Eat Here in 2014: Restaurants To Watch

December 31, 2013 | By | Comments (0)
Pork trotter dumplings in spicy blue crab broth from the upcoming Mopho in New Orleans

Pork trotter dumplings in spicy blue crab broth from the upcoming Mopho in New Orleans

Having a hard time letting go of 2013? Take heart: If restaurants are any indication, 2014 is going to be pretty awesome. Already, the calendar is stacked with ambitious, delicious new projects.

From fancy tasting menus to non-profits, here’s a snapshot of what next year’s dining has in store:

Georgia

Ponce City Market, Atlanta’s most ambitious new multi-use development, is slated to open in 2014 in a former Sears-Roebuck building. And while details about the project’s food court are scarce, Bacchanalia’s Anne Quatrano is rumored to be working on a casual concept for the space.

When local chef Ryan Hidinger was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in late 2012, he and his wife Jen had to put their dreams of opening a restaurant called Staplehouse on the back burner. But through an outpouring of support from the community, the Hidingers–along with business partners Kara Hidinger (Ryan’s sister) and her fiancé Ryan Smith (former chef of Empire State South)–have pushed the project forward with a greater goal: creating a restaurant where the profits go towards helping others in the industry. Specifically, funds from Staplehouse, expected to open this summer, will be funneled to restaurant workers experiencing unanticipated hardship in the form of “crisis grants.”

On the heels of revamping Five & Ten in Athens, Hugh Acheson is heading to Savannah to open The Florence this spring.  Acheson is working on a menu that marries the traditions of Italy and the American South, with pastas, pizza and locally caught seafood.

Louisiana

New Orleans chef Phillip Lopez’s sophomore effort, Square Root, will build on the ambitious boundary-crossing stylings of his first restaurant, Root, through intimate 10-to-15-course tasting menus. Those seeking a more casual meal can head upstairs for cocktails and snacks, when the restaurant opens in February.

After years at the helm of John Besh’s flagship, Restaurant August, chef Michael Gulotta is striking out on his own with Mopho, slated to open in January in New Orleans’ Mid-City. The menu draws inspiration from Southeast Asia, with dishes like roast lamb neck in green curry and po boys with blue crab and fermented sausage. “We wanted to show the similarities between the Mississippi Delta and the Mekong Delta,” says Gulotta.

North Carolina

The husband-and-wife teams behind popular Durham establishments Toast and The Cookery are teaming up to open Dashi, a Japanese concept, this summer. The bi-level space will feature a ramen counter on the main floor and a menu of izakaya-style small plates on the second floor. In addition to wine, cocktails and shoyu, the bar will feature a proprietary Japanese-style beer brewed by a local microbrewery.

Wood-fire cooking is the inspiration behind Ashley Christensen’s latest downtown Raleigh restaurant, set to open in the spring. The restaurant’s name, Death & Taxes, is an homage to the building’s former tenants: a bank and a funeral home. On the top two levels, Christensen is planning a space to host private events and occasional pop-up restaurants with visiting chefs.

South Carolina

We’re not sure when Charleston’s Brooks Reitz sleeps. In addition to his hugely successful line of cocktail mixers, Jack Rudy, Reitz recently announced his departure from Mike Lata’s FIG and The Ordinary to launch two restaurant projects of his own. Leon’s, set to open in an old auto body shop in January, will feature fried chicken and oysters, alongside a delightfully broad beverage program (think PBR next to grower Champagne). In February, he’ll launch St. Alban’s, a full service coffee and wine bar located in the Waggoner Terrace neighborhood.

Tennessee

Nashville restaurateur Miranda Whitcomb Pontes (of Burger Up and Josephine, which opened in December in the 12South neighborhood) isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Next summer she’s teaming up with chef Sal Avila, who counts stints at City House and 360 Bistro on his resume, to open Prima in Nashville’s Gulch neighborhood. While the specifics are still being nailed down, early plans include a focus on vegetables and a robust wine program.

Texas

The prolific team behind Uchi and Uchiko will expand beyond its Asian roots in Austin this summer with St. Philip, a pizzeria and bakery to properly showcase the talents of Philip Speer, Uchi’s award-winning pastry chef. Later in the year, the team will bring an outpost of Uchi to Dallas.

What restaurant opening are you most anticipating for 2014? Tell us in the comments. 

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