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Pineapple buns, Yunnan brisket, Sichuan cauliflower, wontons, Mandarin duck, and other dishes shot overhead on a white table.
A spread of dishes from newcomer Milu
Gary He/Eater

66 Ways to Reacquaint Yourself With the NYC Restaurant Scene This Summer

Dining out is decidedly back — here are the restaurants, selected with our friends at New York, that deserve your attention

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A spread of dishes from newcomer Milu
| Gary He/Eater

Sure, we’ve been eating this past year, from compostable takeout containers or huddled in curbside huts. But the true experience of dining out — the music, the crowds, the energy, the people-watching — has been... lacking.

No longer. The city is getting vaxxed, doors are opening, and dining out is decidedly back. So we teamed up with our friends at New York to highlight the restaurants that deserve your attention as you emerge from your pandemic cocoon. Consider it your post-vaccination guide to rediscovering the city’s dining scene — the hot new openings, of course, but also the pop-ups that are now permanent, the most impressive pivots, and more than a few stalwarts that have creatively evolved (long live the outdoor patios) this past year. These are the restaurants to hit right at this very moment. Start scrolling and planning, and explore more over at

The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers. Please be aware of changing local rules, and check individual restaurant websites for any additional restrictions such as mask requirements. Find a local vaccination site here.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process. If you buy something or book a reservation from an Eater link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics policy.

Zero Otto Nove

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Zero Otto Nove has been a mainstay of the Bronx’s Little Italy since it opened in 2008. But Open Streets’ weekend transformation of Arthur Avenue into the car-free Piazza di Belmont has brought a fresh and breezy feel to this first-rate southern Italian trattoria. Previously, restaurants along the strip rarely set up for outdoor dining, confining the festivities to the often-curtained dining rooms. Now and hopefully forever, the celebratory and communal open-air atmosphere brings the action (and all the neighborhood characters) outdoors, where diners partake in lively people-watching while enjoying dishes like citrusy seafood salad, butternut-squash pizza, and mafalde cooked in tinfoil. Terri Ciccone

Native Noodles

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Amy Pryke, who opened Native Noodles in February, has gifted a rare Singaporean restaurant to the city — great news for workers at nearby New York–Presbyterian Hospital and the Washington Heights neighborhood in general. On a recent weekday, two silver-haired folks slurped thick rice noodles in a shrimpy yellow curry as the scent of coconut-jam waffles perfumed the air. Others went for the roti john, a squishy sandwich stuffed with ground beef, soft omelet, and sweet-spicy chile ketchup. If the small dining room is full, take your lunch over to nearby Highbridge Park. —Ryan P. Sutton

A noodle dish with pieces of shrimp and a brown sauce
Native Noodles puts a spin on popular Singaporean dishes
Native Noodles [Official]

Hudson Smokehouse

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This recently opened barbecue joint is located at the southern tip of the Bronx on a street once populated by antiques shops, and you can smell the ’cue as you walk by. The corral seating in front catches the sun during the daytime, and inside there’s a high-ceilinged room where social distancing isn’t a problem. The meats include great fatty brisket, pork ribs worth gnawing, and pork-belly burnt ends that make deliriously good bacon. Even the beer list, with many mugs originating in the Bronx, draws you in. Robert C. Sietsema

Banh Vietnamese Shop House

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Veteran chefs John Nguyen and Nhu Ton began peddling their Vietnamese sandwiches and crispy pork-belly salad rolls from an empty pop-up space on the upper reaches of Amsterdam Avenue last summer, and the operation was such a hit that by January they’d put down permanent roots in the neighborhood. There are five varieties of toasty bánh mìs to choose from (when in doubt, order the charcoal-grilled pork), numerous sturdy classics from Ton’s native central Vietnam (try the Frisbee-size rice-noodle delicacy called bánh dap), and a deeply flavorful beef pho. —Adam Platt

A colorful restaurant exterior with a yellow and white striped awning and white framed windows, with a teal blue set of chairs and a table set up outside
The exterior of Banh Vietnamese Shop House
Rachel Vanni


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The trapezoidal windows at Teranga have long afforded patrons panoramic vistas of Central Park North, but the city’s embrace of outdoor dining has made Pierre Thiam’s West African–leaning venue even more appealing than before. Now you can snack on kelewele (spicy roast plantains) right at the edge of the park, overlooking the verdant trees while enjoying a warm summer breeze. On a recent Friday, I sat near a pair of diners, one of them relaxing in a jujitsu T-shirt, as I made quick work of a yassa bowl: tender chicken thighs slathered in saucy golden onions. If indoor dining is still quiet here, you’ll never feel alone in the alfresco area. Folks zoom by on hoverboards and messenger bikes, shaved-ice vendors pour polychromatic syrups into snowy cups, and people flood in and out of the park. Ryan P. Sutton

Airy and sun-drenched, the dining room pulsates with Israeli pop and a steady conversational hum. If you didn’t know better, you would think you’d wandered into some beachside hot spot in Tel Aviv, not a post-pandemic restaurant in the sleepy West 90s. Chef Ari Bokovza’s Levantine-leaning menu looks similar to others across the city. But the familiar mezze and salads take a fun turn with delectable things like shishbarak (Lebanese mushroom-filled dumplings) and kubaneh, the fluffy Yemenite Jewish bread that you pull apart like Parker House rolls. —Bao Ong

