The amount of excellent food available in New York City is dizzying — even during a pandemic — yet mediocre meals somehow keep worming their way into our lives. With Eater editors dining out sometimes several times a day, we do come across lots of standout dishes, and we don’t want to keep any secrets. Check back weekly for the best things we ate this week — so you can, too.

September 25

Jianbing at Jian Dumpling

The new stall at Urbanspace food hall at Union Square, open since last week, sells Chinese crepes and boiled fish dumplings. Jian Dumpling specializes in jianbing, a popular street food in Beijing, with lots of unusual fillings: Thai chicken, truffle parmesan, pork bulgogi, and chicken teriyaki. I ordered the one with pork floss and sausage, hoping for dark red Chinese sausage, but getting pink slices of hot dog instead. This jianbing was a fork-and-knife affair: soft and steamy, with thick layers of egg, cilantro, lettuce, and scallion. The crepes range from $13 to $16 each, the most expensive I have seen. Then again, this is a food hall in Union Square. 124 E. 14th Street, between Third and Fourth avenues, Urbanspace Union Square — Luke Fortney, reporter

Chicken and andouille gumbo at Kjun

Kjun has added Korean flavors to a New Orleans menu, hence the name. This gumbo via chef Jae Jung, who worked in the Big Easy, illustrates the technique: Andouille sausage is seasoned with gochujang, and sides include okra kimchi, which gloriously retains some of the slime of the pod vegetable. Cornbread comes alongside, too. Made with a very dark roux, the chicken and andouille gumbo ($25) is very much the genuine article, and a welcome quantity of rice will be discovered in the bottom of the bowl. 134 East 9th Street near 3rd Avenue, Murray Hill — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Paella for two at Lita

I visited the Iberian restaurant Lita in Aberdeen, New Jersey, last week, the third restaurant from Neilly Robinson and chef David Viana, behind Heirloom Kitchen and Heirloom at the St. Laurent in Asbury Park. This one speaks to Viana’s Portuguese background — his grandmother grew up in Newark’s Little Lisboa — and the restaurant is named for his mother, Rosa Lita. The menu is strong on seafood, good bread, and vegetables, with most dishes cooked in the open hearth. The dining room is vast, with a big midcentury-looking bar, where ordering is a la carte, while tables have a $78, three-course prix fixe menu. I loved this chaotic clam and pork paella, with perfectly crunchy socarrat. I also like that Lita is working on an equitable pay model, where staff working in the dining room and kitchen start at the same base salary and split tips evenly. 1055 NJ-34, near South Atlantic Avenue, Aberdeen Township — Melissa McCart, editor

Chocolate halva croissant at Librae

When I visited Librae Bakery on a recent afternoon, there were only two of these chocolate halva croissants ($8) left on the counter, for good reason. After taking a couple of bites, I was gazing at it in awe for so long that the friend I was with asked if they should leave to give me and my croissant some space — and I almost said yes. The outer layers are the crispiest, topped with halva and both black and white sesame seeds. Creamy chocolate and halva fillings ooze out of the inner layers, imparting sweetness, warmth, and a smoked nuttiness I haven’t tasted in other croissant fillings. Make room, almond paste: This chocolate-halva combo is here to stay. 35 Cooper Square, between Fifth and Sixth Streets, East Village — Nadia Q. Ahmad, senior copy editor

September 18

Porchetta sandwich at Da Toscano

New York City seems to have at least one great porchetta sandwich in town at all times. In 2008, it was found at Sara Jenkins’ wonderful porchetta stand on East Seventh Street, and now it’s not too far away on tiny but charming Minetta Lane in Greenwich Village at Da Toscano. The Italian restaurant is running its own figurative porchetta stand Thursday through Saturday from noon to 2:30 p.m. The square sandwich is on warm focaccia and is piled high with the herby pork roast. As an added bonus, little slivers of aged pecorino add a loamy flavor. Porchetta sandwiches are never cheap — this one is $19 — but luckily, it’s big enough to share with a friend, and so rich you wouldn’t want to eat it alone. 24 Minetta Lane, near Sixth Avenue, Greenwich Village — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Brown stew branzino at Tatiana by Kwame Onwuachi

This Lincoln Center hot spot shows no signs of slowing down. But the attention is well-deserved at Tatiana, as Kwame Onwuachi’s menu is absolutely packed with flavorful hits. We ordered several of the New York-inspired items that have been on the menu for some time, including the shawarma roasted chicken, take-out inspired mushrooms, and short rib pastrami suya. But the dish that has stayed with me is the brown stew branzino ($55) — a deboned fried branzino covered in a gravy-esque sauce, as delicate as it was warming. It was so good it even converted the non-fish eater in our group. 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, Upper West SideStephanie Wu, editor-in-chief

Hokkaido scallop ceviche at Bangkok Supper Club

I snagged a 5 p.m. reservation on Resy Friday afternoon for that evening, so two friends and I could check out the new restaurant from the Fish Cheeks folks. Take note: Bangkok Supper Club is a terrific restaurant, with a garlic rice dish that I could have ordered seconds of; the branzino that was expertly deboned and filleted; a bold shrimp satay; and this watermelon granita. For the Hokkaido scallop ceviche, ($25) delicate sliced scallops layer the bottom of a bowl while granita, seasoned with fish sauce and heat, blankets them. (An aside: The scallops from Japan were perfectly lovely, though there are some damn good scallops coming from closer waters.) It was an exciting first visit and I’m looking forward to going back. 641 Hudson Street, at Horatio Street, Greenwich Village — Melissa McCart, editor

