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Daniel Krieger

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The Top Restaurant Newcomers of 2015

These are the new restaurants that defined the year in dining

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As is the tradition at Eater, our closeout of the year is a survey of friends, industry types, and bloggers. This year, we asked the group eight questions running the gamut from meal of the year to top restaurant newcomers. Their answers will appear throughout the week. Responses are related in no particular order; all are cut, pasted, and (mostly) unedited herein. Earlier today, we heard about the top standbys. Now it's time for the best newcomers. Please, add your answers in the comments.

Amanda Kludt, Eater editor-in-chief: Santina, Upland, Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong, Lupulo, Sadelle's, Little Park, and — this is unfair but accurate — High Street on Hudson. And not new but I didn't make it to Casa Enrique until this year and I'm in love with it.

Levi Dalton, Eater wine editor/host of I'll Drink to That: I think, no matter what you thought about it, Rebelle was the most important opening. It was like those every-so-often movie releases that everybody has a different opinion about, but everybody goes to see.

Ryan Sutton, Eater NY critic/data lead: Bruno, Santina, Semilla, Wildair, Lupulo, Momofuku Ko, MCF, Oiji, Upland, Shuko, Clocktower, Gabriel Kreuther, Untitled, Little Park, Fuku+., and Mu Ramen. Back in 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession, I wrote that half of the year's best new restaurants needed to be better. Six years later, I couldn't even fit my picks into a top 10 list; I chose 16 new venues in 2016 and could've easily named more. This was the strongest year for New York dining since Momofuku and The Spotted Pig opened in 2004.

Helen Rosner, Eater features editor/co-host of The Eater Upsell: Santina and Sadelle's were hands-down the most exciting new kids in town. Credit for that goes in equal parts to the theme-restaurant visionaries at Major Food Group, and an overall slump of a year in NYC dining. Small pond, this year — not so hard to be a big fish. Honorable mentions: Bruno, for balls and ambition; Babu Ji, for blockbuster food and bougie beauty; and Polo Bar, for sheer no-fucks-given pastrami sandwich opulence.

Serena Dai, Eater NY reporter: Faro and Okiway have been such fun and solid additions to my local dining scene — and worth a trek out to Bushwick. Lebanese cheap eats spot Manousheh's transition into brick-and-mortar has been a blessing, and Sadelle's beautiful space is only surpassed by its sticky bun, which is hands down the best thing I've eaten all year. Finally: Chick-fil-A. It's a Southern hometown fast food standby that I was thrilled to see come to New York, and judging by the non-stop lines, I'm not the only one.

[Clockwise from the top left: Via Carota, Shuko, Wildair, and Rebelle. all photos by Daniel Krieger]

Foster Kamer, Mental Floss executive editor: Superiority Burger (groundbreaking), Babu Ji (finally, an heir to Tabla), Faro (best new Italian in the city), Four Horsemen (a quietly cutting edge menu). Oh, also: Chick-fil-A and Joe and the Juice. Not even joking—those first four not withstanding, 2015 was a year that felt so entirely redundant that two chains' entrances in New York represented a significant tidal shift.

Lockhart Steele, Vox Editorial Director and Eater co-founder: As someone who’s a tiiiiiny bit guilty about never making it to Semilla, the year in New York City dining felt wholeheartedly underwhelming to me. The one new place I loved, kept going back to, and will return to often in the new year, God willing? Santina. It works at any meal — breakfast is Team Eater’s not-so-secret love — and any season, though I’ll be most excited to be back there on a snowy night in February, a time when island food of indeterminate origin and aquamarine as far as the eyes can see feel most necessary. (Might I even Instagram one of the photographs in the hallway on the way to the bathroom? It’s a move I won’t deny having contemplated.)

Nick Solares, Eater NY senior editor: The Clocktower, Upland, Santina, Wildair, Bruno.

Mimi Sheraton, former Times restaurant critic and author of 1,000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: Gabriel Kreuther, Vaucluse, Lupulo, Sadelle's, and La Chine in the Waldorf Astoria.

Devra Ferst, Tasting Table senior editor: Sadelle's, Wildair, Chiang Mai, Tilda All Day

Matt Duckor, Epicurious senior editor: As much as I want to try new spots, I spent all year ignoring them just so I could have a few more meals at Rebelle and Wildair, two of my favorite places to open in a long, long time.