This airy greek restaurant opened in 2018 on a rather unfavorable Upper West Side side street, facing a soon-to-be construction site, at a remove from the buzzier stretches of Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues. But when COVID hit, Eléa was one of the first places in the neighborhood to build a beautiful, greenery-draped outdoor seating area, complete with inviting flowers, twinkly lights, and copious heat lamps. The kitchen didn’t miss a beat, turning out zesty shareable small plates like fried-zucchini “chips” and sesame-crusted feta. Now, Eléa has blossomed into a local go-to for date nights and other special occasions — the kinds of dining excursions that feel more celebratory than ever. —Ellie Krupnick

About one-third of all foreign-born nurses in the U.S. are Filipino, with many residing in New York. And this new Filipino restaurant — strategically located near the Upper East Side’s hospital row — was founded by three of them. If you want to break out of your morning-meal rut, do as the early-shift staffers from Weill Cornell and Memorial Sloan Kettering do and tuck into a silog: the traditional garlic-fried-rice-and-egg dish, variously topped and garnished. (Try it with the sweet Pinoy sausage longaniza.) Or end your own evening shift with a bowl of kare kare (oxtail-in-peanut-butter stew) or the sizzling platter of pig parts called sisig. —Robert C. Sietsema

A black metal platter with minced pork parts and skin, plus a raw egg cracked on top.
Sisig sizzling on a cast iron platter at Bilao
Robert Sietsema


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The conga drums are back. Their steady beats spill out onto Eighth Avenue, where outdoor patrons sip minty mojitos on white tablecloths. Although this Hell’s Kitchen Cuban canteen served porky lechon asado and garlicky cassava throughout the pandemic, what was missing for months was the music — the prickly guitars and folksy Caribbean tunes that have made the restaurant an accessible spot for everyday salsa dancing. Ceiling fans spin overhead near the open-air frontage as waiters ferry crisp Cubano sandwiches and some of the city’s finest vaca frita: shredded skirt steak that’s seared until it achieves the texture of soft jerky. —Ryan P. Sutton

Blue Willow 夜来湘

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When this terrific Hunan restaurant opened last year just down the street from Trump Tower, the owners had trouble attracting customers because security arrangements limited access to the block. But true fans of Hunan cuisine — which can be just as spicy as Sichuan, with a broader array of sharp flavors — have a way of sniffing out talent and overcoming obstacles in their path, and Blue Willow gradually became a word-of-mouth hit, especially among Chinese Americans. Now, with the barriers gone, the restaurant draws diners looking for dishes like house-smoked Hunan bacon (thick swatches of pork belly stir-fried with cloves of garlic) and “snow red greens” (minced mustard greens riddled with pickled red chiles). —Robert C. Sietsema

Le Bernardin

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When we visited Eric Ripert during the depths of the crisis last year, he gave us a tour of his deserted kitchen and the grand, empty dining room, which, he gloomily explained, had to be vacuumed and fumigated regularly to keep mold from creeping into the curtains and up the walls. But these days, with his staff almost entirely vaccinated and old regulars beginning to stream back in for a fix of “barely touched” lobster tail, the great seafood maestro is in a much better frame of mind. The dining room is fully booked month to month, the menu is back to what it was during the glory days, and although lunchtime service hasn’t returned yet (Ripert’s hoping for the fall), he wants the world to know that for a variety of reasons (changing styles; the cumbersome, not entirely sanitary habit of handing out loaners at the door), they’ve abolished the restaurant’s longtime “jackets required” policy forever. —Adam Platt

Round circles of black truffle sit atop striped bass tartare, while a waiter sauces the white plate with Perigord vinaigrette
Black truffle circles atop striped bass tartare at Le Bernardin
Alex Staniloff

Ruta Oaxaca Mexican Cuisine

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Ruta Oaxaca puts out colorful plates of the type you might enjoy in that southwestern Mexican state today, including several of its famous moles in shades of red, yellow, green, and the deepest brown. Last winter, we practically luxuriated outdoors in the restaurant’s beachy streetside shack, but now a lot of the action has moved indoors to a dining room with bright murals, an energetic open kitchen, and one of the better mezcal selections in town. Robert C. Sietsema

Three tacos on flattened corn tortillas with shredded pork and pink onions.
A trio of pork tacos from Ruta Oaxaca Mexican Cuisine
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Le Pavillon

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If you’re like us, you spent part of the past year dreaming of the kind of plutocrat pleasures that Daniel Boulud has specialized in over his storied career. They’re all on display at his newest midtown venture, a grand setting with vaulted, cathedrallike windows ascending to the ceiling and an azure-colored bar designed for the sipping of lavish aperitifs before you catch your train out to Westchester. The three-course prix fixe features a mix of fussed-over vegetables (grilled avocat with einkorn berries) and high-French seafood (ask for the oysters Vanderbilt). At this early date, the place is filled with worshipful food journalists snapping pictures of their drinks at the bar (yes, we did that), Polo Bar refugees stopping in for a look on their way out to the Hamptons, and staid uptown couples dressed in their tastefully patterned summer dresses and newly pressed suits. As usual with Daniel, it helps if a really rich friend is paying. Adam Platt

The Le Pavillon dining room
Seafood and vegetables are the focus at Daniel Boulud’s Le Pavillon.
Thomas Schauer / Le Pavillon [Official]

