Best comfort food dishes in NYC
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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)?
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 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
Have a hankering for nachos?
The best nachos in NYC are overloaded with all of the queso, guacamole and salsa of your game-day dreams