For the past 12 months, we’ve been eating, taking notes, and occasionally shouting at each other (politely) while discussing the merits of new restaurants across the city. Now that all the shouting is over, we’re ready to present our list of New York City’s Best New Restaurants Of 2018.
We aren’t psychics, but even if we were, we wouldn’t have been able to predict all the spots on this year’s list. There are two omakase-only places, for example, one of which does the first shabushabu omakase in the world (the other specializes in exceptional grilled chicken skewers). There’s also a Korean restaurant with a 10-course tasting menu we think about whenever we stare out a window or skip a rock across a pond. And while these three spots are some of the most impressive restaurants on the list, there are plenty of others with unique offerings of their own - from a French restaurant with 60th-story views to an unapologetically TGI Fridays-esque tribute to simple things like mozzarella sticks and brownie sundaes. Whichever place on this list you try first, you’re guaranteed to eat some excellent food and have plenty of new talking points to derail your next meeting at work.
All restaurants featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team. Our guide to New York City’s Best New Restaurants Of 2018 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.
You’ll never forget a meal at Atomix. That might sound like an exaggeration, but it’s not. This place serves a 10-course Korean tasting menu, and each dish comes with its own illustrated notecard that has a detailed description of every single ingredient (down to hydrangea tea leaves and cherry blossom vinegar). This is just one of the reasons why dinner at Atomix feels completely worth the $175 price tag. The main reason, however, is the food. A meal here lasts roughly two hours, and it’ll include things like a perfectly tender piece of halibut over foie gras, uni with housemade almond tofu, and some lightly battered wagyu that’s slightly reminiscent of savory French toast. And at the end of your meal, you get to take all your notecards with you. Leave them by the entrance to your home, and use them as an excuse to tell any visitors about your experience here.
As you might already know, we go to a lot of restaurants. A lot of different restaurants. If we’re doing our jobs well, we should be at a different spot every night of the week. But Di An Di is the new restaurant that’s made us less good at our jobs - because we just want to keep coming back. We find ourselves thinking about the incredible dishes like brisket pho, banh xeo-wrapped summer rolls, and sizzling turmeric catfish when we’re already busy eating other things, and we suggest the plant-covered space for just about every dinner planning situation. We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve been to this restaurant, but we can tell you that every one of those experiences has been truly excellent.
At this point, we consider it pretty much a company requirement to have eaten at Cocoron, the Lower East Side soba restaurant. So naturally, we were excited when the Cocoron team opened up what is apparently the world’s first omakase shabushabu restaurant, Shabushabu Macoron. The whole experience, in which one chef cooks a tasting menu ($128) involving ultra high quality pieces of beef and pork for the eight guests in each seating, exceeded expectations. It’s fun, delicious, and literally unlike anything else on this planet. If you have a special occasion coming up and you’re looking to eat somewhere impressive, but you also want to wear jeans while Adele plays over the speakers, come here.
Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern have atmospheres that make us feel like we’re on a three-hour vacation choreographed by our therapist. So when the people behind those spots opened Manhatta, we had high expectations. This French restaurant in FiDi has the same attention to detail - from servers who appear with another very fancy wine glass just as you realize you’d like another drink, to pads under the tables to keep the decibel level down - but it also has floor-to-ceiling windows with 60th-story views. If you want a closer look at bridges or skyscrapers or Brooklyn or New Jersey, you can even use one of the many available sets of binoculars. You get excellent service from the moment you’re met by hosts in the ground floor lobby, and at $78 (hospitality included), dinner here is also cheaper than a therapist appointment.
There are a few ways to think about Frenchette. The best new French restaurant in a while? The new Balthazar? The new Odeon? The coolest place in Tribeca? Or don’t worry about any of that, order a bottle of an obscure wine made from a grape you think might possibly have been made up, and try some French food that’s different from anything else you’ll find in the city. Expect everything from duck frites to blowfish tails.
When we first walked into Davelle, we were a little confused. With its half-burned candles and brick walls decorated with flowers, this small Japanese spot looks like the studio apartment of a person who has seven cats and wears an amulet. But as we drank pet-nats and ate uni-loaded spaghetti while listening to the chef greet everyone who walked in the door, we realized we had found one of those elusive “hidden gems” - a spot that’s well worth a trip from anywhere in the city, even if the people upstairs might never even know it existed.
The first time we ordered the crudo tasting at Legacy Records, a server brought over some tuna belly, razor clam, and chilled crab with uni - and we immediately felt like the rulers of a small maritime kingdom. This place is from the people behind Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones, but it’s bigger than either of those restaurants, and it feels more opulent. The ceilings are high, the tables are topped with leather, and you can (and should) order a whole honey-lacquered duck. That said, you don’t necessarily need to spend a ridiculous amount of money here, although whatever else you do, the crudo tasting should be on your table.
