Aaron Franklin is working on a new barbecue joint in partnership with one of the most popular restaurant groups in Austin. Dominique Crenn is cooking up a wine-fueled ode to French classics, as America’s renewed love affair with la cuisine Française continues apace.
2018 is shaping up to be a *great* restaurant year.
In these early days of the new year, some trends are emerging. Call it the Brock effect — or, you know, don’t — but several chefs are turning their attention to heirloom grains and vegetables, whether at Appalachian-cuisine evangelist Travis Milton’s Virginia meat-and-three or at the Japanese-meets-Italy project from Denver’s bona fide wheat nerd Kelly Whitaker. Legendary Arizona pizzaiolo Chris Bianco will plant his flag in Los Angeles, while Anthony Mangieri will make his grand return to New York City, promising a banner year for pizza. There’s more high-end Middle Eastern fare on the horizon in Los Angeles, which will also soon welcome several New York City imports, from a new Momofuku project to locations of Cosme and the Nomad.
Speaking of New York, like last season, the Big Apple is lagging when it comes to bold new openings. Certainly there are upcoming restaurants that will become easy favorites — like an all-day cafe from the Via Carota power duo Jody Williams and Rita Sodi — but, once again, New York is not where the dining public should cast its eye for risky, mind-bending new ways of doing things. And is it any surprise? The rents! They’re too damn high!
There are also some known unknowns this year that could shift the conversation:
- After an impressive three-year streak at the Beard Awards, New Orleans chef Alon Shaya finds himself without a restaurant. His split from the restaurant group formerly named for John Besh has been acrimonious and complex, but Shaya has a newly formed hospitality group of his own, and whatever he does next will grab headlines, for sure.
- Curtis Duffy, who earned a James Beard Award and three Michelin stars for Chicago’s Grace, which he left in December, is currently a free agent.
- Mission Chinese Food’s breakout star Angela Dimayuga doesn’t have immediate plans for a new restaurant, but if she decides to go that way, it will be epic.
- And since I believe that saying my wishes out loud makes them more likely to come true, I’m still extremely here for whatever Eater Young Gun Mei Lin will do next.
And thanks to delays from 2017, some stragglers may well become the buzziest restaurant of this year. Among that crop: In Los Angeles, Jessica Koslow’s massive Sqirl follow-up, Tel; in D.C., Erik Bruner-Yang’s standing-room-mostly restaurant speakeasy, Spoken English; and in Indianapolis, Jonathan Brooks’s slinky dinner destination, Beholder. These restaurants are just as exciting as when Eater first wrote them up, but they’ve fallen off the list to make room for new picks.
Now, without further ado, a look at the 19 most anticipated restaurant openings for the first half of 2018:
If there’s one early breakout theme, it’s megawatt partnerships. And while visiting-chef dinners and pop-up collaborations are nothing new, it feels novel for big industry names to actually be opening (hopefully) permanent restaurants together. “I think if you’re a musician, you want to play with other cool musicians,” Chris Bianco said after news of his partnership with San Francisco’s Tartine crew broke last year. “We’re able to come together and do something cool.”
Location: San Francisco
Key players: Nigel Jones, Daniel Patterson, Alta Group
Target open: January 11, 2018
San Francisco fine dining star Daniel Patterson is practiced in the art of odd coupling, having partnered with LA’s street food king Roy Choi to create a fast-food restaurant. His newest collaborator: Chef Nigel Jones, best known for his bustling Oakland restaurant Kingston 11. Jones says the cooking at Kaya might be a bit more “elevated,” as he’s choosing the best Bay Area ingredients, but treating them the way he would if he were in Jamaica, where he grew up. He doesn’t think of Kaya as serving fusion — but he’s definitely part of the wave bringing Jamaican cuisine into the national spotlight right now.
And as a restaurant owner of color, Jones isn’t shy about what he can bring to Twitter’s neighborhood, which has seen many restaurant closures in recent years. “My food and the vibe that I create in my restaurant [Kingston 11] represent, more than any other restaurant in Oakland, the richness of diversity,” he says. “Coming into San Francisco, there is a void of that kind of spirit as the black community continues to be marginalized and move out. This is an opportunity where myself and Daniel [Patterson] get together to demonstrate that if we come together, we can do some wonderful things. I want to bring that richness back into the community, diversity into the space, and celebrate that.”
