Our readers are always on the prowl for the latest new restaurants, and we're right there with you—in fact, it's our job to be a few steps ahead. Like you, we're interested in cheap eats as well as fine dining and, like you, we think there's room for everything in between. So, after much consideration and great debate, here are six of our favorites that opened in the past year. They range from the first New York location of fried-chicken chain PDQ to a steakhouse that features a showstopping prime rib. It's not just all good. It's great.
PDQ (1004 Broadhollow Rd., Farmingdale): No fried chicken sandwich is safe from the Feed Me team, especially when it is prepared mere minutes from Newsday's offices. Such is the case with Farmingdale's new PDQ, the first New York location of a fast-casual restaurant with national ambitions. While most of the Tampa-based chain's restaurants are in Florida, PDQs may now be found in 10 other states as the company mounts a challenge to market behemoth Chick-fil-A. The places have a similar vibe and signature product, but PDQ's Crispy Chicken sandwich is the tastier of the two. Whereas Chick-fil-A offers a lonely plank of breast meat adorned with only a couple of pickle slices, PDQ's version is served with mayonnaise, lettuce, tomatoes and pickles. Deep-frying produces a pleasing crunch that Chick-fil-A's pressure-cooker method can't match, and PDQ's buttermilk marinade results in juicy meat, whether grilled or fried. Then again, PDQ's sandwich, at $5.29, costs almost a dollar more than Chick-fil-A's, at $4.35. PDQ's menu also contains other sandwiches (including the Cali Club, a solid sandwich of grilled chicken, bacon, avocado and more, and the Honey Butter, a super-sweet Crispy Chicken variation), chicken tenders and nuggets, salads, sides and one of the better shakes out there, at least among chain restaurants. The chocolate version is creamy, thick and much in need of the comically fat straw with which it's served. More info: 516-858-5009, eatpdq.com --Scott Vogel
Taylor Parkinson delivers a tray of food to a customer at PDQ in Farmingdale.
Coche Comedor (74A Montauk Hwy., Amagansett): Blazingly fresh and boldly imagined, Coche Comedor is an instant classic. Helmed by executive chef Joseph Realmuto, the restaurant segues smoothly from the casual and homey to the refined and polished and back. Coche Comedor is the colorful handiwork of the group behind the adjacent textbook taqueria La Fondita, the landmark Nick & Toni's and Rowdy Hall in East Hampton, and Townline BBQ in Sagaponack. Crisp tacos filled with tuna tartare, radish and avocado salsa make a terrific raw starter, as do sweet-briny local oysters with a tequila-lime vinaigrette. Or treat yourself to rotisserie duck sopes (fatter than tacos), with queso fresco and red pipian sauce. Spoon up sensational queso fundido enriched with chorizo, green chiles, and the crunch of toasty corn nuts. Slice into wood-grilled octopus finished with black-olive mayo, pickled red onion, avocado crema, and lemon oil. Two exceptional pork dishes: wood-grilled pork carnitas and deeply flavored pork barbacoa. Seaside, consider cod al pastor with grilled pineapple, pickled cabbage and avocado crema, or the roasted fish of the day, with pickled vegetables. You'll revel in any of Kelsey Longley's sweets, highlighted by the ultimate coconut tres leches cake; a fabulous sundae, hinting of cinnamon, with horchata ice cream and churros; a chocolate flan; and banana rum cake with Mexican chocolate gelato. Since reservations aren't accepted, some diners may have to stand by for a table, 30 minutes to an hour on the weekend. But many have been waiting for a restaurant like this for years. More info: 631-267-5709, cochecomedor.com --Peter M. Gianotti
Pastry chef Kelsey Longley, executive chef Joseph Realmuto, chef de cuisine Juan Geronimo and sous chef Juan Juarez at Coche Comedor in Amagansett.
Bayview Kitchen (393 Bayview Ave., Amityville): Chef Antoine Reid is an Amityville native but also something of a prodigal son, having lived in Rhode Island while attending culinary school at Johnson & Wales before returning to Amityville five years ago. He and his siblings are also first-generation Americans of Jamaican descent, a fact that led to some spirited back-and-forths in Reid's childhood home. "We liked fast food and sushi, things our parents had never heard of," he said with a laugh. "That's what started us on this fusion thing." Reid, who owns Bayview Kitchen but developed his recipes and cooks with co-chef Asim Henry, touts his What-a-Jerk shrimp and grits, in which the shrimp are seasoned in a house-made jerk marinade, and his Big Poppa, standard steak and eggs served at breakfast but kicked up a notch by what Reid calls a Caribbean chimichurri. ("We use peppers like Scotch bonnets instead of jalapeños.") Oh, and don't forget about the chicken wings, which are best enjoyed with Reid's own sorrel barbecue sauce. It has notes of hibiscus tea and perfectly accents the wings, which by the way are marinated for 12 hours, roasted and then briefly fried. More info: 631-608-4785 --Scott Vogel
Co- chef Asim Henry and chef-owner Antoine Reid at Bayview Kitchen in Amityville.
