The 101 Best (New) Cheap Eats, Ranked
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The 101 Best (New) Cheap Eats, Ranked

1

Neerob

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
1

Neerob

There may be no better advertisement for the Bronx than this bustling Bangladeshi steam-table joint, where owner Mohammed Khokon, a genial, welcoming presence, is intent on making his cuisine known to New Yorkers who file everything South Asian under the general heading of Indian. He succeeds wildly: A meal at Neerob is an eye-opening, palate-thrilling crash course in gingery chana dal, fragrant goat biryani, and vegetables like cabbage and spinach cooked into soft, intricately spiced succulence, not mush. Seafood is the centerpiece of Bangladeshi cooking, and the options seem endless, from whole fried tilapia to shadlike ilish, the national fish. But if there’s one thing you haven’t seen before, it may well be the bhartas, an assortment of cold, aggressively seasoned mashed vegetables or pungent fish that serve as condiments. That spice note you can’t identify is mustard oil, a biting, wasabi­like flavor that characterizes the cuisine and stays imprinted in your taste memory, a souvenir of a feast like none other. 2109 Starling Ave., nr. Olmstead Ave., Parkchester; 718-904-7061 (View the Listing)

2

Gaia Italian Cafe

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
2

Gaia Italian Cafe

Gaia Bagnasacco serves homespun, absurdly affordable Italian salads, sandwiches, and pasta; bakes her own focaccia and pastries; and runs daily specials that belie the casual setting and $13-and-under price point. Be sure to heed the unwritten rules of the house: Dinner is served only on Friday and Saturday night, when the kitchen is open until 7:30 and 9:30, respectively, and if you plan to visit then (anytime after 4 p.m., really), make a reservation; the 18 seats go fast. BYO (Discovery Wines is around the corner, on B and 2nd). Order at the counter. And be patient: As Bagnasacco is fond of saying, this is not fast food. You will want at least one baked pasta, cooked and served in a sort of tin camping pot, like the spinach-ricotta gnocchi barely bound by flour; one panino, like the Sano, with frittata, pesto, and Parmesan; and whatever special Bagnasacco has just scribbled onthe board. 251 E. Houston St., nr. Norfolk St.; 646-350-3977 (View the Listing)

3

El Rey Coffee Bar and Luncheonette

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
3

El Rey Coffee Bar and Luncheonette

Coffee shop. Bakery. Craft-beer and wine bar. Lunch counter. Somehow, this shoe box of a Lower East Side space has multitasked its way into the neighborhood’s heart, and locals congregate at all hours for any number of food-and-drink-related reasons. Foremost among them: chef Gerardo Gonzalez’s inspired, veggie-centric, nut-and-grain-dappled lunch menu, which tastes like a seamless amalgam of Middle Eastern and Mexican influences, as filtered through the psychedelic palate of a SoCal surfer dude. 100 Stanton St., nr. Ludlow St.; 212-260-3950

4

El Quinto Pino

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
4

El Quinto Pino

This is where the city’s preeminent Spanish-food couple, Alex Raij and Eder Montero, came up with the “uni panini,” easily one of the greatest sandwiches of the past decade. Its genius lies not in the concept of plopping blobs of sea urchin onto a ficelle (your average Frenchman has been doing that for years) but in Raij-Montero’s having found a soul mate for the uni in the form of a butter they flavor with Korean mustard oil. This type of flourish is standard practice at EQP. Eggs are scrambled with sea anemone. Manchego is marinated in za’atar. Mackerel comes with a side salad … of kombu. Is it traditional? Modern? An old family recipe? Raij and Montero also run the Basque joint Txikito across the street and La Vara in Brooklyn, which explores Spain’s Moorish and Jewish culinary legacies, but El Quinto Pino, which recently expanded from a standing-room bar into a bona fide restaurant, is the most eclectic and experimental of the bunch, not to mention the least expensive.  401 W. 24th St., nr. Ninth Ave.; 212-206-6900 (View the Listing)

5

Saltie

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
5

Saltie

While New York gorged on dry-aged burgers and deep-fried stoner grub, Saltie created the lettuce sandwich. But there is much more to recommend this quirky shop than its iconoclastic Romaine Dinghy. There’s the pickle-palooza that is the Scuttlebutt, and the Clean Slate, a sublime open-faced Middle Eastern kitchen sink, all distinguished by housebaked focaccia and chewy naan; bright, piquant dressings; and flurries of fresh herbs. There’s the seasonal specials, like panzanella and a niçoise salad with sardines. And then there’s the pastry case, ample reward for finishing your veggies in the form of oatmeal-caraway cookies and buttery-crusted galettes.  378 Metropolitan Ave., nr. Havemeyer St., Williamsburg; 718-387-4777 (View the Listing)

6

Black Seed Bagels

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
6

Black Seed Bagels

You have to give Black Seed’s Matt Kliegman and Noah Bernamoff credit for doing the unthinkable: getting people excited about bagels again. Actually, no, we take that back. New Yorkers are always excited about bagels (some would say too easily excited). But what they’re usually so worked up about, aside from whether scooping should be considered a criminal offense, is how bloated and insipid bagels have become. Not at Black Seed. Indeed, a paddleful of bagels being pulled from the wood-fired oven at a rate that would impress the pizzaioli up the street at Lombardi’s is a beautiful sight. And the bagels are hot and fresh throughout the day, as well as reminiscent of the great bagels of old (or, at least, reminiscent of what nostalgists tell you about the great bagels of old): Smallish in size with a largish hole that affords a superior crust-to-crumb ratio, they’re perfectly dense and chewy, with a hint of crispness. Is there a Yiddish term for al dente? That you can get these wonder bagels with not only a schmear and the usual accoutrements but also beet-cured salmon, tobiko cream cheese, smoked bluefish, watermelon radish, and a few other things Barney Greengrass never imagined is nothing to sneer at.  170 Elizabeth St., nr. Kenmare St.; 212-730-1950 (View the Listing)

7

Little Pepper

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
7

Little Pepper

This Sichuan destination might be a little less conveniently located, now that it’s been transplanted from its downtown-Flushing birthplace to subway-then-bus College Point, but with the move came a bigger, more comfortable setting in which to stretch out and leisurely feast on some of the city’s very best Chinese food. The expansive menu invites experimentation, but if you want a sure thing, go for crowd-pleasers like cumin lamb, spicy cold noodles, braised fish, and the ever-popular “crust of cooked rice with pork,” a Little Pepper signature.  18-24 College Point Blvd., College Point; 718-939-7788

8

Xi’an Famous Foods

Photo: Jocelyn Jiang/Courtesy of Xi'an Famous Foods
8

Xi’an Famous Foods

Every cheap eater’s favorite mini-chain is not so mini anymore. Not when there are six branches and counting of the soulful Shanxii-street-food specialist, some positioned in such exotic, far-flung locales as the Upper West Side, with Boston and D.C. in partner Jason Wang’s sights. That doesn’t mean that Wang has gone all Chipotle on us or that quality has slipped. On the contrary, every lamb-centric, cumin-charged dish is as good as it’s always been, including all the various hand-ripped noodles, and our personal favorite, the lamb pao-mo soup. In fact, quality control seems to be foremost on Wang’s mind these days, judging by this note on the restaurant’s website: “*WARNING: PLEASE READ: Food tastes best when fresh from the kitchen. When hot noodles cool down, they get bloated, mushy, and oily. If you must take your noodles to go, please at least try the noodles in the store or right out of the to-go containers.”  Multiple locations (View the Listing)

9

Porchetta

Photo: Rob Patronite
9

Porchetta

Little-known fact: Sara Jenkins did not invent the porchetta sandwich. (Though sometimes we think she might own the trademark.) But no one has done more to popularize the classic Italian street snack and festival food in this town than she. When Jenkins opened this East Village shop six years ago, she set off a veritable porchetta craze. To meet demand, she pulls double duty selling sandwiches at Smorgasburg. At Thanksgiving, she’s been known to convert lifelong turkey addicts, tempting them with whole heat-and-eat roast porchettas. She’s even fed the troops, shipping her handiwork to Afghanistan at the request of a culinarily inclined U.S. Marine master sergeant who contacted Jenkins after Googling “best sandwich.” Someone—the Florentine Porchetta Appreciation Society, if such a group exists—ought to throw her a parade.  110 E. 7th St., nr. First Ave.; 212-777-2151 (View the Listing)

