Here it is: our list of the best new restaurants of 2017. And you want to know something? We’re surprised. There are a few great small restaurants on the list, but we’re surprised that many of the places we liked the most this year are the ones that feel like full on productions - like movie sets that serve food. Surprised that only one East Village restaurant made the list, and that we spent so much time between Union Square and Midtown. There’s a macro trend to be found somewhere in there, but we’re not going to bother you with that. At least not until we finish the white paper we’re working on with the DC think tank we hired. Until then, get to work on checking all of these places off your Hit List.
Meet the new Four Seasons, same as the old Four Seasons. Sort of. Major Food Group’s revamp of the legendary restaurant in the Seagram building opened in May, and for those who remember the original Four Seasons in its heyday, The Grill will feel very familiar. It is also exactly what you’d expect from the people that brought you Carbone and Sadelle’s - a full fledged concept restaurant. Maybe that’s why we’ve enjoyed our meals here so much. The Grill is an over the top, ridiculous interpretation of what dinner was like for powerful people in New York in 1969, minus the indoor smoking. It’s expensive, but it’s also a lot of fun. And it’s far less dangerous than a time machine, or a cigarette.
Even though we do enjoy occasionally pretending we’re having dinner in the JFK era, we’re not otherwise much for nostalgia. Our high rating for the new Union Square Cafe has little to do with our affinity for the original. They are very different restaurants, even though much of the interior was brought over from the first location and rebuilt inside this new, massive 19th Street space. Union Square Cafe 2017 is a restaurant we love for the trademark Danny Meyer hospitality and consistently excellent food. But much like Gramercy Tavern, we prefer to do USQ casual, meaning a meal at one of the two bars late in the evening, as opposed to only treating it like a special occasion spot. The occasion is Tuesday. Celebrate it.
Speaking of late in the evening, good luck getting a table at 4 Charles Prime Rib anytime before 10:30. And you know what? That’s OK. Even though it comes to us from a famous Chicago restaurateur, 4 Charles is one of those experiences you can only have in New York City. It’s a tiny space in the West Village that looks like a tiny movie set, and late at night it will be full of people filling themselves with food they should not be eating at that hour, or probably any really. Get a burger as an appetizer, prime rib as an entree, and dip your fries in the creamed spinach. Told you.
Hanoi House makes the best bowl of pho in New York City. You can try to fight us on this, or you can just go to this restaurant and try it for yourself. They also do the best summer rolls we’ve ever had, and a few other incredible entrees you should try on return visits. This is a quintessential great East Village restaurant - small, casual, friendly, and somewhere you wish you could come back to weekly.
abcV isn’t just a great vegetarian restaurant. It’s a great restaurant period. You could come here with a person who brushes their teeth with bacon-flavored toothpaste, and they’d still have a great time. The menu is all over the place, and it has everything from pastas and dosas to hummus and fried rice - and, whatever you order, you can be confident that it’ll be about ten times better than the vegetarian options you find at most other restaurants. The space itself is bright and spacious like an art gallery that sold out of art and became a restaurant, and it’s open all day.
Don Angie sounds like it could be an old school red sauce joint, but it’s actually a very slick new spot in the West Village. This restaurant has some photo-friendly hits, like a massive platter of lasagna rolls that look like what might happen if Cinnabon got in the pasta game, but dishes like a veal cutlet topped with prosciutto and shaved horseradish were what really made us fall in love with the food here. We recommend coming with four people so you can try everything. This is the best new Italian restaurant of the year.
The Loyal feels a bit like a sceney restaurant from a previous era, and is quite possibly the only new West Village restaurant of the last decade to have white tablecloths. The food is excellent across the board, and will be enjoyed by everyone from a burger obsessive to a vegetarian to the person who wants to eat a nice piece of fish. Despite the white tablecloths and the fact that they serve a sundae that belongs at a child’s birthday party and involves sparklers, The Loyal is somehow neither formal nor corny. Mostly, it’s just fun.
You probably have a go-to sandwich spot, a bodega you rely on for BECs, and a donut place you go to when it’s been a bad week or you need for your coworkers to like you again. Daily Provisions is all of those things in one establishment - but with extremely high-quality food. This is the mostly standing-room-only cafe operated by Union Square Cafe (which is right next door), and it’s the kind of place you want to write on your hand so that you never forget that it’s an available option for an easy and excellent meal. It’s tiny but extremely well-run, and you should absolutely cross town for the sole purpose of trying their cruller, which is the best donut in New York City.
If you are willing and able to spend $300 per person on an incredible omakase sushi meal, New York has plenty of absurdly priced restaurants ready for you and your Black Card. For the rest of us, there’s Sushi Katsuei, where an incredible nine-piece plus a roll omakase starts at $57. You’re likely going to want to add on more pieces once you get going, but overall this is the absolute best combination of sushi quality and price we’ve yet to find in NYC. The original location in Park Slope is still up and running, but the West Village space (which used to be the excellent Soto) feels a bit more polished - and definitely like one of the best new restaurants of the year.
Claro is the restaurant we’ll be at the second it’s warm enough to eat outside again - it has an incredible patio situation. But we’ll also be eating here regularly until then, in order to convince ourselves, for at least a meal, that we’ve escaped winter. This is the best new Mexican restaurant in NYC, and they serve the kind of food that you do not expect to find on the East Coast. A big part of that has to do with their tortillas, which are homemade and have more flavor than we understood tortillas could have.
Cote has taken Korean BBQ to a new level: with steakhouse-quality meat, ridiculously good cocktails, and a cool space in Flatiron filled with gold-colored grills in the middle of marble tables. Get the $45 Butcher’s Feast, which involves four kinds of excellent steak and some other great sides, order some frozen rosé or a great bottle of wine, and have a really fun evening in a restaurant that’s actually doing something that feels new.
From the outside, Chez Ma Tante doesn’t really give you a reason to look up from your phone. Look in the window too, and all you’ll see is a Brooklyn neighborhood spot that looks mostly like every other Brooklyn neighborhood spot - maybe even more nondescript. Which makes the experience even better when your food starts arriving: at brunch, mind-blowing pancakes, and at dinner, stuff like a perfect caesar salad and one of the better roast chickens you’ll remember eating. Nothing here is overly complicated, but even the simplest food is impressive. This is our sleeper pick of 2017.
Before Augustine opened, your dining options in the far-downtown area of Manhattan were limited to a Bobby Van’s, a Denny’s, and a few Irish pubs that use waffle fries in their nachos. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it isn’t far from the truth - and the fact that Augustine is actually worth a trip to FiDi is pretty noteworthy. This is a big brasserie from the restaurateur behind Balthazar, and it’s great for a date night or a meal with some clients or parents when you need something upscale but still cool and casual enough for jeans and sneakers. It’s also great for breakfast and lunch, making it an all around downtown winner.