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The 100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016

From Nordic bread to Nashville hot chicken to new-age clam pizza, these are New York’s best dishes and drinks of 2016

By Christina Izzo, Lauren Rothman and Dan Q Dao |
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Butter noodle at Momofuku Nishi
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

The New York food scene was a spoil of riches in 2016—it welcomed regional specialties like Nashville-style fried chicken, Chicagoan Italian beef and a Detroit analogue to the city’s best New York pizza. It offered fresh takes on old-world French, shiny-new meccas of Japanese food and Korean BBQ, and top-notch breakfast sandwiches to cure our hangovers. These are the 100 best dishes and drinks we enjoyed this year.

RECOMMENDED: See all of the best dishes and drinks in NYC

85 best dishes in NYC 2016

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100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Indian

Soy keema at Indian Accent

Midtown West

It’s a literal melting pot, a stirring of influences in one small crock: Celebrity chef Manish Mehrotra nods to the minced-lamb curries of Mumbai, the warm street-food rolls of Goa and the vegetarian cooking of his own mother in this haute keema. Soy curd is stewed down with cumin-zapped tomatoes until it’s the Indian answer to bolognese. Break the yolk of the delicate raw quail egg on top, and stir through for supreme silkiness. Disregard how immaculate the white tablecloth is beneath you, forgo a fork for one of the accompanying pao rolls infused with lime leaf, and dig right in. We won’t judge. Part of prix fixe: three course $75, four course $90

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100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, American

The Bodega at High Street on Hudson

West Village

At the West Village satellite of Philadelphia’s acclaimed High Street on Market, chef Eli Kulp serves up a breakfast sandwich that’s exceedingly classy while still hitting all of your primal needs. (It’s the ideal of your go-to deli order, the stuff hangover dreams are made of.) Soft-scrambled eggs are enrobed in gooey aged cheddar and balanced atop a snappy malted sausage patty, all tucked inside a tender sage-and–black-pepper biscuit that acts as an artisanal upgrade to the customary corner-store roll. Need even more of an a.m. pick-me-up? Slide a side dish of a charred green chili into those warm biscuit confines. $13

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100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Italian

Lasagna at La Sirena

Chelsea

It’s a heart-stopper and not just because of the copious amount of rich béchamel that coats each sheet of fresh pasta. At Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s trattoria on steroids inside Chelsea’s Maritime Hotel, chef Josh Laurano layers his bianca lasagna with sliced, waxy Yukon Gold potatoes softened with creamy dairy until the slab is thicker than a doorstop. A whiteout of nutty Parmigiano-Reggiano and drizzles of extra-virgin olive oil allow the lasagna’s edge to brown and bubble, creating deliciously craggy corners that catch every drop of the bright, garlicky basil pesto pooled on top. $25

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<p>Salvation burger at Salvation Burger</p>
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Salvation burger at Salvation Burger

Midtown East

There are few chefs in New York with the clout to warrant charging $25 for a friggin’ cheeseburger. April Bloomfield is one of those few. The British chef—who cemented her status as one of Gotham’s most formidable patty pros off the back of her Roquefort-hugged rendition at the Spotted Pig and her feta-capped lamb burger at the Breslin—earns every penny with her house burger at the Pod 51 hotel restaurant. Its steakhouse ambitions show in the supremely juicy half-pound patty—butchered and dry-aged in-house—which is wood-fired so the medium-rare beefiness comes with a side of campfire funk. Toppings of tangy Taleggio, slow-roasted onions and garlicky ramp butter, piled onto a beef-tallow–soaked bun, add to the umami fun. $25

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100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Restaurants, Tea rooms

Pineapple Linzer at Té Company

West Village

A Taiwanese dessert adapted by a Portuguese chef out of a West Village tea speakeasy: Is there anything more wonderfully New York than that? Per Se alum Frederico Ribeiro riffs on the island’s classic pineapple cake via a shortbread-sandwich cookie at his loose-leaf oolong shop with partner Elena Liao. The flaky, buttery biscuit—folded with organic hazelnut flour for extra nuttiness—is jolted with a bright burst of pineapple-rosemary jam and a glaze made with yuzukoshō (Japan’s citrus-and-chili seasoning). A final dusting of lime zest and coarse salt clinch the savory-sweet deal. $3.75

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100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Courtesy Persico
Restaurants, Israeli

