8. RedFarm

Neighborhood: West Village, Manhattan
Address: 529 Hudson St.
Website: redfarmnyc.com

New Yorkers' taste for haute Chinese food has subsided since the cuisine's golden age in the '60s and '70s. But this year Ed Schoenfeld, RedFarm's animated frontman, gamely reminded me of what's been lost. “This is a very good restaurant,” he assured me, between peeks at the crowded host stand, upon my first visit. Indeed he was right, and it seems everyone got the memo. One night I sat huddled between Food & Wine staffers on my left; Michael Musto on my right; and the vice president of the James Beard Foundation a few tables away. All of us nibbled on playful dim sum: Pac-Man–shaped har gao, skewered shumai; absurd and delicious egg rolls stuffed with pastrami. That the place forgoes fire-breathing dragons and giggling Buddha kitsch in favor of a farmhouse aesthetic only adds to its appeal.—JR