later. 563 Gates Avenue, near Tompkins Avenue, Bed-Stuy — Emma Orlow, reporter

November 22

Miso butterscotch pudding with whipped cream on top, presented in a glass bowl with a blue floral plate seated on a wooden table.
Dessert before dinner.
Emma Orlow/Eater NY

Miso butterscotch pudding at Sunken Harbor Club

Formerly a pop-up series at Fort Defiance, Sunken Harbor Club is now a permanent nautical-themed “speakeasy” — although there’s not so much a secret door as finding the hostess by a stairwell — located upstairs from Gage and Tollner. Knowing that Sunken Harbor doesn’t take reservations, my friend who works in the area put her name down on the list on the early side, so we could secure a table (there are very few seats upstairs). Together, we tried cocktails from their extensive tropical-leaning list and shared pastry chef Caroline Schiff’s decadent miso butterscotch pudding, which you can’t get downstairs at the restaurant. We had a boisterous time, fighting over the last bites of dessert. 372 Fulton Street, near Smith Street, Downtown Brooklyn — Emma Orlow, reporter

A bottle of milk is placed upside down on top of layers of raw beef at Chongqing Lao Zao, a hot pot restaurant in Flushing, Queens.
Milky beef at Chongqing Lao Zao.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Milky beef at Chongqing Lao Zao

I’m lactose intolerant, but I’ll be making exceptions for Chongqing Lao Zao going forward. This Flushing restaurant specializes in Chongqing hot pot, a style of preparation named for the southwestern Chinese city where it originates and defined by its fiery broths bobbing with Sichuan peppercorns and whole red chilis. And after ordering ours at the spiciest level available, can you blame me for being happy to see a glass of milk? This platter of meat, called “milky beef” on the menu, consists of just that: Slices of beef thick enough that it takes a minute or more to cook them medium-rare, and an upturned jar of milk that a server carefully distributes without ever turning over the glass. The 15-second spectacle turned heads, or maybe that was my oohing and aahing after a third shot of baijiu. 37-04 Prince Street, near 37th Avenue, Flushing — Luke Fortney, reporter

A blue bowl filled with white fish, white corn kernels, red onion shavings, and a dollop of orange sweet potato puree.
Ceviche clásico at Panca
Erika Adams/Eater NY

Ceviche clásico at Panca

I knew this ceviche map was going to come in handy on a personal level from the moment that I heard it was in the works. Weeks later, here we are. I was in the mood for a cool, zingy ceviche yesterday, so I fired up the map and found exactly what I was looking for at Peruvian spot Panca in the West Village. The restaurant’s ceviche clásico ($19) starts with thick, white cubes of fluke bobbing in a taste bud-electrocuting leche de tigre marinade. It’s then served with a pile of choclo, big Peruvian corn kernels the size of butter beans, and a dollop of sweet potato puree. Thin strips of red onion are piled on top alongside a light dusting of cilantro. It’s essentially a playground of textures and flavors within the bowl, with each spoonful alternating in a rotating cast of crunchy, creamy, and tangy bites. 92 Seventh Avenue South, near Grove Street, West Village — Erika Adams, deputy editor

A round aluminum container with a red stew in the middle, parsley on top, and orange sauce and pita on the side.
Hummus with chickpea stew at Shai.

Hummus with chickpea stew at Shai

Despite the fact that hummus is delicious, it can also be a little uninspiring when made the main course of a meal. That problem is remedied at Shai — one of the counters in the new Greene Science Center food court at Columbia University — where it becomes part of a three ring circus. Yes, the hummus itself is solid, garlicky and lemony, formed into a bowl inside the carryout container. But a delicious chickpea stew is sluiced into the center, instead of the naked chickpeas often seen. The stew is red, oily, and rich, and on top of that a parsley salad is heaped. Finally, a choice of side sauces is offered to pour on top. In my case it was the tart Sephardic mango sauce, amba. What a lovely palate of flavors was thereby created ($12), and the fresh pita on the side came carpeted with flavorings, too. Manhattanville Market, 3227 Broadway, at 130th Street, Harlem — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Coq au Vin at Bar Boulud

