Eating + Drinking

The Fruit of Fall: Go Fig or Go Home

Looks like New York City got word that the “fruit of the gods” is in season.

If you spend more than five minutes in my presence, you’ll hear plenty about my adoration for a good farmers’ market. And when it comes to such spots, I’m not picky about where I dig for my fruits and vegetables; there’s an equal chance you’ll run into me at any of the 50-plus greenmarkets in the boroughs—and occasionally beyond. Picking my absolute favorite seasonal produce is like choosing which one of the 101 Dalmatians I’d adopt. If I must choose, though, I’d have to go with some fresh figs. (And I’d snuggle Rolly in a heartbeat; I can relate to the pup.)

If you only associate the humble fruit with those chalky lunch-box cookies, you’re missing out on the fig’s culinary wonders. Perfectly luscious and the right amount of nutty and honey-sweet when just ripe, it’s easy to imagine chefs storming the farm vendors when Black Missions and Calimyrnas hit the scene. Like most good things, though, figs can only be enjoyed for a limited span—they’re at peak freshness from August until around mid-October. Make the most out of their short stint inside nine of New York’s hottest eateries, bars, and one-stop shops. There’s a reason, after all, that figs are known as “the fruit of the gods!”

Slice It Up at L’industrie

It figures a Florence native would know how to properly top a pizza. Food-obsessed Brooklynites have been flocking to Williamsburg to get a taste of chef Massimo Laveglia’s thin-crust slices since his shop opened last year. One of the most consistent crowd-pleasers is his fig jam and tangy goat cheese white pie, topped off with decadent crème fraîche and a sprinkling of bacon. 254 South 2nd Street, Williamsburg

L’industrie Pizzeria / Photo by Emerald Layne Baker

How Many Licks Can You Handle?

Downtown’s Il Laboratorio del Gelato can be best classified as a mad scientist’s approach to the cold stuff. Since opening the doors to the original location in 2002, gelato genius Jon Snyder and his team have concocted more than 300 eclectic flavors for the masses. Five of those spoonfuls celebrate the wondrous fig family: Black Mission, Turkish, white, black, and Brown Turkey. 188 Ludlow Street (at East Houston), East Village

Figs Take a Trip to Jaipur

The arrival of Hermant Mathur’s modern tandoori treat, Saar Indian Bistro, has been a long time coming. Our patience has paid off, though, with brilliantly executed traditional dishes made for the modern diner. (Think: jalapeño samosas and spicy biryani with jackfruit.) Equal amount of thought is incorporated into pastry chef–creative director Surbhi Sahni’s desserts, most significantly the rice custard (firni) served alongside slow-cooked figs poached with garam masala. 241 West 51st Street (between Broadway and Eighth Avenue), Midtown

Photo by Melissa Hom

Korean Style From 39 Stories Above

Overlooking the chronically busy streets of K-town is Gaonnuri, a high-end Korean stunner with skyline views comparable to the Empire State Building’s. When you’re not spending most of your dinner gawking at the center of the urban world, dedicate a moment to admire what’s in front of you, which should be the shrimp and white fig appetizer served with seasonal microgreens. 1250 Broadway (between 31st and 32nd Streets), Koreatown

A Worthy Challenger to Avocado Toast

The Dutch, Andrew Carmellini’s American joint, has been holding down the corner of Sullivan and Prince for nearly a decade. Despite its longevity, the team continuously pulls new tricks from their chef’s whites’ sleeves. Example No. 463 of this is the fig toast, in which slices of the fruit lay pretty on top of sunflower bread with a farmer cheese and sweet bee pollen spread. Unlike its avocado counterpart, this toast won’t set you back the price of a house mortgage. 131 Sullivan Street (corner of Prince Street), SoHo

Photo by Noah Fecks

Scandinavian Sips at Mikkeller Brewing

These great Danes know how to brew. Inside Mikkeller’s 10,000-square-foot Queens brewery are experimental gypsy beers spanning from hops-y sours to heavy stouts, made both in-house and out of its Copenhagen HQ. The one beer here that should be your signature this season is the SpontanFig, a Belgian-style lambic brewed with the fruit and aged in oak barrels. 123-01 Roosevelt Avenue, Flushing

Figs Four Ways at ilili

Fancy Lebanese is the name of the game at ilili, so figs dress to the nines for the Flatiron establishment. Here the fruit is presented in a foursome of dishes: a brussels sprout mezza charred with sweet fig jam and grapes; street-style duck shawarma served with a smooth fig puree; veal bacon and fig jam sandwiched in between a thin semolina pancake; and a grown-up candy bar comprised of layered fig caramel, rich dark ganache, and gently spiced pistachios. 236 Fifth Avenue (between 27th and 28th Streets), Flatiron

Brussel Sprouts/ Photo courtesy of ilili

Figs for a Few Dimes

This Lower East Side standout is known for many things: flower arrangements worthy of their own Instagram post, leading the way for NYC’s current CBD movement, and being a see-and-be-seen scene at any given hour. What’s even more remarkable is that Dimes’s cool factor doesn’t affect how good the food coming out of its kitchen is. Take, for instance, the ever-chic burrata plate. The creamy cheese is a star in its own right, but the Dimes team gives it additional flair with succulent sliced figs, wild fennel pesto, and a robust green chili oil. 49 Canal Street (between Orchard and Ludlow Streets), Lower East Side

Beautiful Brooklyn Brunchin’

There’s a lot to love about the female-helmed neighborhood bistro Otway in Clinton Hill: bright and lively atmosphere, an affordable happy hour that’s well worth le binge, and being able to order a dish called Cheese With Seasonal Things. But its greatest strength lies in the delectable brunch spread, including a late-summer take on classic johnnycakes slathered in fig butter. 930 Fulton Street, Clinton Hill

 

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