It’s true that lamb isn’t quite as popular in the US as the chicken, the cow, and the pig. There’s just something about the taste that doesn’t match American taste buds, and that’s generally the reason why most of the lamb that comes into the US has been bred to offer a milder flavor, with the familiar texture of well-marbled steak.
But if you live in the New York area and you have a liking for lamb meat, you do have lots of options to pick from. Here are some of the lamb dishes that you should really try out in NYC and the neighboring areas.
Lamb Dumplings at Café Himalaya
Check out this restaurant on 1st Street at the East Village Nepalese, where you can find some wonderful wheaten dumplings. Here, they offer dumplings filled with sheep meat. The lamb meat comes from the male animals because they can’t make milk, though they also offer a mutton version made from animals that have become old enough that their wool isn’t good anymore.
The dumplings here are very basic, which just makes the flavors stand out. You have the lamb meat with the onions and dough, and then you just dip the dumpling in the hot sauce.
Lamb Shank Tajine at Nomad
This is another East Village restaurant, which focuses on the various food offerings from the whole North African area. They cook the food here very slowly, over a fire, charcoal, or a tajine (a kind of stove burner).
Order the lamb shank tajine, which features a shank with lots of meat. They braise it with apricots and dried prunes, and then add a sprinkle of almonds. You can then enjoy this with either couscous or rice.
Lamb Shawarma Sandwich at Rakka Café
This place doesn’t look all that impressive, but the food here is what’s important. It’s also why this restaurant has thrived for more than 35 years. They offer good yet affordable versions of Middle Eastern staples, though with some hints of Egyptian and Syrian.
Get the lamb shawarma sandwich, and they’ll get you a generous helping from the rotating vertical spit. They’ll then then fill out the cardboard pita with the lamb meat. Add some tahini and harissa, and you’re in for a spicy treat.
Barbacoa Tacos at Oxomoco
You’ll find this restaurant in Brooklyn, and these tacos should be on your order list. You’ll get a pair of tacos with shredded meaty pieces of lamb, on homemade corn tortillas. The solid lamb flavor really makes these tacos special, but they also add squash blossoms, and lots (and lots) of watercress.
Enjoy this with the salsa made with the herb pipicha, and you’re good to go. You’ll scarf these tacos down quickly, and you might be tempted to get more.
Chakapuli at Chito Gvrito
This is a Georgian restaurant, and the people of Georgia (the country, not the state) sure do love their lamb dishes. But they also like fresh herbs as well, and use handfuls of fresh herbs for many of their sauces.
This Chakapuli combines the lamb and herbs. You get a steaming bowl of tiny lamb pieces, along with lots of tarragon, bitter greens, and fat. The tarragon tastes a bit like licorice, although it’s also distinctly pungent.
Add spoonfuls of the chakapuli over some rice, and enjoy it with a nice glass of dry Georgian red wine.
Lamb Burger at Meme Mediterranean
Have you tried a lamb burger yet? While the Café Breslin has closed down since the pandemic, and that means no one can now enjoy their legendary lamb burger. But you can console yourself with the lam burger at this tiny café in the West Village
The lamb burger here features a thick patty, with that nice striping from the grill. Then they add some charred tomatoes (the charring gives it a more enhanced flavor) along with some gob of feta they’ve whipped up that’s superior to your usual mayo.
They serve the burger on a crusty baguette, and you get your burger with some very good French fries on the side.
The Stir-Fry Lam Dinner at Komodo
If you live in Brick Township in New Jersey, you only have to travel about an hour and 20 minutes to get to NYC. But you don’t have to make that journey at all if you’re craving some lamb. Just find the Komodo restaurant at 399 Brick Boulevard, and you’re good to go.
Here, they offer the Stir-Fry Lamb Dinner, featuring the wok-fried lamb along with bell pepper, red onion, and shishito peppers. You can enjoy this lamb dinner for $18 only, so it’s not as if it’s too expensive. It’s a casual place that you can enjoy often with family and friends, especially if you live in the area.