Where To Go Next: New York City; Wine Country; Boston; Aspen
Best New Restaurants
Artisanal Cheese is everywhere in chef Terrance Brennan's overgrown wine bar-from the Stilton-and-Sauternes fondue to the Cheddar crust on the apple pie (2 Park Ave.; 212-725-8585).
AZ One of the most striking interiors around is the setting for Patricia Yeo's cooking, which runs the Asian gamut from wontons to chutneys (21 W. 17th St.; 212-691-8888).
Beppe Cesare Casella's Tuscan cooking walks the line between authentic and inventive: Try, for example, his daily farro risotto (45 E. 22nd St.; 212-282-8422).
Blue Hill Two chefs, Dan Barber and Alex Urena, put a sophisticated spin on ingredients straight from their upstate farm (75 Washington Pl.; 212-539-1776).
Craft The entirely à la carte menu is meant to let prime ingredients shine, but make no mistake: Tom Colicchio and crew are really cooking (43 E. 19th St.; 212-780-0880).
Esca David Pasternack, the chef at Mario Batali's seafood restaurant, really knows his fish. Ask what's fresh, and be sure to start with crudo, supposedly Italy's answer to sushi (402 W. 43rd St.; 212-564-7272).
Prune There is no room for pretentiousness in Gabrielle Hamilton's snug little kitchen; in her hands, even sweetbreads and suckling pig seem homey (54 E. 1st St.; 212-677-6221).
The Tasting Room A minuscule wine bar with an all-American list and a bright young chef, Colin Alevras, dreaming up food to pair with it. Everything, from the salads to the cheese plate, is intense and focused (72 E. 1st St.; 212-358-7831).
Town Refreshingly grown-up for a boutique-hotel dining room, with admirably assured New American cooking by Geoffrey Zakarian (15 W. 56th St.; 212-582-4445).
Virot A disciple of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Didier Virot strikes out on his own with daring dishes like tuna marinated in horseradish and sheep's milk yogurt (52 E. 41st St.; 646-658-0266).
Wallse Kurt Gutenbrunner updates the cuisine of his native Austria, as in sturgeon with sauerkraut, but his Wiener schnitzel needs no updating at all (344 W. 11th St.; 212-352-2300).
Cuisine Of The Moment
New York finally has the Indian restaurants it deserves:
Banjara The best restaurant on 6th Street's Indian row by miles and miles. Try a dumpakht--Indian potpie (97 First Ave.; 212-477-5956).
Mirchi A cheerful, mod spot that specializes in Indian street snacks (29 Seventh Ave. S.; 212-414-0931).
Tamarind A high-style restaurant--no ethnic kitsch--that shows off Raji Jallepalli's lively take on Indian classics (41-43 E. 22nd St.; 212-674-7400).
Best Late-Night Spot
Le Zinc Now post-midnight prowlers have a place to go if the urge for chicken grandmère, stuffed cabbage and Beaujolais strikes at 3 a.m. (139 Duane St.; 212-513-0001).
Mary's Fish Camp The line forms early for Mary Redding's unadulterated New England seafood, like lobster rolls, fried clams and steamers (246 W. 4th St.; 646-486-2185).
Wine Country: Napa Valley
Best New Restaurants
Gordon's The center of social life in Napa for both tourists and vintners, who settle in for an all-American breakfast or lunch (6770 Washington St., Yountville; 707-944-8246).
La Toque Ken Frank's elegant, if somewhat retro, French meals are laced with wild mushrooms and foie gras and punctuated with a final cheese course (1140 Rutherford Cross Rd., Rutherford; 707-963-9770).
Miramonte Restaurant & Cafe Affordable food from the Americas by Cindy Pawlcyn, the witty chef who brought big-city style to Napa when she opened Mustards two decades ago (1327 Railroad Ave., St. Helena; 707-963-1200).
Roux Simple, modern, wine-friendly cooking from Vincent Nattress, the former chef at Stag's Leap and Sinskey wineries (1234 Main St., St. Helena; 707-963-5330).
Best Wine Bar
Culinary Institute of America at Greystone Chef Todd Humphries serves whimsical little bites (he calls them "temptations") at the new wine bar. Visitors can also drop by the demonstration kitchen for a class and check out the new bakery-café. (2555 Main St., St. Helena; 707-967-2328).
