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 12/10/18): Oxalis
All restaurants featured on The Infatuation are selected by our editorial team. The Hit List 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.
“Tasting menu” and “casual date night” aren’t typically phrases people use in the same sentence. But Oxalis, a new spot in Prospect Heights, serves a $60, six-course set menu in an environment that feels surprisingly low-key. The dishes change nightly, but the things we’ve tried - like a rich and crispy duck breast with yogurt and fig, and a goat milk ice cream with amaranth and honey - have been both enjoyable and unlike anything else we’ve tasted recently. And despite the precise plating and unusual ingredients, the open kitchen, friendly servers, and fairly loud music keep this place from feeling stuffy. If you don’t want to commit to the tasting menu, you can always order a la carte in the bar room in the back. They’re still waiting on their liquor license, so there’s no alcohol for now.
If you’re going to spend $100-$200 on dinner, it’d better be at least as special as one month at Equinox or a pair of decent bluetooth headphones. And a meal at Benno is. This new French/Italian spot inside in the Evelyn Hotel offers three, four, and five-course prix fixe menus (for $95, $125, and $145). There are some phenomenal options for each course (our favorites are the savory coddled egg with black truffle, skate almondine with crab mousse, and duck with foie gras, and we’d recommend that you skip the pasta course and try as many other things as possible). The space is not particularly interesting - a quiet, high-ceilinged dining room hidden away behind Leonelli Taberna - and the dark-suited servers move in unison like they’re completing a military exercise. So Benno is definitely not at all casual. But you can expect to have some excellent food and an overall memorable meal here.
Elea is a new Greek restaurant from the people behind Kyma (in the Flatiron District), and it’s great for when you need to have a nice dinner on the Upper West Side but also want to pretend that you’re downtown. The space is big and has an all-white coastal Greek theme, and at night it gets dark and crowded, but not so noisy that you can’t have a conversation. Menu-wise, we particularly like the plate of lamb chops that comes with a side of fries. Get some hummus, too, and at least consider dipping your fries in that hummus.
When you think “tasting menu,” you might imagine a big dining room that looks like a fancy cruise ship full of servers who watch over you like they hid some diamonds in your socks. But Atomix is just 14 seats around a well-lit counter. This place is from the same people behind Atoboy, they do a $175, 10-course Korean tasting menu, and each dish comes with its own note card that explains exactly what you’re eating. You start with things like raw scallop with fermented tomato broth, then move on to richer dishes like halibut with foie gras. And every dish is excellent in its own way. If you want to have a memorable dinner that isn’t too formal or uptight, Atomix is worth the price.
You should spend $65 on chicken as soon as possible. Assuming you’re still with us, allow us to explain. Toriko, a new yakitori restaurant in the West Village, serves two different chicken-centric omakase menus. The cheaper ($65) option includes about seven chicken skewers plus four non-yakitori courses, like a savory egg custard with foie gras and truffle. You’ll get everything from salty, tender chicken neck to chicken oysters that taste like juicy bites of steak, and the full experience is well worth the price. Sit at the chef’s counter with a date, and share a bottle of wine while you watch what’s happening on the grill.
La Vara is home to our favorite Spanish food in Brooklyn, and the team behind that restaurant just opened a new spot next door. This little corner space is pretty different, though. It feels a little bit like Wildair: a sparely-decorated, casual spot where you’ll sit at a bar or high-top, drinking interesting wines and eating interesting food. Instead of a Spanish menu, Saint Julivert serves seafood from around the world - there’s everything from ceviche to raw scallop tacos to a tuna casserole. As for the wine list, it’s organized by ocean, and trying to decode it feels a little like you’ve gone back in time to 4th grade geography class. If that’s too much brain work for you at dinner, ask the staff for help - they’re happy to let you try things until you find one you like.
