10 Best New Urban Restaurants

Margherita Pizza at Barbuzzo in Philadelphia. Photo: Jason Varney Jason Varney
By Kristine Hansen

North America's largest cities are on the fast track to keeping up with customer demands for spicy, zesty, and sugary meals that flaunt the latest in food trends. From Los Angeles to New York City, here are some of the hottest new restaurants to score a reservation.

Photo Caption: Margherita Pizza at Barbuzzo in Philadelphia. Courtesy Jason Varney
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Gribiche: soft boiled quail egg garnished with flavor of sauce gribiche, a slice of cornichon, white anchovy filet, julienne red onion, fried caper, lemon segment, lemon zest, parsley at Next Restaurant. Photo: Christian Seel Christian Seel
Open since early April, Next Restaurant (www.nextrestaurant.com) in Chicago's Fulton Market district is the latest baby from chef/owner Grant Achatz (who also owns Alinea and is considered the father of molecular gastronomy in this country). The buzz means that you'll have to book in advance, but it's worth the wait. At Next, the theme (a year and a city) shifts often but in its first month, it was 1906 Paris, meaning items like Potage à la Tortue Claire or Caneton Rouennais à la Presse, as well as offbeat options like beet pâté. Sommeliers select the wines for each course. Achatz also recently published his very personal story about struggling with tongue cancer (Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat), a memoir which you can read while waiting for a telephone call with news of your reservation.

Photo Caption: Gribiche is soft-boiled quail egg garnished with flavor of sauce gribiche, a slice of cornichon, white anchovy filet, julienne red onion, fried caper, lemon segment, lemon zest, and parsley at Next Restaurant. Courtesy Christian Seel
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Interior of Luma, Toronto. Photo: Allison Woo Allison Woo
You'll find Luma (www.livebonacini.com) on the third floor of the brand-new TIFF Bell Lightbox building, home to the Toronto International Film Festival. This is the latest property from seasoned restaurant owners (of Toronto's Canoe and Auberge du Pommier). While the interior is neutral -- think white curtains and bare walls -- the food is eclectic and colorful, such as a burrata starter with beetroot and pine-nut vinaigrette, and tagliatelle (duck confit with butternut squash). Many selections on the wine list stem from Ontario terroir, from soft Cabernet Franc to sparkling Rose. You'll especially enjoy your lunch or dinner when the outdoor patio debuts this summer.

Photo Caption: Interior of Luma, Toronto. Courtesy Allison Woo
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Salt Cod Fritters at Recette, New York City. Photo: Frances Janisch Frances Janisch
Since opening in January 2010, Recette (www.recettenyc.com) in the West Village has already earned accolades from New York Magazine and The New York Times. With a menu separated into "Snacks" and "Plates," this dinner-only spot (with brunch on the weekends) is a good place to visit with friends. Order items like duckfat fingerlings, ravioli with oyster cream and squid ink, or Berkshire pork belly (married with rock shrimp, turnips, romesco and sherry caramel). A side of black-truffle supplement can be ordered too. Per Se's former pastry chef whips up sweet creations like Deconstructed S'Mores. Or, throw it all into the wind and order a five- or seven-course tasting menu where you don't have to make any decisions.

Photo Caption: Salt cod fritters at Recette, New York City. Courtesy Frances Janisch
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Inside A-Frame, Los Angeles. Photo: Art Gray Art Gray
Southern California just got more chic with the addition of A-Frame (http://aframela.com), a comfort foods-focused restaurant that opened in the Mar Vista part of L.A. last fall. Menu creator "Papi Chulo" (also goes by Roy Choi) -- you know him from that legendary Korean taco truck in L.A. (Kogi) -- used to crack crabs on the pier at Redondo Beach and appreciates a less-formal environment. At A-Frame, housed in an A-frame building, you can order stuff you never thought you could in a classy restaurant -- like fried apple pie (with caramel and cheddar ice cream), heirloom pickles, Furikake kettle corn, and Cracklin' Beer Can Chicken.

Photo Caption: Inside A-Frame, Los Angeles. Courtesy Art Gray
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China Poblano Restaurant, Las Vegas. Photo: Jeff Green Jeff Green
Step inside the brand-new Cosmopolitan Hotel, which opened on the Las Vegas Strip in December 2010, and make a beeline for China Poblano (www.chinapoblano.com). Washington, D.C.-based chef/owner José Andrés is a skilled chef in Spanish cuisine with other restaurants to his name. A fresh detour from Vegas' over-the-top restaurant décor, the exterior at China Poblano resembles gritty ethnic eateries (simple neon green and pink letters for signage). Inside you'll find red lanterns and communal dining-room tables. Open for lunch and dinner daily, plus brunch on weekends, the restaurant offers signature takes on dim sum (such as North Meets South Jiaozi and Lamb Pot Stickers Stuck on You), Chinese (farm tomatoes with sugar air), and Mexican food (fried quail with dragonfruit and rose petals).

