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The NYC Hit List: The Best New Restaurants In NYC

PHOTO: Rockwell Group, Emily Andrews

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 1/18): Bunker, 4 Charles Prime Rib, ROKC, Union Square Cafe, Pretty Southern, LaRina Pastificio & Vino, Sunday In Brooklyn

The Spots

Union Square Cafe

Gramercy
101 East 19th St.

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.

Despite a name that might make you think of hangovers and bad decisions, Sunday In Brooklyn is actually one of the vibier new spots we’ve been to lately. On our last weeknight visit, the (very attractive) space was packed, the music was excellent, and people seemed genuinely happy to be there. We wish the dinner menu was longer, but we loved the acorn squash (it tastes like an everything bagel), pickled deviled eggs, and sourdough bread with beer butter. This is an all-day place, and we plan to try it out next for brunch.

Photo: Bess Adler

ROKC

Harlem
3452 Broadway

At this small Japanese restaurant that opened on 141st and Broadway over the summer, drinks come in vessels including but not limited to: a light bulb, an eggshell, a hollowed-out green pepper, and some kind of large conch shell. There's one that comes with incense on the side, and another where they put a mini hobbyist-style lawn on top of the glass. This sounds like it could be cheesy and Instagram bait-y, but the place is actually anything but. The drinks are also exceptional, and this is coming from people who usually only drink Negronis and Old Fashioneds. They also serve ramen and oysters and a few small plates here, all of which are good.

Pretty Southern wants you to think it’s sort of healthy. And that’s true in technical terms: the chicken and fish is all treated nicely (antibiotic/hormone-free, environmentally friendly - you get the picture), the produce is organic, and you can request most things be made gluten free or vegan. But - at the end of the day, this is a fried chicken restaurant. A fried chicken restaurant that can make your fried chicken gluten-free, but still. If you’re rolling your eyes, you can stop, because the food is actually good. This is a tiny spot, but the menu is easy and relatively inexpensive. (FYI, they don’t have their liquor license yet.)

LaRina is a new Italian spot in Clinton Hill, from the same people behind neighborhood favorite Aita, and we're big fans after eating here for the first time. This restaurant is all about pasta, and you’ll probably want to do the $36 tasting that lets you try three of them. You can balance out your meal with some non-carb options, and we'd recommend the broccoli rabe as one means of doing that. This is a casual, comfortable, lively spot you’d be happy to eat in pretty much anytime, and an excellent addition to the neighborhood.

Bunker used to be in Ridgewood, but they shut that location down and recently reopened in Bushwick. The new place is a little bigger, a little closer to the city, and a little more of a scene. Maybe because it’s not hard to find and surrounded by old warehouses. But also maybe because the food is still some of the best Vietnamese in NYC, the room has tropical vibes, and they play good (loud) music. Come here to eat pho and watch Bushwick types in their natural habitat.

Chinese Tuxedo

5 Doyers St
MAP

Yet another old Chinatown spot that's been revamped, Chinese Tuxedo is on Doyers Street, that kind of hidden rounded alley where Nom Wah and Apotheke are. The inside is surprisingly big and feels like a party - imagine a 2016 version of Buddakan, but not in Meatpacking, and before it was full of teenagers who just drove in from Paramus for an 18th birthday party. The food is modern Chinese and much of it is very good, though it is likely to get expensive if you plan on leaving full. Expect a fun crowd of people looking to have a good time, and don't be turned off by the fact the menu lists a "music curator" for the restaurant - the service is actually very laid-back and unpretentious. Use it for an upcoming big group night out. (F.Y.I. It's wine and beer only, for now.)

Lalo

Chinatown
104 Bayard St

Before this Chinatown restaurant space was Lalo, it was a one-room karaoke dive bar called Winnie's, where, up until last year, they were still playing music on laser discs. And while it's a shame if you never got to sing "Sweet Caroline" for the Winnie's crowd after taking a flaming shot of Kahlua, you'll still be lucky to go to its replacement. The chef behind El Rey runs the restaurant, and the result is a sort of a Mexican/Latin version of Dimes, but without the attitude. You'll eat funky stuff like vegan chicharones and squid stuffed with chorizo and hibiscus, but the most straightforward dish is the best one here - carnitas with homemade flour tortillas. After a year where so many new restaurants felt exactly the same, Lalo is something that feels legitimately new.

