A Seat at Our Table

A Seat at Our Table: Dining with our Secret Culinary Insider

Where You Should Eat and Drink in New York this Month

From house-made potato chips and garlic bread with a twist to tuna guacamole, our Secret Culinary Insider shares what and where to eat in New York this holiday season.

1. Holy Moly! Tetsu Has Tuna Guacamole

Masayoshi Takayama just opened a casual robata grill-style restaurant in Tribeca, right across the street from Shōji (aka my other new favorite omakase and kaseki counter). Tetsu is the kind of place you will want to spend hours upon hours lingering—so make the most of it with hot sake, sizzling chili-tomato shrimp, some tuna guacamole, Thai basil pork fried rice, or even a burger on a homemade pretzel bun. Because the Michelin-starred sushi chef is such a perfectionist, we’re excited to try anything he’d eat after hours. 78 Leonard Street (between Church Street and Broadway), Tribeca

2. For the Foodies on Your “Nice” List

Shopping for the foodie on your gift list? Stop by Farm to People’s stand at the Bryant Park Holiday Shops. The online retailer, which supports small-batch, American-made foods, is around IRL until Christmas. Whether it’s a box of its own Brooklyn-made chocolate-covered animal crackers, a Candy Countdown Calendar from Quin, or a gift crate filled with the best in artisanal cocktail syrups and bitters, there’s a tasteful present for every food lover in your life. Bryant Park, Sixth Avenue (between West 40th and 42nd Streets), Midtown

places to eat in New York
Farm to table…for the people.

3. Putting the “Bar” in Tea Bar

Tea lovers, rejoice! There’s an exciting new teahouse in the East Village dedicated to the art of the steep. 29B Teahouse has way, way more than Earl Grey and matcha. It boasts 30-plus brews from China, India, and Japan; guided taste tours (from $35 to $60); and natural wines, cocktails, and matcha-infused beer for the evening crowd (it’s open until 11 p.m.). Plus, all of the drinks make for the perfect complement to the savory nibbles on the small food menu. 29 Avenue B (between East 2nd and 3rd Streets), Alphabet City 

places to eat in New York
Pour one out on Avenue B.

4. Eat Under Twinkling Lights

The holiday season is here, which means it’s time to find that special place to celebrate with friends and a festive cocktail (or three). This year, that place is, hands down, The Grill. You don’t have to commit to a meal at the $250-per-person restaurant; just dress up and take a seat at the bar. Not only are the cocktails flawless, but those dishes of spiced nuts and house-made potato chips practically refill themselves! You could also go for lunch, but really, there’s nothing like the glitter and twinkle of the light installation above the bar to make you feel like you are in a winter wonderland. 99 East 52nd Street (between Lexington and Park Avenues), Midtown East

places eat new york
Dine under a canopy of twinkling lights at the Grill’s bar.

5. Better Than Karaoke

Marie’s Crisis Cafe, the West Village piano bar, has changed exactly zilch since it opened in 1929. Since then, friends and strangers alike have gathered around the piano to sing Broadway show tunes. Here, you’re the audience and the show, so bring your best songbook game (I’ll be honest: I usually have a Negroni next door at Via Carota first.) Come the holidays, Marie’s feels like a sparkling little haven from the madness. One snowy night, I stumbled in to find Alan Cumming alone at the piano singing Christmas carols while a group of Japanese tourists wept at their good fortune. 59 Grove Street (between Bleecker Street and Seventh Avenue South), West Village

6. A Pasta Lover’s Paradise

The couple that brought us chicken parm pizza at Quality Italian has opened Don Angie in the West Village. The restaurant specializes in handmade pastas with a modern twist, like the two-toned “caramelle” that encases buffalo milk ricotta with a brown butter sauce, black sesame, and honey-pickled persimmon. The garlic bread is transformed into a stuffed flatbread. Even calamari is modernized, as it’s served with barbecue sauce, pepperoni fried rice, and herbed labne. This place is fun for groups, friends, and the date who is willing to attack the prime rib braciole for two with you. 103 Greenwich Avenue (between Jane and West 12th Streets), West Village

7. House-Made Charcuterie on the Upper East Side

The Upper East Side isn’t the easiest place in town to grab a glass of wine and some charcuterie. So Charc, a 25-seat wine bar from Michelin-starred chef Danny Brown, is a welcome addition. House-made charcuterie, great cheeses, plus small plates like an FB&J (foie gras butter and quince jelly) or spaghetti carbonara with caviar and smoked salmon are available for walk-ins. If you’re a wine snob, cocktalian, or looking for a new UES date spot, you can’t go wrong here. 316 East 84th Street (between First and Second Avenues), Upper East Side

places to eat in New York

8. “Eat No Evil” at Eden Local

Eden Local is a new restaurant in the Cachet Boutique NYC hotel that goes beyond the local-organic ethos and introduces New Yorkers to elevated healthy fare from Singaporean chef David Laris. The menu features dishes like kabocha squash gnocchi with zucchini and Parmesan, sprouted lentil falafel, and a dairy-free brussels sprouts Caesar with sprouted sunflower seeds. But you can still bring a meat-eating date: Heritage pork belly with kimchi, a dry-aged burger, and more are on offer, and there’s a great wine list. (Amen.) 508 West 42nd Street (between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues), Midtown West

9. River and Bridge Views With a Side of Mussels

What’s going on on the Brooklyn waterfront? So many good things. First came Cecconi’s and VHH Foods, then Celestine. Now you can get river and bridge views with a bit of Tribeca hipness at The Osprey, thanks to the owners behind Smith & Mills and Tiny’s. This 150-seat restaurant on the ground floor of the 1 Hotel Brooklyn Bridge is sprawling and stylish, with floor-to-ceiling windows and a living wall (the hotel is very green-focused), plus outdoor seating come spring. The American-centric menu is heavy on rotisserie food, from stellar chicken (of course) to branzino with tapenade and artichokes. I’m ready for winter, so I will tuck into the New York strip steak with potato gratin and Roquefort butter. 60 Furman Street, Dumbo