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a red saucey plate of beans in a terracotta pot sits next to a colorful mezze platter on a tan table.
A selection of dishes at Palestinian restaurant Al Badawi in Brooklyn Heights.
Adam Friedlander/Eater NY

The 38 Essential Restaurants in New York City

From an exciting Palestinian restaurant in Brooklyn Heights to a Caribbean bakery in the Bronx, here’s where to eat in NYC right now

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A selection of dishes at Palestinian restaurant Al Badawi in Brooklyn Heights.
| Adam Friedlander/Eater NY

It’s the simplest and most difficult question to answer whether it’s coming from a lifelong New Yorker or an out-of-town visitor: “Which restaurant should I check out in NYC?” The type of cuisine, price point, outdoor dining options, the neighborhood, and occasion are just a few factors to consider. Luckily, there are countless options in the five boroughs — and on Eater New York’s map of 38 stellar restaurants, which we update quarterly. This curated list of venues now includes a food truck and even one heralded pizzeria in New Jersey. We’ve also added newly eligible restaurants (Eater 38 venues have to be open for six months, or thereabouts, before they merit inclusion) that aim to capture the diversity of NYC’s offerings.

We also recognize this list is subjective and NYC’s dining scene is constantly changing. If you have a favorite, let us know. For the newest places that food obsessives are checking out, see the heatmaps for Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Removal from the Eater 38 does not mean a restaurant isn’t still awesome and won’t return in the future.

Added in April 2022: Al Badawi, Saga, CheLi, Mel, Kingston Tropical, Shuko, and Playground. To make room, Blue Willow, Ayat, Sushi Noz, Indian Table, Soothr, Haenyeo, and Winner, while all worth visiting, are leaving the list for now.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Kingston Tropical Bakery

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4000 White Plains Rd
Bronx, NY 10466
(718) 798-0076

Some of the city’s best Caribbean baked goods are found at this Bronx bakery steps from the end of the 2 subway line. Kingston Tropical has been at it since 1970, the yellow awning above its doorway proclaims, and indeed, this bakery has been making its patties using roughly the same mix of thyme, Scotch bonnet peppers, and ground beef for the last half-century. Other Caribbean food businesses have since joined it in the neighborhood — Paul’s Caribbean Bakery, a half mile up White Plains Road, and Champion Bakery, a block over — but demand for these smooth, crescent-shaped patties is enough that it’s not uncommon for all three businesses to draw a crowd. While there, be sure to try the restaurant’s meatloaf, chunks of stewed, pleasantly funky beef tucked into a fluffy piece of coco bread.

A person enters the front door of Kingston Tropical Bakery, a Jamaican bakery in the Bronx.
Outside Kingston Tropical Bakery in Wakefield.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

2. Liebman’s Deli

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552 W 235th St
Bronx, NY 10463
(718) 548-4534
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Our dwindling supply of Jewish delis luckily includes a few outliers, which have survived partly due to their obscure locations free from the usual challenges of NYC real estate and gentrification. Riverdale’s Liebman’s is one such case. It was founded in 1953 by Joe Liebman and the decor is pure 1950s. So slide into one of the blue Naugahyde booths and enjoy pastrami or corned beef cured on the premises, a hot dog topped with potato salad, or one of Liebman’s signature round knishes.

The glass window of a storefront with neon letters that read: “Liebman’s Delicatessen, Caterers.”
Outside of Liebman’s Deli in Riverdale.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

3. Africa Kine

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2267 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
New York, NY 10027
(212) 666-9400
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Africa Kine has been open in NYC since 1996, run in various locations by founders Kine and Samba Niang, who grew up in Dakar. It moved north a few years ago into a more compact space, with a menu paradoxically larger than the original. Included are such Senegalese mainstays as thiebu djen (stuffed fish and vegetables over joloff rice), mafe (lamb or chicken in a peanut sauce), and yassa (chicken or fish in a lemon and onion confit), mainly available at lunchtime. At dinner, expect shrimp skewers, grilled leg of lamb, fish balls in tomato sauce, and baked fish.

A plate of stuffed fish and vegetables over red joloff rice at Africa Kine.
The thiebu djen at Africa Kine.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

4. Hudson Smokehouse

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37 Bruckner Blvd
Bronx, NY 10454
(718) 872-7742
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The South Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven is exploding with restaurants lately, and one of the most remarkable is Hudson Smokehouse. It’s remarkable not only because of the range of barbecue styles it presents on its playful menu, but also because of its dedication to extensively smoking the meat using lots of wood. The brisket is a case in point, but so are the spare ribs, chorizo, and pork belly burnt ends. The premises doubles as a spacious beer garden featuring local brews, with indoor and outdoor areas.

