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 1/23/19): Takeshi, Haenyeo, Violet, Sushi By M
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.
Takeshi is just one little room with a sleek wooden bar, and you’re here to eat omakase sushi (there are two lunch options, for $45 and $90, and two dinner options, for $65 and $130). But it still feels casual, in part because they play songs like “Can’t Feel My Face” over the speakers, and the chef takes time to talk to everyone sitting at the bar. The smaller, eight-piece dinner service lasts around 45 minutes and actually has a few more than eight pieces (ours also came with a scallop and uni handroll and a Japanese sponge cake), all of which are very good. So if you want great sushi for a not-outrageous price in a relaxed, casual atmosphere, you need to try this place.
It may not be the most talked about (or real) award - NYC Street Corner With The Best Two Walk-In-Only Restaurants - but a strong new contender is 5th Ave and Carroll St. in Park Slope. Al Di La has been there for a while, serving some of the best Italian food in the city, and now there’s also Haenyeo, a great Korean spot right across the street. The menu has traditional options like kimchi pancakes and bibimbap, as well as more fusion-y dishes like rice cake fundido (a must-order). The corner space, which has a small bar up front and dining room in the back, feels fancier than most others in the neighborhood, and is a good option for a nice date night or group dinner. If there’s a wait, grab a drink at Blueprint alongside all the people waiting for a table at Al Di La.
Violet is the latest restaurant from the Emily/Emmy Squared people, but the pizza here doesn’t resemble what you’ll find at either one of those places. This place does grilled pizzas inspired by a restaurant in Rhode Island, and the pies are pretty much just thin flatbreads that you cut with scissors at the table. They taste good (especially the one with duck prosciutto, hoisin sauce, and clams), but calling them pizzas is like pronouncing Target “tar-jay” - it’s going to annoy some people. Aside from the flatbreads, the menu is made up of seafood-focused appetizers and good pastas. Come with a date or a group for your next fun dinner that involves a pair of scissors.
At Sushi By M, you get exactly one hour to eat a 10-course meal. We don’t usually like being timed while we eat, but in this case, an hour doesn’t feel too rushed, and the $50 omakase (your only option) is actually a great value. It starts with things like yellowtail and arctic char, then moves on to richer pieces like botan shrimp, tuna belly covered in caviar, and a miniature handroll filled with wagyu and uni. The fish is uniformly excellent, and you can pay a little extra at the end of your meal if you want an extra hand roll or something called the “Big Mac.” That’s a roll with two kinds of uni, wagyu, and tuna belly, and it’s equal parts excessive and wonderful. Just keep in mind that there are only about eight seats (all at a bar), and you need to text ahead for a reservation. Also, there’s no liquor license yet.
Frankies 457 is one of our favorite casual Italian spots in Brooklyn, but the waits can sometimes get pretty bad. Good news on that front: they now have a wine bar next door, where you can get the full Frankies menu as well as a new selection of small plates. Several of the wine-bar-only dishes - like the garlic sausage with bottarga, the perfectly tender octopus terrine, and pretty much anything doused in the phenomenal olive oil - are worth a trip even if you’re not interested in ordering from the Frankies menu. And the same can be said of the 400-bottle wine list, which is organized with helpful descriptions, making this a great spot if you’re trying to learn more about wine.
This little counter in the Time Warner Center is only open for breakfast and lunch every day, and the menu has around six options, most of which are flatbread-based. There are wraps with yakitori chicken or spicy pork cut from a spit, breakfast sandwiches with smoked salmon from Zabar’s, mortadella, or cream cheese and vegetables, and a couple of dips. If you work or live anywhere within subway-able distance of Bāng Bar, and restaurants that sell out of their popular dishes don’t give you anxiety, definitely stop by.
“Tasting menu” and “casual date night” aren’t typically phrases people use in the same sentence. But Oxalis, a new spot in Prospect Heights, serves a $60, six-course set menu in an environment that feels surprisingly low-key. The dishes change nightly, but the things we’ve tried - like a rich and crispy duck breast with yogurt and fig, and a goat milk ice cream with amaranth and honey - have been both enjoyable and unlike anything else we’ve tasted recently. And despite the precise plating and unusual ingredients, the open kitchen, friendly servers, and fairly loud music keep this place from feeling stuffy. If you don’t want to commit to the tasting menu, you can always order a la carte in the bar room in the back. They’re still waiting on their liquor license, so there’s no alcohol for now.
If you’re going to spend $100-$200 on dinner, it’d better be at least as special as one month at Equinox or a pair of decent bluetooth headphones. And a meal at Benno is. This new French/Italian spot inside in the Evelyn Hotel offers three, four, and five-course prix fixe menus (for $95, $125, and $145). There are some phenomenal options for each course (our favorites are the savory coddled egg with black truffle, skate almondine with crab mousse, and duck with foie gras, and we’d recommend that you skip the pasta course and try as many other things as possible). The space is not particularly interesting - a quiet, high-ceilinged dining room hidden away behind Leonelli Taberna - and the dark-suited servers move in unison like they’re completing a military exercise. So Benno is definitely not at all casual. But you can expect to have some excellent food and an overall memorable meal here.