Una Pizza Napoletana
Location: New York City
Key players: Anthony Mangieri, Jeremiah Stone, Fabián von Hauske Valtierra
Target open: Late February/early March 2018
So this one is tough for me. As a two-year San Francisco resident, I came to depend on Anthony Mangieri’s bare-bones pizzeria for way more than just its outrageously good Neapolitan pies. Now he’s closed the doors in San Francisco to return to New York City (he operated Una Pizza there for years before moving to California), where he will join forces with the dynamic Contra-Wildair duo of Jeremiah Stone and Fabián von Hauske Valtierra. While the name — and Mangieri’s perfect pizza — remains unchanged, there’s a lot more here than meets the eye.
The new venture will see Mangieri’s pizzas supplemented by a to-be-revealed menu of snacks and bites. “We don’t really want to interfere with what’s happening with the pizza,” Stone says. Von Hauske Valtierra thinks their carb-free, concise menu of five or six dishes will be spiritually similar to the small plates at their runaway hit Wildair, but with a more Italian bent. For dessert, expect gelato, and maybe some plays on familiar Italian desserts like tiramisu. All will be paired with natural wines, and if anything, the new Una Pizza might “feel more European,” Stone says.
The combination of serious pizza and small plates, in a lively Lower East Side location, suggests a textbook Perfect Restaurant in the making, along the lines of Clown Bar in Paris or Manfreds in Copenhagen. I’m just sad it’s not in my home city.
Key players: Tyson Cole, Aaron Franklin, Hai Hospitality
Target open: Late March 2018
Barbecue icon Aaron Franklin said he’d never open a second Franklin Barbecue. But that’s left the pitmaster free to pursue a more surprising avenue: partnering with fellow big-name Austin chef Tyson Cole on Loro, the latest venture of Hai Hospitality (Uchi, Uchiko, Top Knot).
They’re calling it an “Asian smokehouse” — a vague descriptor that provides the catch-all the menu demands. As Cole explains it, the restaurant will be structured like a barbecue joint (meats and proteins plus sides), but with a distinctly Uchi perspective, like in XO-inspired sauces and fish dishes. Cole says Franklin is “pretty black and white” about being the restaurant’s pitmaster, not its chef, focusing on planning and executing the meat: The role gives Franklin the freedom to “play with different types of meat and smoke.”
Whether that takes the form of a char siu pork or a riff on Uchiko’s beloved 72-hour short rib is still unknown, as the team is in R&D, but Cole promises a “familiar but unique” end result. And Cole’s not worried about purists. “Is it still barbecue? Yeah. It’s smoked meat,” he says. “But that whole world of being judged because we’re jumping into the barbecue category... I’m a lot less concerned, because Aaron’s our partner.”
Tartine Manufactory LA
Location: Los Angeles
Key players: Chad Robertson, Elisabeth Prueitt, Chris Bianco
Target open: Spring 2018
Just because we’ve known about this collaboration for a while doesn’t make it any less earth-shaking. The short version: After the runaway success of their San Francisco project Tartine Manufactory (go for the morning buns and coddled eggs, stay for the dry-aged ribeye), Chad Robertson and Elisabeth Prueitt are opening another large Manufactory, this time in downtown LA. But this isn’t just a copy-paste: They’re partnering with fellow carb savant Chris Bianco, of Phoenix’s legendary Pizzeria Bianco.
The plans are sprawling, with details a bit hard to pin down. When we spoke in the summer, Bianco said the team planned a restaurant, market, and “massive” bakery. Reps now confirm Bianco’s considering pizza al taglio, but the chef previously denied plans for (on-trend) Roman-style pizza. Instead, he’ll offer his own hybrid style utilizing grains and techniques he’s been experimenting with alongside Robertson.
And to be clear, this isn’t a Pizzeria Bianco. But, as Bianco put it: “I think I have one Pizzeria Bianco left in my arsenal for LA.” Stay tuned.
These are the chefs marching to the beat of their own drummer, attempting to tackle something new, different, and maybe a little bit off-kilter — finally. Fuck scalable fast-casual concepts, let’s get pumped on some actual innovation; to these chefs, throwing caution to the wind is the most sensible thing to do in 2018. These are the restaurants that could only come from the person at their helm, and for that, dining obsessives should cheer.
Location: Los Angeles
Key players: Ori Menashe, Genevieve Gergis
Target open: Winter 2018
Bestia took Los Angeles dining by storm when it opened in 2012. Today, the high-energy Italian restaurant in LA’s burgeoning Arts District earned its long-held place among the city’s essentials, and the husband-and-wife duo behind it, Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis, are local luminaries. They’ve wanted to open a second restaurant, dedicated to the cuisine of the Middle East, since 2013. Had they opened on their original schedule, by the end of 2014, they would have beaten a new crop of competitors, like Madcapra Falafel, Kismet, and Mh Zh.
