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Sauce Pizzeria
Photograph: Courtesy Heidi's Bridge Al Pastor slice at Sauce Pizzeria

NYC’s best dishes and drinks of 2018

We binged and quaffed our way through NYC to bring you this taste-tested list of 2018's best dishes and drinks

By Jake Cohen and Alyson Penn

We eat and drink a lot—it's one of the perks of the job—so we take this list of NYC's buzziest and best dishes and drinks really seriously. Luckily for us, our fair city is constantly churning out new classics, from mouthwatering main courses and desserts to creative cocktails and inspired additions to the best brunch in NYC. Discover what you need to get in your belly below. Hungry for more city essentials? Check out the 101 very best things to do in NYC.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in NYC

Best dishes and drinks in NYC right now

Photograph: Teddy Wolff

1. Fettuccine at Misi

Restaurants Italian Williamsburg

This standout is a reminder that, sometimes, you’ve gotta keep it simple, stupid. Carb queen Missy Robbins tosses her homemade noodles with only buffalo butter, Parmigiano and black pepper for a stunning al dente bowl of cheesy, creamy goodness, shining a spotlight on a just a few quality ingredients. The result is a soul-warming masterpiece that brings us more joy and comfort than anything and everything else we’ve tried all year. $22 

Photograph: Anatoly Michaelo

2. Folded cheeseburger in a pita at Miznon

Restaurants Israeli Chelsea

In a city that takes its burgers seriously, this Israeli import, known for its whole-roasted cauliflower, goes against the grain and proffers its patty in a pita. The burger is showered with white cheddar that melts around the edges, crisping into a crunchy crown. The magic happens in the few minutes before the beauty hits your table, when the folded patty steams in the warm pita alongside garlic aioli, sour cream, tomato and pickles, allowing the flavors to fuse and amplify. $11.50 

Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery
Photograph: Courtesy Mah Ze Dahr/Vanessa Rees

3. Devil in Ganache at Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries West Village

Picture that scene in Matilda in which a determined Bruce really goes to town on that chocolate cake in front of everyone. Well, that’ll be you when you hoover a slice at this West Village bakery. Moist layers of the stuff are frosted with pretty much pure fudge for a treat that’s as decadent as they come. Slice $7, cake $55

Sunday in Brooklyn
Photograph: Courtesy Sunday in Brooklyn/Evan Sung

4. Wood-roasted mushrooms at Sunday in Brooklyn

Restaurants American Williamsburg

Shrooms have never looked better than in this cozy dish from the even cozier Williamsburg hangout. Maitake, shiitake and brown-beech varieties of flavorful fungi are roasted in a wood-fired oven, then tossed in a tangy allium vinaigrette for a smoky side that sings with umami. $16

Una Pizza Napoletana
Photograph: Gabi Porter

5. Tiramisu at Una Pizza Napoletana

Restaurants Pizza Lower East Side

This isn’t your typical slice of the Italian-American classic. Underneath a veil of cocoa and thin caramel shards sits velvety whipped mascarpone and layers of lemon sponge cake that have been soaked with espresso, aged rum and Cynar. Bonus: Since the dessert is served in a coupe, it’s totally acceptable to lick the glass clean. $9

Miss Ada
Photograph: Jake Cohen

6. Malawach at Miss Ada

Restaurants Mediterranean Fort Greene

You may not have heard of it, but this flaky-AF Yemeni fry bread is starting to pop up on Middle Eastern menus throughout the city. In his recently launched brunch program, chef Tomer Blechman is dishing out the best version in New York, featuring a hard-boiled egg, tahini, tomato and schug. $14

Photograph: Courtesy Atomix/Diane S. Kang

7. Fried rice–stuffed crispy chicken wings at Atomix

Restaurants Korean Midtown

Upstairs from this five-star gem’s dining room awaits the bar, where you can scarf down these ethereally crispy faves. The bones have been replaced with sweet, salty and spicy fried rice, offering a tantalizing new alternative to the tried-and-true buffalo wings. $15

