From modern Lebanese in Atlanta to a funky vermouth bar in Miami, here are 10 new spots on our radar
The Local Palate has eyes on 10 new spots that opened (or are soon to open) in early 2023. From a modern take on the classic Korean steakhouse in Louisville to take a cozy seat in a dark corner of a neighborhood spot in Raleigh, North Carolina, these recently opened restaurants range in ambiance, cuisine, and style, so there’s something for everyone’s tastes. Use this list of recently opened restaurants to plot out destinations to hit on your travels—or around your hometown—and enjoy each bite along the way.
The team behind Richmond’s highly acclaimed, hyper-seasonal, and avant-garde Longoven has come together with the recently opened restaurant Lost Letter, an intimate Italian-inspired eatery in Richmond’s Scott’s Addition neighborhood. Inspired by chef Andrew Manning’s travels cooking abroad in Alba, Lost Letter evokes an endearing atmosphere that will take you away to the hillsides of the Piedmont countryside.
The menu is notably based on availability and seasonality; you’ll find old-world Italian dishes like tarjarin al ragu (hand-cut pasta with a Piedmontese ragu) and vitello tonnato (roasted beef with silky tonnato sauce.) Before you head out be sure to check out pastry chef Megan Fitzroy Phelan’s layered tiramisu and triple-layer spumoni ice cream cake.
Modern Lebanese restaurant Zakia recently opened in Atlanta and serves a mix of classic and modern Lebanese and Middle Eastern mezze, along with chargrilled meats and seafood. Named after owners Jonathan and Ryan Akly’s grandmother, Zakia features recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation as chef Ian Winslade has crafted bright and fresh flavors in the form of dolmas, fried kibbeh, and a vast selection of kabobs with an elevated flair. The bar features Lebanese-inspired cocktails, a curated wine list, and traditional arak service. Zakia even offers Arabic coffee that makes the perfect cap to every meal.
Legendary chef Edward Lee has brought to life a modern Korean steakhouse in Louisville’s Butchertown neighborhood, serving a mix of traditional and modern Korean dishes. While Lee is known for blending his Korean roots with Southern classics, this will be his first restaurant dedicated to exploring his heritage cuisine. The menu will feature a modern interpretation on classics like Korean barbecue, bibimbap, banchan, pad-Jan, and house-made kimchi. With the restaurant divided into two levels, guests can choose between the main dining room and a traditional Korean grill table set up upstairs. There’s even a private karaoke room to round out the experience.
Set to open in April, St. Vito Focacceria will offer sfincione pizza and other Sicilian-inspired fare located in Nashville’s The Glutch neighborhood. What started as a traveling pop up, chef Michael Hanna’s five-year journey to create the perfect sourdough sfincione dough that is finally coming to fruition at his permanent spot. With an old-school-meets-new-school approach, you can find chef Hanna’s naturally leavened pizzas topped with classics like the Classic Vito-topped with tomato, pecorino, seasoned breadcrumbs, and oregano, and a potato variation topped with potato cream, lemon, seasoned breadcrumbs, and roasted potatoes.
While chef Hanna is known for his slices of heaven, you’ll also find light and bright shareable dishes like a pecorino and pistachio salad, wine syrup-cured Beets, and Carciofi all Giudia (Jewish-style fried artichokes.) Enjoy a Campari soda and slice of pie in this thoughtfully re-imagined space that has plenty of charm.
The team behind Atlanta’s acclaimed Lazy Betty and Juniper Cafe recently opened Humble Pie, a neighborhood bistro offering chef-driven American dishes in Atlanta’s westside mixed-use property The Interlock. Chef Evelyn Lee, the cousin of chef Ron Hsu, has curated a menu composed of creative wood-fired pizzas, chef-driven shared plates, and specialty pies and ice cream for dessert. You’ll find dishes like the oven-roasted half chicken, clam pizza, and chocolate mudslide pie, along with a fun beverage program featuring local beers, spirits, and biodynamic wine.
