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. Razza Pizza Artigianale (Off last week)
Times critic Pete Wells just declared the pizza at this Jersey City spot the very best in New York. That’s the kind of claim that gets people moving, specifically to a PATH train, so they can get to the other side of the Hudson and check it out for themselves.
2. Ugly Baby (Last week: 1)
Chef Sirichai Sreparplarn used to work at the much-loved Kao Soy, and the food at this new neighborhood Thai restaurant has been universally praised since the spot quietly opened in Carroll Gardens late last month.
3. Martina (2) and Caffe Marchio (New this week)
Danny Meyer has not one, but two new hypercasual, Romanesque spots. Martina is a fast-casual pizzeria in the East Village; Caffe Marchio is a coffee counter in the Redbury New York. Of course, the pizza place will probably be the more appealing option for non-tourists, but you could do worse for coffee if you’re in the area — 30th and Madison — and have a craving for pastry or caffeine.
4. The Grill and the Pool (5)
Take your pick at the revamped, still-very-expensive former Four Seasons: the showy Grill, which specializes in over-the-top service and classic American club food, or the Pool, which is more subdued, with a focus on seafood preparations you might even call … restrained.
5. Ato (Off last week)
New York’s own Adam Platt is a big fan of this small, under-the-radar Japanese restaurant in Soho where, he writes, “the combination of focused sensibility and small-scale, homespun style makes the cooking feel like something you’d encounter down one of the more stylish culinary backstreets of Tokyo.”
6. Claro (3)
This new Mexican restaurant in Gowanus might just have the best backyard in the game right now, so get here while the weather’s still warm. You’ll be rewarded with some better-than-expected cocktails (especially a frozen number that’s like a margarita–piña colada mash-up), and some very appealing food (like a lobster tostada covered in plump, late-summer corn).
7. Popina (4)
Also open in Brooklyn is this Italian-southern spot in the original Pok Pok Ny space. Fusion-y menu items include arancini made with Carolina Gold rice, burrata with tomatoes and cubes of corn bread, and spicy chicken Milanese served alongside ranch-slicked radicchio salad.
8. Patisserie Chanson (8)
Do you like dessert? Of course you do. As such, you might want to check out the dessert bar at this Flatiron shop. There are black-sesame soft serve, cashew cookies with miso pudding, yuzu-honey parfait, and — of course — digestif gummy bears.
9. The Lost Lady (New this week)
The last couple of years have seen a distinct rise in no-frills bars offering drinks and food that are more ambitious than what you’d find at an actual dive. (Grub’s opinion: This is, generally, a good development.) The latest entrant, which opens this week, is this Avenue C bar, where the vibe is vaguely nautical, tacos are on the menu, and frozen margaritas get dosed with hibiscus.
10. Shake Shack (Off last week)
It’s happening. This weekend, the original Shake Shack will unveil eel burgers. The whole thing makes a lot more sense when you realize that the burgers in question are from a collaboration with Fergus Henderson. The limited-edition eel burgs — available Friday and Saturday only — probably won’t hit the full-time menu anytime soon, so if you want to check them out, make sure you get there before it’s too late.
11. Ladybird (11)
It’s all veggies all the time at this East Village “vegetable bar” from Ravi DeRossi and Moby. Think of any kind of produce you can find at the Greenmarket, and it is almost certainly on the menu. Also: Cocktails!
12. Sparks Steak House (Off last week)
Surprise: One of the very best steakhouses in New York won’t be forced to close because of a rent hike. Instead, Sparks will stay put on 46th Street. So grab a drink and a strip at the bar.