Once upon a time Bar Boulud was a citywide destination for elegant French charcuterie, a hub for foie gras-laced pates and jiggly head cheese. I won’t lie; the quality of the terrines on a recent visit didn’t blow me away the way they did in the late aughts — the flavors weren’t as crystal clear — but they were serviceable enough and functioned as a pleasant prelude to the main event, a truly excellent coq au vin ($38). The breast and thigh meat flaunted a nice poultry tang, but largely served as a conduit for a powerfully rich red wine sauce and lardons so smoky one could surely inhale the aroma a few tables away. Firm little pasta shells also dotted the plate, allowing me to sop up more of the heady braising liquids. I’ll be back for this next time I’m feeling chilly on the Upper West Side. 1900 Broadway near Lincoln Plaza, Upper West Side — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

An onion tart sprinkled with pecorino cheese on a white plate with a serving device next to it.
Caramelized onion torta at Ci Siamo.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Caramelized onion torta at Ci Siamo

I count myself among the many fans of chef Hillary Sterling’s superb pastas and would recommend ordering them at her newly opened Ci Siamo. But it was this caramelized onion torta ($17) that was a sleeper hit on a recent visit. It looked more like personal pan pizza than the torta I had imagined — albeit a gussied up adult version. The sweetness of onions was balanced by the salty pecorino, a tart balsamic drizzle, and buttery dough. As I finished my last bite, I almost wished we had ordered another one. I would come back and sit at the bar just to order this dish (and maybe a pasta, too). 385 Ninth Avenue, between West 31st and 33rd Streets, Manhattan West — Bao Ong, editor

November 15

A burger with sesame seeds on the bun cut in half to show its pink juiciness.
Lamb burger at Sidney’s Five.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Lamb burger at Sidney’s Five

Chef Edie Ugot worked with April Bloomfield at the Spotted Pig and the Breslin, and it shows in her epic lamb burger at Sidney’s Five in the East Village, where she is also one of four partners. Cooked between rare and medium-rare, the meat shines with juice and flavor — you’ll know right away you’re eating lamb and not beef ($23). A very mild gouda sits meltingly on top along with red onions. There’s also a dab of mint jelly, but I’d ask the cook to skip it — the lamb burger is better without. Fries come alongside; they are good, too. 103 First Avenue, between East Sixth and Seventh streets, East Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Fried chicken and bits of collagen and stewed okra bathe in an aluminum takeout container at Joenise, a Haitian restaurant in Crown Heights.
A takeout container of fried chicken at Joenise.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Fried chicken at Joenise

The owner of this Haitian restaurant in Crown Heights recommended I order the fried chicken, bobbing with bits of stewed okra and collagen (around $15). After spooning a few bites into my mouth, a diner to my left had another recommendation: The dish tastes better when heaped over the mound of rice with beans that comes with dinners here, he said. Not possible, I thought, before tasting the holy trinity of fried chicken and carbs with a dab of pikliz (a Scotch bonnet relish that’s not messing around). It set my taste buds aflame, and earned its place on our guide to the best restaurants in Crown Heights in the process. 294 Rogers Avenue, near Crown Street, Crown Heights — Luke Fortney, reporter

Steak au poivre at Pastis

I recently got back to Pastis for a light bite at the bar. That is to say, I had a daiquiri, a few snails, a steak au poivre, and a chilled gin martini. The room glowed like a vintage photograph, filled with weekend revelers, and the kitchen sent out top notch brasserie fare. My steak au poivre ($51) was the expected highlight: a filet that exhibited a subtly caramelized char with a perfect medium-rare interior. The au poivre sauce, in turn, smacked of cream, cognac, and cracked peppercorns; it came in sufficient quantities to allow me to dredge every single golden fry I had at my disposal through it. After a long week, this was a very nice and indulgent little snack. 52 Gansevoort Street, near Greenwich Street, Meatpacking District — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

A white plate with a round duck meatloaf with a bone sticking out with a fig au jus.
The “bone-in” duck meatloaf at Jack and Charlie’s No. 118.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Bone-in duck meatloaf at Jack and Charlie’s No. 118

