You’ve been looking forward to Summer for the last nine months, and now that it’s finally here, you probably want to put everything behind you and run naked into its beautiful, waiting arms. Before you do, though, maybe do a few sit-ups. Oh, and also check out this roundup of the best openings of the Spring, and get them all on your Summer to-do list STAT.
NYC's 21 best openings of the Spring
Huertas (address and info)
Get on board with this comfortable, Basque-inspired tapas place that’s got pintxos done “dim sum-style”, a more composed menu of the day that includes dishes like roasted lamb leg with market greens, and house-made vermouth on tap.
The Eddy (address and info)
From a team that includes a chef from Jack's Luxury Oyster Bar (who also used to be an exec chef of Tasting Table's test kitchen) and a mixologist from Wallflower, this EV date-joint’s go-to’s include eats like pastrami beef tongue with lake kraut and cucumber yogurt, salmon rillettes with malt vinegar potato skins, and malted milk ice cream.
The Black Ant (address and info)
Yes, they serve bugs here -- ants and crickets, to be exact -- but they also serve amazing tacos, top-notch margaritas, and composed plates of suckling pig and scallops with oxtail. Don't be afraid to try it out.
Bar Primi (address and info)
Andrew Carmellini’s newest venture is a beautiful, bi-level, pasta-centric spot that’s rocking a ton of crowd-pleasers (assuming the aforementioned crowd likes stuffed meatballs, linguine with four cloves of garlic and breadcrumbs, and a knockout roast beef joint known only as “The Sandwich”).
Hudson Eats (address and info)
This new upscale food court in Brookfield Place is loaded with great edibles (not that kind!). We recommend going and trying as many as possible, or maybe creating some sort of fusion like a brisket bagel grilled cheese, since the vendors include the likes of Little Muenster, Umami Burger, Mighty Quinn's Barbeque, Dos Toros, Black Seed Bagels, and Num Pang.
El Vez (address and info)
Stephen Starr’s massive Philly hit came to NYC, and brought with it a ton of serious agave spirits and cocktails (including bottled margaritas) and legit Mexican food that includes maybe the best nachos in the city right now (pictured, son).
Cafe El Presidente (address and info)
The team from Nolita favorite Fonda Nolita is doing it up even bigger in the Flatiron with a tortilla-making operation, a full bar (and juice bar!), and an open kitchen that lets people sidle up right next to it for its taco bar inside the restaurant, Tacos Madison. If you didn't already have a go-to for all your taco needs, you do now.
North River Lobster Company (address and info)
If this somehow evaded your radar until now, you’ll definitely want to get it on there immediately; it’s a damn lobster roll boat. For most of the time, it’s stationed at Pier 81, but every couple hours it’ll also take you out on a totally free cruise around the Hudson. Feel free to hang out afterwards and order yourself another lobster roll if you want (we're guessing you want to).
Russ & Daughters Cafe (address and info)
Lower East Side
You no longer have to take your smoked fish home to eat it; this old-school supplier has opened a pretty sexy cafe that serves up a ton of its old classics, as well as some cafe-only things like soft-scrambled eggs with caviar, inventive cocktails, and egg creams.
Ivan Ramen (address and info)
Lower East Side
This big-deal ramen shop finally opened this Spring to much fanfare on the LES. The ramen is everything you want it to be, but the other eats are also everything you'd want them to be... if you knew they included a "Tofu Coney Island" with miso mushroom chili, or a Lancaster Okonomiyaki -- which’s a scrapple waffle topped with charred cabbage, pickled apple, and maple kewpie.
Rintintin (address and info)
With palm trees and glowing lights, this Mediterranean date spot (brought to us from a chef from Tel Aviv) is serving up top-notch versions of familiar eats like hummus made with slow-cooked chickpeas, lemon, garlic & green chili, grilled octopus with aioli & fried potatoes, and the Rintintin Burger, served on pita bread and topped with chipotle aioli and feta.
Cherche Midi (address and info)
Mega-deal restaurateur Keith McNally opened this new French joint where the former Pulino’s once stood, and has brought along classic eats like frog legs, foie gras, and a burger that, by all accounts, rivals that of Minetta Tavern (one of McNally’s other spots)... which is saying a lot.
Bar Chuko (address and info)
Located directly across the street from the original Chuko, this brother spot is an izakaya piling up small plates like soy/garlic/chili wings, all kinds of chicken skewers (skin, thigh, breast, gizzard, etc.), a pork chop with a pickled quail egg, and yes -- bowls of chicken ramen.
Bâtard (address and info)
Get fancy at this prix fixe-only stunner from Drew Nieporent, who's doing baller eats like English pea soup with crispy sweetbreads, warm Stellar Bay oysters with fried pig tails, and rabbit with the “flavors of bouillabaisse”.
