What’s New & Great in New York City
Even in a place that evolves as quickly as New York City, the pace of change lately has been impressive. Entire neighborhoods are virtually unrecognizable from just a few years ago, especially in Brooklyn, which continues to stake its claim as the world’s coolest borough. Bars, restaurants, shops, and guys with ironic facial hair all continue to converge in neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bed-Stuy. And not to be outdone, Manhattan is redefining itself as the new Brooklyn—and making a pretty compelling case. Formerly snoozy no-go zones, like Midtown, now have cool boutique hotels and great restaurants that cater more to hipsters than to hedge fund managers. And while we love discovering all these recent additions, there’s also something to be said for reconnecting with places we haven’t been to in a while—a few of which we’ve included here. Welcome to the new New York.
ABC Kitchen35 E. 18th St., Union Square | 212.475.5829
Helmed by chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, this airy, all-white space—attached to ABC Home—is a temple to inventive, seasonal, and local cooking sourced from nearby farms and cooperatives. It doesn't come as much of a shock that the fare is GMO-free and also grown and made without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, antibiotics, or hormones. It's not surprising because you can taste the well-sourced provenance on the plate, whether in the form of house-made ricotta ravioli or fried organic chicken in a hot butter sauce. (We never said the offers were ascetic.)
Maman Nomad22 W. 25th St., Nomad | 646.838.0700
If you've visited Marché Maman, or one of the other Maman cafés, you're familiar with founders Benjamin Sormonte and Elisa Marshall's talent for creating utterly chic, French-inspired spaces you want to live in. Their latest outpost, Maman Nomad, checks all these boxes. The first uptown presence for the duo, the gorgeous café and restaurant serve up decadent lunch and brunch options, including healthy homemade soups and quiches, plus their famous nutty chocolate chip cookies. Go for a relaxed brunch or afternoon coffee–or, in a pinch, grab something to go.
Sunday in Brooklyn348 Wythe Ave., Williamsburg | 347.222.6722
This is the closest you’ll come to SoCal in BK. The avocado toast, the breakfast sandwich, the quinoa bowl—they’re all here. There are also malted pancakes served with brown butter and seared mushrooms and ramp kimchi atop flaky grilled flatbread, so something for everyone. The interior is minimalist Scandinavian with blonde wood, pretty ceramics, and lots of greenery, but warmed up by a terra-cotta tile floor, chic marble-topped tables, and a wooden bar that wouldn’t look out of place in a ski chalet. There’s not a bad glass on the entire (all natural, all delicious) wine list. If you can’t handle the weekend crush, pick up the perfect flat white from the to-go hatch out front.
Cecconi’s55 Water St., Dumbo | 718.650.3900
It's tasteful (because it's Cecconi's), and it's cavernous (because it's in DUMBO), but neither of these things matter. Ask for a table outside. Then settle in on the deck, right on the water, and behold New York City as it was meant to be beheld. Get comfortable—order a Negroni and perhaps the shishito peppers with bottarga and lemon or the calamari fritti. The waiters are ridiculously accommodating and happy to break up your order so you can pace out the evening. Should one Negroni become two, follow up your aperitivi with a wood-oven pizza with black truffle, zucchini, and goat cheese or ravioli with Parmesan, mushroom, and sage. Better still: Order whatever will take the longest—the East River makes a remarkable dinner companion.
Ferris44 W. 29th St., Flatiron | 212.213.4420
Ferris is the sleek, atmospheric restaurant that occupies the subterranean level of the Made Hotel; even if you’re a guest of the hotel, it’s worth making a reservation in advance. You’re in for a doozy of flavors, textures, and cultural mashups—it’s effing incredible. Start with the Melon de Caraibe, a cocktail of honeydew, rum, mint, and egg whites, plus bread and butter (it doesn’t come with dinner, you have to order it, and the luscious, fresh-out-of-the-oven sunflower-caraway is worth it). Sit in one of the pillowy nooks near the window and exult in dishes like charred broccolini in a creamy yogurt-cashew emulsion, broth-bathed hake (flaky, delicate, a tidal wave of flavor), and cardamom-coriander Szechuan-style duck with a side of fermented sour cherry relish to remind you of all that is right in the world.
