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 1/17): Tokyo Record Bar, St Tropez, Scampi, Miss Ada
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.
St Tropez is a better version of most French wine bars in Manhattan. Like many others in this category, the dark, one-room space is good for dates. But, St Tropez separates itself with both better and more affordable food, and an atmosphere that works just as well for a group dinner. Our favorite thing on the French small plates menu is the octopus, which is one of the better ways to spend $12 in the West Village.
We liked Miss Ada when it opened a few months ago, but we recently went back for dinner and were somewhat blown away. While we had initially been excited about this place’s outdoor space, we can confirm that the Israeli and Mediterranean food here is worth traveling for, even when the walk from the subway has you checking WebMd for symptoms of frostbite. There’s an open kitchen in the middle of the small restaurant, a long bar with plenty of seats, and a great backyard that’s covered and heated so that it can still be used even if it’s bomb cyclone-ing outside. Start with the lamb shawarma, which comes over a mountain of hummus, and make sure that the brick chicken with harissa is also on your table.
A new Italian place opening in NYC is sort of like a fish being born in the ocean. It’s nice, but it isn’t that notable. It turns out, however, that Scampi is. It’s a new seafood-focused Italian spot on 18th Street, with a location that makes it easy to meet someone near Union Square. Also, the food here is great, and the space is beautiful. Come here to eat some braised pork ravioli or a piece of branzino. It isn’t especially formal, but you should both make a reservation and bring a date. Or your friends, parents, or someone you’re indebted to because they held the subway door for you.
Naples, Italy is probably the only city where the ‘best pizza’ debate is even more ferocious than it is here in New York. So it says a lot that Sorbillo is considered by many to be one of the best pizza places there. After a bunch of lead-up, Sorbillo has finally opened its first outpost outside of Italy on Bowery, and we can tell you that the offerings here are very good – this pizza is certainly up there with some of the best Neapolitan pies in NYC. The particular pizza here is super thin, such that the middles are almost soupy, and you’ll want to use a knife and fork to eat it. They also serve some pastas, salads, and things like meatballs, but pizza is the main event. It’s a sit-down place, and feels genuinely Italian, and not in a touristy Little-Italy sort of way.
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, aside from some normal bread and butter, 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.
Pheasant is a new Mediterranean spot in East Williamsburg, and it’s a pretty ideal neighborhood restaurant. The space is tiny (a few tables and seats at the bar), the staff greets each person who walks in like a regular, and the food is straightforward but not boring – the crispy chicken wings drizzled with yogurt and the burger served on a milk bun with a slab of kielbasa should be on your table. Pheasant is the kind of place you bring a few friends on a weeknight, get a bottle or two of reasonably priced wine, and order most of the menu. You’ll leave a couple hours later feeling like you’ve been coming here for years.
Evelina211 Dekalb Ave
Evelina is in a part of Fort Greene that’s packed with good neighborhood spots, but Evelina feels cooler than most of them. The space is modern, the wine list is interesting, and the menu is broken into sections – vegetables, pasta, fish, and meat – with appetizer and entree options for each. We’re not going to send you to Evelina if you’re looking for the best food around, but we will say that grabbing some wine and small plates at the bar is a very solid choice if you’re looking for a new spot for your next laid-back date night. Get the pacchieri with wild boar ragu.
The original La Contenta is on the Lower East Side, and it’s one of our favorite Mexican restaurants in NYC. The only problem is, it’s kind of small. Fortunately, there’s now a West Village location that’s about five times larger. It isn’t quite as charming as the original, but it’s a nice space with lots of windows, and it’s great for groups. So plan a big dinner here, or stop by and sit at the bar for happy hour. They do some great fish tacos and guacamole, and feel free to order the pastry-wrapped chicken Wellington. It feels more British than Mexican, but it’s still great.
