A Seat at Our Table

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

From Korean-French fusion in the East Village to mid-Atlantic catfish in Nolita, here is where you’ll want to eat this month.

Photo courtesy of Lalito

For our Secret Culinary Insider, February was the month to fall in love…with the constantly evolving New York City food scene. She aimed her Cupid’s bow toward East Wind’s irresistible dumplings, The Little One’s handcrafted Japanese treats, and all of the puppies at a brand-new East Village café.

1. Back and Better Than Ever

When this 36-year-old Upper East Side bistro shuttered in 2009, the steak frites was missed as much as the just-like-Paris room, the extremely well-heeled clientele, and the warm service. Now La Goulue Restaurant is back, and just a few blocks away. Not only does it look the same, the owners and menus remain intact, as well. Put on your best Chanel or Armani, then slide into a cognac-leather banquette and dip into a cheese soufflé and salade folle. With champagne, then a bottle of wine, s’il vous plaît. 29 East 61st Street (between Madison and Park Avenues), Upper East Side

where to eat in New York
Photo courtesy of La Goulue Restaurant

2. Join the Club

Chefs Club, the Nolita concept restaurant that invites star chefs from around the country to cook for one- to three-month residencies, has another ace up its well-designed sleeve. Now through March 31, chef Jeremiah Langhorne of Washington, D.C.’s impossible-to-get-into The Dabney is bringing us his take on mid-Atlantic cuisine, feeding us decadent catfish and chicken sandwiches on sweet potato Parker House rolls, Eastern shore-style chicken and dumplings, and more. It will also mark the debut of his new wine bar concept, the Dabney Cellar, featuring expert cocktails, interesting wine pours, and small plates for a quick bite after shopping. 275 Mulberry Street (between Jersey and East Houston Streets), Nolita

where to eat in New York
Photo courtesy of Chefs Club

3. This Eatery Takes the Crown

King has been one of our favorite restaurants since it opened just over a year ago on a sleepy corner of SoHo, thanks to its confident take on seasonal, rustic Italian cuisine. Seems food critics like Pete Wells agrees—he included it on his 2017 “10 Best” list. Now the young British women in the kitchen, chefs Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt, have introduced lunch service. Expect an abbreviated menu (think: one pasta, one fish, one meat, etc.) served in a discreet, sun-drenched room for a stylishly low-key crowd. 18 King Street (between Varick Street and Sixth Avenue), Hudson Square

where to eat in New York
Photo courtesy of King

4. Sit…Stay…Snack!

Why should cat cafés have all the fun? Boris & Horton, the new pet-friendly East Village coffee bar, is a trendy place to bring your couture canine. It’s very “Dogs of Instagram,” with lots of photo-op potential, from the vegetarian menu (avocado toast and Balthazar pastries) to the boutique selling chic gear for owners and pets alike. At night, it offers beer and craft wines to help facilitate what’s sure to be one of the city’s more interesting pickup scenes. 195 Avenue A (between East 12th and 13th Streets), East Village

where to eat in New York
Photo courtesy of Boris & Horton

5. A Home Away From Home

Her Name Is Han is one of the Korean-food cognoscenti’s favorite restaurants in Koreatown, thanks to its delicious cuisine, easy-to-navigate menu, hip crowd, and excellent lunch special. For winter, it has sweetened the pot, so to speak, with two new seasonal pop-up offerings, both meant for sharing. Its chicken and winter veggie hot pot layers chicken (or pheasant!), turnips, potatoes, glass noodles, and more in a deep dish of chicken bone broth, while the short rib kimchi and pork rib hot pot features ribs, homemade kimchi, Korean gnocchi, and tofu in a spicy beef bone broth. Gather your friends, order some homemade infused sowuju cocktails, and get warm! 17 East 31st Street (between Fifth and Madison Avenues), Midtown

6. Teatime Calls for Dessert

Japanese desserts are finally becoming a thing. (If you haven’t been to Patisserie Tomoko, run!) Lower East Side newcomer The Little One pairs pastry chefs from Dominique Ansel and WD-50 in a tiny, five-table space near Mission Chinese Food to offer their take on the Japanese treats typically served with tea. Standouts include the dorayaki, similar to a pancake sandwich, in this case layered with a confit of Honeycrisp apples and mascarpone; ice cream sandwiches made with rice wafers and stellar flavors such as matcha or parsnip; and shaved ice, known as kakigōri, in daily-changing flavors like grapefruit. The teas are excellent, too. Try the soba-cha (buckwheat) or hojicha (roasted green tea), both from Brooklyn importer Kettl. 150 East Broadway (between Pike and Essex Streets), Chinatown

7. Dumpling-World Darlings 

East Wind Snack Shop found itself on several key best-of food lists in 2017—with good reason. The Windsor Terrace dumpling destination was founded by a Chinatown-born chef who made his way through the Jean-Georges, Nobu, and Morimoto kitchens before opening his own spot, where he makes his incredible dumplings by hand, cooked to order. (Insider tip: Call 917-825-8020 ahead for takeout.) Expect the same juice pork, dry-aged beef, and Shanghai vegetable dumplings to be served at East Wind’s future Williamsburg outpost. 471 16th Street, Windsor Terrace 

where to eat in New York
Photo by Leslie Brienza

8. A Mexican Twist in Chinatown

Sunday dinner just got a million times more fun. Lalito, the restaurant that combines artsy hipster vibes and SoCal-meets-Mexican food in a cool, colorful Chinatown space, has flipped the script on Sunday service. The Sunday Getaway is a series of weekend-ending informal and themed evenings of cocktail specials, music, and a serve-yourself menu that might include achiote-rubbed short ribs, pollo asado, a salsa bar, homemade tortillas, and more. 104 Bayard Street (between Baxter and Mulberry Streets), Chinatown

where to eat in New York
Photo courtesy of Lalito

9. Kimchi Meets Foie Gras in the East Village

Modern Korean has taken its hold on NYC in the past year, from Atoboy to Cote. Now former Daniel and Hanjan chef Soogil Lim opens his own spot in the East Village, Soogil, offering elevated interpretations of classic South Korean dishes with French touches. Standouts include sweet potato beignets with a side of white kimchi soup, spicy kimchi rolls with braised pork belly, and soy-braised short ribs with winter vegetables. Everything is elegantly plated and poised with technique. The cocktails play with classics, such as a French 75 made with sake instead of gin. The room mixes dark, gray walls with light wood touches, and the communal table is perfect for solo diners and groups alike. 108 East 4th Street (between First and Second Avenues), East Village

10. Head Due West

The West Village cocktail game stays strong with this new bar and restaurant from Locanda Verde alumni Jess Goldfarb. Due West is casually snazzy, making it equally good for a pre- or postdinner drink (depending on how your date is going), or for watching a game with something much more inventive than beer and wings. Creative cocktails include a DIY old-fashioned bar (try it with rye whiskey, smoked sugar, and chai bitters), a bottled Paloma, or a Flight of the Concord punch for four. The food is elevated, as well: beef tartare with Pecorino, pork belly tacos with celery root, and roast chicken with foie gras and ham. (The burger is good, too.) 189 West 10th Street (between Bleecker and West 4th Streets), West Village

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