One new restaurant opens every 28 seconds. We’re not 100% confident in that statistic, but given how many of them we checked out in 2019, it feels right. In eight cities across America and one across the pond, we spent the year trying new restaurants, occasionally fighting about them, and - most importantly - telling you about them. All of that has led to this: The Best New Restaurants Of 2019.
And this year, we decided to do something new. The entire Infatuation team, from LA to London, got together to discuss (fight about) the very best of those Best New Restaurants. The result is a restaurant supergroup, matched only by the heist team from Ocean’s 11, or that one time when Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, and Kacey Musgraves performed together at the Grammy’s. These are our Favorite New Restaurants Of 2019. Keep reading to find out which spots from your city made the cut, and which spots you should consider getting on a plane to experience.
OUR FAVORITE new RESTAURANTS OF 2019, from la to london
Endo at the Rotunda is a 16-seat omakase bar in west London, serving sushi that will make you regret spending money on anything else for the rest of your life. Less of a restaurant and more of an interactive eating experience, everything here is led by Endo - the headline act and head chef - while members of his backing band expertly prep rice and chat tuna, before handing you an eye-twitch-inducing piece of 6-day-aged otoro nigiri. Every course from the 18+ you’ll be served - from miso soup, to outstanding raw fish, to wagyu beef - will make you pause, savour, and wonder. Wonder whether it’s worth shelling out £180 for a once-in-lifetime-experience, twice. At Endo, it is.
The people behind Crown Shy clearly never internalized the saying “A jack of all trades is a master of none.” Because even though this American spot in New York City works for just about any dining situation, it’s also ideal for all of them. Even the complimentary olive bread is reason enough to plan a celebratory dinner here, and the landmarked Art Deco space is an ideal venue to toast a long-overdue promotion or even longer-overdue breakup. But despite the high ceilings and special-occasion feel, there’s nothing stuffy about Crown Shy. The big portions of reasonably-priced American food, bass-heavy background music, and walk-in bar area keep it casual enough for a weeknight hang that just so happens to feature the best plate of chicken in NYC.
Baroo Canteen is (very sadly) now closed.
Located inside a swap meet in East Hollywood, Los Angeles, Baroo Canteen is definitely a bit off-the-grid - but that’s only one part of what makes it special. The order-at-the-counter food stall is actually the second iteration of Baroo - the original, which closed in 2018, gained a cult following (and an 8.8 Infatuation rating) for serving Korean dishes that relied heavily on fermented vegetables. You can still find those at Baroo Canteen, but this menu is mostly made up of hearty, flavorful comfort dishes like pastrami fried rice, kimchi prawn toast with a yuzu/avocado dipping sauce, and Korean fried chicken with blistered kimchi salsa, all presented like modern art. Perhaps the most pressing detail about Baroo Canteen is that its swap-meet location is set to be demolished in 2020. So instead of just putting this place on your to-eat list, add it to your Google Maps now, and go before it’s gone for good.
Archipelago in Seattle is an eight-seat billboard for the Pacific Northwest. Each of the 10 courses inspired by the owners’ Filipino heritage - starting with the cracked wheat pandesal roll with truffle butter and ending with the sweet cedar plank suman (rice cake) with hazelnut pumpkin ice cream - exclusively uses ingredients from the PNW. The sinigang sour soup is made with plum and apple instead of the traditional tamarind (since it’s not grown here), and their banana ketchup doesn’t involve banana at all, but rather charred squash. Even the torched pine garnishes on top of their dishes are foraged from the owner’s backyard. You’ll walk away from a meal at Archipelago extremely appreciative of this rain and espresso-soaked region, even if you don’t live here.
Pizzeria Beddia has been an essential part of Philadelphia since 2013, when it was a small counter-service shop with lines that were famously up to six hours long. All they did was pizza - simple, thin-crust pies with Old Gold cheese and New Jersey tomatoes. Now, Pizzeria Beddia is in a much bigger space in Fishtown, and it’s a proper sit-down restaurant with a long natural wine list, a few excellent starters, and the best soft-serve ice cream we’ve ever eaten. Oh, and pizza - which, yes, is just as good as it’s always been. Once you factor in the beautifully-designed, white and light-wood-covered space, you get a spot that’s showing all other Philly restaurants how to be just a little bit cooler. (Without trying too hard while it’s at it.)
