Feature

The Hottest Restaurants in 15 American Cities

By Zagat Staff  |  February 21, 2017
Credit: Cook N Solo

From San Diego to Atlanta, early 2017 has been stacked with hot new restaurant openings. Here are 15 to check out right now in your winter travels.

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  • Credit: Heidi Geldhauser/Caren West PR

    Atlanta: The Tavern at Atlas

    An offshoot of Atlas, the upscale New American inside the St. Regis, this more casual space still retains that restaurant's elegance, but livens things up with regular live music, smart cocktails and elevated pub fare with an emphasis on shareable plates (Wagyu beef sliders, lobster pot pie, etc.).

    Must-order: Wagyu beef burger sliders ($18) come as a cute trio on toasted brioche buns.

    Insider tip: The Tavern at Atlas has live music every week, usually on either Wednesdays or Thursdays, which makes for a great time to check out the upscale pub eats.

    88 West Paces Ferry Rd. NW; 404-600-6471

  • Credit: Mark Weatherford

    Austin: Kuneho

    Top Chef winner Paul Qui relaunches his East Austin Japanese favorite (the name is Tagalog for 'rabbit') and adds a small-bites concept, showcasing his whimsical style in uni toast, rabbit hand pies, trout roe migas and other miniature offerings; there are also sushi, crudo and nabe menus. The Zen-like space retains its polished-yet-casual vibe, while the attached bar (dubbed The Borough) experiments with Fruity Pebbles and other quirky cocktail infusions.

    Must-order: If you haven't tried Qui's signature Filipino dishes like sisig (pig's head), morcilla a la dinuguan (blood sausage) or kinilaw (ceviche), now's your chance to enjoy them in a slightly different form.

    Insider tip: The creative cocktails are top-notch, but don't overlook the lengthy sake menu either.

    1600 E. 6th St.; 512-436-9626

  • Credit: Courtesy of Matt Li/PAGU

    Boston: Pagu

    Though à la carte dining is available, innovative prix fixe menus are emphasized at this hip Cambridge eatery offering Japanese- and Spanish-inspired small plates in a homey space filled with warm, live-edge woods and an open kitchen. Seats are reserved via prepaid ticketing at the restaurant's website.

    Must-order: Opt for steamed buns filled with mushroom, pork belly — and in the eye-catching example here, panko-coated Island Creek oysters in a squid ink-laced bun with rice wine–pickled purple cabbage and "norioli" (seaweed aïoli). 

    Insider tip: Chef Tracy Chang previously co-founded Guchi's Midnight Ramen, a pop-up series that was a cult favorite among foodies and helped fuel the now-ubiquitous modern ramen craze in Boston. She revives Guchi's ramen right here, so look no further for your fix of noodles, pork belly and a six-minute egg.​

    310 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge; 617-945-9290

  • Credit: Temporis

    Chicago: Temporis

    Two veteran chefs of Les Nomades helm this Noble Square fine-dining destination, offering creative New American tasting menus highlighting a specific seasonal ingredient in each course, with optional wine pairings and classic cocktails. Sophisticated and modern, the intimate, 20-seat setting boasts dramatic touches such as recessed LED lighting that alters throughout your meal and custom-built tables with hidden compartments that may open to reveal surprises during dinner.

    Must-order: The latest example of Chicago’s ever-expanding fine-dining scene branching out further beyond Downtown, Temporis stuns with its dynamic tasting menus in West Town. Dishes change fairly frequently, but some to look out for include the Sunflower in Five Forms, a springy and floral plate of sunchoke and endive with salsify, sunflower seeds and chamomile; and a tandoori-spiced rabbit presentation with carrots and greens. 

    Insider tip: Expect a few surprises along the way during your meal here. Tables contain built-in secret compartments filled with herbs and other additions to enhance meals.

    933 N. Ashland Ave.; 773-697-4961

  • Credit: Gretchen Stofer Darby

    Dallas: Town Hearth

    Chef Nick Badovinus brings extravagance to laid-back dining at this Design District steakhouse decked out with 64 glowing chandeliers, a fish tank with a vintage 1950s yellow submarine and a 1961 silver MG parked just outside the door. The menu is built for indulgence, with a raw bar featuring a seafood cocktail and oysters and shareable mains such as a bone-in 48-ounce steak and whole roasted fish, accompanied by a long list of classic cocktails.

