Women-owned, plant-based, and in the heart of East Village, Luz Market + Restaurant is a spot you don’t want to miss. Flatbreads rule the day at Luz with tasty options like roasted crispy mushroom and pesto with almond ricotta. Guests rave about their bowls, but co-owner Raquel tells us there’s an even a hotter item, “Our zucchini noodles lasagna is definitely our most popular dish. Customers love how delicious it is, whether they are vegetarian or not.” Despite the rising number of vegan eateries opening in Manhattan, Raquel says, “There still isn’t enough. Here in the East Village, people want to try something new and feel good about what they eat. We promote that. Eat flatbread! Feel happy and full!.” Luz sports a gorgeous and spacious garden for outdoor patrons, and a brunch menu is currently in the works. Guests can also grab and go a few items off the menu, and we hear their soft-serve vegan ice cream is one to check out. We’ll see you at 97 St. Marks Pl in the East Village.
Wan Wan is a throwback to Old Phuket-style restaurants where local Thai and immigrant Chinese cooking converge. The outcome is something familiar yet unique in style, showcasing lesser-seen plates to share and a repertoire of brothy noodles. Try their Yum Hoi made with scallops, frisee, sea beans, red onion, and chilies. Wan Wan sports a noodles specialty menu that features their signature Sen Pla, veggie broth, seared branzino, shiitake mushrooms, and fish noodles. The atmosphere and decor are perfect for dates. The stylish and homey interior features exposed brick walls, sepia-toned checkerboard floors, tons of natural light, and colorful textiles covering banquettes and fluffy pillows. Wan Wan is situated at 209 Mulberry St. between Spring St. and Kenmare if you're in Nolita.
Only in America can a Korean-American kid growing up in Los Angeles go on to win a Michelin award for Japanese ramen and then launch a chain of Nashville hot chicken restaurants in the Atlanta metro area. At Scoville Hot Chicken, guests can choose between various heat levels, from a tame yet tasty SHU ~2500 to the blazing SHU ~50,000, and that's not even the hottest one available. The Scoville scale is a measurement of the pungency (spiciness or "Heat") of chili peppers, as recorded in Scoville heat units (shu). You can try their coveted ‘reaper’ spicy level, said to be over SHU ~1,000,000. The story of Scoville Hot Chicken is an unusual one. Scoville Hot Chicken offers sandwich combos for under $12 and a sizable list of soft drinks to wash all the heat away. We recommend their agave vanilla cream soda or fresh-squeezed strawberry lemonade. Ask yourself this question, what spicy level are you? Let us know what spicy level you endured when you visit Scoville Hot Chicken at 117 Orchard St. between Rivington St. and Delancey.
There are two interesting facts about Martiny’s name. One, it comes from the owner Takuma Watanabe’s favorite cocktail, and two, it pays homage to Philip Martiny, a French-American sculptor whose studio used to occupy the space. Martiny’s retains its original 1800s carriage house architecture, and the cozy, intimate layout is perfect for dates and small gatherings. The menu features signature cocktails like the popular Royal Horse’s Neck drink prepared with cognac, orange, lime, egg white, and champagne. Another standout is the ‘The Grand Martiny,” made with Bombay Sapphire gin, La Cigarerra sherry, 2016 port, Hine Rare Cognac, St Germain, and grapes. We learned from a server that the sherry is from a 1978 bottle. “When this bottle is done, that’s the end of it!.” says the server. Find Martiny’s and this rare cocktail at 121 E 17th St between S Park Ave and Union Square.
Sister duo So and Mo takes guests on an authentic, tasty journey to Ayutthaya, a central province 50 miles north of Bangkok. So and Mo spent their childhoods in Ayutthaya, where their mother and grandmother ran a popular seafood restaurant revered for its high-quality dishes and 24-hour operating hours. “We grew up watching our grandma and mom run this restaurant, where it was a combination of some street food and some more traditional seafood classics, all served until the late hours of the evening, like many restaurants in Thailand. They also had a karaoke bar, a popular feature in many local restaurants,” So says. Inside the relaxed atmosphere of Lumlum, guests can look forward to house specials like the ‘Crying Tiger,’ an epic Thai-style grilled ribeye steak served with marinated raw egg, garlic rice, and fried shallot. A popular standout among locals is their ‘Khao Soi Gai,’ a northern Thai coconut curry with chicken and egg noodles.
