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 6/14/19): Pastis, Shabushabu Mayumon, HaSalon, Madre
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.
The original Pastis opened in 1999, when the Meatpacking District didn’t have a Standard Hotel, a Whitney museum, a Tory Burch store, or even a Lululemon. Now, after having been closed for several years, Pastis is back, in a bigger space just a block from where it used to be. It feels a little more touristy than the original, and it doesn’t quite recapture the same woke-up-at-1pm-then-put-on-some-Louboutins feel - but it looks pretty much the same, with dim lighting, tiled walls, and red leather banquettes. The menu consists of standard French bistro items that range from $24 to $36, and the steak frites is especially good. If you enjoy butter and garlic, you should also have the escargot on your table. Even if it doesn’t have the same magic as the original, this is still one of your best dining options in the Meatpacking District.
Dinner at Shabushabu Mayumon starts with a wet hand towel and ends with a mountain of matcha shaved ice. What happens in between is a long omakase conga line of single-bite meats and vegetables - the best of which is washugyu beef topped with basil, tomato, balsamic, and blue cheese. Like its nearby sister restaurant Shabushabu Macoron (the only other omakase shabu shabu restaurant in the world), there’s just one chef here, who swishes individual bites of high-quality meat in broth before she dips them into sauce and places them in front of you. But unlike Macoron, where the food tends to be more straightforward Japanese, Mayumon experiments with mashups from other cultures - like Spanish ajillo, Italian bagna cauda, and Vietnamese pho. It’ll cost you $128 (before tip, tax, or drinks), but Shabushabu Mayumon is worth its price tag, especially if you want to celebrate with a lot of red meat in a setting that couldn’t be more different from a steakhouse.
If you want to have a big night out, you could go somewhere for dinner, and then sit around calling and canceling Ubers while arguing with friends about how long the lines will be at various bars and clubs. Or you could just go to HaSalon, an Israeli spot in Hell’s Kitchen where you can have dinner and then party past midnight without getting up from your table - except maybe to dance on top of it. Even though the dishes here (from the same chef as Miznon) have high-production value, like a 12-foot pici noodle, and a bagel the size of a laptop filled with king crab meat, they’re also very expensive, and you shouldn’t come just to eat $57 hummus with lamb or $59 grilled squid. You’re here for what happens after you finish eating. Around 10:30pm, servers pull metal shades down over the windows, the lights dim, and a DJ starts blasting music. You need to go in with the right mindset, but if you want to dance on tables with strangers, this is a fun place to do it.
We’re not sure who actually stays at Franklin Guesthouse in Greenpoint (other than parents visiting their well-adjusted adult children), but that’s a perfect conversation starter for a date at Madre, the new restaurant in the lobby. It’s a great place to take someone who wants to eat excellent in-season vegetables and drink cocktails, all while sitting in front of a huge open window and watching the dogs of Greenpoint trot by. There’s not one word to describe the food at Madre, but this place uses basil leaves like confetti and makes foam out of parmesan - and both of these things would be annoying if not for the simple fact that it all tastes simple and delicious. We especially like the very pretty plate of fried green tomatoes with summer squash, and the hunk of ribeye that cuts like butter and comes with mashed potatoes and maitake mushrooms.
Like most animals on this planet, we enjoy eating outside - and that’s part of the reason why we like Wayla, a new Thai restaurant on the LES that has a backyard filled with potted plants, string lights, and some patio furniture that’s probably nicer than a lot of the stuff you choose to keep indoors. The food here also happens to be excellent, especially the pork sausage and fried branzino. But we’d be keeping secrets if we didn’t tell you to order the noodle-wrapped meatballs and the daily curry too. Bring a few people, so you don’t have to waste time trying to decide between all of these things.
Kāwi is one of a few restaurants that we feel good about sending you to in Hudson Yards. Especially if you’re in the area for business or if you’re seeing a show and want to go somewhere a little fancy and exciting in Midtown. Even still, strategize which of the Korean dishes to order, because while there are some major hits, we’ve had a few misses. If you’re with a big group, get the giant pot of pork-based soybean stew - the creamy broth is incredibly rich, and full of little boiled potatoes, mushrooms, and tender pork belly. But above all else, you should try the pickled brisket which is perfectly mustardy and goes nicely with the bitter greens it comes with. If more luxury malls served this pickled brisket, we’d develop cry-for-help shopping problems.
