Saturday, June 7, 2008

My favorite restaurants

I want to keep a very informal track of my favorite restaurants -- the ones that I actually crave and want to revisit here. I suppose in some sense these are the true 5-stars! These are the places I would take visitors without hesitation for really delightful food.

Eleven guaranteed blow-your-mind NYC food experiences:
Molten chocolate cake at the dessert truck
Shroomburger at Shake Shack
Pizza at Grimaldi's, well-done
Black and white milkshake at Stand
Red velvet cupcake at Buttercup Bakery
Sicilian slice at Artichoke
Chocolate croissant at Brasserie Cognac
Original sour cream apple walnut pie at Little Pie Co., warmed, served a la mode
Paneer Kati Roll at Kati Roll Co.
Honey latte at Second Stop

Clinton St. Baking Co. (for pancakes especially, also muffins) (LES)
The Smith (french toast, mac and cheese) (EV)
Jane (french toast) (WV)
Stanton Social (everything, esp. bomboloni) (LES)
Farm at Adderley (french toast, everything)
Buttermilk Channel (pecan french toast)
August (cast-iron dishes) (WV)
Sarabeth's (fresh muffins) (multiple locations)
Bocca Lupo (Brooklyn)
Telepan (bread basket) (UWS)
Five Points (bread basket, chocolate stuff, egg dishes) (EV)
Ronnybrook Milk Bar (cast iron eggs, croissant egg sandwich, roasted potatoes with garlic and butter, milkshakes) (Chelsea)
Moto (Williamsburg...delicious pancakes, donuts)
Taste (UES)
Corner Bakery (UES)
Olea (french toast, fresh chocolate croissants)
iCi (french toast)

Chocolates: Pierre Marcolini, Maison du Chocolat, Bespoke Chocolates, Kee's, Mondel's, Neuhaus, Martine's, Bespoke Chocolate (EV), Teuscher for champaign truffles (UES)
Chocolate Chip Cookies: Chocolate Bar, Jacques Torres, Baked, Petrossian's Cafe, David Burke and Donatella at Bloomingdale's
Brownie: Fat Witch, David Burke and Donatella at Bloomingdale's
Hot Chocolate: Dessert Truck, Grom (also try their affogato)
Chocolate Bread Pudding: Dessert Truck, Russ & Daughters (chocolate bagel pudding)
Chocolate Cake: Two Little Red Hens
Chocolate Gelato: Il Laboratorio di Gelato
Chocolate Sorbet: The Chocolate Room (Brooklyn)
Chocolate croissant: David Burke and Donatella at Bloomingdale's, Petrossian's Cafe, Bouley, Brasserie Cognac, Eli's (UES), Tarallucci e Vino
Chocolate milkshake (or milkshakes generally): Stand, Ronnybrook Milk Bar, Shake Shack

Iced Chocolate: Chocolate Bar
Chocolate Dumpling: Rickshaw Dumpling Bar
Molten Chocolate Cake: Dessert Truck

Ice Cream/Gelato:
Il Laboratorio di Gelato
Shake Shack
Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
Otto (for the olive oil gelato)
Mr. Softee (sometimes it hits the spot)
Ronnybrook Milk Bar (blueberry milkshake is awesome)

