The Smile, which started dispensing coffee and coolness four years ago in NoHo, colonized Tribeca last summer with a little café called The Smile Newsstand. Chowhounds go for its house-made financiers, muffins, and other baked treats, as well as coffee brewed with beans from the upstate roaster Plowshares. Attention, shoppers: The café's inside Shinola, a Detroit transplant that proudly sells bicycles, watches, and other examples of good old American craftsmanship.
Chowhounds know Chef Tomoko Kato's French training and Japanese sensibility from Cha-an, the East Village teahouse hideaway. Now she's showcasing her elegant sweets at Patisserie Tomoko in Williamsburg. Recent winners at the three-month-old bakery and dessert bar include chestnut-coffee pastries, pleasingly floral gin-glazed donuts, and an airy custard-filled brioche cube. "Get yours soon," wewwew urges.
It's easy to walk right by La Chapincita without noticing that this Guatemalan market also houses a little kitchen. But one Chowhound ventured inside, followed his nose past the groceries in front, and was rewarded with satisfying home-style cooking, notably a spicy turkey stew. The daily-changing steam-table spread might also include beef and vegetable soups, whole fried fish, and chicken pepián in pumpkin-seed sauce, all served with rice and small, thick house-made tortillas. READ MORE
Brooklyn has plenty of Chowhound-worthy Georgian restaurants, but few of their owners will patiently talk newcomers through the menu, the way one 'hound was at Café Caucasia in Bensonhurst. "Service like this was unexpected and very educational," jonkyo writes, and it paid off in a smartly ordered dinner—chicken satsivi in thick, delicious walnut sauce; well-spiced minced-beef lulya kebab; and excellent Georgian bread, baked fresh daily in house. Caucasia's relatively new, but it's already built a loyal following of locals since opening in September. The cooking's one attraction; the hospitality couldn't hurt, either.
A few bucks will buy you a passel of Spanish sandwiches and snacks at 100 Montaditos—especially on Wednesdays, when all the namesake montaditos (pictured) are just $1 apiece. Appetizers, including excellent brava potatoes, are also part of the weekly dollar deal at the first New York location of this chain from southern Spain.
The newish Midtown outpost of Butter serves one stellar Berkshire pork chop. It's nicely seared outside, slightly pink in the center, seasoned with mustard, and crowned with roasted shiitakes, Chowhound coasts reports—a smart order among a lineup of destination meat courses that include an aged tomahawk rib steak (pictured). On the side, try an irresistible Jerusalem artichoke gratin with Gruyère. TV chef Alex Guarnaschelli's Midtown menu is similar to the one at her original Butter downtown, which remains closed for renovations.
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.