Happening Right Now: New Restaurant Intel

PHOTO: Jessica Nash

You already have the Hit List, our regularly updated guide to the best new spots in NYC. But based off Team Infatuation’s recent restaurant experiences, here’s our newest intel. Scroll down to get all the info on the places we’re adding to our Hit Lists, the spots where we’ve been eating recently, and the next round of restaurants that we’ll be checking out.

11/20/2017 UPDATE

Lil' Gem, Roger Cabello


  • The next time you have a “catchup” dinner with someone, but you’d really rather catch up with your couch, remember Lil’ Gem. This new spot on the Lower East Side is designed to feel like a house (complete with couches and shuttered windows), and is a comfortable spot to meet a friend or two. The food is a take on Lebanese, so you’ll eat stuff like hot and cold mezze, flatbreads, and shawarma, and it’s all tasty and not too expensive. In other words, this is a new SCRFCUWFF to add to your rotation.

  • We were walking down First Avenue the other day when we saw a busy spot we’d never noticed before. Ferns, it turns out, is a casual cocktail bar that’s like a smaller, cooler version of the The Penrose or The Wren. There’s a little area in the back with a few tables and a bar up front. The food menu isn’t very large and nothing we ate here was very impressive, but it’s good to know about as another date drinks spot in the East Village.

  • There are some things our office can’t agree on: the thermostat level, whether no-carb waffle cookies count as snacks, and how much jazz piano is too much jazz piano. Ramen is not one of these things. So you can imagine how we felt after learning about the new, Bushwick location of one of our favorite ramen places in Brooklyn. Chuko’s ramen is as good here as it is at the original Prospect Heights spot, but the pork bun and okonomiyaki-style tots should also be on your table. What won’t be on your table is alcohol - Chuko doesn’t have a liquor license, at least not yet. (The other location does, so we’d guess Bushwick’s is in the works). Until then, we would come back here with friends before a night out, for a low-key date, or on a Sunday night solo.

  • If you happen to live in (or very close to) Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Risbo is a good place to know about. It’s a new counter-service spot with a full bar, and they specialize in Mediterranean/Caribbean set meals that consist of a protein (like whole branzino) and five sides. The space is also nice and bright, with a friendly neighborhood feel. We can’t say the food itself is worth traveling for, but a lot of it is pretty healthy, and this could be a good weeknight dinner option if you live in the area.

  • Bar Verde is a new place in the East Village where you can get vegan Mexican food. It’s a little space that feels sort of like a modern wine bar, and, if you ignore the giant photo on the wall of cows being led into what appears to be a slaughterhouse, it might be a good spot for a vegan date night. They make things like tempura avocado tacos and a “ceviche” with hearts of palm, and the food is overall fine. Some things are a little mushier than they should be, but the mole is pretty good. Just know that if you aren’t a vegan, there isn’t much point in coming here.

Bondi Sushi, Jessica Nash


The Osprey: Located in the bottom of a Dumbo hotel, The Osprey has a view of Brooklyn Bridge Park that will likely rival those of Fornino and River Cafe.

The Lobster Club: Thie third restaurant in the Seagram building, to go along with The Grill and The Pool. There are splatter paint floors, bright pink furniture, and a Japanese menu with everything from sushi to hibachi-style steak.

Outro: Yet another cafe near Union Square with matcha lattes and wifi. They’re open from 8AM to 10PM and have a waffle that comes with avocado and smoked salmon on top, which is basically just Leslie Knope’s version of avocado toast.

Tonchin: The first NYC location of a popular Tokyo chain that serves ramen and cocktails. It’s a casual restaurant in Midtown, so if it ends up being good, it might be a pretty useful spot.

Bondi Sushi: A fast-casual sushi place that just opened in Nomad, which could be a good place for your lunch rotation if you work nearby.

Tetsu: A Tribeca restaurant from the chef behind Masa in Columbus Circle, which is possibly New York’s most expensive restaurant. This place isn’t so fancy. The a la carte menu involves a bunch of robata grill dishes and sushi, as well as a burger that’s only served from 5-6PM.

Tomiño Taberna Gallega: A neighborhood place for a date in Little Italy, serving Spanish tapas that actually look large enough to feed a human or two.

10/30/2017 Update

Celestine (Daniel Krieger)


  • Ferris is a new restaurant in Nomad from one of the chefs from Le Turtle (one of our favorite new restaurants of 2016), and we recently stopped by for a weeknight dinner. It’s a pretty small space in the bottom of a new hotel, but it’s well-designed, and it feels like it would be a good place for date night. Unfortunately, the food is mostly just confusing. It looks cool and tastes interesting, we didn’t really want to finish any of it. It also gets pretty dark in here, and seeing as how every dish has about fifteen different ingredients, this isn’t ideal. Although if you need a relatively quiet drink in the area, there’s a nice lobby bar upstairs.

  • We recently stopped into a new Mediterranean restaurant on the Dumbo waterfront called Celestine. We didn’t have a reservation, so we waited about 40 minutes for a table (at a bar down the street), and we eventually got seated at an outdoor table with an impressive view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Unfortunately, the food itself wasn’t very impressive. The baked hummus tasted like refried beans, and the yogurt dip could have been Dannon - although the steak and chicken were pretty decent.

  • The best way to describe The Aviary is to tell you that it’s on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Columbus Circle, and that there’s a $28 cocktail that involves various chemistry class contraptions and smoke, and it’s called “Science A.F.” If you’re not familiar, that’s teen-speak meaning “as f*ck,” which has now been adopted by corporate marketing departments. And that’s a good way to describe The Aviary: it’s something that was once cool, but which has been ruined by a corporate marketing department. The original Aviary is in Chicago, and it’s the wacky but cool cocktail bar run by the people behind the famed creative tasting menu restaurant Alinea - and in Chicago, we are big fans. But The Aviary here is in a hotel where it feels like a cross between The Jetsons and a fancy airport lounge. The drinks are interesting and fun in presentation - there’s one that involves a rubber band slingshot, and another that is basically a cocktail terrarium - but they don’t taste very interesting, or even that good. Also, the service is a mess - we had about six different servers, and it took about 40 minutes to get a check. When you’re paying $28 a drink, that’s not cool. It’s mostly a bar, but there is some food, which is tasty, but absurdly priced (like $20 for a single tapas-sized bite). Overall, we’d say: spend your money elsewhere.


Lan Zhou: Lam Zhou was the tiny Chinatown place that made some of our favorite dumplings. It closed, but now the same people have opened a bigger space on Bowery, with a very slight name change that will probably make some people confused. You won’t be one of those people.

Mood Ring: With a rotating cocktail of the month to match your sign, this Bushwick astrology-themed bar might be worth checking out, even if it’s only for the sake of finding out what Gemini tastes like.

El Rey Annex: The Lower East Side cafe just opened up inside a Nomad menswear store. A good one to know about if you work in the area and like kale salads.

Wokuni: This is the first American spot from a big Japanese restaurant group known for high-quality fish. The space looks big, and the menu is pretty affordable, so it might be a good alternative to Sugarfish.

Brigitte: French-Brazilian small plates on the Lower Lower East Side, near Dimes and Cervo’s and other spots where Cool People hang out.

East Pole Fish Bar: The people behind The East Pole are opening a second Upper East Side location with only one non-seafood item on the menu. Surprise, it’s a burger.

Knightshift: Despite sounding like the name of a video game, Knightshift is a new pop-up in Williamsburg from one of the founders of Noma. They’ll be serving Nordic dishes Wednesday - Friday until the end of the year, and it’s walk-in only.

10/2/2017 UPdate

Uncle Boons Sister (Alex Muccilli)


  • The Loyal is a restaurant in the West Village from the people behind Narcissa and Nix - although it feels a little more old-school than either of those two places. It’s dimly lit, there are booths with little lamps, and half the tables have white tablecloths. They also make some classic dishes like shrimp scampi, duck fat tater tots, and parker house rolls - alongside some lighter options as well. You might find The Loyal useful if you’re looking for a place to eat with clients or family, and you don’t want anything too stuffy. Despite the white tablecloths, no one is wearing a suit here.

