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 10/14/19): Zooba, Nami Nori, F&F Pizzeria, Red Paper Clip, Sushi Jin.
All restaurants featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team. The Hit List is presented by the American Express ® Gold Card. Click here to learn more about the benefits and rewards you get from paying with the Amex Gold Card while dining out.
Zooba is a fast-casual restaurant in the same way that Bob Ross is a watercolor painter. It’s technically true, but there’s a lot more exciting context. This is the first US location of an Egyptian spot with several locations in Cairo, and it’s officially where you should be getting lunch or a quick dinner in the Soho area. The ceiling in here is covered with neon signs and it’s pretty difficult not to admire the flashing lights above you while you wait in line. But the food is more memorable than any of that. The specialty is the ta’ameya (fried balls made out of fava beans), which you can and should order spicy, but we also love the hawawshi beef patty sandwich with cheese. Most things come on a soft homemade Egyptian pita called baladi and everything costs under $15. If you work anywhere downtown - we suggest beelining here.
Nami Nori feels like a tiny West Village boutique or a cinematic version of the afterlife. It’s a bright and attractive space on Carmine Street with two bars and just a handful of tables, and pretty much everything is either white, off-white, or a soothing shade of light brown. They specialize in hand rolls that are left open like tacos (instead of being cylindrical or cone-shaped). And of the 20 different kinds - like tuna poke with crispy shallots, lobster tempura with yuzu aioli, and a few classic varieties - the least-complicated ones are the best. For $28 you can get a chef’s selection of five rolls, and there are also a bunch of small plates like shishito peppers and miso clam soup, most of which cost less than $10. Start with one or two of those, get the chef’s selection, and you’ll have a very good and reasonably priced (for sushi) meal.
F&F Pizzeria is a new pizza place from the people behind Frankies 457 Spuntino and Franks Wine Bar, and it also happens to be located in a converted garage between these two very good Italian spots in Carroll Gardens. But unlike its neighbors, F&F is a counter-service slice shop with a rotating list of minimal toppings that you eat in slice form or as a whole $25 pie. The crust is crispy, the sauce is incredible, and the cheese tastes like it came straight from a cow in the back. There are no chairs, tables, or even ledges here, but you can stand on the curb out front, stare lovingly at your half-finished slice, and wonder how many of the world’s problems could be solved by bringing together a few people who treat bread like a vitamin.
When the servers bring the third course of the tasting menu at Red Paper Clip, they’ll tell you that the egg yolk between the two slices of brioche is cooked at exactly 72 degrees. Even if you usually just cook eggs on high until you smell smoke, you’ll appreciate the attention to detail when the brioche, egg, and trout lox all come together in your first bite. That same level of thoughtfulness shows up in all six courses, many of which have Chinese influences, like the soup dumpling agnolotti in a black vinegar broth or the beef carpaccio with Sichuan oil. The food at this West Village tasting menu spot comes from two Blue Hill At Stone Barns chefs, and wouldn’t feel out of place in a white tablecloth restaurant that charges twice as much (dinner here starts at $95), but it’s served in a dark, casual space by servers who make small talk rather than lecture you about cooking techniques. Though maybe they could help with your scrambled eggs.
You’ll know you’ve reached Sushi Jin when you see a koi fish flag hanging outside of a brownstone on 84th Street on the UES. This is the most exciting new omakase place we’ve been to this year, especially because dinner here will involve an uni handroll and won’t cost more than $100. The $95 option comes with 12 pieces of fish (including that handroll) presented like a valuable collection of baseball cards - as well as soup, dessert, and green tea. Each piece of sushi - like sea eel from the Tokyo Bay, cherry sea bream, or seared Japanese barracuda - is thoughtfully dressed with dabs of sauce, yuzu zest, or tiny flakes of hard-boiled egg yolk.
Llama San is the latest place from the people behind Llama Inn, a Peruvian restaurant in Williamsburg we’ve been recommending on repeat since it opened several years ago. But unlike Llama Inn, Llama San serves the type of Japanese-influenced Peruvian food known as Nikkei. There’s a plate of raw hamachi with matcha foam and tiny cubes of coconut, for example, as well as some Japanese eggplant with little mounds of fresh cheese and some bisected red grapes - and both of these dishes are bright, complex, and worth seeking out. We’re also fans of the space, which has a lot of blonde wood and ambient lighting, and we feel compelled to mention that we wanted to steal the plates and other ceramic dishware. So book a table, and bring a date or a friend who wants to have a special dinner. And don’t steal the plates.
