There are more than a million restaurants in America, the National Restaurant Association estimates, from the local McDonald’s to high-end destination places. Exactly how many new restaurants open every year is difficult to determine. Statistics suggest that there were almost 13,500 more restaurants in the spring of 2018 than in the fall of 2017, but since so many also close every year, the real number of restaurant openings is obviously much larger.
The major cities with the most significant increase in Yelp restaurant listings between 2012 and 2017 — a reasonable indication of overall restaurant growth — were the San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Nashville, and New Orleans metropolitan areas, according to data prepared for The Atlantic by Carl Bialik, a data scientist for Yelp. New establishments in all of those, along with 15 other urban areas, are included in our list.
With so many new restaurants to choose from, deciding which are the most promising is a difficult and subjective task, but all of those listed here have been eagerly anticipated in their own communities, and sometimes nationally. Some are new ventures by famous chefs, while others reflect current dining trends (Middle Eastern food) or underappreciated cuisines (Cambodian). Japanese, Italian, Korean, and French-American places are included, as are a number that defy categorization. All show real promise and are places to watch.
To assemble our list of the most promising restaurant openings of 2018, 24/7 Wall St. consulted scores of restaurant news and review sites and local and regional magazine and newspaper sites from across the nation, paying particular attention to chef and/or restaurateur track records and to the levels of anticipation or enthusiasm paid to the new places by knowledgeable restaurant critics and, according to press reports, the general public.