10

Ivan Ramen

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
10

Ivan Ramen

Yes, the signature noodles are made from rye flour and the soup—lighter than most yet still packed with flavor—a potent blend of dashi and chicken broth. But beyond his signature ramens, including the rich, drier mazemens, Ivan Orkin has crafted a repertoire of cunning small plates that playfully fuse his New York roots and Japanese fluency: deep-fried chicken livers and hearts, a Caesar riff with tofu dressing and anchovy-Parmesan fricos, fried tofu with a veggie-chili-dog topping, and the Lancaster okonomiyaki—a scrapple waffle decked out like the Japanese savory pancake.  25 Clinton St., nr. Stanton St.; 646-678-3859

11

Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
11

Hunan Kitchen of Grand Sichuan

So is it Hunanese or is it Sichuanese? The answer, as at most of the other branches of the Grand Sichuan chainlet, is a bit of both. Which means that along with the numbing, tingly assault of the Sichuan peppercorn, you can expect a rainbow of chile peppers, dried, pickled, or preserved; grimacing fish heads in sputtering broth; and powerfully pungent wallops of smoke, applied to everything from pork and duck to bamboo and, most enticingly, beef, which becomes, in the process, something akin to jerky, only a million times better. 42-47 Main St., nr. Franklin Ave., Flushing; 718-888-0553 (View the Listing)

12

Taste of Persia NYC

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
12

Taste of Persia NYC

It’s not too much to say that Saeed Pourkay’s is the best Persian food you’ll ever eat at a Flatiron pizzeria. Pourkay rents a few square feet of space at the front of a nondescript slice joint called Pizza Paradise. From a makeshift station, he serves thick stews over fluffy rice, plus his specialty, the delicious super-vegetal mush known as ash-e reshteh. It’s a terrific introduction to the complex, concentrated, tart, and tangy flavors that define the cuisine. Grab a seat in the back of the pizza joint and chow down under the buzz of fluorescent lighting, or decamp a few blocks north to a Madison Square Park bench. Either way, you’re in for a magnificent feast.  12 W. 18th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-488-0020 (View the Listing)

13

Bunker

Photo: Sarah Silberg/New York Magazine
13

Bunker

Born by accident, not design, Bunker was plan B for a couple of Queens-bred brothers whose nascent fish-distribution company was done in by Hurricane Sandy. Jimmy and Jacky Tu still have a line on top-notch seafood, as evidenced by specials like soft-shell-crab bánh mì and seared curry bluefin tuna over papaya salad. But it’s the core menu of Vietnamese street food and tweaked Southeast Asian classics that attracts locals and culinary pilgrims alike: a crisp yet tender bánh xèo, the savory crêpe studded with shrimp and bacon; a deeply flavorful bowl of chicken curry, served with roti; a dill-scented cha ca la vong.  46-63 Metropolitan Ave., Ridgewood; 718-386-4282 (View the Listing)

14

Pok Pok NY

Photo: Melissa Hom
14

Pok Pok NY

Andy Ricker’s arrival from Portland was probably the biggest thing to happen to New York Thai food since the Chowhounds discovered SriPraPhai. Now, between his Manhattan foothold, Pok Pok Phat Thai, and his Brooklyn compound (flagship Pok Pok Ny and its overflow-catching Whiskey Soda Lounge), he’s fairly cornered the market on pull-no-punches regional Thai and Vietnamese fare served in a stylish setting alongside serious cocktails. Unlike most of his peers, Ricker has no interest in interpreting or elevating; he simply wants to faithfully represent what he’s spent decades eating on extended trips through his home away from home. That means night-market street food like the mussel-and-egg crêpe called hoi thawt, a rotisserie chicken stuffed with lemongrass and herbs, and a soothing khao soi, a mild curry that’s warmed by its intricate mix of spices, not obliterated by it.  117 Columbia St., at Kane St., Columbia Street Waterfront District; 718-923-9322 (View the Listing)

15

Parm

Photo: Hannah Mattix
15

Parm

Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi are hardly the first New Yorkers to forge an empire out of red sauce and mozzarella. They might be the only ones, though, who’ve done so while vociferously fetishizing Progresso bread crumbs, B&G peppers, and Carvel ice cream, all formative influences in their greater-metropolitan-area youths. At Parm, the most affordable brand in their rapidly expanding empire, what can be interpreted as kitsch is actually tribute: the house-pulled “mozz,” in balls or sticks; the vinegary iceberg “Sunday” salad, which becomes a “Holiday” salad with some salami and cheese; and especially the eponymous sandwiches—eggplant, chicken, and meatball—which come on a roll, a hero, or a platter, along with a crusty, unironic square of baked ziti.  248 Mulberry St., nr. Prince St.; 212-993-7189 (View the Listing)

16

Okonomi

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
16

Okonomi

If oatmeal and grapefruit is your idea of a healthy breakfast, ichiju sansai will be a revelation. Co-chefs Yuji Haraguchi and Tara Norvell’s version of “soup and three,” served from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends, is the set-price, seafood-centered Japanese breakfast most often encountered in posh hotels. This 12-seat nook is a cozier setting for a ridiculously nourishing meal: a daily choice of local fish (bluefish roasted in sake lees and ocean perch, recently), served with a cube of Japanese omelette, tofu-dressed broccoli rabe, brown rice with kombu, and miso soup.  150 Ainslie St., nr. Lorimer St., Williamsburg; no phone

17

Carnitas el Atoradero

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
17

Carnitas el Atoradero

Under the extremely hands-on supervision of proprietress Lina Chavez, a popular Mott Haven Mexican bodega has evolved, as popular bodegas are wont to do, into an adjacent restaurant, serving the specialties that were once confined to weekends. Chief among them are Chavez’s carnitas, dredged from the cauldron of their own fat, or manteca, in which they baste, along with oranges, limes, Fanta, and Coke. Show interest and Chavez will give you a treatise on the recipe, as well as generous samples of her fresh, tangy salsas and various specials of the day. You will find all the expected antojitos (and a few unexpected ones, like the boat-shaped picaditas), and well-constructed cemitas on sesame-seeded rolls. And if none of that persuades you to make the trip, she’ll deliver to Manhattan with a $60 minimum.  800 E. 149th St., nr. Tinton Ave., Mott Haven; 347-590-6989

18

Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen

Photo: Hugh Merwin
18

Real Kung Fu Little Steamed Buns Ramen

Xi’an Famous Foods is the biggest success story to emerge from Flushing’s cheap-eats mecca the Golden Mall, but Peter Song aims to be the next one. He’s the former Chinese-TV personality who came to America to strike it rich and ended up pulling noodles in a corner of the chaotic food court. Now he and the stall’s owner, Andy Liu, have brought their considerable talents and combined upper-body strength to Manhattan’s Theater District, where dough thwapping and noodle stretching are merely another form of performance art. Their food—a combination of the Lanzhou-style la mian Song traveled to the region to study; Shanghai-style soup buns, or xiaolongbao; scallion pancakes stuffed with beef—is manna for the carbivores who crowd the tiny storefront.  811 Eighth Ave., nr. 49th St.; 917-388-2555

19

Mumbai Xpress

Photo: Jake Chessum
19

Mumbai Xpress

Few cuisines are kinder to vegetarians than Indian, and few vegetarian Indian restaurants as enticing as this subcontinental snack shop on the Queens-Nassau border. Known for its double-decker Mumbai grilled cheese, crunchy with raw onion and peppers and dressed with cilantro chutney, the kitchen also excels at chaats, the category of compellingly crisp, hot and cool, sweet-and-sour street food of the restaurant’s namesake city.  256-05 Hillside Ave., Floral Park; 718-470-0059

20

Meat Hook Sandwich

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
20

Meat Hook Sandwich

The seven-sandwich counter-service menu seems familiar enough. But no one who visits the Meat Hook butcher shop’s new spin­off is going to mistake it for Subway. The roast-pork hero with tuna sauce, raisins, and fennel must be a riff on a classic Piedmontese veal tonnato, right? Or is it a Sicilian pasta con le sarde? The vegetarian (featuring hash-browned potatoes) ought to come with a defibrillator. And then there’s the lamb sausage on a hot-dog bun with pickled tomato, fried eggplant, fresh mint, onion, tzatziki, and bits of crisp fried garlic scattered about like jimmies on an ice-cream sundae. That thing does an impression of a gyro that will throw you for a loop and ruin you for anything carved off a spit and packed into a pita.  495 Lorimer St., nr. Powers St., Williamsburg; no phone yet

