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Bony hunks of lamb in red oil with chopped red peppers sprinkled all around. Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Mapping the New York Area’s Finest Lamb Dishes

Just in time for spring, Robert Sietsema follows lamb all over the city, finding outstanding Chinese noodles, Syrian kebabs, and lamb burgers

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America has never embraced the sheep the way it has the cow, the pig, and the chicken, and many still avoid it. Indeed, much lamb consumed in the U.S. comes from Australia or New Zealand, where it has been bred to be milder, with a texture like well-marbled steak.

But luckily, we have lots of immigrants and descendants of immigrants who consider lamb, which is the meat of sheep that are one year or younger, the tastiest of meats, preferring more flavor to less. Mutton, which comes from an older sheep, is a harder sell, with a more assertive nature that goes well with stronger stews and curries. Lacking tenderness, mutton demands extensive cooking, and is rarely allowed to stand on its own. What about Keens’s famous mutton chop, you ask? It’s really lamb.

Here now, in answer to William Blake’s poetic question “Little Lamb who made thee,” we offer a map of where to find the best sheepish dishes in NYC and its vicinity. You’ll notice that certain parts of the world, including the Middle East, northern China, Africa, and South and Central Asia, really love lamb, and grab a disproportionate number of points on the map.

An old line engraving of two sheep heads.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Aleppo Kebab at Aleppo Restaurant

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939 Main St
Paterson, NJ 07503
(973) 977-2244

Paterson, New Jersey, a short ride away on the bus from the Port Authority, is a hotbed of Syrian, Lebanese, Turkish, and Palestinian restaurants and bakeries. One of the oldest and most elegant is Aleppo Restaurant, serving the food of one of Syria’s largest cities, hard beset in the current conflict. Its cuisine is a wonderland of lamb, including the signature Aleppo kebab, ground meat laced with tangy, hot Aleppo chiles and cooked over charcoal. It’s served with polished rice, a flatbread, and a small bowl of Aleppo chiles.

Four ground meat kebabs, nicely charred, on a flatbread with gleaming white rice on the side.
Aleppo kebabs come in fours.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

2. Lamb in Peanut Sauce at Balimaya

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2535 3rd Ave.
The Bronx, NY 10451
(718) 401-1122

Balimaya, meaning something like “family,” is a restaurant serving the food of the Ivory Coast and other West African countries. It’s poised just inside Mott Haven on Third Avenue as it sweeps into the Bronx from Manhattan, a very convenient locale for the professional drivers who make up a large part of its clientele. The lamb in peanut sauce is a classic dish in many African countries: big chunks of meat rimmed with fat in a thick peanut sauce. The sauce is made with peanut butter as an inexpensive convenience, but it’s mixed with other flavorings, including palm oil and Scotch bonnet peppers. And if you’re lucky, the lamb will really be mutton, giving it more flavor and a firmer chew. Served with polished white rice in abundance, because a little of the thick sauce goes a long way.

Brown bumpy stew in one container, white rice in the other.
Lamb in peanut sauce
Robert Sietsema/Eater

3. Northwestern-Style Lamb Noodles at the Noodle

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370 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10027
(646) 850-0208
Visit Website

Founded in 2020, this Harlem restaurant — an offshoot of the Handpulled Noodle in Hamilton Heights — offers pastas in several thicknesses and shapes, along with dumplings and other Chinese street snacks. This northwestern Chinese stir-fry features the chain’s extra-thick noodles, dotted with lamb and slicked with a thick, spicy red sauce. Heaped with cilantro, it makes a very agreeable dish.

A hand with chopsticks pull some red noodles dotted with meat and cilantro from a carryout container.
Northwestern style lamb noodles
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

4. Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-Ripped Noodles at Xi'an Famous Foods

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328 E 78th St
New York, NY 10075
(212) 786-2068
Visit Website

Lamb is an important ingredient in Chinese cuisine, particularly in the north and in Sichuan, but you wouldn’t know that by examining most Chinese menus in the city, where pork and chicken hold sway, with more beef than lamb. But Xi’an Famous Foods changed all that, and lamb is the king of the meats there. Check out N1: spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles, based around wide wheat noodles similar to pappardelle, tossed with swatches of tender lamb and napa cabbage in gallons of chile oil gritty with Sichuan peppercorns. This dish will blow the top of your head off, especially if you ask for the highest level of spiciness.

