As Seen on TV: 36 Star Restaurants in 12 U.S. Cities

By Zagat Staff  |  July 24, 2013

As the number of food-TV shows grows exponentially with each day that goes by, there's also been an explosion of new restaurants opened by TV chefs all over the country. In honor of the just-launched new season of Top Chef Masters, let's take a look at some of the eateries and chefs making waves off the small screen in 12 different U.S. cities.

  • Austin: Qui, Paul Qui

    Chef Paul Qui won the judges of Top Chef over with his Asian-fusion food, and he’s enchanted Austin as well. His eponymous restaurant, Qui, just opened on June 20 to rave reviews. In particular, try the rabbit seven ways and the cheddar-cheese ice cream sandwich. You’ll probably be able to fit in a short hello to the chef as well, since the open kitchen provides easy access. But beware of long waits, which can sometimes last up to three hours.

  • Credit: Linnea Covington

    Atlanta: Gunshow, Kevin Gillespie

    The Top Chef Vegas cheftestant just opened his first solo eatery in ATL called Gunshow about three months ago featuring a constantly rotating menu. Previously, the chef worked at Woodfire Grill while he was on Top Chef but left at the end of last year to pursue his own venture. Kevin's winning personality and lovable red beard helped him win Fan Favorite during the season.

  • Los Angeles: CJ Jacobson at Girasol

    You saw him on Top Chef seasons three and 10, the latter of which he made a good run in to come back after elimination on TC’s online Last Chance Kitchen. While he waited for Girasol to come together, he bided his time, redoing the menus at The Mercantile in Hollywood. But now at his new Studio City home, he’s combining influences from his apprenticeship at Noma in Copenhagen and his California-cool sensibility for tasty approachable fare.

  • Bay Area/SF: Coqueta, Michael Chiarello

    Food Network vet Michael Chiarello currently appears on the network's Supermarket Superstar, which premiered on July 22. He opened this waterfront restaurant geared toward Spanish small plates and cocktails in April, adding to his restaurant collection, which also includes Bottega Ristorante in Yountville.

  • Credit: Greg Powers

    Washington, DC: Bandolero, Graffiato and KapnosChef Mike Isabella

    Top Chef celebrity contestant Isabella displays his versatility with Mexican, Italian and Greek cuisines at his trendy DC venues. His latest, the northern Greek Kapnos (pictured), features whole-roasted animals in a dramatic setting. A soon-to-open, next-door Italian sandwich shop, G, will use the meats in mouth-filling heros.

  • Los Angeles: Ludo Lefebvre at Trois Mec

    With movie-star good looks, no-holds-barred personality and candid smile, Ludo was born for TV. But the only limelight the French-born chef sought when he came to Los Angeles was behind the stoves at places like L’Orangerie and Bastide. Still, not only has he appeared on Top Chef Masters and Iron Chef America, he and wife Krissy traveled across the country for Ludobites America, and now he’s a returning judge for the second season of The Taste on ABC. Having skyrocketed his career after his Ludobites pop-ups, Lefebvre finally settled down with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo (Animal, Son of a Gun) to open a prix fixe-only restaurant in an unassuming strip mall. Now it’s one of the hardest tickets to get in town, mostly because getting a reservation is like buying tickets - they go on sale every other Friday morning for the next two weeks, and your dinner reservation is pre-paid only.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Philadelphia: Sbraga from Kevin Sbraga

    Top Chef season 7 winner Kevin Sbraga took what seemed to be a cursed corner space and turned it into one of the Avenue of the Arts' most successful restaurants. The $49 prix fixe format, inspired cocktail pairings and creative chef counter tasting menus make this modern American as much of a destination as the nearby theaters.

  • Boston: Sweet Cheeks Q from Tiffani Faison

    She showed her saucy side on the first season of Top Chef, where she placed runner-up, and a sweeter side when she returned for Top Chef: All-Stars. Now with her mouthwatering barbecue restaurant, Sweet Cheeks Q, Faison spices up the Fenway neighborhood food scene.

  • NYC: Marc Forgione from Marc Forgione

    The eponymous eatery from this spiky-haired Iron Chef has been an NYC mainstay in its Tribeca neighborhood for years featuring the chef's creative take on New American cuisine. Recently it was announced that the chef will open a branch of his Atlantic City steakhouse American Cut in the very same area. This guy's on a roll.