Thickly stacked barbecued brisket overflows from a small bun.
Hudson Smokehouse’s brisket sandwich.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

5. Bánh Vietnamese Shop House

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942 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024
(917) 639-3151
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NYC’s Vietnamese food scene has drastically changed — for the better, no doubt — over the past five years or so. It’s no longer just about pho and banh mi (though we can never get enough of those staple items). A new wave of restaurants are serving lesser-seen dishes, at least for many Americans, such as the glutinous banh chung chien, or fried, crispy rice cakes, and brothy bun rieu, a tomato, crab, and pork soup, at this Upper West Side newcomer. There are plenty of classic Vietnamese sandwiches and noodle soups, as well, but the smaller plates steal the show. (Plates change often, so for those looking for a specific dish, check the menu beforehand.)

A rice cake on top of a sesame cracker laid on a plate with colorful toppings piled on top of the rice cake. A dipping bowl with sauce is set nearby. Both dishes are set on a light wooden table.
Banh dap, a central Vietnamese street food.
Rachel Vanni/Eater NY

6. Ruta Oaxaca Mexican Cuisine

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35-03 Broadway
Queens, NY 11106
(929) 349-1228
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The complex, historic moles of Oaxaca have garnered much attention in New York City over the past decade, but never have they seen such a comprehensive treatment as at Ruta Oaxaca. Heralded by a hot pink outdoor structure, this Astoria restaurant specializes in moles prepared in shades of yellow, green, scarlet, and dark brown, and offers mezcal and tequila flights at several price points. The restaurant serves its food on festive plating that might make you feel like you’re vacationing on the beach or in the Sierra Madre del Sur.

Four square browned pastries with salad and brown sauce on top.
Oaxacan bunuelos are a showcase for the state’s black mole.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

7. Golden Palace Gourmet

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140-09 Cherry Ave
Queens, NY 11355
(718) 886-4383
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The provinces in China’s extreme northeast are sometimes known as Dongbei, and the food shows many influences that reflect the region’s early industrialization, including Korean and European ones. This wonderful restaurant makes many of its own dishes from scratch, including shredded and fermented cabbage, and loamy blood sausage, incorporated into platters and hot pots. Unexpected starches abound, including steaming bowls of sorghum and loaves of cornbread.

Pork cabbage cakes lined up on a white platter at Golden Palace Gourmet in Flushing.
Pork cabbage cakes from Golden Palace Gourmet.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

8. Mariscos El Submarino

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8805 Roosevelt Ave
Queens, NY 11372
(718) 685-2780
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The cauldrons of seafood at Mariscos El Submarino are proof that ceviche season can be year-round if you know where to look. Owners Amy Hernandez and Alonso Guzman opened this Jackson Heights storefront in 2020, known as much for its mustached submarine mascot as its generous ceviches served with tostadas and saltines on the side. Order the aguachile negro, a dramatic preparation more than capable of feeding two and packed with shrimp, octopus, and avocado in a molcajete seasoned with a touch of soy sauce.

The aguachile negro at Mariscos El Submarino in Jackson Heights comes served out of a hulking molcajete.
The aguachile negro comes served out of a hulking molcajete.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

9. Birria-Landia

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77-99 Roosevelt Ave
Queens, NY 11372
(347) 283-2162
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Birria has long captivated cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are closer to the dish’s home state of Jalisco, Mexico. Now New York City is having its own moment, and for many, their first taste of the fat-slicked, brick-red meat was on a disposable plate from the cult-favorite Birria-Landia. Run by brothers José and Jesús Moreno, the Jackson Heights truck is often credited with putting birria on the city’s radar, and vendors slinging versions of the dish made with cheese, oxtail, and lamb have since popped up across the city. Order one of everything on the menu, including a large consomé for dunking your tacos.

