Winter’s by no means over yet -- in fact, aside from that single snowstorm inexplicably named after a Disney Channel boy band and a few flakes after that, it’s fair to say it's only now just beginning (nothing like the potential for frostbite to bring two people together on Valentine's Day!). Still, a ridiculous amount of great new bars and restaurants have cropped up in New York since the beginning of December and right about now seems like the time to tell you about them. Expect Southeast Asian street food on the LES, filet mignon in Penn Station, and lots of omakase.
Lower East Side
The best new roast chicken in New York (which happens to be casually set ablaze en route to your table) comes from this hip new modern French spot from Freemans' Taavo Somer and The Smile's Carlos Quirarte. In addition to the whole chicken (which, it should be noted, is supposedly for two but could 100% feed four), you’ll find equally great lamb and oxtail. If you’re in the mood for something lighter, grab a glass of wine and chicken liver mousse at the bar.
Penn Station travelers fret no more! There’s now a high-end food hall at 2 Penn Plaza, so you can eat something other than a pretzel dipped in neon-colored cheese sauce before you board your train to Patchogue. And it’s got some pretty big names, too -- Mario Batali (by way of caterer Mary Giuliani), Pat LaFrieda, Marc Forgione, and the guys behind the Cinnamon Snail and the Little Beet all have stalls in the 8,000sqft hall. A to-go LaFrieda filet mignon sandwich or a Marc Forgione lobster press could maybe even make New Jersey transit bearable. Maybe.
Former A Voce Executive Chef Missy Robbins is back with her own restaurant in a former Williamsburg auto body shop, focusing on lighter Italian fare with an emphasis on seafood and pasta. Standout dishes include perfectly cooked grilled scallops and a simple but beautifully executed malfadini with pink peppercorns and Parmesan. There’s also an adjoining cafe serving pastries and frittatas in the morning and sandwiches and gelato in the afternoon, before turning into a cocktail bar at 5pm.
It would seem that just about everyone in New York is doing poké right now (a classic Hawaiian dish of cubed raw tuna with fixings, for those who haven’t been bombarded, however pleasantly, by it on countless menus of late), but Wisefish’s Chipotle-style take, with made-to-order bowls in three different size options, is the one to beat right now. Get the Hawaii style with ahi tuna, sweet onion, hijiki, and classic sauce.
From the owners of Dear Bushwick comes an all-draft cocktail bar next door, offering drinks in beakers (of course) at super affordables prices (like, $4-$9 affordable!). In addition to 29 taps, there’s also craft beer, wine, whiskey, and light food options in the vein of Dear Bushwick.
Kosaka is an intimate, 18-seat omakase spot from Jewel Bako alum Chef Yoshihiko Kousaka, offering two options: sushi only (for a hefty price tag, made worth it by Chef Yoshi’s elegant presentation of only the freshest fish), or the slightly pricier chef’s tasting, which includes hot kitchen dishes. Be sure to sit at the wooden bar for the full experience.
Lower East Side
Former Fat Radish sous chef Matty Bennett and his business partner Rupert Noffs have brought farm-to-table Southeast Asian street food to the LES in a super tropical space with lots and lots of neon pink and green. Look out for a number of great small plates and entrees, like crunchy Szechuan salt-and-pepper chicken wings and a rich massaman lamb curry.
A new West Harlem rum hall with a focus on West Indian food and drink, Solomon & Kuff offers over 100 international rums, great cocktails like the S&K Dark and Stormy with house-made ginger beer, and dishes like peppered goat pies and “coco bread” sammies. This is the place to be on snowy days (should they continue), with a warm, island-themed decor, two DJ booths, and two bars.
Just-opened in Midtown East's Pod 51 hotel is April Bloomfield and Ken Friedman's (Spotted Pig, John Dory Oyster Bar, and The Breslin) much-anticipated hamburger and hot dog joint, Salvation Burger. The menu features a $25 Salvation Burger with caramelized onions and Taleggio, but the real star is the (slightly) cheaper, two-patty Classic Burger with special sauce. There's also a veggie burger, fish sandwich, and a house-smoked hot dog.
