Winter Warm-Up: NYC’s Best Feel-Good Grub



There are a lot of wonderful things about wintertime in New York: the first snowfall, ice skating at Bryant Park, and the complete absence of that (wtf?!) sewage smell that takes over in August. But post-holidays, all of that goodness morphs into face-shattering cold, traffic-stopping storms, and absolutely no Christmas presents in sight. The best way to combat those inclement days is to play hooky and warm your insides with a couple of feel-good food staples. From soups and sammies to pot pies that redefine pot pies, these calorie-worthy dishes can be found at 17 of NYC's hottest spots (pun intended). If you're feeling guilty about the potential extra-poundage, don't. It's called insulation.

SoupsStews

Talk Soup
Gazpacho rules as the sole soup of summer, but winter provides a bottomless pot of melting medleys.  

Mrs. K’s Matzo Ball Soup at Kutsher’s Tribeca ($11)
Nothing says winter like this steaming bowl of chicken broth, studded with carrots, celery, dill, and the fluffiest matzo balls in the nation. Don’t tell your bubbie.
Kutsher’s Tribeca, 186 Franklin Street (between Greenwich and Hudson streets); 212-431-0606.  

New England Clam Chowder at Littleneck ($7)
A clam shack on the Gowanus Canal? Yes, indeedy — but don’t worry, the choice clams in this creamy bowl of aren’t sourced from the Superfund site. They’re probably from heaven.
Littleneck, 288 3rd Avenue (between President and Carroll streets), Gowanus; 718-522-1921.   

Cassoulet at Mas (la grillade) ($38)
Chef Galen Zamarra’s temple to wood-fired food is heartwarming enough, but this stew of white beans, duck confit, and smoked sausage is like a cozy Nice château in a bowl.
Mas (la grillade), 28 7th Ave South (between Downing and Clarkson streets); 212-255-1790.   

EAK’s Bowl of Red at Hill Country Barbecue ($5.50-$20)
“Chili Queens” used to dot the nighttime landscape of San Antonio, serving scorching bowls to ice-cold cowboys. Hill Country keeps the tradition alive with a just-rightly spiced meat stew.
Hill Country Barbecue, 30 West 26th Street (between Broadway and 6th Avenue); 212-255-4544.  

Photos: Courtesy of Matthew Zuras, Littleneck, Galen Zamarra/Mas (la grillade), and Hill Country
mains

The Main Event
A full plate equals a full stomach, and a full stomach equals a long, snug nap.  

Grilled Oaxaca Cheese with Tomato Soup at Little Muenster ($13.50)
Yes, it’s a shop entirely devoted to grilled cheese. The spicy Oaxaca — layered with jalapeño corn puree, tomatillos, and cotija — is perfect with a cup of soup, or a pat of bone marrow butter.
Little Muenster, 100 Stanton Street (between Orchard and Ludlow Streets); 212-203-7197.  

Pecan Duck with Dirty Rice at The Dutch ($28)
Andrew Carmellini serves this pecan-laced, duck-fat-fortified bird on a bed of dirty rice, and it tastes just like Christmas down on the bayou.
The Dutch, 131 Sullivan Street (between Prince and West Houston streets); 212-677-6200.  

DuMac & Cheese at DuMont ($15)
Considered by some to be the best mac ‘n’ cheese in the city (including us — we’ll fight you on it), the DuMac is layered with bacon, cheddar, gruyere, and parmesan, with a crisp salty crust.
DuMont, 432 Union Avenue (between Metropolitan Avenue and Devoe Street); 718-486-7717.  

Mejillones Ahumados at Tertulia ($15)
Smokey Bouchot mussels — the sweeter, smaller variety — meet their doom in a saffron-laced broth at Seamus Mullen’s critically much-loved Spanish outpost.
Tertulia, 359 6th Avenue (between Washington Place and West 4th Street); 646-559-9909.

  Photos: Courtesy of Adam Schneider, Noah Fecks, DuMont, and TertuliaNYC.com
drinks

Hot Cuppa
Even on the iciest of days, gloves are not always an option, but a warm mug is the next best thing — especially if it’s laced with a little hooch.  

