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The Best Dishes Eater Editors Ate This Week

Tacos de tripa, vitello tonnato, and more

A large group of people stand in front of a restaurant with an open window and a neon sign that reads “Ramirez”
Customers drinking Medalla Light and Tecate tall boys in front of Taqueria Ramirez.
Luke Fortney/Eater

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.

August 30

An overhead photograph of four tacos dressed in red and green salsa, cilantro, onion, and lime
Tacos al pastor at Taqueria Ramirez.
Luke Fortney/Eater

Tacos de tripa at Taqueria Ramirez

Occasionally, you encounter a restaurant in the weeks before it’s destined to take off — when the lines are long, but not too long, and there’s still some pastor left on the trompo at the end of a night. You want to tell everyone, but also no one, and settle on the former (hello best dishes) because it’s only a matter of time until we’re all eating at Taqueria Ramirez anyway. This bite-sized taqueria opened in Greenpoint earlier this month, and co-owners Giovanni Cervantes and Tania Apolinar have been serving a game-changing array of Mexican meats twice weekly as part of their opening. The restaurant’s tacos are prepared in the style of CDMX, where Cervantes is from, meaning the tortillas are smaller and there’s no clear upper bound to how many can be eaten in one sitting. Order at least one of everything, and no fewer than two of Cervantes’ tacos de tripa, which are in a class of their own. 94 Franklin Street, near Oak street, Greenpoint — Luke Fortney, reporter

Beige meat in a beige sauce with stem-on green caperberries.
Vitello tonnato at Osteria Carlina.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Vitello tonnato at Osteria Carlina

Few dishes illustrate the profound difference between southern and northern Italian food — the latter usually devoid of tomato sauce — than vitello tonnato. At West Village newcomer Osteria Carlina ($17) it features delicate curls of roast veal engulfed in a smooth sauce of canned tuna laced with white wine, garnished with caper berries cut in half rather than the usual smaller capers. The dish is salty and tart, served cold as a perfect surf-and-turf appetizer. This new restaurant centers its menu on Italy’s Piedmont region, specifically on the capital of Turin, and a glass of one of the red wines of the region like barolo, barbaresco, or a simple nebbiolo, makes an ideal accompaniment. 455 Hudson Street, between Morton and Barrow streets, West Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A white bowl with a blue rim is filled with orange curry, red bell peppers, brown duck, and green basil leaves placed on top. The bowl sits on a brown wooden table.
Lychee duck curry at Thailicious.
Erika Adams/Eater

Lychee duck curry at Thailicious

Thailicious improbably feels like a small town restaurant transplanted to the heart of the Lower East Side. The owner buzzes around the boxy little dining room, joking with kids and checking in with each table to make sure everybody gets just what they want to eat. It’s exactly the place I wanted to drop into on a hot and humid weeknight last week. Once seated, I melted into a sub-$10 cocktail and one of the restaurant’s signature dishes, a lychee duck curry ($19). Peeled and pitted lychees bobbed in a warm red coconut curry alongside slices of roasted duck, crunchy cashews, basil leaves, and strips of red bell peppers. The duck was good, if a bit overcooked, but I couldn’t stop scooping up the lychees and popping them into my mouth. Poached in the savory curry, the sweet fruit adopted more of a tart and tangy flavor profile that made for a delicious, highly memorable bite. 71 Clinton Street, near Rivington street, Lower East Side — Erika Adams, reporter

Octopus tacos at Rosa Mexicano

One of my favorite Sutton traditions is that after wrapping up my weekly lecturing duties — I teach food writing and criticism at CUNY’s journalism school — I try to soothe my frail vocal cords with a frozen margarita. Last week, I found that boozy relief at Rosa Mexicano’s bustling Lincoln Center outpost. The silky cocktail, laced with perhaps more tequila than I’d expected, chilled my throat and blurred my senses, so mission accomplished on that front, but I still needed actual nourishment. Enter the octopus tacos ($9.50). Chefs crisped up the cephalopod so it sported a nice crunch, but they also left the soft gelatins of the tentacles intact, giving each bite a bacon-like layering of textures. Nuggets of pork belly added chew, while a chipotle aioli — a jolt of bright orange contrasting with the lighter the corn tortillas — imparted everything with a creamy smokiness. 61 Columbus Avenue, near West 62nd street, Upper West Side — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

A raindrop-shaped metal bowl holding an oyster topped with uni on a bed of crushed ice and seaweed.
The omakase at Saishin is served outdoors on a rooftop.
Bao Ong/Eater

