Before you start removing your AC unit, loading up on space heaters, and sobbing uncontrollably beneath 24 blankets, embrace the last bit of summer with the lingering above-average temperatures and these: the best bar and restaurant openings of summer.
From Jane Danger and Ravi DeRossi, this "post-modern Polynesian" restaurant and cocktail bar in the old Gin Palace location is decked out with white bamboo floors, white curtains, and (obviously) mother of pearl lights. It's got a nine-levels-above-great Tiki program, featuring drinks like the Imperial Bulldog (raspberry, pineapple, lime, cachaca, aquavit, and Underberg).
With a focus on food from Central China, this charming Williamsburg spot is offering modern dishes made with fresh ingredients, like Angry Pig fried rice (with house-made pork jerky!) and prawn fries with Chinese ketchup. It’s also got serious Tiki-style cocktails, like the King Kamehameha Club (tequila, lime, allspice dram, agave, AND mezcal, guys).
Because apparently all anyone wanted to drink this summer was Tiki cocktails, this Bushwick Tex-Mex spot from the owners of The Commodore is doing next-level versions of those, too, in addition to "American" tacos, burritos, chimichangas, nachos, and a very solid burger.
The guys behind The Wayland continue to kill-crush-murder-windmill-kick it with this trendy new cocktail spot in the old Simone Martini Bar location on St. Marks and 1st. Inside the tile-floored, exposed brick-walled pub they're serving creative cocktails like the Red Rock Riper (bourbon, Campari, simple syrup, lemon, and red bell pepper juice) alongside oysters; a pork sandwich with tonnato mayo, frisee, and pickled onions; and a seriously good fish sandwich with pastrami spices and slaw on rye.
Michael Chernow's follow-up to the Meatball Shop is another single-focus restaurant -- this time, all fresh fish. And Seamore’s is damn serious about it, too. It’s simple: pick your fish from the ever-changing “Daily Landing” options (served over greens), then your sauce, then a side. Or you could (read: should) opt for the delicious blackened fish sandwich, fish tacos, or spiced tuna burger.
Jonathan Waxman’s iconic UES California-style eatery, which opened and closed in the ‘80s, is back in a new location at 1 Hotel Central Park. The new Jams menu pairs classics -- like the Jams pancakes with red pepper, smoked salmon, corn sauce, crème fraiche, and caviar -- with updated offerings like the Jams burger with local cheddar and bacon.
The new bakery/restaurant from Major Food Group is doing bagels like no one else right now -- they’re hand-rolled inside a glass space located in the center of the restaurant’s dining area (whaaaaaa???), along with other pastries and baked goods like chocolate babka. In the spirit of Barney Greengrass and Russ & Daughters, Sadelle's also has a number of smoked fish options, but it sets itself apart from the other Jewish spots with its incredible smoked fish tower, which looks just like a seafood tower, except with all the bagel fixings you could ever need -- tomatoes, capers, red onion, and, most importantly, a sampling of all the different smoked fish on offer.
Laurent Tourondel’s new Italian-inspired spot is serving up wood-fired pizza (like soppressata picante) in a kitchen that's visible from the dining room and the street. In addition to several pie options, the menu also features fusilli with spicy sausage, bitter greens, pine nuts, chiles, and pecorino, and pretty phenomenal smoked ricotta gnudi with sage brown butter and shaved truffle.
Modern American classics made from local, farm-fresh ingredients (like a black mission fig pizza with spicy coppa and a Spring Brook cheese souffle) are offered up inside this farmhouse-inspired restaurant modeled after country barn houses in the Hamptons. You totally know what those look like... right?
The Mother’s Ruin team is now serving Latin-style food and cocktails in an enormous, laid-back Bushwick space with open garage doors, high ceilings, and exposed brick. On the drink menu, you’ll find things like the amazingly named Peach Me How to Dougie (white rum, lime, and grilled peach); and on the food side, there are a number of quality small plates like nachos and fluke ceviche, as well as rotisserie chicken (half or whole), and wood-grilled stuffs like branzino and skirt steak.
Michael White’s Vaucluse brings a mix of traditional and modern French fare to Park Ave, with patés, caviar, aged ribeye, and a White Label burger (with an aged beef blend, shallot confit, fontina, and tomato jam). The true brasserie-style restaurant is modeled after a farmhouse in the South of France (you totally know what those look like, too... right????), and has two main dining rooms, a bar, and a lounge. There’s even a separate townhouse next door for private events.
