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NYC

Guide

The NYC Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In NYC

We checked out these new restaurants - and loved them.

39 Spots
Launch Map
39 Spots
Launch Map
Updated July 30th, 2021

The Hit List is where you’ll find our favorite new food and drink experiences in NYC. We track new openings across the city, and then visit as many as we can. While this is by no means an exhaustive list of every good new spot, one thing you can always rely on is that we’ll only include places that we have genuinely checked out.

Our goal is for this list to be as diverse as the city itself - inclusive of a wide range of cuisines, price points, neighborhoods, chefs and owners of all backgrounds, and the multifaceted communities within the industry. If you think we missed a great new place, we want to hear about it. Shoot us an email at nyc@theinfatuation.com

Whether you’re looking for in-person dining, takeout, or delivery, The Hit List is here to help you find a great new spot to support. Read on to find your new favorites.

Featured In

THE SPOTS

Nikko Duren

Baby Luc’s

$$$$
$$$$ 387 Court St

“As incredible as Lucali is, it’s not the kind of place where you can stay and hang out for a while. But that’s the beauty of Baby Luc’s, the new slice shop from Mark Iacono and his team of pizza professionals. During its opening week, this new counter-service place in Carroll Gardens had hour-plus wait times. But I recently stopped by on a Wednesday at 5pm and waited just over 30 minutes to pick up my new favorite Sicilian-style pizza in the city. The best thing here is the margherita pie - it’s got a creamy, dense layer of mozzarella and sweet tomato sauce on top of a thick focaccia-style crust that makes a crackling sound with every bite. Pair it with one of their homemade bottled negronis, and lounge on the sidewalk patio like the jolly host of a grown-up pizza party.”

-Nikko Duren, Staff Writer

Hannah Albertine

Aldama

$$$$
$$$$ 91 South 6th Street

“I first went to this new late-night Mexican spot in Williamsburg for (several) copitas full of sweet-smoky mezcal. That experience was recommendable - albeit hazy - in itself. But now this tiny basement bar is serving a six-item menu of grilled head-on shrimp, crispy tacos filled with smoked tuna and refried beans, chunky guacamole topped with salsa macha, and other dishes that make me feel closer to Mexico City than I geographically am. These two visits have given me no choice but to tell all of my friends to come here for a night cap or Happy Hour as soon as possible. It’s not quite a bar, it’s not quite a full restaurant, but Aldama is entirely worth your time. Especially for a sultry-adjacent date night or a friend catch-up where you both look hot (and know it).”

-Hannah Albertine, Staff Writer

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Carlo Mantuano

Tacos Güey

$$$$
MexicanSeafood  in  Flatiron
$$$$ 37 W 19th St

“Raw seafood and summer are a perfect match. And you’ll find the most exciting new raw fish options at Tacos Güey in Flatiron. Focus on the tuna crudo with dollops of avocado crema and some heat from the sliced serranos, the scallop aguachile that sits in a shallow pool of cucumber and finger lime sauce, and their best mariscos dish: the sea bass ceviche. Served in a clam shell with crunchy chips on the side, the combination of gooseberries, chile oil, and diced sea bass is tingly and sweet and pairs well with one of their frozen cocktails (the ‘That Güey’ is nice and tart). Order this spread of raw things, and a larger main like the salsa verde-lathered pork ribs that fall off the bone, so you can briefly forget that NYC personally texted us not to use our microwaves in order to conserve energy.”

-Carlo Mantuano, Staff Editor

Nikko Duren

Nat's on Bank

$$$$
$$$$ 51 Bank St

“When I walked into Nat’s On Bank in the West Village for dinner on a Saturday night, I saw a wide range of dining experiences. There were couples on celebratory dates sharing seafood towers, diners getting tipsy and eating burgers at the bar, and a big group birthday dinner crowded around a baked Alaska in the back. Initially the loud scene overwhelmed me, but when a plate of sea urchin bucatini and a bottle of herbaceous orange wine hit my table, I eased right into the madness. The excellent uni-topped pasta was cooked al dente and topped with breadcrumbs and pickled chilis, which gave the dish a nice crunch and a kick of spice. And I would gladly return to this vibrant seafood restaurant from the people behind The Fat Radish immediately just to eat this pasta all over again.”

