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The 38 Essential New York Restaurants, July '14

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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, Gabe Stulman's Italian charmer Perla is getting replaced by Danny Bowien's constantly evolving Mexican restaurant Mission Cantina. Up in Harlem, Red Rooster is getting swapped for critical darling/all-around fun restaurant The Cecil. And a bit further downtown, Hooni Kim's terrific Korean restaurant Hanjan is getting traded for Hell's Kitchen's blockbuster food hall Gotham West Market. Check out the revamped Eater 38:

Rather than a stage-4 meltdown over our having excluded your favorite restaurant from the list, wouldn't it be more productive to just nominate it for inclusion?

Note: Restaurants are listed based on geography, starting with lower Manhattan.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Royal Seafood Restaurant

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103-105 Mott Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 219-2338
As the name implies, this venerable Mott Street restaurant serves excellent Cantonese-style seafood dishes, but the off-the-cart dim sum is really the star of the show here. In terms of cuisine, atmosphere, and value, Royal Seafood is one of Chinatown's real gems. [Foursquare]

2. Tamarind TriBeCa

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99 Hudson St
New York, NY 10013
(212) 775-9000
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Head to this Michelin-starred Tribeca restaurant to sample dishes from all across India, in a comfortable, and ever-so-slightly elegant setting. Tamarind Tribeca is a smart choice for a business lunch Downtown, and it's also a fine pick for date night. [Sam Horine]

3. Mission Cantina

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172 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002
(212) 254-2233
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During lunch, Mission Cantina serves New York’s best burritos, and at dinner, you’ll find an interesting mix of snacks, tacos, vegetable-based dishes, and larger proteins to share. Danny Bowien’s Mexican restaurant is a terrific place for a cheap date. [Daniel Krieger]

4. Peasant

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194 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 965-9511
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If you haven't dined at this Elizabeth Street charmer in a while, it's time for a revisit, because the rustic Italian fare is just as good as you remember. The wood-fired lamb and the gnocchi with morels are perennial favorites. [Foursquare]

5. 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. [Photo: Krieger]

6. Rubirosa

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235 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 965-0500
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This lively Little Italy restaurant is one of your best bets for classic red-sauce cuisine in New York City. Make sure to try one of the homemade pastas, and one of the ultra thin-crust pizzas. [Krieger]

7. Parm

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248 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 993-7189
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The second restaurant from Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi is a casual Italian-American bar and sandwich shop with food that goes the distance. The chicken parm, Italian combo, and Saratoga club are all strong choices, and you're going to want an order of the calamari (if it's available) and the Buffalo cucumbers too. The nightly entree specials wouldn't be out of place at Torrisi and Carbone's other restaurants. [Krieger]

8. Estela

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47 E Houston St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 219-7693
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At Estela, Ignacio Mattos serves a set of rustic, market-driven dishes that don't easily fit into any one classification. Standouts include the mussels escabeche on toast, the ricotta dumplings, and the excellent beef tartare with sunchokes. Over the last year, the restaurant has become a popular oenophile hangout, thanks to the thoughtful wine list from Blue Hill veteran Thomas Carter. If you want to sample Estela without spending too much money or battling the crowds, go during weekend brunch. [Krieger]

9. The Dutch

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131 Sullivan St
New York, NY 10000
(212) 677-6200
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Andrew Carmellini's freewheelin' Soho restaurant is basically a steakhouse, a craft cocktail bar, a seafood parlor, and a casual New American bistro all rolled into one. The Dutch also has a great brunch menu. [Krieger]

10. Ushiwakamaru

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136 W Houston St
New York, NY 10012
(212) 228-4181
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Hideo Kuribara's Houston Street restaurant is a favorite among chefs and sushi purists, and, thankfully, it's moderately priced by New York sushi standards. This is straightforward sushi, made with good ingredients. Fun Fact: Ushiwakamaru recently launched a "secret" late night ramen operation.... [Photo: Foursquare]

