Dear Grub Street,
My cousin is coming in next week from Indiana and wants to see the "hottest" NYC restaurants that he has read about on your Weblog and in New York Magazine. Where do you think I should take him? He likes “edgy” places and doesn't have a lot of money to spend (nor do I). Should we go to the Spotted Pig or Casa Mono? Momofuku Ssäm Bar? Where? Any advice would be great.
If your cousin is really edgy, “hot” places are the last ones he’ll want to visit (not to mention how much he’ll hate dealing with the crowds at the places you asked about). We recommend he hit a down-and-dirty izakaya, the kind frequented by Japanese boozers, such as Hagi. Then there’s Degustation, a hip but rock-solid tapas operation to which foodie types in the East Village and Lower East Side frequently repair, and Room 4 Dessert, cake whiz Will Goldfarb’s take on the current wave of high-concept, savory-sweet desserts. If he’s really determined to go someplace hot, finish up the night at Ssäm Bar, once the crowd has thinned out and the after-hours chefs and line cooks start filtering in. These places serve small, inexpensive dishes, so you can hit them all in one night and still have cash for the bus back to the Hoosier State.
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