New York is just a series of scenes taking place in thousands of universes, each comprised of completely different expressions shoved into the tiny square footage of an imperfect, cockroach-and-mouse-infested shoebox. Yea, I said it. No matter who you are or how nice your establishment is, New York will humble you somehow. These are the stories of my top five favorite restaurants among these shoeboxes, from the perspective of one visitor and her various companions of many different natures throughout 2019. So join me for the I Love Foodies Top New York City Restaurants of 2019!
First, I can’t include Roasted Masala in my Top 5, simply because I just wrote a review on it, and I need to play it cool. But it is important to note that they would have made this list had I not already spent 1500 words kissing its proverbial feet earlier this month. The place was perfect. But for the sake of diversity, I am going to choose another five for the I Love Foodies top New York City restaurants of the year.
The Best Burger in New York
Nothing about this place is fancy. It doesn’t appear to be special or even romantic at first glance. The fairy lights are clearly hung up by a man because, well, there is absolutely no method to their madness. The intention behind them is to be festive for the holidays, and it truly is. Their haphazard joy reminds me of a single father who doesn’t know how to brush his daughter’s hair or bake a cake for the holidays, but he is so full of love that it doesn’t even matter.
The wood chips that cover the floor would have you think that this was just another Irish bar, with Irish bar food and a fun gimmick. But you would be wrong. There is nothing gimmicky about this place, and there is nothing I love more than being wrong. It’s quite rare! And, while we’re talkin’ rare, medium rare is how I would recommend (nay, demand) you order what I will unquestionably crown as 2019’s greatest burger in Manhattan.
The Real Cheeseburger
No contest. Cheeseburgers are my all-time favorite food, and I have been searching for “the one” my whole life. I have tried most of them. And they’re about as flavorful as dating an Ivy-league investment banker named Chad. Those burgers need the bells and whistles because there is something missing from the meat itself (similar to Chad). The whole world will pretend to be impressed, but sink your teeth in deeper and take a bite – and you’ll know deep down, it’s not “the bun”.
Molly’s is the real deal. The soft potato bun, the finely-ground red meat that literally oozes juice through the pores of what appears to be the size of a country club burger, but squeezes like a down pillow and melts in your mouth like the greasy Shake Shack burger you crave. And, you can actually eat it without feeling like you’re a congealed human-sized piece of bacon afterwards. It is as lean as it is tender. Win-win!
The rest of the menu is just OK; don’t bother ordering anything but the beef burger. Don’t try to get creative and get the bison burger like its a new haircut that will make you feel slimmer, either. Just go for the classic, cheddar cheese, medium rare 10oz beef burger because I am telling you that it is so good, the fact that nothing else on the menu isn’t mind-blowing doesn’t even matter. Don’t even ask for the menu. Enjoy the best burger in New York, and when you go, ask for Jason. He’s ridiculous.
Trattoria D’el Arte
When you’re here, you’re family – but like, George Clooney’s family
I usually go to Trattoria D’el Arte to meet my late father’s best childhood friend, Richard, and his incredibly graceful and hilarious wife Perla. They are such regulars here that every time I try to pull a fast one and slip the bartender my credit card to pay for dinner, the joke always ends up being on me. Because not a soul in that restaurant would dare defy the Grays! They are like family there. This place is an extension of their home, and that is the way the staff and the environment make you feel.
I dream about the pan-seared carrots and fresh prosciutto di parma they serve. These feel like basic things. But the secret to good Italian cooking, as my Italian aunt always says, is not to create new flavors, but to bring out the very essence of a food’s pure flavor. This place achieves more than good Italian cooking. I mean, carrots! Who dreams about carrots?! They are perfectly softened, fresh, somewhat sweet, with the right dash of salt and slightly browned sides so you know these are not amateur carrots. And the prosciutto is sliced so thinly and is so fresh and delicate, I actually feel less feminine sitting next to this exceedingly graceful piece of cured ham.
There’s Also Pizza
The pepperoni pizza is just unfair. Pizza is already so good. But, when you put perfect, fresh ingredients into it, it’s what I imagine having a one night stand with George Clooney would be like. You’re just like “what is this doing here… with me? Didn’t it have somewhere more important to be?” You want to eat it quickly before it realizes this, but you also want to savor it because you know you’re not having another pizza like this in the foreseeable future. Let’s just say, it’s a good problem to have, and one you’re not likely to have often.
Simon and the Whale
Aka Rachel and the Bugs
I am way too basic to feel ok about eating bugs. But if you can make bugs taste better than my weak stomach feels while they go down, you have really gone and done it. Simon and the Whale went and DID IT.
We tried two ceviche dishes, one of which came with fried larva, and it haunts me. BUGS. I am so afraid of bugs I once spend US$2k on putting everything I owned through the dry cleaners because I saw two moths in my apartment. That was not an insignificant amount to me. And here these crispy little buggers on a bed of microgreens, topped with a sweet tangy sauce, and delicately sliced raw fish changed my world. Down was up, black was white, right was left, and suddenly the very creatures I spent a fortune keeping out of my kitchen found their way on my fancy plate, and happily into my stomach.
