The best bar food and snacks in New York City 2012

Discover New York’s best bar food, including upscale Tater-Tots, retooled potato chips, perfect mozzarella sticks and Buffalo-wings-influenced cheese curds.

Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

Pig’s head banh mi at the Daily
Vietnamese sandwiches may not be the best pairing for cocktails, but no matter—this doorstopper from chef Brad Farmerie is worth seeking out, even if the Daily’s classic quaffs aren’t on your agenda. The stacked creation might as well be called pork four ways: Each bite is a study in porcine decadence, with layers of meaty flavor coming from rich Asian-spiced rillettes, a thick slab of pig’s-head terrine, crispy pork belly, and a crunchy pig’s ear coated with panko and spicy mustard. 210 Elizabeth St between Prince and Spring Sts (212-343-7011, $13.—Chris Schonberger

Photograph: Dominic Perri

Everything duck roll at Silk Rd Tavern
These dense parcels may look like your garden-variety egg rolls, but the umami-rich, beak-to-tail filling puts those flimsy takeout tubes to shame. Chinese five-spice powder and white pepper tease out the subtle gaminess of shredded duck-leg meat, which is combined with crispy bits of skin and velvety hunks of Hudson Valley foie gras. Scallions brighten the mixture, while a dash of Hennessy adds a hint of oaky sweetness. 46 W 22nd St between Fifth and Sixth Aves (212-989-7889, $12.—Sarah Bruning

Photograph: Marc Evan

Warm bag of croutons at the Counting Room
Bits of Balthazar French baguettes, left over from making sandwiches, inspired chef Robert Crosson to offer this unusual bar snack in place of popcorn. Cubed bread is tossed with garlic, Parmesan, basil, Italian parsley, sea salt and black pepper, then toasted in a hot skillet. The serving vessel—a small brown-paper bag—may tempt you to squirrel these compulsively edible squares away for tomorrow’s salad, but they’re also an elegant way to carbo-load for a night of drinking. 44 Berry St at North 11th St, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-599-1860, $6—Sarah Bruning

Photograph: Dominic Perri

Bone marrow with Bayley Hazen cheese and marmalade at Corkbuzz Wine Studio
Roasted marrow, so perfect on its own, is typically served with just an austere sprinkle of salt and a side of plain toast. But at Corkbuzz, the split bones are taken a step further. Here, the marrow is excised and poached, pressed back into the bone with funky Bayley Hazen blue cheese and bread crumbs, then placed under the broiler to bubble and crisp. Scoop out the pungent mixture and smear it on toasted semolina studded with golden raisins and fennel. 13 E 13th St between Fifth Ave and University Pl (646-873-6071, $17.—Laren Spirer

Photograph: Dominic Perri

Duck-fat fried Tater-Tots at Northeast Kingdom
Northeast Kingdom chef Kevin Adey gives Tater-Tots the semihomemade treatment, frying store-bought starchy balls of potato mash in rendered D’Artagnan duck fat until they are crisp and shimmery. Ketchup cuts the richness nicely; Kingdom connoisseurs use the tip of the squeeze bottle to insert a dollop of the sweet-acidic condiment directly inside the tot. 18 Wyckoff Ave at Troutman St, Bushwick, Brooklyn (718-386-3864, $10—Christopher Ross

Photograph: Melissa Sinclair

Jambalaya balls in dirty gravy at Exchange Alley
Exchange Alley chef and owner Paul Gerard polished his kitchen chops in New Orleans, but he was raised on second-generation Italian fare in Brooklyn. He created this bar snack—a mash-up of old-school New York arancini rice balls with a classic Creole stew—as a nod to both towns. He begins with sticky Spanish rice, rock shrimp and chicken stock. Cooked down and shaped by hand, the balls are then breaded, fried and garnished with chilies and green onion, making for a moist, spicy bite that grows tantalizingly hotter on the tongue. A gravy composed of chicken liver, ground pork, beef and a dark brown roux provides a rich contrast. 424 E 9th St between First Ave and Ave A (212-228-8525). $9.—Christopher Ross

Photograph: Dominic Perri

Creamy polenta at the Saint Austere
Owners and siblings Jacqueline and Fabrizio Pirolo draw on their Italian heritage for this addictive bowl, a recipe developed by their chef brother, Michael. Coarsely ground cornmeal cooks with milk, cream, butter and Parmigiano Reggiano for five hours until it reaches a luscious consistency, then it’s topped with a layer of chicken jus flecked with bits of caramelized cipollini onion and grilled hunks of spicy Italian sausage. It’s the kind of boldly flavored, satisfying comfort food that’s best eaten in the fall, but keeps you coming back all year round. 613 Grand St between Leonard and Lorimer Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718-388-0012, $10—Sarah Bruning

Photograph: Dominic Perri

All’amatriciana potato chips at Perla
Chef Michael Toscano remixes the components of the classic Roman pasta dish all’amatriciana into the city’s cheekiest bar snack at electric West Village ristorante Perla. Powdered guanciale pork fat, combined with dehydrated tomato, garlic, onion and finely crushed chili flakes, becomes a topping for freshly fried potato chips. A final shower of salty, grated pecorino romano completes the dish, available at Perla as a regular special. 24 Minetta Ln between Sixth Ave and MacDougal St (212-933-1824, $5.—Laren Spirer

Photograph: Virginia Rollison

Pretzel pork dumplings at Talde
Dale Talde’s pot-sticker–pretzel mash-up may be the ultimate East-West bar food, a perfect storm of salt and fat. Classic pork and chive dumplings are brushed in egg wash and butter before they’re panfried. The crisp, dark-amber bundles, finished with a shower of coarse salt, are served with sharp Chinese mustard—an excellent bridge connecting the dim sum parlor to the New York street cart. 369 Seventh Ave at 11th St, Park Slope, Brooklyn (347-916-0031, $8.—Jay Cheshes

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Shacked Cheese at Réunion
Witness the ascent of the mozzarella stick at this Hell’s Kitchen surf shack. Actually based on a dish often eaten at beach concessions along the shores of the Black Sea in Georgia, these golden wands contain a flawless combination of soft and firm cheeses: A mixture of mascarpone and ricotta with crème fraîche, mint and cilantro is enveloped in a thin layer of cow’s-milk mozzarella, breaded with panko crumbs and dunked in the bubbling oil. The result is delicate, crispy batons that are a tangy match for the cool mint and yogurt sauce served alongside. 357 W 44th St at Ninth Ave (212-582-3200, $7.95.—Jasmine Moy

Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Buffalo cheese curds at Murray’s Cheese Bar
Chef-fromager Tia Keenan playfully prepares knotty cheese curds in the manner of Buffalo wings at Murray’s Cheese Bar. The curds, from Wisconsin’s Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, are fried to a golden-brown crisp, washed in a zippy half-and-half mixture of butter and Frank’s Hot Sauce, and served alongside a tangy blue-cheese sauce—made with Badger State Black River blue cheese, crème fraîche, mayo and sour cream—for dipping. Celery sticks break up the cheese-on-cheese action. 264 Bleecker St between Leroy and Morton Sts (646-476-8882, $10.—Christopher Ross

RECOMMENDED: All 100 best dishes and drinks

Belly up to the bar and try one of these great snacks. Our picks for the best bar food include a potato-chip riff on a classic Roman pasta at Perla, an exciting twist on the humble mozzarella stick at Réunion and duck-fat-fried Tater-Tots at Northeast Kingdom.



warm bag of croutons are ok I suppose until they go cold 5 minutes later then you got greasy left over fried bread