Outdoor Dining – Roberta’s in Brooklyn

If you have friends from out of town who want a Brooklyn experience, you take them for pizza at Roberta’s. It’s deceptively scrappy from the outside, being housed in a somewhat gritty and industrial lot in Bushwick, and being staffed by workers who look like they stepped out of an episode of High Maintenance, but underneath it all, it runs an extremely well-oiled machine cranking out some amazing food. And now that you have no choice but to be a tourist in your own town, why not revisit the wonderful patio at Roberta’s, which recently opened for the summer? Apparently I wasn’t the only one with this idea, because when I checked Resy for weekend brunch availability, it was already slim pickings. 11:00 am, however, was available. A bite of the fabulous Bee Sting pie made the early wake-up call so worth it–outdoor dining at Roberta’s is the best thing ever.

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NYC Outdoor Dining – La Mercerie

I admire how much the restaurants in NYC have really hustled to get outdoor dining to work. I watched construction crews sawing away at boards to build makeshift patios in record time. And I’m so glad for it, because outdoor dining really has breathed new life into the city. It used to be depressing walking down the eerie, abandoned streets, but now things are lively again. In Soho, in particular, some stretches remind me of the gaiety of nightlife in the Marais in Paris…in years past.

I really have to hand it to La Mercerie for going the extra mile with its outdoor set up, which is arguably the most attractive outdoor restaurant in the city. It feels like a proper outdoor patio, like it was built with permanent intentions, as opposed to being a quick appendage. That’s why La Mercerie wins the award for best outdoor dining in NYC.

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Jungsik Seoul in Cheong-dam – 2 Michelin Star Lunch Tasting

Fine dining Korean restaurants are very much en vogue these days (pre-covid of course), but that wasn’t the case roughly a decade ago. Jungsik in Tribeca deserves a lot of credit for being one of the pioneers of this style of Korean cooking in New York, and it’s been very successful doing so, earning 2 Michelin stars in the process. Jungsik’s original location is in the Cheongdam neighborhood in Seoul, and when I booked my tickets to Korea I wanted to make a meal here a priority. I was absolutely blown away by the 5 course lunch tasting that I had here recently and could see how they deserve their 2 stars. If you have to splurge on one fancy meal in Korea, I would recommend the tasting menu at Jungsik. The lunch tasting is very reasonable at an all-inclusive 78,000 KRW (~$65) per person for four courses, 98,000 KRW (~$80) for the five course option.

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Jua Restaurant Review in Flatiron

Finally, a Korean restaurant breaks into my top 10 restaurants list. I had a very impressive meal at Jua, the new fine dining Korean restaurant run by Chef Hoyoung Kim, who used to be the executive chef at Jungsik. The nine course Jua tasting menu consisted of Korean dishes that I grew up eating, only fancier and better. The cooking was on par with what we expect from a highly esteemed Western restaurant. It makes me proud of how far Korean food has come in extending its reach far beyond just the humble bbq restaurant (which is still awesome) and joining the ranks of elite institutions, a status that tends to be reserved for the fancy European place or the pricey sushi omakase.

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3 Times Chinese Restaurant Review

I discovered 3 Times, a fast-casual Chinese restaurant, on the Seated reservation app. If you book a table through the app, you can earn rewards like 20% Amazon cash back, which is why I’ve had many meals at The Woo in Soho. You obviously won’t get a table at a top tier restaurant like Don Angie or Lilia, but there are plenty of perfectly fine neighborhood restaurants to choose from. The Chinese food at 3 Times is one of the highlights.

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