David Chang is apparently the Beyonce of surprise restaurant openings, as he pulled a fast one on everyone with this Midtown outpost of his fried chicken sandwich concept. It offers a walk-in menu featuring chicken fingers (a collab with Danny Bowien), a mini version of the popular fried chicken sandwich, and salt-and-pepper shrimp. Reservations are available through Fuku+ packages for two to six people, where everyone gets to enjoy the spicy fried chicken sandwich, Fuku+ salad, French fries, and Milk Bar confetti cookies, among other things.
You can’t go wrong with a beer garden on a rooftop, especially when it involves creative Asian-inspired cocktails like the Peat’s Dragon (Japanese whiskey, Scotch, galangal honey, and togarashi yuzu), and eats like a Spam sushi dog (smoked pineapple relish, furikake flakes, sushi rice, and nori) or Shibuya disco fries (beef brisket, fries, jalapeño, daikon chili, sour cream, and Sriracha).
The Blue Ribbon guys’ new UWS spot has a huge menu of French-inspired American eats, including house-made paté, chicken-fried short ribs with beans and gravy, and an ox burger. But the real draw is the fried chicken, which you can only get on Sundays (5pm-close) and Mondays (dinner only).
The latest restaurant to hop on the no-tipping trend, Bruno Pizza comes from Roberta’s and Acme alums and has a number of solid Neapolitan pizzas available, like the country ham and the nduja. Also look out for market options like diver scallops and local squid, and excellent pastas like bucatini and cavatappi.
Another new spot from the mind of Ravi DeRossi, Avant Garden is doing upscale vegan in a super-intimate, rustic setting. The menu is broken up into Toasts, Hot, and Cold options, complemented by a selection of natural wines, ciders, and beers. The butternut farro risotto with baked apple, sage pesto, and crispy farro, and the roasted cauliflower with raisins, capers, pine nuts, and Concord grapes are must-MUST-gets.
Pegu Club’s Kenta Goto's first solo mission is a Japanese-inspired cocktail bar à la Angel’s Share. In addition to drinks like the yuzu-Calpico fizz (which is being touted as a Tom Collins with yuzu and Calpico), the dimly lit LES bar has a number of Japanese bar snacks, like the above-par miso wings and gobo French fries (fried Japanese burdock roots with shichimi, pepper, and salt). Also note the walls donning repurposed kimonos that belonged to Goto’s own grandmother.
This Ave B spot is doing traditional Indian food with a modern twist in a way that still feels authentic and true to the cuisine. The menu is broken down by "From the streets" (things like yogurt kebab and tandoori chicken) and "From the pots" (butter chicken and goat curry, among others). There’s also a beer fridge with a rotating selection that you can get up and grab from for yourself (all are $7).
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Located in the former Gin Palace spot, Mother of Pearl is an upscale cocktail bar with a hit-you-over-the-head Tiki theme that is, amazingly, equal parts elegance and kitsch. Run by Jane Danger and Ravi DeRossi, this “post-modern Polynesian” spot has plenty of Hawaiian-inspired eats, like Kalua pork belly and a tuna poke bowl, plus some serious booziness, like the Tiki bitters-loaded Shark Eye that actually comes in a shark shaped glass dripping with "blood." Also, it has no walls on its front -- just curtains. Go check it out.
With a factory in China barrel-aging and sun-fermenting its house soy sauce and a garden on the back patio growing Central Chinese herbs, spices, and vegetables (like tatsoi and Sichuan peppercorns), BQE-adjacent Kings County Imperial is Williamsburg’s localized vision of Sichuan food. The menu boasts a modernized version of the flavor-packed regional cuisine, and is divided into categories for dumplings, buns, dim sum, vegetables, and “Big Wok Traditional” items (get the Mapo Dofu, thank us later). The beverage program is tiki-centric, with cocktails that complement the spices found on the menu. Kings County is great for groups (it is dim sum, after all), and the Lazy Susan booths are proof.
The Wayland team is behind this homey cocktail/seafood bar in the East Village, filled with lots of exposed brick and charming family photos. The cocktails are seasonal and highly experimental while still affordable, and there are nightly deals to indulge in while saddled up to the reclaimed wood bar sourced from one of the founder's ancestral homes in Connecticut.
Michael Chernow, the guy behind the Meatball Shop, proves he's the master of the single-focus restaurant with Seamore's, his fish-centric restaurant in Little Italy. The concept is simple: you pick your fish from the ever-changing "Daily Landing" options, then your sauce and side. The menu features other fish plates like tacos, sandwiches, and poke. The large space includes a sidewalk patio and open-air windows and is decorated like a New England seafood shack filtered through a West Elm catalogue. Not too shabby.
