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The 25 Most Anticipated Restaurant Openings of 2012

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We're about four months into 2012, and it's time to check in on the 25 most anticipated restaurant openings in the U.S. for the forthcoming year. Well, at least the projects that have been announced to-date. There's Paul Qui's heavily rumored first solo restaurant, a diner from Michael Schlow (Happy's, in Boston), a Manhattan outpost of the three-star Michelin Brooklyn Fare, a seafood shack from a celebrated L.A. chef (Michael Cimarusti's Connie & Ted's), and much, much more.

Many thanks to the Eater city editors, as well as Rick Nelson and Ulterior Epicure for their midwestern intel. Feel free to nominate your picks in the comments. And please note that these are in no particular order.


1. Unnamed Oyster Bar from FIG

Location: Charleston, SC
Chef: Mike Lata
Projected Opening: September

Adam Nemirow and Beard Award winner Mike Lata, the duo behind Charleston, South Carolina's acclaimed FIG, will open an oyster bar in September. Not too many details are available yet, but the space will be part of the new Midtown multi-use development, and Lata hopes it will be an energetic "community restaurant" for people to stop in for a drink, snack, or full meal.
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2. Unnamed Project from Mark Kuller

Location: Washington, DC
Owner: Mark Kuller
Chef: Haidar Karoum
Projected Opening: Late fall, early winter

The restaurateur Mark Kuller has officially found a space in Logan Circle for his third spot, which will be a Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant. Unsurprisingly, he'll be working with the same team from his two exceedingly popular restaurants Proof and Estadio — with chef Haidar Karoum working on the menu and bar manager Adam Bernbach working on plans for a 40-seat curated cocktail bar.
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3. Birdhouse

Location: Minneapolis, MN
Chef: Stewart Woodman
Projected Opening: Late April or early May.

Chef Stewart Woodman of the Uptown restaurant Heidi's is opening a place serving "farm fresh, healthy" food in a house he just bought with his wife Heidi. Woodman has written previously about his family's struggles with diabetes, which may have something to do with the new business' focus.
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4. Unnamed Project from Colby and Megan Garrelts

Location: Leawood, Kansas
Chef: Colby & Megan Garrelts
Projected Opening: Mid to late summer

Colby and Megan Garrelts, who earned acclaim and a following at Kansas City's bluestem for their refined takes on Midwestern cuisine, are opening up a second restaurant in the Trezo Vino space they recently signed on to consult for. It was set to be called Native 34, but Colby tells Eater that that will no longer be the case. According to the chef, the team hopes to "evoke and reflect the heritage of the Midwest, its flavors and feel, but done with quality ingredients and clean plating."
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5. Pastaria

Location: St. Louis, MO
Chef: Gerard Craft
Projected Opening: late summer 2012

The celebrated St. Louis chef Gerard Craft, of Niche, is opening up a restaurant in the 30,000 square-foot Centene Plaza retail space at 7700 Forsyth Boulevard. It will be an "artisanal, pasta-centric" restaurant with friendly price points and a casual environment. NB Craft will be moving Niche to the same area.
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6. con?t

Location: Houston, Texas
Chef: Randy Rucker
Projected Opening: 60-90 days after they are granted permits

Beard-nominated chef Randy Rucker took his forthcoming restaurant's name from the Ralph Waldo Emerson line, "In the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in streets and villages." Makes sense: the Museum District property he acquired for the business is overgrown and hidden away, but has always brimmed with potential — two floors of space, plenty of room for patios, private dining or meeting areas, a bar, a massive kitchen add-on, and a cellar for aging cheese. They'll offer a modestly priced prix-fixe, à la carte options, and a tasting menu.
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7. Spoon Bar & Kitchen

Location: Dallas, Texas
Chef: John Tesar
Projected Opening: TBD

At the beginning of the year, chef John Tesar announced that he'd be leaving the burger and wine spot The Commissary and opening his own proper restaurant, with a raw bar and kitchen dishes like pig's trotter milanese and lamb shank with gnocchi. The realtor ditched the deal, and now Tesar is actively looking for another space.
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8. Connie & Ted's

Location: Los Angeles, California
Chef: Michael Cimarusti
Projected Opening: September or October