Omakase at Saishin by Kissaki

Sushi was something I gave up during the height of the pandemic last year. The thought of raw seafood — even if it was from a favorite restaurant — traveling from one borough to another wasn’t appealing (or affordable). Dining at a tiny sushi counter wasn’t an option in most cases. Enter Saishin by Kissaki, a pop-up sushi restaurant with rooftop views at the Gansevoort hotel in the Meatpacking District. The omakase experience here — though not inexpensive at $150 for 15 courses, it’s still a relative bargain compared to many over-the-top menus at some of the city’s best sushi restaurants — reminded me how much I missed quality sushi. Our parade of dishes started with a briny Kumamoto oyster topped with a lobe of buttery sea urchin. Next came pristine cuts of tuna, saba, salmon, and other fish I lost track of because I was too busy looking at the skyline views and thinking how good it felt to be dining out again. 18 Ninth Avenue, at 13th street, Meatpacking District — Bao Ong, editor

August 23

An overhead photograph of two paper takeout containers, one filled with chips and queso and another lined with three tacos
Tacos and chips with queso at Swell Dive.
Luke Fortney/Eater

The flour tortillas at Swell Dive

After publishing this manifesto on the rise of flour tortillas in New York City, one of the most common responses I received was, “Well, what about Swell Dive?” The restaurant — part Tex-Mex taco shack, part Bed-Stuy dive bar — has been making its own flour tortillas since 2016, commenters insisted, and a last week, I learned for myself what makes this venue a neighborhood favorite. While the tortillas here may not be as doughy as those made at other restaurants across the city, their inventive fillings (a mashup of Filipino and Texan flavors) more than compensate. I’d recommend the cheese slab taco, which is exactly what it sounds like, along with the surprisingly light chicken fried spam version ($5 each). 1013 Bedford Avenue, near Lafayette Avenue, Bed-Stuy — Luke Fortney, reporter

A hand holds a wrapped scallion pancake burrito with grey pavement in the background.
The burrito, seconds before I dove in.
Erika Adams/Eater NY

Scallion pancake burrito from Forsyth Fire Escape

Alright, I have one more burrito to talk about in August and it’s a doozy. Recent NYC transplants Isabel Lee and Luis Fernandez have been running a burrito pop-up of sorts in Manhattan called Forsyth Fire Escape since the beginning of summer (more on the backstory here). The burrito ($14) is unlike anything I’ve tried before. Lee griddles thick, plate-sized scallion pancakes and then stuffs them with heaps of slow-roasted pernil, guacamole, fried queso blanco, cilantro, and finishes it off with a slightly sweet lemongrass chili crisp oil. Given the contents, I was already expecting to love this comfort food fever dream of a burrito, but the generous portions of juicy, flavorful pernil combined with the bright, zesty chili crisp oil really sealed the deal for me. (I highly recommend adding an extra dose of chili oil to your order for an additional $1.) They’re booked out on orders through mid-September, but keep an eye on their Instagram page for future updates. Lower East Side (exact location is shared once an order is confirmed) — Erika Adams, reporter

Stuffed chicken wings sit on a platter next to crab puri topped with quenelles of black caviar
Stuffed chicken wings next to an order of crab puri and caviar at Sona.
Ryan Sutton/Eater

Crab puri and caviar at Sona

Manhattan has been experiencing a heck of a year for South Asian cuisine, with the reopening of Junoon a few doors down from its original location, the debut of Dhamaka from the Adda crew, and the launch of Priyanka Chopra’s Sona in Flatiron. I finally had a chance to drop by Sona recently and to the surprise of no one, it was darn good. Chef Hari Nayak does some cool stuff here, stuffing chicken wings until they balloon to the size of small sausages and sending out Floyd Cardoz’s Goan fish stew with a serious level of heat, but I was most taken by the crab puri and caviar. The soft puri came topped with perfect little quenelles of kaluga amber roe. Price: $24 for three single bites. Generally speaking I’m suspicious of caviar dishes that cost less than $75, but this combination of crustacean and roe turned out quite nicely. A bit of butter crab inside the puri softened the oceanic blow of the caviar, whose beads were firm, oily, and saline, precisely the type of depth I’d expect in something more expensive. I’ll be back for this dish. 36 East 20th Street, near Park Avenue South, Flatiron — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

a loaf of blackberry tea cake with lime buttercream
Blackberry tea cake with lime buttercream at Rose Bakery.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Blackberry tea cake with lime buttercream at Rose Bakery

