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Restaurant recommendations, new openings, and highlights from the NY Chowhound community.

Chico’s: Carolina ‘Cue and More in Guilderland, NY

Chico’s shows its barbecue chops in Carolina-style pulled pork: tasty and smoky with ample bark, reports jkent. It’s first-rate ‘cue, especially for the Northeast, and surprisingly true to Carolina tradition, says bbqfan. He faults only the thick, sweet sauce, a substitute for the thin, vinegary one served down south.

But Chico’s barbecue ranges beyond Carolina, including solid “St. Louis-style” ribs and smoked, fried chicken wings. Most meats come in platters or in ample sandwiches made on excellent rolls. Service is casual, friendly, and efficient.


Chico’s BBQ and Restaurant [Albany County]
2490 Western Ave. (Rte. 20), near Rte. 146, Guilderland, NY
518-456-0940
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Chico’s BBQ–Guilderland NY

At Peanut Butter and Co., Elvis Lives

The king of the sandwiches at Peanut Butter and Co. is the Elvis: a grilled number stuffed with bananas, honey and, of course, peanut butter. Bacon is optional–but not for billyeats, who insists on it: “It is an awesome sandwich with the bacon–as it should be eaten. Really decadent and delicious.”

billyboy goes for the Seinfeld (peanut butter, honey and cinnamon on a toasted bagel), The Heat Is On (spicy peanut butter, grilled chicken, pineapple jam), and the aforementioned Elvis with bacon. “I don’t think the drugs are what did him in!” he adds.

Dissenters dismiss this place as a one-trick pony (two tricks, if you count jelly). “It’s good for peanut butter and jelly, but there’s limits to how good that can be,” carps icejew, who also observes that everything on the menu will make you thirsty, and drinks are expensive.


Peanut Butter and Co. [Greenwich Village]
240 Sullivan St., between Bleecker and W. 3rd Sts., Manhattan
212-677-3995
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Peanut Butter & Co.

Top-Notch Tavern Burger at Tierney’s in Montclair, NJ

Tierney’s Tavern turns out a surprisingly excellent hamburger, possibly one of the best in New Jersey, swears tamerlanenj. It’s nicely griddled, agreeably greasy and juicy, and the bacon version is loaded with crispy pork.


Tierney’s Tavern [Essex County]
136-138 Valley Rd., between Claremont Ave. and Van Vleck St., Montclair, NJ
973-744-9785
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A Burger at Tierney’s, Montclair

Great Goat at Coimbra and Other Jersey Iberian Tips

On Newark’s Spanish and Portuguese scene, Coimbra is the bright spot these days. If roast goat is among the specials, get it. Fabulous stuff, raves candace–pleasingly gamy meat, served with rice, potatoes, and broccoli rabe. Also noteworthy: shrimp in green sauce, pork with clams and potatoes, and free roasted chestnuts after your meal.

“Coimbra is the bomb,” writes Jim Leff. “Everything’s good and hugely authentic (and I’ve eaten a lot in Portugal).” Pass on the usual suspects and stick to the specials, he advises, and you’ll be rewarded with homey, lusty chow. Jim adds a service tip: “Not much English. Be nice to your waiter, who expects to deal with paisanos. Don’t be too high-maintenance or you’ll ruin the place for other gringos.”

Casa Vasca, a past hound favorite, continues to deliver the goods. But it does just a handful of dishes really well, cautions Jim, including razor clams, goat, and tortilla (potato omelette). To that list, Ike would add shrimp in garlic sauce or green sauce. Jim suggests sitting at the bar, not in the dining room, and going for a pitcher of sangria, red or white. “If you think you don’t like sangria,” he adds, “prepare to change your mind.”

In Belleville, Solar Do Minho makes hound-endorsed Portuguese seafood and grilled meats. Recommended: crab-stuffed swordfish, shrimp in garlic sauce, meltingly tender fried calamari. Rodizio meats are first-rate and not over-salted, as at many other places. “We have been there many times and have never been disappointed,” says nizza.


Coimbra Bar and Restaurant [Essex County]
637 Market St., at Somme St., Newark, NJ
973-491-9811
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Casa Vasca [Essex County]
141 Elm St., between Prospect and Pacific, Newark, NJ
973-465-1350
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Solar Do Minho [Essex County]
15 Cleveland St., near Quinton, Belleville, NJ
973-844-0500
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top portuguese/spanish/brazilian eats in newark area

Soup Destinations, Downtown and Uptown

Cafe Medina is a go-to spot for soup lovers, who especially love the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern choices that turn up alongside the chicken noodle and split pea. The rotating lineup, around 10 soups a day, might include Moroccan lamb or Yemenite chicken, cteats reports. bolletje can’t forget a fabulous bowl, more stew than soup, overflowing with lamb and vegetables. Some other recurring offerings: pumpkin corn bisque, Tuscan tomato-bread, Hungarian chicken, New England clam chowder, African chicken-peanut, and miso with tofu and seaweed.

In the East Village, the Italian restaurant Lamarca runs a cafe and cheese shop next door that serves terrific soups for weekday lunch, reports nyc123. Selections include tomato, white bean, onion, minestrone, potato-leek, red bean-escarole, broccoli rabe, and tortellini in broth, among others.

foodette frequents Soup Spot for such hearty choices as jambalaya, various bisques, and Thai coconut curry chicken soup. Not quite as good as the fondly remembered Soup Kitchen International, says a_and_w, but also half the price.

