Best New Restaurants in America
Best New Restaurants in America – Staffing shortages, inflation, and the squeeze put on investors by rising interest rates seemed to slow the pace of exciting openings.
That burst of energy in 2021 when restaurants came roaring back had dissipated.
And as 2022 turned to 2023, you could sense the industry regaining its footing in cities all around America.
Outstanding cooking from a Top Chef fan favorite opening her first restaurant with a fellow chef down in Houston, to a Michelin two-starred chef stepping back from formal fine dining to create a spectacular South Indian spot in San Francisco—and a lot in between.
Best New Restaurants in America – Robb Report’s 10 best new restaurants of the year.
Best New Restaurants in America – Restaurant Copra San Francisco
Srijith Gopinathan led San Francisco’s Campton Place to become the first Indian restaurant in America to receive two Michelin stars.
Then he walked away. Gopinathan, like many chefs, opted to eschew tasting menus to cook a less manicured style of food, and was motivated to show more Americans dishes inspired by South India.
At Copra—which means “dried coconut,” present throughout the menu—he draws on ingredients and techniques from the coastal state of Kerala, where he was born, the neighboring state of Tamil Nadu, where he grew up, and across the Palk Strait to the island nation of Sri Lanka.
For many diners, the dishes may not look familiar by name—even Gopinathan’s business partner Ayesha Thapar, who hails from North India, saw terms she didn’t recognize when first seeing the menu—but the flavors are undeniable.
Caviar service comes with kallappam, a fermented rice and coconut pancake, while the shrimp vennai roast is a plate of tail-on shrimp marinated in spicy chutney, roasted in brown butter, and finished with a squeeze of lime.
But the real stunner is the black-cod pollichathu, where the flaky, shallot-crusted fish is seared before finishing cooking wrapped inside a banana leaf and served with moilee broth (a coconut curry) and red matta rice.
Gopinathan may one day return to a tasting menu–driven restaurant that guns for multiple Michelin stars.
Restaurant Este Austin TX
From the coast of Oaxaca, where the Pacific Ocean’s bounty is celebrated, to the tip of the Yucatán, where Caribbean ingredients show up in local dishes, to the Spanish influence still found in Veracruz, where the conquistadors first landed, coastal Mexican cuisine is far from monolithic.
At Este, chef Fermín Nuñez and restaurateur Sam Hellman-Mass wanted to explore that diversity, so they traveled to the country’s seaside towns to find the building blocks for their second restaurant together.
The pair have taken over the craftsman-style house that was the longtime home of Eastside Cafe, a pioneer of farm-to-table cooking in Austin for 31 years.
As the new stewards of the space, they remodeled the building while keeping the ample garden out back, which supplies the kitchen, as a nod to the previous restaurant.
Nuñez offers gorgeous seafood towers, tuna carnitas cooked in lard, masa-battered fish tacos, and pan-seared trout covered in a slightly spicy sesame a pulla chile crema, as well as a large selection of seafood grilled over charcoal.
Pair many of these dishes with some of the best tortillas you’ll find anywhere, and you’ll agree that Nuñez is one of America’s foremost practitioners of modern Mexican cuisine.
Best New Restaurants in America – Restaurant Navy Blue Houston
With the second restaurant Aaron Bludorn has opened since leaving New York for Houston, the Pacific Northwest native is dipping his toe into different waters.
At Navy Blue, along with executive chef Jerrod Zifchak, he’s cooking what he calls New American cuisine that’s influenced by the bounty of the Gulf’s seafood, all the while deftly deploying the French techniques he honed while leading the beloved Café Boulud.
The gumbo comes filled with crab, shrimp, clams, and okra; the Platonic ideal of a crab cake has a tomato-onion jam that offers a sweet-sour umami; swordfish is prepared au poivre; and the blackened red snapper is a nod to the Cajun classic.
It’s a venue that runs with the slick ease of an expert orchestra—much like Bludorn’s eponymous Houston restaurant he opened during the pandemic.
Restaurant Kann Portland Oregon
America was introduced to the idea for Kann years before chef Gregory Gourdet even had a location secured for his restaurant.
That’s because during season 17 of Top Chef, Gourdet competed in and won the annual Restaurant Wars challenge with a wood-fired Haitian concept.
A night at Kann transports you from the Pacific Northwest to the Caribbean.
The unctuous twice-cooked pork griyo comes with spicy-sour condiment pikliz; the whole-roasted head of cauliflower with ginger, allspice, habanero, and sour coconut cream will make an avowed cauliflower-hater love the brassica.
The Haitian-coffee-rubbed smoked beef rib is a showstopper—the meat is tender and moist without being greasy, and the mushrooms complement the flavor of the beef while the pickled onions cut through the richness.
A lot of chefs are making big, shareable, Flintstone-sized ribs around the country now, but Gourdet’s can lay claim to being some of the best.
Best New Restaurants in America – Restaurant Bar Spero Washington D.C.
At his new restaurant, chef Johnny Spero deftly combines the Basque Country cooking he loved while working in Spain, ingredients from the mid-Atlantic where he grew up, and Japanese techniques he has accumulated throughout his professional career.
And after staging at modernist mecca Mugaritz and running José Andrés’s two-Michelin-starred MiniBar, Spero has plenty of technical mastery in his back pocket, though the live fire Bar Spero leans more naturalistic than molecular.
Dishes such as tuna tartare wrapped in shiso leaf and a salad of vegetables charred in the hearth before being tossed in a tomato vinaigrette are expertly seasoned and balanced.
