The Ten Best NYC Restaurants, 2015

Mangalitsa lardo-poached Maine lobster at Gabriel Kreuther
Mangalitsa lardo-poached Maine lobster at Gabriel Kreuther
Bradley Hawks

In a dining climate as exhilaratingly precarious as New York City’s, restaurants live and die by their ability to stand out in such a massively competitive market. Here are the openings that held our attention the most this year.

10. Superiority Burger (430 East 9th Street, 212-256-1192)
Punk-rock drummer and erstwhile pastry pro Brooks Headley didn’t miss a beat opening this vegan and vegetarian fast-food joint that’s short on space but unbridled in its creativity. The $6 signature sandwich – a petite seared puck of nuts, beans, and quinoa covered in melted muenster, roasted tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, honey mustard, and pickles – merits a try, but don’t miss out on Headley’s jazzed-up specials. Mock-Philly cheesesteak shames the beefy original with a stack of floppy yuba (tofu skin). Soups and sides mash-up market vegetables with a thrilling, casual playfulness, and desserts belie the chef’s pedigree with peerless soft serve in flavors like hibiscus-yogurt and toasted burger-bun. We only hope that Headley considers expanding to a location with more seating.

yukhoe
yukhoe
Zachary Feldman, Village Voice

9. Oiji (119 First Avenue, 646-767-9050)
With time spent at Bouley and Gramercy Tavern respectively, Brian Kim and Tae Kyung Ku give Korean home-cooking a meticulous contemporary facelift at their sleek East Village canteen. You’ve never seen a prettier yukhoe, the chopped beef arranged into a plank dotted with ramp aioli, pickled mustard seeds, Asian pear, pickled cantaloupe, and a runny slow-cooked egg yolk. And mackerel hot-smoked over pine needles arrives with its own pine-needle brush for slathering on citrusy soy sauce. Even with painstaking care taken in the kitchen, Oiji tends to get boisterous during primetime – though that could just be the free-flowing soju.

Doubles
Doubles
Bradley Hawks

8. Trini-Gyul (112-16 Liberty Avenue, Queens; 718-659-1020)
Although Ro Ramcharan was forced to relocate her Trinidadian restaurant from Bed-Stuy to Queens earlier this year, the new digs thankfully came with a boozy silver lining (a liquor license and bar area). In the morning, there are doubles — fried dough stuffed with stewed chickpeas and piquant chutneys. Show up during the day and delight from a staggering array of Caribbean staples occupying the steam tables in back, or hit up the lively, bare bones tavern after 9 p.m. – that’s when the former Carroll Gardens nanny busts out seriously flavorful bar snacks like jerk wings, shrimp wontons, and chicken glazed in peppery cassava molasses. On any given night, there might be cricket on the TV or live music blaring through the boxy dining room, and if you’re lucky, Ramcharan will emerge from the kitchen to school you and the rest of her customers on how to properly bust a move.

Sunchokes with gruyere-cider foam
Sunchokes with gruyere-cider foam
Bradley Hawks

7. Wassail (162 Orchard Street, 646-918-6835)
Of the many vegetable-focused restaurants to open in the past few years, Wassail – from Queens Kickshaw owners Jennifer Lim and Ben Sandler – might be the most convivial. Whether that’s because of the bar’s many taps and 100+ cider options or chef Joseph Buenconsejo’s unlikely and charming vegetarian menu is anyone’s guess. All we know is we’ll gleefully show up during happy hour or brunch for the toniest, heftiest veggie burger we’ve ever encountered and fizzy pours from limited-edition kegs and carboys. Pastry whiz Rebecca Eichenbaum embraces sweet-savory combinations in her modernist desserts, mixing beets and buttermilk for a sherbet to pair with fudgy chocolate.

Pepperoni pizza with house-made ranch dressing
Pepperoni pizza with house-made ranch dressing
Zachary Feldman, Village Voice

6. Bruno (204 East 13th Street, 212-598-3080)
In a city that loyally champions no-bullshit pizzerias both old and new, a place like Bruno – with its criminally unforgiving seating and starkly bright lighting – was bound to polarize both enthusiasts and the slice-eating public at large. But while you risk numbing your ass when eating here, we’d argue that it’s your icy heart that’s truly numb if you’re unable to find inspiration in Justin Slojkowski and Dave Gulino’s experimental pies. The chefs at the helm of this progressive pie parlor mill the dark, nutty flour for their ambitious pizzas and pastas, and complement their carbs with a menu of devotionally seasonal small plates. As the kitchen tinkers with the dough and learns the ins and outs of their wood-fired oven, Bruno’s fascinating rounds (lamb coppa with béchamel and sheep’s milk cheese; country ham and winter squash) have only improved.



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