Grub Street’s Restaurant Power Rankings: Sushi, Barbecue, Prime Rib, and More

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Where to eat this week. Photo: iStockphoto

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 12 hottest restaurants in New York right now.

1. Sugarfish (Last week: 4)
Lines continue to snake all over the city for super-popular newcomers like Tim Ho Wan and TsuroTonTan. But Manhattan’s current wait-list king is this affordable sushi den (and L.A. transplant). Regular quotes of two-hour waits would normally make Grub’s eyes glaze over, but the fact is this: The people jamming into the spacious dining room all seem extremely happy with their meals, the gracious hospitality, and the relatively affordable prices.

2. Loring Place (Last week: 9)
Adam Platt found a few kinks at Dan Kluger’s brand-new follow-up to his tenure at ABC Kitchen, but they “don’t seem to be distracting the crowds of revelers who are jamming into the boisterous downtown space,” plus, given Kluger’s careful nature, everything will be worked out in time.

3. Annisa (Off last week)
In May, Anita Lo will close her ambitious, justifiably beloved West Village restaurant, citing rising costs that she can’t continue to afford. It’s one of the city’s most celebrated dining rooms for a reason, so go before it’s too late and enjoy Lo’s cooking one last time.

4. 4 Charles Prime Rib (Off last week)
Not too far from Annisa is this somewhat awkwardly named meat destination from the team behind Chicago’s much-loved Au Cheval (among many other spots). The team’s got plenty of experience, the menu leans heavily on classic dishes, and the early word is that this is one to keep an eye on.

5. Ichimura (New this week)
As of tonight, Tribeca gets a new luxury-sushi destination from Eiji Ichimura. Expect exquisite fish, a thoughtful wine list, lots of sake, and a price tag to match: $300 per person. High rollers, here’s your new go-to place.

6. Union Square Cafe (Last week: 6)
The food is satisfying and lovely more or less across the board at Danny Meyer’s refreshed flagship. (And the bread is truly excellent.) If you liked the original, you will very much enjoy version 2.0.

7. Flora Bar (Last week: 4)
Speaking of successful follow-ups, Ignacio Mattos and Thomas Carter have done the improbable: Taking Estela’s austere sophistication and transplanting it to the Upper East Side. The critics are fans, so far, and it’s very much worth a trip uptown.

8. Pig Bleecker (New this week)
In Greenwich Village, the team behind Brooklyn’s Pig Beach has opened a brand new spot that’s being billed as “barbecue meets fine dining.” What that means, in practical terms, is a menu filled with smoked cocktails, a serious-looking gourmet burger, and ever-so-elevated comfort food like smoked fried chicken and cheese grits.

9. Maison Pickle (New this week)
It remains true that the French Dip is both one of the world’s best sandwiches, and woefully underappreciated in New York. That may be changing now, though, thanks in part to this new UWS spot, which is run by Jacob Hadjigeorgis of Jacob’s Pickles, that has five — count ‘em — Dip variations on the menu.

10. Make Sandwich (New this week)
Hey! Speaking of sandwiches, a Bark Hot Dogs alum is making some very good ones at this new Union Square lunch destination. There are lots of options, including an egg-and-cheese that involves maple-ginger sausage or a baguette stuffed with steak and salsa verde.

11. Augustine (8)
This place is classic Keith McNally: Lovely room, bistro-ish feel, a burger, and some French classics on the menu. Alongside its fellow restaurant in the Beekman hotel, Tom Colicchio’s Fowler & Wells, there’s a compelling reason to head here for dinner. (Or, as of this week, breakfast.)

12. Hearth (Off last week)
At Marco Canora’s ever-evolving East Village stalwart, pastry-expert Karen DeMasco has put together a new dessert menu that leans heavily on local grains, house-milled flour, and all sorts of other nutritious ingredients that won’t make you feel quite so bad about ordering a second helping of toffee-date cake after dinner.