We boarded the Trans-Siberian Railway in Moscow on a foggy, freezing February night. When we disembarked in Beijing, it was a bright March afternoon, and we had traveled more than 4,800 miles. Here's what we ate along the way.
Like a dress that can take you from day to evening, Brooklyn Label seamlessly handles the transition from coffee bar to bar and restaurant. As darkness falls, the flicker of candles replaces the glow of Apple products. Regulars sit at the great big bar of this Greenpoint cafe and gradually switch from latte to pint.
We left Koliba mildly befuddled, not by the service or the food, but because all the blood had left our brains to assist in digestion. Do not eat here if you have to multiply fractions, operate heavy machinery, or perform any other task that requires brain power and hand-eye coordination that night.
Although Manetta's has a special "old time favorites" section on the menu, the truth is that everything feels like an old-time favorite at this trattoria in Long Island City.
To eat at Kuma Inn, first you have to find it—on the second floor of an unmarked building on Ludlow Street. You could call it a speakeasy, or a reward for persistence, or the best possible outcome of climbing up a staircase with no idea what's at the top.
Naka Naka presents a demure alternative to the big box restaurants of the Meatpacking District. At around twenty seats, it offers intimacy, delicacy, and intricacy.
Reserve bills itself as the city's only Thai wine bar. More than 15 wines are served by the glass, all meant to "compliment or challenge" the Thai flavors. While some of the dishes might be familiar from your regular go-to place, overall Reserve doesn't want to be your standard Thai takeout joint.
There are cheaper, more casual Sichuan options elsewhere, but the combination of genteel surroundings and full-throttle food at Land of Plenty makes it a winning choice for a date.
Urubamba, in Jackson Heights, is a restaurant to root for, with a clientele utterly devoted to its takes on traditional Peruvian food.
You probably can't get simpler than Sud Vino e Cucina, a restaurant in Bedford-Stuyvesant specializing in traditional Italian food, with an emphasis on specialties of southern Italy.
For those of us who can't afford a ticket to the Continent, there's Pates et Traditions, a restaurant in Williamsburg specializing in dishes from the south of France with a north African inflection.
Of course, if the company's good enough, you can have a great date anywhere. But some restaurants offer a magical combination of food, atmosphere, and comfortable seating that simply lends itself to more fun and more romance. Here are our favorites from 2012.
Gottscheer Hall, home to one of the largest Gottschee organizations in the world, dates to 1924 and appears unchanged since the Eisenhower administration. But the past doesn't merely persist here: it thrives.
In the days following Hurricane Sandy, Foragers City Table in Chelsea closed. It recently reopened with a new menu that's pricier and not as suited for sharing. But the focus on organic ingredients prepared with an Asian inflection in an open, echoing space remains the same.
Zampa isn't the sort of restaurant you'd expect to find on the edge of the Meatpacking District. Specializing in cheese, charcuterie, and wine, it's made for the kind of date in which you want to show you care without coming off as overly committed.
El Mio Cid sits on the corner of Starr and Wilson in Bushwick, a cheerful yellow facade, bordered with plants, across from dollar stores and a bunker-like middle school. Just as this part of the neighborhood still belongs to Old Bushwick, El Mio Cid belongs to Old Spain.
With its rough-hewn walls, butcher block tables, and low golden light, Anella can make you wonder if Sysco sells a Romantic Brooklyn Restaurant starter kit. Yet, the food reveals a gentle care and attention to detail that can't be mass-produced.
Some call what comes out of the kitchen at Singapura "Asian fusion." While the dishes do draw on ingredients and preparations from a wide swatch of the continent, including India, Thailand, Malaysia, and the provinces of China home to the Hakka people, they represent, according to the menu, what's made by housewives and hawkers in Singapore. Singapura offers an excellent introduction into this multifaceted cooking culture.
They say the devil's in the details, but at Silk Rd Tavern, a restaurant in the Flatiron district specializing in Asian and American comfort foods, the devil's in the abbreviation. It's "Rd," not "Road," and the lack of the two letters lets the Asian-American comfort food get away with a lot. Things get swapped, substituted, mashed up, the familiar gets reimagined and rendered un-.
