14 Trendy Restaurants You Can Get Into guide image


14 Trendy Restaurants You Can Get Into

If you’re looking for an impressive place to get a table when you didn’t plan weeks in advance, here are some great options.

There are only a few ways to get into a trendy NYC restaurant. You can stay up all night waiting for a reservation, or you can open your own place and hope it gets cool. Alternatively, you can show up to a trendy spot, put your name in, then slowly adjust to your new life in walk-in purgatory. If none of those strategies sound appealing, here’s a fourth: Go to a place on this list.

These restaurants are all trendy in the sense that they have great food and fun atmospheres—and some of them also happen to be new. They’re perfect for dates you forgot to plan or dinners with any friends you want to impress, and they all seem like they’re very hard to get into. But they aren’t. And that’s exactly why they’re on this guide.


photo credit: Emily Schindler

Jupiter review image



620 5th Ave, New York
View WebsiteEarn 3X Points

Jupiter’s place on this list is precarious. We’re hearing more enthusiastic whispers about it by the day, but for now there are still some tables available at times most humans eat dinner (i.e. after 6pm and before 10pm). Snag a seat at the Rockefeller Center restaurant while you still can, and enjoy a winter-friendly housemade agnoli stuffed with slow-cooked shredded rabbit in the warm and lively dining room. The restaurant is right on the concourse, so you can watch people with shopping bags walk by and stare at you with pasta envy.

photo credit: Angela Bankhead

Hav & Mar review image

Hav & Mar

Hav & Mar feels like a full house on Saturday nights. The waiters are busy, it’s loud with chatter, and the music has you looking for the non-existent dance floor. Marcus Samuelsson’s new restaurant is definitely buzzy, but it’s also very big, occupying a large space in Chelsea where there’s always an empty table hidden in the crowd. You should definitely book in advance for a prime-time weekend table, but you can walk in on a weeknight with no problem. Even if you come when it's quieter, you’ll have a memorable experience eating Ethiopian and Swedish fusion dishes like berbere-cured salmon and dawa dawa seared bass.

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Steak Frites is serving French bistro classics in Hell’s Kitchen, and they're doing them very well. The room gets packed, and it stays that way until closing time, but you won’t have to wait for a table. The space here is like a movie set designed to look like a neighborhood spot in Paris, with black and white tiles, distressed gold-framed mirrors, and vintage cartoon postcards on the wall. Appropriately, the hanger steak and thin, crispy fries are great, as are the gnocchi à la parisienne and panzanella-like escargots served with pieces of bread soaked in parsley-garlic butter sauce.

photo credit: Emily Schindler

K'Far review image


Earn 3X Points

K’Far is an all-day Israeli cafe, bar, and full-service dinner spot from the team behind Laser Wolf, a trendy restaurant you probably won’t get into anytime soon. Like Laser Wolf, K’Far is in Williamsburg’s Hoxton Hotel, so if you’re not able to get a walk-in spot at Laser Wolf, come back down to the lobby and grab a table in K’Far’s green, leafy dining room. By the time you finish the lamb tartare and grouper chraime, you’ll have completely forgotten about that other place upstairs.

Cafe Spaghetti is a cute Carroll Gardens restaurant known for their simple, rustic Italian food and one of the best backyards in Brooklyn. In the summer, you can sit under bright yellow umbrellas and drink spritzes. But for winter, the back tables are set up inside a white, tent-like enclosure. Admittedly, the best seats are now inside or in the heated wooden structure next to the sidewalk, which looks like a whole other equally cute restaurant on the inside. There are generally reservations open in all areas, and wherever you end up, the spaghetti, spiedini, and eggplant parm are still as warm and inviting as ever.

Part cocktail bar, part restaurant, Deux Chats is in a vaulted, Belle Époque-themed space near the Williamsburg Bridge, and it's a great place to have drinks and seafood small plates with a friend. This spot is from the people behind Le Dive, but it doesn't get as annoyingly busy as that LES wine bar (and the food here is better). There are reservations available most nights, and if you can't find one at a peak hour, you can always stop by and grab a seat at the long, curvy bar.

Zaab Zaab is one of the best Thai restaurants in NYC, and it's walk-in only. Take advantage of this and come by any night of the week for a casual meal with a ridiculous amount of flavor. The Isan Thai food at this Elmhurst spot is packed with chilies, lemongrass, and various fresh herbs, and the whole salt-encrusted fish stuffed with pandan is a necessary order. Get a hot pot with baby back ribs and tamarind broth to enjoy on the side.

Rebel Restaurant And Bar review image

Rebel Restaurant and Bar



OpenTable logo

When you walk into Rebel on the corner of Stanton and Clinton, you might do one of two things: turn around immediately because you're not sure if you're in a restaurant, or start looking for someone to charge you a cover. On any given night, there's either a live band or a DJ with rainbow globe lights going every which way. It feels like a party, but that isn't the only reason why you come here. The Haitian food—like the tender griot and Barbancourt mussels—is worth seeking out.

OStudio is a cafe and wine bar in Bed-Stuy that’s still a bit under the radar. During the day, it's a working space for mixed-media artists—but from 5-10pm, lights are dimmed and candles are placed on tables. To supplement the house menu, they have a roster of exciting guest chefs who come in for two-week residencies, so you’ll always leave having eaten something you hadn’t tried before. You can make reservations online, but for you can also get a walk-in spot easily.

At Contento, the whole dining room—both staff and diners—feels connected in a way most championship-winning sports teams do. This place is known for its attentive service in addition to its Peruvian-leaning menu full of standouts. You can easily book a reservation or get a walk-in table at this East Harlem restaurant, which was built with wheelchair accessibility and the disability community in mind.

Kimika falls into the category of Cool Downtown Restaurant To Be Cool At, but you don't have to clamor for a reservation in an uncool fashion. This place is from the team behind another trendy spot on the Lower East Side called Wayla, and unlike others that fall in the CDRTBCA category, both Wayla and Kimika serve inventive, delicious food. Come here if you’re looking to impress someone who will appreciate a sake martini and miso bolognese, and be prepared to spend upwards of $50 per person.

Di An Di serves excellent Vietnamese food in a plant-filled, pastel space that could easily be used to sell high-end skincare products—and it's no longer challenging to get a reservation here. We don’t know why, and we won’t complain. What we will do, though, is continue to come here for things like bánh tráng trộn with quail eggs and bowls of beef phở (and we’d encourage you to do the same).

The menu at Oxalis is just a sheet of white paper with lists of ingredients like roasted duck, sweet potato, fig, and yogurt. If that makes this place sound like a modernist hellscape where every plate of food consists of exactly half a bite, you should know that it isn't. The food at this Crown Heights spot is consistently excellent, and at $120, the tasting menu is less expensive than most others in NYC. The space has an open kitchen and the plain white walls of a furniture showroom, and it’s surprisingly casual for a place with fontina foam.

It used to be impossible to get into Red Hook Tavern. Now, you can get a table here whenever you want, which is great news because the burger is still one of the best in the city. Think of this place as a cross between a steakhouse, a pub, and a New American restaurant, and plan a dinner here the next time you want to have a somewhat nice night out. The space is dark, narrow, and reminiscent of a well-renovated Colonial Era dive bar. In addition to a standout burger, there's pasta, fish and chips, and a quality wine selection.

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