Grub Street’s Restaurant Power Rankings: Little Tong, Loverboy, Mifune, 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. Emily (Last week: 1)
There’s nothing not to like at the new Manhattan offshoot of the much-loved Brooklyn pizza mini-empire. (Except, perhaps, the wait for a table — though good planners can make reservations.) The vibe is casual, the pizzas are as good as you’d expect, and the famous burger is on almost every table.

2. The Grill (2)
At the Major Food Group reboot of the Four Seasons Grill Room, the food is better than ever, the dining room is filled with fewer billionaires (probably), the bar is a scene, and the prices are (still) quite high.

3. The Office (3)
Grant Achatz is finally cooking in New York. It seems like he’s mostly getting warmed up, though, with this cocktail bar that serves as something of an amuse-bouche before a full-blown Aviary arrives this fall. Still, everyone seems to agree that this place is mighty impressive.

4. Little Tong Noodle Shop (Off last week)
In the Times, Pete Wells offered two stars this week to this small East Village shop, which specializes in Yunnanese rice noodles called mixian. And in this year’s Cheap Eats extravaganza, the Underground Gourmet writes, “When someone writes the book on the Asian-noodle scene of 21st-century New York … [chef and owner Simone Tong] might be remembered as the woman who liberated noodle soups from centuries of patriarchy, or at least proved there was East Village life (and worthwhile slurping) beyond ramen.”

5. Public Kitchen (5)
Jean-Georges Vongerichten opens new restaurants more often than most chefs redesign their menus. His latest: this spot at the Public Hotel. There’s a wood fire, popcorn-cheddar frico, corn-and-basil pot stickers, and — this being a hotel — full breakfast service. (There are actually a lot of great new breakfast options these days.) The early word of mouth here is extremely positive.

6. Narcbar (4)
John Fraser is behind the menu at this new Narcissa sister-spot at the Standard in the East Village, which features burgers, French dips, steak tartare, and the “obligatory kale salad.”

7. Loverboy (New this week)
The team behind Nolita favorite Mother’s Ruin has opened this new East Village spot that’s a good addition to the city’s summer-drinking scene. Expect straightforward $12 cocktails, at least one frozen drink, pizza, and a chicken-parm sandwich that looks like a true contender.

8. Mifune (New this week)
Tonight, midtown gets an ambitious, luxurious new Japanese restaurant. There is some sushi and sashimi on the menu, but there are also cooked dishes like smoked lamb with miso-and-black-garlic sauce, or broiled cod with Parmesan foam.

9. Belly (New this week)
Everything you need to know about this new Williamsburg restaurant can be summed up with the words “Korean bacon omakase,” which is the $45 speciality offered to anyone who makes a reservation.

10. Cote (6)
You may not have seen a restaurant that aims to mash up an American steakhouse with Korean barbecue, but you nevertheless might know what to expect here: cocktails, a wine list heavy on big hitters from the Old World, grills right in the table, and a lot of meat, all of which was first-rate during a recent dinner.

11. Fuku Wall St. (7)
David Chang’s fried-chicken chainlet arrives in the Fidi with spicy sandwiches, Fuku fingers, and — what’s this? — healthy-seeming things like kale salad and sugar snaps. (Wylie Dufresne’s doughnuts are known to make appearances, too.)

12. Perla Cafe (Off last week)
In just over a week, Gabriel Stulman will close this modern-Italian restaurant before turning it into a café and wine bar. If you wish to say arrivederci before that happens, make sure you go before July 23.

This post is updated weekly.

Restaurant Power Rankings: Where to Eat Right Now