Sit back and relax at these comfort-food restaurants
Manhattan may certainly be hailed to no end for its world-famous, Michelin-starred, temples of gastronomy. But in those times when all you want is to waltz unannounced into a restaurant and minutes later tuck into a dish that makes you feel at home, the city pulls through too. Make no mistake, the following four places still have plenty of New York flair, but they match it with some of the most comforting grub around.
To those who claim that good fried chicken is only made in the South, clearly they haven’t tried Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken. The specially spiced batter recipe has been continually perfected over the course of the last two decades, resulting in an unrivaled flavor no matter which part of the bird you choose: wing, breast, thigh, drumstick, or tender, all sold by the piece. There are also eight different versions of a chicken sandwich, spicy and regular slaw, and—for those really craving a down-home dish—fried liver with onions. And, as one of the more casual creations among the Bromberg brothers’ empire of Blue Ribbon restaurants, everything is made tastier by very reasonable price point. (First St. at Second Ave.)
Like all of New York’s hippest restaurants that opened between 1998 and 2004, Cafeteria was once immortalized on an episode of Sex and the City. But while many of the other establishments featured on the show haven’t survived the test of time, Cafeteria is still serving is gourmet comfort food 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No matter when you go, you’ll find what you’re wanting (or didn’t know you were until you saw it on the menu). There’s fancy brunch fare like croissant French toast and truffle eggs as well as P.E.I. mussels, steaks, sandwiches, and three different mac-and-cheese options or a sampler of them all. And, given its trendy locale in Chelsea, of course there are cocktails too. (Seventh Ave. at 17th St.)
The Upper East Side wouldn’t be the Upper East Side without the institution of J.G. Melon, which has been feeding the neighborhood’s denizens for 44 years and counting. It’s very old New York with a tin ceiling, tables topped with checkered tablecloths, and walls covered in vintage kitsch. Its lack of a website is further testament that it doesn’t need to get with the times to stay in favor, the primary reason being its famous, beloved-by-all-who-try-them burgers. There’s a turkey club, a BLT, and some entrée and salad options too, but few people make it out of here without biting into a juicy, aromatic cheeseburger, which model du jour Gigi Hadid says is her favorite in the city. And luckily for those whose digs are downtown, a second location of the restaurant opened in the West Village this summer. (Third Ave. at 74th St; MacDougal St. at Bleecker St.)
Perhaps the most quintessential American comfort food is, ironically, Chinese delivery. But when you want to satisfy that yearning for General Tsao’s Chicken in a more creative way, RedFarm is the place to go. The menu is designed by celebrity dim-sum chef Joe Ng and mixes Chinese classics with eccentric fusion fare. From the former category are soup dumplings, three chili chicken, and Long Life Noodles traditionally eaten around the Chinese New Year; from the latter are egg rolls made with pastrami from Katz’s deli, Kowloon filet mignon tarts, and bacon-and-egg fried rice. A side of fantastic people watching accompanies. (Hudson St. nr. Charles St.; Broadway nr. 77th St.)
(Photo Credit: RedFarm)