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The 38 Essential New York Restaurants, April '13

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It's time to update the Eater 38, your answer and ours to any question that begins, "Can you recommend a restaurant?" This highly elite group covers the entire city, spans myriad cuisines, and collectively satisfies all of your restaurant needs, save for those occasions when you absolutely must spend half a paycheck. Every couple of months, we'll be adding pertinent restaurants that were omitted, have newly become eligible (restaurants must be open at least six months), or have stepped up their game.

This time around, after much reflecting and poring over reader emails and comments, Torrisi Italian Specialties, once a vital and affordable member of the group, is dropped to make way for Perla. Over in Brooklyn, date night favorite Vinegar Hill House is getting removed from the list to make way for Andy Ricker's Pok Pok Ny. Hill Country, once a major player in the barbecue scene, is nudged out so that Gwynnett St. can be added to the map. And, post-relocation, Franny's is leaving the Eater 38, and the excellent Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria is filling that vacant slot.

For those of you readying the pitchforks because your favorite restaurant isn't on the list—or because you love the four-course menu at Torrisi—wouldn't it just be more productive to leave your thoughts in the comments? State your cases for (or against) restaurants in the comments or in the tipline.


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Locanda Verde

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377 Greenwich St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 925-3797
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Though owners include one Robert DeNiro, chef Andrew Carmellini is the real star here. After almost three years, this rustic neighborhood Italian restaurant is still one of the hottest tickets in town. [Krieger]

2. Nom Wah Tea Parlor

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13 Doyers St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 962-6047
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This 92-year-old Chinatown restaurant serves terrific dim sum in a dining room that has a lot of old-school charm. Wilson Tang, the nephew of long-time proprietor Wally Tang, breathed new life into Nom Wah when he took over a few years ago. This is a great place to go for a cheap and satisfying meal in Chinatown, and Nom Wah is always a big hit with out-of-towners.

3. Balthazar Restaurant

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80 Spring St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 965-1414
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Restaurateur Keith McNally's enduring Soho brasserie is the best every day restaurant in New York City. Period. [Krieger]

4. Lure Fishbar

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142 Mercer St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 431-7676
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Great for dates and business lunches alike, the subterranean Lure Fish Bar offers up a solid roster of sushi offerings as well as seafood, steak, and one of the best burgers in the city. 

5. Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria

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53 Great Jones St.
New York, NY 10012
(212) 837-2622
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In the morning, Il Buco Alimentari is a casual cafe offering homemade breads, fresh Italian pastries, and light breakfast dishes. In the middle of the day, it's an Italian delicatessen that also serves pasta, charcuterie, sandwiches, and small plates in the back. And at night, it's a bustling bar and dining room serving a big menu of rustic, inventive Italian fare. Il Buco Alimentari is an ambitious restaurant, but restaurateur Donna Lennard and chef Justin Smillie make it work on every level.

6. Perla

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24 Minetta Lane
New York, NY 10012
(212) 933-1824
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Perla is the year-old Italian restaurant from young gun chef Michael Toscano and restaurateur Gabe Stulman. Toscano has a knack for cooking pasta dishes and monster pieces of meat. If you're in a large group, do consider the dry-aged porterhouse for two, or the veal head for three. Like all Gabe Stulman restaurants, Perla offers terrific food and charming service in a bustling, yet intimate dining room.

7. Commerce

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50 Commerce St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 524-2301
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At Commerce, chef Harold Moore serves terrific fresh pastas, a monster pork chop, and one of New York's very best chickens for two. The space here has a cool old-school vibe, and the bar is a fun place to grab a drink at the beginning or end of the night. Commerce is a great date night restaurant. [Photo]

8. Red Farm

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529 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 792-9700
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Joe Ng and Eddie Schoenfeld's charming contemporary Chinese restaurant is one of the hottest tickets in New York right now. The best things on the menu here are chef Ng's playful dim sum creations, like the 'Pac man' dumplings, The Katz's pastrami egg roll, and the pan-fried lamb dumplings. The mains are great too — especially the grilled Creekstone rib steak with asparagus and the black cod. Head here for brunch if you want to avoid the crowds. [Photo]

9. Takashi

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456 Hudson St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 414-2929
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Takashi is a meat-lover's paradise. The menu features a long list of top-quality raw beef which you cook at your table on little electric grills. Offal-freaks will want to try the stomachs, intestines, and tongues, but there are a few steaks on the menu for less adventuresome diners, too. [Krieger]