Celebrated chef Michael Cimarusti of Providence and Craig Nickoloff of Claim Jumper have taken over a West Hollywood diner and will be turning it into Connie & Ted's, a New England seafood shack serving steamer clams, clam cakes, lobster rolls, and all the food Cimarusti would eat when vacationing in Rhode Island.
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9. Restaurant R'evolution

Location: New Orleans, LA
Chefs: John Folse and Rick Tramonto
Projected Opening: May, but it's been delayed many times before

This new restaurant has a pretty silly name, but it's got a pair of powerhouses behind it (local boy John Folse and Rick Tramonto), and as Eater NOLA editor Alex Hancock puts it, "people are pretty psyched." According to the chefs, they want to "evolve" New Orleans cuisine once they open around May.
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10. Gordon Ramsay Steakhouse

Location: Las Vegas, NV
Chef: Gordon Ramsay
Projected Opening: April

The shouty British chef Gordon Ramsay is opening a steakhouse at the Paris, and in addition to offering the basics, he says he'll be doing "a little bit of the classics of British cuisine [like] a stunning Wellington. I want to go back to a bit of history with the British-ness. Because the reputation has been hard to fight for, for any chef. We know that. A stunning English trifle. A sticky toffee pudding. An amazing bread-and-butter pudding. A chocolate baked fudge cake." With this guy's track record, though, dine at your own risk.
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11. The Spence

Location: Atlanta, GA
Chef: Richard Blais
Projected Opening: early May

Richard Blais has appeared on Top Chef numerous times and become a symbol for all the crazy shit you can do with machines in a kitchen. In May, he'll be opening a 100-seat American brasserie, The Spence, to complement his burger spots Flip Burger Boutique.
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12. Hop Sing Laundromat

Location: Philadelphia, PA
Owner: Lêe
Projected Opening: Mid-April

Just because of all of the hype surrounding it, Eater Philly's Collin Flatt bent the rules and chose a bar, Hop Sing Laundromat. "This is the most highly-anticipated and closely-watched bar opening in Philly, ever," he tells us. Its enigmatic owner, known simply as Lêe, has meticulously designed the space with countless custom-made accents and has furnished it with the deepest and most expensive well liquor selection of any craft cocktail spot in the country.
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13. Happy's Bar & Kitchen

Location: Boston, MA
Chef: Michael Schlow
Projected Opening: April

Happy's Bar & Kitchen will be chef Michael Schlow's fifth Boston-area restaurant. Located on Boylston in the Fenway, it will serve diner fare like burgers and fries, boozy milkshakes, matzoh ball soup, as well as stuff you'd never actually find at a diner, like tuna crudo with spicy cucumbers. There will also be daily blue plate specials.
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14. Alamo Drafthouse

Location: San Francisco, CA
Owner: Tim League
Projected Opening: TBD

Alamo Drafthouse has made a name for itself in Texas and Virginia with movie houses that serve booze, put on theme dinners, and play great films. Odds are the brand will fit right in in San Francisco, where Drafthouse founder Tim League plans on carrying out a "full and complete historic preservation" of the New Mission Theater.
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15. Central Kitchen and Salumeria

Location: San Francisco, CA
Owner: David White
Chef: Thomas McNaughton
Projected Opening: late April

The guys from Flour + Water, the excellent and perennially packed pizza and pasta restaurant, are opening up a restaurant that will serve neither pizza nor pasta. They describe it as "approachable, yet notably more refined in style than Flour + Water." As the name suggests, there'll also be a prepared foods vendor and deli.
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16. The Bazaar at SLS Miami

Location: Miami, Florida
Chef/Owner: José Andrés
Projected Opening: April

The expansionist chef José Andrés will open an outpost of the Bazaar at the forthcoming SLS Hotel in Miami Beach. It will be swanky, but beyond that, Andrés has this to say: "I never thought we could have two Bazaars but Miami is on the other coast. Los Angeles is Spain meets eclectic, Miami will be Spain meets Latin America. I am going to have a few Singapore style dishes because Miami and Singapore share some of the same style, art deco buildings." He's already playing around with a pan con lechón. Also: there will be a Phillippe Starck-designed food truck.
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17. Grace

