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The 24 top NYC restaurant openings of 2020 you should know about

From sustainable sushi to iconic L.A. tacos, restaurants in New York continue to open during the most challenging year.

Written by
Bao Ong

Opening a restaurant in New York and turning a profit is no easy task—even in the best of times. But the current crisis of 2020 has posed a challenge the hospitality industry has never seen before: a slew of restaurants have permanently closed, outdoor dining is a lifeline while indoor dining remains limited and many businesses have had to find creative ways to stay afloat, including turning their dining rooms into grocery stores.

Yet, New Yorkers remain resilent—despite a public health crisis and constantly-shifting governmental policies—as they have continued opening restaurants since the city first shut down in mid March. Some are only offering takeout and delivery for the time being while others are starting to welcome diners back indoors. While the Time Out New York team hasn’t been criss-crossing the city like before to check out the latest restaurants, these are the newest openings we’re excited about during a time when good food brings us more comfort than ever.

Add these 2020 NYC restaurant openings to your bucket list

Kimika serves up a carb lover's dream Italian-Japanese menu with pastas, crispy flatbreads and other creative, seasonal dishes. An all-female team of industry vets opened this Nolita restaurant with an Itameshi menu—a mashup of “Italian” and “meshi,” Japanese slang for meal that’s already bringing New Yorkers from across the city.

Doughnut fans surely know about Fany Gerson’s beloved treats at Dough Doughnuts. Now she’s gone out on her with Fan-Fan Doughnuts and the menu looks as good as ever. From Mexican cinnamon to the glazed braided doughnuts, fans area already lining up for our city’s favorite morning dessert.


Many of New York’s long standing Caribbean restaurants are located deeper within Brooklyn (check out Time Out New York’s tour of Little Caribbean), but Kokomo is located on the Williamsburg waterfront with a lively atmosphere complete with a D.J. Ria and Kevol Graham present a menu that takes you to Jamaica with dishes like the Rasta pasta flatbread and of course, jerk chicken.

A panoply of small plates are your guide through the diverse regional flavors of Thailand at this Bushwick newcomer. Dishes like a spicy beef tartare and crispy fried chicken thighs are the perfect vehicle for hanging out and drinking wine (a liquor license is in the works).


Chef Eric See found a following at The Awkward Scone, a beloved Bushwick spot known for its baked goods (we loved the stand-out rainbow cookies) and collaborations with up-and-coming chefs. While the bakery is no longer open, See’s new café Ursula in Crown Heights highlights New Mexican cuisine that’s not easy to find in New York. You’ll find the popular breakfast burritos (they’re overflowing with hashbrowns, chorizo and green chiles) and other dishes that nod to the chef’s Hispanic and Southwestern roots on the menu.

The Korean American menu at Cafe Salmagundi is meant to be an homage to the Gramercy Park neighborhood and New Yorkers who stayed in the city throughout the current crisis. So it’s no surprise that the food is local (much of the ingredients are sourced at the nearby Union Square Greenmarket) but also international (the opening team is behind Osamil in Koreatown). The plates are beautifully composed and classically-inspired cocktails are in step with the historical location on Irving Place.


The team behind Chinese Tuxedo has turned to Southeast Asia at their newest restaurant and it’s already one of the most in-demand tables in the city. On any given night, you’ll find a crowd at the Soho-based Tyger, which is named after a William Blake poem, digging into charcoal-grilled chicken satay, a Thai-inspired betel leaf with trout roe and Singaporean chili crab fried rice. The chef, Paul Donnelly, has cooked throughout this part of Asia.


For many people, Filipino food has a reputation for being meat heavy (though the culture’s food is much more nuanced and diverse the more you dig in). But at Ravi DeRossi’s newest restaurant, Saramsam, the entire menu is plant-based. Executive Chef Raj Abat offers a number of classics, such as sisig and adobo, but guests can also feast on a Kamayan tasting menu (a bargain at $50, it can only be ordered indoors), which is traditionally full of meat and seafood options served atop tables lined with banana leaves.


New York’s taco game keeps getting stronger. This time, Ruben Rodriguez (owner and executive chef of Nai Tapas) has collaborated with Juan “Billy” Acosta, the co-owner of L.A. popular Carnitas El Momo. You can’t go wrong with any of the six tacos whether you choose the crowd favorite carnitas or the Amigo, a collaboration between the two coasts where Rodriguez and Acosta agreed on a recipe of pork belly with a citrus gastrique and red salsa brava.


Chef Mikel de Luis’s first solo restaurant was set to open just before the city went on lockdown mode. He eventually opened for takeout in May, and New Yorkers were able to experience his Basque and Catalan-inspired menu, which is now open for indoor dining as well as outdoors on the terrace.



Shaun Hergatt may be cooking more simply at his new restaurant Vestry in Soho, but his dishes still show off his fine-dining pedigree (he garnered Michelin stars at SHO and Juni). The menu showcases an emphasis on using Japanese techniques with fewer ingredients here, mainly vegetables and seafood, but the beautifully-plated dishes you order make you feel as if you’re back in a high-end restaurant.


There’s always room for more pizza options in New York. At Public Display of Affection, or PDA, Chef Rob Guimond brings his fine-dining background (Jean Georges) and at more casual spots like Roberta’s and Speedy Romeo (both serve some of the city’s best pies). But the menu goes beyond just the wood-fired pizzas. A rotating cast of specials may include dishes like crab fettuccine to a hearty calzone with butter chicken.



