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 NYC Hit List (as of 2/19/20): Quality Bistro, Jua, Peoples Wine
Quality Bistro is a massive French restaurant in Midtown that has about as much gold detailing as the Salon of Venus at Versailles. The 400-bottle French wine list and the four filet mignon options might make it sound like a place to send in-laws before 6pm tickets for Chicago, but this place - from the people behind Don Angie, Quality Meats, and about 10 other popular spots - isn’t stuffy. There’s a casual bar area that gets packed with after-work crowds, and dining rooms that are louder and darker than your typical spin class. Share big portions of excellent French-leaning food with a date who you want to impress, or clients who purposefully didn’t book early flights tomorrow.
We’re currently more impressed with Peoples Wine than we are with any candidate running for president or the poodle who won the Westminster Dog Show. The first reason being, this bar from the Contra and Wildair team serves great snacks as well as natural wine you either haven’t heard of or you already love. And the second is that Peoples has somehow created a space where you’ll want to spend multiple hours, despite the fact that it’s located in the basement of a LES food hall.
Jua is from the group behind Atomix and one of our all-time Greatest Hits, Her Name Is Han. What we’re trying to say is, we can’t remember the last time we were so excited to go to Flatiron. This Korean restaurant’s space falls somewhere between special-occasion Atomix and group-friendly Her Name Is Han, but with food that has something in common with both - we’re still thinking about it long after leaving. Dinner starts with deep-fried seaweed wrapped around uni and a ton of caviar, and the next eight dishes on the $95 tasting menu, including a bunch of things cooked on the wood-fired grill, are just as memorable. While you can order a la carte, you should come here for the two-hour set menu and share a bottle of natural wine with a date.
If there were an Oscars ceremony for restaurants, we’d feel comfortable nominating Verōnika for several categories, like Best Borscht, and Best Impression Of a 19th-Century Aristocrat’s Clubhouse. Even if Verōnika’s Eastern European food weren’t elegant and delicious (it is), the room alone could make your night - from portraits of powerful women on the walls and little Bauhaus-style lamps on every table, to ceilings so high it’s almost inappropriate not to have a firehouse pole. Verōnika is unquestionably formal, but after a few visits, the food is what stands out here compared to other special occasion spots in the city. You’ll find Eastern European classics, like porky borscht, lamb goulash with nicely chewy spätzle, as well as black cod dish with a lemony beurre blanc sauce that will be memorialized in our hearts and minds for years to come.
Like Richie and Chas Tenenbaum, you wouldn’t know Chikarashi and Chikarashi Isso were related if it weren’t for the name. Whereas Chikarashi draws long lunch lines for fast-casual poke bowls, Chikarashi Isso is a high-end Japanese restaurant in FiDi where you’ll find wagyu with caviar and wok lobster with soft shell shrimp. And despite a diverse menu with tempura, yakitori, and soba, each of these dishes could pass as the restaurant’s specialty. That’s especially the case with the yakitori, and it’s why the chef’s selection of six delicious skewers of chicken and vegetables needs to be on your table. Come here for a laidback business meal the next time you’re near the Stock Exchange.
The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed, but that it can change forms and locations. While we never understood it in high school, we think we get it now after eating at ZiZi. What Williamsburg lost when Zizi Limona (a utility spot that worked for everything from group brunch to dinner with parents) closed in September, Chelsea gained when ZiZi opened there a month later. The menu at this casual Middle-Eastern spot is almost identical, including a fantastic shawarma plate with juicy chicken and lamb over creamy hummus, and the space even looks similar, with lots of exposed brick, a small bar lined with wine bottles, and a couple of tables on the sidewalk outside.
People are constantly asking us where they can sit down and grab a dinner that won’t make them sad around Penn Station. Koreatown has a bunch of great spots, and Farida is only about six blocks away - but Piggyback is now the best option within several hundred feet. It’s from the same people behind Pig and Khao, and the menu is a mix of mostly Southeast Asian things like lumpia, Thai fried rice, and a big bowl of crudo with grapefruit, cashews, and crunchy strips of pork. We especially like the flaky curry puffs stuffed with a very large handful of heavily-spiced beef, and we suggest you stop by the next time you find yourself around 30th street to get them. Bring a few friends. It’s a fun spot with loud music and murals on the walls, and they make some solid cocktails.
Ruffian is one of our favorite wine bars in NYC, and the only reason we hesitate to recommend it to everyone is the fact that the 19-seat space tends to fill up before most people get out of work. But you don’t need to run the risk of a two-hour wait for excellent Mediterranean food and natural wines in the East Village anymore because Kindred, which is from the same people, opened around the corner. The small bar area up front is great for small plates and Happy Hour drinks, but unlike Ruffian, there’s also a full dining room. Come here with a date, and share some Slovenian orange wine and housemade pasta.
