NYT Critics’ Picks: Restaurants

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Filipino Food Worth the Wait at Bad Saint in Washington

WASHINGTON — I have now spent roughly twice as many hours standing on the sidewalk outside Bad Saint as I have spent inside eating its Filipino food.<p>This is not an ideal ratio, but at least I had company. Bad Saint, in this city’s Columbia Heights neighborhood, has never taken reservations since it …

Food

Mumbai Xpress, a Good Reason to Stray for a Snack

The fritters look armored, torpedoes sheathed in tapioca pearls. The outside crackles, but inside the tapioca has gone gooey, clinging and pulling like mochi. It’s a delightful trap: crunch, then sink. The flavors, too, give and take, pulverized peanuts leavened by ginger, sunny lemon pulled down …

India

Thai Food Strikes Out in a Fresh Direction at Fish Cheeks

In the early days of Thai cuisine in the United States, when pad Thai and spring rolls were exotic treats, Americans fell hard for the interlocking tastes of lime, fish sauce, chiles and herbs. Over the years, that love has grown lukewarm. Many of the restaurants weren’t very good to begin with, …

Food

Tamales, for Many Meals and Courses, at Alimentos Saludables

In pursuit of tamales, I have lurked outside Catholic churches after Spanish Mass and chased down ladies pushing blue coolers in shopping carts along the street. Even a run-of-the-mill tamale can be a glorious thing, the musty-sweet essence of corn fortified by lard and chicken broth, the sheath of …

Food

TsuruTonTan, a Japanese Chain That Knows Its Noodles

The news reports filled the city with gloom. From out of a big Manhattan real estate firm had come a change that few locals expected or wanted. Reactions were apocalyptic. There was a shared fear that we were moving in the wrong direction, that the values of our community were being trampled by …

Food & Dining

An Indian Chef Comes Home Again at Paowalla in SoHo

After Tabla, Floyd Cardoz doesn’t owe New York anything. In his 11 years as the chef of that restaurant across from Madison Square Park, he used the language of Indian cuisine to say things we had never heard before.<p>A native of Mumbai, he showed us that the Indian spice cabinet can perform many …

Dining Rooms

For Banh Mi, Violet’s Bake Shoppe Has the Math Down

Some argue that banh mi, the Vietnamese sandwich, lives and dies by its bread, a cloud in crisp armor, preferably made with a pinch of rice flour for extra spring and crackle.<p>Others keep score by what lies within: layers of fish-sauce-laced charcuterie and musky pâté; cooling strands of pickled …

Food

Le Coucou Pays Rich Homage to Old-School French Cuisine

New York City cannot compete with Los Angeles’s patchwork quilt of cuisines, Northern California’s sainted ingredients, New Orleans’s discerning and passionate diners. What sets New York’s restaurant culture apart is that it never quite shakes the past and has never fully severed its ties to Europe.<p>…

Food

They May Be Bars, but Don’t Tell the Chefs

Restaurants have made bar food their own. In fancy kitchens serving fancy dining rooms, chefs have found almost inconceivably fancy ways to make pub and roadhouse food. The burgers are ground to order and slapped on rolls fresh out of the oven; the hot dogs are squirted with proprietary condiments; …

Food & Dining

Pondicheri Makes Indian Flavors an All-Day Affair

“This is the first place you’ve taken me where I’d come back and spend my own money,” a friend said in the middle of lunch at Pondicheri. He is highly sensitive to pretension and unjustified expense, so whenever I take him along on one of my hunting parties, I try to pick something with a high …

Food

At Joy Luck Palace, Dim Sum Amid the Chaos

Everyone wants the little piggies, plump white buns with black sesame-seed eyes, orange snouts and slashes of ears that look more like worried brows. At Joy Luck Palace in Manhattan’s Chinatown, they come three to a steamer basket and harbor gooey souls of custard.<p>Every day hundreds of them are …

At Sauvage, European Discipline Meets Gut Instinct

Roughly half of what I’ve eaten at Sauvage since it opened just before Memorial Day has been either forgettable or familiar. In the other half, though, this restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, seemed to be on to something exciting, a combination of European kitchen discipline and a gut instinct for …

Food

The Thrill of the Tabletop Grill at Tong Sam Gyup Goo Yi

The crowd is of one mind at Tong Sam Gyup Goo Yi: From every table rises a gleaming black cast-iron dome with a tapered handle, like the lid of a giant pot, and on every dome lie stripes of pork belly, more white than red, flesh nearly overrun by fat.<p>The grills are turned high. The room starts to …

