71 Spring St., nr. Lafayette St.; 212-966-5050
Didier Virot wasn’t being self-deprecating when he decided to name his new restaurant FR.OG. Rather, the French chef, late of Aix, was alluding to the phrase “French origin,” and his mission to showcase the cooking of various parts of the world that had been colonized by the French and influenced by their cuisine. The restaurant, with its pink-and-white color scheme and shimmering tilework, occupies two floors and offers food-bar seating outside the open kitchen. Virot’s menu travels the globe, alighting briefly in Vietnam, Morocco, and Lebanon with dishes like fattouche salad with sumac vinaigrette, peekytoe-crab briouats, and sautéed pork loin with carrots and cabbage in caramel-ginger sauce. Cocktails, like the Lebanese “SazArak,” are equally international.
109 Ludlow St., nr. Delancey St.; 212-982-5714
Over the course of its five-year life, Suba has changed chefs and culinary focus, hosted Dinners in the Dark and Monday movie nights, and earned a James Beard nomination for its basement-moat design. But despite the best efforts of passing talent like Luis Bollo and Alex Ureña, the restaurant never made the splash its younger sibling Boqueria did when it opened last summer. To remedy that, owner Yann de Rochefort closed for renovations and enlisted Boqueria chef-partner Seamus Mullen to remake the menu. This Thursday, they open the new Suba, which, they insist, is no Boqueria 2 (despite the familiar menu structure and counter-height bar seating). Mullen’s targeting that modern-Spanish middle ground between traditional tapas and the rarefied realm of Ferran Adrià with dishes like cuttlefish à la plancha with peas, apple, and mint (pictured). As at Boqueria, the guiding principle is sharing, which Mullen calls his favorite recent dining trend: “I hate sliders, but I love sharing.”
205 Allen St., nr. Houston St.; 212-777-3200
For fifteen years, Taco Taco has been sating Yorkville’s appetite for inexpensive Mexican fare, and this week, owners Nick Cervera and Lupe Elizalde expand to the Lower East Side with an eccentrically accented outpost called Móle. But the complex Mexican sauce isn’t Móle’s raison d’être: Cervera just likes how it makes an apt melting-pot metaphor for New York City. His redesign of the former Win 49 space features exposed brick, Mexican Talavera tile, and a snug 25 seats, and Elizalde’s menu conforms to the one uptown, which covers familiar taquito-to-torta territory. More-ambitious specials include crepas con huitlacoche, mixiote (parchment-baked lamb shank), and the Yucatán specialty cochinita pibil (chile-marinated shredded pork, wrapped and baked in banana leaves). BYO for now.
120 Essex St., at Delancey St.; 917-348-1210
Before it morphed into a full-fledged bistro, Paradou was a casual purveyor of rustic panini and crêpes. That simple spirit lives on in the restaurant’s recently spawned Essex Street Market outpost, where chef David Shemesh revives the greatest hits from Paradou’s old menu. Foremost among them is the signature pressed sandwich, a tangy assemblage of duck rillettes with roasted tomatoes and capers, and prepared foods like ratatouille and cassoulet. Next week, Shemesh and his partners annex a larger market space, which they plan to transform into an eighteen-seat Italian restaurant called Casa Tua, where ravioli will be stuffed with fillings like lobster-and-tarragon and crab-and-pea.