The 11Best New Restaurants in America
Eater’s 11 best new restaurants for 2021 have one thing in common: tenacity. Amid an unprecedented crisis, chefs, bakers, and operators imagined new ways for diners to revel in the pleasure of a good meal and a shared experience — even if that meant doing so outside or via takeout containers. In light of the workarounds required of the past 18 months, Eater’s nationwide staff considered any place our readers could reliably get food as a restaurant in our quest to celebrate just how thrilling dining out is, whatever that looks like right now.
— Hillary Dixler Canavan, restaurant editor
The Best New Restaurants of 2021
Albi, Washington, D.C. / The Anchovy Bar, San Francisco, CA / Baobab Fare, Detroit, MI / Bridgetown Roti, Los Angeles, CA / Dhamaka, New York, NY / Distant Relatives, Austin, TX / Eeva, Philadelphia, PA / Fonda Lupita, Sanford, NC / Kasama, Chicago, IL / Oma’s Hideaway, Portland, OR / Over Under, Miami, FL
Local PicksThe restaurants, pop-ups, and food businesses representing the best of dining in 20+ cities, according to Eater editors
Consider what makes a special-occasion restaurant sizzle: an utterly original point of view, top-tier service, and food that ignites conversation. At Albi, chef Michael Rafidi’s team hits every mark and then some with a hearth-centered Levantine restaurant marrying his Palestinian American experience and fine dining chops. Wisps of smoke coaxed from glowing flames and dying embers anchor dishes loaded up with showers of lemon juice, drizzles of pomegranate molasses, and pillows of intense garlic toum. Meals end with cooling swirls of labneh soft serve, keeping the fire in check.
Since opening in early 2020, Albi has become indispensable because it meets diners where they are. Want to eat less meat? Rafidi has you covered with smoked veggie kibbeh naya — it might be beets, tomatoes, or carrots in the tartare-like spread — one of D.C.’s best vegetarian dishes. Want to nerd out on wine? The list includes hard-to-source bottles from Lebanon and Palestine. Can’t afford to splurge on a tasting menu? For under $100, two can feast on Beiruti-style hummus and a platter of lamb kebabs and cinnamon-skewered kefta. Albi’s private dining room also hosts Yellow, a daytime cafe showcasing pastry chef Emma Scanlon’s French-meets-Levantine treats, coffee director Ayat Elhag’s imaginative drinks, and sandwiches tucked into the same oven-fresh pita that wows diners at the dressier tables.
— Gabriel Hiatt, Eater DC editor
The Anchovy Bar
San Francisco, CA
In a long pandemic spent gussying up tinned fish and mixing drinks at home, there’s perhaps no greater reward than sliding into one of the Anchovy Bar’s coveted tables to feast on its stylish approach to the eponymous little fish. A thoroughly California take on boquerones, brined in salt, lime juice, basil, and garlic and casually adorned with torn mint and dribbles of oil, each bite is a small indulgence — only available from about April to October when anchovies can be pulled straight from the San Francisco Bay.
Fortunately for the rest of the year, the other dishes are also revelatory, with Hog Island oysters swimming in smoky date sambal-infused butter and orbs of McFarland Springs trout roe scooped into crackly sheets of seaweed. The beverage list is delightfully unpredictable, offering something orange, flights of sherry, and fizzy riffs on the classic spritz. Desserts are breezily sophisticated, like two caramelized arlettes sandwiching fragrant Meyer lemon curd. Chef-restaurateurs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski stayed close to their home base; State Bird Provisions and the Progress are just around the corner. As you would expect from such seasoned operators, everything about the Anchovy Bar conveys easy confidence: Service is warmly efficient, the setting is pure fun, and the commitment to our local seafood is unwavering.
— Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor
Hamissi Mamba saw obvious opportunity in the dearth of African restaurants in Detroit, the nation’s largest Black-majority city: Like a baobab tree that flourishes in the desert, a restaurant serving East African fare could blossom here. Diners had warmly embraced Mamba and his wife, Nadia Nijimbere, since they’d launched their wildly popular pop-ups serving the cuisine of their native Burundi in 2017 — shortly after they were granted asylum.
