March, despite being the most hated of months (just ask Julius Caesar or anyone from 2020), did manage to have some high points. Specifically, the seven dishes on this list. From a meatball parm sandwich on sourdough ciabatta to kosher smoked brisket, these are the best things we ate during the entire month - and we eat a lot.
The national dish of Myanmar - a fiery-orange, fish-based soup with thin rice noodles. Yun Cafe’s version comes with stewed banana stems, which taste crispy and fibrous like a celery relative. Between that, a generous amount of chile powder, herbaceous cilantro, crispy bean tempura (also seen in the kaut swe thoke), and the acidic punch of lime and lemongrass, you could easily order nothing but this soup and be satisfied.
Chicken Souvlaki Pita
This truck on 31st Street and 31st Avenue is the best place in Astoria to eat chicken souvlaki pita sandwiches stuffed with french fries and white sauce, as well as charred, homemade lamb sausages on sticks. Don’t think of this as just another gyro truck parked on the street, King Souvlaki is a serious institution. They even have their own ATM built into the side of the vehicle.
Combo Platter + Shiro Wot
Every entree at this Ethiopian spot on Avenue B near Tompkins Square Park comes with two vegetable sides. While we recognize that you’re an adult and can do what you want, we can’t stress enough that one of those sides should be the shiro wot: Haile’s chickpea mash that coats everything it meets with garlicky creaminess. We like to plop a thick layer of shiro wot on each torn piece of injera, and then top it with other delicious things like tart red beets or tender dark meat chicken that’s been slow cooked in onions, berbere, and spiced clarified butter. If we’re with a group, stick to the combination platters. Otherwise, our solo go-to order at Haile is the spicy beef tibs with shiro wot and green beans on the side.
You could put just about anything between a sliced-open, sourdough ciabatta from Rolo’s and it may qualify for one of the city’s best new sandwiches. (It’s sturdy on the outside and soft in the middle, full of air pocket craters, and topped with sesame seeds). But for our purposes today, we’re especially excited about this Ridgewood restaurant’s meatball parm. Rolo’s aforementioned bread holds together two braised pork meatballs that have been braised in slightly sweet sauce made with Jersey tomatoes, and then blanketed by a layer of melted provolone. Because of the way it’s been heated and smushed, the roll itself adheres to the meatballs and cheese like it’s afraid to say goodbye. Don’t worry about losing a ball or ruining your shirt in the process of eating this sandwich - it’s engineered to perfection.
Jerk Chicken & Lots Of Sides
Fisherman’s Cove is known for its jerk and its healthy portions. At any of the locations throughout Central Brooklyn, including Parkside Avenue, Church Avenue, and Newkirk Plaza, you’ll be welcomed by a buffet of curries, oxtails, stewed and fried fish with heaping sides of rice and peas, and plantain and vegetables. Some community favorites are fall-off-the-bone oxtail, baked mac and cheese, and cabbage. Ask for extra gravy and a side of plantain.
McGruffin Biscuit Sandwich
When you go to Comfortland, get the “McGruffin” biscuit sandwich. It’s so thick you’ll struggle to fit all of its layers in one bite, and the moist buttermilk biscuit is so fluffy and sweet it could be classified as a cupcake. Inside, you’ll find a fried egg, grilled sausage patty, and a layer of melted cheese - all of which create a combination of sweet and salty flavors that’ll make you wonder why “pastry sandwiches″ don’t have their own tier in the food pyramid.
Chicky’s N Chips
On the outskirts of Queens in Bellerose lies Chicky’s, a South African-Portuguese restaurant that makes great peri-peri chicken. Depending on your heat tolerance, you can choose from different flavored sauces like lemon and garlic herb, or go for one of the different levels of spice ranging from medium to Chicky’s hot. We specifically love the “Chicky’s N Chips” that comes with cut-up fried chicken and a plethora of sauces drizzled on the top, all placed over a bed of crispy fries.
There simply just aren’t that many kosher smokehouses out there, but that’s not why we like Izzy’s so much - the Crown Heights spot is actually superb. The meats also include brisket that’s been smoked for 18 hours and classic burnt ends that are twice drenched in the barbecue sauce. And good news if you live in Manhattan: Izzy’s just announced the opening of a new smokehouse on the Upper West Side as well.