Kyu is a wood-fired Asian-inspired restaurant. Owned by restaurateur Alan Omsky and business partner Jordan Sayfie, Kyu has a varied menu that offers multiple flavors inspired by the many adventures and global travels of the executive chef and the Japanese barbecue grilling practice, Yakiniku. Try their popular stone pot Thai fried rice served with king crab and a side of Japanese sweet potato smothered in black sugar. We hear their baby back ribs with yakiniku and cilantro are simply divine. The dining scene at Kyu is a lively one and shares the same clubby, live DJ atmosphere as its Miami counterpart. Be sure to bring a couple of friends and a big appetite. Make your way to Kyu at 324 Lafayette St between Houston and Bleeker St. in NoHo.
From the owners of Her Name is Han and other casual tapas-style spots, Palpal is a lively space with an open Wok-station separated by glass, allowing diners to see the cooks in action. The menu features a variety of Korean street food dishes such as grilled prk tacos with cilantro and fresh kimchi. Try a side of their sweet potato cheese fondu, which many locals say works great as a drip for galbi and beef belly dishes. Enjoy the chic, minimalist, and industrial look of Palpal with exposed steel beams lining the ceiling and bare walls hugging the corners. Palpal feels modern and sleek, and we love the kitchen's openness. Perfect for a date night or a get-together with friends. Find this gem at 128 Madison Ave between 31st and 30th street in Midtown.
If it looks and sounds like a food truck, it's probably Viva Birria. Viva Birria began as an in-house taco experience at Orchard Street bar, Boys Don’t Cry. We love the eye-catching storefront. Is that an actual tire? Viva’s signature menu item is a Mexican beef stew served with tortillas, available in beef, pork shoulder, and jackfruit versions. Try their “world famoso” red tacos with your choice of meat and Oaxaca cheese on a corn tortilla seared in their signature red chili oil. A popular dish among locals is their chunky consomme and chips, made with beef birria and gluten-free tortilla chips. You can find Viva Birria at 153 Ludlow St. between Stanton and Rivington St.
After nearly two decades of honing his skills in Japan and New York City, chef Atsushi Kono presents the craft of Japanese yakitori at Kono. Guests should expect a dazzling evening of smoke and fire as chef Kono prepares a yakitori omakase featuring Amish chicken and seasonal vegetables. The atmosphere at Kono is epic, with an expansive 14-seat chef’s counter surrounded by earthy wood tones and rich emerald greens illuminating the space. We’re looking forward to dishes like Chicken Skin Crisps, Chicken Thigh Roulade, and grilled crown. The entire dining experience lasts about two and a half hours and spans 16 courses, so grab a seat and settle in. Find Kono at 46 Bowery in Chinatown.
Live jazz is back on the menu, folks. A mysterious red glow greets you at Melody’s Piano Bar entrance, beckoning you to enter the dimly lit yet intimate interior. Formerly Lexington Bar and Books, Melody’s looks to retain the cozy feel. Black leather couches hug the walls here as a line of candlelit tables are separated by floor-to-ceiling wooden shutters. There is a stage adjacent to the bar area with seating for about 15 comfortably. The whole space has an estimated 60 seats. Although you can order small bites like truffled mac and cheese, Melody’s is all about the drinks. The drink menu has sections for shaken, stirred, “fun”, and non-alcoholic (which in our opinion, could all be fun). On the shaken menu, guests can opt for the “Hail Cesar!” made with tequila, fresh jalapeno, and passion fruit served on the rocks. On the fun side, we recommend “The Grace Kelly” made with mezcal, raspberry, cava rose, and rosemary served on a coup. Melody’s is open Sunday-Thursday from 6 pm to 2 am. Fridays and Saturdays from 6 pm to 4 am. Find the red light at 1020 Lexington Ave between 72nd and 73rd streets.
To enter Gongo, you must enter through Mine Craft Sushi and ask a waiter where Gongo is. Can you feel the anticipation yet? Make your way down a set of stairs, past a hall of lanterns, and to a nondescript curtain in true speakeasy fashion. Gongo sports an outstanding drink selection that features Japanese-inspired craft cocktails (and mocktails), fine sake, shōchū, spirits, wine, and singular upscale Japanese cuisine that reinterprets traditional Japanese flavors all in a sleek and intimate setting. Try their Mussels Saka Mushi, mussels steamed in sake, garlic, and butter. We’re also big fans of their Smoked Saba Bo Sushi, a cured and smoked mackerel sushi roll, a plate that’ll have you asking for more. Guests can enjoy large sashimi platters, roasted duck, and the shiokara for those looking for more of an adventurous bite. The shiokara is cured squid, and according to one local, it goes very well with sake. Try it for yourself at 15 St. Marks Pl between Astor Pl and 3rd Ave.
