- Peter Luger
178 Broadway, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 718-387-7400
Everyone knows you don’t go to Peter Luger for the service or the creamed spinach. You go for one thing only: USDA-prime porterhouse, dry-aged for eons under NASA-like conditions. For this, the Brooklyn relic has been coasting along for decades, so insanely popular that one feels lucky to snag a 4:45 reservation three weeks out. One wonders, though, whether said meat—finely marbled and genuinely beefy, for sure, but also barely charred, perplexingly presliced, and served, as at Tad’s, under a greasy sheen of brothy fat—is good enough to outweigh the less exceptional aspects of the meal. Rob Patronite
- Magnolia Bakery
401 Bleecker Street, 212-462-2572
The buttercream-frosting cult that worships at the West Village cupcake temple that is Magnolia Bakery would cast us out as heretics (unless they tried to brainwash us with banana pudding first), but frankly the appeal eludes us. They’re cute, sure, a pastel-hued throwback to childhood and all, but is it worth waiting on a snaking line and elbowing your way to the self-service station while cheeky counterboys shame you into leaving a tip? That verges on sugar-coated sadomasochism, and the potential reward—all artificially colored style, no substance—just doesn’t take the cake. Robin Raisfeld
From the 2004 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine
So what exactly does “best” mean in a city with thousands of pizza joints, hundreds of celebrity masseuses, and museum-worthy concept shops on every corner? Well, in the case of this, our annual “Best of New York” roundup, there’s a heavy emphasis on what’s new or what has somehow remained virtually unheard of (until now, of course).