A Seat at Our Table

Our Secret Culinary Insider’s Monthly Must-Eats: May 2018

Tiki cocktails. Pizza dumplings. Coffee–ice cream mashups. Here is what you’ll want to eat and drink this month.

The interior of Oddfellow's Coffee and Cream. Photo by David Katz.

Spring breathes new life—and fresh produce—into NYC’s culinary scene. What Should We Do?!’s ever-elusive Secret Culinary Insider picked the fully bloomed dishes—from pizza dumplings to “shatteringly crisp” fried chicken—she’ll be eating at the eight hottest restaurants in NYC this season.

1. Parisian Bistro Fare in Downtown Manhattan

A nasty lawsuit cut John McDonald’s Sessanta short, so he has reinvented the space in the Sixty Soho hotel into something wholly different. Bistrot Leo casts French bistro food more closely to how we like to eat these days. That means light, healthy-leaning dishes (like lobster Niçoise and oil-poached cod) are as appealing and prevalent as le hamburger. The lively, colorful eatery is also a hopping daytime café with breakfast served at all hours for the oeuf lover in all of us, lunch, and weekend brunch menus in May. 60 Thompson Street (between Spring and Broome Streets), SoHo

2. Indian Food With Michelin Cred

New York’s newest offering of elevated yet casual Indian food can be found at midtown’s Saar Indian Bistro. The menu features a variety of dishes most traditionally found cooked at home or on the streets of India. With a master tandoor chef and an acclaimed pastry chef in the kitchen, though, opt for oven-singed dishes such as charcoal-smoked sweet potatoes and sweets like the banana fritters with black pepper and caramel dip. And whatever you do, order the lamb chops: The chef, Hemant Mathur, who received a Michelin star for his previous restaurants, Devi and Tulsi, is especially acclaimed for his lamb preparation. 241 West 51st Street (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue), Midtown West

3. Four-Star Bar Food at Momofuku Ko

Gone are the days when a dinner at Momofuku Ko, reservations only, would cost you hundreds of dollars. On the eve of its 10th anniversary, the David Chang establishment has a new bar with an à la carte menu that makes the restaurant a destination for more frequent dining. One of the shining four-star dishes is none other than fried chicken: quadruple-fried, über crispy, with a slurry that includes beer and vodka, finished with dashes of citrus and hot sauce, and served cold. So shatteringly crisp! You’ve never had cold fried chicken quite like this. Paired with a sourdough crepe and followed by a Cheddar-flecked mandarin tarte tatin, the meal is ambitious without sacrificing pure deliciousness. Now where’s my beer? 8 Extra Place (off East 1st Street), East Village

Photo courtesy of Momofuku Ko

4. An Inspired Dumpling Pinch

A pizza and dumpling mashup was bound to happen, and bound to be good when it’s the brainchild of a Pinch and Emily collaboration. During the month of May, Pinch will be serving some of Emily’s most-loved pizzas—like the clam pie riff, the Dune Road—in dumpling form, and all proceeds go to City Harvest. The results are so tempting, it has us wondering what we have to do to get the reverse mashup: Gingery pork and cabbage pizza, anyone? 177 Prince Street (between Sullivan and Thompson Streets), SoHo

5. Kawaii Eats at Davelle

The cute all-day Davelle has the bones of a traditional Japanese coffee and tea shop, but the menu has the heart of an ambitious izakaya. In the morning, stop by for a matcha latte and pillowy milk toast. For lunch, opt for a meal set with Neapolitan spaghetti, Japan’s version of Italian red sauce with green bell peppers and ketchup. For dinner, craft your own oden, a dashi-based soup served hot or cold. With all vintage furniture and earthenware bowls and plates, you risk getting comfy enough to never leave. 102 Suffolk Street (between Rivington and Delancey Streets), Lower East Side

Photo courtesy of Davelle

6. Cocktail Slushies at the Polynesian

A tiki revival has swept the country, with outposts like Chicago’s Three Dots and a Dash and San Francisco’s Smuggler’s Cove, but for no good reason, New York hasn’t gotten its all-grown-up tiki bar—until now. This month, Major Food Group (the folks behind Carbone, The Grill, Sadelle’s, and other media darlings) has brought the Polynesian to our urban jungle (Hell’s Kitchen, to be exact). The 200-seat, inside-and-out bar features expertly crafted tiki drinks, including large-format shareable adventures, and a back room with a stash of rare rums. Trader Vic’s, it is not—but it’ll remind you of it in a good way. 400 West 42nd Street (at Ninth Avenue), Hell’s Kitchen

7. Sugar With Coffee & Cream

Now, at long last, we can get our caffeine high and sugar rush in one place. The folks behind Oddfellows Ice Cream have opened a coffee shop–meets–ice cream parlor, Coffee & Cream, with a full roster of drinks and desserts that show off the namesake ingredients. In addition to the coffee–ice cream mashups like an affogato and cold brew milkshake, there’s an especially fun variety of infused milks to add to your coffee: Choose between burnt marshmallow milk, smoked raisin milk, or toast milk and practically skip through the day with glee. If you’re after a sweet something that’s not of the frozen variety—and maybe more morning appropriate—don’t dismay: Pastries from Bien Cuit and doughnuts from Du’s Donuts will be ready for you. 55 East Houston Street (at Mott Street), Nolita

Photo courtesy of Coffee and Cream

8. New Old-School Pizza at Beebe’s

Lou Tomczak has worked at some of New York City’s great contemporary pizza joints, including Paulie Gee’s and Emmy Squared. But the pizza at his first solo restaurant, Beebe’s, is showing off a more old-school style of New York pizza. The coal-oven pies have soft, pillowy dough and toppings that range from classic (vodka sauce with mozzarella) to a bit more newfangled (the Campfire has smoked mozzarella, mushrooms, and rosemary). You could go full ham or mix in some nonpizza options, like a crispy calamari with pepperoncini. Either way, the solid food and slick space make for a welcome addition to Long Island City. 38-28 27th Street, Long Island City

Still conflicted on where to eat in New York? We’ll make sure to save you a seat at one of the hottest restaurants.