Cuisine: Veteran chef/co-owner Carole Greenwood’s dining room feels more like an extension of her kitchen than like a restaurant. She turns out artful takes on comfort food—steamed mussels served in a vintage Pyrex mixing bowl, barbecue duck with collards—at citified prices: The fried-oyster appetizer is fantastic—and at $18, it had better be.
Mood: With beet-red walls, a rustic communal table, and lighting so low you can barely read the menu, this no-reservations spot is a hangout for hipsters, intellectuals, and neighborhood regulars. Servers, clad in plaid flannel shirts, can be spaced out—“If you like to drink, this is the place to come,” said one. “I’ve already had a few.” But when it comes to the food, many can recite entire recipes.
Best for: Spontaneous dinners and catching up with friends over a casual, comforting meal.
Best dishes: Fried oysters with fresh tartar sauce; deviled eggs; coarsely chopped chicken livers with port; sweetly braised barbecue duck with mashed sweet potatoes; wood-grilled sirloin steak flavored with tamari; triple-fried white sweet potatoes; chocolate cake with crème fraîche.
Insider tips: Now that Greenwood has a popular pizzeria, Comet Ping Pong, next door, waits for a table here aren’t as long as they used to be. Still, it’s better to come early: The daily-changing menu is short, and the kitchen can run out of dishes.