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25 of the Most Underrated Restaurants Across America

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Here are twenty-five restaurants around the country that are underrated. The following map consists of places that — in the opinion of local Eater editors and friends of the site — should get more national attention. In some cases, the restaurants are beloved locally but can't quite get the buzz that similar peers do across the country (Rue 127 in New Orleans, Hearth in New York, Fond in Philadelphia, Estadio in Washington, DC). In others, as with Naoe in Miami and A.R. Valentien in San Diego, the chefs put their heads down and quietly do their thing. There also are a few established restaurants that aren't particularly hip anymore but still kill it and deserve another look (Hugo's in Houston).

There's no question there are more restaurants that fall into the underrated category, so please make your nominations in the comments. Cities outside of the Eater purview play, too. To the map:


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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Seattle: Dinette

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1514 E Olive Way
Seattle, WA 98122
(206) 328-2282
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When Eater Seattle asked readers to nominate the most underrated restaurants in that city, the number of votes for Dinette was impressive and decisive. The Capitol Hill restaurant has earned a local following for its tartines. But chef Melissa Nyffeler isn't a celebrity, and her generally unassuming enterprise isn't well known across the country — or even Seattle. [Photo Credit]

2. PDX: St. Jack

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2039 SE Clinton St
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 360-1281
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Chef Aaron Barnett's St. Jack has earned near-universal acclaim locally, but not the same amount of national attention as places like Le Pigeon. It's kind of a mystery, but it could be that Barnett remains a quiet chef without showing aspirations of becoming a celebrity. [Photo Credit]

3. San Francisco: La Ciccia

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291 30th St
San Francisco, CA 94131
(415) 550-8114
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La Ciccia is a small family-owned restaurant in Noe Valley. And because it doesn't try to stay on top of trends, it doesn't make huge waves in the press. But its food, which focuses on the flavors of Sardinia, caused local critic Michael Bauer to declare that "No other place I know so captures the spirit of the region that inspired it." [Photo Credit]

4. San Francisco: The House

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1230 Grant Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 986-8612
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The House is a no-reservations restaurant that's been doing Asian-American fusion since 1993, but itt gets overshadowed by newer, buzzier places like Mission Chinese. It's a neighborhood restaurant that hasn't changed much; the last major review it got was nearly eight years ago. The wasabi noodles and flatiron steak are still there, and so are the crowds. [Photo Credit]

5. Los Angeles: Musha

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424 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401
(310) 576-6330
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The original Torrance location and Santa Monica offshoot are always packed, explains Eater LA's Kat Odell, but the place doesn't attract or seek out press. Pork belly, tabletop charcoal grilled meats, fried chicken, noodles, gyoza, sashimi, and a ton more items to accompany excessive sake consumption make up the menu at this izakaya spot. [Photo Credit]

6. Los Angeles: Pizzeria il Fico

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310 S. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048
(310) 271-3426
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Pizzeria Il Fico in Beverly Hills is a restaurant that seems to have completely evaded national attention. When Los Angeles Times critic S. Irene Virbila gave the restaurant a very positive review in 2011 (she said it was "an Italian restaurant that breaks new ground"), the title of her piece may have given away the reason why: "Quiet Spot." But LA resident, international eater, and Tomostyle blogger Tomoko Kurokawa couldn't be more enthusiastic about the place's worth: "It's a little spot that specializes in Puglian cuisine. I had to find out about it from Italian friend. The lasagna is unique here — Lasagna con Bocconcini della Nonna is actually an oven shaped ramekin filled with pasta, cheese, bolognese and mini meatballs, fired up in their wood oven." [Photo Credit]

7. San Diego: A.R. Valentien

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11480 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92137
(858) 777-6635
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A.R. Valentien at The Lodge at Torrey Pines is where chef Jeff Jackson quietly kills it, but according to Eater San Diego's Candice Woo, he doesn't really do any PR. The luxe setting overlooking a golf course doesn't exactly scream relevance, but it's a great choice for California cuisine, and an especially important restaurant when taking into account that Jackson has trained several noted local chefs. [Photo Credit]