The Pavilion (address and info)
Inside a gorgeous structure at the North end of Union Square (which one super-handsome publication compared to "some beautiful little town on the French Riviera where you watch sailboats, and punch mimes"), The Pavilion is dishing up plates of roasted chicken and moles frites that utilize the bounty of the nearby Greenmarket. If you don't spend an afternoon or two here over the Summer, you're doing it wrong.
Decoy (address and info)
Located beneath RedFarm, this underground lair specializes in hard-to-get Peking duck that's only "hard-to-get" because it serves up only 24 of them a night -- along with several other accompaniments like pork toro with Korean rice cakes, and top-notch cocktails.
Claudette (address and info)
The hitmakers of Rosemary's have another one on their hands with this sunny, Provencal-inspired date spot featuring eats with a tinge of North African spice, like chicken tagine and grilled lamb with za’atar and yogurt vinaigrette.
Okonomi (address and info)
The dude who brought you the amazing, revolutionary ramen on the second floor of a Whole Foods has finally got his own little place in Williamsburg, and even though he’s only doing Japanese breakfast and lunch right now (with simple, regional seafood eats), he's doing it right (the ramen and omakase menus are coming).
Meat Hook Sandwich Shop (address and info)
Destination butcher shop The Meat Hook has finally branched out into service and created what is potentially the best sandwich shop you’ll eat at this Summer, thanks to a roast pork with escarole, a gyro that’s actually filled with lamb sausage, and an Italian hero that wants nothing do to with Tommy Gunn.
Meadowsweet (address and info)
Hopping into the old Dressler spot in South Williamsburg, Michelin-starred Chef Polo Dobkin (who was also the chef at Dressler) has renovated the crap out of the space, and worked up a new menu that’s busting with St. Louis ribs, aged strip steaks with bordelaise sauce, and pan-roasted quail with grits, Tasso ham, and pickled watermelon.
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1. North River Lobster CompanyPier 81, New York
2. The Gander15 W 18th St, New York
3. Bar Chuko565 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn
4. Decoy529 Hudson St, New York
5. Okonomi150 Ainslie St, Brooklyn
6. Russ & Daughters Cafe127 Orchard St, New York
7. Ivan Ramen600 11th Ave, New York
8. Claudette24 5th Ave, New York
9. The Eddy342 E 6th St, New York
10. Bar Primi325 Bowery, New York
11. Cafe El Presidente30 W 24th St, New York
12. The Pavilion20 Union Square West, New York
13. Bâtard239 W Broadway, New York
14. Hudson Eats at Brookfield Place225 Liberty St, New York
15. Meat Hook Sandwich495 Lorimer St, Brooklyn
16. El Vez259 Vesey St, New York
17. Rintintin14 Spring St, New York
18. Huertas107 1st Ave, New York
19. Meadowsweet149 Broadway, Brooklyn
20. Cherche Midi282 Bowery, New York
21. The Black Ant60 2nd Ave, New York
This floating lobster shack is perfect if you want a totally unpretentious atmosphere for drinking and eating out on the water. Docked in Midtown West, North River offers 45-minute cruises that serve great seafood -- think four different kinds of lobster rolls and a full raw bar -- as well as a solid bar menu with Mason-jar cocktails, beer buckets, and an ample selection of wine.
From Jesse Schenker (of recette in the West Village), The Gander is a refined restaurant in the Flatiron District that highlights seasonal comfort food and -- unsurprising given it's named after a male goose -- meats. The lofty space is split between a dining room that serves nightly prix fixe and chef's tasting menus, and a bar room with all-day à la carte service. The Gander has a standout wine program with over 650 selections and seasonably-minded cocktails.
This Prospect Heights izakaya is stacking up small plates like soy-garlic-chili wings, a variety of chicken skewers, and a full bar slinging a variety of 'tails.
Located just below its sibling restaurant Red Farm, Decoy can be a tight fit, but the Decoy Chips -- which are actually fried branzino skin with black garlic dip (they're usually offered for free to start the meal) -- help immediately. Follow those with the main star; only 24 ducks are served each night , and the flavors mix traditional with fusions thanks to the sauces, including hoisin, sesame, and cranberry, and the pancakes manage to hold up to stuffing despite being incredibly thin.
For breakfast and lunch, this quaint Williamsburg spot specializes in ichiju‑sansai, a traditional Japanese set meal consisting of grilled fish, rice, miso soup, and vegetable sides. On weeknights, it turns into a casual à la carte ramen-ya where the seafood broth is made from the daytime meal’s leftovers. The 12-seat space gets more intimate and upscale on Saturdays and Sundays, when the chef unveils his weekend ramen tasting menu.
