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RG’s Favorite Restaurants

ABCSure, we’re always chasing down the best new restaurants, but there are some restaurants that stand the test of time as our all-time favorites no matter how many years have passed.  No matter how many new, and often modern, Thai spots open, we find ourselves returning again and again to Sripraphai, in Queens.  While we’d rather find a favorite closer to our home in midtown Manhattan, we’ll happily travel to the outskirts of Woodside for what’s still the best damn Thai outside of Bangkok.  Try as we might to find a seafood shrine as holy as Le Bernardin or an omakase sushi dinner as heavenly as Masa’s, some restaurants remain at the top for good reason.   Here’s a few of our All-Time Favorites in New York…

The Best NYC Restaurants of 2016

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The Best NYC Restaurants of 2016

From Keith McNally and Tom Colicchio, to April Bloomfield and Jose Andres, there’s no question that the NYC restaurant scene was dominated by heavy hitters this year (who else could be expected to afford such massively exorbitant rents?). And yet, a duo of perennially in-the-wings talents finally found their way onto the mainstage (we’re talking Dan Kluger and Floyd Cardoz), while other, newer names established themselves as culinary forces to be reckoned with; including Frederik Berselius (of Aska) and Greg Baxtrom (of Olmsted) as well as American in Paris Daniel Rose, who took the city by storm with SoHo’s truly phenomenal Le Coucou…

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Blue Hill At Stone Barns

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Blue Hill At Stone Barns

If you’ve never been to the magical place that is Blue Hill at Stone Barns, you’d be wise to add it to your must-try before you die lists.  While it’s located only an hour outside the city, it feels worlds away from Manhattan, and even Blue Hill’s city outpost. It’s there in Pocantico Hills where chef Dan Barber brings city folks (and a flurry of tourists) back to the land where everything on our plate comes from.  Few chefs have earned the title “pioneer” more than Dan Barber himself, who practically invented the farm-to-table movement nearly a decade ago.  And he continues to push the envelope with new notions of sustainability, farming and the like. Dinner at Blue Hill is a multi-course extravaganza, made up not of luxe ingredients per se, but rather homegrown and humble.  One of the newest, most delicious additions to Stone Barns is the bakery, located just off the main dining room, where they’re dabbling with heirloom and ancient grains and new techniques; one plush result is the crusty eikhorn bread, served with luscious, homespun butter.  The chickens eat red peppers and roam free (resulting in vibrant red yolks), and the foie gras is ethical, some of the only “wild” raised geese in the country. It’s a thought-provoking, simultaneously simple, yet blissfully complicated feast that will change the way you think about food...

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Nix – First Bite

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Nix – First Bite

Me, I don’t do meatless Mondays. In fact, I don’t do meatless any day. I’m a carnivore through and through. If it’s not meat, I crave poultry or fish… or eggs. If I don’t have one of the above, I feel like I haven’t really eaten. It’s still fascinating (at least to me!) to walk into a vegetarian eatery, like Nix, on a Friday night, and find every table and bar seat taken, with a noticeably fashionable crowd no less. But there’s nothing “granola” or hippy about Nix…

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Sadelle’s – Review

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Sadelle’s – Review

Smoked fish with a schmear on bagels and babka. Doesn’t exactly sound sexy, right? That’s what I was thinking when I contemplated venturing to Sadelle’s on a recent Saturday night. But the lure of dinnertime caviar service at a cool, new downtown spot was just too strong a pull to turn down. Because while it may sound surprising, caviar options are few and far between. Afterall, caviar’s not exactly lowbrow…

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O-Ya – Review

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O-Ya – Review

I’ll be honest: I thought I would hate O-Ya. It gave me anxiety right from the start. I mean, it’s not everyday that you have to put a credit card down for a mere two-top reservation. (Not to mention the $100 per person fee if you cancel within 24 hours.) In fact, the cheapest ticket to entry at O-Ya is $185 for an 18-piece “sushi” omakase. And if you’re really hungry or a glutton, you can splurge on a 23-course meal for a whopping $245 per person…

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The Polo Bar – Review

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The Polo Bar – Review

21 Club and Monkey Bar, eat your heart out. There’s finally a new power scene spot in the no man’s land that is midtown, dubbed the The Polo Bar, and it’s single-handedly reviving the notion of “see and be seen.” Throngs of food and lifestyle writers have gushed about random Rihanna, Beyonce, and Barbara Walters sightings at this hot, New York haunt…

