The best comfort food dishes in NYC

New York's best comfort food dishes include fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and slurp-ready soup dumplings
Blueberry pancakes at Clinton St Baking
Photograph: Courtesy Michael Harlan Turkell
By Christina Izzo and Alyson Penn |

When it’s cold, dark and all you want is a little taste of home, there’s nothing more belly-warming than the best comfort food dishes in NYC. They’re dishes like Mom used to make, but professionally done (sorry, Ma)—we’re talking about some of the city’s best chocolate chip cookies, best soup dumplings and the best fried chicken in NYC. Take a bite out of the tastiest comfort food dishes in New York City.

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Best comfort food dishes in NYC

Shrimp and grits at Birds & Bubbles
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz

Shrimp and grits at Birds & Bubbles

Chef Sarah Simmons’ssmart, studied take on the Southern classic will stick in your mind as much as it does your ribs. A riff on bayou barbecue, the shell-on critters are rendered salty, sweet and savory in a sauté of garlic, hot sauce and rosemary, while the heritage Anson Mills grits get knocked up a notch with peppery tasso ham and nutty mushrooms—forget a side act, these grits are the star. $24

Battle of the Burger 2014
Restaurants, Hamburgers

Burger at J.G. Melon’s

icon-location-pin Lenox Hill

The cheeseburger at this kitschy Upper East Side haunt is a bite of a bygone era, simple griddled on a flattop and medium-rare juicy. The thick, eight-ounce burger arrives open-faced, peeking beneath a layer of melted American cheese on a pillow-soft, lightly toasted bun, with sliced tomato, crisp lettuce, red onion and dill-pickle chips on the side. Don’t bypass the bacon—the deep-fried tangle adds delicious textural contrast to the coarsely packed special-blend patty. $10.50

Matzo Ball Soup at Peck's Specialty Foods
Photograph: Courtesy Peck's Specialty Foods
Restaurants, Bakeries

Matzo-ball soup at Peck’s

icon-location-pin Clinton Hill

Theo Peck’s rich, restorative matzo-ball soup is as old-school as his deli roots (Peck is the great-grandson of the cofounder of famed kosher-dairy restaurant Ratner’s), swimming with slips of confit rotisserie chicken, carrot and celery batons, and one giant sinker, the dill-flecked midpoint between dense and tender. $7.50

East Pole fish pie
Photograph: Melissa Sinclair
Restaurants, American

Fish-and-fennel potpie at the East Pole

icon-location-pin Lenox Hill

Britain’s humble fish pie gets a high-minded overhaul at this uptown Anglo canteen. Chef Joseph Capozzi binds flaky pollock and generous hunks of lobster claw with a tarragon-flecked fennel puree, adding a jolt of brightness, all tucked beneath a thick, bubbly head of puff pastry that’s practically begging to be pierced with a spoon. $29

Photograph: Laura Gallant
Restaurants, Cafés

Chocolate-chip cookie at Maman

icon-location-pin Little Italy

Combining the best of American baking and French technique, the chocolate-studded stunner at Armand Arnal’s Soho café could tempt even the most ardent Levain loyalist. The Michelin-starred chef (France’s La Chassagnette) uses imported chocolate for its melty core, sprinkled with sea salt and crammed with macadamias, almonds and walnuts, with oven-kissed edges so buttery, they rival toffee. $3.75

Chowder at Greenpoint Fish and Lobster Co
Photograph: Vicky Wasik
Restaurants, Seafood

Fish chowder at Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co

icon-location-pin Greenpoint

At their north-Brooklyn seafoodery, Vincent Milburn and Adam Geringer-Dunn dial down their New England–style chowder bowl with a buttery broth that’s far less of a belly bomber than most creamy takes. Loaded with fresh clams—a few of which are kept in their fish-stock–scooping shells—the soul-warming soup bobs with chunks of gold potatoes and a shower of parsley to freshen things up. $10

Root & Bone
Photograph: Paul Wagtouicz
Restaurants, Soul and southern American

Fried chicken at Root & Bone

icon-location-pin East Village

Top Chef alums Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth brine Pennsylvania Dutch country chicken in sweet tea spiked with paprika and cayenne for 24 hours, giving it a distinct sweetness amplified by the dusting of dehydrated lemon powder the bird gets when it’s pulled golden and crunchy from the pressure cooker. A drizzle of Tabasco honey happily keeps that salty-sweet tug-of-war going. $18 for a half chicken, $35 for whole

Little Muenster
Restaurants, American

Grilled cheese at Little Muenster

icon-location-pin Lower East Side

You can go classic with the toasty, Pullman-bookended sandwiches ($7) at this grilled-cheese–focused stand in the Hudson Eats food court, but why go plain-Jane cheese when you can get melty combos like Asiago and roasted butternut squash ($10), Gruyère with crispy pancetta ($10) or a Cuban, crammed with Swiss, slow-roasted pork and smoked chipotle mayo ($12)?

The Bao
Photograph: Courtesy The Bao
Restaurants, Chinese

Soup dumplings at the Bao

icon-location-pin East Village

Xiaolongbao, Shanghai’s steaming, soup-filled dumplings, are a comfort-food hybrid, and the version at this East Village spot—with a delicate, nearly translucent wrapper that doesn’t burst under the weight of its porky filling—guarantees that both swine and steaming broth will make the journey from chopstick to mouth. $7.95

Kale & Wild Mushroom Paella at Gato
Restaurants, Mediterranean

Paella at Gato

icon-location-pin East Village

Kale might not seem much of a comfort food at first glance, but celebutoque Bobby Flay wisely pairs the sautéed leaves with something more delectable: socarrat, that Spanish phenomenon when rice gets crusty while toasting on the bottom of a paella pan. Those scraped, crunchy kernels of Calasparra grains get extra earthiness from fried artichokes and wild mushrooms, with the yolky porn of a soft-cooked egg holding it all together. $28

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