Eat This Now: 25 Essential Dishes to Try in NYC

By Kelly Dobkin  |  January 25, 2017
Credit: Eric Medsker

In reality, this list could be 100 dishes, as we know NYC is basically a meme generator for trends around the world. But to keep things orderly, we shaved it down to a select 25 — some brand-new, some less than a year old — that you must eat now. Check back every quarter for new must-try dishes.

  • Credit: Noah Fecks

    Sophia Loren sundae for two at Leuca
    Chef Andrew Carmellini is known for his pastas and his Williamsburg newcomer is no exception. But the real sleeper hit here is dessert: a hot fudge sundae that tastes like the best affogato you've ever had, made with espresso gelato, chocolate fudge, salted caramel powder, meringue chips, cinnamon crumble and a rum granita. But why is it named after the legendary Italian siren? While finalizing the menu, Carmellini said to pastry chef Jason Casey: "Imagine it's the 1960s, and you're on a date, dressed really well in a nice Italian restaurant with Sophia Loren...and you order a sundae." The rest is history.

    ​111 N. 12th Street, Brooklyn; 718-581-5900

  • Credit: Eric Medsker

    Chopped cheese at White Gold Butchers
    The newest restaurant from Spotted Pig dream team April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman focuses on butchery, with a whole-animal program operated in house by Lindy and Grundy alums Erika Nakamura and Jocelyn Guest. Chef Bloomfield has long been known for her burgers, and here she takes on beloved Harlem bodega staple, the chopped cheese, by starting with five ounces of White Gold burger grind cooked in beef fat, topping it with two slices of American cheese, plus pickled kirbys and pickled jalapeños. The result is the droolworthy new sandwich that everyone's talking about (lunch only).

    375 Amsterdam Avenue; 212-362-8734

  • Credit: Aliza Eliazarov

    Baked ricotta and roasted kabocha toast at Loring Place
    Dan Kluger, formerly of ABC Kitchen, is back in top form with his first-ever solo project, Loring Place in Greenwich Village. Known as one of the leading chefs in the 'veggie-forward' movement of the last several years, Kluger whips up this healthyish starter, vaguely reminiscent of ABC's hit butternut squash toast. Roasted kabocha squash is paired with gooey ricotta and served with caramelized onions, fresh mint and chile flakes, alongside grilled sourdough.

    21 W. 8th Street; 212-388-1831

  • Credit: Johnny Miller

    Lobster and crab dumplings in yuzu broth at Flora Bar
    The team behind Estela and Cafe Altro Paradiso recently expanded uptown with this elegant new seafood spot inside the Met Breuer museum. While there are many impressive dishes to try, it's the delicate lobster and crab dumplings in yuzu broth that have our heart: soft, savory and bursting with flavor, the brightness from the yuzu offsets their richness and makes for the perfect starter.

    945 Madison Avenue; 646-558-5385

  • Credit: Oleg March

    Johnny Fried Rice at Chinese Tuxedo
    This super-swank newcomer from partners Eddy Buckingham and Jeff Lam in a former Chinatown opera house (and subsequent former mini mall) is one of the buzziest spots in town right now. Perfect for a party crowd or a date, the menu does interpretive takes on Chinese fare from spicy dumplings to honey-glazed char siu. But the Johnny Fried Rice is a must-order: packed with shrimp, fried garlic, puffed rice, crispy chicken skin and chiles, it's worth breaking your 'low carb' resolutions for.

    5 Doyers Street; 646-895-9301

  • Credit: Anna Dickson

    Fish tacos at Los Mariscos
    Who says January isn't the month for killer fish tacos? The geniuses behind a highly rated taqueria, the aptly named Los Tacos No. 1, debuted this seafood-laden spin-off just behind the original in Chelsea Market in late 2016. The crispy fried fish tacos are topped with a tangy slaw, spicy aïoli and fresh tomatoes. The shrimp ceviche tostada is also one of our favorites.