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Le Grenouille

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Le Grenouille

There’s no shortage of worthwhile French bistros and brasseries in Manhattan, but fancy, old school French fare is a whole other story.  In fact, it’s nearly impossible to find a classic quenelle in Paris nowadays, nevermind in Manhattan.  So I beg you not to take midtown’s Le Grenouille for granted.  Where else in the city can you find a proper Grand Marnier soufflé after all? And that’s exactly the point. While greats like Daniel and Jean-Georges embrace modern French cookery, Le Grenouille refuses to let haute French fade away.  Their menu is a timeless, and more importantly, delicious homage to Frog legs Fricassee, Lobster Bisque, and Crêpes Flambées in all their historied glory.  Especially a savory and pillowy Mushroom and Truffle Soufflé that collapses with the touch of your spoon.   There’s a fine Duck Foie Gras Terrine with rhubarb chutney for smearing on brioche and a decadent bowl of Lobster and Tarragon Ravioli bathing in a beurre blanc sauce.  Little Neck Clams get the same, wonderfully herbaceous and garlicky treatment as Escargots do here. One of my favorite dishes is the Pike Quenelles, luscious orbs of fish mousse, dabbed with caviar, and anointed with a champagne sauce; one of those died and gone to heaven dishes you yearn for weeks later.   That, and the Roast Tournedos of Duck with hyper golden and crispy, Pommes Soufflés.   For dessert, it’s your obligation to try one of their exemplary Soufflés, especially the version spiked with Grand Marnier!  And do indulge in their spectacular wine list with a focus on French wines, of course. If that’s not enough, Le Grenouille is a looker, too.  The restaurant itself is tucked inside a townhouse that’s sprawled over three floors with towering flower arrangements filled with cherry blossoms, white tablecloths, red velvet banquettes and mirrors along the walls.  And while Le Grenouille is in no way cheap, it’s a worthy splurge; a special occasion kind of spot with haute French that’s hard to find anywhere else these...

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Shuko – Review

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Shuko – Review

The thing about Shuko is that it’s strangely not easy to find online. If you google this new, sushi joint in the East Village, a fashion site by the name of Shuku New York comes up for the bulk of the first page, which makes you wonder exactly how it ever became the hottest restaurant in town. And the fact that they have just 20 precious seats along the sushi bar (and a few tables for two) doesn’t help matters much…

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Cosme – First Bite

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Cosme – First Bite

Cosme is an impossible reservation; the kind that can drive a foodie crazy because it feels too important not to eat there, and yet, it’s nearly impossible to snag a table. I guess word that one of the world’s best chefs just opened up shop in town travels fast, nevermind a Mexican joint, which we New Yorkers don’t have enough of…

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Daniel

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Daniel

Some restaurants never get old. They just get better.  Daniel is proof of that.  After 20 years, you’d think Daniel Boulud’s eponymous flagship on the Upper East Side would seem tired, especially nowadays when a hot, new restaurant opens daily.  Not Daniel.  The service is as is impeccable as ever, the menu as exciting, and the room even better than the original thanks to a very chic makeover by Adam Tihany, who installed elegant glass light boxes, wrought iron wall sconces reminiscent of tree branches, and silk wall panels. But that’s all just icing on the cake when you consider how phenomenal the food is, which is really a feat considering just how big the Boulud empire has grown.   Where to begin?   Imagine the most decadent ingredients packed into one glorious meal.   Daniel is fancy without being overwrought, or even worse, overthought, and entirely indulgent.  One of my favorite indulgences is a Rock Oyster with Uni in a Seawater Gelee with Caviar & Finger Lime.  Oh, and  there’s a terrific Foie Gras with truffles & celery, too.  Come wintertime, the Duo of Squab with a hazelnut-stuffed leg is a seasonal rite of passage  (though careful of swallowing the pellets they shot it with. Yes, really!).   Lest I forget excellent Pistachio & Licorice-Crusted Scallops, a now, classic Oven-Baked Black Sea Bass with Syrah Sauce, and dreamy Agnolotti scattered with a luxurious handful of white truffles. Did I mention the killer wine list?  It’s a doozy, packed with some wonderful discoveries.  The new pastry chef, Ghaya Oliveira, has breathed new life into the dessert menu, a more modern, exotic list of sweets that includes a blissfully complicated Vacherin, Almond Mousse with Chocolate Marzipan, and a refreshing roster of sorbets and ice creams. You know how you’re always looking for that perfect special occasion restaurant?  This is your guy.  ...

