Why: Sweet corn, fried smelt, chicken chorizo — the taco list at Alex Stupak's East Village spot is unrivaled in its variety, and there's not a bad one on the menu. Empellón Cocina, 230 West Fourth Street (at West 10th Street); 212-367-0999.
What: Roasted acorn squash with curried quinoa, summer squash, wild mushrooms
Why: With its outdoor patio and exposed-brick interior, Park Slope hot spot Benchmark is arguably one of the most beautiful restaurants in Brooklyn. The American-Nouveau menu focuses on seasonal (and local) products, so you’re guaranteed the best chilled pea soup, seared crab cakes, and smoked pork turnovers around.
Benchmark, 339 2nd Street (between 4th and 5th avenues), Brooklyn; 718-965-7040.
What: Colorado lamb “brisket”
Why: Mini potato knishes, brisket, and pastrami are the ultimate in Jewish-American comfort food, and Kutsher’s Tribeca is the ultimate place to kick back and dig in.
Kutscher’s Tribeca, 186 Franklin Street (between Hudson and Greenwich streets); 212-431-0606.
What: Chicken pot pie
Why: Chef John DeLucie’s Greenwich Village joint is packed with quintessential New York staples, complete with a menu of savory, irresistible dishes: We’re talking chicken pot pie, grilled hanger steak with polenta fries, and pan-roasted striped bass.
The Lion, 62 West 9th Street (between Fifth and Sixth avenues); 212-353-8400.
Trattoria Il Mulino
What: Pappardelle with cherry tomatoes and baby shrimp
Why: Classic Italian fare with a modern twist? Go ahead and carb-load on Il Mulino's pasta and pizza-heavy menu. It's worth it.
Trattoria Il Mulino, 36 East 20th Street (between Park Avenue South and Broadway); 212-777-8448.
Burke & Wills
What: Kangaroo burger
Why: Transport yourself Down Under, where Upper West Side bistro Burke & Wills pulled inspiration for both its interior and cuisine. Really, is there anything more Aussie than a kangaroo burger? It’s delicious, we swear.
Burke & Wills, 226 West 79th Street (between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway); 646-823-9251.
What: Hanger steak
Why: Lafayette is THE place to see and be seen downtown, and while we’re obsessed with nearly every French-inspired dish on the menu, we actually have dreams about the hanger steak drizzled in an espelette-onion marmalade.
Lafayette, 380 Lafayette Street (between Great Jones and East Fourth streets); 212-533-3000.
What: Grilled beef petite tenderloin
Why: The Cecil is NYC's go-to for Afro-Asian-American flare, offering a menu that is as unique as it is to-die-for. Fried Portuguese steamed dumplings, tofu with black pineapple fried rice, and fluke crudo? Order them all.
The Cecil, 210 West 118th Street (at Saint Nicholas Avenue); (212) 866-1262.
Water’s Edge Restaurant
What: New England clam chowder
Why: The only thing better than living in Manhattan is finding a spot that has a great view of the skyline. Long Island City’s hidden gem, Water’s Edge, has just that, plus a delicious selection of seafood dishes: crispy calamari salad, pan-seared salmon, and, of course, hearty New England clam chowder.
Water’s Edge Restaurant, 401 44th Drive (at the East River), Long Island City; 718-482-0033.
David Burke Fishtail
What: Lobster rigatoni
Why: Chef David Burke's countless New York restaurants are all must-visits, but his Upper East Side seafood spot is the ultimate place for fish lovers. Tuna, mahi, salmon, black bass — the list goes on and on.
David Burke Fishtail, 135 East 62nd Street (between Park and Lexington avenues); 212-754-1300.