Wednesday, April 19, 2023

100 Best Restaurants in NY 2023

New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells just dropped his ranked list of the 100 best restaurants in New York City. I was surprised to see that I've eaten in two of the Top Five, but only four overall: Le Bernardin (#3), Via Carota (#4), Empellon (#19), and Mercado Little Spain (#63). 

barely cooked scallop in brown butter dashi, at Le Bernardin
I took Mr Minx to Le Bernardin to celebrate his 50th birthday. That restaurant has maintained a 4-star rating from the Times since it opened in 1986,  has 3 Michelin stars, and is on the list of the World's 50 Best Restaurants (#44 at press time). It is likely the best restaurant the two of us will ever experience, and was featured here back in 1994. Another restaurant I've visited and have written about is Empellon. My experience there (granted, it was only one meal) earned a big fat "meh" from me; I am surprised to see the restaurant on a 100-best list. 

pappardelle with wild boar ragu at Via Carota, the watermelon salad,
and another dish that I do not remember particularly well
I dined in the other two restaurants during the pandemic, when blogging wasn't my focus. After seeing many positive Instagram posts and hearing a friend talk up Via Carota, she and I met up there on my first trip back to NY after a year-plus-long forced hiatus. It was a first stop on our usual Walking Tour of NYC Food Orgy, so we only ordered a few smallish dishes. I do remember that what I tried was delicious and would love to visit again.

morcilla and eggs at Spanish Diner
As for Mercado Little Spain, I've dined there three times so far, twice on my own in Spanish Diner, and once with my BFF at La Barra. (If that seems confusing, I should explain that Mercado is actually a food hall that has both stalls specializing in ice cream or wine and a couple of restaurant spaces with tables.) The convivial Spanish Diner is located in an expansive self-contained space with a long windowed wall that can be opened up onto the street in warm weather. The menu is short and very diner-y, with an emphasis on egg dishes. I enjoyed pork meatballs in a cuttlefish gravy on one occasion, and eggs with morcilla (blood sausage) on another. La Barra is within the main portion of the food hall itself. The menu focuses more on tapas-type items, with a few larger plates. Andree and I were particularly enthused about the pollo Catalana, a dish of chicken stewed with plums. Spanish Diner--a quick walk from the Javits Center--will probably get another visit from me in June when I'll be in the neighborhood for the Summer Fancy Food Show.

pollo Catalana with patatas bravas in the background, at La Barra in Mercado Little Spain
Four out of one hundred restaurants seems a tad pathetic. I think I need to bring my list of personal visits to NY's Top 100 Restaurants up to at least ten. Let's see how many I can achieve! I'd love to go to Tatiana (#1), though I never find myself in that part of town. CheLi (#8) looks incredible, as does Shukette (#20). Yoon Haeundae Galbi (#59) is down the street from where I normally stay when I'm in NY, so that should be do-able. Same for Cho Dang Gol (#40). I'd like also to visit Great NY Noodletown (#37), Dirt Candy (#60), and Casa Mono (#24). Heck, I'd eat pretty much any place on that list!

Have you been to any of Pete's Top 100? Leave a comment and let me know!

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