The 21 best new restaurants in the world right now
After a year of ordering takeout and delivery from the couch, it feels sublime to dine out again – at an actual restaurant, with real-life servers and cocktails that beat anything we could shake up at home. Once you’re done checking in on all of your favorite haunts, you might find yourself wondering, ‘What’s new around here?’
You’re in luck: despite the odds stacked against them (of which there are many), new restaurants are popping up all over the world right now, proving just how tough the hospitality industry really is. On top of that, their stories are nothing short of remarkable. Take Imad Alarnab for instance: the chef and Syrian refugee is starting over in London with a deeply personal new concept that tells his story. Then there’s Damien Brockway’s mobile cookery in Austin, which introduces barbecue fans to modern African-American cuisine. And we’d be lying if we said we weren’t itching to jet off to Mexico City to check out a pair of fantastic new finds.
Ready to dig in? The best new restaurants in the world come in many shapes and sizes – from a cozy ramen-fueled izakaya in Dubai and a splashy New York import in Miami to a downright dreamy rooftop in Lisbon. Join us in celebrating these amazing new restaurants that opened their doors despite – well! – everything. And plan your next food-fueled vacation accordingly.
The world’s best new restaurants
- Imad’s Syrian Kitchen in London
What to know: After building an empire of food joints in Damascus, Syrian chef Imad Alarnab was forced to flee his wartorn home. He headed for the UK, and on the way, he cooked for fellow refugees in makeshift kitchens. Eventually, he got to the UK and started running pop-ups to help raise money for a children’s hospital in Aleppo. Fast-forward to 2021, and he’s just opened his first bricks-and-mortar spot in London, appropriately named Imad’s Syrian Kitchen. The menu pays homage to his roots, with falafel, hummus and grilled chicken and lamb. Here’s hoping it’s the start of a new empire in London.
- Rose Mary in Chicago
What to know: Top Chef devotees will recognize the owner of this dazzling new restaurant as season 15 winner Joe Flamm. Named for both of his grandmothers and combining elements of Italian and Croatian cooking, Rose Mary delivers a hit list of super-seasonal bites in Chicago’s historic Fulton Market neighborhood. Flamm describes the menu as ‘Adriatic drinking food,’ which means you’ll be lining your belly with decadent pastas, otherworldly risottos and pristine seafood. And yes, there’s plenty to drink, too: The wine list focuses on organic, biodynamic and sustainably farmed options, while the cocktail menu shows off tipples made with underutilized (on this side of the ocean, at least) Eastern European spirits.
- Mi Compa Chava in Mexico City
What to know: Few things in life satisfy quite like pristine seafood. We’re talking about the kind of stuff that’s so fresh, it still tastes like the ocean. At Mi Compa Chava in Mexico City’s thriving Roma neighborhood, chef Salvador Orozco honors the origin of his ingredients, serving seafood Sinaloa-style. (Look closely and you’ll even spot the names of the fishermen who caught the bounty on the menu.) That radically intentional process is just one reason why we love this already-popular new spot. And hey, the tequila-soaked cocktail lineup doesn’t hurt either.
- Distant Relatives in Austin
What to know: The name of this zero-waste mobile trailer speaks volumes about owner Damien Brockway’s ultimate inspiration. The former fine dining chef retired his tweezers in favor of BBQ gloves to showcase his extensive research of the African diaspora foodways in the US. The result is a stunning new take on modern African-American cuisine that’s kissed with smoke, infused with West African spices and loaded with decades of heritage. His small but mighty smokeshack cranks out a parade of ridiculously tender meats that are slathered in sauces so flavorful, you might just catch yourself licking your fingers clean. (No shame in that game.)
- Dhamaka in NYC
What to know: The anticipation surrounding this new NYC hotspot has been building since 2019. Spoiler alert: The hype is totally worth it. When you approach this dazzingly pretty Indian restaurant at Essex Market, you’ll feel like you’ve arrived. Inside, the menu includes items seldom seen commercially stateside, including plates like gurda kapoora (goat kidney, testicles, red onion and pao) doh khleh (pork with lime, cilantro, onion and ginger) and champaran meat (mutton, garlic, red chili) – all of which spotlight ‘the forgotten side of India.’ Cocktails like the N.R.I. – a spice-forward mix of infused scotch, Cointreau and coconut cream with a coconut water ice ball – only make it easier to linger a bit longer. Not that you needed an excuse.
