With summer on it’s way, travel is more likely. As you find yourself in different states and cities, GQ has put together a list of restaurants for you to try.
After exploring everything from neo-Nordic in Brooklyn to Korean pizza in Minneapolis to ecstatic Mexican food in LA, GQ’s Brett Martin knows the 10 restaurants you need to visit in the U.S. this year.
I was sitting in the courtyard at Salazar when I finally felt the spark. This was in Frogtown, an industrial sliver of Los Angeles, a stone’s throw from the L.A. River. It was chilly and I was alone. When the waiter brought my margarita, he slid a heavy propane heating tower to my table. I listened to the traffic go by beyond the bougainvillea-draped fence and fiddled with the silverware. For several weeks, I had been dining without feeling much of anything for the meals I was consuming. Honestly, I was starting to get worried.
There’s one ironclad rule of eating, professionally and otherwise: You always take yourself to dinner. And this January, as I traveled around the country, my unavoidable companion was like many Americans: cranky, anxious, angry, confused—and dubious about the one real requirement of the job, which is to be open to pleasure. The news—glimpsed on the front page of USA Todays in hotel lobbies, overheard on CNN on monitors in airports, playing silently on taxi TV screens—was bad. And dining out night after night, ticking off restaurants on a list that every critic seemed to share, felt useless and out of step.
I can’t say exactly what happened at Salazar that shook me out of that stupor. It had to do with the food, of course: carne asada and al pastor in flour tortillas closer to the supple texture of moo shu pancakes than traditional taco wrappers; papas con chorizo, a gloriously thick potato puree flecked with green chorizo; chickens marinated in orange juice and paprika charring on the open grill, their smoke drifting up into the leaves of the African sumacs. It had also to do with the effect of the margarita. Most of all, it had to do with the tables that were filling up in the yard outside what was once an auto-body shop. Salazar was clearly built with summer evenings in mind, and I could imagine it on one of them, bathed in sunset and filled with crowds out of a cell-phone commercial. But right now I was in love with the sense of refuge from the dismal weather—the way the passing cars started to sound as cozy as rain against a window, the flickering of heaters across the courtyard, laughter coming out of the dark as though from a neighboring campsite.
That was when I felt the spark: a glow that was like the buzz of hunger, but not limited to my stomach. I sat very still, to let it grow. This, the spark said, the knowledge bolting through me as though it were new information. This is what restaurants are for.
GQ’s 10 Best New Restaurants in America In alphabetical order
Aska (Brooklyn) Scandinavian high notes beneath the Williamsburg Bridge.
Flowers of Vietnam (Detroit) A son of Palestinian immigrants does Southeast Asian in Mexicantown.
Han Oak (Portland, OR) Casual Korean tasting menu collides with Portland cool.
Kato (Los Angeles) A West L.A.’s strip mall hosts the city’s best-valued Asian tasting menu.
Kemuri Tatsu-ya (Austin) Giddy, riotous Japanese-Texan “Austin izakaya.”
Rooster Soup Co. (Philadelphia) Israeli chef Michael Salomonov’s posse elevates Jewish diner favorites.
Salazar (Los Angeles) Ecstatic, escapist Mexican food near the L.A. River.
Side Chick (Los Angeles) Transcendant Hainan chicken at the Westfield Santa Anita mall.
Tarsan i Jane (Seattle) Characteristic Catalan and Valencian inventiveness for the Northwest.
Young Joni (Minneapolis) Wood-fired pizzas and Korean small plates, in equal measure. America in 2017 on a menu.
For a full run-down of what each restaurant is like, click the link below.