Wondering where you should be eating in New York City right now? You’re in the right place. The Infatuation Hit List is your guide to the city’s best new restaurants.
And when we say “best new restaurants,” we mean it. Because we’ve tried every single one of these places - and we’ve also left off countless spots that simply aren’t as worthy of your time and money.
The Hit List is our record of every restaurant that’s opened in the past year that we’d highly recommend you try. This guide is sorted chronologically, so at the top you’ll find our latest entries to this list (the newest spots), and as you keep scrolling you’ll find the places that are on the older side - but are great enough that we still haven’t stopped talking about them.
New to The Hit List (as of 12/19): Chinese Tuxedo, Lalo, Massoni, Chao Chao, Salvation Burger, and Guadalupe Inn.
Before this Chinatown restaurant space was Lalo, it was a one-room karaoke dive bar called Winnie's, where, up until last year, they were still playing music on laser discs. And while it's a shame if you never got to sing "Sweet Caroline" for the Winnie's crowd after taking a flaming shot of Kahlua, you'll still be lucky to go to its replacement. The chef behind El Rey runs the restaurant, and the result is a sort of a Mexican/Latin version of Dimes, but without the attitude. You'll eat funky stuff like vegan chicharones and squid stuffed with chorizo and hibiscus, but the most straightforward dish is the best one here - carnitas with homemade flour tortillas. After a year where so many new restaurants felt exactly the same, Lalo is something that feels legitimately new.
Yet another old Chinatown spot that's been revamped, Chinese Tuxedo is on Doyers Street, that kind of hidden rounded alley where Nom Wah and Apotheke are. The inside is surprisingly big and feels like a party - imagine a 2016 version of Buddakan, but not in Meatpacking, and before it was full of teenagers who just drove in from Paramus for an 18th birthday party. The food is modern Chinese and much of it is very good, though it is likely to get expensive if you plan on leaving full. Expect a fun crowd of people looking to have a good time, and don't be turned off by the fact the menu lists a "music curator" for the restaurant - the service is actually very laid-back and unpretentious. Use it for an upcoming big group night out. (F.Y.I. It's wine and beer only, for now.)
How do you do Italian/Asian fusion? Check out Massoni, from the people who brought you Talde in Brooklyn. This new place is in the bottom of the Arlo Hotel, just a few blocks from Madison Square Garden, and it’s already one of the best food options in the area. Get a good, square pizza or try a dish that sounds pretty Italian but also has something like nori in it. The vibes here are more downtown than Midtown, and it’s worth visit the next time someone drags you to the Empire State Building.
You might hear some metal when you walk in, and the waitstaff might be surprised to see you (this place won’t be full), but those are just two more reasons to go here. This is a new Vietnamese restaurant in the East Village, and you can get some real good breakfast fried rice here. And you can get it for dinner. Have the beef cheeks and spicy raw beef. As of right now, you can get some tasty food here, and you won’t have to wait for a table.
A fire closed this place down, but now it's back open - thankfully. This is one of our favorite burger spots in the city, and the fact that it's in Midtown only makes this more impressive. Come here for a pile of meat and cheese and pickles that you won't mind spending sixteen bucks on.
Finally, the residents of Bushwick can eat upscale Mexican while they catch a good, old-fashioned drag show. Because that’s what you want when you’re having some chicharron gorditas. Depending on the night, you also might get some dance or burlesque or some kind of music. Performances at Guadalupe take place on a little stage in the main dining room, but if being entertained isn’t your thing, you can sit in the bar area up front. The Mexican food here is modern and slightly fancy, but not so fussy that you can’t stuff yourself to the point where you need a nap. If you’re in Bushwick with your parents, take them here.
"Let's go to that cool new spot in FiDi," said no one in the last ten years. We're not sure that's going to be a thing people say now either, but this new restaurant in the Beekman Hotel is doing its best to help the cause. Brought to you by Keith McNally, Augustine is basically Balthazar or Cherche Midi, but, you know, more downtown. Our first meal here was good, and judging by the crowds, the neighborhood is glad to have it. But Augustine is also not exactly what we'd call an exciting new restaurant opening. Hit it if you're in the area.