The next time you don’t know exactly how big your group will be, when they’ll arrive, how late they’ll stay, or how hungry they’ll be, head to Ainslie. This converted warehouse near the Lorimer L stop in Williamsburg has two bars, an outdoor patio, tons of tables, and a DJ booth - and that’s just the first floor. The second looks like a ski lodge in Aspen, and above that there’s a big open-air rooftop (which isn’t open quite yet). But the best part is that if you wander in with half the people in McCarren Park, you’ll find food that’s better than anything you’d expect from places you typically reserve for Happy Hour or day drinking. We especially like the juicy burger topped with prosciutto and gorgonzola or a pizza with pancetta and a soft egg. Whether you stick around until the DJ closes the place down at 3am is up to you.
The name Win Son Bakery is a little misleading. Because in addition to some excellent doughnuts and other baked goods, this counter-service spot from the Win Son people also serves a few salads and bunch of different sandwiches like a burger with raclette on a milk bun. They also have some crunchy fried chicken covered in a sweet and sour sauce, and it’s one of our favorite things here. However, we could easily just sit in a corner and eat some of Win Son Bakery’s plain scallion pancakes for an hour or two. That’s how much we like the food here. So grab a table in the bright, cafe-like space. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it’s right across the street from Win Son in East Williamsburg.
If you’re hesitant to travel to Jersey City for a counter-service slice shop, know that we’d make the trip just for the crust. They don’t serve the light, charred crust on its own, though, and most of it comes with perfectly acidic and sweet tomato sauce, and/or mozzarella that’s pulled in-house. The slice variety changes every few minutes, so your choices are entirely dependent on whatever recently came out of the oven. But if you see them, prioritize the sausage and pepper or anchovy and green tomato slices, as well as the rossa and margherita. Since Bread And Salt is BYO, we suggest bringing some red wine, and hanging out for an hour or two so that you can order slice-after-slice without feeling like you’re missing out on whatever’s coming out of the oven.
It’d be easy to assume that The Fulton is a tourist trap. The massive restaurant overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge is inside of a big new development by the Seaport that has a concert venue on the roof, and it’s from a very famous chef who has attached his name to more than 35 restaurants around the world. But none of that matters once you’re seated and eating some of the very best seafood in the city. There’s a phenomenal whole black sea bass served inside a pastry shell that’s more ornate than a Christmas tree in Whoville - and though it would impress any date or client, the Fulton does not feel stuffy.
When you go to Red Hook Tavern and take a bite of the burger, you might wonder why it’s so good. You might even sit there and space out, with some burger on your face, while you try to put all the pieces together. But everything will start to make sense once you realize this place is from the same people behind nearby Hometown Bar-B-Que (one of the single best places to consume meat in the city). This spot is sort of like a modern mashup of Peter Luger and Corner Bistro in a dark, narrow vintage-looking space, and the menu consists of things like the burger, an excellent steak that comes with a side of creamed spinach, and a romaine wedge salad with some of the finest bacon you’ll encounter. And if you don’t want a big piece of meat, there are some things like clams, prawns, and a bowl of grilled corn with ’nduja. Make a reservation, or just stop by and put your name in for a bar seat. Just be sure to get here before the waits match the ones at Hometown Bar-B-Que.
Before you read further, we think you should just go ahead and make a reservation for two at Babs. We have a feeling it’s going to start getting a lot harder to get a table at this new restaurant in Greenwich Village from the team behind Mimi (a French restaurant nearby that we like a lot for celebratory date nights where we wear our nic shoes). While Mimi is the sort of place we’d only suggest bringing someone who you’ve already seen naked, Babs is a bit more casual. It’s got a nice little bar up front and a dining room with mirrors everywhere and green velvet banquettes. The food is generally European and most things are excellent. So far, the smaller plates here are better than the mains, but if you’re in the position to spend money on a whole lobster - Babs’ is stuffed with cream and garlic, and it’s very good (because it’s expensive lobster).
Kichin used to be in a tiny space beneath the JMZ in Williamsburg, and it was a great option for some quick rice balls or bibimbap. That place closed, and now they have a much bigger spot in Bushwick with a multi-level dining room, a DJ booth, and a bar up front. And you should stop by for some fried chicken before more people find out about it. The food here is Korean, and in addition to the (excellent) fried chicken, you can eat a bunch of other things like a whole fish topped with tobiko and some rice cakes with halloumi and mozzarella. It’s a great spot for a casual group dinner because most things cost less than $20 and it turns into a party late at night. That’s what the DJ booth is for.
