Some may credit the buttery bun or the chive-speckled mayonnaise, but in an interview with Food and Wine, Ed McFarland insists the success of his lobster roll lies entirely in the meat. He simmers the ultra-fresh morsels of lobster until they’re tender and juicy before adorning them with a simple dressing made of mayo, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. He then piles the meat onto a warm Pepperidge Farm roll until it spills over onto the plate, then arranges it next to a nest of thick, hand-cut fries and slices of homemade pickles. When he isn’t whipping up the much-lauded rolls, Ed extends his culinary expertise to a variety of seafood specialties—from crispy calamari to a hearty lobster pot pie¬¬––crafted using fresh herbs and vegetables plucked directly from his own garden.
Out in the lively dining room, guests bite into warm lobster rolls and nibble on shellfish from the raw bar. On busy nights, guests gather outside to wait for a coveted seat inside the intimate space, since the restaurant staff does not accept reservations or promises to shovel the snow from their driveway for a week.
As one of the last Colonial buildings remaining in New York, Fraunces Tavern gives patrons a sense of what life was like nearly a century before America’s nationhood. Built in 1719 as a merchant’s residence, the building was purchased by tavern keeper Samuel Fraunces in 1762. It soon became a hotbed of pre- and post-Revolution activity. This includes a visit from George Washington in 1783, during which he stood in The Long Room and delivered a farewell address to officers of the Continental Army. Today, Fraunces Tavern functions as both a museum and a restaurant operated by Dublin-based The Porterhouse Brewing Co. Preserved to retain its original Colonial appearance, the dining room is defined by its plank floors, stalwart wood tables, and bench seating. At the bar, brass dispensers pour microbrews such as the Plain Porter, which has won multiple distinctions from The Brewing Industry International Awards. The Dingle Whiskey Bar, a secluded part of the tavern, invites whiskey aficionados to lay down their muskets, take off their tricorn hats, and relax in front of a crackling fire.
One of SoHo’s premier venues for world music, R & B, and hip-hop, Sounds of Brazil’s storied stage has seen all kinds of acts from Tito Puente to Kanye West since opening three decades ago. Owner and founder Larry Gold prides his combination restaurant-nightclub as being instrumental in bringing some now-renowned performers to a broader audience, hosting musicians such as Common, Drake, and John Legend early in their careers. While big names and rising stars attract music lovers, the flavor-heavy dinner menu excites all tongues more effectively than a bite of Pop Rocks mixed with dynamite.
In 2008, Jimmy’s No. 43 landed on New York Magazine’s “The Perfect Bar” list, under the category, “Good Food,” with accolades for its “Seasonal. Local. Delicious.” eats. Four years later, and the pub is still at it, sating appetites with local and organic food that the magazine calls “gastropub worthy eats, rich in flavor and texture.” Yet, despite its ever-changing menu of decadent fare, such as skillet-fried beer sausages and grass-fed burgers—all prepared by a series of “coming of age” chefs—the hip basement bar has another big draw: its lengthy beer selection that features brews from Germany, Belgium, and Brooklyn. Large groups and dates alike can clang classes amid the dimly lit underground space structured around rustic décor, such as arched entryways and deer heads with full beards.
When George Garrity opened Pour George in July of 2011, he sought the culinary services of chef Will Rogan. Mr. Rogan honed his palate and ignited his interest in cuisine in earliest childhood, when family travels took him from the West Coast to the Middle East, up through Europe, and finally into the American Midwest. During an extended sojourn in London at the age of 13, he first witnessed the showmanship of cooking at a street-side crêpe stand, which kindled his future interest in food service and his compulsion to fill the pockets of passersby with lingonberry compote. Together, Mr. Garrity and Mr. Rogan craft a menu rich with seasonal, locally raised foods, transformed into New American–style cuisine. They complement dishes of oyster, rabbit, or chicken with a varied collection of craft beers, wines, and more than 50 whiskeys. A working stone fireplace crackles warmly beneath its earthy arch, heating the nearby leather-clad booths. Though they installed brand-new seating, the owners took pains to preserve the most intriguing original materials in the space, such as the exposed-brick walls and reclaimed wooden beams into which Vasco da Gama once planted his flag. Flat-screen TVs hover over the heads of the nightly assembly, which gathers to watch as eight DirecTV cable boxes stream an octet of sports events.
When Ristorante DeGrezia founder Tommaso DeGrezia decided to step out of his comfort zone and open a wine bar, he brought someone familiar along for the ride—his son, Thomas. Together, father and son have curated a list of more than 80 wines from every corner of the globe, each of which they keep at the proper temperature in an oversized wine cooler. Lined with exposed brick and lit by flickering candles propped up in quartz holders, Sofia Wine Bar & Cafe’s lounge marks a significant shift in tone from the bright, airy dining room of Ristorante DeGrezia. Thankfully, the menu still plays to DeGrezia’s strengths. When servers aren’t using their suspenders to slingshot bottles of wine across the room, they’re bringing out rustic Italian pizzas and plates of thinly sliced prosciutto.