There are so many different fruits in season at the moment, and I inevitably end up buying more than I can eat before they go bad. I tried baking recently to use up all the extra plums, peaches, and various berries hanging out in my fridge but turning on the oven is the last thing I want do during a summer heatwave. Next time, I’ll save my money and go to Rose Bakery, which is tucked inside the first floor of the Dover Street Market. There’s a rotating menu of cakes incorporating seasonal ingredients, and the latest I tried was a reminder that I’m better off leaving the baking duties to the pros. This blackberry tea cake’s ($8) fluffy batter served as a perfect foil for the juicy blackberries. The accompanying swirl of lime buttercream was just enough of a decadent touch for this afternoon treat I’d happily order all summer long. 160 Lexington Avenue, at East 30th Street, Kips Bay — Bao Ong, editor

August 16

A hand squeezes lime juice into a tray of a dozen oysters loaded with chiles and other spices.
A dozen oysters at Tong.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Yum hoy nang rom at Tong

Oyster season — those few, paycheck-defying months in which cravings for sea-salty bivalves reach a fever pitch — is upon us, and for this reporter, sides of Tabasco and lime wedges are non-negotiable. These loaded oysters from Bushwick Thai restaurant Tong, labeled yum hoy nang rom on its menu, bring the best of that preparation together with a mound of zippy lemongrass, sweet chile jam, mint leaf, and crunchy fried shallot. Lime wedges are served on the side and, like most of the fiery Thai dishes here, no hot sauce is needed. A half-dozen of the oysters will set you back $15 (around $2.50 each), coming in at cheaper than many loaded bivalves across the city. 321 Starr Street, between Saint Nicholas and Cypress avenues, Bushwick — Luke Fortney, reporter

A foil-wrapped breakfast burrito cut open and the two halves placed side by side to show the insides with potatoes, cheese, egg, chorizo, and beans.
The chorizo con potato breakfast burrito from Downtown Bakery.
Erika Adams/Eater NY

Chorizo con potato breakfast burrito at Downtown Bakery

I was out on the West Coast visiting family last week, where I kept to a semi-strict morning diet of breakfast burritos and coffee. To ease the transition back into real life yesterday, I huddled up over one of the best breakfast burritos in town, from Downtown Bakery in the East Village. I went for the chorizo con potato version (one of eight breakfast burritos on the expansive menu) that features generous portions of mild chorizo packed in with melty cheese and creamy black beans wrapped up in a soft flour tortilla ($9.50). I drizzled the restaurant’s zingy green hot sauce on all of it and let the joy of vacation memories wash over me with each mouthful. 69 First Avenue, near East Fourth Street, East Village — Erika Adams, reporter

A giant chop with bone sticking out and sliced peppers strewn around.
Broiled pork chop at Park Side.
Robert Sietsema/Eater

Broiled pork chop at Park Side

Founded in the late 1970s, Park Side is not the oldest Italian-American restaurant in town, but it is one of the best, with a level of quality much higher than the last time I visited a decade ago. Located deep in the heart of Corona, not far from the Lemon Ice King, Park Side turns out great baked clams, eggplant rollatini, seafood salad, and penne puttanesca, but the best dish some friends and I tried this weekend was another classic of the genre, an exceedingly broad and thick broiled pork chop ($29.95) littered with vinegary cherry peppers, radiating tart and hot flavors. The chop was thick enough that four were able to enjoy a substantial taste; in fact it seemed impossible that one diner might finish it. 107-01 Corona Avenue, at 51st Avenue, Corona — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Mori soba at Sobaya

Last week, I took an early look at the excellent and tough-to-get-into Sarashina Horii, a Japanese soba spot in Flatiron. Thing is, the differences among soba at various noodle shops are quite subtle, so I dropped by Sobaya to jog my taste memory. No surprises here; the East Village staple continues to put out very good buckwheat noodles. The cold mori soba ($11.75) weren’t quite as complex, in my view, as those at Sarashina, but the noodles still exhibited a nice firmness and a delicate earthiness. Just the same, the tsuyu dipping sauce did what it’s supposed to do: impart just a hint of salt and a solid dose of bonito smokiness before you slurp everything down. For everyday soba in the city, this place, without question, is still my favorite. And for those who like a bit of theatrics, a chef still cuts the buckwheat noodles from a perch in the dining room, letting patrons see that the chief product is quite fresh indeed. 229 East Ninth Street, near Second Avenue, East Village — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

a glass of orange wine
There are more than 100 wines by the glass on the menu at Temperance.
Bao Ong/Eater