Need a fast-casual yet health-conscious meal? Welcome to Carrot Express. Located at 18 West 23rd Street, this is Carrot Express' first New York City location. Founded in 1993, Owner Mario Laufer saw a lack of healthy restaurants in Miami Beach and began serving nutritious and tasty food inside a gas station before opening his first brick-and-mortar restaurant. Decades later, Carrot Express now has more than 15 locations. Guests can look forward to an expansive menu featuring salads, all-day breakfast items, large bowls, wraps, juices, and smoothies. Try their best-selling La Bomba wrap made with falafel, quinoa, kale, roasted eggplant, hummus, arugula, spinach, and tomato. Add some tostones on the side and wash it down with “Green Dream” made with kale, spinach, pineapple, and green apple. The Carrot Express makes for an excellent stop the next time you walk by Madison Square Park.
GG Tokyo is a lively Japanese bar and restaurant inspired by six tiny alleys in the Golden Gai district of Tokyo. Guests will find small and large plates intended for sharing. We recommend starting with gochujang rice cakes with caramelized onions; you won’t be disappointed. Try their Kara-age (Japanese fried chicken) with katsuo tartar sauce or their Cold Somen Noodles with Negi. GG Tokyo offers an irresistible miso-maple salmon with potato pancake if you're looking for a bigger bite. Signature cocktails include the golden monkey made with toki whisky, giffard banane du brésil, lemon, pandan leaf, and egg white. GG Tokyo takes cues from the simplicity and comfort of izakaya dining and the seasonality and refinement of kaiseki dining to create a place you can grab a drink, and enjoy a few bites. In addition to the food and beverages, guests can expect an exciting atmosphere that will include late-night programming and special events, from DJs and live entertainment to curated omakase experiences. Find GG Tokyo at 120 East 28th street by Lexington Ave.
It’s what’s inside that counts, at least according to the Keys and Heels website. Speakeasy concepts have been popping up all over New York recently. Still, few have committed to the bit like Keys and Heels, an intimate and photogenic lounge disguised as a locksmith/shoe repair shop. The elegant interior features exposed brick, cinematic lighting, and warm earth tones. Tufted upholstery banquettes and lamp-topped dining tables fill the snug space. We recommend taking a couple of pictures. Guests can look forward to a drink menu featuring the Manhattan High Tea made with Earl Grey-infused syrup and popular cocktails like Negroni and a boozy spritz expertly crafted with guava nectar, prosecco, and vodka. Marinated olives, pigs in a blanket, and homemade focaccia are all among their “lounge bites.” Guests should expect magic shows and surprise live music performances, so make sure you are tuned in to their Instagram feed for more information. Find Keys & Heels at 1488 Second Avenue on the Upper East Side. It is open Thursday through Saturday from 6 pm.
There is no drink menu per se at Joyface. Instead, they have a large bowl filled with the names of certain liquors and mixers, and it is up to you to pick out a few at random, and the bartender will make you a cocktail based on your chosen ingredients. If you’ve ever wondered what was it like to party in the 70s’, then Joyface has you covered and then some. This cocktail spot in the East Village has plush couches and rugs in wildly different colors, illustrations of tigers on the walls, a disco ball, and a functional waterbed in the corner for good measure. You could always order a traditional cocktail if the novelty wears off, but we love the randomness. Joyface also has a pretty sizable fireplace, so bring a date, pick out a few random ingredients from the bowl, and share in the disco fever. Find this 70s portal at 104 Avenue C between 7th St. and 6th St in East Village.
Chef Carmen Ramirez Degollado is one of the most revered names in Mexican cuisine. As the owner of the popular Al Bajio, Carmen, who goes by the name Titita, has been honing her skills since the restaurant first opened in 1972. Now boasting over 18 locations worldwide, El Bajio has become one of the most important chains to ever come out of Mexico. Carmen has her eyes set on New York and beyond as she and her grandsons Sebastian and Santiago open Casa Carmen in Tribeca. The restaurant is an homage to their passion for traditional Mexican food, heritage ingredients, and dining customs. The space evokes the feeling of being in a subdued, earth-toned hacienda with high ceilings and a cozy ambiance. Guests can expect homestyle cooking like rajos con crema, taco de pulpo and panuchos. Casa Carmen has a staggering 52 different tequilas to choose from. Find Casa Carmen at 114 Franklin St between Church St and Avenue of the Americas.
