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.
On our last Hit List update, we had Atla on wait-and-see status. But after trying it again during the day, we’re confident in telling you it’s worth checking out - provided you do not go expecting to have your life changed in the same way that you would at Cosme (the very serious restaurant run by the same chef). This is a sleek little space that’s ideal for daytime occasions when the sun shines in and you can eat somehow light-tasting huevos rancheros or a very good avocado (excuse us, guacamole) toast. We’d recommend it for a weekday breakfast or lunch, especially if you’re with the type of people who work in fashion or art or are friends with celebrities (or think they are).
There are, for some reason, a ton of new-ish restaurants on 20th Street between Park and Broadway - some of which you should definitely visit (Sugarfish), and others which you should skip (you don’t really need to go to Le Coq Rico - the “bistro of birds”). Nur is also on this block, and it definitely lands in the “you should go” category. It’s a new modern Middle Eastern place from one of the most popular chefs in Tel Aviv, and the food ranges from an excellent eggplant carpaccio, to a bread that’s kind of like the offspring of a challah and a brioche, to rich lamb stuffed inside a pita, to a nice piece of seabass. It’s a small, warm, upscale (though not fancy) space, and a great option for the next time you’re looking for a nice meal in this part of town.
It takes a lot to make us excited about a new fast-casual spot. Nothing against affordable, convenient, efficient food - it’s just that most of them are kind of all the same. But Made Nice actually feels different. Is it going to blow your mind in the same way that a $295 tasting menu from its owner’s Eleven Madison park would? No. But the food tastes super fresh, the menu is actually interesting (think smoked salmon with seasonal vegetables and hanger steak crispy rice salad), and for somewhere around $12-$15 you’ll walk out feeling extremely good about what you just ate. That number doesn’t include the $6 milk & honey soft serve, which you should absolutely finish any meal here with. It’s incredible.
Think of this place as a Han Dynasty with vibes (which isn’t a knock against Han Dynasty). The dining room isn’t huge, but there’s a big communal table and some booths that’ll fit small groups. And that’s really the best way to go here. Come with a group, and share a bunch of things. Get some buns, some veggies, and also at least one item that’s labeled as spicy. Your mouth will go numb in a very good way. Entrées range from around $13 to $25, but gratuity is included (and you’ll be sharing most things), so it’s more affordable than it sounds.Another plus is the fact that this place doesn’t have a liquor license yet - so take advantage of the fact that it’s currently BYOB.
Until it closed in 2010, Empire Diner was actually a diner. Then a few different restaurateurs tried to turn the space into something a little more upscale, and it didn’t work out so well. But now it’s back, and it looks great. More importantly, the food is also pretty solid. It might not all be destination-worthy, but if you live in the area or you hang out on the westside often, it’s a good spot to have in your back pocket. The menu is mostly heavier Southern-type food, but they also do things like steamed bass and ricotta gnudi. So anyone should be able to eat here. Stop by for a date or a dinner with a few friends who want to eat in a boxcar-shaped space that looks like a vintage diner from the outside.
Chelsea needed a place like Motel Morris. It looks great, but you can wear whatever you want, and it works for a fun date night when you don’t feel like going below 14th Street. The dining room isn’t huge, but it feels spacious and has a cool retro vibe. Sort of like a futuristic motel on a planet where crime doesn’t exist and everyone studies interior design in elementary school. As for the food, it’s solid. It might not be mind-blowing, but you can still bring someone here and impress them with the fancy light fixtures and all-pink bathroom.
For a while, we’ve been fans of the Park Slope location of Sushi Katsuei, which does the best sushi in Brooklyn and one of the best not-insanely priced omakase deals. Now, they’ve taken over the old Soto space in the West Village, and we’re pleased to report that the fish there is excellent. You’ll get nine pieces and a handroll for $57, which isn’t bad for the quality. If you’re ready to spend more, you’ll get to try some pretty unusual fish. As with any sushi omakase situation, be sure to sit at the bar.
One thing you should know right off the bat: Ikinari doesn’t do seating. So you’ll have to stand while you eat. This is a chain from Japan, and that’s just how they do things. The good news is, they specialize in relatively inexpensive steak, and the whole-standing-while-you-eat thing is a fun way to mix things up. So swing by, choose one of three kinds of steak, tell the chef how you’d like it cooked, then retreat to your standing counter and wait for your meat. It will come with a side of corn, and you will eat it way too fast.
