The fall restaurant and bar class of 2014 is already showing a lot of talent: Big-name chefs are opening in smaller cities, old favorites are adding to their empires and there's a new crop of chef-driven cocktails about to be poured.
Here are the openings we predict will earn high marks.
After what feels like years of talk, Brooklyn Fare Manhattan will finally open its doors in the West 30s come September. Its Manhattan incarnation will be more casual than the chefs' table service done in BK... In L.A. Neal Fraser's hotly anticipated Redbird will open in a former rectory Downtown by October.
It wouldn't be fall in NYC without a few new Italian restaurants. We're looking forward to Marta, a new project from the Maialino guys and Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group. Wood-fired pizzas will be the stars at the restaurant, opening very soon in the Martha Washington Hotel. Two of our favorite under-the-radar chefs, Jody Williams of Buvette and Rita Sodi of I Sodi, are also pairing up (they're a couple IRL) to open Via Carota, which they're calling a freewheeling Italian gastrothèque, in the West Village come September... Marc Vetri will continue building a Philadelphia empire with the opening of Lo Spiedo, a rotisserie-centric restaurant in the Navy Yard come late September... In Midwestern pie news, Chicago restaurateur Brendan Sodikoff (Maude's Liquor Bar, Doughnut Vault) will open Roxie's by the Slice, specializing in beer and, yes, slices in Wicker Park.
Small Cities, Big Names
Jonathon Sawyer's Trentina may soon have to share its "hot in Cleveland" title: Michael Symon plans open up Mabel's BBQ next to Lola Bistro... Down in Baltimore, John Besh and Aarón Sánchez are partnering up to open taqueria Johnny Sánchez in the Horseshoe Baltimore, where they'll be serving suckling pig tacos and grilled sweetbreads with chorizo... Husk's Sean Brock, who also has a hotly anticipated cookbook, Heritage, coming out this fall, continues to rule Charleston with Minero, his Mexican-inspired restaurant set to open in September... And chef Gavin Kaysen, the longtime chef at NYC's Café Boulud, has decamped to Minneapolis, where he'll open Merchant sometime this fall.
Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski of State Bird Provisions can seemingly do no wrong in San Francisco. We're sure their stellar track record will continue with The Progress, slated to open in the old Progress Theater by the end of the year. Media darling Chris Cosentino is planning to open Cockscomb in SoMa before 2015, where he'll be serving a New England-style menu, and Traci Des Jardins will hatch her second project in the Presidio in October, an upscale Mexican restaurant called Arguello... Also out West, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo will launch Jon & Vinny's, a restaurant slash wine shop in L.A.'s Mid-City by the end of fall... In Chicago, Paul Kahan will add to Big Star and Avec with Mexican soul food spot Dove's Luncheonette, and Paul Virant will launch Vistro, a bistro-style farm-to-table restaurant in Hinsdale... Michelle Bernstein is opening Seagrape, which will focus on seafood, in the Thompson Hotel Miami Beach... A slew of NYC favorites will be opening new spots, from the Torrisi guys (the French-Moroccan-inspired Dirty French), former Tabla and North End Grill chef Floyd Cardoz (the Mumbai-inspired White Street) and Il Buco vet Justin Smillie (Upland, serving farm-to-table fare in Midtown)... Philadelphia will see new restaurants from both Mike Solomonov and Mike Cook (Abe Fisher, which will have a Jewish-inspired menu and is set to open in early September) and the Vedge folks, whose street food-inspired, vegan V Street is slated to open in October... José Andrés continues to dominate D.C. with the opening of China Chilcano, a Peruvian-Chinese restaurant.
Two of the ramen spots we can't wait to slurp up: From the Eggslut folks, L.A.'s Grand Central Market has an Eggslut Ramen in the works for 2015; in NYC, there's Ramen Lab, New Jersey-based Sun Noodle's first brick-and-mortar venture, set to open on the LES. Ramen flights, anyone?
Have Chef, Will Travel
Top toques are branching out to new cities. Mexico City's Enrique Olvera arrives in NYC with Cosme, where he'll serve modern updates on Mexican favorites (think uni tostadas on housemade tortillas)... Dashing Frenchman Daniel Boulud will open his first restaurants in Boston and D.C., outposts of Bar Boulud and DBGB, respectively... Morimoto is opening an outpost of his eponymous restaurant in South Beach before the end of the year.
Ice Cream Domination
NYC's Big Gay Ice Cream is branching out, big time. Owners Doug Quint and Bryan Petroff are not only heading West to open their largest space to date in Downtown L.A., but they're also launching a shop in Philadelphia this fall. Salty Pimps for everyone!
Oxheart chefs and owners Justin Yu and Karen Man are teaming up with PSA Wine's Justin Vann for Public Services Wine & Whiskey Bar. Vann's in charge of curating the wines and rare whiskeys, while Yu and Man will offer some atypical bar snacks... Over on the West Coast, Robert Patterson from Ken Ken Ramen in San Francisco's got a restaurant and microbrewery one-two punch up his sleeve for October.
Le Bernardin's master sommelier, Aldo Sohm, will have an NYC wine bar to his own name next month with Aldo Sohm Wine Bar—just one door down from the Eric Ripert's Midtown West seafood mothership, with a decidedly more casual vibe... In Chicago, award-winning sommeliers Jason Prah of Acadia and Scott Harney of Eno Wine Room are teaming up to open a tasting room with—what else?—a wood-burning oven... Meanwhile in San Francisco, Saison's wine director, Mark Bright, is bringing his love of Burgundy and American wines to his new spot, Les Clos, set to open next month.
Everyone loves a good comeback. SF's legendary Cafe du Nord is getting a facelift, courtesy of Thomas McNaughton and the Bon Vivants. They're revamping the old music lounge's menu, featuring bites from McNaughton's restaurant group, which includes Flour + Water and Central Kitchen, and inventive drinks from the Trick Dog team... Nashville is planning a big revamp as well: Historic music venue The Sutler has been turned over to the very capable hands of Nick Seabergh of Memphis's Alchemy, who will transform the old dive bar into a sleek, new speakeasy next month.