We all made a lot of promises. We texted "Let's grab a meal when this is all over" to more people than we could count over the past year, and now it's time to grab those meals and see those friends or acquaintances we mostly ignored all through the pandemic.
While there is a thrill to visiting our favorite old haunts from the before-times, dining in New York City has always been about trying the best new spots. Still, between al fresco dining and long wait times, it can be hard to know which places are worth braving the elements, which can make it easier to opt for the tried and true.
But as the city gets vaccinated and begins to lift restrictions, restaurants can thrive again, and finding new favorites will be easier than ever.
Although so many restaurants in New York City pulled down their shutters for the last time, including some iconic institutions and neighborhood favorites, some new business owners have embraced the new energy of the city.
Here are some of the best new restaurants to try in New York for summer 2021:
One of the major restaurants which closed during the pandemic was Uncle Boons, which had often been called the best Thai restaurant in Manhattan. But since part of the Uncle Boons' charm was its intimate indoor experience, when indoor seating shut down, it struggled to keep up. Now, though, Uncle Boons loyalists can rest easy knowing the creators of the iconic restaurant just opened up Thai Diner, a more casual answer to its gone-but-not-forgotten sister restaurant.
Thai Diner combines the Thai dishes patrons love with an American diner influence, serving dishes like "Thai tea french toast" and a BEC on roti.
Milu opened in late 2020 to rave reviews and it's still going strong. Though your neighborhood takeout Chinese probably still hits the spot, Milu was started by chef Connie Chung who wanted to create a restaurant that celebrated traditional Chinese homestyle cooking.
Milu serves an intentionally crafted menu that blends tradition with playfulness. And the casual, counter service style makes it ideal for both carryout or a sit down meal.
New York is known for a lot of things, but its Mexican restaurants aren't usually at the top of the list. However, you can't go wrong at Yellow Rose, a Tex-Mex restaurant started by two Texans who first opened up the space as a pop-up and have now opened their first brick-and-mortar in the East Village.
The place is known for their homemade tortillas, which make up the base of many of their dishes. For the perfect comfort food and a replacement for you reluctant stops at Tacombi, this should be your go-to.
The Migrant Kitchen
The Migrant Kitchen recently moved from a pop-up in Brooklyn to a brick-and-mortar in Manhattan, and loyal patrons will not be disappointed. It serves Middle Eastern Latin Fusion food and was started by two close friends, both immigrants, who wanted to create inventive dishes while giving back to the community.
The Migrant Kitchen is focused on creating employment opportunities for immigrants while also donating to food insecure New Yorkers. For every $12 spent, The Migrant Kitchen donates a meal — which is usually about 60,000 meals a week to communities in need.
Fan Fan Doughnuts
Calling anyone with a sweet tooth: remember afternoons on the High Line, tourists and locals alike joyfully taking Instagrams of the skyline or that "You May Encounter Nude Sunbathers Sign," and stopping for a popsicle from the La Newyorkina stand? The inimitable Chef Fany Gerson, creator of those famous popsicles, has opened a doughnut shop in Brooklyn.
Recapture the magic of those sugar and sun filled afternoons by ordering from Fan Fan Doughnuts, a more than adequate replacement for (or addition to?) the free Krispy Kreme donuts you can get if vaxxed. The menu is inventive without being overindulgent — gone are the days of over-the top sugar monstrosities, and here is the era of actual, complex flavors.
The standout menu item: the self-named Fan-Fan Doughnut, a combination of a Long John and an eclair filled with guava and cheese that would make a cronut jealous.