The Totally Insane NYC Dishes You Need To Try

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to eat roasted guinea pig in Flushing, Queens. Oh, is that not how the Statue of Liberty poem goes? Either way, New York’s melting pot is reflected best in its culinary offerings — from 99 cent pizza to the tasting menu at Eleven Madison Park. If you've exhausted your Seamless queue and Yelp recommendations, that means it's time to venture outside of your comfort zone. Take a look at our list of the weirdest, craziest, most insane dishes in New York City, and gird your stomach. It's going to be a mouthwatering ride.

Photo: Courtesy of Jeepney.
What: Balut
Where: Jeepney

Made from a fertilized duck egg, fans have described balut as something like a boiled egg, a gamier version of chicken soup, or simply commented, "Tastes like chicken!" If you're brave enough to see which of the three ring true for you, order it as your starter at Jeepney, a Filipino gastropub in the East Village. If you're worried you'll chicken (har har) out, know that the entire waitstaff is known to cheer when one appears, so others may be watching. If it's not for you, a menu of hearty Filipino classics (and a damn good burger) populate the rest of the menu.

Jeepney, 201 1st Avenue (between 12th and 13th street); 212-533-4121.
What: The PieCaken
Where: David Burke at Bloomingdale's

A dessert of epic proportions, the legends say that the PieCaken appears every holiday season to intrigue, tempt, and baffle us, then disappears for another year. Inspired by the formidable turducken, this is a holiday mash-up you'll actually want to eat: layers of pie and cake, held together with buttercream. The PieCaken is so beloved, it even is available for nationwide delivery.

David Burke Kitchen at Bloomingdale's, 1000 3rd Avenue (at 59th Street); 212-705-3800.
Photo Courtesy of: Burke and Wills.
What: Kangaroo Loin
Where: Burke and Wills

Go ahead and name some Australian things. Vegemite. Hot surfer guys. Kangaroos! Burke and Wills is one of the most wonderfully sophisticated Aussie-inspired places in the city, where you can dine on this kangaroo loin under a glass roof. Sorry, cuddly marsupial friends.

Burke and Wills, 226 West 79th Street (between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway); 646-823-9251.
What: Sushi Burger
Where: Redeye Grill

This takes surf and turf to a new level It all starts with spicy yellow fin tuna between a tamanashiki rice bun, topped off with seaweed salad, watermelon radish, ginger, and avocado. The entire decadent experience may require a fork and knife rather than just your hands — but it also may make you rethink any loyalty to another popular sushi mash-up, the sushi burrito.

Redeye Grill, 890 7th Avenue (between 56th and 57th streets); 212-541-9000.
Photo Courtesy of: Dirt Candy.
What: Radish spaghetti
Where: Dirt Candy

Chef Amanda Cohen’s whole M.O. is to prove that vegetables can be the star of the meal, not relegated to side status. This dish is a strong opening statement for the prosecution, with rainbow-bright colors and innovative use of radish in all its forms (including, cheekily, horseradish flavoring).

Dirt Candy, 86 Allen Street (between Grand and Broome Streets); 212-228-7732.
Photo Courtesy of: Oddfellows.
What: Extra Virgin Olive Oil Ice Cream
Where: Oddfellows

Many of the rotating ice cream flavors at Oddfellows seem to make zero sense; it's like they're basically daring you to taste them. Chef Sam Mason tried an olive oil ice cream in Spain and never forgot it. "I always wanted to do it as a flavor because I love the taste of it, but also because the texture of olive oil ice cream is unique," he says. "It pairs perfectly with a lot of our other flavors as well, especially some of the citrus sorbets we've done."

Oddfellows, 175 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-599-0556; 75 East 4th Street (between Bowery and Second Avenue); 917-475-1812.
What: Poutine Of The Month
Where: Mile End Delicatessen

Mile End Delicatessen isn't your average Jewish-style deli, even though they have classics such as Pigs in a Blanket and Matzo Ball Soup. It also features a monthly poutine special that sends visitors wild, like this lamb shawarma (pictured), to May'ss Chillequile Salsa Verde Poutine.

