Some of New York’s Best Restaurants

In an exhaustive study penned for the New York Times, renowned food critic Pete Wells narrates the ever-changing landscape of New York dining in all its shape-shifting, cost-fluctuating glory. Not long ago, readers would have believed that in order to dine well in Manhattan, they’d need to forgo rent and maim their budget in order to be able to afford pricey dishes and even ritzier cocktail menus. But as Wells writes, he was, time and time again, surprised by “good, resourceful kitchens I found squirreled away in spaces that barely qualified as restaurants: wine bars and bar bars and a nostalgic lunch counter called Mr. Donahue’s, where $20 buys a full dinner of American food my grandmother would have recognized.” The result of the (un)costly research? A stunning catalogue of New York’s most promising restaurants.

Presented in what Wells’ dubs the “order of the intensity of [his] desire to go back again, which diverges here and there from the number of stars that flew above their reviews,” Wells names his version of the New York’s best eateries. Kicking off the list, Soho’s Le Coucou is hailed for its stunning Sole Véronique, while Le Coq Rico’s poultry-focused bistro in Flatiron makes rotisserie chicken and creamy chicken liver dishes shine. At Llama Inn, Wells gushes over the tiradito and ceviche. He even goes so far as to recommend the quinoa salad, which he dubs as the “only quinoa salad I’ve ever looked at without feeling pity, either for the salad or for [him]self.” At Hao Noodle and Tea by Madam Zhu’s Kitchen, Wells gushes that it isn’t the name that makes a place, noting that there is “skillful, contemporary Chines food all over [Hao’s] menu, and colorful photographs to let you know what you’re in for,” including fresh green chiles and an unforgettable selection of tea.

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