2012's Most Exciting Restaurant Openings

The most hotly anticipated restaurant openings next year

2012's Most Exciting Restaurant Openings

• Underbelly, Houston: Perhaps the biggest news of the year for Houston's restaurant industry was Chris Shepherd announcing that he'd be leaving his post at Catalan to step out on his own. The chef's first solo venture, Underbelly, was scheduled to open in the fall, but will now open as early as mid-January. The restaurant will have an in-house butcher shop and feature meat farmed by Shepherd himself.

• The Restaurant at Meadowood Resort, St. Helena, Calif.: The widely acclaimed Restaurant at Meadowood Resort will close up shop in January and February to undergo a complete renovation, including a full re-haul of food program. The Michelin three-star restaurant will re-open in early March.


• Bowery Diner, New York City: Motorino's chef Mathieu Palombino is opening his version of a diner in January. Belgium-born Palombino will serve classic American fare at The Bowery Diner, but with an elevated touch — for example, this diner features a raw bar. Guests will get to enjoy expertly executed blue-plate specials late into the wee hours of the morning at this joint. (Photo above courtesy of The Bowery Diner)

• Central Kitchen, San Francisco: With Flour + Water, David White, David Steele, and Thomas McNaughton have established themselves as one of the best pizzerias in San Francisco, if not the country. Their follow-up will open two blocks away early next year, with the kitchen to be helmed by Michael Gaines, most recently of Manresa. And no, reports are that there won’t be pizza. Additionally, the group will open Salumeria, a cured meats emporium and sandwich shop.

• Grace, Chicago: Acclaimed Chicago chef Curtis Duffy is channeling the knowledge he picked up throughout his career at Charlie Trotter's, Alinea, and most recently, Avenues (which closed for a hiatus immediately following Duffy's departure), to open his first solo venture in the West Loop next summer. The restaurant, Grace, will offer a prix fixe menu only with no à la carte options.

• The Sycamore Kitchen, Los Angeles: Karen and Quinn Hatfield, the married power couple behind acclaimed Hollywood restaurant, Hatfield's, will open a casual neighborhood venture early next year. The Sycamore Kitchen will focus on freshly baked pastries and breads, with Karen leading the pastry program. The restaurant is scheduled to serve a full breakfast, lunch, and early dinner menu. (Photo above courtesy of Quinn and Karen Hatfield)

• North End Grill, New York City: The latest addition to Danny Meyer’s flourishing restaurant empire is yet another venture with reigning Top Chef Master, Floyd Cardoz. So what makes this restaurant different from all the others? Well for one, the vast majority of the produce will come from North End Grill’s rooftop garden located atop the new Conrad New York, and Cardoz plans to have seafood dishes comprise 60 percent of the menu, with reasonably priced meats comprising the remaining selections. Oh, and there are plans for a Scotch bar. Stay tuned for more updates on the opening early next year.

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