    Must-order: If you don't want to purchase the '74 Ducati Sport motorcycle available on the menu as a side dish for $75,000, scale back a bit with the 45-day-aged bone-in strip known as "The Brick." Designed for two people to share, at $99 it's a delicious bargain.

    Insider tip: Reservations can be hard to come by during prime dining hours, but opting for an early-bird-special-worthy spot of 5 PM can make experiencing this red-hot spot an easier proposition. 

    1617 Market Center Blvd.; 214-761-1617

  • Credit: Take You Wild Photography

    Denver: Hearth & Dram

    Suave, au courant wood-fired cuisine from chef Jeffrey Wall complements cocktails from a bar boasting more than 300 whiskeys at this New American destination in LoDo. It's all served against the wood, steel and glass backdrop of the dramatic dining room, which overlooks Union Station.

    Must-order: Crispy sunchokes, fried crab, hen of the woods with celeriac, gnocchi with uni cream, grilled branzino — or a preordered Whole Beast Feast

    Insider tip: If this doesn’t look like the kind of place you could catch the game, guess again — those gilt-framed mirrors behind the bar (pictured) are elaborate covers for TVs.  

    1801 Wewatta St.; 303-623-0979

  • Credit: Julie Soefer

    Houston: One Fifth Steak

    Chris Shepherd (Underbelly) expands his presence in Montrose with this swanky steakhouse serving a nose-to-tail menu of steaks and chops, sides, wood-fired seafood and raw bar alongside wine and craft cocktails. A dark palette of mahogany, zinc, red and steel-blue accentuates the former 1927-era church building while 19 custom art pieces appear throughout the space that also includes a choir loft for service and private events.

    Must-order: Lamb Wellington ($42) offers a tasty spin on tradition with Creole mustard, crimini mushrooms and hard squash purée. 

    Insider tip: Gather a group and order the Baller Board, which comes loaded with chef's choice of proteins and sides. The giant wooden board feeds six to eight people and requires two servers to bring it to the table. Cost varies per daily selection.

    1658 Westheimer Rd.; 713-955-1024

  • Credit: Lesley Balla

    Los Angeles: Kismet

    This bright and minimalist Los Feliz spot from Sara Kramer and Sarah Hymanson (Madcapra) sports blond woods and white furniture, a semi-open kitchen and overall communal vibe. The California-centric, Mediterranean menus move from coffee, pastries and light fare in the mornings, to salads and sandwiches in the afternoons, and family-style share plates in the evenings; beer and wine offerings match the cuisine.

    Must-order: For breakfast, flaky bread with tomato, gem lettuces and lebneh; for lunch or dinner, the lemony chicken pies, marinated feta with squash and nasturtium, Persian cucumbers with parsley seed za’atar; and the rabbit feast, a mainstay from the chefs’ time at Brooklyn’s Glasserie

    Insider tip: This is a popular block now. Kismet joins HomeState and Go Get Em Tiger feeding people during the day, and Bar Covell serving at night, so parking along Hollywood Boulevard is tight. Plan on valeting, or try some of the small lots on Vermont and walk a few blocks.

    4648 Hollywood Blvd.; 323-409-0404

  • Credit: Oleg March

    New York City: Chinese Tuxedo

    Contemporary Chinese cooking is celebrated at this two-story locale set inside a former Chinatown opera house, offering both large and small plates including charcuterie, housemade noodles, bone-in steak and both spicy pork and vegan dumplings. Rustic walls, cozy booths and marble tables enhance the lofty environs.

    Must-order: Honey-glazed char siu, mapo lo mein, sea bass, fried rice

    Insider tip: Use the Resy app to book a table.

    5 Doyers Street; 646-895-9301

  • Miami: Bakehouse Brasserie

    Inspired by traditional Parisian eateries, this South of Fifth bistro from Menin Hospitality offers grab-and-go baked goods, an all-day French-themed brunch featuring dishes like stuffed croissant French toast and gravlax Benedicts, plus burgers and charcuterie. The retro-chic space also goes Gallic, with sophisticated white-and-gold lighting, brown leather banquettes and a pastry case filled with daily temptations.

