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. Frenchette (Last week: 1)
Get used to seeing Tribeca’s newest brasserie on top of this list. Not only is it New York’s most-hyped opening in ages, not only will the gracious service charm you into submission, but the food is both refreshingly original and deeply appealing. Try the tongue-and-mackerel appetizer, beautifully scrambled eggs with North Fork escargots, lobster with curry butter and, of course, the duck.
2. Simon & the Whale (6)
Adam Platt says Gabriel Stulman’s newest restaurant is a very appealing take on the neighborhood-restaurant formula. Stulman also, our critic writes, “has a history of finding promising chefs and empowering them to do ambitious things, and the executive chef, Matt Griffin, has clearly been brought in with this in mind.”
3. La Mercerie (2)
The new, extremely handsome café from Marie-Aude Rose and Stephen Starr’s restaurant group — attached to the Roman and Williams store in Soho — is winning lots of fans thanks to its steadfast devotion to very French food. Medallions of beef are topped with rich shallot sauce, crêpes are a big draw, a pool of crimson meurette sauce rests under a salmon fillet, and dessert skews très classique, with profiteroles and crème caramel.
4. OddFellows Coffee & Cream (New this week)
Have you seen the weather forecast? Why are you even reading this? Get outside and get some ice cream. One place to do just that: the corner of Houston and Mott at the newest OddFellows outpost, where there is also a fair amount of coffee to be had.
5. Smorgasburg (Off last week)
Speaking of the weather, this is almost certainly the weekend to check out Smorgasburg, which just so happens to have reopened its main outdoor markets for the season. Get there early, before everyone else wakes up, and have your pick of the new vendors.
6. Legacy Records (3)
The big, bold new project from the team that gave the city Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones is open on the (very) far west side of Manhattan. Based on a recent meal, people are more than willing to hike over to West 38th Street to take in the scene, try chef Ryan Hardy’s Italian-y menu, and drink some wine off the restaurant’s predictably impressive bottle list.
7. Mikkeller NYC (5)
Mikkeller, the celebrated Danish brewer, unveiled a massive new outpost — its first on the East Coast — at Citi Field. Despite the surprising location (it’s open to the public at all times, so you don’t need a ticket), this is shaping up to be a serious spot for great craft beer. (Good weekend weather may be all the reason you need to swing by.)
8. Ferris (Off last week)
This very charming restaurant, inside 29th Street’s Made Hotel, opened back in October, and it seems like chef Greg Proechel’s kitchen has only gotten better since then. To wit, check out the restaurant’s killer pork katsu sando or its very special whole-duck feast.
9. Bistrot Leo (New this week)
This week in Soho, John McDonald and chef Brian Loiacono have unveiled their own take on the New York bistro inside the former Sessanta space. Expect steak tartare with marrow sabayon, foie gras torchons aplenty, and — bien sur — serious steak-frites.
10. Beebe’s (9)
Pizza expert Lou Tomczak is slinging pies at this new Long Island City restaurant, aiming to re-create New York City’s glorious pizza past. You’ll also find thoughtful cocktails, market-driven Italian-y food, and even some frozen cheesecake for dessert.
11. Bellwether (10)
Also in Long Island City: Partners Matthew McCormick and chef Preston Madson have opened their version of a seasonal, Italian-leaning New York trattoria. The menu is filled with dishes like seared octopus, beef carpaccio, a grilled pork chop with local polenta, and even a patty melt. If you’re in the neighborhood, this is one to check out.
12. Claro (4)
Count Times critic Pete Wells among the people who have warmed up to this Gowanus Mexican restaurant. In a recent review, Wells awarded the spot two stars and called out chef T.J. Steele’s appealing cooking (as well as some impressive tattoos). It just so happens that the restaurant also serves some of the best moles in town.