5 Restaurants to Try This Weekend in NYC

Weekly inspiration for last-minute dining

Welcome to your weekend planner, where Eater editors recommend restaurants, cafes, and bars — whether they’re new and hot or the old standbys. As always, please let us know if you’d like to see something specific.

October 12

For a hearty biscuit breakfast sandwich in Park Slope: The 5th Street, Fifth Avenue farmers market is tiny but filled with delights on Sundays, including oversized breakfast sandwiches from Brooklyn Biscuit Company. Basically any of the biscuits will be great, including the cheddar jalapeño and the “everything.” The egg’s cooked perfectly, the bacon’s an ideal chewy texture, and the cheese sweetens the deal. It’s splittable, but eating the whole thing solo might be the move. Fifth street at Fifth Avenue, Park Slope, Sunday only — Serena Dai, editor

For early morning Vietnamese brunch in Soho: If you don’t feel like waiting for brunch on the weekend until 1 p.m. or 2 p.m., why not eat it early for a change, handily avoiding the crowds and that empty feeling in the pit of your stomach that comes from waiting too long to eat. BòCàPhê opens at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and from that early hour onward you can regale yourself with a bowl of chicken pho at the hour it’s often eaten in Houston or Vietnam itself; or an egg banh mi featuring an omelet, pickled vegetables, and fresh jalapeños, plus an unexpected layer of French cheese. Drinks are available, too. 222 Lafayette St., between Spring and Broome streets, Soho — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For Chinese food that hits the spot toward the end of the night: If hungry and wanting toward the midnight hour in Chelsea, as I was last night, head to Excellent Dumpling House. There’s a fairly standard Cantonese bill of fare, plus some dim sum, and I particularly enjoyed the soup dumplings and sauteed string beans. Service is straightforward and efficient, something one wants when just trying to get some food on the table. 165 West 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh avenues, Chelsea — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For exceptional Shanghai fare in Forest Hills: Maybe hop on the R train this weekend and head for Forest Hills, where a very nice Shanghai-style Chinese restaurant is located steps away from the R train stop at 67th Avenue. At the Bund, named after a historic region in downtown Shanghai, try a plate of smoked fish with crisp skin, a bowl of pork soup with tofu knots, roast pork hock with flesh that pulls away from the bone in dark unctuous strips, or flounder filet in hot chile oil with Sichuan peppercorns. The restaurant is elegant and comfortable, the perfect place to linger over a leisurely afternoon meal. 100-30 Queens Blvd., at 67th Road, Forest Hills — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a warming bowl of udon: It’s really, truly, finally fall, which means it’s the perfect time for a bowl of udon. And the newer Soho location of East Village udon restaurant Raku is the most comfortable place for a bowl of the hot noodle soup. On a quiet block on MacDougal, it’s bigger and airier than the original. Plus, it takes reservations. The Chikara udon with mochi and chicken is a comforting go-to, and if udon isn’t sufficient, there’s a lengthy list of appetizers and donburi. Don’t sleep on the sabazushi (pressed mackerel sushi), only available at dinner. 48 Macdougal St., between West Houston and Prince streets, Soho — Monica Burton, associate restaurant editor

October 5

For baked pastas and fresh mozzarella at old-school Italian: Michael’s of Marine Park is an Italian restaurant that dates to 1964, and the elegant and nostalgic interior — where a pianist tinkles away on a piano on a raised platform — shows it. Skip the newfangled stuff on the menu and head for the mozzarella with roasted red peppers, linguine with red clam sauce, baked ravioli, a flattened and breaded veal chop with the bone sticking out, and, for dessert, a bowl of spumoni ice cream. Also check out Michael’s Pastry Shop across the street. 2929 Ave. R, at Nostrand Avenue, Marine Park — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For an intimate date with beer in the East Village: A power move for a first or second date would be at longtime East Village beer bar Burp Castle, a bar where patrons are required to whisper. It’s a rule firmly enforced by bartenders, who spend a fair amount of time shooshing the room. The whole thing is annoying for a group of people — particularly for the individuals whose voices naturally project, like, ahem, me — but for a date, leaning in close for hushed tones might be just the right vibe. 41 E. 7th St., near 2nd Avenue, East Village — Serena Dai, editor