Now that Baobab Fare has a vibrant, permanent home, the couple’s take on the quintessential East African comfort dish ugali, a dense corn-flour ball served once a week alongside savory hot okra stew, is fast becoming a signature alongside the mbuzi, a dish of slow-roasted goat that parts effortlessly from the bone. Meanwhile, servers let folks know that the divine smell drawing them in from the outside comes from the nyumbani, beef slowly simmered in a tangy, ripe tomato sauce. The bustling restaurant employs fellow refugees and asylum-seekers, making a beacon of the bright-yellow slogan on its window: “Detroit ni nyumbani,” meaning, “Detroit is home.”
— Monica Williams, Eater Detroit editor
Los Angeles, CA
In a city that loved pop-ups even before they became one of the few pandemic bright spots, LA’s Bridgetown Roti stands apart. Caribbean cooking is not as easy to find here as in New York City or Miami, so in the early months of lockdown, when chef Rashida Holmes started slinging curry-filled patties and rotis based on her family’s recipes from Barbados, she quickly built a following.
Once I had my first taste of her red pepper goat roti, I knew why. Biting into California-bred goat shoulder, smoked into tender submission and wrapped in a deceptively delicate roti, I realized that here, finally, was takeout to make me forget that it had been months since I’d sat down to eat inside a restaurant at all. The gently spiced channa and sweet potato option is equally compelling, particularly for non-meat-eaters, and every order should include at least one patty — curried yam and mango for me, thanks. Holmes pays no less attention to her “apps” menu; try a jerk cucumber salad for needed crunch and a slice of macaroni and cheese pie, too. While Bridgetown Roti absolutely punches above its weight, it is still very much a pop-up. Game out where you’ll eat ahead of time, whether at one of Smorgasburg’s sunny picnic tables or on the hood of your car in the Arts District. The rotis will impress regardless.
— Hillary Dixler Canavan, restaurant editor
Disclosure: Eater LA reporter Mona Holmes is related to Rashida Holmes and did not participate in discussions about Bridgetown Roti’s place on the list.
New York, NY
Restaurateur Roni Mazumdar and chef Chintan Pandya are building an empire without a playbook, let alone precedent. Devoted champions of homestyle Indian cooking under the moniker Unapologetic Foods, they cemented their status as hitmakers with their third restaurant, Dhamaka. Diners who fell for the street food and canteen-style cooking at Adda (the duo’s 2019 Best New Restaurant) clamored to get a taste of Dhamaka’s homage to rural and provincial fare. When it opened mid-pandemic, it instantly became one of the most sought-after reservations in New York City.
Dhamaka brings crowds but it doesn’t pander to them. Instead, Pandya is uncompromising in his dedication to the bold and complex range of flavors in Indian cuisine. He drapes a velvety cashew cream over from-scratch paneer. It’s equally appealing to diners most comfortable ordering saag paneer as it is to those looking to try the fiery gurda kapoora, chile-laced goat kidney and testicles, the kind of dish rarely seen in a trendy Manhattan restaurant. From a star anise-infused scotch cocktail garnished with a coconut water ice cube to the $190 bacchanalian rabbit feast, Dhamaka proves that a bucket-list dinner doesn’t have to involve unwieldy Eurocentric tasting menus — and shows Mazumdar and Pandya together are not finished redefining Indian restaurants in America.
— Bao Ong, Eater NY editor
Standing out in the crowded Texas barbecue field means going beyond excellent meat. For pitmaster Damien Brockway, this work is intensely personal: His food truck, Distant Relatives, plays with and pushes back on Austin’s unwritten barbecue rules — largely informed by German and Czech traditions — by centering African American cooking through the lens of his own history. Brockway traces his lineage back to West Africa (these ancestors, along with the greater African diaspora, are the distant relatives the truck’s name refers to), using the paths of enslaved people in North America to shed light on the often-overlooked foundations of America’s broader barbecue culture.
Take sauce. Central Texas (especially Austin) tends to look down on dressing meats with basically anything, but Brockway rounds out nearly everything that comes off the smoker with some sort of delicious, culturally significant condiment. A tamarind and molasses sauce (the former native to Africa, the latter a legacy of plantation-system farming) tops pillowy pulled pork. For succulent chicken thighs, there’s chile vinegar butter that refers back to one of the mop sauces used by enslaved pitmasters — and Brockway’s family recipe for barbecue chicken. Sides like fresh corn grits topped with pickled okra show off his fine dining training and his consideration for staple African diaspora ingredients. There’s no other smokehouse like it in town, but the vibe is still pure Austin: The truck is parked at Meanwhile Brewing, where good beer and picnic tables await anyone ready for their next smoked meat adventure.
