To add to your ever-growing list.

By Maria Yagoda
December 03, 2019

When December hits, we always find ourself scrambling to make sense of the year. At Food & Wine, that annual reckoning centers on restaurants and leaves us asking ourselves a few questions: Where did we eat? What did we love? Who are the chefs we can't stop talking about?

Chris Granger

It's possible we say this every year (we do), but 2019 was a big year for restaurant openings, with dazzling debuts, ambitious returns, and international powerhouses landing Stateside. Here are the 19 openings that got us excited about dining out in America. Check them out in the new year, if you haven't already.

Birdie G's

Lucianna McIntosh

Los Angeles superstar Jeremy Fox indulged our deepest nostalgias with his long-anticipated, highly personal Santa Monica restaurant. Expect blue-plate specials, steak, matzo ball soup, caviar service, and beef tongue pot roast inspired by childhood summers in Pennsylvania. 

Read more: Jeremy Fox Finally Opens Birdie G's, and It's a Very Big Deal

Birdie G’s, 2421 MIchigan Ave., Santa Monica, CA

Pastis

Jennifer May

Perhaps the most talked-about opening of the year, Keith McNally and partner Stephen Starr brought the iconic New York City bistro back to the Meatpacking District after a five-year hiatus. 

Read moreRemembering the Old Pastis as the Iconic Bistro Reopens in New York

Pastis, 52 Gansevoort St, New York, NY

Orfano

JM Leach

Tiffani Faison's self-described "subversive" Italian-American restaurant spotlights updated classics, with hand-pulled mozzarella, garlic bread served in brown paper bags, and a decadent duck marbella feast for two. 

Read more: Tiffani Faison Opens an Italian Restaurant in Boston for the Rest of Us

Orfano, 1391 Boylston St, Boston, MA

Gianna

Chris Granger

Donald Link's latest hit is a trattoria that pays tribute to Louisiana's Creole-Italian cooking heritage (Italian immigrants arrived in the area in the 19th century). Tortellini in brodo, garlic and rosemary Gulf shrimp, and steak Florentine are menu highlights; the wine list features small producers—mostly from Italy—and classic aperitivo cocktails. 

Read more: Star New Orleans Chef Donald Link's New Trattoria, Gianna, Is Finally Here

Gianna, 700 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA

Emilie's

Landon Nordeman

2018 F&W Best New Chef Kevin Tien departed his acclaimed Himitsu to make another big splash on Capitol Hill, this time with a large-format paradise drawing from Vietnamese and local influences. One major standout is the charred pork blade steak served with rice vermicelli blankets and lettuce wraps. Another? Crab mustard beef tartare with deep-dish focaccia. We could go on and on. 

Read more: More Good News for D.C.: Kevin Tien to Open New Concept

Emilie's, 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. SE., Washington, D.C. 

FieldTrip

Courtesy of Chefs Club

Following the mantra "rice is culture," JJ Johnson's fast-casual ode to the humble grain—and all its underappreciated varietals, from farmers around the world—is yet another excellent reason to head to Harlem for dinner (or lunch, or afternoon snack time). 

Listen to more: Communal Table Podcast with JJ Johnson

FieldTrip, 109 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY

Pasjoli

Wonho Frank Lee

As dazzling as ever, Dave Beran is doing retro duck in an early-1900s press at his new "elevated bistro," which revives old-school tableside flourishes that we didn't know we missed: caviar service rolled around on a brass cocktail cart and baba au rhum prepped right in front of you. 

Read more: L.A.'s Hottest New Opening Is All About Super-Glam Tableside Service

Pasjoli, 2732 Main St., Santa Monica, CA

lou

Ben Rice

Gjusta alum Mailea Weger (most recently of Echo Deli in Paris) dreamed up an all-day café with a bar a vin twist, juxtaposing Old World and Californian sensibilities. Things to love: Lots of natural wines, low-ABV cocktails, and treats from former Sqirl pastry chef Sasha Piligian.

Read more: This Nashville Restaurant Serves Wine and Cake for Breakfast

lou, 1304 McGavock Pk, Nashville, TN

Rezdôra

Sarah Crowder

In the few months since opening this intimate Flatiron restaurant, Osteria Francescana alum Stefano Secchi has upgraded the New York pasta scene, giving the rich, yolk-yellow pastas of Emilia Romagna their due (and giving Northern Italian grandmothers a run for their money).