- Deessa in Madrid
What to know: Nestled inside the beyond-glam Mandarin Oriental Ritz, Deessa is award-winning chef Quique Dacosta’s (Michelin-starred Quique Dacosta in Denia, Alicante) first concept in Madrid. His next-level gastronomy feels right at home in the opulent Alfonso XIII room, a cream-colored eutopia fit for the likes of Marie Antoinette. It’ll be nearly impossible to peel your eyes away from the plates arriving at your table, but you should take a moment to peep out the windows, which overlook the lush Ritz Garden. And if you want to really ball out, book the Hidden Table, which offers one-on-one attention from Dacosta and the sommelier, who can offer bespoke wine pairings for every bite.
- Saso in Pasadena
What to know: The name of this timeless bistro is a play on the Basque word ‘itsaso,’ which translates to ‘ocean.’ That should tip you off to the treasure trove of seafood in the kitchen, where chef Dominique Crisp brings his light, bright and seasonal menu to life. Situated in the serene Pasadena Playhouse, Saso blends Basque flavors with Pacific Northwest style, creating a veritable escape within city limits. Sweetening the deal is Saso’s picturesque patio, the ideal backdrop for munching on pintxos and sipping vino.
- Javá in Lisbon
What to know: When you roll up to this address, at 8Building on bustling Cais do Sodré, you’ll spot a number of restaurants on the ground floor. But if you gaze up toward the sky, you’ll catch a glimmer of Javá, Lisbon’s hottest new rooftop. To get in, enter with confidence and look for the panoramic elevator, which takes you straight to the top floor. When the doors open, you’ll have to pick your jaw up from the ground as you take in a whole new view of the city. The interior is equally tantalizing, with rich velvets, hanging plants and Parisian bistro tables. Plan your visit around weekend brunch with friends, or book a table just before sunset, when you can watch the sky fade from blue to pink as you dine.
- 1-ATICO in Singapore
What to know: We’re cheating a bit with this one, as 1-ATICO is actually three concepts in one. (The more the merrier, right?) Perched 56 stories above the street, this splashy new penthouse rooftop is home to contemporary Argentenian steakhouse FIRE, Japanese-Peruvian gastrobar FLNT and glitzy, futuristic nightclub 1-Atico Ultra-Lounge. No matter which route you choose, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the sparkling city skyline thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows that line just about every wall in the place.
- Whey in Hong Kong
What to know: It’s not uncommon to find restaurants that blend cuisines. Some call it fusion, but most chefs will bear teeth and growl if you even utter the F-word these days. Thankfully, at Whey, it doesn’t seem to matter so much as the cuisine is a little less defined though nonetheless complex. European techniques and Asian flavours fluidly ebb and flow on the menu, thanks to Singaporean chef Barry Quek and his legit global experience in cities like Belgium, Melbourne and London. The debut menu is an introduction to Quek’s impressive cooking style, where he cleverly layers ingredients, textures and flavours in triumphant combos as seen in dishes such as an insanely juicy pork rib served with pork heart and cabbage and durian ice cream with caviar and milk crisps that just works.
- Tropikàl in Montreal
What to know: Take your taste buds on a tropical vacation at chef Jae-Anthony Dougan’s pan-Caribbean eatery that hops from Haiti to Trinidad to Barbados with finesse. His menu celebrates each locale’s unique techniques and traditions while championing their similarities. That translates to smoke-smooched proteins, soulful sides and a slew of street food-style eats that’ll keep diners coming back to claim another stamp on their passport. Dougan is also serious about leading by example as a prominent Black chef in Montreal’s burgeoning dining scene. And as restrictions continue to lift, Tropikàl will introduce guests to a rum-fueled cocktail bar, the perfect partner for all that island fare.
- Foreign Return in Sydney
What to know: In the same way that pad Thai is no longer the sole spokesperson for Thai cuisine and banh mi has shaken off the burden of representing all things Vietnamese, restaurateur Gaurang Gahoi is determined to free butter chicken from the pressure to perform. Foreign Return – named affectionately for expats who leave India and come back home – is nixing the idea that Indian food is all creamy sauces, soft breads, and two-note spice blends, and putting ‘lost’ recipes back onto leather-bound menus. Though the future is bright for this restaurant, Foreign Return has one eye fixed affectionately on its past.
- Francie in Brooklyn
What to know: It’s been a whirlwind debut for Francie, which opened its doors at the tailend of 2020 and scored a coveted Michelin star in May – a truly remarkable accomplishment in the throes of a global pandemic. Guests get a front-row seat to chef-owner Chris Cipollone’s open kitchen, where the team operates like an orchestra, cooking and plating decadent snacks, ribbons of handmade pasta and mains that range from tilefish and duck to pork. The only misstep here would be not saving room for pastry chef James Distefano’s desserts – the New York cheesecake is gussied up with citrus, fennel and sunflower seed.
