The 10 Most Exciting Restaurant Openings of 2018

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Alanna Hale
A Bright Future

2017 was a tough year for restaurants, with losses like Chicago’s Grace echoing across the food world. But this new crop of eateries, from both well-established and young, upstart chefs, ensures that we won’t be short of incredible dining options any time soon. Pictured is Kaya.

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Alanna Hale

San Francisco

Opened: January

Following the success of Jamaican chef Nigel Jones’ Oakland restaurant Kingston 11, Kaya, a joint project between Jones and fellow chef Daniel Patterson, has been bringing Caribbean cuisine to San Francisco’s fine dining scene since January. While some of the favorite flavors from Kingston 11, like Jones’ black pepper tofu, have carried over to Kaya, the new restaurant shakes up the presentation and even takes some cues from Patterson’s former restaurant, Alta CA, with its selection of island-inspired soft serves.

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Eric Wolfinger
Tartine Manufactory LA

Los Angeles

Opened: Anticipated late summer

San Francisco’s Tartine is beloved for its morning buns, bread, and perfect pastries. Now Los Angeles is going to get a taste of that, and so much more, at Tartine Manufactory LA, a collaboration between Tartine husband-and-wife team Elizabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson and Pizzeria Bianco legend Chris Bianco. The enormous space will house a range of interconnected projects, including a coffee lab, bakery, dinner-only restaurant, butcher, and more. Tartine Manufactory LA is slated to open late summer.

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Jim Sullivan
El Jardín

San Diego

Opened: Anticipated spring

Fresh off of competing in the most recent season of "Top Chef," Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins is preparing to open her first restaurant in her hometown of San Diego. El Jardín will highlight seasonal Mexican cuisine, with a focus on regional specialties like escamoles. Zepeda-Wilkins also plans to use the project to celebrate strong women, both in and outside the kitchen; her sommelier will be a woman, and the fabrics used to upholster the dining room furniture are sourced from female textile makers in Oaxaca. El Jardín will open spring 2018.

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Denny Culbert
Bywater American Bistro

New Orleans

Opened: March

Another Top Chef alum, Nina Compton’s second restaurant in New Orleans is distinct from Compère Lapin, which is heavily influenced by the chef’s native St. Lucian cuisine. The new Bywater American Bistro is heavy on the charcuterie and local Southern grains, with a classics-focused bar program that includes bottled negronis and martini service. Bywater opened on March 15, and local reception has already been enthusiastic.

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Diane Kang

New York City

Opened: Anticipated spring

Junghyun ‘JP’ Park and Ellia Park already have a hit on their hands with the Korean small plate-focused Atoboy and are moving into the fine-dining world with Atomix, slated to open this spring. JP already has experience in that space, having cooked at the Michelin-starred Jungsik. Dishes at Atomix will be Korean, but served kaiseki-style, an elaborate, multi-course Japanese tradition that focuses on intricate preparations.

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Kevin Kramer
Popol Vuh and Centro


Opened: Anticipated June

This dual-concept Mexican restaurant has Minneapolis excited, and it’s not had to see why. From the team behind the popular Lyn 65 Kitchen and Bar, the new spot will feature two distinct spaces separated by the kitchen. On the Popol Vuh side, Chef Jose Alarcon will focus on a more refined menu straight from his wood-fired grill, while on the other side, the more casual Centro will be serving up margaritas on tap, a raw bar, and “some of the best tacos you’ve ever had.” The restaurants will also have extensive bar programs, including craft beer, cocktails, and New World wines, with a focus on agave-based spirits.

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Pacific Dream Photography


Opened: Anticipated June

Chef Sheldon Simeon was a fan favorite on "Top Chef" (we’re sensing a theme here), and his casual Maui lunch spot, Tin Roof, has been a huge success. With Lineage, Simeon plans to take his talents to the full-service arena. Though the vibe will still be relaxed (like Tin Roof, Lineage will be located in a strip mall), the food is anything but simple. Drawing from his Filipino roots and Hawaiian upbringing, dishes like pork adobo and pipkaula, a dried, salted beef, will highlight local flavors and techniques that aren’t often spotlighted in the restaurant world. Lineage is scheduled to open in June 2018.

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San Mateo, California

Opened: March

Readers of Serious Eats will already be familiar with J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, the obsessive food scientist who will consume literal mountains of potatoes in order to develop the perfect french fry technique. He’s brought the same approach to his first restaurant, San Mateo’s German beer hall-inspired Wursthall. With a selection of both traditional and innovative sausages, along with options like the vegan donor kebap, everyone can find something to love about Wursthall. The restaurant has been open since March 12.

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Sammy Faze Photography)


Opened: TBA 2018

The collaboration between Noah and Cara Sandoval and Julia Momose has already yielded magic at the Michelin-starred Oriole in Chicago. Now the team is set to open Momose’s dream project, Kumiko, an omakase-style bar inspired by the bartender’s Japanese heritage. Momose, formerly of the since-closed GreenRiver and the Aviary, is known for her precise, beautiful presentation, ensuring that the drinks will not only taste, but also look, spectacular. Bites from Sandoval will be served as part of the omakase menu as well as in a separate dining area, and are designed to complement the drink menu.

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Aliza Sokolow

Los Angeles

Opened: Anticipated spring

Chef Jessica Largey has been on everyone’s radar for almost a decade, working at hotspots like the now-shuttered Bastide, and the Michelin-starred Manresa. Now she’s branching out on her own, with help from former Bastide coworker Bruno Bagbeni, and director Joe Russo. Simone will be California from head to toe, with seasonal, produce-driven plates featuring sustainable seafood and meat. Jordan Egan, previously of The NoMad in Manhattan is in charge of wine, while Panda and Sons’ Iain McPherson is running the cocktail program. Simone is set to open this spring.