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. Wildair (Off last week)
As Adam Platt writes, the new breed of stripped-down, natural wine bars — Rebelle and the Four Horsemen included — are actually some of New York’s best new restaurants. And the best of that bunch is Wildair, the casual Orchard Street spot from Contra’s Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske.
2. Gabriel Kreuther (Last week: 15)
Fine-dining ain’t dead yet. Or so go the arguments from critics Tejal Rao and Pete Wells, both of whom filed very positive, three-star reviews of chef Gabriel Kreuther’s high-end Alsatian spot in the Grace Building. (In reality, the food served in the more casual bar space, while less refined, is also equally excellent — especially the Alsatian sausage and Kreuther’s selection of tartes flambées.
3. Fuku+ (1)
David Chang has officially added a Juicy Lucy — and apparently decided to forgo the more-classic “Jucy Lucy” spelling — to the menu at his midtown Fuku. Minnesotans, or people who just like a lot of hot, molten cheese in their burgers, get to it.
4. Sadelle’s (3)
There are amazing bagels. Excellent pastries. Something called an “inverted tuna melt.” Major Food Group’s gonzo appetizing store is open in Soho, and it looks like a blockbuster. Oh, and when you go — get the pigs in a blanket.
5. Bruno (5)
A duo that first made its name serving ambitious tasting menus in a tiny coffee shop is behind this bright storefront on 13th Street. What to expect: inventive veggie dishes, some novel pastas, and seriously killer pizzas. Grub Street could see this place becoming a go-to for plenty of East Village locals.
6. O Ya (7)
So here’s the thing about Nancy and Tim Cushman’s omakase transplant from Boston: As Adam Platt recently wrote, the room and vibe might feel a little dated, but the meal itself can be very satisfying, if not exactly revelatory. However, as both Platt and Eater critic Ryan Sutton explain, that satisfying meal is nevertheless going to cost you a lot of money.
7. Jams (8)
Jonathan Waxman’s much-anticipated redo of his classic ‘80s restaurant opened big last month, but the early word is that the experience of actually eating there can be, at this early date, a little underwhelming. Waxman, of course, is one of the country’s preeminent chefs (who has, curiously, been on something of a restaurant-opening tear these last couple of years, involved in projects in Toronto, Nashville, and Atlanta), so here’s hoping he and his team work out the kinks and get Jams 2.0 where it needs to be.
8. L’Amico (9)
Laurent Tourondel just opened this Italian-ish, wood-fired-everything spot alongside the Eventi hotel. The place is only a week old, but the pizzas — one of the big draws, and which Tourondel apparently spent “years” perfecting — are already looking good.
9. Bar Goto (Off last week)
A midweek spot-check revealed Kenta Goto’s newish Japanese cocktail bar is still going strong, with the front windows open to the still-warm weather and a not-too-crowded bar full of people enjoying the nice snacks and the very excellent drinks, including a new, seasonally appropriate apple-cucumber collins.
10. UrbanSpace Vanderbilt (2)
You know what people don’t seem to be tired of yet? Giant food halls with a zillion different food options. The latest: this midtown behemoth, with offerings from Asiadog, Red Hook Lobster Pound, and Roberta’s. All those different choices look pretty impressive.
11. Ed & Bev’s at Berg’n (16)
And, to that end, Berg’n continues to reign supreme as Brooklyn’s preeminent permanent food hall — thanks in part to operators like Max and Eli Sussman, who recently unveiled their stand dedicated to the Coney Dog, a.k.a. a very sauce-heavy chili dog, a.a.k.a. Michigan’s greatest culinary achievement.
12. Eureka (10)
New York now plays host to this perma-pop-up from 16-year-old chef Flynn McGarry. If McGarry can deliver the goods with this $160 tasting menu, that will probably be enough to silence many of his critics, but there’s no doubt he faces a serious uphill battle — even though seats are all booked up for the foreseeable future.
13. Babu Ji (6)
A recent spot-check by Grub reveals this Avenue B Indian place’s immense popularity shows no signs of abating, which is a very good thing, since this is the kind of restaurant — great food with a unique point of view, relatively affordable price points, beer from a cooler you can grab yourself — everyone should root for.
14. Vaucluse (12)
Up on East 63rd Street, Michael White’s going all-in on French food at this new, fancy-looking space. Will the crowds turn out for zucchini tarts and lobster with truffled potatoes the way they did for lardo-and-uni crostini and octopus fusilli at Marea? Time will tell.
15. Mountain Bird (11)
Just as this poultry-centric spot in Harlem was finding its groove last year, it quickly closed up with very little warning. Luckily, husband-and-wife team Keiko and Kenichi Tajima have resurfaced at East Harlem’s Tastings Social with all their talent in tow.
16. Lorenzo’s (13)
Out in Bushwick, the Mother’s Ruin crew has opened this bar-restaurant that will cater to the late-night crowds. There are high-end nachos, whole-roasted chickens, veal-heart skewers, and — because it is the year 2015 and these are apparently now required by law in all New York restaurants — alcoholic slushies. This looks like a good one.
17. Kat & Theo (18)
Executive chef Paras Shah has spent time in the kitchens of El Bulli, Eleven Madison Park, and Momofuku Noodle Bar, so you can probably understand why people are intrigued by his solo debut at this new Flatiron spot. You won’t find spherified olives or pig-bladder celery root here, though. The goal is to make this a true neighborhood spot, with Mediterranean-accented American classics and a strong list of cocktails for the after-work crowd.
18. Moore Food & Drink (14)
On West 63rd Street, Commerce’s Harold Moore has resurfaced with a menu full of brasserie classics. There’s dry-aged strip steak, broiled oysters, seafood towers aplenty, and — of course — roast chicken for two. These things are all classics for a reason: It’s the kind of food everyone wants to eat on a fairly regular basis.
19. Grand Banks (19)
Now that it’s officially fall, Grub is thinking this is probably the last week we’ll include this bar-on-a-boat, since its season will end soon and the weather will, soon, go full-on autumnal. Until that happens, though, make the most out of the mild air and stop by before it’s too late.
20. Murray’s Cheese Bar (Off last week)
So, in big-time science news, it turns out stinky cheese is super interesting, and so, after reading the Times piece all about the fungi used to make some of the world’s best cheese, a good move would be to stop in to this fromage-centric spot on Bleecker Street and actually eat it, too.