-ND

Hannah Albertine

Osakana

$$$$
$$$$

“If you live in East Williamsburg, it’s possible you already rely on Osakana for fresh tuna belly, splurgy sushi classes, or simple-yet-effective fish fuel for your sushi daydreams. The big news for anyone who spends time in Lower Manhattan is that this Japanese seafood market opened a new location on St. Marks and 2nd Avenue with a full menu of takeout options. Try an 8-piece nigiri set or a chirashi bowl studded with half a dozen types of fish, chewy octopus tentacles, watermelon radish and shiso leaves, and funky pickled mackerel. Even their $20 options will fill you up with luscious sushi-grade fish. Give Osakana a call and place an order for lunch or early dinner the next time you decide buttery, marbled otoro sounds more appealing than an unerotic arugula-hummus wrap.”

-HA

Kelewele

Kelewele

$$$$ 445 Albee Square Wets

“I caught a glimpse of how truly special plantains can be at this new vegan spot inside Brooklyn’s Dekalb Market Hall. Kelewele doesn’t just serve them as a simple side dish, but instead uses the starchy fruit as a foundation for every single item on the menu. From a massive black bean burger with a fried plantain ‘bun’ to an open-faced veggie taco with a soft plantain shell, this takeout-only restaurant is the only place I’ve been to where plantains shapeshift from dish to dish - proving that the fruit has the universal range often attributed to potatoes and yucca. So if you want to join the plantain movement for a quick lunch break or picnic in Fort Greene Park, order the “Placo” with a plantain brownie on the side. The pillowy soft sweet was so moist that it stuck to the roof of my mouth between bites, leaving me lots of time to consider why more people don’t make desserts with plantain.”

-ND

Contento

Contento

$$$$
$$$$ 88 E 111th St

“It’s a small miracle when a restaurant runs like a well-oiled machine a mere three weeks after they open. But that’s the experience I had at Contento, the newest exciting dinner spot to check out in East Harlem. Beyond the delicious Peruvian dishes like mahi mahi ceviche with a leche de tigre that made me pucker in a good way and a jenga tower of crispy pork katsu with vinegary slaw, almost every member of the staff checked in on me throughout the night, offering backstory on the wine producer of my $35 bottle of rosé from North Fork, and making sure I was well hydrated in the near 100-degree heat. It’s also worth mentioning that the restaurant was built with accessibility in mind, with a lowered bar counter and a bathroom with a wide door, lower sink and toilet, angled mirror, and handle by the toilet.”

-CM

Salsa Pizzeria Napoletana

$$$$
Pizza  in  Greenpoint
$$$$ 40 Cliford Place

“You have to go looking for Salsa Pizzeria - it’s on a mostly-residential street, in a converted space that feels like someone put a pizza oven in a garage. If it weren’t for the strong pizza fragrances wafting from the doors, you could easily walk by and miss it. And while a small part of us wishes we could keep this place all to ourselves, you should know that Salsa is making some truly special Neapolitan pies. The crust is charred but exceptionally fluffy, the margherita is the platonic ideal of a margherita, and they are generous with toppings like broccoli rabe, sausage, and burrata. There are only a few tables inside and on the sidewalk - so this is a spot for an efficient, semi-religious solo pizza experience.”

-Katherine Lewin, Editorial Director

Antithi Indian Cuisine

Atithi Indian Cuisine

$$$$
$$$$ 159 Grand St

“After walking by all of the rowdy cocktail bars and chic coffee shops on Grand Street in Williamsburg, I felt right at home at Atithi Indian Cuisine. The waiters treated me like they’d known me since the third grade, the BYOB policy made it easy to unwind, and the $18 three-course dinner option felt like a friends and family dinner discount. After taking my first bite of their spicy lamb vindaloo, I knew I’d be a regular at this newish neighborhood spot. The stewed lamb meat was fall-off-the-bone tender and the creamy curry left me brainstorming ways to profess my love for vinegar-based sauces. On a quick call with the owners, I learned that the name Atithi comes from an ancient Sanskrit verse, ’Atithi Devo Bhavam,’ which translates to ‘consider the guest as god’ - and I must admit, feeling like a pseudo-diety for a few hours isn’t half bad.”

