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New York City's 15 Hottest Restaurants

By Kelly Dobkin
November 3, 2014

Don't know where to eat tonight? Here's a place to start: our monthly hottest restaurants update. Check out 15 of the most important restaurants in NYC right now, from a modern Mexican eatery to a Roman-style pizzeria.

  • 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 already so slammed, they're currently not accepting reservations until 2015. 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

  • 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

  • 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 $350, 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 

  • 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: Michael Harlan Turkell

    Dirty French

    ​Why it's hot: The team behind hit restaurants ParmCarbone and Torrisi Italian Specialities 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 6PM and 10PM has been a serious challenge.

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

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

  • 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

  • White Street

    Why it's hot: Media moguls Dan Abrams and Dave Zinczenko have partnered with former BONDST GM (and old friend) Christine Cole to open this new TriBeCa eatery inspired by the glamour of old New York. Executive chef Floyd Cardoz (North End Grill, Tabla) is at the stoves putting out an American menu driven by seasonal produce.​

    Must-order: Hamachi tartare with hearts of palm and homemade cider; Spiced braised short ribs with mustard purée, grits and fresh horseradish

    ​The details: 221 W. Broadway; 212-944-8378 

  • 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

  • Photo by: Jacque Burke

    Bar Primi

    Why it's hot: This Downtown Italian eatery from chef Andrew Carmellini, Luke Ostrom, Josh Pickard and Sal Lamboglia in the former Peels space is years in the making for Carmellini, who had long dreamed of opening a simple, pasta-focused restaurant. He even trademarked the name Bar Primi seven years back. Now Carmellini and Lamboglia's plates of simple homemade pasta like bucatini, cavatelli and fiore de carciofi are making this one of the most coveted tables in town.

    Must-order: Fiore di carciofi with smoked bacon, pecorino

    The details: 325 Bowery; 212-220-9100

  • Root & Bone

    Why it's hot: Former Top Chef-testants Jeff McInnis (previously of Yardbird) and Janine Booth have come together to open this Alphabet City Southern eatery that features some of their family recipes with a few new twists. The spot is particularly hot for brunch as the tiny space has diners lining up for fried chicken and homemade biscuits.

    Must-order: Fried chicken, celery root slaw, banana cream pie

    The details: 200 E. Third St.; 646-682-6080

  • 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

  • Gato

    Why it's hot: You'll find Bobby Flay's reinvention of his '90s Spanish hit Bolo sufficiently packed at 6 PM on a Monday night with diners fighting over barstools. Why? The food is, to the dismay of Flay haters, infuriatingly on point. 

    Must-order: Roasted octopus with tangerine, bacon and oregano, lamb sausage pizza with mint

    The details: 324 Lafayette St.; 212-334-6400

  • 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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