It takes a lot for us to tell you to go out of your way for a diner. But we would advise you do so in the case of Golden Diner, a little spot underneath the Manhattan Bridge with big windows, yellow booths, and lace curtains. The short (for a diner, at least) menu here is what sets it apart - there’s a club sandwich stuffed with chicken katsu, an avocado toast topped with turmeric, thai basil, and galangal, and a bibimbap-style bowl of creamy barley covered in enough vegetables, fruits, and flowers to look and taste like a field that you definitely want to frolic through. Make your next lunch-outside-of-the-office plans here.
During the day, this East Village spot functions mostly as a fancy tea shop (with a few lunch and dim sum options available). At night, you can still order from their long tea list, but there’s also a full menu of Chinese dishes like pork soup dumplings, steamed pea shoots, and scallion pancakes wrapped around thin pieces of grilled beef. If you’re sharing, we’d suggest getting the generous portion of Peking duck, which is something we’re already thinking about going back to eat again. Come to Uluh if you need a place to make some clients realize how great you are at choosing restaurants, or if you’re looking for a nice dinner with a large-ish group (it doesn’t look too big from the front, but there’s a second dining room with lots of seating in the back).
Lokanta is a walk-in only Turkish restaurant in Astoria from the same chef as Sip Sak, another Turkish spot near Grand Central in Midtown East. The menu here is divided into small plates (like a zucchini pancake made with mint and chopped-up dill, and beef bourekas in crispy wrappers) and larger entrees, and you’ll want to split a lot of different things - as long as those things include the roasted lamb with rice. It’s got not-too-sweet currants, flavorful rice, and enough pulled lamb so that you get a piece in almost every bite. Bring some friends or a date, and you’ll be able to have an excellent meal for around $30 per person.
The next time you need a great dinner downtown and want to keep it in the $15-20 per person range, try Jiang Diner. This new East Village spot specializes in Northwestern Chinese food, and you’ll find things like wheat-based noodles, a crispy cumin pancake, and a lot of lamb on the menu. We’d recommend coming here with a group, sitting at one of the red circular tables, and ordering a bunch of noodle dishes, some really good buns with spicy paste on top, and the big plate chicken, which has spicy boiled potatoes, wide noodles, and tender pieces of meat. It’s our favorite thing here. (Just maybe bring a six-pack or some wine, since they’re BYOB for now.)
There are a lot of casual weeknight dinner options in Williamsburg, but not many that serve food as good as Hanon’s. This Japanese spot specializes in udon, and offers both hot and cold varieties with two types of housemade noodles. Our favorite is the curry udon with really rich broth and tender beef, and if you want something a bit lighter, go with the brothless mentai udon, which has a ton of spicy cod caviar. Definitely get some small plates as well, like the juicy fried chicken that comes with spicy chili paste. This place is worth traveling for (especially because it’s just a few steps from the Lorimer L and G stops) - but know that for the moment, it’s still waiting on a liquor license.
Crown Shy is one of a few new places (like Manhatta) that make us actually excited about getting dinner in FiDi. This new American spot off the lobby of a landmarked luxury apartment building has high ceilings and huge windows, and is perfect for clients or in-laws or anyone you generally want to convince that you have your sh*t together. The food - like hummus that comes with ’nduja and sugar-coated puffed bread, and crispy farro with bone marrow and chunks of oxtail - will also impress just about everyone. But while it’s certainly upscale, Crown Shy doesn’t feel stuffy - the walk-in-only bar area, as well as the open kitchen and surprisingly affordable prices (most dishes are under $20), make it the kind of spot you could go anytime you want to get a little dressed up for a nice night out.