Who says you can’t play with your food? Funny Face Bakery specializes in hand-painted cookies featuring celebrity faces. In 2016, Cupcake Market first made headlines with its unique yet playful premise. In 2019, the bakery relaunched as Funny Face Bakery to more accurately describe its specialty. The bakery still sells cakes and other cookies, but it is now much more focused on the popular face cookies. While customers can opt for pre-made designs like a Nicholas Cage cookie or a funny catch-phrase from the 80s, Funny Face Bakery also allows you to customize your own edible creation. At an order minimum of 10, Custom face cookies will run you about $20 each, animal designs for $22, and custom object designs for $16. What will you create? Find Funny Face Bakery at 319 Lafayette St between Houston St. and Bleeker St.
Over 30 years in the food truck business, Tony’s Dragon Grille still manages to keep things fresh and maintain a loyal following. But how? Manager Konstantino Dragonas tells us, “It’s all about focusing on quality, skill, and preparation.” The story began in 1986 with a small stainless-steel push wagon selling hotdogs and pretzels. Then came street burgers, which are still on the menu to this day, and eventually, the food truck reinvented itself as the go-to spot for high-quality gourmet Greek food. The menu features a surprisingly diverse selection of dishes from wild salmon to ribeye steak and various salads. We love the Mediterranean chicken breast pita with a side of avocado. The weather is starting to heat up, and what better way to lounge in Central Park with a meal from Tony’s Dragon Grille. “We’re just continuing the tradition,” Konstantino says, “customer service, fresh food, this is what we do.” Find Tony’s Dragon Grille at 62nd St and Madison Ave on the Upper East Side.
Who doesn’t love Maman? There is something calming about the iconic, rustic French provincial decor that permeates throughout Maman. The baked goods are noteworthy with a wide variety of pastries inspired by the mothers of co-founders Benjamin Sormonte and Elisa Marshall. Maman, after all, means “mother” in French. The cafe updates its menu as the seasons change, but you can expect to find breakfast goodies – such as quiches, smashed avocado tartines, and granola parfaits – soups, salads, and sandwiches. For this Spring, be sure to order their Antonia Salad made with baby spinach, kale, arugula, and strawberries. You can also grab a coffee or tea and try their famous nutty chocolate chip cookie. Maman makes the perfect pit stop for those waiting for a show or performance to start nearby. Find it at 152 Columbus Ave between 67th St and 66 St in the Upper West Side.
Owner and chef Marco Matheu knows a thing or two about showcasing the rare delicacies and treats from Chile. Before opening Enoteca, Marco and his business partner Daniel Mizner introduced Harlem to Dulceria, an authentic Chilean bakery offering eye-catching and tasty pastries like alfajores and lemon meringue cakes. With Enoteca, Marco is whipping up a dynamic menu that changes every two weeks. Guests can look forward to dishes like Chilean albóndiga (ground meat rolled with rice, eggs, and herbs), an albóndiga Vasca (inspired by Basque cuisine), and a Brazilian version stuffed with a mild, ricotta-like cheese. Locals love the piquillo (stuffed red pepper with codfish) and the impressive assortment of rare wines from Chile and Spain. Marco told us, “We import from small wineries in Chile. These are very small wineries and hard to find as they make minimal quantities of them each year. I love the meticulous effort they put into the wines, and I try to emulate that level of dedication at Enoteca, which is just as small as some of the wineries we work with.” The restaurant consists of an interior patio and a sidewalk terrace decorated with gardenias, cardinal flowers, and hibiscus, a perfect spot for a selfie or two. Still, Marco isn’t too keen on cell phones. “People use their phones all the time at restaurants, but I want them to enjoy each other’s company and put the phone away,” Marco laughs, “we need to go back to enjoying dining together again.” We wholeheartedly agree. Find Enoteca at 2220 Frederick Douglas between Federick Douglass Blvd and W 120th St.