Cafe Sabarsky offers a handful of very good soups, including goulash soup with potatoes, says Sean Dell. Other choices this time of year might include chestnut and squash. In summer, look for refreshing pea soup with mint.

Others recommend Yura and Co., Karen’s (especially for lentil soup and chili), Printon 56, and Fashion Soup.


Cafe Medina [Union Square]
9 E. 17th St., between 5th Ave. and Broadway, Manhattan
212-242-2777
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Lamarca Cafe [Gramercy]
161 E. 22nd St., at 3rd Ave., Manhattan
212-674-7920
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Soup Spot [Herald Square]
220 W. 31st St., between 7th and 8th Aves., Manhattan
212-643-8623
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Cafe Sabarsky [Upper East Side]
1048 5th Ave., at E. 86th St., in the Neue Galerie, Manhattan
212-288-0665
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Yura and Co. [Upper East Side]
1645 3rd Ave., at E. 92nd St., Manhattan
212-860-8060
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Yura and Co. [Upper East Side]
1292 Madison Ave., at E. 92nd St., Manhattan
212-860-8060
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Karen’s on Astor [East Village]
1 Astor Pl., between Broadway and Lafayette St., Manhattan
212-979-8000
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Printon 56 [Midtown]
50 W. 56th St., between 5th and 6th Aves., Manhattan
212-245-0056
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Fashion Soup [Midtown]
124 W. 41st St., near 6th Ave., Manhattan
212-704-0909
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Best Soup in New York

Alluring Lemon Rice at Jackson Heights’ Maharaja

Maharaja in Jackson Heights, celebrated for chaat and sweets, also lays out some fine hot vegetarian dishes, including first-rate palak paneer (Indian cheese with spinach). But E Eto is seduced by its lemon rice–something of a cross between biryani and a Persian polo rice dish, deeply aromatic yet not overpowered by spice. “I’ve never seen that before on another menu,” he adds, “and it seemed interesting. Was it ever.”

Another worthwhile bite: special naan with dried cherries. “An interesting surprise for your palate,” E Eto promises.


Maharaja Sweets and Snacks [Jackson Heights]
73-10 37th Ave., between 73rd and 74th Sts., Jackson Heights, Queens
718-505-2680
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Maharaja Sweets and Snacks, Jackson Heights

Miss Mamie’s Revisited: an Uptown Soul Survivor

After years of unpredictable meals at Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too, Ora grudgingly gave the joint another shot–and was blown away. Smothered chicken, deeply flavorful down to the bone, was the star of an overflowing platter of freshly prepared, piping-hot soul food. Also delicious: cabbage and macaroni and cheese. “Perhaps they have a new chef? Maybe it was an ‘on’ night?” Ora speculates. “All I know is that I will be back.” emu02, fresh from two successful visits in recent months, recommends ribs, shrimp, just about all the sides, and banana pudding for dessert.

Sister restaurant Miss Maude’s has also been up and down, but a recent order of first-rate greens and mac and cheese suggests it’s once again up, says Uptownflavor.


Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too [Morningside Heights]
366 W. 110th St., between Columbus and Manhattan Aves., Manhattan
212-865-6744
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Miss Maude’s Spoonbread [Harlem]
547 Malcolm X Blvd. (Lenox Ave.), near 138th St., Manhattan
212-690-3100
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Miss Mamie’s Spoonbread Too—110th St. off Columbus Ave

Stellar Pork Hash at Brooklyn’s Pies-N-Thighs

They sling killer hash at Williamsburg’s Pies-N-Thighs. Tender, juicy pulled pork is griddled with onions and potatoes, topped with two eggs over easy, and finished off with a dollop of salsa. Best hash ever, declares chompchomp. Look for it on the weekend brunch menu alongside first-rate doughnuts, catfish and grits, and biscuits with sausage gravy.


Pies-N-Thighs [Williamsburg]
351 Kent Ave., entrance on S. 5th St., Brooklyn
347-282-6005
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Union Picnic or Pies ‘N Thighs?

Desi Deli: Punjabi Standout in Hell’s Kitchen

Among Manhattan’s South Asian cabbie hangouts, Desi Deli is one of the newer entries. Skillet Licker, who’s made the rounds, says it’s also one of the best, a cut above Cuisine of Pakistan, Haandi, and Pakistan Tea House. He reports a surprisingly fine meal highlighted by soulfully delicious chickpeas. Other standouts: eggplant with green peas, malai kofta, and even a decent, fresh version of the usual throwaway salad. Saag, however, can be lackluster and over-pureed.

Also on the menu at this 24/7 Punjabi spot: goat and chicken curries, paratha and other griddled breads, tandoori chicken, a couple of chaat. Fiery green chiles grace every table, seating is serviceable, and the TV shows all Bollywood all the time.


Desi Deli [Clinton]
724 10th Ave., between W. 49th and 50th Sts., Manhattan
212-399-9007
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Desi Deli

Comforts of Home, Egyptian Style, at Astoria’s Al-Omda

There’s solid, homey Egyptian food at Astoria’s Al-Omda. Recent standouts include rich, garlicky, herbaceous green soup and juicy, tender, spice-rubbed rabbit, Brian S reports. Also good: rice pilaf, fresh pita, and pickled or spice-macerated vegetables (olives, peppers, carrots). “This place is awesome,” Brian adds. Beyond the chow, expect a bright, pleasant room and a friendly owner fluent in English.


Al-Omda [Astoria]
33-10 28th Ave., between 33rd and 34th Sts., Astoria, Queens
718-204-9393
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Al-Omda Restaurant —in Astoria, a little Egypt