BLVD25 New American Kitchen
BLVD25 New American Kitchen (1496 Northern Blvd., Manhasset): If perseverance alone earned medals, Justin Arono would be wearing gold. It was two-and-a-half years ago when Arono, then all of 23, leased a bi-level Manhasset space for his first restaurant, BLVD25 New American Kitchen--just a little extracurricular project for a guy who already ran a butchery and catering company, Center Cuts in Roslyn. Numerous renovations, inspections and permits later, BLVD25 finally opened this past summer. If there were a silver lining to all that planning, it is that he, consulting chef John Brill and chef Billy Liebhart have created a bistro and menu that are deeply considered on all fronts. Kung pao calamari, for instance, is expertly crisped, showered in peanuts, sticky with a dark sesame sauce, and perched on top of a cooling slaw. The shrimp-and-crab cake (not much filler here) with more slaw and a rivulet of tangy rémoulade is pitch perfect. The queen of starters is a clam flatbread (a special), charred in places and smeared with nutty, melted fontina, garlicky clam meat and toasted bread crumbs, a briny, lavish ticket to Valhalla. As you might expect from a butcher-owner, chops and steaks are beautifully cut and grilled: A boneless rib-eye sports impeccable char marks and an alluring pineapple-soy glaze. More info: 516-918-9083, blvd25ny.com --Corin Hirsch
Owner Justin Aronoff at BLVD25 New American Kitchen in Manhasset.
Long Island Pekin
Long Island Pekin (96 E. Main St., Babylon): For all the regional Chinese restaurants popping up on Long Island, house-roasted Cantonese-style meats are still a rarity, and no wonder: It takes many steps, a few days and a special vertical oven to produce a proper Peking duck or char siu (barbecued pork), which is why some places "import" their meats from New York's Chinatown. Enter Long Island Pekin, the brainchild of Jason Lee, formerly a partner at the short-lived Melville sushi bar, Kenta, and before that, at the upscale Philippe Chow restaurant group in New York City. Lee's menu centers on four great Chinese dishes: Peking duck, Hong Kong duck (a slightly simpler preparation), char siu and Hainanese chicken (poached chicken with ginger and scallions). There are also Singapore-style rice vermicelli, egg noodles or at noodles to be tossed with pork or duck, chicken, shrimp or vegetables. The same lineup is also available for fried rice. "Pekin," by the way, is not a typo; It refers to the Pekin breed of duck, originally from China and a specialty of Long Island, used for both Lee's duck dishes. More info: 631-587-9889, longislandpekin.com --Erica Marcus
Chef-owner Jason Lee carves a Peking duck at Long Island Pekin in Babylon.
Primehouse Steak & Sushi
Primehouse Steak & Sushi (910 Franklin Ave., Garden City): Long Island's high-steaks restaurant show has just added a headliner: Primehouse Steak & Sushi. The chef-owner is Arthur Gustafson, whose current restaurants include Chadwicks and Salsa Mexicana in Rockville Centre. Primehouse is more relaxed, less uniform than national chains such as Ruth's Chris Steak House and The Capital Grille. The staff is especially friendly, welcoming and gracious. You could contentedly go the traditional steakhouse route with a fine shrimp cocktail or oysters mignonette. The nigirizushi is about what you'd find in a satisfying Japanese restaurant; the sushi rolls, colorful and made with flair. The high-rise Brandt Beef cheeseburger is elevated with applewood-smoked bacon, Cheddar, heirloom tomato and pickle, with good herbed fries on the side. And then, there are the steaks. Standouts are a pan-roasted let mignon, the juicy porterhouse steak for one, and a hefty, deftly charred dry-aged tomahawk rib-eye for two. The true showstopper, which is served on Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday, is prime rib, carved to order tableside. Gustafson's steaks really don't need sauces. Still, marchand de vin, a near-creamy green peppercorn number and vibrant chimichurri could convert purists. More info: 516-416-4264, primehousegardencity.com --Peter M. Gianotti
Chef-owner Art Gustafson at Primehouse Steak & Sushi in Garden City.