Sweet potatoes and stuffing aren’t the only culinary games in town this month. There are plenty of new restaurants (you can catch your own fish at one and catch a movie at another) and menu items (avocado gelato and Korean barbecued ostrich) to make you forget all about that dried-out turkey.
1) Make It Your Mission to Eat Here
Danny Bowien has zoomed his Szechuan-spiced spaceship over to Bushwick, where he’s just opened another Mission Chinese in the same building as music venue Elsewhere. It’s an airy warehouse space—repeat: Bushwick—and heavy on the neon come nighttime. As for the food, a lot of Bowien’s oldies are back (kung pao pastrami, salt cod fried rice, thrice-cooked bacon), along with some delicious cuisine-leaping mind-benders. Don’t miss the far-out sourdough naan with burned buckwheat honey butter and sheep’s milk cheese, or the cumin lamb tartare lettuce cups.
2) Redefining “Freshly Caught” at Zauo
For a dining experience that’s anything but tame, head to Zauo in Chelsea. Play Go Fish with live salmon, trout, lobster, shrimp, and other seafood, then let the chefs prepare your prized catches. The popular chain in Japan is making waves with the Instagram set, not to mention kids and those who like their dinner with a side of entertainment. (If the fish aren’t interested in your bait, chefs will catch your fish for an additional fee, and there are dishes that don’t involve a fishing pole.)
3) Get Wrapped Up at Frankie Goes to Bollywood
Griddled flatbread wrapped around all manner of fillings, a frankie is the street food of Mumbai (think: burrito by way of India). While you may have grabbed one at Roti Roll Bombay Frankie on the UWS, SoHo has a colorful new restaurant devoted to the ideal grab-and-go lunch. For starters, its (gluten-free!) flatbread is super-flavorful thanks to a combo of chickpea, lentil, and rice flours. And the fillings are both belly warming and inventive, like spinach curry with mango pickle and cauliflower and potato curry with crispy chickpeas. Grab a cumin lemonade or a Thumbs Up soda to go with, and there’s your new winter go-to lunch.
4) A Hot Opening in Fort Greene
The best Nashville hot chicken in New York has long been at Peaches Hot House in Bed-Stuy: Its fried chicken is so spicy, you can see the cayenne racing through the craggy-crisp crust. With a pileup of white bread and pickles, and a side of cornbread, smoky collard greens, and/or mac and cheese, you’ve got yourself a very fine meal. Thankfully, a second Peaches Hot House has opened right in Fort Greene, convenient to BAM, Alamo Drafthouse, and more than one train station (unlike the original location).
5) Please, Let Us Eat NY Cake
Since 1980, if you ever needed a a heart-shaped macaron mat; monstera leaf fondant mold; or edible sparkle, petal, or luster dust (those are all different), there was NY Cake in Chelsea. Weekend and professional bakers alike shed a tear when the baking mecca closed last year, but all are rejoicing that it not only found a new space just down the street, it is also bigger and has a decked-out cooking school and café. Take in the selection of baking accessories with wide-eyed wonder, then settle into a confection and a cup of tea—that is, if you’re not making your own heart-shaped macarons.
6) Eat Your “Din-ema” at CMX Cinebistro
In the current race for the most decked-out movie theater, the new CMX Cinebistro on the Upper East Side is taking the lead. Not only does it have reclining love seats, storage compartments for your purse, phone chargers, and state-of-the-art sound, its dining menu is many levels beyond Cheetos-flavored popcorn (got to go to Regal for that). On real plates with silverware, you’ll be served Wagyu sliders, short rib mac and cheese, and lobster cannoli on your swiveling table. Drinks and desserts are also on offer—at this point, even if the movie is lukewarm, you’ll still enjoy yourself.
7) Greece Moves Uptown With Eléa
Since Kyma brought a bit of the Aegean to the Flatiron this summer (we wrote about it back in July), the Greek restaurant has been packed. Now the owners have opened a more neighborhood, weeknight, stroller-friendly spot on the Upper West Side. While the beloved octopus and grilled whole fish are on the menu, Eléa leans more heavily on vegetarian and meat options. The chicken with Feta-potato purée will scratch your roast chicken itch, while the zucchini and eggplant chips with tzatziki and fried cheese beats most chips and dips. The towering, light, and breezy space still transports you to the Greek islands, just without resort-level prices.
8) From Slices to Sit-Down at Bleecker Street Pizza Restaurant
For fans who can’t get enough of Bleecker Street Pizza’s thin-crust slices in the West Village, there’s now more—in the form of a new sit-down restaurant just next door. While it’s still a counter-service joint, here you can get its famed Nonna Maria (fresh mozz, basil, and garlicky marinara) and other pizzas, as well as pastas, salads, appetizers, and desserts. Italian classics like penne with vodka sauce, burrata with tomatoes, and fettuccini Alfredo make this new outpost a quick, wallet-friendly, weeknight comfort.
9) The Ice Cream Revolution Continues at Polosud
New York is full of frozen thrills—rolled ice cream, mochi ice cream, taiyaki, and now avocado gelato. But while whipping avocado into a creamy, lush, dairy-free frozen treat isn’t anything new, the avocado gelato at Polosud in Little Italy is served in a carved-out avocado peel. Blink and it looks like you’re diving into an avocado half, but it’s actually hazelnut or chocolate or coffee gelato balled up in the middle to resemble the pit. What’ll they think of next?
10) Woo-hoo! The Woo SoHo Is Back
The Woo in SoHo isn’t just following in the footsteps of Côte and Atomix to bring modern Korean dining to NYC—the chef, Julie Choi, is also following in the footsteps of her ancestry. Her mother opened the famed Woo Lae Oak on Mercer in 1999, and her grandmother opened the original Woo Lae Oak in 1974 in midtown. The Woo nods to that legacy with slightly upscale Korean barbecue and refined Korean cooking, with an added focus on high-quality and surprising ingredients. While you could barbecue some short ribs or chicken, you will also have the chance to cook tuna, ostrich, duck, and venison. Served alongside small plates and kimbap to start and Woo Lae Oak classics like shrimp and leek in spinach crepes, it’s a natural, comforting mix of old and new.
11) A Cheeky Menu at Chiko
Rarely do you work through a tasting menu and get a dish called the Coney Island. But at Xiaowei Zheng’s kaiseki restaurant in not midtown, not SoHo, but Greenpoint, the Coney Island gets you a “burger” made of a breaded-scallop “bun” and an uni patty. You can tell Zheng is having a good time at Chiko, his eight-seat fun house serving a 13-course tasting menu. There are a lot of sushilike courses, a nod to his background at Sushi Dojo, and Italian-ish dishes (he also worked at Il Buco Alimentari)—but each has his own personal spin. Take the last dish—Summer Carnival: ice cream, truffle, and crispy corn.