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Nasi ulum, Peranakan mixed herb rice with dried shrimp, from Kopitiam
Jean Schwarzwalder/Eater

The 38 Essential Restaurants in New York City, Winter 2019

From a perfect Malaysian cafe to a pizzeria with a cult following, here’s where to eat in NYC right now

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Nasi ulum, Peranakan mixed herb rice with dried shrimp, from Kopitiam
| Photo by Jean Schwarzwalder/Eater

Welcome to the Eater 38, an elite collection of restaurants from across the city that define New York City’s dining scene right now — and that will satisfy the restaurant needs for locals and visitors alike: Find an NYC classic as well as a top-notch neighborhood restaurant, mind-numbingly spicy Chinese, and cutting edge Korean fare.

Every quarter, a few restaurants drop out of the list to make room for places that have stepped up their game or have increasing relevance. To warrant inclusion, a restaurant has to have been open for at least six months.

Rather than having a stage-four meltdown over the exclusion of a favorite restaurant from this list, wouldn’t it be more productive to just nominate it for inclusion? And for the newest places that food obsessives are checking out, see the heatmaps for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens.

Added in January 2019: For winter, the 38 is switching out eight restaurants. Greenpoint bistro Chez Ma Tante joins for its simple but thoughtful and creative French-Canadian food. The lively communal dining of Thai restaurant Fish Cheeks comes on for both flavorful food and a bright, inviting scene. The revamped Malaysian cafe Kopitiam, perfect for any meal of the day or even a snack, deservedly gets a spot. Little Italy tapas gem Tomiño, where dishes from Spain’s northwest coast shine, also lands on the 38, as does Bolivian Llama Party, one of the few Bolivian spots in the city. The modern Indian offerings of Rahi bring it to the top, and the obsessive pizzamaking of Ops in Bushwick brings it to the list, too. Finally, Eater NY now welcomes red sauce restaurant Roberto’s, a fine taste of pasta in the Bronx.

To make room, Roberta’s, Wildair, MáLà Project, Uncle Boons, Lilia, Victor’s Cafe, St. Anselm, and Prince Street Pizza — though all still excellent and worthy of a visit — depart the list for now.

Note: Restaurants are listed based on geography, starting with lower Manhattan, then over to the Bronx, then Queens, and down through Brooklyn.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Kopitiam

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151 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002
(646) 609-3785
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Colorful coffee shop and cafe Kopitiam has plenty of seating for a full meal of Malaysian specialties, but since it’s open all day and has tons of smaller options, the Lower East Side spot from chef Kyo Pang and restaurateur Moonlynn Tsai is also ideal for a mid-afternoon snack with coffee. Go for a curry puff, chicken wrapped in pandan leaves, or any of the sweets. For a bigger meal, options include the nasi lemak (coconut rice with fried anchovies) and pan mee (hand-pulled noodle soup in an anchovy broth). Breakfast is available all day, and both the slightly sweet kaya toast and the umami-laced half-boiled eggs are musts. Everything is under $16 at the counter-service restaurant. Closed on Wednesdays.

Jean Schwarzwalder/Eater

2. Xi'an Famous Foods

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45 Bayard St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 786-2068
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Xi’an Famous Foods, which started as a stand in Flushing, now has more than a dozen locations across NYC. But despite its chain status, the family-run restaurant has maintained quality, gaining cult following status for spicy, tacky hand-ripped noodles. The cumin lamb is particularly popular, but the cold-skin noodles come in close second, often selling out on busy days. Though prices range from location to location, a satisfying meal can be had for under $15 at this counter-service restaurant.

Nick Solares/Eater

3. Frenchette

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241 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013
(212) 334-3883
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The everyday French bistro is fresh again at Frenchette, a lively restaurant in Tribeca from the chefs behind mainstays like Balthazar. Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson offer a constantly changing menu with simple yet compelling options like rotisserie lobster, soft scrambled eggs with escargot, and charred carrots. A natural wine list culled by Jorge Riera means that both by-the-glass and bottle lists are worth exploring, too. But a warm room and even warmer service makes Frenchette a modern destination, where downtown dining feels alive. Reservations, or dining in the bar area, are highly recommended, as it gets wildly busy even on weeknights. It’s also now open for lunch and weekend breakfast.