A round white plastic bowl stained red with chile oil, and inside wide noodles and meat.
Wow, these noodles are spicy!
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

5. Spicy Lamb Spines at Szechuan Mountain House

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3916 Prince St g03
Queens, NY 11354
(718) 888-7893
Visit Website

There’s one in the East Village, too, but why not visit the Szechuan Mountain House just off Prince Street in a shopping complex, which is more immersive in its portrayal of Sichuan culture and its place in Chinese gastronomy. Lamb abounds in modern Sichuan cooking, such as this dish of spicy lamb spines, which finds the ovine backbone immersed in chile oil and sprinkled with dried chiles brought to life by the oil. This is a dish for gnawers, and plastic gloves are provided to encourage one to pick up the bones and get to work. You bet it’s spicy, silly!

Bony hunks of lamb in red oil with chopped red peppers sprinkled all around.
Spicy lamb spine, grab a vertebra and gnaw.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

6. Mutton Chop at Keens Steakhouse

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72 W 36th St
New York, NY 10018
(212) 947-3636
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The fabled mutton chop of Keens Steakhouse (previously Keens Chophouse) is made of lamb and not mutton, but that doesn’t explain why it’s so big. The two-inch saddle chop weighs in at 26 ounces, and has a pronounced but mild lamb flavor to distinguish it from the menu’s beefsteaks. Enjoy it in any of the multiple Victorian dining rooms, COVID permitting, or in the barroom of this New York institution, founded in 1885 as part of the theater association confusingly called the Lambs Club, named after drama critic Charles Lamb.

A thick pink chop with a pile of salad in front.
Keens’ fabled mutton chop
Photo: Nick Solares

7. Mutton Dosa at Southern Spice

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1635 Hillside Avenue
New Hyde Park, NY 11040
(516) 216-5448
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Yes, you can wrap something besides potatoes, cashews, and peas in a dosa. At Indian restaurant Southern Spice in New Hyde Park — years ago, it was located in Flushing — you can have a delicious dose of stewed mutton in a dark gravy put in your dosa. Actually, you have to spoon it in yourself, or more elegantly use wads of the flatbread to pick up bites of mutton. Either way, the effect is stunning, with the meaty and minerally flavors tangling with the fermented funk of the wrapper, and the mellow coconut chutney acting like a referee in a prize fight.

A browned pancake in the background with a square bowl of brown stew and dish of white yogurt.
The mutton dosa flies in the face of the typical vegetarian versions.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

8. Lamb Tripe Taco at Cienega Las Tlayudas de Oaxaca

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10432 Corona Ave.
Queens, NY 11368
(718) 255-1643
Visit Website

The lamb tripe taco, with its spongy, wobbly, and crispy bits, will take your breath away. Don’t try to identify the morsels of tripe and other organs represented, along with some lamb barbacoa — just know that they make up a unified and cohesively flavored whole, and then order another. This restaurant deep in Corona, Queens, specializes in Oaxacan tlayudas, which I won’t bother comparing to pizzas. But the regular tacos and especially the tacos placeros are every bit as good as the tlayudas.

A flat glistening tortilla with meat and guacamole, with a lemon wedge on the side.
Lamb tripe taco
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

9. Lamb Burger at Meme Mediterranean

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581 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014

Let’s face it: The Cafe Breslin’s famous lamb burger is usually spoken of as the best in town, thick and juicy and presented with real distinction on a wooden cutting board with a serrated carving knife. That place has been closed since the pandemic and nothing else can quite compete, though this entry in the lamb burger sweepstakes from a little corner cafe in the West Village comes pretty close. The burger is thick and striped from the grill, the tomatoes themselves charred for extra oomph, and a whipped-up gob of feta proves itself better than mayo. The fries that come alongside, a complete necessity where all burgers are concerned, are also very presentable. I wish the burger were on a regular bun instead of a too-crusty baguette — but you can’t have everything.

A burger on a length of baguette, striped from the grill, and with a gob of white stuff on top.
Lamb burger with whipped feta
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

10. Mutton Gongura Curry at Bawarchi Biryani Corner

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839 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306
(201) 610-9900
Visit Website

Multiple are the muttons at this Garden State biryani chain in Jersey City’s India Square, located at the bottom of the hill in a well-furnished corner storefront. Two styles of southern Indian biryani are covered, but you’ll also find many curries from the same region, some relatively rare in the New York City area. One is gongura mutton curry, in which the thick, dark sauce is fortified with a leafy vegetable pickle with a sour and astringent taste. Indispensable to the cooking of the Andhra Pradesh state, gongura is also known as red sorrel or amaranth. Tart flavors explode, matching the powerful barnyard taste of mutton.

