New concepts are popping up like spring flowers from coast to coast. From word of the first Union Square Cafe outside of New York and single-focus concepts specializing in on-trend foods to the latest offering from a "Top Chef Masters" winner, it’s a busy time for new restaurants. Here are some that are on our radar (and should be on yours, too).
1. Union Square Cafe; Washington, D.C.
The firm behind Capitol Crossing, a planned mixed-use property going up in Washington, D.C., just inked a deal with Union Square Hospitality Group to locate a Union Square Cafe on the ground floor. This will be the first outpost of Danny Meyer’s innovative James Beard Award-winning restaurant outside of New York. The building housing the new Union Square Cafe is pegged to open sometime next year, with the remainder of the development on a five-year timetable, according to Eater D.C.
2. The Aviary, New York City
Here’s another huge player reproducing in a new locale: Groundbreaking Chicago cocktail bar The Aviary will spawn a New York City offshoot later this year on the 35th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. A Big Apple version of The Office—The Aviary’s super-exclusive underground “speakeasy” concept—is also in the works there. The Aviary, from chef Grant Achatz and partner Nick Kokonas, is known for taking a white-tablecloth approach to their kitchen-crafted cocktails, complete with an ice chef and three-figure tasting menus.
3. China Live, San Francisco
This sprawling, 30,000-square-foot food hall is being called the “Eataly of Chinatown”—and for good reason. The three-year, $20 million project from restaurateur George Chen and partner Cindy Wong-Chen features a retail area with pantry items and tableware available for the first time in the United States, according to Eater San Francisco. The space also includes a flower mart; Oolong Cafe with grab-and-go tea and pastries; the 120-seat, full-service Market Restaurant with dim sum, Chinese barbecue, soups and rice bowls; Bar Central with full-service dining and Chinese-inspired cocktails; and an extensive educational area for classes and tastings. Additional concepts are slated to be added to China Live’s second and third floors in the coming months, including a fine-dining restaurant, additional bars and a private events space.
4. Bunny Slope, Chicago
The newest bar from Chicago’s Fifty/50 Restaurant Group is an apres-ski-themed concept complete with a hot tub. The bar, in the basement of the Acme Hotel, was built off the building’s original plumbing from when it was a Comfort Inn and Suites, according to the Chicago Tribune. Bunny Slope is only open to private parties up to 18 people, all guests must sign liability waivers, and all drinks (the menu includes frozen cocktails as well as beer and wine from Alpine regions) are served in plastic instead of glass.
5. Jackrabbit; Portland, Ore.
"Top Chef Masters" winner Chris Cosentino is opening his third concept, an all-day restaurant at the revamped Hilton downtown hotel. The restaurant features a raw bar and selection of house-cured meats, as well as a gin-focused cocktail list. This is his first restaurant outside of California. Cosentino is behind Cockscomb in San Francisco and Acacia House in Napa Valley.
6. Otis & Pickles Speakeasy, Philadelphia
Capitalizing on the trend of housemade pickles (“pickled” menu mentions in specialty drinks are up 5% year over year, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor data), this self-proclaimed dive bar boasts a pickle-heavy food and drink menu with offerings like the pickle-spiced Meyer lemon Tom Collins, fried pickles and a pickled plate.
7. Holy Matcha, San Diego
In our last concept roundup, we noted the West Coast expansion of New York City-based MatchaBar. Now, San Diego’s getting its own matcha-focused cafe spotlighting the Japanese beverage with a serious health halo. The tropical-tinged pink-and-green cafe offers matcha tea in the form of shots, lemonade and specialty drinks like matcha lattes with add-ins like rosewater, Eater San Diego reports. There are also matcha-based baked goods like pound cake and vegan doughnuts.
8. Bone Kettle; Pasadena, Calif.
Super-trendy bone broth takes center stage at this casual full-service concept. The menu focuses on broth made of beef tendon, feet, knuckles and marrow that’s boiled with spices for 36 hours and served with long noodles. The space features blond wood, natural light and counter as well as table seating.
9. Tiger Fork; Washington, D.C.
This 85-seat bar-restaurant grabs attention with an 18-foot octagonal window at the bar and a bright pink exterior. Cocktails are infused with medicinal herbs and teas, as well as baijiu—a tough-to-source Chinese spirit, reports Eater Washington D.C. The menu includes traditional Cantonese dishes. Both the design and menu are the product of repeated trips to Hong Kong by chef Nathan Beauchamp and partner Greg Algie.