This is the seafood spot from the same people behind Los Tacos No. 1, which is easily one of our favorite taco spots in the city. Excellent news: Los Mariscos is just as good. Even better news: it’s hidden away from the rest of the tourist hellzone of Chelsea Market, at the end of a hallway to the left of Los Tacos No. 1 (you can even get to it directly from the street without having to enter Chelsea Market). Once there, you’ll find a small menu of margaritas and ceviches and (most importantly) fish tacos that are some of the best we’ve found in NYC.
The “Harold” here is Harold Moore, the man responsible for long-time Infatuation favorite Commerce, which shut down last year, while the "meat and three" means the traditional Southern-style one protein and two sides. It’s a huge space on the far west side of Soho, with friendly people, a fully operational salad bar, and lots and lots of meats - including an excellent burger.
The old Whitney building on Madison Avenue recently became the Met Breuer, and now there's a new restaurant downstairs run by the people behind Estela. It's definitely not your typical museum restaurant: the menu is full of small plates like raw scallops wrapped in seaweed, lobster dumplings, and sea urchin served in a shell with bits of fluke. Everything we've eaten here has been quite tasty (and fairly pricey), and it's certainly something new for the Upper East Side.
If you order the lamb burger here, the server will ask you if you’d like anchovies on it (for an extra two dollars). And if you want to eat something that tastes like a cross between a burger and a tuna-salad sandwich, go for it. If you like fish, it isn’t an unwelcome experience. Just know that it gets messy, and you will smell like an anchovy. But that’s just one thing on the menu at this little Bed-Stuy restaurant that should be your new go-to dinner date spot if you live in the area. The kitchen is tiny, but they make flavorful stuff like ricotta with pickled eggplant and (shell-on) clam toast with pancetta. It’s Mediterranean/American food, and, for how sleek this place is, the vibes are surprisingly mom-and-pop.
Leuca is in the bottom of a large upscale hotel, so you can’t knock it for what it is. It’s big, fancy yet casual, and it’s haunted by the ghosts of interior designers arguing over lighting fixtures. The food is also pretty good. It won’t be the best Italian you’ve ever eaten, but Leuca is all about vibes - and the vibes here are 100% Manhattan. This is a good place in Williamsburg to take your parents, and it isn’t a bad choice for a fun night out with a group of friends. It isn’t cheap, but it also isn’t crazy expensive. These guys have hit a sweet spot of price, vibes, and quality, so you’re going to find a big (and well-dressed) weekend crowd here eating pizza, pasta, and charred-cabbage salads.
When your friends from New York go to LA, they probably come back telling you about how great it was. They'll tell you how it's just so nice when it's warm in February. They'll tell you that you can actually own a house there. And they'll tell you about Sugarfish. Sugarfish locations are all over LA, and they're incredibly popular for serving a very high-quality, straightforward omakase sushi meal for under $40. After checking it out, we’re happy to say that NYC Sugarfish is basically an exact replica of LA Sugarfish, though prices are a few dollars higher and as of now, the waits are pretty insane. That said, the whole operation seems well-run and impressively not a sh*tshow.
April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman's new butchery and restaurant is a big addition to the vastly improved restaurant options on the UWS. During the day, it's takeout plus order at the counter table service. For dinner, the dining room transforms into a more full-service restaurant. Their BEC is fantastic, their lunch menu has a bunch of meat sandwiches and hot dogs, and dinner showed promise - some hits, some misses, but overall, a great experience. The Guinea Hen Pie and Strip Steak were standouts, and their Crispy Layered Potato with Beef Fat is excellent. Plus, we walked in on a Saturday night and got a table with only a 15-minute wait. Finally, it pays to live uptown.
The Williamsburg neighborhood spot Lighthouse makes the kind of food you probably want to be eating right now: super fresh, pretty healthy, and really, really good. Which is why you should be excited about their new spot right in the middle of Nolita: Lighthouse Outpost, a mini, Manhattan version of the original. Currently only open on weekdays (11am-4pm at the moment, with dinner coming soon), this place is already the neighborhood’s best new lunch option by a long shot. It's a tiny place that's perfect for a quick solo lunch that will leave you feeling great about your choices - everything from the duck in pita to the big salad to the hibiscus tea is excellent.