Mile End Delicatessen, 53 Bond Street (between Bowery and 2nd Avenue); 212-529-2990, and 97A Hoyt Street (between Atlantic Avenue and Pacific Street); 718-852-7510.
What: Brisket Ravioli with Black Truffle Butter
Where: Pig Bleecker

Say no more than the following three magical ingredients: ravioli, brisket, and black truffle. Except maybe that this rich dish is also topped off with a Barolo wine sauce. Decadence is what to expect at Pig Bleecker, a hot West Village eatery featuring hearty BBQ in a romantic setting (and we're talking about food romance here, folks).

Pig Bleecker, 155 Bleecker Street (between Thompson and Sullivan Street); 646-756-5115.
What: Black Ink Martini
Where: Death Ave

Not everything at Death Avenue is funeral in nature. The name of the restaurant is a reference to the reputation the area used to have when the Hudson River Railroad ran through the neighborhood. It got to be so bad a man on horseback had to ride ahead of the train to warn pedestrians. These days, you won't find horses (or above-ground trains) anywhere, but you will find Death Ave Brewing, where most of the dishes (roast chicken, grilled seafood) don't hint at the street's past. For that, you can sip on the Black Ink Martini. Made with Singani 63, a Bolivian liquor made from distilled grapes, agave, and sweet vermouth, it's topped off with a dash of squid ink for that mournful hue.

Death Ave, 315 10th Avenue (at 28th Street); 212-695-8080.
Photo: Courtesy of Aquavit.
Arctic Bird's Nest at Aquavit
Midtown's Michelin-starred culinary stalwart serves up ingenious Nordic dishes that are as interesting to look at as they are to taste. And, pastry chef Emma Bengtsson doesn't disappoint when it comes to the dessert menu. Blending various textures and flavors, the star of this dish ($20) is a goat cheese parfait that's shaped like an egg and includes a "yolk" made of sea-buckthorn, golden-hued berries from a Scandinavian shrub. Naturally, Bengtsson felt the egg needed a nest (created from honey tuile and dark chocolate "twigs") — and, in case we were starting to forget those beloved polar vortexes, a smattering of "snow" made from shaved frozen yogurt.

Aquavit, 65 East 55th Street (at Park Avenue); 212-307-7311.
Photo: Courtesy of Max Brenner.
Very Much Chocolate Pasta at Max Brenner
At Union Square's Max Brenner cuckoo-for-cocoa restaurant, executive chef Katzie Guy-Hamilton is now serving up a knockout Italian-themed dish that may in fact render you unconscious. Because, shortly after licking up the last remnants of this "pasta" dish ($12.95), you will, indeed, be in a chocolate coma. And, how exactly do these noodles come together? "Chocolate crepes are cut into ribbons, then covered in warm chocolate frosting that is a combination of milk and dark chocolates," explains Guy-Hamilton. Don't forget the crumbled chocolate cookie bits, chocolate sponge cake, chocolate ice cream, and crunchy wafer balls that come with.

Max Brenner, 841 Broadway (at East 13th Street); 646-467-8803.
What: Pad Cakes
Where: Pig & Khao

What, pray tell, is a pad cake you ask? It's Pad Thai, wrapped in doughnut dough, and deep-fried, thus combining some of our favorite takeout staples (scallion pancakes and Pad Thai) into one rich, delicious dish. The spicy dipping sauce on the side gives things a nice kick. Just make sure you share — otherwise, you won't be hungry for another Pig & Khao favorite, the sizzling sisig, pork head served with whole egg.

Pig & Khao, 68 Clinton St (between Rivington and Stanton Streets); 212-920-4485.
Photo: Via @mightyinthemitten.
What: Cheetos Macaron
Where: Macaron Parlour

A French classic meets American classic junk food in this truly one-of-a-kind concoction. Inspired by Halloween, the Macaron Parlor first mixed up Cheetos macarons back in 2012, and have kept it on the menu ever since. With white chocolate ganache and plenty of cheese dust, this is the ultimate in salt-sweet combos.