This is a beautifully-designed spot in the middle of deep residential Fort Greene, which means the restaurant’s huge windows look out onto brownstones and cherry blossom trees that are in view whether you’re sitting at the bar or at a table. What we’re trying to say is, eating here is a very pretty experience. And it’s an interesting one, too. The common theme among the food here is that it’s torched to sh*t in the giant wood-burning oven. The carrots, beets, homemade sourdough bread, and a lamb sitting in a squash puree (that’s way better than you’d think), are all things we enjoyed here. Come on a date with someone who will be impressed/intrigued by a place with a mysterious bar over a letter in its name.
We love barbecue. And we love Italian food. But we were concerned that a combination of barbecue and Italian food would be too much of a good thing (see: sushi donut). If our arteries were speaking for us, they would tell you Pig Bleecker is indeed too much of a good thing. But we speak for ourselves, and this food tastes pretty great: brisket ravioli, duck lasagne, a whole fried chicken, pigs in blankets, meatballs - you get the picture. The smallish space is fairly vibey, but save Pig Bleecker for that dinner with a couple old friends. Your date night should probably be somewhere that won’t make you feel like you need to be rolled home afterwards.
First came Sugarfish, and now, we have its younger, more relaxed sibling, KazuNori, which serves exclusively handrolls. They come in sets of three to six, with the six topping out at a very affordable $28 including gratuity. So it’s a good deal, and it’s also fast: everyone sits along a bar and you’ll probably be out in under 40 minutes. The quality is good, and it’s a satisfying, if not life-changing option for almost-cheap sushi. Hit it early (before 7) to avoid waits.
Vegetarians, rev your engines. The new meat-free restaurant in everyone’s favorite carpet store and home to restaurants is officially open through dinner now. The food is very tasty, and worth trying even if you’re not a dedicated vegetarian - it’s more than just a plant-based version of ABC Kitchen or ABC Cocina. You’ll especially like it if you care what your restaurants look like. Unsurprisingly, everything here is bright and pretty.
Cocoron is, in our (very correct) opinion, one of the most underrated restaurants in New York City. For years, we’ve practically been officially spokespeople for their Mera Mera Dipping Soba. They now have a new additional location just a few blocks over on Delancey. It’s pretty much the exact same as the Kenmare one, but in a slightly bigger space. So if you’re coming from slightly further east, or encounter a wait in Nolita, walk across Bowery for another place to get your soba on. For something different, try the yuba dipping soba - it’s not always available at the other location and is a lighter alternative to the legendary Mera Mera.
Union Square Cafe reopened on Park Avenue recently, and you may have seen we gave it a 9.2. It’s excellent. Along with the new space, they also opened a little cafe across the street that sells breads, lunchtime food, and some very good breakfast sandwiches. There isn’t much seating so many people will use it as a grab and go place, but the lovely space and extremely attentive service make a really great place to stop into. If you spend time around Union Square or Gramercy, this place is about to be in your rotation in a major way.
Avocado toast. Bone broth. Grain bowls. Turmeric. These are the restaurant keywords of the moment, and we’d be okay with taking a little break from all of them. The thing is, De Maria does most of this trendy stuff right. Think Dimes, but with a bit more space, a bit better food, and less attitude. De Maria does still seem to be figuring things out, so don’t expect the fastest service you’ve ever had. But don’t let that stop you from checking it out for breakfast or lunch in Soho or Nolita, or if you just want to Instagram some food.
If you’re someone who remembers what The Beatrice Inn used to be, congrats on still remembering things from those days. Nights in this once legendary bar/restaurant/club weren’t exactly conducive to “future cognition” or “aging well.” But they were definitely a lot of fun. After it closed in 2009, someone briefly turned The Beatrice Inn into a bad restaurant, and we all forgot about it (see, cognition) for a while. Thankfully, someone else (a Spotted Pig veteran) has bought the restaurant and turned it into a good restaurant - one that you don’t even need to be on drugs to enjoy being in. The new Beatrice Inn retains most of the feel good late night vibes of the space, but also features a menu of very satisfying, somewhat heavy French-meets-gastropub food. Use it for one of those nights where you want to remember what it was like when you used to go out at night.