A bowl of dark brown-green curry with a basket of flatbreads in the background.
Gongura mutton curry, with a wonderful sour taste
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

11. Chakapuli at Chito Gvrito

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173 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(646) 767-0154
Visit Website

Georgians are big on lamb, beginning with simple char-grilled chops and kebabs, which are available at any Georgian restaurant. But they’re also fond of fresh herbs in much the same way the Persians were, and use handfuls in many recipes, creating greenish and grayish sauces. One dish merging lamb and herbs at this Georgian Gramercy restaurant is chakapuli, a steaming bowl of lamb tidbits with plenty of fat, bitter greens, and tarragon. This herb, also beloved by the French, tastes like licorice while claiming its own separate pungent identity, too. Spoon this stew over rice and wash it down with a really dry Georgian red wine, which are finding greater acceptance on area wine lists.

Brown bits of meat with chopped green leaves in a pale sauce.
Lamb chakapuli, heavy on the tarragon
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

12. Barbacoa Tacos at Oxomoco

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Read Review |
128 Greenpoint Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(646) 688-4180
Visit Website

Hunky, shreddy chunks of lamb grace this pair of tacos, on homemade corn tortillas at this Greenpoint restaurant that was one of the first pricey places to explore the regional cooking of Mexico (and serve cocktails). As if the tacos weren’t beautiful enough in their strong lamb flavor, squash blossoms are heaped atop, along with watercress enough to almost constitute a side salad. A salsa made with the weed-like herb pipicha adds incentive to gobble these things down speedily and with delight.

Two beautiful tacos on on oblong white plate like paintings, with squash flower orangeish on top.
A pair of barbacoa tacos
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

13. Lamb Shawarma Sandwich at Rakka Cafe

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81 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 982-9166
Visit Website

Amazingly, this very modest spot has lingered on St. Marks Place for 35 years, turning out agreeable and inexpensive renditions of Middle Eastern standards with Syrian and Egyptian flourishes. In the context of this article, we’ll turn our attention to the lamb shawarma, cut from the rotating vertical spit with a generous hand and stuffed inside the usual fragile cardboard pita, which can barely contain it. Spoon on the tahini and harissa, the gritty and delicious hot sauce that originated in Tunisia but is eaten in much of the Arab world.

A lamb sandwich in a pita with lettuce and tomato held aloft.
Lamb shawarma sandwich
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

14. Lamb Shank Tajine at Nomad

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78 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 253-5410
Visit Website

Lamb figures in several of the classic Moroccan tajines, which are dishes slow-cooked over a fire, charcoal, or a stove burner in a conical ceramic vessel also called a tajine. The version at the East Village’s Nomad — 20 years ago a Tunisian restaurant, but now one that covers the entire range of North African cooking — a meaty shank is braised with dried prunes and apricots and then sprinkled with almonds, to be eaten with your choice of rice or couscous.

A red clay pot contains a lamb shank, dried fruit, and almonds.
Moroccan lamb tajine
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

15. Lamb Dumplings at Cafe Himalaya

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78 E 1st St
New York, NY 10009
(212) 358-0160
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Vast swaths of Asia are paved with wheaten dumplings, the doughy, thick-skinned staples that are the beating heart of many cuisines. And the most popular often bulge with sheep meat, be it lamb or mutton. The lamb comes from male animals that are killed for food because they can’t produce milk; the mutton from aged sheep whose wool is no longer high quality. Either way, dumplings benefit — as at this much-loved East Village Nepalese, where the dumplings contain only dough, meat, and onions, to be dipped in hot sauce and immeasurably enjoyed.

A plate of dumplings seared on one side with hot sauce on the side.
Nepalese lamb dumplings
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

16. Lamb Mixiotes at La Brujeria

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590 Grand St
Jersey City, NJ 07304
(201) 267-6760
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This new hot-pink taqueria attached to a gas station in Jersey City is the only place in the area that I know of to offer lamb birria, which is a flavor revelation. But an equally impressive use of lamb is in mixiotes, an ancient dish that may have originated in Hidalgo that involves marinating mutton or rabbit in guajillo chiles, garlic, and vinegar and wrapping it in a parchment derived from the maguey cactus. At La Brujeria (“witchcraft”), lamb is instead wrapped in aluminum foil and steamed in beer and dried red chiles. The result is an almost surreal tenderness. Served with rice and pinto beans.