The new Mekelburg’s location in Williamsburg is similar to the Clinton Hill original: an upscale grocery store up front, with a bar in the back serving high-quality sandwiches, small plates, and craft beers on tap. The sandwiches - like one with wagyu roast beef on an everything baguette, and a banh mi with Peking duck and duck rillettes - are some of the best in Brooklyn, but you shouldn’t overlook the other things on the menu, like the slightly charred three-cheese mac and cheese, and a salt-baked potato with black cod and a lot of caviar. The bar seating and communal tables in the back are great for a casual lunch or dinner, but it’s also not a bad idea to get some sandwiches to-go and eat them across the street in Domino Park.
Whether or not you’re vegan, you probably haven’t been to many restaurants like Sans, and either way, you should add this vegan Carroll Gardens spot to your list right away. The menu is full of things you probably won’t find anywhere else, like plum terrine and a “TV Dinner” with a mushroom farce (basically a meatless meatloaf made out of mushrooms), and everything we’ve tried has surprised us in a good way. For instance, even though the terrine is made completely of plums, it somehow tastes like a mix between chilled butter and sweet foie gras. This is a good date spot, and the bar also works well for casual weeknight dinners (solo or with a friend).
Adda is in a semi-industrial area between a big overpass and Queens Boulevard in Long Island City - and despite the not-so-charming location, we’re already planning our next meal here. This place makes excellent Indian food, and nothing on the menu costs more than $17. The goat curry is rich and spicy, the cheesy naan is great, and the deep-fried kale pakoda is one of the better ways we can think of to consume a green vegetable. Bring a friend or two and get a casual weeknight meal - or, if you don’t live in the area, come on the weekend (and make a reservation to be safe). The space is just one long room, the decorations consist mainly of old newspapers on the walls, and they don’t serve any kind of alcohol - but the food here is definitely worth a trip.
When you sit at the counter overlooking the kitchen at Misi, the new Williamsburg Italian restaurant from the people behind Lilia, you feel like you’re watching a pasta army. There’s someone dropping sheets of tagliatelle one by one into boiling water, another tossing pasta in a pan full of tomatoes and butter, and at least four other people grating cheese or grinding pepper or sprinkling herbs at the same time. It’s something we’d rather watch than roughly 85% of Netflix shows - probably because we know that pasta is going to end up on our plate. Similar to the pastas at Lilia, these are perfectly-cooked, with simple, excellent sauces, and the vegetable-focused appetizers are just as good, if not better. With its lower ceilings and higher number of bar seats, Misi feels slightly more casual than Lilia - but is definitely still a place that will impress just about anyone. Do not, under any circumstances, skip the gelato.
Even the greatest slice places are generally not establishments where you want to stay and hang for a while. That’s what makes Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop different. This is the new spot from the people behind one of our all-time favorite pizza places, the original Paulie Gee’s (which is just a few blocks away). Here it’s order-at-the-counter, and the retro space feels like where you’d go hang out with your high school friends after a big football game in 1968, with checkered floors, orange booths, and a separate beer bar in the back. On two separate visits, we tried all six pizza options on the menu, and found them to be pretty inconsistent: at worst, a little dry and too cold, and at best, a really fresh, excellent piece of pizza. Once Slice Shop figures out how to make all the slices that good, we’ll be regulars. And until then, we’d still send you here to check out what is probably the most fun slice place we’ve encountered.
The original Kopitiam - a tiny Malaysian spot on the Lower East Side - closed last year, but now there’s a new, larger location near the Williamsburg Bridge. The counter-service menu has everything from spicy sesame noodles and sweet sticky rice desserts to iced coffee that comes in Capri Sun pouches, and it’s perfect for a casual breakfast, lunch, or dinner (they’re open until 10pm). We particularly recommend the pan mee soup, which has wide homemade noodles, beef, dried anchovies, a little sweetness, and potentially a hidden ingredient that will make non-soup-lovers love soup.
Manhatta has a lot in common with other spots from Danny Meyer’s restaurant group, like Union Square Cafe and Gramercy Tavern - except for one key difference: it’s 60 stories up. The entire space has floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views, and the rest of the details, like the pads hidden under the tables so you don’t hit your knees, are just as impressive. They make it easy for you to feel relaxed here - even as you’re eating a three-course prix fixe. It’s $78 (hospitality included), and for each course, you get to choose from around six mostly-French options like foie gras mousse, wagyu bavette, and vanilla souffle. If you’re looking to spend around $100 a person, restaurant experiences don’t get much more impressive than this. (You can also order a la carte at the bar.)
