We prefer our meals without a side of scandal, thank you very much. Harassment allegations make us lose our appetite. So each time we hear about another male culinary “star” behaving badly, we gladly make reservations at one of our favorite female-helmed eateries. Thankfully, there are plenty to choose from.
Angie Mar has a wicked way with meat at the Beatrice Inn. Her no-holds-barred take on bigger-than-life chops, steaks, and ribs is decadently alluring. Even the spring rabbit is made with champagne, summer truffles, and morel mushrooms. The setting is low lit and seductive in an old-school, high-roller way, but the prices make this more of a third-date/anniversary destination (that 45-day dry-aged burger will run you $38) than a blind-date spot. 285 West 12th Street (between Eighth Avenue and West 4th Street)
When Jess Shadbolt and Clare de Boer of King dreamed of opening their own restaurant while cooking at the fabled River Café in London, it was in New York’s SoHo, not London’s. Their take on seasonal, rustic Italian food is welcome here—a daily changing menu that might include a handmade pasta, grilled steak with rosemary and borlotti beans, and the perfect semifreddo—as is their demure dining room, which isn’t trying too hard (or too loudly) to be the newest or coolest. 18 King Street (between Sixth Avenue and Varick Street)
Chef Amanda Cohen has always been refreshingly fearless and outspoken. Her vegetarian tasting menus at Dirt Candy make bold statements, too, with dishes like brussels sprout tacos and Korean fried broccoli. As her website declares, “Anyone can cook a hamburger; leave the vegetables to the professionals.” And New Yorkers are up to the challenge: Cohen moved to a bigger space in 2015 to fit in all of her fans. 86 Allen Street (between Grand and Broome Streets)
Chef Marie-Aude Rose of La Mercerie worked for three Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris before she started impressing the critics at Spring in the City of Light. Her own NYC café and restaurant may have opened almost two years after her husband launched Le Coucou, but it’s certainly caught up in terms of praise. Rose’s rustic yet elegant French fare is perfectly showcased in the Roman & Williams Guild, a furniture and lifestyle store—which means you can buy everything on the table, too. For breakfast, the buttery croissants and buckwheat crepes are by far the city’s best. At lunch, the blue velvet banquettes are lined with prettily composed dishes, like the grapefruit, crab, and avocado salad, while dinner is for hearty and heavenly classics such as boeuf bourguignon and filet mignon with pommes dauphine. 53 Howard Street (between Mercer Street and Broadway)
The caring Clinton Hill restaurant Otway is ambitious not in its desire to make the owners a bundle, but to feed locals extremely well and make them happy—which it certainly does. Owner and sommelier Samantha Safer puts Otway on the map as a drinking destination with homemade bitters and impressive biodynamic wine program, which includes a robust selection of “skin contact” oranges. Stop by for the ‘Le Binge’ happy hour to try a taste of wines you’d usually only experience by the bottle—and feel free to chat Samantha up about her collection! 930 Fulton Street
Executive chef Suzanne Cupps started as the opening Chef de Cuisine at Untilted, Danny Meyer’s restaurant in the Whitney Museum of American Art. But she quickly impressed then–head chef Michael Anthony, who realized that he didn’t need to be doing double duty both there and at Gramercy Tavern. Cupps’s savory side expresses itself in wide-ranging dishes like roasted and fried chicken with bok choy, kale, yogurt, and Korean chile, as well as charred asparagus with a fried egg and lobster bottarga (!). Don’t worry: Her warm chocolate chunk cookies, served with a glass of milk, are still on the menu. 99 Gansevoort Street (between Washington Street and Tenth Avenue)
Cosme chef Daniela Soto-Innes has made Atla, the all-day Mexican restaurant in NoHo—which she runs with superstar Mexico City chef Enrique Olvera—a favorite of the international food cognoscenti. Her dishes might be inspired by those served at the staff meal, but the tacos, quesadillas, tostadas, and even the guacamole are elevated to Instagram-bait status. Going for breakfast? Be sure to try the gorgeous chia pudding and the avo toast with a coconut milk–splashed cafe con leche. 372 Lafayette Street (between Bond and Great Jones Streets)
Chef-couple Rita Sodi and Jody Williams have their own successful West Village restaurants—I Sodi and Buvette, respectively—nearby. But the charming, meticulously designed trattoria Via Carota combines their superpowers perfectly, serving seasonal, rustic Italian food that’s always just right, from the spaghetti pomodoro and the Meyer lemon risotto to the raw artichoke salad with Parmesan and what must be the city’s most gorgeous green salad. It’s the kind of place to come for a late lunch, which somehow rolls into an early dinner. (Must be those Negroni Sbagliatos.) No matter how crowded it is—and it’s always crowded—Via Carota feels like home. 51 Grove Street (between Bleecker Street and Seventh Avenue).
Christina Lecki is now in charge of the wood-burning grill, oven, and hearth at the sprawling, 100-seat, all-day restaurant Reynard in Williamsburg’s Wythe Hotel. A former fashion merchandising executive who found herself in the kitchens of The Breslin and White Gold Butchers after dropping out of culinary school, Lecki has a keen eye and a quiet yet powerful sensibility, as seen in dishes like grilled squid with spicy ’nduja and breadcrumbs, and grilled pork with creamy butter beans and fried artichokes. 80 Wythe Avenue (between North 11th and North 12th Streets)