Hummus at Dizengoff

Chelsea

You’d think it would be difficult to get excited about hummus, but this is no garden-variety spread; these chickpeas come with a side of serious kitchen pedigree. At the Chelsea Market offshoot of his popular Philadelphia hummus joint, James Beard Award–winning chef Michael Solomonov pulls influence from the hummus stalls found on the streets of his native Israel and adds modern flair. In collaboration with executive chef Emily Seaman, Solomonov offers seasonally rotating spreads, each lush and glossy with an almost whipped lightness, but a standout is the braised lamb neck variety ($13), which this spring was festooned with rhubarb, dried lime and coriander. Rips of fresh wood-fired pita is the only utensil you need. Various prices

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100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Courtesy Jessica Nash
Restaurants, Mediterranean

Hungarian potato fry bread at Covina

Flatiron

The humble fry bread had quite the year, one that saw an influx of updates to the dish, from the snacky sourdough-fortified fritters at Agern to the loaded baked-potato–esque rendition at Nix. But it’s the version at Tim Cushman’s Park South Hotel dining room that stood out from the pack, if only for the sheer New Yorkiness of the thing. Building off Hungary’s deep-fried street food, lángos, rather than the original Navajo recipe, Cushman caps a swell of savory carnival dough—sporting equal parts fry and fluff—with a bagelworthy spread of house-made kefir ranch, silky ribbons of smoked salmon, red onions and zippy capers. $16

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100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, French

Île flottante at Le Coq Rico

Flatiron

Poultry may be the focus of this Flatiron sister to Antoine Westermann’s Parisian restaurant, but pastry chef Mattheiu Simon’s floating island is the real king of the coop. For his interpretation of the classic French dessert, Simon focuses on a smooth sphere of softly spun meringue glazed with sugar until it boasts the bulbous sheen of freshly blown glass. That play between crunch and cloud is echoed cleverly in the pool of crème anglaise in which that meringue is set, a milky moat pebbled with crispy red praline. $12

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100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Courtesy Julie Florio & Melanie Rieders
Restaurants, Japanese

Torigara at Nakamura

Lower East Side

New York is loaded with big-deal ramen makers, from game changers like Ivan Orkin to omakase champs like Yuji Haraguchi, but when it comes to noodles, Shigetoshi “Jack” Nakamura might as well be royalty. After nearly two decades in Tokyo, the ramen guru brought his namesake noodle house stateside to this small Lower East Side storefront, where he doles out light, lovely bowls of torigara shoyu based on a 105-year-old recipe. A bona fide soup for the soul, the stock is made with both chicken and seafood broths splashed with soy, and in it bobs succulent belly meat, fish cake and spinach tangled with thin noodles. $14

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100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Delis

Pastrami sandwich at Frankel’s

Greenpoint

It’s the case of Plato and Aristotle, Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg—pupils study intently under their mentor until they become the master. On their way to such mastery are brothers Zach and Alex Frankel, natives of the Upper West Side and disciples of Barney Greengrass and Murray’s Sturgeon Shop, the kind of old-school Jewish nosheries that sustained them as kids. That schooling is apparent in the hot pastrami sandwich at their Greenpoint neodeli: Intensely flavorful meat is hand-cut, thick-sliced and piled high on rye, a patchwork of juicy pink and charred black. A regular pastrami comes simply with mustard, but for two bucks extra, get it Reuben-style with peppy sauerkraut and Russian dressing. $14.95

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15 best drinks in NYC 2016

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Amaretto sour at August Laura
Photograph: Courtesy Melissa Horn
Bars, Cocktail bars

Amaretto sour at August Laura

Carroll Gardens

This isn’t the cloyingly sweet, barely boozy sorority-girl sour you know (and nostalgically love). At her Italian-accented Carroll Gardens bar, drinks maven Alyssa Sartor fixes the old-school recipe by tempering 100 percent natural Gozio amaretto with fragrant Don Ciccio & Figli Nocino—a green-walnut and brown-spice liqueur—and dialing down the sugar. Welcome to Delta Delta Delish. $11

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Frank of America at the Bennett
Photograph: Andrew Kist
Bars, Cocktail bars

Frank of America at the Bennett

Tribeca

Layering Bulleit rye with quinine-flavored Byrrh, herbaceous Luxardo Amaro Abano and a house-made cardamom-and-clove–spiced maple syrup, Meaghan Dorman stirs up a sophisticated, spirits-forward sipper lovingly named after her boyfriend, Frank, who works at (you guessed it) Bank of America. $15