Bistro Pierre Lapin is a new French restaurant from the chef behind Harold’s Meat + Three and an old NYC classic, Commerce. Commerce has been gone for a while, but the restaurant’s famous chicken can be found on the menu at Bistro Pierre Lapin, along with some additions to the usual French bistro menu - like a short rib stuffed pasta and a bone in pork chop. The room is a bit stiff, but otherwise it’s a restaurant we’ve consistently enjoyed over three recent visits.
St. Marks is full of affordable places to have dinner, and 886 is its newest spot. This is a modern Taiwanese place in a narrow little room that’s already packed with people eating things like stir-fried pork lettuce cups, sausage fried rice, and a spicy fried chicken sandwich. Come here when you want to eat well without spending too much money, or for a group dinner before a night out in the East Village. Just try to make a reservation or be prepared to wait.
If you like steakhouses that feel like places where Dean Martin would’ve smoked cigars in corner booths, and you also like smoked meats, you’re going to like Holy Ground. It’s a dimly-lit, below-ground steakhouse in Tribeca with red leather booths, low ceilings, and walls covered in art that looks very old. We like most things we’ve eaten here, especially the rich beef rib and the sweet and smoky half-chicken. Come to Holy Ground the next time you want to drink a martini and eat some meat.
When you walk into Bernie’s, you step into an alternate reality that’s certainly not Greenpoint in 2018. There are red-checkered tablecloths, crayons on every table, shiny red booths, and stained-glass light fixtures that will make you feel nostalgic for a time and place you’ve maybe never experienced. This is the new restaurant from the people behind Frankel’s, who make some of the best bagel sandwiches in NYC - but here they’re serving straight-up American comfort food like cheeseburgers, caesar salads, baby back ribs, mozzarella sticks, and a giant brownie sundae. Bernie’s could have easily ended up being an embarrassing theme restaurant, but the attention to detail is what makes it a place where we’ll send you for a dinner that’s simultaneously easy and fun. That, and the fact that you will leave here feeling extremely satisfied for a very reasonable price.
Hao Noodle first opened up a few years ago on 6th Avenue, serving excellent Chinese dishes like dumplings made of an egg crepe sitting in a chicken broth, and mung bean jelly in a spicy Sichuan sauce. They now have a new location on 14th Street, just at the edge of Meatpacking, with a slightly different menu. The menu here has a large section of single-serve skewers, and the ones we tried, like cumin lamb, were great. There’s no liquor license yet, but it would work well for a nice but non-sceney meal in Meatpacking.
Oxomoco is a big, bright new restaurant in Greenpoint from the people behind Speedy Romeo. But instead of pizza, this spot serves upscale Mexican food, and instead of feeling like you’re in a former autobody shop, you’ll feel like you’re in a place where it’s the perfect tropical temperature year-round. Oxomoco has a great front patio where you should drink margaritas and eat fancy tacos this summer, and the interior is even better-looking, with high ceilings and plenty of hanging greenery. There’s a big menu of cocktails, and food ranging from tuna tostadas to pork cheek carnitas to a $95 steak. But so far, we think the best thing on the menu is the wood-fired half chicken, which comes with pickled onions, crispy rice, and tortillas for you to make your own perfect tacos.
This two-story Japanese restaurant in Nomad is owned by the same people who run two Korean restaurants we like a lot (Her Name Is Han and Take 31). It’s a place where you’ll eat a lot of things on skewers - you can get anything from scallops to eggs wrapped in bacon to chicken hearts - but also ramen, sashimi, and meat and vegetable small plates. The atmosphere is casual, and ideal for that Wednesday night catch-up dinner you told your friend you’d plan. If you encounter a wait (it’s already pretty busy), just get a drink at one of the many K-Town bars nearby.
