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Food + Drink

New York’s Hottest Tables

In some cities a hot new restaurant emerges every few months. In New York it seems more like every few days. With both superstar chefs and upstarts jostling for attention, the city’s culinary landscape has never been more exciting — and the moment the doors open, we’re all looking to be the first ones in. Carey Jones gives us the scoop on where to eat now, from Tex-Mex joints and ramen bars to white tablecloth establishments.

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Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi have developed a reputation for high-concept, over-the-top restaurants (Dirty French, Carbone) whose elaborate conceits are matched only by their often daring, always brilliant dishes. The duo’s newest spot, Santina, slides right into their growing lineup — and is just as in demand as its predecessors. What to order? The squash carpaccio and Spaghetti Blue Crab.

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The Polo Bar

Any restaurant designed by Ralph Lauren was destined to project an air of clubby exclusivity, but The Polo Bar — which has the same painstakingly designed yet seemingly effortless charm of the brand itself — is so in demand not even the bar will accept walk-ins. Those who manage a table can expect all-American fare (we love the corned beef sandwich), classic cocktails and, of course, the best-dressed staff in town.

Photo Courtesy of Ralph Lauren

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Mission Chinese Food

Chef Danny Bowien has channeled the wild culinary energy he showed at his eclectic Asian-inspired Lower East Side restaurant into a slightly more refined experience, with the comfortable tables and intelligent wine list his prior incarnation lacked. Fan favorites include the kung pao pastrami and salt cod fried rice, but arrive early to beat the crowds — the wait for a table during prime time can be close to two hours.

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Dirt Candy

Amanda Cohen's vegetable-centric restaurant developed a cult following despite its tight space; now that she's moved to roomier digs on the Lower East Side, expect the same creative, often whimsical vegetarian fare, like Brussels sprout tacos and cabbage hot pot.

Photo by Evan Sung

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Photo by Michael Tulipan



A mania for all things Tex-Mex has seized New York, and this Union Square restaurant is the epicenter of it all. I mean, who can resist queso, brisket tacos and prickly pear frozen margaritas, executed with pitch-perfect skill and sophistication? We sure can’t.

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Chef Justin Smillie, from NYC’s Il Buco Alimentari, has teamed up with restaurateur Stephen Starr to create the airy and sophisticated Upland. The enticing menu poses one recurring problem: With ’nduja pizza and roasted short ribs, seasonal veggie dishes and inventive pastas, how to choose among the showstoppers?

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Perhaps the most anticipated restaurant of 2014 — and, months later, still one of the toughest reservations in town — Cosme brought world-renowned chef Enrique Olvera from Mexico City to New York, where he has wowed critics with uni tostadas, duck carnitas and a corn husk meringue that may be the most Instagrammed dessert in town.

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Photo by Gabriele Stabile


Momofuku Ko

The 12-seat chef's counter in David Chang's empire has been among the tougher reservations in the city for the better part of a decade — and it’s no secret why. Chang's newer space farther downtown has three times the seating capacity, but it still serves killer dishes like millefeuille of trout roe and matcha, and Spanish Mackerel sawarazushi with ginger and dashi ponzu.

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After earning rave reviews at Neta in the West Village, chefs Nick Kim and Jimmy Lau brought their prodigious talents across town, where their Shuko serves tasting menus only — a sushi-sashimi tasting or a more elaborate kaiseki — both of which showcase the freshest seafood and the chefs' knack for spinning Japanese techniques and ingredients in novel ways.

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Mu Ramen

Diehard Manhattanites make the trip to Queens for Mu Ramen’s truly excellent bowls of noodles. Don't be put off by the no-frills decor: The broths simmer for nearly 24 hours, the flavors are powerful and dynamic, and the noodles are always on point. You’ll be stoked you made the trek.



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