The personalized and often intimate omakase dining experience isn’t easy to replicate in the outdoors. But the team of Kitntsugi managed to recreate the meal outdoors in Soho along Grand Street. Chef John Daley’s self-described “New York-style” omakase is $95 includes miso soup, sashimi, nigiri and maki.


Crop Circle has introduced New Yorkers to guokui, a thin and crispy flatbread stuffed with a variety of fillings, from spicy beef to a seasonal pumpkin puree. The menu also includes steamed dumplings and rice noodle rolls—all great for takeout.



The original German’s Soup in Guyana’s capital of Georgetown is going strong, but the New York location, which was opened by the owner’s son in 2018 in East Flatbush, has now expanded into a larger space in Crown Heights. You’ll find typical Guyanese snacks like roti flatbreads and desserts like mittai (fried cinnamon pastry sticks). The South American restaurant also offers Creole dishes, including five different soups featuring slow-cooked yellow split peas.

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Fat Choy’s ambition to serve vegan Chinese food is much larger than its tiny Lower East Side digs. The menu features fewer than 10 items but unlike other Chinese vegan restaurants, Justin Lee and Jared Moeller focus on using plants versus various cuts of mock meat. Furthermore, everything is $10 or under, so if you’re wondering if you should give a meatless meal a try, there’s no excuse not to order a Mushroom Sloppy sandwich ($10) or the salt-and-pepper cauliflower ($8).



The sandwiches at Cutlets may play on the classic tri-state deli favorites we all love, but they’ve set themselves apart by focusing on ingredients that are free of antibiotics, added sugars, preservatives and all those other chemicals that strike a cord of nostalgia for many people (even if it’s not good for us). It's the first solo project for Robert Zaro of the Zaro’s Family Bakery empire, and in another twist, it’s a delivery-only concept.


Marseille was equally popular with theater fans as it was with residents in Hell’s Kitchen for its French brasserie vibes. It was more upscale than other spots along Ninth Avenue, but it also felt like a neighborhood joint. In 2020, however, the owners have rebranded it as Bouillon Marseille with a focus on more inexpensive dishes, even with classic dishes like steak frites and trout meuniere.


The demand for tea keeps growing (after all, it’s more widely consumed than coffee). But tea isn’t just about stuffy afternoon rituals or hippy concoctions. Meno is a specailty tea and coffee house from the Hunan Province of China where everything feels modern but with a Zen-like feel whether you’re sipping a fresh milk tea or one of the more rare dark teas.


When Tammy Na and Amber Luan partnered to open Lazy Sundae, they debuted not one, but three locations at once in the Lower East Side, Chinatown and Greenwich Village. In addition to bubble tea, they’re also offering bingsoo (Korean shaved ice) with flavors inspired by their childhoods, such as red bean and matcha. In the middle of winter, the menu will be like a reminder of the summer we never had in 2020.


It’s much quieter in the Rockways post Labor Day, but you can still experience some of the beachfront vibes at Bar Marseille. You can enjoy an order of grilled oysters or a tuna burger while taking in the French Riveria vibes—think of a room filled with pastel colors and sleek wood paneling all over framing the beach feel of the restaurant.


Umma, which means mom in Korean, offers a variety of Asian comfort dishes like peanut-chili noodles and kimchi bibimbap fried rice. There are other more whimsical items, though, like a Korean fried chicken served in bao buns and bulgogi cheeseburger dumplings. Chef Tabitha Yeh (Bar Masa) has helped turn the space, formally the fast casual concept Noodlelove, into a full service restaurant.

There’s been a trend in recent years of sushi restaurants shifting their focus to sustainable seafood and using more local ingredients. At Rosella, it’s in the capable hands of chefs Jeff Miller and Yoni Lang, who both worked at the respected Uchiko in Austin, Texas. They offer a 15- to 18-course tasting menus with an array of small plates, nigiri and sashimi that’s bound to please the city’s sushi fanatics.

The Best Restaurants in NYC

  • Restaurants

October 2020: As New York restaurants open their doors for indoor dining, we can’t help but reflect on how much has changed for the hospitality industry during the course of the current crisis. We have mixed feelings about jumping back into full-service restaurant experiences—whether it’s dining outdoors or indoors (even with limited capacity).

For those of us choosing to dine out, it also comes at a time when the restaurant industry is re-examining how to create a more equitable workplace, from fairly paying employees to ensuring the safety of its employees. But we realize that many of you, dear readers, will nevertheless be choosing to support your local spots and want guidance of who is doing what right now.

While restaurants are evolving to meet the needs of this new landscape and additional guidelines for the reopening process are changing daily, we hope you’ll find this list helpful as you navigate these new waters. Please bear in mind that we have not been able to hit up all these spots since their reopenings, but we have stood behind their food and service in the past. Check back as we will be updating this list more often than we did prior to lockdown to reflect the ebbs and flows of the dining out scene. And, remember, with so many service workers putting themselves on the frontlines to feed us, we hope you’ll be gracious and tip kindly. 

Back in 2019, we made some radical changes to Time Out New York’s EAT List, gutting it from the ground up to forgo mentions to those uber-expensive fine dining spots. Instead, we focused on curating a feature you can use more readily in your day-to-day life than just on special occasions. Frankly, no subjective best-of list is perfect, but we are committed to regularly updating this list to make sure it’s not only useful but a more diverse and equitable representation of our vibrant city. 

Note: A number of the best chefs, restaurants and concepts in the city have been welcomed into the Time Out Market. Because that is the highest honor we can award, and we now have a tighter relationship with them, establishments related to market vendors have all been included in the EAT List but not ranked alongside other great establishments in the city. You can find those places below. We look forward to welcoming you back into our markets when it is safe to do so again. 

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