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Roberta’s Pizza

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Roberta’s Pizza

This place singlehandedly put Bushwick on the map and we’re not even exaggerating. So what’s the big deal? Killer pizzas, for starters, and then there’s the seasonal plates, many scattered with freshly picked ingredients from Roberta’s very own garden. The best part is you’d never know it from the outside… or the inside, for that matter. Step inside this dingy-looking, converted garage and you’ll feel like you’ve just entered some roadside bar with loud music playing, long wooden tables with benches, painted cement walls and twirling ceiling fans. You’ll probably be inclined to grab a beer, or even better, a cider and you should order something to pass the time while you wait for a table, which is par for the course these days.

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Le Bernardin

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Le Bernardin

There are some great restaurants in New York, and then, there’s Le Bernardin. It’s the kind of place people from all over the world travel just to sample Eric Ripert’s masterful (nearly magical) way with seafood. It’s that good. Ripert manages to tease out every subtle nuance of fish with his preparations and flavor combinations. I’ll never forget the just barely Sauteed Langoustines I had recently at Le Bernardin and I’ve had quite a few.

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ABC Kitchen

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ABC Kitchen

There’s a lot to love about Jean-Georges locavore restaurant, tucked inside ABC Carpet & Home. The setting’s stylish with blond wood floors, sleek white tables & a farm table scattered with fresh produce at the center of it all. They didn’t win the James Beard Award for “Best New Restaurant” in 2011 based on looks alone. This is chef Dan Kluger’s coming out party. We love just about everything on the menu, especially the roasted beets with housemade yogurt, carrot and avocado salad, and crab toast. Our favorite card they’re holding here is the chili-flecked oven-roasted lobster and the concord grape tart (when in season) for dessert. Don’t Miss Dish: Roasted beets, Seasonal toasts, Avocado & carrot salad, Chili-flecked oven-roasted lobster End With: Concord grape tart & sundaes Drink This: Housemade sodas, Rhubarb Cosmopolitan Price: $$$ Occasion: Dining destination, special...

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Yakitori Totto

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Yakitori Totto

Climb the stairs of this second floor walk-up and you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped out of Manhattan and into an izakaya in Tokyo. One of my favorite food escapes in the city, grab a seat along the counter to watch the yakitori chefs at work. “Yakitori” translates as grilled bird with an emphasis on head-to-toe-chicken, but some of our favorite dishes never touch the grill at all.

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The Spotted Pig

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The Spotted Pig

The Roquefort-topped burger alone is reason enough to head to the city’s first gastropub. Still, April Bloomfield has got plenty more up her sleeve than that at this buzzing, two-story watering hole dealing in British bar bites, like roll mops and devil’s on horseback. Bloomfield takes inspiration from all over the world and the result is an exceptional dish of ricotta gnudi bathed in brown butter and fried sage and pork belly with salsa rossa and polenta

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Sripraphai

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Sripraphai

It could take you all year to eat your way through the 25-page menu at this Woodside Thai joint. And you’d still want to return time and again for their Pad See Ew, a dark sweet tangle of Wide Rice Noodles wrapped around broccoli, egg and chicken, beef or pork (your choice) that’s Thailand’s answer to Comfort Food. That’s not even the half of it. This no frills joint doesn’t look like it would do delicate well, but the Steamed Calamari with Ginger, Lime and Chiles is wondrously moist and exotic.

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Peter Luger Steakhouse

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Peter Luger Steakhouse

This carnivore institution never gets old. Even the servers’ attitudes seem oddly charming at this Brooklyn steakhouse. Settle into a wood table, skip the menu and order the extra thick-cut bacon and a tomato and onion salad. We’ve even come up with our own creation. Slice open one of their signature, onion rolls and layer it with bacon, onion, tomato, a dab of Luger sauce and repeat.

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Peasant

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Peasant

If you’re looking for the perfect date spot, this is your guy. There’s just something about the open kitchen, brick oven and dripping candles that draw couples back time and time again. But it’s the Tuscan fare and the open fire cooking that has kept us coming back over the years. Everything – the skate, the leg of lamb, the tomatoes – is touched by some form of an open flame.

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Milos

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Milos

This midtown Greek spot is admittedly pricey, but you’d be hard-pressed to find whole fish as fresh as the ice display here. Start with the grilled octopus and tomato salad and head to the ice display to shop for your dinner. (If you see langoustines, grab them.) If not, there’s plenty of other excellent and hard-to-find options the likes of white salmon.

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Mile End

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Mile End

What we love most about this Brooklyn deli is that everything, from smoking the meats to pickling peppers, is done in house. This Montreal-style deli regularly draws Manhattanites over the bridge for their unique take on pastrami — a beautifully smoked, spiced Angus brisket, moister than any we’ve had to date. But it doesn’t stop there. Inspired by the smoked meats from his native Montreal, owner Noah Bermoff decided to recreate the deli food he grew up on in Boerum Hill.

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