Lalito104 Bayard St., Lower East Side | 646.998.3408
The first thing to know about this airy, minimalist Mexican restaurant is that it’s a “no avocado zone.” Instead, you get chef Gerardo Gonzalez’s version of guacamole—chickpeas, moringa, pickled onions, and roasted garlic, a brunch dish named This Is Not Avocado Toast. The second thing to know is that you won’t miss avocados for a minute: There are plenty of delicious options. (Take note of the aguas frescas and the vegan Caesar salad.)
Miznon435 W. 15th St., Chelsea | 646.490.5871
In a city full of Middle Eastern food carts, Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani’s Chelsea Market restaurant goes beyond serving just the regional classics. Shani’s known for pillowy pita bread, but instead of the usual suspects (shawarma, falafel), Miznon fills it with ratatouille, hake, and even a cheeseburger. The whole roasted cauliflower, which is first pressure-cooked in salt water, then roasted whole with just olive oil, is served with Israeli-imported tahini and is absolutely delicious.
Ichiran374 Johnson Ave., Bushwick | 718.381.0491
Known throughout Japan for its delicious tonkotsu (a Japanese broth made from eight- to twelve-hour simmered pork marrow), Ichiran opened in Bushwick with lines around the block. (There’s also a location in Midtown.) Beyond the umami-bomb tonkotsu itself, which comes in a variety of intensities, and the fresh noodles, the full experience involves sitting in school-desk-like individual booths for dining, which is weird but fun. Especially after a matcha beer or two.
The Musket Room265 Elizabeth St., Lower East Side | 212.219.0764
Four months after Auckland-born chef Matt Lambert opened the doors of the Musket Room, he earned himself a Michelin star. Lambert and his partners, manager (and his wife) Barbara Lambert and restaurateur Jennifer Vitagliano, obsess over every detail at the New Zealand–inspired restaurant: Many ingredients are grown in the courtyard behind the restaurant, the interiors are modern and rustic (with a musket over the bar, naturally), and the dishes are artfully plated. The menu is divided into five sections: Powhiri, Kaimoana, Papatuanuku, Ranginu, and Ka Kate, meaning introduction, seafood, land, sky, and farewell in Maori.
Alta64 W. 10th St., Greenwich Village | 212.505.7777
Pan-Mediterranean food reinterpreted is one way of summing up Alta. To start, expect boquerones on caramelized tomato toast, crowd-pleasing bacon-wrapped dates, and fried goat cheese paired with fragrant lavender honey. Main dishes include a mix of the raw plates found on every menu, but listed alongside some more exciting options, like venison carpaccio and smoked sunchoke risotto with lemon and pecorino. The post-dinner drinks list is extensive—grappa, amari, Madeira, we could go on. The vibe is warm and inviting, with two fireplaces and all the burnt terra-cotta shades we associate with the Mediterranean woven into the décor.
La Vara268 Clinton St., Cobble Hill | 718.422.0065
Go to La Vara with a few friends, because you’re going to want to order everything on the menu, starting with the fried chickpeas and working your way through everything that looks good—it all is. Chef Alex Raij serves up southern Spanish cuisine with Jewish and Moorish influences, so house-cured salt cod is served with citrus, olives, egg, and pomegranate, and a half chicken is served with spiced onions and cumin.
MeMe’s Diner657 Washington Ave., Prospect Heights | 718.636.2900
This unpretentious neighborhood joint zeros in on comfort food—meatloaf, chicken cutlets, patty melts, stove-top mac ’n’ cheese. Brunch is epic, too, with its frito migas and an everything bagel babka. (This is New York, after all.) Together, co-owners Libby Willis and Bill Clark, who first worked together at Brooklyn vegan bakery Ovenly, have gone out of their way to create a warm and welcoming space geared toward the LGBTQ+ community, but it’s the kind of spot where you want to hang out no matter your sexual orientation. MeMe’s is named for Clark's grandmother, and the entire space has an all-in-the-family vibe: The leather banquettes were designed by Willis’s brother, who lives in the Hudson Valley, and the quirky oil paintings were done by her grandfather. Photos: Noah Fecks
DEZ227 Mulberry St., Nolita | 212.674.8002
This joint venture between By Chloe founder Samantha Wasser and chef Eden Grinshpan (of the Cooking Channel’s Eden Eats) feels like a groovy version of Marrakech (or, at least, Palm Springs), with decorative neon palm trees and camels, cacti, and geometric motifs sprinkled throughout. The fast-casual Middle Eastern–style salads and mezze are the kind of flavorful, healthy food you can come back to often without getting bored, and the bowls (harissa curry shakshuka; Moroccan lamb meatballs with preserved lemon, date couscous, and cilantro) make convenient on-the-go lunches, not to mention satisfying Instagram fodder.