Take in sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline as you enjoy an intimate moment with friends at Darling. Described as Central Park South’s only rooftop lounge, Darling is on the 47th floor of the Park Lane Hotel. Guests can expect an indoor area and an outdoor patio. A standout cocktail includes the wasabi & blood orange margarita, a generous pour of Tepozan Reposado infused with wasabi honey, lavender, lime, and blood orange. DJs spin every Friday and Saturday, and in addition to cocktails, you can get food like a seafood tower and spicy chicken sliders. Darling also hosts an array of eccentric midweek programming like tarot readings and magicians, with one magic show scheduled for May 11th. Be sure to check their website often for event updates and schedule. Darling offers a menu exclusively for Park Lane Hotel guests for those looking for breakfast. We’ll see you at the magic show at 36 Central Park South.
L’abeille is a gorgeous 54-seat French restaurant located at 412 Greenwich Street on a classic Tribeca cobblestone street corner. The restaurant is centered on a six-course prix-fixe menu and provides a rotating selection of seasonal a-la-carte dishes with a robust French wine and cocktail program. L’abeille is the brainchild of Chef Mitsunobu Nagae, a veteran Michelin-starred chef who has worked at multiple legendary restaurants in Tokyo, Paris, and New York. Chef Mitsu was most recently the Chef de Cuisine at Shun in Midtown Manhattan. Some menu highlights include grilled beef with coffee madeira sauce, tilefish with bouillabaisse sauce, and white asparagus with kumquat compote and creme fraiche. L’abeille offers guests the elegance and quality of a Michelin-starred restaurant without the stuffy, jacket-and-tie feel that usually accompanies fine dining. Perfectly suited for special occasions or out-of-town client dinners, L’abeille is a hidden gem worth seeking.
Just Pho You is more than just a clever name. While small during its soft opening, the menu is tightly packed with flavorful, inventive dishes. A must-try is their addictive sugarcane shrimp, prepared by grilling shrimp surimi on a sugarcane stick with peanut garnish and their signature house sauce on the side. The explosive taste of the sugarcane juice blending with the meat is an experience worth having. Owner Wan Chen is excited for customers to check out the ever-growing menu, “Our recipe is one of a kind. It is passed down. I went from being a personal shopper to living the dream of running a restaurant! This menu means everything to me” she tells us. With their signature pho, you can’t go wrong, topped with scallion, onion, and cilantro and served with bean sprouts, Thai basil, lime, and jalapeno for an added kick. “Best beef broth in the Upper West Side,” remarks a fellow foodie reviewer. We’ll see you there with Jasmine tea in hand at 2656 Broadway between 102nd and 101 St in Manhattan Valley.
In the mood for samosas and paneer chili? Honest is a fast-casual Vegetarian Indian restaurant in Greenwich Village, and locals love every bit of it. With another Long Island location and several others throughout the country, Honest offers homestyle dishes that make you feel transported to Ahmedabad. Their signature dish Pav Bhaji is a simple yet spicy vegetable curry served with a soft bread roll. Other menu highlights include pani puri, dry manchurian, and even their take on cheese pizza. The interior is vibrant and colorful, and there is plenty of space for large groups. Find Honest at 176 Bleeker St between Sullivan St and MacDougal St in Greenwich Village.
Mino Brasserie hopes to transport you to Paris with its bright and airy interior, massive antique mirrors, and tan banquettes along with natural wood and zinc elements. The name Mino derives from the word Minot, which is French slang for ‘kid,’ invoking the peaceful memories of childhood. Executive chef Gerald Barthelemy’s menu features French classics like Oeufs Mimosa, hard-boiled eggs with mayonnaise and truffle shavings; Accras de Morue, codfish fritters with aioli; and Pate en Croute, a hand-crafted duck and chicken pate with condiments. Oysters with mignonette sauce, seafood plateau, and a classic caesar are also available. Start with the leeks in vinaigrette, perfectly cooked, or the decadently seasoned french onion soup. Be sure to save some room for dessert–Mino Brasserie makes an excellent chestnut pavlova which some locals are already calling “life-changing.” Find out for yourself at 225 W 12th St between Greenwich Ave and 7th Ave.
Straightforward name, straightforward menu. 7th Street Burger is a no-frills burger joint in Greenwich Village that thrives on simplicity. Choose the cheeseburger for $6.50, make it a double for an extra $3, or get the impossible burger for just $8. Fries, Mexican Coke, and water round out your litany of choices. The burgers are slightly larger than sliders, smaller than most competitors, and come one way only: topped with American cheese, pickles, and house sauce on a griddle-toasted Martin’s potato bun. Owner Kevin Rezvani told New York Magazine that since the opening, the volume has increased to the point “his crew now flips 900 to 1,000 burgers on a typical weekend night.” Simple choices, low prices, and open till 3 am make 7th Street Burger the go-to spot for late-night East Villagers. Find 7th Street Burger on 110 Macdougal St.
