The bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich at Sarah Schneider and Demetri Makoulis’s cheery egghead haven puts your bodega standard to shame. Atop a lightly crusty Pain d’Avignon panini—more robust than the bready mouth fillers your deli turns out—chef Nick Korbee (Smith & Mills) heaps on cloth-aged Shelburn cheddar, smoky, thick-cut Black Forest bacon, pickled jalapeno and tomato jam, a sweet upgrade to your usual squirts of Heinz. This is one breakfast sando you’ll be craving all hours of the day. $10.
It’s quite the feat trying to impress bagel-snob New Yorkers, but it’s easier when you’re deli doyens Noah Bernamoff and Matt Kliegman, especially when the bagels you’re peddling come padded with sunset-hued beet-cured lox and horseradish cream cheese. Watermelon radishes, dill and parsley freshen up the earthy salmon, while the salt that helps season their wood-crisped everything bagel nicely plays up the fish’s natural salinity. $12.
Sorry, Kraft Singles—Jesse Schenker has just straight-up killed your grilled-cheese game. During brunch, the toque ditches the generic American stuff for smooth, rich Italian burrata, the cheese of the gods. The melty marvel is squeezed between a tangy, tight-crumbed grilled sourdough Pullman from Sullivan Street Bakery with a basil-forward house romesco on the side. Optional bacon or chorizo can be added for an extra two bucks, but let’s be real—that shit should be mandatory. $13.
No classic sandwich is safe from reimagining at this irreverent sando shop—a gyro turned into a yogurt-slathered lamb hot dog, a Cubano crammed with lard-poached carnitas—but when it comes to ham and cheese, the Brooklyn butchers-turned-sandwich slicers don’t as much rework the original as redefine it. The salty, properly fatty midpoint between bacon and pastrami, the Berkshire swine is injected with brine, cured for 10 days, rubbed in brown sugar and smoked overnight. Those supple slices come hooded with melted American cheese and spicy mustard on slices of yeast-tang sourdough. Your basic grilled cheese never stood a chance. $12.
Maria Cano obtained legend status in the New York food-scene with her Jackson Heights corn-cake cart, which spawned off into a brick-and-mortar eatery this year, and for good reason—her exceptional arepas are marked by a crunchy top that bursts with salty, oozing queso. Cano slathers those sizzling pockets with butter and warms them on a flat-top griddle until they’re golden brown. No judgment here if you order two—or three. $4.
When the cult Italian sub shop opened its latest location in midtown this year, the sandwich-loving masses roared in delight. Even more so when they got a bite of the new namesake hero, an old-world combo of salty prosciutto, earthy mushroom paste and hot and sweet peppers, freshened with crunchy fennel and a generous handful of bright arugula inside a superbly crusty sfilatino roll from Bensonhurst’s Royal Crown Bakery. The waitstaff is notoriously hard-pressed against additions or substitutions, but adding a layer of the shop’s fresh, creamy mozzarella to this stomach-popping sub is well worth the fight. $13.50
Seafood is the main focus of this nautical SoHo joint, but a beefy burger surprisingly grabs the most attention on the lunch menu. Hooded in aged cheddar, the juicy round is stacked with garlicky pickles and thick strips of smoky house-cured “billionaire bacon,” made from pork belly that’s sizzled in agave syrup and árbol chiles. The buttery sesame bun and shoestring fries only make the greasy goodness that much more gratifying. $16.
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Since it first opened in 1982, Ninos 46 has occupied the same Midtown location on West 46th Street. The restaurant is still serving up traditional Italian cuisine with a modern twist. To start, sample something from the varied appetizer menu: truffled mac and cheese bites ($11) sit alongside charred octopus with green mango, black chile and zucchini puree ($18). For your main course, order up an individual pizza, like the pie topped with clams, bacon, pecorino, mozzarella and chiles ($19) or the green pie with pesto, artichokes, kale and goat cheese ($18). There’s also a selection of fresh pastas, like fettuccine with “drunken” lobster alfredo ($30), and protein-centric mains, like veal marsala served with broccoli rabe and crispy polenta ($28). Wash it all down with something from the extensive wine list, in keeping with the Italian tradition. You surely have room for a little taste of dessert—why not try the warm bread pudding with nutella and mascarpone ($10)?
Venue says: “Modern Italian cuisine focusing on the best ingredient. We change our menus every few months to highlight what's in season”