-ND

Evan Sung

Dame

$$$$ 85 MacDougal Street

“When it’s 91 degrees outside, I want fish and two showers a day. So, based on the satanic start to summer thus far, Dame couldn’t have opened at a better time. This new MacDougal Street spot serves a menu exclusively dominated by seafood - sometimes with inspiration from England, like in the case of a luxurious Eton mess with macerated strawberries, and fish and chips beer-battered and fried so that the flaky white fish basically disintegrates in your mouth. After only a couple weeks of service, Dame is running like a restaurant that’s been busy for years (complete with outdoor speakers blasting “Come On Eileen,” warm service, and a long wine menu with categories based on what James Bond and Austin Powers would drink). It’s undeniably hard to get a reservation right now - in part because of the community they’ve already built from a successful pop-up last year - but if you like inventive seafood, eating here is worth switching on a couple Resy notifies.”

-HA

Carlo Mantuano

Native Noodles

$$$$ 2129 Amsterdam Ave

“Eating honey-roasted pork laksa inside Native Noodles’ tiny Washington Heights shop while sweating was certainly not the most comfortable dining experience I’ve had recently. Especially considering their AC wasn’t working and it was 90 degrees out. But I’d go out of my way, even in the driest of deserts, to dip their pipping hot deep-fried buns into chili crab sauce or appreciate how well their perfectly cooked laksa noodles and sweet roasted pork go together. One of their tart calamansi lemonades wouldn’t hurt either. This is a spot that I wish I had in my neighborhood, as I’d be here probably weekly picking up any of their spicy noodle dishes (which are all under $15) and swiping their large puffy tofu chunks through the dried shrimpy and creamy laksa.”

-CM

Bark Barbecue

$$$$
BBQDominican  in  Ozone ParkQueens
$$$$ N Conduit Ave

Starting June 26th, Bark Barbecue will be stationed at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg on Saturdays and Prospect Park on Sundays

“NYC’s best barbecue place doesn’t even have an address. Bark Barbecue started in summer 2020, serving freshly smoked meat by the pound, Dominican specialty sides, and luscious arroz con leche on Saturdays in South Ozone Park, Queens. It’s run by Ruben Santana - a Queens-born pitmaster who parks his smoker directly on 149th Avenue, across from Vito Locascio Field. There’s no website, no iPad, and definitely no designated seating area. Instead, you’ll get Central Texas-style smoked brisket that you’ll likely devour in a nearby overgrown baseball field, like a cave person who has found their way to the present day.”

-HA

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Katherine Lewin

Fradei

$$$$
$$$$ 99 S Portland Ave

“Most of us are not traveling to France just yet - but in the meantime, you should try to eat at Fradei. This tiny spot (there are a handful of tables inside, with a few more tables on the sidewalk and patio) serves an $80, regularly changing five-course menu that is kept secret until the dishes arrive to your table. Beyond drinks, there are no options when ordering, and the food is seasonal, with an emphasis on local ingredients. The chefs are both American, but met while working in France, and you can feel and taste that influence in the dishes. A few highlights from a recent dinner included an incredible play on sour cream and onion chips, white asparagus with spruce, pistachio, and egg yolks, steak tartare with togarashi, and broiled cucumbers blanketed in a delicate sheet of lard. Add to all that a perfect dining room playlist and a wine selection you’ll want to explore, and this is one of the best places to have a date night in Brooklyn right now.”

-KL

Maomao Restaurant

$$$$
Thai  in  Bushwick
$$$$ 1000 Broadway

“I knew I was in for a good time the moment I made my way down the stairs into the subterranean level of Mao Mao, a Thai restaurant in Bushwick. My friend called out to me from her seat below, her arms way up in the air like she was already ready to start dancing - the combination of twinkly lights, movie-theater style seats, and vintage posters and Pepsi signs tacked up on the wall like a clubhouse will do that to a person. There’s also a massive projector screen, and a glowing red wall covered in glass pitchers of ya dong, the fermented liquor that Mao Mao specializes in. Come here with a few friends, work your way through something from every page of the menu (our favorite dish of the night was the khao mun gai), and plan to linger over Thai beers and tastes of different kinds of ya dong. This is the kind of place that will make you briefly, blissfully forget just how much time you spent in your own apartment over the last year.”

