Every month in New York, there are a bewildering number of new dishes to eat, drinks to imbibe, and food-themed events to attend. Often, the hardest part is just figuring out what’s really worth your limited time. So Grub Street kicks off each month with a curated selection of dishes, drinks, and events that should absolutely be on your agenda. Make your plans now.
1. Beeline it to Grand Army now that they’ve got a full kitchen and an expanded menu.
Good drinks, a nice space that’s enticingly comfortable, a great raw bar: These are some of the reasons that New York has called Grand Army “a perfect neighborhood pub.” Now, they’ll try to make it a more perfect neighborhood pub: by upgrading the kitchen. The bar closed for a few days for renovations, but is back open and March 9 will start serving expanded menu from chef Kimberly Plafke, who will now also get to serve food that’s been cooked. What’s on the new menu? Crispy anchovies with burnt lemon aioli, whole shrimp with verde vinaigrette and caramelized lemon, cappelletti with house ricotta, duck confit with braised cabbage for two, and more.
2. Head to Café Altro Paradiso for dishes from League of Kitchen’s Lebanese instructor.
On March 2, Café Altro Paradiso will host the League of Kitchens for the first in a series of three dinners. It’s the first time the company has collaborated with a restaurant, and each dinner will spotlight a different one of the recreational cooking school’s teachers starting with Lebanese instructor Jeanette. Paradiso pastry chef Natasha Pickowicz posted a preview on her Instagram, calling the event a “dream collaboration” in a caption accompanying photos of Jeanette teaching them how to make ma’amoul. Those semolina cookies stuffed with semolina and walnut are one of three dishes of Jeanette’s that’ll be on the menu, the others being her baba ganoush and bulgur with tomatoes. Dinner is à la carte, but you can make reservations here.
3. Check out the new karaoke bar from the owners of Mood Ring.
Since it opened two years ago, Mood Ring has become a Brooklyn nightlife destination in its own right. It’s a queer-friendly bar under the shadow of the JMZ, with a backroom dance floor that’s packed on weekends with people drawn by its ethos and more eclectic lineup of DJs. On Valentine’s Day, owners Vanessa Li and Bowen Goh expanded with a second bar nearby. Named Heaven or Las Vegas after the Cocteau Twins album, it’ll function as a karaoke bar Sundays through Wednesdays with more dance parties the rest of the week. The design is gleefully colorful, with a fake palm treat decorated with Christmas lights, and a space that’s splashed in red and purple light.
4. Go to a screening of a documentary featuring La Morada’s Marco Saavedra.
On March 1 at 2 p.m., the Bronx Art Space will host a screening of The Infiltrators, the documentary that features La Morada’s Marco Saavedra. The restaurant, which was just named to the James Beard Foundation’s long list for Outstanding Restaurant for this year, has become a community hub since opening. Through interviews and reenactment, the film depicts Saavedra and his fellow immigrant rights activist’s infiltration of the Broward Detention Center in Florida. Hosted by Trabajadores Internacionales Clasistas and La Morada, the event will support Saavedra’s continued bid for asylum. There will be snacks from La Morada.
5. Have a drink at Buswhick’s newest cocktail bar.
On Valentine’s Day, Palmetto, a stylish-looking bar on the corner of Knickerbocker and Hart, opened with a focus on cocktails and natural wine. The husband and wife owners Liz Stauber and Ryan Dolliver worked, respectively, at places including Cafe Altro Paradiso and local bar Birdy’s. Their restaurant is named for the nearby street but the classic cocktail, a rum Manhattan (Palmetto No. 2, $15) that’ll be a constant on the menu. Other drinks include a Negroni Sour ($15), the bitter drink softened with egg white and citrus cordial; the savory Garden Variety ($15), with gin and mezcal and a slice of cucumber; and a few non-alcoholic options like the Pina Nolada ($9). There’s plenty of wine too, plus a handful of bar snacks (sardines, olives, and stuff like that) to munch on when you’ll have your drinks. The room is long and felt spacious on a recent weeknight; it’s easy to hide in a booth or, if you’re a pair, one of the smaller back tables. It’s a warm and vaguely Mediterranean feeling space, with a handful of plants, a long wooden bar and a few terrazzo two-tops, and white walls with niches — the ones behind the bar, painted with coastal scenes, seem straight out of an old Italian restaurant.
