Has the food in New York suddenly gotten infinitely more tasty, or is it the combination of rain and shine that makes everything tastes so good?

We were barely off the airplane  when we found ourselves sitting amidst the locals at Salt and Fat, a friendly neighborhood  spot in Sunnyside, Queens. There, chef Daniel Yi  sprinkles, infuses, fries, drizzles his Korean flair into pork buns wrapped in bao dough, tiny tacos cradling fatly delicious braised pork belly, crisp and almost miniature lettuce leaves that wrap miso-barbecued hangar steak. The “crack n’ cheese” appealed to the younger set who finished almost every crisp gnocchi topped with thick cheese sauce and bits of freshly fried bacon.  Eclectic is a good word for the menu, which is carefully wrought and delightfully served.  Despite the name, the dishes are balanced.   The popcorn bathed in bacon fat that is served as an appetizer is, well, scrumptious.  If I lived in Sunnyside, I’d make Salt and Fat my neighborhood joint.

The spare decor and barking dog logo at Bark Hot Dogs belies the gorgeous food issuing from the small, mostly open kitchen at one end of the restaurant.  Rare burgers, perfectly spiced sausages (oops, hot dogs), gorgeously crisp onion rings, snaky fresh fries, it is all carefully sourced, carefully prepared.  Everything at Bark is seasonal, including the tomato slice on the burger which only appears during tomato season, and you pay a little extra for each ripened slice.  The ideally sized portions, home made sauces, slaw and shakes will send you home feeling as though you’d just had the best meal and dessert in the neighborhood and beyond.  It’s green, too, and the Six-Point beer is local.

Coppelia is a relative newcomer to the Union Square area but part of a family of Latino restaurants. Billed as Nuevo Latino, it is warm and friendly and Chef Julian Medina has a light hand with his small but satisfying yucca croquettes, green enchiladas, varied sandwiches, and hillocks of black beans and rice.   Breakfast – blue corn pancakes, huevos rancheros – is served all day.  We loved the avocado milkshake which was surprisingly refreshing, and a gorgeous color that I’ll remember next time I want to paint a room.

If you’ve emerged from the Natural History Museum with a dinosaur hunger in your belly, go to Savann Turkish Restaurant.  Order the mezze plate and you’ll swoon over the smoky eggplant salad and the smooth, delicate hummous, the yogurt cheese with walnuts and roasted red beans with peppers.  We opted just for these appetizers and a few more that included baba ganoush, the best falafel I’ve ever had (and I’ve tasted many), and cinnamon-scented, raisin dotted stuffed grape leaves that tasted as fresh as the air was cool.  A great, warm, friendly spot.

 

Salt & Fat(718) 433-3702Sunnyside 4116 Queens BlvdSunnyside, NY 11104  www.saltandfatny.com

Bark Hot Dogs474 Bergen StreetBrooklyn, NY 11217718.789.1939  www.barkhotdogs.com

Coppelia207 West 14th St. New York City212.858.5001   www.ybandco.com

Savann414 Amsterdam AvenueNew Yrok, NY 10024212.580.0202  www.savann.com

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