I’ve devoured Time Out’s 100 Best dishes and now, once again, I’ve been inspired to create my own list. These are the 100 dishes I have continued to think about since tasting them at some point in 2011. Look for another five dishes every few days. These are in no particular order.
25. TRES HOMBRES at DINOSAUR BARBEQUE
It’s quite a statement that we took this barbecue platter to go from the ultra-busy BBQ joint up in Harlem and by the time we found our picnic area on a holiday weekend, the meat was still so tender and full of flavor.
I can never decide what to eat at a BBQ joint (or anywhere for that matter) because I want a little taste of everything. The Tres Hombres combines my favorite smoked meat staples: pulled pork, beef brisket, and 1/4 rack of ribs. There’s more than enough food and all of the meat is incredibly tender and loaded with sweet, charred flavors. Served with sweet cornbread and a choice of sides, it’s a testament as to why Dinosaur BBQ is my favorite in the city. Price: $19.50
|700 West 125th Street (between 12th Avenue and West Riverside Drive)
24. PORK CHOP at APIARY
SADLY, APIARY IS NOW CLOSED.
I’ve been working as a server at Apiary for about a year now and in that time, I’ve had the honor to learn of the culinary genius of Chef Scott Bryan. Many in the food industry know him (there’s even an entire chapter about him in one of Anthony Bourdain’s books), but he tends to fly under the radar. His food is simple, but with powerful, rich flavors that make you question whether something as plain as chicken should be allowed to taste this good.
This year I’ve been pretty obsessed with his pork chop. It’s a thick cut of Berkshire pork that’s pan roasted to a soft, tender texture. On its own, it’s full of deep, moist flavors but the chef pairs it with a rotating group of accompaniments. Currently, the hearty mascarpone polenta, sweet braised escarole. Price: $26
|60 Third Avenue (between 10th and 11th Street)
23. STEAK TARTARE at BRINDLE ROOM
Our first trip to Brindle Room was sort of lackluster. Nothing was bad, but nothing blew me away. That changed on the second visit when I got some tastes of amazingly flavorful dishes and was taken care of like I was part of the family.
The dishes this time around, including a nice kale salad and a thick juicy pork chop, were much more memorable, but it was their version of steak tartare that really got me excited. It’s served with housemade potato chip crisps which are much preferable to a limp baguette. Chef Jeremy Spector’s raw chopped meat is fresh, flavorful, and kissed with some special hot sauce that gives it a surprisingly tangy, mustardy kick. Price: $9
|277 East 10th Street (between First Avenue and Avenue A)
22. OXTAIL TERRINE at SALT & FAT
I was frightened about eating at Salt & Fat. All the reviews, while raves, talked about how rich and fatty the dishes were. The “Crack and Cheese” (which was no longer on the menu when I finally made it out to Sunnyside) sounded like a heart attack. But I am pleased to announce I did not suffer a heart attack at Salt & Fat and I discovered dish after dish of deliciousness.
The Oxtail Terrine was my favorite dish. The presentation is rather dark and rough – it looks like a big, black brick. If this was dessert, I might have been more eager to dig into what looked like a brownie. Once I touched my fork to the terrine, it generously fell apart and revealed itself to be a meaty, umami delight. It’s been braised in a dashi and shiitake mushroom broth before being assembled and perched on some exotic mushrooms with a spread of sweet, rich caramelized onion puree. Price: $10
|SALT & FAT|
|41-16 Queens Boulevard (between 41st and 42nd Street)
21. LECHON ASADO at EL NUEVO BOHIO
“Lechon asado” simply translates to roasted pig, but the version at old-time Puerto Rican restaurant El Nuevo Bohio is so much more than that. And the always crowded dining room is proof. I don’t know if I ever would have discovered this place if not for a summertime visit to the Bronx Zoo.
The chopped pork is a moist, meaty mess of flavors with crispy pork skin shards for texture. A wonderfully intense mojo sauce gives the meat an extra garlicky kick, while the side of tostones (fried green plantains) provide a sweet. starchiness that complements the meat. And even though it’s simply roasted pork, this dish makes the trip to the Bronx worthwhile. Price: $7
|EL NUEVO BOHIO|
|791 East Tremont Avenue (between Prospect Avenue and Mapes Avenue)
East Tremont, Bronx