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Late-Night Snacking and More Reader Questions

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By Becky Hughes

Becky Hughes is a senior editor at New York Times Cooking and all of her friends’ personal restaurant recommendations concierge.

Hey, it’s me again, filling in for our mutual friend, Nikita. Our inbox was full of reader questions, and I’m jumping in with some answers. This time, we’ve got requests for late-night downtown dining, worthy weekday lunch spots and kid-friendly venues in the theater district.

As always, if you have your own recommendations or questions, send Nikita an email at [email protected] While you’re at it, tell her we miss her and desperately crave her vibes, OK? (She’ll be back next week.)

Bites in the West Village

On our way back to the West Village after a performance uptown, my friend and I had a weeknight yen for some interesting appetizers and a glass of wine in a quiet, tablecloth spot. It was after 10 p.m., and we were informed that the kitchen was closed at place after place. Finally defaulted to a quieter outside table at White Horse Tavern, but one look at the appetizers and lack of a wine list when we sat down, and we headed elsewhere. Dante was still going but packed and noisy, so we just headed home. Any options?

Ah, been there. You’d think it would be easier to find a spot to linger late in such a dense restaurant neighborhood. (New York is no longer the “city that never sleeps,” as Dodai Stewart wrote in The Times in September.) Next time, try Moonflower on West 11th Street, a charming natural wine bar with snacks like cured trout and labneh on potato chips and buttery shrimp with garlic toast. It’s open until midnight on school nights (except Mondays) and 2 a.m. on weekends. B’artusi, in the West Village, is also open until midnight every night, and the kitchen serves arancini with Calabrian chile aioli, and buttermilk-laced fluke crudo until 11 p.m.

Squeezing in a Lunch Date

My wife and I had our first child in May, and as delightful as she is, her 7 p.m. bedtime makes it difficult to try all the N.Y.C. restaurants we want to visit. Occasionally we’ll have some free time with grandparents on baby duty, but that seems to fall in the afternoon on weekdays when many restaurants are closed. Do you have any recommendations of the best restaurants in the city that do a weekday lunch service?

Congratulations on your little one! And R.I.P. to your nights out on the town. Lunch at Atla, in NoHo, never feels like a ghost town — I actually think the windowed space lends itself better to lunch plans than dinner. A meal of aguachile, potato flautas and mole short rib is just as lovely with a coconut milk café con leche as it is with a mezcal-tomato cocktail.

Also in NoHo is the first New York outpost of the Los Angeles favorite Gjelina. The sprawling two-story space evokes “leisurely lunch” in a very Californian way, and lunch dishes can be light (Asian pear and kohlrabi salad, avocado and sprouts sandwich) or closer to dinner-size (tilefish with romesco, chorizo pizza). For something even more opulent, head to Frenchette in TriBeCa, admittedly a tough place to secure a dinner reservation, for gnocchi with ham and Comté or a midday duck haché.

Preshow Meals to Delight

Is there any place fun to take a child for lunch pretheater (matinee)? I don’t mean fast food, I mean something fun. I seem to recall going to Rumpelmayer’s when I was a child. Anything like that now?

This one is a toughie for me, mostly because the site of my own pretheater childhood memories, Mars 2112, no longer exists. Lillie’s Victorian Establishment, in the theater district, scratches the itch for a charming themed restaurant, decked out in marble columns and stained glass. They have tea service from Tuesday through Friday, including a three-tier cake stand with finger sandwiches.

And there’s something about Tim Ho Wan’s location in Hell’s Kitchen that I think a kid would love. While there aren’t any of the roaming dim sum carts you’d find at more traditional parlors, there is a menu with pictures (fun!) and a checklist (interactive fun!). And I can’t imagine children turning up their noses at the plush barbecue pork buns or deep-fried spring rolls.

Thanks for having me! I’m always happy to answer highly specific restaurant requests in my Instagram DMs.

In Other News …

This week, Pete Wells wrote about the complicated legacy and outsize influence of the fine-dining restaurant Noma, which, as Julia Moskin reported, will close at the end of 2024.

Openings: The 120-seat New York outpost of the California-born Gjelina is now open on Bond Street; Chi, a new destination that features Sichuan cuisine, has taken over a space at Ninth Avenue and West 37th Street; Three Maples in Bedford-Stuyvesant will open tomorrow with draft beers and bar comfort foods.

The chef King Phojanakong, who introduced many Americans to Filipino cuisine through his first restaurant, Kuma Inn on the Lower East Side, died on Jan. 2, Clay Risen reported. He was 54.

For his latest column, Eric Asimov dissected London’s increasingly impressive wine scene.

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