  • Bay Area/SF: Incanto, Chris Cosentino

    Chef and co-owner Chris Cosentino is the reigning winner of Top Chef Masters, from which he won $282,000 for the Michael J. Fox Foundation. He previously co-starred in the Food Network adventure series Chefs vs. City. Even with a super-busy schedule, you'll still almost always find him here, creating innovative odds and ends utilizing fresh produce and whole animals.

  • Austin: Uchi, Tyson Cole

    Chef Tyson Cole’s first Austin restaurant still remains dear to many an Austinite heart. The chic South Lamar spot boasts a more traditional Japanese menu, though it’s still pretty off-the-wall and fun. Cole competed on Iron Chef America against Masaharu Morimoto in March 2008.

  • Chicago: Girl & The Goat and Little Goat, Stephanie Izard

    Stephanie Izard, Chicago’s sweetheart and the first female winner of Top Chef, runs one of the most notoriously hard-to-get-into-restaurant in town. Luckily, the recent opening of Little Goat, a bakery and diner, pulled some of the crowds away from Izard’s first restaurant, Girl & the Goat.

  • Boston: Blue Dragon from Ming Tsai

    Asian-French-fusion chef Ming Tsai, the man behind esteemed Blue Ginger in Wellesley and the new Blue Dragon by Fort Point Channel, didn't need his stint on The Next Iron Chef to make him a TV star. The Emmy Award-winning host of the Food Network's former Ming's Quest, he continues to run his own show, Simply Ming, on American Public Television.

  • Credit: Jody Brady

    Washington, DCBéarnaise, Good Stuff Eatery and We The Pizza, Spike Mendelsohn

    Top Chef vet Mendelsohn went the fast-casual route for his first two ventures, featuring burgers at one and pizza at the other. But he harks back to his Montreal roots and travels in France for his just-opened steak frites venue, Béarnaise (pictured), on Capitol Hill.

  • Credit: Danya Henninger

    Philadelphia: Morimoto, Masaharu Morimoto

    Hopping between 11 restaurants that span the globe while maintaining his position on Iron Chef, Masaharu Morimoto is more TV personality than anything else, and he has the gracious, good-humored demeanor to match. However, find him behind the line, as we recently did at the Washington Square restaurant he runs with Stephen Starr, and you’ll find he’s still at the top of his food game.

  • NYC: The Marrow, Kin Shop and Perilla, Chef Harold Dieterle

    The OG of food-TV chefs Harold Dieterle has been a major player in the West Village restaurant scene for years, ever since he won season one of Top Chef. Over the years he's expanded with his Thai-inflected Kin Shop and most recently his Italian-German mashup, The Marrow.

  • Chicago: Graham Elliot, Graham Elliot Bistro and Grahamwich, Chef Graham Elliot

    The flagship restaurant of the MasterChef host dances the line between fine dining and mad science lab. His latest venture, a rock ’n’ roll bistro, is more approachable and has a secret cobblestone back patio as well. For a quick grab-and-go, there's always his gourmet sandwich shop in River North.

  • Atlanta: The Spence, HD1 and Flip Burger Boutique, Richard Blais

    Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais is the king of the Atlanta culinary scene with his eateries The Spence, HD1 and his slew of Flip Burger Boutiques around the area. While the toque has recently been quoted talking about expansion plans to San Diego, we know his heart will always be in ATL.

  • Louisville: 610 Magnolia and Milkwood, Edward Lee

    Top Chef Texas contestant Edward Lee has made a major impact on the Louisville dining scene by manning the stoves at 610 Magnolia. Recently the chef expanded with a second eatery, Milkwood, inside the Louisville Actor's Theatre. The busy chef also recently released a cookbook called Smoke and Pickles. Check out our interview with Lee right here.

  • San Diego: Searsucker, Herringbone and Searsucker North Country, Brian Malarkey

    The former Top Chef contestant and now former Taste judge will always be a San Diegan. Malarkey's empire includes a slew of retaurants in the SD area including Searsucker, Searsucker North Country and Herringbone. 

  • Credit: Hernan F. Rodriguez

    Portland: Beast and Bar Expatriate, Naomi Pomeroy

    The former Top Chef Masters contestant is known for her innovative cuisine at PDX favorite Beast. The chef also recently opened Bar Expatriate a little over two weeks ago, conveniently right across the street from Beast.