NYC 2009 Year in Food, The Best and Worst

<strong>Favorite Affordable New Restaurants: </strong><a href="">Emporio</a>, <a href="">Motorino East Village</a> and its worthy nearby competitor <a href="">Numero 28</a>, <a href="">Marfa</a> (killer fish tacos!), <a href="">Luke's Lobster</a>, <a href="">Trattoria Cinque</a>, <a href="">The Vanderbilt</a>.

<strong>Best Upscale New Restaurants We've Actually Tried:</strong> <a href="">Aldea</a>, <a href="">Marea</a>, <a href="">A Voce Columbus</a>, and the not-as-obscenely-priced-as-we-expected <a href="">SHO Shaun Hergatt</a>.

<strong>Other Best New Restaurants (Or So They Say): </strong><a href="">Locanda Verde</a>, emerging from the ashes of Ago, the restaurant co-owned by Robert DeNiro in Tribeca's Greenwich Hotel. Also: <a href="">The Standard Grill</a>, <a href="">The Fatty Crab</a>, <a href="">The Breslin</a>, <a href="">Rye</a>, <a href="">Minetta Tavern</a>, <a href="">Brooklyn Star</a>, <a href="">DBGB</a>, and <a href="">Maialino</a>.

Biggest Restaurant Bellyflops: Hit chef Michael Psilakis's unprecedented FAIL with critics at his comfort food/whiskey bar Gus & Gabriel, and California chef Govind Armstrong's poorly-received NYC debut with Table 8 in the Cooper Square Hotel.

Scott Conant, who runs Scarpetta, our favorite restaurant in town, is rumored to be taking over the place.

<strong>Saddest Closings: </strong>Joe Jr. Restaurant, the quintessential greasy spoon on West 12th Street and Sixth Avenue, <a href="">closed in July</a> after 35 years in business. And Anita Lo, a savvy chef whose West Village restaurant Annisa was quite beloved, had a tough year, with <a href="">her new venture Bar Q closing</a>, despite two stars from the Times. <a href="">Annisa was closed after a fire</a> in July, and Lo's Rickshaw Dumpling Bar also closed this year! We hope she has better luck in 2010; she deserves it. Also, <a href="">Fiamma</a>. <a href="">Chanterelle</a> and <a href="">Gino</a>, on principal.

<strong>Most Indifferent Closings: </strong><a href="">The John Dory</a> (great reviews, stunning design, but too expensive) and <a href="">Harbour</a> (not-so-great reviews, gimmicky yacht design, <em>terrible</em> location.)

<strong>Best News: </strong><a href="">Death &amp; Co. finally defeated</a> the cranky neighborhood gadfly who almost cost the place their liquor license with his complaining. Now this excellent small plates and cocktail lounge can stay open until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and until 1 a.m. on weeknights! But will East Sixth Street <em>survive!?</em><p></p><strong>Other Best News:</strong> The Labor Department cracking down on restaurant owners who are screwing their employees, and owners who send obnoxious, profane emails to their employees, <a href="">who publicize them</a>.

Worst News: The demise of Gourmet magazine. Bon Appetit just doesn't compare. Also: The tough time Ray Alvarez is having at Ray's Candy Store.

We're sure we're forgetting something here, but frankly it's all a blur.

<strong>Favorite New Bars:</strong> <a href="">Dutch Kills</a>, <a href="">Lucky Dog</a>, <a href="">Bar Henry</a>, <a href="">The Manhattan Inn</a>, <a href="">Bar Celona</a>, and <a href="">Studio Square</a>. Wow, only three of these are outside Brooklyn! Does that mean we're hipsters? No, it means Brooklyn RULES.

<strong>Best New Bars on the UES to Take a Relative with Moneys:</strong> Bar Pleiades, on the ground floor of The Surrey Hotel and across the hall from the newly revamped Cafe Boulud, serves small plates from Chef Boulud, and excellent, albeit expensive, cocktails. Also, <a href="">it's a pretty groovy looking place</a>. First runner up is the mod bar at <a href="">Le Caprice</a>, in the Pierre.

<strong>Favorite New Development (for Purely Personal Reasons):</strong> Papacitos in Greenpoint finally getting their liquor license and starting <em>three</em> different daily happy hours, culminating with $1 taco madness during the last hour of every night. But <em><a href="">there are rules</a>;</em> for example, you must order a Drink to get $1 TACO MADNESS, <strong>and you must have already been drinking heavily. </strong>No problemo, Senor!