Today Esquire magazine releases its list of 2012's Best New Restaurants. Restaurant features writer John Mariani awarded restaurant of the year to The Optimist in Atlanta, Georgia. Chef of the year went to Roberto Donna of Al Dente, Washington, DC. Design of the year went to Juvia in Miami Beach, Florida.
This year, Mariani also includes a dish of the year, the roast chicken at Daniel Humm and Will Guidara's the NoMad in New York, as well as a restaurateur of the year, Gabriel Stulman of New York's Perla. New York restaurateur Drew Nieporent got a spot in Esquire's Restaurant Hall of Fame. And there's also a Hostess of the Year, just like last year: Kendall Morales of The Southern Steak & Oyster in Nashville.
Then it was on to the trends: Mariani breaks down the rest of the Best New Restaurants into subcategories of "Brooklyn," "But the Big, Splashy Restaurant Is Not Dead," "High-Flying, Big-City Food Is Migrating," "The South Is Having a Moment, Praise Jesus," and "Ethnic Food Is Showing Off Its Roots." Play match the restaurant to the category below, plus Mariani's Chefs to Watch.
Note that Nashville's The Catbird Seat is not on the best new restaurant list — it's found under the heading "And Then There's These Guys." (The writeup is by Tom Junod and not John Mariani.) There's something going on between the two: Back in June, The Catbird Seat's Josh Habiger told Eater: "Except if John Mariani comes in, because that guy can suck a dick."
Esquire's 2012 Best New Restaurants
· Gusto, Los Angeles
· Gwynnett St., Brooklyn
· Sbraga, Philadelphia
· State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
· AQ, San Francisco
· Campo, Reno, Nevada
· Underbelly, Houston
· ELM, New Canaan, Connecticut
· Carter's Kitchen, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
· The Macintosh, Charleston, South Carolina
· The Southern Steak & Oyster, Nashville
· Bäco Mercat, Los Angeles
· Barrio Queen, Scottsdale, Arizona
· Bierbeisl, Beverly Hills, California
· SoBou, New Orleans
Five Chefs to Watch
· Ryan Hildebrand, Triniti, Houston
· Ryan LaRoche, Nomi Kitchen, Chicago
· Matthew Lightner, Atera, New York City
· Adam Mali, Brasserie S&P, San Francisco,
· Joe Ng, Redfarm, New York City