Garybaldi at Bandits

Can a cocktail ever be a dish? Every since the martini “lost its mind,” it’s something I’ve been noticing more and more. At Bandits, the “dressed-up” section of the menu features three beers outfitted with savory ingredients — the halal cart with its yogurt, celery salt, dill, and hot sauce, for example. I went for the “Garybaldi,” ($10) which is described mysteriously as “miso, fixings, and secrets.” The result is a super umami-laden pool, resting on the opening of a Coors Banquet with a black sesame seed rim. 44 Bedford Street, at Leroy Street, West Village — Emma Orlow, reporter

September 11

Breakfast burrito at Washed Up

It’s hard to believe, but there’s still at least one breakfast burrito we haven’t talked about. It’s found at Washed Up, a seasonal stand on the Rockaway Beach Boardwalk that rebranded this year. (In past years, the easternmost food stall at 97th Street was called La Fruteria.) As part of the switch-up, its owners added a breakfast burrito to the menu. It’s exactly what you want after a day at the beach: crisp bacon, processed cheese, and smashed tater tots for texture. ($13). Washed Up is open this year until the end of September or so. 9701 Shore Front Parkway, at Beach 97th Street, Rockaway Beach — Luke Fortney, reporter

Banoffee pie at Salty Lunch Lady’s Little Luncheonette

This new project of chef and restaurateur Dria Atencio is a sandwich shop at its heart, offering five intriguingly composed sandwiches in a fun-loving atmosphere. The “fancy bologna,” for example, riffs on the possibilities of luncheon meat, with mortadella, red-pepper spread, and an aged provolone that lends a funky tang. But desserts are an equal focus, and my banoffee pie ($9) — displayed on a counter in a tubular glass case — was so good that I ate if first. The “icebox cake” is made from banana and toffee (hence, “banoffee”), custard, whipped cream, and graham cracker crumbs, thrown helter-skelter into a cake pan, served cold by the square, and utterly rich and delicious. 565 Woodward Avenue, corner Menahan Street, Ridgewood — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

Lotus tempura and soba at Abiko Curry

This past week, I stopped by Abiko Curry in Palisades Park, with a sibling location in Manhattan. Ordering is an adventure, as there are several menus: a coco tongdak menu with chicken; a topokki rice cakes menu with a few set options; a main menu of curry rice, curry noodle, or cream curry pasta options; and a cold soba menu. I went for the latter, ordering lotus kakiage tempura soba ($16), and I couldn’t have been more pleased. I loved the super savory broth, the crisp-and-smooth texture contrast, and the dainty ice cubes along the rim of the bowl. The spot is super minimalist, with black walls and yellow lettering, shelves of action figures, and cartoons on TV. It’s a great Monday night dinner option. 108 Broad Avenue, near East Edsall Avenue, Palisades Park — Melissa McCart, editor

September 5

Lee Iacocca at Lioni Italian Heroes

There may not be a messier hot hero in the world than the Lee Iacocca at Lioni, the classic Bensonhurst fresh mozzarella and hero shop. The sandwich ($16) is number 52 on a 150-sandwich menu, mainly named after Italian and Italian American notables. The sandwich piles warm roast beef on a very long loaf, then slaps on a couple of sheets of the shop’s creamy mozzarella, which promptly melts and oozes. gravy is poured over that, which turns the sandwich into a brown swamp. Eat it at one of the tables inside or outside the shop before it mushes up further — but I guarantee that one bite taken, you won’t be able to stop. 7803 15th Avenue, at 78th Street, Bensonhurst — Robert Sietsema, senior critic

The Wren at Sea & Soil

Sea & Soil, a new bakery and sandwich shop that started as a pop-up, now has a permanent home in Carroll Gardens. The business sells sandwiches on a sliding scale that ranges from $9 to $16. I ordered the Wren: roast chicken, aji verde, sliced red onions, aioli, and greens. It’s a simple, nutritious sandwich served on focaccia that’s made in-house. In addition to sandwiches, the worker-owner shop makes and sells pastries, like a pretzel roll with baked feta. 102 President Street, near Columbia Street, Carroll Gardens — Emma Orlow, reporter

Loaded beef patty from Puffs Patties

Jamaican beef patties have been turning up with all sorts of fillings lately: oxtail, macaroni, whipped plantains, and Texas-style barbecue. Of course, neighborhood pizzerias have been doing this for years — many slice shops will sell you a Tower Isles patty with mozzarella and tomato sauce for a few dollars — but now it’s Caribbean restaurants who are moving the needle. Puffs Patties, which opened on Nostrand Avenue this summer, serves beef patties in a few varieties: The one pictured here becomes a handheld salad with the addition of lettuce, tomato, and melted cheese. ($6.50). 812 Nostrand Avenue, near Lincoln Place, Crown Heights — Luke Fortney, reporter

The cheeseburger at One White Street

There’s a lot to like on the menu at One White Street, the Michelin-starred restaurant from chef Austin Johnson and sommelier Dustin Wilson — in a townhouse in which each of three floors has its own kitchen. When I visited late-ish on a Monday, the first and third floors were bustling and an Italian influencer was staging in the upper-level garde manger. For my best dish, I’m going to include the cheeseburger here — with its quality beef double patty, browned sesame bun, a cascade of cheddar, a light application of special sauce and onions, and thin-shaved pickles on the side ($30). Also memorable: striped bass with corn and tomatoes ($42), and the mushroom with hazelnuts and black garlic ($16). 1 White Street, at Franklin Street, Tribeca — Melissa McCart, editor

2023-09-05T13:17:00Z dg43tfdfdgfd