Macaron Parlour, 44 Hester Street (between Essex and Ludlow streets); 212-387-9169, and 560 Columbus Ave (between 87th and 88th streets); 212-799-9169.
Photo: Courtesy of Daniel.
What: White Cosmopolitan
Where: Daniel

Daniel, a certified Upper East Side institution, has the credentials to match: impeccable attention to detail that keeps things from every being just ordinary. That goes for the cocktail menu, too. At first blush, its famous white cosmopolitan just sounds like a typical fancy cocktail: the standard-issue cosmo ingredients, just a little fancier. But the real reason people keep ooh-ing and aah-ing? The perfect sphere of ice that comes with the drink, with orchard petals suspended inside.

Daniel, 60 E 65th Street (at Park Avenue); 212-288-0033.
Photo: Courtesy of Saxon + Parole.
What: Impossible Burger
Where: Saxon + Parole

What's so impossible about this burger? For starters, it's 100% vegetable-based, and even "bleeds." Designed to be a more sustainable burger that even meat-eaters will crave, it's certainly enough to make both omnivores and vegetarians scratch their heads. Currently, a limited number are made daily, so be sure to get there early to try the impossible yourself.

Saxon + Parole, 316 Bowery (Between E. Houston and Bleecker Street); 212-254-0350.
Photo: Courtesy of Hakata Tonton
What: Tonton Dumplings
Where: Hakata Tonton

At Hakata Tonton, you can eat snout-to-tail, Japanese-style. In addition to more familiar dishes, you can find veal sashimi, sautéed pork tongue, and soup made with beef intestine. For the more squeamish, consider starting with the tonton dumplings. They're really just like gyoza you'd get anywhere, with one exception: they're made with pig feet. Tasting much like other parts of the pig (with the addition of collagen) it's a far more milder walk on the wild side than actual offal.

Hakata Tonton, 61 Grove Street (at 7th Avenue); 212-242-369.
Photo: via @patriciachangny.
What: Ube Soft Serve
Where: Soft Swerve

If you find yourself at a certain intersection of the Lower East Side and Chinatown, you'll start noticing pedestrians walking by licking purple ice cream. Follow their trail, and it just might lead you back to Soft Swerve, a newly-opened ice cream spot serving up cones in classc Asian flavors. They include matcha, black sesame, and ube, a kind of purple yam. The midnight-black cone you get with it is chocolate-flavored, but, if you're feeling really daring, you can get a red cinnamon-flavored cone instead.

Soft Swerve, 85B Allen Street (Between Grand and Broome);
What: Durian
Where: Durian NYC

Durian fruit is popular in parts of Southeast Asia despite it's smell — and the smell certainly is worth mentioning. People have compared it to everything from raw sewage to rotten seafood. But, if you can get past that, the same people will tell you its the best fruit in the world. Intrigued? Head to Chinatown, where a family-run fruit stand has been selling imported durian for ten years. Select your fruit, and they'll even slice it up for you there.

Durian NYC, 230 Grand Street (between Bowery and Elizabeth Streets); 917-353-6339.
Photo: Via @chickncone.
What: Fried Chicken In A Cone
Where: Chick' N Cone Food Truck

A food truck rolling around NYC's streets and dolling out fork-free chicken and waffles — a.k.a. fried chicken in a waffle cone. You can grab a Chick'nCone for $5.75 and dress it up with some Kick'n ranch or Yella BBQ sauce. And if you're feeling especially ravenous, go for the Chick'nCone Meal — complete with "Clucked Up" fries and a drink ($9.79).

