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 6/18/18): Bocce Union Square, The Golden Hour, Di An Di
All restaurants featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team. The Hit List is presented by the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express. Click here to learn more about the benefits you get from paying with a Premier Rewards Gold Card while dining out.
If you spend time around Union Square, you’ve probably noticed that building with columns at the north end that looks like either a Roman bathhouse or an extension of Scarface’s Miami residence. As of this summer, that’s where you’ll find USQ Bocce. It’s a big indoor/outdoor Italian restaurant just outside of the park at Union Square, and you should come here with a date or coworkers for pasta and negronis outside by the bocce ball courts. As long as the weather is nice, this place will be very busy, so we suggest making a reservation if you want to have a full dinner.
Every summer, there’s a pop-up restaurant in the big courtyard outside of the High Line Hotel in Chelsea. This year, it’s a seafood-focused place called The Golden Hour, from the people behind Maison Premiere. Like that classic bar, The Golden Hour serves excellent cocktails and obscure oyster varieties with names like “Pink Moon” and “Duxbury Standards.” They also have a bunch of things like crudo, roasted chicken, and clam pasta - but that isn’t why you come here. You come to eat oysters and drink a frozen negroni in an outdoor space with more plants than your average greenhouse. When you grab a little table beneath a striped umbrella here, it’s easy to imagine that you’re at the beach - which is impressive, given that this place is just a few feet off 10th Avenue.
When we heard that Joe & Pat’s - one of our top 20 pizza places - had opened their first-ever Manhattan spot, we had two immediate thoughts, in this order: 1) We want vodka pizza and 2) Will it live up to the original? Good news: the pies here are as delicious and crackery-thin as they are at the original spot, and now if you’re not a Staten Island resident, you won’t have to take a ferry to try some of the best pizza in the city. Once you’re there, get the vodka pie, which is covered in cheese that mixes into the sauce like a tie-dye shirt. Just know that prices at the East Village Joe & Pat’s are noticeably higher than on Staten Island. Manhattan tends to have that effect on things.
Even the most promising new restaurants in Greenpoint take a while to catch on - people usually don’t want to travel for a spot they’re not totally sure about. Di An Di is different. This attractive, plant-covered new Vietnamese restaurant is already slammed, but the better news is that it’s also already worth waiting for. They serve a pretty big menu that’s a mix of traditional Vietnamese dishes, like summer rolls and pho, and Di An Di originals, like a Vietnamese “pizza” made with grilled crispy rice paper for the crust. Everything we’ve tried is great - but you absolutely shouldn’t leave without getting at least one bowl of pho (and make sure to add the fried donut for dipping). The cocktails are great too. Overall, this is the most excited we’ve been about a new Vietnamese restaurant since Hanoi House.
It’s easy to find good sushi in New York City. It’s harder to find good sushi that won’t force you to choose between paying your ConEd bill and buying those socks that have been sitting in your Amazon Prime cart. But a few sushi places in the city have a good balance of price and quality, and Juku is now one of them. This is an omakase bar in a three-floor space in Chinatown (that’s also home to a subterranean cocktail bar and an izakaya). For $80, you get 12 pieces of very high-quality fish, like toro and king salmon and barracuda, and as the chef hands you each piece, he’ll tells you where it’s from - places ranging from Tokyo to Spain to Tasmania. The bar only has 12 seats, but you can hear the music and order cocktails from the izakaya downstairs, making Juku feel like both an intimate sushi experience and a fun night out.
Originally, Una Pizza Napoletana was in the East Village. Then it moved to San Francisco, where it made some of the best pizzas in the city - and now it’s back in NYC. The new location is on the Lower East Side, and it’s a big space with high ceilings and a minimalist kitchen in the back that sort of looks like a lab. The pizzas here are Neapolitan, and they’re both simple and very good. There are also some interesting small plates from the Wildair people (who are partners in this place), including some beef crudo with olive and pistachio that may be better than the pizza.
If an alien visited Lowerline, a new Cajun restaurant in Prospect Heights, they would go back to their mothership with the impression that running a great restaurant on planet earth is very easy. And that the word “po boy” is standard vocabulary for what they know as “food between bread.” As for we humans, it’s most important to know that Lowerline serves excellent and authentic Creole food. Everything is fresh, from the oysters they shuck at the bar to the whole crab leg you get in your gumbo bowl, and the people in the kitchen are close enough to chat with from the bar. The tiny brick-and-tile space and relaxed service make it feel like a kind of place you wish you had in your own neighborhood.
There are two types of people who will enjoy Uotora: sushi lovers, and everyone else. Sushi lovers will appreciate the fact that you can get a substantial omakase here for $70, and everyone else should be happy with a sushi or sashimi combo in the nice little Crown Heights space. The fish here is fresh and high-quality, and the 10-piece omakase includes things like king salmon, tuna belly, uni, and fluke (as well as a hand roll and appetizers). Plus, service is friendly, and this place isn’t impossible to get into. So if you love sushi, make plans to come. For everyone else, this is essentially just a really good neighborhood sushi spot to know about. They don’t have a liquor license yet, and you can’t BYOB - but just get a drink at King Tai before you go.
