They say a restaurant opens in New York City every 11 seconds. Just kidding, it is more like one per week. And if so, diners are privileged with unlimited options and diverse dishes on any given night. Some restaurants, of course, rise above the rest, with memorable interiors, buzzy chefs, and the requisite truly great meal. We rounded up the latest and most headline-worthy restaurant openings across Manhattan (and one in Harlem) where locals and visitors alike will crush on new, noteworthy fare.
Pig and Khao, Lower East Side
Top Chef Season 5 may be long over, but contestant Leah Cohen is just getting started in the Big Apple. Cohen's new restaurant, Pig and Khao, is a cozy joint that gives the Lower East Side locals a new hangout. Expect an innovative spin on Southeast Asian food like grilled pork neck and watermelon salad with chili lime fish sauce, shallot, chicharon, herbs, and toasted rice. Like the neighborhood, the restaurant skews a touch hipster thanks to industrial highlights (mosaic tiles, exposed brick wall) and a hand-carved Filipino bike hanging on the wall. The back patio has picnic-style communal tables with seasonal beer from a self-serve bottomless tap. Small plates from $9; large plates from $22.
Dish to Try: Crispy quail adobo with Szechuan peppercorn, coconut vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, crispy garlic scallion, and soft boil quail egg.
Center Bar, Time Warner Center
Porter House's executive chef Michael Lomonaco helms the new Center Bar, which is, well, front and center. On the fourth floor of Time Warner Center, Center Bar overlooks the lobby and the 90-foot, glass-wall entrance for views of Columbus Circle. This new lounge is also home to a baby grand piano straight from Baldwin Studios that many famous musicians (including Steven Tyler from Aerosmith) have played on. The main attraction, though, is Michael Lomonaco's small plates like braised Berkshire Pork Belly with pistachio nuts, aged port, and endive salad or charred-American Wagyu-beef sashimi. Pair plates with a glass from the curated wine selection or carefully crafted cocktails—like the Kings Old Fashioned with Elijah Craig 12-year Bourbon, Kingston sugar cubes, and Harvest song walnut. Plates from $11.
Dish to Try: Slow-roasted halibut with Berber spice dust and sweet yellow lentils
Tribeca Canvas, Tribeca
Masaharu Morimoto may be known for his time on Iron Chef and Iron Chef America (and, of course, his signature restaurant Morimoto) but his biggest feat will be creating dishes outside his comfort zone. At Tribeca Canvas, Morimoto will craft a bistro-style menu showcasing his unique take on Western comfort foods. Expect an innovative spin to classics like Mac n' Cheese. The restaurant will pay homage to Tribeca with a nod to the neighborhood's origin as a green parkway as well as its flourishing art scene. Opening this month. Average $60 per person for 3 courses and cocktail.
Dish to Try: Chicken Pot Pie
The Nook at Red Rooster, Harlem
Last month inside the Red Rooster, Marcus Samuelsson opened The Nook, a pocket-sized space in the restaurant near the entrance that sells specialty savory items—like the Chickety Split, a fried chicken thigh served on a biscuit with sweet chili mayo and Haitian pikliz—as well as sweets created by Red Rooster's pastry chef Deborah Racicot, whose resume lists Gramercy Tavern, Aquavit, and Gotham Bar and Grill. The idea of the Nook is to serve neighborhood locals quick and affordable bites (yes, people are time crunched up in Harlem, too). For tourists who can't quite navigate around Harlem, the Nook will also serve as a concierge, providing information on neighborhood cultural institutions, subways, and history and events. Sandwiches from $7, sweets from $1.50.
Dish to Try: "A" Train Special, a curry-spiced oatmeal blueberry cookie with a light cream cheese filling.
Manzanilla, Gramercy Park
First, let's talk about design. The new Manzanilla will be in the hands of award-winning Meyer Davis Studios architectural design firm, so expect decor to reflect rich Andalusian aesthetics—herringbone-patterned concrete tile floor, 13-foot wood-clad ceilings—while retaining the feel of a brasserie. A collaboration between restaurateur Yann de Rochefort (owner of Boqueria) and chef Dani Garcia of Spain's two-Michelin Marbella in Spain, Manzanilla will offer a contemporary take on Spanish cuisine (with tapas, raw bar, salads, and grill) including numerous cuts of fresh Iberico pork. Vegetarians will love the tomato tartare of house-cured tomatoes, tomato caviar, yogurt citrus dressing, and baby leaf spinach). Appetizers average $12-15. Opening in December.
Dish to Try: Glazed black cod with pil-pil and caramelized piquillo peppers.
Jimmy Im is a freelance travel writer based in NYC. He's hosted programs on the Travel Channel and LOGO, and makes regular appearances on morning news shows as a "travel expert." He teaches travel writing courses and is also cofounder of OutEscapes.com. Follow him on Twitter @dieselmad.
Photo Credits: Pig and Khao, Lower East Side: Courtesy of Pig and Khao; Center Bar, Time Warner Center: Courtesy of Center Bar; Tribeca Canvas, Tribeca: Courtesy of Tribeca Canvas; The Nook at Red Rooster, Harlem: Courtesy of Red Rooster; Manzanilla, Gramercy Park: Courtesy of Manzanilla