Food & Drink

The Best Places to Eat in NYC Right Now

Updated On 07/31/2018 at 02:26PM EST Updated On 07/31/2018 at 02:26PM EST
A Summer Day Cafe
A Summer Day Cafe | Cole Saladino/Thrillist
best new openings
Emily Andrews

Manhatta

Battery Park

Upscale French fare from the Danny Meyer empire
Union Square Hospitality Group tightens its grip on NYC with its latest opening -- a sprawling new French-American spot on the 60th floor of a downtown high-rise. The executive chef is a Per Se alum, so you can expect foie gras mousse with strawberries, veal blanquette, and a Burgundy-heavy wine menu. The prix fixe will set you back $78 -- an expected sum for three courses and sweeping skyline views.  

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

A Summer Day Cafe

Tribeca

A sunny all-day cafe, specializing in light, coastal Italian bites.
Tribeca is no Amalfi Coast, but this downtown cafe inspired by the buzzy vacation spot is a close approximation. Nautical design compliments coastal Italian cooking -- so you can fantasize about the seaside trip you couldn’t afford this year over tenderized octopus, fresh calamari, and grilled swordfish resting on a bed of pesto-drizzled gnocchi. Sip a few Capri cocktails (Aperol, vodka, sherry, grapefruit, and passionfruit), and you might just feel like you’re breathing in that sea air -- until you step back out onto West Broadway.  

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Blue Stripes

Union Square

A chocolatier’s second act
Oded Brenner, co-founder of the Wonka-like, Max Brenner, has returned to the area with a follow up to his lauded chocolate restaurant -- and it’s just as sweet its precursor. We’re talking chocolate mousse on tap, outlandish “sleepover” ice cream sundaes, and chocolate pizzas. It’s a dentist’s nightmare, and a stoned NYU student’s dream come true.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Holy Ground

Tribeca

An edgy, subterranean spot, formerly owned by the church
If A Summer Day Cafe were the set of Stranger Things, it’s sister spot right downstairs would be the Upside Down. Named for the space’s former affiliation with Trinity Church, the subterranean speakeasy-style bar is now a house of worship for red meat and riffs on classic cocktails. Slide into a dimly lit red leather banquette, and pair your Flintstones-sized prime rib -- a bloody, buttery cut that hangs off the bone -- with a martini or two.

The Usual

The Usual

Nolita

Casual comfort food from LA’s Eggslut mastermind
Chef Alan Cailin's Eggslut has been drawing out-the-door, influencer-heavy lines for years -- but before you get excited, The Usual is nothing like the LA chain. For starters, it’s only open for dinner service -- so the buttery, photogenic breakfast sandwiches yearned for ‘round the world will not grace the menu. Instead, diners will munch on classic comfort food with a Filipino edge. Start with a salad built of watermelon radish, pickled strawberries, and tarragon vinaigrette, before moving onto house-made pastas, double-stacked burgers, and their specialty: fried chicken.

Kaikagetsu

Kaikagetsu

Lower East Side

An upscale, authentic tasting menu from the Hida region of Japan
Forrest Fooding is the Major Food Group of Japan, and they’re planting their flag in New York with Kaikagetsu -- an upscale Orchard Street kitchen, specializing in flavors from the Hida region. The tasting menu will set you back $200, but an à la carte option is available for plebes. Plates of fire roasted meats and vegetables come delicately arranged on beds of magnolia leaf in a space designed after a traditional Hida home, with blackened wood, and rows of imported trinkets.

Courtesy of Nonna Beppa

Nonna Beppa

Greenwich Village

A homey old-school Italian spot serving unforgettable handmade tortellini
The menu at Nonna Beppa is neither eccentric nor experimental. It’s Italian fare -- namely hearty pasta and tortellini -- cooked just how your imaginary nonna might make it. Except Chef Giancarlo Cacciatori won’t ask you why you’re still single at the dinner table. Instead, he’ll sling plates of handmade tortellini in a decadent cream sauce, and tagliatelle with mushroom and lemon, prepared according to recipes writ by his Italian family -- who cook near-identical dishes in their restaurant north of Bologna.   