— Nadia Chaudhury, Eater Austin editor
Eeva is a restaurant by bakers. Once a takeout-only operation, and now a dine-in pizzeria and weekend bakery next door to co-owner Mark Capriotti’s coffee shop, this Philly newcomer shows off what glorious things can happen when those pandemic culinary projects so many of us took on — mastering sourdough, attempting homemade bagels, studying up on natural wine — return to professional hands.
It starts with baker-chef and co-owner Greg Dunn’s exquisite pizza dough: Supremely airy, sour with a hint of sweetness, and satisfyingly chewy, Eeva’s crusts are already some of the city’s best. From there, the constantly changing menu showcases the experiments of its staff: The spicy Leah’s Pie, named for Leah Gotchel, Eeva’s first employee and one of its star pizzaiolas, is pasta puttanesca in pizza form, briny and rustic with capers, green olives, fresh oregano, and optional anchovies. Regulars try to land in server Catherine Brown’s section; as she has since Eeva’s early days, she brings her passion for natural wines (informed by the wine club she’s involved with) to the laid-back dining room. And those crispy sourdough country loaves — mixed, shaped, and baked by Katie Mach, who clocks in at 5 a.m. to create bread and bagels each weekend — are an especially welcome delight for those who got tired of trying to do it themselves.
— Dayna Evans, Eater Philly editor
On Main Street in Sanford, North Carolina, a pink neon sign in a window serves as a beacon that something Instagrammable lies within this quiet community, while the smell of fresh corn tortillas promises serious cooking is happening, too. Some of North Carolina’s most sought-after meals are in its small cities and towns — there’s Kindred in Davidson and Chef & the Farmer in Kinston, for example — and the family-owned Fonda Lupita is primed to join that cadre of anchor restaurants.
Chef-owner Biridiana Frausto and her family prepare earthy tamales and peppery menudo on an ever-rotating menu that highlights cuisine from her mother’s home of Querétaro, Mexico. Customers happily dip crispy quesabirria tacos into rich consomé, and nearly everyone has a gordita on their table. The gorditas, a hit since opening in March 2020, boast char-flecked tortillas, generously filled with chorizo con papas or chicken tinga and a sprinkling of queso fresco. If it’s true that a good restaurant can help define the town it’s in — and it is certainly true in North Carolina — Fonda Lupita may just put Sanford on the map for having some of the most heartful cuisine in North Carolina.
— Erin Perkins, Eater Carolinas editor
When Genie Kwon and husband Tim Flores had to hold off on allowing diners into their dream restaurant — part bakery, part Filipino gastropub — because of the pandemic, Kwon turned to Kasama’s fledgling Instagram page to introduce her jamon-topped, eclair-shaped danishes and ube-laced pastries to the world. When the couple was finally able to let people inside their modest Ukrainian Village storefront, their ravenous Instagram audience lined up along the sidewalk in masked, socially distant droves.
Kasama’s menu highlights Kwon’s French pastry expertise, while Flores handles the savory side. On that front, he’s given Chicago a world-class rendition of lumpia, fried to a delicate crisp and perfectly matched with a calamansi mimosa in the afternoon. His tribute to the city’s famed Italian beef combo — with longganisa instead of Italian sausage, and piled high with shaved pork adobo and giardiniera — is a decadent two-hander, deserving of a place among Chicago’s must-try delicacies. A modern Fil-Am tasting menu is still to come, but Flores and Kwon are already living their dream.
— Ashok Selvam, Eater Chicago editor
Portland’s best party is just past the mirrored bar, at a table surrounded by anemone-adorned walls. Soon, guava-pineapple Jell-O shots arrive, and then tender, flaky roti canai to dunk into luscious sweet corn curry. Another round — maybe mai tai slushies this time — and then, the piece de resistance, a juicy game hen straight from the charcoal oven, with crackly, caramel-colored skin best torn off and dunked in jammy coconut sambal. This is Oma’s Hideaway, and it’s the offbeat hangout Portland needs.
