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 reason, these are the 12 hottest restaurants in New York right now.
1. Arcade Bakery (Off last week)
Here’s the plan: We’re all going to go to Roger Gural’s extremely charming, always-excellent Tribeca bakery as much as possible before it closes for summer vacation in August. We’re talking about making it lines-down-the-street popular, because (a) it very much deserves that level of acclaim, and (b) it will hopefully convince a buyer (or multiples) to take it over, so that it doesn’t shutter forever.
2. LaLou (Last week: 1)
Grub Street’s friends and acquaintances often get in touch to ask about new restaurants, and the place that everyone seems to ask about these days is this new Prospect Heights wine bar from Joe Campanale and chef Ashley Rath, where the vibe is chill, the drinks are always interesting, and the menu — where you’ll find delicate potato dumplings under a cover of greens and herbs, a lovely little bowl of summer zucchini, and fried olives that should begin every meal, ever — is firmly dialed in to crowd-pleaser mode.
3. Rezdôra (3)
Chef Stefano Secchi’s Flatiron restaurant opened relatively quietly back in May. It’s safe to say word has gotten out. Pastas, especially, benefit from the kitchen’s technical precision, which gets showcased in, for example, a dish called “grandma walking through forest in emilia” (go with it), a stuffed-pasta ode to spring vegetables served atop a swoosh of deeply enjoyable mushroom purée. Also, don’t miss the strawberry dessert.
4. 701West (Off last week)
Times critic Pete Wells writes this week that John Fraser’s main restaurant in the Times Square Edition hotel “belongs to a species of restaurant that is no longer in great supply in Manhattan,” which is to say, somewhat-pricey “luxury dining in its way, which is not the predictable way.” Fraser’s cooking, Wells writes, is so surprising, and can be so appealing, that it’s also very much worth the trip to 47th Street.
5. Bar Pisellino (2)
It’s an aperitivi bar from New York’s most acclaimed, popular West Village chef duo, Jody Williams and Rita Sodi. What’s not to like? Obviously it has been mobbed, and obviously it is very appealing.
6. FieldTrip (New this week)
In Harlem, JJ Johnson is adding something new to the fast-casual mix: a bowl spot where the focus is very much on heirloom rice that is “freshly milled, unbleached and not enriched,” and arrives in all sorts of menu options that are “influenced by global flavors and techniques used within various cultures.” It all sounds way better than another Chipotle.
7. The Turk’s Inn (4)
It’s the same old story: Two Minnesota-raised restaurateurs buy the various pieces of the kitschy Wisconsin supper club they frequented as kids, rebuild it in Bushwick, and open it with a new Middle Eastern menu primed to appeal to the Brooklyn masses. More surprising than the backstory, though, may be the fact that, at least in its early going, it’s quite good.
8. Pastis (5)
It’s Pastis, reborn. You know it, you love it, and now it comes with the added bonus of being run by Stephen Starr’s company. Good luck getting a reservation!
9. Maison Yaki (6)
Just last week, Eater’s Ryan Sutton opined that Olmsted chef Greg Baxtrom “has himself another winner here in Prospect Heights,” at this Franco-Japanese restaurant, which finally answers the question, What would it look like if Auguste Escoffier opened a yakitori joint? Interestingly, it all works quite well.
10. The Fulton (7)
The early word on Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s downtown seafood spot is that it’s extremely polished, and that, even as the chef has more recently dabbled with the farm-to-table trend and, um, a wellness café, his team’s ability to turn out top-flight fine-dining remains impressive.
11. Apollonia (9)
The crew behind Walter’s and Walter Foods knows how to turn out a low-key neighborhood hit, and this new arrival — taking its cues from L.A. cafés and pan-Mediterranean cooking — looks to continue the trend. Drop in for some coffee, a pastry, some chicken, some wine — whatever you want, basically.
12. Mission Ceviche (8)
Way up on Second Avenue, chef José Luis Chavez has a new brick-and-mortar spot dedicated to its namesake dish. There are also some skewers, entrees to share, and more than enough to make this a full meal.