8. Las Vegas: Kabuto

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40 Spring Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 676-1044
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The off-strip Kabuto is a place that gets overshadowed by big-budget casino restaurants and celebrity chef ventures. It's an 18-seat sushi restaurant that "can stand toe-to-toe with the sushi at BarMasa," says Eater Vegas editor Susan Stapleton, yet it doesn't get the attention it deserves. Andrew Knowlton made it a finalist on his Bon Appétit best new restaurants list in 2012, but the momentum unfortunately stalled after that. It's $40 for the nigiri tasting, $80 for the omakase. [Photo Credit]

9. Denver: Spuntino

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2639 W. 32nd Ave
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 433-0949
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Last spring, chef John Broening and wife and pastry chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom took over Spuntino, in the space that for years was Red Trolley, an ice cream shop. They didn't change the space much, explains Eater Denver's Andra Zeppelin, and went about the transformation quietly, focusing on providing fiercely seasonal and creative Italian food more than anything else. It remains a sleeper, but Zeppelin argues that the food is excellent and that Beard nominee Lozada-Hissom's desserts are the best in the city. Diners and press may not have caught on, but on any given day, the dining room is full of local chefs who know what's going on in the kitchen. [Photo Credit]

10. Dallas/Fort Worth: Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana

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3405 W. 7th St.
Fort Worth, TX 76107
(817) 850-9996
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Lanny's is an excellent high-end Mexican restaurant that shows strong Mediterranean and European influences, but being located in Fort Worth contributes to its sleeper status. The place has earned rave reviews from the local press, including being named one of the top five places to eat in the entire state by Texas Monthly, but it's still not on the radar for most residents and visitors. It'll soon be added to Eater Dallas' 38 essential restaurants list, but it deserves plenty more boosts. [Photo Credit]

11. Austin: Amaya's Taco Village

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5804 N. I-35
Austin, TX 78751
(512) 458-2531
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"Everyone in Austin has their favorite neighborhood Tex-Mex place, a genre that is underrated as a whole and doesn't get as much press as it deserves. Amaya's, a personal favorite, is a great example of a restaurant that proves Tex-Mex functions as a stand alone cuisine, not just an Americanized dilution of Mexican food. Expect hour plus waits more commonly associated with trendy hipster brunch spots, and try the Village tacos." — Eater Deputy Editor and Austin resident Paula Forbes [Photo Credit]

12. Houston: Hugo's

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1600 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006
(713) 524-7744
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Hugo's is the case of a restaurant that doesn't get the love it deserves because it's established and doesn't make much noise. Eater Houston's Eric Sandler argues that "it's an interior Mexican restaurant that people tell me should be talked about in the exact same breath as Rick Bayless's restaurants. Hugo Ortega is a Mexican immigrant who started as a dishwasher and now owns three places. Hugo's also has the best brunch in the city." [Photo Credit]

13. New Orleans: Rue 127

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127 North Carrollton Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70119
(504) 483-1571
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Chef Ray Gruezke's New American food at restaurant Rue 127 deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as places like Stella! and Cochon. But because Gruezke doesn't have a big public image like other NOLA chefs — say Donald Link or John Besh — he has to rely on its unanimous local acclaim. [Photo Credit]

14. Minneapolis: Piccolo

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4300 Bryant Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55409
(612) 827-8111
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Says Eater Minneapolis editor Claire Stanford about Piccolo: "Precise food; totally chef-driven; incredible Midwest price point. Would knock it out of the park, in my opinion, no matter where they were located, SF, NY, wherever. I never hear about them nationally, which boggles my mind." [Photo Credit]

15. Chicago: Nightwood Restaurant

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2119 S Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 526-3385
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Cochon 555 winner Jason Vincent does bold, successful things at Nightwood on South Halsted. The sleek, dark, beautifully designed interior attracts the hipster crowd, but it doesn't get the national attenton that the somewhat similar Bristol gets. [Photo Credit]

