- The New French
522 Hudson St., nr. 10th St.; 212-807-7357
This bustling, unpretentious joint manages to serve the crucial function of neighborhood bistro without devolving into cliché—unless you count the steak-frites or the mussels, which you needn’t really, in light of a refreshingly eclectic menu that channels India, Vietnam, and the American South without straining a culinary muscle. The relaxed, carefree vibe is reinforced by artist Maira Kalman’s hieroglyphical wall mural and service that doesn’t coddle but won’t screw up your order either. Speaking of which, we’re still in thrall to the date-sweetened chicken-liver crostini, the chile-and-beer-braised pulled pork enlivened with a dollop of mustard raita, and the pleasure of sitting at a table by the picture window and watching the West Village boulevardiers stroll by.