Alta Adams
Los Angeles, CA
Automatic Seafood and Oysters
Birmingham, AL
Benne on Eagle
Asheville, NC
Portland, OR
New York, NY
La Strega
Las Vegas, NV
Lazy Betty
Atlanta, GA
Charleston, SC
Nashville, TN
Washington, DC
San Francisco, CA
Chicago, IL
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Our Best New Restaurants list is more than a collection of "it" places to eat; it's a snapshot of American culture right now. We're presenting unmistakable places that are pushing food forward creatively, and finding new ways to gather people around a chef's counter. For us, "best" means your bomb-ass meal comes with a riveting story, white tablecloth not required -- and there’s no shame in carrying the leftovers home in a bodega bag.

We wanted the most local and credible perspective possible, so we hired a diverse panel of food writers and experts from around the country to nominate and profile these selections. Our criteria? Memorable, spectacularly tasty food, for one. But we also asked our panel to take in the spaces themselves, the spell cast by the decor, an original menu presentation. Are we seeing the chef’s stamp? What about the back-of-the-house talent? The regulars? And finally, what does this restaurant say about food culture in 2019?

As for the panelists racking up culinary currency eating these meals? We're Black, Asian, Latinx, everything mixed together. We live in Charleston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles. We're willing to lavish unwise sums of money on a dining experience that takes us out of ourselves and lingers in our memory long afterward. But we also know that kind of experience doesn’t have to blow your budget. Our Best New Restaurants list is for those of us who bring our whole selves to the table, our family backgrounds, our lived experiences, and our hunger for an extraordinary meal.

Whether it’s in the style of restaurant (lunch counter cafes!), the evolution of the tasting menu (cheaper!), the expansion of the American palate, the Instagramification of food, or the more thoughtful ways restaurants are embedding in their communities, we hope this list transforms 12 distinct places into a coherent, interlocking American culinary freeway. 