About once a year, usually around the time when falls edges closer to winter, I cobble together a Heinz ketchup-glazed meatloaf to pop into my oven. At the newly opened Jack and Charlie’s No. 188, chef Ed Cotton’s bone-in duck meatloaf ($38) is the complete opposite. It’s not economical or one of those classic quick-hit recipes that could feed several families and is great as leftovers. A single large orb that looks more like a meatball than a log of meatloaf arrives on a plate with fig jus and Chinese broccoli with a side of buttery, whipped mashed potatoes. It’s just as comforting as the humble home cook’s version, even if duck meat, which is perfectly tender, is swapped in for the pantry staples you could find in a recent college grad’s kitchen. I’ll leave this gourmet take on one of my favorite cold-weather dishes to the pros and come back this winter no doubt. 118 Greenwich Avenue, at West 13th Street, West Village — Bao Ong, editor

Sliced pork and green Chinese broccoli arranged on a plate with dollops of sauces on the side.
L.A. Iberico pork galbi at 8282.
Erika Adams/Eater NY

L.A. Iberico pork galbi at 8282

Co-owner Jee Kim told me that they waited for months to be able to get their hands on this pork for 8282’s opening menu, and, wow, was it worth the wait. The grilled slices of meat ($22) were melt-in-my-mouth tender, and pulled apart at the touch of a fork. I would have been happy with the pork alone, but the plate’s accompanying components — a thick dollop of spicy ssamjang and stalks of roasted broccolini drizzled in a red pepper vinaigrette — rounded out each forkful in a super satisfying way. My friend and I refused to let the dish be cleared until we had eaten every last bit of food on the plate. 84 Stanton Street, near Allen Street, Lower East Side — Erika Adams, deputy editor

A lamb shank on the bone, topped with crispy fried onions and set in a bowl of yellow sauce with herbs and butter beans.
Sofreh’s lamb shank.
James Park/Eater NY

Lamb shank at Sofreh

I’m not super familiar with Persian cuisine, but I knew I wanted to explore it more after visiting Sofreh. At this cozy, welcoming spot in Prospect Heights, I feasted on incredible dishes like meaty kofteh with flavorful tomato saffron broth and roasted cauliflower on top of savory, shallot yogurt. But the standout of the night was their lamb shank ($36), a visually-striking hunk of meat with a bone attached. When I cut it open, the irresistible aroma of lamb hit my nose, and the meat fell off the bones with no effort. The lamb had a nice char outside, creating a slightly crispy texture, while the inside was incredibly tender. I layered all the components — dill and dried lime broth, butter beans, crisp shallots, and the meat — on top of their exceptional bread to create the best bite of the night. 75 St. Marks Avenue, near Flatbush Avenue, Prospect Heights — James Park, content strategist

November 8

Steam trays of banana leaf-wrapped tamales, potatoes, and rotisserie chickens by the quarter and half are on display.
Rotisserie chicken at El Gran Castillo de Jagua.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Rotisserie chicken at El Gran Castillo de Jagua

I spent a lot of time in my home neighborhood this past week, eating my way across the sometimes-lackluster Prospect Heights in search of its best restaurants. On the recommendation of our friends at the Infatuation, I found myself standing toward the back of El Gran Castillo de Jagua, an unassuming Flatbush Avenue restaurant where lunch is as much a draw as the lunch crowd. Ogling steam trays of rotisserie chicken, a hipster to my left demanded another scoop of maduros; behind me, a woman shouted for a squeeze of lemon over her pernil, even though it wasn’t yet her turn. The employees pretended not to hear, but I listened, showering a portion of my takeout container — beans, yellow rice, extra plantains, and chicken ($9) — in lemon for a lunch that filled me up without weighing me down. 355 Flatbush Avenue, between Sterling and Park places, Prospect Heights — Luke Fortney, reporter

A taco with red meat, green sauce, and a lime wedge on the side.
Taco al pastor at the Antojitos Charly cart.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Taco al pastor at Antojitos Charly