16. Chicago: NEAR Restaurant

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108 Barrington Commons Ct.
Barrington, IL 60010
(847) 382-1919
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In a recent conversation, Tavernita chef Ryan Poli pointed to Near as one of the most underrated restaurants in the Chicago area. "It doesn't even get local press," said Poli. That's probably because it's out in the suburbs, but fans say it's worth it to go and try former Schwa sous chef Gaetano Nardulli rustic Italian food, which reflects the chops he honed in Italy and at famed local spot Spiaggia. [Photo Credit]

17. Louisville: Mayan Café

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813 E Market St
Louisville, KY 40206
(502) 566-0651
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Per Eater Louisville editor Zach Everson: "Bruce Ucán's "indigenously-inspired farm-to-table restaurant" anchors Louisville's emerging NuLu neighborhood (also called East Market Street District) in a way similar to how DC's Penn Quarter grew up around Jose Andres' Jaleo. A dinner there when visiting Louisville for Derby is what convinced this lifelong East Coast resident how livable Louisville was. Newer openings on the street like Rye on Market, Decca, and Harvest, get the press, but Mayan Cafe is easily the most interesting spot in the area." [Photo Credit]

18. Atlanta: Bacchanalia

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1198 Howell Mill Rd. NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
(404) 365-0410
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Bacchanalia has maintained a reputation for being one of the best restaurants in Atlanta for over fifteen years. It gets overshadowed nationally by the restaurants of Hugh Acheson, Ford Fry, and Linton Hopkins, but that might change now that chef/owner Anne Quatrano is getting ready to release a cookbook. [Photo Credit]

19. Miami: NAOE

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661 Brickell Key Drive
Miami, FL 33131
(305) 947-6263
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Not too long ago, Naoe moved to the more centrally located Miami neighborhood of Brickell — smack between Miami Beach and Miami proper and filled with high-end office buildings, condos, and hotels. That should get it a bit more attention than it used to when it was located way north in Sunny Isles. But it's still a sleeper of a restaurant, a place that does very limited PR. Chef Kevin Cory's focus instead is on dishing out exceptional omakase to just a few diners a night. It's a raw fish experience that ranks right up there with some of the best in cities like New York and Los Angeles. [Photo Credit]

20. Charleston: Wild Olive

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2867 Maybank Highway
Johns Island, SC 29455
(843) 737-4177
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This Italian restaurant on John's Island enjoyed a fair bit of acclaim when chef Jacques Larson took over the kitchen three years ago, but the improvements he's made haven't made the splash most critics seem to think they deserve. That could be because of the drive there, which may deter those who've got places like FIG and Husk a few blocks away. But Eater Charleston's Katie Abbondanza feels it's well worth it. [Photo Credit]

21. Washington, DC: Estadio

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1520 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 319-1404
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A Spanish restaurant with an extensive menu from Haidar Karoum, who made a name for himself at Proof. It gets good local press and remains popular, but the restaurant tends to get overshadowed nationally by places like José Andrés' Jaleo or Zaytinya. [Photo Credit]

22. Philadelphia: Fond

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1537 South 11th Street
Philadelphia, Pa 19148
You hear about Marc Vetri's places, you probably hear about Zahav and about Sbraga, but you should give what Lee Styer has been doing at Fond for the past three years a look. It's "sophisticated French-influenced seasonal cooking" and is less expensive than most places in its category. Just last year, local critic Craig LaBan upgraded the restaurant from two to three bells, ranking it among some of the city's best. [Photo Credit]

23. New York City: Hearth

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403 E 12th St.
New York, NY 10009
(646) 602-1300
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The poster boy for underrated restaurants in New York, chef Marco Canora's Hearth in the East Village is one of the best Italian spots in the city and the country. It predates a lot of the buzzier, newer Italian restaurants that have taken over the city in the past few years — like those of Michael White — but it's just as worthy. [Photo Credit]