If Beebe’s were in Manhattan, it would be busy every night. But it’s in the bottom of a new hotel on a quiet block of LIC - which means that you can probably walk in and get a table there tonight. The food is a mix of Italian and American, with some pizzas, pastas, a burger, and some large things like steak and chicken Milanese. The thin-crust pizzas are very good, the dining room is pleasant and spacious, and the negroni on tap only costs $10 and tastes exactly like a negroni should. So if you live somewhat nearby, or if you’re willing to get on the F, N, W, or G train, make some dinner plans here.
Pretty soon, Frenchette is going to be that place that people casually mention in conversation in order to impress you. A coworker might say something like, “(Blah blah blah)… after dinner at Frenchette,” for example. This place just opened in Tribeca, and it’s kind of like a smaller, more stylish Balthazar, with red leather booths and ceiling fans, and a great little bar area up front that’s slightly more casual. The menu is a mix of traditional and modern French, like the escargot, which come in a pool of scrambled eggs that taste like movie-theater popcorn. The steak and duck frites are also excellent. Keep Frenchette in mind for the time you feel like spending a little money on a dinner that will involve some great food and possibly even better people watching.
Davelle is a tiny spot with only a bar and a couple small tables, and you might hear Leonard Cohen on the speakers while the bartender/chef tells you about growing up in Hokkaido. This place specializes in oden, which is basically a small bowl of dashi broth with your choice of ingredients like fried tofu, boiled egg, or sausage with Japanese mustard. The broth is light but very flavorful, and all of the toppings are great, especially the fried octopus. Overall, this is a great option for when you want an interesting dinner but you also want to keep things low-key and affordable (each Oden is around $4). Also, it’s BYO for the time being.
This is the new restaurant in Hudson Yards from the people behind Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones, and, like those other spots, the food is excellent, and it’s upscale without feeling uptight. It’s a great-looking space with high-ceilings, leather-topped tables, and some alcoves that are perfect for groups - and, despite the fancy wine glasses and top-notch service, you can wear whatever you want here. It’s a little pricey, however, so you’ll probably want to come for a somewhat special occasion. Make a reservation, and be sure to get the duck pasta, a few kinds of crudo, and the housemade gelato.
La Mercerie is a cafe in the front of a high-end furniture store in the part of Soho where you see people lined up for the latest streetwear, and they recently started serving lunch and dinner. The mostly-French menu has salads, crepes, and steak tartare - and the food is excellent. So stop by and have a lunch meeting here. Or buy a $2,000 bed in the adjoining furniture store, then sit down and eat some smoked salmon blinis to celebrate. A meal here won’t be cheap, but it will impress whoever you need to impress. Just be sure to make a reservation if you don’t want to risk waiting.
The big wood-burning oven in the middle of Bombay Bread Bar is painted like a tiger head, and everyone in the restaurant can watch as the chefs throw different types of bread into its mouth. These naans and rotis are the focus at Bombay Bread Bar (which is in the space that used to be Paowalla), a new Indian spot in Soho. They’re all very good, and work great as vehicles for the sauces in small plates like three chili chicken and mushroom upma polenta, which tastes like cheesy grits topped with mushrooms. The larger entrees are a bit pricey for the portion sizes, but the small plates are all shareable and affordable, and the bar area and open dining room are cool places to hang out. This place works well for casual-ish dates and group dinners in Soho.
General Deb’s is a new Sichuan restaurant in Bushwick from the same people behind Faro, an Italian spot nearby. But unlike that place, General Deb’s is small, dimly-lit, and crowded with maybe one more table than there should be, as well as people sharing wontons in chili oil, pickled vegetables, and noodles. Most things on the menu are both very good and pretty spicy (although the wontons could have used a little more chili oil), so if you enjoy the slow burn of Sichuan peppercorn that sometimes makes your glass of water taste like it’s vibrating, you’ll like the food here. Overall, it’s a great addition to the neighborhood.
The Freehand Hotel hasn’t been open long, but it’s already the sort of place where you’ll run into someone you used to date, your old boss, a person you follow on Instagram, or all of the above. Simon & The Whale is the second restaurant here (the first is Studio, which also made it to our Hit List), and it’s where you should be eating if you like busy, good-looking places, with excellent food. Reservations are currently pretty tough to get, but there’s a bar on the second floor where you can wait if you decide to try walking in. Once you get seated, order the zeppole and arctic char, and go for the pork collar Milanese if you like large, fried-and-breaded pieces of meat. We like the food here a little more than the stuff at Studio, and we’re fans of the dark, well-designed space. Bring a date, or come with a friend or two.
Annicka is doing a lot of things a little differently. This place is run by the people behind Greenpoint Beer & Ale (a brewery) and North Brooklyn Farms (an urban farm underneath the Williamsburg Bridge), all their alcohol is made in New York, and a lot of the produce in the food is sourced from the farm. Which brings us to the menu: it ranges from fully-vegan dishes to steak (with plenty of vegetarian and fish options in the middle), and should be able to make most people happy. We tried a charred sweet potato with black tahini, and a black rice with squid and clams, and both of them were interesting and very good. The space is also big and well-designed, with a circular bar in the middle, and an open kitchen at the back, which generally contributes to the impression that there’s a lot going on here. Luckily, most of it seems to work.
