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: 3)
Who knew pasta could be so divisive? In one corner, we have Eater critic Ryan Sutton, who awarded Missy Robbins’s latest restaurant (where the only things on offer are pasta, veggies, and gelato) one star, writing, “The noodles range from serviceable […] to nearly disastrous.” In the other corner we have Pete Wells at the New York Times, who drops a whopping three stars on the joint and opines that a chew-test employed by Robbins’s team guarantees consistent excellence: “You are very unlikely to get a piece [of pasta] that is undercooked at its core, or one that doesn’t fight back enough to let you know it is still alive.” (Also worth noting: most of the veggies and gelato get near-unanimous praise.)
2. Bāng Bar and Momofuku Noodle Bar Columbus Circle (Bāng Bar was 1)
David Chang has given New York a big, beautiful new Noodle Bar in Columbus Circle, but the bigger draw — at least for any ramen-weary New Yorkers who may be experiencing noodle fatigue — is its sister sandwich shop, Bāng Bar, where the specialties of the house are griddled flatbreads and spit-roasted meats, all folded together into takeout wraps
3. Mission Chinese Food Brooklyn (2)
Danny Bowien may moonlight as a model and all-around celebrity chef, but he is also a real chef and a restaurateur, one who has just expanded his empire across the East River, with a neon-lit dining room and the same face-melting food you’ve come to know and love at the Manhattan location.
4. Benno (4)
Chef Jonathan Benno has unveiled the final and most luxurious part of his trio of businesses inside NoMad’s Evelyn hotel. The aptly named Benno specializes in high-end Italian with a decidedly grown-up approach. If you’re in the market for white truffles and foie gras, this is your place.
5. Leonti (5)
More luxury Italian: On the Upper West Side, the space that was Dovetail is now this very handsome restaurant from Adam Leonti, who is a vet of Philadelphia’s exceedingly well-liked Vetri. The opening menu includes dishes that should appeal to basically everyone: lobster panzanella, vitello tonnato, a veal chop with truffles, and not one but two types of lasagna. (It’s definitely a good time of year for lasagna.)
6. Madre Cocina & Mezcales (New this week)
It may not be margarita weather, exactly, but never mind that, because Phil Ward, perhaps the city’s foremost expert on all-things-agave, is behind the bar at this Prospect Heights revamp of what had been El Atoradero Brooklyn. There are tequila and mezcal drinks aplenty, fish tacos, and good vibes in general.
7. Saint Julivert (6)
Saint Julivert is the new Cobble Hill seafood bar from Alex Raij and Eder Montero, who also run El Quinto Pino and La Vara. This restaurant is just as charming as the others. Small plates like anchovies with vanilla butter and roasted kampachi collar blackened with jerk spice commingle with uni-topped chawanmushi, and the small wine list — organized around oceanic growing areas — is lots of fun.
8. Celestine (Off last week)
Here’s something interesting: a waterfront restaurant with killer views, lovely service, and food that actually doesn’t suck. In fact, this modern Middle Eastern spot is the very best restaurant in Dumbo (and Vinegar Hill) and is someplace you very much may want to take a date soon.
9. Ho Foods (10)
The response to chef Richard Ho’s new Taiwanese breakfast has been nothing short of rapturous, and it’s easy to see why when the menu includes savory soy milk with crunchy crullers and pork floss, mantou stuffed with scrambled eggs and more of that pork, and two types of rice rolls.
10. Reception Bar (7)
The Lower East Side has a brand-new bar courtesy of operator Katie Rue, who wanted to create a space that spoke to her Korean-American heritage. As such, the exciting-looking menu features lots of soju, some nonalcoholic “elixirs,” and a small food section with dukbokki and kabocha rice porridge.
11. Jeju Noodle Bar (8)
The latest Michelin stars were announced last week, and — as always — the most interesting action was in the one-star range, which always includes a few solid new additions. This year, one such spot is Douglas Kim’s small, West Village Korean restaurant. The thing to get is ramyun, which, as the weather gets colder, sounds more and more appealing.
12. Tea & Sympathy (Off last week)
Things are looking a little bleak for this West Village tea shop, which has unleashed a crowdfunding campaign. As the owners write, “We have stood by and watched all of the local businesses who made the West Village what it is today lose to landlords and buyouts and profit losses. We are trying so hard not to be added to that list.”