Frenchette241 W. Broadway, Tribeca | 212.334.3883
Balthazar and Minetta Tavern alums Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson got together and decided to redo the idea of the French brasserie. What they came up with is Frenchette in Tribeca. The proof is in delicious if unpronounceable dishes like the brouillade—a buttery, garlicky scrambled egg and escargot dish. Technically, it’s an hors d’oeuvre, but who cares about technicalities? This could easily stand in as an entrée (especially with a side of charred carrots with labneh). And while ordering roast chicken at a restaurant might seem like a cop-out, Frenchette’s is perfectly roasted and presented on a bed of croutons that soak up all the drippings, along with a little pot of puréed potatoes. The biodynamic wine list, meanwhile, is a departure from the usual and a very welcome one.
Bombay Bread Bar195 Spring St., Soho | 212.235.1098
Chef Floyd Cardoz grew up biking around Mumbai, India. It follows that he became an expert in Indian street food. His new SoHo restaurant celebrates the foundation of so many of these snacks—namely, the puffy, buttery, herby kulcha flatbreads slathered in spicy chutneys. We loved the Indian version of a panini, with spiced lamb, cucumber raita, and mustard mashed potatoes pressed between two slivers of toasted naan (he calls it the lamb naanini). But there are also plenty of less carb-y options, like the Bengali banana-leaf-wrapped halibut. The interior, meanwhile, was dreamed up by Kris Moran, a member of filmmaker Wes Anderson’s creative team who worked on The Darjeeling Limited. As you’d expect, it’s a whimsical collection of Pop Art, citrus-patterned oilcloths, and entire walls covered in Bollywood-inspired murals by artist Maria Qamar.
Cervo’s43 Canal St., Lower East Side | 212.226.2545
Portuguese and Spanish vibes take center stage at this cozy Lower East Side spot from restaurateur Nialls Fallon and chef Nick Perkins, partners known for their Bed-Stuy restaurant, Hart’s. The menu is simple but satisfying, with a seafood bent: cockles with Vinho Verde and garlic; Maine scallops with endive and Basque peppers; a whole Boston mackerel with aioli; platters of Cape Cod and Washington State oysters. And the dishes pair well with a glass of unfortified white from the Iberian peninsula. There’s also a juicy grass-fed lamb burger and a roasted half chicken with asparagus and paprika. For the true Portuguese experience, come for Sunday brunch, when Cervo’s serves a classic fisherman’s breakfast, consisting of sardines, house-cured trout, and pickled red peppers on toasted sourdough.
Fausto348 Flatbush Ave., Prospect Heights | 917.909.1427
Fausto had big shoes to fill when it opened on a busy block of Flatbush Avenue in Park Slope last year. The space was formerly occupied by Franny’s, a much-loved neighborhood pizza place that had been a staple of the area for almost fifteen years. Luckily, Fausto was equal to the task. It quickly became a new favorite, thanks to chef Erin Shambura’s house-made pastas (like buckwheat rigatoni with shiitake mushrooms, dandelion greens, and Parmesan), and a clean-lined, sophisticated mid-century modern dining room. The wine list is as close to flawless as a wine list can be—which makes sense given that it was conceived by sommelier (and co-owner), Joe Campanale, the restaurateur behind popular NYC Italian spots Dell’Anima and Anfora.