But even so, Bavel has the chance to move the needle nationally. Menashe, born in Los Angeles but raised predominantly in Israel, plans to serve what pastry chef (and wife) Gergis calls “multiregional Middle Eastern cooking.” The setting is also important. Bavel will not be ultra-casual, nor will it be “ornate.” Menashe and Gergis have taken their inspiration from the fine dining restaurants of the coastal Mediterranean, taking a space roughly the same size as Bestia and creating similarly bustling dining room. “We’re keeping it clean,” Gergis says. “It’s not a caricature.”
Menashe and Gergis are working their way through over 100 test recipes, hoping to land on a debut 30-dish menu. Gergis says the priority is capturing the richly layered flavors of Middle Eastern cooking, and to that end Menashe definitely wants tagine on the menu — maybe spicy beef cheek served with hand-rolled couscous — as well as dips (“not just hummus,” says Gergis) served with house-made pita and other breads, plus large, family-style dishes. “It’s not just za’atar, sumac, and orange blossom. It’s a lot more,” says Gergis. “I see people taking dishes or ingredients we’re familiar with and adding unfamiliar spices. But we want to bring it forward.”
Location: Los Angeles
Key players: Jessica Largey
Target open: Winter 2018
Normally repeat stragglers get taken off the list to make room for fresh openings, but Simone isn’t an ordinary straggler. It’s the debut project from Eater Young Gun Jessica Largey, the James Beard Award-winning former Manresa chef de cuisine. And it’s an exhilarating, ambitious project — even if it’s still in progress well past early projected-opening targets.
The plan remains as intriguing as ever. “We’re going to be operating on the high level I’m accustomed to, but the food will cross a whole spectrum of experiences,” Largey told Eater. That means a vivacious Arts District destination with a bustling bar called Duello, plenty of seats in the dining room for a la carte dinners, and a chef’s counter where Largey will serve a tasting menu three nights a week. “I just can’t wait.”
Location: San Diego
Key players: Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, Rise & Shine Restaurant Group
Target open: Spring 2018
What would a matriarchal restaurant look like? That’s the question current Top Chef competitor Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins will wrestle with at El Jardín, where she’ll helm the kitchen as executive chef. Zepeda-Wilkins is weaving women’s stories into the fabric of the restaurant quite literally: Merijam Roelofs, of Folk Project, will make accent pieces upholstered with fabrics sourced from a group of female textile makers in Oaxaca, Mexico.
The former chef de cuisine of 2016 Eater best new restaurant Bracero says her plan is to create a modern Mexican restaurant that’s “homey, soulful, and creative.” Aside from an a la carte menu that will draw on the flavors of Zepeda-Wilkins’s childhood in San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, El Jardín will also feature a chef’s counter, where five guests can have a tasting menu. But the chef stresses she wants her restaurant to feel familiar; her food, she says, is “not pretentious, it’s not super-complicated; it’s good.”
The Wolf’s Tailor
Key players: Kelly Whitaker
Target open: April 2018
The Wolf’s Tailor is not an elevator-pitch restaurant. The project’s driving force, Kelly Whitaker, has built his name both as a chef at lauded restaurants like Basta and (formerly) Cart-Driver, and also as an heirloom-grain and open-fire cooking expert. “I keep tasting the same flavors and the same food,” he says of Denver’s dining scene. “A lot of it has to do with sourcing. Introducing 10 to 20 varieties of heirloom wheat into our food — it’s changed our food completely. So, my bread doesn’t taste like anybody’s bread in Colorado.”
At his new Denver restaurant, he’ll put his passions into practice for a menu that combines the chef’s more typical Italian influences with Japanese inspiration; think house-made noodles and breads made from grains Whitaker has helped cultivate in the area; yakitori-esque skewers cooked over binchotan charcoal; and braises cooked in donabe, like a riff on chicken and dumplings. “I’m not doing a Japanese restaurant and it’s not an Italian restaurant,” Whitaker says, “but there’s a great northern Italian pasta that’s made almost the exact same way as soba, and I felt like that gave me permission to make a buckwheat noodle.”
The space is big — some 3,000 square feet — but Whitaker has plans to fill it. Along with an a la carte menu, the chef is planning to offer an omakase or “curated” experience, as well as regular visiting-chef dinners. Guests can also hang out in the restaurant’s backyard over drinks, snacks, or dessert.
