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Butter noodle at Momofuku Nishi
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

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

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

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

21. Bacon at Quality Eats

Restaurants Steakhouse West Village

Thick-cut bacon. It’s been a steakhouse staple at iconic meat meccas like Peter Luger and Keens since the turn of the past century. The new-school West Village chophouse from the group Quality Branded (Quality Italian, Quality Meats) adheres to that swine tradition insomuch as it serves two-finger–high strips of the stuff, but that’s where its fidelity to the form begins and ends. Executive chef Ryan Bartlow grills hefty Nueske’s rashers and, in seemingly stoner abandon, tricks them out with gobs of house-made peanut butter—yes, peanut butter—and a bright-green relish of diced-jalapeño jelly. A forkful makes you feel as if you snagged a few hits too: Equal parts sweet, spicy and smoky, it categorically shouldn’t work, but boy, does it ever. $17

100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Zack DeZon

22. Impossible Burger at Momofuku Nishi

Restaurants Contemporary Asian Chelsea

Most veggie burgers don’t set out to be faithful carne impersonators; they know their bean blends and quinoa padding are simply no pantomime for the crispy sear and juicy bite of good beef. But this is no mere veg impersonation—this is a veggie burger with the audacity to bleed. A partnership between fake-meat start-up Impossible Foods and Momofuku mogul David Chang, the plant-based burger is a food-tech marvel engineered with stuff like potato protein, coconut oil and—the key ingredient—heme, the building block responsible for making meat taste and smell like, well, meat. The Nishi kitchen takes that burger blend, pats it thin, cooks it rare and fixes it fast-food–style with sliced tomato, a crunchy pickle and special sauce. And, yes, you get fries with that. $12

100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Courtesy El Atoradero Brooklyn

23. Carnitas taco at El Atoradero Brooklyn

Restaurants Mexican Prospect Heights

She ain’t called the Queen of Carnitas for nothing. Following a rent raise, Denisse Lina Chavez brought her South Bronx bodega turned taqueria to Prospect Heights earlier this year and, luckily for your taste buds, with it came her superlative take on a carnitas taco. The fresh hand-formed tortilla—nutty from midnight-blue corn that’s nixtamalized in-house via a custom masa machine imported from Jalisco, Mexico—cradles plump, melting nubs of pork with a swine saltiness that’s freshened with chopped white onions, sliced radishes, tufts of vibrant cilantro and a spritz of lime. $4.50

100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Courtesy Daesha Devon Harris

24. Birbal kee khitcheree at Tapestry

Restaurants Indian West Village

There are other tempting-on-paper items at Suvir Saran’s Indian dining room—masala fried chicken, for instance, and curry-leaf–capped deviled eggs—but it’s a hard-to-pronounce vegetarian pot of lentil-and-rice porridge that sticks in your memory as ardently as it sticks to your ribs. The cast-iron crock churns with waves of spice: Fennel, whole cumin, ground turmeric, warming cayenne and nutty nigella hit your nose as you lift spoon to mouth, a potent blend simmered down with sweet stewy tomatoes and fistfuls of fresh coriander. The comforting bowl is roused further with a crisp, cool topping of gremolata flavored with mint, lime and chili. $25


25. Nashville hot chicken at Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen

Restaurants American

It’s a dipped, dredged and deep-fried ode to home. Carla Hall, who rose to fame as a contestant on Top Chef and a cohost of The Chew, brought the delicacy of her native Nashville north to Brooklyn’s Columbia Waterfront District when her soul-food restaurant opened in June. But despite its Yankee turf, the chicken here is just as tongue-tingling as any you’d find south of the Mason-Dixon Line: After frying, the thick-battered bird—boasting skin that shatters with the same satisfying crunch as fallen leaves on a sidewalk—is submerged in spicy oil, of which there are six levels, from the honey-soothed low burn of Hoot & Honey to the Scoville-scale-testing Boomshakalaka fired with cayenne, habanero and ghost peppers. Go on, try it—we dare y’all. Leg $2.75, thigh $3.25, breast $4.75

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

26. Cheesesteak at Amada

Restaurants Spanish Battery Park City

Sure, Philadelphia’s proudly sloppy beefsteak sandwich isn’t the first thing you’d think to order at a tapas restaurant run by a Latin-American supertoque, but it’s not as if Jose Garces doesn’t have experience with the sandwich’s birthplace. (He owns nine restaurants in Philly, including the contemporary Spanish flagship that spawned this Brookfield Place sibling.) His kitchen’s rich take on the classic—available from 11:30am to 2:30pm—snubs its nose at pedestrian pump cheese, instead slathering savory ribbons of shaved rib eye with molten Mahon fondue, caramelized onions and (for even more refinement) wild mushrooms. $16

