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: 2)
They've got killer burgers. Giant cocktails. Renowned limited-edition salads. A really outstanding hot-dog recipe. Chicken potpie that's on its way to becoming nationally famous. An entire menu section devoted to next-level clams. In other words, the new pub from the Nomad team has a lot working in its favor — which is also probably why it has some serious waits for a table, so you should consider going early or late if you stop in.
2. Bâtard (3)
This week, Adam Platt checked out Drew Neiporent and chef Markus Glocker's upscale Tribeca spot, and he liked it quite a bit: a comfortable room and a reasonably priced menu with "a certain refreshing unpretentiousness."
3. élan (1)
David Waltuck is back with his new restaurant on 20th Street. There is seafood sausage (of course), sweetbreads with General Tso's sauce, a casual vibe, and a ton of goodwill for a chef whom New York has missed over the last few years.
4. Bar Sardine (New this week)
Tonight, Gabe Stulman and chef Mehdi Brunet-Benkritly will open their new iteration of the restaurant formerly known as Chez Sardine. As the new name suggests, the focus is on the drinks, and the food is all pub appropriate: cod fritters, grilled cheese with eggplant tapenade and beer mustard, a selection of oysters, and a top-shelf burger that rings in at a sensible $10.
5. Wilma Jean and Nightingale 9 (5)
Rob Newton and Kerry Diamond's reshuffling of their Smith Street restaurants is complete now, with the Vietnamese restaurant Nightingale 9 moving into the Seersucker space, and a Southern Seersucker-ish restaurant dishing up fried bologna just up the street. The revamps mean you should stop into at least one, and preferably both, soon.
6. Corkbuzz (Chelsea) (New this week)
Chef Missy Robbins, late of A Voce, helped put together the menu for the newest location of Corkbuzz, which opens this week in Chelsea Market. But then, the real draw remains Laura Maniec's stellar wine list and the staff's helpful guidance.
7. Cherche Midi (4)
Keith McNally's Bowery restaurant is like a greatest-hits compilation, pulling together the best parts from his various other restaurants and re-assembling them into a comforting package that's simultaneously new and familiar.
8. Ivan Ramen (6)
Last week, the Platt family discovered all the wondrous glories of Ivan Orkin's LES noodle shop, loving pretty much everything they tried. And it's true: You really can't go wrong with anything on the menu.
9. Bar Primi (10)
If you can swing it, sit upstairs at this Bowery pasta spot, where the tempo is a little less hectic and you can properly appreciate the food coming from chef Sal Lambolia's kitchen. Ryan Sutton recommends the lamb amatriciana, a proposition that Grub Street seconds, and the bountiful roast-beef sandwich is another strong option.
10. Grand Banks (8)
Don't you want to be eating oysters and drinking cocktails on a boat? Of course you do, and this brand-new spot, docked in the Hudson near Tribeca, is the place to do it.
11. John Dory Oyster Bar (Off last week)
Oh, speaking of oysters, April Bloomfield's seafood spot is an excellent place to stop in and try all of the excellent summer oysters that she recommended to Grub Street earlier this week — a strong move for a little pre-dinner stop.
12. Claudette (14)
Carlos Suarez opened this Provençal restaurant just in time for the summer when literally every single person Grub Street has ever met has decided this is the year they're going to drink rosé, pretty much exclusively, until Labor Day. (Or later? Who can say?) There's plenty here, and it's just the thing to order with charred octopus or some Bouillabaisse En Croute.
13. Racines (Off last week)
Pete Wells is quite taken with this downtown wine bar (and Paris import). In a two-star review this week, the Times critic notes that the well-considered wine list and refined cooking are enough to make it a noteworthy addition to the city's collection of wine bars.
14. Meadowsweet (9)
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 is on its way to becoming a Williamsburg staple.
15. Root & Bone (18)
People are excited about Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth's brand-new East Village Southern spot, and for good reason: Who doesn't love things like fried chicken, deviled eggs, and BLTs? (Surely there are some people who don't, but Grub won't associate with them.) As noted in this space previously, the restaurant opened with some service wrinkles, but subsequent word would indicate things have been ironed out.
16. Mimi Cheng's (11)
This new East Village spot offers just three types of dumplings — chicken and zucchini, pork with bok choy and cabbage, or veggie — yet there's a great deal of excitement about this opening, owing in part to the promise of high-quality technique and ingredients, and the charming family backstory that serves as the restaurant's foundation.
17. Katz's Deli (Off last week)
Even this iconic delicatessen isn't immune from the realities of New York City, this week suggesting that endless road construction has hurt business. In a world where every plot of LES land could become a condo at any given moment, this is not the kind of news you want to read, so why not get on over there and get some pastrami, stat?
18. Russ & Daughters Café (15)
Though it only opened two months ago, the Lower East Side restaurant feels like an institution: Granted, that's because the Russ & Daughters shop already is an institution, but this is nevertheless a follow-up that manages to hit all the correct notes.
19. Grindhaus (7)
Last week brought renewed interest to this Red Hook favorite, thanks to a very positive Times review that praised owner Erin Norris's tenacity and style, along with chef Aaron Taber's inspired cooking.
20. Veselka (Off last week)
You missed your chance to get 60-cent bowls of borscht and stuffed cabbage for $1.50, but the publicity stunt did manage to bring a little renewed focus to this East Village mainstay — which is always nice.