  • Uncle Boons is one of our favorite Thai restaurants in NYC, and the same people used to run a little throwback American spot called Mr. Donahue’s. That place closed, and now it’s a takeout version of Uncle Boons called Uncle Boons Sister. Here, they do things like fried chicken laarb, pork shank over rice, and a Thai-style hot dog covered in papaya salad. It’s quick and affordable, and it’s now one of the best takeout options in Nolita. There are also a few tables inside where you can sit and eat, and it hasn’t gotten too busy yet.

Nur (Paul Wagtouicz)


  • Rice & Gold is the latest restaurant from the people behind Talde and Massoni, and though it’s in the middle of Chinatown, it feels like the sort of spot where you’d eat with a group before taking a Hummer limo to a place where they do bottle service. It’s just one giant room with a bar, a bunch of tables and booths, and a kitchen that you can see behind some big glass windows. We came for dinner recently and had no problem finding a seat, but the Asian food is pricey and not-great. Your money would be better spent elsewhere.

  • The other day, we picked up lunch at a new sandwich shop on the Lower East Side called BYGGYZ (pronounced “Biggies”). We tried the signature “BYG BYGGY BEEF,” a sandwich with braised beef, cheese, and pickled things - and it was good. Maybe not $16.50 good, but you can always get the smaller, slightly less expensive version if you aren’t that hungry. They also make a few other sandwiches, like one with prosciutto and pork pate and another that’s their take on a Niçoise. Regardless of your choice, you should get a donut ice cream sandwich.

  • We first checked out Nur shortly after it opened a few months ago, and it made it onto our Hit List as a result. We’ve been trying to get back in, but if you’ve attempted to make a reservation, you already know that it’s pretty tough. We finally made it back last week, and can tell you that it’s a very good restaurant - but also a pretty expensive one. Go there if your priority is trying new, interesting food, and you’re willing to spend for it.



SUGARCANE raw bar grill: The first Sugarcanes opened in Miami and Las Vegas, and this latest one is Dumbo. It’s a big place with an enormous menu including things like sushi, steak, and pig ear pad Thai.

Aita Pizzeria: A takeout spot from the people behind Aita specializing in square, cheese-less pizza.

The Aviary: A high-concept cocktail bar in the Mandarin Oriental from the people behind Chicago’s Alinea (as well as the original Aviary).

9/18/2017 UPdate

The Lost Lady


  • The spot that used to be Hundred Acres in Soho is now Shuka, a Middle Eastern restaurant with very solid food. It’s still owned by the people behind Cookshop and Vic’s, and this is sort of like a Middle Eastern version of either of those restaurants. You’ll find a selection of kebabs and dips and mezze plates, all suitable for sharing. There’s plenty of room for big groups, so definitely keep it in mind for that 10-person dinner you have to plan last minute.

  • If you’ve ever been to spots like Ramona in Greenpoint or Sisters in Clinton Hill, Caffe Marchio will look familiar - the same design team did this place, and it’s a similarly attractive space. This is a “Roman-style” (a.k.a. standing room-only) coffee shop/cafe from the people behind Union Square Cafe, and it’s a great place stop in for a solo coffee or afternoon snack while you’re avoiding your office. Your order is the Granita Di Caffe, a little cup of shaved coffee ice covered in whipped cream. It is, as you would expect, outstanding.

  • The Lost Lady is the newest bar from the people who own The Wayland, and it has a lot going for it. The cocktails are great, they have a frozen hibiscus margarita on tap, and it was the perfect amount of busy when we stopped by. The only catch is, it’s deep in Alphabet City (about a block from The Wayland), where subway stations don’t exist. But if you make it over, you can hang out in a booth and enjoy the old-timey nautical theme. The space isn’t huge, but you should be able to find a seat.

the campbell


  • Sherman’s is a new place from the people behind Kiki’s, and it’s on the part of the Lower East Side where people like to hang out in front of art galleries. It also happens to be just across the street from Kiki’s, and when we stopped by the other day it was way less busy. Which is weird, because they serve a lot of the same food - but also not weird, because Sherman’s is extremely casual, and it sort of feels like a bodega. Just think of it as the takeout version of Kiki’s, and stop by when you want some quick shawarma or a whole chicken with fries. The chicken is only $15, and you can eat it on your couch while you watch Netflix.

  • For the first decade or so of its existence, Momofuku Ssam Bar wasn’t a great choice if you weren’t super into eating pork and spicy food. But over the past year, the menu has changed quite a lot: there’s actually something of a seafood focus now. Since so many restaurants around the world have basically copied Momofuku’s old menu, it’s cool to see them doing something new. Are we as excited about Ssam Bar now as we were in 2010? No, but we did very much like our recent meal here. We’ll weigh in with a full updated review soon.

  • Sen Sakana is Peruvian-Japanese, a fusion style that’s actually very popular in Peru. This place got written up when it opened as being a “$7 milion restaurant,” and we frankly don’t know what that means. Presumably it means they spent $7 million on the renovations, but if that’s the case, it seems unfortunate that they lined the whole place with sad office carpet. As for the food, a big portion of the menu is dedicated to sushi with Peruvian toppings (there’s a “ceviche” roll, for example) as well as skewers, ceviches and tiraditos, and a big mix of other stuff. Everything we tasted was perfectly fine, and it’d be OK for a business lunch, but you most certainly don’t need to spend your money here.

  • Until last year, The Campbell Apartment was an upscale cocktail bar in Grand Central where you couldn’t wear a t-shirt or sneakers. They recently renovated, however, and now it’s just called The Campbell. It’s still in the same old-school space that’ll make you feel like a 1950’s ad exec, but there’s no longer a dress code, and they added a little outdoor area where you can grab a drink before you catch your train back to Scarsdale. Although if you want the best seat, you should go to the upstairs area overlooking the bar. This place might be packed with commuters when you go, but it’s a great spot to know about if you work in the area.

oka (Kuo-Heng Huang)


Raviolo: No one asked for Italian dim sum, but you can get it at Raviolo - which might be worth checking out if you want a casual pasta snack in the West Village.

Rice and Gold: The new restaurant at the 50 Bowery Hotel, and the latest spot from the guy who opened Talde and Massoni. Currently open for breakfast.

Ugly Baby: A little Thai spot in Carroll Gardens where you can grab something more exciting than your usual pad see ew. Pork shoulder with mung bean noodles or duck feet with black pepper, for example.

Patisserie Chanson: You can stop into into this fancy French bread/pastry spot in Nomad for something like a sandwich or an eclair, or you can reserve the six-course dessert tasting in the basement dining room.

Oka: If you live near Kips Bay, consider checking this place out. It’s a modern izakaya doing things like steak tartare and salmon roe with sunchoke puree.

8/30/2017 update

bar glory


  • Bar Glory is from the same people behind Glasserie, one of the only restaurants in Greenpoint most people have heard of. Their new spot is connected to a hotel - but once we got past that slightly confusing fact, we were pretty blown away by everything we tried from the Asian-meets-Mediterranean menu. Dishes like lamb & pistachio dumplings and poppy seed & onion bao are both unique and delicious, and the low-lit, lounge-y space with a 70s rock soundtrack is a great spot for a date or a small group hang.


  • Martina is from the people behind Shake Shack, and it’s a similar concept. Just like at Shake Shack, you walk up to the counter, place your order, and they give you a little buzzer thing that tells you when your food is ready. Although instead of hamburgers, Martina does pizza, spritzes (in plastic cups), soft serve, and small sides like risotto balls and arugula salad. For the most part, you can skip the sides, but the pizzas are better and more interesting than you expect to find at a counter-service place. This is, however, still a counter-service place - so its usefulness is limited. If you want a weekday lunch spot, great. Or if you need a quick, easy weeknight dinner that isn’t as sad as Chipotle, it works for that too. Just know that you shouldn’t bring a date here and that you should eat the soft serve.