Photograph: Teddy Wolff

8. Spanish tortilla with trout roe at Frenchette

Restaurants French Tribeca

Everyone is losing it over the duck frites at the almost-impossible-to-get-into Tribeca brasserie, but for our money this tortilla is where it’s really at. The dish is a surprisingly light take on the often heavy pintxo of sliced potatoes and egg, and it has the welcome addition of trout roe for a briny pop. $9

Photograph: Teddy Wolff

9. Bananas Hotcakes Foster at Bessou

Restaurants Japanese Noho

Baby got stack at this East Village eatery, which serves a unique twist on classic flapjacks. The Japanese-style pile of hotcakes is dripping with caramelized bananas Foster, fortified with black sesame and salted miso-caramel ice cream. $16

Photograph: Gabi Porter

10. Glass noodles with bulgogi at Soogil

Restaurants Korean East Village

Refined French technique melds with Korean tradition in this exceptional dish. Delicate glass noodles laced with tender, shredded vegetables are artfully twirled under a heap of sweet-and-salty beef bulgogi for a slurpable sensation that’ll convince you to order seconds. $15

Lasagna for two at Don Angie
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp / Cindy V.

11. Bologna-style lasagna for two at Don Angie

Restaurants Italian West Village

It’s lasagna like you’ve never witnessed before: Fresh sheets of pasta dough are filled with layers of bolognese sauce and béchamel before getting rolled up and baked in tomato sauce with robiola cheese. Featuring a gorgeous swirl and crispy edges, this one is a little taste of comfort, reinvented. $64

Photograph: Special Sauce

12. Espresso martini at Primo's

Bars Cocktail bars Tribeca

The espresso martini is back and better than ever. The OG vodka Redbull has inexplicably debuted on bar menus across the city this year in rebooted, elevated versions, but the very best we tried came courtesy of Primo’s, a stylish, midcentury-accented bar that concocts an indulgently rich espresso martini made with fresh espresso, cold brew and crème de cacao. $23

Bistro Pierre Lapin
Photograph: Gabi Porter

13. Le Ravier at Bistro Pierre Lapin

Restaurants French West Village

While the chicken (and the rabbit) at this fancyish French bistro is lovely, the true showstopper is this platter of veggies. A cart rolls up to your table with a Technicolor rainbow of cold vegetable preparations, each one more vibrant than the next. While the offerings change with the seasons, you can’t go wrong with this refreshing alternative to the basic Pret a Manger salad that you ate at your office desk. $23

Au Za’atar
Photograph: Courtesy Au Za'atar/Jeremy Jacobowitz of Brunchboys

15. Tableside shawarma at Au Za’atar

Restaurants Lebanese East Village

The shawarma cart meets the table at this Lebanese staple in the East Village. Your own personal spit of juicy chicken, beef or lamb is served with a mound of sumac-dusted french fries and all the fixins to build the pita you crave. $58–$88

Clinton St. Baking Co.
Photograph: Courtesy Clinton Street Baking Co./Mark Weinberg

16. Sugar-cured bacon at Clinton St. Baking Co.

Restaurants American Lower East Side

The sugar-cured bacon may be the best way to satisfy your morning sweet tooth. The glaze caramelizes in the oven, giving the chewy strips of pork their perfectly crisp crust. It’s somewhere between candy and breakfast—“brandy”?—and we can’t get enough. $6

Doughnut Plant
Photograph: Jake Cohen

17. Black & White Doughnuts at Doughnut Plant

Restaurants Bakeries Chelsea

The pastry magicians at Doughnut Plant have managed to fuse vanilla and dark-chocolate doughs to create a truly authentic black-and-white doughnut, inspired by the quintessential New York cookie. Just don’t forget that you have to eat it the same way: Get both flavors in every bite. $4.50