Pigs might have flown that day, the cows came home, and the fat lady definitely sang, and so did my tastebuds. The fresh approach to flavors, creative combinations, and the unique ingredients create a fusion of cultural accents. This, coupled with the rustic but high-end nautical environment makes this place a knockout dinner spot.
Prince Street Pizza
The Prince of Pizza (because the king needs a throne and there are no seats)
I am going to keep this short and sweet because there is not much to it. There is no place to sit, there is barely a place to stand in the line that wraps around the corner of Prince Street – one of the best streets in one of the best neighborhoods in the best city – while you wait in line for the best slice of pizza in New York. How could I provide a top foodie list for NYC without identifying the best slice we have to offer? I can’t, in good conscience, do that.
If you have one day, and one slice to try, then the Pepperoni Sicilian slice at Prince Street Pizza is the slice to buy. The pepperoni is that small, thick-cut fresh pepperoni with a kick. It curls up into a crisp like the vessel it needs to be to hold that cup of grease inside of it so that we can all look equally savage with that drip of orange oil down our chins after we bite into it. I don’t care who you are, one slice will fill you up, and if it doesn’t you’re either stoned, or you’ll feel sick in a few minutes. Or both. No judgements. It is worth the pain.
The Cheese is also great – perfectly torched on the top with cheesy ooze underneath. The doughy thick Sicilian underbelly is as sinful as it is satisfying. One bite of this pizza feels like getting a hug from someone who has an abnormally large chest. You are surrounded, safe, and warm.
I miss Yoo, too!
This is kind of a wild card, but I think good service is hard to come by. Especially in New York, where you are powerless and meaningless as a consumer in a sea of 11 million. So I want to give a special shout out to Rob, the manager of Ms Yoo, and had to include them in our Top New York City restaurants list. Because very few times in my life do I feel compelled to write a Yelp review because of a positive experience. This was one of those times.
He is in this business because he has a genuine love for it – all of it. Especially the people, and the experience he can offer them. If you are trying to throw a big event, and want the food to be amazing, the staff to go wildly above and beyond, the price to be reasonable, the cocktails to be intoxicating(ly delicious) and the venue to be beautiful, look no further. Rob has your back. He definitely had mine.
A month out until my 30th birthday, I invited 200 people for what I call my adult bat-mitzvah. With 120 RSVPing yes (unexpected), I had no venue to speak of and just a little over 3 weeks to figure it out. My loving mother somehow found this party venue booker, who found us the magical unicorn that is Rob.
Here is why this place makes the I Love Foodies Top New York City Restaurants list:
The “Special” Food
First, I was doing the whole 30 for the 30 days leading up to my 30th birthday because I am an idiot. And I wanted to make damn sure I would black out on my big day (no carbs, no booze, no sugar, not even legumes!). So, naturally, when I came to taste test the food menu before my big day, there was nothing on this Asian fusion menu that fit the criteria.
Rob and the Chef made sure this didn’t impact my ability to see their mad skills in the kitchen. If a chef can come up with a creative way to make a meal I could LOVE on that diet, then it is a fantastic chef. Fantastic she is indeed.
The Regular Menu
Furthermore, the regular menu is incredible, and it totally sandbags you! I didn’t think that I would have my favorite shishito peppers at what I would have called a club before I had dinner there. The pork buns and fried chicken buns are just so addictive and lip-smacking good. Texturally, they really nail it. I think this is a really fun nightlife spot, but it is totally overlooked as a restaurant. The food is excellent, decently priced, and just the right ratio of upscale/casual so that you can enjoy it just as easily on a Monday as you would a Saturday.
And There’s More
But the food is not even the best part. The decor is gorgeous. There is this Art-Deco black, white and gold look, that is immediately warmed up by the embracing vegetation inside. It is well laid out, the ambiance and lighting are very sultry (which is my spirit adjective), and the staff. My god. I nearly broke down in tears when I met Rob. After pounding pavements for dozens of event locations, coming across this I almost dismissed it because it seemed too good to be true.
Rob’s Your Man
If you are ever planning a private event that requires top quality food and alcohol at a reasonable price, don’t bother looking further. I exhausted the options, this must be the place.
Rob decided, out of the kindness of his heart, to throw in an awesome DJ at no extra cost. He also brought in a photographer and a projector for my party… just, you know, out of the kindness of his heart. Furthermore, he had the patience to work with my Jewish mother on getting a photo reel of about 5000 of my childhood photos up on the screen. Also out of the kindness of his heart.
They just don’t make ‘em like Rob anymore. And so I felt it would be remiss not to let the world know. If you want a delicious, well-ambianced dinner, a fun night out dancing, or a venue to rent for a party, this is the spot. And Rob is your guy.
So there you have it, the I Love Foodies Top New York City Restaurants of 2019! Have you been to any of these? Do you love them as much as we do? Let us know!
ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF THE RESTAURANTS CHOSEN FOR OUR TOP NEW YORK CITY RESTAURANTS LIST.
Written by Rachel Vass
Article Date: December 2019
All information correct at time of publication. We do not accept any liability caused by errors, including, but not limited to, changes in price, menu, opening times, address, or other contact details.