Why it’s worth it: When wandering around downtown, this handcrafted Jewish delicatessen is the perfect pit stop for a Sunday afternoon in the city. Noah Bernamoff, Jewish/Canadian owner, started curing and smoking meats in his apartment while attending law school…and voila! From a hobby emerged Mile End Deli, a hot spot known for its Quebec-style smoked meats in the heart of NoHo.
Vibe/layout: This ‘straunt rocks the minimalist black and white theme, with white diagonal subway titles, a black wood-paneled ceiling, concrete floors and a glossy black counter in the back. This is not your homey date spot, but your shiny sandwich/poutine go-to with your homies.
Ideal meal: Craving a sandwich? Get the reuben ($13). Craving an adventure? Order the poutine ($9/$12). The gooey cheese curds smothered in rich and meaty gravy sprinkled over hot fries will leave you wishing the chairs were beds and that Mile End Deli had the same hours as Katz’s.
F.Y.I.: This is the second location, the Manhattan offshoot, of Mile End Deli in Brooklyn.
‘Straunt tip: In the area, but too hangry to wait for a table at Il Buco, Il Buco AV, Gemma or The Smile? Mile End Deli is your answer.
Why it’s worth it: There is nothing fast here. Every dish, every moment is prepared one at a time. Nothing fancy. Nothing large. Just right. Heidi’s House is a charming UES gem, perfect for simple, well-made comfort food, a glass or two of wine or beer and/or a round of Battleship, Chess or Scrabble.
Vibe/layout: This narrow watering hole draws locals in with its original tin ceilings, frayed cloth napkins, Robert Frost quotes, jazz music and simplicity. Made up of just four tables and twelve bar seats, Heidi’s House maintains a quiet glow of friendly conversation.
Ideal meal: The Macaroni & Cheese ($13) is melt in your mouth delicious. The gluten-free and homemade spiral pasta is a cheesy, carby overload, served piping hot in an individual black skillet. Just. Simply. Terrific.
F.Y.I.: All dishes are prepared individually by Chef Cipriano Pita to one’s liking and all the ingredients are from local vendors – meats from Ottomanelli’s, bread from Orwasher’s.
‘Straunt tip: No reservations, but call ahead to put your name on the list!
Why it’s worth it: The name “Bubby” may mean “Grandma” in Yiddish, but to many hungry New Yorkers it means brunch. Known for their all-day/night brunch and commitment to farm-to-table ingredients, Bubby’s is the best way to kick off your morning or cap off your evening. This family friendly, Southern comfort ‘straunt located in the hip neighborhood of TriBeCa won’t leave you hungry.
Vibe/layout: The gaudy floral wallpaper, white-washed walls, rough-hewn wood tables and place mats filled with food trivia lay the canvas for the country kitchen vibe of this friendly, cozy and simple ‘straunt. Bubby’s maintains a simple two-room layout, the back room for larger parties and the front room awash with light from large glass windows. If you’re looking for good ole home-cookin’ without innovations, Bubby’s is your place.
Ideal meal: We’ve taste-tested the eggs benedict ($22) and the matzo ball soup ($10)…but any dish is outshined by the buttermilk biscuits (which are heavenly) ($6) and Bubby’s notorious pies. The pies, which are baked fresh on site, are the stars of the show. The crust is tender and nicely flakey and our favorites include chocolate peanut butter and apple crumb ($9).
F.Y.I.: From the day Bubby’s opened in August of 1990 as a wholesale pie company, Bubby’s set the standard for traditional American food, cooking everything from scratch and using many traditional family recipes from the best sources of ingredients available.
Why it’s worth it: Small plates served in a chic, swanky setting are a major trend in NYC, and The Stanton Social capitalizes on it. The Stanton Social doesn’t have designated entrees or apps, but instead has scores of dishes to be shared, offering ‘straunters a chance to taste a plethora of items. A glitzy and trendy spot, The Stanton Social is a place to see-and-be-seen.