    ​409 W. 15th St.; 212-920-4986

  • Credit: Pizza Loves Emily

    Le Big Matt pizza at Emmy Squared
    The Pizza Loves Emily brand is known for two things: pizza and a killer burger. Enter Le Big Matt pizza, served at Emmy Squared in Williamsburg, the pie features the well-known Detroit-style crust and burger ingredient toppings: Fleishers' beef, American cheese, Sammy sauce, pickles and mizuna lettuce. Look for a new outpost of Emmy Squared coming to the West Village this spring.

    364 Grand St., Brooklyn718-360-4535

  • Credit: Corry Arnold

    Tout le lapin at Le Coucou
    It's hard to pick just one dish at the smash-hit French-inspired eatery from Daniel Rose and Stephen Starr. With offerings like the pike quenelle, oeuf Norvégien, chiboust and chocolate mousse, almost everything on the menu here is worthy of its own visit. But we recommend this three-part rabbit dish if you want the full-on throwback experience. The tout le lapin (translation: all of the rabbit) features the tender bunny three ways: oven-roasted legs marinated in mustard and topped with onions, liver-stuffed rabbit saddle medallions and a rabbit broth. Good luck getting a table, though.

    138 Lafayette St.; 212-271-4252

  • Credit: NoMad

    Chicken Parm for two at Mamma Guidara's (NoMad)
    ​NoMad's Daniel Humm is throwing back to the red-sauce era (so hot right now) with a Sunday night–only pop-up menu inspired by vintage eatery Mamma Leone's. His massive chicken Parm for two is made with a breaded chicken cutlet, béchamel, marinara sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan, and is part of the four-course, $68 prix fixe menu. Book your tickets here.

    10 W. 28th St.; 212-796-1500

  • Credit: Evan Sung

    TanTan ramen at Momosan​
    Morimoto's popular new ramen restaurant opened to lines on the first day. Make sure to try the TanTan ramen, made with spicy coconut curry, pork chashu, red miso, ground pork, ajitama and cilantro.

    342 Lexington Ave.; 646-201-5529

  • Credit: Liz Barclay

    "Black bean" dip at Lalo
    Former El Rey chef Gerardo Gonzalez debuted his first solo venture in Chinatown late last year, in the iconic space that previously housed beloved dive bar Winnie's. The "new California" menu features Mexican and global inspirations, including this "black bean" dip, cleverly made with cannellini beans, black garlic and squid ink, then topped with pickled red onion, banana peppers and cotija cheese. It's served with plantain chips.

    104 Bayard St.; 646-998-3408

  • Credit: Stephen A. Johnson

    Potato fry bread at NIX
    Fry bread had a big year, popping up not only at John Fraser's newest all-veggie venture in the Village but on other menus, like Covina's, as well. The Nix version is stuffed with Yukon gold potatoes before being deep-fried and topped with classic baked potato fixin's: sour cream, Cabot white cheddar, shaved scallions, mini broccoli florets and red ball radishes. It's pretty and almost impossible not to love.

    72 University Place; 212-498-9393

  • Credit: Connie Zhou

    Coconut crab curry at Fish Cheeks
    This trendy Thai newcomer has been wowing diners since opening on Bond Street in September. One of the spiciest dishes in NYC right now, the coconut crab curry starts with a mortar and pestle–ground curry paste to make the rich, spicy broth. Pieces of king crab leg can be found throughout.

    55 Bond St.; 212-677-2223

  • Credit: Nathan Ma

    Pork jowl at ATOBOY
    This stylish and affordable Korean spot lets you choose three small dishes for $36, including the hearty pork jowl with barley ssamjang and romaine.

    ​43 E. 28th St.; 646-476-7217

  • Credit: Clay Williams

    Malfadini at Lilia
    Chef Missy Robbins' Williamsburg Italian is still one of the toughest tables in town, nearly one year after opening. While it's hard to pick just one dish to highlight — the homemade mozzarella, cacio e pepe frittelle, pastas and housemade gelato are all so good — we're going to go with the simple yet delicious malfadini, tossed with pink peppercorns and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

    ​567 Union Ave., Brooklyn; 718-576-3095

  • Credit: Noah Fecks

    Trust Me omakase at Sugarfish
    Ask Angelenos where to go for sushi and their eyes will widen dramatically as they whisper one word: "Sugarfish." Since the cult sushi restaurant with affordable, high-quality omakases opened in NYC, reported wait times have been astronomical. But if you do manage to get in you'll want the $39 "Trust Me" omakase that begins with edamame, features tuna sashimi and various tuna and salmon sushi, and ends with a toro hand roll. 