  • VHH Foods is the new all-day cafe from the people behind Vinegar Hill House in Dumbo, and, as long as the weather is nice, it’s a great daytime option. It’s counter-service, and you can stop by for breakfast or brunch and grab a sandwich or some eggs while you sit on the outdoor patio and take in the view of the East River. You can also eat dinner at VHH (it’s open until 10pm), but the super casual setup feels a little weirder then. The food is solid, however, and if you live or work nearby, it could be a good weeknight dinner spot. You can have some chicken liver mousse on toast and a bowl of pork shoulder that tastes like limey carnitas.

  • Friday through Sunday, the Smorgasburg people are now doing something called Smorg Square at Varick and Canal. It’s similar to Smorgasburg, just a little smaller, and not as great. One issue is the lack of lighter options. It’s not like we’d expect this place to have a kale salad, but something even sort-of-healthy would be nice. Although if all you really want are some chicken fingers and a churro ice cream sandwich, you might like it here. Just be sure to bring cash, and be prepared to wait in line.

  • Dokodemo recently opened in the East Village, and it’s where you should go if you want a quick thing of doughy octopus balls. It’s a counter-service spot serving Japanese street food like okonomiyaki, yakisoba, and the aforementioned octopus balls (takoyaki). None of the food is especially healthy, but if you get hungry while you’re drinking at a bar nearby, you’ll probably want to stop by here and eat some fried things.

  • The southwest corner of West Broadway and Grand houses one of those seemingly cursed restaurant spaces. A couple years back, there was a Mexican-Japanese restaurant that somehow combined tacos and sushi. You can guess how that went. Then there was a Spanish-Israeli restaurant from the owner of Taim and Bar Bolonat, and that didn’t work at all either. Now there’s Sola Pasta Bar, from an Italian chef who apparently had a Michelin star in Italy at one point, and who owns the upscale spot Mamo across the street. The premise is cool - there’s a big wraparound bar where you sit and watch the chefs cook your pasta right in front of you. But unfortunately, the pasta we had was pretty awful. It was bland, excessively al dente, and looked kind of like something you’d throw together at home and end up regretting.

Popina (Blake Notes)


Joe’s Pizza: The pizza in Times Square used to suck, but now there’s a Joe’s. Grab a slice before you catch a matinée of The Lion King.

Popina: This spot, mixing Southern and Italian food, opens in the Columbia Street Waterfront District today. Expect things like chicken Milanese with ranch dressing and entrées maxing out around $24.

Tokyo Record Bar: Here, you’ll be able to get a $50, seven-course tasting menu while you help pick the all-vinyl soundtrack. It opens in a basement in Greenwich Village tomorrow.

Mr. Cannon: A speakeasy filled with rugs and armchairs at the South Street Seaport. Ring a doorbell at the back of an alley to get inside.

8/14/2017 update

Narcbar (Neil Aline)


  • Narcbar is in what used to be the front dining room of Narcissa, the restaurant in the bottom of the Standard East Village. Narcissa is still there (it’s just a little smaller now), and the same chef does the food for Narcbar - things like ceviche, onion rings, and a flatbread with cheese and an egg. It’s a weird mix, but the food’s actually pretty good. And if you’re a society reporter looking for a scene, this place should have a decent one.


  • If you work in Midtown, you should know about Agern. It’s the Nordic restaurant in a corner of Grand Central, and it isn’t nearly as busy as it should be. We stopped by for lunch the other day, and while it isn’t exactly cheap, the $55 for two-course prix fixe (tip included) is actually a reasonable deal. Factor in the formal-but-not-stuffy space, and you have an ideal spot for your next midday meeting. And if you think you’re not wild about Nordic food, the salt cod croquettes and glazed pork belly will change your mind.

  • Vegans, vegetarians, and anyone who occasionally likes to eat a lot of vegetables will be happy know that abcV is doing brunch now. The menu has some of the dishes they offer at breakfast, as well as a few new items. We like the pastas (like the one with breadcrumbs and broccoli) and the roasted head of cauliflower, which is more impressive than it sounds.

  • Try to find information on the internet about Honey Badger won’t. Outside of one post on a local blog and a few scant Yelp reviews, there’s very little info (until now) on this tiny spot in Prospect-Lefferts Garden. We saw via Instagram that they were serving ostrich tartare in an ostrich shell and some other very unusual-looking food, but beyond that, honestly weren’t even sure if this place was real. Well, we went, and can report that it is indeed real. A husband and wife cook using a few small plates, there are about four tiny tables, and beyond the ostrich tartare, they serve stuff like bison sirloin and “hot botanicals” (vegetables, basically). The whole thing feels more like an experiment or art project than a restaurant. The food was just OK, and it’s not that cheap so we probably wouldn’t send you there. That said, we’re glad to see people doing stuff that’s different in a city where every new opening seems to be in a hotel or backed by a huge restaurant group.

  • We’re on a perpetual hunt for excellent sushi that doesn’t cost $100-plus a person. Unfortunately Uogashi, a relatively new East Village spot we’d heard good things about, doesn’t join the list of semi-affordable greats like Sushi Katsuei, Sushi Dojo, and Tanoshi. The $75 omakase gets you a lot of food, but the sushi pieces are weirdly oversized in a way that’s not particularly appealing and the fish variety wasn’t very impressive either. It’s a decent option for a few rolls or pieces a la carte, but it’s not a must-visit. At all.

Sir Henri


Sir Henri: A cozy-looking cocktail bar on the top floor of Hotel Henri - a hotel in Flatiron that you’ve probably never heard of until now.

Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar: There is now a Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar below Rockefeller Center. It will be a better option than anything else you find down there.

Dokodemo: A casual East Village spot serving Japanese street food.

8/2/2017 Update

Noah Devereaux


  • There’s a new Los Tacos No. 1 on 43rd Street - and, while Times Square technically sucks, the tacos here are still extremely good. It’s also isn’t as busy as the original Chelsea Market location (for now). We stopped by the other day and were in and out in 15 minutes. So if you’re ever in the area, eat at least one al pastor taco here. This is now a requirement.


  • The Fat Monk does meat. A lot of meat. And, with restaurants like Beatrice Inn, 4 Charles, and The Grill, that seems to be a trend now. Unlike those other spots, however, the stuff at this newish UWS gastropub probably isn’t worth the potential health risk. The food is decent, and the basement space is kind of impressive, but there’s absolutely no way you’re finishing their pork shank by yourself. It’s the size of your head, and it’s pretty boring once you get past the crunchy parts outside.

  • Petra is a wine bar/restaurant deep in Bushwick where you can get an obscure glass of wine. Maybe something Slovenian or Croatian (like the one we had here). They also serve a small menu of fancy-ish Mediterranean food like deconstructed sabich and a pita with lamb kofta and about a fistful of raw pea shoots. We ate a whole meal here the other day, but next time we’ll probably just bring a date and drink. It’s better for that.

  • We recently stopped into a newish Greek place in Williamsburg called Ela Taverna, and overall we’d say that it’s very normal. The food isn’t spectacular, but it’s far from the worst Greek we’ve had, and the dining room itself is pretty small and generic. Ela isn’t especially impressive, but if you’re in the mood for lamb chops and spanikopita, it gets the job done.

Littleneck Grand


Fairfax: Perla Cafe (formerly Perla) has closed. What’s now in that prime corner West Village space is an all-day cafe and wine bar from the same people.

Littleneck Grand: The third spot from the Littleneck people (the original is in Gowanus, and they also have a cafe in Greenpoint) is open in Williamsburg. Here, you can pretend you’re eating a crab roll in a quiet New England town instead of a block off Bedford Ave.

