Leaf peeping, frolicking through bucolic apple orchards, microdosing pumpkin spice in the comfort of your own cinnamon candle-scented home — however you choose to celebrate autumn, you’re bound to work up an appetite
Lucky, then, that each crisp New York City fall brings a slew of new restaurants to choose from. This year’s harvest includes a wealth of African diaspora cooking, a strong showing from women-led kitchens, and a couple of long-awaited projects from one of the best pitmasters in town. Read on for where to eat now, and where you’ll want to snag a seat in the coming months.
Berber Street Food
Enjoy curry-stuffed Senegalese hand pies, Nigerian-style grilled beef skewers, and more West and North African-influenced cooking at chef-owner Diana Tandia’s cheery West Village counter-service spot, which opened in September. Tandia, a veteran of NYC fine dining restaurants who grew up in Mauritania, has put together a lengthy menu that runs the gamut from traditional black-eyed pea fritters to customizable multi-element “Afro Fusion Express” bowls that seem primed for fast-casual expansion. You’ll also find larger entrées like mountains of jollof rice, couscous-loaded vegetable tagines, and four-hour roast leg of lamb. Omnipresent in the snug dining area, she’s outfitted her relaxed, brightly-lit café with comfy throw pillows and a wall display of the same vibrant, multicolored woven bowls that serve as platters for sandwiches of lamb kofta meatballs lashed with hot sauce and pink beet tzatziki or chicken shawarma tucked inside homemade olive oil-enriched flatbread.
35 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014 (646) 870-0495
For the follow-up to their outstanding wood-fired Brooklyn debut, Lilia, chef Missy Robbins and partner Sean Feeney have gone all-in on pasta. At Misi, the restaurant they opened last month in a sprawling 4,000-square-foot space in Williamsburg’s Domino Park, a team of cooks make all of the fresh and dried noodles – pappardelle, linguini, tagliolini, and strangozzi, to name a few – by hand each day. Robbins and her crew take a simplified approach in the kitchen, offering a selection of ten vegetable-focused antipasti (grilled baby artichokes with minty salsa verde, maybe, or peppery greens tossed in pancetta vinaigrette) and just as many pastas, including rigatoni sluiced in “30 clove pomodoro” and fettucine tossed with tangy buffalo butter, then showered in that comforting Roman mix of Parmigiano Reggiano and black pepper. The room is low-slung and lively, and as at Lilia, there are frozen treats to look forward to come meal’s end.
329 Kent Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11249 (347) 566-3262
Dazzling Spanish food lovers for years at Txikito, El Quinto Pino, and La Vara, wife-and-husband team Alex Raij and Eder Montero have branched out slightly with this restaurant devoted to showcasing seafood without any self-imposed geographic constraints. Hogging the corner of a tree-and-brownstone-lined block in Cobble Hill also shared by the Michelin-starred La Vara, Saint Julivert (“julivert” meaning “parsley” in Catalan) replaces the chef-owner couple’s all-day café Tekoá, swapping out scrambled eggs and avocado toast in favor of trout roe (here crowning yuzu-scented crab salad stuffed inside an avocado half), tuna pasta casserole, and jerk-spiced yellowtail collar. Anchored by a J-shaped stainless steel bar, the charming, sparsely designed room is the perfect place to contemplate the sweet-savory shock of Cantabrian anchovies paired with vanilla butter while sipping wines from coastal vineyards or knocking back a Ti’ Punch, the national drink of Martinique.
264 Clinton St, Brooklyn, NY 11201 (347) 987-3710
On the horizon:
After closing his fondly remembered Brooklyn Senegalese restaurant Le Grand Dakar and leading the kitchen at Nok in Lagos, Nigeria, the chef, author, restaurateur, and burgeoning ancient grain entrepreneur Pierre Thiam will soon open Teranga (broadly meaning “hospitality” in Wolof, the most commonly spoken language in Senegal) inside the Africa Center in Harlem. Expect a fast-casual menu inspired by West African comfort food like chicken with caramelized onions, salmon coated in herbaceous charmoula, and loads of fonio, the fluffy gluten-free grain Thiam is proselytizing through his company Yolélé Foods. While there, you’ll also want to check out the hand-painted fishing boat the chef commissioned from an artist in Dakar.