Spiked Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate at Kaffeeklatsch ($11)
The pop-up rink-side hut at The Standard serves the perfect chocolate warm-up, with bourbon, brandy, rum, or Irish whiskey — or virgin, if you prefer.
The Ice Rink at The Standard Hotel, 848 Washington Street (between West 13th and Little West 12th streets); 212-645-4646.   

Truffled Hot Buttered Rum at Saxon + Parole ($14)
Hot. Buttered. Rum. Three words that already evoke visions of cashmere-wrapped nights in front of a crackling fire. Just add “truffle” to transport you from the Bowery to Périgord.
Saxon + Parole, 316 Bowery (between Bleeker and East Houston streets); 212-254-0350.   

Bianca at Vosges Haut Chocolat ($5)
Even if you can’t haul your ass out of bed during the next Snowmageddon for a toasty cup of this lavender-laced white hot chocolate, you can always buy a box to mix at home.
Vosges Haut Chocolat, 132 Spring Street (between Wooster and Greene streets); 212-625-2929.  

Photos: Courtesy of Matthew Zuras, Saxon + Parole, and VosgesChocolat.com
meatPies

Pot Shots
Zillions of years ago, when someone discovered the divine combo of savory stew and pastry crust, the only protein we had was mammoth meat. We know better now, as these meat pies prove.  

Joey & Jack’s Chicken Pot Pie at Penelope ($15)
At the heart of Penelope’s home-style pot pie — it tastes just like Mom used to make — is a cream sauce stippled with butternut squash, carrots, asparagus, and, of course, beautifully simmered chicken.
Penelope, 159 Lexington Avenue (between 29th and 30th streets); 212-481-3800.   

Guiness Steak & Mushroom Pie at Tuckshop ($6)
What’s Australian for awesome? It’s probably steak simmered in dark beer, swimming in an umami-rich mushroom gravy inside a crust as flaky as your ex-bestie.
Tuckshop, 115 Saint Marks Place (between 1st Avenue and Avenue A); 212-979-5200.   

Thai Chicken Curry Pie at DUB Pies ($5.75)
Another Aussie import, DUB Pies does steak mince and chicken gravy pies right, but this spicy combo of south Asian flavors — kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk, and lemongrass — in pastry is just weird enough to work.
DUB Pies, 211 Prospect Park West (between 16th Street and Prospect Park Southwest); 718-788-2448.  

Photos: Courtesy of Lukus Hasenstab/Penelope, TuckShopNYC.com, and DubPies.com
desserts

Sweet Reward
Winter is dessert’s best friend, the time when you can indulge in the Heavy, the Rich, and the Sugary without shame, because bathing suit season’s nowhere in sight.  

Salted Caramel Apple Pie at Four & Twenty Blackbirds ($35 per pie)
Sisters Melissa and Emily Elsen bake with a level of badassery that’s nearly unmatched, and their too-popular pies pack of a wallop of buttery mouth love that will floor the unprepared.
Four & Twenty Blackbirds, 439 3rd Avenue (between 7th and 8th streets), Gowanus; 718-499-2917.   

Chestnut Pot de Crème at La Promenade des Anglais ($10)
NYC’s hottest chef (according to Eater) Alain Allegretti diabolically distills the aroma of roasting chestnuts into a crock of puddingy bliss, topped with maple cranberry compote and a quenelle of whipped cream.
La Promenade des Anglais, 461 West 23rd Street (between 9th and 10th avenues); 212-255-7400.   

Cinnamon Bun Pie at Momofuku Milk Bar ($5.25 per slice)
Sure, Crack Pie’s always the go-to best comfort dessert for a song, but this lesser-known pie, crafted by those magic kerchief’d ladies at Milk Bar, is just as brilliant.
Momofuku Milk Bar, 251 East 13th Street (between 2nd and 3rd avenues); 212-254-3500.   

Photos: Courtesy of Four & Twenty Blackbirds, Matthew Zuras, and Momofuku Milk Bar