At Bespoke Kitchen, chef Franco Barrio cooks up a creative menu that can often be tailored to your taste. While a more relaxed lunch service available Mondays through Fridays 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. launched this week, the menu still puts an emphasis on fresh, local cuisine. From the butternut squash soup to a turkey croissant, you can build an elegant meal that doesn’t require you to spend all afternoon at the table. 615 ½ Hudson St., 212-989-3155
VANDAL Puts an Emphasis on Street Food & Street Art
Global street food is part of the fun vibe at the newly-opened VANDAL by chef/owner Chris Santos, and TAO Group founders Marc Packer and Rich Wolf. This 360-seat space on the Bowery includes a restaurant, bar, and lounge spread out between two levels and is also filled with pieces by street artists—think Shepard Fairey, Tristan Eaton, and Will Barras. The menu has just as much flair with items like chicken katsu and Hong Kong egg waffles and the drinks are fun, too. 199 Bowery, 212-400-0199
Brian Loiacono’s Contemporary-Bistro Fare Comes to ACME
ACME has reopened with chef Brian Loiacono leading the kitchen. He’s transformed the Nordic-inspired tweezer fare to have a contemporary-bistro vibe. Clams casino, brick chicken, and skirt steak are just a few of the new menu items from this Daniel Boulud alum (he was most recently the executive chef of db Bistro Moderne). The reopening also includes a few updates to the interior of the restaurant. 9 Great Jones St., 212-203-2121
The second location of Empire Steak House is now open in Midtown East in what was once an opera house. The elegant, 150-seat dining room fits with the classic steakhouse vibe. It’s no surprise that cuts of steak like tomahawks, ribeyes, and porterhouses are the stars of the menu, but you can also order quality Kobe beef burgers or a four-pound jumbo lobster for a surf-and-turf affair. 151 E. 50th St.
Alidoro Offers Hot Sandwiches Just in Time for the Super Bowl
Hot sandwiches are on Alidoro’s menu for the first time. While you may already know about their popular (never toasted) sandwiches, these new options include everything from the Laura Nutella (melted Nutella oozes out of two pieces of rosemary focaccia) to a sandwich filled with hot sopressata. The new sandwiches are available just in time for the Super Bowl.
Tucking into a bowl of chili is something we can all get behind during these cold winter months. At Hill Country Barbecue Markets in Manhattan (30 W. 26th St.) and Brooklyn (345 Adams St.), you’ll be able to order one of several versions of this favorite comfort food dish throughout the month of February. Or you can taste all three varieties of chilis paired with a beer flight.
Beautique’s cavernous space will be filled with a mash-up of Western pop tunes and Latin-inspired rhythm on Monday nights when the Gipsy Kings take over the entertainment. This popular French group will perform live as diners enjoy the food—or get up to dance. 8 W. 58th St., 212-753-1200
The NYChiliFest returns this year on January 31 with countless renditions of everyone’s favorite meat-meets-bean soup vying for the title. Judges will help pick the winner among the contestants, who will set up stations all along Chelsea Market. You’ll also be able to pair the chilis with Samuel Adams beer as well as cocktails. Tickets are $50 (for just chili), $60 (chili and beer), and $70 (which includes chili, beer donation, and a Chelsea Market Cookbook). 416 W. 16th St.