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Hometown Bar-B-Que
Hometown Bar-B-Que’s lamb belly banh mi
Nick Solares

19 Distinctive Lamb Dishes to Try in NYC

Mutton chops, spicy skewers, and late-night shawarma await

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Hometown Bar-B-Que’s lamb belly banh mi
| Nick Solares

Lamb is a luxury, but select New York City restaurants have found ways to utilize the meat in top-notch dishes that aren’t hideously expensive. Here’s where to dig into the ultimate lamb experiences around the city.

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After more than a decade slinging affordable and homey Greek dishes to Upper West Siders, chef Michael Psilakis’s Kefi closed its space only to be revived in smaller digs. The clean-lined restaurant is still a neighborhood standby for, among other things, a hearty — and well-priced at $19.95 — lamb burger. The gamey meat is tempered by a cooling salad and spicy whipped feta.

Kefi Photo via Kefi/Facebook

Kebab Empire

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The no-frills, takeout-friendly Kebab Empire delivers all kinds of meat-on-a-stick options, bringing the flavors of the primarily Muslim Uighurs in China and Central Asia to a lunch-fiending stretch of Midtown. Lamb gets a starring role in exceptional kebabs dotted with cumin and served over tortilla-like flatbread. There’s an additional Flushing location.

Kebab Empire Ryan Sutton

This brightly lit box of a space in Flushing serves dishes nodding to the Dongbei area of northeastern China. Middle Eastern influences abound, particularly in “Muslim lamb chops,” which arrive perfectly cooked under a covering of cumin seeds.

Uncle Gussy's

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The days of Halal Guys serving lamb in their gyro platters are sadly over, but Uncle Gussy’s tricked-out Greek food truck in Midtown still mixes beef and lamb in its gyro. The moist meat is available in a filling pita, an even more filling rice platter, or the aptly named Hercules plate that includes fries and pita. Cash only.

Uncle Gussy’s
Uncle Gussy’s
Jade D./Yelp

Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan

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This Flushing outpost from the team behind the Grand Sichuan chain serves fiery Hunan cuisine within its dramatic red-hued design scheme, which includes pop art-style portraits of Mao Zedong, who hailed from the province. Lamb rubbed in cumin comes in a neat pile tossed with greens and onions for a taste of faraway mountainous life.

Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan
Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan
Nicholas C./Yelp

Keens Steakhouse

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The word “mutton” no doubt still throws off customers tucking into this dark-hued, historic steakhouse, opened in 1885 in the armpit of Manhattan near Penn Station. These days, it’s really just the more familiar and younger lamb, though Keens buys meat from slightly older animals than most places. Dig into that slightly funky cut under the pipe-decorated ceiling, along with the pork fat-drenched wedge salad, raw oysters, and hash browns.

A mutton chop on a white plate with salad, surrounded by a knife and fork on a white tableclothed table. Nick Solares

Kish-Kash

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Taïm mastermind Einat Admony continues her Middle Eastern food revolution in New York with the recently opened Kish-Kash, which focuses on undersung couscous that’s made from scratch in a laborious process. The sunny, tile-filled West Village space turns out slow-cooked lamb over the fine semolina grain. Eater critic Robert Sietsema says it’s “simultaneously chewy and tender.”

Kish-Kash Photo by Gary He

Berber Street Food

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Berber, a new 15-seat counter-service operation in Greenwich Village, is intended to reflect chef Diana Tandia’s African roots as well as the continent’s influence around the world. It’s hard to deny the global appeal of her leg of lamb, marinated overnight in a spice blend including harissa and roasted for four hours, then served with couscous and topped with a smattering of red onion.

Roasted leg of lamb and couscous Photo by Alex Staniloff

Xi'an Famous Foods

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With a dozen mostly takeout-oriented locations, this restaurant named for the city in northwestern China has come a long way from its start as a small Flushing stand. But it remains most famous for its juicy lamb seasoned with cumin and given a peppery kick, used in bun-like “burgers” as well as the sublime hand-pulled noodles, which come out with an al dente bite and slicked with chile-flecked oil. Get both, available here and at additional locations around the city.

Cafe Mogador

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This raucous Moroccan spot in the East Village draws a young, hip crowd devouring Middle Eastern standards as well as its coveted tagine. The fragrant stew is available with various meats and sauces, but lamb with the spicy green chermoula sauce never fails, especially when blanketed with couscous. There’s an additional Williamsburg location.

Cafe Mogador
Cafe Mogador
Mengying Y./Yelp

Named for the clay pots dangling from its ceiling, Pylos zeroes in on homey Greek cuisine that goes way beyond wraps. Skip the overly sweet braised lamb shank and order the lamb chops, oozing with juices and accompanied by dainty potatoes.

Pylos Robert Sietsema

Locanda Verde

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Andrew Carmellini’s airy, perpetually stylish Tribeca joint is as beloved for its renditions of Italian classics as for evolved diner standards like lemon ricotta pancakes. It finds the right balance of homey and adventurous in lamb meatballs dressed with goat’s milk cheese and pickles and tucked into sliders. Enjoy the souped-up bar food at the restaurant’s elegant long bar.