Wine Country: Sonoma Valley
Best New Restaurants
Manzanita Chef Bruce Frieseke, once of Bizou in San Francisco, designed the Mediterranean menu to show off the wood-burning oven (336 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg; 707-433-8111).
Ravenous This beloved local café just moved across the street to a 100-year-old house with an outdoor patio. The Northern California cooking is colorful and delicious (420 Center St., Healdsburg; 707-431-1302).
Dry Creek Kitchen Chef Charlie Palmer of Aureole in New York City plans to open his ode to American country cooking this summer in the much anticipated Hotel Healdsburg, a luxury hotel and spa on the main plaza of Healdsburg (25 Matheson St., Healdsburg; 800-889-7188).
Mariposa A smart, exciting auteur restaurant in the nondescript town of Windsor. Chef Raymond Tang's California-French cooking sets a new wine-country standard for invention and quality (275 Windsor River Rd., Windsor; 707-838-0162).
Santi Italian country cooking that doesn't shy away from tripe, fresh sardines and oxtails. Before 6:30 p.m., the early-bird dinners are a great value (21047 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville; 707-857-1790).
Mucca This outpost of Globe, the popular San Francisco hangout, excels at grilled T-bones of lamb, pork and beef, clever appetizers and pasta (14301 Arnold Dr., Glen Ellen; 707-938-3451).
Carneros Restaurant Chef Brian Whitmer, formerly of Moose's in San Francisco, brings his sophisticated brand of American cooking to the spacious new dining room of the Lodge at Sonoma (1325 Broadway, Sonoma; 707-931-2042).
The Girl & the Fig This longtime favorite in Glen Ellen moved to the Sonoma Hotel in November, but it continues to serve country French cooking that complements a wine list of Rhône varietals from California and France (110 W. Spain St., Sonoma; 707-938-3634).
Best Local Secret
Willow Wood Market Café Ebullient California country cooking served at tables scattered among shelves of groceries (9020 Graton Rd., Graton; 707-823-0233).
Best New Motel
Duchamp This cool collection of white-tiled, corrugated-steel bungalows in downtown Healdsburg, created by designer and owner Pat Lenz, is a witty evocation of the classic California motor court (421 Foss St., Healdsburg; 707-431-1300).
Best New Wine Store
Kirkaldie's Fine Wines The generous selection of wines, most under $15, is focused on Spain and France and was chosen by well-known wine hunter Ken Kirkaldie (1142 Main St., St. Helena; 707-967-1098).
Best New Restaurants
Atasca The Portuguese dishes like grilled bacalao or the "punched-in" potatoes with hot olive oil and slivered garlic are just as tasty at Joe Cerqueira's new Kendall Square location as at his original Atasca a few blocks away (50 Hampshire St., Cambridge; 617-621-6991).
Garden of Eden This mother-and-son-run favorite moved to bigger digs down the block, but still the line for imaginative sandwiches, hearty soups, light meals and classic French pastries stretches out the door (571 Tremont St.; 617-247-8377).
King Fish Hall Todd English's fish palace is fun, frenetic and occasionally fabulous. Don't miss "dancing fish," a daily catch named for the whirligig motion of the revolving multispit rotisserie behind the bar (Faneuil Hall Marketplace; 617-523-8862).
Masa New England ingredients--particularly seafood--get an unexpected New Mexican makeover from Chef Philip Aviles at this Southwestern spot in the South End (439 Tremont St.; 617-338-8884).
Oishii Sushi With a sushi chef from Nobu in New York City, Oishii may be the only place in Boston to enjoy baby hamachi, black tobiko, white tuna and amaebi, or sweet shrimp (612 Hammond St., Chestnut Hill; 617-277-7888).
Oleana Chef Ana Sortun leads a culinary tour of the Mediterranean, from Gibraltar all the way around to North Africa: deviled eggs stuffed with tuna and dill; pork and apple empanadas; grilled scallops with pistachio basmati pilaf (134 Hampshire St., Cambridge; 617-661-0505).
Pigalle Marc Orfaly's ever-changing menu ranges from the simple, like poached cod, to the stylish, like a standout foie gras crème brûlée (75 Charles St. S.; 617-423-4944).
Sel de la Terre Prix-fixe Provence-bouillabaisse of monkfish, cod and littleneck clams; lobster, corn and leek crêpes-from chef Geoff Gardiner, formerly of L'Espalier (255 State St.; 617-720-1300).
