Many, many months ago, when reservations were just as hard to get as they are now, I shared a few key tips for dining out. My main advice: Resist the hot reservations economy; go where you can get in.
But there’s only so much resisting one can do. So here’s another piece of advice: Go to buzzy restaurants over holiday weekends like Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving! You can already feel the city getting quieter and more subdued, as folks head out of town — possibly on a cruise — and reservations cool off just a little bit. If you’re in need of some advice on where to go this long weekend, I’ve got you covered with five delicious options.
The cacio e pepe arancini at Cafe Spaghetti in Brooklyn.Credit…Adam Friedlander for The New York Times
For Fun Dining
You know how you’ll probably never get into Carbone, and maybe that’s perfectly fine? Instead, you can always head to the Brooklyn waterfront area for Cafe Spaghetti, which Pete Wells reviewed in August. Think of it as a family-friendly Carbone for the rest of us, with a menu of red-sauce Italian classics like spaghetti alle vongole and a tiramisù made by none other than the chef Sal Lamboglia’s dad. Don’t miss the cacio e pepe arancini.
Or, head to Bushwick and sample the chef Ali Saboor’s incredible takes on Iranian street food at Eyval. I always go for two orders of the airy barbari flatbread because you’re going to need it in a restaurant as dip-centric as this one. Run a piece through the shallot yogurt with turmeric oil, stuff it with sekanjabin salad and lamb belly, and then soak up whatever is left of tangy ghormeh sabzi stew with black lime and veal shank.
Finally, I recently had a joyful dinner at Monsieur Vo, the brother restaurant to Madame Vo in the East Village, and it’s just the kind of place for an enthusiastic group of diners. Order the banh mi board and build your own pâté-smothered sandwich. Fight over who gets the last bite of the crispy com chay with Vietnamese sausage, the platonic ideal of fried rice dishes. And get the lemongrass sea bass, head and all. It really screams “centerpiece.”
For Fine Dining
Unsurprisingly, you probably won’t be able to lock down a table at, say, Le Rock this weekend. But you can certainly get one at Jupiter, the latest restaurant from the team behind King. At the time of this writing, Jupiter had a ton of openings for lunch and dinner on Wednesday and Friday. (The restaurant is building its staff and will be closed on weekends, for now.) As Grub Street reported last week, the menu will focus primarily on “antipasti, eight pastas (such as spaghetti with bottarga and chopped chiles, and cappelletti with pork sugo, lemon peel, and sage), a risotto, and a few main courses.” Sounds tasty to me!
And while the lack of windows in the dining room doesn’t exactly make the Shaker-inspired Commerce Inn a summertime draw, the West Village restaurant’s rustic interior is perfect for the season of 4:30 p.m. sunsets. The food is of the stick-to-your-ribs sort — a colossal pork chop for two served on a bed of black-eyed peas, a roast chicken with fried potatoes — that can provide the energy you need to till your farmland. (Or put you straight to sleep after dinner.)
I hope this inspires you to dine out when the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone. Because, if we’re being honest, isn’t sitting down to a great, multicourse restaurant meal like having Thanksgiving dinner whenever you want?
In Other News …
This week, Pete Wells reviews not just a restaurant, but an entire building. He sampled offerings from the five restaurants, three counters, three bars and various kiosks and stalls at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Tin Building in the South Street Seaport.
Openings and closings: Hand Hospitality has added the Korean seafood-centric Ariari,and OkDongsik, a pork bone broth pop-up, to its ever-growing roster; and James in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, has closed; and more.
Priya Krishna hopped aboard a cruise to meet the passengers who, for various reasons, have decided that the best Thanksgiving can be enjoyed on the high seas, and she detailed the work of the crew members who make it all possible.
Tejal Rao wrote about the horrors that abound in films about fine dining like “The Menu” and “Fresh.” (Julia Moskin penned a look at “The Menu,” including interviews with the new film’s creators.)
And Reggie Nadelson profiled the new generation running Sylvia’s, the decades-old Harlem restaurant that has hosted dignitaries and celebrities alike.
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