Four big hunks of lamb glisten in a black plastic tray in a lake of red oil.
Lamb mixiotes
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

17. Lamb Pilaf at Caravan Uyghur Cuisine

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200 Water St
New York, NY 10038

The ingredients with which the Uyghur larder is stocked are relatively few — root vegetables, fresh and dried chiles, green herbs, onions, and tons of lamb and mutton — but they are put to spectacular use. Uyghur pilaf, known as plov in Central Asian countries, is here presented in the simplest manner possible: rice flavored with meat juices and sweetened with carrots and cumin, atop of which are placed chunks of tender boiled lamb, an especially appealing combination on a cold day.

Rice and carrots with small chunks of lamb on top.
Uighur pilaf
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

18. Dibi at Joloff

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1168 Bedford Ave #1617
Brooklyn, NY 11216
(718) 230-0523
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Referring to a predominant and historic Senegalese tribe, Joloff has been feeding Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy West African fare in a homely setting for the last 24 years. Lamb is all over the menu, but if you like it simply grilled, the chops called dibi are the right thing for you. The bone-in lamb, with the bone serving as a convenient handle, is smothered in sauteed onions laced with mustard and black pepper, which is a perfect sharp foil to the delicate lamb taste. A salad vinaigrette and polished rice complete the plate.

A few charred chops, bones sticking out, smothered in onions with salad and rice.
Dibi are grilled lamb chops, with an onion relish.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

19. Adana Kebab at Memo Shish Kebab

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1821 Kings Hwy
Brooklyn, NY 11229
(718) 339-8001
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This place has a kick-ass lamb doner kebab — as with its cousins the shawarma and the gyro, the meat is sculpted onto a rotating cylinder with onions and other flavorings, and sliced off before being stuffed in a pita or loaded onto other forms of bread. But why not try one of the cooked-to-order lamb kebabs, such as the adana, formed onto swords from flavored ground lamb and cooked over a flame, making it smokier that the doner kebab? Then, have it plopped on vermicelli rice along with salad material, yogurt, and red chile paste. There’s another branch of Memo in Manhattan, at 23rd and Sixth Avenue, which is also good but not quite as good. Brooklyn itself lends flavor.

A ground lamb kebab broken in half and cradled in off-white somewhat greasy rice.
Have the adana over rice or in a sandwich.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

1. Aleppo Kebab at Aleppo Restaurant

939 Main St, Paterson, NJ 07503
Four ground meat kebabs, nicely charred, on a flatbread with gleaming white rice on the side.
Aleppo kebabs come in fours.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Paterson, New Jersey, a short ride away on the bus from the Port Authority, is a hotbed of Syrian, Lebanese, Turkish, and Palestinian restaurants and bakeries. One of the oldest and most elegant is Aleppo Restaurant, serving the food of one of Syria’s largest cities, hard beset in the current conflict. Its cuisine is a wonderland of lamb, including the signature Aleppo kebab, ground meat laced with tangy, hot Aleppo chiles and cooked over charcoal. It’s served with polished rice, a flatbread, and a small bowl of Aleppo chiles.

939 Main St
Paterson, NJ 07503

2. Lamb in Peanut Sauce at Balimaya

2535 3rd Ave., The Bronx, NY 10451
Brown bumpy stew in one container, white rice in the other.
Lamb in peanut sauce
Robert Sietsema/Eater

Balimaya, meaning something like “family,” is a restaurant serving the food of the Ivory Coast and other West African countries. It’s poised just inside Mott Haven on Third Avenue as it sweeps into the Bronx from Manhattan, a very convenient locale for the professional drivers who make up a large part of its clientele. The lamb in peanut sauce is a classic dish in many African countries: big chunks of meat rimmed with fat in a thick peanut sauce. The sauce is made with peanut butter as an inexpensive convenience, but it’s mixed with other flavorings, including palm oil and Scotch bonnet peppers. And if you’re lucky, the lamb will really be mutton, giving it more flavor and a firmer chew. Served with polished white rice in abundance, because a little of the thick sauce goes a long way.