Louise Palmberg/Eater

4. Le Coucou

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138 Lafayette St
New York, NY
(212) 271-4252
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Restaurateur Stephen Starr and chef Daniel Rose take cues from traditional French restaurants, transforming their place into one of the most exciting upscale restaurants in New York. The dining room offers perfect light in a room adorned in stately yet stylish decor. The menu is obvious in its luxuries: Lobster, foie gras, and oysters all make appearances. Also look for dishes like the caviar course and the halibut beurre blanc. For dessert, do not miss the omelette Norvegienne, essentially a baked Alaska. Make a reservation for a special night out.

Nick Solares/Eater

5. Tomiño Taberna Gallega

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192 Grand St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 933-4763
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At Tomiño in Little Italy, tapas come from Galicia, the region in northwest Spain where the empanada was reportedly invented. The menu — created in part by Lucia Freitas, a renowned Galician chef — includes buttery langostinos a la plancha (grilled prawns) and the empanada gallega, which here is a big communal pastry instead of the individual pocket that’s more common in New York. There are interesting entrees, like a roasted cod dish, but the best way to dine here is by going for tapas. 

Amber-Lynn Taber/Eater

6. Katz's Delicatessen

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205 E Houston St
New York, NY
(800) 446-8364
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In more than 125 years, little has changed at Katz's. It remains one of New York's — and the country's — essential Jewish delicatessens. Every inch of the massive Lower East Side space smells intensely of pastrami and rye loaves. The sandwiches are massive, so they are best when shared. Order at the counter, and don't forget to tip the slicer. Get a hot dog while you wait, and don’t lose your ticket.

7. Fish Cheeks

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55 Bond St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 677-2223
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Everything should be shared at Fish Cheeks, a rambunctious and bright restaurant on idyllic Bond Street in Noho that serves high-octane versions of neighborhood Thai dishes. Owners Jenn Saesue and brother chef-team Ohm and Chat Suansilphong offer lots of loud, flavor-packed dishes, including Manila clams doused in sweet basil sauce, hyper-spicy Southern-style curry with crab, and fried chicken wings covered in a chile, lime, and mint powder. The chef’s selection, where an abundance of popular dishes come for $45 per person, is a solid way to try a sampling. Get a cocktail; the Thai-influenced drinks come from Employees Only’s Dev Johnson, and several are available at happy hour for $10.

Fish Cheeks [Official]

8. Atla

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372 Lafayette St
New York, NY 10012
(646) 837-6464
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Mexican cuisine gets a stylish, uber-hip setting at Atla, the highly-acclaimed all-day restaurant in Noho from Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes. Expect a fashionable crowd and lots of light yet flavor-packed dishes, including a split pea tlacoyo, an egg white omelette with zucchini, and an herb guacamole. Fresh juices, coffee, and cocktails are available. The sunny space works well for daytime meetings, as well as late-night snacking. 

Nick Solares/Eater

9. Via Carota

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51 Grove St
New York, NY 10014

West Village Tuscan restaurant Via Carota is a neighborhood place that has turned into a destination — in part due to the simple and rustic, yet always surprising cooking of beloved chefs Rita Sodi and Jody Williams. The menu changes regularly, and everything is worth sharing. Any of the rotating vegetable dishes will be solid orders, as will mainstays of the menu like the homey braised tripe and silky cacio e pepe. Expect to wait at prime times since there are no reservations, and snag a seat outdoors in better weather. It’s particularly great for late-night dining, when the wait will also be slimmer; the full menu is available until midnight on weekdays and 1 a.m. on Thursday through Saturday.

Daniel Krieger/Eater

10. Superiority Burger

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430 E 9th St
New York, NY
(212) 256-1192
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Brooks Headley’s tiny East Village cafe is so much more than a veggie burger spot — it's one of the best restaurants in Lower Manhattan — because he’s shopping for the finest ingredients and offering the same vegetables served at a fine-dining spot for a far more affordable price (most dishes are under $6). In addition to the must-get burger, go Mondays for the fried tofu and Fridays for the focaccia. Do not miss the spectacular gelato and sorbet. There’s not much seating but still worth it.

