Laurie Woolever

Writer. Editor. Podcast co-host. And gatekeeper emeritus to food royalty. The resume of New York-based Laurie Woolever is both diverse and interesting. In addition to her own work that has appeared in titles such as The New York Times, GQ, Lucky Peach and Roads & Kingdoms, she also spent a decade working as Anthony Bourdain's right-hand woman. In that time, she contributed to the late author and TV host’s impressive body of work, including co-authoring his 2016 release, Appetites: A Cookbook.
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Where To Find Me In Queens

I tend to mostly eat in Queens these days, as that’s where I live and work. In Jackson Heights, my go-to quick great lunch is a bowl of pho and a hot Vietnamese coffee at Thai Son. I also love the roast chicken at any of the Pollos Mario outlets, and the Colombian baked goods at La Casa de Los Antojitos, Seba Seba and La Abundancia.

A Dependable Bowl Of Regional Laksa

In nearby Elmhurst, I love a bare-bones Malaysian restaurant called Taste Good Malaysian. I always get the Penang-style assam laksa, which has a sour tamarind and pineapple broth, hunks of fish, and noodles. I love this place for its lack of pretence and the excellence of the food.

Homemade Tortillas In Long Island

In Long Island City, Casa Enrique does beautiful, thoughtful Mexican cuisine, in a comfortable space with great service. The homemade tortillas are the best, there’s a wide variety, and they do a very good tres leches cake.

Three Classic East Village Addresses

In Manhattan, I love Superiority Burger which does a very good vegetarian burger but also some truly delicious sides and salads, and various sandwiches based on marinated and griddled yuba (tofu skin), that are fantastic. It feels great to support a small, passionate, independent business in a time when chains are growing like a malignant fungus. And for the same reason, I love Hearth, chef Marco Canora’s independent Italian restaurant, which has been in business for nearly 20 years. The food and service are so good. I always try to circle back to Veselka in Manhattan’s East Village, where I lived for many years. The pierogis (dumplings), stuffed cabbage and blintzes are utterly reliable and comforting, and I like the convivial atmosphere of the dining room. 

A New East Village Favourite

At Ernesto’s, chef-owner Ryan Bartlow is sharing his extensive experience with Basque food. The plate of Iberico ham layered with freshly fried potato chips is an instant classic, as is the hearty, soulful tripe stew called Callos de Joan. There is plenty of natural wines, a robust cocktail menu and desserts that combine the best of Spanish flavors and sensibility with French technique.

The Perfect Neighbourhood Spot (With Great Dessert)

My favorite place is The Queensboro, which is a great neighborhood place opened by my friend chef Tony Liu and his partners just over a year ago. Tony has cooked in some of the best restaurants in the world and he has now brought that skill to our neighborhood. Great salads, pizzas, pastas and really excellent desserts: the menu reflects Tony’s vast experience. And it’s a place that our super diverse neighborhood has really embraced. They show international sporting events, hold political victory parties, support local community initiatives and in general are great neighbours. Tony just put a tres leches cake on the dessert menu, which is fantastic. It’s a truly underrated dessert.

Cravings For Italian

I spent several years, early in my career, working at Babbo restaurant in Manhattan, where I learned so much and met so many smart and inspiring restaurant professionals working at the top of their games. It’s now been in business 20 years and they have weathered some serious storms, and are still standing and still making some of the great pastas that blew my mind as a young culinary graduate. For excellent pizza and generally relaxing with friends, head to Vesta in Astoria.

Where I Bring Friends In The Industry

I would bring friends to Dosa Delight, a South Indian vegetarian restaurant in my neighborhood, and-or Cositas Ricas, for some meat-heavy Colombian food and fruity drinks. Otherwise, there’s also Joe’s Steam Rice Roll in Flushing.

Celebrating Special Occasions

If I’m celebrating, I might head to Keen’s Steakhouse in Manhattan or Peter Luger in Brooklyn. The steaks are reliably excellent and the room and service in both have been unchanged for decades. Both places offer an unreconstructed steakhouse experience. For an extraordinary seafood experience with top-notch service, there’s also Le Bernardin. Otherwise, I’d also consider Dirt Candy for a fun, delicious and dynamic vegetable tasting menu. Chef Amanda Cohen makes fun, playful, delicious and exciting food that’s changing the way people think about vegetarian food. Her cooking is also served in a comfortable atmosphere without a whiff of patchouli. Quality Bistro is a brand-new midtown Manhattan brasserie with an extensive steak menu and crisp, salty fries. There’s also a dramatic and delicious service of house-churned butter with toasted bread, ham, chorizo, leeks, and mushrooms. The room is warm and elegant, as is the service.

Selected Works: Appetites: A Cookbook (2016)

Guide Last Updated March 2020

Our guides are fact-checked and updated regularly. Read more here.

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