For revived Middle Eastern fare in West Village: As if picked up and moved by a cyclone, Balaboosta left Little Italy earlier this year and then reappeared in the West Village in the old Bar Bolognat space, reasserting itself as Einat Admony’s flagship. Gone are the shrimp wrapped in phyllo, semi-deconstructed hummus, and honeydew gazpacho, and a whole host of new and playful dishes enliven the menu. Among new ones, crisp cauliflower with currents and pine nuts, and lamb neck sweetened with dates on a bed of freekeh (a green durum wheat rubbed like couscous) stand out. For veterans, the signature chicken under a brick with pomegranate sauce remains. 611 Hudson St., at West 12th Street, West Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a relaxed date night in Harlem: The tiny, candle-lit tables at Italian restaurant Babbalucci are ideal for the casual date night. One can also sit on the patio, or grab a seat at the dimly-lit bar for some pre-dinner cocktails. When it’s time for dinner, indulge in a glass or bottle of wine, which start at $ 10 and $40, respectively, and choose between pizzas or pastas. The fusilli with sausage and mushroom was particularly tasty. 331 Lenox Ave., between West 126th and 127th Streets, Harlem — Carla Vianna, reporter

For great kebabs in Park Slope: In the U.S., there’s surely no better place than Brooklyn or Queens to sample Uzbek fare, with its diverse Persian, Slavic, Turkic, and Korean influences. Nargis in Park Slope, Boris Bangiyev’s sequel to his Sheepshead Bay flagship, is among the best of the bunch. Expect staples like kimchi carrots and lamb-studded plov, but really, the main event here is the stunning array of kebabs, seared to a preternatural juiciness over charcoals (cooks use hairdryers to regulate the heat). Try the cumin-laced chicken thighs, funky lamb chuck, or beefy skirt steak. 155 Fifth Ave., between Lincoln Place and Douglass Street — Ryan Sutton, chief critic

September 29

For surprising and delightful desserts: I love seeing what pastry chef Miro Uskokovic has in store for each season. Late summer brings out all of the best fruit, and Uskokovic is a master at using berries, stone fruits, and melon to great effect. He also loves to surprise. Not many people outside of Austria and Germany know the souffle-like dessert nockerl. It looks almost exactly like a toasty brown cloud. At Gramercy Tavern, Uskokovic spikes it with vanilla bean and sets the batter atop jammy blackberries before pushing it into a hot oven. There, it grows to twice its size, and arrives at the table still warm and trembling. Dive into it and get at that hot fruit; a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side provides a nice temperature contrast. 42 East 20th St., between Park Avenue South and Broadway, Gramercy — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

For Alexandrian food: Ali El Sayed is a maverick creative chef not unlike Kenny Shopsin, who has maintained a small dining establishment in Astoria for 26 years called Kabab Café. The narrow storefront contains three or four tables, the walls hung with antique Egyptian photos and tchotchkes. El Sayed develops his menu in consultation with the diners on the spur of the moment based on what he’s shopped for that day. On a recent occasion, a dinner included falafel made from fava beans served with hummus and apples, salad of cauliflower dressed with pomegranate syrup, shrimp kufta, and a platter of lamb chops and ground-lamb kebabs. 25-12 Steinway St., at 25th Avenue, Astoria — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a Chelsea Chinese change-up: In personal news, longtime Chelsea Chinese restaurant Legend — my neighborhood go-to — is under new ownership with a new chef. Now called Chengdu House, the focus is still on fiery Sichuan fare that is already promising. Mapo tofu was appropriately spicy and savory, while fried chicken in chile peppers was crunchy and addictive. Stick to the Sichuan side of the menu, as the more Americanized dishes, like bok choy and mushrooms in brown sauce, weren’t as expertly rendered. 88 Seventh Ave., between 15th and 16th streets, Chelsea — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For almost a French dip: This weekend promises to be sunny and temperate, so why not trek out to Sheepshead Bay and cop a roast beef sandwich at Brennan & Carr? This 1930s Irish roast beef joint specializes in hot sandwiches something like Los Angeles’ famous French dip, with both sides of the round roll coated with salty meat juices. Yes, the beef is rendered well-done, but in this case that’s an asset. Apres-sandwich, take a stroll along the Salt Marsh Nature Trail in nearby Marine Park. 3432 Nostrand Ave., between Avenue U and Gravesend Neck Road, Sheepshead Bay — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For outdoor hangs before a Brooklyn favorite closes: Atlantic Avenue outdoor-indoor bar Hot Bird closes in December, and the temperatures this weekend suggest that it’s a fine time to spend some time there before the end. (It’s getting replaced by a skyscraper.) Grab either the pork or chicken taco, settle in with a beer or two, and perhaps mourn the ongoing “end of Brooklyn” or something. 564 Clinton St., at Atlantic Avenue, Clinton Hill — Serena Dai, editor

