We like to think of Jess Bender as a human restaurant app—relentless, thorough, and programmed with excellent taste. Before we were lucky enough to nab her, she reviewed countless restaurants for Seamless and Zagat. Let’s just say, Jess has eaten something in every neighborhood in this town (and probably on most blocks) and taken meticulous notes and pictures. Not only does she know what the appetizers are at, say, Lupe’s East L.A. in Tribeca, she knows what’s good (the veggie tamales). That’s why we turn to her every time we’re looking for the perfect restaurant in Williamsburg (The Commodore, she says), a fun place to eat outdoors with friends (Bierstrasse in Harlem), a great bar in Queens (Diamond Dogs), or a date-night spot in the East Village (Edi & the Wolf). We love that Jess seeks out the hole-in-the-wall noodle shops and the humble hot dog stands and is always game to try everything and anything—from fermented duck embryos to skewered tuna eyeballs to 172 doughnuts—as she goes.
She’s still on the hunt for the perfect iteration of her favorite cocktail, the old-fashioned, though. Any recommendations for her?