Circa Brewing Company: A big brewery/restaurant in downtown Brooklyn where you can eat a wood-fired pizza and drink an IPA made on the premises.

Naoki: This is a new Japanese spot in Chelsea that’s doing an $80 prix fixe with stuff like sashimi and a risotto with scallop, uni, and truffle oil.

Empellon Midtown: There’s a new Empellon in Midtown, and it’s both bigger and fancier than its downtown counterparts. Not everything here is insanely expensive, but they are doing $125 wagyu fajitas.

7/24/2017 Update



  • Elsa used to be in the East Village, but they recently moved to Carroll Gardens. We stopped in recently and can confirm two things: it’s still a great spot for a date, and we aren’t too cool for salted watermelon frozé. The space is beautiful and they serve great cocktails, so we’re adding it to our Bar Hit List. If you’re in the area, definitely check it out.

  • If you have a group dinner coming up, consider Cote - a Korean BBQ place in the Flatiron District that looks kind of like a nightclub. We stopped by recently, ordered the $45-per-person “Butcher’s Feast,” and got about eight different dishes along with three cuts of high-quality beef. Also, the cocktails are great. This place officially makes our Hit List.



  • The Sosta is open in Nolita. It’s a fast-casual Italian spot from the company that owns By Chloe, and it has a giant neon-pink sign that shines on the employees like a sun lamp above a lizard’s terrarium. Also, there’s a little transplanted orange tree in the corner that we’re pretty sure we heard shouting for help. The pasta itself was fine, although it was kind of plain, and we wouldn’t wait in line for it.

  • Cecconi’s has locations around the world, and the newest one is on the waterfront in Dumbo. The outdoor space is by far the best part of this place - if you get a spot on their awning-covered patio, you can drink something from their negroni menu while looking at the skyline. A good time to do so would be between 4 and 7pm, when they serve discounted drinks and appetizers.

  • If you hang out in Williamsburg, Pokito is probably one of those places you’ve passed by a hundred times while on the way to Post Office or Pies n Thighs or Baby’s All Right. But it’s worth actually stopping in. This tiny, order-at-the-bar spot does Latin-Asian food and fun cocktails, and is a place to go when you don’t want to spend a ton of money but want to eat something great.

  • Not too far from Pokito is Loosie’s Cafe, the newest iteration of Loosie Rouge, the bar/restaurant/hot French people hangout. It’s the daytime version of their restaurant, Loosie’s Kitchen, and is a place to check out if you both enjoy brunch, and taking photos of your brunch.

  • In case you’ve finally picked out a date for your long-awaited maiden voyage to the no-reservations, arguably-best-pizza-in-the-city Lucali, let this serve as a warning. We thought we’d be in the clear when we showed up at 6:15pm (it opens at 5:45pm). Instead, they quoted us a three-hour wait.

  • Which is what brought us back to Freek’s Mill. This upscale neighborhood spot in Gowanus is great for wood-fired food that pretty much everyone, from your fourth date to your in-laws, will like. If the barbecue kohlrabi is still on the menu, get it.

HUDSON JANE (Michael Tullipan)


The Pool: The other restaurant in the old Four Seasons space, from the Carbone people. Expect a lot of seafood, bankers in suits, and probably a few actors that you’ll sort of recognize.

Ms. Yoo: A sleek-looking restaurant/bar on the Lower East Side where you can get a Korean hot dog and fries that sub potato for squid.

Belly: New York City’s only bacon omakase experience, and probably one more bacon omakase experience than the city actually needs. Although we do like bacon.

Jing Fong UWS: An old, massive Chinatown dim sum spot opened a second location on the Upper West Side for some reason. Confusing, but it doesn’t upset us.

Quality Eats UES: This casual West Village steakhouse now has a UES location. We gave the original an 8.4, so congrats to the UES.

Hudson Jane: A vegan-friendly all-day spot in Fort Greene that wants to feel like something you’d find in the West Village.

7/10/2017 Update

public hotel
  • When the people behind Carbone and Sadelle’s take over the Four Seasons, one of New York’s most iconic restaurants for decades, expectations are going to be high. Fortunately, ours were exceeded - dinner here is an excellent experience. A lot of the dishes at The Grill are prepared tableside, from a pasta where the sauce is made with an old-fashioned duck press to a prime rib to a flambéed dessert. Eating here is definitely a bit of a show, and there’s a slight Mad Men feel to the whole thing, but not in a cartoonish way - and without the smoking and misogyny. If anything, you feel like you’re in the 2017 version of “classic New York.” Two notes: it’s very expensive, and if you’re female, check out the “ladies lounge” on the way out, which may be the best bathroom in New York.

  • The Office, Grant Achatz’s first-ever New York venture, is an interesting thing. The original in Chicago is a back room attachment to Achatz’s experimental cocktail bar, The Aviary. There, it’s more laid back than The Aviary, serving perfect examples of classic cocktails, as opposed to the scientific creations you’ll find at The Aviary. Here in New York, The Office seems to be a similar setup. Except that our Aviary isn’t finished yet, and The Office here is far more expensive and upscale than the Chicago version. That might have something to do with the fact that it’s on the 38th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, or the fact that they offer a $269 per person tasting menu. After having been once, we can tell you that The Office is a cool place for some expensive drinks and a few things to eat from the small but excellent menu. But we wouldn’t advise throwing down for that tasting menu, even if you could. Unless it’s a tasting of $50 bills. Then it might be worth it.

  • Honestly, we weren’t super excited to check out Dekalb Market Hall. It’s a food court in a basement in downtown Brooklyn, and it sounds like it was named by a dysfunctional focus group that couldn’t decide between “market” and “hall”. We did stop by the other day, however, and we were pretty impressed. There are a lot of vendors at DMH, and it’s a fun place to wander around. They also have a few spots you wouldn’t expect to find in a food hall - like Bunker, Ample Hills, and Katz’s. So if you need quick food in Downtown Brooklyn or have some time to kill on a Saturday afternoon, stop by. There’s even a Trader Joes down in the same basement (and there was no line when we went).

  • The NYC bar scene changes constantly, and Public is currently that one bar where your roommate loses a stiletto then meets a guy whose grandfather owns a baseball team. Although, actually, it’s two bars. Public is a new hotel on the Lower East Side, and there’s both a lobby bar and a rooftop. We went last week, and we can confirm that the lobby bar does, in fact, feel like a fashionable vampire’s living room. It’s quiet and spacious, and the servers wear all-black. The rooftop, on the other hand, is more of a scene. You have to get past a doorman - which might be tough on a weekend. And unless you have some serious influencing to do, you might just be better off checking out one of the other rooftops downtown that are less of a hassle.

  • A while back, a friend of a friend told us to check out Scarr’s (a retro pizza place on the Lower East Side), and we made a mental note to stop by. Well, we finally did stop by - and it was a pretty rough experience. The semi-friendly bartender was eating pizza while talking about how easy her job was, the ordering system could use some work (order at the front, then try to guess when your food is ready), and the whole place felt like a dive bar that just happened to serve pizza. It was cramped and noisy, and when we were quoted a 25-minute wait for a personal pan pizza, we stared into the abyss of 25 minutes without food here and got slices instead. The slices were fine.

  • Greenpoint gets so many new restaurants that it can be hard to keep up. Even if you live there, which one of us does. Chez Ma Tante is a small neighborhood restaurant (in what used to be the Jimmy’s Diner space) that has been flying under the radar since opening a few months ago. After finally hitting it last week, we’re surprised that that’s the case. The food is impressive (especially the caesar salad, half chicken, and pierogies), the room is simple but vibey, and they clearly pay attention to the details here - the service is great, those pierogies are made by a woman/pierogi expert who lives around the corner, and most of the wine comes from the neighborhood’s best wine shop. We’ll be back.

