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 12/18): Fausto, Pheasant, La Contenta Oeste, Casino Clam Bar, Evelina, Tetsu, SriPraPhai
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 Marta, 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.
Uncle Boons Sister is the takeout version of Uncle Boons (one of our favorite Thai restaurants in NYC), and it’s in the space that used to be Mr. Donahue’s. The menu here is smaller than the one at Uncle Boons, however, and most things are under $15. They do stuff like fried chicken laarb, pork shank over rice, and a Thai-style hot dog covered in papaya salad - and, if you need a quick lunch or dinner in Nolita, this is an excellent option. There are a few tables inside where you can hang out and eat, although the space is tiny, and you shouldn’t count on finding a seat.
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.
Popina is a little restaurant on the Brooklyn waterfront near Carroll Gardens. The food is a Southern and Italian, and it turns out these two genres of food work really well together. The chicken Milanese is done like Nashville-style hot chicken, the arancini come with honey and butter, and you can get a plate of pasta with ham hock and okra. And all of it is quite good. The only catch is that the dining room is tiny, and they only take reservations for large parties. But feel free to stop in last-minute for a very good, casual meal with one or two other people. If there’s a wait, you can hang out back, where they serve drinks.
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.
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.
Miss Ada might be the nicest new place to eat outside. This new Israeli Fort Greene restaurant has an awesome patio, and some good food to go with it. Get the octopus, and the hummus with lamb shawarma. We do wish the pita was served warmer and was also generally a little better, but when you’re drinking a cocktail on a nice summer day here, you won’t care too much about the bread.
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).
There are, for some reason, a ton of new-ish restaurants on 20th Street between Park and Broadway - some of which you should definitely visit (Sugarfish), and others which you should skip (you don’t really need to go to Le Coq Rico - the “bistro of birds”). Nur is also on this block, and it definitely lands in the “you should go” category. It’s a new modern Middle Eastern place from one of the most popular chefs in Tel Aviv, and the food ranges from an excellent eggplant carpaccio, to a bread that’s kind of like the offspring of a challah and a brioche, to rich lamb stuffed inside a pita, to a nice piece of seabass. It’s a small, warm, upscale (though not fancy) space, and a great option for the next time you’re looking for a nice meal in this part of town.
Chelsea needed a place like Motel Morris. It looks great, but you can wear whatever you want, and it works for a fun date night when you don’t feel like going below 14th Street. The dining room isn’t huge, but it feels spacious and has a cool retro vibe. Sort of like a futuristic motel on a planet where crime doesn’t exist and everyone studies interior design in elementary school. As for the food, it’s solid. It might not be mind-blowing, but you can still bring someone here and impress them with the fancy light fixtures and all-pink bathroom.
For a while, we’ve been fans of the Park Slope location of Sushi Katsuei, which does the best sushi in Brooklyn and one of the best not-insanely priced omakase deals. Now, they’ve taken over the old Soto space in the West Village, and we’re pleased to report that the fish there is excellent. You’ll get nine pieces and a handroll for $57, which isn’t bad for the quality. If you’re ready to spend more, you’ll get to try some pretty unusual fish. As with any sushi omakase situation, be sure to sit at the bar.
This is a beautifully-designed spot in the middle of deep residential Fort Greene, which means the restaurant’s huge windows look out onto brownstones and cherry blossom trees that are in view whether you’re sitting at the bar or at a table. What we’re trying to say is, eating here is a very pretty experience. And it’s an interesting one, too. The common theme among the food here is that it’s torched to sh*t in the giant wood-burning oven. The carrots, beets, homemade sourdough bread, and a lamb sitting in a squash puree (that’s way better than you’d think), are all things we enjoyed here. Come on a date with someone who will be impressed/intrigued by a place with a mysterious bar over a letter in its name.
Vegetarians, rev your engines. The new meat-free restaurant in everyone’s favorite carpet store and home to restaurants is officially open through dinner now. The food is very tasty, and worth trying even if you’re not a dedicated vegetarian - it’s more than just a plant-based version of ABC Kitchen or ABC Cocina. You’ll especially like it if you care what your restaurants look like. Unsurprisingly, everything here is bright and pretty.
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.
Some new restaurants take a little while to catch on. You go there early on, and the place is half-empty, or the gas is turned off, or your server doesn’t remember what comes with the chicken. This is not the case at Loring Place, an upscale Greenwich Village restaurant that’s already running like a well-oiled machine. Not a huge surprise, since it’s owned by the chef who was a big part of ABC Kitchen’s success. The long menu is strong across the board, but also not surprisingly, the vegetable stuff is best - focus on a bunch of smaller dishes over the bigger proteins. And get the blizzard for dessert or live a less happy life.
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.
If you’re like us, the first thing you’ll feel when you walk into Ops is that you don’t want to leave. (Full disclosure: we did go on a night so cold the dentist chair would have been more appealing than outside. But still.) The place has an excellent vibe - it’s the kind of neighborhood hang that would work equally well for a date or to kick off a weekend night out with friends. But if we lived in the neighborhood, we’d be here most often for dining solo - the bar overlooking the open kitchen and pizza oven is prime. Speaking of pizza, that’s mainly what they serve here, and it’s good. The other stuff on the menu is limited and seasonal, and the wine list is nonexistent - because it’s whatever they’re pouring. And they’re pouring good stuff.
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.
“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.