Every year, chefs all over the United States covet a spot on GQ’s now notorious Best New Restaurants list. And though there are plenty of solid new restaurants popping up all over the country, only a select few can score a spot on the magazine’s coveted list. These are serious chefs, full of big ideas and sterling execution.
Both in how much chefs long to be chosen and in the reservation spike after being picked, the GQ list is as big as a James Beard nomination — it’s mainstream and easily accessible. Readers can’t wait to try the experiences that made the cut. This year is no different, as even checking the photos from these restaurants will prompt you to add all of them to your travel/food vision board.
Majordōmo (Los Angeles)
Majordōmo is a David Chang restaurant, and the only thing there that beats the food is the hospitality. A well-known chef may not usually put a comment card on the check, but Chang does just that. He’s accessible and always learning, growing, and reacting.
The name of the restaurant is a sign of gratitude for patrons and a promise that they’re in good hands.With dishes like tapioca lo mein, a purse-shaped spiral of spaghetti-sized noodles adorned with pork fat and twirled with rapini, and preserved krill, why would anyone decide not to patronize the place?
Dialogue (Los Angeles)
If Dialogue specializes in anything, it’s pretty food. The menu at the intimate restaurant (only about 18 seats) is stunning and Chef David Beran plans to change it about every three or four months. Beran, a Chicagoan, takes a cue from the seasonal markets in Los Angeles, but also adds some fun options like chargrilled duck to the menu for a fresh take on a classic.
Henrietta Red (Nashville)
The very name “Henrietta Red” would make the most critical foodie want to sit down and try some of the restaurant’s good ole American fare. Located in Nashville’s Germantown, it boasts a ballroom atmosphere and a delicious oyster bar. Nashville-native chef Julia Sullivan and her business partner, general manager and sommelier, Allie Poindexter, created their dream restaurant — mixing contemporary cooking with Southern staples like gumbo and monkey bread.
Maydān (Washington D.C.)
Maydān is located in the nation’s capital and is run by a team of chefs — led by Gerald Addison and Chris Morgan — who all have the same goal: for consumers to enjoy an approach to dining that’s about the food, but also the love, respect, and traditions that go into each dish.
Avid travelers themselves, the chefs have dined with people all over the world and wish for the diners in their restaurants to feel as welcomed as they have felt. Menu items all feature flavors that will awaken the palate, like coriander, garlic, turmeric, and pistachio.
Kitsune is an intimate restaurant in Chicago’s North Center, run by Chef Iliana Regan. The food offerings are a take on Japanese food with midwestern influences. The menu features items like clam ramen, tamango with black truffle, and a brunch with hot chicken and biscuits. The latter item is an attempt not to fuse American and Japanese, but to use both as inspirations to create a taste that doesn’t exist anywhere else.
The Charter Oak (St. Helena, Calif.)
The ambiance at The Charter Oak is both fancy and casual, featuring classics like burgers and fries, and dolled up American food like “smashed potatoes,” deep-fried and tossed with honey, vinegar, sea salt, and seaweed brown butter. The drinks on the menu at Christopher Kostow and Nathaniel Dorn’s restaurant are also to be noted, featuring a $240 shot of Orphan Barrel bourbon for those who want to make the most of the experience.
Chef Hugo Ortega has outdone himself with this traditional Mexican restaurant that features the “flavors of Oaxaca.” Definitely the place to go to impress a date, Xochi (from Xochitl, Goddess of the Flowers) boasts a menu full of traditional faves — housemade masas, an endless variety of moles, house-made chocolate, and ribbons of cheese wrapped into balls (called quesillo), imported Oaxacan, coffee, grasshoppers, tlayudas (huge tortillas, fire-roasted with toppings), and beans cooked with avocado leaves, all alongside a bar filled with mezcals, tequilas and Mexican craft beers.
Theodore Rex (Houston)
Locally known as “T Rex,” Justin Yu’s restaurant Theodore Rex is a modern bistro using locally-grown ingredients. Menu offerings are both flavorful and colorful, making this the best location on the list for vegan and vegetarian patrons who want to escape the bland salad life.
Chez Ma Tante (Brooklyn)
Naturally, at least one of the best new restaurants would have to be in New York. Chez Ma Tante takes up one of those spots with a team of chefs including Aidan O’Neal contributing to a sort of French-Canadian fare, featuring items like kedgeree — a British colonial mash-up of curried rice and fish — that is fast becoming one of the restaurant’s trademark offerings.
Cote is rising quickly — the Korean steakhouse had crowds well before the GQ nod.In the wide world of NYC restaurants, making a list like this is a high achievement, and with offerings like “Butcher’s Feast,” where you get pieces of hanger steak, 45-day-aged rib eye, and Wagyu flatiron with slices of marinated short rib, or kalbi, all for a moderate price, it’s clear why it’s received such an honor.
Cote also offers flavorful vegetarian dishes so everyone can come and enjoy what comes off of the grill.
Hello Sailor (Cornelius, NC)
Hello Sailor is a surf shack located on the shore of Lake Norman, in the town of Cornelius, a half hour north of Charlotte. Food is presented unassumingly, sometimes on cafeteria trays, but the tastes of traditional Southern fare like hush puppies and gumbo leaves a big impression.
June Baby (Seattle)
Chef Edouardo Jordan leads patrons on a “journey through the American South” at his restaurant, JuneBaby. Reasonably priced items like JuneBaby’s Hot Link Sausage with red soured cabbage & mustard will have any Northerner yearning to take a trip to the Mason-Dixon line to experience true Southern culture. Only open five days out of the week, the restaurant closes after lunch to prepare the dinner menu, adding to the home-y feeling of the establishment. Even better than the food, the restaurant’s Instagram teaches followers the connection Southern blacks have with food and its historical importance in their culture.
Lady of the House (Detroit)
Lady of the House is Chef Kate Williams’s Corktown tavern that offers to provide an “unforgettable dinner party every night” for its patrons. The restaurant is small and feels like a place where everyone knows everyone, which is probable, as their menu offerings would keep visitors coming back often.
Most notable is the Parisian Ham, a plate of slow-poached French-style ham, shaved thin and served on a plate with a small dish of butter whipped with Dijon mustard and fermented honey. Patrons are meant to butter the ham — that’s right, not bread — and eat enjoy their dish that way.