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. Torien (1)
Have you grown weary of expensive sushi omakase experiences orchestrated by master chefs? Perhaps you’d like to, instead, try an expensive yakitori experience, orchestrated by some master chefs. At this brand-new yakitori counter in Noho, Japan’s Yoshiteru Ikegawa — a yakitori master with a Jiro-like following among the world’s culinary professionals — has lent his expertise. About $150 will get you in the door, but you’ll want to make a reservation now — as in right this very second — before word travels too far.
2. Ernesto’s (2)
The first great Instagram dish of 2020 is officially this plate of Spanish ham and homemade potato chips. The upside, of course, is that this idea seems less like a gimmick and more like an innovation that more people should adopt! And, indeed, this new Spanish spot — from chef Ryan Bartlow — is not your standard-issue tapas joint. In fact, Bartlow’s entire menu is filled with ideas and thoughtful upgrades that amplify the traditional Basque cooking.
3. Lekka Burger (Off last week)
Consider Eater critic Ryan Sutton a fan of this Tribeca burger shop from Andrea Kerzner and chef Amanda Cohen, where everything is vegan and the veggie patties are made with — surprise! — real ingredients instead of Silicon Valley lab nonsense.
4. Da Toscano (New this week)
This weekend, Michael Toscano, one of New York’s most beloved chefs, returns to the city with an upscale Italian spot that promises to hit all the carby, meaty notes his fans will remember, and love. Welcome back!
5. Jua (New this week)
We’ve been waiting for this ambitious Korean restaurant to open for at least a few months now and now it’s actually happening! The specialities here are a tasting menu and wood-fired cooking from chef Ho Young Kim, and it has the look of a place that could be very big in 2020 and beyond. Go now!
7. La Pozoleria (11)
Speaking of very necessary comfort food: Go warm up inside La Newyorkina where, for the time being, chefs Fany Gerson and Danny Mena have set up an all-pozole pop-up. This is very much a win for the city.
8. Nowon (5)
Chef Jae Lee sells his Instagram-famous kimchee burger at his new-ish East Village restaurant, but that is only the beginning here, and you will very much want to explore the menu beyond that. Chopped cheese rice cakes, honey-butter tater tots, and two varieties of fried rice — including one that’s made with octopus and Spam — demand that you look beyond the burger.
9. 232 Bleecker (4)
Chef Suzanne Cupps and the team behind the Dig chain have opened this new neighborhood spot in Greenwich Village. There is a massive grill, and Cupps’s signature way with fresh, seasonal ingredients. There is also, temptingly, lasagna — yes, lasagna —made with Moses Sleeper cheese from Vermont’s Jasper Hill Farm. As Cupps told Grub, “We want to put fewer ingredients on the plate, but make it more interesting in the process.”
10. Portale (6)
What does our critic Adam Platt think of Alfred Portale’s follow-up to his decades-long tenure at Gotham Bar and Grill? Platt writes, “if you live nearby (in a general, 20-block radius like your humble critic does, let’s say), or if you happen to be wandering through, and if you’re in the market for a stylish, well-crafted cocktail or an inventive take on a classic Italian dessert (the shiny chocolate-topped tiramisu, the brûléed panna cotta set over a bed of fresh-sliced figs), then this is the restaurant for you.”
11. Le Crocodile (7)
French food is never exactly out of fashion in New York, but this Williamsburg restaurant nevertheless makes a strong case for the enduring vitality of saucy, meaty bistro cooking, in the form of thick slices of paté, rosy duck breast, and sweetbreads drenched in a maple-spiked reduction of veal-and-onion stock.
12. Piggyback NYC (8)
Leah Cohen has expanded with this bar and, as you might expect, things here are a bit looser than they are at her restaurant Pig & Khao. As Grub’s own Chris Crowley puts it, “Given its location, only a few blocks from Madison Square Garden, Piggyback has an appropriate amount of bar food for long-suffering Knicks fans who need to drown their sorrows in honey-butter-gochujang sauce. (It comes with the wings.)”