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An overhead photograph of a plate of pepperoni cups next to a side of ranch.
The ’roni cups at Bad Roman.
Bad Roman

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The Dishes That Defined 2023

13 dishes we couldn’t escape in New York this year

Every week for the past year, Eater editors have documented their best dishes, a column in which we tell a short story about a particular item, in a way that often gives us a chance to highlight places that aren’t just new. The dishes that defined 2023 are something different. They’re not necessarily the best or most tasty, but they’re the kind of items that we either saw cropping up all over menus in the city, or singularly at a particular restaurant, that helped define the year in dining out. From hot dogs that crept up to almost $30 to silky poached chicken or patties with more pizzazz than ever.

Ten pepperoni on a plate

Can ten pepperoni cups arranged on a plate be considered a dish? At Bad Roman, the maximalist Italian restaurant, influencers said, “Hell yes, brother.” What you see is what you get: enough pepperoni to fill up a quarter of a pizza, a head-scratching basil sprig, and a small cup of ranch. The dish is one example of a larger trend, where restaurants are deconstructing dishes and singling out their best parts. — LF

A curving frankfurter in a bun.
The $29 hot dog at Mischa.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The $29 hot dog

A hot dog is something you buy from a cart for $2 or so — but like everything else we once loved, this German sausage has come of age and gotten more expensive and complicated. The one at Alex Stupak’s Mischa weighs in at a half pound, has a popping natural skin, costs a whopping $29, gets warmed in rendered tallow, and tastes just like — a really, really, really good garlicky frankfurter. You can ignore its five condiments, except maybe the mellow brown mustard. — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

A hand ladles oxtail sauce onto a mac and cheese beef patty.
The “Dat Mac” patty at Datz Deli.
Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet/Eater NY

Patties with pizzazz

A small deli in Hollis, Queens is responsible for one of the year’s most photographed dishes: a Jamaican beef patty stuffed with American cheese, oxtail, mac and cheese, and gravy. Imitators have popped up in other parts of the city, but the original is at Datz Deli, a Guyanese corner store that now has another location in Manhattan. The small shop spurred a small patty revolution in the city; the flakey Jamaican pastries now come filled with French brandades and Texas-style barbecue. — Luke Fortney, reporter

A hand holds a smash burger with American cheese and onions.
The Oklahoma fried onion burger at Hamburger America.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Regional hamburgers

Right when we thought the smash burgers trend had sputtered, a regional hamburger rolled into town — and became one of the year’s most sought-after dishes. The Oklahoma fried onion burger is the headliner at Soho’s Hamburger America, the new restaurant from “burger scholar” George Motz. It’s also the star of Gotham Burger Social Club, a viral pop-up that’s opening on the Lower East Side early next year. The burgers are made by smashing a ball of beef on the grill, then adding shaved onions that cook in the fat. Throw it on a potato bun with a slice of American cheese, and you have New York’s new favorite burger. — LF

An overhead photograph of steak frites.
The $35 steak frites at Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Inexpensive steak

After a year of inflated menu prices, New Yorkers needed a deal. They got one this fall with Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote. The French chain reopened its Manhattan steakhouse, serving a full meal — steak, frites, salad, and bread — for $35 before tax and tip. In the weeks after the opening, the longest line in Manhattan was the one outside of this restaurant at dinner: Customers waited in the rain and cold for hours. — LF

Watermelon ice with raw scallops peeping out from underneath.
The Hokkaido scallop ceviche comes concealed beneath watermelon granita.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Granita beyond dessert

With all things Italian becoming so popular, of course granita, the Sicilian breakfast treat most often seen in flavors like lemon or coffee, has snuck onto dishes and drinks beyond Sicilian menus. Here at Bangkok Supper Club, medium-size scallops in the Hokkaido scallop ceviche, succulent and slippery, are imported from Japan. So what did chef Max Wittawat decide to do with them? Heap them with watermelon granita, a refreshing reminder of the past summer, and a cooling context for the shellfish. Call it a scallop cleanser, and wonder if more savory course-dessert hybrids are on the way. (You’ll also find granita in the icy tequila granita at Bad Roman and with whey at Cafe Mars.) — RS

Three kinds of organ meats on a round platter.
Assorted soondae at Tosokchon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Next-level offal