Your neighborhood might have some kind of diner, but chances are, it’s not one you want to use for a casual date night, a not-hungover brunch, or a dinner with your parents. But that’s exactly what MeMe’s is. If we lived in Prospect Heights, we would be here regularly, and because we don’t, we’ll travel for it. The space is smallish, with a wraparound booth and a little bar, and they serve great renditions of stuff like meatloaf and chicken cutlet along with well-made cocktails like negronis and palomas. They clearly put a lot of thought into most things here - take, for example, the fried giardiniera, which makes us question why more people don’t pickle-then-fry things. Get the patty melt, and the peanut butter pretzel pie or a slice of cake. Or both.
After each course of your meal at Brooklyn Cider House, a converted warehouse in Bushwick, your waiter will bring you to the barrel room, where he’ll open the spout on one of the giant tanks and you’ll “catch” more cider to drink with your next dish. This restaurant/bar/brewery serves a Basque-inspired prix fixe, which costs $37, and includes dishes like spicy chorizo and a very good bone-in ribeye - with optional unlimited cider (read: not-optional) for an additional $15. The tasting menu is a three-hour commitment, but it’s a good move for a unique date spot or a fun night out with a big group. And if you’re not ready to dedicate that kind of time, know you can also check this place out for small plates at the bar.
Studio is an all-day restaurant on the second floor of the new Freehand Hotel (essentially a cooler a version of The Ace), and its menu is a mix of American, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern food. They make some great Turkish dumplings as well as a solid burger, and there are also plenty of healthier things like salad and fish. The most impressive part of this place, however, is the space itself. It feels like the living room of a large, expensive apartment, and we’ve seen at least three fur blankets lying around here. Bring a client who only eats at places that feel like they could be featured in lifestyle blogs, or just stop by with a few friends for a night out in Gramercy. It’s casual, but most people will be wearing nice things.
Tokyo Record Bar is just another place to eat food in much the same way that a party bus is just another way to get across town. Here, you come for the experience, which includes a seven-course tasting menu and the opportunity to choose several songs on vinyl that will be played at some point during the meal. All of this takes place in a little basement, and it feels almost like interactive theater, with all 20-odd diners helping to build the playlist. The food itself isn’t mind-blowing, although some of it is very good, and, at $50 for seven courses, it feels like a good deal. Go ahead and make this your new fifth date spot, or keep it in mind for whenever you might have out-of-town friends visiting.
Fausto is an Italian restaurant in Park Slope from a few of the people who opened L’Artusi. It’s in the space where Franny’s used to be, although they did some renovations, and now it’s just a little sleeker. With its leather booths and fancy light fixtures, it feels like the sort of place where you’d bring a somewhat serious date in the West Village. The menu consists of updated versions of Italian classics and it’s all pretty exceptional. The orecchiette with pork and greens, for example, is like a cooler, grown-up version of the orecchiette you find at every other Italian spot around town - and that’s Fausto in a nutshell. This place is attractive and just a little bit different, and it’s now one of the best restaurants in the area.
Don Angie is a new West Village restaurant run by a husband and wife duo that spent time at Quality Italian and other restaurants with “Italian” in the title. The space sort of reminds us of The Eddy - slick and comfortable - and the food is a mix of refined, L’Artusi style pastas and and simple, rustic entrees that you might find at a place like Vinegar Hill House. We made our first visit on what happened to be day three of Don Angie’s existence, and even that early in the game, it’s pretty clear that this restaurant is going to do just fine. Get the garlic stuffed flatbread and the gnocchi.
Claro is a new Mexican restaurant in Gowanus, specializing in food from Oaxaca. The tlayudas and memelas, both of which are sort of like oversized tostadas and come topped with everything from bacon to heirloom tomatoes, are the highlights of the menu, and you can watch them being made at a big grill in the backyard. If it’s warm enough, you should definitely sit back there, and you should do your best to bring a date. It’s a very nice little area that feels like an escape, and another bonus is the fact that most of the dishes cost less than $20. Claro is a fun time, and there’s nothing else in the city quite like it right now.
Cote is a Korean barbecue place that serves steakhouse-quality meat in a setting that feels like something you’d find in Soho or the Meatpacking District. There’s a big neon sign and a wraparound bar (without any seats), and the dining room is significantly more vibey than what you’ll find at your typical grill-your-own-meat spot. They also do a $45-per-person “Butcher’s Feast” that comes with three cuts of meat, some stews, and a bunch of small plates like kimchi and egg soufflé. It’s a good deal, and you should do it with some friends for your next fun night out in Flatiron.
If you’re the kind of person who weighs the pros and cons of traveling to a place like Greenpoint for dinner, we’ll just make this easy for you - yes, Chez Ma Tante is worth a commute. It’s a little neighborhood spot in Greenpoint, and for such a low-key seeming place, they’re making incredible food. Come here for a date night dinner when you’ll eat things like grilled pork shoulder and an excellent caesar salad, or at brunch so you can eat their pancakes. They’re currently our favorite ones in NYC.