The 20 best new restaurants of 2019, according to OpenTable

Auburn/FacebookAuburn in Los Angeles.
  • With more Americans choosing to dine out less, the restaurant industry is becoming increasingly difficult to break into – and sustain.
  • Yet hundreds of new restaurants opened in 2019 with the dream of filling their uniquely designed dining rooms with hungry guests.
  • OpenTable generated a list of the top 20 best new restaurants of the year, based on ratings from OpenTable diners.
  • California and Pennsylvania each have four of the best new restaurants, followed by Illinois with three.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The end of the decade launched the beginning of many restaurants across the US, from Philadelphia to Nevada.

The best of the bunch served up unique takes on traditional food, as well as innovative and experimental cuisines. They mastered the dining trends of the year, such as sustainable cooking or over-the-top desserts.

But to find out which new restaurants really stood out, OpenTable researched what its users thought of their dining experiences. The company looked into which restaurants provided the best culinary experiences, the coziest ambiance, the most impressive service, integration into the local community, and affordable prices.

While it seems a tough task to satisfy every one of those expectations, these 20 mouthwatering restaurants did just that after opening this year.

The restaurants are listed in alphabetical order.

Alpen Rose, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Alpen Rose/ FacebookThe dining room.

To enter Alpen Rose, diners must approach the wooden door and ring the doorbell. The intention is for diners to feel like they are entering into a completely new experience. With only 40 or so seats, the steakhouse is an intimate but casual spot for a wide variety of foods, even beyond beef.

“Alpen Rose was my favourite place I have [eaten] in Philly. Everything from the atmosphere, to the food, to the drinks, were beyond my expectations. I loved the small thoughtful details … This place is truly a hidden gem and I can’t wait to go back!” wrote one diner, Jessica, on OpenTable.

Alta Via, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Alta Via/FacebookBar seating is always first come, first serve.

Alta Via fuses California wine country with the tastes of the Italian Alps. Named after a famous footpath through the Dolomites, Alta Via mixes traditional Italian cooking with modern influences, creating fresh and clean dishes. The team ranges from pasta pros to firewood fanatics.

Ambrosia BYOB, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Ambrosia BYOB is known for its homemade pasta and casual atmosphere. The dishes are designed to incorporate seasonal and fresh ingredients. Plus, the added “bring your own beverage” bonus allows guests to sip on their favourite wine.

“Absolutely delicious. You can’t go wrong ordering anything from the menu,” wrote OpenTable user, TomB.

Auburn, Los Angeles, California

Auburn/FacebookThe design is equally mind-blowing.

Auburn is Chef Eric Bost’s debut restaurant, where he encourages diners to choose between a four-dish, six-dish, or nine-dish dinner. The 105-seat restaurant is filled with carefully curated details, such as the hidden magnets beneath the wooden tabletops, holding the off-white napkins in place.

Automatic Seafood and Oysters, Birmingham, Alabama

Automatic Seafood and Oysters/FacebookThey serve fresh seafood every day.

Automatic Seafood and Oysters opened in the spring, born out of a dream between a designer and a chef. The restaurant, which serves – you guessed it – oysters and hands-on seafood dishes, mixes modern with traditional. The restaurant embraces coastal and classic American shoreline influences.

Cabra, Chicago, Illinois

Cabra Chicago/FacebookNatural light floods the restaurant.

Stephanie Izard, the chef and owner at Cabra, was inspired by her travels throughout Peru, even purchasing unique pieces in different towns, which now decorate the vibrant restaurant on the top floor of the Hoxton Hotel in Chicago.

At Cabra, which means “goat,” diners are encouraged to try everything family-style, emulating the Peruvian dining experience.

“Great space, even better food. All dishes were very creative and were delicious. Highly recommend for brunch on weekends. Menu is very brunch-friendly even if it doesn’t appear so at first. Would gladly go again!” wrote one diner, Pyegirl, on OpenTable.

Del Mar, Columbus, Ohio

Del Mar SoCal Kitchen/FacebookCeviche and oysters.

Del Mar is inspired by Southern California cooking, pairing classically good food with an all-around laid back environment. Farm-to-table is especially popular in Southern California, and Del Mar works to source its farm, garden, and sea ingredients locally.

Epping’s on Eastside, Lexington, Kentucky

Epping’s on Eastside, which is in a historic, restored building, takes inspiration from its location, and serves cured meats sourced from local farmers. Accordingly, Epping’s on Eastside has integrated into the community, becoming well respected by both the neighbourhood and tourists in search of a locals spot.

Fort Oak, San Diego, California

Fort Oak/FacebookSit at the counter and watch the chefs in action.

Fort Oak is another restaurant that has integrated with the neighbourhood successfully, and it even draws inspiration from the neighbouring park, Presidio Park, known for its whimsical oak trees. Chef Brad Wise enjoys wood-fired, rustic cooking, and welcomes diners to sit at the chef’s counter and watch as he shows off his skills.

“One of the best restaurants in the city. The food is phenomenal, the drinks are amazing, and the staff are incredibly attentive. An excellent choice for a fine meal in a great architectural setting,” wrote LaraG on OpenTable.

