American comfort food staples like meatloaf, fried chicken and mac and cheese obviously never go out of style. But there’s no better time to enjoy them in New York than when weather takes a turn toward the chilly. Rediscover the warmth of your childhood home at these cozy comfort food destinations.
This perpetually mobbed Chelsea hangout opened 13 years ago, just as the neighborhood morphed into an all-night clubbing district. That was good timing for the spiffed up 24-hour diner, which drew famished dancefloor refugees to meatloaf and grilled cheeses like drunken moths to a disco ball flame.
Taavo Somer's semi-hidden Lower East Sider has some British affectations like devils on horseback on its menu. But the go-to order for the motley crew of tourists and loyal scenesters who flock to the back of Freemans Alley is a gloriously gooey version of a "casual dinging" chain staple: artichoke dip.
3 Pies 'n' Thighs
A very early entrant in the nouveau fried chicken wave that conquered Brooklyn and then the city, Pies 'n' Thighs gets bonus points for its delectable chicken sammy, rock bottom brunch prices and, per the name, homespun takes on Rockwellian desserts like apple pies with Grafton cheddar and Banana Cream.
The humble macaroni and cheese enjoyed a major mainstream revival a few years ago, even making the menus at refined restaurants like the Waverly Inn, albeit in $55 truffle-infused form. In 2004 Sarita Ekya--S'mac is shorthand for Sarita's mac--had the brains to devote a whole brick and mortar outpost to the ultimate homey foodstuff, and the crowds haven't stopped lining up. If you have the time and stomach for it, start with the eight-flavor sampler before making a final decision.
5 Westville East
All American comfort food with a slight nod to the South, all three Westville outposts--a fourth is on the way--deliver. But the Alphabet City location is a particularly serene and relatively uncrowded iteration of the mini-franchise, and the perfect place to enjoy mac & cheese with bacon bits, buffalo chicken fingers and, if you're going upmarket, grilled trout with fresh market herbs.