Flora Bar945 Madison Ave., Midtown | 646.558.5383
On the ground floor of the still-buzzy Met Breuer (the contemporary art annex of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, several blocks away from the main building), Flora Bar is the latest project from the team behind downtown favorites Estela and Café Altro Paradiso. But here’s the real reason it’s great: Flora Bar is the opposite from the sterile, often mediocre restaurants that are typical at many of the big museums. The space itself is striking: soaring ceilings, huge windows that overlook the expansive outdoor seating area and the modest garden. The menu is a mix of Japanese- and Spanish-influenced tapas, like scallop crudo with Asian pear and ramps, snow crab with miso mayonnaise, and lamb ribs with yogurt and mojo verde (a mixture of garlic, cumin, cilantro, and olive oil).
La Mercerie53 Howard St., Tribeca | 212.852.9097
Interior design firm Roman and Williams’s expansive new retail space in SoHo, Guild, is home to three things: a furniture and homeware showroom, a great florist shop called Emily Thompson Flowers, and La Mercerie, chef Marie Aude-Rose’s picture-perfect French café and the real reason to come here. Aude-Rose excels at creating food you want to take time savoring, and the egg dishes are especially wonderful—highlights include a soft-boiled egg with cauliflower and tofu cream and an expertly made cheese omelet. The crème brûlée puts all other crème brûlées the world over to shame.
Una Pizza Napoletana175 Orchard St., Lower East Side | 646.692.3475
Anthony Mangieri is considered the king of Neopolitan pizza in NYC. This new and improved version of his former East Village restaurant comes with an impressive slew of desserts—a tiramisu that uses lemon sponge cake instead of the traditional lady fingers, and strawberry panna cotta—by Wildair and Contra chef Fabian Von Hauske Valtierra. There are also a few appetizers now, the best of which include burrata with tomatoes in lobster oil, and marinated white asparagus with bottarga and cured egg yolk. The pizza, of course, is still the main draw, and Mangieri hasn’t lost his touch at this new space: Perfect, simple margherita, bianca, and marinara pies are unbeatable.
PilotPier 6, Brooklyn Heights | 917.810.8550
When Grand Banks opened on a 142-foot wooden sailing ship on the Hudson River in 2014, it became an instant warm-weather hit, as much for the novelty factor as for the oysters and lobster rolls. Last summer, the same team (brothers Alex and Miles Pincus) brought their concept to Brooklyn, on a 140-foot 1924 schooner docked just off Brooklyn Bridge Park, with views of the famous bridge and all Lower Manhattan. Like its sister ship across town, Pilot offers everything you’d expect: In addition to the oysters and the lobster roll, there is a softshell crab po’boy, a tomato and watermelon salad, and a big selection of refreshing cocktails. Try the Life at Sea, a house cocktail of vodka and bitter lemon syrup.
Studio at The Freehand23 Lexington Ave., Flatiron | 212.475.1924
Although restaurateur Gabe Stulman has five restaurants under his belt in the West Village (including Joseph Leonard and Jeffrey’s Grocery), this is his first venture into hotel dining. Studio is located on the second floor of the cool-kid hangout of the moment, the Freehand (which also has outposts in Miami, Chicago, and L.A.), in the Flatiron district. The theme is an homage to Stulman’s Jewish-Moroccan background, with influences drawn from North Africa and the Middle East. You could make a meal out of the small plates here, and we’d go for the spring pea hummus, served with a side of lamb merguez and pita; the berbere shrimp with fennel and blood orange; and the eggplant mirza with roasted tomato. The space itself resembles a private club more than a traditional restaurant, full of low-slung, sheepskin-covered leather chairs, cozy banquettes, and a soothing palette of warm browns and dark blues.
Tacuba802 Ninth Ave., Hell's Kitchen | 212.245.4500
After chef Julian Medina scored a hit in Astoria, Queens, with his Mexican cantina Tacuba four years ago, he opened this outpost in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen, with a bigger menu and more seating, two years later. The concept is classic Mexican with a few creative twists thrown in: chili rellenos filled with quinoa, mushrooms, and kale, chili-dusted fluke tacos with a kohlrabi-habanero slaw, and carne asada with a side of bone marrow fried rice. The atmosphere is generally boisterous, thanks in part to a big cocktail menu (we’re partial to the frozen tamarind margaritas), as well as the mezcal and tequila selection (there are hundreds—really, hundreds—of bottles on offer).