Restaurant openings in NYC: Gringo's Tacos, Butcher & Banker, Tetsu and more

Gringo's on Staten Island serves Mexican favorites like house-made guacamole and margaritas. / Gringo's Taco Arcade

Craving something new? We've got you covered.

Whether you are just in need of a change, looking for your new neighborhood spot, or want to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to the next big restaurant trend, the city is always delivering with new food destinations.

Here's a look at some recent openings that offer a little variety for your dining life.

advertisement

THE CHEAP(ER) EATS

Vote for Pedro: A new sports and tequila bar in midtown East has taken its name from the cult-favorite 2004 comedy “Napoleon Dynamite.” On the menu are such classic Mexican street foods as chorizo and carnitas (stewed pork) tacos, as well as dishes that blend traditional Mexican cuisine with American bar bites: a crispy “Gringo” taco ($4.25) stuffed with Sloppy Joe filling; chipotle barbecue wings with a cotija cheese dip ($9) and a “mac ’n’ cheese queso fundido” with a crust made from Doritos ($8). To drinks, there’s tequila, naturally, mezcals, Mexican beers, frozen margaritas and seasonal craft cocktails. As for the setting, TVs to screen all kinds of sporting events, Dia de los Muertos memorabilia and Americana antiques set the mood. 231 E. 53rd St.; opened mid-October; voteforpedronyc.com

Minigrow: Created by the Philly-based creators of the healthy fast-casual chain honeygrow, this new “fast gourmet” brand is launching out of a location in midtown Manhattan. The Asian-focused menu lets customers assemble their own Japanese mazemen noodle, rice or salad bowls with warm sauces (like red miso or green curry lemongrass), cold dressings, protein options (such as slow-roasted pork shoulder and crab) and a wide selection of toppings and garnishes (from pickled carrots to slow-cooked tomatoes to nori). The signature dish is Chef David Katz’s “Chicken Jawn” noodle bowl ($13), the name of which is inspired by that mysterious noun Philadelphians use to describe any number of objects. To wash everything down, there’s cold-pressed juices and for your sweet tooth, artisanal chocolate bars. The mostly white space with tiled walls and wooden stools showcases a graphic mural by two Brooklyn-based artists. 285 Madison Ave.; opened Oct. 30; minigrow.com

Pasta Flyer: Former Del Posto executive chef Mark Ladner is charging between $7 and $8 for his fast-food pasta plates at a former Chipotle location in Greenwich Village. To complement a plate of fusilli with basil pesto sauce or gluten-free penne with marinara sauce — prepared in roughly 30 seconds — order spicy broccoli rabe with fresh ricotta cheese ($2.50) or garlic "dots" made from choux pastry and smothered in garlic butter. The $9.99 meal deal “Nonna Loves You” comes with a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, a side salad and fountain soda. You'll find beer and wine here, too, all in a setting that takes its UFO theme quite seriously. 510 Sixth Ave.; opened Oct. 30; pastaflyer.com

Gringo’s Tacos: In between plates of pork belly tacos or rounds of frozen margaritas, you can play some Donkey Kong at the second outpost of this combination taqueria and arcade, located at Staten Island’s Urby development on the Stapleton waterfront. On the food lineup, there are playful takes on Mexican fare, such as grilled corn esquites ($6), chorizo-and-cheese-stuffed jalapeños ($8) and plenty of meat, fish and vegan tacos ($8-$18). To drink, get a Tulum Punch ($12) for yourself, or share with friends ($48). And as for the arcade, busy yourself with 1980s video game classics like Mario Bros., or try your hand at Skee-Ball and shuffleboard. 24 Navy Pier Court, Staten Island; opened Nov. 18; gringostaco.com