11. Charlie Bird

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5 King Street
New York, NY 10012
(212) 235-7133
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Ryan Hardy serves exciting market-driven Italian cuisine at Charlie Bird, but the thing that you might like the most about this restaurant is the service. Owner Robert Bohr, sommelier Grant Reynolds, and the rest of the team will make you feel like you're the guest of honor at a very hip party. [Photo: Bess Adler]

12. Momofuku Ssäm Bar

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207 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 254-3500
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David Chang's second restaurant is still going strong, although the game has changed a bit over the last few years. The duck lunch is now considered to be of the greatest feasts in the Momo empire, and the team recently introduced a brunch menu for people that hate brunch menus, which is garnering some great buzz right now. Classics like the apples with kimchi, spicy pork sausage with rice cakes, pork buns, and bo ssam are still available, of course. [Photo: Facebook]

13. Alder

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157 Second Ave
New York, NY 10003
(212) 539-1900
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Modern cuisine guru Wylie Dufresne serves inventive food that's easy to enjoy at Alder. The New England clam chowder, rye pasta, and pigs in a blanket are already on their way to becoming Wylie classics. [Krieger]

14. The Spotted Pig

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314 W 11th St
New York, NY 10014
(212) 620-0393
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The Spotted Pig inspired a thousand knock-offs over the last decade, but the original is still the best, by far. April Bloomfield's food is a heady mix of traditional English fare and California cuisine, with a splash of the Mediterranean thrown in for good measure. The burger and the gnudi will forever be the most popular dishes, but make sure to order a few vegetables too. [Photo: Krieger]

15. ABC Kitchen

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35 E 18th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 475-5829
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This chic market-focused restaurant from Jean-Georges and Dan Kluger has not cooled one bit since it opened three years ago. ABC Kitchen serves some of the city's best salads, as well as great pizzas and a fancy cheeseburger. And save room for the popcorn-topped ice cream sundae for dessert. [Photo: Krieger]

16. Gramercy Tavern

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42 E 20th St
New York, NY 10003
(212) 477-0777
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Gramercy Tavern is the king of farm-to-table cuisine in New York City. The front room is one of the best places in New York for a leisurely lunch, or a romantic meal during the week. [Photo: Krieger]

17. The Cannibal Beer & Butcher

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113 E 29th St
New York, NY 10016
(212) 686-5480
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Satisfy your cravings for red meat and fancy beer at this casual Gramercy bar and restaurant. The menu from Momofuku alum Francis Derby includes steaks, tandoori lamb belly, slow-roasted pig head, and all manner of sausages and charcuterie items. [ Krieger]

18. Szechuan Gourmet

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21 W 39th St
New York, NY 10018
(212) 921-0233
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Szechuan Gourmet is Midtown's worst-kept Chinese food secret. Skip all the Chinese-American dishes and order straight from the Sichuan section of the menu. The dining room is way nicer than it needs to be. [Photo: Yelp]

19. 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 delicious food, perfect cocktails, and a killer ambiance. Those on a budget can hit up the bar room. [Keens]

20. Gotham West Market

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600 11th Ave
New York, NY 10036
At this game-changing Hell’s Kitchen market, you’ll find tapas from Seamus Mullen, noodles from Ivan Orkin, charcuterie from The Cannibal team, coffee from Blue Bottle, burgers from AvroKo, and tacos from Akhtar Nawab. The space looks and feels unlike any other food hall you’ve ever visited before. [Daniel Krieger]

21. Katsu-Hama

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11 E 47th St
New York, NY 10017
(212) 758-5909
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One of Sietsema's Secrets, this Midtown Japanese restaurant specializes in perfectly fried pork cutlets. During lunch, guests can order a slab of crispy pork loin with rice, miso soup, salad, sauces, and housemade pickles for just $12. The menu also includes curries, salads, donburi, sashimi, and various fried snacks. [Foursquare]