Chicken is often just a fallback order when you’re not in the mood for red meat or a $29 vegetable dish topped with edible flowers. But at Toriko, it’s the main attraction. Sit at the 20-seat chef’s counter at this West Village yakitori spot, and watch as a chef prepares an omakase menu starring various grilled chicken skewers. As he puts each one on your plate and announces the cut - like chicken oysters, thigh, or neck - he’ll point to the corresponding part of the bird on a diagram you’re given at the start of your meal. While all of that makes for entertaining dinner theater, all you’ll really be thinking about is how chicken can possibly taste this good.
A year ago, if you asked us whether we needed another all-day cafe with kombucha and grain bowls, we would have laughed at you a little before saying no. But West-Bourne changed us. Maybe it’s because it looks like the charming downtown apartment we’d buy after winning the Powerball. Or maybe it’s due to the fact that the entirely vegetarian menu at this counter-service spot in Soho is surprisingly inventive and ambitious. The mushroom reuben is rich and satisfying, the grain bowl with lentil falafel is something we could eat every day, and the roasted eggplant and buttery sweet potatoes make us want to move to a farm just to spend more time with vegetables. It turns out, we did need this place.
Nonono is owned by the same people as Her Name Is Han (one of our Best New Restaurants Of 2016), and like its sister spot, it’s excellent. The specialty here is yakitori, but there’s also a binder full of other Japanese options, ranging from ramen to sushi. Which means choosing what to eat feels as exciting as tasting wedding cakes or taking a trip to Blockbuster in the ’90s. We’ve been enough times to draw a detailed rendering of this place from memory, and we still haven’t tried everything (but we’re getting there).
Hotel restaurants are supposed to be serviceable but boring. And places that sound like they were named after indie bands with below-average Pitchfork scores tend to be both lame and forgettable. But Simon & The Whale (in the Freehand Hotel) is both of those things, and yet also, somehow, a very worthwhile place to eat. The menu is Mediterranean, and has everything from buckwheat crackers with smoked mussels, to a big, crispy pork collar schnitzel, to a fish sandwich on a big poppy seed bun that all fast-food chains should currently be trying to replicate. In other words, this place makes most other hotel restaurants look like the cafeteria in your freshman year dorm.
When you buy a house or choose someone to spend the rest of your life with, it usually involves a little bit of compromise. No house or person has everything, and the same is typically true of restaurants. But Adda comes surprisingly close. This casual Indian spot in LIC has great food, and it’s affordably priced, with nothing over $20. Oh, and the first time we had the goat curry here, we wanted to lift the bowl and drink it the way a cat would drink milk if cats had thumbs. What we’re saying is, Adda has more going for it than whomever you might have already chosen as a life partner.
Misi is the new Williamsburg restaurant from the people behind Lilia, and its basic premise is: f*ck entrees. This is an Italian restaurant where the menu has three sections: vegetables, pasta, and gelato. And it turns out that it’s actually a huge relief when you realize that sometimes, you don’t actually have to pretend to want to order the branzino. The best things at Misi are the simplest, like fettuccine with butter and parmesan, or unbelievably good mint chip gelato.
Strangely enough, Una Pizza Napoletana also has a menu with three distinct sections. As you might expect, one of them is pizza, from an excellent maker of Neapolitan pies who just returned to NYC after a few years in San Francisco. And then there are appetizers and desserts, from the team behind interesting small plates spot Wildair, which is located a few blocks away. The appetizers include things like an amazing beef crudo, and the desserts include a panna cotta that will convince even panna cotta haters that panna cotta is good. It can feel like the three components don’t completely come together into a cohesive whole, but they’re individually excellent enough to earn Una Pizza a spot on this list.
On our first trip to Oxomoco, a big Mexican restaurant in Greenpoint, we ordered a margarita on the rocks. Then we watched the table next to us as they were served frozen margaritas the size of large babies’ heads. We realized we had made a mistake, and we also realized we were in for a good night. The rest of the long cocktail list is excellent, the high-ceilinged space is always full, the big round booths and ideal lighting make it feel like it’s someone’s birthday, and the menu is filled with crowd-pleasing (but not boring) dishes like masa fried shrimp and beet chorizo tacos, and a corn tlayuda we come here just to eat.
Bernie’s makes great comfort food - but that isn’t why it’s one of our Best New Restaurants of 2018. It’s on this list because it makes us feel like we’re not in 2018, or Greenpoint, anymore. So come here when you want to sit in a red vinyl booth, order mozzarella sticks and a wedge salad, and drink a martini, all while rediscovering your Olympic-level hangman skills. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be inspired to put your phone away for an hour or two. If any place could convince you, it’s this one.
If you’re lucky, there’s a diner on your corner that you can count on for hungover pancakes, random milkshake cravings, and late-night grilled cheeses (or omelettes, if you’re a psychopath). MeMe’s is not one of those diners. It’s a diner for fried giardiniera, chili oil fried eggs, and lemon poppyseed dutch baby pancakes. If at this point you’re asking how this place could possibly be a diner at all, the answer, besides the counter seats and the layer cake, is that MeMe’s is a place for everyone. You’ll like it, your mom will like it, your friends will like it, and so will your grandpa who really just wants a patty melt (theirs is excellent). MeMe’s won’t replace your corner spot, but it will be the diner you’re willing to go out of your way for.