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. Santina (Last week: 1)
Team Torrisi’s ever-packed “coastal Italian” restaurant was already gaining even more steam because of the warm weather, but with this week’s Times review (two stars; get the fritto misto) and next week’s opening of the new Whitney, it’s like a perfect storm of hype. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since the whole place is really quite charming.
2. Tuome (Off last week)
Three weeks after a fire kitchen forced Thomas Chen to close, his East Village spot is officially back in business. It’s a small, independent place from a talented chef with a unique, appealing point of view — meaning it is exactly the kind of restaurant you should support and help get back up to speed.
3. Dimes 2.0 (2)
Dimes, the popular healthy-ish, California-esque Chinatown spot, has reopened in its new, bigger location, and, in addition to more space, the larger venue means the team can also add some new dishes to the menu. Are rainbow nori wraps about to become the new avocado toast? Time will tell.
4. Rebelle (New this week)
This week saw the opening of Pearl & Ash’s brand-new sister restaurant, and — as you might expect — Patrick Cappiello’s 1,500-label-strong wine list is nothing short of breathtaking. (Grub’s advice: Just tell Cappiello what you like, let him know your price point, and let him go for it.) Chef Daniel Eddy has a menu of hyper-refined food to match. Oh, and there’s at least one after-dinner drink that’s worth checking out.
5. Momofuku Ko (7)
Eater critic Ryan Sutton is a big fan of David Chang’s Ko redo, calling it, in his four-star review this week, “one of New York’s most compelling tasting menu venues.” If you don’t mind the $175-per-person price tag, head over to the online reservation site and (attempt to) snag yourself some seats.
6. Lupulo (New this week)
George Mendes’s new place opens tonight, looking like a New York gastropub by way of Portugal, which is to say the food looks great. The large horseshoe-shaped bar is the restaurant’s centerpiece, and there are plenty of beverage choices to keep drinkers happy, but Mendes has heaped as much care on the menu as you’d expect, too.
7. Streetbird (5)
Marcus Sameulsson’s latest Harlem project just opened, drawing inspiration from Samuelsson’s Ethiopian roots and Swedish upbringing, graffiti culture, the recent luxury-chicken trendlet, and there’s some Chinese takeout thrown in there for good measure, too.
8. Noreetuh (8)
The refined Hawaiian food works surprisingly well (make sure you get the garlic shrimp), the service is well meaning and incredibly friendly, and the affordable wine list is like a grape-geek fever dream. In other words: This new East Village spot from three Per Se vets is definitely worth a visit.
9. Oiji (New this week)
The official website makes Oiji in the East Village look like one of the city’s most mysterious restaurants, but really it’s a sleek Korean-inspired restaurant from Bouley and Gramercy Tavern vets. And reports back to Grub HQ indicate that even though this place is flying under the radar, it’s so good that that probably won’t be the case for too long.
10. Chevalier (9)
Okay, high rollers, you’ve got a new spot to hit in the form of this ritzy French restaurant from chef Shea Gallante and none other than front-of-house master Charles Masson, last seen, of course, presiding over the dining room at his family’s restaurant, La Grenouille.
11. Javelina (10)
This Union Square spot has queso, puffy tacos, sizzling fajitas, lots of margs, Shiner on draft, and basically anything else you’d check off a list of Tex-Mex must-haves. And, well, you’re going to want to eat as much guacamole as you can before it’s too late.
12. El Original (11)
The city’s other big Tex-Mex opening, with help from the team behind Homesick Texan, is way over on Tenth Avenue, and the sprawling space definitely doesn’t feel like the typical cramped Manhattan restaurant space. That said, the best bet here is to stay in the (still quite large and comfortable) bar area, where the full menu is served and seating is first-come, first-served.
13. La Gamelle (New this week)
In the space that formerly housed Diner, Mathieu Palombino just opened this full-on brasserie, with a menu that’s loaded up on classics like steak-frites, duck confit, snails in garlic butter, poulet rôti. It’s the kind of food that everyone loves when it’s well done, so time will tell if it can stand out from NYC’s many other casual French spots.
14. Willow (10)
The team behind the Pines has opened its newest spot, this time in Bed-Stuy. Just as at the first restaurant, the menu is mostly focused on American food with some slight Nordic touches (though we’re not really sure what to make of chicken-liver cannoli). There’s potential for this to turn into a neighborhood jewel.
15. Mission Cantina (Off last week)
While we were all focused on the new, excellent Mission Chinese Food, Danny Bowien has reworked the menu at his LES taco shop approximately three dozen times. Vietnamese breakfast: gone. Cantina burritos: No más! Instead: Staples have now been replaced with new dishes that sound equally appealing, and there are daily $1 taco specials that are hard to pass up.
16. Boulud Sud (Off last week)
You know who’s up to some cool things? Chef Travis Swikard at Daniel Boulud’s UWS Mediterannean-y spot. One of those cool things: This next-level crudité plate, which is part of a surprisingly strong resurgence in demand for raw veggies among the city’s diners.
18. Black Seed Bagels (Off last week)
As it turns a year old, the shop that makes some of New York’s most Instagrammable bagels is running a pizza-bagel special through the week and, as it turns out, adding some new sandwiches to the full menu, including smoked-salmon salad with Meyer lemon cream cheese and pickled cukes, and burrata with arugula and ramp pesto.
20. Bar Bolinas (17)
Clinton Hill just got a comfortable, nice-looking neighborhood spot from the Allswell team. There’s a Northern California vibe, and a menu that’s heavy on simple seafood, fresh vegetables, and grilled meats, not to mention a cheeseburger that could become a serious contender.