Fall may be the beginning of cold weather, but it's when the food scene heats up. From celebrity chefs to intriguing concepts, here are the restaurants to watch.
The Tao Group is known for over-the-top Asian clubstaurants in Midtown, and while their latest project certainly has the sprawling square footage, the concept is downright restrained. You’ll feel a world away from Manhattan inside Avra Madison, the second edition of the successful Greek eatery Avra Estiatorio. The 17,000-square-foot restaurant with two levels and seats for 200 will have indoor lemon trees, a massive skylight and a fountain, lending an air of dining in Dionysus’ backyard. The Mediterranean classics are still accounted for, but they just couldn’t resist supplementing the fish options with some raw, Japanese-style takes. Opens Sept. 9, 14 E. 60th St., Upper East Side
The eagerly awaited expansion
Maybe the lines for Black Tap’s outrageous milkshakes (and their burgers aren’t too shabby, either) will be only half as long when it expands to The Blakely hotel this fall. (That would still be an hour, so.) Chef Joe Isidori and Chris Barish are building on their success with some more outre burgers, like a California-style turkey burger and a Mexican variety made with chorizo. Oh, and there will also be two new milkshakes, Sour Power and Brooklyn Blackout, so maybe don’t count on that line situation improving after all. October, 136 W. 55th St., Midtown
Rethinking a classic sandwich
The house that biscuits built has its eye on a new genre. Perpetual Upper West Side mob scene Jacob’s Pickles is expanding into the French Dip category with the goal of “elevating the glory and glamour of that old gem” at Maison Pickle. Many details from former tenant Ouest will remain, and the bar will mix an expansive cocktail menu. September, 2315 Broadway, Upper West Side
A fusion you haven’t seen
Japanese food seems to be riding an endless wave of popularity, from okonomiyaki to ramen to intriguing fusions. Of the latter, the upcoming Sen Sakana might just be the most unusual, blending Peruvian influences into traditional Japanese cuisine (and decor!). The 190-seat restaurant is named for the 1,000 fish said to swim the ocean between the two countries — Peru has a contingent of Japanese immigrants from the early 1900s, and the cuisines will meld in dishes like causa onigiri, a potato-based take on the Japanese rice ball with aji amarillo chiles, and chicken karaage, which is fried in toasted quinoa. September, 28 W. 44th St., Chelsea
Finally, a kitchen of his own
The chef who dazzled us with vegetable-forward fare at ABC Kitchen and Cocina is going solo. Dan Kluger will open his own restaurant, as yet unnamed, serving shareable seasonal American plates that highlight the farmers and producers he’s come to know from a lifetime of working in NYC’s kitchens. Expect bold, layered dishes, much of it coming out of a wood-burning grill. And for the aesthetes, the restaurant was designed by Cycle Architecture + Planning, who provided the clean lines and retro vibes at Williamsburg’s Lilia. September/October, 21 W. Eighth St., Greenwich Village
Who needs seats?
Ikinari Steak lacks what is traditionally essential to restaurants: seating. The Japanese steakhouse’s first location opened in December 2013 and now has 100 locations, so patrons don’t seem to mind the setup. The meat is high quality but meant to be enjoyed “quickly and economically,” so no lingering over your one of three kinds of steak (ribeye, sirloin, filet) served with a side of corn (the done thing in Asia). “It’s a fun, interactive, communal, and brand-new experience for New Yorkers!” according to the cheerful press release — we’ll see about that. November, 90 E. 10th St., East Village
Wait, he doesn’t have a restaurant here yet?
The closest that Wolfgang Puck has gotten to the city is a quick-service spot inside John F. Kennedy Airport, and that doesn’t quite count. The celebrity chef is bringing his Cut steakhouse to downtown’s new Four Seasons hotel. It will be open all day, begging the intriguing premise: What does a steakhouse serve for breakfast? Also expect Cut franchise classics like bone marrow flan and Japanese and American Wagyu beef. September, 99 Church St., Lower Manhattan
Nightlife gets a revamp
Quality Branded has already managed to reinvent the most tired of NYC restaurants, the steakhouse, with Quality Eats. For their next trick, they’re out for nightlife with Squares, a new nightclub rooted in society culture and meshed with the “let’s just do what we like” ethos of the hospitality group — i.e., there will be marble busts and stag heads as part of the decor. Former Clover Clubber Bryan Schneider is in charge of the drinks, and expect big-name musical guests to grace the stage. September, 360 Park Ave. S., NoMad
The new Cheers
Food Network’s Anne Burrell is coming to Brooklyn with possibly the best-named restaurant ever: Phil & Anne’s Good Time Lounge. This laid-back joint gets its rock-influenced decor from Burrell’s “cook like a rockstar” motto and is meant to be as comfortable as kicking it in your living room. A long bar is made for schmoozing, or watch the action in the open kitchen turning out Mediterranean-style apps like stracchino pizzetta and a brined pork chop. September, 196 Smith St., Cobble Hill
The next wave of vegan desserts
It’s been barely more than a year since Chloe Coscarelli and Samantha Wasser's fast-casual vegan spot By Chloe took over our lunch routines (and Instagram). This month, they're set to open Sweets By Chloe next door to the original restaurant, serving cupcakes, cookies, cakes, pies and anything else that’s made more delicious by baking. September, 185 Bleecker St., Greenwich Village