Gravity Heights, San Diego, California

Gravity Heights/FacebookThe restaurant has a ton of outdoor seating to relax in.

Gravity Heights is driven by wholesome ingredients and simple techniques. The restaurant serves up eclectic dishes that pair well with beers from San Diego’s thriving craft beer scene. Beyond the restaurant is a beer garden open to all ages, making it a great weekend hang out spot.

“Love the vibe and ambiance of Gravity Heights! The food and service are excellent. Definitely a top choice for a night out with friends,” wrote KimB on OpenTable.

Hendrix, Columbia, South Carolina

Hendrix/FacebookSit at the bar and enjoy some Sunday afternoon football.

Hendrix name pays homage to E.T. Hendrix, the grocer who occupied the historic building from 1906 to 1926. The restaurant adds fun twists to classic flavours while incorporating sustainable, local, and ethical ingredients into every dish. The space is welcoming and open, serving up full dinners, sharing plates, and lots of cocktails to be enjoyed on the rooftop deck.

H.O.M Italian Eatery, Los Angeles, California

H.O.M Italian Eatery/FacebookMorning light shines through the big windows.

H.O.M. Italian Eatery’s name references its two biggest values; everything is homemade, and diners should feel at home. The restaurant features an upscale design, but still manages to make diners feel comfortable with its warm service.

Jeong, Chicago, Illinois

Jeong is a modern Korean restaurant in the heart of Chicago, Illinois. At the sleek restaurant, diners are encouraged to get out of their comfort zone and try a variety of unique flavour combinations, such as a braised short rib with brown butter carrot veloute.

Joe’s Imports, Chicago, Illinois

Joe’s Imports/FacebookJoe laughing alongside the diners on a warm evening.

Joe’s Imports is just about as cosy as it gets. This boutique wine bar is lined with warm wood, cosy banquets, and aged brick, but it doesn’t feel old fashioned. Joe has curated an extensive selection of wine, which is paired with Mediterranean-inspired dishes meant to be shared.

La Strega, Las Vegas, Nevada

La Strega/FacebookA sunny oasis away from the chaos of Las Vegas.

Authentic Italian cuisine is served up in the neighbourhood of Summerlin in Las Vegas, Nevada. La Strega, meaning “witch” in Italian, features farm-to-table dishes that use ingredients that have been around for ages in modern and innovative ways. The decor is also inspired by Italy, where clay, earth tones, and a one-of-a-kind mural covers the walls and tells the story of the witches of Benevento.

“Overall, a terrific experience at La Strega. Excellent, fresh food (cacio e pepe pasta as good as any I had in Rome); well-curated wine selection; and enthusiastic, informed service. Plus a nice selection of amaros. Though La Strega is out of the way, we figured that even with cab fares, we paid less than we would have paid on the Strip, for food that was much better,” wrote one diner, Michael, on OpenTable.

Peppervine, Charlotte, North Carolina

Peppervine/FacebookHigh ceilings keep the space open and airy.

Peppervine in Charlotte is one of the few independent eateries in the area, and the food is a great display of its progressive roots. Diners can choose from sharing locally sourced plates to a more extensive tasting menu. The restaurant itself is large and open, with neutral tones that don’t distract from the creative and bright dishes.

Punjab Grill, Washington, DC

Punjab Grill/FacebookThe bright bar.

Punjab Grill is cooking recipes that have been passed down for generations. The recipes are then paired with cocktails that can be sipped at the brightly decorated bar or in a purple dining chair. The restaurant treats a culinary experience as an art form, and its diners say it really shows.

“Exceptional food, cocktails, service and ambience! We had the Desi feast and it was wonderful. Delicately layered flavours, thoughtfully designed menu and all in a beautiful setting,” wrote PrettyRicki, an OpenTable user.

The Select, Atlanta, Georgia

The Select/FacebookBooths next to the floor-to-ceiling windows.

Inspired by Le Select in Paris, The Select in Sandy Springs, Georgia, aims to create a welcoming atmosphere where diners can truly feel at home. The floor-to-ceiling windows definitely add to the atmosphere, as light floods in and illuminates the contemporary continental cuisine, inspired by Mediterranean flavours popular in Spain, the French Riviera, and Italy.

Steak and Bourbon, Louisville, Kentucky

Steak and Bourbon/FacebookThe ambiance is very warm.

Steak and Bourbon is exactly how it sounds: a steakhouse with premium bourbons. But with the plethora of steakhouses to choose from, it is becoming harder and harder to stand out. Steak and Bourbon separates itself with its warm, red-based design palette.OpenTable diners cited the food being just right and exactly what they were looking for in a steak house.

Vernick Fish, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Vernick Fish/FacebookPickled Florida rock shrimp.

James Beard Award-winning chef Greg Vernick presents a unique take on the classic American oyster bar with Vernick Fish. His dishes include international and sustainable ingredients. The restaurant’s decor and lounge seating contributes to a casual atmosphere, a contrast to the elegant and sophisticated dishes.

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