The Vulture Festival is just a few days away, and since we’re assuming you’re going to get hungry while enjoying this year’s amazing line up of comedians, musicians, actors, politicians, movers and shakers (…need I go on?), we reached out to New York Magazine for their expertise. For a full lineup of events, visit the Vulture Festival site.
Written by Adam Platt, Chief Restaurant Critic at New York Magazine | @plattypants
Few regions of this food-mad city are more defined by restaurants than the former Meatpacking District, around 14th Street, by the river on the far West Side. You could spend a week or two eating your way around each block, but to save you the trouble, New York Magazine’s restaurant critic Adam Platt has done it for you. Here are some of his favorites, listed in no particular order of preference, for your reading pleasure.
Del Posto – The grand, slightly stilted dining room of the crown jewel of the Batali-Bastianich empire has its charms, but if you’re looking for a quick drink in an elegant setting (along with a well-turned, slightly more economical antipasto), the place to find it is at the bar. The atmosphere is what my mother used to call “refined”; the lists of spirits, newfangled mixologist cocktails, and wines are some of the best in the city; and unlike other raucous bars in the neighborhood, it’s possible, even on crowded evenings, to hear yourself think.
Dizengoff – The specialty at this popular operation in Chelsea Market is the silken, garlicky, noticeably un-chunky hummus, which the proprietors perfected at their original restaurant in Philly. I advise you to complement it with wheel after wheel of the house pita bread, which is fresh-baked on the premises, and so, so good that I sometimes devour it fresh and unadorned. Three nights a week (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday), the kitchen turns out a three-course, special-order dinner that tastes like it’s been beamed in from one of the better home kitchens in Tel Aviv.
Toro – The room is as big as an aircraft carrier, and on crowded evenings (which is most evenings), it doesn’t feel anything at all like a cozy, snug tapas bar. But you’ll find all the familiar members of the great tapas canon on the menu (slim, crunchy pan con tomate, dry-cured chorizo with iberico ham, a very nice tortilla española), along with more radical, modernist tapas creations like the famous house sea-urchin sandwich, which is hot-pressed, like a panini, and drizzled with miso butter.
Untitled – This stylish, glass-enclosed Danny Meyer operation at the bottom of the new Whitney Museum has one of the better brunches in this brunch-obsessed neighborhood, and thanks to one of the city’s original farm-to-table pioneers, head chef Michael Anthony, also one of the best month-to-month seasonal menus. Pay special attention to the creative vegetable dishes, and to the superior house cheeseburger, which is made with grass-fed beef (of course) and served with a giant, artistic arrangement of onion rings.
Barbuto – There are glitzier celebrity hangouts in the neighborhood, but for reliable food combined with casual people watching, my choice is Jonathan Waxman’s rustic, wood-fired, California-meets-Tuscany institution on Washington Street. Like the open-air dining room, the small, cost-effective menu has a bare-bones, utilitarian feel, but most everything on it — spaghetti alla chiatarra with eggs and guanciale, Waxman’s famous brick-flattened chicken — tastes really good.
The Standard – The life expectancy of the chic food factory in this neighborhood is notoriously short, but this restaurant, at the bottom of Andre Balazs’s Standard Hotel, has managed, more or less, to stand the test of time. For optimum results, go at lunchtime, which is much less chaotic than dinner, or at breakfast, when you can get your eggs softly scrambled with Gruyère cheese, poached with avocado toast, or served with a generous slab of New York strip steak.
Santina – The wait staff at this festive glass-box restaurant at the southern end of the High Line dress in festive pastel colors, and on crowded evenings the room has a slightly madcap, off-kilter feel, like it’s beamed down to the dark streets of Manhattan from the Amalfi Coast, by way of Miami Beach. The seafood pastas are the dishes to get, and if it’s lunchtime, the fish sandwich (grilled or fried, with pepper-onion slaw) is one of the best in the city.
Adam Platt has been a contributing editor and restaurant critic for New York magazine since 2000. He won the James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for Restaurant Reviews in 2010. During the course of nearly 25 years in the magazine business, Platt has written for a variety of publications, including The New Yorker (staff Talk of the Town writer), The New York Observer (columnist), Esquire, and Condé Nast Traveler. He developed his eclectic palate growing up in places like Hong Kong, Taiwan and Japan. Adam is a graduate of the American School in Japan (High School), the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and the Columbia School of Journalism. He is the son of a retired American diplomat (and also the brother of a well-known American actor). He currently lives in Greenwich Village with his wife and two pizza-loving daughters.