Every Wednesday night, Tanam in Boston covers its 10-seat table with banana leaves for a communal Filipino feast that you eat with your bare hands. It’s the type of meal you immediately tell your friends about - but more importantly, it’s also really, really good. Whether you come for that ask-a-stranger-to-pass-you-the-crab-legs kamayan meal, or Tanam’s weekend tasting menus, you’re going to spend two hours eating one tangy, sometimes spicy, always interesting dish after another. You might not always be in the mood to share a table with strangers, but don’t worry - the kare-kare oxtail stew and pork belly asado buns here seem to have a way of breaking down barriers.
San Francisco isn’t a steakhouse city, but even if it were, Niku would still stand out from all the rest. This Design District spot specializes in Japanese A5 wagyu beef that’s carefully cooked over a charcoal fire in the middle of the dining room, and we’re pretty sure contains the answers to every secret of the universe. But it’s not just the steaks that make dinner at Niku one you’ll never forget. The roasted bone marrow and brownie dessert with wagyu fat are equally incredible, and every detail of the service - like getting to choose your own steak knife, and the sommelier who will help you select the perfect wine - take Niku over the top.
We usually wait until the check comes to decide how we feel about a restaurant, but Boia De in Miami is one of the only places we’ve been to this year where we could have told you it was awesome before we even sat down. Even at first glance, there are so many things to love at this tiny Italian restaurant - from the speckled black and white bar countertop to the cigar-smoking monkeys on the bathroom wallpaper - that you can be pretty sure it’s going to deliver all the way ’til dessert hits the table. And dishes like hanger steak tartare, hamachi and fried capers, and potato skins covered in caviar and stracciatella only reinforce that first impression. It feels good to be right.
If you’ve ever been reminiscing about hummus and almost driven off the road, you’ve probably eaten at Galit in Chicago. Everything at this Middle Eastern restaurant is something you’ll remember - from the creamy hummuses (the Bubbe’s brisket is a standout), to the crispy falafel, to a rich shakshuka we wake up in the middle of the night thinking about. Plus, it has a bright, friendly atmosphere and isn’t absurdly expensive. In fact, the only problem with this spot is that we won’t stop talking about it, and people are getting concerned.
There are restaurants you want to eat in - and then there are restaurants you want to live in. Levan in Peckham, south London, is the latter. But you should absolutely be eating here too. Not only does this casual all-day spot have a record collection that would make Bob Dylan weep - it also serves seriously excellent seasonal dishes like boudin noir, buckwheat gnocchi, and some comté fries we’re contemplating naming our firstborn after. As much a wine bar as it is a restaurant, their list - well, it’s more a novella - is basically a manual on how to have a great time, regardless of whether you come here for a lunchtime stop-in or a candlelit date night.
Much like glass-blown chandeliers or someone in a suit doing a backflip, LA’s Pasjoli is objectively impressive. We say that not just because this Santa Monica French restaurant is fancy and expensive (there’s a $165 pressed duck on the menu), but because from start to finish, it’s impossible to find any kind of fault with anything here. The onion tart is essentially a French onion soup you can eat with a fork, and one of the best single bites of food we ate all year. There’s a duck confit with preserved cherries that tastes like dessert, but you get to eat it as an appetizer. Chicken liver mousse is piped into their brioche, and spoonfuls of marinated tuna are stuffed inside heirloom tomatoes. A meal at Pasjoli isn’t just indulgent, it’s an over-the-top thrill ride - and when was the last time you could say that about a French restaurant?
There are many great Korean restaurants in Seattle, but none are quite as special as Paju. Here, the wings are extremely crunchy even when coated in soy-garlic sauce, the bulgogi is infused with the perfect amount of truffle oil, the fried rice has squid ink, bacon, and a smoked quail egg yolk, and the server will always hold the door open for you on your way out - even though we never want to leave. There’s something very comforting about sitting in Paju’s chill space, eating a complicated bonito-topped seafood pancake with one hand, and drinking a cold beer that came from a portable kegerator with the other.
One day, there might be a Win Son Bakery in Seattle, Oakland, or wherever Gilmore Girls took place. If that happens, we’d like to take credit for the prediction, and we’d also like to advise you to move to one of those cities. Or you can just move to New York City, and spend the rest of your life eating baked goods, breakfast sandwiches, and glazed fried chicken at Win Son Bakery. This Taiwanese counter-service spot serves some of the best food you’ll ever order from someone behind an iPad, and their bacon, egg, and cheese on a scallion pancake is reason enough to quit your job so you can spend every morning here. Stick around after breakfast, and you can also get a gooey chop cheese and one of the best burgers in the city.