Warkop is an Indonesian abbreviation that roughly translates to “small shop or cafe.” The main highlight is their Indomie, Indonesian instant noodles available in chicken bbq, onion, and “og” flavors. Manager Teguh Chandra sees Warkop as a “fast-casual hangout spot that accepts everyone, similar to coffee shops in Indonesia where everyone is welcome no matter their background.” In addition to their noodles, Warkop also offers an array of traditional comfort bites like corn fritters, spring rolls, and an Indonesian twist on the latte called Aren, a signature drink made with coconut palm sugar, coffee, and milk. When asked about the inspiration behind Warkop, Teguh tells us, “Indonesian culture is missing in Manhattan. Sure there is a pocket in Elmhurst, but we want to become a hub for it here in Manhattan and be a safe space for all.” Check out Warkop at 366 W 52nd St between 9th Ave and 8th.
A friendly atmosphere, ample seating, and a great menu make up the majesty of Mayan Bistro. Started by three brothers, the head chef Margarito Guzman has worked in restaurants for 18 years and previously worked at Bistro 1018 (now Marlowe Bistro on 110th and Amsterdam). When asked about the theme behind Mayan Bistro, Margarito claims, “Food making is a skill to all of us here. We’re a family-owned bistro, so everyone does their part to make amazing food for our guests.” Mayan Bistro serves a wide range of palates from pasta, burgers, seafood, and brunch on the weekends. We love their titular Mayan Bistro, one of their signature dishes, made with chorizo, shallots, pacifico beer, cilantro, and jalapeño. For the time being, Columbia University students get a 10% discount. Find Mayan Bistro at 854 Amsterdam Ave on the Upper West Side.
It's hard not to fall in love with All and Sundry’s elegant interior. This buzzy Columbus Circle bar is turning heads from exposed brick walls to the impressive murals created by local artists. We’re big fans of their pumpkin seeds pesto pasta and the juicy ‘Sundry’ burger served on a potato roll and smothered in their “sundry” sauce. Just a short walk across the street from 59th St-Columbus Circle station, All and Sundry is the perfect hangout spot. The kitchen stays open until midnight, and the drinks keep coming until close at 4 am, which is rare for the Columbus Circle area. Stop by for happy hour from 12 pm to 7 pm and enjoy a glass of champagne for $12 and oysters for $2.50. Whether it's a birthday celebration or a date night, make sure you make your way to All and Sundry at 312 W 58th St between 9th Ave and 8th.
What started as a popup in 2019 from veteran chefs Jeffery Kim, Matthew Lee, and Victor Xia of Momofuku fame is now a thrilling new New Asian-American restaurant. If you’re wondering about the odd name, a Nudibranch is a mollusk, a soft-bodied gastropod known for its vibrant coloring yet seldom seen in plain sight. The restaurant’s name reflects a metaphor for the chefs’ philosophy on dining; like the elusive nudibranch, the owners see the restaurant as something beautiful and colorful worth discovering. The menu is truly something to behold for those looking to diversify their palate, from frog legs prepared with lemongrass, galangal, and ginger to a juicy turkey neck smothered in white sauce and hot sauce. We love the variety at $75/person, and you won’t find these offerings anywhere else. Sit back and enjoy the warm and intimate atmosphere of Nudibranch at 125 1st Ave between St Marks Pl and 7th St.
Grab a seat and experience what many on the Lower East Side call the best-kept secret in Omakase dining. Fifteen fresh and creative courses, including dessert and complimentary sake, for less than $100 make Takumi easily one of Manhattan's most affordable Omakase options. Standout pieces include the firefly squid with shiso leaf and miso vinegar and seared A5 wagyu beef with yuzu pepper paste. Guests get approximately 75 minutes to relax and chow down, but the staff does not make you feel rushed. Currently, Takumi Omakase is BYOB, so don’t forget to bring your preferred beverage. Get in on the secret and find Takumi Omakase at 181 Essex St. between Stanton St. and Avenue A.
