To add to your ever-growing list.

By Maria Yagoda
Updated December 04, 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?

Credit: 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

Credit: 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.

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


Credit: 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.

Pastis, 52 Gansevoort St, New York, NY


Credit: 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.

Orfano, 1391 Boylston St, Boston, MA


Credit: 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.

Gianna, 700 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA


Kevin Tien
Credit: 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.

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


Credit: 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).

FieldTrip, 109 Malcolm X Blvd, New York, NY


Pasjoli Interior
Credit: 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.

Pasjoli, 2732 Main St., Santa Monica, CA


Lou Nashville Breakfast Wine and Cake
Credit: 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.

lou, 1304 McGavock Pk, Nashville, TN


Rezdora Anolini from Parma
Credit: 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).

Rezdôra, 27 E 20th St, New York, NY


Emmer & Rye new restaurant Hestia
Credit: 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.

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

Maison Yaki

maison yaki interior
Credit: 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.

Maison Yaki, 626 Vanderbilt Ave, Brooklyn, NY

Every Grain

Every Grain
Credit: 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.

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

Rosalie Italian Soul

Chris Cosentino's 5 Kitchen Essentials
Credit: 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​​​​​​​


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."

Gaijin, 950 W Lake St, Chicago, IL


Tsuta San Francisco Restaurant
Credit: 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.

Tsuta, 155 4th St, San Francisco, CA


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

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.

Kalaya, 764 S 9th St, Philadelphia, PA


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

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 onTime Magazine's 2019 World's Greatest Places list.)

Benne on Eagle, 35 Eagle St, Asheville, NC


Onda Turkey Quesadilla
Credit: 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.

Onda, 700 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA