Sometimes the first course is worth the whole meal.
1. Grilled corn Mexican style at Café Habana (Nolita): The corn comes two to a plate, grilled and topped with a generous pile of chili powder, lime, and cotija cheese. 2. Devils on horseback at Freemans (Lower East Side): The bacon-wrapped figs are the perfect mix of sweet and salty. 3. Carcofi at Bacaro (Chinatown): The stuffed, lightly breaded artichokes here are a must-have.
4. Any mozzarella at Obika (Upper East Side): The mozzarella here is a veritable smorgasbord of smoked and sweet flavors. 5. Soup dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai (Chinatown): Put the dumpling on your spoon, gently break the shell until the soup leaks out. Eat. Repeat. 6. Crispy potato gnocchi with foie glazed balsamic figs at Thor (Lower East Side): The best gnocchi I’ve ever had, anywhere. And I’ve lived in Italy. 7. Half-pint of prawns at Double Crown (Greenwich Village): The heads are the best part … just pretend they’re deep-fried potatoes. 8. Chorizo champinon fundido con queso at Xicala (Nolita): Delicious homemade chorizo or mushroom (or both) with melted cheese in a small pot. I dream about the cheesy goodness. 9. Local diver scallops at Park Avenue Winter (Upper East Side): The seasonal menu changes, but if scallops are on the menu, order them. 10. Tuna spring rolls at The Mercer Kitchen (Soho): I can’t come here without ordering at least one, sometimes two.