A corn tortilla is dipped into rendered beef fat, giving it an orange hue. Several other tortillas wait on the grill next to it.
Birria-Landia’s tortillas are dipped in beef fat before heading on the grill.
Christian Rodriguez/Eater NY

10. Nepali Bhanchha Ghar

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74-15 Roosevelt Ave
Queens, NY 11372
(917) 745-0533
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Nepali Bhanchha Ghar was opened by Yamuna Shres in 2015 and has quickly cemented itself as one of the city’s most essential restaurants. Shres’ casual restaurant joins a number of Nepali restaurants that have opened in Queens, specializing, among other dishes, in the unctuous delight of momos. Here, the dumplings are served fried or steamed in a glistening tomato-based sauce stuffed with potato, paneer, goat, shrimp, beef, or chicken. Note: no alcohol is served on premises, but diners are usually busy sipping up all the savory juices anyhow. There’s no wonder that Bhanchha Ghar has won the Jackson Heights Momo Crawl multiple years in a row.

11. Playground

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71-30 Roosevelt Ave
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
(718) 779-7912

Located within walking distance from a spate of Thai restaurants in the neighborhood, Playground is a beloved veteran among Woodside’s prolific Thai scene.

Squeeze in along the single, long row of tables — if there’s an available seat — and dive into an expansive menu highlighting Thai plates that are lesser seen in New York, including a crispy, crunchy, curried rice croquette salad tossed with preserved pork, and pad hoy lai, a pile of shucked clams tossed in a chili oil with subtle heat that builds on each bite. For those who time the outing just right, there’s a daily happy hour with $4 bottles of Thai beer, and lychee and pineapple cocktails for under $10. Cash only.

A mound of crispy rice, chilis, and other vegetables on a white plate with a spoon to the left.
Playground’s curried rice croquette salad with preserved pork.
Erika Adams/Eater NY

12. Bread & Salt

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435 Palisade Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07307
(201) 500-7338
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It’s a fact of life that while New York has some of the country’s best pizza, some of New York’s best pizza happens to be located in New Jersey. Razza is one fine example, another is Rick Easton’s Bread & Salt, which sells Roman-style al taglio slices in Jersey City Heights. Expect tart, umami-rich tomatoes, ultra-milky mozzarella, and bread whose crispness and airiness sometimes bears more resemblance to a good croissant than a typical slice of pizza. Weekend takeout only.

Two slices of pizza facing the opposite direction with red tomatoes, and yellow cheese.
Slices of pepperoni pizza from Bread & Salt.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

13. Jua

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36 E 22nd St
New York, NY 10010
(646) 590-1598
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Chef Hoyoung Kim spent eight years working at Jungsik in Tribeca, the tasting menu spot that helped thrust modern Korean fare into the New York spotlight. Shortly before the pandemic, he striked out on his own with Jua, an excellent wood-fired restaurant in Flatiron. For $130, diners experience seven precise courses, including intricate banchan, delicate caviar kim, jook, and hotteok dessert pancakes. It’s an expensive meal, but it’s a much more affordable alternative to the tasting menus at Michelin-starred Korean restaurants Atomix or Jungsik.

An order piece of sliced duck is arranged on a granite plate in a low-lit photograph.
Sliced duck at Jua.
Dan Ahn/Jua

14. Bolivian Llama Party

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Read Review |
44-14 48th Ave
Queens, NY 11377
(347) 370-9102
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Bolivian food is already rare enough in New York, but the Oropeza brothers have achieved an even unlikelier feat during the pandemic: They’ve taken their fast-casual sandwich and salteña concept and transformed it into a proper sit-down restaurant with more ambitious composed dishes. Bolivian Llama Party, located in the old Mi Bolivia space, offers silpancho (pounded and fried beef cutlet), fricase (spicy pork soup), chola pork sandwiches, and a stunner of a vegan jackfruit sandwich. All the classic salteñas — Bolivian soup empanadas — are available here too. Outdoor only, self-service dining.

A crowd of diners sits at a large table at Bolivian Llama Party; the old Mi Bolivia sign hangs above the storefront
A crowd of diners outside of Bolivian Llama Party in Sunnyside.
Gary He/Eater NY

15. Shuko

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47 E 12th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 228-6088
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As $400 omakases increasingly become the norm throughout Manhattan, Shuko remains a slightly more approachable outlier, a place to splurge on a sushi dinner without spending a grand on dinner for two. Nik Kim and Jimmy Lau continue to put out a serious selection of small plates — including caviar with toro tartare — and nigiri sushi for $228 before tax and tip. Supplemental add-ons include spicy trout handrolls ($28), charcoal-seared tuna belly ($28), and caviar handrolls ($120).

