What restaurants are bringing you joy when it comes to takeout and dining outdoors? We asked Josh Beckerman, a.k.a the Foodie Magician, the entertainer who intertwines magic, mentalism, and comedy in his performances. He’s been featured in The New York Times, The Cooking Channel, and Late Night With Seth Meyers, among others. Let’s turn it over to Josh.
This past year has been tough for everyone, especially the restaurant and hospitality industries. Even with so many hardships, they’re turning out incredible food. Trust me, I know: I’ve eaten out every meal in 2020 (as I do every year — I don’t cook).
As the only magician-mentalist-comedian who dines at restaurants for every meal, I wasn’t going to let the virus stop me. I had to support the restaurant industry (safely), especially the New York City restaurant industry. It is my life. My family.
Even though I have a list of 100 standouts from the past year, here are my Top 10.
Cote Korean Steakhouse
This Korean barbecue/steakhouse hybrid is one of the best restaurants in America. My meals inside, outside, and packed up for takeout were stellar. With steak that melts in your mouth and top-notch service, it’s unsurprising a Miami location is slated to open soon. 16 W. 22nd St., Manhattan
Opening a restaurant in New York is not an easy thing to do. But opening during a pandemic? That’s crazy! Well, Sushi Kai on East 9th Street did it in 2020 and now serves the best bang-for-your-buck omakase in the city: $65 for 12 pieces, a roll, and three small appetizers. 332 E. 9th St., Manhattan
Carbone has a tremendous outdoor setup, great service, and the spicy rigatoni is to die for. If Frank Sinatra were alive today, he’d be there every week, and I’d be watching him eat veal parm. And he’d be like, “Who the heck are you?” And I’d leave and go back to my table to eat my favorite homemade mozzarella in town. 181 Thompson St., Manhattan
This Thai joint in the East Village is awesome. It got me through the pandemic; every dish is great! 204 E. 13th St., Manhattan
This Williamsburg spot specializing in sourdough pizza is incredible. The day it was confirmed that Biden would be our next president, I had one of the best meals of the year here. Their pizza is special. A must! 123 Havemeyer St., Brooklyn
From the best focaccia in town to their “Italian job” dessert (vanilla gelato, shaved fennel pollen, honey, olive oil), Missy Robbins’ Lilia did me right (as it always does). If you can land a yurt reservation, do it. Otherwise, takeout from their cafe is an entirely suitable option. 567 Union Ave., Brooklyn
4 Charles Prime Rib
Their cheeseburger with an egg will always hit the spot; it’s incredible. But their French dip has to be the best in America. This is a special place: “old” New York for the modern era. 4 Charles St., Manhattan
While I rarely eat Texan food (or, as Yellow Rose states, “Genuine Cosmic Texas Cookin’” this gem that opened during the pandemic wows with homemade fresh flour tortilla tacos, plus quite possibly the best chocolate cake in town. 102 3rd Ave., Manhattan
This is my pick for the best coffee shop in not just NYC, but the world, and it sustained me throughout 2020. The cold brew got me through all those tough, lonely quarantine days. During the quarantine, they served excellent $20 all-vegetarian lunches. Abraco is a special place. I’ll be there at 9 a.m. — come say hi! 81 E. 7th St., Manhattan
Red Hook Tavern
Chef Billy Durney’s Red Hook Tavern is awesome. Whether you dine outdoors or grab takeout, one bite of their burger is a truly magical experience, unlike any burger I’ve ever had. 329 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn