A Seat at Our Table

Japan-Texas Mashups! January’s Hottest New Dining Destinations

Where our Secret Culinary Insider is eating this month.

Photo courtesy of Teo

If your New Year’s resolution involves eating out more, we know several new restaurants that’ll do just the trick.

1. Dippable Ramen at TabeTomo

cool restaurants in nyc
Photo by Lily Brown/Courtesy of TabeTomo

If you think the lines at Ippudo are long for a bowl of noodles, you would be shocked at the lines at Los Angeles’ Tsujita. People are willing to spend the better part of their day—granted, in the sunshine—waiting for some tsukemen ramen, which hasn’t made a splash in New York. That is, until now: One of Tsujita’s alums has opened a tsukemen spot in the East Village. Cue the lines, but also the worth-it noodles: This type of ramen involves two bowls: one with slightly thicker ramen noodles and another with very rich tonkotsu (pork) broth for dipping the noodles into. 131 Avenue A (between St. Marks Place and East Ninth Street), Alphabet City

2. Brews and Bucolic Views Inside Devoción

Williamsburg’s most Williamsburg coffee shop has landed in the Flatiron. There’s exposed brick, leather couches, and a chandelier of sprightly plants, sure, but Devoción’s coffee is also good and fresh. (The beans are sourced right from Colombian farmers and roasted never more than 10 days later.) So when the line at the Stumptown at the Ace is just too long, head down a few blocks for just as good a cup—and plenty of atmospheric seating. 25 East 20th Street (between Broadway and Park Avenue South) 

cool restaurants in nyc
Photo courtesy of Devocion

3. A Culinary “Atlas”

Atlas Kitchen, a new Chinese restaurant on the upper reaches of the Upper West Side, delivers the classics—soup dumplings, dan dan noodles, sesame chicken—but that’s where the expected stops. The extensive menu features modern, sometimes even adventurous, dishes that deliver on spice and flavor. More special still is the space itself. One of the owners is an art collector who commissioned Chinese watercolor artists to paint murals on the walls. The muted, cool tones; plush leather seating (with pillows!); and handmade ceramics the food is served on makes for a calming, beautiful experience to settle into. 258 West 109th Street (between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue) 

cool restaurants in nyc
Photo courtesy of Atlas Kitchen

4. Wheres the Beef? At Madame Vo BBQ!

The masterminds at Madame Vo have been making standout pho for some time, but now they’re turning to another Vietnamese signature: barbecue. Each table at their lively new restaurant is outfitted with a grill like the ones you see at Korean BBQ. Sure, you could go à la carte, but why would you when you can dig into beef seven ways? The $60-per-person set comes with all the accoutrements needed to turn ground beef rolled in betel leaf, lemongrass-marinated short rib, and five-spice beef tongue into spring rolls, just as you’d find in Vietnam. The set starts with a beautiful beef carpaccio with crispy shallots and a citrus vinaigrette and ends with an oxtail congee to tuck into. Add on a few appetizers, especially the barbecued oysters with charred uni mayo, and you’ll leave very happy. 104 Second Avenue (at East 6th Street), East Village

cool restaurants in nyc
Photo courtesy of Madame Vo BBQ

5. Em-Barca to Staten Island

Dave Pasternack’s first restaurant, Esca, brought seafood to the main stage in NYC, and, for better or worse, got everyone into crudo. His latest venture, Barca, doubles down on the sea. For one, the large, window-paned space is right on the water (in Staten Island, so a nice ferry ride’s in store). There are unobstructed views of Brooklyn, the Verrazano Bridge, lower Manhattan, Coney Island, the State of Liberty, all of it. And the menu is mostly familiar seafood dishes prepared very well. Start with a baccala arancini and, of course, a crudo or six, then follow it up with lobster fra diavolo and swordfish Milanese. 44 Navy Pier Court

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Photo courtesy of Barca

6. Japanese Meets Soulful Southern

After an ostensible identity crisis running the Southern-inflected Brooklyn Star for nine years, Joaquin Baca, one of the original co-chefs of Momofuku Noodle Bar, is back cooking what he loves: Japanese (with some Southern nods—once a Texan, always a Texan). From Teo’s open kitchen in the small Bushwick restaurant, Baca and his cooks will be grilling up skewers of rabbit and carrot, veal sweetbreads, and Buffalo chicken skins. Choose from three different bowls of ramen, the duck leg with pickled fresno chilis being a favorite, and round out the meal with equally playful small plates: the fried chicken has togarashi honey, the Spam fried rice has morsels of grilled short ribs. 321 Starr Street

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Photo courtesy of Teo

7. A Bagel Bakes in Brooklyn

The new Shelsky’s in Park Slope is different from its original Cobble Hill location in that they’re making their own bagels. The crisp-crusted, pleasantly chewy rings are the work of Matthew Tilden, who previously ran the cult-favorite SCRATCHbread in Bed Stuy. In classic Shelsky’s fashion, the bagels can be turned into a million different sandwiches with schmears, smoked fish, meats, eggs, and so on. There are also bialys, knishes, chopped cheese, rugelach. You get the picture: If it’s a starchy Jewish New York food, they’ve probably got it. 453 Fourth Avenue

Photo courtesy of Shelsky’s/Facebook

8. Countryside Thai Cooking in Hell’s Kitchen

At Taladwat, seated beneath temple flags on wood picnic benches, you won’t find your usual pad Thai or green papaya salad. Instead, dishes inspired by Thai temple festivals and community potlucks, like kaffir chicken and roasted chili squid, are served family-style. The chefs making this homey, pungent food also are behind Pure Thai Cookhouse and Land, but this is their biggest, and most personal, spot yet. And yes, they also deliver. 714 Ninth Avenue (at West 49th Street)

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Photo courtesy of Taladwat/Facebook

9. Frankies Spuntino with a Glass of Wine

The Franks behind Prime Meats and Spuntino are making changes to their Carroll Gardens empire, starting at the end of last year with the closure of Prime Meats and the introduction of a wine bar called, expectedly, Franks. The Italian-ish, French-ish bar (which was designed by the same people behind Frenchette) has a 400-bottle wine list with both moderately priced and splurge options. It’s the kind of place you could stop by more than once a week and always order something a little different—food included. A number of antipasti can make a meal but expect larger plates in the coming months. 465 Court Street, Carroll Gardens

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