Sushi On Me

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With its pink neon sign, piano for live jazz, and bamboo placemats, this subterranean spot on the border of Elmhurst and Jackson Heights feels more like an artsy friend’s basement than an austere sushi counter. The $89 15-course omakase — including Hokkaido scallops, fatty tuna, and lobes of uni one recent night, among other pristine morsels — is exactly the sort of meal one should experience in person. While the sushi is top-notch, it’s chef Atip “Palm” Tangjantuk’s ability to turn a hushed culinary ritual into what feels like a fun night at a piano bar that makes the place so special. If you’re lucky, you may even be handed a blowtorch to sear your own fish. Bao Ong

Marks Off Madison

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At Mark’s, which opened in November, the Queens-born chef Mark Strausman (Freds at Barneys, Coco Pazzo, Campagna) delves into the Jewish and Italian dishes that have come to define his 30-year career: lush eggplant parm, rich pappardelle with brisket ragù, and a killer chicken soup named after his grandmother Estelle. In nice weather, the outdoor terrace, with its view of Madison Square Park, gets fairly packed with a tony mix of locals and Strausman groupies from his Freds days. On weekends, starting at 9 a.m., the place doubles as a Jewish bakery whose bagels and bialys and black-and-white cookies put most of the competition to shame. —Robert C. Sietsema

Quick-serve grain-bowl spots don’t typically attract bustling social scenes. Not so this Chinese-inspired rice-bowl specialist, whose customers like to gather as much as they do grab and go. On a recent weekday evening, the restaurant’s breezy curbside shed drew a practically rowdy group of bowl aficionados: young women in NYU Dental School scrubs letting off steam, two skate punks hogging four seats, and, in a sure sign of the return to normality, rival parties aggressively eyeing a table whose occupants kept looking like they were about to bolt but never did. On weekends, we hear, things get even crazier. Chalk it up to an elegant-for-fast-casual design; cozy indoor booths; a short but sweet list of wine, beer, and sake; and chef Connie Chung’s savor-worthy cooking, especially her Yunnan brisket bowl — sticky, ripply, caramelized nuggets of meat candy with perfect rice and marinated cucumbers. — Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld

Vincent Chao and Milan Sekluic stand in front of Milu’s entrance, while chef Connie Chung sits between them on a wooden bench
Vincent Chao, Milan Sekluic, and chef Connie Chung at Milu
Gary He

Bolivian Llama Party

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The Oropeza brothers have pulled off a rare pandemic feat: They closed their tiny takeout outpost in midtown, which focused on soupy salteñas (Bolivia’s take on the empanada), and rebooted in Sunnyside with a sit-down location serving creative South American fare. On any given Saturday, a young crowd may show up to eat (and ’gram) craggy fried-chicken chicharrón sandwiches with spicy Llajua-spiked mayo, stark white bowls of sopa de maní (peanut soup), vegan “chola” sandwiches crammed full of charred jackfruit instead of the usual pork, and cherimoya birthday-cake ice cream. The best time to swing by is just before dusk, when you can grab a seat on the streetside terrace and take in the Empire State Building framed against a pink sky while Andean music plays from the storefront. Ryan P. Sutton

Six people in an outdoor seating area. Four sit on stools, one wearing a mask. One man in a mask plays records at a DJ stand. One man in a mask stands by him.
The outdoor seating area at Bolivian Llama Party
Gary He

We’re happy to report that whatever strange alchemy it was (the warming onion soup, the cheeseburger “à la Americaine,” the spacious sidewalk operation sturdy enough for any blizzard) that elevated this fashionable Stephen Starr–Keith McNally Meatpacking District brasserie into one of the go-to destinations during the dark pandemic months is still very much intact. Like everywhere else around town, the dining room is beginning to fill up again, but the best seat in the house is still outdoors, where the sidewalk between the tables along Gansevoort Street has turned into a kind of promenade for the vibrantly reopened city. There was a jazz trio spinning out New Orleans sounds when we dropped by the other day, and couples walking arm in arm on their way to the High Line or an evening picnic in the park. Any picnic here should include some oysters and the bubbly, shell-less escargot, but be sure to save a little room for the baba au rhum, the nougat glacé, and the rest of the underrated brasserie desserts. Adam Platt

A spread of dishes sit on a table at Pastis, including golden roast chicken, buttered lobster, snails, and crimson raw tuna
A selection of dishes at Pastis, including roast chicken, lobster, snails, and raw tuna
Alex Staniloff


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This elegant Greenwich Village establishment has flown so far under the radar that many regulars (ourselves included) were afraid it would close forever when disaster struck. Miraculously, unlike with the still-shuttered Gotham Bar & Grill across the street, the opposite has happened. Owner Catherine Manning fitted the space out back with tables and little enclosed “garden rooms” that have become a hit during the outdoor-dining craze. The Sazeracs we enjoyed on a recent summery evening were exceptional, and you can also addle yourself with $9 cocktails during the new happy hour. The talented young chef Tyler Heckman (Ferris, Le Turtle) took over the kitchen last fall, and he’s slowly added the kind of variety and style to the aggressively seasonal menu (braised spring lamb on our visit, white-asparagus velouté, gnocchi with escargot) that threatens to turn this sleepy local favorite into a proper big-city dining destination. —Adam Platt

