Between preparing for and heading to Asia, I assumed that February would be a month light on the restaurant exploits. Man, was I wrong. I had some pretty lovely meals out this month, and some absolutely mediocre experiences as well. Spoiler alert: I avoided all things Vietnamese and similar in spirit, as I knew I was going to be on a noodle-heavy spree for fifteen days. Perhaps my March and April mission will be finding the most authentic bowl of pho in NYC, now that I know how phenomenal it can be. But for now, here’s my February restaurant round-up from the Big Apple.
Public Kitchen – This is a re-review, as I first dined at JG Kitchen when the Public Hotel had just opened in NYC. The defining word then was “sexy,” and it still it today. The space is incredible – from the neon light-trimmed lobby escalator to the third floor bar, to the restaurant itself. It feels swanky and well-designed and luxe, to its core. However, the food is still just mediocre, and the prices are wholly unwarranted for what arrives on your table. I’d say skip this spot unless the bill is going on a corporate card.
Devocion Flatiron – One of my favorite South Williamsburg coffee shops officially opened up in Flatiron, and it follows that I had to immediately check it out. Alas, this location is a bit smaller (thank you, Manhattan real estate prices), and the living wall has been downsized to a living chandelier with greenery (a site to see). But their coffee is still fantastic, the yellow mugs have remained intact (it’s incredible what a pop of sunny color will do for your mood), and I will be coming back for more.
Loring Place – This is also a re-review, as Loring Place was a restaurant that I had adored for dinner when it first opened (sit at the bar), and so decided to revisit for a weekday lunch. And let me tell you, it was ever better than I remembered it. The crisp winter citrus salad was exceptionally flavorful, and the cornmeal-crusted hake with a gingery broth was more than memorable. This is a place that has officially made me “go-to” list.
La Pulperia – As my exploration of the Upper East Side continues, I have slowly worked my way up the main stretch of 2nd Avenue that boats an exceptional amount of restaurants and bars (thank you, Q train). Pulqueria has become one of my favorite spots for a lighter dinner and drinks that can be easily shared. They have a really great ceviche selection that pairs well with a Casamigos and soda, and the chips and guac can’t be beat. Sit at the bar without a reservation and you’re golden.
Marlow and Sons – Just next door to the legendary Diner in Williamsburg, Marlow and Sons is a coffee shop meets all-day cafe meets neighborhood restaurant. The vibe is exactly what you want Williamsburg to be (and which it so often is no longer). It’s become one of my favorite places to post up at for a day of remote work, reading, or just relaxing in the sun-bathed front cafe with a really strong coffee.
The Fat Radish – The official report is that this famed Lower East Side spot is an oldie, but certainly still a goodie. In fact, it encompasses much of what I love about NYC dining. The space feels dark, cozy, candlelit, and unpretentious, and it’s just as great for catching up with a girlfriend as it is for a romantic dinner date. The tiny front bar is endlessly charming, the wine list is not over the top, and the food is just impeccable. Don’t miss the whole roasted hen of the woods mushroom, local mozzarella with citrus and grilled sourdough, and truffled duck fat chips with parm.
456 New Shanghai – In a sea of options in Chinatown, this brightly-lit and exceptionally unpretentious spot is my new go-to for soup dumplings (Shanghai-style), and well, all dumplings in general. There is zero ambiance, but you can get in and out quickly, eat pretty cheaply, and it satisfies that craving like none other.
Minnie’s – This beautiful Lower East Side spot is relatively knew, and is one of those catch-all spots where you can go for brunch and find both a burger and a yogurt bowl with spirulina on the menu. I split the difference and went for the Minnie’s Bowl, which is essentially a stir-fry with mushrooms, squash, quinoa, microgreens, and some lovely salmon on top. While delicious, it falls distinctly into the “could have made it at home” bucket, and for significantly less pennies.
For Five Coffee Roasters – A quality Times Square coffee shop (read: no blinding lights, minimal tourists, not connected to a hotel) can be a challenge to find, and so I was so happy to have stumbled upon For Five. It’s one of those places that’s great to have bookmarked in your phone as a back-pocket option when a caffeine boost or last-minute meeting space is needed while in the dreaded Times Square neighborhood. And the fact that they have a pretty extensive selection of fun and funky baked goods never hurt anyone.