20 Hottest Eateries of 2013 (So Far) Around the U.S.

By Zagat Staff  |  September 17, 2013

With only three and a half short months before the end of 2013, it's time to take a look back at some of this year's hottest restaurant openings. From trendy Asian and fried chicken to gussied-up Italian, chefs and restaurateurs rolled out new concepts to please the public's ever-widening palate. Check out 20 of our picks among 12 U.S. cities, and leave your own suggestions for the biggest debuts of the year.

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    Los Angeles: Rao’s

    Debuting this week (September 17) is the famed New York City Italian stalwart, one of the oldest family-operated restaurants in the country. The East Harlem original has only 10 impossible-to-get tables, and the Las Vegas location has more than 400. This new Hollywood spot, which takes over the former Hollywood Canteen, rests firmly in the middle, with a similar menu of lemon chicken, pasta with red sauce, great meatballs and martinis. Chef Nicole Grimes, who ran the Vegas outpost, runs the show, adding seasonal specials that jibe with the Los Angeles palate. Rao’s is only open during the week, Monday through Friday - no weekends, just like the original.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Philadelphia: Pizzeria Vetri

    Marc Vetri’s Callowhill Avenue pizzeria has proved so popular in its first few weeks that it has repeatedly run out of dough before closing time, despite replenishing supply to the fullest amount each morning. The Neapolitan pies that emerge both crisp and chewy from the huge, custom-built Renato oven are guaranteed crowd-pleasers.

  • Chicago: Tanta

    Peruvian chef Gastón Acurio brings his creative cuisine to River North in a sleek, modern restaurant infused with Latin flavor via vibrant murals. The menu is equally vibrant, with ceviche shots and chicharrón sliders, along with pisco sours and other craft cocktails from the marble-topped bar.

  • San Francisco: The Cavalier

    The latest from the Marlowe/Park Tavern team offers the feel of a cheeky yet classy British pub in the heart of SoMa. Now, the neighborhood is finally learning the meaning and flavor behind terms like scrumpets, rarebits and brambles. Right now, the restaurant serves dinner only, but lunch will join the rotation on October 1.

  • Credit: Greg Powers

    Washington, DC: Kapnos

    On happening 14th St. NW, celebrity chef Mike Isabelle channels Greece at his rustic modern meze palace, where the dining room wraps around an open kitchen that features whole animals roasting over open flames. Wine-spiked lemonades on tap and cocktails featuring Greek flavors drawn from regional ingredients and liqueurs fuel the action. This place is so hot, he’s opening a clone in Arlington, VA, next year.

  • Credit: Swine Southern Table & Bar

    Miami: Swine Southern Table & Bar

    The 50 Eggs crew behind the white-hot Yardbird and Khong River House opened up this insta-hit in Coral Cables earlier this year. The ode to all things Southern cuisine includes menu items like slow-roasted brisket, chicken and waffles and a whole-pig large-format option.

  • Boston: The Kirkland Tap & Trotter

    Tony Maws (right, with sous chef Dan Scampoli), the culinary maestro of Craigie on Main, opened this new eatery just a week ago. The nose-to-tail sensibility and rotating burger options comes from Craigie, but Kirkland offers a more casual vibe with lower price points. Maws sounds like he's playing it simple with Kirkland, but with this James Beard winner, sophistication can be assumed. 

  • Austin: Bufalina

    Austin had to wait two years for owner Steven Dilley’s Neopolitan pizza joint to open, but it was worth every second. The flawless crust comes from Dilley’s Italian-learned skills as well as the impressive Stefano Ferrara oven that takes center stage in the tiny restaurant. The menu is equally small but full of good things like the cherry tomato salad with thick-cut housemade mozzarella; pies like the fresca, with mozzarella, Sungold tomatoes, arugula and prosciutto; and wine and beer. The meats and cheeses (except for the housemade mozzarella) are sourced from Antonelli’s, and the baguettes come from Easy Tiger. The place feels casual and neighborhoody, so expect to say hi to a few of your neighbors and friends.

  • Atlanta: King + Duke

    Chef Ford Fry's latest eatery tips its hat to classic American literary traditions (the name references characters from Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn) and features primitive cooking techniques including a 24-ft. open hearth as the restaurant’s centerpiece. Guests can watch their food being prepared over the fire in the main restaurant space, dine alfresco on the large patio or host an event behind a hidden door in the private dining room.

  • San Francisco: 1760

    It's only been open a few days, but the sister restaurant to Acquerello already feels like an important part of the emerging Upper Polk Street area. Chef Adam Tortosa, previously of Ink and Kiwami restaurants in Los Angeles, calls his style "modern-ingredient-driven cuisine." His opening menu features dishes inspired by travels in Italy and Asia, such as watermelon gazpacho with Dungeness crab, finger lime and borage; bucatini with uni, garlic, red pepper and bread crumbs; and a fried duck sandwich with slaw, pickles and spicy aïoli.

  • Denver: Acorn at the Source

    Chef Steven Redzikowski and Beverage Director Bryan Dayton, the acclaimed team behind OAK at fourteenth in Boulder, expand to Denver with the opening of Acorn. Located within the Source, a reclaimed 1880s refinery turned edgy new epicurean marketplace, Acorn boasts Chef Redzikowski’s eclectic American cooking in an approachable, family-friendly format, alongside Dayton’s ingredient-driven cocktails and a selection of artisanal wines and beers.

