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. Empellón (New this week)
This week, Alex Stupak opens his biggest and most ambitious Empellón yet. Fittingly, the new midtown flagship offers a wide-ranging menu with things like uni nachos, plenty of tacos, Japanese-beef fajitas, and — lest you forget Stupak started his career as a pastry chef — some top-shelf dessert options.
2. abcV (Last week: 1)
Jean-Georges Vongerichten began the week celebrating 20 years of Jean-Georges restaurant. Meanwhile, the paint is still drying at the newest addition to his empire, this all-day vegetable spot with dosas, juices, lots of avocados, and a generally breezy vibe that very much encapsulates this current culinary moment.
3. Ikinari Steak (2)
The Ikinari chain is perhaps most famous for what it lacks: proper seating. But here’s the even more surprising thing: Everyone seems to really love their steak, which is (relatively) affordable thanks to the speedy turnaround time.
4. Suzuki (New this week)
While the Sugarfish team undoubtedly reels from lukewarm reviews — including a zero-star Times wallop — sushi master Toshio Suzuki is in the midst of opening this combination sushi counter/kaiseki restaurant/cocktail bar in the heart of midtown. As you might guess, prices will be high, but — given Suzuki’s reputation and following — the quality undoubtedly will be, too.
5. Mettā (8)
In Fort Greene, chef Norberto Piattoni has opened this brand-new spot, dedicated to live fire. You’ll find things like charred beets with crème fraîche, a lovely carpaccio of beef heart, steaks of short ribs and pork, and a genuinely warm ambience that should go a long way toward pulling in regulars.
6. Hanoi House (3)
This modern Vietnamese spot in the East Village has been getting great word of mouth, and has been understandably packed as a result. Chef John Nguyen’s menu includes dishes like coconut-grilled octopus, spicy frogs’ legs, and family-style bún chả. Is it the best Vietnamese restaurant in New York City? Why, yes, yes it is.
7. Gloria (New this week)
Hell’s Kitchen has a new seafood spot that looks extremely promising. Expect a solid wine list, and ambitious-sounding fish preps like stuffed squid with peas and yuzu butter, skate with tomatillo, and lionfish tartare that does a surprisingly impressive job of tapping into the millennial-pink trend.
9. Majorelle (11)
Charles Masson is behind this just-opened, luxury French restaurant in the Upper East Side’s Lowell Hotel. Christian Delouvrier reportedly consulted on the menu, which is filled with Old World favorites like salmon with French lentils, wild-mushroom risotto, sautéed foie gras, duck à l’orange, and — of course — a caviar service.
10. Tim Ho Wan (Off last week)
The line on this famous Hong Kong dim-sum import is that the waits are long. Extremely long. Adam Platt braved the queue to see if it was actually worth it. Turns out: As long as you plan accordingly and have some way to kill a couple hours, the traditional dim-sum specialities are very, very good.
11. Alta Calidad (10)
There’s a bright new Mexican spot in Prospect Heights. Chef Akhtar Nawab is behind the menu, which features appealing options like pork-cheek tacos, rib eye with chimichurri, and queso fundido that’s studded with artichokes and chorizo.
12. Katz’s Delicatessen (Off last week)
You already know that the pastrami sandwiches here are iconic, and after having tasted the competition, Grub can also definitively say they’re the city’s absolute best. (And, in even better news: A brand-new Brooklyn outpost should, hopefully, be open very soon.)
This post is updated weekly.