The 20 Best New NYC Restaurants of 2012

If you haven’t hit these spots yet, you’ve got your work cut out for you in 2013.

mission-chinese-credit-liz-barclay

Photo: Liz Barclay

Mission Chinese Food

Neighborhood: Lower East Side
Address and phone: 154 Orchard St (212-529-8800)
Website: missionchinesefood.com/ny/

Vast pools of ink have already been spilled over this San Francisco import, and it seems like barely 24 hours can pass without some big-name influencer—Andrew Zimmern, Martha Stewart, Rick Bayless—hopping onto the Twitter machine to declare their love for the place. Part of the appeal is its complete lack of pretension: Prices are low (and some of the money even goes to charity), the decor includes cheeky back-lit photos of take-out dishes, and those who brave the inevitable waits cram together in the entryway drinking from a free keg of crappy beer. But it’s the grub on the plate—dubbed “Americanized Oriental” by the insanely likeable chef, Danny Bowien—that has really hit a nerve in post-fusion New York, where loud music and multicultural cooking represent the Holy Grail. What Bowien does so convincingly is produce food that transcends arguments about authenticity by having a voice and personality of its own. It also happens to be damn tasty—fill your table with kung-pao pastrami, salt-cod fried rice, mapo tofu, and basically anything else for that matter, then strap in for the tongue-numbing, sweat-inducing adventure.—Elyse Inamine

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