6/12/2017 Update

egg shop (katie b. foster)
  • Yes, there’s now an Emily in Manhattan. It’s in the old Blue Ribbon Bakery Kitchen space on Downing Street, and it’s from the same people behind Emily and Emmy Squared (recipients of 9.1 and 8.4 ratings) . This location has a tiny bar up front, a small, light-filled street-level dining room, and a basement space (where the old, wood-fired oven is). Just don’t come here looking for the things you love at the original Emily. For the most part, the menu is different, and they do a lot of square Detroit-style pizzas (like the one’s you’ll find at Emmy Squared). Think of this place as another mixtape from the same artist, and come eat a pizza with chicken, blue cheese, and Korean wing sauce. (You’ll want to leave a slice in your mouth overnight.) Is this place really worth a trip? Of course it is. They don’t take reservations, so get there early for an easy table.

  • Out East is in the East Village, but the name refers to the Hamptons. It’s an homage to the restaurants out there, but, the thing is, most of the restaurants in The Hamptons aren’t very good. Sure, you can get a great lobster roll or some steamers by the dock, but that isn’t the vibe of this place. Out East is more upscale, and the menu is all over the place. We popped in for dinner recently, and we might come back - although the food wouldn’t be the reason why. There’s actually a cocktail-bar area on the lower level that we like, despite the fact that they play terrible club music. And if you used to hang late-night in the East Village in the early 00’s, you’ll probably recognize this as the space that used to house Industry. The huge tree in the middle of it is gone now though.

  • At this point, speakeasies are like high-school diaries that don’t belong to us. They probably aren’t that interesting, but we still need to know what’s inside. In the case of Mezcaleria La Milagrosa, what’s inside is a pretty normal bar. This place is hidden behind the freezer door of a bodega, although if you’re worried about looking like an idiot while you search for the entrance, don’t be. The (fake) bodega itself is tiny, and there will be a bored-looking hostess waiting to ask if you have a reservation. We went twice recently (both times without a reservation), and had two very different experiences. On a Tuesday night, it was completely dead, but on a Friday it was comfortably full. The space is just one narrow room with a bar and a tiny dance floor in back, and it’s a decent spot for a date (on a busier night). You won’t find many people dancing here, but you should still go for it.

  • The biggest downside of the original Egg Shop (in Nolita) is that it’s tiny. Try to get brunch there on a Saturday, and you’ll find a small crowd outside waiting for their turn to take pictures of (and hopefully eat) some food with an egg on it. The new location in Williamsburg is a lot bigger. We actually stopped by the other night and got seated immediately. Granted, it wasn’t really a peak time (maybe 6-ish), but there are still twice as many seats, plus a bar section up front. All in all, it’s a much more pleasant place to eat your eggs, and they also do burritos and tacos at this location.

  • Perhaps our expectations for Bar Moga were too high. When we heard there was a new Japanese-inspired cocktail bar open on Houston, we got excited about the idea of possibly getting a Karasu-type spot in Manhattan, or something along the lines of Bar Goto. But that’s not exactly what we found. It’s a little less low-key cool than those places, and a lot more packed with people who are definitely looking to get rowdy later. Also, we got in trouble with a bartender for standing in the wrong place. The cocktails are good and the location is convenient, so we’ll be back to check out the food situation, but hopefully in the meantime things chill out a bit for the better here.

  • The second stop of our one-two punch that started at Bar Moga, we’re here to report that Lupa is as reliably good as ever. In case you’re unfamiliar, this is the relatively casual restaurant from Mario Batali, and it’s worth knowing that you can get an excellent pasta meal here for much less than you might expect (and much, much less than you would pay for it at Babbo). After our last trip here, we’d recommend eating at the bar for both efficiency and prime people watching, and we’d also recommend the Amatriciana. It’s one of the best we’ve ever had.

  • Listen closely, and get out your notebook, or wherever it is you store useful information: we went to a brand new, very nice rooftop last week, and it was basically empty. We’re talking about the bar on top of the new hotel 50 Bowery, called The Crown. We can’t speak for any of the food, but we can speak for the views, the comfortable couches, and the fact that as of now, you can basically have an entire (not-too-corporate, not-cheesy) rooftop to yourself. Take advantage while you can.

  • We stopped back in on Four Horsemen recently, and we swear we had planned to do this long before we saw the Master Of None episode that was filmed in it. We went on a Monday night, when it was packed (but not claustrophobically so), and ate one of the better meals we’ve had recently - from the raw mackerel to the gnocchi to the giant rack of ribs, everything was excellent. If you love Wildair, you should come over the bridge for The Four Horsemen. Plan to spend some money, and know that it will be worth it. We like the bar seating here best, so you can have direct access to the person with all the power (the wine pourer).

5/30/2017 Update

  • There’s a new market in town, and it’s right around the corner from our office. That’s not an invitation to walk into our office and try to sell us scalped Knicks tickets, like some guy did last week, by the way. Canal Street Market has been open as a sort of high-end craft fair selling expensive candlesticks for the past few months, and they just opened their adjacent food hall with vendors including Nom Wah, Uma Temakeria, Davey’s Ice Cream (that one’s going to be dangerous), and a couple others. We like the Korean BBQ spot called Oppa and the smoothie and boba tea bars up front, and we were excited to see that there’s a ramen place called Kuro-Obi that’s run by Ippudo. The chicken-based ramens are good, but the pork buns, which we love at Ippudo, were overly doughy and disappointing. Still, this a great daytime lunch addition to the Soho/Tribeca/Chinatown area, and you’ll probably see us there a lot.

  • We’ve been curious about Boucherie since it opened. Despite being massive (300+ seats) and in a central West Village location (in the space on Seventh Avenue that used to house Garage), it’s flown relatively under-the-radar. And after checking it out, we’d guess that’s probably because they aren’t doing anything new. You could take this place and stick it in early-20th-century Paris, and no one would be alarmed. Or you could put it in Midtown, and it would be filled with suits from open to close. Boucherie is old-school, and they do things like escargot and a $45 steak frites au poivre (which happens to be very good). The place is upscale, but it isn’t formal, and you could probably even sit on the outdoor patio in sweats. It isn’t going to change any worlds, but if you need a somewhat impressive spot last-minute (and you don’t mind spending some cash), it gets the job done.

  • Poke spots are basically the new Duane Reades in terms of their saturation on Manhattan streets, so we don’t usually call out most of the new ones. But when we come across a particularly good one, we’ll give it a shout. So meet Humble Fish. Like Canal Street Market, this one is also around the corner from our office (still not an invitation to pop into our place of business unannounced) and it’s really good. They’ll put trout roe on top of your bowl, and though they once ran out of rice in the middle of the day, the quality is very good. The space looks like a trendy store, with light wood and pastel colors, so it’s also a pleasant place to eat.

  • An FYI: Seamore’s, one of our go-to spots for kind-of-healthy food, has opened a second location. Now, in addition to Nolita, you can also get a nice piece of fish and/or some poké and tacos in Chelsea. The space is fairly big, which bodes well considering the Nolita location is rarely not-slammed.

  • Malaparte is one of our staple West Village restaurants, and after a few visits back, we’ve decided to raise its rating. Because we can. And also because this isn’t just a great neighborhood Italian restaurant - it’s a great Italian restaurant, period. All of the food, from the pastas, to the pizzas, to the branzino, to the artichoke salad, always tastes exactly how you hope it will. It’s a consistent winner for just about any occasion requiring a casual Italian spot.

  • We recently found ourselves in need of a last-minute dinner plan with a friend, and revisited Mr. Donahue’s for the occasion. We hadn’t been back in several months, and were reminded of how great it is. If you haven’t been, maybe you were turned off by the fact that there are only nine seats, or that they only serve one type of meal (a protein + 2 sides). But we’re here to reassure you that, especially when you factor in the $19.99 pricetag, this is an awesome dining experience. Get the brownie sundae afterwards or regret it for the rest of your week.

