In addition to showering twice daily, we also somehow managed to eat a lot of great things during the month of July. That included the best smash burger we’ve had in NYC, a spread of Uyghur and Senegalese dishes, and the perfect dinner when you want to sit by yourself, look sexy, and possibly eat a plate of fries. Do martinis and fried food count as dinner? We say yes. Anyways, here are the eight best dishes we ate in July.
The “Hot Mess”
The “Hot Mess” from Harlem Shake is our pick for the best smash burger in NYC. We never thought ground beef could get this crispy until we tasted the edges on these patties. And the satisfying caramelization in combination with some of the pickled cherry pepper-bacon relish make for a burger that is wildly better than Shake Shack.
Start your meal at Iris with the ground lamb flatbread, which has the lightness of a homemade cracker and the peppery flavor of minced meat, sumac, and cilantro. This foot-long bread boat is on the crispy and airy side of the baked goods spectrum. The sumac gives the minced lamb on top a red tint and peppery flavor that’ll wake up your senses in a good way.
Snack mix and a martini
This iconic Upper East Side bar is located in the Carlyle Hotel, where there’s a pianist who plays from 6-10pm every night. While you’re at Bemelmans in your evening wear, the thing to drink will forever be a martini. While Bemelmans does technically serve delicious fries, try a handful of the complimentary snack mix and see if that ends your search for something salty.
Any of the sandos
We often wake up in the middle of the night thinking about Curry Mania’s croquette sando - with carb-heavy deep-fried potato and creamy coleslaw on toasted milk bread. But we also love their pork tenderloin sando, which has a perfect balance of crunchy and squishy elements. No matter where you choose to eat, each sando order comes with four thick halves and a small tub of coleslaw on the side, leaving you with enough food for at least two fantastic meals.
If you like cumin as much as we do, you’ll love Caravan’s laghman noodles. Topped with sesame seeds and sauteed with stalks of scallions, sliced onions, and tomato, this cumin-heavy dish is delicious and always leaves a little tingling sensation in our mouths every time we eat it.
Restaurant Week deal
If you’re looking for great Indian food in NYC, it’s hard to do better than Adda in Long Island City. Their $39 Restaurant Week special comes with three courses (including dahi batata puri, chicken tikka or tandoori gobi, and lotus root kofta and butter chicken). For what it’s worth, know that Adda’s butter chicken is creamy and complex - so don’t skip over it even though you’ve possibly eaten butter chicken hundreds of times.
Le Baobab Gouygi 2
A spread of mafe, chicken yassa, and thieboudienne
The second location of Le Baobab, one of the best Senegalese restaurants in Harlem, is a great place to pick up lamb and fish in okra-thickened palm oil sauce, fish balls stewed in tomato sauce, and more. The one dish that you need to prioritize, though, is lamb mafe, which has a ton of peanut butter flavor, along with the smokiness of a chargrilled lamb chop. We also love their thieboudienne for its crispy, salty skin, and their tender chicken yassa smothered in a lemony, onion-heavy sauce. There isn’t much room to sit down inside, so we suggest grabbing a to-go order and walking over to Herbert Van King Park for a picnic.
Crispy shrimp heads
There are few restaurant moments more arresting than realizing you have an entire organism’s head inside of your silly little mouth. These shrimp heads will blow anyone away who has ever proclaimed a love of shellfish (or a love of all things crispy-salty-snacky, for that matter). They taste like a shrimp chip with more texture: softness in the middle and genuine crunch on the outside thanks to a light, quick fry.