Nick Solares/Eater

11. Madame Vo

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212 E 10th St
New York, NY 10003
(917) 261-2115
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The narrow East Village space of Madame Vo, with its white brick and cushy banquettes along the wall, is a lively destination for ambitious, homey Vietnamese fare pulled from the experiences of Yen Vo and chef Jimmy Ly. Dig into the pho section, which has several options, but don’t ignore the appetizer and entrees. The bo luc lac, a seared rib-eye, comes out on a sizzling platter a la Chili’s fajitas — except it’s much, much better. Snag a reservation for lunch or dinner to avoid a wait.

Madame Vo/Instagram

12. Momofuku Ssäm Bar

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207 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-3500
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Though superstar chef David Chang doesn’t spend much time in the kitchen at Ssäm anymore, executive chef Max Ng has breathed new life into the menu at the East Village restaurant, adding addictive dishes like spicy shell-on shrimp with Sichuan garlic butter and skate roasted in banana leaf. The greatest hits — pork sausage rice cakes and pork buns — are still there by request, but the restaurant as a whole has grown up as Chang has, with soundproofing and more comfortable seating. It’s also an excellent option for brunch and great for groups, with large format meals available by reservation.

13. Shuko

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47 E 12th St
New York, NY
(212) 228-6088
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Masa alums Nick Kim and Jimmy Lau, the proprietors of Shuko, will serve diners personally at the bar — and the fish is stunning. They’re not afraid to use heat to jolt the palate and take the edge off richness, such as the Thai bird chiles added to a torched tuna sinew. Take note it’s $155 for sushi-only, or $195 for a tasting of composed dishes plus nigiri. Book at the sushi bar, though be warned that late cancellations cost the price of an omakase.

14. Rahi

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60 Greenwich Ave
New York, NY 10011
(212) 373-8900
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Rahi is at the top of a pack of modern Indian newcomers, standing out with its strong flavors and bright decor. Ubiquitous dishes such as chicken tikka masala don’t make appearances on the menu from chef Chintan Pandya; instead find chicken leg cooked in banana leaf with basmati rice and Kerala coconut curry sauce or housemade paneer in a five-chili sauce with guava compote. Cocktails similarly employ Indian ingredients, and the wine list complements the spicy fare. A long bar and several murals complete the downtown hangout vibes in the Greenwich Village space. Primetime reservations are available, and the full menu is available at the bar.

15. Los Tacos No. 1

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75 9th Ave
New York, NY
(212) 256-0343
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While this isn’t the most relaxing or comfortable place on the Eater 38 — it’s in Chelsea Market, with too few seats and long lines — there’s good reason to visit: It’s where you’ll find some of the city’s best tacos asada, adobado, pollo, or nopal. Flour tortillas here are just as good as the corn ones. There’s also a location near Times Square. Don’t forget the chips and guacamole.

Los Tacos No. 1/Facebook

16. Nur

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34 E 20th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 505-3420
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Nur’s Flatiron space is a sleek backdrop to the cooking of Meir Adoni, a Moroccan-Israeli chef who made his name with an empire of restaurants in Tel Aviv. Here in New York, though, the menu pulls from all over the Middle East and North Africa, with flavors that are more traditional in Libya, Yemen, and Syria showing up in the collection of eclectic small plates, too. Wines and cocktails are also sourced from the area. On the rotating menu, the Jerusalem sesame bagel and a scallop sashimi with Persian lemon powder may be options. It’s ideal for a date night out. 

