Our Favorite New Restaurants and Bars of 2018
Sure, we could spend the last days of 2018 recounting the things we accomplished…but we’d much rather reminisce about what we ate. And with plentiful bowls of noodles, pizza slices of every shape and colorful cocktails in photogenic surroundings, it was a very, very good year.
Under French chef Marie-Aude Rose, the chic all-day café serves up Parisian specialties like savory buckwheat crepes with Comté cheese and beef bourguignonne ladled atop noodles. The food isn’t the only focus here, though. Opened in partnership with design store Roman and Williams Guild, La Mercerie is as shoppable as it is Instagrammable: Everything inside—from the plates to the shelves—is literally up for sale.
53 Howard St.; 212-852-9097 or lamerceriecafe.com
In 2018, NYC’s love affair with modern Taiwanese food only grew stronger, thanks in part to this East Village hot spot. Bring a group so you can sample as many dishes as possible, like seaweed-dusted shaky fries and lo ba beng (a hearty pork-belly rice bowl). There’s also a dedicated late-night menu and a newly launched Taiwanese brunch in the form of shaobing (sesame puff-pastry egg sandwiches) and savory soy milk with youtiao (Chinese doughnuts).
26 St. Marks Place; eighteightsixnyc.com
Sofreh’s Persian home cooking is our new favorite way to get cozy. In an airy Prospect Heights space, chef-owner Nasim Alikhani turns out classic dishes flavored with warming spices, such as fesenjan (tender chicken stew with ground walnuts and pomegranate molasses served over rice), albaloo polo (a savory sour-cherry rice) and khoresht beh aloo (lamb and quince stew).
75 St. Marks Ave., Brooklyn; sofrehnyc.com
Hudson Yards office workers (OK, it was us) rejoiced when the Far West Side finally got an elegant dining destination worthy of date nights and treat-yourself dinners. And given the team behind it—the folks who brought us Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones—it’s no surprise. Catch us there after work for gorgeous crudo platters and the 350-bottle wine list.
Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop
It’s not every day that we get a slice counter from a true pizza legend. You won’t find crazy toppings here—instead, expect expertly executed New York–style pies, like a cheese-and-fennel-sausage slice and the “upside-down” Freddy Prince square with mozz, tomato, Pecorino Romano and a sesame-seed crust. Psst: There’s a robust vegan menu too.
110 Franklin St., Brooklyn; pauliegee.com
STUDIO, SIMON & THE WHALE, AND BROKEN SHAKER
This one’s a three-fer, courtesy of the Freehand Hotel. First, we fell in love with the mod apartment vibes and excellent pastries at all-day café Studio. Then Simon & The Whale won us over with its creative, seafood-centric menu. And finally, Broken Shaker was everything we wanted in a rooftop bar, between its whimsical drinks and retro-tropical decor.
23 Lexington Ave.; freehandhotels.com
Named after the Aztec goddess of the night, Oxomoco (pronounced with long O’s and a soft X, like the first syllable of ocean) brings Mexi-Cali eats to Greenpoint in the form of masa-battered fried shrimp, beet “chorizo” and albacore tuna achiote alongside the usual taco suspects. Bonus: Brunch is served seven days a week, so treat yourself to midweek chorizo verde and chicharrón on a concha, horchata chia pudding and masa griddle cakes.
128 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn; oxomoconyc.com
When an acclaimed Tokyo restaurant chain opens its first U.S. outpost, we take note. The specialty here is omakases based around yakitori, skewers loaded with expertly seasoned chicken—more specifically, nose-to-tail cuts that showcase every part of the bird—alongside dishes like foie gras–truffle chawanmushi (egg custard) and grilled Wagyu beef with uni.
76 Carmine St.; toriko-ny.com
Midtown drinking just got a serious upgrade with the opening of this spot from Major Food Group (the Pool, Carbone, Sadelle’s). Tiki apostle Brian Miller is behind drinks like the Reggae Bus (rum, Chartreuse, saffron and juice) and the bright-purple Commodore Daiquiri (made with rum, orgeat and ube extract), both ideal for sipping in the luxe interior or on the terrace.