-KL

Nikko Duren

Francie

$$$$
$$$$ 134 Broadway

“Francie is the new buttoned-up Williamsburg restaurant you should visit when want to feel cool and casually spend $100 on dinner. But on a recent visit, I was surprised that this glitzy brasserie in a converted bank on Broadway felt so laid-back. Sure, waiters in white blazers carry around platters of dry-aged duck on beds of purple flowers, but it’s also the kind of place where you can drop in for a martini and a snack at the bar. Between bites of fluffy soufflé cakes topped with caviar and seaweed butter, I was distracted by a cheerful toddler going HAM on a banana sundae, and several couples having a weeknight date over some oysters. But once the whole roasted duck arrived for its glamour shot (a regular practice before they slice the roasted bird), all I could think about was how good it felt to be back inside an exciting restaurant again.”

-ND

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Carlo Mantuano

Sona

$$$$
Indian  in  Flatiron
$$$$ 36 E 20th St

“I’ve been thinking a lot about NYC’s Indian fine-dining restaurants lately, partly because of Sucheta Rawal’s Infatuation piece tracking their evolution since the late 20th century. But also because of recent upscale openings like Dhamaka in Essex Market (which you’ll also find on the Hit List) and Sona in Flatiron. Although my dinner had some misses, the knockouts are reason enough to come for a nice meal out. If you’re with a group, order one dish from each section of the long menu of mains (like some extra-tender butter chicken and the coconut fish curry dedicated to the late Floyd Cardoz), as well as the marinated-then-fried rock shrimp koliwada that’s popular in Mumbai, a cooling plate of buckwheat bhel, a flaky paratha or two, and the rich, buttery dal makhni. Sona is a restaurant especially perfect for someone who might need to wear a sport coat to dinner, Flatiron neighbors, celebrities who may or may not be connected to Priyanka Chopra (who is an owner), and anyone else looking to try the newest iteration of Indian fine dining in this city.”

-HA

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Nikko Duren

Lil Chef Mama

$$$$ 27 Cliff St

“Coming into the all-white dining room with high ceilings and bamboo accents at Lil Chef Mama in the Financial District made me forget all about the crowded cobblestone streets full of tourists and angry-looking business people right outside. What really excited me about this place, though, was a pan-fried and egg-battered chicken dish topped with a rich peanut sauce called ‘In Honor of The King.’ It’s one of the many chef specials here, and I was blown away by how such a light and airy fried chicken dish could hold its own (and even maintain a satisfying crunch) under such a generous heap of nutty dressing. Full and almost in tears, I ordered some of their excellent tom yum soup to-go and called it a night. I’ll be back with a group of friends who can help me work through the wide-ranging Thai menu here.”

-ND

Hannah Albertine

Chick Chick

$$$$
$$$$ 618 Amsterdam Ave

“The combination of fat, salt, and spice make any fried chicken sandwiches at least some degree of delicious. But rarely are they as memorable as the Nashville Hot Chickwich version at this casual new Korean restaurant on the Upper West Side. Chick Chick’s play on Korean-Nashville Hot Chicken is crunchier than it is fiery, and we could write an entire review of this twice-fried, chili-dusted poultry production with pickles and creamy white sauce. But Chick Chick’s allure extends much further than one sandwich. From an unexpectedly light kale caesar salad to soy-pepper wings, and a beautifully-cooked kimchi fried rice with chicken sausage and rich egg yolk, order chicken in all its forms here. It’s a perfect place to pick up some takeout for your kids or a casual meal with a friend for around $20.”

-HA

Carlo Mantuano

Silver Apricot

$$$$
$$$$ 20 Cornelia St

“The closing that hit me the hardest in the past year was Little Tong Noodle Shop in the East Village (miss you, ‘Grandma Chicken Mixian’). So when the same chef, Simone Tong, opened up Silver Apricot in the West Village, I couldn’t wait to try it. This restaurant feels different from her last one, since there are no more big bowls of brothy noodles, but the small plates that were around before now have a real chance to shine - including mini croissant-like scallion puffs with scallion butter, perfectly poached shrimp atop toast with celery and walnuts, and a wagyu slider on a homemade scallion roll that deserves consideration for our best new burger list. Besides a menu of exceptional dishes, their back patio is a secret oasis suitable for a dinner when you want to prove to a date or friend that you still have the whole restaurant choosing thing down.”

