The Infatuation’s best new restaurants of 2018

CNN  — 

Whether you’re choosing a place to dine while traveling or in your hometown, The Infatuation is the most useful online restaurant guide in the game.

They aren’t partial to places serving up the trendiest dishes or run by celebrity chefs. They highlight the best dining experiences and offer a genuine review of a restaurant’s menu and overall vibe.

Each year The Infatuation releases a guide to the best new restaurants across some of their most highly covered cities in the United States.

The lists for New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Seattle are stacked with unique and innovative spots you’ll want to add to your hit list.

The Infatuation’s Editor in Chief Hillary Reinsberg explains, “(We don’t) pit the cities against each other.” Instead, the motivation for releasing the annual lists is so readers can “look comprehensively at some of the biggest cities in the US and get an overview of what the most exciting new restaurant openings were.”

New York City

Spread at Di An Di in NYC

Visitors should tick off their lists a handful of longstanding establishments. But The Infatuation’s picks for the city’s best new restaurants makes a solid argument against tried and true.

Di an Di is a Vietnamese restaurant in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, which has exploded with dining options over the past year. The Infatuation team highlights dishes such as the brisket pho, banh xeo-wrapped summer rolls and sizzling turmeric catfish, and says that it’s so good that they’ve “lost count of the number of times we’ve been to this restaurant.”

If you’re looking to dine with a view, Manhatta is an easy choice, 60 stories above the Financial District. The Infatuation compares sitting in the dining room to experiencing “Google Earth in VR.” The three-course, prix fixe menu is composed of traditional French dishes.

For vegetarian breakfast, lunch or dinner, The Infatuation picks West-Bourne in SoHo, which editors describe it as “the charming downtown apartment we’d buy after winning the Powerball.”

This all-day cafe serves up hearty plant-based dishes as well as a selection of drinks from kombucha to red wine.

The editors highlight some of the heartier dishes, such as the mushroom reuben, lentil falafel grain bowl, and roasted eggplant — all of which will satisfy even the most carnivorous among us. But the Foster’s Yogurt is West-Bourne’s secret weapon.

Manhatta's food is as stunning as the view

Made up of roasted banana yogurt, turmeric, and topped with cacao crunch, this dish is delightful and can even curb your craving for Magnolia Bakery’s much-loved banana pudding.

Manhattan has many tables that are difficult to get. And then there is Frenchette. It’s one of those places you’ll opt-in for Resy notifications to find an opening, or maybe even stay up late to make a booking exactly 30 days before.

The menu is a modern take on classic French dishes. The Spanish Tortilla topped with trout roe, Duck frites, and brouillade (escargot in a bed of creamy scrambled eggs and just the right amount of garlic butter) should all be on your table. Frenchette lives up to the hype.

While an overwhelming amount of incredible pizzas tempt you in New York, hit up Una Pizza Napoletana, which has returned after a nine-year sabbatical in San Francisco. Una Pizza serves one of the best margherita pizzas you will find, and the scallop crudo and carne cruda (raw beef tenderloin) are great small plates.

In Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Lilia – and getting into it – is so buzzy The Infatuation even published a restaurant guide titled “Where to go when you can’t get into Lilia.”

Missy Robbins, chef and owner, is also serving delicious italian fare at Misi. The menu at Misi is pretty simple, composed of vegetable dishes and pastas. Between the marinated peppers, grilled baby artichokes, chickpea pappardelle, spaghetti with fennel pesto and sheep’s milk ricotta-filled gnocchi, you’ forget the menu has only two sections: “antipasti” and “pasta.”

If you’re into tasting menus and Korean food, Atomix might just your nirvana. The meal is 10 courses and two hours long, and according to The Infatuation it’s worth the price tag of $165.

Apparently 2018 was a great year for Japanese restaurants. If you’re still suffering from withdrawals from all the good food you ate on your last trip to Japan, check out two new Lower East Side establishments – Shabushabu Macoron and Davelle – as well as two Yakitori spots – Toriko NY and Nonono.

According to The Infatuation, Shabushabu Macoron is the world’s first omakase shabushabu restaurant. The scene is casual, but the tab will set you back $128.

