Despite the pandemic, restaurants are still opening. Here are the ones we're really excited about.

By Maria Yagoda
September 23, 2020
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Noah Fecks

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants have shuttered at an alarming rate. Some estimates suggest that 75% of all independent restaurants will permanently close by the end of 2020.

Yet even when most cities were only allowing takeout, new concepts continued to open: some used ghost kitchens, others opted for a delivery-and-takeout model until accommodating guests became possible.

As we continue mourning old favorites, and fear the closures still to come, some exciting new restaurants are opening this fall in limited capacities, giving us a small sense of hope. Here are a few concepts we're looking forward to.

Jasper's (Nashville, TN)

When: Late October

Chef Deb Paquette's Jasper's will replace 4Top Hospitality's Saltine restaurant, which has been closed since March due to COVID-19. The restaurant will also house The Market at Jasper’s, featuring prepared foods, sauces, soups, and fresh treats from Etch and etc. pastry chef Megan Williams.

1918 West End Ave.

Dhamaka (New York, NY)

When: Late October

Adda Indian Canteen owner Roni Mazumdar and executive chef Chintan Pandya will open a spot for regional Indian home cooking at the revamped Essex Street Market. Dhamaka, which means “burst of emotions” in Hindi, will be open for lunch and dinner.

120 Essex Street, New York, New York

The Roost (Washington, D.C.)

When: Fall

A sprawling 12,500-square-foot food hall has soft-opened in a residential building in D.C., on the corner of Pennsylvania Ave. and 14th. The space is currently serving coffee, pastries, and snacks from 8:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will eventually open its butcher shop, soft-serve spot, taco concept, and more concepts.

1401 Penn Ave SE DC

The Continental (Nashville, TN)

When: Fall

Sean Brock’s new restaurant, an ode to "the traditional elegance of hotel dining," will open sometime this fall, offering new twists on classic American fare.

Edobox by Makoto Okuwa (Los Angeles, CA)

When: Fall

Award-winning Japanese chef Makoto Okuwa is opening a fast-casual bento box operation in Santa Monica. According to Eater, bentos start at $25 and will include several base options, with add-ons like uni and toro.

2912 Main Street

Cut & Gather (Raleigh, NC)

When: Late Fall

Celebrity chef and TV personality Kenny Gilbert is opening an all-day, Southern-inspired menu featuring dishes made on custom wood-burning ovens, grills, and smokers. The cocktail program will highlight moonshine and bourbon.

13100 Falls Of Neuse Road

o.d.o by ODO at The Westerly (New York, NY)

When: October 1

The penthouse venue, which will spotlight rare Japanese whiskies from the House of Suntory, is a new project from chef Hiroki Odo, who will execute a menu of small bites. The space has an outdoor terrace overlooking Greenwich Village and will offer limited seatings on Thursdays, only 30 per night, eventually offering limited indoor seating when allowed. Also at the Westerly, acclaimed sushi chef Eji Ichimura is launching an omakase experience starting September 25.

39 E. 13th Street

Taqueria Xochi (Washington, D.C.)

When: Fall

During the pandemic, the beloved tacos and cemitas venture from Teresa Padilla and Geraldine Mendoza has been operating out of a ghost kitchen, with delivery in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. There are plans to open a brick-and-mortar D.C. location this fall.

Commons Club (Nashville, TN)

When: Fall

Houston's Ryan Lachaine is opening his first project outside of his home city, with a global menu inspired by his Eastern European heritage and Gulf Coast culinary traditions. The restaurant will be located on the first floor of the newly opened Virgin Hotels Nashville, with an outdoor space for al fresco dining and a bar with cocktails, wine, and small bites.

1 Music Square W.

HÜTTE (New York, NY)

When: Late October

The backyard restaurant will channel the Swiss Alps, serving a menu of Austrian comfort foods, with game meats, charcuterie, fondue, and glüwein (mulled wine). Located behind Stube Sausage Bar, the space will be tented and decked out with electric heaters, wooden tables, and couches with blankets, making it viable for outdoor cold-weather dining.

1652 Second Avenue

The Town Company (Kansas City, MO)

When: Fall

Located in a historic 1920s building (that is now boutique hotel Hotel Kansas City), the new restaurant from three-time nominated JBF Best Chef Midwest chef Patrick Ryan aims to "redefine the concept of the new Midwestern table," sourcing from a local network of farmers, ranchers, and fishermen. Husband and wife team Johnny Leach (of Del Posto and Momofuku) and Helen Jo Leach (of EMP and Milk Bar) will be the executive chef and executive pastry chef, respectively.

1228 Baltimore Avenue

Salt and Straw (Miami, FL)

When: Fall

The cult-favorite Portland ice cream shop is opening its very first East Coast location, exciting New Yorkers (me) who wish it would make its way here.

Easy Bistro & Bar (Chattanooga, TN)

When: September 28

Erik and Amanda Niel’s Easy Bistro & Bar has been a fixture of the Chattanooga dining community for 15 years, and this September it will relocate to the city's West Village neighborhood. The redesigned space will include lunch service, added raw bar offerings, and al fresco dining.

801 Chestnut Street

Francie (Brooklyn, NY)

When: November

Located inside an old bank building, Francie takes its inspiration from the French neighborhood brasserie and will be the first independent collaboration between chef-owner Christopher Cipollone (of Piora and Cotogna) and owner-operator John Winterman (of Bâtard and Daniel).

134 Broadway

Aba (Austin, TX)

When: October 1

The opening will mark Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises’ first project in Texas and the second location of Aba, a beloved Mediterranean spot. Chef Partner CJ Jacobson says the menu pays homage to his California roots while incorporating flavors and techniques from Israel, Lebanon, Turkey, and Greece.

1011 S Congress Ave., Building 2, Suite 180

Griff's Kitchen & Bar (Candler, NC)

When: October 7

Husband and wife duo Ian Griffin (chef/owner) and Gina Griffin (GM/owner) are opening a neighborhood spot in the heart of Enka-Candler, North Carolina—not too far from Asheville—with the hope of supporting small local farms. Lunch service will be available Wednesday-Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Diners can place their orders online via Toast or call to order ahead, with curbside pickup only.

1390 Sand Hill Road

Nani's Rotisserie Chicken (Asheville, NC)

When: October

The latest venture from Chai Pani restaurant group is a takeout-forward joint starring rotisserie chicken and other comfort foods, located in Grove Arcade. Chai Pani cofounder Meherwan Irani told the Asheville Citizen Times, "If you're going to open a concept in a pandemic, it should be something to bring comfort to people, and nothing beats roast chicken."

1 Page Ave