Ernesto’s is the new restaurant we’re getting asked about the most. It’s a Basque-inspired place that’s already packed with people eating pinxtos, sitting in leather chairs we’d like to own, surrounded by red brick and gold fixtures and globe lights. On a first visit, we weren’t blown away by the food - with the exception of a tower of housemade potato chips and iberico ham - but the restaurant experience made up for it. It’s a place where you want to hang for a while, or as long as the sommelier/wine whisperer keeps suggesting different half-glasses of French and Spanish natural wines for you to try.
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Noods n’ Chill is not a great name. It sounds like an upstate retreat with a lax dress code or a text you’d receive from an unsaved number at 12am. But none of that matters. Because Noods N’ Chill is where you’ll find the best Thai food in Williamsburg. This tiny counter-service spot is from the same people behind Look By Plant Love House (one of our favorite Thai restaurants in the city), and most things here cost less than $15. The guay tiao tom yum soup - with its spicy broth, tender fish balls, and abundant noodles - is an excellent choice, and you should go ahead and get a few pork buns to start your meal. Try this place for a casual weeknight dinner (that’s better than most) or stop by for brunch, when there’s stuff like kaya toast and porridge.
Bar Bête is NYC’s latest restaurant serving roast chicken on marble tables beneath large hanging globe lights. But this trendy Cobble Hill spot has more to offer than the possibility of a Bon Appetit staff member sighting. It’s where you should absolutely have dinner with a date in the area. The simple reason being, they serve thoughtful and delicious French food (like a peekytoe crab omelette) that makes ordering the roast chicken seem about as inspiring as proposing to someone at a Yankees game. So don’t write it off as just another trendy roast chicken restaurant.
The Banty Rooster is a rare example of a West Village place that exceeded our expectations. At first glance, this casual American spot feels like countless other places in the area serving potato fritters and short rib. But then you’ll notice that the fritters are served with salt cod aioli and the short rib crumbles when you dip it in the side of ancho barbecue sauce. Between the food, big space, and affordable wine offerings, this place should be at the top of your list for your next group dinner in the West Village.
We’ve long championed eating things on sticks. But while seven of the nine courses at Kochi are served on skewers, that’s not the reason we’re telling you to go. You should go to this Korean tasting menu spot in Hell’s Kitchen because everything from the raw scallops and fluke at the beginning of the meal to the black sesame ice cream pop at the end is delicious. You’ll leave feeling full, and considering the variety and quality of everything here (including bibimbap topped with tons of uni), the $75 price tag feels reasonable, especially while it’s still BYOB.
The restaurant space in the bottom of the Wythe Hotel has always been one of our favorites. It has huge windows, high ceilings, and brick walls that wouldn’t feel out of place in a rural castle from the fifteenth century. And now that Le Crocodile has moved in, we’d like to eat there every day. This French restaurant is from the people behind Chez Ma Tante in Greenpoint, and the menu is equal parts traditional and exciting. You’ll find escargots and steak tartare, for example, and it also has a pork chop covered in burrata and some roast chicken with several fistfuls of fries on the side. Order all of these things. And be sure to book a table before more people realize they should eat here.
Anton’s might have only just replaced Frankie’s 570 in the West Village, but it feels like this Italian restaurant has both been around forever and is here to stay. On our first visit a week into service, it was already running like a well-oiled machine, and almost everything we tried we’d want to eat again. With its dark wood, long bar, and ideal amount of candlelight, it’s the kind of place that makes you want to become a regular who has a standing martini and steak and/or pasta order. Speaking of which, the pastas are where we’d recommend you focus your order.
Not all museum restaurants are created equal. And Mina’s, the new Greek small plates spot in MoMA PS1, is proof. Unlike most museum cafeterias or upscale restaurants that feel like museums themselves, Mina’s is both casual and pleasant. The bright space is ideal for a brunch or snack involving things like a creamy muhammara, perfectly oily anchovies, and an excellent Greek egg and cheese boat peinirli. Take someone here who likes natural wine, Sally Rooney books, and the color seafoam. They’ll want to move in.
While we were drinking from a Chambong at The Riddler in the West Village, the couple at the table over stared at us, so transfixed by what they were seeing that they forgot they were holding shrimp cocktail in midair. Whether you want to have a classy evening involving raw bar and several glasses of Champagne, or debauchery by way of Chambong and glasses of wine filled to the literal brim, you’ll have a good time at this Champagne bar in the West Village. Just be sure to order the raclette burger and to make a reservation - the space is small and there’s very little room for walk-ins.