2535 3rd Ave.
The Bronx, NY 10451

3. Northwestern-Style Lamb Noodles at the Noodle

370 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10027
A hand with chopsticks pull some red noodles dotted with meat and cilantro from a carryout container.
Northwestern style lamb noodles
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Founded in 2020, this Harlem restaurant — an offshoot of the Handpulled Noodle in Hamilton Heights — offers pastas in several thicknesses and shapes, along with dumplings and other Chinese street snacks. This northwestern Chinese stir-fry features the chain’s extra-thick noodles, dotted with lamb and slicked with a thick, spicy red sauce. Heaped with cilantro, it makes a very agreeable dish.

370 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10027

4. Spicy Cumin Lamb Hand-Ripped Noodles at Xi'an Famous Foods

328 E 78th St, New York, NY 10075
A round white plastic bowl stained red with chile oil, and inside wide noodles and meat.
Wow, these noodles are spicy!
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Lamb is an important ingredient in Chinese cuisine, particularly in the north and in Sichuan, but you wouldn’t know that by examining most Chinese menus in the city, where pork and chicken hold sway, with more beef than lamb. But Xi’an Famous Foods changed all that, and lamb is the king of the meats there. Check out N1: spicy cumin lamb hand-ripped noodles, based around wide wheat noodles similar to pappardelle, tossed with swatches of tender lamb and napa cabbage in gallons of chile oil gritty with Sichuan peppercorns. This dish will blow the top of your head off, especially if you ask for the highest level of spiciness.

328 E 78th St
New York, NY 10075

5. Spicy Lamb Spines at Szechuan Mountain House

3916 Prince St g03, Queens, NY 11354
Bony hunks of lamb in red oil with chopped red peppers sprinkled all around.
Spicy lamb spine, grab a vertebra and gnaw.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

There’s one in the East Village, too, but why not visit the Szechuan Mountain House just off Prince Street in a shopping complex, which is more immersive in its portrayal of Sichuan culture and its place in Chinese gastronomy. Lamb abounds in modern Sichuan cooking, such as this dish of spicy lamb spines, which finds the ovine backbone immersed in chile oil and sprinkled with dried chiles brought to life by the oil. This is a dish for gnawers, and plastic gloves are provided to encourage one to pick up the bones and get to work. You bet it’s spicy, silly!

3916 Prince St g03
Queens, NY 11354

6. Mutton Chop at Keens Steakhouse

72 W 36th St, New York, NY 10018
A thick pink chop with a pile of salad in front.
Keens’ fabled mutton chop
Photo: Nick Solares

The fabled mutton chop of Keens Steakhouse (previously Keens Chophouse) is made of lamb and not mutton, but that doesn’t explain why it’s so big. The two-inch saddle chop weighs in at 26 ounces, and has a pronounced but mild lamb flavor to distinguish it from the menu’s beefsteaks. Enjoy it in any of the multiple Victorian dining rooms, COVID permitting, or in the barroom of this New York institution, founded in 1885 as part of the theater association confusingly called the Lambs Club, named after drama critic Charles Lamb.

72 W 36th St
New York, NY 10018

7. Mutton Dosa at Southern Spice

1635 Hillside Avenue, New Hyde Park, NY 11040
A browned pancake in the background with a square bowl of brown stew and dish of white yogurt.
The mutton dosa flies in the face of the typical vegetarian versions.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Yes, you can wrap something besides potatoes, cashews, and peas in a dosa. At Indian restaurant Southern Spice in New Hyde Park — years ago, it was located in Flushing — you can have a delicious dose of stewed mutton in a dark gravy put in your dosa. Actually, you have to spoon it in yourself, or more elegantly use wads of the flatbread to pick up bites of mutton. Either way, the effect is stunning, with the meaty and minerally flavors tangling with the fermented funk of the wrapper, and the mellow coconut chutney acting like a referee in a prize fight.

