Buffalo Chicken Beer Cheese Fondue Fries Are Like an Edible Sports Bar
Danny Meyer’s casual taco stand in the scenic, new Domino Park
Our local burger king’s latest is a North Brooklyn twenty-something’s chimera: an outdoor, waterfront taco stand with drinks under $10 and photogenic Mexican fare. Newly opened in the revamped Domino Park, the place is like a little slice of Smorgasburg without the long lines. Grab an order of pork and mango tacos, sip a mezcal negroni, and toast to homogeneous hipster dreams.
An upscale riff on a classic cantina by the Spanish Benevolent Society
Founded a century-and-a-half back, the Spanish Benevolent Society is the oldest Spanish cultural institution in the US. Last month, it reopened the building’s downstairs restaurant space after a two-year vacancy. In the storied space a rotating cast of chefs from different regions of Spain prepare cured ham, tuna belly, a daily rotating paella, and traditional flan.
Eccentric takes on standard pizza and pasta dishes
Housed in a repurposed garage, Macchina is the latest venture from the team behind Williamsburg mainstays Roebling Sporting Club and The Bedford. The casual Italian spot offers stone-fired pizzas and creative pasta dishes (think peppers and onions with shishitos) in a space that nods to its working-class past. Start with a board of cured meats and locally produced cheeses, continue with a fresh beefsteak tomato salad, and leave room for pizzas of the rossa and bianca variety.
Creative Oaxacan bites and cocktails to remind you of Mexico
The chef behind Speedy Romeo (Brooklyn’s St. Louis-style pizza purveyor) takes on another part of the world at Oxomoco -- a Mexican joint cooking up authentic Oaxacan bites in a wood-fired oven. Corn tortillas filled with grilled asparagus, soft shell crab, swordfish, and pork cheek, alongside cocktails like the Savage Detective (mezcal, vermouth, pear) are best enjoyed on an improbably intimate front-facing patio.
A robust craft beer operation highlighting brewers of color
Opening day at Harlem Hops drew block-long lines of locals thirsty for 16 rotating craft beers on tap. Sidle up to the bar or settle into the backyard patio and let the expert staff walk you through the carefully considered draught, can, and bottled beers. Try a few with a flight and a Bavarian pretzel or Bratwurst accompaniment.
Flash-frozen nitrogen ice cream for your Instagram feed
Creamistry brought its stripmall aesthetic to its first NYC location last month. In spite of antiseptic environs, the chain’s gimmick -- ice cream treats that emit smoky liquid nitrogen plumes -- is best for your out-of-town cousins who want to “hashtag New York,” but still need the familiarity of Georgia, Rancho Cucamonga, or whatever. Scoops of the exceptionally creamy flash-frozen stuff come in flavors like Cap’n Crunch, cookie butter, and pure roasted pistachio, topped with a melange of cereals, classic candy bar crumbles, and sauces. And if you need to free one hand for social-media-ing, ditch the spoon, and order your creation in ice cream sandwich form.
Seafood-heavy Greek fare served in authentic Mediterranean digs
Drink enough Skinos Mastiha at Kyma and you’ll feel like you’ve escaped NYC’s summer blast furnace and landed on an Aegean island. The white stucco, two-story Greek restaurant is filled with the obvious fixings: pottery, olive trees, and a fresh fish display. The menu is divided by land and sea and reaches far beyond your standard steak and lamb specials. Whole fish are simply grilled, crispy zucchini and eggplant chips are an airy vehicle for tzatziki, and oysters taste like they were just plucked from the Mediterranean.
Market-driven neighborhood kitchen with a creative menu
Over the years, Fort Greene has become a dining destination, and Evelina is among the area’s culinary pulse points. Chef Lanfranco Paliotti (Daniel, Boulud Sud) re-writes specials daily depending on the morning’s market produce, pasta is made fresh in house, and the cocktail menu is as market-driven as the salads. Share plates of charred octopus with sliced orange and a marjoram vinaigrette, or burrata with hazelnut romesco, tomato, and basil, before digging into rigatoni with oxtail ragú and shaved Piave Vecchio.