400 W. 42nd St.; thepolynesiantiki.com
On first glance, this might just seem like a stylish all-day café with healthy, photogenic eats. And yes, it’s definitely that, but it’s also a major advocate for the community: West~Bourne partners with a local nonprofit focused on youth empowerment, not only by donating a percentage of sales but by helping to build a hospitality job-training program (and eventually hiring its trainees).
137 Sullivan St.; westbourne.com
As alums of Balthazar and Pastis, chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson are well versed in Gallic cooking, but the dishes they’re turning out at this perpetually packed bistro go beyond your typical steak frites and escargot. In place of beef, they use crispy, fatty duck, while garlicky escargot serves as an unexpectedly delicious garnish for soft scrambled eggs. To drink: a list of fizzy natural wines, also known as pét-nats.
Following firstborn and highly lauded Atoboy comes Atomix, the innovative Korean restaurant and bar in Gramercy by husband-and-wife team Junghyun and Ellia Park. The multi-course tasting menu at the 16-seat chef’s counter takes an almost educational approach, teaching diners about Korean food and culture in the sleek, minimalist space. The ten-course menu comes complete with banchan (traditional Korean side dishes) and highlights include the langoustine, golden eye snapper and Wagyu with fermented pear juice.
104 E. 30th St.; atomixnyc.com
Take top-notch pizza, add summer-ready outdoor seating (and a bocce court) and a calendar of events like movie nights and free workout classes, and you have this magical oasis in Union Square Park. The pies are a hybrid of Neapolitan and New York style, fired in a wind-powered oven and topped with ingredients (such as green garlic and heirloom tomatoes) fresh from the Greenmarket next door.
20 Union Square West; bocceusq.com
This Greenpoint haunt is making your grandparents’ food cool again (the place is actually named after the grandfathers of co-owner Zach Frankel and chef Ashley Berman). Along with co-owner Taylor McEwan, the team churns out modern takes on oldies like vinegar chicken, baked clams, wedge salads, crab cakes and martinis. Decor is as old-school as it gets: red leather banquettes, a long wooden bar and red-and-white-checkered tablecloths topped with butcher paper and crayons (you know, for the grandkids).
332 Driggs Ave., Brooklyn; berniesnyc.com
This Flatiron outpost of a popular Long Island spot is our new go-to for a big night out with friends: The high-ceilinged space feels transported from Mykonos, and the extra-virgin olive oil–drizzled menu features dishes like zucchini keftedes and oven-roasted halibut plaki that aremade for sharing.
15 W. 18th St.; kymarestaurants.com
The gypsy beer with a cult following finally has a brick-and-mortar brewery: a bright white, open-air taproom illuminated by naked incandescent hanging lights and splashed with tropical plants and playful wallpaper. The ever-changing rotation of beers features many sours, like the popular Flow State (a golden sour aged in oak and orange bitters barrels). Pair your pick with Middle Eastern–inspired bites from Samesa, located inside the brewery.
990 Metropolitan Ave., Brooklyn; grimmales.com
Di An Di
If a piping-hot bowl of pho is your idea of bliss, get thee to this Greenpoint Vietnamese restaurant, stat. Opened by some of the folks behind LES staple An Choi, the cheerful, plant-strewn dining room serves as a backdrop to an extensive menu of noodle soups and beyond, ranging from a beef brisket pho with a poached egg yolk to Vietnamese rice-paper “pizza” layered with littleneck clams, pork lardons and sweet chili sauce.
68 Greenpoint Ave., Brooklyn; diandi.nyc
Situated in Long Island City next to a 7-Eleven, Adda is the kind of restaurant that doesn’t need to try too hard to be cool because it just is: It’s casual, welcoming, affordably priced and delicious. (Adda actually means “a place where people hang out.”) In the minimalist, cozy space, chef Chintan Pandya (of Rahi and formerly the Michelin-starred Junoon) delights with dishes like Dilliwala butter chicken, tandoori cauliflower, dilli pakodi chaat (crispy lentil fritters) and lamb seekh kebab with green chili and mint.
31-31 Thomson Ave.; Long Island City; addanyc.com
Sometimes you’re down to scarf a slice on the sidewalk, but sometimes you require some ambience and a well-made spritz to go with your pie. Not only is this spinoff of the beloved West Village spot flat-out gorgeous, but its farm-to-table pizzas are as lovely as you’d expect, with topping combos like guanciale, fennel, smoked mozzarella and burnt orange.