21

Somtum Der

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
21

Somtum Der

Thanks to trendsetting Thai restaurants like Zabb Elee, Uncle Boons, and Pok Pok Ny, the funky, fiery food of Thailand’s northeast Isan region is gaining ground on the sweeter, tamer stuff once thought to be the only suitable kind for American baby palates. Somtum Der takes the trend a step further by focusing on the invigorating green-papaya salads known as som tum. There are eight made-to-order variations on the theme, the way there are, say, nine signature salads at Sweetgreen salad bar. Our favorite is the “tum pla too + kao mun” (with mackerel). But don’t neglect the equally hot larbs, nor the fiendishly good marinated, deep-fried chicken thighs.  85 Ave. A, nr. 6th St.; 212-260-8570

22

Ippudo

Photo: Courtesy of Ippudo
22

Ippudo

Why, six years after Ippudo debuted its super-porky ramen, is there an anxious mob lined up like Cronut-eaters outside its Fourth Avenue entrance at four in the afternoon during a heat wave? Because even though the market for springy noodles submerged in bowls of piping-hot broth seasoned with tare is verging on oversaturated these days, tonkotsu addicts cannot seem to get enough of the Japanese chain’s handiwork. The thing to order is still the Shiromaru Hakata Classic (the house pork-bone broth style) or the Akamaru Modern (essentially a high-octane Shiromaru). Or visit the less frenetic new midtown branch and slosh around a bowl of the gluten-free vegan Sho-jin ramen if that’s how you roll.  65 Fourth Ave., nr. 10th St.; 212-388-0088; and 321 W. 51st St., nr. Eighth Ave.; 212-974-2500 (View the Listing)

23

Bar Primi

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
23

Bar Primi

You know when you go out for Italian and you fill up after the first course? In canny response to that predicament, Andrew Carmellini and crew have jettisoned the entrées—except for nightly specials, which are priced out of Cheap Eats territory anyway—and given the people what they want: a nice hot bowl of Puglian-inspired orecchiette, say, or a take on Rome’s amatriciana, swapping house-cured lamb bellies for the guanciale. Supplement these with a crunchy antipasti salad or Fontina-stuffed meatballs, and you’ll still have room for dessert. It might not be cheap cheap, but it’s Carmellini’s cheapest to date—barring airport and stadium concessions.  325 Bowery, at 2nd St.; 212-220-9100 (View the Listing)

24

Otto’s Tacos

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
24

Otto’s Tacos

Let the boss write his own report and have it on your desk by two o’clock. And tell the kids to find their own way home from preschool. You need to hit Otto’s at just the right time (usually weekdays, pre– or post–lunch rush), when the kitchen isn’t too busy to make the off-the-menu, under-the-radar sensation known as the Gorgon. What’s a Gorgon, you ask? It’s a supersize fresh-masa tortilla deep-fried to a delicate crisp, then stuffed like a Christmas goose with guacamole, carne asada, serrano-chile crema, onion, and cilantro. Also worth shirking responsibilities and rescheduling appointments for: Otto’s regular tacos and the terrific masa fries.  141 Second Ave., nr. 9th St.; 646-678-4018 (View the Listing)

25

Mimi’s Hummus

Photo: Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine
25

Mimi’s Hummus

Mimi Kitani is known for her hummus, which she blends with lemon and garlic, enriches with olive oil, and tops with everything from fava beans to cinnamon-tinged ground beef. And rightly so: It’s the quintessence of comfort food, even if you weren’t born in Israel, as Kitani was, to Moroccan and Kurdish parents. But the chef is capable of much more, including a luscious lamb pie slicked with tahini, and a sometime special of kuba, a tart Iraqi beef-dumpling soup. The room is tiny and welcoming, with the air of a neighborhood café that’s open all day, from breakfast shakshuka to postprandial mint-and-sage tea.  1209 ­Cortelyou Rd., nr. Westminster Rd., Ditmas Park; 718-284-4444 (View the Listing)

26

Han Dynasty

26

Han Dynasty

Whatever doubts we had about a Philly chainlet invading the East Village evaporated within minutes of sampling the dan dan noodles, correctly ranked eight on the restaurant’s generally precise heat scale. Our admiration only grew after delving further into the menu, organized uniquely by style of cooking rather than featured ingredient. We recommend the “pickled chili style” with the fish, the “cumin style” with the lamb, and the “double cooked style” with the pork belly. And you gotta love an Asian restaurant that aims to publicly shame spice wimps; if you have a hankering for fried rice or scallion pancakes, you’ll find them categorized under “Kids/Baby Adults.”  90 Third Ave., nr. 12th St.; 212-390-8685 (View the Listing)

27

Ayada

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
27

Ayada

In the beginning, there was SriPraPhai, a mecca for those craving the aromatic, pungent, frequently torrid flavors of real Thai food. But over the past decade or so, the field has grown crowded; Manhattanites trip over fiery larb in their own backyards. Even so, homey Ayada still makes a strong case to visit Queens, in the form of its raw-shrimp salad, redolent of lime and garlic; its panang duck curry, with its pinpoint calibration of sweet, sour, and spicy; its crisp, lacy catfish salad; and its mango sticky rice, a dissertation in ripeness.  77-08 Woodside Ave., Elmhurst; 718-424-0844 (View the Listing)

28

Roberta’s

Photo: Dominic Perri
28

Roberta’s

What more can we say about this razor-wire resort that hasn’t already been said? New Brooklyn pizzeria. Rooftop farmer. Erstwhile beekeeper. Bread bakery. Internet radio station. The place is a hillbilly-hipster juggernaut. Never mind that the Clintons ate here. Alice Waters kicked in cash to help grow the garden. And Michel Bras came by one night to tuck into the fried chicken. It takes about 12 conversations with ten eccentrically clothed individual waiters to finally get one of them to bring you your Mini Famous Original pizza while seated at the outdoor tiki bar on a weekday afternoon, but when it finally arrives, it’s a very good Mini Famous Original pizza, and you’re practically ecstatic.  261 Moore St., nr. Bogart St., East Williamsburg; 718-417-1118 (View the Listing)

29

Sullivan St Bakery

Photo: Melissa Hom
29

Sullivan St Bakery

When you start with spectacular bread, as baker Jim Lahey does, it’s not a big leap to superb sandwiches. At the two-year-old Chelsea branch of his pioneering bakery, Lahey runs a laid-back café where you can linger over artfully garnished eggs on a roll at breakfast, and lunchtime concoctions like the ceci, an unorthodox but inspired riff on falafel stuffed with chickpea fritters, beets, kimchee, and pickled onions, among other crunchy, briny things. They’re served on strecci and bottone, Lahey’s made-up names for stick- and disk-shaped variations on his elegant pizza bianca, a soft and chewy dough slicked with oil and dusted with salt.  236 Ninth Ave., nr. 24th St.; 212-929-5900 (View the Listing)

30

Spicy Village

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
30

Spicy Village

The plates are Styrofoam, the lighting fluorescent, and, judging by the abundance of unreclaimed Formica, AvroKO did not do the interior. Why you go: the da pan ji, or “spicy big tray chicken,” a manhole-size skillet loaded with chunks of bone-on bird bobbing in a sea of oily red sauce spiked with chiles, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns. Everything else on the menu (soups, dumplings, hand-pulled noodles) is good and cheap, but when hunger strikes, it’s the big-tray chicken whose name you find yourself chanting like someone under the spell of a powerful hypnotist: “Big-tray chicken … must get big-tray chicken.”  68B Forsyth St., nr. Hester St.; 917-689-1882

31

Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
31

Tasty Hand-Pulled Noodles

Most of New York’s hand-pulled-noodle action is based around Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side, but when we have a craving, we cross Confucius Plaza to hit up this superior outlier. The noodles are firm and springy, the flavorful broths enhanced by the fresh cilantro and chile oil set on the table. Even better might be the brothless knife-peeled noodles, stir-fried with cabbage and possessing the wonderfully chewy mouthfeel associated with pasta made by elite Italian grandmas.  1 Doyers St., nr. Bowery; 212-791-1817

32

Sao Mai

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
32

Sao Mai

Are we really above Houston Street? Then why is this house-special phô so freaking good—subtly spiced and wonderfully fragrant, not to mention properly khaki-colored like a pair of Dockers? Sao Mai debunks the old wives’ tale that you can’t find a good bowl of Vietnamese beef-bone-broth noodle soup outside our city’s Chinatowns, let alone in Manhattan. Purists may make horror-stricken faces at this next comment, but here goes: Sao Mai’s phô is almost as good delivered to your apartment as it is gulped down at the restaurant, thanks to the some-assembly-required method of shipping all the components in separate containers, like an Ikea bookshelf.  203 First Ave., nr. 12th St.; 212-358-8880

