This year, for the first time, I felt the effects of age. An ache in the elbow that didn’t want to go away. A cold that lasted more than a week. A month of being out of shape that turned into six when I didn’t have the energy to just get out and run 10 miles after work. I even fasted on bone broth for several days to see if it would clear up an allergic reaction on my face.
Any time we don’t feel great we crave the things that make us feel good. For me, food is high on that list. Let’s not call it emotional eating. It’s more like using food as a replacement for other forms of medication, and the top restaurants use the best ingredients and little chef tricks to make the finest remedies you can buy. The Korean and Southern fried chicken dinner at Momofuku Noodle Bar in New York City will temporarily alleviate all pain. The crispy potatoes in pork fat with garlic and rosemary at Tosca Cafe in San Francisco send waves of warmth down your brain stem. The fried hogfish sandwich at the Hogfish Bar and Grill in Stock Island, Florida, is tranquility on a plate. When restaurant food is good, it’s exquisite.
And so the Gear Patrol crew is excited about all of the new restaurants that opened in 2015. From a New York steakhouse that serves incredible hummus, to an Airstream trailer in Birmingham with burgers and lemongrass fried chicken, to a Colonial-inspired Boston restaurant serving whole bluefish, there are many places to sit down, eat and be happy with friends or family (or by yourself at the bar). These are our picks for the 25 best new restaurants in America. — Jeremy Berger
The Best New Restaurants in America
ABEJAS – Golden, CO
BIT HOUSE SALOON – Portland, OR
CARBONE – Las Vegas, NV
CASSIA – Los Angeles, CA
DALIE’S SMOKEHOUSE – Valley Park, MO
HOTBOX – Birmingham, AL
HURON ROOM – Detroit, MI
JOCKEY HOLLOW BAR & KITCHEN – Morristown, NJ
KINDRED – Davidson, NC
L’ANTAGONISTE – Brooklyn, NY
LAUNDERETTE – Austin, TX
LIHOLIHO YACHT CLUB – San Francisco, CA
LOYAL NINE – Cambridge, MA
MAKETTO – Washington, DC
MILKTOOTH – Indianapolis, IN
NEUF – Philadelphia, PA
OLAMAIE – Austin, TX
PARACHUTE – Chicago, IL
QUALITY EATS – New York, NY
SHAYA – New Orleans, LA
SPERO – Charleston, SC
SPOON AND STABLE – Minneapolis, MN
THE GREY – Savannah, GA
THE HONEY PAW – Portland, ME
THE MARKET HOUSE – Omaha, NE
Criteria for Inclusion: Choosing the “best” of anything that requires a subjective assessment of quality will always lead to debate. We chose restaurants that opened their doors in 2015 (with one exception) and offer a combination of critical appeal, chefs and owners with strong track records, ambiance that encourages diners to have a good time and, most of all, food that we like to eat.
We miss something? Have a suggestion for a restaurant we should visit or a dish we need to try? Send us a note at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where, Why and What to Order
Golden, CO | Local, Seasonal American
Best For: Dinner with your family while on vacation in Colorado.
In Brief: Owners Brandon Bortles and Barry Dobesh (and chef Nick Ames), with experience in Chicago and New York, serve elegant dishes using local produce and meat in a space that was once a Piggly Wiggly wholesale grocery store.
What to Order: Pig trotter and green bean terrine; bone-out lamb shank; butcher’s choice pork with creamy polenta, braised red cabbage, sweet and sour dates.
Bit House Saloon
Portland, OR | Bar Food on Steroids
Best For: Draught beer and wings with your buddies.
In Brief: Housed in an historic Portland building, Bit House specializes in single-barrel bourbons, serious craft beer on 12 taps, shot-and-beer deals and a menu of food that would kill you if you ate it every day — but is perfect for a cheat day.
What to Order: The elk and beef burger; fish board with aquavit-cured salmon, pickled shrimp and smoked trout; pecan-smoked chicken wings; slow-cooked pork cheeks.
Las Vegas, NV | Italian-American
Best For: The ultimate bachelor party dinner.
In Brief: Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi, who have gained a following in New York for their remastered versions of Italian-American cuisine (Torrisi Italian Specialities, Parm, Carbone), open a location in the Aria hotel.
What to Order: Baked clams, caesar alla zz, veal marsala.
Los Angeles, CA | French-Vietnamese
Best For: A foodie date with an old friend.
In Brief: Chef Bryant Ng of the well-regarded (and now-closed) Spice Table is back with a Southeast Asian spot with a great bar, a terrace and critically embraced food.
What to Order: Seafood platter; fried cauliflower with fish sauce; Chino Valley egg custard with sea urchin roe and braised mushrooms; green papaya salad with watercress, purslane and spiced walnuts; Vietnamese pot au feu.
Valley Park, MO | Barbecue
Best For: Taking a rack of ribs to the dome.
In Brief: Dalie’s is part of a long line of STL barbecue lineage that began in 2008 with Pappy’s Smokehouse and now includes a spot in Nuremberg, Germany.
