A bright, airy eatery modeled after Tel Aviv café culture
Shoo Shoo is the sort of bustling venue you might find on a corner in Tel Aviv. Modeled after the bohemian, Israeli cafes of its owners’ homeland, the place is awash in bright, natural light with white marble counters, and an all-day menu boasting roasted butternut squash with yellow lentils and spiced butter, branzino fish balls over freekeh with tahini, and bay leaf panna cotta sprinkled with dried mint.
Upper West Side
Elegant Chinese fare in a contemporary art gallery
This Upper West Side joint is equal parts Chinese kitchen and art gallery. Owned by a private art collector, helmed by a Hunan cuisine veteran, and designed by a contemporary multi-media artist, the place offers complex, innovative dishes (think sauteed luffa with short neck clams and beef flank in a dry wok), paired with a rotating collection of original art, crafted to complement the food.
A playful Indian joint for cocktails and Bombay-inspired street food
Much like its name, Gupshup -- a Hindi word equivalent to chit-chat -- is bright and buzzy, with a roster of Bombay-inspired shared dishes and craft cocktails on offer. Expect authentic, classic Indian plates, clever riffs on Bombay street food, and a spread of house-made breads loaded with foie gras butter, pink rose, or mango chutney from the chef behind Punjab Grill and Indian Accent. The libations are equally impressive, each as punchy and bright as the environs (get the Lovlekar Lime with tamarind, black salt, gin, egg white, and cumin).
An old-school New York hideaway for French-Italian delicacies
Housed in sceney, design-oriented hotel, The Evelyn, Benno is an upscale ode to old New York. The art-deco dining room is far more regal than your ubiquitous, minimalist all-day cafe, complete with 45 seats and a 14-foot domed skylight. The kitchen slings plates designed to evoke the middle ground between French and Italian cooking from a menu by chef Jonathan Benno (Per Se): Sweet bread, rabbit, and foie gras terrine, braised short rib with panisse and porcini mushrooms, and pappardelle with white truffles and castelrosso cheese.
A rotating line up of lauded chefs from across the globe
This may sound like some bizarre form of automobile-oriented branded content, but the kitchen at this towering “creative space,” operated by Union Square Hospitality, is no joke. Intersect will showcase a rotating selection of chefs from all over the world and transform itself into a new culinary destination every four to six months. The first in the impressive lineup is Chef Gregory Marchand of Parisian hot-spot, Frenchie.
Lower East Side
Inventive Korean cocktails in a chic, downtown space
Let’s be clear, you’re here for the drinks. Not only does Reception Bar possess a custom carbonation machine designed to meet owner Katie Rue’s desired bubble density, but the cocktail menu includes a variety of clever Korean flavors not typically found in mixed drinks: Chrysanthemum, squid ink, green plum syrup, white lotus-infused soju. Along with the cocktails, a short menu of classic Korean small plates grace the menu (sweet rice cake balls filled with red bean paste), though the food is merely a way of ensuring you can safely consume another drink.
A small-scale food hall inspired by the Austin food truck scene
Hill Country is a NYC BBQ scene favorite, and the local joint has expanded its empire with Hill Country Food Park -- a food hall fashioned after Austin’s thriving food truck scene. Six stalls envelop a center seating area, including a coffee and doughnut stand, a classic sandwich and salad shop, a Tex-Mex taco kiosk, a pizza place, and of course, Hill Country’s own fare.
Lower East Side
A kitschy, dual-leveled French hideaway to honor Brigitte Bardot
Named for Brigitte Bardot, this petite French Bistro is the brainchild of three Michelin-starred chefs. The downstairs cocktail lounge feels thoroughly tropical, decorated to resemble Rio de Janeiro in Bardot’s film, Manina, the Girl in the Bikini, and the upstairs dining room has a more refined, classically French feel. The wine list is expansive, built to pair perfectly with dishes like bay scallop crudo with chive broth, endive, and pop rocks.
A local Israeli favorite, reimagined in the West Village
Balaboosta’s 2018 closure was a bummer for the following it built up during eight years of operation in Nolita. Fortunately, the beloved spot reopened in a far grander West Village space, with a near-identical menu of Mediterranean-meets-Middle Eastern fare. With more natural light, more seats, and a towering mural of chef Einat Admony’s mother, the new digs feel like a forever home. The chicken fesenjan, alone -- a Persian chicken-pomegranate stew -- should keep the doors open.
New school Thai from old school restaurateurs
Thai noodles are winter’s cure-all, and this new Hell’s Kitchen spot from the folks behind already popular Thai joints, Land and Pure Thai Cookhouse, will be your temporary antidote to a ruthless New York City December. Plates at Taladwat are for sharing, and any two will cost you $18 in total. Order the winter melon soup with braised chicken and the fried whole butter fish in toasted rice tamarind sauce.
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.
A vegan spot for non-vegans from an Eleven Madison Park alum
Sans isn’t the first venue churning out vegan plates for non-vegans, but Chef Champ Jones, who cut his teeth at Eleven Madison Park, is hoping this will be the best one. On the higher end, guests are invited to indulge in a $68 five-course tasting menu featuring sea-grape caviar and truffled tempeh, while more casual diners plow through a vegan lasagna or a “TV Dinner,” packed with mushroom farce, peas, carrots, and pomme puree. How egalitarian.
A Michelin-starred neighborhood secret for residents of South Brooklyn
Helmed by chef Gabe McMackin -- formerly of Blue Hill, Roberta’s, and Gramercy Tavern -- The Finch earned its Michelin star in just 10 months. The cozy brunch and dinner spot is hidden in plain sight on a residential block in Clinton Hill. Inside, guests nurse glasses of wine and inventive cocktails at the white marbled bar. The open kitchen turns out chicken liver mousse with sour cherries, Japanese yams with Meyer lemon mayonnaise, licorice, and pickled peppers, and rack of pork with sweet corn, and chanterelles.
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.
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 between 11:30am and 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.
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 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.
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 entrée 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 filled 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, and 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.