Restaurateurs Thomas and Mariah Pisha-Duffly are relative newcomers, but they are quick studies when it comes to figuring out what this city wants. Oma’s started as a pandemic takeout pop-up, slinging boxes of Flamin’ Hot Cheeto chicharrones and blood sausage dan dan noodles from a tent in front of Gado Gado, the couple’s first Portland restaurant. Now a standalone spot, Oma’s is where chef Thomas Pisha-Duffly conjures memories of his grandmother’s Indonesian Chinese cooking with his wonton mee, a nest of handmade egg noodles cradling char siu pork belly and plump wontons, just as easily as he pays homage to the classic American burger, topping his with American cheese and coconut-lime-leaf butter. The freewheeling menu and unabashed house party vibe are a thrilling reminder of what Portland dining can be at its best: It’s self-aware, but not self-serious; it’s meticulous, but it’s also fun.
— Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor
While slick out-of-town arrivals dominated the Miami food conversation for the past few years, Brian Griffiths was busy figuring out what would make his self-described “Subtroppi Honki Tonk,” Over Under, feel even more Floridian. He found his answer in James McNeal’s cooking. His menu is a distinctly high-low affair, partnering crispy gator bites with sauce gribiche, filling empanadas with wild boar, and stacking a “not too fancy” seafood tower with rarely seen oysters from the nearby Treasure Coast plus wild-caught Gulf shrimp.
Since opening in the summer of 2020, Over Under has been where locals go to let their hair down and reconnect with friends. Turns out that the city was ready for a souped-up dive bar where the drinks are strong, the music (and the karaoke) is loud, the food is top-notch (the cheeseburger is one of the city’s finest), and the dress code is nonexistent, a welcome change from Miami’s famed flashy nightclubs. While temporarily closed for the next few weeks due to ongoing zoning issues, Miami’s revelers look forward to indulging in the good times and great food again soon.
— Olee Fowler, Eater Miami editor
The restaurants, pop-ups, and food businesses representing the best of dining in 20+ cities, according to Eater editors
After starting as a pop-up called Eat Me Speak Me, Little Bear is a charming neighborhood spot where Jarrett Stieber pokes fun at fine dining’s proclivity for tweezer food with dishes rivaling the five-star establishments he lampoons. Keep an eye out for the restaurant’s unofficial proprietor, a Great Pyrenees named Fernando.
When owners Parnass Savang and Rod Lassiter launched Talat Market as a pop-up, they committed to showcasing Thai dishes incorporating Georgia ingredients. That commitment continues at their Summerhill restaurant, where dishes like fish head soup, crispy rice salad, and grilled spiny lobster pair with martinis, natural wine, and beer slushies.
Adidsara Weerasin and Jakkrit Tuanphakdee’s Isan Thai menu is rife with transportive dishes often found at street vendors or in homes throughout Thailand. This includes sour sausage, larb khaotord, som tum (green papaya salad), and pad thai Pok Pok with giant freshwater prawns tossed in fragrant tamarind sauce. — Beth McKibben, Eater Atlanta editor
Calling Birdie’s a European-style neighborhood wine bar doesn’t do justice to its magic. Its oft-changing selection of dishes is unpretentious but transcendent — chewy orecchiette with fennel pollen and sausage, tilefish in corn broth, and creamy soft serve with tangerine olive oil. Explore their extensive wine list on the breezy patio. — Erin Russell, Eater Austin associate editor
Owner and baker Mariela Camacho launched her baked goods delivery service in the Austin and San Antonio areas during the pandemic, which she successfully turned into a weekly pop-up. Her delicious creations draw from her Xicana roots and are made with local ingredients when possible. This means light conchas, oh-so-rich pan de muerto, superb flour tortillas, and guava-filled delights. — Nadia Chaudhury, Eater Austin editor
Fancy Southern restaurant Olamaie made an inspired pandemic pivot, becoming this casual biscuit sandwich shop. The restaurant’s famous fluffy biscuits are the perfect vehicle for sandwiches with pimento cheese, country ham, or just spiced apple butter. Don’t overlook the picnic-ready sides and desserts from rising star pastry chef Jules Stoddart. — Erin Russell, Eater Austin associate editor
Full of lush plants and mismatched furniture lovingly refurbished by chef and co-owner Vinh Le, this dreamy Vietnamese cafe is captivating. Sip a foamy Vietnamese coffee topped with Maine sea salt and eat banh mi in the peaceful backyard garden. Stay for their newly expanded dinner menu featuring oxtail with lemongrass broth and fresh noodles alongside beer or wine.
