DIY desserts downtown
Sherry Blockinger’s Hudson Valley bakery has moved from tiny Chappaqua to the mean streets of the Meatpacking District, bringing with it made-to-order ice cream sandwiches, “tipsy” marshmallows, and build-your-own cookie sandwiches. Savory selections include olives, blistered almonds, and cheese plates served on edible buttermilk cracker boards.
New Greek treats in an old haunt
In a neighborhood overrun with some of the city’s best Greek food, this fish-forward taverna stands out by reaching beyond classic favorites. In addition to the usuals like saganaki, spanakopita, and lemony whole fish, chef Nicholas Poulmentis twirls squid ink linguini with scallops and laces a lobster roll with creme fraiche. Its 45-seat outdoor space opens just in time for spring and its Greek wine list rivals any in the neighborhood.
A new-wave French take on Korean fare
Chef Sung Park’s new venture in downtown Brooklyn assumes the name and space of a briefly shuttered Korean restaurant. Park’s reinvented fusion menu displays his Korean upbringing and his French culinary training. Kimchi, mussels, pollock, shrimp, scallops, octopus, tofu, and rice gnocchi swim in a kimchi bouillabaisse, and the wagyu steak tartare is threaded with strips of Korean pear, and topped with a quail egg.
Upper East Side
No-commitment pies by the piece
Pizza Quadrata Romana slings pizza al taglio (pizza by the cut) for the UES slice-loving set. Chef Angelo Iezzi’s Roman-style joint tops crisp squares with goat cheese, grapes, potato rounds, pumpkin hunks, and pancetta.
The newest in a public market monopoly
Sixteen vendors stretch out across 11,400-square-feet and three floors at Urbanspace’s latest takeover: Alphabet City’s Bobwhite Counter slings fried chicken, fast-casual Inday Go Go turns out curry and kebabs, and Rockaway Clam Bar shucks the good stuff.
Lower East Side
Daytime bites in the Japanese style
Another all-day cafe hits the LES, this one inspired by Japan’s traditional tea and coffee shops. The space is narrow but airy, aided by high, pressed-tin ceilings, distressed white walls, and exposed brick. Morning sets come with bread, salted boiled egg, and potato salad; lunch sets include soup and salad; and the dinner menu boasts small plates and heartier entries like the gluten-free pork curry.
Italian luxury on Manhattan's far West Side
From the team behind Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones, Legacy Records is a shot in the arm for the ever-revitalising Hudson Yards. The space is sleek and modern, the service is coolly professional, and the Italian menu is decidedly upscale -- in addition to a $26 spaghetti and a $25 cavatelli, you’ll spend $7 on table bread and butter.
French finger bites by way of Japan
LMDM’s specialty is mochi. Here, the pillowy rice cakes marry flavors like matcha, acai, and dark chocolate, and arrive in groups of three. A long list of new and classic cocktails gives the cafe a lounge vibe come nightfall.
A throwback trattoria
Shuttered 10 years ago, Coco Pazzo is back times two. By day, fast-casual, takeout-suitable soups, salads, and pastas fly out of the kitchen. By night, the tempo slows. The trattoria twirls together ribbons of bucatini with stuffed, grilled sardines, and pairs its grilled rib-eye with Caesar salad. You want to really take your time? Enjoy the charred octopus with crushed potatoes, burrata, anchovies, and olives.
Elevated baseball fare
The cult-favorite Danish brewery is giving baseball fans exactly what they want: 60 rotating taps and a small menu of ballpark-appropriate food: pork sandwiches, burgers, hot dogs, and cheesesteaks. Housed in Citi Field, a curbside entrance stays open year-round -- even if the Mets aren’t playing.
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 breakfast, you can expect things like ranchero eggs and flax seed chilaquiles, while the all-day menu features ceviche verde, quesadillas, and an arctic char tostada. Most of the dishes are also affordable, falling around $20.
Mexican cuisine (featuring ingredients sourced from Mexico) with a romantic backyard
From the team behind Freek’s Mill, Claro is an ode to Oaxaca in Gowanus. The bulk of the kitchen's ingredients, in addition to the restaurant’s custom tiles and ceramic dishware, are sourced directly from Mexico. The food leans heavily on barbacoa and corn, in traditional form, and the meat is as tender and flavorful as colorful seasoned veggies. Order a few dishes to share, including lobster chile relleno and goat consomme, and pair those with a specialty mezcal-based cocktail. Be sure to grab a seat in the backyard when the sun is out.
High-end Korean BBQ where you grill your own food
Cote is a New York novelty: part steakhouse, part Korean BBQ joint. The meat is dry-aged in house, served raw at the table, and cooked on personal tabletop grills. Tee up the $48/person “Butcher's Feast” for four chef’s choice cuts, plus traditional KBBQ accompaniments like banchan, kimchi, and savory egg soufflé
Brooklyn pizza darling slinging crisp, thin-crust pizzas and a cult-favorite burger
In recent years, Emily has become a formidable pizza empire with locations in Williamsburg and the West Village, beyond the flagship Fort Greene location. If you haven’t tried the pizza -- which might be NYC’s most Instagrammed pie -- we suggest you make a reservation asap (you will not get a table without one). The delectable, thin-crusted creations will certainly give die-hard Roberta’s fans a run for their money. Try the classic Emily white pizza, topped with mozzarella, pistachio, truffle sottocenere, and honey.
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 Roman gnocchi in a mushroom-onion stew). 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 crudo, and a rutabaga and raclette 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 hand-pulled spaghetti with uni butter, bacon, and butternut squash. 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
Major Food Group’s takeover of the old Four Seasons space is officially underway, with the first of three restaurants, The Grill, now open. The 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 -- from authentic Texas-style brisket and beef ribs, to 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. Also look out for a number of great wines and house cocktails.
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, with 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 Palestinian tartare (hand-cut beef, smoked eggplant cream, yogurt, baby carrots, and raw tahini).
A prohibition-inspired bar/restaurant stationed in the Mandarin Oriental
After years of anticipation, the team behind Chicago’s Michelin-starred Alinea has finally landed in NYC with an upscale speakeasy-style bar/restaurant inside the Mandarin Oriental. This strictly special-occasion spot (assuming you don’t have a hedge fund) is decked out in plenty of dark wood and leather, and offers $23 spirit-forward cocktails and dishes like a foie gras terrine, prime ribeye tartare, and one of the best vegetable crudité platters you’ll find in the city.
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 trout, carrot crepes, and rutabaga tagliatelle, 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 at Major Food Group’s latest addition to 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, lobster consomme, 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 everything from chorizo to French fries. Also look out for those standout nachos from the original restaurant (which you can get topped with fries as well).
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: cream of wheat is blended with buttermilk ice cream, omelettes are plumped with fried oysters and remoulade, Dutch-style pancakes come studded with oven-baked pears. 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 honey-glazed butternut squash served with burrata and balsamic, or 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.