Photograph: Courtesy Ferris/Noah Fecks

18. Ibérico Katsu Sando at Ferris

Restaurants American creative Flatiron

The extremely photogenic Japanese import has been making its way into menus across the city, including the one at this Flatiron hotel restaurant. Here, it contains pork collar that is breaded and flash-fried, then placed on toasted white bread for a sweet-and-salty sandwich that packs a concentrated punch of umami. $18

Photograph: Courtesy Nur/Collette Wojdylo

19. Kubaneh at Nur

Restaurants Israeli Flatiron

Much like Oprah, we love bread, which accounts for our obsession with this Yemeni pull-apart creation. Served alongside freshly grated tomatoes and spicy schug, it’s the ideal carb to scrape your plate clean. TL/DR: We are Oprah, and Nur has insane bread. $15

Chez Ma Tante
Photograph: Courtesy Chez Ma Tante

20. Pancakes at Chez Ma Tante

Restaurants Canadian Greenpoint

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so don’t waste it on lackluster pancakes when you can devour this fluffy stack. The light and airy center is surrounded in crisp edges that are slightly burnt (in the best way possible) for a dish begging to be drenched in maple syrup. $13

Alley Cat Amateur Theatre
Photograph: Gabi Porter

21. Lemon sour at Alley Cat Amateur Theatre

Bars Cocktail bars Financial District

You won’t see a show, per se, at the playhouse-style space beneath the Beekman Hotel, but you will be entertained by the kooky decor as you sip on this tart, sweet and savory cocktail made with bourbon, Manzanilla sherry and black-lemon shrub. $16

Loring Place
Photograph: Courtesy Loring Place/Liz Barclay

22. Tater tots at Loring Place

Restaurants American creative Greenwich Village

We dare you to name a time when it’s not a good idea to order some tots. Chef Dan Kluger embraces the nostalgia of the elementary-school lunch tray for a brunch dish that puts all hash browns to shame. Of course, the spuds come with a side of house-made ketchup, for dunking. $8

Photograph: Courtesy Gary He

23. Frosé at Cote

Restaurants Korean Flatiron

While everyone pours frosé all summer long, only the best versions can thrive into the chillier months. This frosty take crowned with a pink-flamingo straw is our hands-down favorite, laced with pineapple liqueur and citrus for stunning floral notes. $16

Pasta Flyer
Photograph: Courtesy Pasta Flyer/Daniel Krieger

24. Spaghetti and meatballs at Pasta Flyer

Restaurants Italian Greenwich Village

What happens when Mark Ladner, former executive chef of Del Posto, opens a fast-casual pasta spot? Well, what happens is one of the most affordable and comforting bowls of spaghetti—tossed in an acidic tomato sauce with tender meatballs and a healthy sprinkle of salty Parmesan—and we’d happily eat it every day. $8.75

Alta Calidad
Photograph: Courtesy Alta Calidad/Liz Clayman

25. Fried-shrimp tacos at Alta Calidad

Restaurants Mexican Prospect Heights

Simply put, these are the best tacos we tasted all year. Warm, tender homemade tortillas are topped with plump, crispy tempura-fried shrimp and spicy chorizo for a mélange of flavors and textures that strikes the perfect chord. $13

Photograph: Gabi Porter

26. Braised lamb shank at Sofreh

Restaurants Persian Prospect Heights

If you’ve never experienced the glory that is Persian food, it’s high time you started with a meal at this Prospect Heights pioneer. The vibrant menu sports this Flintstones-sized, turmeric-braised lamb shank that falls apart beautifully when casually nudged with a fork. $28

Breads Bakery
Photograph: Courtesy Breads Bakery/Kevin O’Leary

27. Poppy-seed strudel at Breads Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries Union Square

Earlier this year, the bakery known for its heavenly babka released a new line of craveable strudels, and they’re the flakiest you’ve ever feasted your eyes upon. Of all the fillings, this Eastern-Euro–nodding, sweet poppy-seed variety is tops. $18