Throughout the pandemic and construction of its Dorchester restaurant opening next year, pop-up Comfort Kitchen has featured a rotating menu celebrating the African diaspora and its connections to cuisines from Asia to the Americas. Enjoy the bold spice of jerk roasted duck or a delicate fish curry packed with bright, fresh herbs.
Crunchy pieces of deep-fried chicken skin; Thai chile-spiked rice-and-pork sausage; a spicy taste of flying squid — this Brookline newcomer’s modern Thai small plates evoke late nights in Bangkok, complemented by, for example, a daiquiri infused with Thai herb mix 11 Tigers or a Sazerac with Thai tea-infused rye. — Rachel Blumenthal, Eater Boston editor
This restaurant, inspired by the Mississippi River Valley’s foodways, commits to comfort and community in Charlotte’s Camp North End. Owners Greg and Subrina Collier hire people from the neighborhood, offer a nightly pay-what-you-can dish, and wow their dinner guests with crispy chicken skins and ranch dressing, dirty grits, and slow-roasted cabbage with smoked sausage in a pork neck bisque.
Charleston’s Bar George is fun — like hanging in your stoner friend’s ’70s-chic basement — but happens to make a phenomenal cocktail and roast a mean Peruvian chicken. Come for the couches and pinball machines; stay for the view of the open kitchen where the chef shucks oysters for guests. — Erin Perkins, Eater Carolinas editor
Crust Fund Pizza, an endeavor that announces a new menu monthly via Instagram for curbside pickup in a North Side alley, serves some of the city’s best tavern-style pies. Pop-up owner John Carruthers donates all proceeds to charity, sparking good Midwestern vibes and soul satisfaction.
Taqueria Chingón challenges what Chicagoans want from their tacos with beautiful al pastor, vegetarian, octopus, and even some seldom-seen-here meats, like morcilla. From the owner of French restaurant Le Bouchon and some talented chefs, there’s major culinary technique stuffed into these tortillas, and Chicago’s taco future looks stunning.
Rye reinvigorated the deli genre in the West Loop with a multicultural approach to dishes like a tortilla and matzo ball soup hybrid, cold-smoked salmon, and brik — a daring Tunisian egg pastry stuffed with potatoes. The smoker also cranks out top-notch pastrami. And don’t sleep on the bagels. — Ashok Selvam, Eater Chicago editor
In a sleek space in Farmers Branch, chef Tiffany Derry eschews dated stereotypes that paint Southern food as grease-slicked and stodgy, one plate of black-eyed pea hummus at a time. Derry’s take on the cuisine deftly ranges from her mother’s blue crab claw-studded gumbo recipe to jerk lamb chops served with Hoppin’ John, and of course, the universally beloved duck fat fried chicken.
In Dallas, Brazilian cuisine is primarily showcased in chain churrascarias serving large hunks of meats on swords. But at Meridian, executive chef Junior Borges’s stunning restaurant at the Village, flavors from the chef’s home country are vibrant and fresh, showcased in plates like Calabresa sausage served with egg and onion farofa, cod croquettes, and a whole octopus roasted over fire. — Amy McCarthy, Eater Houston and Dallas editor
Founding partners Lloyd Talley and Kwaku Osei-Bonsu centered their restaurant around geodesic domes furnished for outdoor dining, vegan chef Nygel Fyvie’s East Asian-influenced menu, and local pop-up collaborations. To make the most of the format, the restaurant hosts sneaker bingo, meditations before Sunday brunches, and dancing between the domes.
Opening a seafood-centric fine dining restaurant in a city lacking both was a challenge. Pivoting that restaurant into a fast-casual spot during the pandemic was even harder. Still, the restaurant consistently sells out of its swordfish with eggplant and peppers and its array of made-in-house pasta almost nightly.