1635 Hillside Avenue
New Hyde Park, NY 11040

8. Lamb Tripe Taco at Cienega Las Tlayudas de Oaxaca

10432 Corona Ave., Queens, NY 11368
A flat glistening tortilla with meat and guacamole, with a lemon wedge on the side.
Lamb tripe taco
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The lamb tripe taco, with its spongy, wobbly, and crispy bits, will take your breath away. Don’t try to identify the morsels of tripe and other organs represented, along with some lamb barbacoa — just know that they make up a unified and cohesively flavored whole, and then order another. This restaurant deep in Corona, Queens, specializes in Oaxacan tlayudas, which I won’t bother comparing to pizzas. But the regular tacos and especially the tacos placeros are every bit as good as the tlayudas.

10432 Corona Ave.
Queens, NY 11368

9. Lamb Burger at Meme Mediterranean

581 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014
A burger on a length of baguette, striped from the grill, and with a gob of white stuff on top.
Lamb burger with whipped feta
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Let’s face it: The Cafe Breslin’s famous lamb burger is usually spoken of as the best in town, thick and juicy and presented with real distinction on a wooden cutting board with a serrated carving knife. That place has been closed since the pandemic and nothing else can quite compete, though this entry in the lamb burger sweepstakes from a little corner cafe in the West Village comes pretty close. The burger is thick and striped from the grill, the tomatoes themselves charred for extra oomph, and a whipped-up gob of feta proves itself better than mayo. The fries that come alongside, a complete necessity where all burgers are concerned, are also very presentable. I wish the burger were on a regular bun instead of a too-crusty baguette — but you can’t have everything.

581 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014

10. Mutton Gongura Curry at Bawarchi Biryani Corner

839 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ 07306
A bowl of dark brown-green curry with a basket of flatbreads in the background.
Gongura mutton curry, with a wonderful sour taste
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Multiple are the muttons at this Garden State biryani chain in Jersey City’s India Square, located at the bottom of the hill in a well-furnished corner storefront. Two styles of southern Indian biryani are covered, but you’ll also find many curries from the same region, some relatively rare in the New York City area. One is gongura mutton curry, in which the thick, dark sauce is fortified with a leafy vegetable pickle with a sour and astringent taste. Indispensable to the cooking of the Andhra Pradesh state, gongura is also known as red sorrel or amaranth. Tart flavors explode, matching the powerful barnyard taste of mutton.

839 Newark Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07306

11. Chakapuli at Chito Gvrito

173 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10003
Brown bits of meat with chopped green leaves in a pale sauce.
Lamb chakapuli, heavy on the tarragon
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Georgians are big on lamb, beginning with simple char-grilled chops and kebabs, which are available at any Georgian restaurant. But they’re also fond of fresh herbs in much the same way the Persians were, and use handfuls in many recipes, creating greenish and grayish sauces. One dish merging lamb and herbs at this Georgian Gramercy restaurant is chakapuli, a steaming bowl of lamb tidbits with plenty of fat, bitter greens, and tarragon. This herb, also beloved by the French, tastes like licorice while claiming its own separate pungent identity, too. Spoon this stew over rice and wash it down with a really dry Georgian red wine, which are finding greater acceptance on area wine lists.

173 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10003

12. Barbacoa Tacos at Oxomoco

128 Greenpoint Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11222
Read Review |
Two beautiful tacos on on oblong white plate like paintings, with squash flower orangeish on top.
A pair of barbacoa tacos
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Hunky, shreddy chunks of lamb grace this pair of tacos, on homemade corn tortillas at this Greenpoint restaurant that was one of the first pricey places to explore the regional cooking of Mexico (and serve cocktails). As if the tacos weren’t beautiful enough in their strong lamb flavor, squash blossoms are heaped atop, along with watercress enough to almost constitute a side salad. A salsa made with the weed-like herb pipicha adds incentive to gobble these things down speedily and with delight.

128 Greenpoint Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11222

13. Lamb Shawarma Sandwich at Rakka Cafe

81 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003
A lamb sandwich in a pita with lettuce and tomato held aloft.
Lamb shawarma sandwich
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Amazingly, this very modest spot has lingered on St. Marks Place for 35 years, turning out agreeable and inexpensive renditions of Middle Eastern standards with Syrian and Egyptian flourishes. In the context of this article, we’ll turn our attention to the lamb shawarma, cut from the rotating vertical spit with a generous hand and stuffed inside the usual fragile cardboard pita, which can barely contain it. Spoon on the tahini and harissa, the gritty and delicious hot sauce that originated in Tunisia but is eaten in much of the Arab world.