Jenny G. Zhang/Eater

17. Cote Korean Steakhouse

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16 W 22nd St
New York, NY 10010
(212) 401-7986
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Cote is one of New York’s most exciting restaurants, bringing a version of Korean barbecue that pulls elements from classic New York steakhouses. Owner Simon Kim and chef David Shim earned a Michelin star for their slightly sceney and upscale version of classic Korean barbecue, which employs dry-aged meats. First-timers will want the Butcher’s Feast, a $52-per-person option with four cuts of beef, banchan, egg souffle, spicy kimchi stew, and a soft serve dessert. Repeat visitors will want to experiment with variations on funky beef, which are dry-aged in a room downstairs. Reservations are recommended.

Daniel Krieger/Eater

18. Sullivan Street Bakery

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236 9th Ave
New York, NY 10011
(212) 929-5900
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Jim Lahey’s pioneering breads make this a must-visit for a take-home loaf and a quick espresso. Or stay awhile and order a breakfast sandwich like the verdura with eggs and seasonal vegetables, or a ceci sandwich — chickpea fritters with cucumber, red pepper, onion, basil, and more. Don’t miss the bomboloni, the most underrated doughnuts in the city.

Sullivan Street Bakery/Facebook

19. Her Name is Han

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17 E 31st St
New York, NY 10016
(212) 779-9990
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Korean soul food gets a modern edge at Her Name is Han, a stylish Midtown restaurant from Kihyun Lee’s Hand restaurant group. Go for an on-point rendition of bulgogi, which arrives perfectly-seared with slightly crunchy edges, and yangnyeom gejang, a spicy raw crab. The budae jjigae, a stew with Spam, hot dogs, rice cakes, and kimchi beef broth, is also a rich, comforting order for the table. A rotating selection of banchan come with every meal. The restaurant also offers some solid lunch specials, though it only takes cash midday. Waits can be more than an hour for weekend dinner, but there’s a hotel two doors down with a decent bar.

Gary He/Eater

20. The Grill

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99 E 52nd St
New York, NY 10022
(212) 375-9001
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Major Food Group’s revamp of the historic Four Seasons space — one of the few landmarked interiors in the city — will be worth visiting for the stunning room alone, but the group also makes a meal there feel like a lively, theatric, and delicious ode to midcentury New York chophouses. Visit the Midtown bar for a drink just to check things out, and for a splurge dinner with a see-and-be-seen vibe, book a reservation well in advance. Chef Mario Carbone’s standouts include the prime rib, pheasant Claiborne, and pasta a la presse, a dish where the server first comes to the table to dramatically squeeze juice out of duck bones using an antique press.

Gary He/Eater

21. Torishin

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362 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 757-0108
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In Japan, yakitori — or chicken skewers grilled over charcoal — is a popular street food, but at Torishin in Hell’s Kitchen, a whole chicken gets broken down into a finer dining experience. Open in NYC since 2007, it’s a Michelin-starred chicken skewer restaurant currently helmed by chef Atsushi Kono, where its take on less-ubiquitous parts of the chicken like the knee, main artery, and heart is renowned. First-timers should go for the omakase, which at $70 is one of the more affordable tasting menus in the city.

Nick Solares/Eater

22. Bolivian Llama Party

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1000 S 8th Ave Suite 5.5 Underground @ the corner of 57th st and, 8th Ave
New York, NY 10019
(347) 395-5481
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Bolivian Llama Party — the tiny counter-service stall inside the Columbus Circle subway station — is one of the few places in New York to offer the hearty cuisine of Bolivia, from the minds of brothers Alex, Patrick, and David Oropeza. The right move is the salteña — a plump pastry pocket with a thick, sweet exterior and a soupy filling. Bite off the tip, suck out all the gelatinous broth, and then eat the chicken and egg-rich dregs ($8). Drizzle on the in-house hot sauce to add a kick. Also look out for the garlic chicken and bacon sandwich.

Nick Solares/Eater

23. Charles' Country Pan Fried Chicken

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2461 Frederick Douglass Blvd
New York, NY 10027
(212) 281-1800

Chef Charles Gabriel started his Harlem soul food institution out of his house then moved onto a food truck, and finally to a storefront. The latest rendition of the restaurant is in a more prominent location, though he continues to serve the same tender, crispy chicken cooked in a cast-iron pan that pushed him into the limelight. This new outpost is still humble, with a menu above the counter and cafeteria-style ordering, but also, thankfully, has more seating.