- Nautilus Pier 4 in Boston
What to know: Nautilus got its start back in 2013 in Nantucket, when three friends joined forces to open a restaurant. Now, eight years later, they’re putting down roots in Boston. The guiding principle remains steadfast: Everything’s better when it’s shared. That philosophy extends to the experience of coming together over a good meal. In fact, the largest section of the menu is a lineup of tapas-style starters, which are designed to be ordered for the table. Once you’re done snacking your way through apps, switch to one of the table feasts, a no-brainer way to make everyone smile. Bonus points: Nautilus goes above and beyond the typical wine list with an impressive sake selection.
- Kinoya in Dubai
What to know: It’s no easy task to stand out in the sea of hype happening in Dubai. But leave it to chef Neha Mishra to cut through the noise with her brilliant new ramen-fueled izakaya, Kinoya. The team here prides itself on a carefully constructed menu, for which every ingredient has been painstakingly hand-selected. But don’t let that fool you – the vibe here is communal and cool, with a ramen counter for slurping, a 10-person chef’s counter and a cozy dining room that’s ideal for groups of two to four. Determined to change the narrative on Japanese cuisine in Dubai, Mishra is off to a strong start with her first solo venture.
- Brigade du Tigre in Paris
What to know: Having already blown away foodies with his lauded restaurant Eels, chef Adrien Ferrand is seeing double with a brand-new sister spot just steps away. For the occasion, he joined forces with his former sous chef, Galien Emery, and developed a border-blurring menu that explores the cuisines of China, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. And the duo has the chops to do it after spending many months traveling throughout Asia to research techniques and recipes. The warm, two-story restaurant is dotted with comfy bistro furniture and pop posters, making it feel more akin to a casual, beloved hangout than anything too stuffy.
- Farmer’s Daughters in Melbourne
What to know: Chef-owner Alejandro Saravia, who doubles as the official food and beverage ambassador for rural Gippsland, spent four years bringing his vision of a deli, restaurant and bar to life. There’s no use peeping the menu in advance, as the kitchen here only uses ingredients that are available from farmers at the time to avoid waste. There’s also a deli downstairs, where the fridges are stocked with locally sourced cheeses and cured meats – everything you need for that first post-lockdown dinner party.
- ëlgr in Cape Town
What to know: While the rest of us were guzzling wine and stocking up on sweatsuits during lockdown, chef Jesper Nilsson was dreaming up this effortlessly cool, deeply lovable restaurant – talk about an overachiever. The menu channels his Nordic upbringing while paying homage to Cape Town’s bounty of super-fresh ingredients. Everything’s designed to be shared and enjoyed with ease over good conversation – and who doesn’t want that after the year we’ve had? Better yet is the fact that Nilsson is hellbent on democratizing the workplace, with tip pooling, salaried employees and a flexible time-off policy.
- Carbone in Miami
What to know: Carbone – yes, that Carbone from Major Food Group in NYC – has landed in Miami, much to the delight of locals. Like its East Coast counterpart, this outpost of the popular Italian restaurant is a bit of an overnight sensation and, in turn, one of the toughest reservations in town. But your patience is rewarded with spicy vodka sauce so good you’ll want to lap it up. (Save yourself the struggle and buy the jarred stuff instead.) In true Miami style, the dining room is elevated from traditional to glitzy, with emerald-hued banquettes, plush velvet curatins, mirrored pillars and fancy-pants chandeliers everywhere you look. Toss in the casual celebrity sighting, and you’ve got yourself a SoBe hit.
- Migrante in Mexico City
What to know: Chef Fernando Martínez’s sexy new dining den borrows culinary techniques and time-tested recipes from around the world, a habit he picked up while globetrotting. ‘You cannot travel… and then not put what you have learned into practice. It would be unfair to have tools and not use them,’ he explains. For Martínez, there’s not one right way to define Mexican cuisine – there are many. It’s why his menu pulls from Japan, France, Greece and beyond to create a wholly new experience that delights, no matter where you call home.
- Fonda Pepa in Barcelona
What to know: Who says capipota isn’t pretty enough to Instagram? At Fonda Pepa, the dish is as tasty as it is picturesque, with a bath of bullabesa and a hint of just-picked tarragon. But it’s not just about appearances: Owners Pedro Baño and Paco Benítez are revolutionizing the neighborhood restaurant with a humble spot that’s rooted in community and sustainability. Locals will tell you to swing by for lunch, when blackboard specials offer an intimate taste of the creativity that’s in play in the kitchen.