In theory, trying new restaurants is always fun. But during a polar vortex, trekking to a subpar space three neighborhoods away isn’t as appetizing as Postmating ramen and watching Frozen (the 2010 horror film where three skiers get stuck on a chairlift and then ripped apart by wolves. Wait, which one are you thinking of?).
In short, a winter restaurant needs to be, well, worth it. Like a Latin-American raw food restaurant with a pulsating club downstairs. Or a cozy East Village space serving Rhode Island style pizza (yes, it’s a thing). Below, the buzziest openings and hottest hotspots worth braving snow and sleet for.
Gitano Jungle Room 23 Grand St
The famed Tulum hotspot hit New York this summer with a pop-up in Hudson Square, and this winter, it’s found a permanent home at the James Hotel in SoHo. As the name suggests, the dimly-lit space is jungle-themed, with so many leafy palms that they encroach on the tables. The food is fun and served family style (get the guacamole, itself a work of art, and the duck tacos) while the drinks are perfect for a girls’ night out. Which doesn’t need to stop at the restaurant, by the way. The bar area develops more a clubby vibe as the evening goes on, with pretty young things swaying under the disco ball.
Her Name Was Carmen 527 Broome St
From Thatcher Schulz, the man behind The Garrett, and Andres Diaz, comes Her Name Was Carmen, a Latin-American restaurant with an all-raw menu by Le Bernadin alum Ben Hammou. The decor is bright and eclectic—there’s a mural of a man with a pineapple head—the vibe buzzy and bistro-like. There’s also a lounge downstairs with hot pink walls and DJ who plays late into the night.
Wayan 20 Spring Street
Although not open until February 8, Wayan made a splash when it hosted a Chinese New Year’s Dinner for Prabal Gurung, Laura Kim, Tina Leong, Ezra Williams, and a whole crowd of New York cool kids. Williams, along with Ochi Vongerichten and chef Cedric Vongeritchten, have come up with a dual-culture concept: a French-Indonesian restaurant serving a seasonal, local-ingredient inspired menu.
The David Rockwell-designed space, filled with wood tables, stones, and plenty of plants, creates a cool yet inviting ambiance. And with an opening during New York Fashion Week, expect a stylish crowd to settle right in.
L’Avenue Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Avenue
Saks Fifth Avenue revamps the retail restaurant concept with L’Avenue, the American outpost of the famed French restaurant in Paris’s 8th arrondissement. Designed by Philippe Starck, the two-story destination includes a bar and ski-chalet themed lounge in addition to the restaurant. There are two entrances: one, through the department store, and a second on 50th Street.
Oxalis 791 Washington Ave
After stints at Daniel and Mirazur, chef Nico Russell has his own spot in Prospect Heights. Its five-course tasting menu, with dishes like house-made brioche and crispy pig trotters with mustard, is surprisingly affordable and unpretentious. And as the non-alcoholic cocktail movement grows, make sure to sample Oxalis’s menu of housemade sodas, sustainably made with kitchen extras like parsley and jasmine.
Violet 511 East 5th St
The founders of Emily and Emmy Squared have a new Manhattan outpost in the East Village. But rather than serving Detroit-style pies like their Williamsburg and West Village locations, Violet focuses on grilled Rhode Island pizzas. Some examples? “Dune Duck,” with clams, hoisin, duck prosciutto, crispy leeks, and “Beech vibes,” with tahini duxelles, thyme, hon shimeji, caramelized onions, and Truffleist salt. And yes, you also cut them with scissors.
Dear Irving on Hudson 310 West 40th St
The question of where to grab a drink pre-or-post theatre has long plagued chic urbanites. Now, there’s another name to add to that woefully-short list: Dear Irving on Hudson, perched on top of the Aliz Hotel. The views of the city are sky-high sprawling, and the drinks and dishes equally elevated.
Only one floor is open at the moment, and it’s designed to feel like a modish club straight out of the 1960s. Come March, an additional floor is set to open, adorned with Art Deco-inspired decor.
Rose Bar Sessions at The Rose Bar Gramercy Park Hotel, 2 Lexington Ave
The Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel has been a fashionable watering hole for years. However, this February, they’re mixing it up with the relaunch of Rose Bar Sessions, an intimate performance experience. (Think Café Carlyle, but for the millennial set.) First up? Rainsford, followed by DJ sets by Xenia Ghali and That Girl Ne’.