SriPraPhai is a longtime Queens establishment that makes some of the best Thai food in New York City, and they just opened a new location a couple blocks from the Bedford L in Williamsburg. The menu is somewhere around 10 or 15 pages, covering everything from salads with fried watercress and sausage (both are excellent) to drunken noodles and pad thai to curries and whole fish. In other words: come here with reinforcements. The space feels like it could have been your prom dinner location, with two floors and a prominently-displayed fountain, but the prices are super reasonable. We’ll be back to dig deeper into the menu, but in the meantime, know that this is already some of the best Thai food in the area.
Casino Clam Bar is in the old Semilla space in Williamsburg. Inside, there’s just one u-shaped bar with about 20 seats, and pretty much every person in the restaurant has a full view of everyone else at any given time. But that’s just part of the fun of this place, and if you enjoy shellfish, it’s worth checking out. Along with (obviously) clams casino, they also have things like oysters, ceviche, an uni pasta, and a big shellfish boil if you feel like sharing a bunch of food. This place is pretty casual, and they have some good wines to choose from, and, while it isn’t absurdly expensive, you might have a pretty big check depending on how much you order.
Tetsu is the new Tribeca Japanese place owned by the chef from Masa, a restaurant in the Time Warner Center that costs $595 per person. Tetsu definitely doesn’t cost $595 a person, but it’s also not cheap. The menu includes salads, skewers, noodles, handrolls, and pieces of sushi, which are enjoyable across the board. The space is big and dark, with two long bars ideal for posting up with cocktails and some raw fish. More than a destination restaurant, it’s a cool date option for those who live in the area and are comfortable dropping a not-small chunk of change on a Tuesday night. Two other things: 1) there’s a much-talked-about burger served from 5-6pm, but we haven’t tried it yet because we actually work at an office, and 2) the service was a little disjointed on our first visit, but we expect that’s because they just opened.
Kubeh refers to a Middle Eastern dumpling that this casual spot on 6th Avenue is based around. The kubeh here are filled with beef, lamb, fish, or vegetables, and served in your choice of four soups. The outside texture is almost like that of a matzo ball, and the soups are really, really good – we can see ourselves eating them all winter. They also serve a few platters like chicken schnitzel and some excellent mezze dips, as well as shakshuka during the day. This place is a sleeper hit, and somewhere we can’t wait to get back to.
Sushi Kaito is a 15-seat omakase-style sushi restaurant on the Upper West Side. There are three seatings per night, and you have the option of a 12-piece omakase for $75 or 16-piece omakase for $100. Every meal also finishes with a miso soup, a handroll, and a slice of fresh made tamago. It’s one of the best sushi experiences you can get in this town for the money. That adds up to a pretty good reason to head for West 72nd Street sometime soon.
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.
Right in the middle of Kips Bay is a casual new Japanese izakaya called Oka. It’s across the street from not just a 16 Handles, but also a Tasti D-Lite, and unlike those places, it’s one of the better eating options in the area. The low-key space is ideal for meeting someone after work, drinking sake, and ordering Japanese small plates until you’re stuffed. While the room itself is pretty simple, the food is really impressive – everything we tried, from the grilled baguette with kombu butter, to the tonkatsu (pork cutlet), to the grilled hamachi collar, was great. And also surprisingly affordable. Get this one in your rotation if you live or work nearby.
Vini E Fritti is the third installment of the Danny Meyer-backed mini-empire in The Redbury Hotel, and this one specializes in wine and fried things. The first one is the pizza spot , the second is a Roman-style coffee shop called Caffe Marchio, and now there’s this wine, cocktail, and Italian snack bar. Use it to meet someone in Nomad – it’s the perfect balance of upscale (it’s really nicely designed) and casual (you seat yourself, either at the bar or a high-top table). The menu is made up of stuff like fried artichokes and stracciatella cheese on focaccia, and if you’re hungry, or just too lazy to make a second stop, you could certainly eat a full dinner’s worth of food here.
The Loyal is a new restaurant in the West Village from the people behind Narcissa and Nix – although it feels a little more old-school than either of those two places. It’s dimly lit, there are booths with little lamps, and half the tables have white tablecloths. They also make some classic dishes like shrimp scampi, duck fat tater tots, and parker house rolls – alongside some lighter options as well. You might find this place useful if you’re looking for a place to eat with clients or family, and you don’t want anything too stuffy. Despite the white tablecloths, no one is wearing a suit here.
