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. The Grill (Last week: 2)
Phase one of Major Food Group’s Four Seasons revamp was unveiled to the public last week, with high prices, an assertive mid-century vibe, and all manner of over-the-top theatricality. That’s the kind of thing these guys do best, and so far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive (with, perhaps, the notable exception of former Four Seasons regulars who can’t abide the change). Also notable: If you don’t like eating your Dover sole at 5:30 p.m., or you aren’t already a friend of the house, you may find it difficult to secure a table in the early going.
2. Nur (5)
The early word on chef Meir Adoni’s first New York restaurant is extremely positive. You may not know Adoni’s name, but he’s a star in Israel, and the menu — which includes things like glazed octopus, honey-and-garlic challah, lamb with lentil ragout, and “brain fricassée” in a butter croissant — sounds like a welcome addition to Manhattan.
3. Made Nice (1)
The Eleven Madison Park team has opened their most casual restaurant yet, which features Daniel Humm’s take on midday lunch staples. Given Humm’s focus on straightforward, European-centric food, that means dishes like salmon rösti with frisée; a salad of hanger steak, crisp rice, and roasted broccoli; pork-shoulder confit with carrots and warm grains; and a roast-chicken dinner with some very good-looking fries.
4. Atla (4)
The new (surprisingly cozy) restaurant from Enrique Olvera and Daniela Soto-Innes is probably best suited for breakfast and lunch, but it capably turns into a full dinner destination as well. No matter when you go, get the light, crisp fish Milanese and the guac.
5. Empellón (3)
Alex Stupak’s new two-level midtown dining room is a great place to grab some drinks, settle in, and order some crab nachos (plus a dish of yellow beets with coconut cream and “green chile ice” that Grub happens to really like), and an array of really great desserts.
6. Atoboy (Off last week)
In a two-star review this week, Times critic Pete Wells writes that he very much likes the “low-key atmosphere,” smart wine list, a menu full of “smart, surprising dishes,” and the option of a $36 set-menu price, which is a very good deal.
7. abcV (6)
Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s latest project is this all-day café with a strong emphasis on vegetables and intricate assemblages of grains. It’s a big hit at breakfast, and as the day turns to evening, you’ll find dishes like Meyer-lemon-and-curry-leaf bouillon with ramen noodles, roasted cauliflower with turmeric tahini, “ancient grain pilaf,” and a whole lot of avocados.
8. Du’s Donuts and Coffee (7)
As you have certainly heard by now, the city has a new doughnut shop from Wylie Dufresne. There are doughnuts in flavors like grapefruit-chamomile, strawberries and cream, and even pomegranate-tahini, plus coffee, and — perhaps the sleeper hit of the whole menu — traditional Rhode Island coffee milk.
9. Norman (9)
The Nordic take on the all-day-café concept — care of Claus Meyer and Fredrik Berselius — is open once again in Greenpoint, after a temporary closing. So get over, and get some ancient grains with green garlic and smoked trout.
10. Miss Ada (New this week)
In Fort Greene, a new tenant with a Middle Eastern slant has moved into the space that used to house Martha. On the menu, according to the Times: “charred eggplant with ginger aioli, mussels with harissa, and swordfish with sumac, spring onions and asparagus.” Sounds good!
11. Ando (Off last week)
Maple is dead, and if this city hopes to keep the dream of delivery 2.0 alive — and you happen to live or work in the delivery zone — this would be an excellent time to order a couple things from David Chang’s delivery-only Momofuku. Hozon cheesesteaks for all.
12. Out East (11)
If you can’t swing that weekend trip to Montauk, there’s a nice-looking, new place in the East Village that will at least offer some East End vibes. There’s a seafood-heavy menu (fluke with plums, porgy with herbs and lobster butter, revivalist tuna tartare) and a stylish dining room.
This post is updated weekly.