81 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003

14. Lamb Shank Tajine at Nomad

78 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10003
A red clay pot contains a lamb shank, dried fruit, and almonds.
Moroccan lamb tajine
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Lamb figures in several of the classic Moroccan tajines, which are dishes slow-cooked over a fire, charcoal, or a stove burner in a conical ceramic vessel also called a tajine. The version at the East Village’s Nomad — 20 years ago a Tunisian restaurant, but now one that covers the entire range of North African cooking — a meaty shank is braised with dried prunes and apricots and then sprinkled with almonds, to be eaten with your choice of rice or couscous.

78 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003

15. Lamb Dumplings at Cafe Himalaya

78 E 1st St, New York, NY 10009
A plate of dumplings seared on one side with hot sauce on the side.
Nepalese lamb dumplings
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Vast swaths of Asia are paved with wheaten dumplings, the doughy, thick-skinned staples that are the beating heart of many cuisines. And the most popular often bulge with sheep meat, be it lamb or mutton. The lamb comes from male animals that are killed for food because they can’t produce milk; the mutton from aged sheep whose wool is no longer high quality. Either way, dumplings benefit — as at this much-loved East Village Nepalese, where the dumplings contain only dough, meat, and onions, to be dipped in hot sauce and immeasurably enjoyed.

78 E 1st St
New York, NY 10009

Related Maps

16. Lamb Mixiotes at La Brujeria

590 Grand St, Jersey City, NJ 07304
Four big hunks of lamb glisten in a black plastic tray in a lake of red oil.
Lamb mixiotes
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This new hot-pink taqueria attached to a gas station in Jersey City is the only place in the area that I know of to offer lamb birria, which is a flavor revelation. But an equally impressive use of lamb is in mixiotes, an ancient dish that may have originated in Hidalgo that involves marinating mutton or rabbit in guajillo chiles, garlic, and vinegar and wrapping it in a parchment derived from the maguey cactus. At La Brujeria (“witchcraft”), lamb is instead wrapped in aluminum foil and steamed in beer and dried red chiles. The result is an almost surreal tenderness. Served with rice and pinto beans.

590 Grand St
Jersey City, NJ 07304

17. Lamb Pilaf at Caravan Uyghur Cuisine

200 Water St, New York, NY 10038
Rice and carrots with small chunks of lamb on top.
Uighur pilaf
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The ingredients with which the Uyghur larder is stocked are relatively few — root vegetables, fresh and dried chiles, green herbs, onions, and tons of lamb and mutton — but they are put to spectacular use. Uyghur pilaf, known as plov in Central Asian countries, is here presented in the simplest manner possible: rice flavored with meat juices and sweetened with carrots and cumin, atop of which are placed chunks of tender boiled lamb, an especially appealing combination on a cold day.

200 Water St
New York, NY 10038

18. Dibi at Joloff

1168 Bedford Ave #1617, Brooklyn, NY 11216
A few charred chops, bones sticking out, smothered in onions with salad and rice.
Dibi are grilled lamb chops, with an onion relish.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Referring to a predominant and historic Senegalese tribe, Joloff has been feeding Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy West African fare in a homely setting for the last 24 years. Lamb is all over the menu, but if you like it simply grilled, the chops called dibi are the right thing for you. The bone-in lamb, with the bone serving as a convenient handle, is smothered in sauteed onions laced with mustard and black pepper, which is a perfect sharp foil to the delicate lamb taste. A salad vinaigrette and polished rice complete the plate.

1168 Bedford Ave #1617
Brooklyn, NY 11216

19. Adana Kebab at Memo Shish Kebab

1821 Kings Hwy, Brooklyn, NY 11229
A ground lamb kebab broken in half and cradled in off-white somewhat greasy rice.
Have the adana over rice or in a sandwich.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This place has a kick-ass lamb doner kebab — as with its cousins the shawarma and the gyro, the meat is sculpted onto a rotating cylinder with onions and other flavorings, and sliced off before being stuffed in a pita or loaded onto other forms of bread. But why not try one of the cooked-to-order lamb kebabs, such as the adana, formed onto swords from flavored ground lamb and cooked over a flame, making it smokier that the doner kebab? Then, have it plopped on vermicelli rice along with salad material, yogurt, and red chile paste. There’s another branch of Memo in Manhattan, at 23rd and Sixth Avenue, which is also good but not quite as good. Brooklyn itself lends flavor.

1821 Kings Hwy
Brooklyn, NY 11229

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