  • Lastly, you should know that Babu Ji has reopened in a new space in Greenwich Village. We happened to walk by the other day, and it looks to be essentially the same concept as the original Alphabet City restaurant - but in a much more convenient location (so it’ll probably be even busier). Dinner officially begins tonight at 5pm.

5/10/2017 Update

made nice
  • Hemlock is a brand new Lower East Side restaurant doing natural wines and small plates - which is to say it’s sort of a weaker Wildair. That’s not a dig, it’s just that Wildair is amazing. We’ve popped in a few times and enjoyed the food at Hemlock - it’s a nice place to share a bottle of wine and some small plates with names like “Onions, Roasted Seeds and Whipped Milk” or “Sunchoke, Kumquat and Black Cardamom.” We’re curious to see how this place evolves as they get into their groove.

  • When the people behind one of the least-casual restaurants in NYC, Eleven Madison Park, open a fast-casual spot in Nomad, you can bet we’re going to eat lunch there, even though we don’t actually work in Nomad. Instead of an 11-course, $295 tasting menu, you’ll eat a $12-$15 lunch - stuff like roast chicken and spring vegetable salad, hanger steak on crispy rice, and quinoa falafel. It’s not fussy at all, and all of it is the sort of healthy stuff that’s exactly what you want to eat on a workday. Perhaps most importantly, there’s an incredibly good milk & honey soft serve situation.

  • Street Taco is a new casual Mexican spot in Kips Bay, and it looks like the sort of place where you’d want to have a birthday dinner. There’s a neon sign, a disco ball, a bunch of art on the walls, and even a little van with a kitchen inside. It’s kind of like Tacombi - but not as good. We recently stopped by, ate a few tacos, and left disappointed. And hungry. Maybe because their tuna tartare taco comes in a tiny shell that looks like it was made to be a prop in an movie about puppies who open a taco shop. It’s a cool space, but, so far, the food isn’t great.

  • Char Sue recently opened on the LES, and they do a pretty broad range of Asian fusion. Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese - it’s a little of everything. And the prices are decent. There’s nothing over $17, and most things cost less than $10. So this might be a good candidate for your next weeknight dinner. Although the small plates that we tried the other day weren’t great. The lamb curry over rice, however, was solid. Nothing incredible, but we’d eat some more of it on a Tuesday night when we wanted to get out of the house.

  • Samui is not a place you’re likely to stumble across, unless you regularly stumble around the area under the BQE near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. But we ended up here nonetheless, and once you’re on the block, it’s hard to miss - the whole outside of the restaurant is painted in an insane, extremely bright rainbow pattern. Inside, there are huge light fixtures and blue velvet banquettes in a huge space. It’d be a cool place to throw a party, but unfortunately the Thai food is overpriced and not great at all. Unless you’re taking an Instagram of yourself in front of the wall outside, you can skip this place.

  • Pearl’s is on a quiet side street in Williamsburg, but it’s a Caribbean party in here and it’s one of the places we plan on hanging out regularly this summer. A restaurant from the team behind Sweet Chick, this place serves authentic stuff like accra (salt cod fritters) and shark bakes (sandwiches made from traditional fry bread, and yes, shark meat), but you can also get jerk ribs and braised oxtail and plenty of island-y cocktails. On a warm night, head here with a few people and eat on their excellent back patio. Or come for an outdoor bottomless brunch ($15 for an hour of all you can drink).

  • Her Name Is Han is one of our favorite restaurants in the city, and a lot of people know how great it is too, which means waits can often get long. On a recent Friday, we decided to roll the restaurant dice and try to get in. It was 7:30pm, and we had been bracing ourselves all day for disappointment. But despite lots of big groups huddled on the sidewalk, our party of two got in right away (and no, we don’t ever say who we are to cut lines, we show up anonymously like everyone else). As for the food, this place hasn’t slipped a bit, and if you haven’t tried it yet, we’re not sure what you’re waiting for.

  • We’ve been trying to get back to Bunna, the vegan Ethiopian spot in Bushwick. After a couple of failed weekend attempts when the place was completely slammed, we finally had success walking right in on a Monday. So, what are all the people lined up for? Bunna’s signature “feast”: one of everything on the menu (think really tasty stews and vegetables), served with injera (Ethiopian bread), which costs $30 for two people (use that extra spending cash to try some of their cocktails). If you’re looking to mix up your casual restaurant rotation, get Bunna on your list. It’s one of the more fun reasonably-priced spots we’ve been to recently.

4/12/2017 Update

larina pastificio & vino
  • Ikinari is the Japanese steak chain that recently opened a location in the East Village, and it’s interesting for a few reasons. They have three different cuts of steak, you choose your own serving size (in grams), and there are absolutely no chairs. You eat standing up, and that’s probably how they keep the prices down. For steak, this place is pretty affordable. It’s also a fun experience. You walk up to the butcher’s counter, pick your steak, and it arrives at your standing station shortly thereafter. They even give you a bib (don’t do it), and if you order the garlic pepper rice, a chef will come over and mix it up for you. So come here the next time you want steak, and you don’t mind standing. It’s perfect for when you’re kind of sweaty after the gym and you want some serious protein.

  • LaRina is a newish Fort Greene pasta place from the people behind the great Clinton Hill spot Aita. And we liked it a lot before. But that was before they opened their patio. Now we’re ready to build a hut on that patio so we can eat pasta on it every day. Get here before everyone else figures it out - this place is awesome.

  • The Commons Chelsea is tiny. It’s a coffee shop - the sort of place you stop by for some caffeine and a quick sandwich. But Motel Morris, the new restaurant from the same owners, is a full-blown restaurant. And, as of right now, it might be the best-looking spot in Chelsea. It’s only a few doors down from The Commons, and it is, in fact, motel-themed. Although it doesn’t look like any motel you’ve ever seen. It’s nicer. Like a hip furniture store where you’d buy a desk lamp that looks vintage (but isn’t). It’s pretty casual, however. So stop by for a fourth date or reserve a table if your parents are coming into town and someone might want to eat a good burger. Theirs has barbecue sauce and an onion ring, and it tastes exactly like summer.

  • It sounds like a store where you’d buy a graphic tee that says “Montauk, f*ck yeah,” but A&E Supply Co. is actually a restaurant (in Gowanus). And, seeing as how it was nice over the weekend, we decided to head over and check it out. Up front, there’s a meat counter and a takeout coffee station, and just past that there’s a casual little dining room. They do stuff like roast chicken and beet salad, there’s an open kitchen you can stare at, and it’s a good place to bring your kids. They also have Billy Joel’s “Uptown Girl” on their playlist, in case you ever forget how much you like that song. If you live in the neighborhood, this place is worth checking out.

  • Alta Calidad is a new, modern Mexican spot on Vanderbilt Ave. in Prospect Heights. It’s an all-white space that feels bright and light - and the food follows that theme: lots of snacky things and too-small tacos that you wish were twice the size. There are a few entrees, which are giant, and which appeared to make the people around us happier than those too-small tacos. If you live in the neighborhood, this place is worth checking out - but if you’re making a Prospect Heights pilgrimage we’d tell you to go to Tygershark or Chuko instead.

  • A couple weeks ago we were thinking to ourselves that we needed to revisit Cosme, so we called and made a reservation. In fact, it was so easy we almost put it on our Cool List. Then Cosme got put on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and we showed up to the restaurant and found a complete madhouse. So, no Cool List for Cosme. But despite some service mishaps (we waited for a while after our reservation, wrong things were brought to the table), our meal was still excellent - there’s nothing else like the duck carnitas or cobia al pastor or corn souffle in the city. One piece of advice: come with more than one other person, so you can try everything. And good luck with that reservation.

