Mimicking Magellan's journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean in miniature, restaurant partners Tarcísio Costa and Miguel Jerónimo set sail with Alfama Restaurant from the West Village to Midtown East after a decade in business. At their new location, they infuse Portuguese flavors into modern dishes inflected by the country’s former colonies in Brazil, Southern Africa, and the Indian state of Goa. In the kitchen, executive chef Francisco Rosa sautés bacon-wrapped filet mignon and serves it with Mission figs and grills scallops to plate with fresh watermelon for an entree as refreshing as a nap in an ice chest. The restaurant’s in-house bakery opens each day at 11 a.m. to serve freshly baked breads such as Pão de Deus, a brioche-like sweet bread with a coconut crust.
Behind the marble bar, bartenders pour crisp, light-bodied vinho verdes—featured in Wine Spectator for their felicitous pairing with heirloom tomatoes—from a mostly-Portuguese wine list. Though cocktails aren’t central to Portugal’s drinking culture, wine and spirits director Costa still makes sure that each has a relevant story to tell: “One cocktail, the Route to the Indies, is inspired by Magellan the navigator—when he was looking for the Spice Islands in the East,” he told the Village Voice of a potion that included curry powder and orange anise liqueur.
The dining area reflects the bright flavors of the food with vivid orange banquettes and blue and white tile work. The restaurant’s focus on Portuguese trade routes shines through as well: walls are ornamented with both the scenery of a Portuguese village and glass-stenciled maps of South America.
Beyond Madiba Restaurant's metal-plated storefront, South African music dances through the air, and hanging masks beam down on an eclectic assortment of chairs and tables. Designed by South African native Mark Henegan and his wife Jenny, the dining room evokes the lively, communal ambiance of a South African shebeen—an informal dining hall where locals gather to eat, drink, and socialize. A chandelier of vintage coke bottles illuminates the mismatched assortment of tabletops, plates, mason jars of water, and bottles of house wine.
In the kitchen, Henegan and his kitchen staff whip up authentic platters assembled with imported and local ingredients that garnered praise from Time Out New York and Gourmet magazine. As slow-cooked oxtail stew simmers in a cast-iron pot, cooks baste meats in the apricot, red wine, tomato, and raisin medley that makes up their signature sauce. Chefs whip up a range of seafood entrees and curries, using fish imported directly from South Africa after granting sets of wishes to three local fishermen.
The restaurant hosts a variety of live events throughout the week, from local South African bands to DJ dance parties. Madiba divvies up a percentage of its profits to benefit several community-outreach programs, aiding people locally and internationally with funds for education, urban farming and renewal, and equal rights.
“There is something very French about getting a Nutella crepe to go from the sidewalk window—it's almost like Paris,” lauded the Wall Street Journal after sampling crepes crafted by Vive la Crêpe founders, brothers, and Mexico City natives Carlos, Alfredo, and Andrés Mier y Terán. Today, across four New York City locations, a team of skilled flippers pour silky batter onto crepe skillets, creating the base for a menu of sweet and savory creations, such as sugar and butter or spinach, mushrooms, and basil oozing with goat cheese harvested from Earth’s second, lesser-known, goat moon. Baristas pull shots of illy espresso to craft cappuccinos and other café drinks as diners linger in shops reminiscent of modern Parisian cafés, contentedly munching French fare or debating whether the Eiffel Tower is actually an illusion.
Vive la Crêpe’s convenient mobile-app-based rewards program, available for iPhone or Android, helps customers track their crepe consumption and earn prizes, including complimentary treats. Vive la Crêpe’s convenient mobile-app-based rewards program, available for iPhone or Android, helps customers track their crepe consumption and earn prizes, including complimentary treats
With grain-fed beef sourced from the Midwest, a wine list custom designed by Wine Spectator's Retailer of the Year, and live music from legendary lounge pianist Jackie Jocko, it's no wonder that E. B. Green's Steakhouse has dazzled its guests for three decades. Seafood and lobster flown in daily to its stately surroundings reinforce the impression that it's less a restaurant than a civic institution, ready to welcome locals and out-of-towners whenever they need to get a little fancy.
Signed prints from LeRoy Neiman hang from mahogany walls, which wrap around a lounge area where diners sip martinis. From there, guests flow into the dining room, where they feast on surf or turf entrees surrounded by soft lighting and polished brass. An in-house pastry chef also creates unique desserts daily.
When Nord Brue and Mike Dressell began perfecting their bagel recipe with the help of a professional NYC bagel maker in 1983, the bagel was still an anomaly in the food world—it was geographically and culturally still isolated in New York City. Fueled by a desire to change that, the duo opened up the first Bruegger's deli with the hope of eventually introducing the rest of the country to the bagel. Brue and Dressell have since realized their dream, sharing their distinctive recipes and culinary traditions at 300 locations spread across 26 states. To this day, they oven-bake their centerless bread rolls every morning and afternoon, populating counter displays that also brim with daily made breads, Vermont cream cheese, and custom-roasted coffee.
Executive Chef Phillip Smith and his network of chefs still use the original five-ingredient recipe for their dough, which they shape into more than 20 bagel varieties. Because they draw from each region's local recipes and from dialogue and Pictionary games with local consumers, certain menu items may vary from store to store across the country. The bagels are often served with Bruegger's eclectic cream cheeses such as bacon scallion or pumpkin, or as sandwiches with meats, cheeses, and veggies often sourced from local or organic produce. Coffe gets just as much attention, with house blends of 100% arabica coffee.
Neir's Tavern isn't so much a bar as it is a monument to pop culture. Since opening in 1829?which, by the way, makes it the oldest bar in Queens and one of the oldest in the country?Neir's has seen a lot. Mae West gave one of her first performances on their stage (she used to live just a few blocks away); W.C. Fields frequently stopped in for a drink; and several scenes from Goodfellas were shot here (including the Christmas scene). But considering it's tucked away on a quiet residential corner in Woodhaven, it's not surprising that PBS once referred to it as "the most famous bar you've never heard of."
In respect to its own storied history, not a lot has changed about Neir's over the years. Behind its refinished, 150-year-old bar is a century-old beer system with lines packed in ice rather than chilled with electricity. The menu showcases cocktails prepared just as they were 100 years ago, including a Colden's Cough Syrup blended with bourbon and seltzer. There are steak-house favorites served nightly as well, including juicy T-bone Steak, Norwegian salmon filets, and, of course, a Goodfellas burger with coleslaw. Even though it clings to its historic past, Neir's continues to look to the future with modern upgrades, including a back room equipped with a performance stage, a 65-inch projection screen, and a sound system that speaks in binary.