Even the most promising new restaurants in Greenpoint take a while to catch on - people usually don’t want to travel for a spot they’re not totally sure about. Di An Di is different. This attractive, plant-covered new Vietnamese restaurant is already slammed, but the better news is that it’s also already worth waiting for. They serve a pretty big menu that’s a mix of traditional Vietnamese dishes, like summer rolls and pho, and Di An Di originals, like a Vietnamese “pizza” made with grilled crispy rice paper for the crust. Everything we’ve tried is great - but you absolutely shouldn’t leave without getting at least one bowl of pho (and make sure to add the fried donut for dipping). The cocktails are great too. Overall, this is the most excited we’ve been about a new Vietnamese restaurant since Hanoi House.
Originally, Una Pizza Napoletana was in the East Village. Then it moved to San Francisco, where it made some of the best pizzas in the city - and now it’s back in NYC. The new location is on the Lower East Side, and it’s a big space with high ceilings and a minimalist kitchen in the back that sort of looks like a lab. The pizzas here are Neapolitan, and they’re both simple and very good. There are also some interesting small plates from the Wildair people (who are partners in this place), including some beef crudo with olive and pistachio that may be better than the pizza.
Pretty soon, Frenchette is going to be that place that people casually mention in conversation in order to impress you. A coworker might say something like, “(Blah blah blah)… after dinner at Frenchette,” for example. This place just opened in Tribeca, and it’s kind of like a smaller, more stylish Balthazar, with red leather booths and ceiling fans, and a great little bar area up front that’s slightly more casual. The menu is a mix of traditional and modern French, like the escargot, which come in a pool of scrambled eggs that taste like movie-theater popcorn. The steak and duck frites are also excellent. Keep Frenchette in mind for the time you feel like spending a little money on a dinner that will involve some great food and possibly even better people watching.
Davelle is a tiny spot with only a bar and a couple small tables, and you might hear Leonard Cohen on the speakers while the bartender/chef tells you about growing up in Hokkaido. This place specializes in oden, which is basically a small bowl of dashi broth with your choice of ingredients like fried tofu, boiled egg, or sausage with Japanese mustard. The broth is light but very flavorful, and all of the toppings are great, especially the fried octopus. Overall, this is a great option for when you want an interesting dinner but you also want to keep things low-key and affordable (each Oden is around $4).
This is the new restaurant in Hudson Yards from the people behind Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones, and, like those other spots, the food is excellent, and it’s upscale without feeling uptight. It’s a great-looking space with high-ceilings, leather-topped tables, and some alcoves that are perfect for groups - and, despite the fancy wine glasses and top-notch service, you can wear whatever you want here. It’s a little pricey, however, so you’ll probably want to come for a somewhat special occasion. Make a reservation, and be sure to get the duck pasta, a few kinds of crudo, and the housemade gelato.
La Mercerie is a cafe in the front of a high-end furniture store in the part of Soho where you see people lined up for the latest streetwear, and they recently started serving lunch and dinner. The mostly-French menu has salads, crepes, and steak tartare - and the food is excellent. So stop by and have a lunch meeting here. Or buy a $2,000 bed in the adjoining furniture store, then sit down and eat some smoked salmon blinis to celebrate. A meal here won’t be cheap, but it will impress whoever you need to impress. Just be sure to make a reservation if you don’t want to risk waiting.
Your neighborhood might have some kind of diner, but chances are, it’s not one you want to use for a casual date night, a not-hungover brunch, or a dinner with your parents. But that’s exactly what MeMe’s is. If we lived in Prospect Heights, we would be here regularly, and because we don’t, we’ll travel for it. The space is smallish, with a wraparound booth and a little bar, and they serve great renditions of stuff like meatloaf and chicken cutlet along with well-made cocktails like negronis and palomas. They clearly put a lot of thought into most things here - take, for example, the fried giardiniera, which makes us question why more people don’t pickle-then-fry things. Get the patty melt, and the peanut butter pretzel pie or a slice of cake. Or both.