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. Haenyeo (Last week: 1)
Park Slope’s seafood-focused Korean restaurant, from chef Jenny Kwak, is among the city’s most-talked-about spots, not because of a PR blitz or a blazing social-media strategy. Instead: It’s just because people, the city’s critics included, really like Kwak’s cooking and the restaurant’s uniquely personal point of view (where else can you get rice-cakes fundido and spicy tofu stew for dinner before ordering some fresh beignets for dessert?).
2. The Fly (2)
Roast chicken and excellent fries are a (gently priced) combo that doesn’t go out of style — especially in a laid-back atmosphere where people can just relax and also drink some very interesting wine — so it is no surprise that neighbors and visitors alike have, ahem, flown over to this new Bed-Stuy spot from the team behind Hart’s and Cervo’s.
3. Kāwi and Mercado Little Spain (3)
The big happenings over at Hudson Yards this week: the long-awaited arrival of dinner service at Momofuku’s Kāwi, from chef Eunjo Park (Perhaps you’d like some truffled rice cakes?) and the opening of two sit-down spaces — one dedicated to seafood; the other to fire — within José Andrés’s massive Spanish-food fantasia.
4. Nakamura and Niche (Off last week)
Do you know what would be good to eat before blistering summer weather descends on New York? Ramen. Do you know where you should eat it? Maybe at Shigetoshi Nakamura’s two sister spots on the Lower East Side. One is dedicated to the straightforward broth-y version you know and love, while the other specializes in the rarely-seen, brothless mazeman. Over at the Times this week, Pete Wells writes of the steak mazeman served at the latter: It “has the makings of a classic New York dish.”
5. The Standard Grill (6)
We are still surprised to write these words: Rocco DiSpirito is cooking in New York again and, even after a decade away from a professional kitchen, the chef can cook extremely delicious food. That’s especially true of his shrimp-and-truffle risotto (When was the last time anyone got excited about risotto?) and his kitchen’s way with raw-bar staples.
6. Golden Diner (4)
There is something extremely charming about this DIY Chinatown diner from Samuel Yoo, where the avocado toast is gussied up with lemongrass and galangal and the breakfast burritos are studded with perfectly crisp hash browns. This is the kind of fun, distinctive project that Grub Street will root for again and again.
7. Wayan (Off last week)
Is this new Franco-Indonesian restaurant from couple Ochi and Cédric Vongerichten any good? It seems the answer is: It can be! Eater critic Ryan Sutton finds much to like at this “stunner of an Indonesian restaurant,” while the New Yorker’s Hannah Goldfield finds all the dishes to be “a bit muted, with a handful of exceptions.” (One exception seems to be the pandan custard with passion fruit.)
8. Au Cheval (5)
They’ve got booze, burgers, and homemade bologna at this Chicago transplant, where the waits do not seem to have diminished (even if the early critical response is a bit unenthusiastic). Either way, Grub Street still hasn’t stopped thinking about the scrambled eggs with foie gras since eating it a few weeks back.
9. Hunky Dory (7)
Speaking of eggs, this all-day café from owner Claire Sprouse and chef Kirstyn Brewer specializes in all manner of Instagrammy breakfast dishes, as well as being — somewhat surprisingly — one of the most exciting new cocktail bars in Brooklyn.
10. Chefs Club (10)
Paul Liebrandt may just be the city’s most underappreciated chef, so please do yourself a favor and stop in to this Nolita dining room while he’s still there turning out lovely little things like smoked-uni tarts and beautiful roulades of ruby-red shrimp.
11. Mothership Meat Company (New this week)
Last we heard from John Brown Smokehouse owner Josh Bowen he was, um, suing someone about the botched Amazon-headquarters deal. So it is welcome news that his name is again in the headlines, but this time because he opened this new Texas-style barbecue restaurant. Bring on the brisket.
12. Le Bernardin (Off last week)
It is perhaps the best restaurant in the city, if not one of the best in the world, so it is not surprising that our own Adam Platt deems the midtown seafood temple from Maguy Le Coze and Eric Ripert to also be the best French restaurant in New York. Bien sûr!