10. The Spotted Pig

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314 W 11th St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 620-0393
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One might expect owners and regulars like Jay-Z and Bill Clinton to distract from the food, but chef April Bloomfield holds her own and then some at New York's top (wait … for it) gastropub. One of the best restaurant burgers in New York is served here, as anyone who has braved the two-hour wait for a table can tell you.[Krieger]

11. Kin Shop

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469 6th Ave
New York, NY 10011
(212) 675-4295
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Harold Dieterle and Alicia Nosenzo's contemporary Thai restaurant has a relaxed vibe, a great wine list, and awesome food. Dieterle has a knack for fusing Thai cuisine with his own New-American style, and the result is one of the most unique menus in New York right now. [Krieger]

12. Momofuku Noodle Bar

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171 1st Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 777-7773
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David Chang's first restaurant is still turning out inventive, deeply satisfying, affordable food, and the buns and ramen are just as good as you remember. [Kalina]

13. Hearth

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403 E 12th St
New York, NY 10009
(646) 602-1300
Hearth only gets better with age. Marco Canora's East Village restaurant still serves one of the best ragus in the city, and the menu always includes a few terrific vegetables dishes, monster meat entrees, and gracefully prepared fish courses. If you really want to see what the kitchen is up to these days, consider the seven-course tasting for $80.[Krieger]

14. Casa Mono

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52 Irving Pl
New York, NY 10003
(212) 253-2773
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The lone Spanish baby of Molto Mario’s empire, Casa Mono has been an Irving Place destination since it opened in ’04. Chef Andy Nusser has crafted a menu of substantial tapas and medium-sized entrées, done mostly “a la plancha” with unmistakably Catalan flavors; get the duck egg with mojama. NB: If you have trouble securing a table, and chances are you will, little sister Bar Jamon is right next door. [Photo]

15. John Dory Oyster Bar

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1196 Broadway
New York, NY 10001
(212) 792-9000
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The food at April Bloomfield and Ken Friendman's fish restaurant is a mix of English/Italian/Mediterranean cuisine that's completely original. If it's not too busy, The Dory is a cool place to pop in for oysters and cocktails. For a special occasion, ask about the chef's table tasting in the kitchen.[Photo]

16. Legend Bar & Restaurant

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88 7th Ave
New York, NY 10011
(212) 929-1778
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This generic-looking Chelsea Chinese restaurant serves some of the best Sichuan food in New York City. The chef here, Ding Gen Wang, is something of a star in his native China. Although everything here is very good, the best dishes are off-the-menu. Make sure to ask about the vegetable specials, and if you're in a large party, get the incredible fish soup. [Photo]

17. Keens Steakhouse

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72 W 36th St
New York, NY 10018
(212) 947-3636
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Get a mutton chop with a side of history at this century old steakhouse that offers classic delicious food, perfect cocktails, and a killer ambiance. Those on a budget can hit up the bar room. [Krieger]

18. Benoit Bistro

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60 W 55th St
New York, NY 10019
(646) 943-7373
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Alain Ducasse's casual French restaurant serves faithful versions of all your bistro favorites like coq au vin, cassoulet, and escargots. The bar room is a cool place for after-work cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, and on the weekends, Benoit serves one of the best brunches in Midtown (it includes a dessert buffet). [Photo]

19. Szechuan Gourmet

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21 W 39th St
New York, NY 10018
(212) 921-0233
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Head to this Chinese gem near Bryant Park for crispy cumin lamb, soft tofu with spicy pork, and braised whole bass with chili and scallions. The Sichuan specialties here are all excellent, and the dining room has a certain charm that you don't often find in Midtown Chinese restaurants. Go in a big group, and order a lot of food. [Photo]

20. The Modern

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9 W 53rd St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 333-1220
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Gabriel Kreuther cooks French-American food that looks great and tastes even better. You can have a fine light meal mixing and matching the small plates from the first two pages of the menu, but the restaurant is also a great pick for a serious three-course meal. Pro tip: the tarte flambee is one of the best bar snacks in NYC. [Photo]

21. Esca

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402 W 43rd St
New York, NY 10036
(212) 564-7272
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Non-theatre-goers sometimes forget about Esca due to its Siberia-adjacent location, but in many ways Esca is as good as the four-starred Le Bernardin. If nothing else, it's cheaper, more relaxed and, bonus, also serves Baltali-brand pasta.