33

St. Anselm

Photo: Danny Kim/New York Magazine
33

St. Anselm

New York steakhouses have never been cheap. (Well, there’s Tad’s, but that doesn’t count.) St. Anselm is a qualified exception, more of an anti-steakhouse steakhouse, where you can choose from a wonderfully weird wine list, and where no one will think you’re a rube for ordering the chicken or something from the pescatarian side of the menu should you be in the mood. Yes, there’s an extravagantly pricey rib eye for two, but you can still get what is the most baffling beefsteak bargain in town, the estimable butcher’s steak, for a paltry $16.  355 Metropolitan Ave., nr. Havemeyer St., Williamsburg; 718-384-5054 (View the Listing)

34

Wheated

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
34

Wheated

The conventional penny-pinching wisdom holds that the great Naples-style pizzerias—the Kestés, the Ribaltas, the Companys, and the Motorinos—have priced themselves out of the Cheap Eats realm. But Wheated gives the lie to the belief that you can’t make a nicely charred, tender-crusted Neapolitan-esque pizza with a micro-layer of crispness and keep the price point to under $15 per pie on average. Credit David Sheridan, a Paulie Gee’s acolyte, all the more for working his magic in an electric oven. Bonus points for a well-curated menu of rigorously made cocktails.  905 Church Ave., nr. Coney Island Ave., Prospect Park South; 347-240-2813 (View the Listing)

35

Wafa’s

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
35

Wafa’s

Middle Eastern joints can seem a dime a dozen. Wafa’s is that rare exception, thanks largely to Wafa Chami herself, the Lebanese chef-owner who based her menu on her mom’s recipes and runs the modest restaurant with her three sons. The proof is in the meze—in particular, the wood-smoked baba ghannouj, the deft grape leaves, the silky, nutty hummus. And the chicken shawarma’s no slouch, either, especially once you factor in the beet-pickled turnips and the homemade garlic and hot sauces.  100-05 Metropolitan Ave., Forest Hills; 718-880-2055 (View the Listing)

36

Eim Khao Mun Kai

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
36

Eim Khao Mun Kai

Khao mun kai, which means “oiled-rice chicken” (eim means “full”), is the popular Thai adaptation of a common Hainanese street food and the specialty of this Elmhurst storefront shop, by which we mean that’s all they’ve got. It’s enough; in fact, it’s plenty. Whole chickens are boiled, jasmine rice is cooked in the stock, a zingy garlic-chile-ginger condiment is Vitamixed. That the paper-plated result, along with a cup of broth and some slices of cucumbers, looks a bit like convalescent food belies how satisfying this oiled-rice chicken is. It’s a bit removed from the Jewish pick-me-up chicken in the pot, but the soul-soothing effect is similar.  81-32 Broadway, nr. Britton Ave., Elmhurst; 718-424-7156

37

Saiguette

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
37

Saiguette

Saiguette’s might be the biggest bánh mì you’ve ever seen. It takes two wooden skewers to hold one together. If the guy who stacks the pastrami between the rye at the Carnegie Deli ever saw a Saiguette bánh mì, he would say it’s too much. And yet, unlike most supersize sandwiches, these substantial specimens are well balanced and carefully constructed. The best—and meatiest—of the lot is the “grilled juicy boneless chicken thigh,” and you can eat it at one of the window-ledge seats looking out onto the Columbus Avenue bike path, or take your lunch two blocks east for a Central Park picnic.  935 Columbus Ave., at 106th St.; 212-866-6888

38

Lulu & Po

Photo: Mete Ozeren/New York Magazine
38

Lulu & Po

Small space, small plates: The only truly outsize thing about Matt Hamilton’s cozy canteen is the flavors. DIY bone-marrow tacos are a signature dish, and the “iron” pressed chicken is a perennial crowd-pleaser, but equally profound pleasure can be found in Rancho Gordo beans with feta and pickled peppers, or seasonal selections like grilled asparagus with yuzu mayo and cayenne. If you think all New Brooklyn restaurants are starting to taste the same, Lulu & Po will change your mind.  154 Carlton Ave., nr. Myrtle Ave., Ft. Greene; 917-435-3745 (View the Listing)

39

Bunna Cafe

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
39

Bunna Cafe

The food at Bunna Cafe, a pop-up Ethiopian supper club turned brick-and-mortar restaurant, is only incidentally vegan. It is primarily bright, savory, adroitly seasoned, and revivifying—a colorful array of puréed and stewed pulses, steamed and sautéed vegetables, and an improvisatory guacamole called kedija selata, which combines chunks of avocado with tomato, onion, jalapeño, lime, and Brooklyn’s official leafy green, kale. Order all nine atop the teff-based flatbread called injera, a mildly sour starch that triples as foodstuff; plate; and utensil. 1084 Flushing Ave., at Porter Ave., Bushwick; 347-295-2227

40

Uma’s

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
40

Uma’s

Typically congregated in insular outer-borough enclaves, Uzbeki restaurants have been slow to cross over into the mainstream. Uma’s, a newcomer on Rockaway Beach’s incipient restaurant row, might be the first. The location works: How better, after all, to cap off a day of carving waves than with a hearty bowl of the noodle soup called lagman, ground-beef lula kebabs, and plov, the oil-varnished rice pilaf and Uzbekistan’s national dish? Uma’s has a bit of a surfer-dude soul, too, and caters to its inevitable vegetarian clientele with butternut-squash manti; greens-stuffed pastries called bichaki; and a house salad of fried eggplant, ripe tomatoes, and feta cheese.  92-07 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Seaside; 718-318-9100

41

Lali Guras Restaurant

Photo: Jeff Orlick
41

Lali Guras Restaurant

Why do the solo diners seated along the two communal wooden booths at this sunny little Himalayan diner look so glum, tucking into their tin thali trays like inmates in a prison ward? It can’t be the fault of the kitchen, whose Tibetan-style steamed dumplings (momos) are textbook dense and chewy and as complexly pleated as Scottish kilts. The momos come stuffed with a choice of minced chicken, beef, pork, or vegetable, and about a teaspoon’s worth of savory broth. Unlike the Chinese xiaolongbao or the Georgian khinkali, there’s not enough juice in a momo to cause your dry cleaner undue concern should you squirt some onto your shirt; still, a hot momo is not something to be trifled with. Maybe that’s why everyone looks so serious.  37-63A 76th St., nr. Roosevelt Ave., Jackson Heights; 718-424-0017 (View the Listing)

42

Tortilleria Nixtamal

Photo: Jake Chessum
42

Tortilleria Nixtamal

This bright and cheerful tortilla microfactory could easily rest on its laurels, having inspired and transformed New York’s booming Mexican-food scene with its traditionally made, nixtamalized-corn tortillas. (It’s no coincidence that chefs like Danny Bowien and Alex Stupak have started making their own from scratch, or plan to.) But it happens to be a splendid restaurant, too, a showcase for the culinarily vast potential of lime-treated Illinois corn beyond your basic tacos and tamales, from a hangover-decimating pozole to a well-dressed platter of nachos. 104-05 47th Ave., Corona; 718-699-2434 (View the Listing)

43

Breads Bakery

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
43

Breads Bakery

When Uri Scheft opened Breads off Union Square Park, we weren’t sure what to expect. What, exactly, could a Danish-Israeli baker contribute to New York’s carbohydrate canon? Lots, it turns out, including fortifying Scandinavian-style rye loaves, airy cheese straws, tender poppyseed hamantaschen, and the city’s best chocolate babka. And then there are the sandwiches—especially the harissa-fueled potato-and-tomato-studded Tunisian tuna on house-baked ciabatta, and the smaller sabich, a round roll slicked with mango sauce and stuffed with soft fried eggplant and hard-boiled egg.  18 E. 16th St., nr. Union Sq. W.; 212-633-2253 (View the Listing)