22. Betony

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41 W 57th St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 465-2400
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Betony is the restaurant that Midtown has been waiting for. Bryce Shuman is serving elegant, but accessible Modern American cuisine here, and the service, lead by GM Eamon Rockey, is warm and attentive, without being overbearing. Stop in for a drink and some snacks at the bar, or settle in for a full-on fine dining feast in the back. [Krieger]

23. Amali

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115 E 60th St
New York, NY 10022
(212) 339-8363
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This handsome Mediterranean restaurant serves one of the city's top brick chickens, and the seafood, pasta dishes, and charcuterie are just as good. Amali is also something of a destination for Greek wine enthusiasts. [Amali]

24. Bar Boulud

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1900 Broadway
New York, NY 10023
(212) 595-0303
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Bar Boulud is a destination for wine-lovers, charcuterie fanatics, and anyone that loves good French food. [Photo: Noah Kalina]

25. The Cecil

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210 W 118th St
New York, NY 10026
(212) 866-1262
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The Cecil has a stylish dining room and a cool vibe, but the real reason to go here is the eclectic menu from Alexander Smalls and Young Gun Joseph "JJ" Johnson. Standouts include the oxtail dumplings, the feijoada, the “mini yard dogs,” and the fried guinea hen. Vegetarians should have no problem finding something exciting to eat here, too. [Krieger]

26. Phayul

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3765 74th St, Fl 2
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
This comfortable aerie above a hair salon offers some of the finest Tibetan food you’ve ever tasted, representative of the flock of Himalayan restaurants that have taken over the Jackson Heights dining scene. There’s blood sausage, meaty curries, the ragged noodles called thenthuk, and don’t miss the wiggly mung-bean jelly laphing, carpeted with Sichuan peppercorns. -- Robert Sietsema

27. Gregory's 26 Corner Taverna

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26-02 23rd Ave
Astoria, NY 11105
(718) 777-5511
Tucked away on a side street, this may be the rustic Greek taverna you’ve dreamed about, offering steaming plates of zucchini fritters, fried salt-cod with garlicky skordalia, and fresh fish brought right to the restaurant by Long Island fishermen who are friends of the owner and left swimming on the porch in buckets. -- Robert Sietsema.

28. Bella Puebla

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9411 Roosevelt Ave
Jackson Heights, NY 11372
(718) 639-7300
Bella Puebla is the rare taqueria with a full southern Mexican menu prepared to receive the general public in every way, offering such exotica as tacos arabes, chicken in a novel red pipian (pumpkinseed) sauce, and a fiery hot adobo de puerco. The only drawback: as a resolutely family-style restaurant, Bella Puebla serves no alcohol. --Robert Sietsema [Photo: Paul Crispin Quitoriano]

29. M. Wells Dinette

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22-25 Jackson Ave
Hunters Point, NY 11101
(718) 784-2084
Maybe the art at the attached the museum ain’t always so good, but you can depend on this Motrealithic café to turn out food stunningly beautiful and stunningly delicious, with colorful flourishes worthy of a Mondrian or Kandinsky, via chef Hugue Dufour. Open only in the afternoons till 6 p.m. -- Robert Sietsema.

30. Reynard

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80 Wythe Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11249
(718) 460-8000
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This all-day restaurant in the Wythe Hotel is a good choice for a casual bite, a celebratory feast, and everything in between. Reynard is hip without being exclusive, and everyone in your party will love Sean Rembold's rustic New American fare. This is Brooklyn empire builder Andrew Tarlow's best restaurant. [Krieger]

31. St. Anselm

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355 Metropolitan Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11211
(718) 384-5054
The tender, butter-drenched Butcher's Steak is the best $16 slab of meat in New York City, no question, but the pricier cuts at Joe Carroll's Williamsburg steakhouse are even better. The New York strip offers a lot of bang for your buck at $25, and the Ax Handle Ribeye, which ranges from 35-60 oz, has developed a loyal following as well. Also of Note: Unless you go right when the restaurant opens, be prepared to wait a bit. [Photo: Facebook]