Via Carota

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Pre-pandemic, Via Carota was one of those restaurants West Villagers despaired of getting into. Mainly, it was first come, first served, with a system that involved scrawling your name on a chalkboard, then waiting forever in a knot for a table. Yes, the food was fantastic, a collection of Italian classics that observed the seasons with an emphasis on vegetables. But the pandemic changed the place. Tables spilled out onto the street, neighboring offshoot Bar Pisellino reopened, and suddenly it was possible to stride up and claim a seat, especially mid-afternoon or late in the evening. And what a scene! The menu continues to evolve, but the deep-fried rabbit, voluminous insalata verde, and svizzerina (the bunless house burger) are still the ones to beat. —Robert C. Sietsema

Tagliatelle with prosciutto and parmesan at Via Carota
Bill Addison

Yellow Rose

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On a recent Thursday night, the neo–Tex-Mex Yellow Rose hosted a birthday party for ten inside while managing a full set of tent-covered tables outside. The quoted wait for two: 45 minutes. Waiters in baggy T-shirts sprinted around, bringing inky carne guisada tacos to some groups while placing brain-freeze-inducing frozen margaritas — served in goblets lined with chile-lime powder — in front of others. Chef Dave Rizo, true to his Superiority Burger training, likes to keep things plant-forward and hyperseasonal when possible, which means that a plate of wild boar and grits gets a garnish of ramps and that the creamy queso for tortilla dunking is made from cashews. Drop inside after dinner to play a round of Pac-Man on a full-size arcade stand, then order a homemade cherry cola to chase a shot of bourbon. —Ryan P. Sutton

The sign for Yellow Rose, a mix of white lettering, pink bordering, and a teal background hangs above the striped awning of the venue
The exterior of Yellow Rose
Alex Staniloff

Silver Apricot

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Last summer, as restaurateurs hastily built makeshift patios, Silver Apricot partners Emmeline Zhao and Simone Tong created a space that truly translated the dining experience to the street without sacrificing a bit of elegance or refinement. (Being situated on one of the West Village’s quieter blocks didn’t hurt.) Purse hooks on the plastic dividers, lavender planted along the perimeter, and quality glass and plateware made for a setting worthy of Tong’s inventive Chinese American dishes like chile-crab rangoon dip and burnished scallion puffs. Now they are renovating the dining room in preparation for indoor service and plan to reopen June 17 with a new seasonal menu. Amanda Kludt

A plate with a pink sauce and pile of crab and white pickles, and a bowl filled with yellow rectangular chips.
Crab rangoon at Silver Apricot
Robert Sietsema

Di An Di

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Cymande’s “bra” piped through the outdoor jukebox on a recent Friday at the Vietnamese restaurant Di An Di while patrons slurped up brothy vermicelli noodles underneath strings of white lights. Those who arrived after 8:45 p.m. were out of luck, as every table was filled with fashionable young folks in T-shirts and hosts had stopped taking names. Bowls of mi xao bo do bien, firm egg noodles studded with fat slices of squid and shrimp, scented the air with its garlicky perfume. The Before Times menu still hasn’t returned, which means no more rice-paper pizzas for now, but there are newish bánh mì lunch sandwiches stuffed with fried chicken, tofu, or pork belly. And the aromatic shaking beef (bo luc lac), with its wok-seared cubes of medium-rare sirloin and crisp tomato-watercress salad, remains. Ryan P. Sutton

A pair of golden scissors sit atop Bánh tráng nướng (clam pizza) at Di an Di
Bánh tráng nướng (clam pizza) at Di An Di
Alex Staniloff

When the Shanghainese CheLi opened two doors down from sister restaurant Szechuan Mountain House on St. Marks Place last November, it only offered its food to go. But now the fantastically elaborate dining room is open, its bamboo-hut-like booths attracting Chinese expats and regional-Chinese-food lovers of all ages and stripes. The menu, like the mazelike décor, offers surprises at every turn, including the showstopping giant Song Dynasty steam bun. Much of the cooking is based on centuries-old recipes, but for something more contemporary, try chef Qiling Wang’s tofu-and-egg-drop soup thickened with sea urchin. —Robert C. Sietsema

St. Marks Place became one of the city’s great boulevards for outdoor dining last year, especially on weekend evenings, when tables were set up on the sidewalk and skateboarders ground up and down the street. This antic scene will only heat up this summer, and there are few better places to take it in than this deceptively sophisticated little Korean tapas spot run by the talented chef Kay Hyun. Hyun offers two selections of Wagyu, which is not an ingredient commonly seen in this part of town; sticks of plantain fried like pork katsu in clouds of panko; and fat little dumplings folded with deposits of sweet-corn purée. And there are plenty of fine sakes and Korean spirits with names like Seoul Night and Golden Barley. —Adam Platt

A spread of food on ceramic plates, including tiny lobster rolls, pork jowl, and corn dumplings.
Lobster rolls, corn dumplings, pork jowl, and other dishes at Mokyo
Alex Staniloff