David Chang’s latest venture draws inspiration from Italian and Asian cuisine (among others) for an eclectic menu featuring the likes of black bass with tiger's milk and shio kombu (which is refreshingly light), and ceci e pepe -- a genius play on the traditional Italian cacio e pepe, which uses an incredibly flavorful fermented chickpea paste in lieu of cheese.
Lower East Side
While it’s been around for a few years, this LES gem closed for three months in 2015 while Chef John Daley did a sushi pop-up at Church Street Tavern. It’s since reopened, now under majority ownership of Daley, with an updated menu, including a brand-new Tuesday-Friday lunchtime service of low key but traditional omakase (or a more affordable soba/sushi combo).
Lower East Side
Marco Canora’s Brodo broth window expanded from Hearth in December to a pop-up at Morgenstern’s, bringing the perfect cold day remedy: bone broths served as beverages in to-go coffee cups, like gingered grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and the Hearth broth (with stewing hens, turkey legs, beef shin, chicken feet, and vegetables). It’s arguably better than coffee.
The Bennett is the latest bar from the talented Dear Irving and Raines Law Room team, decked out with elevated blue velvet banquettes, gold wall accents, and a black marble bar (plus those same service buttons from the team’s other spots, because flagging down a server is for peasants). For drinks, you’re looking at a number of riffs on classic cocktails (like the bar’s namesake gimlet), plus a number of originals and some favorites from Dear Irving and Raines.
Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s buzzy new Italian trattoria (the team’s first stand-alone Manhattan restaurant in 10 years) inside Chelsea’s Maritime Hotel is massive, featuring plenty of indoor and outdoor space, high ceilings, and a 38ft marble bar. With a menu boasting casual yet elegant Italian fare like cavatelli with spare ribs and "old school" beef braciole, in addition to two-dozen signature cocktails, you can anticipate having to fight your way through crowds for a while.
From the minds behind Sweet Chick and Pop’s of Brooklyn, this Trinidadian & Caribbean restaurant focuses on traditional home-style cooking, like bake & shark, conch & dumplings, and doubles. Yes, you can now get shark in Williamsburg.
Lower East Side
Ramen king Shigetoshi Nakamura (previously of Ramen Lab)’s eponymous LES spot has the best new ramen in the city, offering four options: torigara, yuzu dashi, curry spiced, and a vegan XO miso, plus gyoza in a super small space. Opt for the delicious torigara (chicken shoyu broth, originally at Ramen Lab when it first opened) and add soft boiled egg.
Brooklynites, there's no longer the need to go to K-Town for good Korean food and karaoke, because in December, the husband-and-wife team behind The Good Fork opened Insa in Gowanus, offering (in addition to karaoke), standard KBBQ offerings, plus several stews and soups, rice and noodle dishes, and shareable plates like bulgogi and fried chicken with house sauce. Sing at your own risk.
Noho's much raved-about New Nordic restaurant has been totally rebranded as a Italian and French-influenced bistro under executive chef/partner Brian Loiacono (formerly of db Bistro Moderne) and its new direction is already a success, with a simple, yet refined menu featuring dishes like clams casino with bone marrow and chowder, brick chicken, and fluke tartare.
Run by a superwoman trio (sommelier Gina Goyette, formerly of Little Park; beer director Carolyn Pincus of the Stag’s Head; and executive chef Angie Berry from the Mandarin Oriental’s Asiate), this beer and wine-focused Midtown restaurant also boasts an impressive food menu. Highlights include local tuna with nori mustard and mushrooms, an incredibly flavorful soft poached egg with farro and nuts, and a lunch-only egg pasta with shishito peppers, caper creme, and enormous blue prawns.