Photo: Liz Barclay

Massoni

Midtown
11 E 31st St

How do you do Italian/Asian fusion? Check out Massoni, from the people who brought you Talde in Brooklyn. This new place is in the bottom of the Arlo Hotel, just a few blocks from Madison Square Garden, and it’s already one of the best food options in the area. Get a good, square pizza or try a dish that sounds pretty Italian but also has something like nori in it. The vibes here are more downtown than Midtown, and it’s worth visit the next time someone drags you to the Empire State Building.

Chao Chao

171 Avenue A
MAP

You might hear some metal when you walk in, and the waitstaff might be surprised to see you (this place won’t be full), but those are just two more reasons to go here. This is a new Vietnamese restaurant in the East Village, and you can get some real good breakfast fried rice here. And you can get it for dinner. Have the beef cheeks and spicy raw beef. As of right now, you can get some tasty food here, and you won’t have to wait for a table.

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Sugarfish

Flatiron
33 E 20th St

When your friends from New York go to LA, they probably come back telling you about how great it was. They'll tell you how it's just so nice when it's warm in February. They'll tell you that you can actually own a house there. And they'll tell you about Sugarfish. Sugarfish locations are all over LA, and they're incredibly popular for serving a very high-quality, straightforward omakase sushi meal for under $40. After checking it out, we’re happy to say that NYC Sugarfish is basically an exact replica of LA Sugarfish, though prices are a few dollars higher and as of now, the waits are pretty insane. That said, the whole operation seems well-run and impressively not a sh*tshow.

Leuca is in the bottom of a large upscale hotel, so you can’t knock it for what it is. It’s big, fancy yet casual, and it’s haunted by the ghosts of interior designers arguing over lighting fixtures. The food is also pretty good. It won’t be the best Italian you’ve ever eaten, but Leuca is all about vibes - and the vibes here are 100% Manhattan. This is a good place in Williamsburg to take your parents, and it isn’t a bad choice for a fun night out with a group of friends. It isn’t cheap, but it also isn’t crazy expensive. These guys have hit a sweet spot of price, vibes, and quality, so you’re going to find a big (and well-dressed) weekend crowd here eating pizza, pasta, and charred-cabbage salads.

Hart's

Bedford-Stuyvesant
506 Franklin Ave.

If you order the lamb burger here, the server will ask you if you’d like anchovies on it (for an extra two dollars). And if you want to eat something that tastes like a cross between a burger and a tuna-salad sandwich, go for it. If you like fish, it isn’t an unwelcome experience. Just know that it gets messy, and you will smell like an anchovy. But that’s just one thing on the menu at this little Bed-Stuy restaurant that should be your new go-to dinner date spot if you live in the area. The kitchen is tiny, but they make flavorful stuff like ricotta with pickled eggplant and (shell-on) clam toast with pancetta. It’s Mediterranean/American food, and, for how sleek this place is, the vibes are surprisingly mom-and-pop.

April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman's new butchery and restaurant is a big addition to the vastly improved restaurant options on the UWS. During the day, it's takeout plus order at the counter table service. For dinner, the dining room transforms into a more full-service restaurant. Their BEC is fantastic, their lunch menu has a bunch of meat sandwiches and hot dogs, and dinner showed promise - some hits, some misses, but overall, a great experience. The Guinea Hen Pie and Strip Steak were standouts, and their Crispy Layered Potato with Beef Fat is excellent. Plus, we walked in on a Saturday night and got a table with only a 15-minute wait. Finally, it pays to live uptown.

Photo: Eric Medsker

"Let's go to that cool new spot in FiDi," said no one in the last ten years. We're not sure that's going to be a thing people say now either, but this new restaurant in the Beekman Hotel is doing its best to help the cause. Brought to you by Keith McNally, Augustine is basically Balthazar or Cherche Midi, but, you know, more downtown. Our first meal here was good, and judging by the crowds, the neighborhood is glad to have it. But Augustine is also not exactly what we'd call an exciting new restaurant opening. Hit it if you're in the area.