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You won’t find the usual crowd of day-trading, trophy-watch-wearing sushi bros at this chill, neighborly, mostly locally sourced East Village establishment, which features an elegant wooden wraparound dining bar inside and a small pavilion out on the sidewalk that can fill up, on balmy evenings, with the breezy smells of newly legalized weed wafting from Tompkins Square Park across the street. But don’t let this pleasantly shambolic vibe fool you. The best of the cooking — by Jeff Miller, who started studying the craft of sushi in Australia, and his Baton Rouge sidekick, Yoni Lang — combines technical skill with the kind of innovation that you rarely see at pricier omakase joints around town. You’ll find “shrimp étouffée” hand rolls enlivened with a classic New Orleans roux on the tasting menu and strips of big-eye tuna sashimi from North Carolina flavored with mango and plated in pools of coconut milk. The chefs mix their special soy blend in house, and the signature tamago omelet is Tokyo quality, but all of the fish comes from sustainable or local sources, and if the sweet Montauk scallops are on the menu in any form (nigiri style, in a hand roll, or as part of the exceptional chirashi rice bowl), order them. Adam Platt

Different pieces of fish lined up on a long wooden tray with a pair of black chopsticks placed at the end
Rosella serves sustainably-sourced seafood
Adam Friedlander/Eater


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Another day, another Ravi DeRossi East Village vegan restaurant. This one, though, distinguishes itself with a southern menu executed by chef Shenarri Freeman, who channels the cookouts and family reunions of her Virginia upbringing. Hearts of palm cakes mimic salmon cakes, macaroni and cheese is imbued with jerk seasoning, and the lasagna (inspired by Freeman’s mother’s recipe) is southern-fried. Freeman prepares all this behind an eight-stool chef’s counter, the sort of tight-squeeze seating arrangement that social distancing rendered obsolete. Diners seem glad to be back: If not yet rubbing elbows, they’re at least communing with the chef and one another. As an alfresco alternative, a cluster of tables outside absorbs the slightly manic atmosphere of East 7th Street, half a block from Tompkins Square Park. —Emma G. Alpern

Coco Pazzeria

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You see traces of far-west Spring Street’s past at the still-swinging Ear Inn and symbols of its future in the luxury apartment towers that have sprouted along Renwick and Greenwich Streets. Coco Pazzeria, with its raw bar and sparkling-wine list (liquor license pending), is the perfect pizzeria for this newly ritzy pocket of Hudson Square, if the steady flow of neighbors stopping in for takeout orders is any indication. But thanks to the reputation of owner Pino Luongo and the presence of homegrown pizzaiolo Ciro Verdi, who can be seen slinging thin-crust pies and his trademark focaccia robiola at his oven in back, the restaurant also attracts couples on dates, travelers from other Zip Codes arriving on fancy folding bikes, and young families taking full advantage of the BYO policy (a must when your dining companions are an infant, a toddler, and a juvenile-delinquent tween). The menu extends to pastas and salads, but dough is the thing, fried into mini-calzones or formed into loaves for sandwiches, including a recent lobster-roll special. —Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld

Three quarters view of a nicely browned pie with spots of white cheese oozing out a series of holes.
Coco Pazzeria’s focaccia robiola
Robert Sietsema


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As you probably know, plant-based cuisine is already a major thing in the post-pandemic dining world. We’re also betting that eminently Instagrammable comfort food will be a hot trend this summer (mostly because it was never not a hot trend), along with wild bouts of tequila drinking. The tequila will have to wait until the liquor license comes through (anytime now, we’re told), but if you want to indulge in an inventive, not-too-expensive brand of “mostly vegan” Mexican cooking, you won’t find a better venue than this stylish Oxomoco spinoff on the fringes of McCarren Park. The white-tile dining space is already filling up; the café tables outside along Nassau Avenue are the perfect place to enjoy the passing scene on a warm summer’s evening; and the plates of carrot tostadas, potato tacos, and “green chorizo” quesadillas emanating from the kitchen are almost too pretty to eat. Adam Platt

Crispy cheese with green circles of salsa cruda sits atop a purple potato taco
A purple potato taco with salsa cruda from Xilonen
Ryan Sutton


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Mark Coleman (Rezdôra) and Jacob Siwak (Olmsted) are the captains of this snug little establishment, which began life as a pop-up many months ago and is crowded now with a rabble of Italophiles, off-duty cooks, and carbonara loons, all clamoring for a taste of the city’s latest haute-pasta menu. The small, blond-toned dining room is nice, but if you want to feel like you’re dining on a side street in Bologna or Rome, ask for a table in the sidewalk cabana, which is strung with lights up in the rafters, lined with baby pine trees, and filled, on temperate evenings, with the bouncy sounds of Italian pop tunes. Pay special attention to Coleman’s elegant interpretations of the old Roman classics, like eggy tangles of tonnarelli pasta tossed alla gricia with pecorino, little chunks of guanciale, and plenty of black pepper. Adam Platt

Anyone concerned that the pandemic killed the notion of dressing up for dinner should book a table at Kokomo. We were caught slack-jawed during a visit when we found ourselves in the company of men and women wearing full ensembles. Bright lips and long lashes, killer heels and colorful dresses were on full display. This restaurant is a vibe; it’s a proper night out; it’s a party. And it attracts a diverse crowd for an area of Williamsburg that feels overwhelmingly monochrome. Of course, it’s not only about the stylish clientele. People are coming because chef Mitchel Bonhomme nails classic Caribbean favorites and adds his own inventive creations (callaloo frittata, jackfruit tacos) and because owners Ria and Kevol Graham have created a space that feels transporting, from the live DJs to the tropical cocktails adorned with flowers to the plant-filled patio. —Amanda Kludt