Key players: Maxcel Hardy
Target open: Mid-2018/who knows!
Last year, chef Max Hardy returned home to Detroit, after spending decades away, with a mission: to open a mini restaurant empire and “show that black chefs are here,” as he told the Detroit Free Press. His was a three-pronged plan. Prong 1: River Bistro, the Caribbean-inflected casual spot that opened in August. Prong 2: Coop, a chicken-focused stall in the Detroit Shipping Co. food hall, expected this spring.
But we’re here to talk about Prong 3, a potentially game-changing new restaurant called Honey. The chef is keeping mum for now, but previous reports suggest Honey will be Hardy’s flagship, an ambitious 120-seat restaurant dedicated to his interpretation of African cuisine. It’s a bold proposition, but that’s pretty much all there is to know at this point; Hardy doesn’t feel ready to talk yet. But given the runaway success of River Bistro, Detroit has its eye on Honey — so does the rest of the country.
Actually, Mid-Tier Restaurants Might Live to See Another Day
As 2017 came to a close, there seemed to be an ever-increasing polarization among the major openings: Everything was either super high-end or ultra casual. I wondered as I looked back on the past year whether the mid-tier restaurant — the kind of place you can go on a random Thursday without blowing the budget entirely, the kind of restaurant where you can be a regular — had a chance in 2018. The restaurants below set my mind at ease.
Bywater American Bistro
Location: New Orleans
Key players: Nina Compton, Levi Raines, Larry Miller
Target open: Early 2018
Nina Compton took New Orleans by storm with her debut restaurant, Compère Lapin, which at two and a half years old is already one of the best restaurants in the country. Her goal with Bywater American Bistro is to create a for-real and for-true neighborhood restaurant. Compton and her husband and business partner, Larry Miller, live in same converted rice mill as the restaurant, and the chef thinks her neighborhood needs more dining options.
Compton is also bringing along her longtime sous chef Levi Raines — “my culinary soulmate,” she says — as a chef-partner in the project. “When I opened up Compère, it was the perfect setting because of the Caribbean references,” Compton says, though she doesn’t “want to be pigeonholed into Caribbean food.”
To that end, at Bywater, she plans on exploring American cooking “as it is right now,” asking “what are the different influences besides Caribbean right now in NOLA?” Together with Raines, she’ll serve an eclectic American menu, which ranges from house-made pasta to charcuterie to plenty of heirloom Southern grains, in a nod to the restaurant’s setting. “People ask, ‘What is American food?’” she says. “It’s the melting pot of whatever we want to cook.”
Location: San Francisco
Key players: Dominique Crenn, Matt Montrose
Target open: February 20, 2018
Originally announced as a simple, casual wine bar, chef Dominique Crenn’s latest, Bar Crenn, is shaping up to be an homage to classic French cooking. The chef will offer recipes “donated” from titans of French cuisine, like Alain Ducasse and Guy Savoy, as well as her kitchen’s own riffs on favorites like pommes souffles, tarte flambee, and omelette a l’oursin. “I want to really keep the integrity of what French gastronomy is about,” Crenn told Eater SF. “All these chefs are the pillar... and I’m just a student.” Atelier Crenn wine director Matt Montrose will be responsible for the wine list, expected to lean in to French and other European bottles.
In many ways, the wine bar is an extension of the Atelier Crenn space and experience. It will share a courtyard with the chef’s two-Michelin-starred restaurant; guests can begin and end their meals at Bar Crenn. Likewise, the full Atelier Crenn menu will be available to a few Bar Crenn guests each night. And while the bar will have ticketed seating, Crenn still plans on leaving room for walk-ins. “This is more than a wine bar, it’s my living room,” Crenn told Eater SF. “It’s elegant and it’s warm and thoughtful. We want people to experience the best hospitality there, too.”
Super Mega Bien
Key players: Dana Rodriguez, Tony Maciag, Tabatha Knop
Target open: April 2018
Chef Dana Rodriguez has a great story. Born and raised on a farm in Chihuahua, Mexico, she found her way into the Colorado restaurant world by applying for a job at Denver’s Panzano while in town to visit friends. She started as a dishwasher, and just about 20 years later, she’s the chef at the essential Denver hot spot Work & Class and opening up a new restaurant in a swanky new hotel project.