-CM



Kjun

$$$$
$$$$ 231 E 9th Street

“Kjun serves the only Korean-Cajun food in New York City. This East Village takeout-and-delivery spot is a one-person operation - run by Jae Jung, a chef who spent years in New Orleans and has worked at Le Bernardin and the now-closed Café Boulud. But Kjun’s intrigue quickly transitions from “hmm cool” to “holy sh*t” as soon as you take your first bite of kimchi jambalaya, which incorporates kimchi that’s been fermenting for three months. It turns out the combination of pungent cabbage funk, andouille sausage, and a base of fiery, cajun holy trinity mirepoix layering makes for a bowl of revelatory rice. Kjun is currently operating out of a basement catering kitchen on East 9th Street. You can try their generously portioned bowls for takeout or delivery between Wednesday and Sunday.”

-HA

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Dane Isaac

Tengri Tagh

$$$$
$$$$ 144 W 37th St

“Tengri Tagh is just about the only restaurant in Midtown right now that fits into the Venn diagram of somewhere that’s new, exciting, and affordable. Pair their Uyghur noodle dishes - like the stir-fried noodle with thinly sliced lamb and sauteed peppers or the pearl noodle made up of chunky kernels of chopped noodles and more sauteed peppers - with one of their baked buns or lamb and cumin buns, and you’ll have a filling meal for under $20. And since they’re open from 11am to 8pm, people who are heading back to the office this summer and fall should start memorizing Tengri Tagh’s menu. This is a lunch spot that stands out in a sea full of surrounding chain restaurants and forgettable delis.”

-CM

Nikko Duren

Keika Ramen

$$$$
$$$$ 68-60 Austin St

“Keika Ramen is an unassuming counter-service spot jammed into the alleyway between a police station and a doctor’s office in Forest Hills. It’s also the first NYC location of a renowned ramen restaurant chain from Japan. And after taking a seat at a bright yellow table on their intimate patio and digging into the chasyu ramen, I was downright ecstatic. The noodle bowl comes with more tender pork than I’ve ever received in any other ramen order — a generous and much-needed mid-week gift. The noodles are bouncy and soft, providing a chewy foundation to the thinly sliced meat soaked in creamy tonkatsu broth in my bowl. I left Keika Ramen feeling lucky to have visited the newest ramen spot and secret patio on Austin Street with ease, so I’m recommending you try it before this place gets packed.”

-ND

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Carlo Mantuano

The Nuaa Table

$$$$
$$$$ 638 Bergen St

“Aside from bagels and Chewy bars after high school soccer games, I can’t recall eating anything memorable while sitting on turf. That changed after trying crunchy papaya salad, Jasmine tea-smoked ribs that any pitmaster would fall for, and a sour sausage and crunchy rice salad at The Nuaa Table’s outdoor patio. It’s a thin strip of bright green artificial turf on Vanderbilt Avenue in Prospect Heights with about five or so tables where I foresee myself having several sweaty summer dinners. I look forward to returning to the neon green artificial landscaping with my life partner and other friends to debate who gets the last BBQ Sriracha-sauced rib, and why ‘Work’ by Britney Spears is the perfect song to squat to.”

-CM

Dane Isaac

Ruta Oaxaca

$$$$
Mexican  in  Astoria
$$$$ 35-03 Broadway

“We could all be a little happier if we applied this Mexican restaurant’s maximalist approach to our own lives. Why make a habañero mango cocktail without torching a thick sprig of rosemary in it first? Why paint a patio muted pastel pink when a shade called “hot pink” exists? If there’s a vat of earthy mole negro in the kitchen, why not pour a pint of it onto a plate with chicken enchiladas or tender short rib? The portions of Oaxacan specialties at this new Astoria spot are massive, and the mole and Patrón flow like tap water. This fun new restaurant would be especially perfect for a group of friends who abandoned their Zoom book club after pretending to read Infinite Jest, or a date where splitting some gooey chori queso with warm corn tortillas is in the cards.”

-HA

Threes @ Franklin + Kent

$$$$
$$$$ 113 Franklin St

“Threes Brewing was already one of the best places to drink beer in Greenpoint. Now that The Meat Hook’s Burger Shop has taken over the kitchen, it’s also one of the best places to eat a burger in Greenpoint. Theirs is a smashburger (single or double) draped in cheese on a squishy potato roll - the kind of burger you have to stop yourself from eating too quickly, lost in a trance while ignoring all conversation going on around you (or is that just me?). There’s plenty of outdoor seating available on their sidewalk and street side patio, and if you encounter a wait, you can always take a couple of beers to-go and enjoy them at Transmitter Park two blocks away. The Burger Shop at Threes is open 7 days a week and is walk-in-only, making it a great place to keep in your back pocket for when you spontaneously decide you need to eat a burger outside tonight.”