Flatbread pizzas, pretzel buns, mushrooms, and more menu items spread out on a table
Flatbread pizzas, pretzel buns, and more from Kokomo
Katrine Moite/Kokomo [Official]

Saigon Social

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When you’re at one of Saigon Social’s sidewalk tables, biting into the shell of a meaty tiger prawn lathered in garlic-butter sauce, it’s easy to imagine you’re at a backyard barbecue — despite the place’s location in the thumping heart of the Lower East Side. The setup feels relaxed and neighborly, festive and unpretentious. There’s even a burger, albeit one dressed with oxtail-Maggi gravy and bánh mì garnishes. But the crab-and-tomato soup is the highlight of a menu that lists traditional Vietnamese dishes like bun cha alongside creative innovations (the Saigon dip). As the city opens up and the pendulum swings back from takeout to dine-in, chef-owner Helen Nguyen will add more grilled items and crêpes, restoring the kitchen’s output to her pre-pandemic plan. Chris Crowley

Thai Diner

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It’s clear while sitting at Thai Diner’s packed outdoor setup on Mott and Kenmare that Nolita, a reliably bustling corner of the city that felt eerily quiet throughout the past year, is very much alive these days. At this, Ann Redding and Matt Danzer’s latest spot, they’re serving Uncle Boons (RIP) favorites, such as khao soi and crab fried rice, alongside cheeseburgers, fried-chicken sandwiches, and Thai disco fries smothered in curry sauce, which we recommend pairing with a notably strong martini while ogling the ecstatic-to-finally-be-out-and-about passersby. —Ryan P. Sutton

Nuggets of golden fried chicken sit underneath green herbs and next to a pile of white rice
Fried chicken laab from Thai Diner
Gary He

Omar's Kitchen and Rum Bar

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Omar’s channels Jamaican island vibes so convincingly you may forget for a moment that you’re on the Lower East Side. Reggae of an arcane sort thrums onto the sidewalk between the jazzy interior with its busy open kitchen and the busier outdoor-dining setup. Oxtail curry with flour dumplings and a side of callaloo suggests there is a traditionalist in the house. But modern notions fly out of the kitchen too, such as coco bread — not to put a patty in but to use as a cradle for a lamb slider and slather with what the menu describes as ackee tartar sauce. Cocktails garnished with fruits and tiny paper umbrellas abound. —Robert C. Sietsema

Fandi Mata

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Housed in a converted ambulance-repair shop across from McCarren Park, this lounge–slash–tapas restaurant is an over-the-top postindustrial jungle, decked out with Moroccan tiles and overrun with palm fronds. (There is also a disco ball and, on weekend nights, a rotating cast of DJs.) The twist, though, is that the food is excellent, from an heirloom-tomato salad with lemon-tahini crema to the Roman-style pizza, paper-thin and pleasantly chewy. It’s not exactly clear where Fandi Mata (“to connect” in Romani) is trying to take you — somewhere “global” — but after a creative cocktail or two, it’s clear you have arrived. Rachel T. Sugar


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International destination dining took a long hiatus during the pandemic, but Chintan Pandya’s homage to the regional culinary traditions of India, which opened recently at the new Essex Market, is packed these days with mobs of gastronauts from around the city. The space inside is strung with colored lights and includes an increasingly crowded, lively bar, but if you wish to feel the full heat of the fresh, made-to-order cooking, we suggest you secure a table within the sidewalk enclosure, where there’s more space to spread out. Order a round of Brooklyn’s fine, Indian American–owned 1947 beer, then begin merrily working your way through the menu, which is filled with dishes that even the most knowledgeable food scholars from India may not have tried, like pots of Bihari-style mutton infused with garlic and crunchy-topped biryani folded with bits of chopped goat’s neck. —Adam Platt

Several dishes of food lined up on a wooden table with a colorful bench in the background
A spread of dishes, including seekh kebabs and a paplet fish fry
Adam Friedlander

Fat Choy

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It’s one thing to offer a $335 meat-free menu for the one percent (see Eleven Madison Park 2.0). It’s another to charge $10 and under for veggie-centric Chinese food for everyone: the curious carnivores, the certified vegans, and the dedicated superfans like Deborah from the Upper West Side, who loves the food and the vibe so much she literally hiked down the West Side Highway from 88th Street to Broome and Orchard one recent Saturday afternoon just to tuck in to paper-boatloads of chewy rice rolls topped with gai lan and juicy bok choy showered with crispy fried garlic. We know she did this because Fat Choy is the kind of place where diners who have navigated the scrum of Lower East Side streeteries — bars, vegan-cupcake shops, more bars — start conversations with strangers to recommend dishes, offer bites, and generally share communal moments of vibrantly flavored, inventively conceived culinary bliss. —Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld

A spread of dishes including a mushroom sloppy joe, longevity noodles, and rice rolls sit on lunch trays on an orange outdoor table.
Assorted dishes from Fat Choy, included rice rolls, mushroom sloppy joe, and longevity noodles
Louise Palmberg