Classic Korean plates with a soul food twist
The mission at this self-identified Korean soul food spot is to bring the flavors and comfort you’d find in a traditional Korean kitchen to NYC. With a 28-page menu, that’s a lot of flavor. Order broadly, and attentive servers will ferry a rotating selection of yuzu rice cakes topped with kabocha squash, mung-bean pancakes, and slow-cooked pork belly with kimchi and berry wine sauce. Expect to order too much -- and to finish it all anyway.
A woman-backed kitchen and butchery from the team behind Tilda All Day
In the same spot as former venture Tilda All Day, Otway fills the pastry-shaped hole that Tilda left behind when it shuttered in 2016. The all-woman kitchen churns out baked goods and butchers whole animals with equal aplomb. Complex plates like ocean trout with peas and pickled ramps, or lemon verbena panna cotta with cape gooseberries are served in the peaceful, airy dining room.
Buzzy French-American plates from a Michelin-starred chef
Like a reflection, Narcissa is made of two halves -- one, an upscale sit-down venue; the other, a buzzy, bar-like spot for pseudo-celebs on Raya dates (the cloistered backyard is a pleasant mix of the two). Beets are crisped on a rotisserie and served with apples and creamed horseradish, duck breast is lacquered in rhubarb puree, and Maine sea scallops arrive in a melange of clams and sliced chorizo. Order the carrot fries and wonder why on Earth anyone even bothers with potatoes. Then tuck into a Secret Channel: gin, concord grape, lillet, and fresh lemon.
An intimate, theatrical high-end Korean experience
This sleek, modern, and thoroughly upscale sister to crowd favorite Atoboy is a full-on show as dinner. Ten-course meals of flawlessly plated delicacies like sea bream with uni, and eggplant with smoked eel and fermented soybean paste, are served twice nightly at the 16-seat chef’s counter. The subterranean space is an envelope of monochrome slate greige. Paper cards explaining each dish and perfectly calibrated chopsticks arrive in advance of every course.
Thrillist’s pick for 2017’s best restaurant of the year
Chefs Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes’ follow-up to their much-lauded restaurant Cosme is a major departure from the former upscale Mexican theme. At Atla, there’s a stronger focus on casual, healthyish, and veg-forward dishes. For brunch, you can expect things like ranchero eggs and flax seed chilaquiles, while the brunch menu features ceviche verde, quesadillas, and an arctic char tostada. Most of the dishes are also affordable, falling around $20.
Alex Stupak’s Midtown flagship for innovative pastrami- and falafel-topped tacos
After years of growing his Mexican-inspired empire, with three distinct locations bearing the Empellón name, Alex Stupak has finally launched a flagship Empellón. His inventive tacos -- like one made with falafel -- are still the main draw here, but there are also plenty of snacks and large plates worth trying, like crab nachos with sea urchin “queso” and smoked black cod with a chorizo-potato vinaigrette.
A cozy, all day cafe with small plates and wine pairings
The old Perla Cafe space on West Fourth Street has been transformed into Fairfax: another bright and homey spot from the same team, with a focus on wine and small plates (think white bean hummus with flatbread and chicken leg with jasmine rice, cilantro, thai chili vinaigrette). Stop by at 11:30am-6:30pm for one small plate and a glass of wine for $24.
Upper East Side
An upscale -- yet unstuffy -- bar/cafe/restaurant inside the Met Breuer
Thomas Carter and Ignacio Mattos have seen plenty of success downtown with Estela and last year's Café Altro Paradiso, but the duo has proven to be most impressive uptown, at their new seafood-focused spot, Flora Bar, inside the Met Breuer. More akin to Altro Paradiso in size and Estela in menu, Flora Bar feels decidedly not Upper East Side-y. It's upscale but casual, boasting leather banquettes; a long, marble bar; and a menu featuring the likes of tuna tartare, lobster and crab dumplings, and a lobster and dulse seaweed tart.
Gowanus’ go-to for unique small plates and craft cocktails
A stylish brick-walled space with an aromatic wood-burning oven, this oddly named restaurant is one of those seasonally driven, small-plates joints with an ample cocktail list, which seems like standard MO for modern Brooklyn -- but this one does it better than most. The open kitchen is run by Union Square Cafe alum Chad Shaner, who cranks out dishes like dry-aged duck with cranberry beans and red snapper with charred eggplant, cucumber salad, and shiso. In keeping with the seasonal theme, the menu changes regularly. One constant is the wood-roasted oysters, spritzed with lemon and sprinkled with garlic breadcrumbs.