Hillary Dixler, Eater's senior reports editor:

— Santina: The coconut iced coffee was The Drink of Summer 2015

— Sadelle's: I didn't think I'd have room in my heart for this one, but turns out I do. Get the whitefish salad. Skip the orange juice.

— Bruno: If I were not moving across the country, Bruno would be in heavy rotation for me in 2016.

— Dirt Candy 2.0: 1) Korean Fried Broccoli. 2) No tipping. 3) French fries slathered in curry and paneer.

Erik Torkells, editor/publisher of Tribeca Citizen: I loved the inventive, excellent food at Wassail. Houseman is exactly the kind of chef-owned neighborhood restaurant we could use more of below Canal Street. And I'm pleased to see Gabriel Kreuther back in action.

Kat Kinsman, Tasting Table editor-at-large: Oiji, the Resto reboot under Koren Grieveson, Dirt Candy 2.0, Clocktower and my beloved Sessanta

Jordana Rothman, NYC-based food writer: Rebelle, Santina and Wildair did it for me this year, but I found some of the more modest places really compelling too. Babu Ji feels exciting to me, and also important in terms of the way it frames and celebrates Indian flavors. There’s nothing similar in New York. I find Gerardo Gonzalez, the chef at El Rey, to be really intriguing too. There’s a lot of resourceful footwork represented on his dinner menu in particular. Into it.

Kat Odell, Eater Drinks editor: Oiji, Babu Ji, Wildair, Tempura Matsui, Shuko.

Charlotte Druckman, NYC-based food writer: SUPE RIORITY BU RGER + Shuko, Via Carota

(Places I Have Not Been, Want To/Should Visit & Might Have Put On This List If I Had, According To People I Trust: Chiang Mai, Semilla, Wildair)

[in case you were wondering, based on constant correspondence, I'd log Mom & Dad Druckman's thusly: Clocktower, Houseman, O Ya, Shuko, Upland, Via Carota]

Kenzi Wilbur, Food 52 managing editor: Bar Goto makes a beautiful cocktail; is beautiful to sit in; you feel beautiful for going there. Even though I saw the same squid ink aioli for weeks on Instagram before I went to Wildair, I loved it too much to be annoyed by it when I finally tried it; Via Carota is the way I wish I knew how to feed myself every day. Superiority Burger is so, so much more than it needs to be.

Robert Sietsema, Eater NY senior critic: Via Carota, Kopitiam, Faro, Puebla De Los Angeles, GalaGala, Kiin Thai, Avant Garden, Harry & Ida’s

Joe DiStefano, editor/publisher of Chopsticks + Marrow: It's not a restaurant, but the debut of Son Foods and their Ecuadorian soul food at Smorgasburg Queens was pretty cool. Harry and Ida's pastrami was and remains utterly mindblowing.

[Superiority Burger by Nick Solares.]

Dan Saltzstein, an editor at the NYT Travel section: Cosme. Yes, it opened late in 2014, so if we're being sticklers: Bar Goto, Untitled.)

Matt Rodbard, NYC-based food writer: The Four Horsemen, Her Name Is Han, Gabriel Kreuther, Dirt Candy 2.0, Tempura Matsui, June Wine Bar. Tadashi Ono might not be a household name, but Ganso Yaki is one of the best izakaya with benefits (cool things like Hamachi collars, damn good beer) in NYC. Superiority Burger, your desserts!

Matt Buchanan, editor at The Awl: Superiority Burger is at the very top—it's so fucking good, and I hope there are soon as many Superiority Burgers as Shake Shacks, how I do invest all of my Monopoly money, also fuck your grain bowl—closely followed by Semilla (I want to eat that bread everyday!!!!). I seemed wholly immune to the charms of Santina or Untitled, for better or for worse.

Greg Morabito, Eater NY editor and co-host of The Eater Upsell: Via Carota is a terrific restaurant that I think could only exist in Manhattan's West Village. I look forward to many more meals there in 2016. I dig the cinematic experience of dining at Sadelle's and Santina. And I was really blown away by the food and overall operation at Faro.

Top photo:Santina by Daniel Krieger.

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