I supposed Semma opened the floodgates by serving goat intestines to the general public when it opened in 2021, but this variety of meat proved to have legs, as they say. Most recently, it has been appearing all over Koreatown, with Gopchang Story focusing on the mammalian digestive tract. Now newcomer Tosokchon embraces not only cow intestines, but spleen, lung, tendon, and a particularly delicious blood sausage as well in this dish called assorted soondae. — RS

There are over 20 types of onigirazu at Tokuyamatcha & Onigirazu in the East Village.
Onigirazu at this East Village takeout spot.
Tokuyamatcha & Onigirazu

Onigirazu makes a landing (and draws lines)

It was a good year for these rice-based sandwiches — a cousin to the more omnipresent onigiri — made popular by a Japanese manga series called Cooking Papa by author Tochi Ueyama. In New York, onigirazu has started to become slightly easier to come across at spots like Tokuyamatcha & Onigirazu, where they serve it stuffed with items like umeboshi and boiled eggs to chicken karaage. Its inherent portable nature and affordable price point speak to the moment. So much so, that the Tokuyamatcha & Onigirazu told Eater they’re already looking to sign onto a second location. — Emma Orlow, reporter

An overhead photograph of a white tray of poached chicken with greens and cucumber.
Lou Yau Kee’s cold poached chicken.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Cold poached chicken with care

When executed right, few dishes are as comforting as Hainan chicken. And by no means new to New York’s restaurant scene, this year saw a particular increase in spots that center on the dish: from a stall at Urban Hawker to a cold poached chicken “master” who went off on his own to open Lou Yau Kee in Union Square. Not to mention, the dish was the namesake of Hainan Chicken House in Sunset Park, a newcomer spot that landed on the 2023 Eater NY Awards in the category of the Restaurant Where We’d Be Regulars. — EO

Caviar with dip and chips.
Caviar dip with chips for $95 or $250 at Hoexters on the Upper East Side.

Caviar on everything

Whether you like it or not, caviar has crept into new “neighborhood” restaurants crossing beyond the sectioned-off fancy spots for the ultra-rich. Perhaps no example further cemented this than the $38 potato at Foul Witch with paddlefish roe. Meanwhile, the same restaurant is also serving caviar with persimmons. (There are also more expensive versions of chips and caviar dip for $95 and $250 at the newly opened Upper East Side revival, Hoexters.) Not that caviar-topped items aren’t delicious, but I believe we lose something when luxury goods move from special occasions to every day, though I can see why the bleakness of the world would make that tempting. — EO

Two red heads with gunk inside and antennae protruding.
One of two plates of shrimp at Foxface Natural, with the other containing the tails.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Pricey prawn cocktails

Foxface Natural caused a stir for its two prawns for $28, with multiple emails from the owner as to why the price is justified. It’s not just Foxface that believes customers should pay more for what used to be an accessibly priced classic (served with shrimp). Uptown at Micha, with tax and tip, prawns are $29, while at Le Rock in Rockefeller Center, they’re $27. It makes sense for restaurants: Like caviar, prawns don’t require a ton of labor and they can charge a lot, but it’s interesting that even at those prices, what’s kind of a ho-hum appetizer is seeing a renaissance. — Melissa McCart, editor

Three butters on a slate board.
A trio of butters at Razza in Jersey City.
Melissa McCart/Eater

Fancy butter with showy presentations

Lucky for us, restaurants have been serving better bread for a couple of years now (and often charging for it). Now, 2023 is the year of fancy butter, with restaurants like Libertine and Raf’s (with its Beurre de Baratte from the Loire Valley) upping the city’s butter game. Over in Jersey City, Razza has been offering a cultured butter tasting ($18) with slices of its terrific housemade loaves. In addition to its standard housemade butter, there’s one related to Camembert (called Camembutter), and another related to Roquefort to make its blue butter. — MM

A bowl of dark green broth with fish, chiles, potato slices, and tofu skin.
Fish stew with pickled greens at Nai Brother.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Soup that makes you pucker and sweat

Over the last year, suan cai yu has asserted itself as one of our city’s best soups. The sour and spicy Sichuan stew is made with fish and pickled mustard greens, with room in the bowl for other add-ons, like tofu skin and ramen noodles. It used to be a specialty of Guan Fu, a restaurant in Flushing that closed during the pandemic. Now, it’s the sole focus of a whole slew of spots, including Nai Brother in Long Island City and Noodle Lane in Park Slope. Some of the best versions in town are found in downtown Flushing at Fish With You, a Chinese chain with over 1,000 locations overseas. — LF

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