The dish looks like paella, but zags by swapping out the traditional Spanish bomba rice for Carolina Gold, eschewing the crispy socarrat, and going easy on the saffron.
Instead it’s made with a rich crab stock that’s reduced with the mildly sweet Japanese rice wine mirin, so that when the pan is thrown in the fire to finish cooking, the result is a hint of dark caramel that contrasts with the fresh crustacean.
It rides the line between sweet and savory, showing a chef in control of his flavors.
Restaurant Torrisi Bar & Restaurant New York City
With this new venture, based in the Puck Building, Major Food Group has penned a love letter to New York City, where chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi’s partnership began more than a decade ago.
Throughout the menu—which Torrisi has taken the lead creating—there are nods to Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Capellini with lobster has a Cantonese influence, thanks to the ginger and scallion in the noodles; there’s a beef-cheek ragù inspired by Jamaican patties; and the zeppole are an ethereal cloud of dough with a crackly-crisp exterior better than anything imaginable in Little Italy.
Yet the dish that really shows off the kitchen’s subtle skill is the raviolini.
It tastes of the sea, with pieces of prawn perfectly cooked inside a delicate pasta that’s bathed in an understated olive-oil-and-saffron sauce.
From Carbone to the Grill, the team behind this globe-trotting restaurant empire knows better than most anyone else how to create a vibe.
But all that swaggering atmosphere—with waitstaff in tuxedos designed by Carbone himself, a 10-foot-wide Julian Schnabel painting hovering over the dining room, and Meryl Streep hanging out at the bar—wouldn’t matter a bit if the food weren’t this good.
Best New Restaurants in America – Restaurant Dunsmoor Los Angeles
When building his eponymous restaurant in a century-old Spanish Revival building on L.A.’s East Side, Brian Dunsmoor chose to stay true to his style of cuisine, which he calls heritage cooking.
With his new venture, he fully committed himself to his vision by designing a kitchen that uses no electrification beyond refrigeration.
That means no food processors, no precisely calibrated ovens, no induction cooktops.
The restaurant is powered by a wood-fired oven and a large hearth.
Hailing from Georgia, chef Dunsmoor has long mined Southern cuisine for inspiration, and over the years he has delved into 18th- and 19th-century American foodways from around the country to drive the menu at his previous restaurant, Hatchet Hall.
At Dunsmoor you’ll dine on hearty, rustic servings of Virginia ham with molasses butter; house-made pickles; a rotating array of rillettes (pork butt, Wagyu beef tongue); cornbread with cheddar, hatch chili, butter, and hone; a pork and green-chili stew; roasted oysters with garlic butter; and a hefty mushroom-crusted pork chop.
Restaurant Indienne Chicago
Years ago, chef Sujan Sarkar said he wanted to “make Indian food sexy.”
He felt his home country’s cuisine lacked the stylish compositions he saw elsewhere.
After cooking around the world—from London to Delhi to San Francisco—he was excited to take Indian flavors and push them creatively, breaking from traditional preparations to create eye-catching dishes with modern flair.
While he has been met with acclaim at Rooh in San Francisco and Baar Baar in New York City, his new tasting-menu restaurant in Chicago is the culmination of those artistic ambitions.
The menu—there is a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian option—lists the title of the dish, but then in the parentheses it references the Indian original that Sarkar swerves away from.
So a dish called Chicken (Malai Tikka) isn’t skewers but a terrine of poultry and leeks, with earthy spices and heat from the creamy chili-cheese kulcha.
Sarkar presents his food through a French lens with meticulously pretty platings served in a dining room with white tablecloths.
Best New Restaurants in America – Restaurant Tatiana by Kwame Onwuachi New York City
The Harlem and Bronx bodega staple “chopped cheese,” in which burger patties are diced with metal spatulas while they cook on a hot griddle, is great as is.
But chef Kwame Onwuachi clearly disagrees with that assertion—and, turns out, he’s right.
His elevated chopped cheese, served during the height of truffle season and made with aged rib eye and Taleggio nestled between slices of toasted brioche and topped with black truffle, is a finely calibrated umami bomb. The rest of the menu is equally excellent.
Onwuachi mines his personal history, from New York to New Orleans to Nigeria to the Caribbean, for inspiration at his new restaurant at Lincoln Center.
His dumplings are a take on the soup dumplings he ate in Queens, filled with a Nigerian egusi soup and crab; the cod is seasoned with Jamaican jerk.
His ode to New Orleans is head-on shrimp that come swimming in a rich Creole butter, accompanied by triangles of brioche you’ll want to use to sop up every last drop of the sauce.
A meal here ends with another bodega staple: Onwuachi’s version of a Little Debbie Cosmic Brownie.
Restaurant Jūn by Kin Houston
Fusion has almost become a dirty word in restaurants, conjuring up images of chefs inorganically mashing together cuisines, like a burger with a bun made from ramen noodles.
But some of the most exciting food moments come through cultural exchange.
Such is the case at Jūn by Kin, where chefs Evelyn García, raised in a Mexican and Salvadoran household, and Henry Lu, who comes from a first-generation Chinese American home, blend their backgrounds for something they call New Asian American.
The menu moves between their varied influences while also pulling from the rich diversity of Houston.
The beef tartare has toasted-rice-powder aioli and is served beneath a crispy fried black-sesame buñuelo.
Charred carrots feature salsa macha, Salvadoran cheese from García’s grandparents’ farm, and an oolong tea–pickled quail egg.
And a tender braised lamb shank with Thai and Indian flavors comes floating in curry and topped with pickled daikon.