Taranta Not the New England version of Southern Italian food, but the real thing. From bottarga-topped pasta to eggplant chocolate lasagna, there's nothing on the menu or wine list from anywhere north of Naples (210 Hanover St.; 617-720-0052).
Vox Populi Downstairs, a white-hot bar scene; upstairs, surprisingly sophisticated, ingredient-driven dishes (and a killer roast chicken) from longtime Hamersley's Bistro sous-chef Michael Burgess (755 Boylston St.; 617-424-8300).
Best New Cocktail Lounge
Flash's With its Harvey Wallbangers, Moscow Mules and Sidecars, Flash's handily corners the retro-cocktail market (310 Stuart St.; 617-574-8888).
Best New Bakery
Flour Bakery & Cafe Onetime Mistral pastry chef Joanne Chang now invites South Enders to sit down to heavenly breads, brownies, sandwiches and pizzas, or to take home a triple-chocolate mousse cake (1595 Washington St.; 617-267-4300).
Best New Wine Shop
The Wine Bottega The 500 wines from Italy and elsewhere and the sommelier-caliber staff show the hand of owner Paolo Diecidue, who built the powerhouse wine list at Trattoria à Scalinatella down the street (341 Hanover St.; 617-227-6607).
Best New Cheese Store
South End Formaggio More intimate than its Cambridge cousin, Formaggio Kitchen, but with just as many imported European cheeses-not to mention wonderful oils, jams and condiments (268 Shawmut Ave.; 617-350-6996).
Best New Restaurants
Mogador Barclay Dodge, who earned a local following at Renaissance, later toured Morocco and apprenticed at Spain's El Bulli. Hence the globe-trotting menu, ranging from chicken tagine to blanquette of rabbit with clouds of foie gras (430 Hyman Ave.; 970-429-1072).
Montagna The Little Nell hotel's dining room has a new name, a more casual look and a new chef, Paul Wade. Mountain cuisine is the specialty, from the Swiss Alps to the Andes to the Rockies. The bar is wonderfully civilized, too (675 E. Durant Ave.; 888-843-6355).
Rustique 1995 F&W Best New Chef Charles Dale, of the haute-French Renaissance, now also runs this classic bistro. The prices are gentle, at least by Aspen standards (216 S. Monarch; 970-920-2555).
Valbruna An Italian wine bar tucked inside a shop selling chic designer athletic wear. Rock climbers and Lycra-clad cyclists mingle with tourists over espresso, Moretti beer, Amarone and Aspen's best panini (405 E. Cooper St.; 970-925-9441).
Willow Creek at the Ritz-Carlton Chef Rick Gonzalez is new to Aspen, as are Latin appetizers like pupusas, empanadas and papas rellenas (deep-fried stuffed potato balls) and entrées like suckling pig and chicken churrasco sandwiches (76 Prospector Rd.; 970-925-0000).
Best Old Favorites With New Chefs
Ajax Tavern Dena Marino cooks in the Italian style of her mentor, Michael Chiarello, but with her own twists and Colorado ingredients. The outdoor deck is the spot to catch jaw-dropping sunsets over Aspen Mountain (685 E. Durant Ave.; 970-920-9333).
Cache Cache Chris Lanter brings a classical French background to this modern bistro. An appealing menu with an emphasis on Provençal dishes includes classic choices: terrines, Marseille seafood stew, choucroute (205 S. Mill St.; 970-925-3835).
Six89 The dining room, in a bungalow in the neo-ranching town of Carbondale, about 30 miles from Aspen, is nicely old-fashioned. But talented chef Mark Fischer's menu is modern global, with dishes like smoked duck relleno and red curry mussel stew (689 Main St., Carbondale; 970-963-6890).
Topper's This town is surprisingly short on quality takeout, so fans line up for the homespun American food from Ajax Tavern alumnus Greg Topper. Especially good are juicy rotisserie free-range chickens and succulent short ribs (211A Puppy Smith St.; 970-920-0069).
Harry's Velvet Room The martini set flocks to this Aspen location of the Chicago nightspot and restaurant, housed in an old Victorian house with lots of leather couches and flickering candles (316 E. Hopkins Ave.; 970-544-4664).
Best Wine Tastings
Cooking School of Aspen On weekday afternoons and evenings, a sommelier is stationed at the oak bar to pour Oregon Pinot Noirs, Australian Shiraz and other great wines (414 E. Hyman Avenue Mall; 970-920-1879).