Here, in no special order, is a year’s worth of memorable dishes I ate around New York. All come from places that did not make my list of 10 favorite restaurants:
Cacio e pepe does not belong everywhere, but it belongs in the rice balls at Cafe Spaghetti.Credit…Adam Friedlander for The New York Times
Rice Balls at Cafe Spaghetti
The world does not need cacio e pepe bagels or cacio e pepe breakfast cereal, but it probably does need the cacio e pepe arancini — dry and craggy outside, hot and gooey within — that Sal Lamboglia makes in his little red-sauce joint by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
126 Union Street (Columbia Street), Columbia Street waterfront, Brooklyn; no phone; cafespaghetti.com
Tacos Campechanos at Taqueria Ramírez
Asking for a campechano in any taqueria gets you a mix of meats. At this one it means chopped longaniza with smooth, tender chunks of the beef cut called suadero, braised together in hot liquid as at a public bath.
94 Franklin Street (Oak Street), Greenpoint, Brooklyn; no phone; taqueriaramirezbk.com
Banh Beo Chen at Saigon Social
Six of these delicate, slippery cakes of steamed rice flour, each about the size of a littleneck, appear at the table sprinkled with assorted Vietnamese flavors: fresh and powdered shrimp, shallots fried to a golden crisp, scallion oil and a couple more. All that is left for you to do is to spoon some fish sauce over one and slip it into your mouth.
172 Orchard Street (Stanton Street), Lower East Side; 646-609-3202; saigonsocialnyc.com
Quenelle de Brochet at Le Gratin
You can get Lyonnais quenelles at other places, but not the way Daniel Boulud makes them: a fluffy raft of whipped pike, submerged in a rich béchamel tasting of mushrooms, fish stock and Gruyère, and held under the broiler until the top is as bubbly and golden as the prettiest macaroni and cheese you’ve ever seen on the cover of a food magazine.
5 Beekman Street (Nassau Street), financial district; 212-597-9020; legratinnyc.com
Scallion Leek Bolani at Dunya Kabab House
These flaky fried Afghan pies are about as crisp as a spring roll and as thick as a beer coaster. Of the several bolani fillings Dunya offers, the most compelling, somehow, is a plain green spread of stewed leeks and scallions. Never underestimate the power of alliums.
696 Coney Island Avenue (Avenue C), Kensington, Brooklyn; 718-483-8451; instagram.com/dunyakababhouse
Fatayer at Nabila’s
Is it the refreshing, tart, sumac-laced spinach filling that packs each fatayer on the counter at the Lebanese restaurant Nabila? The ultrathin pastry crust? Or the manageable size, each fatayer about as big as a Ping-Pong ball? In any case, I am usually reaching for my second fatayer before I’ve finished my first.
248 Court Street (Kane Street), Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 347-689-9504; nabilasbk.com
Salatim at Laser Wolf
You will say this doesn’t belong here, that Laser Wolf’s salatim is not one dish but many, a Middle Eastern pickle-and-salad platter that just shows up no matter what you order. I have no argument except to say that maybe more meals ought to start with pickles and salads.
97 Wythe Avenue (North 10th Street), Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-215-7150;laserwolfbrooklyn.com
Follow New York Times Cooking on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok and Pinterest. Get regular updates from New York Times Cooking, with recipe suggestions, cooking tips and shopping advice.