We could all use some comfort right about now. That brisk fall chill along with a devastating hurricane and low-blow nor’easter have had us hankering for delicious foods that make us feel warm and fuzzy inside, from expertly sauced mac and cheese to stomach-stuffing stews that tell us all is right in the world (yes, you have permission to hibernate with a very long nap).
Well, the city’s restaurants — many of them rebounding from a week without power or customers — are more than happy to oblige. So, we've rounded up 24 (yes, 24!) of the best stuff-your-face, feels-like-home-again plates that will soothe the soul (and fill the tummy). Click through for the choice comfort-food dishes in NYC — sorry carb-counters, you may just want to look the other way.
In a totally unscientific survey of a few of our closest friends and pets, macaroni and cheese was named the best comfort food, ever. If you don’t agree, you’re probably an alien, but that’s OK.
Bacon and Scallion Mac and Cheese at Queens Comfort
The various incarnations of mac at this Astoria favorite include a classic version, bacon-scallion, and spicy deep-fried mac nuggets.
Queens Comfort, 4009 30th Avenue (between Newtown Road and 41st Street); 718-728-2350.
Macaroni Gratin at Artisanal
In case you can’t smell the cave when you walk in, trust us when we tell you that this place knows cheese. Artisanal’s gratin is classic bistro fare, but designed for two so you can share it with a beau — or potential one.
Artisanal Bistro, 2 Park Avenue (between East 32nd and East 33rd streets); 212- 725-8585.
Four Cheese at S'MAC
Owner Sarita Ekya (the “S” in S’MAC) began with a comfort food dream and expanded into a single-serving spot with an extensive mac menu, including the four-cheese (our fave), spicy masala, and even vegan options.
S'MAC, 345 East 12th Street (between 1st and 2nd avenues); 212-358-7912.
Mac n' Cheese at Murray's Cheese Bar
Murray’s is famed for its stinky shop in the Village, and earlier this year its Cheese Bar opened serving this awesome mac, with cheddar, cave-aged gruyere, and buffalo mozz, topped with Tasso ham and an onion ring.
Murray's Cheese, 264 Bleecker Street (between Morton and Leroy streets); 646-476-8882.
Photo: Courtesy of Queens Comfort
FIT TO GRILL
The runner up for most comforting comfort food is really just mac and cheese in a different outfit. No matter how you spin it, carbs + gooey cheese = extreme satisfaction.
All the Sandwiches at Morris Grilled Cheese
The only way grilled cheese could get better: make it mobile. The Morris truck does up fancy sandwiches with manouri and lamb sausage, truffled cheese, and pickled pumpkin paired with raclette.
Location varies (check the schedule here); 401-440-8910.
All the Sandwiches at Little Muenster Tiny Takeout
We featured Little Muenster earlier this year for its comfort-giving goodness, but its new Brooklyn takeout annex deserves a mention all its own. As before, all of its sammies continue to impress, but we love the asiago/parmesan with butternut squash and sage brown butter.
Little Muenster, 145 Front St (between Pearl and Jay streets); 646-499-4331.
Porky Melt at Pork Slope
Top Chef’s Dale Talde opened up Pork Slope with comfort food in mind a few months back, and it doesn’t disappoint. The Porky Melt is a delicious marriage meat and cheese that reminds us of afterschool days with a chill in the air.
Pork Slope, 247 5th Avenue (between Carroll Street and Garfield Place); 718-768-7675.
Three Cheese at Melt Shop
Dutifully supplying the residents of Chelsea and Midtown with toasty delights, Melt Shop’s menu includes everything from chicken-bleu-cheese number to a Thanksgiving-themed number, but the tomato-topped gruyére-havarti-goat cheese is still classic.
Melt Shop, 601 Lexington Avenue (between East 53rd and East 54th streets), 212-759-6358.
Photo: Courtesy of Morris Truck
CHILI AND CHOWDAH
Brooklyn Clam Chowder at L&W Oyster Co.
Just opened in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, L&W has brought us a borough-themed take on New England chowder, featuring a boozy dose of Brooklyn Brewery Oktoberfest, an salty injection of pancetta, and a corn nut/clam topping for crunch and comfort.
L&W Oyster, 254 Fifth Avenue (between 28th and 29th streets); 212-203-7772.
De Chili Con Carne Wafel at Wafels and Dinges
Yes, chili can get even better when you put it on a waffle. Wafels & Dinges tops its Belgian baked goods with either beef or veggie chili — and gets bonus points for Sandy relief for storm victims all over the city. Location varies (check the schedule here); 646-257-2592.
New England Clam Chowder at BLT Fish Shack
We don’t mean Manhattan any disrespect, but the New England clam chowder is our hands-down favorite. BLT’s version is creamy, chunky, and delicious, but it also offers a tomato-y bowl for you Manhattan lovers.
BLT Fish, 21 West 17th Street (between 5th and 6th avenues); 212-691-8888.
Chili at Daisy Mae’s BBQ USA
It may not look like much — attractiveness has never been chili’s strong suit — but this version will lay you flat with flavor. Its creator, meat maestro Adam Perry Lang, infuses this cup with smoke and spice, and giant chunks of meat.