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Dauphin at Boidour
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Bars, Cocktail bars

Dauphin at Boudoir

Brooklyn Heights

At this sultry den inspired by Marie Antoinette, try a fittingly decadent, absinthe-laced treat named after her husband. (Dauphin was a title given to the French heir apparent.) Mixologist Franky Marshall tames the heady green spirit with smoky-sweet Ancho Reyes chili liqueur, coconut-almond milk and a few dashes of chocolate-chili bitters. $13

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Bars, Cocktail bars

The Tough Room at Suffolk Arms

Lower East Side

Nowadays, most cocktail bartenders balk at the notion of using a blender. Not Giuseppe González, whose perhaps finest—and strangest—creation flash-blends a regular whiskey sour (rye, lemon, simple syrup, egg white), then floats it over a half glass of Guinness for frothy, dual-hued perfection. $14

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Rum & Cola at BlackTail
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Bars

Rum & Cola at BlackTail

Battery Park

Following the success of a spiffed-up whiskey cola at Porchlight last year, this waterfront newcomer from the Dead Rabbit crew opened with a similarly elevated take on the frat-house rum and Coke. In barman Jesse Vida’s refined recipe, aged white Bacardi Facundo Neo rum is whispered with Orinoco bitters and herbal fernet to offset a sweet house-made cola syrup, and then it’s carbonated with the least fratty drink ever: champagne. $16

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Bread & Circuses at Pouring Ribbon
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Bars, Cocktail bars

Bread & Circuses at Pouring Ribbons

East Village

Introduced as part of the bar’s East-meets-West Silk Road menu, Sam Johnson’s globally-traversing elixir fortifies toasted barley water—a bready staple consumed from Greece to India—with malty Dutch Bols Genever, grassy Ragtime rye whiskey and Lustau East India Solera, a sweetened Oloroso sherry. $15

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The Waiting Room at Sanatorium
Photograph: Thomas Schauer
Bars, Cocktail bars

The Waiting Room at Sanatorium

Albert Trummer’s East Village boîte is full of hospital– and laboratory-themed motifs both on and off the menu (it’s decorated like a waiting room). This aptly-named concoction, created by Trummer’s son and bartender Jakob, shakes Don Julio Blanco with fresh-lime–infused sugar cane, essences of vanilla and habanero pepper and, strangely enough, Modena balsamic vinegar. The result is a nuanced, slightly vegetal sip that goes down way easier than any medicine you’ve ever taken. $16

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Three Hour Kyoto Negroni at Kobrick Coffee Co.
Photograph: Brittany Herbert
Bars, Cocktail bars

Three Hour Kyoto Negroni at Kobrick Coffee Co.

Meatpacking District

Caffeinated cocktails went way beyond Irish coffee this year, thanks in part to this barista-bartender mashup slinging time-honored brews (the Kobrick family’s been roasting since the 1920s), alongside craft cocktails (Hella Bitters founder Tobin Ludwig oversees the menu). In this double-buzzed Negroni riff, the usual trio of ingredients (gin, sweet vermouth, Campari) is tweaked with full-bodied single-origin Kenyan beans, brewed for three hours in a Yama drip tower. $15

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Folsom Fix at Yours Sincerely
Bars, Cocktail bars

Folsom Fizz at Yours Sincerely

Bushwick

Batching cocktails is becoming increasingly popular among bartenders, but Julian Mohamed and Darren Grenia’s Bushwick charmer takes it one step further by serving all their drinks on tap. The best of the bunch is this boozy, Johnny-Cash–nodding remix of a cherry Coke, spiking Coca-Cola syrup, lime tincture and almond extract with Evan Williams black bourbon. The mix is carbonated on site and tapped through a dedicated draft line. $8

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Dragon’s Breath at Fresh Kills
Photograph: Leo Sorel
Bars, Cocktail bars

Dragon’s Breath at Fresh Kills

Williamsburg

History buffs, take note. Drinks veteran Richard Boccato takes classic cocktailing to new levels with a menu composed entirely of old, obscure recipes, including this fiery number plucked from the pages of R. De Fleury’s 1934 book 1700 Cocktails for the Man Behind the Bar. Adapted for the modern palate, Boccato’s rendition employs equal parts fruity Apricot liqueur, dry vermouth and Calvados, spiced with six drops of Tabasco sauce. Also notable is the outré garnish, a pickled walnut, which was a common bar snack of the era. $13

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