Eat and Drink 2015 best restaurants NYC: Fuku, Santina, Superiority Burger, Wildair & more By Ariel Kanter, with Georgia Kral and Meredith Deliso Updated December 18, 2015 10:32 AM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email 2015 was quite the year for dining in NYC. Fast casual concepts from top chefs reigned supreme, pizza got better (yes, that's possible!) and high-end dining got adventurous. Here are our top picks for restaurants that opened this year. You've likely heard of them. But if you haven't eaten the food yet, consider this a dare! Wildair Photo Credit: Wildair From Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske, the team behind Contra, comes Wildair. The Orchard Street spot is just a few doors down from its sister restaurant, but the feel couldn't be more different. Wildair is super casual with communal tables lining the exposed brick walls -- it almost looks like a fancy cafeteria, one with all-natural wines, cocktails and artisanal liqueurs. But the food is just as pristine as Contra, like the pork shoulder Milanese and the littleneck clams in a savory broth. And the extra $5 for bread and oil is worth every penny. 142 Orchard St., 646-964-5624, wildair.nyc Fuku and Fuku+ Photo Credit: Gabriele Stabile In just 600 square feet, David Chang (of Momofuku fame) has jumpstarted the fried chicken sandwich craze with this fast-casual spot. The $8 sandwich has been taking over Instagram since June, so much so that Chang opened up a second shop for his hungry fans, Fuku+. One of the few things to choose from on the menu, the sandwich features chicken marinated in habanero puree, dunked in buttermilk, dredged in spices and then deep fried, served on a Martin's potato roll. At Fuku+ the menu is expanded. Try the minime (mini Fuku sand), Mission Chinese Fuku fingers or the Sichuan pork flatbread. Fuku, 163 First Ave.; Fuku+, 15 W. 56th St., momofuku.com Faro Photo Credit: Michael Tulipan Chef Kevin Adey, formerly of Bushwick staple Northeast Kingdom, is behind another solid neighborhood spot with this casual restaurant, which was among this year's Michelin Bib Gourmand winners. The seasonal menu is heavy on homemade pasta -- the rigatoni with braised goat is a favorite. 436 Jefferson St., Bushwick, 718-381-8201, farobk.com Semilla Photo Credit: Semillabk via Instagram Tasting menus are having a moment in the city, and this newcomer from chefs Jose Ramirez-Ruiz and Pam Yung offers an 11-course, veggie-heavy menu that's considered a steal at $85 -- especially after the restaurant earned a Michelin Star this year and has been deemed one of the best new restaurants in the country by several critics. 160 Havemeyer St. No. 5, Williamsburg, 718-782-3474, semillabk.com Wassail Photo Credit: Ryan Devereaux When Wassail first opened last summer the buzz centered on the fact that the restaurant was a cider bar, with many varietals on tap, cider flights and little else coming from the bar. But the food at Wassail is truly unique (and pairs perfectly with cider). The menu is vegetarian, but you won't feel like a rabbit eating the food. The cucumber and melon, with macadamia, sorrel and borage oil tasted like the smell of freshly cut grass (that is, potent and powerful). And the parsnip and apple soup with pecans, caramelized onions and brown butter was rich with distinct tastes. 162 Orchard St., 646-918-6835, wassailnyc.com Bruno Photo Credit: Bruno There's a lot happening at this restaurant from Justin Slojkowski and Dave Gulino. Just look at the varied market section of the menu of veggies and small plates. But it's the Neapolitan pizza where Bruno shines. Maybe it's because of the wood-burning oven; the Meadows Mills stone burr mill which they use to grind their own flour; or the innovative toppings like carrot-top pesto, bottarga, fermented tomatoes and charred cabbage. Or, more likely, it's the magical combination of all three. 204 E. 13th St., 212-598-3080, brunopizzanyc.com Rebelle Photo Credit: Evan Sung Much about this new French restaurant on the Bowery is simple: Aside from some exposed brick, everything is pretty neutral, from the black walls to the dark wooden tables. But chef Daniel Eddy's food is anything but plain. In fact, it's what makes the restaurant bright, vibrant and one of the best new spots in the city. Straight from Paris -- where he worked at renowned restaurant Spring -- Eddy brings beautifully plated and colorful dishes, like a soft-boiled egg with leek vinaigrette and sweet breads with eggplant in a rich crab sauce. 