And that restaurant, Super Mega Bien, sounds fun. Rodriguez is pulling grab-bag style from dishes across Latin America, and sending dim sum-style carts into the dining room. There will also be family-style large dishes, maybe a Puerto Rico-inspired mofongo, a Brazil-inspired moqueca, or a Mexico City-inspired mixiote. (It’s a fantastic name, too, apparently a favorite answer from one of Rodriguez’s line cooks when he was asked how he was doing.)
While the colorful dining room promises to be transportive, Rodriguez adamantly does not want Super Mega Bien to be exclusive. “Denver is growing so much,” she says. “We’re working to keep it affordable, so all people can come and eat a good meal.”
Location: Portland, OR
Key players: Gabriel Rucker, Andy Fortgang
Target open: Spring 2018
In 2018, it seems like the move for creating comfortable, neighborhood-y places is to lean French; luckily for star Portland chef Gabriel Rucker, it’s a natural inclination. Canard will be the chef’s third restaurant in Portland, and more casual than his breakout Le Pigeon or its bistro-inspired follow-up, Little Bird. “It’s more about being more approachable and having a little fun with it,” co-owner and wine director Andy Fortgang told Eater PDX, “a little bit of that ‘high-low’ thing, so to speak.”
The all-day Canard will have a wine-bar feel, and while Rucker’s not divulging too many menu details — beyond plans for a duck-wrapped foie gras play on porchetta and a generally French vibe — this already seems like the neighborhood restaurant any local or visitor would want.
Justin Devillier’s As-yet Unnamed Brasserie
Location: New Orleans
Key players: Justin Devillier, Mia Freiberger-Devillier
Target open: April / May 2018
NOLA chef Justin Devillier is on a roll. In 2015, he opened his second restaurant, Balise, with his wife, GM and proprietor Mia Freiberger-Devillier. In 2016, he took a James Beard regional best chef award for his work at his first restaurant, La Petite Grocery. In 2017, Eater named that restaurant one of the best in the country. And this year, Devillier’s opening a large brasserie in the heart of New Orleans’s French Quarter.
While he’s still figuring out a name, Devillier knows that the menu will be beef-heavy, “anchored by some classic brasserie dishes” like “a really good pommes frites and a really good onion soup.” He uses adjectives like “polished,” and notes that “the building itself already has that real rustic, charming feel to it.”
This is soul-soothing French fare served in a neighborhood (and city) whose culinary legacy was shaped by French culture. America recently rediscovered its passion for classic French cooking — but it’s been in New Orleans all along. The neighborhood’s 300-year history is front of mind for the chef. “More than anything,” he says, “I’m excited and honored to contribute to the legacy that is the French Quarter.”
Key players: Philip Krajeck
Target open: March 2018
Folk is the eagerly awaited follow up to Rolf & Daughters, Philip Krajeck’s groundbreaking Nashville restaurant that is itself a sterling example of the kind of refined casual restaurant that becomes an immediate classic. Folk has the potential to garner just as loyal a following when it opens in March.
From the get-go Krajeck has described Folk as a neighborhood restaurant. His plan: serve seasonally inflected, wood-fired fare, including pizza made from freshly milled flour, as well as house-cured meats and an all-natural wine list. A rep describes Folk as “a further exploration of flour and water.” It might sound simple, but that’s the point.
Location: San Francisco
Key players: Joshua Skenes
Target open: June 2018
Second restaurants are always a big deal — in many ways, a second restaurant cements a chef’s role in the dining ecosystem. For Joshua Skenes, who runs one of the most lauded restaurants in the country, San Francisco’s tasting menu crown jewel and 2016 Eater 38 member Saison, there’s a bit of pressure. “I just want to make sure that it’s genuine,” he says of his new restaurant. “I want to build a place that lives up to the quality of our reputation.”
The relaxed, seafood-focused Angler will feature live fish tanks stocked directly from fishermen Skenes has been working with for years, and a hearth that might look familiar to guests acquainted with his smoke-laced cooking at Saison. And to be clear, he’s not doing a tasting menu. “I just wanted a place that was lower barrier to entry, and delicious, simple food,” Skenes says. “I want to be able to eat there every day. This particular restaurant is thoroughly enjoyable for me. I love seafood. I love vegetables.”
Rather than Michelin stars or a place on the World’s 50 Best list, Skenes says he’ll measure the Angler’s success based on the feeling in the dining room: Is it crowded? Are the people happy? That’s enough for him. And after the San Francisco location is up and running (“In San Francisco, we’ll have the opportunity to perfect the operation,” he says), Skenes will bring the brand to Los Angeles this coming fall.
