I love visiting new restaurants – that’s why this city is such a blessing to me. There is always a new restaurant to try, a new cuisine to taste, and a myriad of price ranges for whether I am feeling like wearing heels or flip flops.
There is something to be said about returning to old faithful. Seeing servers who know you and going through the menu until you have tried nearly every dish listed. Here are a few of my favorite dishes at restaurants that I can’t help but frequent all the time (or wish I did, anyway!).
This restaurant really has it all, at all of its 3 locations. Fair prices, fabulous cocktails, an bustling atmosphere, and really great food. It has something for everyone and I have come here for girls night, brunch with the family, and dates – it really lends itself well to all sorts of occasions. If you are there for breakfast or brunch, I heartily recommend the Ranchero Scramble. These eggs come in a huge, fluffy pile, so light that they practically float away. They are served atop a crispy tortilla with onion and garlic flecked black beans and a smoky, rich salsa. Topped with a blanket of cheddar cheese and half of a buttery avocado, this is hangover food at its finest. Just be sure to schedule a nap after brunch, because you will be in a major food coma.
Atlantic Grill has a couple of locations, but the one by Lincoln Center is my favorite. Though I love the simply grilled fish, the crisp and pungent Caesar salad, and the wonderful homemade desserts, there is only one dish to order for an appetizer here. The oysters. The oysters are always fantastic – expensive, to be sure, but it’s Lincoln Center…the stuff in this area is pricey. They are small, deep, and creamy or large, flat, and briny, scouted from the east and West coast and changed daily according to supply. They are served with a wonderful sweet and spicy Thai vinaigrette as well as the traditional horseradish, cocktail sauce, and mignonette. The oysters are satisfying and decadent, but not too rich if you are starting a long meal. Bring your credit card and bring high expectations.
Make-your-own-paella at Socarrat Paella Bar
This is still my favorite paella in the city. I love the crispy layer on bottom the salty, sticky layer on top, and the wonderful variety of ingredients What isn’t advertised is that you can basically customize the paella in any way you want. If you don’t like seafood, remove it entirely from your order. Want to add rabbit or mushrooms? Add an extra $5 per person per ingredient, and your dream paella is yours. This is fantastic when dining with people who are kosher, who have intolerance to certain veggies, or who are just plain picky. It also proves that the paella really is made to order – as if you couldn’t taste it, you now know it for sure.
Oh, ABC Kitchen. You never lose your sparkle, do you? Still the darling of the NYC dining scene 2 years after its James Beard Award win for best new restaurant, it keeps innovating its menu, providing return guests with new and tasty menu options. For one of the tastiest, look to the squash toast. The sqaush is roasted, then pureed with apple cider vinegar and salt. It tops creamy ricotta cheese and sour peasant bread. The result is so extraordinary that you really have to go try it. Creamy and crunchy and sour and sweet and rich and light and salty and bright…this is so delicious that words don’t do it justice.
I’m so lucky to go try new restaurants all the time. I love this city, ever changing and always vibrant. But now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go get another order of that squash toast.
Sometimes, I just prefer Old Faithful.