For The Arepa Lady, call it an ascension. Maria Piedad Cano, the seasonal late-night cart vendor whose Colombian corn cakes made her a living Chowhound saint two decades ago, plans to open a restaurant. As Serious Eats reports, she and her family will run a year-round spot on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens, not far from the corner where she parks her cart from the end of winter until late fall. They hope to be in business by this spring—perhaps with new arepa toppings—and expect to keep the cart on its customary schedule. READ MORE
The small plates just keep on coming at Kopiaste, whose Cyprus Meze combo is a 17-course parade of tasty kebabs, spreads, salads, and more, bargain-priced at $22 for two diners. It's a carnivore-friendly feast—at least half the dishes are nonvegetarian, including knockout house-made pork sausage—though the kitchen will sub out some of the meat courses if you ask. Gastronomos writes on Chowhound that the robust flavors at this year-old restaurant offer a clear contrast to the plainer fare of its Greek neighbors in Astoria, Queens—"really a welcome change."
Chef Raul Leyva, who's cooked at Chowhound favorite Fonda, just opened Tacos El Catrin, where his fresh, lively Mexican flavors are getting attention. Shrimp tacos with chipotle mayo and quesadillas with huitlacoche or chicharrones (especially the latter) are among the early 'hound favorites at this three-week-old restaurant in Kensington, Brooklyn. Also check out a terrific chorizo-enriched hamburger with Oaxacan cheese, guajillo adobo, and avocado mayo—"the surprise of the meal," JackS reports.
Heidelberg is nearly 80 years old, the last German restaurant standing in the once-thriving Germantown of Yorkville, yet it hasn't lost its chops. A recent Chowhound update reports hearty classics served with plentiful good vibes and gemütlichkeit. Among the winning starters are crisp, light potato pancakes; refreshing cucumber salad; and spätzle in rich Emmentaler sauce. Satisfying entrées include jäger schnitzel with a terrific cream sauce full of mushroom and onion, and an occasional special of perfectly done rack of lamb. Portions are generous—keep in mind that desserts like eis kaffe (coffee poured over vanilla ice cream) and palatschinken (crêpes filled with marmalade or Nutella) are worth saving room for.
As one Chowhound observes, "Restaurants are opening in Greenpoint so fast it's hard to keep up." One of the newest is El Born, a month-old tapas spot named after the popular Barcelona district. Early hits on the Catalan-leaning menu include roasted octopus with paprika and potato, seared tuna crusted with olive and mustard, and cod collars with squid allioli (pictured).
Recovery from Hurricane Sandy has been slow and halting at South Street Seaport, where some businesses remain closed more than a year after the deluge, but one encouraging sign last year was the belated arrival of Trading Post. This traditional American restaurant, which opened quietly in June in a one-time ship’s chandlery, brings downtown locals a welcome upscale option in a clubby, multilevel setting. From a menu that highlights standards like raw-bar courses and a hefty tomahawk rib-eye chop for two, Chowhounds have enjoyed a Black Angus burger and a subtly spicy shrimp-tomatillo flatbread pizza.
Rising phoenixlike from the ashes of Hong Kong Supermarket a few weeks back was a mini–Marriott hotel—but more important for home cooks, a new, well-provisioned Asian grocery called Chinatown Supermarket of Manhattan in the building's street and basement levels. It's an upgrade over its predecessor, which burned down in 2009, and a worthy entry in a crowded neighborhood field. Chowhounds report ample, appetizing displays of produce, seafood, dry and canned goods, prepared foods, and frozen stuff—check out the cuttlefish balls, bean curd, and other mix-and-match hot-pot staples, advises small h, who declares this "my first Chinatown grocery stop for the foreseeable future."
New York has relatively few Malaysian restaurants—and fewer still that don't mute their cuisine's robust flavors for Western palates. Six-week-old Rasa aims to fill the gap with real Malaysian cooking, and Chowhounds say it succeeds.
Its owners and chef undertook the same mission at Laut, a Michelin-starred 'hound favorite whose Malaysian-grounded menu digressed into sushi and Thai specialties. Rasa does the same, but the dishes that captivate Chowhound jkmnlo are straight-up Malaysian: tender beef rendang, cooked slowly in lemongrass and coconut, and chile crab in delicious tomato, egg, and chile sauce (sop it up with the pillowy fried mantou that come with it, jkmnlo advises).
You can get a perfectly fine taco at Carnitas El Atoradero, the little Mexican restaurant spun off late last year by El Atoradero, the grocery-plus-kitchen next door. But you might want to think outside the tortilla instead. The best and most unusual dishes are not on the generic, snackish menu but rather among the chalkboard specials, NewYorkNewHaven reports on Chowhound (and on Serious Eats, where he got the scoop on this place). There are four or five daily, and they showcase sensational Pueblan home cooking: patitas (pig foot) cooked in vinegar, egg-stuffed albondigas (meatballs) in chipotle sauce, or whatever else is coming out of the kitchen.
Cook and owner Denisse Chavez is a warm and gracious host, generous with lagniappes that might include tart house-made tamarindo; a nibble of hearty tortitas made with ground garbanzos, chiles, and dried shrimp; or a spoonful of deeply complex mole poblano or the herbaceous salsa verde that comes with her costillas (pork ribs). Denisse's cooking first surfaced on Chowhound radar because of her stellar carnitas, once made only on weekends at the shop next door. They're still around, now available daily at her new place, which embodies "everything New Yorkers have been waiting for in a Mexican restaurant: a move beyond the stale taqueria format," NewYorkNewHaven says. "Get over here, ASAP."