1280 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10029, November
As dynamic chef duos go, few have captivated New York City’s dinnerati like Jody Williams and Rita Sodi, who’ve cumulatively gifted the West Village with the effortlessly charming restaurants Buvette, I Sodi, and Via Carota. Their next joint project, in the works for over a year, is a petit 30-seat corner bar and café called Pisellino (little pea or penis in Italian, take your pick) that takes its cues from centuries-old Italian eateries. Ambitiously, Williams and Sodi will keep this younger sibling, conveniently located a stone’s throw from Via Carota, open from breakfast until well past midnight. That means coffee and bomboloni in the morning, plus panini and spuntini, or small plates, and all manner of booze – from wine and amaro to proper cocktails – later in the day.
100 7th Ave South, New York, NY 10014, November
Rice takes center stage at JJ Johnson’s upcoming quick-service Harlem restaurant, which will focus at first on a handful of heirloom varieties of the staple crop, including Italian Nostrale and Mountain Violet, a purple sticky rice from the northern Philippines. On the affordable menu (everything $13 and under), the Long Island-born chef – ex of the Cecil and Minton’s and currently a partner in Henry at the Life Hotel – will offer asopao-style soupy rice, a family favorite, and South Carolina’s Carolina Gold paired with fried chicken thighs and tamarind barbecue sauce to go with a selection of beer and wine. Johnson’s also on the hunt for more rice cultivars, including trying to source the West African rice that partly motivated this intrepid project, which he first encountered in Ghana.
109 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY 10026, December or Early 2019
In the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge, Sam Yoo is set to open a self-styled Asian diner informed by both the greasy spoons and home cooking of his Queens upbringing, while also nodding to this sleepy neighborhood on the eastern edges of Chinatown. From a charming corner space outfitted with an open kitchen and formica countertop, the Momofuku Ko and Major Food Group vet will cook a brief collection of fusion-y short-order creations like larb Cobb salads, Xian-style lamb and pork gyros spiced with mouth-tingling Sichuan peppercorns, and tamales full of pulled chicken, mozzarella, and smoked kimchee.
123 Madison St, New York, NY 10002, November
Hometown Deli and Hometown Tavern
Hometown Bar-B-Que’s Billy Durney is almost ready to unleash not one but two new ventures. Red Hook is getting Hometown Tavern, which will bring together fried chicken and southern side dishes (biscuits, collard greens, and mashed potatoes to name a few), a serious and simple bar burger, and natural wines. Going into Industry City in Sunset Park, Hometown Deli is meant to be an ode to the city’s traditional Jewish delicatessens. Durney’s already proved himself proficient with pastrami (at the original Hometown, he smokes and brines bacon rather than beef), so you can look forward to that most emblematic of meats, plus lots of pickles, coleslaw, and other noshes like hot dogs and matzoh ball soup.
Hometown Tavern, 329 Van Brunt St, Brooklyn, NY 11231; Hometown Deli, 87 35thSt, Brooklyn, NY 11232, December
Around the corner from their elegantly untamed three-year-old Greenwich Village bistro, home to specials like crispy veal brains in Roquefort sauce, the wildly fashionable folks behind MIMI are doubling their restaurant stable with this steakhouse and raw bar named for co-owner Louis Levy’s grandmother (whereas MIMI is an ode to co-owners Daniel and Evan Bennett’s grandma). Count on through-the-roof creativity from chef Efrén Hernández, who’ll be splitting his time between both places.
72 Macdougal St, New York, NY 10012, December or Januaryù