7 Queer-Friendly Eateries on Every Foodie’s Check List

Some of our favorite New York City hotspots.

New York’s lesbian chefs are dominating the Big Apple’s food scene like never before. These Sapphic chefs are queering New York City’s food scene, either at the helm of some of the city’s finest culinary destinations or overseeing their own gastronomic havens. In the process, they are disrupting the old boys’ kitchens and reshaping what restaurants can look like, how they can operate, and what they are dishing out (especially after the #MeToo shakeup in the industry). The city’s gastronomy will never be the same—and that is a good thing.



A true Italophile, chef Hillary Sterling is the mastermind leading Ci Siamo, Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group’s newest award-winning Manhattan restaurant. Sterling is dishing out modern Italian cuisine from a state-of-the-art wood-burning oven and grill while her all-women-headed team is prepping desserts and pairing wines (from a selection of 450 unique wines). The must-have dishes from the menu are the Bistecca alla Fiorentina, the pork Milanese, or any one of the handcrafted pastas, not to mention the caramelized onion torta. Vegetarians will appreciate the healthy choice of vegetable options on the menu, such as roasted mushrooms with thyme and lemon and braised beans with Parmigiano and olives. Bring friends, these dishes are communal and meant to be shared. (cisiamonyc.com)



Queer couple Telly Justice and Camille Lindsley’s intimate East Village restaurant, HAGS, is an experience from beginning to end. A play on an insult often hurled at women, the name is also a yearbook acronym (“Have a good summer”). The restaurant is fun, funky, sophisticated, and just so queer; there is nothing else like it. The innovative farm-to-table vegan and omnivore prix fixe menus crafted by Chef Justice (a rare trans chef in the industry) are paired with unique ciders, cocktails, sakes, wines, and vermouths selected by beverage director Lindsley. The team uses local products and sources ingredients from local farms. The menu changes regularly, so it is never the same plates but always a great time. The combination of the atmosphere and food is probably why HAGS made the Michelin Guide within a few months after it opened last year. (hagsnyc.com)


Photo by Kopitiam

Kopitiam takes queer eaters to Southeast Asia without leaving Manhattan. A nod to owner Kyo Pang’s heritage and family, Kopitiam gives New Yorkers a rare authentic taste of Malaysia’s popular foods. Pang is a third generation restauranteur and James Beard semifinalist. Kopitiam translates to “coffee shop” in the Hokkien language and they are all over the Southeast Asian country offering quick, grab-and-go
breakfast and lunch dishes. A world away on the edge of Chinatown and the Lower East Side, Kopitiam offers the sweet, simple breakfast of Kaya butter toast served with sugary coffees in bags with straws that are sinfully good. (kopitiamnyc.com)



Prepare to wait hours to get into this award-winning and well-noted lesbian-owned Italian eatery, Lilia, in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. Lilia is owned by James Beard award-winning chef Missy Robbins, who owns two of New York’s hottest and most difficult Italian restaurants to get a table at. Her other Italian eatery, Misi, is nearby. Lilia’s most noted dish is the sheep’s milk cheese-filled agnolotti lightly tossed in saffron, dried tomato, and honey. Reservations open 30 days in advance or brave the two-hour walk-in line to dine at the bar. Fun fact: Robbins was a mentor to Hillary Sterling of Ci Siamo, and helped shaped her career in the kitchen. (lilianewyork.com)



Charming, cozy Michelin-starred The Musket Room is a neighborhood restaurant that whisks diners away on a global adventure through the palate. Executive Chef Mary Attea, who is Lebanese American, and her diverse all-women team in the kitchen at this woman-owned restaurant fuse together their traditions into contemporary, seasonal American dishes that are fresh and look like Picasso art on the plate. The unassuming restaurant on adorable Elizabeth Street in the Bowery neighborhood in the Lower East Side of Manhattan has a relaxed atmosphere and features a garden, where some of the ingredients come from, that diners look out into from the main dining room. The menu changes regularly. Fun facts: Attea is up for the James Beard “Best Chef in New York” award, which will be announced in June; Attea’s partner is Michelin-starred chef Anita Lo. Attea was Lo’s longtime sous chef at the former Annisa, the Greenwich Village French restaurant, which closed in 2017. (musketroom.com)



Celebrating its 25th anniversary and founded by three friends (artists Tanya Rynd, Cara Lee Sparr, and chef Laura Taylor), Superfine showcases contemporary farm-to-table dishes with American and Mediterranean influences in a cool, funky, and fun atmosphere inbecause of the mouthwatering dishes on the Brooklyn’s Dumbo. Bring friends, not only for the menu (try the pan-fried Mahi Mahi tacos), but also to enjoy their live music. Superfine is even known for serving up New York City’s few authentic Southwestern brunches every Sunday. I hear the secret is the chilies flown in from from New Mexico for their special chile sauce (superfine.nyc)


CAPTION: Surbhi Sahni, founder of Tagmo Treats, poses for a portrait with her sweets on Monday, Oct. 26, 2020.
Photo by Brittainy Newman

Take a tour of India courtesy of Dehli-born Michelin-star chef/restauranteur, Surbhi Sahni, at her first solo venture. TAGMO translates to the “tigress” in Bhutanese, symbolizing female empowerment and strength. Sahni has also made it a point to hire from within the LGBTQ+ community when possible. This jewel in the Seaport neighborhood creates elevated homestyle dishes from India that are found only when invited into people’s homes. Robina’s Haleem and Eral chukka, TAGMO’s take on shrimp and grits as well as the Firni (rice pudding) or Mithai Flight (Indian style fudge) are musts. (tagmonyc.com)

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