NYC

Happening Right Now: New Restaurant Intel

PHOTO: Evan Sung

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:

5/10/2017 Update

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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 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

  • 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.


12/7/2016 Update

  • We hit recently hit this red sauce Italian-pop up that happens every Sunday at The Nomad Bar, and can report back to say that it’s fun, but sort of expensive at $70 per person (before you get any booze in the mix). The attention to detail that goes into transforming Nomad Bar into an Italian restaurant is most of what makes the experience, but the food is up to snuff too - from the antipasto to the caesar salad, to the cacio e pepe, and chicken parm. Dial it up for one of these upcoming extra depressing winter Sunday nights. Just don’t expect Carbone.

  • Leases must be reasonable in Bushwick, because we keep heading out there to try new restaurants. The latest was Sally Roots, a Caribbean/American spot doing things like jerk chicken and brussels sprouts with mojo (garlic sauce). The food is solid, and the place is overall fun and affordable. If it were in Manhattan it would steal business from spots like Westville and Jack’s Wife Freda - but it’s in Bushwick, and it’s worth a little trip if you’re in the area. Order the tostones and spread the side of garlic sauce on everything else you put in your mouth.

  • Salvation Burger closed a few months ago thanks to a fire, but as of this week they’re back in action. Hit it up before everyone else remembers it exists.

  • Guadalupe Inn, another place in Bushwick, is an upscale Mexican spot, and it feels kind of grown-up for the neighborhood. There’s a bar area up front and a main dining room in the back where there’s a stage for live music, and this gives the place some throwback dinner-theater vibes. Which is a little weird (especially for Bushwick), but it’s also something different. Their DIY al Pastor platter is fun, huge, and a good way to get some real bang for your buck here.

  • The Wild Son is a healthy-ish place that’s been open for a few months, but they only recently started doing dinner so we wanted to check it out. For the Meatpacking District especially, the vibe here is low-key (bordering on non-existent). But that might also be because people haven’t yet figured out you can get a reasonably-priced, not-unhealthy, pretty-tasty dinner here. This place isn’t a must-visit, but it’s good to know about should you find yourself in the area looking for a normal meal.

  • Eating near Madison Square Garden just got a big time upgrade. Massoni is the new restaurant from the Dale Talde crew inside the Arlo Hotel, a quick couple blocks from MSG. They serve Asian-Italian fusion - so things like calamari with a big kick, rice balls, and some tasty square Detroit-style pizzas. This place feels way more LES than NoMad, and we’re OK with that. Definitely hit it before your next Knicks or Rangers game.


11/22/2016 Update

  • We finally made it back to Le Coucou, for dinner at 5:45. Which is the only time we could get a reservation. Side-note: turns out eating before 6 is kind of great. Anyway, the food here is pretty exceptional, and it’s fancy without being stiff. What do we mean by that? Well, there are white tablecloths and your dish which has a French name you don’t recognize might come out in a copper pot, but your waiter will be very casual and nice in explaining what exactly a bourride or a quenelle is. It’s the rare fancy restaurant where you can actually feel relaxed and have a good time, which feels like something new.

  • Lalo, the new spot from the El Rey and Dudley’s people, is not an easy one to describe. It’s sort of a Mexican/Latin version of Dimes, but with nicer people and more space. But for as funky as the menu here is, the most straightforward thing is also the best - carnitas with homemade flour tortillas. Lalo has only been open for a week, but even though it’s early, it’s already worth checking out.

  • Sunday in Brooklyn is a new restaurant by the Williamsburg Bridge that feels like it wants to be a little neighborhood spot - but it’s three-stories tall with a patio. As for the food, it’s strangely ambitious. Take the toasted buns with “oyster cream.” They cost $5, the oyster cream is weird and, also, such small portions. The weirdness continues with a bowl of sweet potato chips they serve with the equivalent of salsa verde drizzled on top. That said, this is a cool-looking place doing interesting things, and we plan to go back once they’ve had a little more time to figure the food part out.

