Nearly three decades have passed since Esquire published its first annual list of the Best New Restaurants of the Year. Sweeping trends in the restaurant world have come and gone, but this year has been unlike any other: In place of one trend, there are a whole bunch - and not just trends but also new ideas and personalities and ingredients and entirely novel kinds of cuisine bouncing around every city we visited. We've organized our list accordingly, showing how each restaurant fits into a larger phenomenon in the world of eating out. So get eating. It's a big, exciting, delicious country out there.
A crop of stellar restaurants, including these three, reminds us that it remains a region of serious cooking and timeless hospitality.
Carter's Kitchen, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina
People in the food world talk about how southern food has been "elevated" or "refined" lately, as if southern cooks never knew the difference between treasured tradition and culinary evolution. Nothing could be further from the truth. Fueled by a resurgence of interest in traditional southern farming methods, chefs like Robert Carter are at the forefront of a proliferation - not transformation - of great southern cooking. At Carter's, the napkins are gingham, flowers spring from copper kettles, and hospitality rises from the floor.