17 W. 26th St., nr. Broadway; 646-490-8240
Our pick for best new grits dish consists of five deep-fried croutons fashioned from coarsely ground upstate corn, each one glued to a splotch of Old Crow–spiked mayo and wearing a little do-rag of scrunched-up, sliced-to-order Kentucky ham ($9). Maysville chef and native Alabamian Kyle Knall serves them on elegant rectangular plates that wouldn’t look out of step atop a thick-linened Per Se tabletop. You wonder if this is how they do it down South. Or has Chef Knall, corrupted by his northern exile, committed what the folks back home would deem culinary blasphemy? In any case, Knall calls the things “crispy grits with country ham and bourbon aïoli,” which seems authentic enough to us. If not, and your point of reference for golden-fried morsels is more Mulberry Street than Mason-Dixon Line, then just think of them as inside-out Kentucky-style arancini.