  • We like Navy, we like Smith & Mills, and we really wanted to like Yves (it’s from the same owners). And we sort of did. When we went, it was dark and candlelit, and it felt more like a casual neighborhood hang than a fancy restaurant. And it isn’t really fancy, but it also isn’t cheap, and the food seems more complicated than it needs to be. Their salmon, for example, comes with some forest-green dill puree that you’ll wish you could swap out for mashed potatoes. The vibes are great here, though.

  • Unless you live in Tribeca, you probably don’t know about The Greek. But we think you should. Despite its painfully boring name and location almost in the Hudson River, the food and vibes at this place are surprisingly great. The traditional Greek menu certainly isn’t cheap, but the ridiculously friendly service and lively, warm environment make up for it. Come on a date or with a small group.

  • Definitely not news, but definitely worth reiterating: Babu Ji continues to be one of the most excellent restaurants we have in this town. If you still haven’t been because you’re worried about the waits, know that you can book a table if you commit to the tasting menu - which is the best way to experience the food here anyway. For $62, you taste around ten different things. It is completely worth it.


11/7/2016 Update:

  • Nod once if you often wish you had a pitcher of margaritas and a bowl of guacamole in front of you. Nod twice if you often feel like you don’t have enough good places to eat cheaply. Keep nodding if you often find yourself around the East Village. Still nodding? Then get Taqueria St. Mark’s on your radar immediately. It’s a divey spot for good and strong margaritas, good and cheap Mexican food, and really friendly service. We’re not sure how we didn’t know about this place sooner - learn from our mistakes and get it in your rotation.

  • It’s been open for all of 72 hours, but the people have spoken: Sugarfish is here to stay. Not that we had any doubts - this California chain has built a rabid following for its affordable, high-quality sushi, and we have no idea why it’s taken them so long to come to NYC in the first place. Get there soon, but expect waits. Big ones.

  • Team Infatuation just finished a month-long stint in a temporary office in Union Square. Things we learned during that time: Union Square still sucks, and there’s a sh*t ton of fast-casual food around there. We ate our way through most of it, and a few clear winners emerged: Cava Grill, Glaze, and Taboonette were office favorites.

  • But Union Square is behind us now, because we’ve officially moved into our new Soho HQ. And we’ve already found one of our new go-to’s: Nickel & Diner. It opened recently, but it’s already got its formula down pat: slick retro diner vibe, very solid classic breakfast and lunch foods. Expect to hear more from us on this topic once they start serving dinner.

  • Also new, also excellent: Los Mariscos. It’s the seafood-focused spot from the same people who brought you Los Tacos No. 1 (easily one of our favorite taco spots in the city), and Los Mariscos is merely a hidden hallway away from the original. One step inside the small, brightly-lit spot and you’re no longer in the tourist hellzone that is Chelsea Market - you’ve escaped to Baja, and you’re eating insanely good fish tacos and drinking a strong margarita.

  • Also new, also in Chelsea: Rouge Tomate. This is the new version of the fancy healthy spot that used to be on the Upper East Side. If you’re pretty serious about eating cleanly, and you don’t mind shelling out for it, you’ll probably like this place. Otherwise, don’t feel the need to rush here. And if you do, don’t be ashamed to get the kale cocktail.

  • Staten Island doesn’t export much that people get excited about - with one exception: pizza. First it was Joe & Pat’s, which gave birth to a little pizza joint you may have heard of: Rubirosa. Denino’s is another popular Staten Island pizza joint, and they recently opened their first Manhattan outpost in the heat of Greenwich Village. We went. We ate. And we are on board. That clam pizza is ridiculously good. It’s a no frills kind of place that isn’t fancy and feels like it could be in Little Italy, but doesn’t suck like everything else there.

  • If you’ve ever been to the casual Mediterranean spot 12 Chairs in Soho, you should know that their new Williamsburg location is nothing like it. While the original is a bit dark and lacking in any real vibe, the Brooklyn space is light and bright and covered in plants. It’s a great spot for brunches, “super cute” dinners, or any meals where eating kind of healthy is the priority.

