I didn’t know what to expect when I booked a flight just weeks after starting this job and set out in search of the best new restaurants in the US. In 2020, as the entire industry reeled from the early effects of the pandemic, Bon Appétit put a pause on this annual undertaking. When we resumed I was anxious that the industry had been irreparably changed, that the landscape would be desolate. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In Kansas City, Oakland—anywhere we went, really­—we were met by jaw-dropping food and a remarkable sense of creativity.

I was right about one thing though: Restaurants are approaching things differently than in the past. They’re giving center stage to regional foodways that many of our cities have sorely lacked. They’re cooking food that shakes off the expectations and burdens of what certain cuisines are supposed to look or taste like. They’re putting staff first in ways that feel new and inspiring and just right. And they’re having a hell of a lot of fun.

Even when we were on our second or third dinners (so many double dinners!), my fellow editors and I left those meals feeling like we’d been part of something truly special. It would be impossible to simmer that feeling down to a few paragraphs or even an entire package, though we’ve certainly tried. Better than we could possibly say it ourselves, these 10 new restaurants exemplify exactly how special a restaurant can be. —Elazar Sontag, restaurant editor Read the full list of 50 nominees here

From left to right: Kamal Kamal, Jasmine Kamal, Yusra Abu-Alhassab, Yahia Kamal, Omar Kamal, and Hannah Kamal Nsenki.

Even if all we’d tasted at Baba’s Pantry, a Palestinian American café in Kansas City, Missouri, had been the hummus, we still may have named it one of this year’s best new restaurants. Velvet-smooth and crowned with a luscious mound of aromatic shaved beef or lamb, it is perhaps the best we’ve ever had. The restaurant’s owner, Yahia Kamal—Baba to his children and just about anyone who knows him—has run a number of different food businesses since he immigrated to America in 1979. This, however, is the first restaurant he’s ever called his own, and the first time he’s declared his business to be proudly Palestinian. In every way, Baba’s Pantry is a family affair. Yahia’s oldest son Kamal Kamal is an interior designer, and he transformed the humble storefront into a deeply personal space that honors both his family’s Palestinian homeland and their life in the diaspora. Yusra Abu-Alhassab, Yahia’s wife, may bring out a crystal thimble of coffee and a sticky slice of baklava to cap off your meal. Even the design here points to family: antique radios line the window, an homage to Yahia’s father, who collected them for years. But even if you notice none of these perfectly heartwarming elements, trust us when we say: The hummus is enough. —Amiel Stanek Read more about the Kamal family’s journey to opening Baba’s Pantry

WHAT TO ORDER

Baba’s Hummus ($8) with added beef and lamb kebab ($5); Baba’s Falafel Pita Sandwich ($10); JuJu’s Baklava ($4).

When chef James Martin left fine dining kitchens to start his own restaurant, he wasn’t interested in cooking just one single cuisine. That wouldn’t have represented what Martin finds so fascinating: the many intersections and influences that shape how we eat. At the laid-back and thoughtfully designed Bocadillo Market, he highlights similarities between Spanish dishes—particularly those brought over by the Moors of North Africa—and the Low Country–influenced ones he grew up eating as the DC-born child of Southern parents. The result is magnificent. Croquetas on the dinner menu are packed with smoky ham hock, and the Sunday brunch menu features such revelations as a waffle loaded with duck confit. Whether you show up for weekday breakfast (a towering slice of egg-yolk-rich Extremadura pie, plus a sandwich piled with Serrano ham and Mahón cheese) or dinner (saffron-tinted lima bean stew is a must-order), you’ll leave very full and grateful Martin thought to bring all these flavors together. —Elazar Sontag

WHAT TO ORDER

For weekday breakfast: Extremadura Almond Pie ($6); Crispy Calamari Bocadillo ($16). For Sunday brunch: Tortilla de Patatas ($18); Duck Confit Waffle ($25). For dinner: Serrano Ham Croquetas ($15); Spanish Bean Stew (An Ode to Mable) ($16)

Clockwise from top: Shaina Loew-Banayan at Cafe Mutton. Creamy Crab and Boursin Omelet (left) and an end-of-summer tomato sandwich. Artist Cynthia Lerch hand-painted the bathroom wall.