September 21

For an outstanding Trinidadian snack shop in Brooklyn: I finally made my way to legendary Bed-Stuy shop A&A Bake and Doubles, and if you’re anywhere close to it this weekend and haven’t gone yet, go. I didn’t realize how high the ceiling was on the deliciousness on a doubles; their version is downright magical. The bouncy flatbread, which houses steaming hot curried chickpeas, is just slightly sweet and quite fresh. Get the hot sauce — it’s not overly spicy, and the sloppy delight tastes far more expensive than the $1.50 you’ll pay for it. 1337 Fulton St., near Verona Place, Bed-Stuy — Serena Dai, editor

For schnitzels and wursts: The name means something like “to the meeting house,” and Zum Stammtisch is the city’s most Bavarian restaurant, and one of its clubbiest. Sit in the dark barroom and hear German spoken, or in the stein-swaddled main dining room, where waitresses propel around in dirndls, serving bowls of goulash soup and steaming plates of jaegerschnitzel (pork cutlet smothered in mushroom gravy), sauerbraten (tart pot roast), headcheese vinaigrette, or your choice of boiled sausages served with sauerkraut. The German beer list is another plus. 69-46 Myrtle Ave., at Cooper Avenue, Glendale — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a chill, easy meet-up with friends: It’s eminently easy to hang out at Saint Austere, an Italian wine bar with lots of options. Simply get a meat plate and some wine, or go for a full-on meal with pasta or branzino. And if you happen to get there for happy hour, prices are especially friendly with $7 house wine, $5 mussels, or $4 tequila shots, if you’re feeling spicy. 613 Grand St., between Leonard and Lorimer streets, Williamsburg — Stefanie Tuder, senior editor

For classic Spanish tapas: We’re all familiar with the overweening modern tapas bar, places that insist on offering full-blown entrees, desserts, off-theme cocktails, shots of mezcal, and just about everything else you can think of, de-emphasizing the real mission of a tapas bar, which is to provide Spanish snacks and glasses of wine while you wait for the dinner hour to arrive. Welcome Village newcomer Lamano, which obsesses on classic tapas like tortilla and pan con tomate washed down with wine, beer, and sangria, with bargains offered before 7 p.m., seven days. 39 Christopher St., between Seventh Avenue South and Waverly Place, Greenwich Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For an affordable Sichuan meal and friendly service: The staff at Han Dynasty in Downtown Brooklyn’s DeKalb Market Hall was hospitable and caring. Someone in my group had strict dietary restrictions, and the server patiently worked through the menu to find her a suitable dish. The family-style plates were tasty and easily shared between two people — and really affordable. Start with the pork belly buns, which come topped with cilantro, and then get the “garlic sauce-style” entree, with chicken and vegetables. The cold sesame noodles were also full of flavor. 1 Dekalb Ave., at Fleet St., Downtown Brooklyn — Carla Vianna, reporter

September 14

For bistro fare in Jackson Heights: The Queensboro’s sprawling corner space on bustling Northern Boulevard, with a bar, pair of dining rooms furnished with banquettes, and large open kitchen with a flaming oven, is an oddity in this part of Queens, an eclectic bistro serving only dinner and brunch. The menu skews adventuresome, offering pizzas (like an eggplant pie with currents and cocoa), pastas (linguine with shrimp, spicy chorizo, green garlic), short dishes (masala popcorn), and more predictable salads and main courses. 80-02 Northern Blvd., at 80th Street, Jackson Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a standout Sichuan meal in East Village: New York is lucky to have a slew of Sichuan restaurants that are all pretty good at classics, ubiquitous to the point where the average New Yorker knows what mapo tofu is. (Age 12 me in suburban Tennessee would have been shocked.) For those locals who are ready to go next level, Szechuan Mountain House serves an eclectic menu that goes far beyond other Manhattan Sichuan restaurants. Many tables will have a dramatic-looking pork belly dish, where slices hang like a clothesline, but the selection of stews is worth sampling as well. The sliced beef in one sour-spicy stew is ultra-thin and an absolute delight. Prepare to wait, though it won’t be as long as they quote. 23 Saint Marks Pl., between Second and Third avenues — Serena Dai, editor

For pastas and natural wine in Prospect Heights: Small neighborhood restaurant Faun has a small menu of antipastis, pastas, and entrees like duck leg confit with cranberries and squash. But its wine list — which emphasizes natural offerings — is extensive and contains some special gems, like a few different Greek wines that are harder to find in NYC, including a dry Greek orange that pairs well with just about everything. Sit under the tree outside for a very romantic experience. And don’t skip dessert: the olive oil polenta cake is one of the best things on the menu. Order some focaccia for the table, too. 606 Vanderbilt Ave., near St. Marks Avenue — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

