Best Steak Under $20
St. Anselm 55 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, facebook.com/pages/St-Anselm/140900289276127. In the shadow of Peter Luger, St. Anselm marries affordability with tenderly-prepared steak. For less than $20, chew through the Butcher’s Steak with garlic butter or Deviled Bones (a.k.a. beef back ribs). The fish, poultry and other menu items are also easy on the wallet and palate.
Van Leeuwen’s Ginger Ice Cream 48 1/2 E 7th St and two Brooklyn locations, vanleeuwenice cream.com. Lusciously creamy, with a tangy kick of the titular rhizome, Van Leeuwen flavors its dairy treats with pure ginger juice, ginger pulp and bits of candied ginger. It’s not just for redheads anymore.
Best Place to Take Her to Breakfast
Egg 135 N 5th St, Brooklyn, pigandegg.com. More than just ova, Egg’s country-style spreads make breakfast the most important meal of the day—especially after you’ve worked up an appetite. Try the Eggs Rothko: a deluxe egg sandwich on brioche with Grafton cheddar.
Best Late Night Gourmet Grub
The Meatball Shop 84 Stanton St and two more locations, themeatballshop.com. Until 4am on weekends, these guys have balls, any way you want ‘em. Daniel Holzman’s customizable menu offers a luxe take on your basic hogie with impeccably sourced meats, cheeses and homemade sauces. Finish it off with a bespoke ice cream sandwich.
Dough 305 Franklin Ave, Brooklyn, 347-533-7544 (no website). With yeast doughnuts with a fine crumb, in flavors like hibiscus, blood orange and dulce de leche, Dough’s iced confections make cupcakes seem so 2009. Now, how about a red velvet ‘nut?
Best Place to Take Your New Vegan Girlfriend
Blossom 187 Ninth Ave, blossomnyc.com. Organic vegan cuisine and chic romantic atmosphere will leave a lasting impression on your girl. Our advice: try the apple cinnamon stick with a brandied caramel sauce to top off your eco-conscious meal.
Best Place to Avoid Your Vegan Ex-Girlfriend
Fette Sau 354 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, fette saubbq.com. We call it the least likely place you’ll ever run into an herbivore, especially a female, tattooed one. More pulled pork sandwiches and house-cured pastrami for you!
Best Place to Find a Sugar Daddy
Dylan’s Candy Bar 1011 Third Ave, dylanscandy bar.com. We mean the old-fashioned caramel pop, of course! The world’s biggest candy store carries every sugar bomb imaginable, from the mundane candy corn to extravagant gift baskets bursting with sweet treats.
Best Restaurant with the Whole Package
L’Artusi 228 W 10th St, lartusi.com. Trendy but not snobby, elegant but not stuffy, with a top-of-the-line Italian menu that’s only moderately expensive. The open kitchen invites you into the culinary process as you sip your expertly chosen wine.
Best Old School Deli
Carnegie Deli 854 Seventh Ave, carnegiedeli .com. So what if it’s stuffed with tourists? Each mile-high pastrami sandwich, with the slice of rye bread marooned on the mountain of meat like a tiny yarmulke, could feed you for a week.
Best Pizza of the 20th Century
Lombardi’s Pizzeria 32 Spring St, firstpizza.com. The website’s URL says it all. Try the legendary clam pie at Lombardi’s, America’s first pizzeria. This coal oven spot in Little Italy has been turning out thin crust, Neapolitan pizzas (officially) since 1905.
Best Pizza of the 21st Century
Saraghina 435 Halsey St, Brooklyn, saraghina brooklyn.com. We can’t get enough of this Bed-Stuy gem’s perfect paper-thin crusts, San Marzano sauce and dainty dollops of imported mozzarella. The adorable Catskills barn décor, ultra-nice waitstaff and classic continental brunch put Saraghina at the top of our list.
Best Ice Cream Shop
Big Gay Ice Cream 125 E 7th St, biggayice cream.com. Scoop slinger Doug Quint specializes in gourmet treats like the Bea Arthur (vanilla ice cream, dulce de leche and crushed Nilla wafers). When the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck is in the shop from April-October, check out the new store in the East Village.
Best Chexican Tacos
Happy Taco Burrito 235 Sullivan St, 212-505-8899 (no website). You’ll be happy whether you sample the dirt-cheap and tasty tacos, burritos, quesadillas or other quasi-Mexican fare at this Village shop, which is appropriately decorated like a Chinese restaurant. Only in New York, amiright?
Best Pupu Platter
Lani Kai 525 Broome St, lanikainy.com. New executive chef Sawako Okochi adds nouveau flair to the beloved tiki tapas with selections like escabeche tacos in wonton shells, okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes with house-made Spam) and Chinese baby-back ribs.
Best Veggie Dog
Bark Hot Dogs 474 Bergen St, Brooklyn, bark hotdogs.com. No meager pup, the artisan dog from Bark is smothered in an unusual chickpea-roasted mushroom relish and nestled in a butter-toasted bun. You won’t find this baby at Yankee Stadium.