Photo Caption: China Poblano Restaurant, Las Vegas. Courtesy Jeff Green
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Marcie Blaine artisanal chocolates at Barbuzzo, Philadelphia. Photo: Jason Varney Jason Varney
With a strict adherence to artisan-made ingredients, many of them local, Barbuzzo (www.barbuzzo.com) opened at the height of the fall harvest. This Mediterranean-themed restaurant, on 13th Street in Philadelphia's Center City, is open for weekday lunches and dinner daily. Walls of white-washed brick (with cubby holes storing jars of colorful, preserved vegetables) complement vibrant dishes like Calabrian-style local greens, "pig popcorn," roasted marrow bone, flatbread pizzas topped with off-beat rustic ingredients (Barlett pear or hot pickled peppers), and wood-roasted sardines Portuguesa.

Photo Caption: Marcie Blaine artisanal chocolates at Barbuzzo, Philadelphia. Courtesy Jason Varney
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Commonwealth, San Francisco. Photo: Jackson Solway Jackson Solway
Ten dollars from every six-course tasting menu ($60) ordered at Commonwealth (www.commonwealthsf.com) -- which debuted in San Francisco's Mission District last summer -- is donated to a local non-profit organization (such as San Francisco Food Bank and Food Runners), so you definitely can feel good about splurging on a meal. Start with an innovative cocktail (Commonwealth's bartenders like to use liquid nitrogen) before dining on items in the tasting menu that might include foie-gras bon bons, a young hen with hedgehog mushrooms and pistachio, or asparagus custard. (There is also an à la carte menu.) The interior space contains a lot of glass and hickory woods to mimic the outdoors, which is refreshing within an urban area. Wrap up the meal with a sweet touch, like lemon sponge cake with a scoop of thyme ice cream.

Photo Caption: Commonwealth in San Francisco. Courtesy Jackson Solway
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Torrejas -- maple caramel apples -- at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Miami. Photo: Andrew Meade Andrew Meade
A huge supporter of ingredients grown on Florida and regional farms, the menu at Sugarcane (www.sugarcanerawbargrill.com) is all over the map, touching upon creative tapas (like "duck and waffles," heirloom tomatoes with burrata and strawberries, or "veal kidneys"), raw-bar items (sushi, sashimi and oysters), and Asian-influenced foods (like steamed pork buns). There is a robata grill too, where a dozen or so menu items are prepared over bincho-tan charcoal. Open since January, the restaurant sports a casual environment and is located in Midtown Miami, a refreshing alternative to the South Beach scene.

Photo Caption: Torrejas -- maple caramel apples -- at Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in Miami. Courtesy Andrew Meade
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Estadio, Washington, D.C. Photo: Stacy Zarin Goldberg Stacy Zarin Goldberg
This Spanish-themed tapas spot in Washington, D.C.'s Logan Circle neighborhood celebrates its one-year anniversary this summer. Weekend brunch at Estadio (www.estadio-dc.com) might mean fried hen eggs and a blood-sausage sandwich. Dinner choices range from sopas to carne, as well as open-faced sandwiches, fish (such as Rhode Island squid and sherry-glazed black cod with smoky romesco), quesos, and plenty of flavorful vegetable dishes. Naturally, there are many Rioja (Spanish) wines on the wine list but there are also refreshing bottles of Rosada (Spanish Rose wine) and wines that pair well with spicy foods (like Spanish Tempranillo and Argentinian Malbec). Enjoy the feast against a backdrop of rough woods, industrial-type chairs, and high ceilings -- perfect for gathering with friends.

Photo Caption: Estadio in Washington, D.C. Courtesy Stacy Zarin Goldberg
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Whipped ricotta with grilled pears, aka 'Jewels on Toast' at Beauty & Essex, New York City. Photo: Melissa Hom Melissa Hom
New York City is a tough market to open up a new restaurant but Beauty & Essex (www.beautyandessex.com), which debuted on the Lower East Side last winter, has already attracted high-profile celebs like Kim Kardashian, John Mayer, and Maggie Gyllenhaal. Even on its own, the eatery (named for its location on Essex Street) has serious street cred: Stanton Social and Tao are sister restaurants. Waitstaff in the dark, intimate dining room deliver small plates and tapas such as chicken meatballs, tomato tartare on crostini with a sunny-side-up quail egg, and "Jewels on Toast" (grilled pears, honey, basil, and chile). Desserts are lavish, including pastel-colored macarons and a six-layer chocolate cake. Snagging a reservation is no easy feat, so be prepared to dine late in the evening.

Photo Caption: Whipped ricotta with grilled pears, aka '
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