Readers and friends of The Infatuation often share one very specific request with us: they want to know about the city's best brand new restaurants before we review them. This was impossible, until now.
We didn't buy a mind-reading device, or a time machine (yet), but we're happy to present The Infatuation Hit List, a regularly updated guide to the new New York City restaurants that we think you should know about, and that we think you'll actually like.
On this list, you'll find new establishments we've recently reviewed, as well as the places we've enjoyed and will likely have good things to say about in the future.
And one key thing you can always rely on: we'll only put restaurants on this list that we have actually vetted (been to at least once). You know that new restaurant you keep reading about because it was opened by a chef who worked at Per Se for a month back in 2003? There's a good chance that place might suck, and we're not going to recommend that you check it out unless we're reasonably sure that it doesn't.
Here’s our update for June 6: We have a new favorite poké place, and its name is Chikarashi. We’re also very impressed with Olmsted, a farm-to-table spot in Prospect Heights, and Mimi, a sexy French place serving adventurous food in Greenwich Village. Finally, Sauvage is a highly attractive option for fancy cocktails and interesting small plates on the Williamsburg/Greenpoint border. Perla Cafe, Syndicated, Cafe Altro Paradiso, and Freud have all been pulled from the Hit List to make room for these newer spots.
It was only a matter of time before poké (Hawaiian bowls involving raw fish, rice, and tasty toppings) invaded New York. But while they've been popping up across the city recently, Chikarashi is the first poké spot we’ve tried that actually rivals the good stuff in Hawaii and LA. The fish is super fresh, the Japanese-inspired combinations are great, and the place is clean and simple. If you live or work anywhere near Chinatown, Chikarashi just upgraded your take-out situation exponentially.
Maison Premiere is one of our all-time favorite places for fancy cocktails, raw bar, and generally feeling awesome. And Sauvage, the new restaurant from the same team on the Williamsburg/Greenpoint border, shares a lot of things in common with MP: it’s beautifully designed and they serve perfect cocktails (like the house martini, complete with a DIY setup for customizing your garnish). But unlike Maison Premiere, Sauvage has a full food menu ranging from seasonal vegetables to pig’s head for two. Know that portions here are pretty small - come for a drink and a snack at the bar, or come here ready to go big. And in any case, get the squid ink garganelli.
Olmsted is like an SNL sketch making fun of Brooklyn restaurant stereotypes. Andy Samberg would play the cool young chef, Jon Hamm would play the ponytailed host who tells you about the herbs, vegetables, fruits, and animals grown in the manicured, string lit, high-tech sprinkler-systemed Prospect Heights garden, while Bill Hader would man the bar, shaking his head and laughing at everyone actually eating there. It would be easy to roll your eyes at Olmsted, but the truth is it’s actually pretty incredible. Prices are affordable (nothing is over $24), and the food is creative and delicious. Get the carrot crepe with surf clams.
Mimi185 Sullivan St.
What makes a restaurant sexy? We’re not sure we can actually answer that, but we can tell you that Mimi has it. It’s a tiny Greenwich Village spot with dim lighting, a great bar, and generally cool vibes - but the place isn’t all about looks. It also happens to serve excellent, unusual French food. If the idea of eating monkfish liver, veal tartare, and sea urchin gnocchi sounds like just the thing your date night rotation needs, get yourself and your dining partner to Mimi.
It’s not your imagination - Williamsburg is getting old right before your eyes. Rider is yet another example of a grown-up restaurant coming to the neighborhood. The food is a wide range of shareable plates - like gougeres (airy cheese puffs), fried oysters, and spaghetti - so it’s the kind of place you can count on everyone finding something they’ll like. Try to get a table on the second floor - it’s cozier, and generally feels more like a real restaurant experience than the bottom floor.
We're immediately going to be excited about a restaurant with a wood-burning oven, and Freek’s Mill is no exception. The food coming out of said oven is pretty great - roasted proteins, seasonal vegetables, and pastas - and the brick room also has a great vibe. If we were to tell you to go to just one brand-new spot, it would be this one.
You've probably heard us go on at length about Emily, the Clinton Hill pizza place that also makes what might be our favorite burger in the city. They recently opened up a new spot in Williamsburg that serves "Detroit-style" square pies as well as several (awesome) sandwiches, in a wine bar-type space. The pizza is very good (and very intense), but the absolute best thing here is the Spicy Chicken Sandwich. They serve a burger as well, but it's currently only available in the basement burger bar.