Locanda Verde
Locanda Verde
Nikkie N./Yelp

Chef Missy Robbins of the shuttered A Voce has found a new wave in her constantly booked, subtly refined Williamsburg Italian den Lilia. Pasta is the point here, and silky fettuccine gets a flavorful boost from powerfully spiced lamb sausage.

A sunny, white-walled restaurant interior with a bar and stools on the right side and tables set up against a banquette on the left side. Nick Solares

St. Anselm

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Small, ambitious, and perpetually packed steakhouse St. Anselm focuses equally on several types of meat. Beyond the popular hanger steak, a hulking lamb saddle is crisp on the outside and tender inside, with just the right amount of gristle and fat. Pan-fried mashed potatoes are an ideal side.

The wood-paneled dining room at St. Anselm sits empty. Photo via St. Anselm

Young Xinjiang BBQ Cart

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It’s worth tracking down one of Xinjiang’s roving carts in Flushing and Chinatown to get its prized skewers. Along with numerous other offerings, the lamb is nicely crisp on the outside and tender inside, coated with a dusting of cumin-heavy spice. Cash only.

Xinjiang BBQ Cart’s cumin lamb skewers Serena Dai

Bushwick Pita Palace

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New York is teeming with late-night shawarma options, but few bring the attention to detail to the Middle Eastern staple of Bushwick Pita Palace. Skip the ho-hum, oddly popular Mexican offerings at this counter-service Brooklyn shop and instead opt for the supremely moist spit-roasted lamb, which the gregarious staff loads up with all the fixings in a pita.

Bushwick Pita Palace
Bushwick Pita Palace
Jason S./Yelp

EastWick

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On a stretch of East Williamsburg bordering on Bushwick, Eastwick executes reliable American dishes with a tinge of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavor in a woody, comfortable room. The generously sized lamb burger, a steal at $16, has a piquant spice blend and comes with a harissa-based dip as well as fries or a side salad.

EastWick
EastWick
Lucy T./Yelp

Hometown Bar-B-Que

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Too many barbecue joints, especially those in New York, steer clear of more interesting possibilities in favor of tradition when smoking meat. Somehow on a quiet stretch of Red Hook, Hometown still brings in droves for its lamb belly, served from a counter in the warehouse-like space. It comes unadorned, slightly pink, and lying in a shallow pool of its own fat. It’s also available in a banh mi-style sandwich.

Hometown Bar-B-Que
Hometown Bar-B-Que
Nick Solares

Nargis Cafe

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Nargis delivers Uzbek and Russian specialties in a proper, charming sit-down restaurant. In addition to compulsively eatable dumplings, lamb skewers are generously portioned and get a perfect char. There’s an additional Park Slope location.

Nargis Gary He/Eater

Kefi

After more than a decade slinging affordable and homey Greek dishes to Upper West Siders, chef Michael Psilakis’s Kefi closed its space only to be revived in smaller digs. The clean-lined restaurant is still a neighborhood standby for, among other things, a hearty — and well-priced at $19.95 — lamb burger. The gamey meat is tempered by a cooling salad and spicy whipped feta.

Kefi Photo via Kefi/Facebook

Kebab Empire

The no-frills, takeout-friendly Kebab Empire delivers all kinds of meat-on-a-stick options, bringing the flavors of the primarily Muslim Uighurs in China and Central Asia to a lunch-fiending stretch of Midtown. Lamb gets a starring role in exceptional kebabs dotted with cumin and served over tortilla-like flatbread. There’s an additional Flushing location.

Kebab Empire Ryan Sutton

Fu Run

This brightly lit box of a space in Flushing serves dishes nodding to the Dongbei area of northeastern China. Middle Eastern influences abound, particularly in “Muslim lamb chops,” which arrive perfectly cooked under a covering of cumin seeds.

Uncle Gussy's

The days of Halal Guys serving lamb in their gyro platters are sadly over, but Uncle Gussy’s tricked-out Greek food truck in Midtown still mixes beef and lamb in its gyro. The moist meat is available in a filling pita, an even more filling rice platter, or the aptly named Hercules plate that includes fries and pita. Cash only.

Uncle Gussy’s
Uncle Gussy’s
Jade D./Yelp

Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan

This Flushing outpost from the team behind the Grand Sichuan chain serves fiery Hunan cuisine within its dramatic red-hued design scheme, which includes pop art-style portraits of Mao Zedong, who hailed from the province. Lamb rubbed in cumin comes in a neat pile tossed with greens and onions for a taste of faraway mountainous life.

Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan
Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan
Nicholas C./Yelp

Keens Steakhouse

The word “mutton” no doubt still throws off customers tucking into this dark-hued, historic steakhouse, opened in 1885 in the armpit of Manhattan near Penn Station. These days, it’s really just the more familiar and younger lamb, though Keens buys meat from slightly older animals than most places. Dig into that slightly funky cut under the pipe-decorated ceiling, along with the pork fat-drenched wedge salad, raw oysters, and hash browns.