Guadalupe Inn

Brooklyn / Bushwick
1 Knickerbocker Ave

Finally, the residents of Bushwick can eat upscale Mexican while they catch a good, old-fashioned drag show. Because that’s what you want when you’re having some chicharron gorditas. Depending on the night, you also might get some dance or burlesque or some kind of music. Performances at Guadalupe take place on a little stage in the main dining room, but if being entertained isn’t your thing, you can sit in the bar area up front. The Mexican food here is modern and slightly fancy, but not so fussy that you can’t stuff yourself to the point where you need a nap. If you’re in Bushwick with your parents, take them here.

The old Whitney building on Madison Avenue recently became the Met Breuer, and now there's a new restaurant downstairs run by the people behind Estela. It's definitely not your typical museum restaurant: the menu is full of small plates like raw scallops wrapped in seaweed, lobster dumplings, and sea urchin served in a shell with bits of fluke. Everything we've eaten here has been quite tasty (and fairly pricey), and it's certainly something new for the Upper East Side.

Photo: Glen Allsop

Harold's Meat + Three

SoHo
2 Renwick Street

The “Harold” here is Harold Moore, the man responsible for long-time Infatuation favorite Commerce, which shut down last year, while the "meat and three" means the traditional Southern-style one protein and two sides. It’s a huge space on the far west side of Soho, with friendly people, a fully operational salad bar, and lots and lots of meats - including an excellent burger.

Los Mariscos

Chelsea
409 West 15th St
8.5
MAP

This is the seafood spot from the same people behind Los Tacos No. 1, which is easily one of our favorite taco spots in the city. Excellent news: Los Mariscos is just as good. Even better news: it’s hidden away from the rest of the tourist hellzone of Chelsea Market, at the end of a hallway to the left of Los Tacos No. 1 (you can even get to it directly from the street without having to enter Chelsea Market). Once there, you’ll find a small menu of margaritas and ceviches and (most importantly) fish tacos that are some of the best we’ve found in NYC.

King

SoHo
18 King St.
7.7
MAP

You know that feeling you would get when you were a kid and your parents brought you out to a “nice” restaurant? The kind of place that would require your sweater with rhinestones on it, or your khakis with the front pleat? That’s a little how we felt walking into King, a new restaurant on the Soho/”South Village” border. It definitely feels happening - but in a very grown-up way: white tablecloths, attractive but understated decor, and a daily-changing menu of French and Italian-inspired dishes (including, on our last visit, a $70 truffle pasta). Besides the feeling that we had graduated to the adult’s table, the food we’ve tried here is very, very good - particularly the steak. One word of caution: they do run out of food (on an already very short menu) - get an earlier reservation if you can.

The Williamsburg neighborhood spot Lighthouse makes the kind of food you probably want to be eating right now: super fresh, pretty healthy, and really, really good. Which is why you should be excited about their new spot right in the middle of Nolita: Lighthouse Outpost, a mini, Manhattan version of the original. Currently only open on weekdays (11am-4pm at the moment, with dinner coming soon), this place is already the neighborhood’s best new lunch option by a long shot. It's a tiny place that's perfect for a quick solo lunch that will leave you feeling great about your choices - everything from the duck in pita to the big salad to the hibiscus tea is excellent.

8.4
MAP

Casa Apicii, a sleek Italian spot in Greenwich Village, looks like a Bond villain’s country club. It suggests both romance and a hidden pit of sharks. But note: this is not red-sauce Italian. The food is light, modern, and a little bit adventurous. This is a good place for a late-in-the-game date or a semi-special occasion. Payday, for example.

8.1
MAP

You’re in a group text of friends planning a last-minute dinner tonight. One person wants something “fun!,” someone else wants something “not too expensive,” and your lazy friend doesn’t want to go “too out of the way.” The move is Thursday Kitchen, a Korean fusion small plates place serving things like eel tacos, edamame dumplings, and fried soft shell crab, alongside the most “fun” item of all: light-up, glow-in-the-dark alcoholic Capri Suns. It all could feel really cheesy. But it doesn’t. Do yourself and your friends a favor and get to this below-ground hideout of good food and good times soon.

Le Coucou

SoHo
138 Lafayette St
9.1
MAP

Planning your next special occasion dinner/fancy night out? Le Coucou is a restaurant from Daniel Rose, an American chef who started one of the most popular restaurants in Paris, and Stephen Starr, the restaurateur behind Upland, The Clocktower, and more. So far it's drawing a slightly older, fancier (though not uptight) crowd, especially given its location on the border of Chinatown and Soho - but the food and service are absolutely excellent.

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