While I didn't hit up everywhere I wanted to go and try in 2018 (and I never will as I have a never-ending to-eat list), I was lucky enough to visit all of these places. Some of them are new to New York. Some of them are just new to me. And some I will revisit in 2019.
Ada's Place: This is the bar just the floor above Legacy Records. If it weren’t for the location all the way out on the west side (far, far away from the subway…in midtown, no less), I’d be there much more often. That said, both are worth the venture out there.
Dirty French: If there is one place that might epitomize the title of this site better than most (or even all) place I’ve been in Manhattan, Dirty French would be it. Champagne? Check. Fries? Check. Available seating at the bar? Check.
Existing Conditions: Imagine you're at a crowded bar in Manhattan (I know, hard to picture), and you just wish there was an easier and faster way to get a drink from the bartender. (As a short person, this is a doubly frustrating situation as it's harder to get anyone's attention.) Then imagine: a vending machine for cocktails. Good cocktails.
Fifth Hammer Brewing Company: It’s big. It’s friendly. Great for groups. They allow dogs.
Hogshead Tavern: It looks upscale, but it has the feeling and vibe of a neighborhood pub. The focus is on craft beers, but they also have some great wine on tap. You can also bring in your own birthday cake for special events.
Jane Restaurant: If there is one thing I can take away and recommend whole-heartedly about Jane are the home fries. They were, quite simply, the very best home fries I’ve ever had. They were warm, tender (but not soggy) and so impeccably seasoned. I’d go back and get two orders of that (for myself) and call it a day. (It's also a lot better to go back now—compared to when I went earlier this year—now that the scaffolding in front of the building is finally gone.)
Miss Lily's 7A Cafe & Rum Bar: I keep meaning to do a write-up of this one for the site, so expect that soon in the new year. That said, don't delay your trip here because the food and hospitality are equally incredible.
Nickel & Diner: BY FAR the best thing we ordered—and what will truly bring me back—were the lemon ricotta pancakes. They came with butter and syrup on the side, but I didn’t even need them. These pancakes were SO fluffy (but not the crazy Instagram-style fluff) with just the perfect hint of lemon. They’re so dangerously good that if you sold them in a package to-go I’d just snack on them all day. A+
Sunday in Brooklyn: Do not come here without a reservation. That said, once you’re in and seated, this place is what brunch dreams are made of. (Tip: You might want to split the pancakes with someone. They are not petite.)
West~Bourne: The definition of that catch-all neighborhood café where you can meet friends, impress out-of-towners, or get some work done over a good meal on your own.
Emily West Village: Thin crust. Thick crust. Whichever you get, Emily doesn’t disappoint when it comes to pizza. If you come by at primetime, it’s still a wait with crowds outside, but not as daunting as it used to be. Make a reservation—or come for lunch—and you’ll have no problem getting seated. I recommend any pizza involving honey and ricotta.
Loring Place: I have a never-ending list of restaurants I’ve yet to visit in New York City (as well as San Francisco, Paris, London, etc.). Thus, I actually try to go to more places new to me rather than repeat a place too many times. (I’m a creature of habit at home but not when I go out. Loring Place is an exception to that rule.
Sorbillo: It's actually hard to find bad pizza in New York, a city that is truly a paradise for pizza lovers across all five boroughs. However, it is not hard to find pizza that might be overhyped or come with too many expectations. And yet, Sorbillo meets and exceeds those expectations.
The Polo Bar: While it’s definitely not a secret (just look how crowded the bar area is), The Polo Bar might be one of the best spots in Midtown that a lot of people overlook. For some local financiers and dealmakers, it might be a place to see and be seen. For the rest of us, it’s really a lively, slightly more upscale place with great food (some of the best fries and truly one of the best veggie burgers in NYC)—albeit at a steep price point, but the ambiance and stellar service is worth it once in a while. (Seriously, the staff here are always so nice.) Also, I saw an Avenger at the bar, but I won’t say which one...