Around the corner from the iconic Lower East Side appetizing shop of the same name, Russ & Daughters Cafe serves everything you love about the original (pastrami-cured salmon, whitefish salad on a bagel, caviar) in a sit-down luncheonette space. Cafe-specific dishes like babka French toast and halvah ice cream cater to the brunch crowd, as do Jewish classics like knishes, latkes, and matzoh ball soup. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, R&D Cafe is proof that Jewish noshes are the perfect anytime food.
Famed Chef Ivan Orkin is serving up five different rice and noodle dishes at this storefront Slurp Shop. Although you should try them all (immediately!), it's not all ramen here: don't forget about the breakfast buns, pork meatballs, or roasted beets
This spot with French farmhouse vibes goes part French, part North African, and part Middle Eastern, home to menu items like grilled lamb with za'atar and yogurt vinaigrette. With a James Beard award-winning chef in the back, the space features 200 year-old barnwood floors -- we're sure you can flip that into some sort of first date dinner conversation
Bacon tater tots are an obvious winner at this restaurant that nods to Italy and seafood dishes. Scallop crudo, grassfed ribeye, and oil-poached salmon are must tries for dinner, but if you're just around to snack, the beef tendon or those tots are the way to go.
Bar Primi is a delicious pasta outpost in the East Village, where you can treat yourself to the likes of fiore di carciofi with smoked bacon and pecorino; a roast beef, italian peppers, and provolone number known only as "The Sandwich"; and bucatini with lamb amatriciana.
From the Tacombi team, Cafe El Presidente is a one stop shop for all your Mexican cravings. The Flatiron market-style restaurant sells pastries and coffee (sourced from Mexico) in the morning, quesadillas and spiked juices for lunch, and ice-cold beer and rounds of tacos, from familiar al pastor and carnitas varieties to more unique sweet potato and spicy shrimp ones, all day long. All of the tortillas are made at the in-house tortilleria.
Right around the corner from the Greenmarket, this sexy, French Riviera-inspired spot is an al fresco dining destination worth hitting up. It's drenched in gorgeous chandeliers, lush greenery, and exposes entrees like Blue Maine mussels and fries & roasted chicken with potatoes, and's got strong Summery 'tails to wash it all down.
Named for French wines, this eatery only seves up two-, three-, and four-course meals that can start with anything from warm Kusshi oysters, fried pig tails, and pickles, and end with caramelized milk bread with fennel yogurt, blueberries, and brown butter ice cream.
This is an upscale food court in Brooklfield Place that's loaded with great eats. The vendors include Little Muenster, Umami Burger, Mighty Quinn’s, Dos Toros, Black Seed Bagel, and Num Pang. We suggest trying ad much as you can.
The butcher shop of the same name finally branched out and opened a sandwich shop. Thanks to a roast pork with escarole, a gyro that’s actually a lamb sausage, and others, this may be the best sandwich shop you've ever eaten at.
Any place named after the Mexican Elvis is worth a visit. Little tip: Order the salsa sampler, which lets you choose a variety ranging from a spicy tuna with pineapple to habaneros, tomatillo and melted manchego with sweet onions. A Philly original, celebrate Vez's descent on Manhattan this Spring by ordering everything on the menu.
Chef from Tel Aviv serves top-notch versions of familiar Mediterranean eats like hummus made with slow cooked chickpeas, lemon, garlic, and green chili; grilled octopus with aioli and fried potatoes; and the Rintintin Burger, served on pita bread and topped with chipotle aioli and feta.
Executive Chef Jonah Miller is behind this Basque-inspired Spanish spot, which brings a four-course, beverage-paired "menu del dia" to the East Village with eats like pork shoulder w/ turnip and Hudson Canyon tilefish with smoked garlic.
Headed by the same chef (Polo Dobkin) as the previous tenant (Dressler), Meadowsweet is a dinner/bar operation that will feature mouth-watering dishes like St. Louis ribs, aged strip steaks with bordelaise sauce, and pan-roasted quail with grits, Tasso ham, and pickled watermelon.
Taking over the former Pulino's spot, this French establishment is ready to supply you with frog legs, foie gras, and a burger that rivals the best in the city.
This bright, airy, below-street level restaurant doles out proper cantina fare from the team behind West Village favorite Ofrenda. The Black Ant is serving up some rare protein options, namely black ant guacamole and fried crickets, blending the bugs into the menu in a way that successfully evades gimmick in favor of quality, unique flavor. The cocktail list is spectacular as well, offering drinks with ingredients like habanero shrub bitters and homemade corn juice.