Charles’ Country Pan Fried Chicken/Yelp

24. Roberto's

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603 Crescent Ave
Bronx, NY 10458
(718) 733-9503
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Bronx favorite Roberto’s has been around for more than two decades, serving chef Roberto Pacuillo’s Italian American cooking. Any of the cartoccio pastas — cooked in foil on the grill — are worth ordering, like a fusilli with clams, mussels, shrimp, and tomatoes. Rabbit, too, is another specialty of the chef’s. But when visiting the romantic and old-school space, be sure to check the chalkboard of specials, which tend to best anything on the regular menu.

Roberto’s/Facebook

25. Gregory's 26 Corner Taverna

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26-02 23rd Ave
Long Island City, NY 11105
(718) 777-5511

Gregory’s 26 Corner Taverna has been dishing out homey, traditional Greek cooking in Astoria for years, always with a friendly demeanor. Everything from grilled lamb chops to the Greek salad are solid options, and fish — which comes fried or grilled — is a particularly smart order. Entrees stay under $30, with many options under $20. The petite restaurant with red-and-white checkered tablecloths also has a few outdoor tables in warmer weather. 

Robert Sietsema/Eater

26. Szechuan Mountain House

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3916 Prince St G03
Flushing, NY 11354
(718) 888-7893
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In a town obsessed with the numbing spice of Sichuan cuisine, Szechuan Mountain House stands out for its menu innovation and its attention to decor. Classics like mapo tofu and twice-cooked pork will be pristine, but as will less ubiquitous dishes like a pork belly option where poached slices hang over a dowel. Go for a stew, and be prepared to wait, although not as long as they might quote. There’s also an East Village location on St. Mark’s, a level up from the street.

Jean Schwarzwalder/Eater

27. Cheburechnaya

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9209 63rd Dr Ste A
Flushing, NY
(718) 897-9080
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Cheburechnaya is tucked in a no-frills dining room that offers kosher Uzbek dishes like chebureki, deep fried turnovers bursting with potatoes and meat, rice pilaf, and lamb kebabs grilled over a charcoal trough. Don’t miss the borscht as well as lagman with handmade, irregular-shaped noodles, beef, and plenty of dill.

Stefanie Tuder/Eater

28. Chez Ma Tante

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90 Calyer St
Brooklyn, NY 11222
(718) 389-3606
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Chez Ma Tante, housed in a spare but warm space on a Greenpoint corner, is French-Canadian bistro that delivers on clean yet flavorful cooking, with just enough of an edge to warrant repeat visits. In practice, that means the ever-changing menu from Aidan O’Neal and Jake Leiber offers both a pig’s head terrine and a caesar salad, or chicken liver pate ahead of an on-point chicken confit. The drink list, too, is thoughtful, with reasonably priced wine bottles. It’s also popular for brunch, when craggy pancakes are the must-order. Prime-time dinner reservations are available, and there’s bar seating, too.

Stephen Yang/Eater

29. Marlow & Sons

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81 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 384-1441
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Marlow & Sons has a lively dining room in the back and a sunny cafe in the front serving excellent pastries and great coffee. On the menu, there are oysters and the famous brick chicken, as well as rustic, seasonal specials. Like its next-door sibling Diner, Marlow & Sons from restaurateur Andrew Tarlow has had an influence that extends far beyond its Williamsburg neighborhood — helping to establish Brooklyn as a seasonal-obsessed, rustically decorated dining destination.

30. Peter Luger Steak House

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178 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 387-7400
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Peter Luger was founded in 1887 when Williamsburg was a city onto itself, and some say Luger is the greatest steakhouse in the world. Even if that’s an overstatement, the steaks are damn good, especially the signature dry-aged prime porterhouse, which flies from the kitchen sizzling and already sliced. Don’t miss the bacon appetizer or lunch-only hamburger either, in these bare-bones and charmingly antique premises.

