Living in one of the luxury condos at 88 & 90 Lex in NoMad means that you’re located next door to the best-of-the-best of Manhattan’s gastronomic delights. Across Madison Square Park, fresh pizzas and scoops of gelato are served all day at Eataly, Mario Batali’s bustling haven for food lovers. Around the corner, James Beard Award-winning chef Daniel Humm helms the kitchen at Eleven Madison Park, which, with three Michelin stars, is widely considered the finest restaurant in America.
While these celebrity-led establishments deserve all the plaudits they receive, New Yorkers pride themselves on finding some of the city’s most authentic—and soul-affirming—meals at off-the-radar gems. Sometimes tucked away on side streets behind unassuming facades and ultimately discovered through (closely guarded) word of mouth from devoted clientele, these neighborhood spots are perfect for weeknight dinners with the family, date night cocktails, or solo dinners at the bar with a good book and a glass of malbec. Here are a few future favorites
Lamarca Pasta | 161 East 22nd Street
Carbohydrate connoisseurs have been flocking to Lamarca over the past decade for its traditional take on Italian fare. This small, unpretentious eatery offers more than two dozen varieties of house-made pastas, from gnocchi perfectly smothered in a creamy, piquant Aurora sauce—a garlicky take on classic vodka sauce—to the ear-shaped Orecchiette All’-Arrabbiata with prosciutto, tomato sauce, and chili pepper. You’ll want to linger and digest the generous portions with a glass of their excellent wine or order a full bottle, which will set you back only $20—a nod to the affordable house wines that are de rigueur in the restaurants of Rome. Just make sure to plan these lingering visits for a weekday; Lamarca is closed on the weekend.
The Cannibal | 113 East 29th Street
Don’t let the name deter you. A more apt descriptor for this low-key, meat-centric boite would probably be “The Carnivore.” (“The Cannibal” pays homage to the nickname of famed Belgian cyclist Eddy Merckx.) After working in New York City hot spots like Snack Taverna and Mario Batali’s Otto, owner Christian Pappanicholas wanted to open a restaurant that captured his love for traditional butchery and Belgian culture (especially the beer). The result is this charmingly homey butcher/beer hall/restaurant destination, with a selection of over 350 beers from around the world, as well as sausages, terrines, and all things meat, like the Cannibal dog, a hot dog topped with beef heart chili, and the General Tso’s pig’s head, a menu staple that got its own dedicated write-up on New York’s Eater.
Dear Irving | 55 Irving Place
Cocktails are on the menu, and time is of the essence at this neighborhood speakeasy. Opened by the team behind Chelsea favorite the Raines Law Room and inspired by the film Midnight in Paris, Dear Irving gives visitors a chance to do their own time-travelling via themed rooms. Use the old-school buzzers to get the attention of your server; then take a sip of master mixologist Meaghan Dorman’s cognac-based Bastille Day cocktail in the Marie Antoinette room or loosen up your tie with a whiskey on the rocks in hand, as you channel your inner Don Draper in the 1960s-themed JFK room.