A mutton chop on a white plate with salad, surrounded by a knife and fork on a white tableclothed table. Nick Solares

Kish-Kash

Taïm mastermind Einat Admony continues her Middle Eastern food revolution in New York with the recently opened Kish-Kash, which focuses on undersung couscous that’s made from scratch in a laborious process. The sunny, tile-filled West Village space turns out slow-cooked lamb over the fine semolina grain. Eater critic Robert Sietsema says it’s “simultaneously chewy and tender.”

Kish-Kash Photo by Gary He

Berber Street Food

Berber, a new 15-seat counter-service operation in Greenwich Village, is intended to reflect chef Diana Tandia’s African roots as well as the continent’s influence around the world. It’s hard to deny the global appeal of her leg of lamb, marinated overnight in a spice blend including harissa and roasted for four hours, then served with couscous and topped with a smattering of red onion.

Roasted leg of lamb and couscous Photo by Alex Staniloff

Xi'an Famous Foods

With a dozen mostly takeout-oriented locations, this restaurant named for the city in northwestern China has come a long way from its start as a small Flushing stand. But it remains most famous for its juicy lamb seasoned with cumin and given a peppery kick, used in bun-like “burgers” as well as the sublime hand-pulled noodles, which come out with an al dente bite and slicked with chile-flecked oil. Get both, available here and at additional locations around the city.

Cafe Mogador

This raucous Moroccan spot in the East Village draws a young, hip crowd devouring Middle Eastern standards as well as its coveted tagine. The fragrant stew is available with various meats and sauces, but lamb with the spicy green chermoula sauce never fails, especially when blanketed with couscous. There’s an additional Williamsburg location.

Cafe Mogador
Cafe Mogador
Mengying Y./Yelp

Pylos

Named for the clay pots dangling from its ceiling, Pylos zeroes in on homey Greek cuisine that goes way beyond wraps. Skip the overly sweet braised lamb shank and order the lamb chops, oozing with juices and accompanied by dainty potatoes.

Pylos Robert Sietsema

Locanda Verde

Andrew Carmellini’s airy, perpetually stylish Tribeca joint is as beloved for its renditions of Italian classics as for evolved diner standards like lemon ricotta pancakes. It finds the right balance of homey and adventurous in lamb meatballs dressed with goat’s milk cheese and pickles and tucked into sliders. Enjoy the souped-up bar food at the restaurant’s elegant long bar.

Locanda Verde
Locanda Verde
Nikkie N./Yelp

Lilia

Chef Missy Robbins of the shuttered A Voce has found a new wave in her constantly booked, subtly refined Williamsburg Italian den Lilia. Pasta is the point here, and silky fettuccine gets a flavorful boost from powerfully spiced lamb sausage.

A sunny, white-walled restaurant interior with a bar and stools on the right side and tables set up against a banquette on the left side. Nick Solares

St. Anselm

Small, ambitious, and perpetually packed steakhouse St. Anselm focuses equally on several types of meat. Beyond the popular hanger steak, a hulking lamb saddle is crisp on the outside and tender inside, with just the right amount of gristle and fat. Pan-fried mashed potatoes are an ideal side.

The wood-paneled dining room at St. Anselm sits empty. Photo via St. Anselm

Young Xinjiang BBQ Cart

It’s worth tracking down one of Xinjiang’s roving carts in Flushing and Chinatown to get its prized skewers. Along with numerous other offerings, the lamb is nicely crisp on the outside and tender inside, coated with a dusting of cumin-heavy spice. Cash only.

Xinjiang BBQ Cart’s cumin lamb skewers Serena Dai

Related Maps

Bushwick Pita Palace

New York is teeming with late-night shawarma options, but few bring the attention to detail to the Middle Eastern staple of Bushwick Pita Palace. Skip the ho-hum, oddly popular Mexican offerings at this counter-service Brooklyn shop and instead opt for the supremely moist spit-roasted lamb, which the gregarious staff loads up with all the fixings in a pita.

Bushwick Pita Palace
Bushwick Pita Palace
Jason S./Yelp

EastWick

On a stretch of East Williamsburg bordering on Bushwick, Eastwick executes reliable American dishes with a tinge of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavor in a woody, comfortable room. The generously sized lamb burger, a steal at $16, has a piquant spice blend and comes with a harissa-based dip as well as fries or a side salad.

EastWick
EastWick
Lucy T./Yelp

Hometown Bar-B-Que

Too many barbecue joints, especially those in New York, steer clear of more interesting possibilities in favor of tradition when smoking meat. Somehow on a quiet stretch of Red Hook, Hometown still brings in droves for its lamb belly, served from a counter in the warehouse-like space. It comes unadorned, slightly pink, and lying in a shallow pool of its own fat. It’s also available in a banh mi-style sandwich.

Hometown Bar-B-Que
Hometown Bar-B-Que
Nick Solares

Nargis Cafe

Nargis delivers Uzbek and Russian specialties in a proper, charming sit-down restaurant. In addition to compulsively eatable dumplings, lamb skewers are generously portioned and get a perfect char. There’s an additional Park Slope location.

Nargis Gary He/Eater

Related Maps