32. Roberta's Pizza

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261 Moore St
Brooklyn, NY 11206
(718) 417-1118
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Roberta's is the epicenter of the modern Brooklyn food scene. The pizzas are fantastic, but the restaurant really flexes its muscles with the vegetable dishes. [Photo: Facebook]

33. La Vara

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268 Clinton St.
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(718) 422-0065
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Head to this cozy Cobble Hill restaurant to sample Alex Raij and Eder Montero's unusual mix of Spanish, Moorish, and Jewish cuisines. Standout dishes include the anchovies with sesame and hazelnuts, the stuffed rabbit loin, the lamb meatballs, and the seafood-studded fideua. The menu is unlike any other in New York City, but the food is easy to enjoy. [Photo: La Vara]

34. Mile End Delicatessen

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97A Hoyt St
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(718) 852-7510
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Noah and Rae Bernamoff offer a fresh take on delicatessen fare at this tiny Boerum Hill restaurant. The original Mile End now acts as a deli by day and a beer bar by night with inventive riffs on Jewish cuisine from chef Eli Sussman. [Photo:Facebook]

35. Littleneck

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288 3rd Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(718) 522-1921
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This hip seafood restaurant near the Gowanus canal serves clam-shack favorites and a whole lot more. Now that the restaurant has a full liquor license, this is a solid choice for after work drinks and oysters, or a burger and cocktail at the bar. [Krieger]

36. Talde

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369 7th Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11215
(347) 916-0031
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Dale Talde breathes new life into the pan-Asian genre at this unabashedly fun Park Slope restaurant. Head here with a few friends and try a lot of things to share. [Krieger]

37. Totonno's Pizzeria Napolitano

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1524 Neptune Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11224
(718) 372-8606
This century-old Coney Island pizzeria is one of New York's great cultural institutions. As Robert Sietsema notes: "This place is simply the best pizzeria in the world." [Photo: Bess Adler]

38. Thirty Acres

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500 Jersey Ave
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 435-3100
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Kevin and Alex Pemoulie are serving inventive and all-around delicious New American food in Jersey City right now. If you hop on the Path Train, or find a friend with a car to take you across the river, you're guaranteed to be charmed by Thirty Acres.

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1. Royal Seafood Restaurant

103-105 Mott Street, New York, NY 10013
As the name implies, this venerable Mott Street restaurant serves excellent Cantonese-style seafood dishes, but the off-the-cart dim sum is really the star of the show here. In terms of cuisine, atmosphere, and value, Royal Seafood is one of Chinatown's real gems. [Foursquare]
103-105 Mott Street
New York, NY 10013

2. Tamarind TriBeCa

99 Hudson St, New York, NY 10013
Head to this Michelin-starred Tribeca restaurant to sample dishes from all across India, in a comfortable, and ever-so-slightly elegant setting. Tamarind Tribeca is a smart choice for a business lunch Downtown, and it's also a fine pick for date night. [Sam Horine]
99 Hudson St
New York, NY 10013

3. Mission Cantina

172 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002
Read Review |
During lunch, Mission Cantina serves New York’s best burritos, and at dinner, you’ll find an interesting mix of snacks, tacos, vegetable-based dishes, and larger proteins to share. Danny Bowien’s Mexican restaurant is a terrific place for a cheap date. [Daniel Krieger]
172 Orchard St
New York, NY 10002

4. Peasant

194 Elizabeth St, New York, NY 10012
If you haven't dined at this Elizabeth Street charmer in a while, it's time for a revisit, because the rustic Italian fare is just as good as you remember. The wood-fired lamb and the gnocchi with morels are perennial favorites. [Foursquare]
194 Elizabeth St
New York, NY 10012

5. 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. [Photo: Krieger]
80 Spring St
New York, NY 10012

6. Rubirosa

235 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012