The Breslin. In a strange world where hotels are attractions unto themselves, you’ve no doubt found yourself heading to the Ace for a drink or a Stumptown coffee in the lounge, or for a sandwich at the hotel’s No. 7 Sub Shop, or for a gander at the Manhattan-Portland design mashup. Or for arguably the biggest draw of all: The Breslin, where It chef April Bloomfield of the Spotted Pig spins out even more inventive, artery-garnishing dishes: smoked lamb ribs with cucumber and dill, seafood sausage with beurre blanc and chives, mussel soup, pig’s foot for two, in an appealingly noisy, bistro-style room. (Though the waits at prime time are somewhat less appealing; no reservations taken, sorry). For breakfast, there’s fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches with bourbon and vanilla—among less death-defying day-starters, like grapefruit with ginger sugar and mint.
Szechuan Gourmet. Not too many luscious lunch options around Bryant Park and the central branch of the library, which is one reason why Szechuan Gourmet was so enthusiastically welcomed when it popped up here. But this place would brighten up any neighborhood with its unflinchingly spicy—but nuanced-spicy, not just tongue-thrashing—rendition of one of the spiciest Chinese regional cuisines. Try the blazing dan dan noodles or the stir-fried pork belly with chili-spiked leeks—and come for dinner, too, not just lunch. It’s worth heading to midtown for this, even on a weekend night. Not the sexiest of interiors, but the food makes up for it five times over.
With Ma Peche, restaurateur David Chang’s empire—mostly ensconced in the East Village—stretches to midtown, specifically to this subterranean space in the Chambers hotel. It’s furnished with an X-shaped communal table, a slightly disjointed suits-meet-hipsters crowd, and a menu that is unmistakably Changian. Find eternally inventive dishes like crispy pig’s head, grilled trout with almond and chili jam, or smoked chicken with jalapeno and pine nut, or go for the order-in-advance group feast called Beef Seven Ways ($85 a head). For dessert, hit the midtown branch of Chang’s seminal Milk Bar sweets shop, just outside the Ma Peche dining room.
For the other Momofuku locations, see here.