13 Of The Best New Restaurants In The USA
Plenty of smart, useful articles appear each year directing people to the nation’s buzziest restaurants, highlighting emerging trends and up-and-coming chefs. This list is in no specific order or rank and all are worth the time to visit if you are in the area.
2M Smokehouse – San Antonio
In an ever-more-crowded genre, pitmaster Esaul Ramos and fellow San Antonian Joe Melig transcend the Texas smoked-meats melee by also serving a frictionless combination of dishes that express their Mexican-American heritage. The uniformly blackened, near-custardy brisket rivals the efforts of the Austin superstars; chopped poblanos and blots of queso Oaxaca punctuate their stellar pork sausage. Fold them into speckled flour tortillas, topped with pickled nopales and interspersed with forkfuls of borracho beans and “Chicharoni Macaroni” (mac and cheese dusted with fried pork skins). This is how the leading edge of Lone Star barbecue looks, smells, and tastes.
2731 South WW White Road, San Antonio, TX, (210) 885-9352, 2msmokehouse.com
Atelier Crenn – San Francisco
3125 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA, (415) 440-0460, ateliercrenn.com
Brennan’s – New Orleans
Ralph Brennan and his business partner, Terry White, rescued this French Quarter monolith in 2014, shepherding $20 million worth of reconstructive surgery on a building the size of a small cruise ship. Among the city’s Creole restaurant institutions, Brennan’s now takes the lead with its balance of timeless pageantry and relevant, finely honed cooking. Executive chef Slade Rushing nails the classics — eggs Sardou laced with creamed spinach for breakfast, snapper amandine or blackened redfish for dinner, bananas Foster for dessert any time of day — but also rotates in fresh twists like frog legs with basil tempura and tomato escabeche.
417 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA, (504) 525-9711, brennansneworleans.com
Here’s Looking At You – Los Angeles
Jonathan Whitener, the chef who owns HLAY with front-of-house ace Lien Ta, is arguably the country’s most creatively energized practitioner of the “global plates” aesthetic. Salsa negra, smoked beef tongue, nam jim, carrot curry, blood cake, almond dukkah, sprouted broccoli, New Zealand cockles: All have a place on his menu; all make sense in his electric, eclectic compositions; all reflect Los Angeles’s wondrous pluralism. The cocktail menu takes cues from Tiki culture but spirals off in similarly wild and amazingly cohesive directions.
3901 West 6th Street, Los Angeles, CA, (213) 568-3573, hereslookingatyoula.com
Himalaya – Houston
Effervescent, always-present owner Kaiser Lashkari and his wife, Azra Babar Lashkari, turn out nearly 100 distinct dishes at their boxy strip-mall restaurant in the city’s Mahatma Gandhi District. Numerous curries, including Hyderabadi chicken hara masala coursing with green chiles, evince several regional Indian cuisines, but it’s key to order the gems inspired by Kaiser Lashkari’s native Pakistan. He excels in “hunter beef,” a preparation similar to pastrami, best served cold in thick slices with head-clearing mustard. He links the Pakistani affinity for beef with Texas in specials like his weekend-only smoked brisket masala. The restaurant’s excellent, mildly spiced fried chicken bridges cultures just as successfully.
6652 Southwest Freeway, Houston, TX, (713) 532-2837, himalayarestauranthouston.com
Jose Enrique – San Juan, PR
176 Calle Duffaut, San Juan, Puerto Rico, (787) 725-3518, joseenriquepr.com
JuneBaby – Seattle
Edouardo Jordan grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, with family roots in Georgia, but it wasn’t until he opened his second Seattle restaurant, in the spring of 2017, that he chose to focus professionally on the foods of the South and his African-American heritage. The decision, and the restaurant’s immediate success, has made him one of the nation’s towering figures of Southern cooking. Among the menu’s familiar, gorgeously rendered comforts, the truest treasures (oxtails, vinegared chitterlings, collard greens with ham hock) are the ones that most resonantly invoke Jordan’s upbringing.