-KL

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Nikko Duren

Dacha 46

$$$$ 657 Washington Ave

“Much like the city’s vegetation right now, Dacha is in full bloom. What started as an Eastern European pop-up out of a Bed-Stuy apartment has now become a Russian-style “Banya Brunch” takeout series inside the former MeMe’s Diner space in Prospect Heights. The married queer couple running the show are both chefs who worked at places like Red Hook Tavern and Rezdora before the pandemic hit. Now, the duo is responsible for making plump pork pelmeni, hazelnut-mocha kievsky, and a new take on piroshki filled with American breakfast staples like eggs, potatoes, and bacon every weekend. All of the fresh-baked, soft, and savory dishes I picked up last Sunday were downright impossible to put down, and I am currently drafting on a strongly worded email urging the Dacha team to fully flower into a permanent restaurant.”

-ND

Katherine Lewin

Chikarashi Isso

$$$$ 50 Bowery

“One silver lining of the pandemic: incredibly unique outdoor dining spaces, comprised of bubble tables, lean-tos, tents, and yurts. Chikarashi Isso - the upscale Japanese restaurant from the people behind fast-casual poke spot Chikarashi - has an outdoor dining setup that’s on another level entirely: a 10-seat chef’s counter inside a heated open cabin, currently located on the quiet second-floor terrace of Hotel 50 Bowery in Chinatown. The meal is a 13-course yakitori omakase, grilled over Binchotan charcoal, right in front of you. And while the menu highlights seasonal ingredients, the dish I’m still thinking about is a chicken breast skewer that’s easily the best bite of chicken breast I have ever eaten. If you have a special occasion coming up, this would make for a great date spot, and there’s also a section of the cabin designed for small group dinners.”

-KL

Nikko Duren

Chef Katsu Brooklyn

$$$$ 143 Greene St

“When I lived in Clinton Hill in 2019, I would have done unspeakable things for a spot like Chef Katsu Club. The newest Japanese restaurant in the area serves the kind of excellent pork and chicken katsu that makes me want to say “F*ck it, I’m getting takeout!” in the middle of a garbage week. The specialty here is katsu burgers stacked high with crispy chicken cutlets and topped with creamy mayo and housemade tartar or curry sauce. If you’d rather have katsu comfort in the form of a rice bowl, they’ve got those too - I recently paired one with their brioche donut sandwich filled with azuki bean paste and green tea ice cream and felt an instant rush of dopamine. And while the food is the primary reason you should eat here, the love story behind this new katsu restaurant in Clinton Hill is a strong second.”

-ND

Dr. Clark

Dr. Clark

$$$$
$$$$ 104 Bayard St

“For anyone wondering what’s cool in Manhattan right now, here’s our update: go to Dr. Clark in Chinatown. This Japanese restaurant - located in the home of former Cool Spots like Lalito and divey karaoke bar Winnie’s - focuses on Hokkaido specialties that go nicely with shochu sour cocktails and natural wine. Build your meal around their thinly-sliced, marinated lamb jingisukan, which is grilled tableside and served with a mixture of crunchy marinated onions and bean sprouts. We’d recommend bringing a small group and supplementing the lamb with fresh seafood, like some chewy squid stuffed with uni-laced rice and a bowl of kaisen featuring assorted salmon and tuna sashimi, roe, cucumber, radish, uni, and steamed egg. Beyond the excellent Hokkaido meat and seafood, part of Dr. Clark’s charm is that you get to eat beneath a sparkling disco ball on Bayard Street, surrounded by half-a-dozen Dimes Square denizens and someone who possibly starred on an HBO show in 2012.”