6. Jams 1414 6th Avenue, New York, NY 10019 (Midtown)
The original Jams helped lead the farm-to-table movement in the '80s from the Upper East Side. Now it, along with Chef Jonathan Waxman, has resurfaced at 1 Hotel Central Park. The California-style menu includes dishes like the Jams Pancakes with red pepper, smoked salmon, corn sauce, caviar, lobster with blood sausage, and squid ink rigatoni with crab, garlic, and chili.
During the daytime, this elevated Jewish bakery and appetizing restaurant from Major Food Group serves hand-rolled bagels that are of the highest quality: they're parboiled with barley-malt syrup and rise slowly in the oven before taking their crisp, compact shape with a glossy finish. While the bagel sandwiches, like house-cured salmon on an everything bagel made with fennel, are what you’re here for, the homemade babka, cheese blintzes, and sticky buns certainly hold their own at brunch. In the evening, Sadelle's transforms into an candlelit brasserie, featuring a menu that puts an emphasis on freshly baked bread and fish entrees, as well as traditional Russian caviar and vodka.
The menu at Laurent Tourondel's L'Amico features Italian-inspired dishes, served in a casual setting. Two copper-clad, wood-burning ovens act as the centerpiece of the open kitchen, so diners can watch the parade of pizzas (we love the guanciale-topped clam pie), pastas, and rustic mains make their way to the dining area. Eating alone? L'Amico's bar area invites solo diners to enjoy a more quiet experience of the space and cuisine.
This restaurant provides locally sourced, upscale American cuisine in a setting inspired by Mark Zeff's Hamptons home, Blackbarn. For an immersive experience, the five course tasting menu with wine pairings is a good bet.
This restaurant offers an eclectic Latin-influenced menu in an old garage space. This open cantina space offers tropical cocktails and late night nachos in a great environment, especially on the weekends.
Vaucluse is Chef Michael White's venture into the upscale French brasserie format, a departure from the Italian fare he’s known for at Marea, Osteria Morini, and Ai Fiori. A pair of expensively appointed 80-seat dining rooms, decked out in creams and grays and connected by a lounge area, provide an attractive backdrop for mostly traditional takes on Gallic cuisine. White tablecloths and attentive service accompany mainstays like beef tartare, duck-pork terrine, seared scallops, and pork tenderloin -- if you don’t opt for a dish from the rotating cast of old favorites like boeuf Bourguignon.
12. Fuku+ 15 W 56th St Fl 1, New York, NY 10019 (Midtown West)
Situated in the Chambers Hotel, this sister restaurant to David Chang's popular chicken sandwich concept, Fuku, doles out his famed spicy fried chicken sandwiches alongside an expanded menu of bites like chicken fingers (a collab with Mission Chinese), flatbreads, and nachos -- which can be paired with a cocktail or boozy slushie.
Craft beers and crispy tacos are on the menu at this swanky beer garden. This Asian inspired restaurant features beers and cocktails from the region in addition to American dishes created by chef Brian Tsao.
Bruno Pizza comes from Roberta’s and Acme alums and has a number of solid Neapolitan pizzas available, like the country ham and the nduja. Also look out for market options like diver scallops and local squid, and excellent pastas like bucatini and cavatappi.
This cozy East Village restaurant from Ravi DeRossi is doing upscale vegan food in an intimate rustic setting (complete with a chandelier made of branches). The plant-based menu is broken up into toasts, hot, and cold plates, all of which are complemented by a selection of natural wines, ciders, and beers. Whether you eat meat or not, you'll appreciate how masterfully grains, fruits, and vegetables are transformed into deliciously creative plates here.
This Japanese-style cocktail bar on the Lower East Side, opened by Kenta Goto, offers detail-oriented and expertly crafted drinks with an Asian twist. Behind its blond wooden-doored exterior lies a small L-shaped bar, a row of dark banquettes, and walls decorated with fabric from Koto's grandmother's 100-year-old kimonos. The bar is known for its Sakura Martini (sake, gin, maraschino liqueur, cherry blossom), but also serves Japanese appetizers, such as Kombu celery, Japanese cabbage pancakes, and miso chicken wings.
This airy, East Village Indian restaurant is serving traditional dishes with a modern twist that still feels true to the culture and cuisine. The menu features street food snacks like crispy gol gappa and yogurt kebab, satisfying tandoor-cooked meat dishes, and curries that run from coconut milk-based prawn to spicy ginger beef. An authentic Indian meal isn't complete without daal, so be sure to order Babu's slow-simmered black lentil daal, and of course, the charred-in-all-the-right-places naan.