Chick' N Cone, Mad. Sq. Eats 5th Avenue (between W. 25th Street and Broadway); 212-529-9262.
What: Buttermilk-Fried Quail
Where: Mayfield

Mayfield has been making the case that seasonal American cuisine doesn't need the pretentious atmosphere to be delicious. The owners wanted to make their restaurant a spot where someone could have a burger and a beer at the bar as well as enjoy a four-course meal. And while there aren't many burger-and-a-beer joints that serve up fried quail, you'd be remiss to skip it if you ever dropped by to catch a game. Slightly gamier than the more common fried chicken, Mayfield's fried quail is also insanely moist and perfectly seasoned. You may find that eating quail doesn't seem so strange after all.

Mayfield, 688 Franklin Avenue (at Prospect Place); 688 Franklin Avenue, Brooklyn,.
Photo: Via @food.drunk.
What: Pizza Cretzel
Where: Breads Bakery

Food mashups are a dime a dozen these days — but something about Breads Bakery's cretzel just gets us. Part croissant part pretzel, this crisp and doughy creation is ideal dipping in a myriad of magical sauces spanning far beyond mustards. Although offered in a variety of flavors, we'd have to argue that the pizza cretzel reigns supreme (served with some marinara, of course).

Breads Bakery, 18 E 16th Street (between W. Union Square and 5th Avenue); 212-633-2253.
Photo: Via @emonhassan.
What: Capri-Thursday
Where: Thursday Kitchen

Thursday Kitchen in Manhattan's East Village is a mix of Korean cuisine meets French — oh, and also Spanish. This trifecta of eclectic eats churns out an impressively fresh and unexpected menu. Case in point: Their alcoholic take on our childhood "Capri Sun," made in a variety of tropical flavors and complete with light up LED ice cubes.

Thursday Kitchen, 424 E. 9th Street (between 1st and Avenue A); 646-755-8088.
Photo: Via @lar_hen.
What: The Harvest
Where: Spot Dessert Bar

Water your plant and eat it too at Spot Dessert Bar. This potted-optical illusion is actually a sweet treat: Dig your gardening spoon in layers of berries, soft cheesecake, and meringue kisses. You can water your soil with black rose milk tea and even finish it off with some fertilizing raspberry sorbet.

Spot Dessert Bar, 13 St Marks Place (between 2nd and 3rd Avenue); 212-677-5670.
Photo: Via @cheatdayeat.
What: Pizza On Pizza
Where: Vinnie's Pizzeria

Vinnie's Pizzeria has served us with the ultimate meta NYC meal: Pizza on a pizza. Why? Simply because one is never enough for all the slice slamming pizza rats out there, pounding their concrete jungle pavement. So stop by this Williamsburg pie-haven and pay homage to the Big Apple with none other than a piece of pizza-artwork.

Vinnie's Pizzeria, 148 Bedford Avenue (at North 9th Street); 718-782-7078.
Photo: Via @unionfare.
What: Birthday Cake Croissant
Where: Union Fare

Sure, you've seen the rainbow bagel. But what about the rainbow-funfetti-birthday-cake-croissant? We'll give you a moment to digest that dessert whopper. Imagine the flakey-buttery croissant enveloping a gooey sprinkled cake batter center. We're getting the goosebumps just thinking about it. See you at Union Fare!

Union Fare, 6 East 18th Street (between 5th and Broadway Avenues); 212- 633-6003.
Photo: Via @kathrynmichael.
What: Raindrop Cake
Where: Round K Cafe

Rain drops keep falling on my...plate? Round K Cafe has #blessed us with one of the strangest dining experiences to date. This Japanese dessert "cake" is drenched in a sweet syrup and served with a side of soy bean flour. Believe us when we say that what appears to be a jelly fish swimming in soy sauce and saw dust, actually tastes pretty damn delicious.

Round K Cafe, 99 Allen Street (at Delancey Street); 917- 475-1423.
Photo: Via @indulgenteats.
What: Mac & Cheese Spring Rolls
Where: Cafeteria

Cafeteria's mac and cheese spring rolls take Asian-fusion to an entirely new level. A crispy-fried exterior encases the golden-cheesy interior for creamy crunches in every bite.

We call this the ultimate (and unexpected) in comfort food appetizers.