Location: Chicago, IL
Chef: Curtis Duffy
Projected Opening: late April

It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that Grace, the first restaurant from former Avenues chef Curtis Duffy, is the most anticipated opening in Chicago this year (so far). What we know at this point: it occupies a 10,000 square-foot space in the West Loop and will likely showcase personal, authorial cooking from Duffy.
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18. Trenchermen

Location: Chicago, IL
Chefs: Patrick and Mike Sheerin
Projected Opening: probably April

Brothers Mike and Patrick Sheerin, formerly of Blackbird and the Signature Room, respectively, are opening up an 80-seat restaurant in the former Spring space in Bucktown. They've partnered with Matt Eisler and Kevin Heisner, who co-own Bangers & Lace.
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19. The Marrow

Location: New York, NY
Chef: Harold Dieterle
Projected Opening: TBD

The third project from Kin Shop and Perilla chef Harold Dieterle and partner Alicia Nosenzo, The Marrow will be located in Downtown Brooklyn's Hotel 718. The menu will skew Italian and German, with items like "ostrich schnizel with spaetzle, braised cuttlefish with garlic bread and cured pork, bison carpaccio with wild rocket, gooseberries and miso dressing, and straightforward steaks." They originally planned on an early 2012 opening, but it seems to have been delayed.
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20. The Butterfly

Location: New York, NY
Chef: Michael White
Projected Opening: TBD

At some point this year, Michael White, the chef behind restaurants Marea, Ai Fiori, and Osteria Morini, will open up what he describes as "a mid-century style cocktail bar with a supper club feel." Eben Freeman will handle the cocktail program, and the menu will include items inspired by that era (prime rib!), as well as White's Wisconsin heritage.
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21. Pok Pok NY

Location: New York, NY
Chef: Andy Ricker
Projected Opening: June or July

After bringing his sensational Thai chicken wings to New York's Lower East Side at the beginning of the year, chef Andy Ricker is setting his sights on Red Hook, where he will open a full-on Pok Pok restaurant. When it debuts, Ricker says it will have "a tiny dining room and a big outdoor seating area, kind of like Pok Pok PDX."
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22. Brooklyn Fare (Manhattan)

Location: New York, NY
Chef: Cesar Ramirez
Projected Opening: June or July

Chef Cesar Ramirez and the owners of Brooklyn Fare are opening a second outpost of their critically acclaimed restaurant/grocery store in a space in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen. Just like at the original, it will feature a chef's table (this one will seat about half as many as the Michelin three-star Brooklyn operation), a gourmet grocery store, and another restaurant with à la carte small plates.
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23. Unnamed Paul Qui Project

Location: Austin, Texas
Chef: Paul Qui
Projected Opening: TBD

This may be premature, but why not? Paul Qui, the Top Chef: Texas winner, Beard nominee, and Uchiko executive chef, is rumored to be leaving Tyson Cole's wing and opening up his own spot. Smart money says it'll be in Austin, but there are mumblings that he could make the move to New York. Says the man himself, "I am working on other projects but I'm going to be vague about that because I want it to be a surprise."
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24. Ox

Location: Portland, Oregon
Chef: Greg Denton
Projected Opening: April

This is the first restaurant by Eater PDX Chef of the Year 2011 Greg Denton. He and wife/fellow former Metrovino chef Gabrielle Quiñonez Denton will focus on an Argentine-inspired grill concept, though Denton's quick to point out that the food will not necessarily be Argentine. "I want to avoid the Argentine label," he says. "We'll stick with tradition in some sense, but we never like to put ourselves in a box."
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25. ACE

Location: Denver, CO
Chef: Brandon Biederman,
Projected Opening: TBD (currently under construction)

Construction is underway at ACE, the Asian eatery/ping pong hall concept from the Steuben's Food Service and Vesta Dipping Grill team. Chef Brandon Biederman tells Eat Drink Denver of the menu, we are "playing around with some really cool juices for Asian-inspired cocktails, and Matt [Selby] and I are messing around with a lot more seafood than we serve at Steuben’s—a lot more fresh food and not a lot of fried comfort food."
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