Vibe/layout: The first floor of this ‘straunt’s posh three-tiered space boasts a vast, tall and dimly lit dining room with brown banquettes, romantic dark wood and suspended glass lamps. Not in the mood to eat small plates, and just want a drink in the setting? No problem, the upstairs lounge is a shrine to wine.
Top three sharing dishes: French onion soup dumplings ($14), old school meatballs ($14) and potato & goat cheese pierogies ($10)
The French onion soup dumplings are out of this world. The nice doughy-dumplings with French onion soup oozing out will not disappoint.
Be sure to save room for the warm balls of yummy goodness dusted in cinnamon sugar…aka the warm doughnuts.
F.Y.I.: Chef Chris Santos is also the owner of Beauty and Essex, another clutch LES brunch and dinner hot spot.
Why it’s worth it: Although the name of this casual eatery promises lunch, Friedman’s Lunch also serves brunch and dinner with a focus on seasonal comfort food and an extensive list of great gluten-free items.
Vibe/layout: Despite the noisy neighborhood, the ‘straunt is clean, modern and spacious and the atmosphere is warm and cozy . The ‘straunt sports a rustic, brick-and-wood theme with a large bar and a number of booths and table seats available for large groups.
Ideal meal: Grilled cheese sandwich (Gruyère and white cheddar with caramelized onions and bacon on ciabatta) ($13) & tomato soup ($3)
People behind Friedman’s Lunch: Vanessa Phillips and Tryg Silverson are the husband and wife team behind this ‘straunt and because Vanessa has Celiac Disease, Tryg set out to create as many gluten-free, yet delicious, dishes as possible.
Why it’s worth it: Bobby Flay’s “New-Mediterranean” Noho hot spot has received rave reviews, and we’re here to add to them, but in our own special way of course. Here’s the low down: if you want spectacular appetizers (bar selection) in a trendy, intimate and energetic ‘straunt, go to Gato. We’ll be honest: the portions are small, but they are bursting with flavor!
Vibe/layout: The front of this bustling ‘straunt boasts a U-shaped bar counter for walk-ins, while the back dining area is dimly lit and set with spare wooden tables. The high ceilings compliment the brick and dark varnished wooden walls and colorful geometric floor tiles, making this ‘straunt perfect for an intimate date or a friendly dining experience.
Ideal meal: Bar (choose 3): Artichoke heart, lamb tenderloin, eggplant ($17); Vegetable: Crispy potatoes (poached egg, smoked paprika, Parmigiano) ($12); Entrée: Kale and wild mushroom paella (crispy artichokes, eggs) ($28)
The lamb tenderloin, crispy potatoes and kale entrée are must orders; the flavors are bold and assertive and are perfect for splitting between two.
Address: Noho/Greenwich Village, 324 Lafayette St (between East Houston & Bleecker)
Why it’s worth it:Jeffrey’s Grocery is enjoyable and bumping at any time of day and is the perfect place for your next date, dinner with your parents or solo-dining experience.
Vibe/layout: Although this ‘straunt can get loud and rowdy at times, it sill feels like a charming, intimate, neighborhood diner, featuring a handsome wooden L-shaped bar that seats a dozen overlooking a minuscule kitchen, while high communal tables and smaller dining tables add an additional dozen seats. This homey corner space exudes a worn rustic-chic ambiance with high pressed tin ceilings, wooden floors, exposed brick and cookbooks scattered on distressed wood shelves.
Ideal meal: Crispy salmon ($25) – The salmon filet comes in a corn broth with shrimp and a ton of vegetables. Trust us, order it.
‘Straunt tip: Grab a drink at The Garret (speakeasy above Five Guys), feast at Jeffrey’s Grocery and then enjoy some ice cream from Big Gay Ice Cream to end the evening.
F.Y.I.: Gabriel and Gina Stulman, Jeffery’s owners, are also the couple behind Joseph Leonard (across the street) and Fedora (close by). When Jeffrey’s Grocery first opened, it was a kitschy little cafe that also tried selling groceries. Since then, they ditched the faux store-front, upgraded the chef and made the most out of the space.