A slice of pink fatty tuna, marbled with fat, sits over a small mound of rice
A slice of pink fatty tuna at Shuko.
Daniel Krieger/Eater NY

16. Yellow Rose

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102 3rd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 529-8880
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One of the most consistent restaurants recommendations among Eater NY staffers is this restaurant devoted to the Lone Star state. With its playful interiors, affordable prices, and always-fun environment, Krystiana and Dave Rizo’s Yellow Rose is a no-brainer pick. There are always daily-changing specials with something new to find on each visit. That said, we’ll always be partial to the San Antonio-style tacos on offer — made with fresh, handmade flour tortillas that Eater critic Ryan Sutton called “otherworldly.” — are best enjoyed with a cherry coke and a side of vegan queso.

An overhead photograph of chips and tacos made with corn and flour tortillas at Yellow Rose.
Tacos strewn out on flour and corn tortillas at Yellow Rose.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

17. NY Dosas

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50 Washington Square S
New York, NY 10012
(917) 710-2092
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For nearly two decades, Thiru Kumar has been serving up some of the best dosas New York City has to offer, still attracting lines even during the pandemic. Kumar’s dosas — crepe-like creations made of rice and lentils — are particularly fluffy, compared to some of the crisper options in the city, and it’s nearly impossible to go wrong on the food cart’s tiny menu. The Pondicherry special, stuffed with spicy potatoes and fresh vegetables, is a surefire hit, but equally good are Kumar’s pancake-style uthappams and samosas. Closed Sundays.

A white paper plate placed on a wooden bench with a dosa on it, a green cilantro sauce, a samosa, and a red sauce in a plastic cup.
A dosa and samosa from NY Dosas.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

18. CheLi

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19 St Marks Pl
New York, NY 10003
(646) 858-1866
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NYC’s roster of Chinese restaurants includes plenty of reliable options spanning regional cooking that includes Sichuan, Cantonese, Hunanese, and even Shandong. But for Shanghainese fare, CheLi has emerged as the most popular (and acclaimed) destination where the menu goes beyond soup dumplings. Eater critic Robert Sietsema praised the delicate drunken crab poached in rice wine, fork-tender pork belly braised with abalone, and a number of the fish courses steeped in fiery chile-laced sauces. The restaurant’s interior, which looks like a cross between a dining room inside an imperial palace and an old movie set, is dotted with paper lanterns, clay pots, and bamboo rafters — a fitting stage for any type of Chinese cooking.

A red crab looks up at you with its beady eyes, with a violet on top.
Drunken crab at CheLi.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

19. Dame

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87 MacDougal St
New York, NY 10012
(929) 367-7370
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You’d be forgiven if images of stuffiness come to mind at the mention of a small-plates seafood restaurant holding court next to hyped-up cocktail bar Dante on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. But at Dame, owners Patricia Howard and Ed Szymanski, who is also the chef, have worked hard to sidestep pretentious pitfalls and open a small-plates seafood restaurant — rooted in Szymanski’s English background — that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s nothing precious about the menu here: Curlicues of squid are skewered and splashed in parsley oil, a humble cucumber salad dotted with meaty mussels was one of Eater critic Ryan Sutton’s favorite dishes of 2021, and the restaurant’s crispy fish and chips practically have their own fan club.

A colorful spread of dishes and cocktails laid out on a table
The fish and chips (right) among other dishes at Dame.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

20. Taqueria Ramirez

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94 Franklin St
Brooklyn, NY 11222

Blowtorched tripe or cactus with chicharron? Longaniza on its own or mixed with suadero? These aren’t the type of questions New Yorkers are used to asking themselves in north Brooklyn, especially not on a residential side street of Greenpoint, but standing at the counter of Taqueria Ramirez, their answers are obvious: Order one of everything. This small taqueria with an even smaller menu — six items, most days — opened last summer, becoming an immediate hit for its tacos filled with stewed meats plucked from a bubbling choricera. There are a couple seats inside the restaurant, but if the weather allows, there are few better meals than the ones enjoyed here while standing with a plate of these tacos right out front.

A gloved hand holds a tortilla filled with suadero and crumbled longaniza meat
Crumbly longaniza sausage is spooned from a choricera.
Adam Friedlander/Eater NY

21. Cadence

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122 E 7th St
New York, NY 10009
(833) 328-4588
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At one of restaurateur Ravi DeRossi’s most talked about ventures to date, Shenarri Freeman leads the kitchen with a vegan menu that puts her own twist on Black southern cooking. Freeman has impressed diners with her Southern fried lasagna (stuffed with a meatless red wine Bolognese), a crab cake made of hearts of palm, and a not-to-miss maple cornbread. The Virginia native is offering creative, comforting flavors that are helping define a new era of vegan dining in New York.

