A Seat at Our Table

Our Secret Culinary Insider’s August Must-Eats

Fifteen treats to try before summer’s end.

Photo courtesy of Oath Pizza/Facebook

Now that we’re approaching the tail end of summer, we don’t have to worry about our beach bodies anymore…right? Because we are ready for a slew of innovative new treats—Turkish ice cream, wood-fired tacos, and matcha slushies!—at these fresh and happening eateries.

1. Coconuts and Malaysian Coffee at Kopitiam

Kopitiam is a kopitiam—that’s “coffee shop” in Malay (the official language of Malaysia). It previously served sweet and savory snacks out of a bite-size location on Canal Street, but it has moved to a space four times the size on East Broadway. With the bigger square footage comes a bigger menu, but the beloved dishes—which chef-owner Kyo Pang learned how to cook from her parents back in Malaysia—are still there: spicy fried anchovies over rice; thick slabs of toast schmeared with kayajam (a coconut-pandan jam that requires a 90-minute stir on the stove); sticky rice dyed blue by morning glories and topped with toasted coconut; and white coffee made with coffee beans that are roasted in milk and olive oil. You can tell each one is made with love, time, and care.

Have a (crab) ball at Kopitiam. / Photo courtesy of Kopitiam/Facebook

2. Extra-Fancy Sammies at Don Wagyu 

Financial District newcomer Don Wagyu serves just three types of sandwiches and only makes 200 of them a day. How do they pay the rent? For one, the sandwiches are pretty awesome: fatty Wagyu beef fried in panko breading served between two lightly toasted slices of soft pain de mie that have been spread with an umami steak sauce. The other reason: The sandwiches aren’t cheap. The entry-level offering, made with prime California beef, will cost you $25. The priciest, with meat from a breed raised in small batches at a family farm in Japan, will set you back $185.

3. Trading Pizza for Tacos at Oxomoco

Justin Bazdarich, the chef behind Speedy Romeo, is trading his pizzas for tacos at his latest restaurant, Oxomoco, but no way he’s parting with his wood-fired oven. At his new Greenpoint spot, a kiss of smoke is the anchor for all the dishes on the menu, including grilled asparagus tacos with chipotle gribiche and ramp salsa verde; pork cheek carnitas tacos with chicharrones; and charred carrot tamal. Expect a robust, smoky cocktail menu, too—say hello to mezcal that’s been infused with house-made mole. It’s not CDMX, but squint and you’re nearly there.

This place is smokin’! / Photo courtesy of Oxomoco/Facebook

4. Bringing “Real” Couscous to NYC at Kish-Kash

If you open a restaurant devoted to a humble side dish that takes hours to make, any chance of success depends on that dish being really dang good. Luckily, Einat Admony (of Taïm and Balaboosta) has mastered the craft of making couscous, and her new restaurant, Kish-Kash, is a triumph. The West Village spot, colorfully adorned with Moroccan tile, has well-priced Middle Eastern classics—lemony chicken tagine, slow-cooked lamb, hummus—all meant to be eaten with the fluffy, airy couscous. Or do as Admony does: Just eat the couscous plain.

5. Old-School Cool at Bernie’s in Billyburg

The folks behind Greenpoint’s Frankel’s Delicatessen know how to do retro-cool. Their new dinner restaurant, Bernie’s, in the old Park Lunchonette space in Williamsburg, is similarly grandparent- and millennial-friendly: On red-checked tablecloths with butcher paper and crayons, you can dig into a wedge salad with a thick slab of bacon draped over the top. Mop up some crispy-skinned chicken in a puddle of sherry vinegar and schmaltz. There isn’t a cocktail list, but you can get a martini or old-fashioned—otherwise, go for a crisp, cold beer.

6. Stretchy Ice Cream at Republic of Booza

Booza is the kind of ice cream you’ll find in the Middle East and Turkey—its texture is more chewy than creamy-melt-y, like ice cream–meets–taffy. Republic of Booza in prime real-estate Williamsburg is one of the first places bringing booza to NYC, but what makes it particularly special is its inventive flavors. Sure, you can get vanilla or chocolate, but why would you when red miso, mint tahini chip, and black walnut are on hand?

Chew your ice cream! / Photo courtesy of Republic of Booza/Facebook

7. Your New Brooklyn Beau for Coffee and Cocktails

Bar Beau is the kind of place on-trend Brooklynites could take all their meetings. In the morning, have a coffee call at the café up front with Ovenly and Bien Cuit pastries and a strong cappuccino. Toward the end of the day, walk down the curved passageway to the bar, which features a tidy list of cocktails and small plates that evoke the Pacific Northwest and Japan. Think: asparagus with tonnato and bonito flakes or udon with shiso pesto. Sip a floral gin drink finished with a drop of hemp oil—or a Japanese whiskey-Amaro number with coconut, cardamom, chili, and sesame. The space is similarly on theme: minimal, with dark wood, exposed beams, white brick, and dim lighting. It was designed by Isaac-Rae with support by the MP Shift, the firm behind many a successful all-day café.

8. Farm-Fresh Toppings at Rosemary’s Pizza

The popular West Village Italian spot Rosemary’s just opened a crowd-pleasing pizza joint at 1 Perry Street. Rosemary’s Pizza turns out a supercrisp Neapolitan crust (no drooping slices here) with loads of seasonal ingredients on top—many of them grown at the eatery’s Hudson Valley farm. The guanciale pizza has your expected fennel, but with a little more pep thanks to smoked mozzarella and burnt orange. The pepperoni pizza has a double dose of meaty spice with ’nduja. Paired with a few superfresh salads and a spritz, and finished with one of the inventive affogatos (we’ll take the Manhattan Special with coffee soda and cacao nibs), there’s something for everyone.