24. New York: Tocqueville Restaurant

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1 E 15th St.
New York, NY 10003
(212) 647-1515
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Since 1999, chef Marco Moreira and his wife and partner Jo-Ann Makovitzky have been doing great, reliable New American near Union Square. They don't make much noise and rely on regulars and the quality of their food. It's the place you go for sunchoke soup, roasted poussin, and, most of all, a mind-blowing uni carbonara that might be one of the best dishes in the city. [Photo Credit]

25. Boston: Rendezvous Central Square

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502 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 576-1900
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On its face, this is a neighborhood restaurant. It's got a local following and very positive reviews across the board, but it never really makes headlines. According to Eater Boston editor Aaron Kagan, it transcends mere neighborhood restaurant status because of the quality of Steve Johnson's Mediterranean-influenced food, the renowned cocktails, the value, and the vibe. Says Kagan, "It's not showy, and there's no angle. It's not farm-to-table, dedicated to any particular type of cuisine or anything like that. It's just damned good." [Photo Credit]

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1. Seattle: Dinette

1514 E Olive Way, Seattle, WA 98122
When Eater Seattle asked readers to nominate the most underrated restaurants in that city, the number of votes for Dinette was impressive and decisive. The Capitol Hill restaurant has earned a local following for its tartines. But chef Melissa Nyffeler isn't a celebrity, and her generally unassuming enterprise isn't well known across the country — or even Seattle. [Photo Credit]
1514 E Olive Way
Seattle, WA 98122

2. PDX: St. Jack

2039 SE Clinton St, Portland, OR 97202
Chef Aaron Barnett's St. Jack has earned near-universal acclaim locally, but not the same amount of national attention as places like Le Pigeon. It's kind of a mystery, but it could be that Barnett remains a quiet chef without showing aspirations of becoming a celebrity. [Photo Credit]
2039 SE Clinton St
Portland, OR 97202

3. San Francisco: La Ciccia

291 30th St, San Francisco, CA 94131
La Ciccia is a small family-owned restaurant in Noe Valley. And because it doesn't try to stay on top of trends, it doesn't make huge waves in the press. But its food, which focuses on the flavors of Sardinia, caused local critic Michael Bauer to declare that "No other place I know so captures the spirit of the region that inspired it." [Photo Credit]
291 30th St
San Francisco, CA 94131

4. San Francisco: The House

1230 Grant Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
The House is a no-reservations restaurant that's been doing Asian-American fusion since 1993, but itt gets overshadowed by newer, buzzier places like Mission Chinese. It's a neighborhood restaurant that hasn't changed much; the last major review it got was nearly eight years ago. The wasabi noodles and flatiron steak are still there, and so are the crowds. [Photo Credit]
1230 Grant Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94133

5. Los Angeles: Musha

424 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90401
The original Torrance location and Santa Monica offshoot are always packed, explains Eater LA's Kat Odell, but the place doesn't attract or seek out press. Pork belly, tabletop charcoal grilled meats, fried chicken, noodles, gyoza, sashimi, and a ton more items to accompany excessive sake consumption make up the menu at this izakaya spot. [Photo Credit]
424 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401

6. Los Angeles: Pizzeria il Fico

310 S. Robertson Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048
Pizzeria Il Fico in Beverly Hills is a restaurant that seems to have completely evaded national attention. When Los Angeles Times critic S. Irene Virbila gave the restaurant a very positive review in 2011 (she said it was "an Italian restaurant that breaks new ground"), the title of her piece may have given away the reason why: "Quiet Spot." But LA resident, international eater, and Tomostyle blogger Tomoko Kurokawa couldn't be more enthusiastic about the place's worth: "It's a little spot that specializes in Puglian cuisine. I had to find out about it from Italian friend. The lasagna is unique here — Lasagna con Bocconcini della Nonna is actually an oven shaped ramekin filled with pasta, cheese, bolognese and mini meatballs, fired up in their wood oven." [Photo Credit]
310 S. Robertson Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90048

