Restaurant Power Rankings

Grub Street’s Restaurant Power Rankings: Cosme, Upland, and More

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Welcome to Grub Street’s weekly survey of the most-talked-about, must-visit restaurants in New York City. The list below features spots both new and old ranked according to one important, ever-fluctuating (and admittedly subjective) metric: Who has the most buzz? Perhaps a famed chef has taken over the kitchen, or there’s a new dish you absolutely must order. Maybe the restaurant is just brand-new, or the critics are raving about it. Whatever the reasons, these are the hottest restaurants in New York right now.

1. Cosme (10)
After what just might be the longest “soft” open in history, Enrique Olvera’s much-anticipated restaurant officially opened its doors this week — and seats are as in-demand as you might expect. Can the famed Mexico City chef make it in New York? It’s obviously too early to tell, but as of now, it seems he’s on the right track.

2. Marta (2)
The thing about Danny Meyer and chef Nick Anderer’s new Italian spot is that it’s managed to sustain its buzz thanks mostly to extremely positive word of mouth and, now, a series of glowing reviews. (Including one from New York’s Adam Platt.) The pizza is clearly the star here, but based on a very recent visit, Grub can also emphatically suggest the $100 bistecca Fiorentina — one of the best steak experiences we’ve had in quite a while.

3. Empellón al Pastor (1)
Alex Stupak’s brand-new, super-casual taco spot is really more of a bar than a restaurant, so it’s best to go when you’re in the mood to complement your drinks — excellent margaritas, plenty of craft beer, cheffed-up Micheladas — with a few tacos and a plate full of guac.

4. wd~50 (Off last week)
Did you manage to snag tickets to one of this Lower East Side pioneer’s very last dinners ever? If not, you still have a couple weeks of regular service before the restaurant switches over to the ticket-only tasting blowouts. Either way, do yourself a favor and stop in before it closes for good.

5. Dirty French (5)
Real talk: Yes, there’s the theatrical chicken for two, and the dirty-rice-stuffed Boudin app is very solid, but Grub would go back to the Torrisi team’s new French spot just for the flatbread that starts every meal, the barely cooked Island Creek oysters, and the pineapple-banana tarte tatin.

6. Upland (New this week)
Cosme wasn’t the only big opening this week: Chef Justin Smillie and Stephen Starr unveiled their new California-inspired spot on 26th Street, and it looks like it could be very appealing. Given its location and the giant bar up front, expect a strong after-work crowd here if you stop in for dinner, though lunch and brunch are in the works, too.

7. Blue Hill (Off last week)
For Grub Street’s money, Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns offers the very best dining experience available in New York (even though, yes, we realize you have to drive about 45 minutes outside the city — which is part of what makes the experience so singular). But this week, Pete Wells offered his thoughts on the Manhattan location and found much to like, offering three stars, even if “it may give you only a Half Barber.”

8. Aquavit (3)
The midtown Scandinavian spot is in the middle of a full-scale revival thanks to the skill of chef Emma Bengsstona and a recent string of glowing praise that began when Michelin dropped a surprise — and, it seems, absolutely deserving — second star on the institution.

9. Maman (Off last week)
There’s more to this new French café than just the city’s most compelling new cookies. The spot has a small menu of soups, salads, and — de rigueur for cozy little French spots — a couple of quiche selections, too.

10. Semilla (12)
The Chez José pop-up has become a full-blown brick-and-mortar tasting counter (with a new name) in Williamsburg. It’s a $75 veg-focused prix fixe, with natural wines and European beers to match. This one sounds like it has potential. It also only has 18 seats, so Grub’s advice is to check it out before word spreads too far.

11. Pok Pok Phat Thai (8)
In case you’re having trouble keeping track: Andy Ricker recently reopened this noodle shop — which is now located in Brooklyn, in the space that formerly housed Pok Pok Ny (which you’ll recall moved up the street a while back). If you still aren’t quite sure where, exactly, all of Ricker’s various Pok Poks are located, just know that if you hit the corner of Columbia and Kane Streets, you’ll now be mere steps from all of his New York restaurants.

12. Alidoro Midtown (New this week)
Midtown office workers: You officially have a new favorite lunch place. Go and see what those of us who work near the original Soho location have been raving about all these years.

13. Vic’s (6)
Vicki Freeman and her chef-husband Marc Meyer opened their Five Points redo last week, and the early word is that it’s as comfortably appealing as their other restaurants. Hillary Sterling’s menu is sort of vaguely Italian in that downtown-Manhattan farm-to-table-y sort of way, which isn’t a bad thing at all, especially when that results in a dish like pork sausage with plum mostarda and salsa verde.

14. Take Root (7)
Here’s a restaurant that everyone seems to have fallen in love with in just a few short weeks (though it first opened more than a year ago). The most recent bit of good news: a spot on Esquire’s list of the best restaurants in the country. Of course, there is also some bad news: The Cobble Hill restaurant has just 12 seats, and dinner — a set menu — is only served Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and reservations are only becoming more scarce with each passing accolade.

15. Arrogant Swine (15)
Does Brooklyn need another barbecue spot? In the case of this one, specializing in whole-hog barbecue in Bushwick, Grub’s going to answer that question with a yes.

16. King Bee (9)
Recently, on 9th Street, Eben Klemm and partner Ken Jackson opened a new spot specializing in Acadian food. What is Acadian food? Well, it’s sort of Cajun and even has some Nordic similarities, but mostly, it just looks fairly delicious.

17. GG’s (14)
Fresh off opening the summer’s hottest ice-cream shop, Nick Morgenstern recently unveiled 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.

18. Birds & Bubbles (4)
Fried chicken. Champagne. Adam Platt is a fan. Get on it, folks.

19. Kappo Masa (20)
Hooo boy, this place is pricey, but, at least according to one early review, might be sort of good, too. Then again, if this is your scene to begin with, you probably don’t need the Power Rankings to suggest that you stop by.

20. Shake Shack (Off last week)
Go to any of the approximately 2,000 Shake Shacks now operating in New York City, and you’ll find … crinkle-cut fries. They’re back, baby. Get out there and show your support.

Grub Street’s Restaurant Power Rankings: Cosme, Upland, and More