From Hajime Sato — the chef whose restaurant Mashiko advanced the sustainable sushi movement in Seattle — comes Sozai, an omakase-meets-kappo sushi restaurant where Sato brings expansive creativity to seafood from the Great Lakes. Savor the delicate ikura and wash it down with one of the restaurant’s highly curated sake selections. — Monica Williams, Eater Detroit editor
Chef Suresh Sundas’s creations — chicken reshmi kebabs with a hint of blue cheese and a sour cherry sauce; turmeric-stained sea bass grilled in a banana leaf and served with tomato and Sichuan pepper chutney — stand up well to the most-buzzed-about cocktail in Washington: a hari daiquiri made with lime, kefir, and a mint and cilantro syrup.
Rose Nguyen and her team of bakers stuff every preordered box with a joyous expression of Asian American identity. Appreciation for past generations of Filipino, Taiwanese, Japanese, and Vietnamese sweets can be detected in inventions such as ensaymada cruffins, Spam musubi croissants, and soft sweet potato brioche doughnuts piped full of passion fruit curd or milk tea cream.
Michael Rafidi’s cafe complement to the justifiably pricey, hearth-fired Levantine cooking at Albi has been a canary-yellow lining for the first-time restaurant owner during the COVID-19 pandemic. Yellow embraced takeout and expanded beyond Arabic-influenced viennoiserie to include sandwiches built on pita, mezze made with mid-Atlantic produce, and a labneh soft serve affogato. — Gabriel Hiatt, Eater D.C. editor
Over six- or nine-course tasting menus, chef Felipe Riccio traces the evolution of Mediterranean cuisine by periodically focusing on a different region, including the Maghreb (Northwest Africa), the Levant (eastern Mediterranean coast), and Andalusia and Murcia in southern Spain. Master sommelier June Rodil takes that ethos a step further with two separate wine pairings — one a more traditional selection, the other an experimental assortment.
This highly anticipated restaurant from Daniel Boulud alum Aaron Bludorn intertwines Texan and new American cuisines like Gulf seafood cioppino, short rib ravioli with blue cheese and figs, and locally sourced quail, with a hint of French finesse. Together, Bludorn and his general manager Cherif Mbodji (also a Boulud alum) have built an elegant restaurant with intimate, detailed service that isn’t at all fussy.
After years of serving lunch to cubicle warriors from a business district food court, husband-and-wife duo Erin Smith and Patrick Feges finally have their own (massive) space. Their tender smoked brisket and juicy turkey breast are some of the best in the city. Creative sides like chana masala and hog fat cornbread as well as a playful wine list defy Houston’s barbecue norms. — Brittanie Shey, Eater Houston associate editor
Modern Mexican cuisine thrives in the heart of Beverly Hills, where Joshua Gil serves the rustic flavors of Baja California with seasonal LA ingredients. Think artichoke and summer truffle tostadas, salmon skin chicharron, and Puerto Nuevo-style langoustine tacos. The showstopping deep-fried snapper in masa tomatillo jus comes with big floppy heirloom blue corn tortillas. — Matthew Kang, Eater LA editor
This Middle Eastern oasis in Windsor Hills/View Park boasts Palestinian recipes by the same family that runs the popular Orleans & York sandwich spot. Roasted chicken comes in four different styles: sumac, lemon and garlic, onion and potatoes, or stuffed with rice, mushrooms, and beef. — Mona Holmes, Eater LA reporter
How should restaurants address gentrification? Uyên Lê, chef and owner of Bé U, believes keeping her Vietnamese fare as accessible as possible (under $10) and paying her workers above-market wages can help. It’s that mission — and the caramelized pork with eggs — that makes the restaurant one to visit time and again. — Cathy Chaplin, Eater LA associate editor
Nicole Brisson (a James Beard Award semifinalist) and Jason Rocheleau’s Brezza at Resorts World offers a delightful coastal Italian menu that spans handmade pasta and dishes cooked on a Tuscan-style, wood-fired grill over white oak and olive branches.
The long-awaited Delilah, a breathtaking supper club from H.Wood Group at Wynn Las Vegas, features a two-level space with lavish chandeliers, a fireplace, refined American fare, and entertainers dancing alongside a live jazz band. Two sweeping sets of staircases adorned with bronze sculptures that were commissioned for Delilah funnel down to the equally dazzling Anchor Bar.