7. San Diego: A.R. Valentien

11480 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92137
A.R. Valentien at The Lodge at Torrey Pines is where chef Jeff Jackson quietly kills it, but according to Eater San Diego's Candice Woo, he doesn't really do any PR. The luxe setting overlooking a golf course doesn't exactly scream relevance, but it's a great choice for California cuisine, and an especially important restaurant when taking into account that Jackson has trained several noted local chefs. [Photo Credit]
11480 North Torrey Pines Road
La Jolla, CA 92137

8. Las Vegas: Kabuto

40 Spring Mountain Road, Las Vegas, NV 89109
The off-strip Kabuto is a place that gets overshadowed by big-budget casino restaurants and celebrity chef ventures. It's an 18-seat sushi restaurant that "can stand toe-to-toe with the sushi at BarMasa," says Eater Vegas editor Susan Stapleton, yet it doesn't get the attention it deserves. Andrew Knowlton made it a finalist on his Bon Appétit best new restaurants list in 2012, but the momentum unfortunately stalled after that. It's $40 for the nigiri tasting, $80 for the omakase. [Photo Credit]
40 Spring Mountain Road
Las Vegas, NV 89109

9. Denver: Spuntino

2639 W. 32nd Ave, Denver, CO 80211
Last spring, chef John Broening and wife and pastry chef Yasmin Lozada-Hissom took over Spuntino, in the space that for years was Red Trolley, an ice cream shop. They didn't change the space much, explains Eater Denver's Andra Zeppelin, and went about the transformation quietly, focusing on providing fiercely seasonal and creative Italian food more than anything else. It remains a sleeper, but Zeppelin argues that the food is excellent and that Beard nominee Lozada-Hissom's desserts are the best in the city. Diners and press may not have caught on, but on any given day, the dining room is full of local chefs who know what's going on in the kitchen. [Photo Credit]
2639 W. 32nd Ave
Denver, CO 80211

10. Dallas/Fort Worth: Lanny's Alta Cocina Mexicana

3405 W. 7th St., Fort Worth, TX 76107
Lanny's is an excellent high-end Mexican restaurant that shows strong Mediterranean and European influences, but being located in Fort Worth contributes to its sleeper status. The place has earned rave reviews from the local press, including being named one of the top five places to eat in the entire state by Texas Monthly, but it's still not on the radar for most residents and visitors. It'll soon be added to Eater Dallas' 38 essential restaurants list, but it deserves plenty more boosts. [Photo Credit]
3405 W. 7th St.
Fort Worth, TX 76107

11. Austin: Amaya's Taco Village

5804 N. I-35, Austin, TX 78751
"Everyone in Austin has their favorite neighborhood Tex-Mex place, a genre that is underrated as a whole and doesn't get as much press as it deserves. Amaya's, a personal favorite, is a great example of a restaurant that proves Tex-Mex functions as a stand alone cuisine, not just an Americanized dilution of Mexican food. Expect hour plus waits more commonly associated with trendy hipster brunch spots, and try the Village tacos." — Eater Deputy Editor and Austin resident Paula Forbes [Photo Credit]
5804 N. I-35
Austin, TX 78751

12. Houston: Hugo's

1600 Westheimer Rd, Houston, TX 77006
Hugo's is the case of a restaurant that doesn't get the love it deserves because it's established and doesn't make much noise. Eater Houston's Eric Sandler argues that "it's an interior Mexican restaurant that people tell me should be talked about in the exact same breath as Rick Bayless's restaurants. Hugo Ortega is a Mexican immigrant who started as a dishwasher and now owns three places. Hugo's also has the best brunch in the city." [Photo Credit]
1600 Westheimer Rd
Houston, TX 77006

