NYC Restaurant Week takes place twice a year. And twice a year, I am disappointed with the list. Somewhere between the bougie restaurant picks —that require a dress code and a deep wallet— and the lack of meal options on the menus (I just so happen to be allergic to every millennial food trend under the sun from avocado toasts to coconut infused anything), I’m left playing Russian Roulette with my tastebuds.
From margaritas and tacos on a Tuesday to sangria and codfish fritters on a calm Friday night; if you know me, you know I enjoy a good ass meal.
In the height of the summer, where afterwork drinks with overworked and under-appreciated homies are a form of therapy and dates with cuffing season prospects are necessary, good food is important. Here’s a list of my personal favorites, soon to review “hit list,” breweries and more spots by the borough that deserve your coin.
(Note: I’m from Harlem. Harlem is a borough. Thanks – MGMT.)
Melba’s: Actually good soul food in New York is very hard to come by. There are alot of places that are quite frankly “mid,” but not much that has the actual soul in it. Thankfully, there’s Melba’s. From the chicken and eggnog waffles (which won against Bobby Flay’s dish on “Throwdown!”) to the catfish and macaroni and cheese (that tastes like someone’s grandmother has been putting all her love in it), Melba’s is the BEST southern spot in Harlem. Better than Amy Ruth’s and Sylvia’s. There I said it.
BLVD Bistro: If you’re one of the very rare millennials who actually likes to eat during brunch or just need a wholesome spot to bring your family, you’ll definitely want to try BLVD Bistro. The black owned soul food spot located on W. 122nd St is known for its seven cheese macaroni (that comes with apple smoked bacon or turkey bacon for my non-pork lovers) as well as the fresh baked biscuits and my personal favorite— BLVD’s Spiked Tea. Though the bistro offers outdoor seating, indoor seating is a little tight. Reservations— especially for brunch on weekends— are highly recommended.
The Edge: A gem in my neighborhood, The Edge offers everything from traditional English breakfasts to Jamaican fare (including my personal favorite codfish fritters and rum punch) and of course the classic shrimp and grits. On weekends, there’s usually a crowd around 11AM awaiting the popular brunch, but week nights are filled with live music, great conversation, and even better food.
Need a brew? Here are a couple of breweries with good lager and good energy:
Harlem Hops: New brewery on the block, Harlem Hops is home to over 30 different brews as well as a menu filled with brats (even a vegan one) and a variety of spicy guma pies— including a lobster pie I have my eye on. The drinks range from $5 to $16 which means you can enjoy a brew at any budget.
Restaurant Week Highlights: Lido, Red Rooster, Sofrito on the Hudson
Bronx Alehouse: Located right off of the 1 train, the Bronx Alehouse comes highly recommended from quite a few of my #BronxTwitter pals. With a menu consisting of classic pub food with a twist (wonton nachos, anyone?) and around 15 beer variations, Bronx Alehouse is the perfect place to grab a bite during lunch or after hours with your friends.
Nobody’s Pizza: Formally known as La Grata, Nobody’s Pizza — now co-owned by Carmelo Anthony— is the best place to grab a pizza, drink, and now a hookah all in one. The Mott Haven based restaurant offers $6 lunch specials, jerk chicken pies, bottle service and a brunch party from 12PM to 5PM all weekend. Order the ‘Top Model’ (lobster and shrimp on a vodka sauce based pie) and thank me later.
Beatstro: If you’re a lover of hip-hop and Caribbean inspired food, add Beatstro to your list. With it’s decor paying homage to the birthplace of hip-hop, the new restaurant’s menu is filled with everything from jambalaya and churrasco to pikiliz and purloo. Though Beatstro is on my “hit list,” it’s special Wu Wednesdays, open mics, and Beats & Brunch day party are all the reasons to stop by.
The Bronx Brewery: If you’re looking for a brewery that not only supports artists of the neighborhood, throws events (including movie nights), and has the best IPA I have ever had, the Bronx Brewery is the place for you. Located on E. 136th St., the Bronx Brewery truly holds it down for the community. Though their taproom only serves snacks for the moment, they rent different food trucks from a variety of the restaurants in the neighborhood and also allow you to bring in your own food!
Peaches Hot House: Located at the top of my “hit list,” I’ve been dying to make my to Peaches Hot House and its other locations for years now. It’s Nashville style hot chicken sandwich is one of the restaurant’s specialities. If your heart is missing some authentic barbeque, try the smoked hot link sandwich or beef short ribs.
Tom’s Restaurant: Do you like breakfast? How about breakfast until 9PM? Easily one of the best breakfast spots I’ve been to, Tom’s Restaurant is something straight out of Diners, Drive-In’s, and Dives. Offering over 30+ different breakfast options, Tom’s is most known for it’s variety of pancakes. From lemon ricotta flavored pancakes to sweet potato and my personal favorite cinnamon roll pancakes, Tom’s is perfect for a good ass meal at any time. Due to it’s popularity, Tom’s is often packed! If you plan on stopping by, come early (there’s often a wait especially for big parties, but it moves fast), bring cash and an empty stomach. Thank me later.
Sally Roots: Two words: Oxtail ramen. Sally Roots came highly recommended to me from one of my many foodie friends (who I promised to keep this on the low for, sorry!). With it’s great cocktail menu that features literally “all of the rums,” a variety of hearty rice and peas bowls and Caribbean inspired ramen, you’ll definitely want to make the trip to Bushwick.
Gueros: Easily the best taco spot in Brooklyn, Gueros offers 15 different tacos (the fried chicken taco is my recommendation) and nachos, quesadillas and other sides at a moderate price. The Crown Heights taco gem also offers a very strong margarita that’ll have you sending inappropriate “WYD?” texts while the sun is still out. Gueros gets packed quickly and it’s hard to grab a table on weekends, so prepare for a wait especially if the weather is nice.
Restaurant Week Highlights: Barano (which offers a Gluten Free Menu), Brasserie Seoul
Need a drink accompanied with a good vibe? Here are my Brooklyn go-to’s: Brooklyn Moon, Bed Vyne, Ode to Babel
Boka: Good restaurants that serve Korean fried chicken aren’t hard to find in the city. But one with good service is. Right in the heart of St. Marks is Boka— the Korean joint with good food and service. Open until 4AM on the weekend, Boka is the best place to get chicken, steamed buns or bulgoli on the late night.
David’s Cafe: With a French take on American classics, David’s Cafe is the place to go for a very good burger during lunch, peach sangria during brunch on the weekends, or steak frites for dinner. Catch David’s during the week midday for a very relaxing dining experience. Definitely a date approved spot.
Restaurant Week Picks: PIG & KHAO, Rice & Gold
Note: I have to admit, Queens is foreign territory for ya girl. But I do travel for good food! Here are some spots on my “hit list.”
Queens Comfort: Typically, I wouldn’t let things like “Capt’n Crunch crusted fried chicken” or “disco tots” get me excited. But, there’s something about Queens Comfort’s brunch menu (I mean Oreo brioche french toast?!?) that has me willing to risk it all. Located in Astoria, Comfort is a cash only diner specializing in fun takes on traditional diner classics. Early arrival is suggested during brunch on weekends!
Eddie’s Sweet Shop: If you’re a dessert kinda person, head to Forrest Hills for Eddie’s Sweet Shop. Home to 20 flavors of ice cream, the cash only shop has been around for literally 100+ years. Action Bronson even called Eddie’s home of the best milkshake ever on the first episode of F*ck, That’s Delicious. If Bronson recommends it, it’s definitely worth a try right?
Trying something off the list? Hit me up and let me know how you enjoyed it!