But enough small talk, let's get to it.
& Panelists
To help you understand how we compiled our Best New Restaurants 2019 list, here is a breakdown of exactly what we did:
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“California soul food” in one of LA’s oldest neighborhoods.
Cole Saladino / Thrillist
A Hearty Serving of Community With a Side of Cali Soul
Sit up at the bar, as near as you can to the kitchen, to enjoy their signature Lunchbox cocktail (butter-washed bourbon, peanuts, aperol, huckleberry picpoul, ruby port) under one of the vintage reading lamps and watch the crowd sway. If you come with a squad, try to commandeer the communal table in the back dining space, which gives the feel of a semi-private room. But even if you can’t, everyone will forgive you once you order black-eyed pea fritters dipped in cool spicy green sauce, which you should double up on as you take down the spiced plantain chips and deviled eggs, too.
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Southern oysters star at a new Birmingham pearl.
Caleb Chancey / Thrillist
An Oyster Pearl Adds Lustre to Birmingham
If you don’t start with some raw Gulf Coast oysters, why are you even here? Take yours outside to one of the laid-back Adirondack chairs before you duck beneath the neon sign and head inside. Chef Adam Evans is all about local fish, especially the spiny ones, so order the simply roasted Kitty Mitchell grouper and crispy whole yellowtail snapper. Twirl around in lunch counter-style chairs at the bar, holding your mint-garnished highball up against the IG-ready tropical print wallpaper.
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The famed deviled egg spread bar snack with garden vegetables and saltines.
Tim Robison / Thrillist
Mountain Food From Another View
Do’s and Don’ts for enjoying the African American cuisine of the Appalachians at this project in the Foundry Hotel: Don’t sleep on the Peanuts and Cola cocktail, with spiced North Carolina rum and house-made peanut orgeat, or the ogbono pork ribs, sticky with peppery barbecue sauce and served with cracked-corn spoonbread. Do take a selfie by the large painting beside the bar: It fills what used to be a window with a view of The Block, a neighborhood with a deep history in black business and cultural life.
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An electric, vibrant dining space no matter the weather outside.
Cole Saladino / Thrillist
A Clear-Eyed Example of the Next Evolution of Modern Dining
If the famously ornery Portland weather permits, try to sit outside under the umbrellas. Order Eem’s Green Curry Sausage with Papaya Salad (a Thai play on Texas-style jalapeño cheddar sausage) plus a Joan Wilder, which tastes like the Asian-tinged drink equivalent of a fruit cup you might get at a streetside SoCal stand, complete with the Tajin. Or, if you prefer a quieter scene, lounging against a rust leather banquette affords you a wide expanse to witness mass consumption of drinks in beautiful pufferfish mugs. 
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The showstopper pastry case greets guests at the front counter.
Cole Saladino / Thrillist
Empire State of Plate, the Big Apple on Your Table
Picture a modern lunch counter where pastel paint strokes bounce off the walls of this spacious corner restaurant in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood. The menu at Gertie reads like a haiku, divided into three sections: Morning, Afternoon, Night Time. Salted rye chocolate chip cookies, corn muffins, and a Gertie/Shacksbury hard cider collab all fly high from sunup to midday. Poppy's whole roasted duck with scallion pancakes served family style, and $1 chicken wings take flight at night. 
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A modern and coastal dining room with an Amalfi coast color palette.
Cole Saladino / Thrillist
Casting a Spell With Vegas Italian Off the Strip
La Strega offers two distinct dining experiences: one bright, boisterous and family-oriented; and one dark and intimate. Choose your setting and snap a pic of the Abigail, a basil-y gin cocktail topped with fresh flowers. The Witches Garden, a whimsical crudite of radishes, shishitos, and colorful cauliflower, is similarly photogenic and will make your taste buds happy, too. Chef Gina Marinelli's menu is seafood-forward, but don't miss the pastas. The handmade stracci with beef cheek and mushroom is delicate, buttery, and divine.
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Chef Aaron Phillips bringing his commitment to tasting menus to Atlanta.
Cole Saladino / Thrillist
A Tasting Menu for the People
Whimsy is the name of the game at Lazy Betty, where a fancy tasting menu costs $125 to $165, but you can eat it in jeans. Atlanta isn't a town that typically supports such price points. But chef-owners Ronald Hsu and Aaron Phillips make fancy dining fun with such dishes as "Truffle hunting in the Georgia Terroir," an umami-rich casserole of potatoes and truffles made to look like a precise and fancy Smurf village. No truffle pigs or plane tickets required. 
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Vegetable tart on a puff pastry surrounded by dots of fromage blanc.
Cole Saladino / Thrillist
A Grown-Up French Bistro Rises From the Low Country
The menu at this very grown-up French cafe is tightly focused and teems with local fish. Like a cool Parisian, the menu carelessly tosses off understated menu item names like “heirloom tomatoes.” But when you see those fat slices of ripe tomatoes topped with delicate rose-flavored cream, rose-infused fleur de sel, and cubes of tomato-water aspic, you’ll want to capture that gorgeousness against the pewter bar and alabaster subway tile. Now who’s the cool Parisian?
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Chef Vivek Surti infusing Gujarati soul into his menu.
Tim Robison / Thrillist
An Indian Tasting Menu Is Theater With a Pedigree
Once you've ogled the massive crystal chandelier lifted right from chef Vivek Surti's family home, grab the best seats in the house -- four bluebird leather chairs set up at the side bar. From there, sneak a photo of Surti as he shpiels about dishes and heritage while you munch on sorghum-dusted popcorn or dig into a bowl of okra and yogurt soup. Or capture a snap of the Rajasthani sword mounted to the wall -- ask Vivek nicely and the sabrage pro may even use it to saber open your bottle of bubbles.
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Thamee is a window into the capital’s vibrant Asian culture.
April Greer / Thrillist
Mother and Daughter Draw Diners Into a Burmese Haven
DC isn’t just black/white. Its sole full-service Burmese restaurant, Thamee, is a window into the capital’s vibrant Asian culture. The restaurant’s name translates to daughter, in this case, Simone Jacobson; she and her mother, Jocelyn Law-Yone, are the heartbeat making the dining experience flow. A cuisine brimming with texture and colors greets eaters for brunch or dinner. Masala spice fritters, punctuated with shrimp and buthee (calabash squash) are the jump-off, and hand-mixed salads called athokes sum up everything right about the Chocolate City -- right now.
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"You could come straight from Korea and feel right at home," Oh says of her drink list.
Cole Saladino / Thrillist
Fish on the Hearth, Korean Food (and Drink) for All
The back patio is an incredible gem for day drinking malty Kloud beers alongside the roasted dry shrimp banchan and the satisfyingly crunchy seafood pancakes. On the other hand, the front room, with its cheeky framed picture homage to all sorts of different mothers, also affords you the ability to watch executive chef Edwin Bayone and his team work their majesty with mackerel and other grilled delights off the hand built charcoal grill, which he described to me as "trying to cook a fish inside your fireplace."
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Chefs Kim and Clark play “organic tetris” for a tasting menu based on local produce.
Cole Saladino / Thrillist
The Future Is (Affordable) Prix Fixe
When the weather is nice, sit on the back patio under the twinkling lights and order the bread and butter pickles, salumi, and anchovies bathed in olive oil, setting it on fresh bread from Middle Brow Bungalow. Pair it with an Illuminated Watermelon Gun saison, or a glass of the Liten Buffel “Hear the Drums Echoing” orange chardonnay out of New York. The dinner menu changes daily, so request a table close to the open kitchen, so you can get a sneak preview of the sorcery chefs Beverly Kim, Johnny Clark, and their merry band of sous cobble together.
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Kevin Alexander, Erin Byers Murray, Kathleen Purvis, Nicole A. Taylor, Kristy Totten, Jennifer Zyman
Special Thanks
Devita Davison
Bison Messink, Nicole A. Taylor, Adriana Velez
Cities Editors
James Chrisman, Gianni Jaccoma, Jess Mayhugh, Alex Robinson, Amber Sutherland-Namako
Pete Dombrosky, Liz Provencher, Kristen Adaway, Kyler Alvord
Dan Byrne, Wil Fulton, Stasia Jones, Aaron Rubin
Creative Director
Cory O'Keefe
Designers and Development
Kyle Earl, Mark Yocca, Ray Sosseh, Christy Kusuma
Photo Director
Drew Swantak
Caleb Chancey, April Greer, Tim Robison, Cole Saladino
Motion Graphics Designer
Megan Chong
Jason Hoffman