Cafeteria, 119 7th Avenue (at West 17th Street); 646-791-7908.
Photo Via: @ toloachenyc
What: Grasshopper Tacos
Where: Toloache

You know what really bugs us? That Grasshopper Taco at Toloache. We just don't understand how this crunchy little thing drenched in savory spices is just so darn good! And, besides the immediate shock value, you absolutely cannot stop eating them. Yes, of course the restaurant has a fabulous decor and relaxing ambiance, but in the end, it's all about those grasshoppers.

Toloache, 205 Thompson Street (at Bleecker Street); 212- 420-0600.
Photo Courtesy of: Llama Inn.
What: Beef Tenderloin Stir Fry
Where: Llama Inn

The Llama Inn is a hip Williamsburg destination dishing out creative Peruvian fare — and their beef stir fry is the soul of this foodie situation. Take a traditional stir fry, top it with well dressed french fries, wrap it all together in a savory scallion pancake, and there you have it: a weirdly delectable NYC dish.

Llama Inn, 50 Withers Street (at Meeker Avenue) in Brooklyn; 718-387-3434.
Photo Courtesy of: ViVi Bubble Tea.
What: Smokey Lavender Nitrogen Ice Cream
Where: ViVi Bubble Tea, LES

This bright and, pun intended, bubbly tea shop has become an NYC fan favorite for something other than their colorful beverages. Crowds flock to this LES joint looking to grab a cone artfully filled with nitrogen ice cream. The spectacular flavors range from Nutella flaked with gold to lovely rose, and even a dark smokey lavender.

ViVi Bubble Tea, 205 Allen Street (at E. Houston); 646-651-7779.
Photo Courtesy of: Westlight.
What: Caviar Potato Skins
Where: Westlight

Westlight, a brand new rooftop bar by prominent NYC restauranteur Andrew Carmellini, is serving up the most inventive of bar food. Case in point: the caviar potato skins. Situated at the top of the towering William Vale Hotel in Williamsburg, this spot is just about as weird-hip as it gets.

Westlight, 111 N. 12th Street (at Wythe Avenue) in Brooklyn; 718-631-8400.
Photo Courtesy of: Baz Bagel.
What: Mystic Pizza Bagel
Where: Baz Bagel

Baz Bagels has not only sized up a childhood food favorite (Bagel Bites, anyone?), but it's also named the dish after a classic Julia Roberts throwback, Mystic Pizza. This is food nostalgia at its best. And if you're not into pizza for breakfast, then check out any of the other wacky bagel mashups (e.g. The Pretty in Pink with beet and horseradish cream cheese).

Baz Bagel, 181 Grand Street (at Mulberry Street); 212-335-0609.
Photo Courtesy of: Wilma Jean.
What: Fried Pickles
Where: Wilma Jean

Wilma Jean is a casual burger and fried chicken joint located in cozy Carroll Gardens. The menu is run-of-the-mill solid Southern fare — but for those not born and bred below the Mason-Dixon, the fried pickles may come as somewhat of a strange surprise. But these crispy, crunchy, generously beer-battered, and properly deep-fried delicacies are not to be passed up. The buttermilk ranch dipping sauce complements the sour flavor perfectly.

Wilma Jean, 345 Smith Street (at Carroll Street); 718-422-0444.
Photo Courtesy of: Smorgasburg.
What: Ramen Burger
Where: Smorgasburg

If you have yet to know (or taste) NYC's famed Ramen Burger, here's the 411: Keizo Shimamoto made this food fantasy a reality through a little inspiration from his dual cultural heritage — Tokyo born and California raised. Although simple in execution, a ramen bun with burger interior, the public has gone wild for these savory sliders. If you're interested in joining this cult following, stop by Smorgasburg this Saturday for a bite.

Smorgasburg, Williamsburg, East River State Park, 90 Kent Avenue (at N. 7th)
Photo Courtesy of: RedFarm.
What: Katz's Pastrami Egg Roll
Where: RedFarm

How do you take a New York institution, like Katz's Deli, and turn it on its head? By wrapping its staple food up in an egg roll. The rich appetizer is just one of the standout dishes serving up a fresh take on dim sum. Guests line up nightly to order the Jewish-Chinese mash-up, as well as RedFarm's other quirky dishes, like filet mignon tarts and Pac-Man dumplings that are almost too cute to eat.