- HA

Dhamaka

Dhamaka

$$$$
$$$$ 88 Essex St

“When you think of visiting an NYC food hall, do you imagine yourself sitting on a covered patio, gnawing on a smoky lamb rib served in a tin-can grill? What about the idea of soaking up green-chile-laced dal with buttery chapati in between sips of gin, ginger liqueur, and betel leaf swirled together in a martini glass? No? Then you haven’t been to Dhamaka yet. This new Essex Market restaurant is from the chefs behind two of our favorite Indian restaurants in the city, Rahi and Adda, but the menu differs from those other spots. Dhamaka instead focuses on regional specialties you may not have seen elsewhere in New York City (the website says, “This is the other side of India, the forgotten side of India”). Try their version of chicken masala pulao served directly in a pressure cooker, or the tender lamb kidneys and testicles in a fragrant onion-tomato stew and pao shimmering with ghee on the side, and finish your meal with a rich, souffle-like chhena poda for dessert. After you eat Dhamaka’s food, your perception of NYC’s food halls - and the city’s range of Indian cuisine - will change. Plan ahead and make a reservation here for your next big night out, because it’s starting to get busy.”

- HA

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Winona's

Winona's

$$$$ 676 Flushing Ave

“Natural wine bars don’t usually double as all-day restaurants serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner - but that’s what makes Winona’s especially useful. There are tons of wines available by the glass or by the bottle at this spot on the Williamsburg/Bed-Stuy border, including a mix of natural options from small producers based in New York, France, Mexico, Austria, Germany, Spain, and beyond. During a recent visit, I paired a refreshing gamay with Chef Kia Damon’s smoky gumbo and flaky biscuits during the Ediciones dinner pop-up, which is happening here every Sunday and Monday night. And between the comfortably heated patio, helpful wine descriptions via QR code, and top-notch Southern dishes including exceptional cheese grits, this exciting wine bar is quickly becoming my go-to for a night out with a few friends.”

- ND

Carlo Mantuano

Bánh

$$$$ 942 Amsterdam Ave

“After recently biking 13 miles around the city, I came away with two takeaways: there aren’t enough Citi Bike docks on the west side, and Bánh on Amsterdam and 107th street is somewhere I’d recommend to anybody who’s wading their way back into dining out. This UWS Vietnamese spot has a small, spaced-out outdoor setup, that’s perfect if you’re like me and have only dined outside a couple times, but are ready to get out there more. Especially when ‘getting out there’ involves Bún Bò Bơ with sizzling butter beef, bánh mì filled with charbroiled pork belly that’s a top contender for the best one in the city, and the banh chung chien appetizer - a deep-fried rice cake brick made of ground mung bean that’s filled with pork and comes with a tangy soy dressing. It’s sticky, not too greasy, and a hefty appetizer that - with one of their entrees or bánh mì - makes for a filling meal that costs under $30.”

-CM

Nikko Duren

Pecking House

$$$$
$$$$ 18523 Union Turnpike

“Pecking House’s chili fried chicken is the best dish I’ve gotten delivered to my apartment in 2021. I was on the restaurant’s waitlist for two months before I could enjoy it, but it was all worth it once I got into the crunchy meat, covered in Tianjin chilis and Szechuan peppercorn. Every bite felt like some kind of Taiwanese hot chicken-fueled transcendental meditation. It reminded me of Hattie B’s Nashville hot chicken - just crispier, more mouth-numbing, and dripping with juice from the inside. I didn’t even mind that I was getting bright red stains from the slippery hot sauce all over my white shirt. All three pieces were gone in a matter of minutes, and if I ever need a reminder of how legendary fried chicken can be, I’ll hop right back on the waitlist.”

- ND

Hannah Albertine

Yun Cafe & Asian Market

$$$$
$$$$ 73-05 37th Rd Store 2

“When Yun Cafe opened in the fall of 2020, it became one of only two self-identified Burmese restaurants in New York City (the other being Rangoon in Crown Heights). Every dish I tried here counters sour with bitter, and umami funk with something sweet, especially in the laphet thoke. This cold salad with fermented tea leaves is mixed together in a citrusy fish sauce with thin strands of cabbage and refreshing hunks of red and green tomatoes, then topped with a blanket of puffed soy nuts, crunchy peanuts, and sesame seeds. In case you need a reason to be any more intrigued or impressed, Yun Cafe prepares all of their incredible takeout food in a small space on the lower level of Jackson Heights’ Roosevelt Avenue subway station. Since going here, I’ve caught myself inspecting every subway station for similarly wonderful stalls (to no avail so far).”