  • Wanting to impress someone in FiDi? Bring them to The Beekman Hotel. We went for the first time recently and were blown away by the space. The bar there would be an excellent place for a fancy drink in the neighborhood. There are some new restaurants in there too, but we don’t go to press previews, so no info on those yet.

  • If you’re old enough to have been drinking in New York City for multiple decades, the return of Chumley’s is kind of a big deal. The old-timey pub (where Hemingway allegedly used to hang) that burned down almost 10 years ago has been brought back to life. It’s a totally different experience now, more of a restaurant paying tribute to its history than the fancy people’s pub serving bar food that it once was. It’s the kind of spot that makes you want to drink brown liquor and eat an expensive hamburger.


10/10/16 Update

  • Cocoron, the fantastic soba spot with two locations within a few blocks of one another, is not new news. But despite its high rating, and the fact that it’s always busy, we still feel like it doesn’t get all the attention it deserves. This is the absolute sleeper hit of restaurants for impressing out of towners (or anyone) - the soba is ridiculously good, the atmosphere is really fun, and for somewhere around $30 a head you’ll have an excellent, unique experience.

  • We’ve been hitting the mean streets of Midtown a lot lately in preparation for something major coming your way soon. In the meantime, you should know about one of our best recent discoveries: Pickler & Co. It’s a “craft deli,” which means it’s a deli that wishes it were in Brooklyn. But for Midtown, it’s great. If you’ve reached your breaking point with that salad place you go to four days a week, give Pickler & Co. a try.

  • Our most trusted source when it comes to new restaurants? You. Which is why, when we received multiple emails about Gristmill, we knew we needed to get there. And after hitting it recently, we can easily say this place is the best thing to happen to central Park Slope in a long time (we know that because one of us used to live two blocks away). The food coming out of the wood-fired oven is a little bit weird (in a great way) - think cornbread served inside a corn husk and black pepper whipped cream on top of a corn & blackberry ice cream sundae - the service couldn’t be nicer, and the back patio should be taken advantage of before it’s too late.

  • We recently revisited Navy, one of those “cute little restaurants” that doesn’t get talked about much. It’s on a side street in Soho, and feels like a cousin of The Smile. The seafood (the menu is mostly seafood) was all tasty, if not life-changing, and it’s overall a great, pretty easy-to-get-into spot for that last minute four-person dinner next Friday for which you forgot to make a reservation. Caveats: it’s loud, and they don’t have hard liquor.

  • Casa Neta is a new Flatiron tequila & mezcal bar that also serves Mexican bar snacks. We checked it out recently, but you shouldn’t feel the need to do so. We were disappointed by this place all around.

  • Another new restaurant we’re underwhelmed by: Fish Cheeks, the Noho Thai seafood place. Despite being all about its fish, everything we ordered came covered in sauce. And the sauces don’t do quite a good enough job of masking the overall bland food.

  • Our search for great, casual neighborhood sushi spots is well documented - but we’re always looking for more. So we checked out the classic (open since 1978) Greenwich Village place Japonica, and left pretty surprised we’d never been before. Not because it’s going to blow your mind, but because it’s a good spot to know about if you find yourself in the Union Square area often. Have a favorite casual sushi spot you think we should know about? Let us know by emailing us at info@theinfatuation.com.


9/14/2016 Update

  • We just checked back in on ABC Cocina, and it’s in a much better place than its sister spot ABC Kitchen. The food is still great, the place is still packed, and the vibe kind of feels like a cross between Manhattan and Vegas - but it works well for a special occasion.

  • If you live in Williamsburg, or your commute back from work takes you through the Marcy J/M/Z, this intel is for you: Kichin, located under that subway stop, is an awesome little Korean place. This is a mostly to-go operation, but there are about five seats if you’d rather eat there. The Korean fried chicken and Bibimbap are standouts for dinner, and the rice ball filled with bacon, egg, and cheese is your new hangover buddy.

  • Still need to try Pasquale Jones, but really don’t want to risk a four-hour wait? The weekend lunch situation (at least right now) is still very under the radar. And during San Gennaro, they’ll be doing a $30 lunch menu for the whole week, starting this Friday.

