The Best New Restaurants 2012

Photo by: Andrew Thomas Lee
The Optimist, Atlanta

A soaring, convivial spot, the Optimist has a hopping oyster bar shaped like a surfboard, a first-rate cocktail program, and seafood cooked with

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Photo by: Andrew Thomas Lee
The Optimist, Atlanta

A soaring, convivial spot, the Optimist has a hopping oyster bar shaped like a surfboard, a first-rate cocktail program, and seafood cooked with old-school expertise over a wood fire.

Start with the grandness of the space - its inspiration taken from a vintage photo of a seafood plant in Savannah. The main dining room, with a white wooden ceiling trussed with steel rods and a wall of wine and spirits behind a waxed-steel bar counter, seats 180, with booths covered in a gold wet-suit fabric. Every table is taken every night.

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Wed, Oct 17, 2012 1:36 PM EDT
By John Mariani

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.


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