Removed from the bustle of the main commercial strip in Hudson, New York, Cafe Mutton inhabits a cottage-like corner building that gives the entire restaurant a quaint feel. But there’s nothing mild-mannered or understated about the food Shaina Loew-Banayan and their small kitchen crew—plus Shaina’s wife, Bettina Loew-Banayan, who runs the dining room—put out for breakfast and lunch four days a week and for dinner on Fridays. This is decadent, unpretentious cooking, influenced by Shaina’s meat-loving Hungarian ancestors, and informed by what their farmer and forager friends bring them each week. While so many new restaurants in this hyper-online era are shaped by the tastes of TikTok-obsessed diners and Instagram influencers, Cafe Mutton is staunchly disinterested in trendiness. A line on the restaurant’s own Instagram account proclaims “We don’t have fucking breakfast sandwiches.” But don’t worry, there is made-from-scratch fried bologna piled on bread, along with homemade sausages and poached eggs done up with the most velvety hollandaise. A deviled pork trotter on the dinner menu, lightly breaded and served with sauerkraut, makes a very strong case for more restaurants cooking pig feet. All the while, you won’t miss breakfast sandwiches for a moment. —Elazar Sontag Read more about chef-owner Shaina Loew-Banayan

WHAT TO ORDER

The menu changes frequently. Reliably available and delicious breakfast offerings include: Crepes With Butter and Maple Syrup ($12); Fried Bologna Sandwich ($11). Dinner specials change weekly and are worth a trip.

Tavel Bristol-Joseph.

Tavel Bristol-Joseph, a Guyana-born pastry chef, has been at the helm of some of Austin’s most beloved restaurants with his business partner, chef Kevin Fink. But Canje is different from those other restaurants, and not just because Bristol-Joseph has gone savory. It’s also the first time in his career that he’s cooking the kind of food he grew up with, and he’s committed to representing not just Guyana, but the entire Caribbean, with all its layers of influence: African, Latino, Chinese, Portuguese, Indian, and beyond. There are crisp hunks of bacalaíto—fritters of salted fish left over from making ceviche—kissed with zingy mint mojo sauce. And you should absolutely sop up a deeply flavorful beef curry with golden brown lily pads of Guyanese roti. There’s pepperpot, too, a rich meat stew made with molasses-like cassareep, a singular ingredient native to Guyana. And then there’s the dish I still dream about: a pillow of crispy-skinned wild bass resting in a pool of plush, creamy rum butter sauce. Even before the coconut-milk-soaked tres leches cake hits the table, you’ll understand exactly what makes Canje one of the best new restaurants in the country. —Hilary Cadigan

WHAT TO ORDER

Wild Boar Pepperpot ($26) and Guyanese Style Roti ($5); Striped Bass ($28); Tres Leches ($10).

Clockwise from left: Owners Finn Stern and Stella Dennig. Guests in the dining room. Sourdough garlic noodles with urfa miso. King salmon crudo.

It’s easy to look right past another trendy wine bar selling cloudy pours of natural wine and a few bites of food on the side. But skipping Daytrip, in Oakland, would be a big mistake. This bright restaurant with a disco ball glimmering in the middle of the dining room is more like a jubilant dinner party than a wine bar (though all the wines are excellent and fun to drink). The names of every restaurant worker are printed in the corner of the menu, and those servers and cooks swing by often to tell you how the kitchen team landed on the winning combination of charred favas with candied sesame brittle and white jasmine ricotta, or hand-cut pasta with honeynut squash miso and pearls of kelp. As restaurants across the country struggled to staff up during the pandemic, Daytrip made headlines for having a surplus of applicants. Workers were eager to join co-owners Stella Dennig and Finn Stern, who made pay transparency a core tenet and the happiness of their staff central to their business approach. That sense of joy makes the experience all the more lovely. In a city overrun with buzzy restaurants, it seems like everyone wants to eat—and work—at this one. —Elazar Sontag

WHAT TO ORDER

The menu rotates frequently. Inventive pastas always shine, alongside creative seasonal salads. Order anything featuring small-batch misos from Shared Cultures.

You too can have this much fun at Irwin’s.

The best pasta in the country right now is at the very top of Philly’s BOK building—at eight stories, the striking 1930s Art Deco vocational school turned creative hub towers over the sleepy blocks of row houses that surround it. Go down an echoey hallway, past the former girl’s gymnasium and up the elevator to the top floor. There, in an old nursing classroom warmed up with vintage lamps and multihued midcentury furniture, you’ll find Irwin’s, chef Michael Vincent Ferreri’s ode to the food of Sicily. A plate of chewy hand-rolled twists of trofie pasta; a cold glass of fizzy biodynamic wine; a seat on the rooftop terrace watching the sun set over Center City. Heaven. Every single plate that hits the table, be it a crackling pile of fritto misto, a sticky agrodolce chicken, or a crisp swordfish milanese, dances on the razor’s edge between rusticity and precision that makes good Southern Italian cooking so thrilling. It’s easy to imagine that Ferreri and his team feel, deservedly, like they’re on top of the world. And for a few glorious hours, so can you. —Amiel Stanek

WHAT TO ORDER

Fritto Misto ($20); Eggplant Caponata ($16); Gnocchi Sardi ($15/$28); ½ Agrodolce Chicken ($35); Semifreddo ($12); Tiramisù ($12).