Intensely Personal Southern Cooking
American diners are ever more hungry for Southern cuisine. Some of the most exciting openings of the past few years have hinged on chefs from the South exploring their culinary traditions, pairing a near-academic vigor with a deeply felt personal connection.
There’s Sean Brock’s work with heirloom ingredients at McCrady’s and Husk, which expanded into Savannah and Greenville this past year. There’s the Grey, a 2015 Best New Restaurant and 2017 Restaurant of the Year, where Mashama Bailey explores Southern cooking in what used to be a segregated Greyhound depot. And then there’s chef Edouardo Jordan, who with 2017 Best New Restaurant JuneBaby brought a historical-meets-personal perspective to Southern foodways all the way to Seattle.
“It’s something that was created here. It is our true American food,” says North Carolina-born, Oregon-based chef Maya Lovelace, who’s opening a Southern restaurant in Portland this spring. “It’s something that deserves respect, the history of it deserves respect, and it deserves to be seen for what it is, in all of its sometimes-messy glory.”
Location: St. Paul, VA
Key players: Travis Milton
Target open: February 2018
“I would be a hypocrite if I opened these restaurants anywhere outside of Appalachia,” says Virginia chef Travis Milton, a prominent advocate for Appalachian cuisine. Of his three upcoming Virginia projects, coming first is Milton’s, a meat-and-three in a new hotel in St. Paul, only a half mile from where Milton grew up. “That’s always been something that’s been in the back of my mind, that one day I’ll open up a small, accessible restaurant near my hometown, as some form of economic development there.”
He’s building whole-hog pits behind the restaurant, but Milton is especially excited to focus on side dishes, where he’ll rely on heirloom local vegetables and an intense seasonality that he describes as inherent to Appalachian cooking: “I want [guests] to be able to taste Appalachia.” With Milton’s, he hopes to create a restaurant that can generate culinary tourism and appeal to locals.
Once that’s up and running, Milton will head over to Bristol, where he’ll open Simply Grand and his flagship fine dining restaurant, Shovel & Pick, hopefully later this year.
Location: Portland, OR
Key players: Maya Lovelace
Target open: Spring 2018
Remember this name (it’s an easy one): Maya Lovelace. This Eater Young Gun has helmed one of Portland’s most acclaimed — and popular — pop-ups for years, and now she’s going brick-and-mortar in a big way, with a brand-new double-duty restaurant.
Up front will be Yonder, a counter-service operation loosely inspired by Southern meat-and-threes. Here Lovelace will focus on her famous fried chicken (and some serious fried chicken sandwiches) as well as comforting sides. And in the back will live Mae, as her pop-up is also known, where Lovelace will serve about 25 guests, four nights per week. “We’re going to be focusing on some less frequently seen southern Appalachian techniques and ingredients,” Lovelace says, and to that end, she’s working with a local farmer to bring heirloom Southern vegetables to her corner of the Pacific Northwest.
As at the pop-up, Lovelace aims to explore her family’s culinary history, as well as encourage diners to see connections with their own experiences. “People in Portland are very engaged with the idea of Southern food right now,” she says. “Everybody loves chicken and waffles, but I think it’s important to make sure that Southern food is understood as something that’s more than that.”
Bow and Arrow
Location: Auburn, AL
Key players: David Bancroft, Caleb Fischer
Target open: June 2018
While historically Alabama doesn’t have the same high-profile barbecue as Kansas City, Texas Hill Country, the Carolinas, or Memphis, things are starting to change. David Bancroft, a two-time James Beard semifinalist for his work at Acre, will throw his hat in the ring with Bow & Arrow, his second restaurant in Auburn. Born in Alabama and raised in San Antonio, Bancroft plans to meld the two places: “Bow & Arrow is basically a South Texas smokehouse that finishes like an Alabama church potluck.”
Guests will order directly from the kitchen — home to a custom Kudu fire pit, which Bancroft gleefully describes as a “meat chandelier” — and choose from an array of smoked meats: The star will be brisket, a bold choice in a region that tends to focus on pork for barbecue, served with a choice of white bread or house-made tortillas. Long-simmered sides will range from butter beans to mac and cheese. If everything goes to plan, Bancroft could even see taking his Southern-meets-Tex-Mex barbecue to Birmingham and Atlanta. “Bow & Arrow would be the one store I wouldn’t mind having maybe two or three of,” he says.
Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater’s restaurant editor.
Editor: Erin DeJesus