When it opened at the end of a graffiti-covered alley on the LES in 2004, Freemans was a really big deal, and its popularity was warranted. Fast forward a couple of decades, and not much has changed. The dark, deer antler-filled space still looks like a hunting lodge owned by a survivalist, and when you see the crispy brussels, kale salad, and burrata on the menu, you’ll feel like it’s still 2004. The food is mostly uninteresting, but the generously-portioned dishes like mussels in paprika butter broth, hot artichoke dip, and duck confit are deeply satisfying. It’s much easier to score a table here now, so remember Freemans the next time every currently-hot restaurant is completely booked. This place is a solid backup—and a pretty good first choice too.

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