The kanpachi and chicatana ant tostada comes with a dramatic plume of smoke.

At República, a buzzy restaurant in Portland’s Pearl District, every ingredient is treated like a precious living artifact. Crispy chicatana ants are blitzed into creamy moles and aiolis. The distilled spirit raicilla, made from roasted agave fermented in a traditional Jaliscan rock pit, is moussified with pineapple into an elegant dessert. Behind these dishes is not just one chef but a whole team, each with their own area of expertise. Co-owner Angel Medina is the originator of the restaurant’s expansive “Mexico-forward” vision; co-owner and executive chef Lauro Romero runs the kitchen with chef de cuisine Juan Gomez; and co-owner and executive pastry chef Olivia Bartruff is the force behind the fanciful desserts. Their shared approach is one of playful yet reverent celebration, highlighted by the history lessons and anecdotes that come along with each dish in the six-course tasting menu. Pairings of mostly Mexican wines or agave-based spirits complete the experience. Sitting outside on the covered patio, you might just wonder if you’re eating the most thoughtfully prepared food in the country. Lucky for all of us, it’s also some of the tastiest. —Hilary Cadigan

WHAT TO ORDER

Dinner at República consists of a five-course chef’s tasting menu ($78–$85) which changes nightly, along with supplemental wine or mezcal pairings ($44).

A Day at República

Watch a team of pastry chefs and cooks expertly craft five courses of Mexican history.

PAIRING IS CARING

República’s wine list includes more than 80 bottles from Mexico. “As far as I know, it’s one of the largest and most diverse Mexican wine programs on the West Coast,” says beverage and hospitality director Miguel Marquez. He makes selections with an eye for history. —Kate Kassin

Mina Penélope Sauvignon Blanc, Valle de Guadalupe, MexicoThis wine from Veronica Santiago and Nathaniel Malagón has notes of grapefruit, stone fruit, and underripe pineapple, with minerality and herbaceous tones at the finish. It resonates with citrus-forward dishes, while also beautifully mitigating the spicy sensation of the omnipresent chile.

Lomita Tinto de la Hacienda, Valle de Guadalupe, MexicoThis 90% Tempranillo and 10% Merlot blend delivers the red-fruited cherry-like tones expected from a Tempranillo, with the velvety finish of a Merlot. Notes of spice from the oak wonderfully match spices in dishes like mole, while an earthiness from the six-year aging process plays nice with umami flavors.

Pouya Chenin Blanc, Valle de Guadalupe, MexicoFernanda Parra produces this organically farmed wine from hand-picked vines dating back to the 1950s. It has a dense yet high acid profile with classic chamomile, honey, and mushroom aromas expected from a cool climate Chenin Blanc. While the wine is unfiltered and dense, the high acid palate helps cut rich food.

Chef Vijay Kumar in Semma’s dining room.

Under the direction of chef Vijay Kumar, regional Southern Indian dishes reign at New York’s Semma: spicy-sweet Goanese oxtails, Mangalore cauliflower presented in a delicate crescent that belies a major punch of spice, Keralan banana-leaf-wrapped fish. Plus a Platonic-ideal dosa, corners tucked tightly into a triangle with a mess of masala potatoes inside, and side dishes like a parotta as flaky-soft as they come and the ponni rice Kumar grew up eating on his family’s paddy fields in Tamil Nadu. In the paddies as a child, he’d hunt for snails—which he’s reimagined into one of the restaurant’s standout dishes, served on a bed of their shells. Pair your food with one of the bar’s killer drinks, like the Whistle Podu, a particular favorite that features curry-leaf-infused gin, ginger liqueur, and cardamom. Indian restaurants may be a dime a dozen in New York—and nationwide—but the wide breadth of Southern Indian cuisine hasn’t always received the attention it deserves. Thanks to chef Kumar, who approaches the vast range of dishes, flavors, and ingredients across the region with care and precision, that’s changing. —Sonia Chopra Read a comic chronicling Vijay’s path to Semma

WHAT TO ORDER

Eral Thokku (Tiger prawn, $25); Kudal Varuval (Goat intestines, $18); Gunpowder Dosa ($19); Mangalore Huukosu (Cauliflower, $19); Meen Pollichathu (Banana-leaf-wrapped black cod, $45).

