Opening restaurants in New York City is a crazy, crazy game. Between the ebb and flow of trends, insane real-estate competition, and the fickle appetites of diners, the food scene in constant flux. You can either spend your time (and cash) chasing the next great meal, or you can say screw it and stick with the solid chicken sandwich at the dependable bistro down the block. Either move is a totally reasonable.

Just look at our favorite restaurants from last year: For all the places that are still thriving and raising the bar (Perla, Pok Pok NY, Mission Chinese), there are a handful that have lost their way (The Pines, Neta)—often, but not always, because they lost the chefs who gave them their creative edge. Even some places that were looking strong midway through 2013 have either fallen off, or been trumped by new kids on the block.

But hey—not all great restaurants in NYC were meant to be timeless. A good run at a young restaurant can be a great thing to witness, as can the makings of the next New York classic. Realistically, some of the places on this list may be on a hot streak that won’t last; other are destined to become stalwarts you’ll return to five, 10, and 15 years from now. But one thing’s certain: These are the 20 best new restaurants in NYC that you should be eating at right now.

Written by Chris Schonberger (@cschonberger), Erin Mosbaugh (@JayBlague), Khushbu Shah (@KhushAndOJ), Alia Akkam (@aliaakkam), Nick Schonberger (@nschon), Elyse Inamine (@elyseinamine), and Regan Hofmann (@regan_hofmann)