Pork Belly

At Günter Seeger NY, a Star Chef Resurfaces, Confidence Intact

It’s complicated to praise someone whose confidence already seems to be reinforced with steel and clad in granite. It’s even more complicated in the case of Günter Seeger, whose confidence is the source of both his success in the kitchen and his occasional capacity for sabotaging himself in the …

The Spicy Spoils of China’s Boom, at Hao Noodle and Tea

In the hedonist’s view of American immigration patterns, bad times for chefs in China are good times for dumpling chasers and noodle hunters in New York. When experienced cooks couldn’t make a living there for political or economic reasons, they came here. Conversely, over the last decade or so, …

Snacks of Nepal Are a High Point at Woodside Cafe in Queens

The momos are giants, fat round dumplings with furrowed peaks, rising from a pink-orange sauce the color of penne alla vodka. It tastes a little like penne alla vodka, too, oddly, inexactly and wonderfully — marinara meets tikka masala, with momos as tortelloni writ large.<p>The awning outside …

Our Restaurant Critic Goes National. First Stop: California.

<i>Editors’ Note: The Times has published starred reviews of restaurants in the New York metropolitan area since 1963. Starting today, we will occasionally offer such reviews of restaurants in other cities as well, applying the same standards that govern our reviews in New York: a minimum of three</i> …

Food & Dining

Gramercy Tavern: A Classic Still on the Move

Long before it turned 22 last month, Gramercy Tavern had settled into classic status. It is a classic, but there’s a downside to putting a restaurant in that category. The more familiar something is, the harder it is to see.<p>Like the other restaurants in Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group, …

Food

Olmsted Bets the Farm on Winning Over the Neighbors

Olmsted, a two-month-old restaurant in Brooklyn, looks innocent enough. Not much in the dining room sets it apart from any number of other new places to eat. The houseplants whose vines slink down one wall may well come from Lowe’s.<p>Toward the back is a cooking space big enough for two people; I …

Food

Pasquale Jones Brings a Little Novelty to Little Italy

As a New Yorker who wants each neighborhood to be different, each block to be like a pocket with a secret tucked inside it, I have strongly mixed feelings about gentrification. As a critic confronted with shiny new restaurants in changing neighborhoods, though, I have to admit that I often end up …

Food

At Dawa’s in Queens, a Fusion of Earth and Sky

The bowl of ragged-edged pork belly is a recipe from Bhutan, the meat vested with the deep sour of fermented bamboo shoots. Its flavor hints at turned earth or wood broken down by rain, a funk wonderfully, perilously close to rot.<p>Beside it is risotto, arborio rice gone cloudy and fat in white wine …

Food

At Mimi, French Food Is a Celebration of Appetite

It took three dinners at Mimi before I saw the restaurant that had other people so excited.<p>Mimi barely ruffled the waters of the crowded pond of New York dining when it materialized on a quiet Greenwich Village block last fall. The partners had never owned a restaurant before. The chef, Liz …

Food

Burmese Food in New York: Hard to Find but Easy to Love

For nearly two decades, the only place to find Myo Lin Thway’s palata was the once-a-year Myanmar Baptist Church Fun Fair in Queens.<p>This is the story of Burmese food in New York City: a thwarted quest. Few restaurants here have ever fully dedicated themselves to the cuisine, and only one — Cafe …

Food & Dining

At Nix, Vegetables Get a Dash of Sex

There’s a lot of heavy eye contact going on at this restaurant. One of the most strenuous competitors is a guy at the next table who’s staring down the woman across from him while giving her a ferocious, what-big-teeth-you-have grin. I’d call his expression carnivorous, but we’re at Nix, and …

Food

Freek’s Mill Spins Romance Near a Superfund Site

Standing on a drawbridge one night early this month, a man and a woman stood close and kissed, blind to everything around them, even the motionless toxic porridge of the Gowanus Canal below their feet. About to cross the span, I stopped to give them their space. The Union Street Bridge in Brooklyn …

Food

The Crabby Shack, a Shrine to the Crustacean

The sign outside this low-slung storefront no longer says Tabernacle of God’s Glory Church, but the place is still a kind of temple.<p>Heads bow over plastic bags fogged with steam, cradled in blue gingham paper. Inside may be skinny marionette legs of Alaskan snow crab, looking as if they’re on the …

New York City

Poultry Has a Pedigree at Le Coq Rico

I’m almost always the one who gets the chicken.<p>For review meals, I try to let my guests choose their own food. Then I pick something nobody else wants. Often, this is the chicken. I think this can be explained by a remark a friend made recently. “I never eat chicken in restaurants,” he said. “I can …

Food