THE PATH TO SEMMA

For chef Vijay Kumar, it all began with rice.

byBecca Humanwith additional reporting byKate KassinREAD A COMIC CHRONICLING VIJAY’S PATH TO SEMMA

The Depth of South Indian Cuisine

Chef Vijay Kumar shows how six South Indian staple dishes are made.

From left to right: A peanut butter sundae and pint-size pies, ready for diners. The real-deal church exterior. The dining room in full swing.

Supperland’s co-owners Jamie Brown and Jeff Tonidandel describe their restaurant as a “Southern steakhouse meets church potluck.” Housed in a restored and grandly redecorated midcentury church, this perfectly over-the-top restaurant is a welcome rebuttal to the tired trend of “small plates meant for sharing.” Everything is indeed meant for sharing here, but nothing is small. Take, for example, a magnificent dish called Pork Can Can—a custom-deluxe slab of bone-in Cheshire pork that contains loin, rib, and belly meat, a comma-shaped cut the size of an adult fist and forearm combined. It’s grilled on the wood-fired hearth at the front of the restaurant, and each slice is all rosy pink flesh with gorgeously rendered fat. A kitschy seven-layer salad served in a goblet the size of a small trophy is meant for sharing, too, as is a literal Dutch oven’s worth of Wagyu pot roast. Throughout the restaurant, wood pews are packed with diners digging into big-spirited food designed to be enjoyed in a big-spirited space alongside as many loved ones as you can gather—what higher calling could a restaurant have? —Amiel Stanek

WHAT TO ORDER

Roasted Oysters ($18); Sausage Gravy Croquettes ($13); Wagyu Pot Roast ($38); Pork Can Can ($49); Miso Mac and Cheese ($16); Smashed Potatoes ($15).

Co-owners Katianna and John Hong in the restaurant’s mini-mart, Yangban Super.

When Katianna and John Hong decided to open Yangban Society, their Downtown LA Korean American restaurant-slash-superette, the chef-couple knew that they wanted a place that allowed them, first and foremost, to explore. It would be a place where they could express their shared Korean American identities for one, but also the Jewish American heritage of Katianna’s adoptive father. The result is a fun, fascinating restaurant with extraordinary range. Want a plate of crispy, sticky-sweet chicken wings and a plastic 1.6-liter bottle of cheap Korean beer? You got it. A baller dry-aged New York strip steak and a cold bottle of Krug? You can have that too. Whatever your order, the Hongs approach all of their food—the high and the low, the kitschy and the creative—with the kind of seriousness you’d expect from their Michelin-starred résumés. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure extravaganza—a place that, like its owners and diners, contains multitudes. Yangban Society isn’t one thing; it’s everything all at once, and it’s all the more delicious for it. —Amiel Stanek

WHAT TO ORDER

Biscuit and Kare Gravy ($14); Congee Pot Pie ($16), topped with roasted abalone when available ($30); Yangban Signature Wings ($30); Bone-In Heritage Pork Katsu ($34).

Lead Editors:

Elazar Sontag, Amiel Stanek, Hilary Cadigan

Story Editors:

Meryl Rothstein, Chala June

Project Manager:

Kate Kassin

Production Editor:

Nico Avalle

Creative Director:

Arsh Raziuddin

Art & Design:

Caroline Newton, Julia Duarte, Walter Green, Megan Tatem, Hazel Zavala

Photo:

José Ginarte, Graylen Gatewood, Marc Williams

Header Video:

Isa Zapata, Victoria Granof (food stylist), Grace Hartnett (prop stylist)

Development:

Alexander Ratner

Social and Audience Development:

Urmila Ramakrishnan, Esra Erol, Jessica Forstmann, Adam Moussa, Olivia Quintana

Food Editors:

Chris Morocco, Hana Asbrink, Rachel Gurjar, Zaynab Issa, Shilpa Uskokovic, Kendra Vaculin

Recipe Editors:

Liesel Davis, Jonathan Milder

Video:

June Kim, Ali Inglese, Dan Siegel, Paz Mendez Hodes, Cole Evelev, Gunsel Pehlivan, Jen McGinity, Parisa Kosari, Jon Bang, Janine Dispensa, Dimitri Lazarashvili, Alicia Aswat, Vivian Jao, Elizabeth Hymes, Robby Massey, Micah Phillips, JC Scruggs

Research:

Ryan Harrington, H Conley

Copy:

Greg Robertson, Brian Carroll

Special Thanks:

Dawn Davis, Sonia Chopra, Serena Dai, Matt Domino, Sasha Levine, Nick Traverse