RedFarm, 529 Hudson (between 10th and Charles Streets); 212-792-9700.
Photo Courtesy of: Dirt Candy.
What: Broccoli Hot Dog
Where: Dirt Candy

Dirt Candy's broccoli dogs are far from the only quirky item on the menu. The Lower East Side spot has been making headlines for chef Amanda Cohen's inventive use of vegetables, from a kale matzo ball soup to onion chocolate tarts. But her broccoli dog is in a class of its own for actually managing to taste like a hot dog, which is far more than a lot of soy or tofu dogs can claim. The dog is primarily a long stalk of broccoli that manages to somehow have the snap and flavor of our favorite ballpark franks, making it as mind-bendingly weird as it is tasty.

Dirty Candy, 86 Allen Street (between Grand and Broome); 212-228-7732.
Photo Courtesy of: Flex Mussels.
What: Everything donuts
Where: Flex Mussels

We’re patiently waiting for doughnuts to become the cupcakes of this era in NYC eating. Flex Mussels is doing their part with these puffs, which are covered in everything-bagel seasoning and seeds. Oh, and mirroring jelly doughnuts, a curl of scallion cream cheese on the end alerts you to the stuffing therein. Why choose between two balls of dough when you can have the best of both worlds?

Flex Mussels, 154 W. 13th Street (between Sixth and Seventh Avenues); 212-229-0222, and 174 E. 82nd Street (between Lexington and Third Avenues); 212-717-7772.
Photo Courtesy of: Mimi Cheng's Dumplings.
What: Monthly special
Where: Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings

Their standard pork and veggie dumplings are little pockets of heaven, but it’s the announcement of a new special on the first of every month that breaks out the lines of East Villagers. The choices of Cubano (pictured) or cheeseburger could easily be a gimmick, but the carefully crafted recipes are standouts in their own right. A chicken parm dumpling, stuffed with organic chicken and mozzarella and dipped in tomato sauce, is so wrong it’s entirely right.

Mimi Cheng’s Dumplings, 179 Second Avenue (between 11th and 12th Streets); no phone.
Photo Courtesy of: Atera.
What: Onion carpaccio
Where: Atera

Any one of the eighteen dishes on Atera’s tasting menu is a gorgeous little miracle, with painstakingly arranged blossoms or sublime rings of vegetables. Pretty enough to be a painting is the onion carpaccio, a wispy suggestion of onion that resembles a hot-air balloon in flight on your plate. This level of artistry is what you’re paying for—it’s why you come to New York!

Atera, 77 Worth Street (between Church Street and Broadway); 212-226-1444.
Photo Courtesy of: Takashi.
What: Calf’s Brain Cream
Where: Takashi

The whole point of going to Takashi, aside from the actually enjoyable food, is the shock and awe of the menu, which lists beef tongue, testicles, and every other squicky item you can imagine that might be pulled from a cow. The brain cream, however, is next level: It comes in a toothpaste-style tube, with an accompanying dish of black caviar. We dare you!

Takashi, 456 Hudson Street (between Barrow and Morton Streets); (212) 414-2929.
Photo Courtesy of: Oddfellows.
What: Chorizo Ice Cream
Where: Oddfellows

Leave it to the masterminds at Oddfellows to concoct a pork sausage-flavored ice cream. The chorizo-caramel combo brings you the best of both sweet and savory worlds, and is made with real sausage. So don't be shy, give your tastebuds a run for their money.

Oddfellows, 175 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn; 347-599-0556; 75 East 4th Street (between Bowery and Second Avenue); 917-475-1812.
Photo Courtesy of: Dominique Ansel Kitchen.
What: Burrata Soft Serve
Where: Dominique Ansel Kitchen

Just when you thought we'd found a way to put cheese on everything, Dominique Ansel, the magical genius behind the cronut, introduced cheese-flavored ice cream. It's not just EZ Cheese in a cone, of course. DA is tres sophistique. This 'scream is burrata, as in, the cheese your mouth waters for at every single Italian restaurant.

