Heidi’s House | By the Side of the Road (UES)

Heidi's House

  • 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!
  • Address: UES, 308 East 78th St (between 1st & 2nd)
  • Price: $11-$24

Heidi's House on Urbanspoon

Pearl and Ash (Nolita)

Pearl and Ash

  • Why it’s worth it: For an elegant and vibrant small plate menu with global influences and designed for communal consumption, one should head to Pearl and Ash.
  • Vibe/layout: Pearl and Ash occupies a long, sexy and relaxed space on the ground floor of the Bowery House and features a causal wine bar with backless stools, as well as an open kitchen, which faces a communal table, bare wooden tables and benches dressed in blue velvet. The asymmetrical wooden box-wall design separates this ‘straunt’s design from the rest in its flight. The wood compartments host trinkets, dried flowers and candles, which illuminate the all black and dimly lit room.
  • Ideal meal: Four dishes for two hungry people is the perfect amount; therefore, our top four recommendations are below:
    • Raw: tea cured salmon, goat cheese, tamarind, seaweed ($14)
    • Small: quail eggs, focaccia, trumpet royale, dandelion greens ($12)
    • Meat: duck, sweet potato, brussel sprouts ($18)
    • Vegetable: long beans, kale, peanut, bbq sauce ($9)
  • People behind the ‘straunt: Fluent with spices and Asian flavor, Chef Richard Kuo, a Taiwan-born Australian, logged time at Corton and wd~50 before starting his first solo ‘straunt, Pearl and Ash.
  • Conversation starter: The building in which Pearl and Ash resides was first opened in the 1920s as a “flophouse” or cheap hotel, called the Prince Hotel. Although the Bowery House has since transformed the upper levels of the building into an upscale hostel, there were still guests paying $10 a night to sleep in the cubicles on the second floor in 2013.
  • ‘Straunt tip: Check out the latest exhibition at the New Museum on Thursdays from 7-9 for pay-what-you-wish entrance and then dine at Pearl and Ash.
  • Address: Nolita, 220 Bowery (between Rivington & East Houston)
  • Price: $12-$18

Pearl & Ash on Urbanspoon

Bubby’s (TriBeCa): Brunch

Bubby's TriBeCa

  • 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.
  • Address: TriBeCa, 120 Hudson St (Hudson & N Moore St)
  • Prices: $9-$24

Bubby's on Urbanspoon

Stanton Social (LES)

Stanton Social LES

  • 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.
  • Address: Lower East Side, 99 Stanton St (Stanton & Ludlow)
  • Prices: $7-$26

Stanton Social on Urbanspoon

Good Enough to Eat (UWS): Brunch

Good Enough to Eat UWS Brunch

  • Why it’s worth it: Good Enough to Eat (GETE) is the perfect brunch spot for a family outing on the UWS before exploring the American Museum of Natural History or spending the afternoon in Central Park. The atmosphere is fun and loving and the American comfort food menu is expansive.
  • Vibe/layout: GETE rocks that small country kitchen feel, with exposed brick and wooden tables, chairs and shelving, filled with random tchotchkes, Vermont farm paraphernalia and children’s drawings. The rustic farmhouse decor is warm and welcoming and GETE has all sorts of seating options, including booths, breakfast nooks, bar seating and outdoor seating.
  • Ideal meal: Good Enough to Eat French Toast ($10.75)…Did we mention that they make their French toast with cinnamon swirl bread (a third-grader’s dream)?! Also, don’t miss the buttermilk biscuits and luscious strawberry butter, which come with an eggs dish!
  • F.Y.I.: You can’t miss GETE’s cow theme…so be sure to notice the portraits of cows in the restrooms, Angus Warhol and Henri Mootisse.
  • Address: Upper West Side, 520 Columbus Ave (85th & Columbus)
  • Prices: $8-$14

Good Enough To Eat on Urbanspoon

Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria (Noho/Greenwich Village): Mangia Monday

Photos by Cara Garcia-Bou

Photos by Cara Garcia-Bou

  • Why it’s worth it: Il Buco Alimentari & Vineria masters the mash-up of restaurant and market; one pops in to browse, and one sticks around for a meal. Known for its in house-cured meats and home baked bread, Il Buco AV, Il Buco‘s casual spin-off, is perfect for grabbing Aperitivo with friends, co-workers and/or family. Plain and simple, the drinks and salumi della casa are top notch.
  • Vibe/layout: This casual, bright and simple Italian spot serves rustic Italian fare in a perfectly complimentary setting: terra-cotta floor tiles, handblown wine bottles, rickety chairs. Separated from the dimly lit dining room by a wall of Modena vinegar barrels, the front Alimentari grocery section offers curated dry goods and loaves of Italian bread baked in-house and features high-end sauces and condiments arrayed on antique wooden shelves.
  • Ideal meal: To drink, order either the refreshing Negroni Sbagliato (prosecco, campari, sweet vermouth) ($14) or the crisp Italiano Fresco (dry vermouth, soda, cucumber lime, basil) ($15). To eat, we cannot rave enough about the salumi della casa: the bits of peppery salami were superb and the fat on the prosciutto was tender and dissolved in a rush of salty, porky flavor. Each meat was unique and delicious.
  • F.Y.I.: Donna Lennard’s ‘straunt is located at the original site of the Great Jones Lumber Supply and recuperated joists from the original structure were incorporated into the design: bar paneling, banquette benches, tables and cutting boards. In addition, traces of the original lumber yard graffiti are still visible on the brick walls.
  • ‘Straunt tip: Artist Warren Muller’s studio used to be located in the Il Buco space; today, one can see his giant sculptural lamp hanging from the second floor dining room in Il Buco AV.
  • Address: Noho/Greenwich Village, 53 Great Jones St. (Between Lafayette & Bowery)
  • Prices: $8-$34

A little something extra:

  • A few weeks ago, we were fortunate enough to attend the launch party for this ‘straunt’s Aperitivo. The menu was fabulous and the dishes were wholesomely delicious. The spontaneous spirit of this ‘straunt and the open kitchen’s wood-burning aromas left us sniffing and begging for more. Bravo Chef Joel Hough and team!

Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria on Urbanspoon

The Garret (West Village): Speakeasy

The Garret Speakeasy West Village

  • Getting in: Do your best to make it past the delicious wafting scent of french fries and burgers, as you must walk into the Bleecker St Five Guys, go past the tables, the condiment stand, and the burger ordering station and make your way to the back staircase.
  • Vibe/layout: This impossible-to-find-unless-you’re-looking-for-it cocktail bar is hidden above a Five Guys, and features two massive vaulted skylights, a glass chandelier, several couches and vintage hourglasses. In addition, The Garret has a sunken private party room decked out with a taxidermied rhino head and copper ceilings. The best part about The Garret…besides the cocktails and the fact that you can snag a burger at literally any time: the pop-in breeziness…no reservations are needed.
  • Drinks: Signature cocktails are made from fresh ingredients right before your eyes, but we highly recommend the Sunken Santa (rum, pineapple, velvet falernum, St. Elizabeth allspice dram, angostura) ($14).
  • F.Y.I.: This speakeasy proudly displays the artwork of NYC based artists, including Bradley Theodore (the swans and skull paintings), Nick Bakita (the rhino head), Philip Mortillaro (the door) and Nathan Driver (painting).
  • ‘Straunt tip: Grab dinner at Jeffrey’s Grocery and then grab a drink here!
  • Address: West Village, 296 Bleecker St (7th Ave S & Bleecker)
  • Prices: $7-$14

Garret on Urbanspoon