For classic Vietnamese food: In addition to its Southern Chinese, Taiwanese, Sichuan, Yunnan, and Malaysian restaurants, Sunset Park’s Chinatown along Seventh and Eighth avenues hosts several distinguished Vietnamese establishments. Thanh Da is one of the oldest, a comfortable spot that makes you feel like you’re eating in someone’s living room. The menu is short, running to banh mi, stir fries, spring and summer rolls, soups, and pastries, and the staff couldn’t be nicer. 6008 Seventh Ave., between 60th and 61st streets, Sunset Park — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For Brazilian snacking: If you find yourself in Hell’s Kitchen this weekend stop by Rice ‘n’ Beans, whose name essentially points to the star of the menu: their rice and beans. Come by for the feijoada, a meat-filled, black bean stew meant to be consumed on weekends because you’ll most certainly have to take a nap afterwards. Or simply stop by to indulge in the snack menu, featuring fried empanadas stuffed with cheese, chicken, or beef; chicken croquettes; and pão de queijo, Brazilian-style cheese puffs. Don’t forget the caipirinha. 744 Ninth Ave., between 50th and 51st Streets — Carla Vianna, reporter

September 7

For a taste of Puglia in Greenpoint: Puglia-inspired Italian restaurant Naked Dog serves a traditional menu of antipasti, primi, secondi, and contorni. There are eight pastas to choose from on the primi menu, including ricotta- and herb-stuffed agnolotti with summer corn and tagliatelle with shiitake mushrooms and thyme-butter sauce. Drinks include Italian-influenced cocktails, as well as wine, beer, and lots of Italian after dinner drinks. Try the housemade limoncello. 47 Java St. at West Street, Greenpoint — Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, associate reporter

For classic Spanish fare: Neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Murray Hill, and Midtown are sprinkled with old-guard Spanish restaurants dating to the middle of the last century. The menus offer pleasing renditions of a classic cuisine, including seafood-dotted paellas, brick-red chorizo, mussels in green sauce, and grilled octopus, in addition to glasses of sherry and pitchers of sangria. A bit further afield, Jackson Heights’s Café Salamanca is a good choice, a comfortable and reasonably priced spot less touristy than the Village examples. 7905 Northern Blvd., between 79th and 80th streets, Jackson Heights — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For a messy, satisfying meal of blue crabs by the water: The weather’s supposed to be slightly less hot on Saturday, which would make sitting outside by the water at Clemente’s Maryland Crabhouse in Sheepshead Bay a fine choice. This is the kind of place for people who revel in eating with their hands, who find the process of cracking open crabs just as enjoyable as consuming the delicate sweet meat inside of it. It’s tiring but thrilling. It’s safe to ignore everything else on the menu, though; the raw oysters were not properly shucked, and the fried calamari, a difficult dish to mess up, tasted old and unsalted. 3939 Emmons Ave., at Plumb 3rd Street, Sheepshead Bay — Serena Dai, editor

For a satisfying diner breakfast: Everyone knows about the Waverly Restaurant, one of the city’s most prominent holdouts among historic diners. But the Village is scattered with other examples you may find just as good. Washington Square Diner, like the name says, is close to Washington Square, ensconced in what looks like a very old frame house. As at any diner, stick with the breakfast eggs, pancakes, and french toast, or go with the Greek dishes or hamburgers offered in multiple themed variations. Open 24 hours. 150 West Fourth St., between Sixth Avenue and Washington Square West, Greenwich Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

For the ultimate summer dessert: Despite its no-reservations policy, Via Carota is among my favorite restaurants in the city. I don’t need to tell you about the pasta or the vegetable dishes or the wine list — I need to tell you about the best summer dessert you can get at a restaurant in NYC right now. The chefs at Via Carota are drizzling quartered and pitted peaches with honey, roasting them in a wood oven, plating them (and all of those sweet, jammy juices) and topping them with a scoop of buttery mascarpone. The cool, creamy cheese melts, slowly, as you inevitably maneuver the plate to get the best photo. But dive in right away: Via Carota’s seasonal dessert is a simple but spectacular way to showcase summer’s best fruit. 51 Grove St., between Bleecker Street and Seventh Avenue, West Village — Daniela Galarza, senior editor

Source: NYC eater
5 Restaurants to Try This Weekend in NYC