We can smell the basil from here! / Photo by Danielle Adams, courtesy of Rosemary’s Pizza

 9. Chef Benno Checks Into the Evelyn Hotel With Three New Eateries

Chef Jonathan Benno, who is behind the Upper West Side’s Lincoln Ristorante, has gone out on his own in not one but three new ventures in NoMad’s newly renovated Evelyn hotel. The first to open is Leonelli Taberna, a spacious Art Deco room that’s the kind of place where you can take out-of-towners for a crowd-pleasing (but still very nice) meal. The Roman-inflected menu is homey but elevated—spaghetti carbonara croquettes, gnocchi with braised oxtail, sea bream with brown butter—and the desserts are a delight. Make sure to get the torta di limone (lemon curd and pine nuts with strawberry sorbet) before it leaves the menu. He’s also opened a bakery and café in the hotel, and will be debuting his Mediterranean fine dining spot, called Benno, there soon.

Order the eggplant parmigiana contorni (yep, this is just a side dish). / Photo courtesy of Leonelli Taberna

10. Travel to Greece (via Flatiron) at Kyma

Walk into the enormous, 250-seater Kyma in Flatiron and you’ll immediately think two things: You’ve quite possibly been transported to a Greek island and look at that fresh fish display! What to order is basically decided for you. Go for the seafood. From whole branzino to marinated octopus, you can’t go wrong. Paired with lightly grilled bread, tzatziki, and some Kyma chips—paper-thin slices of crisp zucchini and eggplant—you’re in for an outstanding Greek meal. Kyma (pronounced KEE-ma) made a name for itself at its restaurant in Roslyn, Long Island, where Greek restaurants abound; in Flatiron, it’s one of the few Greek spots. But even with competition, it would be the clear winner. 

Your Greek isle awaits in Flatiron. / Photo by Ilir Rizaj, courtesy of Kyma

11. The Crispiest (Really) Pizza at Oath

Upper East Siders won the pizza jackpot when PQR opened earlier this year, but they’re getting yet another legacy pizza joint: Oath Pizza. While PQR hails from Rome, Oath hails from…Nantucket? It’s a brave move for a Massachusetts pizza spot to open in NYC, but its product is so singular that you’ll be happy it’s around. Oath is the only Certified Humane pizza restaurant in the country, which means all its ingredients are ethically sourced. But how does it taste? For one, the crust, cooked in avocado oil, is crispier even than a Neapolitan slice. The toppings are just as inventive: The Reuben has Dickson’s pastrami, Russian dressing, and sauerkraut. The Dougie has bacon, potato, and ranch. Don’t tell Nonna, but yeah, it’s good.

12. Noodles Galore at Union Square Cafe 

Noodle around the world at Union Square Cafe’s biweekly Noodle Night series: It has collected a troupe of stellar New York City chefs to craft their takes on ramen, spaghetti, spaetzle, and soba every other Tuesday. First up is Floyd Cardoz from Bombay Bread Bar, followed by Ivan Orkin of Ivan Ramen, the chefs from King, and Anita Lo.

13. Skip the Line at a Mobile Morgenstern’s

Waiting in line for a special scoop at Morgenstern’s, just off the Bowery, has become a summer ritual. But for those in the know, it’s about skipping the line and heading over to the little Airstream-shaped cart parked outside of Morgenstern’s future HQ on the northwest corner of West Houston and LaGuardia Place. Sure, the flavor offerings aren’t as extensive, but neither is the line! Enjoy it while you can: This new spot is going to be totally Willy Wonka.

Blueberry soft serve is so summer. / Photo courtesy of Morgenstern’s

14. Matcha Slushies at Kajitsu

Now that matcha is so trendy, it can be inspiring to return to the (Japanese) source. The fabled Kyoto tea-maker Ippodo has its only U.S. outpost on the ground floor of the cult restaurant Kajitsu. Here, they whisk everything from thick, ceremonial-grade matcha to iced lattes to go, so you know exactly how it’s supposed to taste. (Not that the kids making nut milk–matcha–turmeric lattes at Cha Cha Matcha aren’t awesome.) But our favorite summer treat comes from the matcha slushie machine. Available through Labor Day, it’s a sweet, brain-freezing delight.

15. Killer Brunch, Views, and Green Bloody Marys at Ophelia

Ophelia, the rooftop bar at the Beekman Hotel, which opened earlier this year, always has a moody charm to it—it might be the 360-degree views, unpretentious cocktails, or the Art Deco details. (Having advanced reservations doesn’t hurt either.) Now Sundays are getting a little more Gatsby: Ophelia recently launched a new daytime program with almost-Sinatra jazz and a Sunday Funday–only brunch menu. There’s lobster and corn fritters and a short rib Benedict, but the green Bloody Mary is a standout in a city with many a Mary. It bites and also refreshes with tomatillos, cilantro, jalapeños, and celery gin.

Just add jalapeños and vodka. / Photo courtesy of Ophelia/Facebook

Want even more dining recommendations from New York’s leading experts? Try our mobile app. New York, curated just for you.