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 2/6): Loring Place, Hanoi House, Ops, Karasu
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.
We first ventured to Karasu a few months back just for drinks, and were blown away by the space and the cocktails. In case you missed it on our Bar Hit List, here’s a refresher: this is a Japanese-inspired bar/small plates spot you get to through the back door of Walter’s, a casual neighborhood restaurant in Fort Greene. We went back recently, this time for food, and Karasu did not disappoint. Unlike the restaurant its housed inside, this is a real destination - bring someone here you’re trying to impress. And get the fried chicken.
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 were 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.