Welcome to Grub Street’s weekly survey of the most-talked-about, must-visit restaurants in New York. 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. Ernesto’s (Last Week: 2)
Chef Ryan Bartlow’s impressive menu is filled with all sorts of food you find yourself thinking about long after you’ve left his new downtown Spanish restaurant: chicken croquettes with a beautiful custardy interior, pots of long-cooked tripe, squid stewed in its own ink, and peppers stuffed with tender lamb neck.
2. Thai Diner (New This Week)
There’s a surprising number of revisionist “diners” in New York — including Soho Diner, José Andrés’s Spanish Diner, and chef Sam Yoo’s very excellent Golden Diner — and now the Uncle Boons team unveils the aptly named Thai Diner. As the name suggests, it’s equal parts Greek-American diner and Thai restaurant with a wild mix of food (kanom krok, eggs with Thai sausage, straight-up cheeseburgers) that is something like a free-for-all of deliciousness.
3. Jua (8)
After a long delay, chef Ho Young Kim’s Korean tasting-menu spot is finally open. The food on the $95 set menu is polished — with an ambitious approach that marries Korean and Western techniques — and the entire room smells pleasantly of the wood fire that Kim uses to cook much of his food.
5. Verōnika (5)
Stephen Starr’s “grand European café” is starting to develop its own following, thanks in part to its now-familiar Starr-like energy (luxe design, razor-sharp service, a vaguely clubby soundtrack) and a menu that features lots of dishes rarely seen in New York: warm borscht made with Dan Barber’s supersweet beets, a towering column of Mornay-drenched soufflé, and the fabled salmon coulibiac.
6. Rule of Thirds (New This Week)
It’s something like a supergroup: A crew from Okonomi and Sunday in Brooklyn are behind this brand-new Japanese restaurant, where the menu will include things like a full duck service, cheffed-up tonkatsu, and some seriously fun-looking cocktails.
7. Peasant (7)
The bones are the same, but it seems there’s a bit more razzle-dazzle in the dining room now that chef Marc Forgione is running the show. Take, for example, the restaurant’s riff on spaghetti carbonara, which includes egg steeped in smoked olive oil and gets shaken like a cocktail as it’s served.
8. Le Crocodile (4)
How is 2020 only two months old? If you, like Grub Street, find yourself exhausted by the news (and general state of the world?), perhaps you’d like to find some comfort in hearty, thoughtfully prepared brasserie classics, like rich steak au poivre, rustic hunks of country pâté, and — of course — chocolate-drenched profiteroles.
9. 232 Bleecker (10)
Chef Suzanne Cupps has teamed up with the Dig chain for this new neighborhood spot in Greenwich Village. There is a massive grill, Cupps’s signature way with fresh, seasonal ingredients, and lasagna made with Moses Sleeper cheese from Vermont’s Jasper Hill Farm.
10. Da Toscano (8)
Speaking of highly revered New York chefs arriving in new spaces, Michael Toscano has returned 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!
11. Caleta 111 Cevicheria (Off Last Week)
Here is Times critic Pete Wells on what is, in his estimation, the best part of eating at this Queens ceviche shop: “Most ceviche connoisseurs will tell you that the leche de tigre is their favorite part of ceviche. This is how I feel about the leche de tigre at Caleta 111. It is what an energy drink would taste like if energy drinks were any good.”
12. Bar Camillo (New This Week)
As the winter slowly turns to spring, Grub Street’s attention turns to Negronis. What luck, then, that this new Bed-Stuy arrival — and offshoot of Flatbush’s much-loved Camillo — offers ten different varieties.