Outdoor Dining at Kokomo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Someone asked me what my spring break plans were. I said that I was going to Kingston. Oh, they replied, as in Kingston, Jamaica? I laughed at the response and informed them that no, actually, it was Kingston, New York. Clearly I was going to the wrong Kingston. While it is possible to fly to Jamaica, for now, I prefer to stay local and feel the Caribbean vibes at places like Kokomo, a restaurant in Williamsburg that serves elevated island food with a modern twist. I went recently for an early outdoor dining seating, and the island party vibe was well underway. The large patio for outdoor dining at Kokomo is outfitted with speakers at every table so that the island club beats drum directly into your ears. Kokomo makes it pretty clear that you’re here to party it up, not to wind it down. And what a way to drive that home with a spectacular cocktail menu. Coconut Negroni, Good Vibez, sign me up.

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Fat Choy – Vegan Chinese in Lower East Side

The catchy name Fat Choy immediately drew me in. I knew exactly what kind of restaurant Fat Choy, a small scrappy restaurant in the Lower East Side, would be, and I wasn’t wrong. It was playful and homey, a little bit familiar and a little bit not, a perfect description of the “kinda Chinese” but mostly tasty ethos that drives the cooking at the Fat Choy kitchen. Kinda Asian restaurants are in abundance these days. You can imagine some second or third generation chef making some tweaks to a family recipe, smiling if it works and shrugging her shoulders if it doesn’t. The angle at Fat Choy is that its kinda Chinese food is vegan. It sounds impossible at first, since we tend to associate Chinese food with pork or chicken, but when you think about how tasty Chinese vegetables are on their own, then it makes a lot of sense.

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Tong – Thai Small Plates in Bushwick, Brooklyn

hoy jor (fried stuffed tofu skin roll with pork and crab meat)

I usually equate small plates with dim sum and tapas, but not with Thai food. Thai food brings to mind either big heaping plates of pad thai noodles or fiery servings of curry and minced meat. You don’t really go to a Thai restaurant to nosh on some small snacks while drinking some beer. But Tong, a new Thai restaurant in Brooklyn–more gritty Bushwick than fancy Williamsburg–wants you to do exactly that. Its menu features kub klaem or small plates that are meant to be ordered in multiples so that you can nibble on a few things here and there. Which is great because the small plates are fantastic and you’ll want to try as many things as you can.

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Outdoor Dining at Xilonen and Oxomoco in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Oxomoco, a Michelin star Mexican restaurant in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, makes the best steak tacos in the city. When I ate my steak tacos, I was immediately floored. Everything about the taco was perfect–the sauce, the seasoning, the melty texture of the meat. Melt-in-your-mouth is an overused description when it comes to excellent meat, but in this case, it was totally appropriate.

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Outdoor Dining at Carbone in Soho

Carbone, despite its proximity to my apartment, is the antithesis of a neighborhood restaurant. It’s expensive, exclusive and reservations are hard to come by. But now with the pandemic, it’s become a lot more accessible. Reservations are easier to get now that they’ve expanded their outdoor dining areas to include the sidewalk near Sadelle’s. It used to be the case that you’d open Resy and hope that you’d get off the waitlist for a certain day you wanted, but now when I look at the app, I can usually see availability on any day I’m interested in. And obviously, since it is winter, they’re wide open. Now’s the time to make this the neighborhood spot, if I didn’t care about my wallet or my waistline.

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