Old Rose, in the bottom of The Jane Hotel, is in the space that used to house Cafe Gitane. It’s from the people behind The Smile and a chef who used to work at Lighthouse, which happens to be one of our favorite places in Brooklyn. For now, Old Rose just has a small menu of light Italian things like fried squid, nectarine with prosciutto, and a few pizzas – but everything we’ve tried has been good. The clam pizza, for example, comes with a cream sauce and chili oil, and is one of the better ways to cure a hangover. So stop by Old Rose for a casual meal with friends in the West Village. They’re open all day, and the food is pretty affordable.
Camperdown Elm serves what we call the Cool New Stuff – things like squid-ink rice crackers with mackerel pate and scallops with corn foam and grapes. It might not be on the same level as Wildair or Olmsted, but it’s significantly less busy, and we like the neighborhood feel of the place. It’s in a little space on a corner in south Park Slope, and it’s pretty laid-back despite the somewhat fancy food. Also, nothing costs more than $30, and, if you sit at the bar, you can eat a burger. It’s great for a weekend night when you have a last-minute desire to try something new. The steak tartare is solid, and you will almost definitely want several orders of the fried muffins.
Ugly Baby is a little restaurant in Carroll Gardens with maybe eight tables, but it’s serving some of the best Thai food we’ve eaten in NYC. This is the new place from the people behind Kao Soy, the popular Red Hook Thai restaurant that made everyone sad when it closed. Ugly Baby serves traditional foods from four different regions in Thailand, which means that a lot of the food is very spicy – but not in the way that makes you feel like your tongue is being burned off for no reason besides pain. The spiciness just intensifies the flavors here, all of which are already impressive. This place is worth traveling for.
The spot that used to be Hundred Acres in Soho is now Shuka, a Middle Eastern restaurant with very solid food. It’s still owned by the people behind Cookshop and Vic’s, and this is sort of like a Middle Eastern version of either of those restaurants. You’ll find a selection of kebabs and dips and mezze plates, all suitable for sharing. There’s plenty of room for big groups, so definitely keep it in mind for that 10-person dinner you have to plan last minute. It won’t win any “best new restaurant” awards, but it’s worth knowing about for utility’s sake.
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.
Bar Glory is the sister restaurant of Glasserie, and it just opened in a space it shares with a hotel in Greenpoint – though it doesn’t seem to actually be the hotel’s restaurant. They serve fancy cocktails and excellent small plates like poppy seed & onion bao and lamb & pistachio dumplings, but the menu’s big enough that we’d recommend you come here for a full dinner so you can try the noodle bowls or the whole fried fish. The low-lit, lounge-y space with a 70s rock soundtrack is a great spot for a date or a small group hang.
The West Village space that was Perla Cafe for the past year is now Fairfax, and it’s run by the same team – who also operate Fedora and Bar Sardine right across the street. The room itself hasn’t changed much, but they’ve taken out most of the dining tables and replaced them with living room furniture. It’s almost like a kind of small hotel lobby. It’s a cool spot for an easygoing get-together, and we liked everything from the Cuban sandwich to the prosciutto and melon on the short and simple menu. It’ll be interesting to see how people use this place – for now, we’d come here for a quick bite and glass of wine.
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.
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Cervo’s is a new place on the LES from the same people behind Hart’s (one of our favorite spots in Bed-Stuy). Like Hart’s, it’s a small space, but there’s a long bar up front and a more intimate little room in the back if you want to hang out and eat a full dinner. Just be aware that the menu is mostly seafood, and be sure to order the clams with garlic and the steak tartare (which also comes with clams). Both plates are pretty small, but that might be the best way to go here. Bring a date, share a few things, then chew a stick of gum, so your breath doesn’t smell like clams.
