Some restaurants find their strength in diversity, while others risk it all on one dish. This year saw plenty of the latter—cevicherias, banh mi shops, a mozzarella bar—with Socarrat emerging as the victor. While the restaurant excels at tapas, it's pretty clear that when you go to a place named for the golden crust of a properly made paella, you'd be wise to order that dish. Hunks of seafood and meat, spoonfuls of rice and yes, that crispy base make culinary monogamy worthwhile. Socarrat Paella Bar259 W 19th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves (212-462-1000)
This Bushwick spot dishes out fresh Mexican food based on recipes passed down from the owner’s mother. Start with traditional cantina-style appetizers like queso fundido with chorizo ($10), pozole ($10) and quesadillas topped with pico de gallo and guacamole ($4). You’ve got plenty of options for your entree, from tacos filled with chicken tinga or carnitas (each $4) to chilaquiles verdes with chorizo ($11) to a Mexican burger with chorizo, chipotle mayo, pico de gallo, crispy bacon and guacamole ($13). Wash it down with horchata or hibiscus aguas frescas (each $3.50) and don’t forget the churros and tres leches cake for dessert.
Venue says: “Fresh mexican food every day! Serving Lunch, Dinner, and Brunch 12-3pm. Happy Hour 3-7pm M-FR.”