New York City's 17 Hottest New Restaurants

By Kelly Dobkin
December 22, 2014
Photo by: Shuko

Don't know where to eat tonight? Here's a place to start: our monthly hottest restaurants update. Check out 17 of the most important restaurants in NYC right now, from an LIC ramen joint to a California-inspired Flatiron newcomer.

  • Mission Chinese Food

    Why it's hot: Danny Bowien just reopened his beloved Chinese throwback-inspired eatery with an expanded menu and space that includes favorites like ma po tofu, explosive chile wings and thrice-cooked bacon as well as new dishes like green tea noodles with ginger and cucumber, stir-fried celery with lily bulbs and hazelnuts and wood-fired pizzas and breads.

    Must-order: The pizza, the lobster and coconut fried rice, Koji chicken wings, stir-fried celery

    The details: 171 E. Broadway; 212-529-8800

  • Upland

    Why it's hot: Restaurateur Stephen Starr has teamed up with former Il Buco Alimentari chef Justin Smillie for this much-anticipated California-inspired restaurant, named for the Golden State town where he was born. The menu mixes California influences with Italian and Mediterranean cuisines and shows off Smillie's rustic approach to food.​

    Must-order: Mushroom salad with seared robiola, tatsoi, chicories and burnt shallot vinaigrette; Estrella pasta with chicken liver, sherry, rosemary and sage​

    ​The details: 345 Park Ave. S.; 212-686-1006

  • Photo by: Gabriele Stabile

    Momofuku Ko

    ​Why it's hot: The new, larger location of the perpetually booked tasting-menu-only experience recently reopened in the East Village's Extra Place, offering a 17-serving dinner for $175 from executive chef Sean Gray. The space, which now features a new bar and wine tables in addition to counter seating, is gorgeously outfitted with custom murals by artist David Choe. Many things about Ko have been upgraded, but the online reservations system remains the same. In other words, prepare to hit that "refresh button" every morning at 10 AM for days if you plan on getting a table.

    Must-order: Tasting menu: mackerel sabazushi, uni with chickpea sauce and hozon

    The details: 8 Extra Place; 212-500-0831

  • Shuko

    ​Why it's hot: Former Neta chefs Jimmy Lau and Nick Kim have opened this intimate 19-seat sushi bar in NYU-land offering only omakase sushi or kaiseki menus that change daily. Needless to say, seats are already coveted.

    Must-order: Sushi or kaiseki omakase

    The details: ​​47 E. 12th St.; 212-228-6088

  • Cosme

    ​Why it's hot: Chef Enrique Olvera of Mexico City's famed Pujol made his NYC debut with Cosme, a new Mexican-inspired, shared-plates restaurant that's been booked solid from day one. The windowless space seats 65 in the main dining room and the same amount in the bar/lounge area. Food-wise, expect Mexican flavors that utilize local, seasonal ingredients from areas like the Hudson Valley (except for a few imported Mexican veggies like beans, corn and peppers).  

    Must-order: The menu changes frequently, but try the mushroom and squash barbacoa, lobster pibil and the duck carnitas

    The details: 35 E. 21st St.; 212-913-9659

  • Photo by: Michael Harlan Turkell

    Dirty French

    ​Why it's hot: The team behind hit restaurants ParmCarbone and Torrisi Italian Specialties opened their first non-Italian-American restaurant, Dirty French, in the Ludlow Hotel this fall, featuring a menu of French throwbacks in a clubby setting. So far, snagging a reservation here at any time between 6 PM and 10 PM has been a serious challenge.

    Must-order: Clams almondine, lamb carpaccio, duck à l’orange 

    ​The details: 180 Ludlow St.; 212-254-3000

  • Kappo Masa

    ​Why it's hot: Famed Japanese chef Masayoshi Takayama, the man behind sushi mecca Masa, has opened a slightly less expensive and less formal eatery on the Upper East Side called Kappo Masa, adjacent to the Gagosian Gallery. (And by less expensive, we mean the omakase is $275, not $450.) While the omakase is not available yet, the restaurant just launched a lunch menu that includes bento boxes.

    Must-order: Any of the fish pasta; hibachi grilled butter miso cod; sushi; bento boxes at lunchtime

    ​The details: 976 Madison Ave.; 212-906-7141 

  • Bowery Meat Company

    Why it's hot: Meat master Josh Capon has opened this modern steakhouse featuring prime cuts including a $126 cote de boeuf (for 2-4 ppl) and an obscenely juicy burger. Set in retro-inspired digs in the East Village's Extra Place, the sexy meatery features butcher-block tables, beamed ceilings and 1960s touches.

    Must-order: Duck lasagna, the burger, cauliflower steak

    The details: ​9 E. First St.; 212-460-5255

  • Mu Ramen

    ​Why it's hot: Husband-and-wife team Josh (Per Se) and Heidy (Buddakan) Smookler opened a permanent outpost of their popular Mu Ramen pop-up recently in Long Island City. The new brick-and-mortar space features a communal table, an open kitchen and four kinds of ramen. From what we hear, it's already a hit.

    Must-order: Oxtail and bone-marrow ramen, pork buns, okonomiyaki

    The details: 1209 Jackson Ave., Long Island City; 917-868-8903

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    Little Park

    ​Why it's hot: The latest from Soho Hospitality Group, led by chef Andrew Carmellini (The Dutch, Locanda Verde), and partners Luke Ostrom and Josh Pickard, Little Park opened recently at TriBeCa's Smyth Hotel in the former Plein Sud space. Chef de cuisine Min Kong churns out the globally inspired menu, while mixologist Anne Robinson shakes up the beverages here at at the adjacent Evening Bar.  