Hunan Slurp
Photograph: Gabi Porter

28. Cabbage at Hunan Slurp

Restaurants Chinese East Village

Beyond the lovely bowls of noodles lies the true highlight of this East Village slurp shop: cabbage. Tender but toothsome and perfumed with sweet garlic and spicy chilies, the simple leafy green is everything you have ever wanted in a veggie dish. $18

Photograph: Gabi Porter

29. Vanilla soufflé at Manhatta

Restaurants Contemporary American Financial District

This warm vanilla soufflé is the sweetest end to any meal. When your waiter pours the butterscotch sauce over this lighter-than-air tower of still-steaming-from-the-oven whipped eggs, you won’t even notice the new restaurant’s sky-high panoramic views. Three-course prix fixe $78

Emmyletta at Emmy Squared
Photograph: Jake Cohen

30. Emmyletta at Emmy Squared

Restaurants Pizza East Village

Just when we thought we couldn’t love this Detroit-style pizza parlor any more, Emmy Squared opened a Manhattan location that slings a couple of new pies, like this square sensation that’s inspired by the muffaletta’s mortadella, pepperoni and olives. $21

Photograph: Matt Taylor Gross

31. Chili-cheese naan at Adda

Restaurants Indian Long Island City

This newcomer brought the heat to Queens with its authentic, comforting Indian fare. The expertly charred naan is the fluffy, spicy, cheesy vessel you’ll be using to sop up whatever tasty morsels you order. $3

Vaya Kon Tiki at the Polynesian
Photograph: Gabi Porter

32. Vaya Kon Tiki at the Polynesian

Bars Cocktail bars Hell's Kitchen

There’s no need to book a plane ticket to the South Pacific to soak up some island vibes. Just take a train to midtown and ask for the rum-spiked Vaya Kon Tiki, a flaming cocktail in a skull-shaped glass that’s filled with spicy coconut cream and ginger. $17

Photograph: Courtesy Kubeh/Rebecca Fondren

33. Sabich at Kubeh

Restaurants Israeli Greenwich Village

One of our favorite Middle Eastern spots, Kubeh offers the best rendition of sabich in NYC. The Israeli breakfast pita with Iraqi roots combines smoky fried eggplant, expertly hard-boiled eggs, tahini and a tangy mango sauce for one of the fluffiest pockets we’ve ever had. $9

Holy Ground
Photograph: Matt Taylor-Gross

34. Wagyu brisket at Holy Ground

Restaurants Barbecue Tribeca

Naturally, we were skeptical when, earlier this year, this “meat speakeasy” hit Tribeca, ditching the typical BBQ-joint aesthetic for retro-steakhouse vibes. But one bite of the ultra-tender Wagyu brisket drenched in a tangy barbecue sauce confirmed that the chefs truly know their way around a hunk of meat. $26 per half pound

Broken Shaker
Photograph: Gabi Porter

35. Curry in a Hurry at Broken Shaker

Bars Cocktail bars Kips Bay

Usually, patrons don’t notice the mediocre drinks at rooftop bars because they’re too busy enjoying the view, but it’s a different story at Broken Shaker. This sweet ode to the spot’s neighborhood is balanced by a sharp kick from the pineapple and red-curried honey. (Please note, the cocktail is no longer available on the menu, but if you ask super kindly, the bartender might whip you up something similar.) $16

Little Tong Noodle Shop
Photograph: Courtesy Little Tong Noodle Shop/Emmeline Zhao

36. JB Melt Sandwich at Little Tong Noodle Shop

Restaurants Chinese Midtown East

Think of it as a Yunnan-style French dip. Marrying all the beauty of a stuffed jianbing with the flakiness of a scallion pancake, this sandwich is packed with tender beef shank and melty cheese curds, then plated alongside a house-made chicken broth for dipping. $13

Junzi Kitchen
Photograph: Courtesy Junzi Kitchen

37. Tomato Pork Noodles at Junzi Kitchen

Restaurants Chinese Greenwich Village

The bowl of northern Chinese noodles is made up of thin, chewy strands tossed in an umami-rich sauce of tomato and egg with smoked ham hock. It’s a refreshing (and delicious) departure from familiar noods, highlighting an oft-overlooked regional dish. $12

Don Wagyu
Photograph: Courtesy Daniel Kreiger

38. Don Wagyu

Restaurants Japanese Financial District

Past two cheaper menu options comes this pricey Ozaki Wagyu number, served with nori-dusted fries and a pickle. Hailing from a single farm in Japan, the delectable beef makes for a truly melt-in-your-mouth creation that’s as perfectly unctuous as it is expensive. $180

The Loyal
Photograph: Courtesy The Loyal/Jackie Gebel/@noleftovers

39. Fried-chicken sandwich at the Loyal

Restaurants American West Village

Available at lunch or on the late-night menu, this jumbo sandwich is everything your starving body craves: a giant fried-chicken patty, dill-pickle mayo, iceberg lettuce and smashed avocado sandwiched between a foursome of King’s Hawaiian rolls. $25

Paulie Gee's Slice Shop
Photograph: Andrew Tess

40. Hellboy from Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop

Restaurants Pizza Greenpoint

Paulie Gee’s spinoff slice shop get the ambiance down exactly from the faux-wood Formica tables and letter-board menu to the red plastic trays and the paper plates on which each slice is served. The star of the menu is this pepperoni slice drizzled with Mike’s Hot Honey for some sweetness and spice. $4.25

Lions & Tigers & Squares
Photograph: Courtesy Lions & Tigers & Squares

42. Classic at Lions & Tigers & Squares

Restaurants Pizza Chelsea

If you haven’t already, it’s time you ventured into the world of Detroit-style pizza. Baked in a square pan, this pizza is known for its cheese baking over the edges forming a crisp crust that can be likened to the best Cheez-It you’ve ever had. $5

Sullivan St Bakery
Photograph: Andrew Tess

43. Tomato Slice at Sullivan St Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries Chelsea

Using a perfectly formulated combo of fresh milled and canned San Marzano, this tomato slice is the embodiment of pizza through the lens of a bread maker. It’s simple ingredients with complex flavor. $3.75

Mama's Too
Photograph: Courtesy Mama's Too

44. House Slice at Mama's Too

Restaurants Pizza Upper West Side

This slice is truly the best of both worlds. It has the eatability of a New York slice with the bold flavors of a Neapolitan one, sporting a robust sauce, grated Parm and a light and airy crust. $3.50

Photograph: Teddy Wolff

45. Tour Through Khari at Banzarbar

Bars Cocktail bars Lower East Side

The backroom speakeasy on the second floor of Freemans pours this pyrotechnic quaff, a smoky, spicy mix of tequila, mezcal, turmeric, ginger and curry leaves. But before you can even enjoy a sip, the waiter singes the top of a submerged banana leaf to evoke a campfire aroma. $18

Photograph: Courtesy Olmsted/Noah Fecks

46. Egg rolls at Olmsted

Restaurants Contemporary American Prospect Heights

Your morning bacon, egg and cheese just got easier: At Olmsted, the same classic components are stuffed into a highly portable egg roll. Part of chef Greg Baxtrom’s playful brunch menu, they’re now the best part of waking up. $15

Ducks Eatery
Photograph: Courtesy Julie Horowitz

47. Smoked Watermelon Ham at Ducks Eatery

Restaurants Barbecue East Village

This gone-viral dish, which returns to the menu next April, might make you reconsider everything you thought you knew about watermelon. By lacto-fermenting and smoking the fruit, Ducks Eatery swaps out a great deal of sweetness for a punch of sourness and umami. $75

Katana Kitten
Photograph: Matt Taylor Gross

48. Meguroni at Katana Kitten

Bars Cocktail bars West Village

The jenever-spiked riff on a Negroni may not be one of the flashier drinks at this rock & roll Japanese bar, but the flavorful mix of earthy red bitters and the aged umeshu’s buttery cinnamon notes proves that looks can be deceiving. $16

