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Best New Brooklyn & Queens Restaurants for 2013

luksus-at-torst_6502013 was an absolute banner year for Manhattan restaurants… it seemed like practically every week there was yet another place that we absolutely had to try.  But that doesn’t mean that things weren’t every bit as exciting outside of the island.  So without further ado, here’s a roundup of our favorite new outer-borough eateries – from The Elm, Luksus, and Whiskey Soda Lounge in Brooklyn to Bun-ker, MP Taverna and M. Wells Steakhouse in Queens!

Luksus

Luksus
615 Manhattan Ave
Brooklyn,New York 11222
(718) 389-6034

Daniel Burns just might be one of the most accomplished chefs you’ve never heard of, having created the pastry program at Noma and served as head of research and development for Momofuku’s test kitchen.  But he’s quickly becoming a name in his own right (and making a tasty argument for the New Nordic boom) at Luksus, a tasting menu-only restaurant serving dehydrated Ham and Vinegar Chips, Lamb with Sunchoke, Burnt Hay and Tongue Salad, and a dessert of Rhubarb, Anise, Peas and Hyssop, accompanied by pairings from the attached, imaginative beer bar, Tørst.

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The Elm

The Elm
160 N 12th St
Brooklyn,New York 11249
(718) 218-7500

It’s a common practice for young chefs to cut their teeth working the line in high-end Manhattan kitchens before eventually decamping to Brooklyn to open their own, infinitely more casual spots.  But Paul Liebrandt had already built quite a reputation for himself with his four star, forward-thinking French cooking at Corton, making it a real surprise when he migrated across the bridge to launch The Elm.  Time will tell if he’s kicked off a true fine-dining revolution in Brooklyn, but for the moment his sleek spot in the King & Grove Hotel is an utterly unique destination for uber luxe dishes, like Foie Gras with Concord Grape Gelee, Lobster Cassoulet for Two, and the Garden; a cast iron cocotte brimming with over 40 different fruits and vegetables.

Whiskey Soda Lounge

Whiskey Soda Lounge
115 Columbia St
Brooklyn,New York 11201
(718) 797-4120

Everything Andy Ricker touches seems to turn to gold.  His just released cookbook made the New York Times bestseller list, Pok Pok Ny proved popular enough to expand into a much larger space down the street, and his Brooklyn branch of Whiskey Soda Lounge emerged as the best new food-focused bar (in a borough not exactly hurting for food-focused bars) of the year.  Pair inventive vinegar-based cocktails with a variety of Thai-inspired, gently priced snacks, like Dried Anchovies with Sriracha, 5 Spice-Stewed Pork Ear Strips, Poached Fresh Squid Salad, Sour Cured Pork Riblets, or the justifiably celebrated Fish Sauce-slathered Chicken Wings.

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Xixa

Xixa
241 S 4th St
Brooklyn,New York 11211
(718) 388-8860

Jewish chef Jason Marcus is all about breaking the rules; first at his pork and shellfish-adulating restaurant, Traif, and now at its Mexican-inspired spinoff, Xixa (pronounced Shiksa), both located in the traditionally Hasidic enclave of East Williamsburg.  But he doesn’t value being clever over making dishes that are inarguably delicious, as evidenced in a plate of Chicken Sopes with Chopped Liver and Chicharones, a bowl of “Nam Prik Num” Guacamole with Avocado, Roasted Tomato, Jicama, Carrot and Puffed Rice, and Grilled Carrots Elote, tossed with Honey Butter, Lima Crema, Coriander, Feta and Dill.

Glasserie

Glasserie
95 Commercial St
Brooklyn,New York 11222
(718) 389-0640

Don’t expect anything quite as pedestrian as hummus at Sara Kramer’s Levantine restaurant in Greenpoint, located in a sprawling, industrial space that formerly housed a glass factory.  Mini Lamb and Bulgur Croquettes brightened with Mint and fresh Peas are essentially her version of Kibbe, and Mediterranean-accented dishes, like Grilled Radishes with Whipped Feta and Za’atar Spices, and a Whole Rabbit Feast served with Pickles and housemade Flaky Bread have contemporary farm-to-table flair.

Marco’s

Marco’s
295 Flatbush Ave
Brooklyn,New York 11217
(718) 230-0427

It certainly was exciting when Francine Stephens and Andrew Feinberg reopened Franny’s (their beloved Park Slope pizzeria) this year in a significantly larger space.  But we eagerly anticipated the debut of Marco’s even more, a clubby trattoria in the restaurant’s original location.  Just don’t think of the eatery as Franny’s 2.0.  The pizza oven was removed to make way for a J&R rotisserie (currently turning out Spit-Roasted Pork Loin), a wood-fired grill (for Boston Mackerel with Olives, Blood Oranges and Salsa Verde), and a plancha for searing the seafood in a Ligurian Fish Stew.

Morgan’s

Morgan’s
267 Flatbush Ave
Brooklyn,New York 11217
(718) 622-2224

Over the last couple years, Brooklyn has unexpectedly become a burgeoning barbecue hub, and Morgan’s might just be one of the most impressive additions to the local smoked meat scene yet.  That’s because the pitmaster is John Avila from the famed Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas, and his authentic, dry-rubbed Brisket, succulent Pulled Pork, and uniquely tasty Turkey Tails are already drawing serious crowds to the laid back honky tonk joint in Prospect Heights.

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Bun-ker

Bun-ker
46-63 Metropolitan Ave
Queens,New York 11378
(718) 386-4282

This remote, desolate stretch of Ridgewood Queens may seem like an unlikely location for an Eleven Madison Park alum, but it’s worth making the trek for Jimmy Tu’s doggedly authentic Vietnamese street food.   There’s a stellar lineup, which includes Shrimp-studded Banh Xeo (a traditional crispy crepe), Pork Pate, Ham and pickle-filled Banh Mi, and a faithful recreation of the famous Hanoi specialty Cha Ca La Vong; turmeric-scented Flounder set atop a swirl of Rice Vermicelli and flavored with roasted Peanuts and aromatic Dill.

M. Wells Steakhouse

M. Wells Steakhouse
43-15 Crescent St
Queens,New York 11101
(718) 786-9060

Hugue Dufour and Sara Obraitis’ brand of eccentric, high-concept cooking (not to mention off-the-wall décor) may seem better suited to the hipster climes of North Brooklyn, or the persistently scruffy Lower East Side.  But the pair continues to bring the quirk to Queens, currently turning the accepted model of the classic American steakhouse on its head, with a wood-fired Wedge Salad with Powdered Ketchup, Creamed Sea Spinach, Foie Gras-Stuffed Gnocchi, a teetering tower of Pork Chops, and a Blue Cheese-topped Burger with a giant bone driven through the center.

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MP Taverna

MP Taverna
31-29 Ditmars Blvd
Queens,New York 11105
(718) 777-2187

Bringing Souvlaki and Greek Salad to Astoria may seem akin to bringing coals to Newcastle, but celeb chef Michael Psilakis offers refined, modern interpretations of traditional Mediterranean dishes in comparatively upscale surroundings.  It’s a menu that lends itself perfectly to sharing, so gather your friends or family for a spread of seriously tasty meze like citrus-spritzed Meatballs, Grilled Octopus Salad or Cypriot Lamb Sausage, generously portioned entrees, like Shellfish and Orzo Paella and Roasted Lemon Chicken, or a Whole Animal feast, centered around  Spring Lamb, Kid Goat, Suckling Pig, Shank of Veal or crispy-skinned Fish.

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