Think of the Silver Stamp as a step into a 1970s den replete with wood-paneled walls, low-slung ceilings, and vintage beer memorabilia lining the perimeter. The Gateway District bar comes from Rose Signor and Andrew Smith and offers 20 beers on tap, with another 50 available by the can or bottle. — Susan Stapleton, Eater Vegas editor
Plenty of high-profile restaurant imports came to South Florida over the past 16 months, but none stood out more than Cote. The Miami location of the Michelin-starred New York City Korean steakhouse has quickly become the city’s go-to special-occasion restaurant due to its sleek setting, dry-aged beef offerings, attentive service, and (very) strong martinis.
Brunch is the star no matter the day of the week at Rosie’s, arguably the most talked-about pop-up restaurant in Miami. First making its appearance in Overtown before moving to its current location in Allapattah, it features decadent Southern-leaning cuisine that draws crowds for its craveable soft scramble toast, spicy chicken and waffles, and rich shrimp and grits.
One of the most stylish newcomers in Miami is housed right inside the Rubell Museum, serving a wide-ranging menu of Basque-region dishes that are as eye-pleasing as the art inside the museum. Come for the Iberico ham, creamy croquetas, and Galician octopus, stay for the gin and tonics and people-watching on the lush greenery-filled patio. — Olee Fowler, Eater Miami editor
Chef Trevor Moran’s casual dumpling den and kakigori destination in bustling 12 South. The closely cropped menu over-delivers with steamed dumplings drizzled in chile oil, crispy royal red shrimp toast, create-your-own beef tartare hand rolls, and fluffy surprise-filled shaved ice heaps, ranging in flavors from salted caramel to shortbread or almond milk.
Tlaxcala, Mexico, native Julio Hernandez didn’t need his own brick-and-mortar restaurant to make a name for himself. Instead, he took his food truck to restaurants and farmers markets around town, serving crispy, cheesy birria tacos and tamales using high-caliber, handmade tortillas made with organic, GMO-free heirloom corn.
Helmed by multi-James Beard Award-winning chef Tony Mantuano and wine and hospitality expert Cathy Mantuano, the Joseph hotel restaurant raised the bar for Italian dining (and outstanding wine lists) in Nashville. Modern dishes join family-heirloom recipes on the prix fixe and a la carte menus, which feature truffle-topped gnocchi, cacio e pepe, and more. — Delia Jo Ramsey, Eater Nashville editor
You can’t miss the bright colors at Fritai — in tropical drinks made with clairin, in chef Charly Pierre’s Haitian specialties accompanied by spicy pikliz, or inside, where walls of deep orange, yellow, and green show off work by Haitian artists.
Spanning the course of a year from three different venues, chef Serigne Mbaye’s blending of traditional West African and Louisiana ingredients resulted in contemporary Senegalese tasting menus that were simultaneously delicate and bold. Their return is eagerly awaited. — Clair Lorell, Eater NOLA editor
Aldama is, on one level, a party. As Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Colombian tunes play, bartenders fill chatty patrons’ glasses with frozen purple mezcal cocktails. But chef Gerardo Alcaraz’s modernist al pastor tacos with pineapple-serrano gel and vegan mole negro show that Aldama might also be the city’s most technically ambitious Mexican spot in years. — Ryan Sutton, Eater NY chief critic
Order from the counter (check out the baked goods there, too), then settle in for a family-style feast of bone-in chunks of lamb marinated in fermented yogurt, whole roasted chickens, and baked kebab casseroles, all served in decorative ovenware. — Robert Sietsema, Eater NY senior critic
NYC’s Vietnamese restaurant scene has never been better. Exhibit A: John Nguyen and Nhu Ton’s Bánh Vietnamese Shop House. Their hit pop-up that went beyond pho and banh mi is now a brick-and-mortar, home to plates of crispy, sticky rice cakes and steamed rice rolls paired with pork belly — dishes rarely found in NYC. — Bao Ong, Eater NY editor
Chef Thanh Nguyen’s Vietnamese restaurant in the heart of East Passyunk is the perfect setting for groups. Platters — like cha ca thang long (turmeric-rubbed catfish with fermented anchovy dipping sauce) — are meant for sharing, while the banh beo chen open-faced dumplings are a flavorful, delightful crowd-pleaser, too.
The pandemic showed diners that going out is about community as much as food. So it is at Mina’s World, where rose syrup lattes pair with locally made samosas and Okie Dokie Donuts, and the welcoming staff and free community fridge out front act as pillars of the neighborhood.
