The restaurant world has its own set of untouchables—figures whose legacies are so large that we jokingly refer to them as the Illuminati. But 2016 threatened the idea that these chefs, despite their wild success, can soar into the sunset unscathed. Thomas Keller’s invincibility shield was rendered useless as Per Se’s stars vanished. David Chang’s midas touch was questioned as Nishi drew mixed reviews. There are moments when the Food Gods may fumble, and appear to us mortal. Even so, it would be foolish to let temporary missteps from the Establishment blind us to the strong crop of newcomers in New York.
After all, there was a lot to celebrate. French food continued its triumphant return in 2016, and while the competition was fierce, it was one Parisian import’s flawless execution of rotisserie chicken that made us feel like we wandering the streets of Montmartre once again. A new player in Chelsea Market cemented the food hall's status for destination Mexican food, this time focusing on the seaside traditions of Baja. A talented chef without a home made a comeback at his new Indian restaurant Paowalla, where he introduced us to the joys Goan breads and snacks. And just when you thought you had seen every variety of ramen, the arrival of a new Japanese import redefined the slurping experience with its startling isolation booths.
To tie all these loose ends together, we present to you New York’s best new restaurants of 2016.