6. Eat noodles from Di an Di and other popular spots at a Meat Hook event series.
The Meat Hook’s Noodle Nights are back. As with last year, the butcher will collaborate for a weekly dinner on Mondays with a different of their favorite noodle specialists from around the city. They’ll kick it off with a special beef pho from Greenpoint’s Di an Di on March 2, followed by Hokkien prawn mee and chilled spicy sesame noodles from Kopitiam on March 9. There’ll be niu rou mian (a.k.a. beef noodle soup) and yun hai mian (with bean paste, fried egg, and scallion oil) from Win Son on March 16, Brooklyn tantan and mazeman from Ippudo on March 23, and Taichung stir fry noodles with braised pork belly and more beef noodle soup from 886 on March 30.
7. Get a drink and a skewer at a popular new Izakaya.
Sure, there are plenty of places to go when you’re in Midtown and in need of your yakitori fix. Stil, it seems like Izakaya Toribar hasn’t struggled to attract a crowd, if a recent Thursday is any indication. By 6:45, the place was packed, with a few people at any given moment waiting by the front for a table. If you’re inclined for something fried, skip the lackluster karaage and set your sights on the agedashi tofu, which is crispy on the outside and custardy on the inside. There’s a solid version of the okonomiyaki that’s very soft inside because of sweet potato, and lots of yakitori: pork belly wrapped around mochi that’s crispy and chewy, fat, glazed chicken meatballs, pork jowl, and more. The drinks are basic, but the Toki whiskey highball (it’s $9 during happy hour, which ends at 6:30 p.m.) gets it done.
8. Go on a mini taco crawl.
On the hunt for new tacos? There are a few new spots that should be on your radar, then. One is Taqueria al Pastor, a cheerful-looking box of a restaurant on Myrtle Avenue. It specializes in its namesake meat, but it remind you of and might remind you, in spirit, of your visit to places like Mexico City’s Taqueria Orinoco. It won’t blow your mind, but it’s a solid local spot. The carne asada is just as good as the al pastor, and along with the usual tacos ($3.50) and such there are the Northern Mexican specialties called gringas ($4.50), quesadilla like and made with flour tortillas, and volcanes ($4). Over at Foster Sundry, they’ve complimented their sandwiches with a trio of very crispy pork head tacos ($10) with a very tart salsa verde and blue corn tortillas. Over in Corona, there’s a new Sinaloenese restaurant in town, Eat the World reports, called Mi Dulce Mexico where you’ll find the simmered beef dish called chilorio ($14).
9. Go to Gertie for a New Orleans hot spot’s pop-up.
From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on March 31, Williamsburg’s Gertie will host the chef of New Orleans favorite Turkey and the Wolf for its latest Luncheonette Roulette pop-up. The Brooklynites will host chef Mason Hereford, who’ll bring with him some favorites from both Turkey and his other restaurant, Molly’s Rise & Shine. Expect Molly’s Grand Slam “McMuffin” with sage pork patties and a hash brown and deviled egg tostada, as well as Turkey’s famous collard melt and Thai cabbage salad. Not a bad way to end the month, huh?
10. Grab the new square at a nouveau slice shop.
Downtown Brooklyn pizzeria Norm’s has gone square. The slice shop now serves two different kinds of Sicilian pizzas, your classic cheese ($4 for a slice) and pepperoni ($5 for a slice). The sourdough pie gets topped with mozzarella, garlic oil, pecorino, extra virgin olive oil, and tomato sauce.
11. Eat and drink everything fermented at a Brooklyn festival.
Fermentation makes the world go round. Or, at least it makes the world more bearable, through products like beer, kimchi, salami, and sourdough. On March 22, Brooklyn Cider House will host its serve Fermentation Festival and Market with more than 20 vendors including Despaña, Hahm Ji Bach, Hawthorne Valley Farm, and local brewery KCBC. (Tickets are $25 for general admission or $45 for VIP.) The festival will be divided into two sessions (noon to 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.), and there’ll be plenty of goods to buy.