A white bowl with two pieces of fried lasagna atop some marinara sauce.
Fried lasagna at Cadence.
Overthrow Hospitality

22. Dhamaka

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119 Delancey St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 204-8616
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Roni Mazumdar and chef-owner Chintan Pandya continue with their streak of modern Indian hits, building on the success of the tandoor-centric Adda with Dhamaka, located in the Lower East Side’s Essex Market. The venue is dedicated to brilliant and often blazingly spicy regional dishes not frequently seen on local South Asian menus. Expect excellent preparations like ragda pattice, a potato patty with sweet tamarind chutney and green chile; gurda kapoora, a stew of goat kidneys and testicles meant for mopping up with soft pao bread; rich paneer methi, the farmer’s cheese enriched by cashew cream; and goat neck biryani, whose incendiary heat levels require one to eat pomegranate-topped yogurt to free the tongue from pain.

An overview shot of various Indian dishes in colorful plates at the restaurant Dhamaka.
Various dishes from Dhamaka.
Adam Friedlander/Eater NY

23. Mel

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1 Ludlow St
New York, NY 10002
(917) 382-0278
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 In a city teeming with bakeries, it is an impressive feat to find one in particular that many New Yorkers find themselves daydreaming about. What sets Mel apart from its competitors is its emphasis on quality. The bakery, led by Nora Allen, offers a selection of bread loaves — such as its stunning marbled purple sweet potato country loaf — using artisanal grains, milled on site. Likewise, the bakery has several pastries always on offer that range from cinnamon rolls with candied citrus, pistachio-filled croissants, or rye chocolate chip cookies. Stop by in the morning before all the goodies are gone and bring them nearby to people watch in Seward Park.

A close-up shot of yellow croissants stuffed with ham and cheese on a sheet pan.
Ham and cheese croissants at Mel.
Margay Kaplan/Mel

24. Wu's Wonton King

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165 E Broadway
New York, NY 10002
(212) 477-1111
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This Cantonese favorite holds court on a stretch of East Broadway that’s now home to a handful of hip restaurants with trendy menus of natural wine and small plates where diners are surrounded by plants. But Wu’s Wonton King adheres to a different formula that’s more common in Chinatown: glistening roast ducks line the front window and there’s often a crisp suckling pig ready to be carved for one table. Whether it’s a Lunar New Year gathering or a weekend lunch, Wu’s seems to cater to any occasion. The Dungeness crabs are popular but orders of wonton noodle soup, congee, snow-pea leaves, and a selection of barbecue, from ribs to steamed chicken, are also crowd-favorites. If you want to bring along a bottle of that natty wine, Wu’s is also known for its BYO policy.

A bowl of congee with crullers seen in the background.
Congee from Wu’s Wonton King.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

25. The Four Horsemen

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295 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 599-4900
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The wave of natural wine bar openings was just around the corner when LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy first opened the Four Horsemen in 2015. Today, the always-packed bar and dining room is still one of the best spots in town for good reason: It’s a place where diners can sip on a glass of fun pet-nat and find Michelin-worthy plates. It’s rare for a wine bar to hit a home run with both its drink and food menus, but this Williamsburg favorite strikes the right balance by creating a place where wine lovers, a see-and-be-seen fashion crowd, Francophiles, and restaurant enthusiasts can all sit elbow-to-elbow.

A spread of food and wine from the Four Horsemen.
A spread of food and wine from the Four Horsemen.
The Four Horsemen

26. Golden Diner

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123 Madison St
New York, NY 10002
(917) 472-7800
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Momofuku veteran Samuel Yoo runs this cozy, comforting spot in Two Bridges, where a relaxed vibe belies a menu that’s punching way above a typical diner’s weight class. Egg sandwiches feature a crisp, golden hash brown patty on a sesame scallion milk bun; a griddled tuna melt on rye bread boasts a layer of crunchy salt and vinegar chips; and pastrami-spiced portobello mushrooms are stuffed into quesadillas. Round out any order with a generous square of green tea coffee cake.

The chicken katsu club on a plate at a table inside Golden Diner.
The chicken katsu club at Golden Diner.
Joyce Kim/Golden Diner

27. L'Industrie Pizzeria

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254 S 2nd St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 599-0002
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Massimo Laveglia’s naturally-leavened slice shop, which opened in 2017, underwent a major expansion last spring, debuting an indoor counter space and a serious outdoor dining area. The net result is that this neighborhood institution now boasts some of the comforts of a proper sit-down restaurant, except with a menu that pretty much remains pizza-only. But what pizza it is, with chewy crusts nearly as thin as matzoh. Expect a selection of 10 or so slices, including a serious burrata slice, juxtaposing tart tomato sauce with cool, creamy dairy. Do not miss whatever soft-serve gelato is on tap for the day.