22. Danji

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346 W 52nd St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 586-2880
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Danji has been receiving raves from critics big and small for their casual, modern take on Korean fare in the Western edges of Midtown. It's fast without being hurried, delicious without being expensive. Just be ready for crowds.[Photo]

23. Salumeria Rosi Parmacotto

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283 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10023
(212) 877-4800
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Cesare Casella’s small plates parlor is great place for a few bites of premium imported antipasti and a glass of wine, or a larger meal of more substantial meat and pasta dishes. It's the perfect spot to hit up before any event at Lincoln Center, or after long stroll through the park. [Photo]

24. Boulud Sud

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20 W 64th St
New York, NY 10023
(212) 595-1313
Daniel Boulud's foray into Mediterranean cuisine is a solid choice for date night on the UWS, or a meal before a show at Lincoln Center. Even the most exotic dishes like the zaatar baked cod have that signature Boulud touch. [Photo]

25. Telepan

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72 W 69th St
New York, NY 10023
(212) 580-4300
This Upper West Side New American restaurant is one of the best places for brunch in the neighborhood (try the patty melt), as well as a solid choice for a leisurely meal during the week. Chef Bill Telepan has a gift for cooking greenmarket vegetables, but his menu also includes a few great splurge dishes like the lobster bolognese and the grass-fed ribeye for two. Telepan also offers a steal of a five-course tasting for $69.

26. Sushi of Gari

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402 E 78th St
New York, NY 10075
(212) 517-5340
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The original location of Masatoshi “Gari” Sugio's chainlet is still one of the best sushi restaurants in NYC. Start with an omakase tasting, finish with the tempura-fried ice cream. Photo]

27. Amali

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115 E 60th St
New York, NY 10022
(212) 339-8363
This stylish and comfortable Upper East Side restaurant serves a menu of modern Mediterranean cuisine made with local ingredients. Standout dishes include the crudo plates, the pastas, and the chicken under a brick. Amali is also something of a destination for Greek wine enthusiasts.

28. Donguri

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309 E 83rd St
New York, NY 10028
(212) 737-5656
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One of the best places in the neighborhood for Japanese food. You won't find any sushi rolls on the menu at Donguri, but there are a few excellent soba and udon dishes, and a number of lightly-composed fish and vegetable items. The lobster miso soup is a must-try dish. [Photo]

29. Red Rooster

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310 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10027
(212) 792-9001
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Marcus Samuelsson's hot Harlem global soul food joint is luring the food lovers and critics from across the city uptown. A gamechanger for the neighborhood and totally worth the trip. [Krieger]
Red Rooster’s big bar with wooden slatting

30. Roberta's Pizza

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261 Moore St
Brooklyn, NY 11206
(718) 417-1118
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One of the Brooklyn new school of locavore-crazy, market-driven ingredients, Roberta's is in many ways what happens when hipster chefs get it right. See also the Heritage Radio Network, which broadcasts from the dining room.

31. Diner

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85 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 486-3077
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The specials are the dishes to order at Diner (and yes, the servers still write them down on the table). Right now, chef de cuisine Ken Wiss is turning out inventive plates of Italian-influenced American fare, but you can always get the excellent burger and a serious steak, too. In terms of atmosphere, food, and value, Diner is one of North Brooklyn's best restaurants.

32. Gwynnett Street

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312 Graham Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(347) 889-7002
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This critically-acclaimed Williamsburg restaurant serves modern American fare in a relaxed neighborhood setting. Although some of chef Justin Hilbert's creations might look avant-garde, all of his dishes pack a lot of flavor. Head to Gwynnett St. if you want to taste what's exciting about Brooklyn cuisine these days.

33. Frankies 457

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457 Court St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 403-0033
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Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli have opened several great restaurants in the past few years, but their original is still a total classic. The cavatelli pasta alone is worth the trip to Carroll Gardens, but, then, so is the rest of the food and scene here, which is quintessentially Aging Hipster in the best possible way.

34. Lucali

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575 Henry St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 858-4086
Mark Iacono's pies are the stuff of legend. His crispy thin crusts are topped with vibrant tomato sauce, a rich blend of three cheeses, and a few sprigs of fresh basil. Lucali still serves some of the city's finest pizzas, and the dining room is a real beauty.