  • Credit: Jody Brady

    Washington, DC: Doi Moi

    Vividly flavored Southeast Asian street food paired with an Asian-accented drink scene plays out in über-cool, whitewashed brick and pale oak modernity at this latest 14th St. NW hot spot from the Proof/Estadio talents. The centerpiece bar accents the food’s strong flavors with unusual cocktails, Asian beers and an extensive wine list. Check out the cellar drinks den, dubbed "2 Birds 1 Stone."

  • Credit: Hakkasan

    Los Angeles: Hakkasan

    Having gone through weeks of previews, the splashy new Chinese import also makes its debut in Beverly Hills this week (September 19). Founded in London in 2001, there are now outposts in New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco and other cities, all serving elevated Chinese fare, including dim sum, crispy duck salad, and truffle-scented roast duck. Walking through can be a maze, all the tables secluded by decorative wood panels, and it’s dark and swank, with a long bar for sipping cocktails. Celebritiy sightings will probably be de rigueur. Be prepared for the high 90201 price tag too. Hakkasan opens for lunch Monday through Friday, with dinner added on the weekends. The bar stays open until 1 AM.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Philadelphia: Little Nonna’s

    Marcie Turney never imagined herself surrounded by dainty, flower-edged plates and lace doilies, but the “grandma’s living room” decor is one of the most awesome aspects of her new restaurant with partner Valerie Safran (it’s the couple’s fourth in Midtown Village). The other great part about the red-sauce Italian, of course, is the chef’s food, which is as well-executed as ever.

  • Austin: ABGB

    South Austin is more than excited about the new Austin Beer Garden and Brewery from Uncle Billy’s alums, where the philosophy is similar but with a “slight edge.” The menu features five beers, which will remain constant: the Hell Yes (a Bavarian-style lager), the Industry (a Pilsner), the Superliner (an IPA), the Day Trip (a Pale Ale) and Big Mama Red (a hoppy red). Additionally, five other beers will rotate, such as an Oktoberfest and a Pale Ale with Belgian yeast. And chef Tim Stevens is churning out creative pizzas and sandwiches with ingredients like shrimp, pancetta and Brussels sprouts. Stevens uses local ingredients such as charcuterie from Salt and Time and Pure Luck Farm and Dairy, and changes the menu daily.

  • Credit: Cherie Cincilla

    NYC: Somtum Der

    This East Villager comes to NYC via Bangkok, and the focus is on the spicy Isaan-style cuisine from the Northern region. We dropped by on a recent Friday, and it was packed only a few days after opening. Once we camped out at a communal table we were able to see why - the affordable, flavor-packed dishes are on point. Must-try items include a spicy chicken wing soup that we nominate as NYC's best new hangover cure, and the noodles, which may seem run-of-the-mill but manage to go beyond what you'd find at your local Thai joint. This is some of the most authentic Isaan outside of Queens, so hit it up.

  • Credit: Gabi Porter

    NYC: Greenpoint Gems: River Styx and Glasserie

    Greenpoint is so full of awesome new openings that it was almost impossible to pick just one. So we didn't. The Waterfront District has two of the coolest new haunts in NYC, and it's worth visiting both of them to see why this hood is so buzzworthy. Glasserie is in a stunning, industrial space that used to house a glass factory, and even though it is on the outer reaches of the borough, it's worth the trek - specially if you have the whole-cooked rabbit, which is a mini feast meant to be shared. Closer to civilization (aka the G Train) is River Styx, a New American eatery steps away from the water that takes industrial chic to a new level of sexy. With a sunny bar area up front, this joint is as good for a drink as it is for dinner (the items coming out of that wood-fired oven are mighty tasty).

  • Chicago: Honey Butter Fried Chicken

    After over two years of anticipation, the team from Sunday Dinner Club has opened its temple to fried chicken. The Avondale restaurant serves the signature bird on a platter with corn bread and honey butter or in a sandwich with crunchy slaw and pickles. Don't skimp on the market-driven sides such as heirloom tomato salad with roasted sweet corn or pimiento mac 'n' cheese.

  • Boston: Beat Hotel

    Put a flower in your braided hair: Beat Hotel, a hip, hippie-ish hot spot, opened just last week (September 12). The Harvard Square restaurant and live music venue is a sibling to the South End's beloved Beehive. The 'hive has the relaxed, gypsy-glam vibe of a European boheme, and the team's Beat Hotel branch doesn't fall far from that tree: it's inspired by the beat movement of the mid-20th century and named for a French hotel where the influencers of that scene would gather. But the "American brasserie" also evokes the style of San Francisco in the Flower Power era, adorned with the kind of cool, colorful art that wouldn't exactly seem out of place on Woodstock posters or vinyl sleeves from a Haight Street record store.

  • Las Vegas: Tom Colicchio Heritage Steak

    The newest restaurant from the Top Chef head judge specializes in open-flame cooking and features antibiotic-free meats, including Brandt Beef and Snake River Farms, which Colicchio sources from ranchers across the United States. Recently opened at Sin City's The Mirage, the 230-seat restaurant showcases Colicchio’s passion for cooking with fire, as each dish is prepared to bring out the rich flavors in the cuisine while using the freshest ingredients available.