44

Mission Cantina

Photo: Melissa Hom
44

Mission Cantina

Even though the best dish—creamed masa with a topping of beer-braised collards that eats like some Dufresne-ian inversion of the way Southerners crumble corn bread into their potlikker—has been stricken from the menu, we’re still putting Cantina on this list. Despite the fact that Danny Bowien is often identified with a few wacky-sounding plates of food, chief among these being Mission Chinese’s kung pao pastrami, we get the feeling that he’d rather improvise like an old bebopper than play his greatest hits the same way every night. One day it’s tempura skate tacos, the next griddled catfish with pickled pineapple. Which is fine by us. Just hope he doesn’t retire the mole-spiced chicken wings.  172 Orchard St., at Stanton St.; 212-254-2233 (View the Listing)

45

Papa’s Kitchen

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
45

Papa’s Kitchen

You’re probably not getting out of here without gracing your fellow diners with an eccentric karaoke rendition of “Who’s That Lady,” or at least joining in on the chorus of “Celebration.” Beth Roa, the genial co-owner of this tiny Filipino restaurant, will see to it. But that’s okay when the vibe is so infectiously fun, the crowd so friendly, and Roa’s brother Miguel’s crispy pata and chicken adobo so good. You probably shouldn’t leave without a taste of the West African–ish beef-and-peanut stew called kare-kare, either. And if there’s a charming Filipino-American couple in the house celebrating their 49th wedding anniversary, and they insist you try a piece of the cake they BYO’d from Red Ribbon Bakeshop, by all means take them up on it.  65-40 Woodside Ave., Woodside; 718-779-9191

46

Fu Run

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
46

Fu Run

An early arrival in the wave of Dongbei restaurants that have infiltrated Flushing over the past few years, and still one of the best, Fu Run specializes in the cooking of China’s Northeast, the region formerly known as Manchuria. If this does not immediately spark any specific cravings, consider ordering the massive rack of fatty ribs known as “Muslim lamb chop,” braised, battered, fried, and coated rather liberally with cumin, sesame seeds, and chiles. In certain outer-borough gourmet circles, it’s become as deeply venerated as Minetta Tavern’s côte de boeuf.  40-09 Prince St., Flushing; 718-321-1363 (View the Listing)

47

Pork Slope

Photo: Celeste Sloman/New York Magazine
47

Pork Slope

The kale salad comes with bacon, Cheddar, potato chips, and a Sriracha dressing. What more can you say about Dale Talde’s Park Slope roadhouse than that? Is it some kind of wincing embrace of New Brooklyn vegivore culture? Or is it just a mean joke? Whatever it is, it’s not why you came here. You came to drink cheap beer and not-so-cheap whiskey. You came for the tater tots, the nachos, and the “porky melt.” You came to marvel at how crappy bar food can sometimes transcend its crappiness.  247 Fifth Ave., nr. Carroll St., Park Slope; 718-768-7675 (View the Listing)

48

Nightingale 9

Photo: Erin Kennedy/New York Magazine
48

Nightingale 9

This ostensibly Vietnamese feeding station exhibits latent southern and Brooklyn tendencies, too, in a lunchtime fried-chicken bánh mì and a coconut-and-collard-greens salad that provides a tantalizing reminder that kale isn’t the only leafy green out there. Just as at his southern spot, Seersucker, chef-owner Rob Newton places extreme importance on sourcing, only here he casts a wider net, ranging from the Greenmarket across the street to Phu Quoc, the island home of Red Boat fish sauce.  345 Smith St., at Carroll St., Carroll Gardens; 347-689-4699 (View the Listing)

49

Cafe Nadery

Photo: Jenny Westerhoff/New York Magazine
49

Cafe Nadery

This collectively run community center for Iranian expats makes a concerted effort to entice outsiders with Gimme! coffee and happy-hour craft beers, not to mention oud recitals, art shows, and soccer matches. Nothing is more effective, though, than the Persian menu originally concocted by cookbook author Louisa Shafia. Traditional dishes like ash-e reshteh, the verdant potage of greens, beans, and noodles, have lately been joined by an ever-expanding array of hearty rices and stews, scented with saffron and cinnamon and garnished with yogurt or torshi, the Persian relish. There’s a date omelette at brunch, and Thursday night’s lamb-kebab special has something of a following.  16 W. 8th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-260-5407

50

The Commodore

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
50

The Commodore

Order from the bar” is this nautical dive’s house rule, which can be a pain when the place is mobbed with its usual contingent of tattooed locals. But once dinner arrives, all is forgiven: the three-thigh fried-chicken plate, with biscuits and hot sauce; the hot breast sandwich; the equally incendiary hot fish.(Do you detect a theme?) There’s  also a classic burger, an irresistible pimento-poblano grilled cheese, and, if you must, relatively dietetic options like stewed black-eyed peas and kale ladled over corn bread.  366 Metropolitan Ave., at Havemeyer St., Williamsburg; 718-218-7632 (View the Listing)

51

Dimes

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
51

Dimes

When the stress of the city becomes too much, and you find yourself in dire need of a beet-and-blackberry açai bowl and some homeopathic lip balm, pop into this diminutive California–by–way–of–Canal Street health-food canteen and mini-mart (see, also, the ampoules of marine plasma and Palo Santo incense). But don’t be fooled: Dimes is an actual restaurant in juice-bar guise with fresh, vibrant, not entirely vegetarian food, from a summer salad with blackberries, cantaloupe, and feta to a first-rate egg on a roll blasted with pickled cherry peppers and housemade hot sauce. It’s packed at brunch, mellower at dinner, and serves a fine fennel-ginger lemonade as well as locally roasted Nicaraguan coffee.  143 Division St., at Canal St.; 212-240-9410

52

Glady’s Caribbean

Photo: Hugh Merwin
52

Glady’s Caribbean

Born as a fancy sandwich shop, Glady’s has recently morphed into something a bit more attuned to the local terroir: a jerk joint with a crackerjack kitchen, led by a veteran of Momofuku Noodle Bar and Kajitsu, and a rum fetish second to none. (Where else can you sip your way through the befuddling assortment of rums, rhums, rons, and tasting flights, not to mention a Dark N Slushie?) The transformation has brought lower prices and a homier vibe, along with succulent wood-smoked jerk chicken, juicy jerk pork, and an estimable curry goat.  788 Franklin Ave., at Lincoln Pl., Crown Heights; 718-622-0249 (View the Listing)

53

Tørst

Photo: Melissa Hom
53

Tørst

It’s no longer a surprise to find yourself eating as well in a bar as you would in a restaurant. And there’s no better moderately priced affirmation of this fact than the artful grub on display at Greenpoint beer mecca Tørst. Daniel Burns might be the first to realize the genius of bringing together on one menu two beer-friendly cuisines—a kind of traditional Danish-meets-English-pub-grub by way of April Bloomfield. What to soak up the Bayerischer Bahnhof Berliner Weisse with? How about a nice Welsh rarebit, a bowl of kedgeree, or a smoked-chick­en-and-pickled-mushroom smør­rebrød?  615 Manhattan Ave., nr. Nassau Ave., Greenpoint; 718-389-6034 (View the Listing)

54

Cocoron

Photo: Melissa Hom/New York Magazine
54

Cocoron

In the realm of Asian noodles, ramen often gets vilified as trashy junk food while soba is sanctified as unsullied nourishment for the gods, or at least the monks. Cocoron, a pair of downtown noodle shops dedicated to housemade soba, dashes this generalization by treating the toothsome buckwheat strands like ramen. Chef-owner Yoshihito Kida amplifies flavor with toppings like pork kimchee, chicken meatballs, and Japanese curry and has even fashioned a soba variant on tsukemen-style ramen in which cold noodles are dipped into hot broth along with add-ons like yuba, the skin that forms when soy milk is heated.  61 Delancey St., nr. Allen St.; 212-925-5220; 37 Kenmare St., nr. Elizabeth St.; 212-966-0800 (View the Listing)

55

Best Pizza

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
55

Best Pizza

Head pie man Frank Pinello approaches his craft with a dedication that’s practically Di Fara–esque. And with just four types of pies, plus a meatball hero with a cult following, his menu is about as tightly focused as the one stickler Anthony Mangieri used to adhere to at Una Pizza Napoletana. The increasing variety of non–New York pizza styles you can find in our city is certainly worth celebrating, but if there were a Best Pizza in every neighborhood, the Neapolitans would run for their lives.  33 Havemeyer St., nr. N. 7th St., Williamsburg; 718-599-2210 (View the Listing)

