From the team behind Greenpoint Beer & Ale Co. and North Brooklyn Farms, Annicka celebrates the local and seasonal: all its beers, ciders, wines, and spirits are made in New York, and most of the menu ingredients are all sourced from local farms. Shareable plates like winter citruses with grilled mushrooms, crispy sunchokes, and radicchio are good for snacking, while larger options include house sausages, a butcher steak swiped with black garlic, and a rotating market fish.
The city is overrun with daytime cafes as of late, but Rita, the newest venture from Court Street Grocers alumna Mary Ellen Amato, has found a neighborhood in need of one: Red Hook. The bright space caters to locals (and anyone wiped out after a day spent trudging through IKEA), serving up light fare tinged with Spanish influences. Come early for soft scrambled egg sandwiches or the chili mojo-spiced porridge crowned with sweet potatoes, greens, and crispy shallots, or plop down at one of the tables late in the day to nosh on chicken broth heavy with caramelized squash, white beans, and greens. A list of coffees from Ninth Street Espresso and juice from Lancaster Farm Cooperative round out the menu.
The Danny Meyer-backed, LA-based chain has made its East Coast debut on Broadway, just north of Union Square. The kitchen works up market-driven customizable plates, sandwiches, soups, salads, and sides, and they’ve teamed up with local businesses (Gotham Greens, Luke’s Lobster, and Sea to Table) to create dishes exclusive to the New York location. There is plenty of space to linger in the 66-seat dining room, and a steady stream of lunches fly across their take-out counter, too.
General Deb’s is the second project from Faro founders Kevin and Debbie Adey, and the pair’s first foray into Chinese cuisine after chef Kevin’s love for Sichuan food drove him to make dumplings and noodles on his days off. The team has created a menu that leans heavily toward Sichuan classics: dan dan mian (house-made egg noodles swirled with bits of pork in sesame sauce), la zi ji (chicken spiced with dried Sichuan chili peppers), and the eccentric niu rou mian (red-cooked cow head, cabbage, and scallions swimming in a noodle soup).
In a sea of ramen shops, Karakatta Ramen has emerged as one of the hottest. The menu, like the space, is narrow, but that’s OK: what you’re really here for are steaming bowls of tongue-numbing, sweat-inducing, spicy ramen. There are four on the menu: spicy ginger stamina (heavily infused with ginger), Taka’s shoyu (dotted with leeks, cabbage, bean sprouts, and hunks of pork belly or chicken), butter-miso (pork belly, ground pork, scallions, and a pat of butter), and spicy veggie curry (leeks, tofu, mushrooms, zucchini, and red pepper). If you can’t stand the heat, the kitchen will dial down your bowl’s intensity.
Gabriel Stulman’s second project in the Freehand Hotel is the chic Simon & the Whale, an American restaurant with global influences. The menu includes a pillowy zeppole stuffed with bacon and smoked Gouda, a lamb carpaccio, and a crispy guinea hen paired with cotechino, pearl onions, and rutabaga. Although reservations are hard to come by, you can post up at the wraparound bar for a couple of drinks while you wait for a table.
Lower East Side
Tucked above the once hidden-ish, now not-so-secretive Freemans is Banzarbar, a 20-seat cocktail bar slinging a mix of low and regular-proof cocktails, as well as light snacks from the kitchen downstairs. A Death & Co veteran helms the liquor program, which boasts a slew of cocktails, liqueurs, and fortified wines, as well as a two-hour, $95 cocktail tasting. The space is inspired by Antarctic expeditions, so exploration is at the forefront of this new endeavor: a space to field test cocktails on this side of the equator.
Pricey sushi is ubiquitous in Manhattan, but Noda, Nomad’s newest sushi venture, is worth a pit stop if you suddenly come into a very large sum of money (and we mean very large: the omakase will set you back a nice $285, and that’s the only menu choice here). Eight seats are slung around a bar, where Shigeyuki Tsunoda plates seafood flown in from Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market. Up front, there’s a sake and whiskey lounge, ready to offset the $285 worth of sushi you just scarfed down.
Lower East Side
The beloved Flynn McGarry, a 19-year-old chef who’s garnered quite the reputation in the kitchen despite his young age, is launching two concepts within his first restaurant, Gem: the Living Room and the Dining Room. The Living Room is a daytime cafe serving coffee, tea, pastries, and snacks, and the Dining Room specializes in a 12-15 course, $155 tasting menu where foie gras is sandwiched between McGarry’s take on the Ritz Cracker. The feast will start off in the Living Room with light bites and drinks, followed by a move into the kitchen where everyone shares family-style dishes, just like at a dinner party.
Floyd Cardoz’s Paowalla has morphed into the bread and street food-focused The Bombay Bread Bar. It’s still in the same location on the corner of Spring Street and Sullivan Street, but things have changed. The space, for one, has been reimagined by Kris Moran, a film set decorator who’s worked on a number of Wes Anderson films. The vibrantly painted dining room is anchored by a floor to ceiling mural and the once-stuffy ambiance has relaxed to a more casual vibe, as evidenced by the food. Cardoz’s naans and chutneys are still the stars, but there’s also a handful of small plates (chickpea-battered onion rings, tandoori octopus) and larger ones (pork vindaloo, fish curry) on the menu.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.