After winning over patrons and attracting celebrities at their FiDi location for three years, The Brooklyn Chop House opens its 2nd location in Times Square, doubling down on the size and glamor. With room for over 600 guests over five levels, including six private dining rooms, three bars, a rooftop bar, and an exclusive member’s only NFT lounge due to open sometime in May, the Brooklyn Chop House is already a hot premier spot. Guests can expect the restaurant’s famous “LSD” entree, an epic assortment of lobster, steak, and duck served with lobster-chicken fried rice, french fries, onion rings, wok-fried mushrooms, and onions. Brooklyn Chop House’s menu is quite varied and extensive, their dumpling and homemade noodles list alone is longer than most menus. The atmosphere is festive, upscale, and perfectly suited for dates or birthday parties, no matter if you’re a local or a tourist. Join the fun at 253 W 47th St. between Broadway and 8th Ave.
Jaz gets its name from owner Jaz Rupall who was born and raised as a second-generation British-Indian in Hertfordshire, England. After arriving in the United States, her longing for some home cooking inspired her to open Jaz in Hell’s Kitchen. The menu features delicacies such as shrimp Bachao, pan-fried shrimp in a spicy onion-chili sauce, and the tandoori platter, including chicken tikka masala, ginger chicken, and sheikh kebab. Guests can accompany their main courses with a wide selection of different bread like their Peshawari naan, a sweet naan made with almonds, raisins, and coconut stuffing. Jaz also sports a robust wine list and an assortment of Indian-inspired craft cocktails. Try their spicy chili margarita for a refreshing kick or their Jal Jeera Mojito. Regional bottled beers like Kingfisher and Taj Mahal are available for those looking to immerse themselves in Northern India fully. This spot is excellent for groups, so bring your friends and Jaz it up at 813 9th Ave on W 54th street.
Gem Wine feels like going to a cool friend’s house who’s really into wine. The sleek yet simplistic approach to decor creates a relaxed atmosphere. Run by veteran chef Flynn McGarry, Gem Wine is a neighborhood wine bar steps away from his restaurant aptly named Gem on Forsyth Street. The wine bar nearly mirrors its sister location in style and space but focuses on low-intervention winemakers and small dishes like smoked mackerel with artichokes and green olives. Interestingly enough, Gem Wine is only open Monday through Friday 5 pm - 11 pm for walk-ins, so it is a prime spot for the after-work crowd looking to enjoy a glass of wine before heading home. Find this Lower East Side Gem at 297 Broome Street.
Can you smell the freshly baked chocolate babka? Upper East Siders have a lot to look forward to with the recent opening of Michaeli Bakery’s 2nd NYC location (the first location is in LES). This hotly anticipated spot is helmed by Israeli chef-owner Adir Michaeli, who served as head baker at the acclaimed Breads Bakery. His famous and sought-after chocolate nutella babka there took the city by storm. Michaeli Bakery features an identical menu as the Lower East Side location. Guests can expect Burekas freshly baked every weekday and signature items like “pastry galil,” made with goat cheese, za’atar, and honey. Challah is also baked every Friday, in keeping with Jewish tradition. This new location is slightly larger than the LES location, sporting a row of stools and a counter overlooking the street. The open-kitchen setup is designed to put the oven front and center for patrons sitting directly behind the cashier. Join us for a rugelach at 401 East 90th St. between York Ave and 1st.
One of Lullaby’s most popular drinks is simply called “the whiskey drink” and is described on the menu as a solid choice if you wish to “look sophisticated in front of your date.” Part of what makes this basement-level cocktail bar so charming is the people behind it. Backed by Boston cocktail legend Brother Cleve in partnership with young mixologists Harrison Snow and Jake Hodas, Lullaby is a clever pairing of fancy cocktails and neighborhood dives. The team sees Lullaby as a “dressed down yet high caliber cocktail experience, that brings a level of accessibility and foregoes the frills and pretenses of a modern cocktail bar.” Brother Cleve, who got his name from hosting a radio show in Boston, helped develop the menu and occasionally DJs. One of our favorite concoctions is their alcoholic ‘Dole Whip,’ a twist on the popular soft-serve dessert sold at Walt Disney theme parks. Beer and shot combos are available for $7, and the cocktails are $15 or less. Lullaby offers a charcuterie board, mixed nuts, and olives if you need a small snack. Be sure to make your way to 151 Rivington St in the Lower East Side and find the basement entrance with a red Lullaby neon sign. We’ll see you there.