It’s unabashedly springtime, New York, and there are plenty of amazing things to do in spring in NYC: taking in a spring concert, getting cultured at a spring art show or eating your way through the best new restaurants that opened in NYC this April. Last month welcomed food-and-drink newcomers including a madcap doughnut shop from Wylie Dufresne, an all-vegan delicatessen and food market, and fast-casual concepts from the teams behind Eleven Madison Park and Cosme. Here are the best new restaurants that debuted in New York this April.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best new restaurants in NYC
Best new restaurants in NYC in April
Fine dining is going fast-casual: Brooks Headley and Mark Ladner both left the vaulted halls of Del Posto to create Superiority Burger and Pasta Flyer, respectively; and now Michelin-starred chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara—the team behind Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad—are debuting a counter-service concept in Nomad. From an open kitchen, Humm & Co. serves deconstructed versions of dishes from their more upscale restaurants: A salmon-frisée salad with a soft-boiled egg and potato croutons, and confit pork shoulder with warm grains, roasted carrots and bacon are inspired by similar flavor configurations at EMP and the NoMad. Single-digit–priced glasses of wine are available, as well as an on-tap beer collaboration with Evil Twin Brewing and house-made sodas (coffee, cranberry-ginger).
He’s fried mayonnaise, made noodles out of squid and transformed a bagel and schmear into ice cream. So it’s no surprise that even the humble doughnut would get a brainy boost from molecular gastronomy icon Wylie Dufresne, who follows up the now-shuttered wd~50 and Alder with this doughnut shop at the base of Williamsburg’s William Vale hotel. Collaborating with head baker Colin Kull (San Francisco’s Tartine), the Michelin-starred chef opts for classic cake for the doughnuts’ base, but the offbeat flavor combinations are where that signature Dufresne daffiness comes out: peanut butter with yuzu, pistachio with pink lemonade, pomegranate with tahini.
Cosme and its powerhouse team of Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes haves been racking up the accolades since debuting in 2014, so it’s high time that Olvera & Co. introduce another culinary sensation to NYC. This spinoff is more casual than that Flatiron megahit and spotlights healthy Mexican and Central American fare: white ayocote hummus, an arctic char tostada and meatballs made with farro and quail eggs. There’s also a strong emphasis on drinks—diners can begin the day with café con leche and end with agave-leaning cocktails by beverage director Yana Volfson. Taking cues from the all-day restaurants of Mexico City, the 60-seat space features sleek black and oakwood furniture, a white terrazzo tiled bar and verdant vegetation lining the walls.
Like his Del Posto comrade Brooks Headley (Superiority Burger) before him, Mark Ladner shocked the food world by leaving the Michelin-starred Italian dining room to start a fast-casual joint. In Ladner’s case, the focus is pasta: fresh noodles cooked in 10 seconds in simple combinations with the choice of a flour base (traditional, whole grain, gluten-free), sauce (tomato marinara, basil pesto, meat ragu) and toppings, such as pork-sausage meatballs, garlic breadcrumbs and whipped ricotta cheese. Diners can pad out their pasta meal with sides like fried garlic knots coated in garlic-parsley butter and a salad with braised lentils and house vinaigrette. Even though the whole meal is designed to be served in less than three minutes, the space is large enough for patrons to sit and enjoy, with marble-topped tables, gold-painted light fixtures and an oversize print of the Roman Forum.
Empire Diner has more lives than a cat. The famous Chelsea luncheonette, whose Art Deco exterior has been featured in everything from Woody Allen’s Manhattan to the opening credits of Saturday Night Live, has shifted ownership frequently since the 1970s. (The most recent proprietor was Food Network toque Amanda Freitag, who previously took on the iconic space from January 2014 to December 2015.) Now chef John DeLucie, who has experience adopting historic restaurants (the Waverly Inn), partners with the team behind Cafeteria for this latest iteration of the corner diner. Inside the vintage digs—complete with restored stainless steel, wood panels and outdoor seating in the warmer months—DeLucie serves classic American cuisine, including macaroni and cheese with Black Diamond cheddar and Parmesan bread crumbs, a double-patty burger with herbed french fries, and sourdough-pretzel fried chicken with chili-mustard sauce.
Hell’s Kitchen gets some much-welcomed kitchen clout: Chef Diego Garcia and partner Phil Johnson—alumni of high-minded spots like Contra and Le Bernardin—are behind this neighborhood seafood spot on midtown’s western stretch. Garcia’s menu leans pescatarian, with options like black bass tartare dressed with watermelon radish and barley, squid with peas, lemon and yuzu, and tilefish sauced with a red-wine béarnaise. Johnson oversees the beverage menu, which he stocks with all-natural wine sourced exclusively from France and California’s Napa Valley, plus New York craft beers pouring on six drafts.
Jose Garces, the James Beard Award–winning chef behind Battery Park’s Amada, cultivated his taste for Basque cuisine during his years living in Spain. He taps into those flavors, and more specifically cazuelas (dishes cooked inside terra-cotta pots), at this Basque-inspired restaurant inside Times Square’s Luma Hotel. Along with those cazuelas (pork ribs, seafood stew), Garces and chef de cuisine Michael Han (Bouley, A Voce) pad out their menu with conservas (preserved foods), grilled tapas and a selection of crudos (fluke with chickpea miso, hamachi with piquillo peppers). Cocktails are inspired by Spain and France—a gin-and-tonic Donostia Cooler, a Biarritz Daisy with rhum agricole and banana liqueur. Wines are also pulled from the Basque region and are offered by the glass or the porron, a communal Spanish pitcher.
The vegan movement is expanding beyond just restaurants, as grocers, butchers and deli counters are starting to go meatless. Joya Carlton (the Butcher’s Daughter, Buvette) teams with Sara and Erica Kubersky (MooShoes, Modern Love Brooklyn) for this Lower East Side grocery store and delicatessen that’s exclusively stocked with vegan products. Along with prepackaged and pantry items, the deli counter offers house-made meat-free sandwiches, salads and pastries: The Bowery sandwich consists of turmeric-tofu egg, tempeh bacon and Chao cheese on a potato roll, while the Marlowe is a veg-focused Reuben stuffed with beet-brined seitan, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing on marble rye. End the meal on a sweet note with soft-serve sundaes featuring your choice of dairy-free ice cream (vanilla, chocolate) and toppings like a coconut-chocolate Magic Shell and puffed chickpeas.
You don’t need to hop on the Jitney to get a taste of beachy Long Island. This East Village restaurant from Tim Meyers (Charlie Bird) and Beauty & Essex cohorts Peter Kane and Anthony Serignese takes culinary cues from coastal New York. The seafood-heavy New American menu comprises raw-bar items (Nantucket bay-scallop crudo, black-bass carpaccio) as well as cooked plates including hot-smoked trout with cucumbers and lemon curry. Driving the theme home, the two-level space is fitted with washed woods, wavy surf-evoking floor tiles and a glass atrium roof.
Sophisticated Southern fare comes to southern Manhattan courtesy of Danny Volk (the Upsider) and chef Anne Thornton (the Waverly Inn). Thornton’s menu sticks to the coastal South, with options like shrimp and grits with Andouille sausage, fried chicken with pickled watermelon rinds and a salted-caramel banana-pudding pie. The stylized 86-seat restaurant features a vintage sofa turned into a floating banquette and art commissioned by design firm Kizmet, including a 27-foot triptych mural.