NYT Critics’ Picks: Restaurants

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A MacGyver of Slow-Cooked Meats at Franklin Barbecue

AUSTIN, Tex. — “How much brisket are you having?”<p>That’s the first question the man with the knife behind the counter will ask when you reach the front of the line at Franklin Barbecue. He won’t stab you if you don’t have an answer ready, but I might.<p>By that point, you or another person who is …

BBQ

Butterfunk Kitchen Is Driven by Soul Food and Built on Memories

“This,” the waitress said, stroking the glass jar on the table as if it were a beloved and dangerous pet. “It is not mild; it is not medium. It is hot. Go slow.”<p>I wished she had been there on my first visit, when I fished a pepper out of the jar and ate it whole. Time stuttered. In such heat, …

Restaurants

A Different Kind of Alexandria Library, at Little Egypt

I have never seen branzino look quite like this, like some ancient, jewel-encrusted weapon unearthed from volcanic ash, prickly with glistening shards, crushed obsidian and olivine. Steam rises from the fish’s mouth, a long, pensive exhale.<p>The armor — cracked wheat, cumin, allspice and garlic, …

Restaurants

Sahib, in Curry Hill, Lets You Eat All Over India

Anybody who tries to tell you that the place to go for Indian food is Jackson Heights, Queens, hasn’t been there in a long time. Beyond question, Jackson Heights is the first stop for anyone seeking an education in the Tibetan syllabus: momos filled with brothy beef under their bellybutton pleats; …

Restaurants

Tables for Snooker and Bhutanese Food at Weekender Billiard

It’s Saturday night and every snooker table is taken at the Bhutanese pool hall in Woodside, Queens. The players are all men, most with roots in the Land of the Thunder Dragon, the young ones lanky in faded rock tees and track pants, their elders slouching in bomber jackets and bright white kicks. …

Restaurants

Culinary Clashes End in Harmony at Chinese Tuxedo

The bend halfway down Doyers Street in Chinatown used to see more killings than any other stretch of road in the country. The Bloody Angle is safe now, but not quiet.<p>The gangs there have been replaced by packs of roaming young people who come for siu mai and har gow at Nom Wah Tea Parlor, or …

Restaurants

White Gold Butchers Slices to the Point: Meats Cooked Simply

I’ve finally found a new restaurant on the Upper West Side that I want to recommend to people who don’t live there. It has only taken me five years.<p>In my time as critic, I’ve searched the streets between Lincoln Center and Columbia University for good places to eat. I’ve come across some, but I …

Restaurants

The New Chumley’s Raises the Culinary Bar

If you heard that Chumley’s is open again, you were misinformed. The dim, spare, beer-scented hideaway in the West Village is gone, torn down, not coming back. At its old address is a restaurant that has nothing in common with the original except a name, a door, an archway and framed photographs …

Restaurants

Glimpses of a Gilded Past at Fowler & Wells

You enter Tom Colicchio’s new restaurant near City Hall through what is suddenly the most stunning hotel lobby bar in New York City. The Beekman hotel’s bar is at the bottom of the atrium of the 1883 Temple Court Building, which rises up through seven floors of elaborate cast-iron railings to end …

Restaurants

Slurping Solo, in Sweet Isolation, at Ichiran in Brooklyn

Ichiran, a Japanese ramen chain that touched down in Brooklyn last fall, makes one kind of soup, the opaque ivory pork broth called tonkotsu. Like a heart surgeon who operates only on the left ventricle, it has staked out a niche within a niche.<p>Within its microspecialty, though, Ichiran presents …

Restaurants

A Mazelike Trail to Tibet at Lhasa Fast Food in Queens

In the middle of lunch at Lhasa Fast Food, someone started blowing a sacred conch. I peered down the hall. Next door, a jeweler was pressing his lips to a shell half-sheathed in silver.<p>Lhasa Fast Food was once just a counter at the back of a cellphone store in Jackson Heights, Queens, where pint …

Restaurants

The Art of Flavor at Flora Bar in the Met Breuer

I’m on the verge of giving up trying to explain why Ignacio Mattos’s food is so good.<p>I once wrote that the cooking at his first restaurant, now closed, dabbled in “deep, surrealist weirdness.” At Estela, the place on Houston Street that put him on the map, I described his food as “almost familiar, …

Restaurants

At Pata Cafe, Few Ingredients but a Mélange of Thai Flavors

At Pata Cafe in Elmhurst, Queens, a tree climbs from the floor through the ceiling. It’s as if you’d popped through a trap door into a secret clubhouse. A stuffed monkey lounges on a branch, a homage to Bua Noi (Little Lotus), a gorilla who has spent her life in the rooftop zoo of the Pata …

Restaurants

At Aska, a Nordic Chef’s Vision Bears Fruit (and Lichens)

One of the 20 or so courses served to me the first time I ate at the new Aska in Brooklyn was a cluster of nasturtium leaves, next to a bundle of burned herb sprigs and flower stalks, tied up with a string. It looked pretty and pagan at the same time, like a page from a Martha Stewart lifestyle …

Restaurants

Sichuan Dry Pot, from Subtle to Scorching, at MaLa Project

The rooster testicles lie on the plate as pale as butter beans, as fat as skewed thumbs. At MaLa Project in the East Village, they’re listed on the menu as “Rooster’s XXX,” but they’re not particularly shocking to eat: They taste creamy and almost peaty, like wayward eggs, without the profound funk …

Restaurants

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 …

Restaurants

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 …

Restaurants

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, …

Restaurants

Tamales, for Many Meals and Courses, at Alimentos Saludables

In pursuit of tamales, I have lurked outside Roman 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 …

Restaurants

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 …

Restaurants

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 …

Restaurants

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 …

Restaurants

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>…

Restaurants

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; …

Restaurants

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 …

Restaurants

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 …

Restaurants

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 …

Restaurants

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 …

Restaurants

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 …

Restaurants