Dominique Ansel Kitchen, 137 Seventh Avenue South (between Charles and West 10th streets); 212-242-5111.
Photo Courtesy of: Serendipity 3.
What: Golden Opulence Sundae
Where: Serendipity 3

When the giant chalice of frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3 is indulgent enough for your liking, go hard with a sundae that contains dessert caviar, imported Parisian candies, Venezuelan cocoa, and 23 carats of edible gold leaf. It may cost $1,000, but the restaurant swears they sell at least one a month.

Serendipity 3, 225 East 60th Street (between Second and Third avenues); 212-838-3531.
Photo Courtesy of: Talde.
What: Korean Fried Chicken
Where: Talde

Top Chef contestant Dale Talde has made a small restaurant empire in Park Slope, where his trademark is creative Asian flavors. The big crowd pleaser at his eponymous outpost is the Korean fried chicken, which is perfectly battered with a generous dollop of spicy sauce.

Talde, 369 Seventh Avenue (between 11th and 12th streets), Brooklyn; 718-916-0031.
Photo Courtesy of: Miss Lily's.
What: Jerk Grilled Corn
Where: Miss Lily's

The adorably bright Jamaican love shack that is Miss Lily’s puts a Caribbean twist on every dish, and a prime example is the corn cob side. “We char the corn on a hot grill, turning it for even cooking, then brush on our jerk mayonnaise, before tossing it in roasted coconut flakes and serving with lime,” says Chef Adam Schop. If your mouth didn’t water with that description, check your pulse.

Miss Lily’s, multiple locations.
Photo Courtesy of: Sik Gaek.
What: Live Octopus
Where: Sik Gaek

Octopus is a key item in the Mediterranean diet, and you probably stopped being freaked out by the little tentacles in your calamari basket a while ago. But, what if the octopus was freakin’ alive when it was dropped on your table? You’ll have to hike out to Woodside to watch the thing get boiled in front of you, but it’s definitely NYC bucket-list material.

Sik Gaek, 49-11 Roosevelt Avenue (between 43rd Avenue and Queens Boulevard), Queens; 718-205-4555.
Photo Courtesy of: S'MAC.
What: Masala Mac and Cheese
Where: S’MAC

No, there is nothing more delightful than a restaurant dedicated to mac and cheese. Except maybe the playful portion sizes — nosh, major munch, mongo, and party! — and the ingenious variations, like Buffalo, Cajun, and Parisienne. The most boundary-pushing is the Masala variation, which blends warm Indian spices with all that gooey, cheesy goodness.

S’MAC, 345 East 12th Street (between First and Second avenues); 212-358-7912.
Photo Courtesy of: Ducks Eatery.
What: Smoked Whole Goat Neck
Where: Ducks Eatery

Not all barbecue joints are created equal. Ducks Eatery gives you the requisite hickory-smoked wings and ribs, but there is also a duck confit waffle and the most adventurous, an entire goat neck. It’s for two, of course, and is accented with bing cherries and coconut rice.

Ducks Eatery, 351 E. 12th Street (at First Avenue); (212) 432-3825
Photo Courtesy of: Traif.
What: Strawberry-Cinnamon Glazed Berkshire Baby Back Ribs
Where: Traif

The fascinating treatment of the ribs at Traif has a lovely story to go along with it, from a time chef Jason Marcus traveled to Vietnam in 2002. "Being lovers of all things spring roll, [my friend and I] went to a restaurant that night honoring the month-long spring roll festival,” he says. “They had a special dish that caught out eyes: ‘strawberry-honey ribs.’ The dish sounded different but, exactly why I came to Vietnam — for inspiration.” He experimented with Vietnam spices and strawberry before stumbling on this “simultaneously comforting and exotic” dish.