This narrow, white-walled spot in Prospect Heights serves some very good Italian-leaning food, from zucchini escabeche that tastes like fish ceviche to tender hanger steak with chopped soppressata. But what sets it apart from other excellent spots on this stretch of Vanderbilt Ave. is the wine program. The long list is mostly made up of natural wines, and while there are some Eastern European options your wine store clerk probably hasn’t heard of, it’s not trying to seem impressive by being inaccessible. There are plenty of familiar varietals from famous regions in France and Italy, and no matter how adventurous you decide to be, the very friendly staff will help you find a good bottle for $40-$70. Come here for some wine and snacks at the bar overlooking the open kitchen, or bring a date for dinner, and have drinks and dessert on the back patio afterward.
There are really only two things we’re looking forward to this winter. The first is tolerable subway platform temperatures and the second is eating Roman-style pizza in the covered back garden at Montesacro in Williamsburg when it’s snowing and feels like a snowglobe. This is a new Italian restaurant right near the Lorimer L that specializes in airy, oval-shaped flatbreads (called pinsa) which are all under $20. The small Italian starters here aren’t nearly as exciting as the pinsa and pasta - so focus on things like rigatoni carbonara and pinsa with broccolini, spicy sausage, and stracciatella. If you’re looking for a new date night spot where you won’t have to spend a ton of money to seem like the kind of person who’s been to Rome many times, this is it.
Pasta is the reason you should set up text updates reminding you to make a reservation at Rezdora. That’s not to say pasta is the only reason you should come to this Italian spot in Flatiron. In fact, it’d be worth coming just for the mozzarella and fried zucchini flower appetizer that should start your meal, or for the housemade gelato that should end it. It’s just that the pastas are really, really good. The seven varieties on the menu range from a spinach pasta stuffed with leeks to others with rich ragu. But our favorite is the spaghettoni with clams, because every bite tastes like a mouthful of briny, baked goodness. Order that with something from the long, all-Italian wine list, and you’ll be happy you set those reminders to make a reservation.
Maison Yaki, the second restaurant from the people behind Olmsted (across the street), is a place of miniatures. Instead of entrees, there are skewers. Instead of normal-sized cocktails, there are slightly shrunken ones. Even the wine and beer glasses make you look at your hands to make sure you haven’t suddenly become a giant. Luckily, the prices at this French-Japanese mashup are downsized too - nothing costs more than $9. The setup makes it easy for you to try a lot on the menu, without spending a crazy amount of money. And while you’ll eat things like duck à l’orange and lobster Americaine skewers, the whole experience feels fun and relaxed. If you’re in a restaurant rut, this is a great place to come and mix it up.
Dinner at Shabushabu Mayumon starts with a wet hand towel and ends with a mountain of matcha shaved ice. What happens in between is a long omakase conga line of single-bite meats and vegetables - the best of which is washugyu beef topped with basil, tomato, balsamic, and blue cheese. Like its nearby sister restaurant Shabushabu Macoron (the only other omakase shabu shabu restaurant in the world), there’s just one chef here, who swishes individual bites of high-quality meat in broth before she dips them into sauce and places them in front of you. But unlike Macoron, where the food tends to be more straightforward Japanese, Mayumon experiments with mashups from other cultures - like Spanish ajillo, Italian bagna cauda, and Vietnamese pho. It’ll cost you $128 (before tip, tax, or drinks), but Shabushabu Mayumon is worth its price tag, especially if you want to celebrate with a lot of red meat in a setting that couldn’t be more different from a steakhouse.
Like most animals on this planet, we enjoy eating outside - and that’s part of the reason why we like Wayla, a new Thai restaurant on the LES that has a backyard filled with potted plants, string lights, and some patio furniture that’s probably nicer than a lot of the stuff you choose to keep indoors. The food here also happens to be excellent, especially the pork sausage and fried branzino. But we’d be keeping secrets if we didn’t tell you to order the noodle-wrapped meatballs and the daily curry too. Bring a few people, so you don’t have to waste time trying to decide between all of these things.
Kāwi is one of a few restaurants that we feel good about sending you to in Hudson Yards. Especially if you’re in the area for business or if you’re seeing a show and want to go somewhere a little fancy and exciting in Midtown. Even still, strategize which of the Korean dishes to order, because while there are some major hits, we’ve had a few misses. If you’re with a big group, get the giant pot of pork-based soybean stew - the creamy broth is incredibly rich, and full of little boiled potatoes, mushrooms, and tender pork belly. But above all else, you should try the pickled brisket which is perfectly mustardy and goes nicely with the bitter greens it comes with. If more luxury malls served this pickled brisket, we’d develop cry-for-help shopping problems.