  • Speaking of ideal weather, here is something we cannot currently suggest you do: get ice cream on a Sunday night at Morgenstern’s. Yes, the ice cream is awesome, but the lines and ordering process where you have to pay and then wait like ten more minutes for your ice cream, is too much to deal with on a hot day. We literally said the words, “We should have just gone to Red Mango.” Which is saying something.

  • We hit up Nom Wah Tea Parlor in Chinatown for a random late night meal recently and found that the quality of dim sum has slipped a bit. It’s still a fun throwback environment, but not the best dumplings in town. There are two other Chinatown spots we’ve discovered and really enjoyed as of late, though: Noodle Village, which has really solid soup dumplings and an incredible wonton soup, and Shu Jiao Fu Zhou, a super cheap hole in the wall with fantastic steamed dumplings.

  • Lighthouse Outpost, the new Nolita spot from one of our favorite casual dinner places, is not only extremely tasty, but also extremely useful. The food here is the healthy-ish, satisfying kind you probably want for lunch right now - but instead of the usual kale salads or avocado toast, there are more unique offerings like whole roasted eggplant with tahini and a pita stuffed with really fresh-tasting duck. Whether you work in the area or just find yourself there to shop sometimes, the very small but pleasant space is great for a quick solo meal. Right now it’s only open from 11am to 4pm, but they’re adding dinner soon. More to come on this topic.

  • We made it over to Zadie’s Oyster Bar, in the old Terroir space in the East Village. The oysters come baked, broiled, fried, steamed, poached (and also raw, if you’re a purist), with different interesting toppings like seaweed butter or fennel. There are some other bites, as well as a very solid happy hour from 5-7. Drink some sparkling wine while you’re there.

  • And lastly, here are some new spots that have just opened (we haven’t made it to any of these yet): King (Soho), TsuruTonTan (Union Square), Parm Brooklyn (Williamsburg), and Thursday Kitchen (East Village).


8/22/2016 Update

  • Atoboy is brand new, but we’ve already been three times. The $36/3 plate per person menu is a great concept, especially if you’re with some friends and you all order different things. The food is “modern Korean,” and the room is sort of like a big cement cafeteria. A cool one.

  • Faun is a new Prospect Heights restaurant run by some former Vinegar Hill House people, and that shows, in that it’s good. The menu is also similar, with simple pastas, some veggies, and some meaty things in the mix. Then again that’s the menu for most every restaurant in New York these days. Hit Gold Star for a few heady beers before or after.

  • The old chef from Sushi Dojo is now running his own four-seat, omakase-only outdoor sushi bar called Sushi on Jones, in Bowery Market, a new little collection of food stalls on the corner of Great Jones and Bowery. It’s $50 for 12 pieces, and the meal is timed out to last exactly 30 minutes. The timing means that although there are only four seats, they can give you a precise time to return once you put your name down, and they can fit in a good amount of people per night. If you’re really into sushi, the (relatively speaking) fairly reasonable price and novelty of the experience makes it worth trying once. Especially for the signature sushi piece - uni on top of seared wagyu beef.

  • There are many NYC places currently doing interesting things with meat-free food. But based on our initial visit, Ladybird, the new Greenwich Village vegetarian small plates spot, isn’t yet one of them. The space feels overly formal and none of the food was memorable. We’ll try it again in a few weeks.

  • Casa Apicii is the new Italian restaurant in the space where The Lion used to be, and it feels like somewhere you’d take your date before the prom. We’re still trying to figure out if that’s a good or bad thing. The food itself was solid, but there wasn’t anything we wanted to take to the bathroom and eat by ourselves. Also, the playlist was confusing.

  • We recently went back to The Black Ant and (we feel like old people for saying this), but wow that restaurant is very loud. Is that what we get for trying to eat in the East Village on a Friday night? What’s that? We can’t hear you. You’re going to have to speak louder.