Editors describe their first impression of Davelle as reminiscent of a “studio apartment of a person who has seven cats.” But don’t let this deter you, because they serve an unforgettable “Too Much” Uni Spaghetti, which is just something everyone needs in their life. (And there’s nothing wrong with owning cats.)

Meanwhile, Toriko NY in the West Village is the perfect yakitori spot. According to The Infatuation, chicken skewers are the main event. Nonono, another Yakitori establishment, also has ramen and sushi.

Legacy Records in Hell’s Kitchen serves Italian-inspired dishes, the Infatuation writes. “The ceilings are high, the tables are topped with leather, and you can (and should) order a whole honey-lacquered duck.” Well, we’re sold. Aren’t you?

Simon & The Whale at the new Freehand Hotel is hotel restaurant actually worth eating at, according to The Infatuation editors. They recommend ordering the smoked mussels, crispy pork collard schnitzel and fish sandwich.

Two more spots in Greenpoint made the list: American Diner Bernie’s and a Mexican joint called Oxomoco. Bernie’s serves up solid comfort food that is perfect pick-me-up during the colder months. Oxomoco does upscale Mexican better than most places on the East Coast and has a killer cocktail list.

Another classic diner made the list. The Infatuation writes that Meme’s Diner is a place “you can count on for hangover pancakes.” It’s located in Prospect Heights, and, honestly, what else could want from a diner?

For a new spot for Indian food, check out Adda in Long Island City, Queens. The vibe is casual, with nothing on the menu more than $20.

Los Angeles

Bavel in Los Angeles

The restaurants on The Infatuation’s Los Angeles list make battling the traffic worthwhile. For the LA dining scene, this was a good year for downtown neighborhoods and strip malls. Some of these spots are in places you might not expect.

The Infatuation also points out that 2018 was full of out-of-town chefs and second locations of already-famous restaurants from other cities for LA.

Bavel, a Middle Eastern-inspired restaurant and encore to one of the cities’ most coveted tables, Bestia, opened in downtown’s Arts District. Bestia may have put downtown on the heat map, and Bavel has solidified that this neighborhood will continue to explode with fine dining.

We recommend trying as many dishes as possible. The food is meant to be shared. The Infatuation suggests ordering the duck ‘nduja hummus, mushroom kebabs, lamb neck, and every type of bread on the menu. We’d like to add that the grilled octopus, roasted cauliflower and oyster mushroom kebab are also stellar.

The duck should be on your table at the NoMad

One of NYC’s downtown hotspots, The NoMad, now has an outpost on the West Coast, also in downtown LA. The interior is on point, as is the food, and the vibe is always fun and upbeat at breakfast, lunch or dinner. The Infatuation editorial staff also points out that this restaurant does what LA does best, “the casual fancy restaurant.”

Dama offers a true escape from the chaos of downtown. Nestled in the Fashion District, there’s no better place downtown to dine outside, and they serve up impeccable Caribbean fare.

David Chang has done it again and again, but now there is Majordomo. Located in Chinatown, the jaw-dropping warehouse space is the perfect place to host friends or colleagues. The Korean fusion offers many exciting dishes. But we can’t stop thinking about the eggs and smoked roe, macaroni & chickpea with black truffle, and smoked pork shoulder.

Eggs are on the menu at Majordomo

During the day this restaurant is just a coffee shop. But at night, come here for an incredible wine list and American fare. The Infatuation highlights All Time as a true “LA original,” Reinsberg explains it is run by first-time restaurateurs. Located in Los Feliz, it has a vibe the Infatuation likens to hanging out in a friend’s backyard, and claims the menu has a ribeye and mushroom ragu with polenta “that gives the best steakhouses in town a run for their money.”

Sushi Note and Jame Enoteca prove you can find great dining in a strip mall. Sushi Note serves incredible sushi, but The Infatuation insists it is just as much a wine bar as it is a sushi restaurant, and who doesn’t love sushi and wine?

The Infatuation also understands the importance of landing at LAX and finding a delicious meal ASAP, which is why the LA list includes Jame Enoteca. In a strip mall in El Segundo, this casual spot serves pasta dishes normally found at much fancier Italian spots. Highlights include pesto mandilli, beef cheek scarpinoc and squid ink bavette.

