Attention, recently-graduated undergrads: School’s out forever, which means those long, boozy nights hanging out on College Avenue are over, and your exploration of adult nightlife has only just begun. Now, if I may, dollar beers and cheap cocktails are a delicacy in and of themselves, but there's so much more to socializing than loud music, high heels, and sticky floors. The best restaurants opening in summer of 2018 are calling your name, and that means you'll get to sip all the fancy new cocktails, have your pick from the most mouth-watering menus, and enjoy era-inspired decor like you wouldn’t believe. I really hope you’re as excited about eatery openings as I am because, rest assured, your foodie bucket list is about to grow exponentially, starting with warm weather season openings you, and your social feed, really can’t miss out on.
Trust me, I once thought the strip of bars 10 minutes from campus was the epitome of nightlife, too — and it is, when you’re college-bound with a social budget hovering in the teens (if that). As soon as you graduate, though, and kind of grow out of that wild, party life, your eyes open to this other realm of nighttime engagement that’s bursting with culture and beyond-delicious food (yes, there are better things in life than a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich at 1 a.m., I swear).
Of course, when you're new on the scene, it's not always easy to spot the coolest places, or get the most bang for your buck (spoiler: Life's about to get a tad bit pricier). To ease you into the nightlife of adulthood, here are a few restaurant openings you need to be aware of come summer 2018.
Chick-fil-A is always buzz-worthy (I mean, have you tasted the waffle fries?), but the restaurant's newest location on Fulton Street in New York City's Financial District, in particular, is going to be the "it" place to snack on tenders this summer. Why? Because this new brick-and-mortar is taking takeout to new heights — literally.
This location isn't just Chick-fil-A's newest addition to its chain stores; it's also the largest. Standing at five flights high, with a rooftop terrace for fine, fast dining, the franchise's new space can seat 140 customers comfortably. Don't worry about a wait, though; there's not one but two kitchens at your service, serving up those must-have chicken sandwiches from 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Zauo's bringing new meaning to the diddy, "if you teach a man to fish," because this summer, dinner's on you, and I'm not just talking monetarily.
So here's the scoop on Zauo: The Japanese restaurant is setting up shop in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood, and if you love a fresh catch, then you'll really get a kick out of how this restaurant operates. The interior is designed with massive boats, each with tables aligned at the sides. Each ship is surrounded by pools of fish, but these large ponds aren't for show; you eat what you catch. If there were ever an epic time to boomerang, this would be it.
Now, don't get snooty. You're paying for the experience, as well as the restaurant's services. Whatever you catch, that's what's on your plate, but the chef cooks each dish to your exact specifications.
3. Rawsome Treats
Is anyone else as over-the-moon about the incredible progress the food industry has made in terms of vegan cuisine and baked goods as I am? Even if you're omnivorous, there's really no getting around the fact that veggie chefs know what they're doing, and Rawsome Treats founder Watt Sriboonruang is no exception.
As a self-proclaimed "health nut," Muay Thai competitor, and a vegan chef on top of it all, Sribooruang is fueled by plants, but also has a raging sweet tooth. Rawsome Treats, a dessert boutique now open in the lower east side of New York City, shares its wealth of decadent indulgences that are as healthy as they are delicious.
4. Mikkeller Brewing
Baseball season may only last a few months, but Mikkeller Brewing is expanding from its San Diego spot, and is now open on the East Coast year-round. Rest easy, though, because despite the bar and eatery being located in the midst of Citi Field, you don't have to be a Mets fan to enjoy this ballpark favorite.
Here's what's awesome about Mikkeller Brewing: Not only does this Danish spot carry fine, craft beers, there are a whopping 60 taps in rotation to choose from. The small menu is standard for sporting events, including hot dogs, burgers, cheesesteaks, and the like, but each item boasts huge flavor your taste buds won't forget.
5. Toast Society Cafe
If you thought avo toast was extra AF, Toast Society Cafe is about to show you up. The gourmet bread and spreads bar is opening in Las Vegas, Nevada, and was founded by none other than three best friends, including the ever-popular health and wellness guru Rachael DeVaux, whom you might recognize from her Insta-famous account, @rachaelsgoodeats.
The idea behind Toast Society Cafe — other than spicing up your social feed with fresh foodtography — is to offer you simple, feel-good food, carefully crafted by DeVaux, a registered dietitian who's able to recognize what's good for you, but also what's going to taste absolutely delicious.
6. The Woodstock
Ready for this blast from the past? If you love throwback decor or nods to other eras in general, The Woodstock is bound to be your new hangout spot this summer.
The interior design of this schmoozy cocktail and pizza joint was inspired by the '60s, and arranged to mirror what a house den would have looked like way back when. It's definitely what you'd consider a groovy aesthetic, decked out with lava lamps, a JFK campaign poster, and iconic pieces of art all over the walls.
And if you think the decor is clickbait enough, just wait until you get your hands on the booze. Specialty drinks are made by Soho House Group vet D'Arell Miller, and will only cost you about $10 a glass. Not only does the stuff taste out-of-this-world, but each cocktail is decorated to match the '60s decor. Now that's what I call groovy, baby.
7. The Rag Trader
Personally, I love a bar with a unique decor, especially when what's on tap is house-made. The Rag Trader is a vibrant brewery and restaurant inspired by the industrial age. The architecture pays homage to the original building — an old garment factory and tailor's office in New York.
As far as dining goes, The Rag Trader offers a wide range of eats from small plates to large entrées, bar snacks, and a rather large drink menu. It also boasts its own subterranean lounge known as the Bo Peep Cocktail & Highball Store. Here you'll find live entertainment, piano music, and its own deluxe menu of food and cocktails. It's a two-for-one special in one hot spot. The photo ops are endless, girl.