Wu’s Wonton King in Chinatown

Forget Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas ham. What you really want for the holidays is a family dinner at Wu’s Wonton King, a Cantonese restaurant deep in Chinatown. Not the Chinatown that’s near Canal Street and Lafayette, the one further east near East Broadway and Essex Street. You’ll see big family dinners in the works, sometimes three generations at a table, catching up over Peking duck and a bottle of wine. It’s also a popular place for birthday parties, because Wu’s Wonton King is byob, so people will bring their Veuve and a cake, no cutting fee involved. It doesn’t get any better than this, which is why Wu’s is my favorite Chinese restaurant in NYC and I’ve been here three times in the past month.

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Oxalis in Prospect Heights

The resumes of these Brooklyn restaurants are starting to look the same. Chef trained at some fancy restaurant (Daniel, French Laundry, Alinea, etc) and wants to cook more casual, seasonally driven food, in a restaurant with an outdoor patio, of course. They all look the same, but it’s a formula that works. The latest addition to the pedigreed Brooklyn restaurant community is Oxalis in Prospect Heights. The chef Nico Russell trained at Daniel and Mirazur in Menton, France, and now it looks like people might be seeking him out for work, seeing as how Oxalis earned a Michelin star this year. The Oxalis tasting menu was quite impressive–and relatively affordable!–and was proof that the star was well deserved.

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The Fulton by Jean-Georges at South Street Seaport

Despite all the good things that are happening at the new South Street Seaport, I still hate going there. Like with The Fulton, the new Jean-Georges seafood restaurant that opened earlier in the year. It got great reviews, but I literally made three prior reservations and cancelled all of them because I didn’t want to deal with going to the South Street Seaport. Finally, this past weekend, I actually kept my reservation, and I was very glad that I gave The Fulton a chance.

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Gran Tivoli Brunch in Nolita

Gran Tivoli is one of those places that is more of an evening spot, but it’s worth visiting during the quieter brunch hours. The brunch menu is a lot more interesting than the typical pancakes and eggs set list. You have some of that, but there’s also excellent grain bowls and hearty, Italian dishes like pasta and lamb shoulder. So whatever mood you’re in, whether you want to nibble on some charcuterie, or you want to dig into a huge sandwich, there’s something to fit your mood here, and it will taste great.

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The New Jean-Georges Vegetarian Tasting Menu

beet carpaccio

I used to love coming to Jean-Georges for lunch because of its amazing lunch deal. Back in the day, you could get two courses for $38, which is insanely reasonable for a fine-dining, Michelin star restaurant, and you could add on a dish for just $19. But the days of the value meal is long gone. Now you have to pay a pretty penny for a seat at the table. It’s tasting menu only, which will run you $68 for the four course option or $178 for the six course option. The vegetarian versions cost $58 and $128.

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