Just as spring flowers will soon begin to sprout around the country, new and expanding restaurant concepts are popping up all over. Here’s a peek at must-watch restaurants that have just opened or are scheduled to launch soon.
1. Online food maven becomes restaurant operator
J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, a James Beard award-winning cookbook author and former head of the Serious Eats culinary site, opens Wursthall this week. The 14,000-square-foot German-style beer hall in San Mateo, Calif., focuses on housemade sausages, with nine international varieties on the opening menu. Sides include sweet-and-sour peppers and onions, apple-fennel chutney, sauerkraut and more. The menu also includes a vegan kebab as well as beer, wine and cocktails.
2. Two new restaurants from one celeb chef
Food Network chef Giada De Laurentiis is betting big on casino restaurants. De Laurentiis just opened Pronto by Giada, a fast-casual concept at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas that sells breakfast sandwiches, smoothies, paninis, salads and cheese plates largely for off-premise. Pronto also has casual seating and a wine bar. De Laurentiis is slated to open her first East Coast restaurant -- a 180-seat Italian concept at the Horseshoe Casino -- next month in Baltimore. GDL Italian by Giada will serve traditional Italian dishes with California influences, including lemon spaghetti and vegetable Bolognese.
Legal Sea Foods finally grows spin-off concept
It was almost one year ago that Boston-based polished casual chain Legal Sea Foods debuted a quick-service concept called Legal Fish Bowl. The build-your-own bowl spot features seafood bowls geared toward time-pressed office workers. The chain announced plans to open a second Legal Fish Bowl in early spring in an 850-square-foot space at Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston.
4. Another delivery-only restaurant gives it ago
Chai Wallah is the latest entrant in the often-troubled category of delivery-only restaurants. This one serves vegetarian Indian street food to several Los Angeles neighborhoods, using third-party delivery services. Chai Wallah shares a kitchen with Everytable, a quick-service chain that emphasizes better-for-you fast food at price points customized to the median income of the surrounding neighborhoods.
5. Eatertainment player opens mega-unit
Punch Bowl Social, known for mixing high-end food and drink with whimsical entertainment such as skee-ball, bowling and ‘80s arcade games, added a 30,000-square-foot unit in Chicago to the 12-unit eatertainment chain. The Chicago location will be one of Punch Bowl’s largest openings so far. The concept features housemade dishes such as Idaho trout with black-eyed pea succotash and a Superfood Grain Bowl with farro, quinoa, kale, radishes, carrots, miso-ginger vinaigrette and a poached egg. There’s also an extensive menu of craft cocktails, both with alcohol and without. The space also houses shuffleboard and virtual reality games.