By Carey Jones
Updated: February 02, 2017

New York City: The playful vibe (yellow leather banquettes; framed photos of boomboxes) belies the serious dishes coming out of Charlie Bird ($$$), the SoHo spot from chef Ryan Hardy and sommelier Robert Bohr. The wines—many made from little-known grapes—can all be ordered by the half bottle.

Philadelphia: Peter Serpico earned his chops as second-in-command at New York’s Momofuku empire. Now he’s partnered with restaurateur Stephen Starr at Serpico ($$$). The seasonally driven menu includes raw diver scallops and an indulgent deep-fried duck leg.

Atlanta: Buckhead’s well-heeled crowd is packing King & Duke (pictured; $$$$), the latest from local star Ford Fry. A 24-foot open hearth turns out everything from Peking duck to ratatouille.

New Orleans: Gulf seafood has no truer champion than Donald Link, whose Warehouse District newcomer Pêche Seafood Grill ($$$) showcases local catfish and shrimp—all cooked over a live fire.

Austin: The long-awaited Qui ($$$) reflects Top Chef winner Paul Qui’s idiosyncratic vision, with globe-spanning dishes such as Japanese sea urchin with Mexican street corn, and Hainanese guinea hen.

Los Angeles: For his first brick-and-mortar location, pop-up master Ludo Lefebvre recruited Animal chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo to create Trois Mec ($$$$), in an old Melrose pizza parlor. Five-course meals (pre-paid) may include peas with salmon roe one night, braised lamb belly the next.

Restaurant Pricing Key
$ Less than $25
$$ $25 to $75
$$$ $75 to $150
$$$$ More than $150