This Vietnamese restaurant smack in the middle of prime Bedford Avenue opened just before the pandemic and managed to soldier on throughout thanks to its backyard — small and slightly suburban-feeling with its wooden fence and strings of tiny lights. Pots of herbs grown on the restaurant’s farm in Pennsylvania line that yard; sometimes a cook will wander out and clip a fragrant betel leaf or a sprig of rice-paddy herb. It’s the ideal setting to enjoy chef Matt Le-Khac’s neo-traditional Vietnamese dishes, such as an unusual pho topped with coarsely ground beef and a vegetarian bun bo Hue chay made with mushrooms as opposed to the customary pig’s blood. —Robert C. Sietsema

Cozy Royale

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A nine-month-old restaurant from the butchers behind Williamsburg’s the Meat Hook, Cozy Royale sets fairly basic expectations — a casual neighborhood spot with a burger on the menu — and overdelivers. The food is assertive and delicious with a whimsical streak (the kitchen has been known to garnish a steak with a hot dog), relying on high-quality ingredients, many sourced from the butcher shop a block away. Seasonal vegetables make more of an impact than you’d expect from such a nose-to-tail operation. And the bar takes its classic cocktails seriously, but not too seriously (fans of the Tequila Sunrise, be advised). As was the case on many sleepy side streets during the pandemic, the outdoor-dining patio — complete with rain cover, lighting, and sturdy tables and chairs — brought liveliness and a certain vibe to the area when it badly needed it. Now it’s settling in as the neighborhood spot we all want to have at the end of the block. Amanda Kludt

A spread of food including salad, pepperoni balls, and fried pork with an egg displayed in white porcelain dishes on top of a brown wooden table
Salad, pepperoni balls, and fried pork at Cozy Royale
Clay Williams

Frenchette Bakery

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Last fall, the abandoned Arcade Bakery space came back to life as Frenchette Bakery, ready to fulfill the carb-craving needs of Tribeca moms, the doctors in the medical practices upstairs, and passersby lured in by the sweet, yeasty promise of croissants and baguettes. Happily, the new owners have retained a big part of what made Arcade so special. Its unique design, using drop-down table ledges and inset benches, transforms a generic hallway into a gathering place for impromptu meetings, shared pizza lunches, and the kind of coffee breaks office workers never knew they’d miss. The bakers line the display case with their own enticements, too: exceptional loaves of sourdough and rye; savory breakfast pastries like the mortadella, egg, and Comté; and rich and flaky pain au chocolat. —Adam Moussa

Dr. Clark

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With its heated communal blankets and gently twirling sidewalk disco ball, this quirky establishment on the southern fringes of Chinatown was one of the unexpected smash hits of the long, chilly outdoor-dining season. The proprietor, Yudai Kanayama, comes from the northernmost Japanese island of Hokkaido, and his menu is filled with jingisukan tabletop-grill specialties and many things (squid, pasta, risotto) dressed with that favorite local garnish: uni. The cooking can be uneven, but the late-night outdoor scene continues (scruffy young dogecoin moguls, poshly dressed members of Chinatown’s new hipster gentry, Champagne-drinking revelers freshly arrived from their lunchtime sessions at Dimes), and should you get caught in a summer rainstorm, the high-design indoor space has its charms too. —Adam Platt


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Last summer, the outdoor-dining setup at downtown Portuguese-Spanish restaurant Cervo’s was a destination almost in spite of itself. Simple wooden folding tables and chairs sprawled across an unadorned and fluorescent-lit expanse of Canal Street. Counter-service orders were called out brusquely over a loudspeaker mounted on the building’s exterior. Serviceware was disposable. You found and bussed your own table. But the Dimes Square denizens flocked nonetheless, pushing together tables laden with dark-pink Spritzes, fried-fish sandwiches, and glistening head-on prawns. It was casual, cool, and as COVID-safe as one could hope for. Now, after a winter hiatus operating as a shop, the scene returns to Cervo’s, but this time the restaurant has full-service outdoor dining on a newly built yellow-tiled patio with proper glassware, plateware, and a menu of old favorites like piri-piri chicken, mussels escabeche, and crispy shrimp heads. Amanda Kludt

Clams with vinho verde sit on a white plate next to large, head-on shrimp on a separate plate in this overhead shot.
A variety of dishes at Cervo’s
Cervo’s [Official Photo]


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The pandemic was a disaster for everyone, but few felt the old “defeat snatched from the jaws of victory” moment more keenly than chef-owner Ryan Bartlow, who had to close this elegant little Basque-themed bar operation just as the buzz for its special brand of convivial tapas-style cooking was building. The bare-bones staff managed to survive on PPP checks and a pickup menu until early summer, before throwing open the floor-to-ceiling windows and filling the sidewalk with rows of tables, which, on a warm night, as the evening light filters through the leafy trees across the street, can feel a little like an outdoor café in San Sebastián. These days, the long, dinner-friendly bar is humming again, and with the first-rate drinks program (try the vermut and tonic), a roster of expertly rendered Spanish classics (the croquettes, the morcilla, the tortilla española), and a peaceful, unhurried vibe, there are, for our money, few more-enjoyable indoor-outdoor-dining options in town. Adam Platt

