Let us now praise New York restaurants in 2014:
Out: the stuffy pretense of years before.
In: relaxed and convivial vibes.
Looking for pizza, perhaps with béchamel and white truffles? Danny Meyer and Maialino’s Nick Anderer opened a buzzing open kitchen at the Martha Washington Hotel.
Prefer decadent French grub in a boisterous neo-cabaret? The Torrisi boys took care of that.
Have an appetite for oysters and rosé? On a boat? As the sun sets over the Hudson? Damned if we weren’t blessed with that as well.
Plus sizzling ribeyes, the best breakfast sandwiches this city’s seen in ages, and, much to your correspondent’s delight, tacos.
Lots and lots of glorious tacos. On paper plates, no less.
In short, more than enough to keep you dining well into the new year.
So dine on, and drink well.
Enjoy the guide.
Obviously we've got some time before NYC's weather gods permit a return to the water, but when they do, there are two things you should know: 1) the largest wooden vessel in NYC is a sailboat called the F/V Sherman Zwicker, and 2) that sailboat is now the home of an oyster bar from a Marlowe & Sons vet. Our picks: fresh bivalves and fluke crudo with a lager-meets-Aquavit "Engine Room" to rinse.
N. Moore St. at West St.
Alex Stupak's third resto in the Empellón empire, and the most laid-back. Just line up, order and pay. Five minutes later, voila: you're looking at the kind of tacos that are starting to earn NYC some respect in the Mexican food trade. The signature al pastor — with spit-cooked pork moistened by dripping pineapple juice — is a must. Wash it down with a Micheloté, Wylie Dufresne's take on the michelada.
132 St. Marks Place
b/t 1st Ave. and Ave. A
If you live anywhere downtown, this should be your go-to breakfast spot. If you don't, you should make the pilgrimage. Why? You've-got-to-be-joking egg sandwiches with everything from carnitas and chipotle bourbon ketchup to farm greens and buttermilk fried chicken. Seriously, this menu must be seen to be believed — their unofficial name should be "hangover be gone."
151 Elizabeth St.
b/t Kenmare and Broome
Expectations were high on this one. But damned if Danny Meyer and Maialino chef Nick Anderer didn't deliver, turning out crackle-crusty Roman-style pies and Italian delicacies in an unfussy bistro setting at the Martha Washington Hotel (hence the clever moniker). Take a date and go splits on the salsiccia with mozz, pork sausage and crimini mushrooms as well as a trout saltimbocca with prosciutto and sage.
29 E. 29th St.
(in the Martha Washington Hotel)
b/t Park and Madison
Bowery Meat Co
The crew behind Burger & Barrel and El Toro Blanco dropped their updated ode to the classic steakhouse on the Bowery, where a smart man starts with a platter of Beau Soleil oysters with pineapple cucumber salsa before moving on to succulent ingots of fire-roasted short rib with blackened shishito peppers and sea salt. Or bring a crony and catch up over côte de bœuf for two.
9 E. 1st Ave.
b/t Bowery and 2nd Ave.
The Italian specialists behind Torrisi, Carbone and Parm brought the ruckus au Francais with this woody brasserie inside the new Ludlow Hotel on the LES. Lively. Great for groups. And a côte de boeuf for two that honestly might feed three. Pro tip: try the "Zaragoza" cocktail — who knew reposado tequila mixed so well wth vanilla yogurt?
180 Ludlow St.
(inside the Ludlow Hotel)
b/t Houston and Stanton
Pescatarians rejoice — NYC's sushi scene got a big bump this year as well. The cats from sushi mecca Neta opened up a 20-seat omakase den by Union Square where there is no menu. Only set 12-15 course tastings featuring specialties like caviar-topped toro and sushi rolls wrapped in black truffles. Seats will be few and far between, so grab a steak-averse date and get on it.
47 E. 12th St.
b/t Broadway and University Pl.