> Location: Washington D.C., Washington D.C.
The food of Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine inspired chef Michael Rafidi — named Chef of the Year in 2017 by Eater D.C. — in creating his menu. Smoked merguez (lamb sausage) hummus, raw yellowfin tuna kibbeh with puffed bulgur, and za’atar grilled lamb ribs with snap pea salad are typical dishes.
2. Andros Taverna
> Location: Chicago, Illinois
Greek-American chef Doug Psaltis, a longtime mainstay of the Lettuce Entertain You group, has gone off on his own to open this bustling restaurant featuring well-crafted versions of such items as crispy kataifi cheese pie, eggplant moussaka, and grilled Grecian sea bream.
3. Baffi Atlanta
> Location: Atlanta, Georgia
Legendary New York-based California-born chef Jonathan Waxman called his flagship (temporarily closed) Manhattan restaurant “Barbuto” — Italian for “bearded.” His new Atlanta place continues the theme: “baffi” means “moustache” in Italian. The attractively simple fare includes grilled Gulf oysters with charred onion butter, shredded kale salad with anchovy dressing and pecorino, and Waxman’s signature roasted chicken with rosemary potatoes.
4. The Charles
> Location: Wethersfield, Connecticut
“Vintage feel, modern taste,” promises this American restaurant in a suburb of Connecticut’s capital. Named best new restaurant in Hartford County this year by Connecticut Magazine, The Charles serves such fare as crispy pork belly with fava bean salad, organic chicken pot pie, and roasted lamb sirloin with beluga lentil ragout and mint chutney.
5. The Chloe
> Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
The restaurant at the 14-room Chloe boutique hotel, installed in a 19th-century mansion, not surprisingly has a Creole accent, with the likes of spicy crab-baked Gulf oysters, crawfish tortelli with tarragon and shallots, and blackened butter-crusted flounder.