Which restaurants opened in roughly the last year deserve to be dubbed best-in-class?
Eater recently released its picks for the country's top new concepts, showcasing a swath of diverse eateries spanning 15 states and the District of Columbia. Read on to see which ones made the cut (shown in alphabetical order).
1. Alter, Miami
This new spot from chef Greg Kilgore—who cut his teeth at a host of fine-dining concepts in Chicago and, later, Miami—boasts dishes rooted in Florida flavors, such as grouper cheeks, as well as a tasting menu that changes daily. Its ambiance eschews the typical South Beach aesthetic, with a dining room Eater calls a “concrete bunker.”
2. Baroo, Los Angeles
In situ in an unassuming strip mall, Baroo—a James Beard Award semifinalist—has received accolades for its inventive food with a futuristic bent. Fermented ingredients are central to its menu, which is heavy on kimchee, pickled vegetables and housemade kombucha.
4. Bateau, Seattle
This steakhouse from James Beard Award-winning chef Renee Erickson features beef that has been butchered and aged on-site, yet it reads like a chic French bistro, Eater says. It’s also notably tip-free, as Erickson, an early tester in the no-tipping movement, did away with the practice across her restaurant group in favor of a 20% service charge.
5. Bracero, San Diego
This 4,800-square-foot spot is a reference to the mid-1900s project that enabled Mexicans to come to the U.S. for farm-related work, Eater says. The restaurant offers cuisine from both cultures, opting for casual-leaning tacos at lunch and more formal dishes at dinner.
6. Cala, San Francisco
This new concept from Mexico City chef Gabriela Camara brings a simple yet transcendent approach to seafood that’s a hallmark at her longtime restaurant Contramar, Eater notes. Cala, which was named a James Beard Award semifinalist, is also home to a taqueria that diners can enter from an alleyway in the restaurant rear.
7. Cassia; Santa Monica, Calif.
This Asian-inspired spot from husband-and-wife teams Bryant and Kim Ng and Josh Loeb and Zoe Nathan seats 140 in its dining room, where it serves up a “distinctive culinary point of view,” per Eater—the product of blending Chinese, Singaporean and Vietnamese food with French culinary skills.
8. Han Oak; Portland, Ore.
This Korean restaurant run by chef Peter Cho triples as home to a private event space and a chef residency program. Its prix-fixe Friday and Saturday dinner service offers six to nine courses of (often) family-style fare, while a smaller prix-fixe Sunday brunch is also on offer.
9. Helen Greek Food & Wine, Houston
Somewhat of an outlier in Houston’s dining scene, this Greek restaurant with local sourcing offers a menu peppered with halloumi, souvlaki and gyros. The concept, a James Beard Award semifinalist, also says it carries the second-largest Greek wine list in the country.
14. Oriole, Chicago
This fine-dining concept from chef-partners Noah Sandoval and Genie Kwon is found in a quiet spot not far from Chicago’s bustling Restaurant Row. It seats just 28 in its open kitchen-adjacent dining room, where staff serve up a 15-course tasting menu for $175 a pop.
15. Petit Crenn, San Francisco
With Petit Crenn, Dominique Crenn joined the multitude of fine-dining chefs making a bid for the fast-casual market. The cafe, which offers light eats such as omelets and pastries, skews upscale in the evening with a five-course prix-fixe dinner that offers just two seating times (6 p.m. and 8 p.m.).
16. Pineapple and Pearls; Washington, D.C.
Offering a 13-course tasting menu in two different areas (in the dining room and at a chef’s counter), this concept also hosts a reduced-price tasting for those who don’t mind dining solo at the bar. Customers eating a la carte can do so on the patio Tuesday through Friday, with same-day reservations that are released at 10 a.m. Pineapple and Pearls also boasts a daytime coffee bar serving sweet rolls and sandwiches.
20. Upton 43, Minneapolis
Drawing from his Swedish roots, chef Erick Harcey aims to merge Nordic cuisine with French cooking techniques. Offering an a la carte menu as well as a seven-to-nine course chef’s table option, Upton 43 centers largely on such approachable fare as Swedish meatballs and Swedish pancakes.
21. Wildair, New York City
As a sister restaurant to tasting menu concept Contra, this James Beard Award finalist wine bar is heavy on the wine, Eater notes, yet offers up unexpected dishes such as beef tartare with smoked cheddar and chestnut.