David Chang, New York City
After moving his beloved Momofuku Noodle Bar a few doors down First Avenue, David Chang is now turning the original space into Momofuku Ko. The chef wants to redefine the traditional restaurant by having cooks take orders and serve food to customers sitting at the long counter. On the menu: everything from chicken pot pie to scallops with nori puree.
José Andrés, Washington, DC, and Los Angeles
This fall in DC, avant-garde Spanish chef Jose Andrés will expand his Café Atlantico mini bar from six to 30-plus seats. He’ll also open dining spots throughout the luxurious new Philippe Starck-designed SLS hotel in Beverly Hills: a reinvented American hotel restaurant, a tapas bar, a health-food café and a pâtisserie.
Eric Ripert, Philadelphia
He’s famous for elegant seafood at Manhattan’s Le Bernardin, but Eric Ripert will be preparing casual American dishes like fish burgers at his yet-to-be-named restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton, opening in May.
Elizabeth Falkner, San Francisco
At Orson, San Francisco’s reigning pastry queen will focus on small savory dishes like tempura eggs, as well as cocktails and, of course, desserts, including a chocolate version of a cheese cart and "invisible" desserts, like a clear watermelon consommé.
Jose Garces, Chicago
The chef at Philadelphia’s Spanish hot spot Amada heads to his hometown, Chicago, to open the new Mercat a la Planxa in the Blackstone Hotel early this year. He’ll feature classic tapas as well as grilled meats, like filet mignon with guindilla chile aioli.
Slow Food, American Style
Founded in Italy, the Slow Food movement—which champions traditional, artisanal methods—is coming to San Francisco. The group’s first U.S. expo, in August, will feature taste workshops and a market (slowfoodnation.org).
Costa Rica Goes Luxe
Eco-oriented Costa Rica has several new, luxurious places to stay along the Guanacaste Coast: JW Marriott, Hyatt Regency and Regent Resorts’s La Punta Papagayo (with a restaurant by San Francisco chef Michael Mina).
Civilized Amazon Cruise
The most elegant way to explore the rain forest: a cruise on the 12-suite M/V Aqua, which sets sail in January from Iquitos, Peru. In the onboard restaurant, star chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino of Lima’s Malabar will serve local dishes like bass ceviche with plantains (aquaexpeditions.com).
Alain Ducasse Two Ways
At the superchef’s upcoming modern French spot in Manhattan, Adour, the bar will have an interactive surface with wine notes. And in Paris, he’s taken over the city’s iconic Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower, where he’ll offer a creative menu (French, of course).
Belgian Bistro Boom
Consider it the evolution of bistro food, with great beer, too: Authentic Belgian restaurants are opening all over. NYC’s Resto serves bitterballen (fried meatballs); Brasserie Beck in Washington, DC, specializes in frites with mussels; and La Trappe in San Francisco has 16 Belgian beers on tap.
Napa’s Best Market
The city of Napa continues to morph into one of Napa Valley’s prime food hubs. The latest reason: the 40,000-square-foot Oxbow Public Market, with everything from heirloom apples to wines made on-site at Folio Enoteca & Winery (oxbowpublicmarket.com).