  • The tavern attached to the main dining room at Delaware and Hudson is open and ready to receive a bunch of friends catching up over a quick bite. Because that’s what it’s good for. The room is plain and small, and they serve comfort food done up in special ways. If you want to eat a sloppy joe and still feel like an adult, this is the place to do it.

  • We hit the new casual seafood spot Seabird in Greenwich Village recently, and while nothing about it was wrong, we also weren’t super psyched about it. Its most apparent benefit is that it’s a real restaurant you can show up to in your gym clothes. But just because it’s seafood and you might be wearing stretchy pants doesn’t mean you should expect to eat healthily here - most things on the menu are fried or heavy on the butter/fat.


7/29/2016 Update

  • Looking for a spot for your birthday/small wedding reception/any other occasion requiring a killer party? Direct your attention Brooklyn Grange’s rooftop, located (somewhat confusingly) in Long Island City. The views of Manhattan are ridiculous, and you get to eat surrounded by real, live growing produce. The simple, home-cooked food is very pleasing as well.

  • We recently hit the ramen spot Momosan in Murray Hill. While these noodles aren’t going to change your life, the ramen is very solid - especially for a neighborhood that really needs good things. If you can sneak out of work, the lunch deal is also highly useful.

  • We’re a little conflicted about Sauvage, the new Greenpoint restaurant from the people behind Maison Premiere. The food is great, but the restaurant takes itself super, super seriously - if you don’t know anything about Gentian liqueur (we definitely don’t) or you don’t love being called “sir,” this might not be your spot.

  • Instead, if you’re in that neighborhood and looking for low-key drinks and food, we’d remind you about Nights & Weekends just across the street. It’s the bar owned by the Five Leaves people, and we’ve been hitting it for frozen margaritas, guacamole, and tacos lately.

  • We miss the original Perla. We’ve hit the new Perla Cafe a few times recently, and while the food is great, the space just doesn’t have the magic that the original one did. For best success, use it for brunch or lunch, when it’s not as loud and the light shines in through the many windows.

  • There’s a new Peruvian rotisserie chicken spot on the Lower Lower East Side, called Baby Brasa. It’s run by a Peruvian model, who on occasion sits outside the shop shirtless, which is ridiculous. It’s also not the reason we’re telling you about this place. The reason we’re telling you about it is that they serve really good rotisserie chicken and sandwiches. Add it to your casual LES eating rotation.

  • The Wild Son is a new Meatpacking restaurant from the people behind The Wayland, in the space that used to be El Colmado Butchery - right next to The Brass Monkey. It’s a “healthy” place, but you can also get burrata on a piece of bread covered in jam. For now, it’s only open from 10am - 4pm, so it’s best used after a run along the highway, or if you’re desperately searching for a decent brunch in the area. Otherwise, we’re interested to see what happens here when they extend their hours to dinner and start serving booze.


7/12/2016 Update

  • If you’re the kind of person who gets excited about hidden bars, you should get Karasu on your radar. Walk all the way to the back of Walter’s in Fort Greene and you’ll find this Japanese cocktail spot. There’s Japanese food here, too, but most of the dishes are snack sized. For a perfect one-two punch, hit Karasu for drinks and bites, and follow them with the burger at Walter’s.

  • Tygershark sells coffee and surfboards, and also excellent, modern Korean food. If you’re looking for an awesome, funky new spot to try, this is it.

  • We may have found the best tacos in NYC, and they come from a truck in the back of a divey mezcal bar in Bed-Stuy called Chilo’s. Don’t think. Just go.

  • Marlow & Sons is as fantastic as ever. We went recently and were reminded that this is still one of the best restaurants in Brooklyn.

  • By CHLOE’s second location is officially open and serving vegan guac burgers, as well as new breakfast items, to the people of Flatiron. If you live or work around here and care about eating mostly healthy things, consider your life improved.

  • St. Anselm has always been a spot we depend on for impressing out of towners with the best $18 steak they’ve ever eaten. Which is why we were so disappointed to find that the price has now jumped up to $23. (If you care to know the history, the St. Anselm butcher’s steak was only $15 back in 2012.) Inflation’s a b*tch.