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1. Le Turtle177 Chrystie St, New York
2. The Pennsy2 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York
3. Lilia567 Union Ave, Brooklyn
4. Kosaka220 W 13th St, New York
5. Wisefish Poké263 W 19th St, New York
6. Yours Sincerely41 Wilson Ave, Brooklyn
7. The Lucky Bee252 Broome St, New York
8. Solomon and Kuff2331 12th Ave, New York
9. Salvation Burger230 E 51st St, New York
10. Momofuku Nishi232 8th Ave, New York
11. New York Sushi Ko91 Clinton St, New York
12. Brodo200 1st Ave, New York
13. Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream2 Rivington St, New York
14. The Bennett134 W Broadway, New York
15. La Sirena88 9th Ave, New York
16. Pearl's178 N 8th St, Brooklyn
17. Nakamura172 Delancey St, New York
18. Insa328 Douglass St, Gowanus
19. ACME9 Great Jones St, New York
20. Bottle & Bine1085 2nd Ave, New York
This modern French spot from Freemans' Taavo Somer and The Smile's Carlos Quirarte has all the qualities of a "hip" Lower East Side restaurant -- from the French rap and indie rock playing from the speakers, to the interior (brown leather banquettes, marble tables, a tucked-away "VIP" nook upstairs), to the it-girl and guy clientele. But Le Turtle is more than just a scene -- the menu features hit after hit of grandiose French dishes, like the whole chicken for two that's torched table-side. If you're looking for a night to indulge solo, grab a seat at the bar and order chicken liver mousse and a glass of wine.
Located at 2 Penn Plaza, this upscale food hall features Pat LaFrieda's first brick-and-mortar location, as well as stalls from Mario Batali, Marc Forgione, the Cinnamon Snail, and The Little Beet.
Missy Robbins (formerly of A Voce) is behind this elegant and minimal Williamsburg restaurant housed in a former auto body shop. The menu focuses on lighter Italian fare with an emphasis on seafood and pastas. An adjoining cafe serves pastries and coffee in the morning, and sandwiches and gelato in the afternoon, before turning into a cocktail bar at 5 PM.
This omakase spot may be tiny but that doesn't mean it's not lively. Clocking in at only 18 seats, Kosaka makes up for lack of space with a jazzy, high-end approach to sushi. The a la carte menu is usually seasonal: pick for yourself or order from a chef's tasting menu.
Recently opened in Chelsea, Wisefish Poke is a counter service spot serving up the Hawaiian delicacy otherwise known as poke: a raw ahi tuna salad that can be prepared in a variety of ways. Build your own poke bowl with raw fish and rice, tofu, and vegan options.
The bartenders at Yours Sincerely don't mix cocktails in front of you, instead, they pour them from a tap and serve them in beaker glasses. There are 20 or so taps behind the marble bar, each topped with a porcelain doll head and filled with large-batch concoctions like an Old Fashioned with date-infused bourbon. The dark bar is tight and narrow with an eclectic look, much like the Bushwick patrons that pack the space. Tacos, fish sandwiches, and burgers from next-door neighbor Dear Bushwick can be ordered right to the bar.
Heaping portions of colorful fare are what's on the menu at The Lucky Bee. The menu integrates cuisine from across Asia into street food inspired, farm-to-table dishes. The Instagram ready space matches the bright and festive food.
This huge space in Harlem along the Hudson hosts an impressive array of food from the Caribbean and the Island alongside a selection of over 100 kinds of vintage and aged rum. Here, there are ample opportunities to get your dance/drink game on: the spot regularly hosts DJs and electronic musicians, plus happy hour deals.
Superstar chef April Bloomfield is giving fast-food a run for its money with her fast-casual burger restaurant at Midtown's Pod 51 hotel. The menu revolves around the eponymous burger, made from beef that's butchered and ground in-house then formed into a patty and cooked on a wood-fired grill. The rest of the small-but-mighty menu includes hot dogs, veggie burgers, and fish sandwiches, plus crazy indulgent pies and boozy milkshakes for dessert. Salvation Burger might be casual, but it's definitely high-end.