THE WEEKNIGHT GO-TOS

Bar Gonzo: McKittrick hotel alum R.L. King has opened a two-level lounge and restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen channeling all kinds of inspirations, from the bright, flashy colors of 1970s nightlife to coastal California vibes. The Mediterranean-inflected menu features takes on childhood staples, such as the Latch Key Kid Pizza ($12 to $15), a play on frozen French bread pizza. Upstairs is a cold kitchen stocked with meats and cheeses, a raw bar, and a counter serving $15 tiki cocktails and punches. (It resembles a rum shack you might come across on a Caribbean beach, with wooden structures and paneling.) For entertainment, King is planning to bring in all kinds of performers, from fire-breathers to steel reggae bands. 511 Ninth Ave.; opened Nov. 9; bargonzonyc.com

The East Pole Fish Bar: Tom and Anthony Martignetti, the restaurateurs behind the East Pole, have expanded that eatery with a second, smaller outpost focused on seafood. The restaurant’s one meat dish is a strip steak; otherwise, it’s a raw bar and dishes like fried oyster sliders, grilled striped bass and roasted corn and clam chowder. There will also be a weekly special of a whole local fish served with two sides. Order from a wine list that includes sparkling varieties, natural whites and orange wines. The restaurant’s nautical theme is accentuated with teak wood tables, brass shelving and navy blue lacquered walls. 964 Lexington Ave.; opened Oct. 26; 646-870-9007

Tetsu: Michelin three-star sushi master Masayoshi “Masa” Takayami has opened a casual Japanese grill house serving the comfort foods he says he likes to eat in TriBeCa. At Tetsu, which means “iron” in Japanese, the focus is on skewers slow-cooked over a Japanese-style robata grill (priced from $5 to $18 a stick). On the menu you’ll also find a house burger (grilled in a spiky cast-iron device of Takayami’s own design), fried selections like a calamari cocktail ($12), sushi and noodles. Wash down your meal with some Japanese sake or a Soju thai basil cocktail ($16), and take in the scenery: Tetsu is housed in a landmarked loft building dated from 1865, and the multilevel restaurant showcases the structure’s original cast-iron framework, as well as some impressive Corinthian columns. 78 Leonard St.; opened Nov. 14; tetsunyc.com

Charc: Michelin-starred chef Danny Brown has turned his X-Bar Bistro on the Upper East Side into a 25-seat wine bar offering a modern French menu of cured meats (everything from house-made foie gras to 'nduja, a spreadable spicy pork salami), cheeses, shareable plates and sandwiches. Plates include a rigatoni prepared with the ndjua, broccoli rabe, Calabrian chili and pecorino sardo ($15) and beets with carrots, quinoa, hazelnuts and black olive-caraway yogurt ($13). Sandwiches like the $13 Cold Gin, with smoked turkey, cucumber-shiso relish and juniper mayo, served on sourdough, get pretty creative. Wines hail from Europe, but cocktails such as the “Scorpion Bowl” for two ($30), a blend of rum, vodka, gin and pineapple juice are definitely of the American bartending school. 316 E. 84th St.; opened Nov. 8; charcnyc.com

Wokuni: Tokyo Ichiban Foods, which owns and operates 50 restaurants in Japan, is putting its stamp on the United States with its first American outpost in Murray Hill. The company is flying seafood directly from its aquafarm in Nagasaki to Wokuni, where you can order it fried in tempura, grilled on a skewer (this method of preparation is called “kushiyaki” on the menu), or prepared as sushi or sashimi. Prices are a little higher than your average sushi joint, topping out at $39 for a plate of five types of sashimi. The high-ceilinged space sets a somber mood with dark walls and booths. 325 Lexington Ave.; opened Oct. 18; wokuninyc.com

