The Hottest Restaurants in Manhattan Right Now, December 2018

Courtesy of Eater.com 

1. Eléa

From the owner of hot downtown Greek restaurant Kyma comes Eléa, a slightly more Upper West Side-feeling sibling. That means the menu and vibe is more geared to the family-friendly neighborhood, with more of a focus on meat over fish — aka more affordable — and a sprawling downstairs dining room. Menu options include mussels saganaki, lamb chops with fries, and several spreads with pita. The huge space dials in on the familiar bright Greek restaurant aesthetic of white walls, light wood, terra cotta tile, and Greek-style pottery, and the upstairs bar is regularly hopping.

2. Leonti

Michelin-starred Dovetail is reborn as Leonti, a grand Italian restaurant on the Upper West Side inspired by bistros in Northern Italy. Chef Adam Leonti’s arrival in an NYC kitchen has been long-awaited, coming now with pastas such as cinnamon fettuccine with a wild boar ragu and meaty entrees like milk-braised lamb with tarbais beans and rosemary. The room has been redone with warm wood and white tablecloths, positioned at farther-spaced tables to seat fewer people.

3. Momofuku Noodle Bar

Momofuku Noodle Bar is all grown up: The once-subversive David Chang ramen parlor now has a second location. The bad news is that it’s on the third floor of the staid Time Warner Center shopping mall. But the good news is that there are more — and more comfortable — seats and, most importantly, the food is better than ever, with expanded appetizers and barley ramen instead of the wheat variety used downtown. There’s also Chang’s spit-fired meat stall Bāng Bar next door, slinging Korean flatbreads stuffed with meats such as spicy gochujang-marinated pork shoulder for breakfast and lunch.

4. Henry

Chef JJ Johnson nabbed the city’s attention while cooking at Harlem restaurants, and since leaving the Cecil and Minton’s a year ago, his takeover of Henry at the Life Hotel in Midtown is the first time he’s back in a full-service restaurant kitchen. He’s calling the menu here pan-African — an amalgamation of flavors from across Africa, the Caribbean, and the American South. A short rib with millet, hoisin barbecue sauce, and black beans is on the menu, as is a collard green salad and shrimp and pork dumplings with Portuguese sausage. Drinks come from acclaimed former Seamstress bartender Pam Wiznitzer, who’s also drawing flavors from the cuisine of the African Diaspora for cocktails.

5. Atomix

The team behind critically-acclaimed Atoboy has gone upscale at Atomix in Nomad. Ellia and Junghyun Park, an alum of two-Michelin-starred Jungsik, serve a $175 tasting menu in the subdued, grey space. Seafood is a focus in the 10-course meal, which includes options like a soup with burdock, fish cakes, baby corn, and plum blossom. At the upstairs bar, BlackTail and Dead Rabbit alum serve up drinks with Korean flavors as well.

6. Hall

Five years of cooking at high-end vegetarian restaurant Kajitsu inform this first restaurant from Hiroki Odo, albeit in a much more casual atmosphere. But meat is on the menu at this all-day entrant, with dishes ranging from pastries in the morning to panko-fried calamari with white miso mustard cream sauce at night. European touches make their way into the food, as well as in cocktails and with French wine.

7. RH Rooftop Restaurant

Famed Chicago restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff opens his second NYC venue in collaboration with RH, the design store formerly known as Restoration Hardware. The rooftop Meatpacking space sits above four floors of showroom space and is as decked out as one would expect from an RH project, full of crystal chandeliers, manicured hedges, and marble tabletops. Food runs to standard American fare, such as roast chicken and a kale caesar. There’s also a burger — what Sodikoff is known for at Chicago’s Au Cheval — this one made with two patties with “sharp” American cheese, pickles, onion, dijonnaise, lettuce, and tomato.

8. Balaboosta

Famed Israeli chef Einat Admony, of Taim fame, has reopened her Middle Eastern neighborhood restaurant Balaboosta, this time in the West Village. Originally open in Nolita, the Middle Eastern pioneer serves dishes that span the Mediterranean and Middle East like several hummuses; lamb neck with dates, preserved lemon, freekeh, and chestnuts; and roasted sunchokes with za’atar aioli. The new corner space is a brighter and lighter rendition looking out on Hudson Street.

9. GupShup

Modern Indian food in an opulent space encapsulates Gupshup, a new Gramercy restaurant from relocated Indian chef Gurpreet Singh. Fusion dishes — such as an Indian take on ramen with a tomato rasam broth and mushrooms or roasted bone marrow with five-spice naan — are set alongside colorful murals, gold accents, and several chandeliers. Owner Jimmy Rizvi’s goal is to create a highly stylish and happening atmosphere, with live music, DJ’s, and other performances.

10. TabeTomo

Ramen-obsessed New York for some reason hasn’t quite yet caught onto the virtues of tsukemen, the style where room-temperature noodles are dipped into ultra-rich broth. But chef Tomotsugu Kubo — an alum of LA noodle sensation Tsujita — makes it the star at his solo venture TabeTomo, a petite East Village restaurant now open with a limited menu. Expect a rich tonkotsu broth served extra hot, plus thick noodles to dunk into the pork-based soup. Rice bowls and appetizers like kaarage round out the menu. More dishes will arrive on December 10th.

11. Joe’s Steam Rice Roll

Even among Flushing’s competitive Chinese food market, Joe Rong’s rice rolls stand out — and now, the man dedicated to the dim sum staple has opened a location in Manhattan, too. Housed within the Canal Street Market food hall, Joe’s Steam Rice Rolls serves options filled with beef, curry fish ball, shrimp, and other proteins, with the options to add ingredients like corn and cilantro. Rong grinds rice for batter daily, and one can be had for under $10.