Letter from the Editor: A Restaurant State of the Union
A note from F&W Editor-in-Chief Hunter Lewis on the July issue—the magazine's biggest since 2016.
Earlier this spring in Manhattan I toured the new mega-mall at Hudson Yards, sipping Cava at José Andrés’ Mercado Little Spain, tearing into pillow-sized popovers at Neiman Marcus, and snipping gloriously squidgy rice cakes at David Chang’s Kāwi with fancy scissors, as Related Companies’ Stephen Ross, the project’s developer, led a throng of media guests through the massively ambitious project.
I cut the tour short to make my reservation across the East River, but I couldn’t exit the monolith. Construction fencing thwarted me on the south and west ends next to the Vessel, the gleaming sculptural staircase built for selfies; locked doors blocked my retreat to the east. Fifteen anxious minutes later, I managed to escape the Hard Hat Twilight Zone and hailed a cab to Adda (one of our Best New Restaurants), an Indian cantina in Queens, to meet family for dinner. The table brimmed with plates of lacy fried kale pakora and rich saag, butter chicken and biryani, all abundantly laced with chiles. A lingering capsaicin buzz and Adda’s warm glow of hospitality brought me back to center.
That whiplash evening reinforced my conviction that you can’t manufacture soul, no matter the investment. The best restaurants don’t just serve memorable food; they’re community and neighborhood oases, offering humanity and hospitality that smooth frayed edges at day’s end.
Consider this issue, our biggest since 2016, a guide to 83 such welcoming places—and also a restaurant state of the union. What is dining out really about in 2019? The golden rule of hospitality for both restaurant employees and guests alike: As my friend and former boss Jonathan Waxman puts it in our roundtable conversation at his restaurant Barbuto, “treat others the way we want to be treated.”
You’ll find solid gold in the ascendant culinary talent in this year’s class of Best New Chefs and in the next-level dining experiences at our Best New Restaurants. You’ll also find it in the kitchens on our first-ever Great Restaurants to Work For list, which celebrates the leaders who are changing restaurant workplace culture for the better.
Now, let’s book a four-top for dinner tonight. Join me?