2122 Northeast 65th Street, Seattle, WA, (206) 257-4470, junebabyseattle.com
Koi Palace – Daly City, CA
Dim sum is among my favorite meals. A Sunday jaunt to the original Koi Palace (the flagship of its three locations) reminded me why it’s the indispensable cornerstone among the region’s many stellar dim sum options. Once you wade through the chaotic crowds, a euphoric whirlwind of food and service awaits. In a blur of dumplings, noodles, congees, sweet and savory cakes, piled greens, and crisp-skinned meats, a through-line of freshness and craftsmanship gives the feast cohesion. Finish with the last dregs of tea and the custardy fritters called “Sugar Egg Puffs.”
365 Gellert Boulevard, Daly City, CA, (650) 992-9000, koipalace.com
Mary & Tito’s Cafe – Albuquerque
2711 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM, (505) 344-6266, no website
Momofuku Ko – New York
The wit and technical command behind the tasting menu at David Chang’s toniest outpost perpetually makes Ko one of Manhattan’s worthiest splurges. A course of frozen foie shavings, melting on the tongue like otherworldly snowflakes, is a forever trademark; it’s hard to look at the split shape of the “Ko egg” and not envision an alabaster Pac-Man gobbling dots of caviar. But this past year the restaurant hoisted itself to another dimension by adding a walk-ins-only bar with a separate, experimental, and sneakily brilliant menu by executive chef Sean Gray and his team. Consistent pleasures have included quadruple-fried chicken legs, served cold. They’re so outrageously good, Harland Sanders only wishes he were picnicking on them in the afterlife.
8 Extra Place, New York, NY, (212) 203-8095, ko.momofuku.com
Palace Diner – Biddeford, Maine
In 2014, Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell took over a decades-old, 15-seat restaurant housed in a Pollard train car built in 1927 and turned it into the ideal realization of a daytime Americana diner. Eating here haunts me: I can’t find better light, lemony, buttery pancakes, or a more precisely engineered egg sandwich, and theirs is the only tuna melt I ever hunger after. Location plays a charming role: Sleepy but quickly burgeoning Biddeford, Maine (also home to Rabelais, one of the country’s finest food-focused booksellers), sits about 20 miles south of Portland. It’s all worth the trek.
18 Franklin Street, Biddeford, ME, (207) 284-0015, palacedinerme.com
Park’s BBQ – Los Angeles
In America, the meaty magnetism of Korean barbecue restaurants often serves as a gateway to the country’s cuisine. Park’s, ensconced in a Koreatown strip mall, is more of a journey’s culmination — the pinnacle of the genre. Certainly the tabletop-grilled meats (especially the kalbi, or short ribs, and anything offered as an American wagyu upgrade) deliver with sizzling edges and smoky depths. Before the main event, tiny plates of chef-owner Jenee Kim’s meticulous banchan (kimchi; gyeran mari, or rolled egg; battered slices of squash) rev the appetite. The cooking alone distinguishes the restaurant; the engaged, near-telepathic staff propels the experience even higher.
955 South Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, (213) 380-1717, parksbbq.com
Smyth & the Loyalist – Chicago
177 North Ada Street, Chicago, IL, (773) 913-3773, smythandtheloyalist.com
Superiority Burger – New York
430 East 9th Street, New York, NY, (212) 256-1192, superiorityburger.com
Via Carota – New York
I’ll just say it: This is my favorite place to eat in New York. While no one “quintessential Manhattan” restaurant exists, Via Carota exquisitely inhabits one version of the mythology. It’s the filtered, shifting light that seeps through the picture windows overlooking a narrow West Village street. It’s the crowd’s smart air (especially at lunch, the ideal time to drop in). And it’s certainly the assured Italian cooking, heavy on vegetable dishes but also with soul-soothing pleasures like tagliatelle showered with Parmesan and draped with prosciutto. An unusually harmonic partnership animates the place: Chef couple Rita Sodi and Jody Williams each started still-successful restaurants nearby before combining forces on their joint darling. I always feel cheered by their doting brand of culinary co-parenting.
51 Grove Street, New York, NY, (212) 255-1962, viacarota.com