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Athena Calderone of Eyeswoon


Athena Calderone of Eyeswoon

PHOTOS: Nicole Franzen

You know that moment when you’re scrolling through Instagram and stop dead on a photo because it’s so unbelievably good-looking?

Athena Calderone’s entire feed is those photos. Her blog, Eyeswoon (and Instagram of the same name), is where you should direct your attention should you ever need eating, decorating, or style inspiration of any kind. And while Athena spends a lot of time in the kitchen, she’s also well-versed in New York City restaurants. Check out her picks below, brought to you in partnership with our friends at Epicurious.

Indochine Perfect For: Classic NYC Establishment 430 Lafayette St.

So I might be a touch biased here – Indo was my first job when I moved to NYC at the tender age of 18 – but throughout the 90s and until today, it is still the most eclectic and chic NYC restaurant. From artists to fashion elite, it attracts the most beautiful crowd and feels like old-school NYC. The food is absolutely delicious and has remained consistent over the years, and the lighting is simply perfection. My favorite menu items would have to be the spring rolls and red snapper.

Le Turtle Perfect For: See And Be Seen 177 Chrystie St

If you ask me, Taavo Somer of Freemans and Carlos Quirarte of The Smile have created the hottest restaurant in lower Manhattan. The eclectic and genius interior (lots of velvet, marble, neon and mirrors,) was executed by Taavo himself, and he shared that the chef actually developed the modern French-influenced menu based on that decor. I mean, what could be swoonier than that for this design-and food-obsessed swooner?!? While I was there I indulged in lobster and braised lamb dishes and both were incredible. Plus, the chicken for two infused the entire dining room with the most intoxicating aroma, as it is brought to the table smoking and on fire! It was one of the better meals I’ve had in years.

Estela Perfect For: Special Occasions 47 E. Houston St.

Honestly, I can eat at Estela every night of the week but for some reason I find myself there most on birthdays and anniversaries. Chef Ignacio Mattos creates innovative yet simple food that is bursting with flavor. I’d have to say Estela remains my favorite restaurant in NYC. Some not-to-be-missed dishes are the steak tartare, ricotta dumplings and mussels escabèche. So delish!

Acme Perfect For: People Watching 9 Great Jones St.

Chef Brian Loiacano just took over the kitchen at the new Acme and I was fortunate enough to try the food there twice at the friends and family tasting. I was blown away. The reintroduced Acme delivers full-flavored, vibrant Italian and bistro-inspired dishes that you want to eat and eat again and again – it’s a true neighborhood spot. Highlights include the skirt steak, black bass and lemon ricotta with crispy artichokes. And the Calvados cocktail is super swoony!

Achilles Heel Perfect For: Girls Night Out 180 West St

This is definitely the spot I want to visit to throw down a Negroni with my ladies. Located on the waterfront in industrial Greenpoint, this bar has an expanding and thoughtfully-curated “snacks” menu. It’s an Andrew Tarlow (of Reynard, Roman’s, Diner and Marlow & Sons) creation and evokes that old-time saloon vibe.

Cafe Mogador Perfect For: Brunch 133 Wythe Ave

Not really sure what they do to those eggs but man are they delish. I can slather harissa on just about everything I eat but throw in all the swoonified Mediterranean flavors – tabbouli, homemade hummas and more – and you have my heart and my stomach!

Franny's Perfect For: Pizza & Pasta Perfection 348 Flatbush Ave.

I’m not quite sure I can express the adoration and gratitude I feel toward Franny’s – it has single-handedly changed the way I eat and inspired the way I cook. The menu there changes daily depending on what’s local, in season and available at the farmers’ market. Using the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients allows for simpler food – in simplicity the most dynamic flavor combinations exist! They’ve cracked open a new way of combining tastes and inspired me to take creative license in my own kitchen.

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