From San Diego to Atlanta, winter 2018 has been stacked with hot new restaurant openings so far. Here are 15 to check out right now in your late winter travels.
Atlanta: Snackboxe Bistro
This newly arrived Peachtree Plaza restaurant presents a casual, modern space for Lao street-food classics. Think flavorful noodles, sticky rice dishes and savory soups, all inflected with the flavors of galangal, lemongrass and garlic.
Must-order: Khao chee, pan-fried and crispy omelet-style sticky rice patties, seasoned with egg and chiles
Insider tip: For its first several weeks in business, Snackboxe is operating with a limited menu before the offerings expand.
6035 Peachtree Rd., Doraville; 770-417-8082
A large wooden bar dominates the interior of this contemporary Italian spot on Cesar Chavez with expansive patio and functional herb gardens. The menu rotates weekly and features freshly made pasta, locally grown farm-to-table produce and meaty dishes made with an eye toward whole animal usage — plus craft cocktails and housemade chocolate.
Must-order: The menu changes often, but be sure to try the housemade pasta and ricotta, found in dishes like the raviolo all’uovo with ricotta, cabbage, mushroom and spring onion.
Insider tip: Come for dinner but stay for the craft chocolate, which appears in the form of truffles, bark and velvety hot cocoa.
2612 E. Cesar Chavez St.; 512-599-4052
Boston: Blossom Bar
Former 30 Under 30 honoree Ran Duan just turned Brookline's Sichuan Garden II into Blossom Bar, a hipper spot for Sichuan-style cuisine and the ambitious, awesome cocktails for which he's known.
Must-order: There are Latin inflections to the cocktail program, and we're partial to the Angie Valencia, named for a former Colombian beauty-queen-turned-drug-syndicate-ringleader, made with anise-like aguardiente, Aperol, papaya and kaffir.
Insider tip: Keep an eye out for another project soon. Duan tells us that he expects to announce a location for a Boston-proper restaurant this year.
295 Washington St., Brookline; 617-734-1870
Chicago: The Warbler
Stylized diner pairing New American and vegetarian eats with bird-themed cocktails and draft beers.
Must-order: Tamarind-glazed chicken wings and risotto with butternut squash and cardoon cream
Insider tip: There’s a 120-seat patio slated to open this summer, which should become a quick favorite in Lincoln Square.
4533 N. Lincoln Ave.; 773-681-0950
Dallas: Tapas Castile
The latest concept to open at Trinity Groves, this tapas spot features shareable plates, both small and large, bringing flavors of Texas and Spain to the table with great wines.
Must-order: The paella (pictured) wows with a flavorful combination of chicken, sausage, mussels, clams, shrimp and diver scallops in a lush saffron broth. But only after starting things off with the fried eggplant and mixed mushrooms in garlic-sherry sauce.
Insider tip: Try a vermouth or sherry pairing with your tapas for a real touch of authenticity.
3011 Gulden Ln. #116; 214-295-2717
By day, the exec chef of this snug, sleek, RiNo sensation, Duncan Holmes (ex Frasca Food and Wine), turns out daily pastries and breads from house-milled grains — including excellent English muffins — along with simple but elegant cafe fare. By night, the mood gets sultrier, adding a tidy but quirky selection of bar drinks — one combines port and arrack with black tea, milk and sugar; another chartreuse, coffee and peppermint ice cream — to the ever-changing profusion of European-inspired small plates: now duck rillettes, now pork croquettes with cranberry beans and preserved lemon, now buttermilk-fried sardines.
Must-order: Holmes has already won an avid following for his tartines and aebleskivers (pancake puffs) in particular, which he makes in both sweet and savory styles.
Insider tip: For a good time, pick up the tin-can “phones” hanging from the wall — they play snippets of songs containing, you guessed it, the word “call.”
1899 16th St.; 303-323-0017
Houston: Harlem Road Texas BBQ
Wood from retired French oak red wine barrels lends smoke to brisket, ribs, housemade sausage and other meats at this understated barbecue joint in Richmond, where extras include beans, potato salad, slaw and essential butterscotch chocolate chip cookies.