Traif, 229 South 4th Street (between Roebling and Havemeyer streets), Brooklyn; 347-844-9578.
Photo Courtesy of: Toro.
What: Pez Globo
Where: Toro

Everything is good when fried and with a squirt of lemon. The most fun dish at this tapas restaurant is the pez globo — crispy blowfish tails sprinkled in Moroccan spices like cumin. There are loads of other small seafood dishes on the menu, so slip this one into the mix, and don't tell the scaredy-cat picky eater at your table.

Toro, 85 Tenth Avenue (at 15th Street); 212-691-2360.
Photo Courtesy of: Sticky's Finger Joint.
What: Salted Caramel Chicken Fingers
Where: Sticky's Finger Joint

The ultimate bar food gets an upgrade at Sticky's, which is dedicated to nothing but chicken fingers. Of course, that hardly means they’re boring, with Mexican-, Japanese-, Chinese-, and Italian-style delights to choose from. But, the most out-of-the-box dish is the salted caramel fingers, which are coated in crushed pretzel, dipped in salted caramel, and sprinkled with salt.

Sticky's Finger Joint, Multiple Locations.
Photo Courtesy of: Shalom Japan.
What: Lox Rice Bowl
Where: Shalom Japan

As you may have guessed from its name, Shalom Japan is one of those restaurants that fuses two totally incongruous cuisines and cultures. Our favorite example is the lox rice bowl, which combines smoked fish, avocado, cucumber, spicy mayo, and rice. Sort of like a sushi roll, but in a bowl.

Shalom Japan, 310 South 4th Street (between Keap and Rodney streets), Brooklyn; 718-388-4012.
Photo Courtesy of: Norma's.
What: Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata
Where: Norma’s

Bring your very best brunch posse to Norma’s, an opulent mecca for fancy breakfast foods housed in Le Parker Meridien. The pièce de résistance is the zillion dollar lobster frittata, which boasts 10 ounces of caviar and a $1,000 price tag. "We wanted to create something decadent and over-the-top," says executive chef Emile Castillo. "Our menu is all about fun and different, and the zillion dollar frittata is just that. Plus, it's delicious."

Norma’s, 119 West 56th Street (between Sixth and Seventh avenues); 212-708-7460.
Photo Courtesy of: The Black Ant.
What: Huarache de Nopal
Where: The Black Ant

Chef Mario Hernandez traveled to the city of Tepoztlan last summer and was inspired to grill some cactus. "I met a sweet lady named Doña Chavela who has the most amazing fruit and vegetable stand where she sells a delicious cactus mushroom stew used for the filling in quesadillas," he explains. Comprised of cactus pad, figs, asadero cheese, and marmalade, the dish is "crispy, fresh, light , spicy, sweet and salty." In other words: "All flavors that a chef strives for in a dish!”

The Black Ant, 60 Second Avenue (between 3rd and 4th streets); 212-598-0300.
Photo Courtesy of: King Noodles.
What: Mapo Tofu Chili Cheese Fries
Where: King Noodle

It's always fun to plop different junk on top of french fries. King Noodle innovates with their unique Asian poutine. "The dish is a combination of two Sichuan specialties — Mapo tofu and stir-fried potato slivers, the latter of which is like a pile of tiny, thin cut french fries cooked with Sichuan peppercorns," they explain. "We wanted to be able to reference some of our favorite dishes while making the atmosphere fun and pub-like. Enter: cheese." Indeed!

King Noodle, 1045 Flushing Avenue (at Vandervoort Place), Brooklyn; 718-456-6543.
Photo Courtesy of: Max Brenner.
What: Chocolate Chunk Pizza
Where: Max Brenner

Right this way, choco-holics. Max Brenner is the haven for all things chocolate (drinks, ice cream, desserts), and it has pretty great "normal" food as well. Their chocolate pizza combines the two, making for what the restaurant calls "the epitome of the Max Brenner experience."

Max Brenner, 841 Broadway (between 13th and 14th streets); 646-467-8803.
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