218 Bowery, 917-639-3880, rebellenyc.com Santina Photo Credit: Santina You'd never know that the Renzo Piano-designed glass box that boasts bright, Murano glass chandeliers beneath the High Line would be from the same people who brought you the dark and sunless Carbone. But they did, and with Santina, Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi are showing how dynamic their vision can be. The food, too, is a far cry from the hefty (delicious) hunks of meat at Carbone. There is squash carpaccio, a light fritto misto and even guajillo chicken. The cocktails are equally as flamboyant, from the Manganelli Punch served in a cute ceramic pineapple and the View from Positano with gin, black pepper and strawberry. 820 Washington St., 212-254-3000, santinanyc.com Untitled Photo Credit: Alice Gao With a glass-enclosed space and a cool sloped ceiling designed by Renzo Piano, there's no doubt that Danny Meyer's Untitled, at the Whitney Museum of American Art, is almost as beautiful as the museum itself. The food -- by Michael Anthony and Suzanne Cupps -- is artful as well with beautiful plating and a spectrum of colors. Start with the pole beans served with tiny circles of calamari, hazelnuts and a heaping orange dollop of dressing. Then try the roasted and fried chicken topped with a pile of red and green-stemmed radicchio. There are many options, and they all are (almost) too beautiful to eat. 99 Gansevoort St., 212-570-3670, untitledatthewhitney.com Upland Photo Credit: Upland via Facebook Chef Justin Smillie's food that comes from the kitchen at Upland has been called California cuisine, but it's much more than that. And while the double-patty burger with guacamole (see?) does indeed come with a California flag on a toothpick pierced into it, the idea of Cali food may only conjure images of fresh, seasonal and global food. Upland is that, but it's also just plain inspired. Don't miss the burger, the cacio e pepe (pictured) or the pizzas. 345 Park Ave., uplandnyc.com Babu Ji Photo Credit: Babu Ji Babu ji means "honored father" or respected elder in Hindi, and it's an apt name for this new Indian spot in Alphabet City where everyone eats like a king. Jessi Singh, a native of Punjab, makes elevated versions of classic Indian specialties like bone-in goat curry topped with greens from the Union Square Greenmarket and a crazy-creamy butter chicken in a copper pot. Pair your meal with a beer -- which you can grab for yourself in the fridge -- and definitely end it with the kulfi, an ice cream-like dessert made from condensed milk. 175 Ave. B, 212-951-1082, babujinyc.com Seamore's Photo Credit: Seamore's If you wouldn't expect a great seafood restaurant from Michael Chernow, of The Meatball Shop fame, well that will teach you for making assumptions, because he definitely did it. At Seamore's, he focuses on sustainable seafood options like the fried skate Oh-Boy, which comes with pickled peppers and a creamy house sauce. Fiery blowfish tails, which have been a special in the past, are a must whenever on the menu. 390 Broome St., 212-730-6005, seamores.com Grand Army Photo Credit: grandarmybar via Instagram Heavy hitters Noah Bernamoff (Mile End), Julian Brizzi (Rucola) and Damon Boelte (Prime Meats) are behind this oyster bar, which crafts potent cocktails alongside a veggie- and seafood-friendly menu. Come for the $1 oyster happy hour, weekdays from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and for weekend brunch, which boasts an indulgent Bloody Mary platter. 336 State St., Boerum Hill, 718-422-7867, grandarmybar.com O Ya Photo Credit: O Ya Nancy and Tim Cushman's Boston location of O Ya wowed when it first opened. And its new NYC outpost brings the same pristine attention to detail to each piece of sashimi. Go for the 18-course omakase menu and expect dishes that are as beautifully plated as they are delicious. 120 E. 28th St., 212-204-0200, o-ya.restaurant/o-ya-nyc Superiority Burger Photo Credit: Georgia Kral The veggie burger of yore is no more. In 2015, Superiority Burger hit NYC and changed everything. Who knew a tiny counter serving a veggie burger and a few other items would be so widely craved? Even The New York Times loves it. Brooks Headley left the temple to food that is Del Posto to open it, and it's been a smash success. In addition to the acclaimed burger, there are also rotating seasonal side dishes, a faux meat Sloppy Joe and gelato. 430 E. 9th St., superiorityburger.com By Chloe Photo Credit: by CHLOE Vegetarian food has certainly come into its own in NYC. From Superiority Burger to Wassail (both on this list!), meat-free restaurants are becoming more than a fad. However, By Chloe stands out. First of all, the restaurant is vegan. Also, instead of favoring seasonality, chef Chloe Coscarelli is interested in great taste and texture (very important when creating faux meats). The spot just opened, and a second in Flatiron is in the works. 185 Bleecker St., bychefchloe.com By Ariel Kanter, with Georgia Kral and Meredith Deliso Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.