100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Julia I

27. Spicy fish stew at Hao Noodle and Tea

Restaurants Chinese West Village

Dude, drop the takeout menu. Why settle for another dull container of sauce-clogged Szechuan when you can have the heart-thumping zeal of chef Zhu Rong’s glorious fish stew? A native of Chongqing and longtime restaurateur in her native China, she stirs a deceptively clear broth swimming with tender pieces of flaky, white-flesh fish and strands of celtuce. But a rumble of Szechuan peppercorns and fresh chilies on top serves as the dish’s fiery focal point. You couldn’t forget the delicious burn if you tried. $25

28. Squid-ink garganelli at Sauvage

Restaurants Contemporary American Greenpoint

“I’m sorry, we sold out of the squid ink” was arguably one of the most repeated phrases of 2016, given the popularity of the sole pasta dish at the Greenpoint kitchen from the Maison Premiere team. And the demand is warranted—chef Lisa Giffen’s bowl pairs inky-black tubes of garganelli with a light yet zesty tomato ragù shot with even more ink. Crunchy bread crumbs cling to the ridged edges of that saucy pasta, and delicate, nearly neon-yellow celery leaves pop against all of that dark savoriness. Half plate $16, full $25

100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Courtesy Maxime Giordani

29. Soft-shell crab at Freek’s Mill

Restaurants American Gowanus

One of the much-awaited delicacies of summer are soft-shell crabs, and nowhere were they more exquisitely presented than at J.T. Stewart and Maxime Giordani’s Gowanus eatery. The crust on the shellfish—the work of chef-partner Chad Shaner—is the crispy midpoint between Japanese tempura and Kentucky fry, wonderfully enrobing tender crabmeat. A swipe of cashew butter beneath the crab is emboldened with sambal and lime juice to cut any grease, and tufts of baby bok choy add an earthy bitter beat. $19

100 best dishes and drinks in NYC 2016
Photograph: Courtesy Mirella Cheeseman

30. Pie sundae at Bubby’s High Line

Restaurants American Meatpacking District

What happens when two local dessert titans come together? The pie-sundae hybrid of your dreams. Available at an Ample Hills Creamery outpost at Bubby’s High Line location, the confection is comprised of a slice of one of Bubby’s famous pies topped with playful, decadent scoops of your choice from the Brooklyn ice-cream parlor, plus classic sundae fixings like drippy hot fudge, fluffy whipped cream and sprinkles. Our go-to pairing? Bubby’s graham-cracker–crusted chocolate–peanut-butter pie crowned with a perfect sphere of Ample’s cinnamon-sprinkled Nonna D’s Oatmeal Lace flavor and copious drizzles of chocolate and peanut-butter sauce—because, hey, life’s short. $12

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15 best drinks in NYC 2016

Amaretto sour at August Laura
Photograph: Courtesy Melissa Horn

21. Amaretto sour at August Laura

Bars Cocktail bars 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

Frank of America at the Bennett
Photograph: Andrew Kist

22. Frank of America at the Bennett

Bars Cocktail bars 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

Dauphin at Boidour
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

23. Dauphin at Boudoir

Bars Cocktail bars 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

24. The Tough Room at Suffolk Arms

Bars Cocktail bars 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

Rum & Cola at BlackTail
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

25. Rum & Cola at BlackTail

Bars 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

Bread & Circuses at Pouring Ribbon
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

26. Bread & Circuses at Pouring Ribbons

Bars Cocktail bars 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

The Waiting Room at Sanatorium
Photograph: Thomas Schauer

27. The Waiting Room at Sanatorium

Bars Cocktail bars

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

Three Hour Kyoto Negroni at Kobrick Coffee Co.
Photograph: Brittany Herbert

28. Three Hour Kyoto Negroni at Kobrick Coffee Co.

Bars Cocktail bars 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


29. Folsom Fizz at Yours Sincerely

Bars Cocktail bars 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

Dragon’s Breath at Fresh Kills
Photograph: Leo Sorel

30. Dragon’s Breath at Fresh Kills

Bars Cocktail bars 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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