Grub Street’s Restaurant Power Rankings: Cote, the Lobster Club, Tonchin, and More

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. Cote (Last week: 2)
This Korean BBQ–Steakhouse mash-up opened somewhat quietly early in the summer, but it’s finishing the year strong: Platt recently dropped three stars, Michelin thought to award it a star as well, and now Times critic Pete Wells has weighed in with a warm review of his own. Consider it a critical consensus: It’s pretty good.

2. Pasta Flyer (1)
Certified pasta god Mark Ladner — a.k.a. the man who invented 100-layer lasagna — is behind this new, exceedingly affordable spot near 14th Street. A meal here will run you like $12, so it’s worth checking out no matter what.

3. Jeju (5)
This new Korean noodle bar is winning a lot of fans, and it’s easy to see why: a chef who’s put in time at places like Per Se and Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare turning out top-level Ramyun. As winter weather hits, that’s a combination that only sounds more appealing.

4. The Lobster Club (4)
Do you have Major Food fatigue? If both the Grill and the Pool didn’t fully sate your need for spiffy, spendy midtown restaurants, the group is opening the Lobster Club this weekend, in the space that was formerly Brasserie. It’s sort of Japanese-y and steakhouse-y and bistro-y, and the dining room is very colorful.

5. Chefs Club (8)
The Nolita restaurant that houses a rotating cast of visiting chefs has become something of a permanent residency for J.J. Johnson. And since Johnson is a talented chef with a uniquely appealing POV, it should come as no surprise that his tenure — through the end of the year — has proven quite popular.

6. Aviary NYC (3)
Get your tickets, make the trip up to the Mandarin Oriental’s 35th floor, take in the view, order some bonkers drinks, and make sure to try the truly enormous pork rinds that they serve.

7.  Cervo’s (6)
For Grub’s money, this is the most charmingly low-key restaurant of the year, with a solid-yet-easygoing menu that’s heavy on the seafood, an interesting-yet-affordable wine list, and warm-but-not-overbearing service. They aren’t doing anything revolutionary; they’re just doing everything really well.

8. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon (10)
Whatever the opposite of low-key is, Joël Robuchon’s new Meatpacking restaurant is that. It’s all polished surfaces and intricately prepared places inside the gigantic space. If you’ve got the money, head to the back-room chef’s counter.

9. Ferris (7)
On 29th Street, Greg Proechel, Charles Seich, and Jenny Lakin have created a space with a distinctly downtown vibe, an appealing menu of small plates (beets with black-sesame tahini, lobster with a whey-infused beurre monté, some really impressive blood sausage), and a smart list of cocktails and wines. In other words: It’s fun.

10. Tonchin (New this week)
New York almost certainly does not need another ramen joint, but that doesn’t mean the addition of this Japanese chain isn’t appreciated. The speciality is rich, porky tonkotsu — which is never a bad order — and word on the street is you don’t want to miss the chicken wings, either.

11. Mission Chinese Food (Off last week)
The combined news of executive chef Angela Dimayuga’s departure and Danny Bowien’s new season of Mind of a Chef has put a renewed spotlight on the restaurant that has become something of a downtown stalwart. Honestly, seems like a good enough reason to drop in and see what’s up.

12. 29B (Off last week)
The East Village has a very serious new tea destination, which also happens to serve some cocktails and snacks. Is there anything not to like about that combination?

Restaurant Power Rankings: Where to Eat Right Now