    33 E. 20th St.: 347-705-8100

  • Credit: Kelly Dobkin

    86'd burger at Chumley's
    The legendary Village speakeasy triumphantly returned last year after a nine-year hiatus thanks to Sushi Nakazawa honcho Alessandro Borgognone. ​The gorgeous new interiors are the perfect backdrop for a scotch and soda and a classic burger. The 86'd burger (a reference to the restaurant slang that Chumley's address helped coin) is topped with decadent bone marrow, Gouda cheese and Chumley's sauce, and served with extra crispy fries.

    86 Bedford St.

  • Hummus at Dizengoff
    The NYC debut of Philly's popular hummusiya from Zahav chef Michael Solomonov and Emily Seaman has been a smash hit inside Chelsea Market's newest area of food stalls. Hummus options rotate daily and always include one veggie, one meat and one vegan option. If you're lucky enough to book a table for dinner you'll enjoy a bonus meat entree (perhaps the roasted lamb shoulder) in addition to the salad, hummus and mounds of freshly baked pita.

    Chelsea Market, 75 9th Ave.; 646-833-7097

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    Fish-shaped ice cream cone at Taiyaki
    ​Another Instagram all-star is the fish-shaped ice cream cone at this Chinatown shop. The cones are pressed and filled with red bean, and you can customize yours with a variety of ice cream flavors (matcha, black sesame, et al.) and toppings.  

    119 Baxter St.; 212-966-2882

  • Chargrilled onglet at King
    Scope out the media and fashion set while dining at this charming SoHo spot from two alums of London's River Cafe. The menu changes constantly, but you'll likely find this tender hanger steak with chickpeas and salsa Etrusca (although the preparation is subject to change). 

    18 King St.; 917-825-1618

  • Credit: Liz Clayman

    Roasted bone marrow at Augustine
    Keith McNally's latest restaurant in FiDi's Beekman Hotel is steeped in the Parisian elegance that he's known for. Indulge in decadent oxtail marmalade, roasted garlic and grilled country bread as your starter.

    5 Beekman St.; 212-375-0010

  • Credit: Josh Brusin

    Giant dumpling at Drunken Dumpling
    A new East Village dumpling shop from a Joe's Shanghai alum and her son is going for Instagram gold by debuting a giant soup dumpling called the XL Xiao Long Bao. The massive concoction, priced at $12.95, is filled with four different broths (chicken, veggie, pork and seafood) as well as pork meat, and can be eaten with a straw. 

    137 1st Ave.; 212-982-8882

  • Credit: Fancy Nancy

    Chicken sandwich at Fancy Nancy
    Everyone's doing a chicken sandwich these days, from Shake Shack to David Chang. But here's one you may not have tried: the $5 cheap and dirty version at this creative Bed-Stuy upstart. Sandwiched between a Martin's potato roll and topped with slaw and sauce, it's one of our favorite new renditions. 

    1038 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn; 347-350-7289

  • Credit: Mirella Cheeseman

    Trompito al pastor at Guadalupe Inn
    DIY al pastor? Why not! At this Bushwick Mexican from the Mesa Coyoacan team (complete with live burlesque stage shows), order the trompito al pastor, a platter of taco amazingness that consists of slow-roasted pork, guajillo chile, grilled pineapple, onion, cilantro, Key lime, chile de árbol and tortillas.

    1 Knickerbocker Ave., Brooklyn; 718-366-0500

  • Credit: Gary Landsman

    Black cod pastrami at Sunday in Brooklyn
    This new Williamsburg spot from an Atera alum that touts itself as "low waste" is serving up this pastrami spice–rubbed cod with rye sour cream and pickles as an inventive starter.

    348 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn347-222-6722