This is the second spot from the people behind Tokyo Record Bar, and as with that restaurant, you’re here for a totally unique eating and drinking experience. At Niche Niche, the emphasis is on the drinking - every night, the wine menu completely changes, and the accompanying food does as well, with the whole menu coming in at $80 per person. We recently went on a night featuring four excellent American wines (like a sparkling from Monterey County and a riesling from the Finger Lakes), and dishes like cioppino and olive oil cake. The food was good - but the wine experience is what makes this place special. The night’s guest sommelier and Niche Niche team wander around the room throughout your two-hour seating, refilling your glass regularly, and you’re free to ask them as many or as few questions about what you’re drinking as you want. It’s already tough to get a reservation, but you could also try your luck walking in after 10pm, when they take walk-ins and you can order a la carte. Whenever you go, you can count on Niche Niche feeling like a party.
Even if the only things you associate with Chicago are Michael Jordan and cold winters, there’s a decent chance you’ve heard of Au Cheval. They serve one of the best burgers in the country, and crowds of people are already packed into the new NYC location so they can try it. In keeping with the generally excessive nature of this place, the “single” actually has two patties - and yes, it’s an extremely good cheeseburger. Everything else on the menu (like the fried bologna sandwich and scrambled eggs with foie gras) is some combination of fatty, buttery, and salty, so it’s best to come here when your after-dinner plans consist of little more than drawing the shades in your apartment. But the big, dark space makes this place feel like a night out itself. Come early to put your name down, and you can hang out in the downstairs bar while you wait. Just know it might be a couple of hours.
Sometimes, you only have to do one thing very well. Just look at The Container Store, or the near-identical characters Jason Statham plays in all his movies. The Fly, a new place in Bed-Stuy from the people behind Hart’s, is another great example. The menu here is tiny, and the only real entree is rotisserie chicken. You can either get a whole or a half, and it’ll come out so juicy and flavorful, you’ll want to walk into the kitchen and start asking questions. Add some fries and sauteed greens, plus a few glasses of wine (most of which are under $15), and you’ll have an excellent meal that shouldn’t cost more than $50 per person. The only downside is that this place doesn’t take reservations, and there aren’t too many tables. But there’s a big area up front where you can wait (or eat by yourself).
Niche is a walk-in-only Japanese spot right by the Williamsburg Bridge, from the people behind Nakamura (which is right next door). The specialty here is mazemen - brothless ramen - and each bowl is around $20. The one with ribeye and spinach is a must-order, and in addition to your noodles, you should also get a starter or two. There’s a very generously portioned $8 plate of uni toast, a refreshing yuzu scallop crudo, and addictive umami fries with seaweed and kelp seasoning on top. Just know that the space is really small - it has a single communal table with one server buzzing around it. If you have to use the bathroom, they’ll instruct you to leave the restaurant and pop into Nakamura. But as long as you’re OK with locking eyes with a stranger as you both eat delicious mazemen and try not to pee, you’ll have a great night here.
It may not be the most talked about (or real) award - NYC Street Corner With The Best Two Walk-In-Only Restaurants - but a strong new contender is 5th Ave and Carroll St. in Park Slope. Al Di La has been there for a while, serving some of the best Italian food in the city, and now there’s also Haenyeo, a great Korean spot right across the street. The menu has traditional options like kimchi pancakes and bibimbap, as well as more fusion-y dishes like rice cake fundido (a must-order). The corner space, which has a small bar up front and dining room in the back, feels fancier than most others in the neighborhood, and is a good option for a nice date night or group dinner. If there’s a wait, grab a drink at Blueprint alongside all the people waiting for a table at Al Di La.
At Sushi By M, you get exactly one hour to eat a 10-course meal. We don’t usually like being timed while we eat, but in this case, an hour doesn’t feel too rushed, and the $50 omakase (your only option) is actually a great value. It starts with things like yellowtail and arctic char, then moves on to richer pieces like botan shrimp, tuna belly covered in caviar, and a miniature handroll filled with wagyu and uni. The fish is uniformly excellent, and you can pay a little extra at the end of your meal if you want an extra hand roll or something called the “Big Mac.” That’s a roll with two kinds of uni, wagyu, and tuna belly, and it’s equal parts excessive and wonderful. Just keep in mind that there are only about eight seats (all at a bar), and you need to text ahead for a reservation. Also, there’s no liquor license yet.
“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.