13. New Orleans: Rue 127

127 North Carrollton Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70119
Chef Ray Gruezke's New American food at restaurant Rue 127 deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as places like Stella! and Cochon. But because Gruezke doesn't have a big public image like other NOLA chefs — say Donald Link or John Besh — he has to rely on its unanimous local acclaim. [Photo Credit]
127 North Carrollton Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70119

14. Minneapolis: Piccolo

4300 Bryant Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55409
Says Eater Minneapolis editor Claire Stanford about Piccolo: "Precise food; totally chef-driven; incredible Midwest price point. Would knock it out of the park, in my opinion, no matter where they were located, SF, NY, wherever. I never hear about them nationally, which boggles my mind." [Photo Credit]
4300 Bryant Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55409

15. Chicago: Nightwood Restaurant

2119 S Halsted St., Chicago, IL 60608
Cochon 555 winner Jason Vincent does bold, successful things at Nightwood on South Halsted. The sleek, dark, beautifully designed interior attracts the hipster crowd, but it doesn't get the national attenton that the somewhat similar Bristol gets. [Photo Credit]
2119 S Halsted St.
Chicago, IL 60608

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16. Chicago: NEAR Restaurant

108 Barrington Commons Ct., Barrington, IL 60010
In a recent conversation, Tavernita chef Ryan Poli pointed to Near as one of the most underrated restaurants in the Chicago area. "It doesn't even get local press," said Poli. That's probably because it's out in the suburbs, but fans say it's worth it to go and try former Schwa sous chef Gaetano Nardulli rustic Italian food, which reflects the chops he honed in Italy and at famed local spot Spiaggia. [Photo Credit]
108 Barrington Commons Ct.
Barrington, IL 60010

17. Louisville: Mayan Café

813 E Market St, Louisville, KY 40206
Per Eater Louisville editor Zach Everson: "Bruce Ucán's "indigenously-inspired farm-to-table restaurant" anchors Louisville's emerging NuLu neighborhood (also called East Market Street District) in a way similar to how DC's Penn Quarter grew up around Jose Andres' Jaleo. A dinner there when visiting Louisville for Derby is what convinced this lifelong East Coast resident how livable Louisville was. Newer openings on the street like Rye on Market, Decca, and Harvest, get the press, but Mayan Cafe is easily the most interesting spot in the area." [Photo Credit]
813 E Market St
Louisville, KY 40206

18. Atlanta: Bacchanalia

1198 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Atlanta, GA 30318
Bacchanalia has maintained a reputation for being one of the best restaurants in Atlanta for over fifteen years. It gets overshadowed nationally by the restaurants of Hugh Acheson, Ford Fry, and Linton Hopkins, but that might change now that chef/owner Anne Quatrano is getting ready to release a cookbook. [Photo Credit]
1198 Howell Mill Rd. NW
Atlanta, GA 30318

19. Miami: NAOE

661 Brickell Key Drive, Miami, FL 33131
Not too long ago, Naoe moved to the more centrally located Miami neighborhood of Brickell — smack between Miami Beach and Miami proper and filled with high-end office buildings, condos, and hotels. That should get it a bit more attention than it used to when it was located way north in Sunny Isles. But it's still a sleeper of a restaurant, a place that does very limited PR. Chef Kevin Cory's focus instead is on dishing out exceptional omakase to just a few diners a night. It's a raw fish experience that ranks right up there with some of the best in cities like New York and Los Angeles. [Photo Credit]
661 Brickell Key Drive
Miami, FL 33131

20. Charleston: Wild Olive

2867 Maybank Highway, Johns Island, SC 29455
This Italian restaurant on John's Island enjoyed a fair bit of acclaim when chef Jacques Larson took over the kitchen three years ago, but the improvements he's made haven't made the splash most critics seem to think they deserve. That could be because of the drive there, which may deter those who've got places like FIG and Husk a few blocks away. But Eater Charleston's Katie Abbondanza feels it's well worth it. [Photo Credit]
2867 Maybank Highway
Johns Island, SC 29455

21. Washington, DC: Estadio

1520 14th St NW, Washington, DC 20005