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. Via Carota (Last week: 1)
Jody Williams and Rita Sodi are, per the James Beard Foundation, officially the the best chefs in New York City. They are also mere moments away from unveiling their newest project, Bar Pisellino. But while you wait for the paper to come off the windows (and maybe give it a few days while the staff gets up to speed), why not head directly across the street and check out this beloved spot instead?
2. Maison Yaki (3)
Team Olmsted’s expansion into the not-exactly crowded field of Franco-yakitori bars is both notably unique, and, it turns out, quite popular. Duck l’orange skewers, beef-tongue sandos, impossibly crisp tempura frog’s legs, draft cocktails, and gentle prices — everything on the menu is nine bucks or less — have drawn plenty of people since the restaurant opened late last month.
3. Essex Market (New this week … kind of)
The bigger, badder, altogether newer iteration of the Essex Street Market, is ready to welcome you. Old favorites, like Shopsin’s, have made the move, as have a slew of new vendors that fit right in.
4. Cafe Altro Paradiso (Off last week)
This weekend, Natasha Pickowicz’s third-annual Bake Sale benefiting Planned Parenthood New York will be a must-visit fundraiser, but really, any day is a good one to see what she and chef Ignacio Mattos are up to at their downtown Italian spot.
5. The Fulton (New this week)
Way downtown, chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten has opened his 347th restaurant, this one dedicated to all things aquatic. It’s a tribute to the old Fulton Fish Market and you will find basically any kind of seafood you could want, all done up with Vongerichten’s signature level of understated panache.
6. Coast and Valley (4)
While it may seem like everyone you know is moving to L.A., Brooklyn has gotten its own injection of Golden-State vibes, care of this new wine bar dedicated to all things California. There is also light, straightforward food that seems designed to appeal to anyone who has a penchant for wellness or Instagram.
7. Mercado Little Spain (5)
Having now spent a fair amount of time inside the Hudson Yards mega-mall, Grub Street can say the most fun dining experience will be had at José Andrés’s Spanish super-restaurant. There are kiosks aplenty, a few sit-down spots, and now, breakfast and lunch service at the market’s Spanish take on an American diner, meaning olive-oil pancakes and Spanish fried eggs are now very much a way to start your day.
8. Golden Diner (6)
This DIY Chinatown diner from Samuel Yoo does some fun things in an unusual space: the avocado toast is gussied up with lemongrass and galangal, the breakfast burritos are studded with perfectly crisp hash browns, and the diner’s signature hero is stuffed with marinated tofu skin. All in all: it’s a good time.
9. Crown Shy (8)
What’s happening down at this two-month-old spot from James Kent and Jeff Katz? A recent spot check revealed a happily packed house earlier this week, and at the New Yorker, Hannah Goldfield recently wrote that part of the restaurant’s charm “lies in how carefully it walks the line between elegant and fussy, from the dining room’s matte-leather banquettes and granite tables to the servers’ casual but chic nineties-inspired uniform of light-wash jeans, crisp white T-shirts, and loafers or black Converse sneakers.” (Also, the bread is extremely great.)
10. Rezdôra (New this week)
It’s a scientific fact that there is no such thing as “too much pasta,” and in the Flatiron, Italian chef Stefano Secchi has opened a brand-new spot dedicated to the food of Emilia-Romagna. And so: there are pasta tastings, a few solid secondi options, and — to start — gnoccho fritto, the warm, fried bread that just so happens to be the world’s greatest prosciutto accompaniment. Buon appetito.
11. Barbuto (12)
It appears that Jonathan Waxman’s roast-chicken oasis may have found a new location, but you nevertheless have like two weeks left to check out the perfect restaurant in its original, and possibly unbeatable, space. (Also worth noting: They give good spritz here.) Get to it.
12. The Paris Café (New this week)
Surprise! In the time it’s taken you to read the last six entries, Jean-Georges Vongerichten has opened another restaurant, this one way, way out at JFK. The Paris Café is JG’s revamp of the former TWA terminal’s original restaurant, now residing in the space known as the TWA Hotel, and updated for modern tastes (meaning you’ll find broccoli-rabe pizza, but not cream of asparagus soup). Should you head out to the airport just to eat? Um, no. But if you’re already there, and you’re into Eero Saarinen tulip chairs, why not stop in?