1 Perry St.; rosemaryspizza.com
OK, technically this is a chocolate shop, but it’s a chocolate shop from veritable cacao whisperer Oded Brenner. And his gorgeous, mad-scientist creations—like chocolate-marshmallow pizza and a drinkable chocolate “cloud” mousse—are worth breaking your resolutions for.
28 E. 13th St.; bluestripes.com
This Japanese-American cocktail bar in the West Village is like the too-cool foreign-exchange student you wished you could be in high school. The cheeky, dive bar–esque establishment serves highballs, cocktails, boilermakers and Japanese whiskey alongside izakaya and traditional American bar food. You’ll find deviled eggs with miso and salmon roe, fries with nori, a Japanese deli-style egg-salad sandwich and a crispy mortadella katsu sando with tonkatsu sauce and Dijon mustard on daiichi bread.
531 Hudson St.; katanakitten.com
Even non-vegans can get on board with the indulgent meat- and dairy-free menu at Sans in Carroll Gardens. Explore dishes like lasagna with red sauce, béchamel and savory foam; black plum terrine with pickled plum, jam and brioche; or the cheeky “TV Dinner” (a take on meatloaf) of mushroom farce with peas, carrots and pomme puree. The cocktail program focuses on minimizing waste by repurposing ingredients throughout the menu and features house-made savory and sweet cold fermented shrubs.
329 Smith St., Brooklyn; sansbk.com
Every neighborhood could use a spot like this Bensonhurst gem, run by husband-and-wife team Patrick Lin and Ly Nguyen. The signature dish is the Southern Vietnamese specialty hu tieu (anoodle soup fortified with shrimp, pork ribs and herbs), but everything on the menu—including pho, banh mi and addictive smoothies made with fresh coconut, avocado or mango—is worth ordering.
1702 86th St., Brooklyn; em-restaurant.com
We never knew how much we needed a meat speakeasy in our life until this underground Tribeca den showed us the light. Here, you’ll find chophouse classics like dry-aged rib eye and steak au poivre alongside slow-smoked barbecue including St. Louis spare ribs and pork shoulder, perfectly complemented by the moody, mahogany-and-leather interior.
112 Reade St.; holygroundnyc.com
Lions & Tigers & Squares
This Detroit-style pizza joint knows the way to our heart with giant slices that are almost too big to finish (but we’ll manage), crispy, cheese-edged crust and a very favorable pepperoni-to-square-inch ratio.
268 W. 23rd St.; lionsandtigersandsquares.com
The East Village has quietly turned into a hub for serious Chinese food, and leading the charge is this eatery helmed by artist-turned-chef Chao Wang. Settle into the dining room—which is flat-out stunning, with arched wood panels and blown-glass lights—for mifen (a type of rice noodles native to Wang’s home province) served with complex broths and toppings ranging from fish fillet to pickled string beans.
112 First Ave.; hunanslurp.com
Housed in a beaux arts building that dates back to 1905 (now the Evelyn Hotel), this plush new fine-dining destination from the eponymous chef is everything we want in a fancy night out. Once you’re done marveling at the gorgeous skylight and jewel-toned velvet banquettes, feast on dishes like olive oil–braised abalone and lobster pasta fra diavolo.
7 E. 27th St.; bennorestaurant.com
A $300 omakase is not an everyday indulgence, but for a special occasion, this temple of Edomae-style sushi is worth every penny. Chef Nozomu “Noz” Abe, a Hokkaido native, brings both his professional training (he was executive chef at Sushiden) and his family legacy (his grandfather owned a seafood company) to every thoughtfully created tasting menu.
181 E. 78th St.; sushinoz.com
This one isn’t so much a new opening as a homecoming: Co-owners Kyo Pang and Moonlynn Tsai’s charming Malaysian coffeehouse is back and better than ever, with its coconutty kayabutter toast, soul-warming pan mee (hand-pulled noodles in anchovy broth), gooey peanut muah chee and Penang-style coffees.
151 E. Broadway; kopitiamnyc.com