I eat out almost every day so am always on the lookout for new places. That said, I definitely have my go-to favorites.
What does it take to get in my top 5? It’s equal parts food and atmosphere with slightly more weight given to how I’m made to feel as a guest. I have a real bent for restaurants where the staff really “gets” food and I can trust their recommendations not only for food at their establishment but also for other new spots I should be checking out. I get all my best tips for restaurants/bars from waitstaff. If they steer me right once or twice, I’m forever grateful.
Read on below for my 5 favorites.
1. Ducked Up at Ludlow House (private membership club)
139 Ludlow Street
I’m here at least once a week, generally for dinner although I occasionally come for lunch. It’s a peculiar concept: vegetarian and peking duck (the duck is the only non-vegetarian item on the menu).
The duck is served from a wood-burning oven (supposedly the only one of its kind in America). It is perfection. I always get it with the pancakes – you can also order with bao buns.
For appetizers, I recommend the shishito peppers (ask for them well done), the wok-fried noodles and I love the Sichuan claypot with tofu (warning: it’s spicy!).
Also, at Ludlow House, where I write this blog 3 days a week, I always opt for the Salad Table for lunch. This delicious buffet comes with dozens of salads, soups, cheeses, shrimp, chicken and my absolute favorite: GRILLED SALMON!!
Note: No photos allowed at either Ludlow House or Soho House but there are photos up on Pinterest and Google which I have used here.
2. Soho House Meatpacking (also private membership club)
29-35 9th Avenue
I don’t come here as often as Ludlow – primarily because of location but I do love it here.
Had the most amazing Thanksgiving Dinner here this year – believe it might become an annual tradition. It’s spacious, cozy, great service, delicious and absolutely all that!!
A group of us are having a leisurely end-of-year lunch here today, Friday December 30th.
They have a great buffet with the most sumptuous array of foods. The regular restaurant menu is also very good. I generally order the cod and clams. I also hear the hamburger is excellent.
3. Le CouCou
Have only been here once – although I have tried many times since then to get a reservation or do an early evening walk-in. NOT A CHANCE – especially since they were named best new restaurant in NYC by everyone from the NYT to Eater to Time Out.
Le CouCou deserves all the accolades. Food is beyond, service is perfection without being stand-offish or fussy (although I think the maître de is a little full of himself). The space, designed by Roman & Williams is the most beautiful in the city – the bar is not too comfortable but it is worth coming here to grab a drink and feast on the beauty of it all!
Here’s my review from my one and only visit in October.
204 East 13th Street
I don’t get here that often because it is a bit out of my way BUT I love this place and the owner, Demian Repucci, and his staff do an exceptional job.
The pizza, pasta and appetizers are all top notch. Flour for pizzas is milled on site. Menu changes frequently so ask for recommendations, they’ve never steered me wrong.
Some people find the room too bright and the seating too uncomfortable and I can see that but I have always enjoyed being here. When I come solo or with one friend, I generally sit at the counter which is the place to be.
7 Spring Street
Still my favorite Thai restaurant and STILL impossible to get a reservation. Food is stellar – as verified by my friend Jon D. who is quite the expert on the cuisine.
My favorites include: betel leaf wrap (this is a tiny appetizer but so delicious), the green mango salad, the spicy rotisserie chicken and banana blossom salad – this is one of my absolute favorites (very spicy), northern style golden curry with noodles and chicken, for dessert they have a sundae that is delicious and shareable between 2-3 people.
Warning: many of the dishes on this menu are quite spicy which I love but not everyone can handle it.