While November may have been a light month on the dining out scene (read: trying to save money), there were still a few hidden gems that I discovered and cannot wait to journey back to. It’s officially cozy food season, so anything warm and nourishing felt right up my alley. The best alternative to ramen? Found. A Malaysian food adventure? Checked. Read on for my top picks from November’s dining spots.
Kopitiam – I had never tried Malaysian food until I journeyed to the lower east side to visit Kopitiam, and it was one of my favorite dining experiences this year. Do not miss the nasi lemak (the signature fried anchovy-topped coconut rice), pan mee (a delightful bowl of noodles in anchovy broth), or the kaya toast (toast topped with coconut pandan jam that is literally addictive).
The East Pole – This sister spot to Eastfield’s has been on my radar for a while, but it was not until this month that I realized this is the perfect spot for an upper east side drink and app at the bar. The menu can be a bit pricey, so skip this spot for dinner and just go for an apertivo or a nightcap.
Cocoron – Known for their soba, I showed up to the tiny Cocoron on Kenmare (there’s an additional location on Delancey now too) expecting noodles, but ended up trying a few different dishes that I absolutely loved. The bacon-wrapped mushroom appetizer with a scallion dressing was delightful, and their curry soup was perfect on a chilly winter day.
Broker Shaker – I was skeptical of showing up to this rooftop tiki bar at the Freehand Hotel, well, anytime except for summer. However, this vibe-y bar has a covered roof in wintertime, and added some much-needed levity (and tiki drinks) to my evening. This is a great spot to meet a group for casual drinks, especially after work.
Babu Ji – I had dined at the original Babu Ji right when it opened and had a great experience, so I was over the moon to head to their new Union Square location. Alas, the food was not even close to as good as the original. It felt overpriced and skippable to me, lacking flavor and spice. Stick with your favorite takeout Indian place on a Friday night.
Ragtrader/Bo Peep – Finding a cool bar in midtown is like finding a diamond in the rough. The good thing is Ragtrader is both spacious and cool, and has a hidden speakeasy downstairs, Bo Peep, that’s even better than its upstairs counterpart. Why, you may ask? It has live music in the form of a pianist who sings and is joined sporadically by all of the waitstaff, who happen to be singers themselves.
Blue Stripe – Part coffee shop, part dessert mecca. Camp out here during the day to work over a latte, and at night stop by post-dinner to imbibe in a sweet treat. I came here for dessert after my aforementioned disappointing Babu Ji experience, and was greeted by strawberries with chocolate fondue. Yes, please.