    Must-order: Stuffed croissant French toast made with the restaurant's own pastry and filled with rum-spiked bananas Foster and cream cheese frosting

    Insider tip: Add a shot of Remy Martin VSOP to the South of Frosé (frozen rosé) for an extra kick. 

    808 1st St.; 305-434-8249

  • Credit: Michael Persico

    Philadelphia: Rooster Soup Co.

    The Federal Donuts team brings this retro-style luncheonette to Sansom Street, offering standards with a Southern, Jewish or diner bent, including soups with a chicken broth base (made from bones from its FD branches), sandwiches, blue-plate specials and breakfast treats like biscuits and sausage gravy. Proceeds go to Broad Street Ministry's Hospitality Collaborative, a nonprofit organization that provides meals and services to Philadelphians in need.

    Must-order: The biscuits and sausage gravy for breakfast, and for lunch, the smoked matzo ball soup (with or without a patty melt). Do a blue-plate special like trout amandine for dinner, and then treat yourself to a vanilla malted milkshake.

    Insider tip: Try the hearty Yemenite chicken pot pie — it’s inspired by the Yemenite chicken soup at Zahav.

    1526 Sansom Street; 215-454-6939

  • Credit: The Crack Shack

    San Diego: The Crack Shack

    An all-day menu of chicken and egg-based dishes – including fried chicken, chicken sandwiches and deviled eggs (plus a full bar) – are served at this local chain by the team behind Juniper & Ivy with locations in Encinitas and Little Italy. Modern furnishings, a giant chicken sculpture and a bocce ball court make the space hip and happening.

    Must-order: Firebird sandwich — a potato roll with spicy fried chicken thigh, Cool Ranch spread, crispy onions and pickles

    Insider tip: Like the original Little Italy location, this new restaurant features a bocce court, but also look for a kid-friendly sandbox.

    407 Encinitas Blvd., Encinitas; 760-230-2968

  • Credit: ROOH/Facebook

    San Francisco: Rooh

    Upscale Indian fare gets the California treatment at this SoMa bistro that serves elevated à la carte plates and a seven-course tasting menu, along with creative cocktails, wine and beer. The stylish space features bold colors and contemporary design, with bright banquettes, vibrant art and cozy corners for private conversation.

    Must-order: Jhalmuri bar with avocado, tamarind gel and mint chutney; sea bass with agave and madras curry; seven-course tasting menu for $80; Banaras Sour gin cocktail with basil, cucumber and chartreuse

    Insider tip: The best deals and most traditional Indian cooking are found with the vegetarian ($22) and non-vegetarian ($25) tastings. Each features an appetizer and main plate, along with a vegetarian curry, avocado raita and garlic naan and a few other accompaniments.

    333 Brannan St.; 415-300-8467

  • Credit: Thackeray Cafe and Bar

    Seattle: Thackeray Cafe & Bar

    This roomy Wallingford spot from the Heavy Restaurant Group (Meet the Moon, Barrio) has plenty of veggie-friendly fare on the menu, all with a Mediterranean and Middle Eastern bent. The lineup includes the likes of flatbreads with spreads, lamb shawarma and Ethiopian-spiced fried chicken as well as craft cocktails, served in a contemporary, window-filled dining room.

    Must-order: The crispy chicken wings spiked with chiles, the lamb shawarma, the smoked trout and corona bean salad, and an order of the housemade caramels

    Insider tip: When calling for a reservation ask about the swinging tables, where the seats rock back and forth just like a porch swing. 

    1311 North 35th St.; 206-737-8743

  • Credit: Lacey Johnson

    Washington, DC: Honeysuckle

    Chef-owner Hamilton Johnson takes over his alma mater, the recently shuttered, long-beloved Vidalia, showcasing his modern, sometimes Nordic take on Southern cuisine, evident in dishes like hamachi crudo with sea buckthorn and poached oysters with chicken cracklins. The funky ceiling murals draw inspiration from the toque’s tattoos, while colorful private dining areas pay tribute to some of his favorite musicians, with images of David Bowie, Lou Reed and Miles Davis on the walls.

    Must-order: Veal sweetbreads; slow-roasted Icelandic cod; dry-aged rib-eye with buttered Maryland crab

    Insider tip: Be on the lookout for the upcoming four-person chef’s table that will sit in the middle of the dining area, as well as the soon-to-launch lunch and brunch.

    1990 M St. NW; 202-659-1990