2018 Best New Restaurants in the U.S.

Safta Restaurant Denver - Photo Mike Thurk
Safta Restaurant, Denver, CO

With so many eateries opening all the time, it’s important to stand out from the pack — and that’s just what these restaurants do. At these notable newcomers throughout the U.S., you’ll encounter classic (as well as unconventional) French fare, global barbecue dishes, modern Israeli food and more. (One of the restaurants even comes from a chef on GAYOT’s Top 40 Restaurants in the U.S.)

GAYOT’s 2018 picks for the Best New Restaurants in America are listed in alphabetical order.

> This list is part of GAYOT’s 2018 Annual Restaurant Awards.


1. The Alden

The Alden Pan-Asian Egg
The Pan Asian Egg, soft coddled farm egg, bok choy, ginger, rice cracker


Chamblee, GA

Atlanta native Jared Hucks worked in famed kitchens around the globe before returning to open his own restaurant in Chamblee, in northeast metropolitan Atlanta. The Alden’s menu makes good use of local flavors, such as a tender pork belly glazed with sorghum, but seafood is the featured protein. Consider requesting a seat at the chef’s tasting bar, which is exclusively for patrons eager to indulge in the multi-course menu. From that vantage point, a good view of the action in the open kitchen enhances the experience.

• Read the full review for The Alden restaurant.


2. Esther’s Kitchen

Esther's Kitchen chef James Trees
Chef James Trees of Esther’s Kitchen, Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV



Las Vegas native chef/owner James Trees pays tribute to his great-aunt, who helped make his culinary career possible, with the name of his restaurant. Esther’s Kitchen presents seasonal Italian fare, including pizza and house-made pastas and breads. Local ingredients are sourced whenever possible, which applies to the beer selection with 100 percent of the taps pouring local brews.

• Read the full review for Esther’s Kitchen restaurant.


3. Free Rein

Free Rein Chicago
Pastry chef Evan Sheridan’s sweet potato cremeux

Chicago, IL

Reservation OpenTable

Chicago’s landmark 1929 Art Deco Carbide and Carbon building has been revitalized as the St. Jane hotel. The hotel’s restaurant, Free Rein, likewise puts a new spin on a classic with its contemporary, upscale take on the brasserie. Executive chef Aaron Lirette and pastry chef Evan Sheridan keep flexibility and creativity in mind in interpreting New American cuisine.



• Read the full review for Free Rein restaurant.


4. Frenchette

Steak at Frenchette, New York, NY
Steak at Frenchette in New York, NY

New York, NY

Located in a funky TriBeCa location, Frenchette is a spot-on French bistro with a downtown New York City vibe. This trendy hotspot can get loud and crowded, but we like the fun, vibrant atmosphere reminiscent of a private home. Chefs Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson are not shy about branching out from French bistro standards.

• Read the full review for Frenchette restaurant.


5. Homer

Logan Cox and Sara Knowles of Homer
Logan Cox and Sara Knowles of Homer


Seattle, WA

Homer, the Seattle restaurant from chef Logan Cox and Sara Knowles, attracts so many enthusiastic diners that you might encounter a wait for a table. The wood-fired hearth puts a flavorful char on everything from small plates like roasted kuri squash with date syrup, fennel and whipped feta to entrées such as lamb ribs with pistachio, Asian pear and cumin.

• Read the full review for Homer restaurant.


6. International Smoke

San Francisco, CA



Reservation OpenTable

This is not chef Michael Mina’s debut, of course, as he currently operates some 30 restaurants. (He was GAYOT’s 2011 Best Restaurateur.) But the partnership he made with celebrity cook, Ayesha Curry, makes International Smoke one of those restaurants you want to go back to again and again.

• Read the full review for International Smoke restaurant.


7. Journeyman’s Food + Drink

Salmon at Journeyman’s Food + Drink
Alaskan king salmon “Provençal,” squash, herbs

Fullerton, CA

Reservation OpenTable

Journeyman’s Food + Drink in Fullerton is poised to challenge the culinary sensibilities of Orange County, California. Young executive chef Zach Geerson creates elevated contemporary dishes that draw inspiration from molecular gastronomy, deconstruction and experimental technique, leading to plates that are ambitious in both composition and presentation.

• Read the full review for Journeyman’s Food + Drink restaurant.


8. Safta

Safta, Denver, CO
Moroccan carrot salad, chermoula, labneh, crispy lentils (M.Thurk Photography)

Denver, CO

Chef Alon Shaya and co-restaurateur Emily Shaya present an ode to modern Israeli cooking at Safta, which means “grandmother” in Hebrew. Denver diners are treated to memorable variations of hummus, house-baked pita bread, harissa roasted chicken, duck matzo ball soup and lovely falafel.

• Read the full review for Safta restaurant.


9. Tesse

Tesse chef Raphaël François & pastry chef Sally Camacho
Chef Raphaël François, pastry chef/bread maker Sally Camacho at the kitchen pass

West Hollywood, CA

Reservation OpenTable

West Hollywood’s Tesse lives up to the high expectations we had for a project from such true professionals as restaurateur Bill Chait, chef Raphaël François, pastry chef/bread maker Sally Camacho and wine director/managing partner Jordan Ogron. Savor French classics reinterpreted in a 21st-century, California style.

• Read the full review for Tesse restaurant.