Slices with burrata, pepperoni, basil and other toppings from L’Industrie.
Slices with burrata, pepperoni, basil and other toppings from L’Industrie.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

28. Falansai

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112 Harrison Pl
Brooklyn, NY 11237
(718) 381-0980
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Bushwick has emerged as one of Brooklyn’s premier dining destinations in recent years, a neighborhood where upcoming chefs can test inventive restaurant concepts at a fraction of the cost in rent. Anchoring the dining scene is Falansai, a Vietnamese restaurant that changed its owner — but not its name — amid the pandemic. Chef Eric Tran, an alum of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, is now helming the kitchen, and his Vietnamese cooking is inflected with distinct American and Mexican touches, like avocados stuffed into spring rolls and rice cracked paired with chicken liver brûlée.

A spread of dishes at Falansai, including chicken skewers, a fish head, a beef spring roll, and assorted condiments.
A spread of dishes at Falansai.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

29. Saga

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70 Pine St 63rd Floor
New York, NY 10005
(212) 339-3963
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Restaurateur Jeff Katz and chef Chef James Kent have joined forces again for this tasting menu sequel to Crown Shy, located on the 63rd floor of the Art Deco 70 Pine building. The $245 menu normally begins with pre-dinner cocktails on a terrace with panoramic nighttime views of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Then you move inside for a modern European meal with occasional Japanese, Latin-American, and North African influences. Expect dishes like fluke six ways (ceviche, rolled into a shiso leaf, bruleed as a tiny chop), egg custard with caviar, and a large format duck with harissa aioli and m’smen flatbread. Head further upstairs afterwards for more cocktails (and views) at Overstory.

Assorted fluke preparations, in green shiso wrappers, in scallop shells, and in pastry shells, sit on a two-tiered platter
Assorted fluke preparations at SAGA.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

30. Bunna Cafe

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1084 Flushing Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11237
(347) 295-2227
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Bunna Cafe doubles as one of NYC’s best vegan and Ethiopian restaurants. Started as a pop-up by owners Sam Saverance and Liyuw Ayalew in 2011, the Bushwick restaurant become known for its warm, welcoming vibes, as diners chat over shared plates of lentil and vegetable preparations served atop injera, a thin and savory fermented flatbread. Don’t skip out on the Ethiopian coffee and the selection of cocktails here, either.

31. Gage & Tollner

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372 Fulton St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(347) 689-3677
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A revival more than two years in the making, Brooklyn institution Gage & Tollner — from restaurateurs Sohui Kim, Ben Schneider, and St. John Frizell — has been well worth the wait. Grab a martini at the bar and settle in for a parade of nostalgic New York fine dining staples like shrimp cocktails, oysters Rockefeller, and hulking ribeye steaks. Cap off the meal with a photogenic baked Alaska, from star pastry chef Caroline Schiff.

An ornate indoor dining room, with a white countertop bar to the left and tables set for the service to the right.
The revival of Gage & Tollner is equal parts nostalgia and innovation.
Alex Staniloff/Eater NY

32. Al Badawi

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151 Atlantic Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 689-5888
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Al Badawi opened last November, a follow-up to its Palestinian restaurant sibling Ayat, which opened to critical acclaim the year prior. For his new venture, Abdul Elenani teamed up with Yemen Cafe owner Akram Nassir. The menus at both spots overlap in many instances, but Al Badawi’s kitchen and seat count in general is much more sprawling, allowing the Brooklyn Heights venture to be more ambitious. The menu includes mezze platters, kebabs, rice platters like the ouzi beef, and several flatbreads like a pistachio-and-cheese version. Ingredients, where possible, are sourced directly from Palestinian farmers but Elenani also has his own farm in New Jersey, where he produces his halal lamb and beef for his menu.

Three flatbreads with various meats are presented on metal round platters.
A shawarma flatbread at Al Badawi.
Adam Friedlander/Eater NY

33. A&A Bake Doubles and Roti

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1337 Fulton St
Brooklyn, NY 11216
(347) 425-0016

There’s often a line snaking toward the door at this Bed-Stuy institution, where customers are lured in by the spicy-and-sweet smell of fried doubles. The traditional Trinidadian breakfast item — which are perfect anytime of the day, really — features a fluffy fried flatbread brimming with curried chickpeas. The owners, Noel and Geeta Brown, opened their shop in 2002 and won a James Beard Award in 2019 — a nod to the Trini specialties and the neighborhood’s rich Caribbean history.

