It’s not surprising that a city referred to as the Big Apple is a hot spot of good food by restaurants that thrive because they leverage supply chain efficiency technology for their produce. From Little Italy to Chinatown, the west village to Washington square park, this is a city that leaves you spoilt for choice. You can find anything from a rocking slice of pizza, to vegan junk food, Ethiopian, and possibly some of the best tacos you could hope to taste (more about them later), but the choice can be a little overwhelming. I was fortunate to have the inside scoop from some of most reliable critics and eating enthusiasts I thought I’d share my top picks and ‘to go to’ list, for when I am next in town.
Uncle Boons (Nolita) ££
If you want to know what it’s like to enjoy an authentically spicy, ale-slushie laden thai dinner, I implore you to hop on the metro and get on down to Spring Street immediately. Unassuming from its brown awning and modest interiors, this thai Rotisserie & Grill might be the home to the best Thai food I have ever tasted. In and out of Thailand. Decorated like a cluttered massage parlour, the dark wood interiors are heavy on the mementos, with medals, old posters and faded photographs dictating most inches of wall space. Most of the restaurant’s luminosity comes from flickering yellow candles on tables, successfully giving it a sultry, late-night atmosphere and also making it an instagrammers worst nightmare. We ordered a mixture of dishes, highlights being the pork and rice sausage on lightly fermented cabbage, (which got a re-order) the green mango salad and the catfish laarb. Because the space is small and acoustics unforgiving, the time to go is mid-week and ask for a table in the back dining room.
Miss Lily’s Jerk Shack (Soho and East Village) ££
A For top Jerk Chicken in a revamped american diner, the only place is Miss Lily’s. With a couple of sites in downtown, you can get you fix of Caribbean with chicken, fried plantains, jambalaya and Red Stripe anytime. If you aren’t a Jerk lover another good option is breakfast. Morning offerings include coconut pancakes and Jamaican baked eggs with a chilli sauce, stewed peas and plantain chips. I personally recommend a late night thursday/friday dinner with the 1/2 chicken, west indian veg stew, rice and peas, followed by dancing and Champion bubblas (a Cocchi Americano, raspberry and prosecco cocktail) well into the night. For lunch, a more health conscious jerk grilled sweetcorn on the cob, kale salad and Melvin’s cold pressed juices hit the spot.
Kiki’s (Chinatown) ££
An authentic greek neighbourhood restaurant, on the peripheries of Chinatown. This place is one of downtown’s worst kept secrets and home to some of the best grilled octopus I have had all summer. Decorated in a rustic, unpolished taverna style the restaurant has a somewhat cozy and familiar feeling. The best time to go is on a midweek, ideally on a warm day, when the French doors get flung open on the sidewalk. and you can enjoy their smokey eggplant with crushed walnuts, greek salad, chargrilled fish and moussaka in the sun. Portion sizes err on the side of vast, so go easy on the ordering.
Cosme (Flatiron/East Midtown) £££
If ever there is a place to covert a healthy eater to nachos, its here. Booked along with my flights, this is one place I didn’t want to miss on my trip, it is undoubtedly the place to come for contemporary Mexican-inspired cuisine. I came for a late Sunday lunch. Still running the brunch menu, this contained a mouth watering uni and bone marrow toastada, epozata quesadilla, shredded duck enmoladas swimming in a rich mole sauce and purple nachos swimming in a vibrant green sauce with chicken and creme fraiche. The low points were bolshy staff and chaotic, over filled bar. The highlights being the decorative market style decor, stylish sinks in the loos and the sublime nachos. Regardless I am planning a return trip, for dinner, on my next visit.
Blue Hill (Washington Sq Park) ££££
Blue Hill is the city sister restaurant to Dan Berber’s stone barns farm in upstate New York. With an option of two taster menus and three items in each, you can curate your own experience. Taking field to table to a whole new level the first course of our 5 course taster menu was a halved mini red pepper, serve solo and only partially deseeded. Whether the chef got bored deseeding or that the restaurant feels this level of simplicity is above pretention I will never know. What followed however was sublime. Highlights being the plums, peppers and smoked cheese, the roasted courgette with squash and the corncake with blueberries and creme fraiche. A couple of dishes were oversalted, but I will forgive them, because the experience and delicious mescal cocktail more than made up for it. As for vibe, its not the place to start a party, but ideal for a mellow dinner. Decor reminded me middle aged couple’s living room crossed with the Eurostar’s business lounge. Comfy and rather monotonus, a somewhat anthesis to the menu.
Sushi Azabu (Tribeca) £££
Containing only 9 seats, this intimate little den is absolutely the place to come for sushi lovers. Diners can be seated at the bar in the heart of the action, overlooking the nigiri making mastery on the other side of the counter. This is a must for solo eaters. For daters and late night diners, mood lighting sets the scene for the rest of the restaurant, taking the space from cramped to cosy. Hot sake, eel unagi and fatty tuna were the highlights, but undoubtedly anything on the menu would have been umami-rich and absolutely delicious.
To go to : Restaurants for the next time round
- Sushi Nakazawa (west village) : Japanese
- L’artuzi : Posh italian/ date vibes. Great seafood apparently
- Russ and Daughters (east village) : For pastrami, matzo ball soup and smoked salmon bagels
- Estela (Upper East) : Modern American food. Best for lunch
- ZZ Clam bar (west village) For cocktails pre-dinner
- Los Tacos (Chelsea market) Fast and fresh gluten free tacos for lunch