By Michael La Corte
As the snow thaws and the weather begins to warm, the spring is an optimal time to visit some of the city’s best restaurants for top notch meals and fantastic service (not to mention delicious libations). Whether you’re uninitiated with the city’s best offerings or you’re a fellow common restaurant goer, here’s a list of some of the best spots to check out this season:
A quintessential New York restaurant, Gabrielle Hamilton’s Prune is straightforward, charming, and free of pretense. Hamilton’s wife, Ashley, currently runs the kitchen, but the food is as enjoyable as its ever been. Hamilton is also a NYTimes columnist and an author with some deeply enjoyable memoirs and cookbooks. If the lemon semifreddo is being offered as a dessert, do yourself a favor and DO NOT MISS IT.
An incredibly imaginative Mexican restaurant free of the trapping of the usual Mexican-American fare, this eatery boasts some super unique offerings (like pumpkin blossom quesadillas with oaxaca espuma) and some strong drinks, too. This spot is also quite affordable, but without missing out on culinary artistry and impressive flavor.
With authentic Mediterranean/Israeli cuisine and a beautifully decorated back patio, this Fort Greene restaurant might be the ideal spot for a spring dinner. Don’t miss their unusual hummus offerings or their spectacular octopus appetizer. The service isn’t ideal, but the food is pretty darn good.
A darling of the Brooklyn food scene that recently just added brunch to its offerings, Olmsted is helmed by Chef Greg Baxtrom and the kitchen is currently being run by Chef de Cuisine Jenny Treantafilos. With a minimal menu and no dish over $30, this tiny restaurant is a true gem. (I may or may not have ordered the entire menu except for 1-2 dishes. Whoops). Sitting at the counter overlooking the open kitchen is super fun, too, and you can have some great chats with the cooks.
If you happen to have an alarming sum of money readily accessible, go to Ko. Boasting 2 Michelin stars, the crown jewel of David Chang’s Momofuku empire offers a heck of a meal. With stunning service and 13-15 (!) courses, Ko provides the diner with a truly memorable evening that doesn’t feel stuffy or overdone.
Newly adorned with a Michelin star, Cote is the newest restaurant from the team behind Piora. A higher end Korean steakhouse in a club-esque setting, this is also an ideal party/birthday spot. Also quite affordable, Cote also has incredibly high quality meats and spectacular banchan to fully round out your meal. The grills on the table are obviously pretty darn fun, too.
Lower East Side
One of my favorite from an aesthetic perspective, this tiny eatery offers delicate, focused plates in a small space with an open kitchen. It is also boasts natural and organic wines. This is an ideal spot for a vegan or vegetarian, too. They also have some incredible desserts, too, and it’s probably optimal to order a whole slew of small plates for the table to enjoy.
Located in the bottom floor of a townhouse, Finch offers a full bar, two dining rooms, and a fully open kitchen. The chef’s welcoming nods and smiles are quite welcome, and although the service is oddly hushed, the flavors are anything but. Yet another spot that offers lots of vegetarian and vegan dishes, as well as some lovely and strong drinks.
Honestly, this restaurant offers one of the absolute best deals in the city. For only $42 per person, each diner chooses 3 courses of Korean-inspired dishes that are absolutely stunning. Simultaneously subtle yet immensely flavorful, I still haven’t gotten over my meal at Atoboy. They also had one of my favorite desserts of all time, featuring burrata – a type of cream-filled mozzarella cheese – that must be tried to be believed.
Cafe Altro Paradiso
An offshoot of Flora Bar and Estela, Cafe Altro Paradiso is the Italian component of Matter House restaurants. Their fennel and provolone salad is a star dish, and the vaulted ceilings and all-white aesthetic makes this such a great spot for almost any occasion. They also have the “best burger in the city,” so that’s another good reason to stop by.
17 Summer Restaurant
In case you find yourself in North Jersey sometime soon: come here for the best food you’ll get outside of the city.