2018’s Best New Restaurants In America

by MR Magazine Staff

Every January, just after New Year’s, I set out across America in search of what we at GQ call the Perfect Night Out. What does that mean? Well, that’s a good question. The easy part of the answer is that I’m looking for superlative restaurants that have opened in the past 12 to 18 months, the places we deem the best newcomers in the land. What makes them “perfect” is more complicated, and figuring that out for myself anew is, in some ways, precisely the purpose of each year’s travel. I could give you a list of traits that the new restaurants I love nearly always display: ambition, artistry, heart, style, humor, familiarity, surprise, comfort, conscientiousness, craft—in addition to the more traditional restaurant qualities through which those are filtered, like deliciousness, hospitality, value, service, design, and so on. But the exact way in which any number of those will come together in a particular space, on a particular night, in a way that makes you say, “This. This is the only place in the world I want to be eating right now”—that remains something of a wonderful mystery. Which is what gave me hope in a year that provided abundant reasons to be depressed about dining out, even to wonder whether restaurants should still exist at all. There have been times when it’s seemed that behind every inviting dining room lies, as Boston Globe critic Devra First memorably put it, “a Hieronymus Bosch tableau of struggling operators, lascivious chefs, and broke staffers.” To those who believe the only answer is to burn it all down, the 13 new restaurants in which I enjoyed this year’s Perfect Nights Out—not to mention dozens of others that offered wonderful moments and meals—are, to my mind, the best argument for why restaurant culture is worth fighting to change, so that restaurants may live on. Read more at GQ.