56

Francela

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
56

Francela

If you’re a fan of Turkish cuisine, you’ve likely eaten Orhan Yegen’s food, either at Sip Sak, or Efendi, or Beyoglu, or any of the dozen or so other places he’s opened in and around New York. His newest project is less sit-down restaurant (though there are six counter stools) than Turkish gourmet shop—on the same block as Eli’s Manhattan, no less. But there’s room on the Upper East Side and in this town for rival grocers, especially when Yegen’s cases are full of his signature oil-slicked vegetable mezze, tangy hot yogurt soup, baked lamb over mashed-eggplant purée, and his famous butternut-squash non-dessert dessert.  1429 Third Ave., nr. 81st St.; 212-335-0022

57

Boubouki

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
57

Boubouki

Boubouki specializes in spanakopita, the Greek spinach pie, which is baked and served by erstwhile lawyer Rona Economou in her Essex Street Market stall. Crisp-edged, dill-scented, and modeled on Economou’s grandmother’s recipe, the triangles are delicate enough to serve as mere prelude to desserts like tender carrot and pear cakes, chocolate-chip cookies flavored with orange and grape must, and some of the best baklava around.  120 Essex St., at Delancey St.; 718-344-4202

58

Elza Fancy Foods

Photo: Flickr/bionicgrr
58

Elza Fancy Foods

The city’s No. 1 Uzbek-Korean restaurant is located within promenading distance of the Brighton Beach boardwalk. The No. 2 is the Bensonhurst branch of the same restaurant. Strictly speaking, there is no No. 3, because there are no other Uzbek-Korean restaurants in New York. Which is not to say that, thanks to a lack of competition, the kitchen at Elza has grown complacent. Among the Uzbek dishes, you want the plov (lamb-mingled rice pilaf) and the flaky-crusted samsa filled with minced lamb and onion. The chilled Korean beef-noodle soup, kuksu, topped with cucumber, cabbage, shredded omelette, and dill, however, is the thing to get when the temperature soars.  3071 Brighton 4th St., nr. Brighton Beach Ave., Brighton Beach; 718-942-4088

59

Court Street Grocers

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
59

Court Street Grocers

No gourmet grocer’s taste in American regional foodstuffs is as thrillingly eclectic as that of Eric Finkelstein and Matt Ross, the art-school grads who opened this culinary curiosity shop and sandwich counter a few years ago. Which is why you’ll find all sorts of delicacies tucked in between the bread, from French’s Fried Onions to Mama Lil’s Pickled Peppers. For breakfast, you can get your egg on a roll with Cabot Cheddar and Burger’s Smokehouse bacon, or American cheese and New Jersey’s unofficial state meat, the Taylor Pork Roll, if that’s your thing.  485 Court St., nr. Nelson St., Carroll Gardens; 718-722-7229 (View the Listing)

60

Chuko

Photo: Danny Kim/New York Magazine
60

Chuko

Sure, the city is thick with ramen shops, and with pork buns, too. But this Prospect Heights pioneer succeeds by deftly straddling that fine line between tradition and innovation in a stylishly stripped-down space that took about two seconds to become a neighborhood fixture. (Bar Chuko, newly opened across the street, should help manage overflow.) The three Morimoto-alum chef-partners have done the impossible in ramen circles: They’ve created a miso-kelp veggie broth that holds its own in body and savor with its porkier rivals, and the kale salad—part-raw, part-tempura-fried—is an indisputable advance in the field. 552 Vanderbilt Ave., at Dean St., Prospect Heights; 718-576-6701 (View the Listing)

61

The Dram Shop

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
61

The Dram Shop

There are shooting ranges quieter than this Park Slope sports bar. Seasoned jackhammer operators and offshore helicopter pilots have been known to wince in pain and cup their hands over their ears upon crossing its threshold. But what’s a split eardrum or two when you’re in the mood for what is still the best bar burger in town? Take it the way it comes, which is the way partner Clay Mallow’s Texas grandpappy used to make it: two square patties, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, onion, mustard, mayo, and no ketchup. Customization, after all, requires a form of call-and-response communication you and your waiter may not easily accomplish without the aid of megaphone and ear trumpet.  339 9th St., nr. Fifth Ave., Park Slope; 718-788-1444 (View the Listing)

62

Lumpia Shack Snackbar

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
62

Lumpia Shack Snackbar

Filipino food has never been accused of being healthy, but the approach taken by this quick-serve outgrowth of a Smorgasburg stand probably comes closest. The meats are sustainable and well sourced; the seasonal vegetables come from the Greenmarket; the rice is brown. (And yes, all the trash is compostable.) None of which would matter if the crispy fried lumpia weren’t so delectable, in both heritage-pork and triple-mushroom form, and if the Chipotle-style, customizable rice bowls weren’t such a canny introduction to an often inaccessible cuisine. There are no claims to strict authenticity: Not only won’t you find balut, but there’s gochujang in the afritada and black-bean hoisin in the adobo.  50 Greenwich Ave., nr. Perry St.; 917-475-1621

63

Curry-Ya

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
63

Curry-Ya

Whoever coined the slogan “You eat with your eyes” probably never got around to trying a plate of the thick brown sludge served with rice and known as Japanese curry. It’s also unlikely that this culinary dialectician ever paid a visit to Curry-Ya in the East Village, where the staff so punctiliously serve this soulful comfort food, presenting each of its components in separate dishes, that you might think you’ve stumbled into a 14-course kaiseki meal. Among the nine curry options, we like the one with a crisp-fried Berkshire-pork cutlet best; the hamburger curry is also terrific, if not as easy on the eyes.  214 E. 10th St., nr. Second Ave.; 866-602-8779 (View the Listing)

64

Thelewala

Photo: Melissa Hom
64

Thelewala

Of all the Indian street-food purveyors clustered around the improbable intersection of Macdougal and Bleecker, this one stands out—not least for its griddled-to-order nizami rolls, the rolled parathas said to have originated at Nizam’s restaurant in owner Shiva Natarajan’s native Kolkata. Transported to New York and stuffed with fillings like egg, minced lamb, chicken, and lime-flavored paneer, they make a perfect midnight snack (the second-story nook is open till 2 a.m., and later on weekends). If you’re feeling especially peckish, add a chaat, one of those compulsively edible crunch-and-munch bursts of texture and flavor, as tangy and refreshing on the streets of Greenwich Village as on the beaches of Mumbai.  112 Macdougal St., nr. Minetta Ln.; 212-614-9100 (View the Listing)

65

Cafe Hong Kong

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
65

Cafe Hong Kong

There are more exciting regional Chinese cuisines out there these days, but sometimes all you want is a good old-fashioned Cantonese feed. That’s when you head to this two-year-old Chinatown restaurant that calls itself a diner and espresso bar: Half the menu is Hong Kong–style Western food; the other half is straight-up Cantonese. Come during the day for Gimme! coffee and French toast drizzled with condensed milk. Come back later for the crisp-fried garlic chicken and the salt-and-pepper squid. If you really want to wax nostalgic, call in an order of the sweet-and-sour pork for takeout.  51 Bayard St., nr. Elizabeth St.; 212-608-5359

66

Pauline & Sharon’s

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
66

Pauline & Sharon’s

On a 91-degree day with no air-conditioning, you want to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. But the pizza man who runs the joint is a muttering grump. And calling the tiny space a miserable dump might be the nicest thing anyone has ever said about it. But you’re not here to make new friends and chat about interior design; you’re here for one of the most satisfying slices you’ve had in a while—remarkably flavorful and surprisingly crisp-crusted despite its supercolossal size and droopy posture. Wolf it down, then get the hell out.  597A Fourth Ave., nr. 17th St., Park Slope; 718-788-7333

67

Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
67

Bobwhite Lunch & Supper Counter

Sweet-tea-brined and pressure-fried, the moist, craggy-crusted chicken is the main event at this modest redoubt of southern-style cooking, and it comes with a tasty buttermilk biscuit and some well-intentioned mixed greens. But owner and Virginia native Keedick Coulter also makes a fine pimento-cheese sandwich on Orwasher’s bread and mixes his chow-chow relish from scratch. The setting is stark and clean, with high stools and a casual, communal vibe that feels more pastoral church picnic than Alphabet City storefront.  94 Ave. C, nr. 6th St.; 212-228-2972 (View the Listing)

68

BrisketTown

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
68

BrisketTown

A barbecue specialist for the social-media age, Daniel Delaney is as good at creating demand as he is at satisfying it. His preopening pop-ups and internet presales whet the collective appetite for the crusty-barked, salt-and-pepper-blasted brisket he taught himself how to cook in a cast-iron smoker he lugged north from Texas. For variety, he’s got pulled pork, hot links, and ribs, too—the Flintstonian beef one is a dilly. But for Delaney, and us, brisket’s the thing, preferably fatty (although, as with Katz’s pastrami, lean is an option), sauceless, and sided with no more than pickles and white bread.  359 Bedford Ave., nr. S. 4th St., Williamsburg; 718-701-8909 (View the Listing)