"I was on a date here last week," said the lady at the table next to ours at Alice's Arbor. We'll summarize for you: the date went well! Perhaps the couple simply had chemistry, but we think this seasonal American restaurant/grocery/cafe on the border of Clinton Hill and Bed-Stuy played a big part. After all, it's a date-tastic place.
Wine and flowers are a simple yet winning formula, worth naming a restaurant for, worth building a date around, worth including in a guide to New York City.
Being on TV is a little like being in prison. Do either, and for the rest of your life people will find a way to work it into any bio. Kiwiana's chef-owner Marc Simmons appeared on season 4 of Top Chef in 2008 as the goofy guy who took a semi-clothed bath with one of his housemates. That Marc may be gone, but even as he's grown up, the food at his New Zealand restaurant in Park Slope shows a determined tendency toward the sweet earnestness of youth.
While some of our food could have used a heavier hand with the spice rack, overall Madiba appeals, because it takes seriously the concept of being of its community.
Grill 21 says it serves Asian American fusion in Gramercy. In reality this tiny, no frills spot specializes in Filipino food, and its location, on East 21st Street between First and Second Avenues, doesn't quite qualify as Gramercy. But it does make for comfortable eating, with some dishes familiar, some pleasantly new.
Shoko sil sil ngoe ma shows the trouble that comes from confusing humble with meek. It's the Tibetan food equivalent of going from 0 to 80 in no seconds flat.
AlMar, in Dumbo, is a restaurant that feels of its neighborhood rather than simply in it.
Follow the crowds to the stand on Wednesdays, Fridays, or Saturdays, make an informed decision by trying all the samples, and then just not to eat the whole bag right there. We'll wager you can't.
The restaurant serves as a solid go-to spot for those lucky enough to live in or near the gorgeous Victorian manses that populate this neighborhood. With its satisfactory takes on gastropub staples, minus the haughty 'tude, Ox Cart Tavern is best for: a humble Brooklyn date.
Esperanto doesn't feel like New York, and definitely not like New York in December. With its cheeriness and slightly skewed takes on Latin American favorites, it's best for: an anti-winter date.
Abistro's atmosphere derives from its diners. Laughter ricochets off the hard surfaces. A man in a bright yellow t-shirt greets most of the tables. And, suddenly, Abistro becomes a bistro. With its unique take on familiar food and ambiance, Abistro on DeKalb is best for: a vivacious date.
If you ride the 5 train almost all the way to its northernmost stop, and get out at Gun Hill Road, you will find yourself surrounded by Jamaican and West Indian restaurants and grocery stores. Walking past the eateries hawking chicken, and markets offering such popular cuts of meat as "cow cod" (look it up), you might dismiss Katashe's as just another store, and one that doesn't look particularly well-stocked. In the back, though, you'll see a variety of patties piled up in a hot box. Behind the counter you'll see some steam trays, and you'll get a whiff of allspice. Ask the counterman what's available for lunch and he'll gladly lift the lids up to show you.
On the front of the takeout menu, a quote translates, more or less, to "There are only two places where you can eat with pleasure: at Tlaxcalli and at your house." We can't agree. The food here is much, much better than the food at our house. Taqueria Tlaxcalli is best for: a date with a side of authenticity.
This cash-only Middle Eastern restaurant in Fort Greene offers good food cheaply in an amiable atmosphere, and these days that's quite an accomplishment.
If possible, sit in the white-washed side room. Banish thoughts of debt, Greek or American, as you dip the bread into the olive oil, and concentrate on Epicureanism. Pleasure might be the greatest good, for a few hours anyway. Listening closely, you might even hear waves. Bahari Estiatorio is best for: a date with someone you'd like to sail away with.
We loved Mombar, an Egyptian restaurant in Astoria, immediately. The DIY decor, kaleidoscopic and kinda crazy. The owner's banter with his son, who neglected his homework in favor of a device that went ping and beep. The chef who read a pulp paperback in Arabic during downtime. We found the atmosphere eclectic and inviting, the food similarly welcoming and impressive in its depths. Good place, this.
In anticipation of the Yankee's Opening Day 2011 on Thursday, we've put together this list of inexpensive and easily accessible local haunts near Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. From Ghanaian to Dominican food, they represent the changing demographics of the borough. While there are a handful of decent vendors at Yankee Stadium, why not skip the lines for a $7 Nathan's hot dog or $8 garlic fries and venture a little further afield?