Wines by the glass at Temperance

This West Village newcomer sells more than 100 wines by the glass on its menu, and after two visits, I’ve been joking that I plan to check off each one like it’s a drinking game. It doesn’t hurt that I haven’t been pointed in the wrong direction when I give not-very-useful guidance: “I don’t know. It’s too hot today, so probably white? Or maybe rosé? Something mineral-y? A little sweet is fine but not too sweet. Whatever you recommend, really.” Out comes a bottle from Cyprus or a Riesling that’s definitely more dry than sweet. Then you order deviled eggs or the shrimp toast because you start feeling peckish and want to order another glass. It also helps that you just want to hangout in a casual space where drinking wine is fun instead stuffy (after all, there’s a disco ball in one bathroom). So far, I’ve worked my way through four glasses. 40 Carmine Street, between Bleecker and Bedford streets, West Village — Bao Ong, editor

August 9

A pile of glistening salad with tendrils of beef woven throughout.
Laab neua khom at Mao Mao
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Laab neua khom at Mao Mao

One of the best Thai chefs in town, Arada Moonroj of Lamoon, along with owner Jugkrwut Borin, has opened a restaurant just as revolutionary as Ugly Baby was in its early days. Mao Mao, located on the Bed-Stuy side of Brooklyn’s Broadway and now over a year old, is a deep hole in the ground with DJ dance music blasting, Thai products and posters on every surface, a wall projected with Asian sci-fi cinema sans soundtrack, and a light level that would suit a cave-dwelling bat. Ignore these slight distractions and enjoy an amazing range of dishes, including this beef laab flavored with toasted rice powder, purple onion, lime juice, and cow bile, and spicy as hell. No better beverage to wash it down than a selection from Mao Mao’s beer list. 1000 Broadway, at Willoughby Avenue, Bedford-Stuyvesant — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A table full of dishes, including tacos, burritos, and french fries topped with cheese and crema
Tacos, burritos, and french fries at Taqueria Diana.
Luke Fortney/Eater

Rajas super fries at Taqueria Diana

West Coast expats head to Taqueria Diana for its actually good burritos, packed with rice, beans, cheese, and crema in the style of San Francisco’s Mission District. The burritos are not to be missed, but if circumstances allow, split a plate of the restaurant’s “super fries,” a cousin to the carne asada fries of Southern California. Similar to poutine in Quebec or the disco fries of nearby New Jersey, Mexican chefs in San Diego popularized their own loaded french fry dish in the 1990s by topping the fried potatoes with salsa, crema, cheese, and usually steak. Versions of the dish have made their way to New York over the years, but Taqueria Diana serves one of the best this Southern Californian has yet to have. The fries manage to retain their crisp exterior, even while soaking up the juices of carne asada, al pastor, or in our case, cheesy poblano peppers. 367 Metropolitan Avenue, between Havemayer and North Fourth streets, Williamsburg — Luke Fortney, reporter

Pommes Frites at Bar Boulud

Here’s an encouraging sign for the New York City hospitality scene: As Lincoln Center continues to get back on its feet with outdoor shows, patrons are literally spilling out of the nearby restaurants that depend on the performing arts to survive. Rosa Mexicano, Cafe Fiorello, and The Smith all flaunted serious outdoor crowds on a recent Friday, though a companion and I managed to snag one last table at Bar Boulud. It wasn’t a particularly noteworthy meal. We sampled reasonably forgettable hummus and baba ganoush ($20), as well as an overwrought $27 gourmet burger (angus beef, tomato confit, raclette, pork belly) that seemed to fade into generic blandness. But lucky for us, that burger came with a heck of a pile of fries. They were the type of bistro pommes frites that I had gone without for so much of they pandemic: Thin, golden, faintly crisp on the outside and soft within. I spent about 30 minutes or so dunking them in mayo and Tabasco while I sipped on a Nolet’s gin martini. Fries and a strong drink are indeed a near perfect way to spend a summer evening. 1900 Broadway, near Lincoln Plaza, Upper West Side — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

adobada tostada
Adobada tostada at Serrano Salsa.
Bao Ong/Eater

Adobada tostada at Serrano Salsa

It took me a few weeks since moving into my new neighborhood, but I’ve finally found that place New Yorkers keep on speed dial for takeout or that reliable spot you always pass on your way to and from the subway. Serrano Salsa checked off all the boxes: The neon-lit storefront offers affordable, quick, delicious, and hangover-friendly food. I stumbled into this Mexican restaurant one early evening starving — not after a night of overindulging, mind you — and my eyes quickly fixated on the adobada tostada ($4.25). The generous fried tortilla was overflowing with bits of juicy, smoky al pastor, mashed refried beans, crema, several different salsas, and a smattering of herbs. It was filling for a snack and an order of two could easily make up a decent dinner. I got my order to-go, but I was too hungry and ended up scarfing the entire order at a nearby park bench. It was my kind of welcome-to-the-neighborhood moment. 4979 Broadway, between West 211th and 212th streets, Inwood — Bao Ong, editor