  • Otway is the new dinner restaurant in the Clinton Hill space formerly occupied by the brunch spot Tilda All Day. Its strengths: a beautiful space, great cocktails, and killer bread. Its weakness: a lack of entrees that actually leave you satisfied. If you’re looking for a place to take someone for drinks and appetizers, we’d recommend Otway - otherwise, for now you’re better off at one of the many other restaurants nearby.

3/29/2017 Update

  • Maison Pickle is the new spot from the Jacob’s Pickles people, and we aren’t really sure where the “Maison” part comes from. It isn’t a French place, but maybe they just like the way that word sounds. Or maybe they’re trying to highlight the fact that they specialize in French dips. We tried the version with fondue and onions, and it was pretty good. Messy, but good. The atmosphere here is kind of weird, though. It’s sort of like if a restaurant in the Meatpacking District got swept up by a tornado and landed sixty blocks north. So if that’s what you’ve been waiting for on the UWS, go for it.

  • We were back at Quality Eats recently for a birthday dinner, and can confirm: this is still an excellent place for a birthday dinner. Or any dinner when you want to feel really great. If you haven’t eaten the grilled bacon with peanut butter and jalapeno slaw here, you need to rethink your priorities.

  • Two things you should know about Lalito: 1) This new-ish restaurant used to be called Lalo, and you might have seen it on our Hit List referred to as such. But Lalito is its new name, so we’re sorry if you were attached to the old one. 2) Lalito is good for dinner, but we’ve recently discovered it’s even better for brunch and lunch. We’d advise you come in the daytime for breakfast tacos and more.

  • Think of Bar Velo as a vegan Maison Premiere. It’s a place to get a bite and a few drinks, and it’s great for date night. It also feels old-timey just like Maison Premiere, although it’s about half the size. We recently stopped by, and it felt a little like time travel without the Delorean or the butterfly effect. The ceiling fans are big wooden propellers, there are vintage posters hanging up, and the JMZ makes the old walls rattle. For vegans or vegetarians, this is an excellent new date spot.

  • It’s Sunday at 1pm, and you just tried to get into Dimes. And then L’Estudio. There are hour-long waits at both. Someone in your party suggests going to The Fat Radish. Don’t do it. Instead, pop into Kopitiam, a tiny Malaysian coffee shop that serves great food. There are only three or four seats, but it’s not a place you stay long. If you’re looking for lunch, try the chilled sesame noodles or the nasi lemak (coconut rice topped with cucumber, egg, anchovies, and spicy sambal sauce). For a sweet snack, do the kaya butter toast or the white coffee.

  • Bunker used to be in Ridgewood, and it’s now moved to a big warehouse space in Bushwick. The Vietnamese food is stellar as always, and the space is a really fun place to spend a Saturday night. Well, it would be, if they had a liquor license. As soon as they do, we’ll be back. The banh xeo (a crispy omelette/pancake filled with shrimp and bacon) would go down extremely well with a beer.

  • Casa Apicii is a very nice spot for dinner, but the bar hidden upstairs might be even better. It feels like a little library you’d find in an obscenely wealthy person’s home - but with dimmer lighting and candles and someone making $17 drinks in the corner. And if that doesn’t sound appealing to you, just know that you’re wrong. This is a place to impress someone before or after dinner - though they serve snacks from the Casa Apicii kitchen if you feel like sticking around for a while.

3/15/2017 Update

the flower shop
  • If you like eating in highly attractive spaces, abcV will be up to your standards. After all, it is located in a furniture store. The new vegetarian spot from the ABC Cocina and ABC Kitchen team recently opened in the same building, and so far, it’s only open for breakfast and lunch. The menu is pretty big, so go eat an avocado lettuce cup or a dosa if you have a breakfast or lunch to plan in the near future. They have some takeout options too. We liked everything we tried at an initial breakfast run, but we’ll back for a full assessment once dinner is up and running.

  • Gran Sasso opened last year, and it’s a place we’ve been meaning to check out. We got dinner there the other night, and the pasta was pretty solid. We also had their “asparagus flan,” and can confirm that it is exactly what it sounds like (and isn’t the worst). This isn’t destination dining, but if you live in the neighborhood it’s worth checking out. It isn’t sceney like nearby Leuca, but you could bring pretty much any parent (or kid) here, and they would be happy. It’s also fairly big, so if you want to have your next family reunion here, go for it.

  • The Flower Shop is a new bi-level space on the Lower East Side with a restaurant upstairs and bar down below. We can’t tell you anything about the restaurant part (we just came for drinks), but we can confirm that the bar is, in fact, fun. The whole place has retro vibes, and the downstairs feels very much like the basement of a nice home in the 1970’s. It’s sort of like a much cleaner version of Welcome To The Johnson’s, and you will see many attractive people there.

  • From pretty much the first minute we arrived at Calaca, we had no idea how we hadn’t gotten here sooner. It’s a tiny Mexican spot/tequila bar deep in Bed-Stuy, and it feels like a vacation in a restaurant. The margaritas (and mezcalitas) are good and strong, the tacos (particularly the fish and cochinita pibil) are outstanding, and the dark, vibey little room is perfect for impressing someone without looking like you’re trying too hard. This spot might be small, and low-key, and off most peoples’ radars - but that just means you have even more reason to get here before everyone else finds out about it.

  • In the name of burger research, we recently made it over to Pig Bleecker, the new-ish Greenwich Village restaurant. And honestly? We had kind of forgotten there were still places like this. Places that do not give a f*ck about being healthy. It’s from the same people as the Brooklyn BBQ spot Pig Beach, and the chef also spent seven years at Del Posto (we know this, because our server made sure to mention it) - as a result, the menu is a mix of barbecue/Southern-inspired stuff and Italian stuff, with a mainline of smoked meats throughout all of it. There is actually no way to eat healthily here. And you know what? We’re fine with it. We know where to come when we need to eat duck lasagne and fried chicken and a double cheeseburger all in the same meal.

  • We’re constantly on the hunt for high quality, moderately affordable sushi in New York, and we recently discovered a very strong option. Mi-Ne Sushi is a simple spot on 6th Avenue and 12th Street, and you can easily get a very good meal in for under $40 if you go for one of their platters. If you’re in the area regularly, you’ll want to check this out as a contender for your new neighborhood spot. Think of it as a lesser Sugarfish, without the lines.

  • It’s rare that we straight up just walk into a restaurant without knowing anything about it. But we did just that the other day due to freezing temperatures and not having eaten. After drinks at Bar Belly (The Leadbelly, renamed), we wandered into the place next door, Gohan, and actually had a great meal. It turns out this place is owned by the same people behind Lovely Day, though the vibe is more like that of a Japanese Dimes. The stuff we ate - seared fatty salmon sashimi, soba soup, hot sake - was all highly enjoyable, and most of the menu leans healthy.

2/21/17 Update

beatrice inn
  • When Sauvage opened in Greenpoint several months back, everything here was extremely precious. The plates looked like stuff from an overly conceptual grad school art show, and we had to Google half the ingredients on the menu. We never wrote a full review, because honestly, we weren’t sure how to feel about it. But they recently revamped their menu completely, and we went back to try it. It’s not like you’re going to find a fried chicken sandwich here now, but you can get a burger with fries. A majority of the dishes still look like a fancy salad, but all of it’s really tasty and not ridiculous. We’re into Sauvage, and you should definitely check it out if you’re in North Brooklyn.

  • Did you see our 9.2 review of the new Union Square Cafe and think, “Well that’s cool, but I’ll never get in and it’s too expensive and can’t you just tell me about a good sandwich?” Why yes. We can. The Union Square Cafe team is also operating Daily Provisions, a little cafe across the street, selling breads, sandwiches, and extremely good breakfast sandwiches. There’s pretty minimal seating, but the space is very, very nice and the food we’ve tried thus far has been great. If you work or live anywhere around 19th and Park, this place could improve your life dramatically.