Best Museum Café
The Modern 9 W 53rd St, the modernnyc.com. Whet your appetite with the finest modern art in the world at MoMA, and then discuss Dada over Continental cuisine that is itself a work of art. The Bar Room menu offers smaller plates like Veal Cheek “Sauerbraten” with parsnip purée and wild mushrooms.
Cheryl’s Global Soul 236 Underhill Ave, Brooklyn, cherylsglobalsoul.com. Certain GO staffers rhapsodize about Cheryl’s unmatched pancake prowess. The self-taught chef slathers her homemade ‘cakes in Chantilly crème, warm Nutella and sliced bananas or berries, and serves them every Sunday at her popular brunch. You’ll never go Bisquick again.
Best Place to Catch Up With Your Buds
Tiny Cup 279 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn, thetiny cup.com. If a brunch chat with the ladies is in order, do not pass Tiny Cup in Bed-Stuy. Usually filled with Pratt students, this hip little café has a cool lesbian-ish vibe and killer coffee to power through finals.
Best Place to Take Your Mom
Serendipity 3 225 E 60th St, serendipity3.com. After one sip of the delicious icy Frrrozen Hot Chocolate, your mom will a) be glad that she paid you a visit and b) forget to scold you about your personal life. Win-win!
Best Lobster Roll
Luke’s Lobster 93 E 7th St and three other NYC locations, lukeslobster.com. Impossibly sweet, succulent chunks of lobster claw meat. A film of mayo. A dusting of celery salt and spices, all cradled in a crisp-tender Pullman-style slice of buttered toast. Heaven—direct from Maine.
Best Additive-Free Cupcakes
BabyCakes NYC 248 Broome St, babycakesnyc .com. Free of everything you wouldn’t want in a cupcake, Babycake’s ethereal confections have zero refined sugar, gluten, soy, animal products or non-kosher stuff. And they’re still delicious!
Best Anytime Falafel
Cheep’s Pita Creations 129 Second Ave #B, 212-777-7763 (no website). With prices on pizza, pretzels and other NYC street grub going up, Cheep’s keeps it real with $2.50 falafel sandwiches loaded with pickled beets, tomatoes, crispy chickpea nuggets and a squirt of smoky tahini. It’s your late-night post-bar destination.
Best Salad Bar
Whole Foods Market 95 E Houston St and six other NYC locations, wholefoodsmarket.com. Crisp veggies and fruit, hot soups, surprisingly fresh prepared salads, olives and other add-ons, all wrapped up in a biodegradable container. Whole Foods’ salad bars put the local deli steam table to shame.
Best Mid-Week Bargain
Beast 638 Bergen St, Brooklyn, brooklynbeast .com. Delectable seasonal small plates pair with the borough’s best drink deal. On Tuesdays, all bottles on the carefully selected wine list are 50 percent off. Don’t forget to tip your bartender as you stumble out.
Gorilla Coffee 97 Fifth Ave, Brooklyn, gorilla coffee.com. This brew is all Fair Trade, and it’s strong. Buy it by the bag and receive a free cup of joe. But seriously, drink with caution.
Best Caffeine/Wi-Fi Combo
House of Small Wonder 20 Skillman Ave, Brooklyn, houseofsmallwonder.com. This petite East Williamsburg coffee shop is the perfect place to get some caffeine-enhanced work done. The baristas know their espresso machines, they serve pastries made in-house (the croissants are killer!) and their ingredients are fresh, which means limited. Get their early to snag a spot.
Best Nouveau Dive
Project Parlor 742 Myrtle Ave, 347-497-0550 (no website). This Bed-Stuy watering hole has all the pleasures of a good dive bar: taxidermy, dart boards, art exhibits, friendly staff and a backyard. Get the best bang for your buck with a PBR + shot combo for only $6. We once saw Whitney and Sara from The Real L Word there!
Best Italian Sandwich
Soppressata and Mozzarella Panini Russo’s Mozzarella and Pasta, 363 Seventh Ave, Brooklyn, 718-369-2874 (no website). This sandwich—it is the best sandwich you may ever have. It is meat and cheese and bread and it is perfect. Russo’s market is cute, with an antipasti bar, a deli and all kinds of imported Italian delights. Soppressata and mozzarella goes a long way. It goes all the way.
Best Restaurant Empire
April Bloomfield, the British chef who put Roquefort burgers on the radars of NYC foodies at The Spotted Pig (314 W 11th St, thespottedpig.com) is growing her epicurean empire with the addition of The Breslin (16 W 29th St, thebreslin.com) and John Dory Oyster Bar (16 W 29th St, thejohndory.com). We’ll never tire of her low-key style and nose-to-tail nosh, nor of her famed oyster pan roast.
Best Bang for Your Buck
The Spot 417 Prospect Pl, Brooklyn, thespot-restaurant.com. Unlimited mimosas, champagne, tea or coffee with any dish from the $12.95 brunch menu, available from 11am to 4pm on weekends. Your read right: unlimited brunch beverages, plus a convivial and friendly atmosphere in up-and-coming Prospect Heights. Score!