Must-order: Brisket that uses Texas-raised Black Angus from 44 Farms
Insider tip: Early arrivals are encouraged because popular meats often sell out within two hours of opening.
9823 Harlem Rd.; 832-278-2101
Los Angeles: Majordomo
David Chang of Momofuku fame makes his Los Angeles debut with this north Downtown destination serving up an innovative, Asian-influenced menu featuring noodles and seasonal ingredients.
Must-order: Bings (warm flatbreads) are a good place to start with sides of smoky eggplant, sardines or butter and caviar; fried potatoes with salsa seca and whole peanuts (eat them shell and all); beautiful scallop crudo with translucent slices of apples and dashi; the whole fried skate; and the massive whole smoked short rib with accoutrements is in limited supply every night but worth the fight to get one.
Insider tip: There is a lot of bar space here, which is available for walk-ins. Just know the place is already filling up every night. Check out Apotheke in the same development for a cocktail after.
1725 Naud St.; 323-545-4880
Located inside the Marriott Stanton South Beach, this New York offshoot boasts a traditional izakaya menu and a cocktail bar pouring sake and whiskey in a dimly lit, intimate space.
Must-order: Toro Tabe Kurabe, a tasting of three types of toro (tuna belly)
Insider tip: The restaurant features a hidden sushi counter serving traditional omakase. The room features limited seating so book your spot in advance.
161 Ocean Dr.; 786-276-0520
New York City: Miznon
Inside Chelsea Market, this branch of a Tel Aviv–based global chain focuses on pitas packed with Mediterranean flavors and local combos (such as a corned beef Reuben).
Must-order: Roasted baby cauliflower, Reuben sandwich. Note the menu is subject to change daily.
Insider tip: Go at off-peak hours (after 3 PM) to beat the long lines.
435 W. 15th Street; 646-490-5871
Must-order: Meze plate with labneh, ful mudammas, a six-minute egg with za’atar, dukkah, crudite and pita
Insider tip: The full restaurant won’t open until March, but the cafe and market are worth a special visit now.
1530 Frankford Ave.; 215-302-1900
San Diego: Better Buzz Coffee Roasters
There’s a lot of room to get your caffeine buzz on at this quirky Hillcrest hot spot. An expanded menu includes sandwiches, acai bowls and a selection of signature drinks.
Must-order: If you’re looking for a meal to accompany your drink, order up the B.A.B.B. The grilled sourdough sandwich comes stuffed with bacon, almond butter and sliced bananas with maple syrup drizzled on top.
Insider tip: There's a conference room available for rent on the ground floor.
801 University Ave.; 619-269-2740
San Francisco: Kaya
Must-order: Pickled papaya salad with plantains; ginger and soy-caramelized tofu with jasmine rice; salt fish fritters with chimichurri dipping sauce; Jamaican rum black cake; any cocktail
Insider tip: The two punch bowl options are festive and pair strongly with the food's vibrant flavors.
1420 Market St.; 415-590-2585
Seattle: Salt & Straw
Creative ice cream flavors crafted from local, organic ingredients dished out in a buzzy parlor.
Must-order: Classic flavors like sea salt with caramel ribbons or chocolate gooey brownie or Seattle-specific scoops like Beecher’s Cheese with peppercorn toffee or Rachel’s raspberry ginger beer. Don’t miss the specialty menu, rotating every four weeks — right now it’s a Seattle chocolatier series (hello Theo’s big daddy s’mores).
Insider tip: The lines might be a bit long here, but don’t ever feel pressured once you’re up front to make a decision. Friendly scoopers are focused on you — and more than happy to taste you through every flavor before you make a choice.
5420 Ballard Ave. Northwest; 206-294-5581
Washington, DC: A Rake's Progress
Must-order: Fried quail pickled daikon; vegetable mille feuille; spit-roasted aged pork with sorghum-soy glaze
Insider tip: Walk-ins can try for a seat at A Rake's Bar, a lounge that serves small plates with the vibe of its sister restaurant in a more casual way.
1770 Euclid Street NW; 202-588-0525