- HA

Carlo Mantuano

Ace's Perfect Pizza

$$$$
$$$$ 637 Driggs Ave

“I already know that my go-to summer 2021 activity will involve walking the Williamsburg bridge and meeting friends at Ace’s Perfect Pizza. When I bit into the Detroit-style pizza from this spot on Metropolitan and Driggs, it reminded me of my first time trying Emmy Squared in 2016 - an experience filled with pure joy, light and airy dough, and crispy cheese-studded crust. While Emmy Squared has become somewhat of a chain restaurant, Ace’s has all the magic of a new, delicious pizza place. Not to mention the fact that a small Detroit-style pepperoni pizza costs under $15, and is the perfect size to share with a friend or takedown yourself if you’re really hungry. They’re also about to start selling beer and have a jukebox sitting in the corner, as if I needed another reason to get excited for the summer.”

- CM

Hannah Albertine

Chinelos Birria Tacos

$$$$ 4-09 Center Blvd

“Instead of getting haircuts or going to an allergist, I’ve been eating birria tacos and consomme every couple of weeks as part of my self-maintenance routine (I’d encourage you to do the same, as long as you enjoy tender, stewed beef). So naturally I was excited to try this recently-opened, birria-focused truck parked on the waterfront in Long Island City. Their deliciously cilantro-forward tacos and consomme give off heavy hints of warming spices like clove, star anise, and cinnamon, which was a welcome experience in 21-degree winds. Stop by and order 3 for $10 sopping birria tacos, or get a $4 mulita, which has crispy cheese layered between the nixtamal corn tortillas, plus a bunch of cotija sprinkled on top.”

-HA

NYC

Guide:

9 Great Birria Tacos In NYC

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Xilonen

Xilonen

$$$$
$$$$ 905 Lorimer St

“After eating Xilonen’s Mexican brunch in Greenpoint, you’ll notice stunning vegetables in places you don’t expect. You’ll think, ‘Is that a traffic light turning yellow, or is it a tender root vegetable with impeccable char?’ Or possibly, ‘Those piano keys have an incandescent orange hue and look delicious, should I eat them?’ Don’t worry, you’re not hallucinating. You’re experiencing the aftershock of coming face-to-face with impossibly tangy queso that’s been made from honeynut squash or a crispy corn tortilla softened by navy bean mash. This restaurant from the Oxomoco team serves vegan and vegetarian Mexican food that’s thrilling to eat, mainly because of Xilonen’s commitment to letting vegetables be the stars of every bite. Prepare to spend a little more here than you might at breakfast or lunch elsewhere (for instance, a single purple potato taco will cost you $9), but know that it’s well worth the money for a special-occasion brunch.”

-HA

NYC

Guide:

The Best New Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurants In NYC

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Nikko Duren

Guevara's

$$$$
$$$$ 39 Clifton Place

“No shade to Skittles, but I could actually taste the rainbow at Guevara’s. Every one of the fresh vegetables (like avocado, red cabbage, tomato, and jalapeno) packed into the Cuban torta here tastes like its purpose in life is to express its individuality. The real MVP of this dish, however, is its crunchy slab of eggplant milanese that’s the best meat substitute I’ve had at any vegan restaurant in the city. This excellent torta is exactly the kind of fully-loaded sandwich I’d expect from a vegan cafe run by the people from Mekelburg’s, who tend to be generous with porchetta and crumbled bacon. As for the space, this Clinton Hill spot has at least 50 potted plants inside, and a heated outdoor patio with pastel pink arches and checkered flooring. I felt like I was dining in Betsey Johnson’s backyard, and in honor of this, I plan to wear a tulle gown whenever I return.”

-ND

Nikko Duren

Fan Fan Doughnuts

$$$$ 448 Lafayette Ave A

“I’m pretty confident that Chef Fany Gerson is some kind of sugar healer. Judging by her success with La Newyorkina and the Dough doughnut chain, everything she makes turns to gold. Fan Fan Doughnuts, her newest sweets shop in Bed-Stuy, is no exception. The chorus of Diana Ross’ “A Brand New Day” played in my head as I took a bite of her signature fan-fan doughnut (a mashup between a Long John and an eclair) filled with guava and cheese. Since then, I’ve stopped by this takeout-only spot to try everything from salted brown butter caramel to mango-cardamom glazed doughnuts, and nothing ever disappoints. If it’s been a while since you’ve last eaten something that made you want to burst into song, head to Fan Fan.”

-ND

NYC

Guide:

The Best New Doughnuts In NYC

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