Read moreThis Pasta Tasting Menu from an Osteria Francescana Alum Is a Dreamy Jaunt to Modena

Rezdôra, 27 E 20th St, New York, NY

Hestia

Hestia

Named after the Greek goddess of the hearth, the buzzy fire-focused restaurant from the Emmer & Rye team just opened its doors (late November), and already it's an essential part of the Austin restaurant scene, serving gorgeous proteins torched in the space's massive 20-foot hearth. 

Read moreEmmer & Rye Team to Open Fire-Focused Restaurant in Austin

Hestia, 607 W 3rd St Suite 105, Austin, TX

Maison Yaki

Noah Fecks

We couldn't have predicted that Greg Baxtrom's sophomore Prospect Heights blockbuster (right across the street from Olmsted) would be French-inflected yakitori, but we're so glad it is, and not a day goes by where we don't fantasize about Maison Yaki's duck a l'orange skewers. 

Read more: Maison Yaki's New Patio Is Our Dream Summer Hang-Out

Maison Yaki, 626 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Every Grain

Every Grain

2018 James Beard Award semifinalist Sheridan Su garnered national acclaim for his Las Vegas Hainanese chicken destination Flock & Fowl. Now he's back with another off-Strip banger, serving a menu built around braised pork rice.

Read more: New Taiwanese Comfort Food Joint Is an Off-Strip Game-changer

Every Grain, 1430 E. Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas, NV

Rosalie Italian Soul

Bravo/Getty Images

This October, Top Chef Masters winner Chris Cosentino opened his first Houston restaurant, named after his grandmother Rosalie Cosentino, with housemade pasta, pizza, and red sauce done right. 

Rosalie Italian Soul, C. Baldwin Hotel 400 Dallas St., Houston, TX​​​​​​​

Gaijin

2007 F&W Best New Chef Paul Virant devoted his new 60-seat West Loop stunner to okonomiyaki—"offering both Hiroshima and Osaka styles of the savory Japanese pancake." 

Read more: The Biggest Fall Restaurant Openings of 2019 

Gaijin, 950 W Lake St, Chicago, IL

Tsuta

Courtesy of Tsuta

Tokyo’s Tsuta, founded by chef Yuki Onishi in 2012, was the first ramenten to ever receive a Michelin star, and this year it made its way to the States, gracing San Francisco with umami-rich shoyu soba.

Read moreThe World’s First Michelin-Starred Ramen Shop Just Opened in the U.S.

Tsuta, 155 4th St, San Francisco, CA

Kalaya

Kalaya's My-Le Vuong and Nok Suntaranon
Dutch Huff

One of Philadelphia's most dazzling new restaurants is an homage to Southern Thai cooking, from chef Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon and her business partner, My-Le Vuong. Don't miss the khao yum, wok-fried fish, and mushroom-filled tapioca dumplings. 

Read moreSome of the Best Thai Food in Philadelphia Is at the Italian Market

Kalaya, 764 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA

Ember

Brad Kilgore is making wood-fired lasagna. We repeat: Brad Kilgore is making wood-fired lasagna. 

Read moreBrad Kilgore Opens the Restaurant of His (and Our) Dreams

Ember, 151 NE 41st St Suite 117, Miami, FL

Benne on Eagle

Helmed by John Fleer and chef de cuisine Ashleigh Shanti, the Asheville newcomer celebrates African influences on Appalachian soul food, with Shanti serving genre-bending dishes like fried catfish and waffles, cornbread soup with pickled blueberries, neckbone hash, and shrimp and scallop purloo. (The restaurant earned a spot on Time Magazine's 2019 World's Greatest Places list.) 

Benne on Eagle, 35 Eagle St, Asheville, NC

Onda

Dylan + Jeni

The Santa Monica blockbuster from Jessica Koslow and Gabriela Cámara merges the best of Los Angeles and Mexico City restaurant culture while leaving lots of room for surprises. Onda's breakout dish is an oversized “inside out” turkey quesadilla inspired by Israeli turkey shawarma. Don't sleep on the pig ear salad, either. 

Read more: Jessica Koslow and Gabriela Cámara Turn Mexican Food Inside Out at L.A.’s Onda

Onda, 700 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA

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