Elea is a new Greek restaurant from the people behind Kyma (in the Flatiron District), and it’s great for when you need to have a nice dinner on the Upper West Side but also want to pretend that you’re downtown. The space is big and has an all-white coastal Greek theme, and at night it gets dark and crowded, but not so noisy that you can’t have a conversation. Menu-wise, we particularly like the plate of lamb chops that comes with a side of fries. Get some hummus, too, and at least consider dipping your fries in that hummus.
When you think “tasting menu,” you might imagine a big dining room that looks like a fancy cruise ship full of servers who watch over you like they hid some diamonds in your socks. But Atomix is just 14 seats around a well-lit counter. This place is from the same people behind Atoboy, they do a $175, 10-course Korean tasting menu, and each dish comes with its own note card that explains exactly what you’re eating. You start with things like raw scallop with fermented tomato broth, then move on to richer dishes like halibut with foie gras. And every dish is excellent in its own way. If you want to have a memorable dinner that isn’t too formal or uptight, Atomix is worth the price.
You should spend $65 on chicken as soon as possible. Assuming you’re still with us, allow us to explain. Toriko, a new yakitori restaurant in the West Village, serves two different chicken-centric omakase menus. The cheaper ($65) option includes about seven chicken skewers plus four non-yakitori courses, like a savory egg custard with foie gras and truffle. You’ll get everything from salty, tender chicken neck to chicken oysters that taste like juicy bites of steak, and the full experience is well worth the price. Sit at the chef’s counter with a date, and share a bottle of wine while you watch what’s happening on the grill.
La Vara is home to our favorite Spanish food in Brooklyn, and the team behind that restaurant just opened a new spot next door. This little corner space is pretty different, though. It feels a little bit like Wildair: a sparely-decorated, casual spot where you’ll sit at a bar or high-top, drinking interesting wines and eating interesting food. Instead of a Spanish menu, Saint Julivert serves seafood from around the world - there’s everything from ceviche to raw scallop tacos to a tuna casserole. As for the wine list, it’s organized by ocean, and trying to decode it feels a little like you’ve gone back in time to 4th grade geography class. If that’s too much brain work for you at dinner, ask the staff for help - they’re happy to let you try things until you find one you like.
The new Mekelburg’s location in Williamsburg is similar to the Clinton Hill original: an upscale grocery store up front, with a bar in the back serving high-quality sandwiches, small plates, and craft beers on tap. The sandwiches - like one with wagyu roast beef on an everything baguette, and a banh mi with Peking duck and duck rillettes - are some of the best in Brooklyn, but you shouldn’t overlook the other things on the menu, like the slightly charred three-cheese mac and cheese, and a salt-baked potato with black cod and a lot of caviar. The bar seating and communal tables in the back are great for a casual lunch or dinner, but it’s also not a bad idea to get some sandwiches to-go and eat them across the street in Domino Park.
Adda is in a semi-industrial area between a big overpass and Queens Boulevard in Long Island City - and despite the not-so-charming location, we’re already planning our next meal here. This place makes excellent Indian food, and nothing on the menu costs more than $17. The goat curry is rich and spicy, the cheesy naan is great, and the deep-fried kale pakoda is one of the better ways we can think of to consume a green vegetable. Bring a friend or two and get a casual weeknight meal - or, if you don’t live in the area, come on the weekend (and make a reservation to be safe). The space is just one long room, the decorations consist mainly of old newspapers on the walls, and they don’t serve any kind of alcohol - but the food here is definitely worth a trip.
When you sit at the counter overlooking the kitchen at Misi, the new Williamsburg Italian restaurant from the people behind Lilia, you feel like you’re watching a pasta army. There’s someone dropping sheets of tagliatelle one by one into boiling water, another tossing pasta in a pan full of tomatoes and butter, and at least four other people grating cheese or grinding pepper or sprinkling herbs at the same time. It’s something we’d rather watch than roughly 85% of Netflix shows - probably because we know that pasta is going to end up on our plate. Similar to the pastas at Lilia, these are perfectly-cooked, with simple, excellent sauces, and the vegetable-focused appetizers are just as good, if not better. With its lower ceilings and higher number of bar seats, Misi feels slightly more casual than Lilia - but is definitely still a place that will impress just about anyone. Do not, under any circumstances, skip the gelato.
Oxomoco is a big, bright new restaurant in Greenpoint from the people behind Speedy Romeo. But instead of pizza, this spot serves upscale Mexican food, and instead of feeling like you’re in a former autobody shop, you’ll feel like you’re in a place where it’s the perfect tropical temperature year-round. Oxomoco has a great front patio where you should drink margaritas and eat fancy tacos this summer, and the interior is even better-looking, with high ceilings and plenty of hanging greenery. There’s a big menu of cocktails, and food ranging from tuna tostadas to pork cheek carnitas to a $95 steak. But so far, we think the best thing on the menu is the wood-fired half chicken, which comes with pickled onions, crispy rice, and tortillas for you to make your own perfect tacos.
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.