A close-up shot of a hand holding doubles.
Fried stuffed doubles from A&A Bake Doubles and Roti.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

34. Peppa's

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738 Flatbush Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11226
(646) 683-6012

Some of the city’s best jerk chicken can be found in Prospect Lefferts Gardens at take-out spot Peppa’s Jerk Chicken. Owner 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 Avenue in 2004. Be sure to add a few fried festivals to an order, and ask for an extra side of oxtail gravy. Peppa’s has additional locations in Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush, and the Lower East Side.

Many cuts of jerk chicken laid on the grill with flames shooting up and a hand squeezing sauce over top of the chicken.
Peppa’s flame-licked jerk chicken.
Louise Palmberg/Eater NY

35. Chuan Tian Xia

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5502 7th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(929) 295-0128
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When it comes to Sichuan fare, family-owned Chuan Tian Xia in Sunset Park is a master at the form. The colorful, upbeat restaurant plays with heat and spice levels to deliver dishes that go beyond the mouth-numbing and make for lasting, entertaining meals. It’s hard to go wrong on the menu: The zingy griddled cauliflower morphs the sleepy vegetable into a rich, formidable star; delicate whole tilapia and grouper wrapped in parchment paper come apart in a savory, scented cloud at the table; and don’t miss the impressively thick and creamy salted egg yolk tofu.

Cauliflower with green stems in a wok.
Chuan Tian Xia’s griddled cauliflower.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

36. Coszcal De Allende

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6824 3rd Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11220
(718) 921-3523
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This Mexican restaurant in Bay Ridge successfully channels the vibe of San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Guanajuato, Mexico, famous for being an arts center. The menu includes the town’s signature enchiladas de Allende, stuffed with cheese and smothered in more cheese. Other dishes worth ordering include the sopa de panza, a tripe soup renowned as a hangover remedy. With its carved wood folk motifs, the decor makes you feel like you’re in a northern Mexican mountain village.

An overhead shot of a brick red soup with swatches of tripe.
Sopa de panza from Coszcal De Allende.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

37. Kashkar Cafe

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1141 Brighton Beach Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11235
(718) 743-3832
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This BYO Brighton Beach staple remains one of the city’s finest restaurants for top-notch, affordable Central Asian fare. Kashkar in particular is a halal Uzbek Uighur restaurant, though the venue’s name refers to the city in China’s Xinjiang province, where the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs face continued persecution — and possibly genocide. Menu highlights include a tart, Korean Uzbek-style carrot salad; stretchy lagman noodles in a spiced, vegetable-laced meat broth; and samsa, flaky pastries filled with lamb.

Lamb and peppers sit in a pool of sauce next to steamed dough on a white plate over a patterned tablecloth.
A dish of lamb and steamed dough at Kashkar Cafe.
Ryan Sutton/Eater NY

38. Killmeyer's

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4254 Arthur Kill Rd
Staten Island, NY 10309
(718) 984-1202
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This rambling frame house with views of the Arthur Kill channel and New Jersey was founded in 1859 as an inn, making it Staten Island’s oldest tavern. Now Killmeyer’s is one of the city’s best German beer halls with an antique carved wooden bar that you’ll never tire of looking at, and a dining room filled with stuffed animal trophies. The tap beer selection is unparalleled and the menu is a predictable selection of wursts, hot pretzels, schnitzels, and other pleasing meat-and-potatoes fare. Finding out how to get to this remote location is the only challenge.

A white plate with mashed potatoes, several sausages, and a smaller plate with red cabbage.
A plate of sausages and mashed potatoes at Killmeyer’s in Staten Island.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

1. Kingston Tropical Bakery

4000 White Plains Rd, Bronx, NY 10466
A person enters the front door of Kingston Tropical Bakery, a Jamaican bakery in the Bronx.
Outside Kingston Tropical Bakery in Wakefield.
Luke Fortney/Eater NY

Some of the city’s best Caribbean baked goods are found at this Bronx bakery steps from the end of the 2 subway line. Kingston Tropical has been at it since 1970, the yellow awning above its doorway proclaims, and indeed, this bakery has been making its patties using roughly the same mix of thyme, Scotch bonnet peppers, and ground beef for the last half-century. Other Caribbean food businesses have since joined it in the neighborhood — Paul’s Caribbean Bakery, a half mile up White Plains Road, and Champion Bakery, a block over — but demand for these smooth, crescent-shaped patties is enough that it’s not uncommon for all three businesses to draw a crowd. While there, be sure to try the restaurant’s meatloaf, chunks of stewed, pleasantly funky beef tucked into a fluffy piece of coco bread.

