Best New Restaurants to Try in 2011

The New York City restaurant scene was as bustling as ever this past year, with exciting new locations opening their doors throughout the boroughs. Both established mainstays and adventurous new business owners braved the shaky market to showcase mouth-watering new fusions and well-honed takes on classic fare.

Check this list of Metrowize-approved newcomers for the best of the best of these new establishments, perfect for your next date night or friendly foodie gathering.

Northern Spy Food Co. (511 East 12th Street, Manhattan, 212-228-5100) is named after one of New York's classic heirloom apples. Owners Christophe Hille, Nathan Foot, and Chris Ronis offer seasonal food and drink using locally grown or produced ingredients in this small and inviting East Village restaurant. Its design incorporates repurposed materials such as reclaimed hickory board flooring, chicken coop retail cubbies, and dining room tables made from salvaged bowling alley lanes. Each Sunday night, Northern Spy offers a three-course menu for $24, which in the past has included dishes like braised pork shoulder chili, maple fried chicken & waffles, white wine & rosemary park stew, rabbit pot pie, and desserts such as roasted plum trifle and chocolate caramel cheese cake.

Seersucker (329 Smith Street, Brooklyn, 718-422-0444) is a 40-seat neighborhood joint in Carroll Gardens, inspired by the food and hospitality of the South. Chef/owner Robert Newton originally hails from Arkansas, and relies on small farms and independent purveyors for his childhood-inspired menu, which includes Southern favorites like chicken and dumplings, potato crusted pork belly, crispy Mississippi catfish, and shrimp and grits.

The Breslin in the Ace Hotel (16 W 29th Street, Manhattan, 212-679-1939) is the third project from Ken Friedman and chef April Bloomfield. In this classy gastropub, you'll find delectably fatty fare served up in generous portions such as seafood sausage with beurre blanc and chives, a char-grilled lamb burger with feta, cumin mayo, and thrice cooked chips, or pork belly and mash. Be forewarned that reservations are not accepted; parties often wait an hour to be seated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Zagat named Maialino (2 Lexington Avenue, Manhattan, 212-777-2410) NYC's "Best Newcomer" for its 2011 guide book. This Roman-style trattoria from Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group is located at the Gramercy Park Hotel, where executive chef Nick Anderer serves delicately upscale takes on European fare such as Coppa Croccante al Maialino (crispy suckling pig terrine & lentils) and Pesce Spada (swordfish, fennel fronds, and trumpet mushrooms).

Minetta Tavern (113 MacDougal Street, Manhattan, 212-475-3850) received a good amount of buzz this year specifically for its $26 Black Label Burger, one of the priciest options on this affordable menu, made from a selection of prime dry-aged beef cuts (the $16 Minetta Burger with cheddar and caramelized onions is a similarly-delicious, cheaper option). Original house cocktails like the Maple Leaf Sazerac, Kill-Devil Punch, and Rhubarb Sophie offer further opportunity for muscle-flexing from executive chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr and Keith McNally, also of Pravda, Balthazar, and Pastis fame.

Fatty 'Cue (91 South Sixth Street, Brooklyn, 718-599-3090) joins Southeast Asia flavor with American barbeque technique for smoky, funky fusion treats on the fringe of hipstery south Williamsburg. Their Heritage Pork Ribs were recently named one of Adam Platt’s 35 Best Pork Dishes in New York Magazine, and they also offer a special late night menu of appropriately salty snacks like Smoked Pork Shoulder Banh Mi and 'Cue Grilled Cheese with pickled long red chili, house smoked gruyere and mozzarella.

What were your favorite new restaurants of 2010? Tell us which hot spots we missed in the comments!