Zooba is a fast-casual restaurant in the same way that Bob Ross is a watercolor painter. It’s technically true, but there’s a lot more exciting context. This is the first US location of an Egyptian spot with several locations in Cairo, and it’s officially where you should be getting lunch or a quick dinner in the Soho area. The ceiling in here is covered with neon signs and it’s pretty difficult not to admire the flashing lights above you while you wait in line. But the food is more memorable than any of that. The specialty is the ta’ameya (fried balls made out of fava beans), which you can and should order spicy, but we also love the hawawshi beef patty sandwich with cheese. Most things come on a soft homemade Egyptian pita called baladi and everything costs under $15. If you work anywhere downtown - we suggest beelining here.
Nami Nori feels like a tiny West Village boutique or a cinematic version of the afterlife. It’s a bright and attractive space on Carmine Street with two bars and just a handful of tables, and pretty much everything is either white, off-white, or a soothing shade of light brown. They specialize in hand rolls that are left open like tacos (instead of being cylindrical or cone-shaped). And of the 20 different kinds - like tuna poke with crispy shallots, lobster tempura with yuzu aioli, and a few classic varieties - the least-complicated ones are the best. For $28 you can get a chef’s selection of five rolls, and there are also a bunch of small plates like shishito peppers and miso clam soup, most of which cost less than $10. Start with one or two of those, get the chef’s selection, and you’ll have a very good and reasonably priced (for sushi) meal.
You’ll know you’ve reached Sushi Jin when you see a koi fish flag hanging outside of a brownstone on 84th Street on the UES. This is the most exciting new omakase place we’ve been to this year, especially because dinner here will involve an uni handroll and won’t cost more than $100. The $95 option comes with 12 pieces of fish (including that handroll) presented like a valuable collection of baseball cards - as well as soup, dessert, and green tea. Each piece of sushi - like sea eel from the Tokyo Bay, cherry sea bream, or seared Japanese barracuda - is thoughtfully dressed with dabs of sauce, yuzu zest, or tiny flakes of hard-boiled egg yolk.
Llama San is the latest place from the people behind Llama Inn, a Peruvian restaurant in Williamsburg we’ve been recommending on repeat since it opened several years ago. But unlike Llama Inn, Llama San serves the type of Japanese-influenced Peruvian food known as Nikkei. There’s a plate of raw hamachi with matcha foam and tiny cubes of coconut, for example, as well as some Japanese eggplant with little mounds of fresh cheese and some bisected red grapes - and both of these dishes are bright, complex, and worth seeking out. We’re also fans of the space, which has a lot of blonde wood and ambient lighting, and we feel compelled to mention that we wanted to steal the plates and other ceramic dishware. So book a table, and bring a date or a friend who wants to have a special dinner. And don’t steal the plates.
The name Win Son Bakery is a little misleading. Because in addition to some excellent doughnuts and other baked goods, this counter-service spot from the Win Son people also serves a few salads and bunch of different sandwiches like a burger with raclette on a milk bun. They also have some crunchy fried chicken covered in a sweet and sour sauce, and it’s one of our favorite things here. However, we could easily just sit in a corner and eat some of Win Son Bakery’s plain scallion pancakes for an hour or two. That’s how much we like the food here. So grab a table in the bright, cafe-like space. It’s open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it’s right across the street from Win Son in East Williamsburg.
If you’re hesitant to travel to Jersey City for a counter-service slice shop, know that we’d make the trip just for the crust. They don’t serve the light, charred crust on its own, though, and most of it comes with perfectly acidic and sweet tomato sauce, and/or mozzarella that’s pulled in-house. The slice variety changes every few minutes, so your choices are entirely dependent on whatever recently came out of the oven. But if you see them, prioritize the sausage and pepper or anchovy and green tomato slices, as well as the rossa and margherita. Since Bread And Salt is BYO, we suggest bringing some red wine, and hanging out for an hour or two so that you can order slice-after-slice without feeling like you’re missing out on whatever’s coming out of the oven.
Maison Yaki, the second restaurant from the people behind Olmsted (across the street), is a place of miniatures. Instead of entrees, there are skewers. Instead of normal-sized cocktails, there are slightly shrunken ones. Even the wine and beer glasses make you look at your hands to make sure you haven’t suddenly become a giant. Luckily, the prices at this French-Japanese mashup are downsized too - nothing costs more than $9. The setup makes it easy for you to try a lot on the menu, without spending a crazy amount of money. And while you’ll eat things like duck à l’orange and lobster Americaine skewers, the whole experience feels fun and relaxed. If you’re in a restaurant rut, this is a great place to come and mix it up.
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.
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, or stop by for a great tuna melt or burger at night for dinner.
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.