Drawing from cuisines as varied as Italian, Japanese, and Korean, as well as executive chef Josh Pinsky's mother's own kitchen, David Chang's Momofuku outpost in Chelsea redefines "fusion" in a creative, yet surprisingly congruous menu. The Momofuku empire certainly has a way with noodles, and Chang's take on the traditional ceci e pepe is further proof of his mastery -- instead of cheese, the dish is made with umami-packed, house-fermented chickpea taste.
The hip hop blaring from the speakers is antithetical to New York Sushi Ko’s elegant Omakase style dining, but then again, nothing about this Lower East Side sushi spot is conventional. Chef John Daley breaks away from tradition in both technique and presentation at his eight-seat counter, where he serves his modern prix fixe menu with panache. There are two tiers for omakase at lunch, and one for dinner (the a la carte menu is only available to walk-ins, and only after a certain time), where your meal and experience are in Daley’s tatted hands. He sources ingredients from famed Japanese fish markets, evident in both taste and price point (we give you full permission to splurge on the finest fish in the world, if you can get a seat).
It may seem a little out there, but when it’s freezing cold, and you need something to warm you up, this takeout window serving different broths from Hearth’s chef Marco Canora will have your back (no matter how you feel about it).
This nine-seat ice cream parlor is a true parlor; you can order while sitting at six seats on the bar. Once you have ordered, the man behind the scoop will likely slide your way one of his unique "texture-driven small-batch" flavors like a salt & pepper pine nut or Brazilian bourbon topped with curiously created made-to-order whipped cream or even Fernet biscuits.
The trendy Tribeca drinks spot whips up all the classics, plus a few newbies to the cocktail game: Frank of America, a Rye, spiced maple, and angostura bitters concoction; Bergdorf Lunch, with pisco, elderflower, green apple & pear juice, and orange blossom spritz; and Hero of Little Venice, an egg, aged rum, sweet vermouth, (and!) root-beer libation. It's worth checking in and sampling the goods.
Nobody does Italian like Mario Batali, and La Sirena in Chelsea's Maritime Hotel is a testament to the Crocs-wearing chef's steadfast ambition to bring mega-restaurants to New York. The indoor-outdoor trattoria is set in a sprawling second-floor space, complete with a gleaming 38ft marble bar, a beautiful tile floor, and '60s mod-inspired interiors. The upscale menu is typical Batali, comprised of antipasti (there's burrata, obviously), handmade pastas, and grilled meats and fish.
The Sweet Chick team is behind Pearl's, a casual Caribbean spot right near the Bedford Ave stop in Williamsburg. The speciality is Trinidadian bake and shark, a street-style sandwich made of fried shark meat, garlic sauce, mango chutney, and pickled slaw in sweet, deep-fried pita-like bread. The restaurant has an open kitchen and is decked out with graffiti art and boom-box wall hangings.
Leading ramen master Shigetoshi Nakamura recently debuted this ramen resto in NYC's Lower East Side. Hailed as a "Ramen God" in his native Japan, Nakamura's noodles are purportedly life-changing. Expect crowds to gather for this sure to be be awe-inspiring ramen.
Family-style meals, and in-house karaoke rooms -- it’s a concept more restaurants should consider, and one that Insa has adopted in a trendy Gowanus KBBQ spot. Not that you wouldn’t come here for the food alone: from the addictive starter eats like fried beef dumplings and blood sausage dipped in perilla salt, to the mixed rice and pork stew dishes, there’s not a single item you wouldn’t want seconds of. As for the karaoke, it’s offered in five themed rooms including “jungle,” “deep sea” and “space.” So, we know you’ve already got your next birthday venue locked down.
This Noho bistro headed by Chef Mads Refslund serves up tasty Nordic-meets-American dishes. Plus, there's a kick-ass cocktail club downstairs with Dj's every night after 11pm.
This wine bar is great for any occasion, and their specially curated wine line can't be beat. In addition to their awesome wine selection, they always have great beers available and a pretty awesome menu, with items like soft poached eggs with farro and beet dumplings and caramelized cabbage puree.