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. Misi (Last week: 2)
It’s the city’s biggest opening from one of its most highly regarded chefs. Missy Robbins’s brand-new Williamsburg spot is a more streamlined affair than Lilia — the focus is on simpler pastas and vegetable dishes and that’s it — and it is very much where you, and everyone else in the world, wants to be. Fire up Resy and get your name on the waiting list, stat.
2. Shake Shack Innovation Kitchen (New this week)
Under normal circumstances, the opening of yet another Shake Shack wouldn’t be news. But the newest location, just opened on that downtown stretch where Seventh Avenue becomes Varick Street, is no regular Shake Shack. It is the “innovation kitchen,” which means the menu will feature all sorts of experimental Shack foods. First up: Chicken nuggets that are — it turns out — quite enjoyable.
3. Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop (3)
Paulie Gee’s owner Paulie Giannone has expanded with a new Greenpoint slice shop. Everything about this place is a throwback, from the wood-paneled walls to the working Atari set that decorates the dining room. Oh, and the pizza is very solid, too.
4. Saint Julivert Fisherie (New this week)
As the name would indicate, the newest restaurant from Alex Raij and Eder Montero is all about seafood. As you might also guess, this Cobble Hill spot is no mere New England fish shack. Instead, Raij and Montero — the same power couple that runs La Vara and El Quinto Pino — will offer raw scallops wrapped in shiso, chilled sea urchin, and individual “tuna casseroles” with tomato sauce infused with curry leaf.
5. Sofreh (1)
Last week, our own Adam Platt offered “one hearty star for the ambience and the drinks and another for the elegant home-style Persian cooking” at Nasim Alikhani’s very popular, extremely likable Persian restaurant on the western border of Prospect Heights. And Times critic Pete Wells had two stars of his own, writing that Sofreh, which offers Iranian food to a city that hasn’t seen too much of it recently, “would have caused a stir even if the cooking weren’t quite as good as it is.”
6. Balaboosta (Reopens this week)
Look, the word “beloved” gets thrown around a lot these days, but it is nevertheless the best description for Einat Admony’s dearly departed Israeli restaurant. Except, guess what: As of this week, Balaboosta is back in action, this time on Hudson Street. Go! Now! What are you waiting for?
7. Adda (New this week)
In Long Island City, chef Chintan Pandya is cooking some of the city’s most exciting Indian food. That alone should be enough to warrant a visit, but the even better news is that the entire menu is extremely affordable, with some dishes running a mere $5.
8. Shoji at 69 Leonard Street (Off last week)
Pete Wells was extremely impressed by Derek Wilcox’s revamp of this Tribeca tasting counter. In a three-star review this week, the critic writes, “On the basis of sushi alone, Shoji has few plausible rivals, and for sushi embedded within a longer, kaiseki-derived menu, it has no parallel.”
9. Henry (4)
J.J. Johnson runs the show at this restaurant inside the Life Hotel, and his menu features dishes that pull inspiration from Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia. Expect to find things like piri piri clams; lamb suya with homemade kimchee; and kohlrabi with peanut sauce, blueberries, and sorrel. Johnson is one of the city’s most exciting young chefs, and the menu is quite different from anything else in New York right now.
10. Sans (8)
There are plum terrines, veggie lasagnas, and lots of cocktails at this brand-new vegan spot in Carroll Gardens. The idea, according to chef Champ Jones, is “to be delicious, pleasurable, and accessible to all people, if they’re open-minded to go for what we’re doing,” which begs the question: What kind of maniac isn’t open-minded about lasagna?
11. Prime Meats (Off last week)
It’s a favorite spot of many, many Brooklynites, but this corner spot in Carroll Gardens is about to be a goner, transformed into a new wine bar and an extension of the Frankies up the street. Until that happens, however, the menu will be a Prime Meats greatest-hits affair, which means everyone should take a trip over to bid farewell.
12. Camperdown Elm (Off last week)
Speaking of neighborhood spots that are very much liked by people who live in Brooklyn, the best restaurant in Park Slope has dollar-oyster happy hours, thoughtful drinks, an ever-changing season-driven menu, and these little fried corn muffins that are like the concept of unbridled happiness made manifest as a single appetizer.