Where to Eat in NYC: Spring 2015 Edition

Noah Fecks

Spring has finally sprung in New York City, which means it’s time to get out and enjoy the best newcomers to the local dining scene. This season, aside from new openings, a couple of old favorites have moved and, in the process, reinvented themselves a bit. Meanwhile, the culinary options are just as diverse as ever, so you’ll be satisfied whether you want the surprising delights of a vegetarian menu or an extravagant seventeen-course dinner. Read on to discover where you should be eating this spring.

By Kate Donnelly

Evan Sung

Dirt Candy

WHERE: Lower East Side

Chef-owner Amanda Cohen has moved Dirt Candy from a small East Village space to a comparatively airy sixty-seat home on the Lower East Side. The creative menu features a proper mix of vegetarian dishes including crowd-pleasing favorites like the fluffy “monkey bread” in a clay pot (complimentary) and jalapeño hush puppies with maple butter. Try shareable plates like Brussels sprout tacos with smoked avocado, or the larger cabbage hot pot served with a bevy of accompaniments.  For a palate cleanser at the end of the meal, the vegetable-flavored sorbets fit the bill.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Travel Guide

Gabriele Stabile

Momofuku Ko

WHERE: East Village

The sleek new location of chef David Chang’s Momofuku Ko doles out a serious seventeen-course set menu to die-hard fans and discerning foodies. The presentation is theater-like, with executive chef Sean Gray preparing his dishes in full view of diners. Block out a reasonable chunk of time to move through the meal—and know it won’t come cheap. Still, the ever-evolving meal features no shortage of wonders, like confit sunchoke and bay scallop with pineapple dashi broth. Of course, plating is an art form here and highly recommended for sharing on Instagram.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Travel Guide

Noah Fecks

August

WHERE: Upper East Side

The new seventy-two-seat location of chef Josh Eden’s New American August offers a lineup of classic comfort food favorites with inventive twists, like mussels steamed with lemon-beer broth and kale, and braised short ribs with honey-sriracha Brussels sprouts.  New additions to the menu, such as cauliflower risotto and roasted scallops with celery root and apple, don’t disappoint, either. The room is dressed in wood, exposed brick, zinc tabletops, and crème-colored booths. Just in time for the season, the paneled doors open for al fresco dining and sidewalk seating.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Travel Guide

Eric Laignel

Chevalier

WHERE: Midtown West

You’ll get a first-class experience at the new Baccarat Hotel’s modern French restaurant, Chevalier, helmed by Michelin-starred chef Shea Gallante (Cru) and the renowned fine-dining host Charles Masson (Le Grenouille). The glamorous main dining room of eighty seats pays homage to Paris with beautiful, elegant chandeliers, lush banquettes, linen tablecloths, and, of course, stunning crystal glasses. As for the food, nibble on the tortellini with braised duck, truffle, and leeks before you move on to the roasted skate with brown butter and capers and a glass of Champagne.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Travel Guide

Courtesy of Streetbird Rotisserie

Streetbird

WHERE: Harlem

The ever-evolving Harlem food scene receives another culinary nod from neighborhood champion Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster). This time, it’s all about rotisserie chicken. The personality-laden Streetbird is situated in a casual dining room with a wall of boom boxes, chandeliers made of drum sets, and memorabilia honoring Harlem through the decades (graffiti art, hip hop posters, and even Samuelsson’s own sneakers). The main attraction is chicken, which you can dress with a variety of sauces, from smoky to sweet to spicy. Other delights include Chinese-style noodles and New Jack fried rice, made with green papaya and your choice of protein.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Travel Guide

Sasha Israel

Rocky Slims

WHERE: Gramercy

A wood-fired pizza joint called Rocky Slims sits perched on corner in a non-descript part of town. Inside, chef Angelo Romano (formerly of famous Roberta’s) presents dishes like house-made mascarpone with dried tomatoes, wood-roasted chestnuts, and fennel in Sambuca. Of course, brick-oven pizzas pair well with a smartly curated wine list. The rustic space is a melding of exposed brick, tin ceilings, and long, red-leather banquettes. If it’s a slice (made with organic flour) you crave, a side entrance is the perfect place for a takeout lunch; options include plain, white (ricotta, pecorino, mozzarella), or a grandma slice made with crushed tomato, sausage, onion, and garlic butter.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Travel Guide

Che Stipanovich

The Heyward

WHERE: Williamsburg

Southern seafood is all the rage at The Heyward, named after the Southern poet DuBose Heyward. Inside, a light-gray room is enhanced with a handsome, curved raw bar, pressed-tin ceiling, black-and-white subway tile, wood banquettes, white brick, and marble tables. Chef Derek Orrell (a Locanda Verde vet) doles out items from a rich she-crab soup to shrimp and grits with chorizo and shishito peppers. Mains include a New York strip steak and pork chop with orange mustard marmalade.  For the early bird set, brunch is now open for business.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Travel Guide

Miro Gal

Bricolage

WHERE: Park Slope

Down in charming, picturesque Park Slope, the modern “Vietnamese gastropub” Bricolage is a product from seasoned vets of San Francisco’s highly acclaimed Slanted Door. The room showcases exposed brick and reclaimed wood, while the menu shifts seasonally and includes dishes like pork ribs, zesty green papaya salad, and flank steak. Northern specialties like grilled tilefish are dressed with dill and scallions, served over a smart pile of arugula. A nice menu diversion is the traditional cod dish from Hanoi seasoned with turmeric and with rice vermicelli. Surprisingly, a molten chocolate cake for dessert with Danish blue cheese pairs perfectly with a cup of coffee.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Travel Guide

John Carey

Zuma

WHERE: Murray Hill

High-end, contemporary Japanese haven Zuma has landed in New York. Hailing from a London-based group, this mini-empire is already well known in sceney circles with international locales in cosmopolitan cities like Hong Kong, Istanbul, Dubai, and Miami. Situated over two levels, there’s a variety of seating centered around a mod sushi bar and grilling station. The room has natural earthy tones and tables made from Indonesian wood, granite columns and iron walls. Signature dishes include roasted lobster with shiso-ponzu butter and spicy beef tenderloin with sesame, red chile, and sweet soy sauce. Wash everything down with some cool unfiltered sake.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Travel Guide

Michael Tulipan

Javelina

WHERE: Flatiron District

It was only a matter of time before legitimate Tex-Mex invaded New York City. Javelina’s airy 58-seat dining room is blonde-colored wood-on-wood accented with patterned tiles and taxidermy. To start, thick queso is served with traditional yellow cheese—and you’re able to add decadent fixings like brisket or chorizo. There’s always Texas red chili to start, and mains include brisket tacos (an open kitchen lets you watch the tortilla pressing) and shareable entrees (read: generous portions) like chicken fried steak and west Texas stacked enchiladas with lamb and red chile sauce. Other touches include frozen margaritas and brews like Lone Star. In true Texas fashion, go big or go home!

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s New York City Travel Guide