The Hot List

The Buzziest Restaurants in NYC

These spots bring the heat right to your door.

13 min read
6/8/2022
bonnies

A stroll through New York City is like the gentle peeling back of an onion. What restaurant was here before? What meals were built upon this spot? Buzzworthy restaurants are always emerging in the country’s largest metropolis, and, what’s more, some of them are staying noteworthy and busy even a decade or more after they opened. We’ve compiled a list of 23 buzzy restaurants currently delivering on Caviar, from the new to the established, to taste what everyone’s been talking about. 

Jing Fong

Founded in 1978, Jing Fong is the essential destination for New Yorkers seeking the best dim sum experience in the city. Once New York’s largest restaurant, Jing Fong has slimmed down some since moving venues, but the menu is still expansive. Choose between endless categories of dumplings (Peking duck and asparagus, fried pork and vegetable), rice noodle rolls with shrimp or roast pork, and other treats (fried turnip cakes and spare ribs with black bean sauce). The sheer variety may make your head spin, but that’s part of the fun.

Cote

This Korean steakhouse captured the minds and hearts of New Yorkers when it first opened to much critical acclaim in 2017. Today, the buzz remains (and a reservation remains elusive). Luckily, some of the restaurant’s most coveted dishes — like the bibimbap and rotating Butcher’s Bowl of three USDA prime cuts of beef served over rice — are available for delivery.

cote

I Sodi

Rita Sodi’s ode to Tuscany is a New York staple and always a good choice, whether you’re in the city for a night or for a lifetime. If you don’t make it into the West Village white-tablecloth restaurant, a cozy dinner at home is just as enchanting. Housemade pastas are the way to go, whether that’s the tall, delicately layered lasagna a sugo (a fan favorite) or the hearty paccheri strascicati in meat sauce.

Olmsted

Greg Baxtrom and Ian Rothman’s stylized Prospect Heights restaurant, a Michelin Bib Gourmand, has a distinctly playful, almost cheeky approach to food. You can see it in their perennially popular crab rangoon: Tiny, fried puffs are stuffed with expertly shredded kale and arrive in a Chinese takeout container. They find new ways to showcase vegetables, many of which are grown in the back garden. The green asparagus som tum is a seasonal, bright take on green papaya salad.

Win Son Bakery

A charming Taiwanese-American restaurant and bakery, Win Son straddles the line between comfort food and inventive cross-cultural cuisine. The obligatory NYC BEC (bacon egg and cheese) comes on non-obligatory homemade scallion pancakes. A fried chicken box comes with ginger deluxe sauce on the side and, yes, you’ll definitely want more than one of the millet mochi donuts (or any of the featured pastries, really).

win son bakery

Sushi Seki

In the 1990s and 2000s, chefs and servers, hungry after a night of service, either went downtown after work to dine at Blue Ribbon, or they went uptown for late-night sushi at the Upper East Side’s Sushi Seki. Sushi Seki opened in 2002 but remains a crowd favorite among sushi lovers. It’s master sushi chef Seki Shi’s dedication and skill that makes this spot as buzzworthy as ever. Though the brand has expanded, the fish remains as pristine as it was 20 years ago. Order the Sushi Seki special — nine pieces of sushi and one roll, hand selected by the chef — it’s among the best sushi that delivery can buy.

Via Carota

Looking for an in-person table at Jody Williams’ and Rita Soda’s Greenwich Village Italian hotspot Via Carota? Average wait: two hours. You won’t have to wait even half as long for your iconic cacio e pepe from this ever-thrilling restaurant. Also worth ordering is the impossibly delicious piselli salad, when it’s in season — a blend of young lettuces, peas, prosciutto, and robiola cheese.

via carota

Carne Mare

Andrew Carmellini’s South Street chophouse remains very much en vogue after a buzzy 2021 opening. If the hike all the way down to the Seaport feels untenable, never mind. The restaurant’s show-stopping chops, sides, and towering desserts are all available to order. Among the restaurant’s more spectacular offerings: the 16-ounce prime boneless ribeye, the Sicilian Caesar salad (topped with a snowfall of cheese), and the 17-layer (not a typo!) chocolate cake.

Charlie Bird

When trying to write about tastemaker Charlie Bird, it’s hard to do better than this description from the team itself: “Downtown Italian-inspired restaurant with a great wine list and hip-hop-inspired accents.” Charlie Bird is relentlessly cool, and it feels like it will always be that way. Should you order the Tuscan fried chicken with rosemary, hot chile, and fennel pollen? The hanger steak with roasted baby beets? The superlative chocolate budino? Yes. Yes to all.

charlie bird

Crown Shy

The Financial District’s newest, hippest spot is Crown Shy, a seasonally inspired, unapologetically upscale American restaurant run by chef James Kent. Some of the restaurant’s stars are its most seemingly humble offerings, like the pull-apart olive bread (a take on the classic Parker House roll), the grilled citrus-marinated chicken with hot sauce, and the sticky toffee pudding.

Uncle Boons Sister

Originally conceived as a more casual sibling restaurant to Uncle Boon’s — the popular Thai spot in Nolita that suffered a heartbreaking closure in 2020 due to a lease dispute — Uncle Boon’s Sister has been takeout-only for more than two years now, and it is buzzily thriving. There are some holdovers from Uncle Boon’s, like the crab fried rice (order it), but the restaurant has a distinctly casual Thai identity. When you’re done slurping the tom yum shrimp dumpling soup, finish with the banana rum pudding, made with caramelized bananas, a Thai lotus sesame tuile, and topped, necessarily, with whipped cream.

uncle boons sister

Oxomoco

The owners of Greenpoint’s pizza mecca Speedy Romeo have made magic again with Oxomoco, a gorgeous restaurant dedicated to Mexican cuisine. The lamb barbacoa burrito — stuffed with red rice, black beans, zucchini, and, of course, charred lamb — is an unmissable win, as is the beet “chorizo” burrito, made with a vegan-friendly coconut crema.

