There is something about finding a warm and cozy restaurant where both the food and the decor are comforting. Now that it has started to snow and actually feels like winter, here are a few places worth braving the cold for. As always, please let me know what your favorite spots around NYC in winter are.
Heidi’s House | By the Side of the Road
308 East 78th Street, Manhattan
I came upon this restaurant while working with a client on the Upper East Side. The waitress told us there is normally a long wait but we were lucky enough to get there just as they were opening so we were seated right away. Some call it a tapas restaurant while others a comfort food spot.The mac and cheese is freshly made and requires 25 minutes for preparation, with an option to add lobster, bacon, or truffles. We tried it because everyone else was ordering it- delicious. They also serve a very fresh tuna tartare, the pasta is homemade daily, and they serve a paella with generous portions of seafood. The wine and beer list is extensive and the burger, though I haven’t tried it yet, has a great reputation. They are open 7 days a week at 5 PM; get there early to avoid waiting for a table.
203 First Avenue, Manhattan
Sao Mai (Vietnamese for “morning star”) is one of those easy-to-miss places that serves some of the most authentic Vietnamese in the city. My choice of comfort food at Sao Mai is the pho, where 7 options will meet whatever you are in the mood for. Their ingredients are among the freshest in the city and their Bánh mì is a great choice if you want something heavier.
Martha Washington Hotel
29 East 29th Street, Manhattan
Located on the lobby level of the historic Martha Washington Hotel, Marta is a pizza joint headed up by restaurateur Danny Meyer, the mind behind Shack Shack, and Nick Anderer, the chef behind Maialino. Known for its wafer-thin artisanal pizzas and fine Italian cuisine, I recommend sitting at the bar where you can enjoy the glow and heat from one of the wood burning pizza ovens or the $40K open fire grill. They are open 7 days a week starting at 7 AM.
Jeepney Filipino Gastropub
201 First Avenue, Manhattan
If you’re craving a taste of the tropics, Jeepney Filipino Gastropub is a great place to head with a large group. Island decor adorns the warmly lit interior and Filipino rock and roll plays from the speakers as the servers deliver great food such as the Bicol Express, braised short ribs, or the Chori Burger which I highly recommend.
On Wednesdays and Thursdays, plates and silverware are done away with altogether, in favor of a family-style feast served on banana leaves, Kamayan style (Tagalog for “with hands”). Reservations for Kamayan Night should be made well in advance. If you are feeling adventurous, try the balut and let me know what you think.
99 Hudson Street, Manhattan
This upscale Indian restaurant showcases the distinct flavors and cooking methods of a variety of regions in India. Set in an art deco building with 18 foot tall limestone columns, floor to ceiling windows, and teak and marble floors, this is a fine dining establishment whose luxe decor compliments the cuisine. For something different, check out the Tamarind’s Lotus Room, a room dedicated to India’s national flower. Every dish on the menu in the Lotus Room is prepared using the lotus flower.
359 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn
BrisketTown, located on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, is one of the best places around to get slow-cooked Texas barbecue this winter. Whether you’re craving pulled pork, a juicy smoked rib, a larger cut, or all of the above (recommended), BrisketTown will leave you more than satisfied. The quality of meat is excellent, which should come as no surprise, considering that the restaurant is the brainchild of filmmaker-turned-gourmet meat purveyor-turned-restaurateur and bbq pit master Daniel Delaney. Try the brisket and ask for a fatty one.
135 West Broadway, Manhattan
Tiny’s is a tiny place tucked away in a landmarked 1810 townhouse on West Broadway in Tribeca. The rustic decor and fireplace-lit ambience are warm and welcoming on a cold winter night. If you’re going for dinner, try the coq au vin with truffled potato puree or the butternut squash ravioli with whipped ricotta and charred onion. The burrata with roasted pears is a must-try from the brunch menu.
210 Smith Street, Brooklyn
If you like craft cocktails while warming up by the fire, you will love Clover Club and their menu of high-end drinks served atop a 120 year old mahogany bar. Owned by cocktail icon Julie Reiner of Flatiron Lounge and Pegu Club, the food at this cozy Brooklyn restaurant ranges from bacon tastings during brunch to oysters on the half shell during dinner. For brunch try the baked eggs with truffle and leeks or with chorizo and manchego. For dinner try the fried chicken entree or the wild mushroom risotto. The bread pudding served with a bourbon caramel sauce and currants is a great way to finish the meal. Call ahead to plan your visit on a night when they are playing live jazz.