69

Earl’s Beer & Cheese

Photo: Danny Kim/New York Magazine
69

Earl’s Beer & Cheese

Chef Corey Cova might have left to make the doughnuts at his new shop, Dough Loco, but his off-kilter, forward-thinking contributions to the grilled-cheese and taco categories remain on the menu at this supply-closet-size beer bar: the Calabro mozzarella with miso mayo and potato chips; the Cheddar with pork belly, kimchee, and a fried egg; and especially the pork-shoulder scallion-pancake “taco.” After dinner, hit the doughnut shop for a maple-miso sinker.  1259 Park Ave., nr. 97th St.; 212-289-1581 (View the Listing)

70

Gotham West Market

Photo: Melissa Hom/New York Magazine
70

Gotham West Market

Forget about low- and middle-income housing: By now, city agencies must prohibit the construction of any luxury development without a glorified food court. This one, in an effort to attract tenants to the fringes of Hell’s Kitchen, has installed outposts of Tertulia (called El Colmado), the Cannibal, and Court Street Grocers. But the real coup was landing Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop, which gave New York its first taste of the Syosset native’s distinctive dashi-and-chicken broth and rye noodles, not to mention the donburi rice bowls you’ll only find here (try the smoked whitefish with salmon roe).  600 11th Ave., at 45th St.; 212-582-7940 (View the Listing)

71

El Tenampa

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
71

El Tenampa

Why do locals flock to this Mexican restaurant in the back of a big, bright grocery store? It could be because of specials like chicken enchiladas in a sweet-and-spicy mole sauce, or the availability of seldom-seen goat offal like panza blanca and negra, the latter enriched with blood. Our hunch is that the excellent condiment bar is what keeps the place bustling. As customers load up stacks of plastic takeout containers with guacamole, red and green salsas, sliced radishes and lime, and pickled jalapeños, the indefatigable kitchen crew keeps replenishing it.  706 Fourth Ave., nr. 22nd St., Greenwood Heights; 718-369-7508

72

Oda House

Photo: Sarah Silberg/New York Magazine
72

Oda House

South Brooklyn is our city’s Khachapuri Belt. That’s where you’ll find the greatest concentration of restaurants and bakeries that make that excellent bread native to Georgia. But Alphabet City’s recently opened Oda House is a khachapuri destination in its own right, where you can choose from a half-dozen or so variously shaped khachapuri and other Georgian flatbreads. You’ll want the version called adjaruli, stuffed with cheese, and with an egg cracked into the hollowed-out center like a toad in the hole. You’d also be wise to order the soup dumplings called khinkali; vegetable spreads, bound with ground walnuts, called pkhali; and maybe a nice chakapuli, or mutton stew. Then you’ll have a good idea why most Georgians think theirs is not just the best cuisine, but the only cuisine.  76 Ave. B, at 5th St.; 212-353-3838 (View the Listing)

73

Bark

Photo: Hannah Whitaker
73

Bark

Now that butter’s reputation has been restored, and lard (the good stuff, from contented pigs raised on small family farms) is poised for a comeback, it’s tempting to consider Bark’s smoked-lard-butter-basted hot dogs health food. We wouldn’t go that far, but they are crafted by an Austrian sausage maven upstate and garnished with housemade relishes. The bacon’s from Nueske’s, the heirloom Jacob’s Cattle beans from Vermont, and the veggie burger has a citywide following. All of which is to say, in this reclaimed-wood setting, slow food and fast food are starting to look a lot alike.  474 Bergen St., nr. Flatbush Ave., Park Slope; 718-789-1939 (View the Listing)

74

Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
74

Mighty Quinn’s Barbeque

Even when you’re the only one in it, the line can be slow. A Russian peasant whose formative pre-perestroika years were spent waiting outdoors all day for a turnip would grow weary and frustrated here, and probably head up the avenue to Dallas BBQ for some chicken. But for barbecue connoisseurs, it’s okay; the ordeal is part of the commitment. And all is right with the world when they fork over your pulled-pork sandwich, a stack of sliced brisket, and especially the titanic, much-talked-about beef rib.  103 Second Ave., at 6th St.; 212-677-3733 (View the Listing)

75

No. 7 Sub

Photo: Melissa Hom
75

No. 7 Sub

There is no limit to what you can shove between two slices of bread and call a sandwich, and that’s a big part of why everyone loves sandwiches. But is everything edible suitable sandwich material? Judging by Tyler Kord’s work at No. 7 Sub, you want to say “Yes.” We still crave his gone-but-not-forgotten bulgogi-marinated bologna on an “everything” roll. His Broccoli Classic has indeed become a classic, and his cauliflower cheesesteak may not entice any Philadelphians, but that is their loss. Plus, no one has made a more compelling case for the profligate use of Fritos and Zapp’s BBQ potato chips in the sandwich-making arena.  Multiple locations (View the Listings)

76

The Queens Kickshaw

Photo: Jeff Orlick
76

The Queens Kickshaw

What began three years ago as a ploy or a scheme to bring third-wave coffee to a borough conspicuously lacking it has evolved into a round-the-clock social center. There’s more technique than you’d expect from a kitchen whose main attraction is gourmet grilled cheese. And the craft-beer and cider lists run long and deep. Say what you will about New Brooklyn–izing a perfectly innocent no-cortado zone with pour-over coffee and blueberry shrubs, not to mention kimchee lasagna. The Queens Kickshaw works because its husband-and-wife owners run the place with pride and passion, like generations of Greek Astoria mom-and-pops before them.  40-17 Broadway, Astoria; 718-777-0913 (View the Listing)

77

Red Hook Lobster Pound

Photo: Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine
77

Red Hook Lobster Pound

Hordes of faux fish shacks peddling lobster rolls have come and gone over the years, providing a boon to eBay shoppers in search of good deals on old buoys, lengths of rope, and paintings of pipe-smoking sea captains. Which is not to say that New Yorkers have lost their fondness for chunks of tail or claw meat dressed with Hellmann’s and stuffed into top-loading hot-dog buns. Pioneering rivals Pearl Oyster Bar and Mary’s Fish Camp continue to thrive, but their prices have always exceeded the Underground Gourmet’s small weekly stipend. The big names in budget-friendly lobster rolls today are Luke’s Lobster and Red Hook Lobster Pound. Both are terrific, but if we had to choose between the two, we’d go with Red Hook for its butter-soaked Connecticut-style option served with a flourish of paprika and chopped scallion.  284 Van Brunt St., nr. Verona St., Red Hook; 718-858-7650 (View the Listing)

78

Larb Ubol

Photo: Melissa Hom
78

Larb Ubol

 

Sometimes we think that larb—the ground-meat salad of northeast Thailand that’s mingled with herbs, chiles, lime juice, fish sauce, and toasted rice powder—must be the most powerfully addictive substance known to man. Cool Ranch Doritos have nothing on larb. And those evil geniuses who devise foodstuffs with the sole purpose of hooking hapless consumers would do well to analyze a plate of this Isan-style restaurant’s minced-pork rendition. Nearly as habit-forming are the sour pork sausage, som tums, grilled pork jowl, and duck kra prao.  480 Ninth Ave., nr. 37th St.; 212-564-8358

79

Eastwood

Photo: Bobby Doherty/New York Magazine
79

Eastwood

There’s good bar food and there’s bad bar food, and then there’s Eastwood’s bar food, which is well worth seeking out even when stone-cold sober: a hodgepodge of Israeli and British snacks and sandwiches made with great ingredients and evident care. Of particular note are the fried-fish sandwich, tender fillets of Narragansett-beer-battered pollock gobbed with homemade tartar sauce on Pain D’Avignon brioche, and the falafel-coated Israeli Scotch egg.  200 Clinton St., at E. Broadway; 212-233-0124 (View the Listing)

80

Terroir

Photo: Michelle Feffer
80

Terroir

There are probably municipalities with phone books shorter than the wine list at Terroir, a binder filled with the wit and rantings of one Paul Grieco, better known as the Riesling Crusader and business partner of chef Marco Canora, whose small plates make excellent foils for the unparalleled range of beverages. Unlike your standard wine bar, this one delves merrily into sherry, Madeira, vermouth—even mead. Although we couldn’t say definitively what to pair with that one, you can’t go wrong, otherwise, with Canora’s duck-ham panino, lamb-sausage-stuffed sage leaves, or some of the lightest, fluffiest veal-ricotta meatballs in town.  Multiple locations (View the Listings)