What to Order: Full slab of ribs with baked beans and creamy mustard slaw.
Birmingham, AL | Asian
Best For: Late-night weekend eats.
In Brief: Though it actually opened in 2014, we’re excited about this Airstream trailer that splits the difference between a food truck and a restaurant, serving highly-craveable dishes from paper trays.
What to Order: Shrimp potstickers, lemongrass fried chicken, grilled calamari salad, the burger.
Detroit, MI | Local Seafood
Best For: Planning a camping trip with friends in the Upper Peninsula.
In Brief: A Great Lakes-themed restaurant is the real deal, serving local fish, beer, wine and spirits.
What to Order: Fried walleye; Michigan meat and cheese platter; gefilte fish stick; Brussels sprout salad; root beer float.
Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen
Morristown, NJ | American Fine Dining
Best For: Splashing out on a big dinner with family and in-laws.
In Brief: Long-time New York restauranteur Chris Cannon opened four restaurants inside the The Vail Mansion, which was built in 1917. In addition to excellent food, the building also houses a collection of contemporary art.
What to Order: The Chef’s Menu in the dining room, oysters at the bar, fried chicken in the Rathskeller.
Davidson, NC | New Southern
Best For: A third and very promising date.
In Brief: A husband and wife team are the chef and sommelier in a bright restaurant full of brick, marble and leather, where they serve a seasonal menu with everything from house-made pastas to flounder crudo.
What to Order: Crispy oysters with dill yogurt and Calabrian chili oil; bucatini with calico bay scallop, shishito, miso and black truffle; pork arista with shelling bean cassoulet, scuppernong mostarda.
Brooklyn, NY | Classic French
Best For: An anniversary dinner, or a quiet and indulgent meal by yourself at the small bar.
In Brief: Burgundy-born chef Frederic Robert serves serious French in a neighborhood where you might expect to find steak frites, but not soufflé fromage.
What to Order: Soufflé fromage; canard a l’orange; gateau opera.
Austin, TX | World Cuisine
Best For: Weekday dinner out.
In Brief: Chefs with Mexican and Thai pedigrees team up on a Mediterranean (and then some) restaurant in a former washateria.
What to Order: Stravecchio toast with arugula caesar, avocado, smoked butternut squash and white anchovy; Aleppo prawns with cucumber, serrano yogurt and mint; sticky Brussels sprouts with apple-bacon marmalade, pecorino, almond and pickled apple; crispy pork ribs agridulce with preserved Brussels sprouts.
Liholiho Yacht Club
San Francisco, CA | Hawaiian
Best For: Ordering everything on the menu with a group of friends.
In Brief: Hawaii native Ravi Kapur makes insanely flavorful dishes (including homemade spam) in a casual setting with an open kitchen and a spacious bar.
What to Order: Tuna poke with sesame oil, radish, nori cracker; h.m.b. mackerel with pak choi, soy ginger brown butter; lamb ribs with black vinegar, almonds, dates and watermelon radish; grilled short rib with escargot, bone marrow, mushrooms, leeks and fresh horseradish; baked Hawaii with caramelized pineapple ice cream, vanilla chiffon.
Cambridge, MA | New England
Best For: Learning about Colonial New England through your food.
In Brief: Chef Marc Sheehan explores Northeastern foodways beyond chowder and baked beans.
What to Order: Maine sea urchin with piccalilli and cranberry beans; grilled ribs with chestnut, molasses and preserved peppers; whole fried whiting with braised tender sweet cabbage; one of the nightly roasts.
Washington, DC | Southeast Asian
Best For: Picking up a new pair of shoes, a copy of Kinfolk and a Cambodian sandwich.
In Brief: Maketto is what a mall should be: a 6,000-square-foot marketplace that sells clothing (think Norse Projects, not Hot Topic), books, grooming products and really good food.
What to Order: Khmer tamarind salad; leek steamed bun; wok fried vegetables; American wagyu bao platter.
Indianapolis, IN | Inventive Diner
Best For: The best breakfast you’ve ever had.
In Brief: A husband and wife team opens a breakfast and lunch spot in a former auto repair shop — and it’s not your average brunch.
What to Order: Local apple Dutch baby pancake with vanilla-rum parsnip puree and brown butter hazelnut dukkah; Korean barbecue fried chicken wings with sesame, scallions and lime; pan roasted john dory and Hawaiian breakfast fried rice.
Philadelphia, PA | North African
Best For: Tagines with friends.
In Brief: Joncarl Lachman, chef of the well-regarded Scandinavian restaurant Noord Eetcafe, turns his attention to French-influenced North African cuisine.
What to Order: Fennel three ways (roasted, confit and vinaigrette); stuffed quail on harira with dates, onion, roasted vegetable broth and caraway; slow roasted whole chicken tagine; braised goat leg with sweet potatoes, dried apricots, roasted vegetables, crushed mixed nuts and spiced tomato broth.
Austin, TX | New Southern
Best For: Southern food in Texas.