Nick Solares/Eater

31. Win Son

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159 Graham Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11206
(347) 457-6010
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This casual, lively restaurant on an unassuming corner of East Williamsburg delivers some of the most exciting food in New York right now. Owners Josh Ku and chef Trigg Brown use classic Taiwanese cuisine as a base for the menu, but don’t expect tradition here. Marinated cucumbers reach levels of umami bliss with the addition of mullet roe, and a fluffy, fried egg-coated scallion pancake arrives stuffed with beef tartare. Also worth ordering: Win Son’s version of pork-over-rice classic lu rou fan and the breakfast of champions, a cocktail with rum, peanut milk, black sesame, and lots of toasted coconut shavings. Try brunch, too.

Gary He/Eater

32. Ops

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346 Himrod St
Brooklyn, NY 11237
(718) 386-4009
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Bushwick pizzeria Ops is compact in both dining room size and menu, but the sourdough crust — made with a custom blend with whole wheat flour from upstate New York — has made its Neapolitan-ish pies a favorite of pizza obsessives in the city. Options include a basically perfect marinara or one with guanciale and onions, accompanied by a tight cocktail, wine, and beer list that caps out at $13 a drink. Specials, like a calzone, stand-out as well. Keep in mind that gratuity is already included in prices.

Bill Addison/Eater

33. Olmsted

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659 Vanderbilt Ave
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 552-2610
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Chef Greg Baxtrom — formerly of fine dining stalwarts like Blue Hill and Alinea — has crafted a dining destination with the look and service of a neighborhood restaurant. A backyard garden both supplies the Prospect Heights restaurant with fresh ingredients and acts as a charming spot to wait for a table. The menu, which is quirky and often earnest, constantly evolves, but signatures like the carrot crepe and frozen yogurt dessert are frequently on deck. It now also offers brunch with an equally creative menu, though expect wild wait times. Mondays are walk-ins only.

Nick Solares/Eater

34. Peppa's

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738 Flatbush Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11226
(917) 673-6225

Some of the city’s best jerk chicken can be found in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens at take-out spot Peppa’s Jerk Chicken. Gavin Hussey has perfected his own recipe over the last two decades and started slinging the perfectly spiced, perfectly charred bird at Peppa’s on Flatbush in 2004. Add a couple festivals (long sticks of fried dough) to an order of chicken, and bring it to nearby Prospect Park for a picnic. Peppa’s also has a second location in Crown Heights with a few seats and delivery, and an outpost in Flatbush.

Louise Palmberg/Eater

35. La Vara

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268 Clinton St
Brooklyn, NY
(718) 422-0065
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Tucked into a tree-lined residential street in Cobble Hill, La Vara is one of the city’s best Iberian spots. Chefs Alex Raij and Eder Montero tip their hats to the Moorish and Sephardic traditions of Spain, serving up coriander and cumin-spiced half chickens, spreadable Menocrcan sausages with honey foam, and suckling pig with rose petal quince sauce. Be sure to book well ahead, as bar seating can command waits in excess of 90 minutes on a weekend.

La Vara/Yelp

36. Claro

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284 3rd Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(347) 721-3126
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Oaxacan food has yet to become ubiquitous in NYC, and at Claro in Gowanus, chef T.J. Steele puts a decidedly New York — and widely acclaimed — spin on the cuisine. Go for one of the rich, smooth moles or any of the memelas, a flatbread topped with options like pork rib and cheese or chorizo. The yellowfin tostada, a crisp tortilla loaded with fresh raw tuna and bright blood orange, is also a standout. The dimly lit restaurant with both indoor and outdoor space is good for dates or other intimate dinners. Brunch is available as well. Prime time reservations are available, and there’s bar seating, too.

37. Ugly Baby

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407 Smith St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(347) 689-3075
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Brace for heat at Ugly Baby, a 25-seat restaurant in Carroll Gardens from chef Sirichai Sreparplarn that dishes out Thai fare at levels not often found in NYC. Dishes like the khao soi nuer, a curry soup with egg noodles and beef shank, and the laab ped udon, a duck salad, will light up the insides without sacrificing on flavor. Cool off with tue ka ko, fried coconut milk cakes, or something from the ambitious wine and beer list. Expect a wait at prime time; Other Half Brewing down the street is a decent place to hang.