81

Umami Burger

Photo: Melissa Hom
81

Umami Burger

Nothing wrong with a little food-science showmanship if the end result is so abundantly juicy, beautifully crusted, and super-meaty. It would be quite a boring burger world, after all, if everyone just followed the lead of the great anti-gourmet cheeseburger chains. And besides, the recent limited-edition run of the José Andrés pork burger with ham, Manchego, and piquillo-pepper confit pretty much knocked our socks off.  432 Sixth Ave., nr. 10th St.; 212-677-8626 (View the Listing)

82

Wangs

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
82

Wangs

This off-the-radar fried-chicken specialist dispenses its goods from a Park Slope takeout window flanked by a few outdoor benches and a narrow standing ledge. The fried chicken is crisp and juicy, and you can eat it straight, or have it tucked into a baguette, bánh mì style. The southern-meets-Asian flavor theme extends to the sides: There are black sesame seeds in the potato salad, Chinese sausage among the collards, and, as for the corn on the cob, it comes with sesame aïoli, lime, and togarashi.  671 Union St., nr. 4th Ave., Park Slope; 718-636-6390

83

Güeros Brooklyn

Photo: Danny Kim/New York Magazine
83

Güeros Brooklyn

You don’t go to Güeros for Mexican authenticity. Tex-Mex authenticity—if there is such a thing—is another story. Here, there is no shame in lapping up chips and queso, guzzling frozen margs, or even mainlining a few picadillo tacos in all their ground-beef, crispy corn-shell glory. But the main draw at this sunny counter-service cantina is the breakfast taco, the Proustian madeleine of homesick Texans everywhere. It’s a hot, steamy flour tortilla cradling scrambled eggs and your choice of fixings, served weekends only, until 4 p.m.  605 Prospect Pl., nr. Franklin Ave., Crown Heights; 718-230-4941 (View the Listing)

84

Henry Public

Photo: Hannah Whitaker/New York Magazine
84

Henry Public

This stylishly antiqued gastropub, which prefers to think of itself as a saloon, opened its doors in 2009, but you might think it was 1909 judging by some of the language on its menu (wait, make that “bill of fare”), and therein lies its faux old-timey charm. Hamburgers are not hamburgers but “hamburger sandwiches,” and fries are known as “French-fried potatoes.” There are the spherical Danish pancakes known as ebelskivers but called Wilkinsons here, after the consulting chef who provided the recipe. And then there is the justly famous turkey sandwich: milk-braised leg meat luxuriating in its peppery pan juices, topped with crispy fried onions, then piled high between two slices of sauce-sopping Pullman toast. It’s like something discovered in an old Americana cookery book, and no relation to the turkey sandwich you eat joylessly in the confines of your office cubicle.  329 Henry St., nr. Atlantic Ave., Cobble Hill; 718-852-8630 (View the Listing)

85

Pickle Shack

Photo: Sarah Silberg/New York Magazine
85

Pickle Shack

To that winning combination of pickles and beer, this low-key but well-stocked craft-brew bar adds a small menu of meatless sandwiches, salads, and snacks, as culinarily inventive as a smoked-tofu bánh mì adorned with house-fermented kimchee and avocado, and as addictive as deep-fried, beer-battered Hop-Pickles with preserved-lemon aïoli. Partners Shamus Jones of Brooklyn Brine and Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione clearly have a target demographic in mind: Beer-geek vegetarians deserve a place to call their own, too, don’t they? 256 Fourth Ave., nr. Carroll St., Gowanus; 347-763-2127 (View the Listing)

86

Rockaway Taco

Photo: New York Magazine
86

Rockaway Taco

Anthropologists might pin the hipsterification of the Rockaways squarely on this seasonal shack, where surfers and day-trippers line up for fried-fish tacos and Mexican corn all summer long. It’s the unassuming—and delicious—gringo taquería that spawned a foodie community, an evolved boardwalk concession, and, just this year, an urban farm.  95-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Seaside; no phone (View the Listing)

87

Cutting Board

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
87

Cutting Board

When certain controversialist members of the local food cognoscenti bring up for discussion the hot-button topic of authenticity, odds are they’re not referring to Cutting Board. Still, here is a Hong Kong–style sai chaan, or Western comfort-food restaurant, with a focus on Italian cuisine. In other words, it’s Chinese dudes cooking spaghetti. Should we boycott it? No, we shouldn’t. Not when the linguine with clams is intriguingly made with sake and miso butter. And not when the uni pasta, despite the fact that it’s doused with enough creamy sauce to make Tony May’s blood boil, is this rich and weirdly satisfying. At the risk of oversimplifying a complex issue, isn’t all cooking fusion of one sort or another?  53 Bayard St., nr. Elizabeth St.; 212-528-0188 (View the Listing)

88

Cheeky Sandwiches

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
88

Cheeky Sandwiches

Braised short rib with horseradish on toasted challah. Fried chicken on a buttermilk biscuit with coleslaw and gravy. A veggie muffuletta. This is not your average Boar’s Head–on–rye deli counter. That Din Yates gets the bread for his po’boys shipped north from the John Gendusa Bakery in New Orleans speaks to his attention to detail. Practically everything else is made in-house. True, you’ll never mistake Cheeky’s divey premises for a suite at the Mandarin Oriental, but the addition of a full-fledged door in place of the plastic car-wash curtain that hung nonchalantly above the entrance on an early visit is an improvement.  35 Orchard St., nr. Hester St.; 646-504-8132 (View the Listing)

89

Patacon Pisao

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
89

Patacon Pisao

This Venezuelan snack shop vends all manner of native delicacies, from the sweet corn cakes called cachapas to fried and grilled arepas. But the main attraction, and the catalyst for the business’s expansion from a late-night Washington Heights food truck to a Queens café, is the patacon, a sandwich constructed with disks of twice-fried green plantains rather than bread. Due to the dense and chewy nature of the shell and the saucy, overstuffed tendency of the fillings, this thing is twice as unwieldy and ten times more delicious than you might imagine.  85-22 Grand Ave., Elmhurst; 718-899-8922 (View the Listing)

90

Pies-n-Thighs

Photo: Winnie Au
90

Pies-n-Thighs

It remains one of the great mysteries of contemporary life: Where do those skinny-jeaned hipsters put all those chicken biscuits and banana-cream pies they gobble down at this Williamsburg landmark? Pies-n-Thighs, in its earliest, dive-bar incarnation, was the birthplace of the modern southern-fried movement that’s infiltrated all corners of New York. It’s since relocated to a more fitting, albeit still down-home setting and is poised for expansion yet again. No matter how fancy or far-flung the food world gets, there will always be room for cheese grits, cake doughnuts, and the full roster of sides.  166 S. 4th St., at Driggs St., Williamsburg; 347-529-6090 (View the Listing)

91

Il Salumaio

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
91

Il Salumaio

Fabio Casella and his brother, Ciro, the owners of this snug, 20-seat café, also run the terrific, typically packed San Matteo pizzeria up the block. But Il Salumaio is no holding pen for Margherita and marinara eaters. Get the meatballs and the arancini, and the paccheri all’amatriciana. If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, get the Arthur Avenue (ham, salami, mortadella, provolone) and save yourself a trip to the Bronx.  1731 Second Ave., nr. 90th St.; 646-852-6876

92

BurgerFi

Photo: Cassandra Rose Tannenbaum/New York Magazine
92

BurgerFi

The question at BurgerFi is not “Do you want fries with that?” but “How would you like your fries?” You have options: There are “urban fries” (Parmesan, herbs, garlic aïoli) and “alternative-style fries” (disco style, more or less), plus six different toppings for regular fries. How hungry are you? How about a 2,290-calorie “big bucket” of fries? Most surprising of all, you can ask for your spuds cooked “well done” or even “limp, the opposite of well done,” according to a not-so-secret “secret menu” posted on the restaurant’s website. Obviously, BurgerFi aims to satisfy a wide range of tastes, and satisfy it does. But if you can’t make up your mind about the fries, get the onion rings and the uncompromisingly great house double cheeseburger.  1571 Second Ave., nr. 82nd St.; 646-684-3172 (View the Listing)