Pizza is a religion in Philly, and Down North, for good reason, has amassed countless devoted followers. The Detroit-style pies (crispy, cheesy, topped with Norf sauce and barbecue chicken) draw crowds, and its worthy mission — hiring formerly incarcerated workers at fair wages — puts it over the top. — Dayna Evans, Eater Philly editor
Republica is quite simply revolutionary within Portland’s larger restaurant world for how it investigates, challenges, and pays homage to Mexican culinary traditions. Whether in cochinita pibil tortas from its casual daytime cafe, or the evening tasting menu’s heady chanterelle-laced rice risotto and nixtamalized beans, chef Lauro Romero excels.
Ethan Leung left Seattle’s fine dining scene to start this food cart with his wife, food service newcomer Geri Leung. They insist their joyful Filipino American menu is “not your tita’s cooking.” Instead, find kare kare-topped fries and what’s arguably Portland’s best adobo (improved only by a square of coconut-laden bibingka). — Brooke Jackson-Glidden, Eater Portland editor
Callie is a homecoming debut from chef Travis Swikard, who returned to San Diego after a decade working with Daniel Boulud in New York. Six months in, Swikard’s sunny SoCal take on Mediterranean cooking has brought a well-deserved spotlight to the city — and Callie’s still the hottest reservation in town.
Opened during the pandemic in a downtown neighborhood in dire need of dining diversity, Sovereign reaches beyond the typical pad thais and curries to share lesser-seen dishes that are both thrilling and transportive, conveying the regional flavors of Isan while highlighting seafood from San Diego shores.
After attracting acclaim for her Mexican menu at El Jardín, Vaga gives insight into how chef Claudette Zepeda’s personal cooking style has been influenced by living on both sides of the border, reflecting the chef’s Tijuana upbringing and time spent in San Diego’s Asian communities while contributing to North County’s rising food scene. — Candice Woo, Eater San Diego editor
Opening despite all the odds in October 2020, Horn Barbecue is easily the Bay Area’s biggest hit of the pandemic, where in an industrial corner of West Oakland, self-taught pitmaster Matt Horn turns meat into magic with nothing but patience, skill, and a whole lot of smoke. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor
With delicate and layered interpretations of dishes like sisig and pancit, chef Francis Ang creatively infuses Filipino fare with the best of California’s bounty at Abacá, a lush and sun-soaked haven for contemporary Southeast Asian cuisine, unexpectedly located on the ground floor of a Fisherman’s Wharf hotel. — Lauren Saria, Eater SF editor
While the South Bay is better known for its Indian restaurants, Palo Alto has found a Michelin-starred breakout in California-Indian restaurant Ettan. Chef-owner Srijith Gopinathan brings bright, arching flavors to whole-roasted red snapper and other colorful dishes, while founder Ayesha Thapar envisioned a gorgeous dining room, from the dramatic skylight to the maximalist patterns. — Becky Duffett, Eater SF deputy editor
Since the early ’90s, catering chef Kristi Brown has cooked up “Seattle Soul,” her signature mix of Southern-style comfort classics with Vietnamese influences and regional ingredients. In December 2020, she and her son Damon Bomar opened the always-packed Communion within the historic Liberty Bank Building, part of what Africatown’s CEO has called “a Black business renaissance.”
Musang is a community-minded Filipino restaurant in Seattle’s Beacon Hill neighborhood. Chef Melissa Miranda is a leader in the Seattle Community Kitchen Collective that distributed free meals to those in need throughout the pandemic, and her Little Wildcats program offers Filipinx food education to kids and families. — Mark Van Streefkerk, interim Eater Seattle editor
The Best New Restaurants of 2021
Albi, Washington, D.C. The Anchovy Bar, San Francisco, CA Baobab Fare, Detroit, MI Bridgetown Roti, Los Angeles, CA Dhamaka, New York, NY Distant Relatives, Austin, TX Eeva, Philadelphia, PA Fonda Lupita, Sanford, NC Kasama, Chicago, IL Oma’s Hideaway, Portland, OR Over Under, Miami, FL
Local PicksCelebrating the bars, restaurants and pop-ups that embodied neighborhood dining at its best, according to Eater editors