Historians will look back at 2017 as the year of the WTF. From the shifting politics to the surprise last quarter of the Superbowl to the best picture Oscar fumble to the #metoo movement, to a very happy WTF of a L.A. girl turning royal, a lot was on America's plate this year. Luckily for New Yorkers, our literal plates were also full with some of the best dishes of 2017. We not only saw the rise of high-glamour fine dining, but of authentic Chinese restaurants and sweet dessert spots. Here's our list of the best of the best.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best of 2017
Best restaurants of 2017
Since 1959, the Four Seasons was the city’s most exclusive supper club, a veritable village green for New York’s wealthy, famous and powerful. The real surprise, however, is how deftly Major Food has silenced such critics with this dazzling remake of the famed Grill Room. And it’s not just the deference for the landmark interior, though the familiar glass walls, metallic blinds and Richard Lippold–designed brass fixture over the bar should pacify the worried old guard. It’s also that Major Food has finally returned to form.
Order this: Prime rib
If you want falafel, go to Mamoun’s. You won’t find the chickpea spheres anywhere at Nur, the forward-thinking, pan–Middle Eastern restaurant in Gramercy from Israeli-Moroccan celebutoque Meir Adoni (of Tel Aviv’s acclaimed Blue Sky and Lumina) and Breads Bakery founder Gadi Peleg. Instead, Adoni—the latest in a growing line of chefs who are retooling Israeli eating in New York, such as Dizengoff’s Michael Solomonov and Miss Ada’s Tomer Blechman—stretches beyond Israeli comfort cooking to pull influences from all over the Levant, from Jewish and Arab traditions as well as his own North African roots.
Order this: Ceviche panipuri
A laser focus on quality ingredients is no surprise when it comes to Bloomfield, but the Michelin-starred chef takes it to a new level with White Gold Butchers, her Upper West Side meat market–slash–all-day restaurant with long-time partner Ken Friedman and star butchers Erika Nakamura (L.A.’s Lindy & Grundy) and Jocelyn Guest (Dickson’s Farmstand). The latter two can be found behind the retail counter, breaking down whole animals, churning coils of sausage and divvying up cuts for not only uptown locals but also the other restaurants in the Bloomfield-Friedman portfolio, including the lauded patties at the Spotted Pig and the Breslin.
Order this: Chopped cheese sandwich
After shuttering its doors at the beginning of the summer and opening a pop-up in East Hampton, the world’s best restaurant (which closed immediately after winning the top spot) is back. In addition to the 8- to 10-course tasting menu for $295 in the dining room, you an order a more affordable tasting menu for $155 at the bar, which also offers snacks and cocktails (or choose from its 20,000 bottles of 4,000 wines).
Order this: Smoked sturgeon cheesecake with caviar
It's no surprise that Flushing is home to another spectacular new sichuan place. The slightly upscale restaurant serves its modern dishes, like the Tibetan-style pork rib and orange congee with millet, in a theatrical and playful fashion with bright colors and surprising plating.
Order this: Sliced fish in hot chili oil
Alex Stupak has had an eventful few months. This March, the ambitious pastry chef (New York’s wd~50, Chicago’s Alinea) turned taco ambassador opened a midtown flagship, Empellón, the fourth, largest and most upscale of his restaurants under the Empellón name (Cocina, Taqueria, Al Pastor). The move uptown alone is a notable change for the largely downtown-focused restaurateur (Empellón’s siblings all reside in the East and West Villages), and the usual clientele of denim-jacketed michelada seekers has been swiftly replaced by Brooks Brothers regulars and blog-savvy tourists.
Order this: Avocado dessert
Very high-profile Japanese fare from the Michelin-starred chefs Hiroki Yoshitake and Yuu Shimano moved into midtown to serve "New Washoku" cuisine. Choose from either eight or six-course tasting menus with red shrimp and caviar or broiled cod in parmesan foam, or a la with options like braised pork belly with roasted chicory and cream cheese or roasted Wagyu steak.
Order this: Crispy Arare battered scallop with bonito dashi sauce
Sushi by Boū is about as budget-friendly as top-flight omakase can get (12 courses, $50). The latest from David Bouhadana (an affordable sushi pioneer at Sushi Dojo and Sushi on Jones in the past) is a four-seat counter tucked below midtown’s Sanctuary Hotel. This is stripped-down sushi at its finest: 12 no-frills pieces eaten in a nonnegotiable 30 minutes. Every two-and-a-half minutes brings a new treat: hokkaido uni, creamy and cold; toro laced with luscious fat; blackened Wagyu melting into charred-edged rice.
Order this: Wagyu-uni handroll
A rent spike at the original USC location prompted a move three blocks north to a 10,000-square-foot two-story space that’s nearly double the size of the bygone room; where the old boasted cramped low ceilings and a head-scratching multilevel layout, the new is a light and lofty setting designed by architect David Rockwell. But the most crucial holdover is in the kitchen, where executive chef Carmen Quagliata—who headed the original USC for a decade—can still be found overseeing familiar comforts with new dishes that fit effortlessly with the oldies.
Order this: Ricotta gnocchi
Next door to Union Square Café sits this small café sister issuing out Joe Coffee (the group recently invested in the java chain) and house-baked breads (caraway rye, a house miche) and pastries (crullers in cinnamon-sugar, maple or original glaze) courtesy of head baker Justin Rosengarten. Chef Carmen Quagliata expands those offerings to include breakfast gougères (eggs with ham and spinach), lunch sandwiches (chicken milanese, a broccoli melt) and sides, like shaved Brussels sprouts with guanciale. The intimate space operates mostly as a takeout spot but there is a handful of high-top tables if you want to tuck in on site.
Order this: Maple cruller
Now head to the bars
New York City is a nightlife capital, with some of the best bars in the country clustered around bustling neighborhoods like the East Village and Williamsburg. Whether you favor craft brews or serious cocktails; a beer-and-shot special or a transporting glass of wine, NYC has a game-changing bar to slake your thirst.