New York City guide: 10 new restaurant obsessions

(Photo: Estela)

It’s been about 6 months since our last NYC restaurant round up… in New York time that is worth at least a year’s worth of restaurant research! So, it’s time for a new round up of 10 of our favourite restaurant haunts.

Some of these restaurants are new, some are old, some are hotspots and others are true hidden gems where you can surprisingly still get a table. The thing that they all have in common is that they are not (unlike many NYC restaurants) one hit wonders – these are the kinds of restaurants you will go back to again and again.

New York City guide - 10 new restaurant obsessions_Map

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*Tips for using the map: Clicking on the printer icon in Google Maps will bring up a list with images and details that you can print and take with you on your trip. You can also send the link to yourself and use your phone browser to view the map on the go – remember caching the map is the best thing to do to avoid spending a lot of money on data roaming!





Roman’s is arguably the best restaurant in Brooklyn (and maybe even New York) and probably deserves a whole blog entry unto itself. No other restaurant we’ve been to consistently serves up eye-rolling-ly good modern Italian food like Roman’s does.

Best Bit: I could wholeheartedly recommend you anything on their menu and be confident that they would knock it out of the park.

(Photo: Brea Souders/New York Magazine)

(Photo: Brea Souders/New York Magazine)


Estela is new to the city and I would say that it’s Roman’s Manhattan counterpart in terms of quality food but with a slightly more creative twist. I managed to get a last minute table booking on a Friday evening – go now because this won’t be possible for long.

Best Bit: The 2 standout dishes: Calamari à la plancha with charred onion and romesco and the Ricotta dumplings with mushrooms, onion, and pecorino sardo are simply extraordinary. 

(Photo: TimeOut NYC)

(Photo: Estela)

Calamari à la plancha with charred onion and romesco (Photo: Estela)


Nolita is becoming quite the dining neighbourhood with yet another outstanding restaurant that’s just opened in the last few months. Husband and wife team, Matt and Barbara Lambert, own The Musket Room and Matt, a classically French trained New Zealand chef puts his spin on modern New Zealand cuisine. The result is highly sophisticated, elegant and inspired food.

Best Bit: Perhaps they just had a thing for us and gave us special treatment, but we had the most memorable service experience ever. Some highlights to give you an idea of the level of service include a complimentary cognac (the sommelier’s favourite), a tour of the gardens with a pot of tea infused by the leaves from their lemon verbena plant and finally a kitchen tour and discussion with Chef Lambert himself to settle the score about Vegimite vs. Marmite (Vegimite wins of course).

Cold smoked scallops, cucumbers, black garlic, pears and sea beans (Photo: The Musket Room)

The Musket Room's Garden Tour

The Musket Room’s Garden Tour



Robataya hails as my proudest restaurant find in NYC. It’s a 9th Street Japanese restaurant that can easily be overlooked with all the others on the same street vying for your attention but if you are lucky enough to stumble in you’ll be rewarded with the mouth-watering smell of Japanese BBQ and all of the mind-blowing flavours that are about to entail.

Best Bit: Follow your waitress to your table and make sure to order the following things: Kamameshi with Salmon & Salmon Roe (this is a rice hot-pot where the rice gets all burnt and caramelised at the bottom…!!!) and from the grill order the pork spare ribs, sweet potato, Brussels sprouts and Portobello mushrooms. You will leave very happy.



As soon as you walk into Sobakoh you will know you’re in good hands when it comes to Soba noodle authenticity. Not only are about 50% of the patrons and 100% of the staff Japanese, but you can also see and feel that fanatical Japanese sensibility everywhere from the service, the ingredients and even down to the table setting.

Best Bit: Serenity in NYC is rare but not at Sobakoh. Soothe your soul even further with the Kinoko Soba – a combination of three different types of mushroom with a clean but smoky broth.

Kinoko Soba

Kinoko Soba



Spend the evening watching each dish from your degustation menu being prepared especially for you. You get everything you’d expect from a degustation here – creativity, delicacy, surprising and memorable flavours – except you pay $80 for 7 courses instead of $200.

Best Bit: At Degustation, every table is a chef’s table.

Degustation: New York City guide - 10 new restaurant obsessions



Casa is far removed from the usual Brazilian restaurant you’d find in Little Brazil, Midtown – it’s somewhere you’d actually want to spend the evening with friends with its big windows looking out to a beautiful West Village street, white walls and high ceilings – no blaring music and cheesy decorations matching the Brazilian flag here.

Best Bit: Their feijoada (the Brazilian national dish of black bean stew with prime meats served with rice, fresh oranges, steamed collard greens, farofa and a vinaigrette sauce) is the best I’ve had since Bar do Mineiro’s in Rio de Janeiro.

Casa: New York City guide - 10 new restaurant obsessions



Madiba is the essence of Fort Greene with its laid back, festive vibe. It’s always busy with good-looking locals enjoying a South African beer and some afro-pop tunes. The restaurant serves food from its South African roots and I promise you will be impressed! If you haven’t tried South African food before think of a delicious mixture of Malay, Indian, Dutch and English food.

Best Bit: Every one of my Madiba dining mates has their own favourite dish that they never sway from – mine are the Lorenzo Marques Prawns. One thing we all agree on ordering every time is the Organic Peri Peri Chicken Wings – spicy, fall-off-the-bone deliciousness.


I discovered Spicy Village after (frustratingly) never being able to get a table at Mission Chinese Restaurant and subsequently finding a Nowness film of Danny Bowien (Mission Chinese’s owner/chef) talking about Spicy Village as the NYC Chinese restaurant that inspired him the most. When I ate at Spicy Village my frustrations melted away with my bowl of black bean sauce huimei and the crispy pork pancake.

Best Bit: No matter how hard you try, you’ll never spend over $10 on a meal.

Click to play Danny Bowien x Nowness video

Click to play Danny Bowien x Nowness video

“Big tray of chicken” (Photo: New York Food Journal)


Miss Lily’s is not a place to go for the food. It is a place you go for the incredibly unique experience. Think gorgeous Jamaican off-duty models/waitresses, banging loud reggae with a record and bookstore and a juice bar attached – strange but incredibly vibrant and very cool.

Best Bit: The opportunity to spot a much cooler, more local grade of celeb like Questlove or Kilo Kish.

(Photo: New York Times)

Miss Lily’s Dancing Girls (Photo: Patrick McMullan for Vogue)

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One Response to “New York City guide: 10 new restaurant obsessions”
  1. Jada says:

    Superb! It kept my interest in reading and I enjoyed it.

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