"I tell him to handle the dough like it was a woman—gently, softly," says Fany Gerson of DOUGH, a new doughnut shop in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. In this video from Food Curated with Liza de Guia, we go behind-the-counter with Gerson to learn about her doughnut experimentation. After over 50 trials, she found the winner recipe: a not-too-sweet batter with a smidge of nutmeg that, when fried, gets those crispy outsides and light insides. They're also about as big as your face. "You don't want to have it end too soon!"
[Photographs: Howard Walfish] This past Sunday was the first annual NYC Vegetarian Food Festival in the Altman Building in Chelsea. It was a combination trade show, restaurant showcase, and educational experience. The doors opened to the public shortly after...
This is an immensely transporting restaurant, the kind of place where you wouldn't be surprised to look down to find your thumbs happily beating a tattoo against the table, rather than texting, where you won't just forget to check into Foursquare, but will forget about the internet entirely.
Signs of spring are beginning to show—perhaps most welcome among them, the Mister Softee trucks roaming the streets. And at Serious Eats, our favorite of those is the The Big Gay Ice Cream truck. I spent an evening with BGICT frontman Doug Quint in his usual Union Square spot when he brought his truck out for one preview day last week. Even more interesting? I tagged along as he was closing up the truck.
When done right, banh mi are an insanely tasty combination of contrasting textures and flavors, but the overall impression, as with much Vietnamese food, is of lightness and freshness. Where in Manhattan can you find the best sandwich? This week, I visited bành mí shops all over Manhattan to answer this question.
A rudimentary knowledge of Spanish will come in handy for anyone eating at El Tapatio, nestled into a dark, narrow space on a busy street in Spanish Harlem. There's a bit of English on the menu, but the waitstaff doesn't speak much. Somehow between my high school Spanish, our server's patience, and some pointing at the menu, we were able to put together a nice little vegetarian feast for lunch.
You've just read about Fatty Johnson's—a pop-up restaurant from the Fatty crew in the old Cabrito space. Rather than the restaurant-bar that Cabrito was, Fatty Johnson's is set up more as a cocktail bar that serves food to help soak up the alcohol, like their Big Johnson's Burger and Fried Chicken stuffed with ham and cheese. On some nights you will find Adam Schuman, the cocktail guru of the Fatty empire, running the bar; while some nights you'll find a bartender from some other spot in the city mixing a drink for you.
The choices were dizzying. Pork and chive dumplings, fried squid balls, hand-pulled noodles, stinky tofu, lamb burgers and shrimp noodle soup lined tables for the Flushing Mall Grazing Experience, an instant potluck where attendees spent $10 at the food court and brought dishes back for all to share. Jeff Orlick, of Jeffrey Tastes, organized the Feb. 19 event along with a $5 Chili Sauce Tasting Table. He encouraged everyone to graze and try food they've never had.
Le Grand Dakar brings the spirit of the Sahel to an ordinary, brownstone-heavy block in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. The restaurant exudes warmth, from the tan and blond wood used throughout the dining area to the photos of smiling schoolchildren in uniforms lining the walls to the gorgeous, all-Senegalese waitstaff to the world jazz playing on the stereo.
For Valentine's Day, these places promise great food off the regular menu, coupled with a fun vibe, for not too much moola—and they all accept walk-ins.
The other editors asked me to dream up a 5-course progressive dinner—drinks, appetizers, entrees, dessert, and drinks, all at different venues. So come along on my dream Valentine's date.
A friend visiting from out of town rang me up last week. "I'm going to the Doughnut Plant tomorrow morning," she told me, "but I'm kind of overwhelmed by the options. What's the best doughnut they have?" It was a...
Eating inside what amounts to a big tent on chairs covered in red corduroy could feel gimmicky. Perhaps, in daylight, during lunch or brunch, it is. In the evening, however, seated at a two-top in a tiny pool of candlelight, the effect is wonderfully isolating. Turkuaz is best for: a date you'd like to go away with.
As the night went on and more people arrived, In Vino filled with chatter and cheer, with some couples conspiring over candlelight and others simply basking in the glow of good food. It's best for an easy, uncomplicated date.