August 2

A bowl of noodle soup with shrimp, pork, and fish balls, with broth and chile oil in separate bowls, above.
Cambodian noodle soup at New York Bo Ky.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Cambodian noodle soup at New York Bo Ky

For decades, Bo Ky, at the corner of Mulberry and Bayard, has been the flagship for Teochew restaurants in the city’s Chinatowns — a cuisine originated by Chinese immigrants from Chaosan, many of whom spent generations in Southeast Asia, and have their own versions of dishes from the subcontinent. At this much newer offshoot of Bo Ky that concentrates mainly on noodles, and is located on a block known for its Vietnamese restaurants, a spectacular soup called simply Cambodian noodle ($10) is offered. The rich broth is served on the side, the egg noodles are wiry and chewy, and a wonderful collection of meats and seafood are included: sliced pork, ground pork, deveined big shrimp, and lopsided, delicately flavored fish balls made in-house. Don’t forget to pour in the chile oil. For those who haven’t sampled Cambodian cuisine — which is too rare in New York City — this is a great introduction. 94 Baxter Street, between Canal and Bayard streets, Chinatown — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A blurry photograph of a lone soup dumpling sitting in a bamboo steamer at night
A lone pork soup dumpling at Wei’s.
Luke Fortney/Eater

Pork soup dumplings at Wei’s

“This photo looked much better at 2 a.m. on Friday” is what I thought at 9 a.m. this morning. Late-night dining — like the flash photography it inspires — has made a triumphant comeback in recent weeks, and one of the best bets for an actually good after-hours meal is Wei’s. This fast-moving Chinese restaurant stays open until 2 a.m. most nights and borrows some energy from Williamsburg cocktail bar Black Flamingo, located right across the street. Order a plate of pea shoots for the table and a basket of the restaurant’s succulent pork soup dumplings for yourself ($9). They come six to an order and make for a nourishing way to end, or punctuate, a night out. 145 Borinquen Place, near South First Street, Williamsburg — Luke Fortney, reporter

Three pieces of red-orange fried chicken laid in a black plastic takeout container with red sauce at the bottom of the container
Chili fried chicken from Pecking House.
Erika Adams/Eater

Chili fried chicken meal from Pecking House

I don’t even remember how many months I had to wait for this chicken dinner ($35), but when someone showed up on my doorstep last Friday with a haul of fried chicken and a Tsingtao lager wrapped in a baggie of ice, it didn’t matter anymore. The chicken is as good as promised — the crunchy, crispy crust, layered with Tianjin chilis and Szechuan peppercorn, kept my lips buzzing for an hour — but the three included sides were the sleeper hit of this meal for me. The sliced cucumbers in a cooling, creamy sauce were a spot-on pairing with the chicken, and I inhaled the smoky, savory salad of thick and fluffy butter beans mixed with cilantro and sesame seeds. I might turn around and get back on the waitlist for round two, but, for those who don’t want to wait for delivery: Pecking House just launched weekend outdoor dining at its Queens restaurant. 18523 Union Turnpike, between 185th and 186th streets, Fresh Meadows — Erika Adams, reporter

An overhead photograph of a Korean pancake made with scallion and seafood.
Seafood and green onion pancake at Monkey Noodle Bar.
Bao Ong/Eater NY

Seafood and green onion pancake at Monkey Noodle Bar

There’s always that one person at a Thai restaurant that must order pad thai. When it comes Korean restaurants, I’m that friend who always orders haemul pajeon, even if I do it with a pang of guilt. It feels like the most basic of orders, but at Monkey Noodle Bar, the seafood and green onion pancake ($19.99) was the best rendition of this crowd favorite I’ve tasted in recent memory. Many versions are dense with too much batter and others are too oily. The crisp savory pancake at this new Flushing restaurant is perfect: It’s slightly thicker than a pancake from a diner and the seafood-to-starch ratio is spot on. A server will cut the pancake into triangles tableside and almost each bite includes plump shrimp or octopus with that desirable QQ texture. As my friend and I fought for the last piece, we learned our lesson: When a classic is good, there’s no shame in ordering it every time. 41-27 162nd Street, between Station Road and Sanford Avenue, Flushing — Bao Ong, editor

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