THE WEEKEND SPLURGES

Butcher & Banker: Cleverly billed as a “steakeasy,” this steakhouse is located in a former bank vault beneath the New Yorker Hotel. (The designers have left a wall of original safe deposit boxes intact amid Art Deco details, so go ahead and pretend you’re plotting a robbery while chewing your way through a tomahawk ribsteak or a cowboy bone-in rib eye.) If you’re looking for a showstopping dish, order the massive Kan-Kan Pork for two ($82), an arch of double loin chops, belly and cracklings served with caramelized apples and an apple cider reduction. Chef Scott Campbell, an alum of Le Cirque and the original Union Square Café, is also cooking up red meat alternatives like a five-spice duck steak ($32), and sea scallops with foie gras and Cabernet-shallot risotto ($34). Get a buzz going with cocktails by the founder of the New York Distilling Company and a 100-bottle wine list. 481 Eighth Ave.; opened Nov. 15; butcherandbankernyc.com

The Lobster Club: This third and final restaurant from the Major Food Group to open in the Seagram Building is run by chef Tasuku Murakami, formerly of the Michelin-starred sushi restaurant Sushi Azabu. The Japanese brasserie was designed to transport diners back to the 50s, 60s and 70s, restaurateur Jeff Zalaznick told Eater NY, with brightly colored seating and a Jackson Pollock-esque splatter-paint floor. The food isn’t just sushi and it’s not entirely Japanese either: One section of the menu is dedicated to teppanyaki-style cuisine, which uses an iron griddle to prepare meats like filet mignon and whole lobsters, but another features a Chinese-style dumpling. Unlike the notoriously expensive The Grill and The Pool upstairs, diners can choose to snack on a single sushi roll for no more than $20, or they can settle down for a larger, more expensive meal. 98 E. 53rd St.; opened Nov. 10; thelobsterclub.com

Celestine: Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill isn't DUMBO's only buzzy opening anymore. Celestine is a new concept from Joe Campanale and Grand Army Bar’s Julian Brizzi and Noah Bernamoff. Located on the ground floor of the Brooklyn Bridge Park residential building 1 John St., the eatery boasts waterfront views of the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges and lower Manhattan. Pair that view with selections from executive chef Garett McMahan’s eastern Mediterranean-inspired menu, from mezze such as baked hummus ($5) and house-made yogurt ($6) to starters such as grilled delicata squash with kataif ($15) and braised rabbit kugel ($16). Many of the entrees, from the cod ($30) to the lamb for two ($52), are cooked on a wood-burning grill. Campanale oversees the wine, while Grand Army Bar’s Kevin Baird provides original cocktails. 1 John St., Brooklyn; opened Oct. 12; celestinebk.com

Eden Local: “Eat no evil” is the slogan at this farm-to-table restaurant inside the new Cachet Boutique NYC hotel. Internationally renowned chef and restaurateur David Laris has drawn on his interest in healthy living and his worldwide travels to design a menu of small plates like flaky smoked salmon salad, with salt-roasted potatoes, creme fraiche, pine nuts, za’atar and guajillo chili ($15) and sprouted lentil falafel ($10); larger ones like vegan kabocha gnocchi ($22) and grilled rib-eye with fairytale eggplant, shallots, wild chanterelle and sprouts ($28); and desserts like pecan pie with a coconut whole wheat crust and buttermilk panna cotta with concord grape gelee and granola ($9). To drink, there are $15 “nature-inspired” cocktails and a wide selection of wines. Earthy-toned décor and real plants evoke a garden setting. 510 W. 42nd St.; opened Oct. 26; cachetboutiquenyc.com/eden

Dons Bogam Black: At this upscale Korean steakhouse, the sister restaurant of the Korean BBQ spot Dons Bogam, your meat is cooked tableside on mobile, high-tech carts that eliminate any smoke. The menu of Korean specialties include not only barbecue, but japchae (stir-fried glass noodles), savory pancakes and bibimbap. At the 40-seat bar or in the 200-seat dining room, where the dominant color is (obviously) black, order an Asian beer, a cocktail prepared with an Asian spirit, or artisanal Korean soju. Dinner will set you back anywhere from $15 to $95, and drinks vary in price from $12.95 to $29.95. 276 Fifth Ave.; opened early November; donsbogamblack.com/