Stories / Awards, Guides and Tips

A Winner's Guide to the Best New York City Bites

Outstanding Chef Winner Gabrielle Hamilton's Top Spots

Elena North-Kelly

April 18, 2018


Photo Credit: Melanie Dunea

Between magazines, websites, and your friend of a friend who knows everything about the latest restaurant you just have try, it can be hard to distinguish a first-rate recommendation from the bottom of the barrel. That’s why we went straight to the source: this year’s nominees for the James Beard Outstanding Chef Award, a group of celebrated tastemakers you know you can trust. Read on to hear from Gabrielle Hamilton (who recently earned the 2018 Outstanding Chef Award), of New York City's Prune, for her favorite local haunts for the best vegetables, cocktails, cheap eats, and beyond.

Date Night

For me, date night would be ruined by a 17-course tasting menu because then I would be having a date with the chef of that restaurant instead of with my date. So for us, our favorite date night is to slip into Vic's in NoHo and sit at the bar and order all of the highly seasoned, astonishingly acidic, very delicious vegetables that Hillary Sterling cooks.

Cheap Eats

I’ll admit that I don't ever think about the bill until I've had poor value for the amount of money I've spent. I don't know if it qualifies as inexpensive or not, but I do order in from Hot Kitchen in the East Village about twice a week.


Forever and ever: Balthazar is king, but only before 9:00 A.M. An 8:30 A.M. breakfast at Keith McNally's SoHo bistro and bakery is one of my all-time favorite Manhattan experiences. At that hour, the place is gently peppered with discreet, big-deal New Yorkers, either having meetings or reading the newspaper while their cars and drivers idle outside in the alley. It makes me feel like I've arrived and am truly part of the cultural engine of New York City.


Until it closed last year, my number one place to have a drink was Temple Bar and had been for more than 20 years. I even had its logo tattooed on my arm in 1998. Nowadays, my go-to is Boilermaker in the East Village. It's a perfect local spot: it does the work of a mule with the immense grace of a Triple Crown steed.

Bonus Round: Favorite U.S. Food City to Visit

I love San Francisco. I always go to Kin Khao and Swan Oyster Depot, with a quick ride to Oakland to eat at Camino

Learn more about the 2018 James Beard Awards or subscribe to our Awards newsletter for breaking news. 


Elena North-Kelly is managing editor at the James Beard Foundation. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.