Tørst is not new. It’s been Brooklyn’s best beer bar for years, and not just because of their excellent draught and bottle list - because the vibe here is awesome. Imagine a Swedish sauna, but replace the naked sweaty people with clothed tipsy people, and turn the lights down low - that’s what you can expect to see at Tørst. So why are we reminding you about this place right now? Because they just started serving a full menu, and it’s great. Unlike their former back-room tasting-menu-only restaurant Luksus (which is now closed), the new Tørst food situation is much more casual - there are hot dogs and burgers and tortas, but if you’re going to order one thing make it the French Montana: beef shank and gruyere on a baguette, cut in half, standing upright like glaciers in an ocean (bowl) of bone marrow jus.
Some new restaurants take a little while to catch on. You go there early on, and the place is half-empty, or the gas is turned off, or your server doesn’t remember what comes with the chicken. This is not the case at Loring Place, an upscale Greenwich Village restaurant that’s already running like a well-oiled machine. Not a huge surprise, since it’s owned by the chef who was a big part of ABC Kitchen’s success. The long menu is strong across the board, but also not surprisingly, the vegetable stuff is best - focus on a bunch of smaller dishes over the bigger proteins. And get the blizzard for dessert or live a less happy life.
This is a new Vietnamese restaurant on St. Marks between 1st and Avenue A, which is a block that truly has so many restaurants and bars. This is a casual little spot, and almost everyone here will have a bowl of pho in front of them - it comes with a bit of filet mignon and brisket, and you can add bone marrow too. All that said, it’s actually a very simple, straightforward, and delicious soup. The menu has a lot of other stuff to try as well, and there’s a solid craft beer list, with options from all over New York state as well as a few bottles from Vietnam and Laos.
If you’re like us, the first thing you’ll feel when you walk into Ops is that you don’t want to leave. (Full disclosure: we did go on a night so cold the dentist chair would have been more appealing than outside. But still.) The place has an excellent vibe - it’s the kind of neighborhood hang that would work equally well for a date or to kick off a weekend night out with friends. But if we lived in the neighborhood, we’d be here most often for dining solo - the bar overlooking the open kitchen and pizza oven is prime. Speaking of pizza, that’s mainly what they serve here, and it’s good. The other stuff on the menu is limited and seasonal, and the wine list is nonexistent - because it’s whatever they’re pouring. And they’re pouring good stuff.
There was nothing trendy about the original Union Square Cafe, and there is nothing trendy about the new Union Square Cafe. And that’s exactly why we like it here - this is just a nice, classic-feeling, excellent restaurant. If you’ve eaten at the bar at Gramercy Tavern, know that the new Union Square Cafe kind of feels like that throughout the entire (huge) space. Reservations are hard to come by, but we had luck walking right in around 6pm. Save room for the insane desserts.
If you’re hearing about 4 Charles Prime Rib, it’s likely because you’ve heard about their burger: this place is run by the guys behind Au Cheval, one of our favorite restaurants in Chicago and home to one of America’s greatest burgers. It’s worth coming to try the similar (but not exactly the same) burger, and the other very-good-but-bad-for-your-health items like prime rib and a pasta that is somehow both carbonara and cacio e pepe. But we think the real draw here is the vibe: there are oil paintings on the dark wood walls, there’s jazz playing in the background, and you feel kind of like you’re in an underground hideout from the 1940s.
Despite a name that might make you think of hangovers and bad decisions, Sunday In Brooklyn is actually one of the vibier new spots we’ve been to lately. On our last weeknight visit, the (very attractive) space was packed, the music was excellent, and people seemed genuinely happy to be there. We wish the dinner menu were longer, but we loved the acorn squash (it tastes like an everything bagel), pickled deviled eggs, and sourdough bread with beer butter. This is an all-day place, and we plan to try it out next for brunch.
LaRina is a new Italian spot in Clinton Hill, from the same people behind neighborhood favorite Aita, and we’re big fans after eating here for the first time. This restaurant is all about pasta, and you’ll probably want to do the $36 tasting that lets you try three of them. You can balance out your meal with some non-carb options, and we’d recommend the broccoli rabe as one means of doing that. This is a casual, comfortable, lively spot you’d be happy to eat in pretty much anytime, and an excellent addition to the neighborhood.
Bunker used to be in Ridgewood, but they shut that location down and recently reopened in Bushwick. The new place is a little bigger, a little closer to the city, and a little more of a scene. Maybe because it’s not hard to find and surrounded by old warehouses. But also maybe because the food is still some of the best Vietnamese in NYC, the room has tropical vibes, and they play good (loud) music. Come here to eat pho and watch Bushwick types in their natural habitat.
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.
“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.