Saucy tortas, steps from Barclays Center. Illustration: Naomi Otsu

Welcome to Grub Street’s rundown of restaurant recommendations that aims to answer the endlessly recurring question: Where should we go tonight? These are the spots that our food team thinks everyone should visit, for any reason (a new chef, the arrival of an exciting dish, or maybe there’s an opening that’s flown too far under the radar). This month: sauce-drenched tortas, a fermentation-happy bistro, and a new tasting menu that’s actually worth the price.

Mushroom Hot Pot (Flushing)
Flushing already has an embarrassment of hot-pot offerings, but there is still room for variation: True to its name, Mushroom Hot Pot offers mushroom broth (robust, the color of black tea) plus 22 different mushrooms to go with the customary fish balls and deep-fried pork bites. They include the usual suspects like oyster, less common varieties like the shaggy monkey head, and plump morels made for the dipping sauce of shaoxing wine, xiao mi la chile, and soy. The hefty menu has a lot to offer, like drunken beef and noodles with nubbins of fresh crawfish in chile sauce, and plenty more fungi. Then, don’t go without the killer stir-fry of deer horn mushrooms and biting green chile. — Chris Crowley

Gertrude’s (Prospect Heights)
Deep-winter dining means cozy familiarity: Gertrude’s, the Prospect Heights bistro that opened last year in the former James spot on Carlton, hits all of the notes of a go-to neighborhood restaurant, including a statement cheeseburger (order it “Reuben-style” for the added sauerkraut) and a savory, pickle-brined half-chicken served on a bed of fennel and roasted apples. Drinks — like a mezcal Vesper, and the aquavit-and-pickle-brine-based Dirty Gertie — are boozy and well-made. Always get the “Black & White” cake, perfectly moist and served as a heaping, Cheesecake Factory–size slice that’s more than enough for two. — Edward Hart 

Rosticceria Evelina (Clinton Hill) 
There are your dry roast chickens and your wet roast chickens. This new Myrtle Avenue spot — from nearby Evelina on Dekalb — inclines to wet. Viva wet! The bird is bathed in a rich, almost gooey, umami-fied jus, above which breast, thigh, and drumstick rise like an archipelago. The flavor isn’t fancy, and neither is the presentation, but the result makes fussier chickens seem bland and wan by comparison. The honeyed roast carrots and a pile of rosemary-scented rubbled potatoes melt deliciously into the bath. I wasn’t sorry for starting with a trio of pill-shaped suppli oozing hot mozzarella, or finishing with a bucket-size tiramisu, but I didn’t need them. When you can’t fight your way into Sailor for Brooklyn’s reigning status chicken, be glad this month-old newcomer is nearby. — Matthew Schneier

Corima (Lower East Side)
Allen Street is the landing spot for chef Fidel Caballero’s long-standing North Mexican pop-up. An all-glass storefront gives way to an appealingly dark, brick-walled two-room setup. The real action is at the eight-seat chef’s counter overlooking the open kitchen in the back (the tasting menu runs seven courses for $100-ish dollars), but drop-in diners can do well with the à la carte options served in the rest of the space. Fresh sourdough tortillas are a fine start, as is a light ceviche of chewy surf clam. Seafood is a highlight: A meaty slab of grilled hamachi collar is slicked with tare and placed atop a bright purée of hoja santa, while “sashimi” is a mix of various fish that are all briefly aged on the premises. Grab a slice of raw scallop, top it with some charred jalapeño, and drag it through a dip of runny orange egg yolk that’s been quickly cured in white-corn miso. — Alan Sytsma 

Cruz del Sur (Park Slope)
I’d been meaning to try the Guadajalaran food at Cruz del Sur on Washington Avenue, but before I could, they opened a second location right in view of the Barclays Center and all the train lines that run into it. You don’t want to show up before a Nets game or Travis Scott concert, but it’s a perfect stopping point for a light meal or more. They’re best known for the sauce-drenched tortas, but I love anything that involves their homemade corn tortillas, which are slightly thick and balance meaty fillings like carne asada or chorizo and potato and lengua tacos that come doused with salsa. Another satisfying meal consisted of birria consommé and an order of guacamole with tostadas, for which you should request the black habanero sauce. — Tammie Teclemariam

See All