You know that feeling you would get when you were a kid and your parents brought you out to a “nice” restaurant? The kind of place that would require your sweater with rhinestones on it, or your khakis with the front pleat? That’s a little how we felt walking into King, a new restaurant on the Soho/”South Village” border. It definitely feels happening - but in a very grown-up way: white tablecloths, attractive but understated decor, and a daily-changing menu of French and Italian-inspired dishes (including, on our last visit, a $70 truffle pasta). Besides the feeling that we had graduated to the adult’s table, the food we’ve tried here is very, very good - particularly the steak. One word of caution: they do run out of food (on an already very short menu) - get an earlier reservation if you can.
When you own a restaurant, and your dad is Bill Murray, you have two options: 1) avoid the fact that your dad is Bill Murray, or 2) tell everyone that your dad is Bill Murray. The guy behind 21 Greenpoint (formerly River Styx) not-stupidly chose option #2, and opening weekend let the world know his dad would be bartending at his restaurant. We can’t tell you how good Bill Murray is at making a negroni, but we can tell you that a few weeks later and no Bill Murray in sight, 21 Greenpoint is actually a great new spot. The vibes are good, the menu has everything from pizza to a Korean hot pot to roasted halibut, and it’s a fun place for a date or friend hang.
Unless you or your friends live there, you probably don’t find yourself with many reasons to eat or drink in beautiful (often-boring) Park Slope. But you finally have one in Gristmill, and it’s beautifully un-boring. The food here is hyper-seasonal (as in, if you couldn’t find it on a farm within a few hundred miles away, you’re not finding it on the menu), heavy on the vegetables, and cooked in a wood-burning oven. They do good pizza, but what’s even better here is the weirder stuff - like cornbread served inside a corn husk, or a black pepper and blackberry sundae. Whatever you do, get garlic knots. Lots of them.
Tsurutontan's specialty is serving noodles in absolutely massive bowls, and the result is that eating them makes you feel like an extremely fancy caveperson. This is the first US location of a very popular Japanese chain, and they specialize in udon. The 16th Street space could be described as "sleek" - it looks kind of like a moderately expensive modern hotel's lobby. The udon dishes come in both hot and cold varieties, and can come with anything from sea urchin to spicy cod roe to duck. If you're into Japanese food, or if your best experience with udon has been relegated to midtown bodegas, this place is worth a try.
You’re in a group text of friends planning a last-minute dinner tonight. One person wants something “fun!,” someone else wants something “not too expensive,” and your lazy friend doesn’t want to go “too out of the way.” The move is Thursday Kitchen, a Korean fusion small plates place serving things like eel tacos, edamame dumplings, and fried soft shell crab, alongside the most “fun” item of all: light-up, glow-in-the-dark alcoholic Capri Suns. It all could feel really cheesy. But it doesn’t. Do yourself and your friends a favor and get to this below-ground hideout of good food and good times soon.
Casa Apicii, a sleek Italian spot in Greenwich Village, looks like a Bond villain’s country club. It suggests both romance and a hidden pit of sharks. But note: this is not red-sauce Italian. The food is light, modern, and a little bit adventurous. This is a good place for a late-in-the-game date or a semi-special occasion. Payday, for example.
Hao Noodle is a West Village Chinese restaurant that looks like an Anthropologie store. It's an extremely nice place to sit, but it's also quite casual - no need to feel bad about showing up sweaty. The service is frequently a bit of a mess, but the food is unique and excellent enough that we'll still send you here. If you go, try the Claypot Dumplings, the beef ribs, and the mung bean jelly.
Planning your next special occasion dinner/fancy night out? Le Coucou is a restaurant from Daniel Rose, an American chef who started one of the most popular restaurants in Paris, and Stephen Starr, the restaurateur behind Upland, The Clocktower, and more. So far it's drawing a slightly older, fancier (though not uptight) crowd, especially given its location on the border of Chinatown and Soho - but the food and service are absolutely excellent.