38. Hometown Bar-B-Que

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454 Van Brunt St
Brooklyn, NY
(347) 294-4644
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Barbecue aficionados agree that Billy Durney is cooking up some of the best Texas-style barbecue in the city. Straightforward classics like smoked brisket and baby back ribs are always a strong choice, but there are also options like pork belly tacos and a lamb belly banh mi. The Red Hook space is sprawling in a way that feels like the real deal, and Durney himself can usually be found working the room, keeping a watchful eye on the smoking meats. It's counter service only, and there's often a line. But for the scene and certainly for the meat, it's easily worth the trip.

1. Kopitiam

151 E Broadway, New York, NY 10002
Jean Schwarzwalder/Eater

Colorful coffee shop and cafe Kopitiam has plenty of seating for a full meal of Malaysian specialties, but since it’s open all day and has tons of smaller options, the Lower East Side spot from chef Kyo Pang and restaurateur Moonlynn Tsai is also ideal for a mid-afternoon snack with coffee. Go for a curry puff, chicken wrapped in pandan leaves, or any of the sweets. For a bigger meal, options include the nasi lemak (coconut rice with fried anchovies) and pan mee (hand-pulled noodle soup in an anchovy broth). Breakfast is available all day, and both the slightly sweet kaya toast and the umami-laced half-boiled eggs are musts. Everything is under $16 at the counter-service restaurant. Closed on Wednesdays.

151 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002

2. Xi'an Famous Foods

45 Bayard St, New York, NY 10013
Nick Solares/Eater

Xi’an Famous Foods, which started as a stand in Flushing, now has more than a dozen locations across NYC. But despite its chain status, the family-run restaurant has maintained quality, gaining cult following status for spicy, tacky hand-ripped noodles. The cumin lamb is particularly popular, but the cold-skin noodles come in close second, often selling out on busy days. Though prices range from location to location, a satisfying meal can be had for under $15 at this counter-service restaurant.

45 Bayard St
New York, NY 10013

3. Frenchette

241 W Broadway, New York, NY 10013
Read Review |
Louise Palmberg/Eater

The everyday French bistro is fresh again at Frenchette, a lively restaurant in Tribeca from the chefs behind mainstays like Balthazar. Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson offer a constantly changing menu with simple yet compelling options like rotisserie lobster, soft scrambled eggs with escargot, and charred carrots. A natural wine list culled by Jorge Riera means that both by-the-glass and bottle lists are worth exploring, too. But a warm room and even warmer service makes Frenchette a modern destination, where downtown dining feels alive. Reservations, or dining in the bar area, are highly recommended, as it gets wildly busy even on weeknights. It’s also now open for lunch and weekend breakfast.

241 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013

4. Le Coucou

138 Lafayette St, New York, NY
Read Review |
Nick Solares/Eater

Restaurateur Stephen Starr and chef Daniel Rose take cues from traditional French restaurants, transforming their place into one of the most exciting upscale restaurants in New York. The dining room offers perfect light in a room adorned in stately yet stylish decor. The menu is obvious in its luxuries: Lobster, foie gras, and oysters all make appearances. Also look for dishes like the caviar course and the halibut beurre blanc. For dessert, do not miss the omelette Norvegienne, essentially a baked Alaska. Make a reservation for a special night out.

138 Lafayette St
New York, NY

5. Tomiño Taberna Gallega

192 Grand St, New York, NY 10013
Amber-Lynn Taber/Eater

At Tomiño in Little Italy, tapas come from Galicia, the region in northwest Spain where the empanada was reportedly invented. The menu — created in part by Lucia Freitas, a renowned Galician chef — includes buttery langostinos a la plancha (grilled prawns) and the empanada gallega, which here is a big communal pastry instead of the individual pocket that’s more common in New York. There are interesting entrees, like a roasted cod dish, but the best way to dine here is by going for tapas. 

192 Grand St
New York, NY 10013

6. Katz's Delicatessen

205 E Houston St, New York, NY