In the most competitive restaurant city in the world, it takes a whole lot of talent to stick around for more than a New York minute. Among the hundreds of openings this past year, there are a few standouts that we predict are destined to last, given their winning combination of vision, execution and style. All but one has been featured in our New and Noteworthy restaurants of the month — and that one is barely a week old. Without further ado, here are our top 10 NYC restaurants of 2013.
Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Dan Kluger’s green approach to dining at ABC Kitchen was such a hit, it nabbed a 2011 James Beard Foundation Award for Best New Restaurant. The duo re-teamed this year for a Latin-themed sequel which has “winner” written all over it. Latin cuisine is on a comeback track; the sustainable dining movement is gaining traction; and the industry just can’t stop buzzing about the green pea guacamole. The recent opening of ABCMKT within the same building (Flatiron’s ABC Carpet and Home) and plans for an all-vegetarian installment demonstrates further commitment to a lasting brand. 38 E. 19th St., 212-677-2233, abccocinanyc.com
Wylie Dufresne’s long-awaited follow-up to WD-50 has been 10 years in the making and was certainly worth the wait. The casually-vibed East Villager is also showcasing the talents of executive chef Jon Bignelli, who is turning out ingenious pub-style dishes with aplomb while redefining comfort food in the process. The inspired flavors, nifty techniques and accessible neighborhood trappings will no doubt pave the way for many copycats to come. 157 Second Ave., 212-539-1900, aldernyc.com
“Chances are you haven’t seen much of his name yet … but you will,” Pete Wells said of chef Bryce Shuman in his three-star rave review of this Midtowner in The New York Times. That, and Shuman’s creative crowd-pleasers such as chestnut lasagna with acorn squash and pumpernickel promise a bright, starry future for the restaurant. The fact that the area feels refreshed with new neighbors such as Rotisserie Georgette, Kingside and Harlow adds to Betony’s lasting factor. 41 W. 57th St., 212-465-2400, betony-nyc.com
While a critic can make or break a restaurant, the fervent fans of this SoHo spot didn’t seem to mind Pete Wells’ comments about inconsistency at this self-described “Italian influenced, American executed and entirely New York,” restaurant, helmed by chef Ryan Hardy. Ever since it opened in June, scoring a reservation has been challenging — satisfied diners are known to make their next one on the way out –showing that repeat business and local word of mouth can trump the press. 5 King St., 212-235-7133, charliebirdnyc.com
It’s barely out of the box (opened last week), so maybe this is an early call, but the dynamic kitchen duo of Joseph Ogrodnek and Walker Stern prove that two chefs can be better than one, especially with a pair of kitchens in Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens. Their partnership at their first restaurant, Battersby, had food lovers whispering that it was the best collaboration since Dan Barber and Michael Anthony cooked together at Blue Hill. It’s certainly big shoes to fill, but dishes like duck with black kale, squash and buckwheat show the same finesse and seasonal commitment as Battersby. 412 Court St., 347-987-3545, doverbrooklyn.com
Ignacio Mattos, a chef hailing from Uruguay who once made spelt soup at Williamsburg’s Isa, is not afraid to take chances. And that’s exactly why the cooking is so engaging at his new SoHo kitchen. Small plates such as kohlrabi with fuyu persimmon, hazelnuts, mint and fossa expose esoteric ingredients to even the most erudite epicureans, while straightforward classics, like a rib eye, had critics such as GQ’s Alan Richman declaring it the “steak dish of the century.” 47 E. Houston St., 212-219-7693, estelanyc.com
New Yorkers with palate-fatigue in search of underrepresented cuisines need to go no further than this TriBeCa Laotian restaurant, where the explosive flavors in dishes such as lemongrass spareribs come direct from chef Soulayphet Schwader’s homeland. His partner, Iron Chef Marc Forgione, contributes the muscle that will guarantee longevity. 157 Duane St., 212-587-1089, kheyo.com
The much-hailed French onion soup burger alone may buoy this quaint SoHo bistro for years to come; it did win the judges’ prize at the New York City Wine and Food Festival’s popular Burger Bash, after all. But a restaurant can’t survive on one dish alone, and that’s where the other bistro classics come in, from steak au poivre to ratatouille. 199 Prince St., 212-335-0566, littleprincesoho.com
The menu at this West Villager features a world of influences — from exotic Asian long peppers gracing oysters to a very Italian blend of pecorino and porcini with tortellini. But what is most memorable about chef Chris Cipollone’s cooking is the thoughtful technique, and understated excellence, behind his revelatory flavor combinations. 430 Hudson St., 212-960-3801, pioranyc.com
Japanese and Jewish cuisine come together for a true breath of fresh air in Williamsburg, and leave it to a husband-and-wife team to cause the cultures to overlap as easily as a marriage made in heaven. Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi cleverly fill an okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake) with corned lamb’s tongue, for example. The result is flavors that sing so well that they will still make sense once the cultural novelty has worn off at this up-and-comer. 310 S. Fourth St., Brooklyn, 718-388-4012, shalomjapannyc.com
Read more of our 2013 year-end wrap-ups here.
Discover more of top places to see and things to do while in New York City with our Best of New York series.