Barnea Bistro

Barnea Bistro

Midtown East

Chic French plates for kosher diners
Barnea Bistro is the latest addition to New York City’s Kosher dining canon. Named for a type of olive largely grown in Israel, the kosher French bistro serves duck à l’orange, lamb riblets with pistachio and honey, and pappardelle with eggplant and almond ricotta. Sleek Carrera marble, walnut, and velvet combine to make this an elegant venue for your next date. There’s no Manischewitz on the menu, but there are plenty of Kosher wines to take its place.

Legacy Records

Ada’s Place

Midtown West

A laidback lounge for midtowners seeking a downtown scene
Upstairs at Legacy Records -- the buzzy venue from the team behind Charlie Bird -- you’ll find a more laidback joint: Ada’s Place. Split into three separate lounge areas lined with green velvet banquettes, the spot best serves folks who’d rather not be in Midtown. Gone is the $90 duck for two they serve below. Instead, order a half lobster, burger with black truffle, or a more attainable duck and honey dish -- each under $25. The cocktail menu from one of the brains behind the bar at PDT incorporates 250 spirits from around the world, including a fine selection of Japanese whisky.

Liz Clayman

Ample Hills Ice Cream Factory

Red Hook

A full-fledged factory for Brooklyn ice cream cones
You’ve probably sampled Ample Hills’ popular ice cream somewhere in Brooklyn. Now you can get it straight from the source at their new retail factory. Watch as ingredients like cookie dough, butter pecan brittle, and deconstructed rice krispie treats are blended into vats of frozen dairy, before deciding on your flavor of choice. Chase your cone with a meal at nearby Brooklyn Crab or Hometown BBQ if you want some dinner with your dessert.

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Oxomoco

Greenpoint

Creative Oaxacan bites from a storied pizza chef
The chef behind Speedy Romeo (Brooklyn’s St. Louis-style pizza purveyor) has taken 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.
 

La Vara

La Vara

Cobble Hill

Michelin-starred tapas in residential South Brooklyn
Like so many buzzy dinner joints in South Brooklyn, La Vara is a storefront wedged between walkups on a tree-lined street, with a tin ceiling and exposed brick inside. The food is less expected. The kitchen serves up a menu of Michelin-starred Spanish plates with a Jewish edge: house-cured salt cod with pistachio, citrus, and pomegranate, chorizo with seared grapes, egg, and smoked olive oil, and stuffed rabbit loin with saffron and prunes. Come late to avoid the stroller crowd.  

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Evelina

Fort Greene

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.

Her Name is Han

Her Name is Han

NoMad

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.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Otway

Clinton Hill

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.

L:Courtesy of Narcissa; R: Thrillist

Narcissa

East Village

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.  

Diane Kang

Atomix

NoMad

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.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Atla

NoHo

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.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Empellón

Midtown

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.

Eric Medsker

Fairfax

West Village

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.

Johnny Miller

Flora Bar

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.

Freek's Mill

Freek's Mill

Gowanus

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.

Courtesy of Major Food Group

The Grill

Midtown East

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).

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Hometown Bar-B-Que

Red Hook

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.

Ikinari Steak

Ikinari Steak

East Village

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).

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

King

SoHo

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. 

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Lilia

Williamsburg

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.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Miss Ada

Fort Greene

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 offers a 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.

Evan Sung

Norman

Greenpoint

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).

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Nur

Flatiron

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.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Olmsted

Prospect Heights

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.

Daniel Krieger

The Pool

Midtown East

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.

Cole Saladino/Thrillist

Taqueria El Atoradero

Gowanus

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.

Melanie Rieders

Ugly Baby

Carroll Gardens

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.  

Prune

East Village

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.  

Lindsey Johnston

Anella

Greenpoint

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.

Alex Muccilli

Uncle Boons Sister

Nolita

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.

Lucali

Carroll Gardens

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.

Courtesy of Llama Inn

Llama Inn

Williamsburg

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.