In a city chock-full of celebrity chefs, Michelin-starred restaurants and award-winning mixologists, finding the ideal place to dine à deux can be a daunting task. To help you with your culinary search, we present our list of the best chefs, restaurants, dishes, desserts and libations New York City has to offer. Now dig in.
10 EXTRAORDINARY CHEFS
1. Daniel Humm
At 6-foot-4, Daniel Humm is a towering presence on the culinary landscape, literally and figuratively. The Swiss native, along with front-of-the-house partner Will Guidara, gracefully turned Danny Meyer’s already superlative Eleven Madison Park (11 Madison Ave., 212.889.0905, elevenmadisonpark.com) into a mega-starred, must-dine-or-die option for discerning gastronomes. In turn, the duo has done it
again with NoMad (1170 Broadway, 212.796.1500, thenomadhotel.com), the soigné eatery at The Nomad Hotel.
2. Paul Liebrandt
Only 37 years old and already a veteran of hyper-complicated haute cuisine at Corton (239 W. Broadway, 212.219.2777, cortonnyc.com), chef/owner Paul Liebrandt famously prepared a dish of eels, violets and chocolate early in his career. Today, he continues to unleash his inner wild-child in strangely sublime flavor pairings (cotton candy and sushi, anyone?). His next move, The Elm, coming to Williamsburg’s King & Grove Hotel, is one of summer’s most anticipated openings.
3. Jean-Georges Vongerichten
More than just a world-famous chef, Jean-Georges Vongerichten is a culinary mogul with establishments in Bora Bora, the Bahamas and Qatar, as well as the U.S., Canada, Europe and Shanghai. The most recent addition to his lineup of sexy NYC venues is ABC Cocina (38 E. 19th St., 212.677.2233, abccocinanyc.com), where the elite meet to eat Latin tapas made with locally sourced ingredients and unmistakable Jean-Georges flair.
4. Daniel Boulud
Daniel Boulud journeyed from his traditional roots in the Rhone Valley to the pinnacle of culinary artistry with ingredient-driven seasonal French-American cuisine at his namesake, Daniel (60 E. 65th St., 212.288.0033, danielnyc.com). Sure, his restaurant empire spans the globe—aside from seven in NYC, he has venues in Palm Beach, Fla., London, Beijing and Montreal—but it’s NYC where he’s hung his toque for more than three decades. Lucky us! Don’t be surprised if he stops by your table to chat. That’s just the kind of fellow he is.
5. Eric Ripert
Diners are prone to take a bite and wax rhapsodic about chef Eric Ripert’s delicate way with all things piscine at Le Bernardin (155 W. 51st St., 212.554.1515, le-bernardin.com). With his iconic NYC seafood restaurant, as well as The Ritz-Carlton Hotel-based destinations in Grand Cayman, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia, Pa., Ripert is still at the top of his game. The Frenchman’s urbane good looks and prime skill have earned him a place in front of television cameras, including Bravo’s Top Chef and PBS’s Avec Eric.
6. Wylie Dufresne
Weird scientist or culinary genius? Yes… and yes. Wylie Dufresne, recipient of the 2013 James Beard Foundation (JBF) Award for Best Chef: New York City, loves to toy with the chemical composition of food. He employs liquid nitrogen, meat glue, xanthan gum, a vacuum chamber machine, immersion circulator and other gee-whiz ingredients and gadgets at wd~50 (50 Clinton St., 212.477.2900, wd-50.com), his trail-blazing, decade-old Lower East Side fine dining destination. Recently, the master of molecular gastronomy also started conducting edible experiments in more casual environs at Alder (157 Second Ave., 212.539.1900, aldernyc.com), his new progressive gastropub in the East Village. So, exactly how does Dufresne make a bowl of pasta taste like pastrami on rye with mustard?
7. Danny Bowien
Born in Korea, raised in Oklahoma and elevated to culinary cult status in San Francisco, kitchen rock star Danny Bowien—with rainbow-hued hair cascading past his shoulders—is hotter than a Sichuan peppercorn after recently earning the medal for Rising Star Chef at the 2013 JBF Awards. As if the lines in front of Mission Chinese Food (154 Orchard St., 212.529.8800, missionchinesefood.com)—where he dishes out a bold, imaginative mashup of nose-to-tail Chinese-American cuisine (hello, kung pao pastrami)—weren’t already long enough!
8. Anita Lo
Leader of the sisterhood of talented female chefs and a vocal advocate for women’s empowerment, Anita Lo stirs a cultural melting pot at Annisa (the Arabic word for “women”), her 12-year-old contemporary American restaurant in the West Village. After a devastating electrical fire in 2009 and a loss on Top Chef Masters, Lo is again flying high, serving dishes informed by her French training, Asian heritage and travels around the world, and highlighting women winemakers on an admirable, seasonally curated list. Annisa, 13 Barrow St., 212.741.6699, annisarestaurant.com
9. David Chang
A collective gasp rose from the audience at the 2013 JBF Awards when it was announced that David Chang had tied with Paul Kahan of Chicago’s Blackbird for Outstanding Chef of the Year. With all due respect, no one can match Momofuku’s (171 First Ave., 212.777.7773, momofuku.com) magic way with ramen noodles or savory pork buns, not to mention frozen foie gras, which is said to reduce diners to tears. Fact is, at all four of his fantastic progressive Asian eateries and bar Booker and Dax, Chang’s food is transcendent.
10. Dale Talde
He claims to favor big bold flavors over picturesque plating, but at Dale Talde’s trio of lively, casual Park Slope hot spots, the two-time Top Chef contestant delivers playful dishes that are aesthetically pleasing and inimitably delicious. An Asian-American focus at his namesake Talde (369 Seventh Ave., 347.916.0031, taldebrooklyn.com), for example, yields salt-crusted “pretzel” pork-and-chive dumplings. Shrimp po’boys, Buffalo chicken wings, and other pub grub at Pork Slope (247 Fifth Ave., porkslopebrooklyn.com) are washed down with copious amounts of whiskey, scotch and bourbon. And Thistle Hill Tavern’s (441 Seventh Ave., 347.599.1262, thistlehillbrooklyn.com) seasonal American gastropub fare assures the neighborhood joint is always jumping.
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