By Yasmin Fahr
You know how everyone who’s anyone has a ‘guide’ to NYC? The only problem with that is that you can’t just trust anyone’s taste in NYC’s restaurants. There are far, far too many choices to eat somewhere just because someone who spent 72 hours in the city thought it was good. We need a local. We need a local with excellent taste. We need a local with taste who eats out all the time. We need Yasmin Fahr—cookbook author, To Taste recipe developer, restaurant expert, and all-around rad New Yorker.
Dear reader, bookmark this asap.
Q: Start by giving us your 5 most classic, all-time favorite, go-to NYC restaurants, please.
A: This is so hard! Barbuto would have been the top, but alas…
Raoul’s: I love everything about it, from the burger, attitude of the servers, naked lady art on the wall to the menu. It feels like a great escape and is so New York-esque.
Little Prince: I love Little Prince for brunch. In the warmer months, they do a gorgeous flower display outside and have a table that’s kind of outside, which is great. Then in winter, they have a snow machine outside so it always looks beautiful when you’re looking out from inside.
Llama Inn: I am in love with this place. Dinner and lunch and brunch are all solid. Delicious cocktails, interesting food, wonderful people who work there. Can’t go wrong.
Dante: Fantastic drinks (go for their Negroni), vibe, and delicious food. At the risk of sounding annoying, there’s a great energy with fantastic food & drink to back it up.
John’s on Bleecker: They only sell pizza by the pie (not the slice), but I love that it’s a no nonsense place with marked up, engraved booths and slightly gruff service.
Q: Best new restaurant you’ve tried recently?
A: Lamalo — great family-style Israeli place with unreal laffa bread baked in-house. The dips that come out with the laffa are each better than the last and I haven’t even mentioned the Bulgarian feta yet. Everything I’ve had at Lamalo was delicious.
Q: What neighborhoods are seeing the most new restaurant growth lately?
A: In what parts of town are you suddenly planning to eat out? I think Brooklyn as a whole is an even more interesting place to dine out than Manhattan (don’t @ me). Studies have shown that when I look at the running list of places to try that I keep on my phone, there are more in Brooklyn than Manhattan.
Lightning round of faves…
Pizza: John’s for a whole pie, Joe’s for a slice
Japanese: Neta. Fantastic quality and they have a lunch deal that is such a steal.
Italian: Via Carota. It may be on everyone’s list, but their Negronis are damn near perfect and that green salad seriously can’t be beat. Also, their mini cannolis for dessert are drool-worthy. Honorary mention needs to go to the meatball sliders from Little Owl.
Burger: Corner Bistro, still love going there to get a burger, beer, and shot of whiskey. Find me a better combo.
Seafood: Cervos — it’s Portuguese/Spanish with incredible seafood and natural wines.
Bakery & Bagels: Arcade Bakery was my go-to, and I’m still mourning the loss (sometimes I audibly say I miss you when I walk by the former entrance), but I go to Grand Daisy for their incredible Sicilian flatbread crackers with salt. Breads Bakery has a chocolate babka that I truly love. Russ & Daughters is an enduring classic for a reason. Either hit up the original, take-out only location or try their newer sit-down restaurant for their wonderful smoked fish, bagels, babka, and so on. Just beware the restaurant has a long wait, so book if you can or get a drink or a coffee close by while you wait.
Cocktail or Wine Bar: The Ten Bells wine bar, Bar Pisellino (from the Via Carota team) because I love Negronis. I also love the Nomad Bar for cocktails and Pegu Club as it’s still a classic after all these years (they make a great Manhattan).
Thai: Easy: Fish Cheeks is my favorite Thai in NYC.
Vietnamese: I recently tried Van Da—it’s damn good Vietnamese!
Healthyish: I don’t have a new fave now that Souen in Soho closed. Maybe Tiny’s in TriBeCa… They do fantastic healthy-ish food and cocktails — something for (mostly) everyone.
Cheap Eats: Wu’s Wonton King. I love their dim sum but their wonton soup is fantastic for lunch. I also order dumplings from Mimi Cheng’s more than I am ready to admit. I might have a dumpling problem.
Favorite something-not-on-this-list: Cull & Pistol has a fantastic oyster happy hour during the week. Plus, The Lobster Place has an in-store omakase bar where you can get pretty reasonable prices on delicious donburi bowls. Oh, and Faicco’s makes incredible Italian subs (they are huge) and arancini.
Q: Lastly, what’s a stereotype about dining in NYC that’s totally true?
A: That it’s the best in the country! Yes, there are fantastic restaurants in other cities (ed. note: like, LA…ahem), no question about that, but NYC is a restaurant city. Maybe because the weather is almost always crap, save for like six days of the year, it’s a city filled with people who love to eat and drink out, and it’s part of the culture. There are so many incredible restaurants across every borough AND truly wonderful and talented people in the food, drink, and hospitality industries here. They set the bar high.