The first thing you should know about this casual Chinese restaurant in London’s Bloomsbury is that our review was almost just a love letter to their traditional LiangPii noodles. Specializing in Xi’anese dishes, Master Wei is the kind of affordable, laid-back restaurant you can rely on even more than next-day delivery and dry shampoo. But whether you come here to catch up with friends over the spicy smacked cucumber salad or solo to catch up with their cumin beef “burger,” remember to get an order of the salt and pepper squid alongside those headline chilli oil covered cold-skin noodles, and their beef biang biang noodles.
We could spend hours listing off all the reasons why we like Flour + Water Pizzeria in San Francisco, but the thing that always snaps us out of our monologuing - and makes us hurry back to this restaurant in the Mission - is the food. The caesar salad and homemade mozzarella sticks are better than we thought both of those dishes could be, and the pizza itself is our newest nomination for the Pizza Hall Of Fame. The crust is simultaneously crisp and chewy, and topped with excellent ingredients like corn and speck. Also, everything here costs less than $20, and unlike every other great restaurant in town, it’s still easy to walk into without a huge wait. In short, Flour + Water Pizzeria is the casual pizza spot that SF needed.
In 10 years, we’re pretty sure Kalaya will still be one of our favorite restaurants in Philadelphia. We feel that way because this place is perfect for almost any occasion, and because the owner spends just as much time visiting with diners as she does in the kitchen. But more importantly, because Kalaya serves the best Thai food in Philly. Every single dish is so incredible that you’ll find yourself wanting to order the entire menu, even though you know it’s unreasonable to eat five different types of curries in one sitting. That said, we definitely support you.
There aren’t many times in life when you get to be the kind of person who eats oysters and caviar while gazing upon a lagoon in Malibu - and that’s exactly why you need to get yourself to LA’s Broad Street Oyster Co. It’s not just the vicarious thrills and idyllic views we like here - it’s the selection of seafood you’ll find behind the counter: live sea urchins, spiny lobsters, spot prawns, and river crabs, all prepared simply and perfectly. And despite its Malibu location and seafood menagerie, Broad Street is anything but pretentious - they’ve got $2 Bud Heavies in the beer fridge, thrift-store paintings of sea captains on the walls, and a staff of friendly oyster-shuckers behind the bar. If anything, Broad Street feels like Jimmy Buffett’s green room - and that’s exactly what we’re looking for in a seafood shack.
The pizza scene in New York City is very competitive, like youth soccer in the United States or professional soccer anywhere else. So when we tell you that Bread And Salt is the year’s best newcomer, you should know they serve pizza that’s worth seeking out. What makes the slices at this counter-service spot in Jersey City so special is their crust, which has a slightly charred base under sweet, airy dough that’s like the inside of a croissant. When you also factor in the phenomenal toppings - like mozzarella pulled in-house or pesto made by hand behind the register - and comfortable BYOB space, you realize Bread And Salt is much more of a destination restaurant than a typical slice shop.
K’far, an Israeli bakery from the people behind Zahav (one of our highest-rated Philadelphia restaurants), is pretty. Almost too pretty, where you might wonder if the food is any good or if all the gold piping and marble tabletops is just a ruse to lure in photo-obsessed visitors. But K’far backs up its boutique-hotel aesthetic with some of the best breakfast food you’ll find in the city - from sweet, fluffy chocolate babka and za’atar-covered Jerusalem bagels to toasts on thick, brioche-like kubaneh bread. They also do dinner just as well, with an incredible lamb shank in a sour cherry glaze that’s so tender it falls off the bone. It’s the rare kind of restaurant that does a ton of different things very well, without sacrificing any part of the experience.
It’s not shocking that a restaurant named “The Momo World” has great momos. What is surprising, however, is that every variety at this small Chicago spot is outstanding. Whether it’s the jhol (served in a spicy soup), fried sadeko in a sesame gravy, or steamed then fried tandoori - our favorite momo is whatever one we’re eating at that moment. Basically, what we’re saying is that The Momo World is the only world we want to live in.