Hwa Yuan Szechuan 華園

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There are many good reasons to revisit Manhattan’s Chinatown these days. But if you’re in the mood for a quick Peking-duck banquet or a taste of Shorty Tang’s famous dry-sautéed crispy beef in a crowded, near-celebratory post-pandemic atmosphere, this East Broadway destination is the place to be. When we dropped in on a Friday evening not long ago, the streets outside were still eerily empty, and so were the dining booths set up on the sidewalk. But inside the brightly lit two-floor restaurant, parties of revelers from uptown, across the river, and around the neighborhood filled the round tables. For those acclimated to dining in the great indoors, we guarantee a bite of Peking duck (or crispy beef) never tasted so good. Adam Platt


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Co-owners Christopher Cipollone (formerly of Piora) and John Winterman (Bâtard) opened their posh South Williamsburg establishment in an old bank building down the street from Peter Luger as best they could in December, but when the shutdown came, they never installed any tattered dining yurts outside, and takeout demand wasn’t huge. With indoor restrictions lifted, however, a roof deck under construction, and a freshly minted Michelin star in their pocket, they’re busy making up for lost time. When we dropped in the other day, the brasserie-style banquettes were occupied by a festive mix of tourists from across the river and local burghers dressed in their muted Sunday best. The menu is filled with the kind of classical, slightly dated flourishes beloved by stodgy Michelin inspectors (lobster-stuffed ravioli, caviar-topped “soufflé cakes,” and sweet-and-crunchy-skinned “Crown of Duck” for two). But if you’ve been subsisting on pantry recipes and bags of carryout for the last year or so, it tastes pretty damn good. Adam Platt

Wall Street Bath & Spa 88

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The Russian bathhouse isn’t just about cleansing; it’s about restoring and nourishing, which is why the indoor-dining ban hit the banya so hard. You were permitted to sweat it out on Fulton Street, but you couldn’t seek rejuvenation through hot borscht and cold beer. Now, after a few rounds in a sauna set to a screaming 220 degrees, you can once again bring your body back to life in a cafeteria with other dripping-wet patrons wearing very few clothes. Consider filling up on slippery Siberian pelmeni drenched in butter, fried potatoes slicked with enough garlic to qualify as a medicinal supplement, and Georgian lamb soup that will scorch your tongue for days, which means it’s precisely the right temperature. Ryan P. Sutton

Patrons snack on assorted Russian dishes at the banya
Snacking on assorted Russian dishes at the banya
Louise Palmberg

Thai spot Tong occupies the ground-floor storefront of one of those Anywhere, U.S.A., new developments, a few blocks into Bushwick from the Queens border. At night, the space has a warm glow, and the dining room opens to the street and an outdoor encampment with strewn lights and some sidewalk tables. While it’s got an easy-going atmosphere — two pushed-together chairs make for a sidewalk lounge — the kitchen is anything but. The menu is built around kub klaem, or drinking snacks, of which there are plenty: grilled octopus electric with a chile-lime sauce, fried banana-blossom pancakes to nibble on, pork jowl smoky from the grill and ready to be dipped in tamarind jaew, and a beef tartare that’ll light up your tongue. Chris Crowley

Yellowish orange shredded mango on top with dried brown lattice catfish underneath.
Mango salad with dried catfish at Tong
Robert Sietsema

Lebanese falafel joint Semkeh opened in February 2020 off the Morgan Avenue L-train stop and has managed to attract a mostly young, mostly local, often vegetarian following with its budget prices and bright takes on classic Levantine sandwiches and platters. Chief among these is the seldom-seen samke harra (“spicy fish” in Arabic), a rolled pita stuffed with albacore tuna drenched in toum, Lebanon’s potent garlic sauce. It’s so astonishingly good you may never go back to plain tuna salad. The twice-fried potato cubes called batata harra are another standout, with a crisp, garlicky exterior and lemony finish. Enjoy them both in the street shed graffitied with cheerful red squiggles, a setup that converts harried pedestrians into happy customers. Robert C. Sietsema

The Migrant Kitchen

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Long before 2020 brought alfresco eating to every corner of our city, Stone Street was a pedestrian paradise, and it still is, a cobblestoned car-free wonderland for outdoor pints, pizza, and mozzarella sticks. The Migrant Kitchen, which opened last fall, brings Middle Eastern–Latin fusion to this Fidi pub-grub zone. Owner Nasser Jaber, who operates out of the Dubliner bar’s kitchen, sends out sumac-butter-slicked fried-chicken-and-falafel waffles, mariquitas (fried plantain chips) nachos, and pastelon mahshi, a Dominican-style maduros-and-beef riff on the traditional Palestinian stuffed gourd. And since many office workers are still Zooming in from home, Stone Street feels distinctly chiller and less suits-y these days. —Ryan P. Sutton

Dark brown sumac fried chicken sits over falafel waffles with pickled carrots; the plate sits above a green table.
Sumac fried chicken with falafel waffles from The Migrant Kitchen
Gary He


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After opening in 2019 with a short-lived Austrian-accented menu, the Ridgewood all-day café became known more for its Kaffeehaus vibe — marble tables, bentwood chairs, plugged-in laptoppers — than for its food, which changed all the time. But last fall, Kate Telfeyan, formerly of Mission Chinese, began hosting her weekly Vaguely Asian pop-up there, and in March, she signed on as chef-partner. Now, friends basking in the sun at sidewalk tables that wrap around the corner have access to a daytime menu of custard buns, savory tofu pudding, and butter-bean crêpes. Sturdier specials, such as a whole branzino with chiles and soy, teased a dinner menu that launched in early June. —Erika Adams