Now with a 14th restaurant under his belt, Giorgios Bakatsias, the restaurateur behind Giorgios Lifestyle & Hospitality Group, drew inspiration for his latest concept from Las Ramblas, a boulevard in Barcelona home to some of the most vibrant and delicious tapas spots in Spain.
Chef Brian Jenzer helms the kitchen, turning out traditional, shareable tapas, like pan con tomate, patatas bravas, croquettes, and Spanish octopus, plus some larger plates like suckling pig served with mojo verde or toasted fiedos with shrimp, saffron, and fresno chili. All of it’s designed to be washed down with Spanish sherry and wine, but be sure not to miss pastry chef Ashton Stephen’s Basque cheesecake and warm churros served with chocolate and cinnamon sugar.
This romantic and intimate Spanish-inspired craft vermouth-and-natural wine bar recently opened in the heart of Coconut Grove, where guests can find fun and low-ABV aperitifs, Spanish ciders, and natural wine by the glass. The latest concept from Kush Hospitality, which leads some of south Florida’s most eclectic restaurants and bars, After discovering quality vermouths on a trip to Italy, restaurateur Matthew Kuscher began a love affair with “the history, integrity, art, and science” behind vermouth. In addition to great pours, you can find tapas-style small plates like charcuterie boards, Not-So-Fancy Tea Sandwiches, caviar, pan con tomate, and more. The bar even offers two house-made vermouths.
Located in Houston’s Upper Kirby neighborhood, chef-owner Sherman Yeung behind Tobiuo Sushi & Bar has opened the doors to their second, highly anticipated concept, Money Cat. The restaurant features playful and innovative New Japanese cuisine and a Japanese beverage program, housed within a minimalist setting that exudes warm hospitality. Money Cat’s culinary experience is designed to spark all five senses. Guests are encouraged to build their dinner by choosing selections from each menu category; favorites include honey vanilla milk buns with cultured butter and trout roe, the katsu sando, hotate chawanmushi (steamed egg custard) with corn and chive taiyaki, and a take on Japanese shaved ice desserts like the nashi kakigori with layers of pear milk snow, corn ice cream, Asian pear, koji cream, and more. “I’ve always been fond of money cats,” Yeung says, the figurines often seen at Japanese businesses. “They’re super cute, plus there’s a history behind them, and they’ll provide good fortune to the restaurant.”
Recently opened in Charleston’s trendy Cannonborough/Elliotborough neighborhood, Southbound is one of the only places in the city cooking over wood. Owners Ryan and Kelleanne Jones (also of Kiki & Rye and Community Table) invested in a Grillworks grill, with no propane in sight at the restaurant with team members focused on keeping oak burning consistently throughout service. Find high-end entrees like grilled dry-aged steaks and black sea bass alongside a wide array of hearth-cooked side dishes like coal-roasted potatoes or cauliflower with furikake. Housed in a beautifully restored Charleston residence, the space is accented with Moroccan tile and an iron staircase along with other items Kelleanne repurposed from local antique stores.
Co-chef/owners Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer, in partnership with Jeff Maxfield, recently opened Walrus Rodeo, a restaurant with ambiguity and connotations of fun in the same little Haitian shopping center as their neighborhood gem, Boia De. Walrus Rodeo’s menu derives from the central wood-fire oven where you’ll find dishes like charbroiled Island Creek oysters with Franciacorta cream, jalapeño hot sauce, and brown-butter-brioche crumble; a local wahoo crudo aqua pazza with green papaya and crispy rice, and a turnip salad with Tiny Farms’ turnips tossed with a charred-scallion vinaigrette and served over fresh ricotta. With 32 seats and a bar that seats nine, Walrus Rodeo offers a more spacious setting than the intimate Boia De, as owner Alex Meyer is “excited to showcase a different style of food and share this exciting milestone with loyal customers, friends, and family.”
- by Erin Byers Murray
- by Amber Chase