Shake Shack Chick'n Bites
Photograph: Courtesy Shake Shack

49. Chicken nuggets at Shake Shack

Restaurants Hamburgers West Village

Exclusive to the burger chain’s new Innovation Kitchen, these tender pieces of juicy white-meat chicken are encased in the same crisp crust as the popular Chick’n Shack sandwich. They’re a highly addictive, deep-fried snack best enjoyed alongside crinkle-cut fries. Six pieces $4.39

Barely Disfigured
Photograph: Teddy Wolff

51. Harlot’s Progress at Barely Disfigured

Bars Cocktail bars Carroll Gardens

At this bar that’s decorated like a brothel, you can drink in bed: In fact, there’s a bedroom in the back, natch. The staff crafts drinks with cheeky, on-brand names, such as our fave: Harlot’s Progress, a frothy combo of blackberry liqueur, egg white and smoky Scotch. $14

Jacob's Pickles
Photograph: Courtesy Jacob's Pickles/Rachel Vanni

52. Fried pickles at Jacob's Pickles

Bars Gastropubs Upper West Side

One of our favorite bar snacks, the fried pickle is completely dependent on the quality of its briny center. Of course, a spot that prides itself on its cucumber creations is frying up the best version in town, and its stellar homemade pickles take the starring role. $10

Photograph: Teddy Wolff

53. Purple Tuxedo at Ophelia

Bars Cocktail bars Midtown East

Ophelia may be the best-looking bar we visited this year, but her looks are more than just skin-deep. The glittering Purple Tuxedo is a sharp lilac haze of gin, absinthe, plum bitters and edible gold flakes. Although this sip goes down smooth and sweet, it’s punctuated with a subtle licorice tinge. $20

Photograph: Courtesy Samesa/Jeremy Jacobowitz

54. Fried-chicken shawarma sandwich at Samesa

Restaurants Mediterranean Williamsburg

Heavily spiced and crispy beyond belief, this fried-chicken shawarma sandwich is a weekend-brunch revelation, balanced by tons of tangy pickles and a spicy red schug mayo. It’s the hangover cure you need in order to get right on back to day-drinking. $12

Gramercy Tavern
Photograph: Courtesy Gramercy Tavern/Claire Mosteller

55. Caramel-Stuffed Snickerdoodle at Gramercy Tavern

Restaurants American creative Flatiron

Pastry chef Miro Uskokovic cranks out some seductive sweets, but we’re suckers for the cookie concoction at Gramercy Tavern. When the plate arrives, you’ll find a soft snickerdoodle that’s gorged with caramel and ready to be dunked in milk. $18

Pig Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Pig Beach NYC

56. Hatch Vinegar Wings at Pig Beach

Restaurants Barbecue Gowanus

Why must we decide between buffalo wings and BBQ? At this open-air meats mecca, we don’t have to choose: The wings are smoked, charred on the grill and then slathered in a hybrid of both classic twangs for a mouthwatering marriage of sweet, smoky and spicy flavors. $9

Republic of Booza
Photograph: Courtesy Republic of Booza/Noah Fecks

58. Salted Oreo Booza at Republic of Booza

Restaurants Ice cream parlors Williamsburg

Of all the ice cream in the land, the Middle Eastern booza may be the coolest of them all, thanks to its stretchy consistency. How does the shop improve on a 500-year-old recipe? By adding crushed Oreos, of course. $5.25

Felix Roasting Co.
Photograph: Gabi Porter

59. Hickory-Smoked S’mores Latte at Felix Roasting Co.

Restaurants Cafés Midtown

At this chichi café, a chocolate-and-graham-cracker–coated coupe glass is filled with graham-infused steamed milk and espresso, then smoked with hickory chips and garnished with a torched marshmallow on a stick. Now that’s a cocktail destined for the glamping set. $14.50

Craving more? Check out the best dishes and drinks from past years:


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