Daisy Mae, 623 11th Avenue (between West 45th and West 46th streets); 212-977-1500.
Photo: Courtesy of BLT Fish
OODLES OF (JAPANESE) NOODLES
How could we ignore the city’s ramen boom when we’re thinking about comfort food? It might not be Campbell’s Chicken Noodle — no, fresh ramen is about a bazillion times more satisfying.
Tonkotsu Ramen at Jin Ramen
There aren’t many authentic ramen spots this far uptown, so the cozy Jin is a welcome addition with its creamy pork-bone broth that’s practically good enough to slurp even without the noodles.
Jin Ramen, 3183 Broadway (between Tiemann Place and 125th Street); 646-559-2862.
Short Rib Ramen at Ganso
The menu at this new Brooklyn spot from food writer Harris Salat changes up daily, so keep on the lookout for its lip-smacking short-rib ramen with anonsen (slow-poached) egg and seasonal greens.
Ganso, 25 Bond Street (between Livingston and Fulton streets); 718-403-0900.
Deli Ramen at Dassara
“Waiter, there’s a matzoh ball in my ramen!” Well, that’s because Dassara’s take on the soup reflects its Brooklyn environs, topping it off with Montreal-style smoked meat for the most amazing of comfort food hybrids. (But veggies, don’t worry — there’s a mushroom version for you, too.)
Dassara, 271 Smith Street (between Degraw and Sackett streets); 718-643-0781.
Photo: Courtesy of Jin Ramen
MEAT, MEAT & MORE MEAT
Sorry, veg-lovers, no hate — but there’s just nothing quite as filling as a belly full of beast. Sure, you can carbo-load on potatoes and pasta, but a beautifully slow-cooked piece of animal is one of the omnivore’s most satisfying delights.
Short Rib Goulash at Library at the Public
If you’re lucky enough to a have a Hungarian grandma, you’ve been well-fed on the country’s national dish of meat and paprika for years. For the rest of us, we have to make do with Andrew Carmellini’s version topped with caraway sour cream. (We’re not exactly complaining.)
The Public Theater, Mezzanine Level, 425 Lafayette Street (between Astor Place and East 4th Street); 212-539-8777.
All the Meats at Fletcher’s Brooklyn BBQ
This brand-new BBQ spot also managed to defy Sandy and open in the wake of the storm, serving up maple- and red-oak-smoked meats like beef brisket, char siu pork, and coriander baby back ribs. You’ll think it’s still summer.
Fletcher's, 433 Third Avenue (between 7th and 8th streets); no phone.
Suckling Pig Dinner at The Breslin
Just like Mom used to make? Fine, The Breslin’s suckling pig dinner may not be your workaday curl-up meal — it’s meant for parties and priced at $75 a head — but that doesn’t mean its comfort quotient isn’t instantly coma-inducing. It’s like turning Thanksgiving up to eleven.
Ace Hotel, 20 West 29th Street (between 5th and 6th avenues); 212-679-1939.
Meatloaf Sandwich at Rye
This isn’t Mom’s meatloaf, no ketchup coating in sight. Rye dresses up the humble meatloaf as pretty as possible by sticking it in a sandwich, which Eater once called one of the best drunk foods in NYC. (Better believe it.)
Rye, 247 South 1st Street (between Roebling and Havemeyer streets); 718-218-8047.
Photo: Courtesy of Paul Wagtouicz
No sorbet, no dainty profiteroles — comfort food season means big, sugary, carb-bomb plates that finish off the meal with a bang. From lightest to heaviest:
S’Mores Pizza at Catch
This is almost cheating: Catch takes two comfort food classics and does an elegant mash-up with a graham flatbread crust, house-made marshmallows, and even more graham streusel, with chocolate dressing the whole mess for an unbelievable dessert finish.
Catch, 21 9th Avenue (between Little West 12th and West 13th streets); 212-392-5978.
Fried Ice Cream at MexiBBQ
It’s a little taste of the Midwest (via the Southwest): a ball of toasted coconut ice cream, battered and fried to within an inch of its cold, cold life, and drizzled with cajeta and Mexican chocolate. Ole!
MexiBBQ, 37-11 30th Avenue (between 37th and 38th Streets); 718-626-0333.
Titanic at Carmine’s
This ridiculous sundae is named after the ill-fated ship for a reason: You will absolutely sink if you manage to finish it. It’s a banana split with six — yes, six — scoops topping two bananas and an entire chocolate torta. Eat if you dare.
Carmine's, 200 West 44th Street (between 7th and 8th avenues); 212-221-3800.
Earthquake at Sugar and Plumm
This new Upper West Side shop will do damage to your body in the sweetest way possible, and the Earthquake is its pièce de la résistance: three cakes and one pie get smothered under butterscotch pudding and three ice creams — in a frickin’ fishbowl.
Sugar and Plumm, 377 Amsterdam Avenue (between West 78th and West 79th streets); 212-787-8778.
Photo: Courtesy of Sugar and Plumm