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 July 27: If you haven’t been to Hao Noodle yet, make it a priority - this place is putting out some of the best new Chinese food we’ve eaten in a while (in a space that looks like Anthropologie store, but it works). Coco & Cru is a useful new daytime cafe in Noho you should use to break out of your Two Hands Cafe/Bluestone Lane habit, and Cafe Medi is a Mediterranean spot in the Rivington Hotel we’d recommend for a big group dinner. We also like BKW, the new restaurant from the Brooklyn Winery people, and had some very good pies at PN Pizza in Nomad.
Hao Noodle is a West Village Chinese restaurant that looks like an Anthropologie store. It's an extremely nice (and well air-conditioned) place to sit, and the food also happens to be pretty awesome. The food is fancy in a sense, but it's also quite casual - no need to feel bad about showing up sweaty. Go for the Claypot Dumplings, the beef ribs, and the mung bean jelly.
Coco & Cru is what would happen if SoulCycle and Two Hands got married and had a baby. It’s yet another Australian daytime cafe serving avocado toast, but it’s also covered in bright yellow and plays the kind of pop music that you’re used to hearing during the cooldown portions of spin classes. Once you get past all that, Coco & Cru is actually a very useful, healthy-ish spot that’s perfect for a solo lunch, breakfast meeting, or coffee and snack on the go.
We’ve always liked the Williamsburg wine bar Brooklyn Winery, so we were excited to check out their new full-on restaurant BKW. It’s located in the middle of all the action on Franklin Ave. in Crown Heights, and there a number of ways you can use it. So far, we like the place best for wine tasting (the flight is a very reasonable $16, and lets you pretend you went to Sonoma for the night) and small plate snacking - the space works for everything from a low-key date night to a friend group dinner.
Have you ever found yourself suddenly responsible for coming up with an idea for a 12-person dinner on a Friday night? Two days from now? We did recently, and wound up bringing our crew to Cafe Medi - and left pretty pleased. It's the old Co-Op space in the Hotel on Rivington right in the heart of the party-time Lower East Side, so it does have a slightly Meatpacking-ish vibe. But the food - all share-plates style - is actually quite tasty and not offensively priced. We wouldn't use it for a special date night, but you can direct your needy 12 person group here without concern.
This new pizza place in Nomad has a "concept" - each night, you have a choice of two different flour options for your pizza dough, chosen from a rotating selection of (all organic, obviously) flours. A little gimmicky? Sure, but the pizza they turn out is some of the better Neapolitan pizza we've had as of late. It's a big space, and a good one to add to your rotation if you spend time in the area.
Planning your next special occasion dinner/fancy night out? Le Coucou is a new restaurant from Daniel Rose, an American chef who started one of the most popular restaurants in Paris, and Stephen Starr, the restaurateur behind Upland, The Clocktower, and more. So far it's drawing a slightly older, fancier (though not uptight) crowd, especially given its location on the border of Chinatown and Soho - but the food and service, even within a few days of opening, are absolutely excellent.
Hail Mary, a retro diner in Greenpoint, feels like it could have been decorated by a hip grandma on hallucinogens. Because of its quirky, bright yellow and floral-covered interior, we like the place best for daytime meals (or geriatrically early dinners). That said, if you do it right, you’ll probably need a nap afterwards - Hail Mary does fried foods (avocado, burrata, chicken) best. The next time you’re in need of comfort food, but also want something more adventurous than your usual brunch or Tuesday night dinner, try this place.
It's not too often we get excited about a new spot opening in Chelsea Market, but Dizengoff is something special, and given that the place is based off of something you'd find at a market in Tel Aviv, the location actually makes a ton of sense. At Dizengoff, hummus - bowls of it - is the main event, rather than something you dip a few sad carrots into on a crudite platter. You can add everything from vegetables to brisket to your bowl of some of the best, creamiest hummus you've ever tried.
If you’re able to successfully avoid Union Square, congratulations. Otherwise, it’s time to learn about Union Fare, an enormous cafe/wine bar/food market/restaurant that has brought the area its best new breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner options in one fell swoop. Whether you’re meeting someone for coffee, picking up a desk lunch (the poke bowls are good) or something sweet, or need a convenient and cool spot to have a healthy-ish dinner (the menu is vegetable and salad-heavy), Union Fare is your move.
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.
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. Read the full review.
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.
Amada200 Vesey Street
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. Read the full review.
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.
Speedy Romeo LES63 Clinton St
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). Read the full review.