  • Annisette is a casual new French spot in Gramercy. Use it for your any occasion that requires drinking rosé outside in this neighborhood and you will be pleased.

  • We know this one isn’t exactly breaking news, but Thai roll-up ice cream is suddenly, truly everywhere. If you’re unfamiliar, this creation involves frozen sweet cream mixed with toppings, then shaved into rolls, placed in a cup, and topped with more toppings. It’s like Cold Stone, but significantly more scientific. The original NYC shop, 10Below, opened last summer, but we’ve seen what feels like a dozen more places open around the Lower East Side and Chinatown in the past few months. If you’re wondering whether those lines are worth it, the ones we’ve tried have been interesting and fun, but not worth waiting in line an hour for.


6/22/2016 Update

  • If you live or work near Chelsea, get Dizengoff on your radar. It’s a new counter in Chelsea Market specializing in truly excellent hummus, plus great toppings and bread to go with. If you’re not already passionate about mashed chickpeas, Dizengoff might convert you.

  • Remember Rye? It was one of those original “cool Williamsburg restaurants.” Not only is it still alive and well, but it’s also serving an unbelievably good happy hour: weekdays 5:30-7:30pm, $5 Old Fashioneds and $5 cheeseburgers.

  • We recently ate at Le Coucou, a relatively fancy but not fussy new French restaurant in the Howard Hotel in Soho. The chef here owns Spring, a famous restaurant in Paris that we also love - and our first visit at Le Coucou was great, too. Consider using it for your next special occasion where serious food is a priority.

  • Still haven’t been to Lilia? Get on it, but not without a reservation. This place is still insanely slammed every night of the week. 

  • Lighthouse is our current favorite place for a weeknight meal in Williamsburg. Healthy-ish, affordable food (plus one really great burger), indoor/outdoor space, and affordable prices. More to come on this topic soon.

  • We’re in the business of planning perfect one-two punches, so here’s a new one for you. Start at The NoMad Bar - it’s great for a ball out meal, and while they don’t take reservations, we haven’t had any trouble recently walking right in. For your second step: get tickets for the Magician at TheNoMad, which is cooler than it has any right to be.

  • Haven’t felt like trekking to Greenpoint on a weekend morning to try Frankel’s? It’s now open until 9pm Tuesday-Saturday, so you have no excuse.

  • The ice cream sandwich at Freek’s Mill.


6/1/2016 Update

  • The Llama Inn rooftop is officially open. Ceviche outside, anyone? (Just ignore the fact that you’re basically under the BQE and you can almost pretend you’re in Lima.)

  • Poke has been making its way into NYC over the last few months, but we had yet to find any really worth talking about. Until now. Meet Chikarashi, our current favorite poke spot in NYC. It’s a single room on Canal St., with no chairs, so unless you want to eat standing up you’ll have to take it to go. But it’s worth it.

  • Barano is a new Italian spot right under the Williamsburg bridge that’s strangely fancy, and the vibes are a little stuffy. As for the food: the pasta is great, the pizza is not. More to come as we figure this place out.

  • For those of you in Gramercy or Murray Hill, we’ve discovered a very viable, new-ish brunch option in your neighborhood: Midwinter Kitchen.

  • We recently made it to Insa, the Korean BBQ (and karaoke) spot in Gowanus. We can’t say we sang any Whitney Houston songs, but we did eat some excellent Korean food. The next time your group suggests another pasta place for your Friday night dinner, steer them here instead.

  • Le Coq Rico is the American outpost of a popular Paris restaurant by the same name. The idea is that you pay around $90 for a roasted bird that they’ve hand selected from a fancy bird farm. Not sure that’s an idea we can get behind. The food is tasty, but the price tag is hard to swallow.

  • We found ourselves back at Wildair last week, and you should know that the food is only getting better. This is quickly becoming one of the best restaurants we have in this town.

  • But after revisiting Vinegar Hill House, we can’t say the same thing. The pork chop has slipped a bit. Here’s hoping it was just an off night.

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