The Other Critics

Sifting Through Sam Sifton’s Favorite Restaurants

As part of its new iPhone app, the Times has asked Sam Sifton to compile the “Sifty Fifty,” a list of the critic’s current favorite restaurants. He includes some man-of-the-people picks (Great N.Y. Noodletown, Bereket, Cabo Rojo, La Caridad 78, Veselka), some Batalis (Babbo, Casa Mono, Del Posto), some hip-staurants (Prime Meats, Motorino, Diner, Prune, Momofuku Ssäm), some old-schoolers (La Grenouille, Keens, Il Cantinori, River Café, Chez Napoleon), some clubhouses (Minetta Tavern, Waverly Inn), and some high-enders (Sushi Yasuda, Per Se, Marea, Le Bernardin, Casa Lever, and Eleven Madison Park, but no DanielBar Boulud being the one Bouluder). The man likes his barbecue (Fatty ’Cue, Blue Smoke, Hill Country), his pricey Asian (Devi, Shun Lee Palace, Mandangsui, Peking Duck House), his not-as-pricey Asian (Ippudo, Imperial Palace, Grand Sichuan Eastern, Baoguette, Pam). And some wear-your-Oxford neighborhood spots: Ouest, Strip House, Red Cat, Peasant, Balthazar, Elio’s, Landmarc, and Locanda Verde. Also, Tanoreen.

Curiously, Colicchio & Sons isn’t on the list despite winning a rare three stars from Sifton. Some two-star picks also don’t make it: Oceana, A Voce Columbus, Maialino, Novita, Recette, SHO Shaun Hergatt, and the Mark. Meanwhile, one-star picks like Purple Yam, Madangsui, Fatty ’Cue, and Motorino do appear on the list. Of course, Sifton has every right to recommend restaurants that don’t end up on his list of personal favorites, but it’s worth asking: If joints like Fatty ’Cue and Motorino deserve to be in the Sifty Fifty, why do they only get one star?

Also worth a look: Pete Wells’s list of favorite bars. Gotta love the man for including Frank’s Cocktail Lounge, Greenpoint’s Palace Café, and Bill’s Gay Nineties (which also gets some love from Vanishing NY today) with the usual mixology suspects.

Pete Wells’s 25 Current Favorite New York Bars [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Sam Sifton’s 50 Current Favorite New York Restaurants [Diner’s Journal/NYT]

Sifting Through Sam Sifton’s Favorite Restaurants