Few know I’m half new yorker thanks to my mom. Although I’ve visited NY and its five boroughs many times, usually I am there to spend time with family. However I have visited some amazing restaurants and bars, thanks to the sage advice from trusted foodies Kevin, Elena, Matt R, Gavin, Paolino, and Mr Cione. Below my best of list for NYC.
Dante (79-81 Macdougal St, Greenwich Village) - Before actually visiting Dante, I had featured them in an article on the low ABV revolution for Drinks International. Dante is a shining example of an industry shift towards lighter aperitivo-style drinking establishments. Inspired by their travels in Italy, Naren Young and his team wanted to promote the European style drinking experience to New Yorkers, accustomed to sipping Old Fashioneds, even before dinner. Naren says that his customers often hang out for hours, sipping four of five of Dante’s sessionable drinks like the Garibaldi (pictured below), Americano, Spritz or lighter versions of the Negroni.
I finally had to chance to visit Dante with Agung Prabowo and the Old Man HK crew Not only was it special meeting Agung for the first time, it was nice doing so at Dante NYC, which believe it or not, was the first ever cocktail bar I've visited in NY. Although I'm half New Yorker and have visited the big apple a dozen or more times, my main focus is spending time with family (much like in Vancouver). However on this visit, I couldn't pass up the chance to stop by Dante, the mecca of aperitivo bars. Well deserving of their recent accolades at Tales and World’s 50 Best Bars, Dante is a place designed to make you feel good. It's an Italian aperitivo hangout done well. A staff with positive energy, comforting natural lighting throughout the bar, and skilled and happy bartenders making a better rendition of the Garibaldi than in Italy. I had such a great experience at Dante that I was tempted to visit a second time the following morning before my flight back to Milano. However given my record of missing flights, I decided that my next Dante experience will be the first stop on my next NY trip.
Mace (505 E 12th St, East Village) - Owners Greg Boehm, Jeannette Kaczorowski, and Nico de Soto recently moved Mace to a larger space at 505 East 12th St with 60 seats, adding 20 more than the original location. The drinks are inspired by spices from around the world. Who better to discover the world's flavors than Nico de Soto, the best traveled bartender there is?
As The Old Man HK gang and I entered the chill East Village bar, it started raining really hard outside. Sadly this cut our bar tour a bit short, but the good news is that we got to try most of Nico's new menu.
The highlights for me were Sakura with gin, sakura, honeydew, lemon juice, spices, clarified milk, sakura tapioca pearls and tonic, and Dill with dill aquavit, rhubarb, strawberry, lingonberry, milk, Söderblandning tea, milk spices and clarified lemon juice.
Mace is a must visit on your NYC bar tour for some of the best and imaginative drinks on the planet.
Cocktail photos by John Shyloski.
Crown Shy (70 Pine St, Financial District) - Thanks to Matt Magliocco, I discovered one of the hottest new properties in NYC. Crown Shy is located on the lobby floor of a beautiful Art Deco condo building that is a hop, skip and a jump from Wall Street. The restaurant lounge benefits from soft and welcoming lighting with a slick bar area and an equally fashionable dining area.
Bar manager Harrison Ginsberg (ex Dead Rabbit and Black Tail) has designed a beautiful cocktail list of signatures and twists on classics. We started the dinner with two stunning Michter's cocktails, Gone Bamboo with rye, sherry, coconut, almond, peach, rosemary and barley and RIP Aerlume with rye, Greek vermouth, spiced orange, saffron and Campari.
Next up, we enjoyed some of the finest casual dining NY has to offer. I say casual, because business partners Jeff Katz and James Kent see the ground floor Crown Shy space as being just that. They are hard at work on a higher end dining and drinking experience on the top floor, complete with a breathtaking 360 degree view of the city from the balcony.
Of the food plates, all designed for sharing, the highlights were the Gruyere fritters, white bean hummus and 'nduja, Caramelle pasta with corn and Chantarelles. This was the best food I enjoyed in NY on this trip. Well done James, Jeff, Harrison and team!
Wondee Siam (792 9th Ave, Hell’s Kitchen) - My favorite Thai restaurant in NY is Wondee Siam, famous for its BYOB policy and secret Thai menu. Everything is done well here, from curries, to pad thai. From the secret menu, try the Khua kai, a Chinese-influenced Thai dish made with stir-fried rice noodles and chicken.
Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles (1 Doyers St, Chinatown) - to satisfy you fried noodles and dumplings craving, “Tasty Hand Pulled Noodles” has got you. Thanks Gavin for this great reco.
Momofuku Ssam bar (207 2nd Ave) - Momofuku Ssam bar is my favorite NY restaurant, combining the best fusion of Asian and American cuisine. Opened in 2006 by the brilliant chef David Chang, this year enters Singaporean Max Ng as chef, giving a SE Asian twist to the menu. Although I’ve yet to try the new iteration of Ssam bar, I’ve been assured it’s still as tasty as ever. Go there and let me know how it is!
Dumpling Man (100 St. Mark's Place, East Village) - Outstanding freshly made dumplings and delicious dipping sauces. When I asked the cashier if perhaps the cooks knew the mysterious wifi password he told me "the cooks don't speak English and don't have telephones." Authentic.
Momofuku Noodle Bar (171 first avenue, East Village) - After one visit to his Ssam bar a couple years back, David Chang instantly became my favorite chef in the world. His noodle bar has a more compact menu specializing in Ramen and steamed chinese buns but is definitely worth a visit, especially if on a budget. Check out the Momofuku ramen with pork belly, pork shoulder and poached egg or the Spicy miso ramen – smoked chicken, poached egg, and sesame.
Xi'an Famous Foods (81 St. Mark's Place; East Village) - one of the best asian noodle experiences of my life. Everything here is spicy, and really damn tasty.