Anyone who's eaten a few meals in Philadelphia over the past decade has probably been to Amada, or at least heard of it - for many years, this tapas restaurant was just about everyone's favorite place to eat in the city. Amada has finally come to New York - if you're a Food Network person, this is Jose Garces' first restaurant in NYC. It's somewhat unfortunately located in the suburban mall that is Brookfield Place, but that could also be very useful if you work in the area.
Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint is full of many things - bodegas, liquor stores, Polish delis - but not a lot of spots that are great for a casual date night or catching up with a friend. Which is why Cherry Point is such a good addition to the neighborhood. The cocktails are tasty, the charcuterie selection is strong, and they serve one of the better steak frites we’ve encountered recently.
Mr. Donahue’s203 Mott St
There’s no halfway with a concept restaurant, and we’re glad Mr. Donahue’s didn’t skimp on any detail of their 1930’s-era diner counter that can seat a whopping nine humans at once. You eat on branded doilies, you drink the singular beer (in a can, of course), you order a protein with a side and a sauce, and you go home with one of those strawberry-wrapper lollipop things you used to eat at your Grandparents’ house. It’s nice to think that an old-school diner served prime rib and rotisserie chicken this good, but that probably wasn’t the case. It’s really just the room that’s a throwback - the food is modern, and delicious. Mr. Donahue’s is like eating in a 2018 model Jeep Wagoneer. What a time to be alive. Read the full review
Covina127 E 27th St
Italian food. On 27th and Park. In a hotel. Sounds... exciting, huh? Don't knock it til you've tried it. On several visits, this restaurant has turned out to have some very good food and some of the friendliest service we've experienced in a while. If you spend a lot of time around this area and have already eaten at Upland and The Clocktower more times than you can remember, definitely add Covina to your rotation. Read the full review.
Frankel's Delicatessen631 Manhattan Ave
Similar to Russ & Daughters Cafe, Frankel’s is a mashup of the old-school Jewish deli concept with new-school execution. But while Russ & Daughters is very much a destination, Frankel’s is a casual neighborhood spot: it’s an order-at-the- counter setup, with only a few tables and counter seats, and mobbed by what feels like the entirety of the young Greenpoint population during peak times. As for the food: it’s excellent. Whether you go with lox, pastrami, eggs and bacon, or brisket on your bagel (or roll, or rye), you won’t be disappointed. Read the full review.
We love the original Speedy Romeo in Clinton Hill. A lot. So we were both excited and hesitant about the new Lower East Side location - would the awesome neighborhood feel, and even better food be there? The answer, on both counts, is yes. The new location has the same kind of friendly, comfortable vibe, and the food remains excellent - while the pizza is great, you want to go heavy on the rest of the menu too (especially the burger).
Nix72 University Pl
Nix is a fully vegan and vegetarian restaurant brought to you by the guy that makes vegetables taste unbelievably good at Narcissa. But while Narcissa feels like a special occasion restaurant, Nix is much more casual. The prices are pretty reasonable, and it’s also on a convenient block of University Place that was highly in need of a good, grown-up restaurant. We say grown-up because Nix feels like a place any cool mom would love - the room is stylish without being overly trendy or sceney, and the food is interesting but still accessible. Nix isn’t a place you come because you’re on some kind of masochistic diet - it’s a place you come to enjoy highly tasty food that happens to be meat-free. Bonus points for bringing your mom. Read the full review.
The incredibly popular Australian Nolita coffee shop/avocado toast emporium opened up a proper restaurant in Tribeca, and it's essentially Two Hands, All Grown Up. The space is fancier, the menu is bigger and more complex, the avocado toast has more stuff on it, and there's even a full bar. The ridiculously friendly service is preserved from the original, and all the food is really tasty.
Pasquale Jones187 Mulberry St
It's no secret that we love Charlie Bird. That's why we were honestly a little terrified at the prospect of the same team opening a new restaurant near our office. What if it's not as good? What if they don't play rap music? Will they still have wine? After two meals we're happy to report that Pasquale Jones is not only a place we'd spend our time and money any day of the week, but we might even like it better than Charlie Bird because pizza. Read our full review..
Lilia567 Union Avenue
This new Williamsburg restaurant is a former auto body shop turned restaurant, but not in the "we made a BBQ restaurant" sense. This is a beautiful space with a wood burning oven that feels far more like something you'd find next to Madison Square Park than you would next to McCarren. The food comes to you via Missy Robbins, who you might know as the former chef at A Voce. Think L'Artusi but in Brooklyn and think about getting there as soon as possible. Read our full review.