Baked Goods:
Croissants - David Burke & Donatella at Bloomingdales, Petrossian's Cafe, Bouley, Brasserie Cognac, Almondine, La Tropezienne, Madeleine, Tarallucci e Vino
Cupcakes - Kumquat Bakery (Brooklyn - only at flea right now or else visit Korean restaurant Do Hwa in Manhattan), Sugar Sweet Sunshine (LES - pumpkin), Buttercup Bakery (midtown east - red velvet especially), Sweet Revenge (WV - red velvet especially, chocolate was just ok), Crumbs (certain flavors, like Baba Booey), Eleni's (peanut butter)
Apple Pie: Little Pie Co. (only hell's kitchen location - get the original apple pie)
Other pies: Grey Dog Coffee
Bomboloni: Sullivan St. Bakery, Dessert Truck, Grandaisy, Almondine
Bread: Sullivan St. Bakery, Almondine
Brunch coffee cakes, etc. - Telepan
Scones - Clinton St. Baking Co., Alice's Teacup
Red Velvet Cake - Smooch (it's in Brooklyn, and the cake's vegan too, but tastes amazing!), Buttercup
Cheesecake: Imported lemon-ricotta cheesecake from Bedford Cheese Shop
Hungarian Pastries (try the kugelhopf): Andre's Hungarian Bakery
Vegan - Babycakes, Cakelove, the place that makes desserts for Smooch (Ft Greene) and Curly's (EV) - try the vegan red velvet
Churros - Five Points
Doughnuts - Peter Pan, Doughnut Plant (some of their donuts, like their chocolate thing)
Macarons: Dessert Truck, Cafe Macaron (midtown), Maison du Chocolat, Tafu (midtown)
Coconut Macaroons: Baked (Red Hook or outlets)
Muffins - Second Stop (Williamsburg - try donut muffins)
Misc - Russ & Daughters (try the chocolate babka and the bagel pudding)
Cookies - for choc chip see chocolate section; otherwise Something Sweet (EV) has delicious hard cookies; Baked (Red Hook or served at Cafe Royale in WV) for its chocolate-covered coconut macaroons
Rice pudding - Rice to Riches
Cake - Busy bee cake at Black Hound (EV, which otherwise has some mediocre stuff); Mississippi Mud cake at Little Pie Co, tiramisu at Obika
Japanese: Minamoto Kitchoan (midtown - try red bean cake), Tafu
Key lime pie: Steve's Key Lime Pies (Red Hook)
Cannoli & other italian desserts - Ricotta stand at Brooklyn flea, Villabate (Bensonhurst), Rocco's on Bleecker

Sit-down Desserts:
Midscale dessert parlors: Chocolate Room (Park Slope & Court St) - brownie sundae, Serendipity's (good ice cream concoctions, frozen hot chocolate)
Innovative but still tasty - WD-50, Graffiti
Vegan: Kyotofu
Other: Chikalicious (EV) - beautiful, though portions are small, Gramercy Tavern, Perry St (try their pudding)

Banh Mi Saigon Bakery
Abraco for their sandwich of the day
Shake Shack for their vegetarian "burger" (two portabello mushrooms around a block of muenster cheese - and the whole thing's deepfried)
Num Pang - cauliflower and eggplant
Barnyard - vegetarian sandwiches
Obika - fresh mozzarella
Nha Troi - banh mi

The side salads at Square Meal are excellent

Locanda Verde (Tribeca)
Cacio e Pepe (EV) - esp. the signature cacio e pepe dish
Alloro (UES)
apizz (LES)
Perbacco (EV)
Supper (EV)
Celeste (UWS)
Obika - must try their fresh mozzarella dishes, tiramisu (Midtown East)
Spotted Pig - genuinely excellent gnudi, but it is a small portion and expensive for that
Bar Pitti (WV) - great salads and pasta
Tre - wonderful dishes and plating for reasonable prices. try the pasta primavera if they have it, and the tiramisu. (LES)
La Lanterna di Vittorio - beautiful garden in the back, delicious food, reasonable prices (WV)

Shake Shack

Cheap Gujurati: Gujurati Newsstand (but nonexistent service) at 6th and 37th
Somewhat less cheap Gujurati: Vatan
Standard N. Indian: Polash (Spanish Harlem!), Banjara (EV)
Standard N. Indian & S. Indian, somewhat upscale: Chola (Midtown East)
N. Indian upscale, good but not extraordinary flavors: Tamarind
Indian fusion: Graffiti (EV), Vermilion (Midtown East) (Indian-Latin)
S. Indian: Tiffin Wallah (28th and Lex) and Tamil Nadu Bhavan (same area)
Kathi Roll: Kati Roll Co. (Village, Midtown), Grill 44 (near 44th and 3rd), Bombay Frankie (near Columbia on Amsterdam)

Coffee & Tea:
St's Alp Tea House (EV and Williamsburg) - amazing bubble tea (try the taro green tea) and a delicious toast with condensed milk
Gimme! Coffee (Nolita)
Ninth Street Espresso (EV, Chelsea Market)
Joe the Art of Coffee (Union Sq, Grand Central)
Abraco (EV)
Kaffe 1668 (Tribeca)
Espresso 77 (Jackson Heights)
Second Stop (Williamsburg)
Zibetto (Midtown West)
Via Quadronno (UES)

