Dining in Outerspace

Summer in the city is well underway.

I don’t know what the song of the summer is, but I do know what the restaurant of the summer is.

It’s a temporary restaurant, which makes it especially relevant right now. And it’s a collaborative restaurant, which makes it all the more exciting. The menu is a product of not just one chef’s vision, but three: Chinchakriya Un, Sadie Mae Burns, and Anthony Ha. The former is of Kreung and the latter two are behind Ha’s Đặc Biệt — two pop-ups that have garnered fanfare for making excellent Vietnamese and Cambodian food, respectively, and serving it all across the city. 

The three of them put their heads and a team together for a summer-long residency at Outerspace in Bushwick. Anyone who either lives in NYC or has plans to visit this summer should go. 

You’ll first locate the somewhat hidden entrance at the end of Scott Ave, walk down a lush aisle, and find yourself in a jungle-like alfresco restaurant furnished with roomy picnic tables, shady umbrellas, and plants galore. Maybe you’ll call for a cocktail pitcher of the refreshing, neon-green Pandan Gimlet. You’ll have the Đặc Biệt salad, a mess of crunchy market vegetables, nước chấm, and peanuts and a slightly smoky grilled oyster or two, sprinkled with scallions and more peanuts. There will be wings tossed in a citrusy dry spice blend, the juiciest pork satay served with flakey roti from Trini Girl in Crown Heights, and a whole fish grilled until its tender, which you’ll wrap in lettuce and herbs then dip into sauces. A few orders of the wok veg of the day for the table will be appreciated by all.

On your way out you’ll wonder if you should make a reservation to return, for 4 or 6 or maybe even 8, and worry later about who you’ll invite. The answer is yes — the food is that good, and the vibe is that fun.

Dinner parties are back, along with every other avenue for social engagement, and frankly, I’m exhausted. But that’s not to say I don’t want to keep partaking in all of it. So, here’s a fairly obvious tip: have your friends over for dinner, but keep it simple. I have a habit of doing too much and so when Saarim suggested we make lemon pasta, I was immediately on board. This Deb Perelman recipe is seamless, delicious, and takes almost no time to make. Grate your fresh parm before the guests arrive and the rest will come together in minutes. To go with we did a free-style grilled-and-raw salad—one of my favorite summertime dishes—warm charred snap peas, mushrooms, and sweet peppers tossed with fresh arugula, pea shoots, and (always) homemade vinaigrette. 

There’s something about the family-run Turkish restaurant Bunny that reminds me of dining in Paris. It’s chic yet homey and soft-spoken, from the decor to the service. And yet Bed-Stuy is where you can share filo cigars stuffed with spicy potatoes and propped vertically atop sweet Bavarian mustard, roasted cauliflower over smoked labneh with red chilies, and gooey su bokek (essentially Turkish lasagna). To drink, go for a gin & tonic. DM them to make a reservation.

After I voted in the depressing mayoral election, I rewarded myself by stopping into Impasto, since I had heard they installed a soft serve gelato machine for the summer. That decision — to enjoy a twist of fiore di latte and pistachio topped with olive oil and sea salt — was one I could actually be sure of. 

If, like me, you’ve been doing a lot of catching up over drinks with friends that you haven’t seen in a while, know that Franks Wine Bar is a perfect place for it. Order a plate of prosciutto and a bottle of Biancofongoli orange wine, and you’re off to a very good start.

Do yourself a favor and try DACHA 46’s pelmeni on weekends at KIT, the brand-new culinary cooperative that replaced MeMe’s Diner in Prospect Heights. 

Quick beverage report: Taika’s adaptopgen-laced coffee cans make you feel like you’ve micro-dosed on shrooms, and I’m not mad about it. Hopical Citrus is the best flavor of JuneShine. Topo Chico hard seltzer is a solid choice of tallboy to grab from the bodega on your way to a party.

I’ve been to many of New York’s classic red sauce joints, but I’d never been to Joe’s in Ridgewood until recently, when my friend Jane picked it for her goodbye dinner (she’s moving back to LA, where the Italian institutions are not as plenty). I cannot recommend it enough. They make a mean dirty martini. The bread comes with silky green peppers marinated in olive oil, a brilliant complement to the dry Italian loaf. The meatballs are legit, the baked ziti is better, and the garlic bread parmigiana is a must. Bonus points for affordability, since most other likeminded spots are not, and shout out to the server who sprinkled parmesan over everything while shouting “I’m Parm Bae!”.



I wrote about the little-known labor history of New York’s bagel rollers after the 70s dissolution of the Bagel Bakers Local 338 Union (a story I’ve been wanting to do for a while!), for Gastro Obscura

For PUNCH, I dug into why some wine shops have started to educate and sell to customers over text message

On PLANTA, a plant-based restaurant chain that just opened in NoMad, for Resy

And another opening: Anything At All, Roosevelt Island’s most notable restaurant yet, for Eater

My June Garmentory column features tips and tricks for perfect picnics from in-the-know food folks


A few recommended reads:

Alan Sytsma for Grub Street: The New Thrill of Old Restaurants

Gustavo Arellano for LAT: Throwing tortillas isn’t a racist act — until it is

Brett Martin for GQ: The Decadence of the New Veganism

Gabrielle Hamilton for NYT: The Perfect Post-Pandemic Party Food: A Six-Foot Hero

Noëmie Carrant for Resy: Meet Tama Matsuoka Wong, the Forager Who Brings Weeds to New York’s Top Restaurants


I’m @emilyjwils on Twitter & Instagram.