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 – you don’t need to travel from the Upper West Side for Chez Ma Tante. (Also, do pro/con lists actually work for you?) But if you’re the kind of person who finds yourself in Brooklyn often, or the journey there isn’t a big deal for you, then yes, Chez Ma Tante is worth your time. It’s a little neighborhood spot in Greenpoint, and for such a low-key seeming place, they’re making really great food. We’re still thinking about the half-chicken we ate here, which is saying a lot, given it’s a half-chicken. Also, order the pierogies.
When you take over the space that used to be the Four Seasons, one of New York’s most iconic restaurants for decades, you really can’t screw it up. Fortunately, The Grill doesn’t screw it up at all. In fact, they totally nail it. The vibe is “classic New York” but in a way that feels fresh and not too “Mad Men theme park.” Major Food Group runs the place, and much like at Carbone, it’s a show here. Most notably, a lot of dishes are prepared tableside, from a pasta where the sauce is made with an old-fashioned duck press to a prime rib to a flambéed dessert. As you might suspect, this all comes at a high price, but there’s no better place to celebrate a special occasion right now.
The original Emily is in Clinton Hill, and we gave it a 9.1. Its sister restaurant, Emmy Squared, is in Williamsburg, and that place got an 8.4. Now there’s another Emily in the West Village (in the old Blue Ribbon Bakery Kitchen space). They do square pizzas, round pizzas, and a few different burgers – and, ideally, you should have one of each of these things on your table when you go. Although if there’s only two of you, get a regular burger and a square pizza. (We like the one with blue cheese and wing sauce.) If you live in or near the West Village, congratulations and enjoy responsibly.
On our last Hit List update, we had Atla on wait-and-see status. But after trying it again during the day, we’re confident in telling you it’s worth checking out – provided you do not go expecting to have your life changed in the same way that you would at Cosme (the very serious restaurant run by the same chef). This is a sleek little space that’s ideal for daytime occasions when the sun shines in and you can eat somehow light-tasting huevos rancheros or a very good avocado (excuse us, guacamole) toast. We’d recommend it for a weekday breakfast or lunch, especially if you’re with the type of people who work in fashion or art or are friends with celebrities (or think they are).
Union Square Cafe reopened on Park Avenue recently, and you may have seen we gave it a 9.2. It’s excellent. Along with the new space, they also opened a little cafe across the street that sells breads, lunchtime food, and some very good breakfast sandwiches. There isn’t much seating so many people will use it as a grab and go place, but the lovely space and extremely attentive service make a really great place to stop into. If you spend time around Union Square or Gramercy, this place is about to be in your rotation in a major way.
This is a new Vietnamese restaurant on St. Marks between 1st and Avenue A, which is a block that truly has so many restaurants and bars. This is a casual little spot, and almost everyone here will have a bowl of pho in front of them – it comes with a bit of filet mignon and brisket, and you can add bone marrow too. All that said, it’s actually a very simple, straightforward, and delicious soup. The menu has a lot of other stuff to try as well, and there’s a solid craft beer list, with options from all over New York state as well as a few bottles from Vietnam and Laos.
There was nothing trendy about the original Union Square Cafe, and there is nothing trendy about the new Union Square Cafe. And that’s exactly why we like it here – this is just a nice, classic-feeling, excellent restaurant. If you’ve eaten at the bar at Gramercy Tavern, know that the new Union Square Cafe kind of feels like that throughout the entire (huge) space. Reservations are hard to come by, but we had luck walking right in around 6pm. Save room for the insane desserts.
If you’re hearing about 4 Charles Prime Rib, it’s likely because you’ve heard about their burger: this place is run by the guys behind Au Cheval, one of our favorite restaurants in Chicago and home to one of America’s greatest burgers. It’s worth coming to try the similar (but not exactly the same) burger, and the other very-good-but-bad-for-your-health items like prime rib and a pasta that is somehow both carbonara and cacio e pepe. But we think the real draw here is the vibe: there are oil paintings on the dark wood walls, there’s jazz playing in the background, and you feel kind of like you’re in an underground hideout from the 1940s.
This content was originally published here.