4000 White Plains Rd
Bronx, NY 10466

2. Liebman’s Deli

552 W 235th St, Bronx, NY 10463
The glass window of a storefront with neon letters that read: “Liebman’s Delicatessen, Caterers.”
Outside of Liebman’s Deli in Riverdale.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Our dwindling supply of Jewish delis luckily includes a few outliers, which have survived partly due to their obscure locations free from the usual challenges of NYC real estate and gentrification. Riverdale’s Liebman’s is one such case. It was founded in 1953 by Joe Liebman and the decor is pure 1950s. So slide into one of the blue Naugahyde booths and enjoy pastrami or corned beef cured on the premises, a hot dog topped with potato salad, or one of Liebman’s signature round knishes.

552 W 235th St
Bronx, NY 10463

3. Africa Kine

2267 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10027
A plate of stuffed fish and vegetables over red joloff rice at Africa Kine.
The thiebu djen at Africa Kine.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Africa Kine has been open in NYC since 1996, run in various locations by founders Kine and Samba Niang, who grew up in Dakar. It moved north a few years ago into a more compact space, with a menu paradoxically larger than the original. Included are such Senegalese mainstays as thiebu djen (stuffed fish and vegetables over joloff rice), mafe (lamb or chicken in a peanut sauce), and yassa (chicken or fish in a lemon and onion confit), mainly available at lunchtime. At dinner, expect shrimp skewers, grilled leg of lamb, fish balls in tomato sauce, and baked fish.

2267 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd
New York, NY 10027

4. Hudson Smokehouse

37 Bruckner Blvd, Bronx, NY 10454
Thickly stacked barbecued brisket overflows from a small bun.
Hudson Smokehouse’s brisket sandwich.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The South Bronx neighborhood of Mott Haven is exploding with restaurants lately, and one of the most remarkable is Hudson Smokehouse. It’s remarkable not only because of the range of barbecue styles it presents on its playful menu, but also because of its dedication to extensively smoking the meat using lots of wood. The brisket is a case in point, but so are the spare ribs, chorizo, and pork belly burnt ends. The premises doubles as a spacious beer garden featuring local brews, with indoor and outdoor areas.

37 Bruckner Blvd
Bronx, NY 10454

5. Bánh Vietnamese Shop House

942 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY 10024
A rice cake on top of a sesame cracker laid on a plate with colorful toppings piled on top of the rice cake. A dipping bowl with sauce is set nearby. Both dishes are set on a light wooden table.
Banh dap, a central Vietnamese street food.
Rachel Vanni/Eater NY

NYC’s Vietnamese food scene has drastically changed — for the better, no doubt — over the past five years or so. It’s no longer just about pho and banh mi (though we can never get enough of those staple items). A new wave of restaurants are serving lesser-seen dishes, at least for many Americans, such as the glutinous banh chung chien, or fried, crispy rice cakes, and brothy bun rieu, a tomato, crab, and pork soup, at this Upper West Side newcomer. There are plenty of classic Vietnamese sandwiches and noodle soups, as well, but the smaller plates steal the show. (Plates change often, so for those looking for a specific dish, check the menu beforehand.)

942 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10024

6. Ruta Oaxaca Mexican Cuisine

35-03 Broadway, Queens, NY 11106
Four square browned pastries with salad and brown sauce on top.
Oaxacan bunuelos are a showcase for the state’s black mole.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The complex, historic moles of Oaxaca have garnered much attention in New York City over the past decade, but never have they seen such a comprehensive treatment as at Ruta Oaxaca. Heralded by a hot pink outdoor structure, this Astoria restaurant specializes in moles prepared in shades of yellow, green, scarlet, and dark brown, and offers mezcal and tequila flights at several price points. The restaurant serves its food on festive plating that might make you feel like you’re vacationing on the beach or in the Sierra Madre del Sur.

35-03 Broadway
Queens, NY 11106

7. Golden Palace Gourmet

140-09 Cherry Ave, Queens, NY 11355
Pork cabbage cakes lined up on a white platter at Golden Palace Gourmet in Flushing.