We’re asking people you know and others new to you what restaurants have become pandemic go-tos: takeout and outdoor dining options that bring joy, six-feet-apart. Today, we learn the frequent spots for the man who hits every new restaurant as soon as it opens, kids in tow. Whether it’s middle kid Sammy, eyes wide behind a giant bialy sandwich, baby Nicole strapped in the car seat next to a sea of baked goods, or firstborn Matty looking up between a pair of sundaes, the family has a wealth of experiences to choose from. Take a look at current favorites from @foodbabyny — Mike Chau, Alexandra, and their children.
We have ordered one of their “Care Packs” every single weekend since April, which consists of 9 fantastic pastries in all-new flavors every single time. No bakery in New York makes so many different things so well. They are the best-of-the-best, from their plain croissant to their raspberry jam and passionfruit curd-filled doughnuts, and even their sourdough.
120 Rivington St. Manhattan
Caffe Panna was another major source of happiness in the early days of lockdown — when they reopened to sell just pints at first. We stocked up on 3 or 4 every weekend for a while until they reopened with sundaes and scoops. They also started doing a monthly Pasta Night, where they somehow make savory food just as top-notch and worthy of the long line as all of their ice cream.
77 Irving Pl., Manhattan
Sibling restaurants Wildair and Contra have been the best example of resilience and ingenuity in the face of the pandemic. Early on, they launched a joint delivery/takeout menu dubbed Contrair, serving more casual and to-go friendly takes on their excellent small plates, along with the best Dirt Cup for dessert you never knew you needed to try. Since then, they have pivoted and changed their offerings on what almost seems like a weekly basis, sprinkling in exciting pop-ups like the must-try Mexican fare at their “The Gueros” nights. They have recently been offering a rotation of inventive doughnuts, making it worth a visit at least once a week, if not more.
142 Orchard St., Manhattan
Our favorite pizza in New York actually has more capacity now with the introduction of outdoor dining. Before March, a family of five took over almost all the seats in the restaurant. Stop by for incredible slices and destination-worthy weekly sandwich specials every Wednesday.
2750 Broadway, Manhattan
You really had to check the always fun captions on their Instagram to find out exactly when they were open and how to order and when to order. Still, we made sure to go nearly weekly before it got too cold for their vegan hoagies on Bread & Salt Bakery heros and more than enough of their pints of gelato and dairy-free sorbet, which also often sold out in minutes once they posted. [Closed until March 12]
430 E. 9th St., Manhattan
True to its name, the restaurant was a major source of comfort for Astoria and the whole city during this long year. It was a heartbreaking blow to their loyal following when their original restaurant, Queens Comfort, shut down due to slow business brought on by the pandemic. Still, it really just made us appreciate Comfortland even more. They even served some of their Queens Comfort classics out of the walk-up window for a short period, in between the countless other mind-blowing specials thought up by Donnie daily (think the “Madame Doubtfire,” a sesame parmesan-crusted fried chicken sandwich with bacon, lettuce tomato on ranch on brioche, or the myriad ice cream pie flavors, including King Cake during Mardi Gras season). Blink, and you might miss one of their must-try creations, so it’s best to just go as frequently as possible.
4009 30th Ave., Astoria