1. Noma (Copenhagen)
René Redzepi’s pioneering restaurant Noma, the most influential—and poorly imitated—restaurant of the past decade, reopens in a new home. This is anything but a simple relocation: starchitect Bjarke Ingels has designed a lakeside campus for Noma 2.0 where there will be room for research, farming, and other types of exploration to develop menus that will be even more tuned to the seasons than before.
2. Pisellino (New York)
Opening early 2018
New York will certainly see splashier restaurant openings in 2018 than Pisellino, Jody Williams and Rita Sodi’s intimate Italian all-day café in the West Village. But given the duo’s pedigree (the beloved neighborhood spots Via Carota and I Sodi), it’s hard to think that any will be as quietly perfect.
3. Bar Crenn (San Francisco)
Dominique Crenn, the first female chef to earn two Michelin stars in the United States, is a force to be reckoned with. The chef is a global star who keeps on rising thanks to her support of progressive causes, compelling appearances on shows like Chef’s Table, and, of course, her San Francisco restaurants. In 2018, she adds to her small stable Bar Crenn, next door to the avant-garde flagship Atelier Crenn. It will be a casual affair she describes as a living room where you can drink natural wines and eat classic French comforts like Île Flotante.
4. Theodore Rex (Houston)
Many have singled out Houston as one of America’s future dining capitals. Chef Justin Yu is among those to thank for attracting the attention. This year, Yu has taken what was his acclaimed tasting menu restaurant, Oxheart, and turned it into Theodore Rex (yes, after the Whoopi Goldberg movie), where he’ll apply his punctiliousness to a more casual format. People are already going nuts over the tomato toast.
5. Le Clarence (Paris)
To a certain set of chefs and restaurant romantics, a great thrill is eating at a two-Michelin-star restaurant when you know that the chef wants the third sparkler. This seems to be the case at Le Clarence, the swanky restaurant inside Domaine Clarence Dillon’s headquarters near the Champs Élysées. Given who’s in charge of the kitchen, you shouldn’t expect staid Michelin bait: The chef, Christophe Pelé, used to run the informal favorite La Bigarrade, and by all accounts, he’s brought that sense of originality to his new home.
6. Lido 84 (Riva del Garda, Italy)
Forget Como: If you seek the pleasures of an idyllic European lake trip—and want to squeeze in a visit to the place insiders are calling the most exciting restaurant in Italy while you’re at it—choose Garda instead. In just a few years, Lido 84’s chef Riccardo Cammanini has earned some of the most important gastronomic distinctions for his way with pasta—a cacio e pepe is cooked inside a pig’s bladder, for instance—and odds are he’ll soon become a way bigger name in the States. Eat his food before the gastronauts make it impossible.
7. majordomo (Los Angeles)
At long last, Momofuku’s David Chang will open in Los Angeles. The chef hasn’t shared too many details on the project, which was temporarily called North Spring but is now called majordomo. It’s housed in a big industrial space near Downtown and equipped with several barbecue smokers. Given Chang’s track record in places like Sydney, when he goes into a new city with a competitive young restaurant scene, he aims extremely high.
8. Gaa (Bangkok)
The Mumbai-born mega-talent Garima Arora cut her teeth at Noma, in Copenhagen, before moving to Bangkok to serve as sous chef at the list-topping Gaggan. As of just a few months ago, Arora has her own showcase, Gaa, right next door to Gaggan (chef Gaggan Anand is the owner). There’s been nothing but raves about the tasting menus, which coherently bring together Arora’s varied influences with less of the gimmickry that some find off-putting about her boss’s in-demand restaurant, like an emoji menu. Gaa is where you want to eat in Bangkok right now.
9. Taiyo (Mexico City)
Opening mid-to-late 2018
Since spawning Mexico’s restaurant resurgence with Pujol, Enrique Olvera has gone on to build an empire of effortlessly cool, reliably delicious businesses. He even managed to make it in New York City while he was at it. In 2018, he adds to his stable Taiyo, a cantina-style establishment that builds on his shift in the past few years from formality to boisterousness. You’ll discover a taqueria in the front, agave-focused drinks, and plenty of people who will regret their decisions in the morning.
Gabe Ulla I write about food and culture for a couple of magazines and am the co-author of Ignacio Mattos’ Estela and David Chang’s Eat a Peach: A Memoir.