Don't skip the pasta at Jame Enoteca

Triple Beam pizza in Highland Park might finally put LA on the map for great pizza. The rectangular slices can be cut to any portion to help patrons come hungry and leave happy. If Triple Beam doesn’t convince you that LA has good pizza, check out Ronan in West Hollywood. The Infatuation writes, “We’ve brought friends from the East Coast who didn’t believe good pizza at casual places actually existed in LA.”

Head to Echo Park for both Triniti and Bar Carlo. Triniti is your quintessential coffee shop with a bonus of delicious food, and Bar Calo is more of what Southern California does best: great Mexican food.

Ma’am Sir is in Silver Lake, and here you will find some killer Filipino food. The Infatuation suggests the uni-topped lumpia, pork sisig with sweetbreads, and the longganisa sandwich that will make you want to move into the neighborhood to be close to this sandwich.

Freedman’s is LA’s best new Jewish deli. It’s great for comfort food and is also found in Silver Lake (and in a strip mall). The Infatuation writes “It feels like it’s owned by your Jewish aunt who loves Miami and has a chopped liver recipe she guards with her life.”


Kyoten is a standout for sushi in Chicago.

This was a good year for visitors and residents in Chicago who also really like sushi.

Reinsberg describes the opening of Kyoten as a sushi restaurant that finally rivals those found on the coasts. Opting for the 20-course meal for $220 is recommended. The Infatuation writes, “No other spot fed us rendered beef fat over rice topped with freshly shaved truffles, or uni risotto that was the color of a Cheeto but tasted like ocean butter.”

Sushi-san is another sushi restaurant in Chicago, but it feels like you’re dining at a trendy spot in Tokyo. The Infatuation recommends Omakase Yume. Dining here is a slightly cheaper than Kyoten – $130 gets you a 16-course omakase experience.

You don’t see Korean-Italian fusion menus every day, but The Infatuation approves of Passerotto and even claims this combo doesn’t feel forced.

For those looking for classic American-style food in Chicago, head to Maillard Tavern for an unforgettable burger topped with truffle oil and foie gras. Good Measure is a must if you’re looking for bar food with a twist. The Infatuation suggests trying the Nashville hot-fried duck livers or the rarebit with potato and sage donuts.

For pizza, Etta can accommodate large groups, but The Infatuation adds, “The food tastes so good that we’re happy to just come by ourselves.”

Soule Chicago will be your saving grace when it’s brutally cold out. The Southern-style menu is packed with mouthwatering options, and The Infatuation recommends soul classics such as the shrimp and grits, fried green tomatoes, and peach cobbler.


The list for Seattle is heavy on Asian cuisine and includes a spot that serves caviar-topped hot dogs.

Pho is everywhere in Seattle, possibly because nothing sounds better than this Vietnamese soup on a rainy day. Pho Bac Sup Shop isn’t just “another one” according to The Infatuation. And since sausage sliders and French fries are also on the menu, we believe them.

For Vietnamese fusion, hit up Reckless noodle house. The Infatuation recommends the beef cheek noodles and coconut fried rice with pastrami. If you’re looking for sushi, Tamari Bar in Capitol Hill is a great spot of izakaya. The Infatuation writes about searing their own wagyu beef on a sizzling rock with one hand while holding a matcha-salted margarita in the other… and that was all we needed to hear. Like Pho, dumplings are also all over Seattle.

Deep Dive is a trendy spot in Seattle

Plenty of Clouds, also in Capitol Hill, serves something a bit harder to find, according to The Infatuation: outstanding dumplings. Wa’z is a Japanese spot where the dishes are simple yet so good they don’t need extra bells and whistles.

Two American spots on the Seattle list are Deep Dive and Sawyer. Deep Dive has some French vibes on the menu. It serves a caviar-topped hot dog that you won’t find at any baseball game. Sawyer serves bar food inspired by the kid inside you. The Infatuation suggests the braised oxtail nachos and the peanut butter s’mores Choco Tacos.

South Town Pie serves NYC-style pizza in the Emerald City

If Italian is your cold weather food of choice, then check out South Town Pie and La Messe. The Infatuation claims South Town Pie is the best New York-style pizza in Seattle. La Messe made the list for homemade pasta like “you picture when you daydream about living in Italy.”