  • We’ve tried to get back into Fedora twice recently, at 7pm, and both times, we’ve been refused. Not because we weren’t wearing shoes or shirts or because we made an inappropriate joke to the host, but because they won’t let you even sit at the bar unless you have a reservation or you’re planning to eat a full dinner (not just snacks). Moral of the story: if you want to go to Fedora, plan accordingly.

  • The Beatrice Inn used to be a big deal. A few years back, it was a West Village nightclub, and it was one of the toughest places to get into. Then it became a restaurant, and it became easier to get into - because the food wasn’t great. But now it has a new chef/owner who used to cook at The Spotted Pig, and, like the stuff you find at The Spotted Pig, the food at The Beatrice Inn tends to be both heavy and good. (Try the creme bruleé served in a hollow bone shank like it’s marrow.) Overall, we like this place. The vibe is good for a night out, and it feels a little French. Just be ready to spend some serious cash.

  • Have you been to Dimes? De Maria is like Dimes but with a bigger budget. Like if Dimes grew up, finished college, made some money, and had some new experiences - then decided it still wanted to be Dimes (but nicer). It’s a place to eat a grain bowl. Or some avocado toast. And if that sounds boring, just know that the food is all actually pretty good. They’re only open for breakfast and lunch at the moment, but stop by this good-looking little Soho spot the next time you need a quick, sit-down, healthy-ish meal.

  • Threes Brewing is one of our (and everyone’s) favorite places for a big group hang in South Brooklyn. There’s beer, there’s Meat Hook food, there’s a giant outdoor patio...and, given that this is Park Slope-adjacent, there are also babies. But Threes just launched a new pop-up in Greenpoint, and we have a feeling there might not be quite as many babies at this one. It’s in the old Cassette space (RIP), and they’re serving their beer and Meat Hook foods, alongside a few cocktails and wines. It seems like there’s a possibility they could be sticking around a while, which we hope is the case.

  • We didn’t mean to go to Casa Enrique. We were trying to go to a pizza place we’ve been meaning to check out, but then we found a piece of paper on their door saying they were closed for their “second annual bowling party.” So we went to Casa Enrique and got seated right away. Not because people think we’re important or anything - there were just a bunch of empty tables. Granted it was late on a Tuesday, but this is some of the best no-nonsense Mexican you can find in the city, and you really shouldn’t be able to get a table here ever. But you can. So head out to LIC and eat a chille relleno with one of the best tomato sauces you’ll ever encounter. Finish with the tres leches. Because you deserve nice things.

1/31/17 Update

loring place
  • Loring Place is the new-ish restaurant from the guy who was previously behind the food at ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina. AKA, the guy who made vegetables taste really, really good - before a ton of other restaurants started following his lead. There are also a lot of vegetables on the menu here - but the long menu also has pizzas, pastas, and meats/fish - and everything we’ve tried is both very good and mostly kind of healthy. The space is big, with a whole separate bar area, and definitely feels upscale. Come on a later in the game date or with parents or with a group of friends who are willing to throw down a bit - the place isn’t cheap. You’ll find Loring Place on our next Hit List update.

  • The next especially freezing night you find yourself in Williamsburg, it wouldn’t be your worst decision to head for Samurai Mama. It’s a mostly-udon Japanese place (they also serve sushi) with a setting that feels like a noodle hideout. Get the curry udon.

  • If you’ve heard about Tim Ho Wan, it’s likely because the dim sum chain’s original Hong Kong location has the distinction of being the “world’s cheapest Michelin-starred restaurant.” The restaurant now has a location on 10th Street and 4th Avenue, and since people love to freak out about superlatives of any kind, lines have stretched into the hours. We went and waited recently, and put simply, they make some very good dim sum. But there are quite a few places in this city making good dim sum, so it’s really up to you whether you want to spend an hour or two of your life waiting to see if it’s the very best. If you’re alone (or maybe with one other person), you can stand at the bar area and order, likely without a wait - that’s the way to go if you just want to try some of the food.

  • El Almacen was a Very Cool Restaurant. Somewhere around 2010. We never made it then, but we recently stopped in for the first time and were pretty impressed. It’s a red-brick-covered little Argentinian place, cozy enough for a date and comfortable enough for a group dinner, with huge portions and affordable prices, and some excellent steak and empanadas. In short: we’ll be back.

  • Here’s a useful fact: if you’re hungry around midnight in Crown Heights, you can go and eat a chicken fried steak at Catfish. We know this from very recent experience. The restaurant-bar won’t be too crowded, and your steak will have a thick, fried crust that somehow stays crunchy despite being covered in gravy. We approve. This place does New-Orleans-inspired food, and other options include pulled pork, jambalaya, and cornbread. The kitchen stays open until 2 a.m.

  • The Drift is a new bar from the people behind The Commodore, our favorite place in Williamsburg for late-night fried chicken and poor life choices. (They also own El Cortez, another great spot for a fun night out in Bushwick.) It’s early - but for now, this place feels like much less of a destination bar than its predecessors. There’s a lot of wood and taxidermy, but otherwise not much stands out about the place. It’s good for drinks with friends if you live nearby, but otherwise don’t feel the need to go out of your way for it.

  • We stopped back into Root & Bone on a recent rainy Tuesday, and the place was packed. We really wanted some fried chicken, however, so went for a beer at the bar next door. Thirty minutes later, we ate our fried chicken - and it was just alright. Maybe it was an off night, or maybe it’s gone downhill. The shrimp and grits were good though. And we’d like a birthday cake made out of their biscuits.

1/10/17 Update

sushi dojo
  • Au Cheval is a burger place in Chicago, and it’s one of our highest rated restaurants on The Infatuation’s Chicago site. Their burger comes with a huge steak knife stuck into the middle of it, so it’s very serious. Needless to say, we were excited to hear that the owner of Au Cheval was opening 4 Charles Prime Rib, a West Village restaurant that would be serving said burger. The small and dark underground space looks like a robber baron’s underground hangout, which is to say we plan on hanging out here regularly. While the burger is good, it’s actually the prime rib that arguably steals the show here. There’s also a pasta that’s both carbonara and cacio e pepe, in case you’re attempting to have a heart attack.

  • We recently went back to Sushi Dojo for a late Saturday night meal at the bar, and found ourselves at the biggest rager we’ve been to in recent memory. That’s definitely a sign we need to go to better parties, but Lil Wayne was playing at club volume and shots of sake were taken. The 15 piece, $90 omakase is still great, so it just depends on whether you prefer to eat your uni wrapped in seared toro in the serene peace of most other fancy sushi places, or while getting slightly rowdy. This probably isn’t the case at 7pm on Tuesdays, for what it’s worth.

  • The original Bun-Ker was out in Ridgewood, and we were pretty big fans. (We gave it an 8.4.) Unfortunately, the old spot closed down - but they just opened up in a larger space in Bushwick. And when we stopped by the other night, it was packed. Every seat was filled, and it was snowing outside. So if you’re looking for a place with good, lively vibes, this is it. The chicken pho was also still exactly what you want when there’s snow in your shoes, and we’ll give the soundtrack a solid B +. Just know that they don’t have their liquor license yet, and they might be BYOB when you go. Call ahead.

  • Unlike Bunker, the newish Korean place Green Street LIC, was pretty much deserted when we went. Maybe it’s more of a lunch spot (it sort of feels that way) or maybe people in LIC are offended by the idea of paleo fried chicken. And, to be fair, this does sound offensive. But you can also get regular Korean fried chicken here, and the outside part’s so good you’ll wish they sold it in bags like Lay’s. Did we mention they project TV shows across a big wall? That’s a little weird - but we’re down. Hawaii Five-O goes well with a bottle of soju. Who knew? We didn’t. We don’t even watch Hawaii Five-O.

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