    Must-order: Spatchcock chicken, roasted sunchokes with hazelnut and black truffles, black-kale ravioli.

    The details: 85 W. Broadway; 212-220-4110

  • Empellon Al Pastor

    Why it's hot: Pastry chef turned Mexican food master Alex Stupak has opened his third eatery, Empellon Al Pastor, in the East Village, which is by far his most casual venture to date. The concept, as you can guess from the name, will focus on the perfection of the al pastor taco (which is actually a fusion dish inspired by Lebanese immigrants), but will also double as a bar and tortilleria. After visiting more than 50 taquerias in Mexico and trying 50 different versions of the al pastor taco (which vary wildly, according to Stupak), he has perfected his own recipe, which uses spit-roasted pork and pineapple in traditional fashion. 

    Must-order: Al pastor tacos, guacamole, chef-designed Micheladas

    The details: 132 St. Marks Place; 646-833-7039

  • Photo by: Alice Gao


    Why it's hot: The long-anticipated new Italian from Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group and Maialino's Nick Anderer opened inside Flatiron's Martha Washington Hotel this fall featuring Roman-style pizza and meats grilled alle brace, or "over embers." Needless to say, it was pretty much an instant hit with the business-lunch crowd, locals, hotel visitors and foodies alike.

    Must-order: Funghi pie, rabbit meatballs, lamb chops 

    ​The details: 29 E. 29th St.; 212-651-3800

  • Photo by: Bart Barlow

    Rainbow Room

    Why it's hot: The legendary Rainbow Room, formerly run by the Cipriani family, recently reopened (albeit for two days a week ) after five years dormant. The restaurant has received a complete makeover from real estate developer Tishman Speyer and redesign by Gabellini Sheppard Associates. Chef Jonathan Wright, a British import, has taken the helm at the famous stoves (once greased by Anthony Bourdain) and will prepare a contemporary American menu while the bar serves $22 Negronis. 

    Must-order: Sunday brunch; Maine lobster pot pie with black truffle; beef Wellington

    ​The details: 30 Rockefeller Center, 65th Floor; 212-632-5000

  • Sushi Nakazawa

    Why it's hot: After receiving four stars from The New York Times in December, reservations at this small sushi restaurant went from "impossible" to "who do you think you're kidding?" Its chef, Daisuke Nakazawa, is a protégé of sushi master Jiro Ono, and here he offers omakase-only dining either at the 10-seat bar (live out your Jiro Dreams of Sushi fantasies) or in the 25-seat back dining room. The no-frills setting makes the sushi the focus, and its prices match its exclusivity: $120 for the 20-course tasting menu ($150 at the counter).

    Must-order: The omakase at the counter is a must

    The details: 23 Commerce St.; 212-924-2212

  • GG's

    Why it's hot: The former Goat Town space on East Fifth Street has been transformed into GG's — a NY-inspired American neighborhood eatery from chef Bobby Hellen, Nicholas Morgenstern, Emily Schumacher and Gabe Richter. Since opening, the spot is packed almost every night of the week, filling a desperately needed void for a great neighborhood restaurant in the area.

    Must-order: Grandma pie; salt-roasted vegetables with chimichurri

    ​The details: 511 E. Fifth St.; 212-687-3641

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    Arrogant Swine

    ​Why it's hot: Pitmaster Tyson Ho has brought the swiney goodness of traditional North Carolina whole hog to Brooklyn with his massive pork and booze hall, Arrogant Swine. Now open in Bushwick, the concept is based on his popular "Hog Days of Summer" weekend events that went down during the summer of 2013. After learning his craft from NC 'cue legend Ed Mitchell, Ho smokes his whole hogs over Long Island oak for nearly 24 hours. Then the pig is tossed with a traditional vinegar-pepper sauce and topped with cracklin's.

    Must-order: Whole-hog platter

    ​The details: 173 Morgan Ave., Brooklyn; 347-328-5595

  • Photo by: Clay Williams


    Why it's hot: The folks behind beloved outdoor festivals Brooklyn Flea and Smorgasburg went brick-and-mortar by opening Berg'n, a 9,000-sq.-ft. beer and food hall in Crown Heights. The sleek space features food vendors like Ramen Burger, Pizza Moto, Mighty Quinn's, Asia Dog, Blue Marble ice cream and coffee from the BK-based Parlor. The massive beer list was put together with help from Brooklyn Brewery's Garrett Oliver.

    Must-order: Ramen burger, brisket sandwich at Mighty Quinn's, tap beers

    ​The details: 899 Bergen St., Brooklyn


Places Mentioned

French Louie

French • Boerum Hill

Food26 Decor25 Service26 Cost$60

Italian • Greenwich Village

Food23 Decor21 Service22 Cost$71
The Clam

Seafood • West Village

Food23 Decor22 Service24 Cost$62
Empire Diner

Diner • Chelsea

Food21 Decor18 Service19 Cost$37
Sushi Nakazawa

Sushi • West Village

Food27 Decor23 Service26 Cost$196

American • East Village

Food27 Decor25 Service24 Cost$81

European • TriBeCa

Food- Decor- Service- CostE

Pizza • Clinton Hill

Food- Decor- Service- CostM
Bar Primi

Bar And Grill • East Village

Atmo.- Decor- Service- CostM

French • Greenwich Village

Food- Decor- Service- CostE

Mediterranean • NoHo

Food24 Decor24 Service24 Cost$78
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