Each week, Grub Street surveys the entire restaurant landscape of New York City, crunches the numbers, and comes up with this: 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. Estela (Off last week)
It’s simple: If the most powerful couple in the entire world has dinner at your restaurant, you win the Power Rankings for the week. And yet, aside from the Obamas’ well-publicized visit to Estela, it’s also worth pointing out that Ignacio Mattos and Thomas Carter are still running one of New York’s most charming restaurants. If you haven’t been in a while, you might consider doing so soon.
2. Marta (Last week: 1)
The good news continues to come in for Danny Meyer and chef Nick Anderer’s new Italian spot on 29th Street, mostly because word of mouth has been so strong. The pizza is getting most of the attention, but don’t overlook the excellent entrees, such as, oh, say, the prosciutto-spiked trout saltimbocca.
3. Dirty French (4)
As the (still excellent) name leads you to believe, team Torrisi has ditched Italian at their latest restaurant in favor of more Gallic offerings: There’s black bass served en papillote, a $39 entrée of duck a l’orange dosed with ras el-hanout, and an updated take on tuna tartare that’s getting lots of attention.
4. GG’s (5)
Fresh off opening the summer’s hottest ice cream shop, Nick Morgenstern last week unveils his redo of Goat Town. There’s pizza, cast-iron chicken, and even a burger on the menu. And for dessert, of course, a Morgenstern’s Finest ice-cream sandwich.
5. Birds & Bubbles (3)
It’s fried chicken and Champagne — do you really need to know much else? Based on the early demand for seats at Sarah Simmons’s new LES spot, it seems not. On the off-chance you aren’t into the two main attractions, take note that the menu also includes other Southern-inspired dishes like buttermilk-braised pork, shrimp and grits, and a Vidalia onion soufflé.
6. Aldo Sohm Wine Bar (2)
When news first broke that the Le Bernardin crew would open a more casual wine bar, your first thought probably wasn’t, Oh, I bet the signature menu offering will be Tibetan yak cheese. And yet, there it is. Of course, there’s also an entire bar-snack menu from Eric Ripert and a host of interesting wines.
7. White Street (8)
Chef Floyd Cardoz says the menu at his new Tribeca restaurant is still a work in progress, but he’s firmly in his wheelhouse: American classics and thoughtfully sourced, ingredient-forward dishes with subtle Indian accents throughout. Given the (surprisingly large) tasteful dining room, comfortable lounge area, and grown-up atmosphere, this one could be on lots of people’s radars very soon.
8. Cherche Midi (13)
A spot check the other night revealed Keith McNally’s latest restaurant is as satisfying — and as crowded — as it’s been since opening, and Eater’s Ryan Sutton writes that he likes the place quite a bit. The meat is the thing here, especially a very photogenic prime rib, but the excellent Niçoise salad might be the sleeper hit of the menu.
9. Berg’n (12)
With a weekend forecast that calls for sunny, 80-degree days, and (news that the entire Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg empire will be temporarily based in Crown Heights once the weather cools), it might be the perfect time to check out the city’s newest, and certainly most anticipated, food hall.
10. Grand Banks (17)
While we’re on the subject of warm-weather destinations: You’ve got a month left to sip cocktails and slurp oysters on a boat. Go here. Do that. Be happy.
11. Bâtard (7)
Down on West Broadway, owner Drew Nieporent, chef Markus Glocker, and partner John Winterman are proving there’s still plenty of room in this city for a proper, sophisticated restaurant amid all the bars, bistros, and high-end pizza places. Of course, according to pretty much everyone that’s eaten here, it helps that Glocker’s kitchen is in a groove right now, apparently unable to send out anything less than thoughtfully conceived, perfectly executed dishes.
12. Sammy’s Roumanian Steakhouse (Off last week)
Pete Wells this week checked in on what he calls “the most wonderful terrible restaurant in New York,” as apt a description for Sammy’s as Grub Street has ever seen. If you’ve not been, know that it is also just a fun place, with lots of dancing and good will that is no doubt helped along by the bottles of vodka, frozen in ice, that sit on nearly every table.
13. The Modern (6)
Last week, Danny Meyer & Co. reopened this celebrated MoMA restaurant after a water pipe kept it temporarily shut down. And you’d do well to go check it out and see all the excellent things the team is up to.
14. Wilma Jean (9)
Last week, the Underground Gourmet stopped into the new Southern cafeteria from Kerry Diamond and chef Rob Newton, and they found much to like: Make a point to get Newton’s take on fried chicken — yes, it’s everywhere these days — which is “as juicy and flavorful as any you’ll find in New York.”
15. Take Root (Off last week)
So, you’re probably going to have a little trouble getting a seat at this Brooklyn spot, since it has just 12 seats and dinner is only served Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. But, as Bloomberg critic Tejal Rao found out, it’s worth it, since Elise Kornack and Anna Hieronimus put together one of the loveliest tasting menus in town. At $105 per person, it isn’t cheap, but it’s also a restaurant truly unlike others in town.
16. Bar Sardine (16)
For his latest spot, Gabe Stulman has gone all-in on the bar concept, with a tiny spot that puts drinks first and food second — and that’s a good thing. This is a fine spot to grab a martini, or possibly a bottle of wine, and pass the time, maybe ordering a burger or two while you’re at it.
17. Egg Shop (19)
Who loves eggs? Almost everybody. So it’s not incredibly shocking to discover that people really seem to enjoy this new Nolita spot that, true to its name, specializes in breakfast sandwiches and egg-topped bowls called cruisers.
18. Shun Lee Palace (Off last week)
Over at the T, Charlotte Druckman and photographer Melanie Dunea have a nice write-up on “Manhattan’s original fine dining restaurant,” and just reading through it will put you in the mood to head to 55th Street for some Lobster Catonese and Beijing duck served table-side.
19. Totto Ramen (Midtown East) (14)
The mini-chain’s newest location recently opened on the east side of 52nd Street, and if there’s one thing Grub Street has learned after all these years, it’s that there is never enough ramen to satisfy New York’s apparently endless appetite for noodles, so another outpost is always a welcome sight.
20. Angelica Kitchen (18)
This is not a drill: The beloved East Village vegetarian spot this week wants customers to know it’s on the cusp of becoming the latest casualty of New York’s cutthroat restaurant world. If you’d prefer to see that not happen — the last thing we need is another 7-Eleven — get over here now and help support them.