Olmsted is like an SNL sketch making fun of Brooklyn restaurant stereotypes. Andy Samberg would play the cool young chef, Jon Hamm would play the ponytailed host who tells you about the herbs, vegetables, fruits, and animals grown in the manicured, string lit, high-tech sprinkler-systemed Prospect Heights garden, while Bill Hader would man the bar, shaking his head and laughing at everyone actually eating there. It would be easy to roll your eyes at Olmsted, but the truth is it’s actually pretty incredible. Read the full review.
Emily, the Clinton Hill pizza place that also makes what might be our favorite burger in the city, just opened up a second spot in Williamsburg that serves "Detroit-style" square pies in a wine bar-like space. The pizza is very good (and very intense), but the absolute best thing here is the Spicy Chicken Sandwich. They serve an excellent burger as well, but it's currently only available in the basement burger bar. Read the full review.
Because we love the original Speedy Romeo in Clinton Hill, we were both excited and hesitant about the Lower East Side location. But good news: the new location has the same kind of friendly, comfortable vibe and the food remains excellent - while the pizza is great, you want to go heavy on the rest of the menu too (especially the burger). Read our full review.
Similar to Russ & Daughters Cafe, Frankel’s is a mashup of the old-school Jewish deli concept with new-school execution. But while Russ & Daughters is very much a destination, Frankel’s is a casual neighborhood spot. As for the food: it’s excellent. Whether you go with lox, pastrami, eggs and bacon, or brisket on your bagel (or roll, or rye), you won’t be disappointed. Read our full review.
Italian food. On 27th and Park. In a hotel. Sounds... exciting, huh? Don't knock it til you've tried it. If you spend a lot of time around this area and have already eaten at Upland and The Clocktower more times than you can remember, definitely add Covina to your rotation. Read our full review.
Nix is a fully vegan and vegetarian restaurant brought to you by the guy that makes vegetables taste unbelievably good at Narcissa. But while Narcissa feels like a special occasion restaurant, Nix is a place you could easily have a weeknight meal. Nix isn’t a place you come because you’re on some kind of masochistic diet - it’s a place you come to enjoy highly tasty food that happens to be meat-free. Read our full review.
What makes a restaurant sexy? We’re not sure we can actually answer that, but we can tell you that Mimi has it. It’s a tiny Greenwich Village spot with dim lighting, a great bar, and generally cool vibes - but the place isn’t all about looks. It also happens to serve excellent, unusual French food. Read our full review.
It's no secret that we love Charlie Bird. That's why we were honestly a little terrified at the prospect of the same team opening a new restaurant near our office. What if it's not as good? What if they don't play rap music? Will they still have wine? After countless meals since this place opened, we're happy to report that Pasquale Jones is not only a place we'd spend our time and money any day of the week, but we might even like it better than Charlie Bird because pizza. Read our full review.
This new Williamsburg restaurant is a former auto body shop turned restaurant, but not in the "we made a BBQ restaurant" sense. This is a beautiful space with a wood burning oven that feels far more like something you'd find next to Madison Square Park than you would next to McCarren. Think L'Artusi but in Brooklyn and think about getting there as soon as possible. Read our full review.
Tygershark is a Korean, seafood-focused restaurant in Prospect Heights that's also a coffee shop during the day, and also sells surfboards. And it's the Korean seafood coffee shop surfboard store you never knew you wanted or needed, but will be thrilled to have. The food is fun and flavorful, and the whole setup feels a lot different than most other places you’ve probably been eating at lately. Read our full review.
Le Turtle is a Lower East Side spot from the guys behind The Smile and Freemans, and we at one point were certain that it was actually an elaborate hoax. But it turns out the food is unique and excellent, the wine list smart and reasonably priced, and the service highly professional. Read our full review.
Llama Inn is not actually an inn, and there are no llamas on the premises. There is, however, great modern Peruvian food on the premises, which means everything from ceviche and simple roast chicken to beef heart skewers and goat neck. The space, right under the BQE in Williamsburg, is awesomely designed, with tons of bar seats particularly well-suited to one-on-one meetups. Read our full review.
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