Van Da

Yen Ngo’s East Village spot is dedicated to the art of Vietnamese cooking. Vietnamese dumplings occupy an entire category of the menu and are definitely de rigueur. Try the banh it ram (crispy mochi dumplings) with mung beans and crispy shallots, or the banh khot (crispy turmeric rice cakes). The mi viet tiem (or roasted five-spice duck), served with thin rice noodles and shiitake mushrooms, is the must-order entree.

Bonnie’s

Chef Calvin Eng has brought playfulness and whimsy to this Cantonese-American restaurant whose menu looks at first glance like that of a fast-food joint. But there’s nothing mass produced about this food. A play on the McDonald’s classic, the McRib involves steamed ribs, bread and butter pickles, and a sticky glaze, and the meat slathered in Chinese hot mustard and served atop a milk bun. The peppery fries come with a Chinese take on ranch. The take on the filet-o-fish stars a griddled shrimp-and-fish patty. And you won’t find a large platter of tropical fruit at any drive-through. And a limited-edition collaboration between Bonnie’s and Lunar yields a salted kumquat seltzer that will make you wonder why all hard seltzer doesn’t taste exactly like this.

bonnie's

Rangoon

Chef Myo Moe serves traditional Burmese food at this popular Brooklyn restaurant, where items betray loyalty to family recipes. The vegan onion fritters, served with a tamarind-garlic dip, make for a delicious appetizer, while the coconut chicken noodle soup — wheat noodles, coconut broth, egg, and lime — is perfect in both hot and cold weather. Drinks include a lychee seltzer and Slovenian wine. Don’t leave without shopping the Burmese pantry section: green tea imported from Burma and the condiment Dry Shrimp Balachaung.

Roberta’s

When Roberta’s first opened in Bushwick in 2008, it was a destination for industry insiders and hipsters who dared venture into what was then Brooklyn’s uncharted territory. These days, Roberta’s is a supermarket name, quite literally: The Michelin-starred restaurant now stocks their pizzas in grocery freezers all over the country. But there’s something special about ordering a pie from the original spot. Roberta’s is famous for its char for good reason. The Margherita, of course, is a standard-bearer, but if you’re in the mood for playful excess, opt for the Widowmaker, topped with tomato, mozz, Parm, pork sausage, mushrooms, red onion, and white balsamic. 

Di Fara

Domenico “Dom” DeMarco ran the pizza institution Di Fara since 1965, but in March of 2022 he passed away, leaving the legacy to his family members. DeMarco was the heart and soul of DiFara, but the pizza — the classic pie is the only way to go here, with sausage, peppers, mushrooms, and onions — remains iconic. DeMarco’s family recipe lives on.

Di Fara

Noreetuh

In this East Village spot, skillful chef Chung Chow interprets Hawaiian food. The Japanese-Hawaiian fusion food musubi — traditionally grilled SPAM and sushi rice wrapped in a strip of nori — is an entire menu category, with options like pork jowl, salmon tartare, and galbi sweetening the pot. Loco Moco, the Hawaiian gutbuster involving macaroni salad, a meat patty, rice, gravy, and a fried egg, gets a fresh makeover with fried dark-meat chicken, and you won’t want to miss a single bite.

Atla

Enrique Olvera’s all-day Mexican eatery serves compelling small bites no matter what time of day you order. The pork al pastor gringa — pork butt, chiles, cheese, and pineapple served in a flour tortilla — is a must-order, and no meal would be complete without an order of churros with cajete dipping sauce. To drink, Atla offers its signature spicy margaritas, batched and ready to go.

Ivan Ramen

Chef Ivan Orkin has made a business out of raising the bar on New York ramen, and Ivan Ramen is the culmination of that work. The noodles are the point here, naturally (the ramen is delivered separate from the broth so as not to compromise the integrity of the noodles), and the tonkotsu, with its rich pork broth and pickled mustard greens, is a stunning order. But don’t pass up the triple-pork, triple-garlic mazemen noodles either, a less brothy, thicker noodle that comes with pork belly, two ways.

Thai Diner

When Uncle Boons, the beloved Nolita Thai restaurant, closed a few years ago, it felt like some of the best things were leaving New York. But the owners of that place, Ann Redding and Matt Danzer, picked up the pieces and moved on to Thai Diner, also in Nolita, opening a restaurant with fewer rules. Thai Diner offers a loose, freewheeling interpretation (see: spicy chopped chicken liver with pineapple and Thai herbs; vegan Asian greens chowder; fried chicken sandwich with nam prik noom). Whatever you do, do not forget to order the Monster cake for your meal’s end — a chiffon cake which comes, as the menu bills it, “in monster form.”

Buvette

It’s no accident that Jody Williams’s restaurants appear more than once on this buzzy list. Her cooking — clean, zeitgeisty, and brilliant — defines the city’s multi-layered cooking, and perhaps nowhere is that more apparent than at Buvette, which opened a decade ago and continues to be as appealing and savvy as it was back then. From this tiny, French-leaning West Village haunt, where breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served, you’d be remiss to skip the salade de poulet, a perfect roast chicken amplified by tender lettuces, haricot verts, and a simple mustard vinaigrette. For dessert, there is only one correct answer: the mousse au chocolat.

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Hannah Selinger

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