Each week, Grub Street surveys the entire restaurant landscape of New York, crunches the numbers, and comes up with this: a list of the most-talked-about, must-visit places in the city. They might be new, or they could be older places that have gotten a recent jolt of buzz. No matter what, these are the restaurants where you should make a point to eat sooner rather than later.
1. The Nomad Bar (Last week: 1)
Just a few weeks after it opened, the latest spot from Daniel Humm and Will Guidara seems to be humming right along. The drinks are excellent, the pub-inspired food is as refined as you’d expect from a chef like Humm (start with the Scotch olives; don’t miss the hot dog), and if you get a seat upstairs away from the fray at the bar, all will be right with your evening.
2. Ivan Ramen (9)
Ryan Sutton loves Ivan Orkin’s LES spot, and the praise is well deserved. Since opening last month, it has quickly become one of the most dependably excellent places in town. That the wait times are so short and the prices are so gentle only adds to the appeal.
3. Union Square Cafe (Off last week)
Danny Meyer’s flagship still has about a year and a half of life left, but the announcement this week that it will eventually close still sent reverberations around the city’s dining scene. In truth, the place is probably due for a revamp anyway, but if you haven’t been in a while, you should drop in and pay your respects.
4. Bâtard (2)
The new Tribeca restaurant from Drew Nieporent and chef Marcus Glocker is starting to attract a serious fan base. Oh, and hey, did you know Glocker will whip up some schnitzel for you if you ask?
5. Claudette (3)
It seems the Rosemary’s team has another huge hit on their hands with this Provençal spot in the former Cru space. If you can snag a table, get a bottle of rosé, some whole-roasted dourade, and truffle hummus (which is better than it sounds).
6. Cherche Midi (4)
Real talk: Keith McNally’s new restaurant looks just like his other restaurants, and not all of the food is entirely spot-on. That said, both the burger and the massive $48 hunk of prime rib are seriously appealing beef, and that’s good enough for us. (Top-notch cocktails don’t hurt, either.)
7. Decoy (5)
What do you need to know about Ed Schoenfeld’s new-ish restaurant under the original RedFarm? It specializes in whole-duck feasts. There are sides, but if the phrase "whole duck feasts" isn’t enough for you, Grub humbly suggests reexamining your priorities.
8. Bar Primi (6)
It’s not like Andrew Carmellini or chef Sal Lamboglia are pioneering some newfangled cuisine at their Bowery spot — it’s a pasta restaurant, plain and simple. But it is a very well-done pasta shop with some really outstanding food, and that’s all before you order the city’s very best tiramisu for dessert.
9. Meat Hook Sandwich Shop (10)
Tom Mylan’s Meat Hook sandwich expansion is now open, and it’s on its way to becoming a major player in the city’s sandwich scene. Reports back are unanimous raves, basically. And seriously, just look at these beauties.
10. Barchetta (7)
Plenty of people love Esca chef Dave Pasternack’s new Chelsea spot. Makes sense: With a menu full of crudi, pasta, and simple entrées, Pasternack — one of New York’s most talented chefs — is firmly in his wheelhouse.
11. Meadowsweet (17)
In Williamsburg, the former Dressler space has an appropriate new tenant: Former Dressler chef Polo Dobkin, who has opened this comfortable, casual space. The menu’s firmly set to crowd-pleasing mode with things like handmade pastas, dry-aged strip loins, and Mediterranean touches throughout. This could quickly become a Williamsburg staple.
12. Russ & Daughters Café (12)
The New Yorker’s Hannah Goldfield is truly smitten with this offshoot of the classic appetizing icon, calling it "a master class in how to court both the old and the new, imbued with a hard-earned air of authority and gorgeously designed to pay detailed homage to Russ & Daughters’ history and to the mid-century soda fountain."
13. Bar Chuko (15)
Chuko, the popular Prospect Heights ramen bar, has given way to this across-the-street izakaya spinoff, which just opened. If the success of the original is anything to go on — and in situations like this, it is — expect the new spot to become another neighborhood favorite.
14. Gato (11)
The big question surrounding Bobby Flay’s Lafayette restaurant is whether his staff will be able to keep it feeling like a spot for New Yorkers once the tourists really descend. (The ones that haven’t already, anyway.) So far, Flay’s handled this opening as well as anyone could have imagined, so maybe there’s no reason to think he can’t keep the place on everyone’s restaurant radar.
16. Emily (14)
This upscale pizza place has its own small army of devotees, thanks to excellent pies and the ever-popular roster of seasonal dishes to go along with them.
17. Cafe Noir (New this week)
The casual, everyday Tribeca spot is open again after a move and renovation. It’s dinner-only at the moment (lunch and brunch are currently in the works, though), and chef Rebecca Weitzman’s menu includes plenty of cheeses and cured meats, as well as Island Creek oysters, boar meatballs, and a weekend rib eye steak-frites special for a relatively reasonable $39.
18. Navy (19)
The quasi-nautical Soho seafood restaurant continues to draw crowds, thanks to its handsome design and laid-back yet ever-so-slightly elevated food. It nails the casual-scene vibe that tends to keep restaurants popular for the long haul.
19. Root & Bone (New this week)
First off, Grub would like to give Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth credit for the slyly vulgar name at their new East Village spot, which opens early next week. The Southern menu, and the chefs’ previous success at Yardbird in Miami, will be enough to get people in the door, and if the cooking can manage to stand apart from the city’s other Dixie-influenced places — if anything, the chicken should be killer — this could become a neighborhood favorite.
20. Il Mulino Prime (New this week)
The famed Italian brand has opened a small bistecca emporium on West Broadway, specializing in all the high-end seafood, pasta, and meat preparations you’d expect. It could give Cipriani’s downtown outpost a run for its money and, hey, if you can’t make it out to the Hamptons this weekend, stopping here will probably feel like the next best thing.