We’ve been focusing our attention maybe too much on birria lately, considering that tacos al pastor are often even better and more apropos to the Pueblan immigrants who revitalized our Mexican food scene. The best I’ve had lately was from a cart parked right in front of Jackson Heights’s 74th Street subway and bus station. The tacos ($3 each, two for $5) are carved from a giant, red, downward-tapered vertical spit, and the pork is juicy and tasting of its pineapple marinade. In fact, shards of pineapple are tossed on top as the thing is assembled, also adding chopped onion and cilantro, taco guac (a thinner version made for squirting), and fiery salsa verde, which the taquera applies with a restrained hand unless you say otherwise. Roosevelt Avenue, between 74th and 75th Streets, Jackson Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Crushed grapes and tiny fennel seeds dot a slice of focaccia, which sits on a pattered white and green slice of paper
Schiacciata d’uva at Sullivan Street Bakery.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

Schiacciata d’Uva at Sullivan Street Bakery

One of my favorite Sutton Saturday traditions is to drop by a local bakery to scarf down three slices of pizza and a pastry before taking a long bike ride up the Hudson. Often, that bakery is Sullivan Street in Hell’s Kitchen, whose tomato slices I’ve waxed poetic about in years past. But so it happens that during the fall, Jim Lahey’s fine institution sells an excellent schiacciata d’uva, an Italian classic typically made during that country’s annual vendage, or grape harvest. Staffers bake focaccia with plump crushed grapes and a scattering of anise seeds, resulting in a slice that’s feathery and burnished in some parts, and soft and eggy in other parts, especially where the fruit has spilled its sweet, fragrant pulp. The anise seeds, in turn, imbue everything with a pleasant licorice perfume. If only this was available throughout the year. 533 West 47th Street, near 11th Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

A brown and sea green ceramic bowl filled with a mound of rice that’s been soaked in pu’erh tea and toped with sea urchin and fish roe.
Pu’erh tea-soaked rice with sea urchin at Che Li.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Pu’erh tea-soaked rice with sea urchin at CheLi

I was late to the party to check out CheLi in the East Village after reading our senior critic Robert Sietsema’s first look earlier this year, but I fell for this Shanghainese restaurant the moment I walked in. The downtown location — which also received a glowing Times review last month — is often packed, so I made a point to check out the newly opened Flushing location for my second visit. It didn’t disappoint. Exhibit A: an eye-catching bowl of pu’erh tea-soaked rice topped with sea urchin ($16). There was nothing overpowering in this dish, even if it tasted like each grain of rice had been steeped with the fermented tea. My friend and I made sure each spoonful included some tea and a bite of uni or fish roe for a touch of salty ocean water. We would’ve ordered another serving if the other dishes, including a braised pork belly, weren’t so good. 133-42 39th Avenue, between Prince Street and College Point Boulevard, Flushing — Bao Ong, editor

A blue and white bowl filled with noodles, pork, a white poached egg, and some green herbs. A fork and spoon are placed in the bowl.
Dan dan noodles at Cha Kee.
Erika Adams/Eater NY

Dan dan noodles at Cha Kee

Before stepping inside Cha Kee, I had already made up my mind that I needed to order the dan dan noodles— I’ve been thinking about it ever since a photo of the noodles ran at the top of our openings coverage — and it turned out to be the runaway hit of my meal there over the weekend. This bowl is full of fireworks: minced pork tossed in a tingly sesame sauce collide with ramen noodles and a softly poached Japanese onsen egg that we mixed into the dish at the table. Bathed in the yolk, the noodles turned rich and luscious, transforming into a worthy companion for the meaty bits of pork and mouth-numbing spicy sauce coating the bowl. 43 Mott Street, near Pell Street, Chinatown — Erika Adams, deputy editor

November 1

A blackened patty in a bun with bright green lettuce and slice of tomato sticking out.
Lamb burger at Ethel & Annie Mae’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Lamb burger at Ethel & Annie Mae’s Soulfood Kitchen