Street Carts:
El Rey del Sabor (60th and 3rd, Mexican)
Dessert Truck
Treats Truck
Jianetto's Pizza Truck
Dosa Man (wash sq park)

Caracas Arepa Bar
Macondo (only above-avg Latin American street food - but not an easy category to find) (LES)

Middle Eastern:
Hummus Place
Maoz Falafel

Murray's Bagels
Kossar's Bialys
Absolute Bagels (esp. the mini-bagels)


Old-School New York: Grimaldi's (Brooklyn), John's on Bleecker, San Marzano (Clinton and Rivington), Di Fara (Midwood in Brooklyn), Patsy's East Harlem (only the sit-down operation, not the by the slice part)

Italian-style: Franny's (Brooklyn), Gnocco (EV), Company (Chelsea), Tonda (EV), Keste (WV), Motorino (Brooklyn)

Square: Lazzara's (38th b/t 7th and 8th), L&B Spumoni, Adrienne's (Financial District), Maffei (Chelsea), Ben's (Soho and Village) grandma slice, Artichoke (14th between 1st and 2nd)

Pizza by the Slice:
Sullivan St. Bakery (roman-style pizza served room temperature, not normal slices)
Grandaisy (split off from Sullivan St. Bakery)
Maffei (Chelsea)
Sacco (Midtown West)
That place in Williamsburg
Grandaisy (Sullivan's split-off sister restaurant; try the fennel pizza)

Avra (Midtown East)
Pylos (EV)
Kefi (UWS)

Chavella's (Prospect Heights)
Mexicana Mama (W. Village)
Bonita (Brooklyn in Ft. Greene)
La Superior (Williamsburg)
Tacos Matamoros (Sunset Park)
Tulcingo del Valle (midtown west)
Blue Hill
Dirt Candy (vegetarian, and amazing)
Eleven Madison Park (but tell them you're vegetarian in advance...the mashed potatoes were outstanding, as was their fritatta when they used to have a brunch)
Per Se
Perry St (W. Village)
Buttermilk Channel (Carroll Gardens)


Tapas (incl. int'l tapas):
Stanton Social

Sripraphai (Queens)
Isle Thai (W. Village)
Bodhi Tree (E. Village)

Pegu Club
Buddha Bar
Flatiron Lounge

Turkish Kitchen (Murray Hill)
Ali Baba (Murray Hill)
Beyoglu (UES)

Pure Food and Wine (just for kicks - they're super-creative)
Gobo (WV)
Dirt Candy (EV)

Madiba (Ft. Greene)
Awash (E. Village)

Cool ambience:
Vinegar Hill House
Buttermilk Channel
Per Se
SEA (Brooklyn)


N said...

Thanks for this list! I think someone mentioned your site on Chowhound... I'm glad I found it. I agree with many of your choices and have discovered a few places through your site. As a vegtarian, it's very useful.

Based on your selections, I would also recommend you try the following places:
-Indian Bread Co. (they have paneer naaninis)
- Barbounia
- Galaxy Global
- Casaville
- Public
- Aquavit (veg tasting menu)

Have tons more, but these some of my favorites that I didn't see reviewed yet.

Akilesh Ayyar said...

Glad you're finding the site useful! Aquavit is a great choice, though I visited there long ago and it's definitely due for a revisit.

I've tried Indian Bread Co., though I have to admit I did not find it as tasty as the Kati Roll Co.

Public is tasty but the vegetarian selection is very limited.

I'll have to give the rest of the restaurants on your list a try. Thanks!

Shan said...

Hey, thanks for the list. Also checkout my map:

Jenn Test said...

Hi there! Thanks for this great list. Wondering if you have any suggestions... I have a friend visiting from Italy and would love to take him to a really nice restuarant. He's a carnivore and I'm a veggie/bordering on vegan, but am flexible. Not sure where to go which can accommodate both of us well... I'm looking for something memorable and cozy... any thoughts? Thanks!