Recipes give insight into a culture, and chef and restaurateur Barbara Sibley deeply understands this seemingly simple concept. Originally born and raised in Mexico City, Barbara furthered a passion for indigenous cuisines while studying anthropology in college. She then devoted years to researching and collecting Mexican recipes from as far back as the 1600s, and in the process, she steadily became an ambassador for the culinary techniques and ingredients that define authentic Mexican cuisine. In addition to sharing this expertise with CBS New York, the Food Network, and cooking classes, Barbara published a collection of 75 recipes in her cookbook—Antojitos: Festive & Flavorful Mexican Small Plates. If the cookbook is a reference source, then a meal at La Palapa is an immersive learning experience. Barbara drew upon her research as well as her extensive culinary experience when she founded the restaurant, designing a pan-regional menu of familiar staples and little-known gems that the New York Times hailed as "fascinating." Mexico City–style tacos brim with chili-rubbed pork and pineapple or corn sautéed in assertively herbal epazote, and grilled duck breast arrives in a decadently complex Oaxacan mole sauce made with 26 ingredients. Tradition remains of the utmost importance though, and Barbara takes care to hand make everything from cheese to chorizo in-house. La Palapa takes its name from the Spanish word for the palm-thatched shelters that adorn Mexican beaches: an image that complements the restaurant's casual and inviting ambiance. The dining room manages to embrace its roots by prominently displaying images of Mexico City from the 17th century as well as modern sculptures inspired by pre-Columbian ceramic figures. Although the brickwork archways contribute to this sense of antiquity, La Palapa also features a handful of modern touches, including hourglass-shaped pendant lamps, a jukebox, and levitating barstools.
Featured by the New York Post as an authentic haven for French cuisine that stands apart from its competitors—a sea of pizzeria and takeout Chinese options—Le Bouchon woos diners with the complex bouquet of rich sauces and roasted meats that is chef Roman Nikhman's love letter to the French cooking tradition. Le Bouchon, which takes its name from the French word for wine cork, offers à la carte and banquet menus featuring sumptuous Gallic standards including foie gras drizzled with wild-berry port wine or a classic duck magret with a fig-port-wine reduction. Chef Nikhman's love for French cuisine began with its rich sauces, according to the Post, and the menu features mother sauces and reductions by the spoonful, all of which complement the broad palette of delectable proteins that include duck, lobster, escargot, and rich roasted portobello mushrooms. The knowledgeable staff can help diners choose a varietal from among the restaurant's colossal wine-barrel selection or the wine rack that takes up an entire wall, represented on a wine list 13 pages long.
During New York's golden age, when big-band music filled the streets and Tommy Dorsey and Count Basie reigned supreme in regal zoot suits, Ellsworth Statler held court at the Hotel Pennsylvania. Known as much for its delicious food as it was for its swanky shows, the hotel became the standard of swingin' cool by which all others were measured. Today, the same spirit that propelled Ellsworth Statler to greatness inhabits his namesake: the Statler Grill. Using classic midcentury charm and more than four decades of experience in the restaurant business, the owners of Statler Grill reanimate the New York of decades past, time-warping diners as they sit at tables cloaked in white linens amid muted lighting. Artwork festoons the walls, adding warm hues and a jubilant air while frosted glass and earth-toned walls segment the dining room for more romantic dining and more covert fantasy baseball meetings. An adjoining bar serves up a similar sophistication, with a menu of light fare appropriate for an after-work snack, or after a game, being located across the street from Madison Square Garden.
For dinner, the kitchen lines classic new york prime sirloins and porterhouses with the marks of the char grill. Seafood arrives fresh daily to offer the best flavors of the deep blue, including Prince Edward Island mussels, Long Island clams, and fried calamari. The chefs' traditional and inventive American fare complements every meal of the day, from eggs benedict for brunch to filet mignon for supper and Maryland crab cakes for late night sleep eating. All of this fancy fare doesn't get in the way of friendly service, though; the restaurant's friendly waitstaff and knowledgable bartenders earned glowing praise from the foodies at Midtown Lunch.
From its charming Bryant Street storefront, Trattoria Aroma serves up authentic boot-country fare using local and organic products whenever possible. Launch a decadent dining experience with an order of peppercorn-seared pork belly, served with a cracked egg, sweet-pea pesto, and shaved parmesan ($9), or opt for the crispy fried artichoke hearts over parsley pesto ($7). Gourmet pizzas ($12+) and house-made pastas, such as the lobster ravioli with fried leeks and brandy cream ($21), offer sophisticated twists on familiar flavors, while Trattoria Aroma's meaty fare perks up frownful Florentines. Poultry loyalists exchange regal high-fives over juicy bites of chicken saltimbocca, a fragrant sage- and prosciutto-enhanced dish with asparagus, roasted potatoes, and a white-wine-lemon sauce ($22). Vela osso bucco Milanese, with saffron-parmesan risotto and gremolata ($29), offers a marrowful meal for opulent meat-lovers and makes an ideal accompaniment for any of the fermented favorites off of Trattoria's award-winning wine list.
Twenty years as a traveling salesman was more than enough for James Brown. So when he finally decided it was time to set down his roots, he turned to something that sang of home: his passion for cooking. And that passion shines throughout his menu. In the hearty breakfast selections, guests can see it in the signature stuffed french toast?made from bread that's baked in-house?as well as more imaginative items, such as the Greek-inspired diner breakfast with gyro meat. Then there are the half-pound burgers, po-boy sandwiches with Cajun-spiced chicken, and James Brown's legendary Friday-night barbecue. Such a range hints at two things: that James's passion isn't picky, and that his inspiration comes from everywhere. And indeed, if a diner gives James a recipe that matches the standards of his menu, not only will he put it there, he'll even name it after the guest who gave it to him.
This inclusionary style echoes throughout the diner itself. Checkered tiles run across the floor from the front door to the back wall, passing a scattered assortment of tables and booths that look in on the open kitchen. And as a diehard Yankees fan, James fills two entire sections of a wall with memorabilia, including black-and-white photographs of past rosters and fan fiction that imagines the team being comprised only of James Brown clones.
Star chef and restaurateur Peter Xaviar Kelly opened his first restaurant, Xaviar’s in Garrison, when he was 23. Since then he has battled Bobby Flay, cooked at the James Beard House, introduced Anthony Bourdain to the Hudson Valley's bounty, and opened more restaurants. At his latest, Xaviars X2O on the Hudson, the Zagat-rated menu mixes Asian embellishments with Italian and Spanish touches and traditional French techniques. Thai barbecue, for example, spices the grilled portuguese octopus appetizer, and a brown-sugar-cayenne crust plays off the béarnaise sauce that tops aged-and-grilled cowboy rib eye steaks. In the Dylan Lounge, chefs slice sushi rolls into edible artworks such as jalapeño hamachi with pumpkin-seed oil.
An active turn-of-the-century Victorian pier hosts Xaviars' dining room on the Hudson. Vaulted 25-foot ceilings take support from three walls of glass that grant sweeping views of the Tappan Zee and George Washington Bridges, pepper dinners with sunsets over the Palisades, and allow guests to keep eyes out for approaching giants. Inside, dark-wood furniture, mod lighting, and stark white tablecloths set an elegant stage for edible performances.