Openings

New York City's 17 Hottest New Restaurants

By Kelly Dobkin | April 8, 2015 By Kelly Dobkin  |  April 8, 2015
Photo by: Michael Tulipan

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 a Flatiron Tex-Mex joint to a country club-esque midtown celebrity hangout.

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  • Photo by: Michael Tulipan

    Javelina

    Why it's hot: NYC is littered with crappy Tex-Mex joints of eras past but when owner and Texas native Matt Post opened this Flatiron eatery last month, named for the southwestern cousin to the wild pig, he set out to prove that the cuisine wasn't just run-of-the-mill fajitas, margs and guac. Prove it he did as the smallish joint has lines out the door almost every night. Post tapped chef Richard Caruso, a vet of Rosa Mexicano and Hill Country to perfect regional Texas specialties like the puffy taco, various quesos and the parrilladas mixtas.

    Must order: Mag Mud queso, steak fajitas, puffy tacos

    The details: 119 E. 18th Street; 212-539-0202

  • The Polo Bar

    Why it's hot: The newest Midtown celebrity hangout/country club is Ralph Lauren's first NY restaurant, located in the former Le Cote Basque space. The space has an old-New York feel and features a fireplace, hunter green walls, aged leather banquettes and a brass-topped bar. The menu, like the brand, is classic American and includes selections like the Polo Bar Burger, crispy kale salad, crab cakes, steaks and a corned beef sandwich. The dessert list features Ralph’s Coffee Ice Cream, made with a custom coffee blend. Naturally, waitstaff is clad in custom Ralph Lauren grey flannel trousers, leather wingtips and silk repp ties.

    Must order: Pigs in a blanket, Polo Bar burger, Ralph's corned beef sandwich

    The details: 1 E. 55th Street; 212-207-8562

  • Photo by: Evan Sung

    Noreetuh

    Why it's hot: The East Village said "aloha" to a new modern Hawaiian eatery this week called Noreetuh from a trio of Per Se alums. Chung Chow, Jin Ahn and Gerald San Jose, are behind the 42-seat East Village space which ropes in influences from Chow's native Hawaii that span Filipino, Korean, and Japanese cuisine. The restaurant elevates classic Hawaiian ingredients like Spam into dishes like tortelloni and Kalue pork croquettes. 

    Must order: Big-eye tuna poke crudo with macadamia nuts; Mochi-crusted fluke

    The details128 First Avenue; 646-892-3050

  • Photo by: Liz Clayman

    Streetbird Rotisserie

    Why it's hot: Red Rooster owner and face-of-Harlem chef Marcus Samuelsson graced his beloved neighborhood with Streetbird Rotisserie last week, a kitchenette inspired by his upbringing in both Sweden and Ethiopia in a space heavily reflective of his current neighborhood's past. The funky space is outfitted with '80s hip hop throwback photography, old-school boomboxes, repurposed church pews and vintage Louis Vuitton-lined banquettes. Dishes range from the namesake bird, served up in quarter, half and whole cuts with an array of seriously addictive sauces for dipping including sweet soy, barbecue, jerk, hot sauce to tack tack "tacos," Asian-inspired noodles, mac 'n' cheese and even a Chinese takeout-inspired chicken dish.

    Must order: The bird, obviously, get a whole one and split with a group. The chicken sandwich; the Sno Nuff noodles; Sweet dogs for dessert

    The details: 2149 Frederick Douglass Blvd.; 212-206-2557

  • Photo by: Michael Harlan Turkell

    Cafe Clover

    Why it's hot: How did a health-conscious American menu turn around a cursed space like 10 Downing Street? (Previously 10 Downing, La Villette, and many others.) Ask partners David Rabin (The Lambs Club) Kyle Hotchkiss Carone, and executive chef David Standridge (Market Table, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon). Cafe Clover is now a certifiable hit for its health-focused fare like ivory lentil risotto, butternut squash hummus and cauliflower steak, popular with the fashion set and just about everyone else.

    Must order: Baby beets and apples; Local pasture-raised strip loin with brussels and olive oil potato puree

    The details: 10 Downing Street; 212-675-4350

  • Mission Chinese Food

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

  • Photo by: Clay Williams

    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

  • Dirt Candy

    Why it's hot: After closing up her tiny nine-table Dirt Candy, the long-running temple of haute vegetable-focused cuisine, last August, Amanda Cohen reopened her famed eatery in a much larger, 60-seat space on the Lower East Side. The new joint offers a more playful menu with items like Brussels sprout tacos, Korean fried broccoli and cabbage hot pot. Also new at this location is an innovative no-tipping policy that has the NYC food scene abuzz.

    Must-order: Korean fried broccoli, jalapeño hushpuppies, veggie monkey bread

    86 Allen St.; 212-228-7732

  • Pizza Beach

    Why it's hot: The fellas behind The East Pole, the chic veggie-forward hotspot on the UES, opened Pizza Beach in February (either the greatest restaurant name we've heard this year or the worst), with the same ingredient-driven ethos and it's already a monster hit. Brothers Tom and Anthony Martignetti tapped chef Michael Sullivan to create wood-fired pies, homemade pastas, salads and other healthy share plates. Pizza options range from purple kale and butternut squash variety (pictured above) to a coconut curry rock shrimp pie created by guest chef Joe Capozzi of East Pole.

    Must order: Purple kale and butternut squash pizza; Thai coconut curry and rock shrimp pizza; meatball appetizer

    The details: 1426 Third Ave.; 646-666-0819

  • Photo by: Michael Harlan Turkell

    Santina

    Why it's hot: The latest from the Torrisi gang, aka Major Food Group (Dirty French, Carbone), this High Line eatery, named for chef Mario Carbone's grandmother, offers coastal Italian fare in sexy Mediterranean-inspired digs. Murano glass chandeliers, palm trees and a mural of broken plates by Julian Schnabel add to the luxe yet beachy vibe. 

    Must-order: Funghi cecina, any of the pastas

    The details: 820 Washington St.; 212-254-3000

  • 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 hard to get.

    Must-order: Sushi or kaiseki omakase

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

  • Photo by: Gabriele Stabile

    Momofuku Ko

    ​Why it's hot: The new, larger location of the perpetually booked tasting-menu-only experience 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

  • 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. Waits can often run between 1-2 hours.

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

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

  • 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

  • The Heyward

    Why it's hot: The folks behind pseudo-speakeasy/restaurant Hudson Clearwater have opened this ode to Southern seafood in the former Zebulon space in Williamsburg. The spacious low-lit digs and tasty plates of shrimp and grits, hoppin' John and butter poached lobster are winning over jaded hipsters and giving competitors like Extra Fancy a run for the money.

    Must-order: She-crab soup, shrimp and grits, anything from the raw bar

    The details: 258 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn; 718-384-1990

  • Photo by: Patty Lee

    Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong

    Why it's hot: Momofuku/Jean-Georges alum Deuki Hong puts his culinary chops to work in snazzing up traditional Korean BBQ dishes at the NY outpost of the LA-based chain. Lines out the door are not uncommon as the bi-level space offers a unique take on the Korean BBQ experience. All your food is grilled for you by your server, so there's no risk of overcooking that pricey beef. Also: cheese corn. Go, and you'll know what we're talking about.

    Must-order: Prime boneless short-rib combo, pork jowl, soybean stew, cold spicy paste noodles, lunch box

    The details: 1 E. 32nd St.; 212-966-9839

  • 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

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