Lamb Burger from The Breslin
The Chargrilled Lamb Burger ($21) at The Breslin doesn't fall into the shove-it-full-of-aromatics trap that so many inferior lamb burgers fall victim to—this patty is nothing but lamb and salt. Made from a combination of chuck and leg meat, it comes out perfectly cooked every time; Insanely juicy with an intense grassy funk, it dribbles and drips as you eat it in the most glorious way. Toppings are kept simple with just a few thin slices of salty feta cheese and red onion. At first you might be afraid that the sturdy roll is going to overwhelm or crush the meat, but it all works out in the end—this lamb is tough enough to fight back. It's no wonder there's a constant parade of them coming off the grill. It all comes with a side of cumin-scented mayo, but I never apply it. Save that for dipping your thrice-cooked chips into—can I say that these are the best fries in the city? I really mean that.
—J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
Roast Saddle of Lamb from Boulud Sud
Last night I had a transcendent lamb special for two at Boulud Sud: roast saddle of lamb stuffed with chorizo and swiss chard over a bed of puréed lentils. The kicker that totally took the dish into the lambosphere: the little pitcher of mint lamb jus. It was the lamb equivalent of a pitcher of hot fudge for a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Pictured: Ed with Daniel Boulud (center), not the lamb saddle.
Lamb Pastrami from Char No. 4
Char No. 4's lamb pastrami ($12) is a thing of beauty: it's brined for a week before it's slow-smoked, then shaved thinly and served with a coriander and black pepper aioli, with pickled onions and baby cilantro to brighten it all up. I appreciate the delicacy with which it's served, but honestly, I'd eat a whole Katz's-sized sandwich of the stuff.
Spicy and Tingly Lamb Face Salad from Xi'an Famous Foods
Can we start by talking about the name? Tingly lamb face salad ($9.75). How often does a salad get a wowza name like that? The shredded face meat from Xi'an Famous Foods does indeed make your mouth ta-ta-tingle from all the fiery chili oil, vinegar, and other sauces it's drenched in. Crisp bean sprouts, celery chunks, and cilantro leaves add a greenish "salad" element to this pile of food.
Mekanek at Ilili
I'm never one to turn down a lamb sausage, but the bite-size versions ($12) at Ilili are especially fine. Think of them like super-tender cocktail franks with potent lamb flavor and restrained but assertive spicing. The pan juices are tarted up with lemon juice and used as a sauce, which is at once light and intensely lamb-y. Dip these guys in some of Ilili's excellent labne for an especially awesome take on lamb with yogurt sauce.—Max Falkowitz
Merguez Aiolissa at Harissa Cafe
I mean it—I really can't turn down a lamb sausage. Especially this foot-long beauty, the Merguez Aiolissa ($7.95) from Harissa Cafe in Astoria. The bread, a lean, excellent baguette, comes from Balthazar, and it's a great cradle for tender, well-spiced lamb in a snappy casing. There are some grilled onions and harissa mayo nestled in there too, but if you really want to take this sandwich to the next level, stuff in some of the complimentary fries.—Max Falkowitz
Muslim Lamb Chop from Fu Run
The "Muslim lamb chop" ($21.95) from Northern Chinese restaurant Fu Run in Flushing. I put it in quotes because the menu calls 'em chops, but they look like ribs...and I just found out they're lamb breast. Or we could just call them "crispy cumin and sesame seed-coated, super tender, juicy lamb meat-on-bone-sticks" because that's what they are. Braised. Spice-rolled. Deep fried. The recipe for success. Besides adding flavor, the cumin and sesame seeds give it another layer of crunchiness on top of the crisp fried skin, and then there's the fat and meat underneath that all just flop off the bone with the gentle poke of a chopstick. I've rarely seen such tender meat before. This is easily my favorite form of lamb ever. If there's a better lamb dish out there, I'd like to hear about it. And eat it.
Braised Lamb Shoulder Pasta at Locanda Verde's Lambarama
Locanda Verde's Lambarama 2011 was a great opportunity to try all parts of the lamb, from the velvety tongue straight through the sweetbreads and down to the ribs. But what really lingers in my memory: this braised lamb shoulder, nestled softly inside Carmellini's homemade pasta. Each bite was frosted with smoked pecorino, ensuring my fork's speedy return.
Grilled Baby Lamb Sandwich from Moustache Pitza
I love the Grilled Baby Lamb Sandwich ($13) at Moustache in the West Village. Yes, the name might make you feel a little sad, but you'll forget all about that the moment you bite into it. The wrap is soft and filled with tender, juicy lamb rounded out with some tomatoes, onions and parsley.