Midtown’s new home for old-world power meals in the former Four Seasons space
This luxe restaurant is an homage to old New York, with a Tom Ford tux-clad staff, newly restored Philip Johnson interiors from 1959, and throwback dishes like lamb chops, New York strip, prime rib, and a daily “chilled crustacean.” Suffice to say, you probably won’t be dining here unless someone else is paying (assuming you can even get a reservation).
Your tried and true go-to for real-deal Texas-style BBQ
Hometown is certainly a destination. Located in the far-flung Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook, the roadhouse-y BBQ spot offers some of the most varied meats in all of NYC -- like authentic Texas-style brisket and beef ribs, Vietnamese hot wings, and lamb belly banh mi.
A standing-room only steakhouse for devoted carnivores
The first US outpost of this popular chairless Japanese steakhouse chain is the perfect alternative to a stuffy steak dinner (and a great solution for a crazed New York schedule that still demands meat). At Ikinari, steak is ordered by the gram at the counter, cut by the butcher, and served on a cast-iron platter. From there, you can grab a spot at a standing-room-only table (complete with various steak sauces).
Intimate French/Italian bistro whose menu changes daily
Plopped down on the corner of the mostly non-commercial King Street is the aptly named King, a bright and airy French/Italian restaurant from co-chefs Clare de Boer and Jess Shadbolt, who met while working together at River Café in London, and GM Annie Shi, previously of London's Clove Club. The slightly upscale but totally frill-less menu changes daily, pulling inspiration from both countries for dishes like hand-cut tagliarini verde and poached ox tongue.
Hand-pulled pasta just like Nonna used to make in a minimalist Williamsburg venue
Lilia straddles the line between hip and comforting better than almost any restaurant in New York. You may be sitting in a packed, converted garage designed to fit the standardized Williamsburg aesthetic (metal chairs, gray banquettes, exposed wood beams, white-painted brick walls), but it's Missy Robbins' simple yet thoughtful approach to homestyle Italian cooking that makes the place feel more like your nonna’s kitchen than a trend-chasing eatery. Try the ever-popular mafaldini -- handmade ruffled noodles, cooked perfectly al dente and tossed simply with Parmesan, butter, and ground pink peppercorns.
An update on classic Middle-Eastern/Israeli eats from a NYC restaurant-veteran
From chef/owner Tomer Blechman (previous of Lupa, Gramercy Tavern & Cookshop), this modern Israeli restaurant, complete with a 30-seat backyard, offers fresh takes on traditional Middle Eastern dishes, like homemade labne, grilled octopus, and three types of hummus. Be sure to kick your meal off with a shot of vodka with pickled mushroom -- an ode to Tomer’s Russian relatives.
Scandinavian cafe-meets-bar-meets bakery in a sprawling Greenpoint design space
Equal parts cafe, bar, and bakery, this Scandinavian spot (from two chefs; one from Denmark, the other from Sweden) takes up a significant portion of a sprawling Greenpoint design space. They offer a rotating seasonal menu of some of the city’s best Nordic dishes -- think ancient grain porridge and smoked salmon smorrebrod. Be sure to stop by at lunch for the daily $14 special (including an entreé and vegetable side dish with freshly baked bread).
Contemporary Middle-Eastern fare from a famed Israeli chef
Some of NYC’s most interesting Middle Eastern food can be found at this newcomer from one of Israel’s most famous chefs, Meir Adoni. Your main focus here should be on the bread (like kubaneh, a traditional Yemenite bread, and a sweet and savory honey and garlic challah) but Nur also has a great roster of shareable dishes that approach traditional dishes from a new angle -- like the smoked eggplant carpaccio and scallop sashimi.