Named after her mother and grandmother, Ethel & Annie Mae’s was founded by veteran chef Danielle Moore in Crown Heights earlier this year. Besides a specialty in baked goods like pineapple upside down cake and banana pudding, she defines soul food as broadly as possible (her slogan is, “We bring soul to food.”). Sure, there’s an ample fried chicken sandwich, fried porgy, and chicken wings with a number of glazes and sauces, but you’ll also find on the rotating menu Jamaican coconut rice and peas, and a New Orleans shrimp po’ boy. The dish that really caught my attention was a lamb burger with a thick sear on either side of the patty, decorated with leaf lettuce, tomatoes, dill pickles, and a garlicky yogurt sauce that spilled over the sides. The burger ($15) was served with skin-on steak fries to be dipped in a choice of sauces. 497 Albany Avenue, at Lefferts Avenue, Crown Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Two tamales, one red and one green, are unsheathed from corn husks that have been stained from their dark fillings.
Red and green tamales at Grand Army Plaza.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Chicken and pork tamales at Grand Army Plaza

A single, exposed light bulb hangs from this Prospect Heights food cart, but most days it doesn’t get the chance to shine in the dark. Everything — tamales, empanadas, flan — sells out within a few hours, the cart’s owner tells me upon ordering. A few forkfuls of masa taught me why. The tamales, more cubic than I’m used to, were well-distributed with pulled chicken (right) and pork, kept moist with those meats’ red and green sauces ($3.50). Add a splash of fiery salsa verde, available in plastic cups upon request, and you’ll be wondering why you didn’t order more than two. The cart appears in front of Central Library, or thereabouts, around 1 p.m. on Sundays, and earlier on Saturdays to catch some of the crowds at the Prospect Park farmers market nearby. 10 Grand Army Plaza, or thereabouts, Prospect Heights — Luke Fortney, reporter

Kookoo at Masquerade

This week, I checked out a new cocktail bar called Masquerade in the former Trophy Bar space. The lively spot offers cocktails — using ingredients like orange blossom, saffron, and lavashak — as well as Persian bar snacks such as marinated olives with pomegranate molasses, mint, and crushed walnuts and a beet yogurt dip with rose petals. My favorite bite was the kookoo ($12) — the menu’s most hearty option — made with parsley, fenugreek, coriander, dill, garlic, turmeric, onion, pomegranate molasses, barbaries, walnut, and egg, which is kind of like a super herbaceous frittata. 351 Broadway, at Keap Street, Williamsburg — Emma Orlow, reporter

Cadillac Burger at P.J. Clarke’s

Before the pandemic, one of my favorite activities involved Citibiking over to a bar, grabbing a Cuban sandwich or a burger, and watching the big game. Naturally, COVID-19 put a crimp on hanging out inside drinking establishments for a few hours at a time, and one of the top places for doing all of this, P.J. Clarke’s at Lincoln Center, was temporarily closed for much of the past year. But the good news is that P.J.’s is back open, albeit with more limited operating hours, and the televisions are back on. And venue’s famed Cadillac burger and fries are still a fantastic combo. The burger is everything one might expect: melty cheese, salty bacon, and a juicy, medium-rare patty. The fries, in turn, are golden and crisp. I devoured everything on a recent Friday while watching the Braves and the Astros battle it out in the World Series, and I’ll likely be there again if it goes to a game seven. 44 West 63rd Street, at Columbus Avenue, Upper West Side — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

A long wooden serving platter with six small bowls filled with various dips and spreads, plus bread on the side.
Chicken liver mousse (bottom right) and other mezze at Dagon.
Erika Adams/Eater NY

Sasso chicken liver mousse at Dagon

I was prepared to have a solid-yet-predictable meal at Dagon, the new-ish UWS Mediterranean spot owned in part by the guy behind middle-of-the-road Midtown spots like L’Express and Five Napkin Burger. And then we ordered the chicken liver mousse ($10). It was smooth and creamy — non-negotiable requirements for a chicken liver mousse — but what really set this apart was the date syrup pooled in the bottom of the serving bowl. Mixed together, the rich mousse became sweet in an unexpected, highly enjoyable way. We didn’t stop dipping bread into it until the bowl was clean. 2454 Broadway, at West 91st Street, Upper West Side — Erika Adams, deputy editor