35. Pok Pok Ny

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127 Columbia St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 923-9322
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At Pok Pok NY, Portland chef Andy Ricker serves what many consider to be some of the finest Thai cuisine in New York City. Standout dishes include the grilled Chiang Mai sausage with chili paste, the charcoal-grilled hen, the clay pot-baked white prawns, and the roast-catfish laap If you go on a weekend night, or basically any night when the weather is nice, be prepared to wait.

36. The Good Fork

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391 Van Brunt St
Brooklyn, NY 11231
(718) 643-6636
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The menu at this homey Red Hook restaurant has a little something for everyone: you can get a textbook roasted chicken, a serious pub burger, homemade pork dumplings, Korean-style steak and eggs, or a Peking duck leg, if you like. The Good Fork just launched a $25 three-course prix fixe menu that's serve Tuesday-Thursday.

37. Ayada Thai Restaurant

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77-08 Woodside Ave
Queens, NY 11373
(718) 424-0844
Head to this Elmhurst Thai restaurant for fiery curries, perfectly composed salads, and awesome whole fish dishes. No meal is complete without an order of the fried bananas and the mango over sticky rice, when it's in season. Ayada is one of New York's best Thai restaurants, and you'll never have to fight monster crowds to snag a table. (Photo)

38. Tortilleria Nixtamal

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104-05 47th Ave
Queens, NY 11368
(718) 699-2434
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Corona's Tortilleria Nixtamal is famous for its homemade tortillas and all the delicious things that are stuff inside of them. Try the chicken mole enchiladas, the fried skate tacos, or the never-dry tamales. Many Mexican food snobs say that this is the best taqueria in NYC. (Photo)

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1. Locanda Verde

377 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10013
Though owners include one Robert DeNiro, chef Andrew Carmellini is the real star here. After almost three years, this rustic neighborhood Italian restaurant is still one of the hottest tickets in town. [Krieger]
377 Greenwich St
New York, NY 10013

2. Nom Wah Tea Parlor

13 Doyers St, New York, NY 10013
This 92-year-old Chinatown restaurant serves terrific dim sum in a dining room that has a lot of old-school charm. Wilson Tang, the nephew of long-time proprietor Wally Tang, breathed new life into Nom Wah when he took over a few years ago. This is a great place to go for a cheap and satisfying meal in Chinatown, and Nom Wah is always a big hit with out-of-towners.
13 Doyers St
New York, NY 10013

3. Balthazar Restaurant

80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012
Restaurateur Keith McNally's enduring Soho brasserie is the best every day restaurant in New York City. Period. [Krieger]
80 Spring St
New York, NY 10012

4. Lure Fishbar

142 Mercer St, New York, NY 10012
Great for dates and business lunches alike, the subterranean Lure Fish Bar offers up a solid roster of sushi offerings as well as seafood, steak, and one of the best burgers in the city. 
142 Mercer St
New York, NY 10012

5. Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria

53 Great Jones St., New York, NY 10012
In the morning, Il Buco Alimentari is a casual cafe offering homemade breads, fresh Italian pastries, and light breakfast dishes. In the middle of the day, it's an Italian delicatessen that also serves pasta, charcuterie, sandwiches, and small plates in the back. And at night, it's a bustling bar and dining room serving a big menu of rustic, inventive Italian fare. Il Buco Alimentari is an ambitious restaurant, but restaurateur Donna Lennard and chef Justin Smillie make it work on every level.
53 Great Jones St.
New York, NY 10012

6. Perla

24 Minetta Lane, New York, NY 10012
Perla is the year-old Italian restaurant from young gun chef Michael Toscano and restaurateur Gabe Stulman. Toscano has a knack for cooking pasta dishes and monster pieces of meat. If you're in a large group, do consider the dry-aged porterhouse for two, or the veal head for three. Like all Gabe Stulman restaurants, Perla offers terrific food and charming service in a bustling, yet intimate dining room.
24 Minetta Lane
New York, NY 10012

7. Commerce

50 Commerce St, New York, NY 10014
At Commerce, chef Harold Moore serves terrific fresh pastas, a monster pork chop, and one of New York's very best chickens for two. The space here has a cool old-school vibe, and the bar is a fun place to grab a drink at the beginning or end of the night. Commerce is a great date night restaurant. [Photo]
50 Commerce St
New York, NY 10014

8. Red Farm

529 Hudson St, New York, NY 10014