A South Brooklyn staple for farm-to-table fare pulled straight from its own backyard
Named after Frederick Law Olmsted and located just two blocks from the Olmsted-designed Prospect Park, this charming Prospect Heights spot comes from chef Greg Baxtrom and horticulturist Ian Rothman, both previously of Atera. The seasonal menu features light and colorful fare like grilled scallops, carrot crepes, and Long Island duck two ways, best enjoyed in warmer months in the restaurant's string-light-lined garden, where much of the menu's produce comes from.
Pricey, decadent plates savored poolside in the former Four Seasons’ space
Did you recently marry rich? First of all, mazel tov. Second, now is a great time to dine in the former Four Seasons space, where dinner will cost you your monthly rent (per person). The restaurant maintains the Four Seasons’ iconic pool in the center of the room, and offers a lavish seafood-focused menu, featuring things like caviar service, ribbons of foie gras, scampi tortellini, and a rack of lamb for two.
Family-owned taco counter serving innovative, Mexican-inspired tacos and burritos
Chef Denisse Lina Chavez’s El Atoradero family continues to grow with a new taqueria inside Gowanus’ Parklife venue space. The walk-up window service spot is focused on Mexico City-inspired tacos and burritos ffilled with chorizo, chicken tinga, lamb tongue, and other savory proteins. Also look out for those standout nachos from the original restaurant.
The premier NYC kitchen for dangerously spicy Thai plates
From the chef behind the widely acclaimed (and now-shuttered) Kao Soy in Red Hook, Ugly Baby is your new go-to for traditional, unfussy Thai food. The colorfully designed spot draws inspiration from different Thai regions for spice-centric dishes like the standout kua kling (dry shank beef curry), which is probably one of the spiciest things you’ll try all year.
Simple staple dishes with spectacular twists in a tiny, storied spot
Everybody knows about Prune, that tiny East Side spot with the line that stretches down the street and around the corner. The one that has consistently drawn crowds for 18 years. The one where you can never get a table, so you’ve stopped trying. Helmed by Gabrielle Hamilton, the place serves simple staple dishes, each with a spectacular twist: Grape-Nuts are blended with vanilla ice cream, omelettes are plumped with fried oysters and remoulade, Dutch-style pancakes come studded with blueberries. The waitstaff gracefully moves at a breakneck pace to whittle down the line every weekend, but service never feels rushed.
A cozy Greenpoint hideaway for rich, decadent veggie plates
Among the cascade of new restaurants on Franklin Street, Anella is easy to miss. The little place could have been plucked from a Parisian back alley, with rows of intimate two-tops, a bustling open kitchen and the sort of updated farmhouse decor that has become standard in Brooklyn restaurants. The bread is baked and served in terracotta flower pots, cocktails are garnished with fresh herbs, and the creative vegetable dishes are enough to convert any serious carnivore. Try the spiralized zucchini drenched in house-made pesto and pistachio-crusted goat cheese. Or stick with the perfectly cooked skirt steak, topped with a pat of blue cheese butter.
Kitschy Thai take-out with creative, authentic flavor
The old Mr. Donahue’s space is now home to an Uncle Boons spinoff, focusing on fast-casual Thai take-out at more affordable prices ($9-16) than the OG restaurant. The menu ranges from small plates and soups to large plates inspired by Thai street food and classic NYC takeout -- like the Phat Thai with prawn rice noodles and peanuts in tamarind sauce. While there are a few tables to post up at, the place can get cramped, so your best bet is to take your meal to-go.
Bare-bones pizza with a prestigious reputation
At Lucali, there are no slices, no deliveries, and no reservations. There is no bar -- you can bring your own booze. You’d never glean that this is reportedly Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s favorite pizza place from its nondescript facade. Still, crowds abound. Chef Mark Iacono hasn’t changed the menu since the venue’s opening -- and for good reason. Guests wait hours for thin-crust pies topped with rich tangy sauce, Buffalo mozzarella, garlic, Grana Padano, and fresh basil leaves.
Outlandish Peruvian food in an indoor garden
In spite of its location in the shadow of the BQE, Llama Inn gives greenhouse vibes -- the improbably bright space is lined with a thicket of overhead greenery. Chef Erik Ramirez slings innovative Peruvian fare from an open kitchen in curious combinations: Charred octopus ceviche is tossed with roasted sweet potato, quinoa comes packed with warm banana and bacon, and clams stew in turmeric and mint.