In Brief: Chefs Michael Fojtasek and Grae Nonas cook inventive Southern cuisine with local ingredients in a cottage turned into a fine dining room.
What to Order: Bay-scented carrots and their butter with black trumpet mushrooms, soft egg yolk and fried bread; Carolina Gold rice and cauliflower hushpuppies with buttermilk ranch, chives and hackleback caviar; day-boat North Carolina grouper with sweet tooth mushroom, chestnut cream, and sweet and sour brassicas.
Chicago, IL | Korean-American
Best For: Date night with somebody who is comfortable over-eating.
In Brief: A 40-seat, family-run restaurant in the Avondale neighborhood with an excellent wine list and inventive, ultra-flavorful food.
What to Order: Baked potato bing bread with bacon, scallion and sour cream butter; cauliflower with tandoori chicken skin and raita; pork secreto with flageolet beans, black trumpet mushrooms, doenjang, gremolata.
New York, NY | Steakhouse
Best For: A business dinner at a better steakhouse.
In Brief: A West Village outpost from the guy behind Quality Meats, you could eat everything at Quality Eats but the steak and still have a great meal.
What to Order: House caesar with cured lemons and peppadew peppers; roasted beet tabbouleh with kabocha squash hummus; hamachi crudo; hangar steak; baked potato monkey bread; birthday cake dessert with chocolate malt ice cream, confetti cake and vanilla ice cream.
New Orleans, LA | Israeli
Best For: Finding hummus in New Orleans.
In Brief: James Beard Award winner for “Best Chef: South” Alon Shaya opens an Israeli restaurant in concert with New Orleans restaurateur and celebrity chef, John Besh, and it’s some of the best Israeli food you’ll find — anywhere.
What to Order: Tabouleh made with parsley, bulgar wheat, red onion, toasted almonds and preserved lemon; labneh with Progress Farm yogurt, wax peppers and radishes; Moroccan carrots with chermoula and mint; lamb ragu hummus with crispy chickpeas; shakshuka; avocado toast with smoked whitefish, pink peppercorns and rye bread.
Charleston, SC | American
Best For: Dinner any time you don’t feel like cooking.
In Brief: A humble restaurant where everything on the menu is under $20 — and it’s damn good.
What to Order: Bread and butter flight (beef tallow biscuits, cornbread, sourdough pretzel bread); A.C.E. basin blade oysters with bread and butter pickles and yellow mustard; mole ragu with Geechie Boy Grits gnocchi, pork and ham ragu; fried chicken sandwich; roasted half chicken with red potatoes, paprikash and charred cabbage.
Spoon and Stable
Minneapolis, MN | New American
Best For: A celebratory dinner.
In Brief: Chef Gavin Kaysen, formerly of the Boulud empire in New York, returns home to apply his technique to local flavors, earning a spot in the semifinals for the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant.
What to Order: Roasted carrot salad with toasted rye berries, caramelized mascarpone, chervil and maple vinaigrette; farro cavatelli with goat goulash, parmesan flan and garlic-infused breadcrumbs; bison tartare with harissa aioli, socca chips and cilantro; 50-day dry-aged Peterson beef ribeye for two with broccolini, pommes lyonnaise and black truffle jus.
Savannah, GA | Southern
Best For: Refined Southern food.
In Brief: Already collecting lots of accolades in the food world, the food at The Grey made by chef Mashama Bailey, a New Yorker with Georgia roots and experience cooking at Prune, one of NYC’s best restaurants.
What to Order: Salted flounder on toast with garlic, olive oil and fingerling sweet potato; country pasta with pork belly, parmesan and cracked black pepper; fried veal sweetbreads with ham hock and parsley salad; fish tagine with chickpeas, bell pepper and preserved lemon.
The Honey Paw
Portland, ME | Asian-American
Best For: Slurping hand-made noodles in a town better known for lobster.
In Brief: A new restaurant from the Eventide Oyster Co. (which we included here in 2013) team, The Honey Paw uses regional ingredients in their riffs on delicious Asian food.
What to Order: Fry bread with uni butter; fried wings with coconut, lemongrass, tamarind and Thai bird chili; Vietnamese pork meatball soup with glass noodle, smoked pork broth, mortadella, roast pork and Thai bird sambal; fish head curry made with local cod, sweet potato, pickled okra, cashew, fresh turmeric, tomatillo sambal and jasmine rice.
The Market House
Omaha, NE | Modern American
Best For: Dinner while exploring the Old Market district.
In Brief: The best new spot for dinner in Omaha is named for an open air market established in the 19th century — and the food is likewise influenced by local produce.
What to Order: Deviled farm eggs with salmon roe, house bacon and fleur de sel; Sunday gravy spread with smoked pork sugo and house-whipped ricotta on grilled bread; twice-cooked potatoes with pecorino, rosemary and malt vinegar aioli; Nebraska trout with tomato, arugula and kalamata olives.
Producer: Jeremy Berger
Design: Henry Phillips
We miss something? Have a suggestion for a restaurant we should visit or a dish we need to try? Send us a note at: email@example.com.