It takes a lot for us to tell you to go out of your way for a diner. But we would advise you do so in the case of Golden Diner, a little spot underneath the Manhattan Bridge with big windows, yellow booths, and lace curtains. The short (for a diner, at least) menu here is what sets it apart - there’s a club sandwich stuffed with chicken katsu, an avocado toast topped with turmeric, thai basil, and galangal, and a bibimbap-style bowl of creamy barley covered in enough vegetables, fruits, and flowers to look and taste like a field that you definitely want to frolic through. Make your next lunch-outside-of-the-office plans here, or stop by for a great tuna melt or burger at night for dinner.
Lokanta is a walk-in only Turkish restaurant in Astoria from the same chef as Sip Sak, another Turkish spot near Grand Central in Midtown East. The menu here is divided into small plates (like a zucchini pancake made with mint and chopped-up dill, and beef bourekas in crispy wrappers) and larger entrees, and you’ll want to split a lot of different things - as long as those things include the roasted lamb with rice. It’s got not-too-sweet currants, flavorful rice, and enough pulled lamb so that you get a piece in almost every bite. Bring some friends or a date, and you’ll be able to have an excellent meal for around $30 per person.
There are a lot of casual weeknight dinner options in Williamsburg, but not many that serve food as good as Hanon’s. This Japanese spot specializes in udon, and offers both hot and cold varieties with two types of housemade noodles. Our favorite is the curry udon with really rich broth and tender beef, and if you want something a bit lighter, go with the brothless mentai udon, which has a ton of spicy cod caviar. Definitely get some small plates as well, like the juicy fried chicken that comes with spicy chili paste. This place is worth traveling for (especially because it’s just a few steps from the Lorimer L and G stops) - but know that for the moment, it’s still waiting on a liquor license.
Crown Shy is one of a few new places (like Manhatta) that make us actually excited about getting dinner in FiDi. This new American spot off the lobby of a landmarked luxury apartment building has high ceilings and huge windows, and is perfect for clients or in-laws or anyone you generally want to convince that you have your sh*t together. The food - like hummus that comes with ’nduja and sugar-coated puffed bread, and crispy farro with bone marrow and chunks of oxtail - will also impress just about everyone. But while it’s certainly upscale, Crown Shy doesn’t feel stuffy - the walk-in-only bar area, as well as the open kitchen and surprisingly affordable prices (most dishes are under $20), make it the kind of spot you could go anytime you want to get a little dressed up for a nice night out.
This is the second spot from the people behind Tokyo Record Bar, and as with that restaurant, you’re here for a totally unique eating and drinking experience. At Niche Niche, the emphasis is on the drinking - every night, the wine menu completely changes, and the accompanying food does as well, with the whole menu coming in at $80 per person. We recently went on a night featuring four excellent American wines (like a sparkling from Monterey County and a riesling from the Finger Lakes), and dishes like cioppino and olive oil cake. The food was good - but the wine experience is what makes this place special. The night’s guest sommelier and Niche Niche team wander around the room throughout your two-hour seating, refilling your glass regularly, and you’re free to ask them as many or as few questions about what you’re drinking as you want. It’s already tough to get a reservation, but you could also try your luck walking in after 10pm, when they take walk-ins and you can order a la carte. Whenever you go, you can count on Niche Niche feeling like a party.
Even if the only things you associate with Chicago are Michael Jordan and cold winters, there’s a decent chance you’ve heard of Au Cheval. They serve one of the best burgers in the country, and crowds of people are already packed into the new NYC location so they can try it. In keeping with the generally excessive nature of this place, the “single” actually has two patties - and yes, it’s an extremely good cheeseburger. Everything else on the menu (like the fried bologna sandwich and scrambled eggs with foie gras) is some combination of fatty, buttery, and salty, so it’s best to come here when your after-dinner plans consist of little more than drawing the shades in your apartment. But the big, dark space makes this place feel like a night out itself. Come early to put your name down, and you can hang out in the downstairs bar while you wait. Just know it might be a couple of hours.
Sometimes, you only have to do one thing very well. Just look at The Container Store, or the near-identical characters Jason Statham plays in all his movies. The Fly, a new place in Bed-Stuy from the people behind Hart’s, is another great example. The menu here is tiny, and the only real entree is rotisserie chicken. You can either get a whole or a half, and it’ll come out so juicy and flavorful, you’ll want to walk into the kitchen and start asking questions. Add some fries and sauteed greens, plus a few glasses of wine (most of which are under $15), and you’ll have an excellent meal that shouldn’t cost more than $50 per person. The only downside is that this place doesn’t take reservations, and there aren’t too many tables. But there’s a big area up front where you can wait (or eat by yourself).