2013 has been no disappointment in terms of exciting openings, especially those Latin-themed in the US. So much so, we think the post-recession malaise has lifted, and that 2014 has even more promise in terms of delicious debuts. Here are our picks of places to watch—and to reserve early for—in the coming year.
La Mar Cebicheria, Miami
The global ambassador of Peruvian cuisine himself, Gaston Acurio, expands his worldwide empire with a second US location of La Mar Cebicheria at the Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key. Keep an eye on this one: while the San Francisco model clicks along, a New York City branch closed within less than two years. We think Miami will be a more welcoming home, especially with Diego Oka, who shepherded the Bay Area branch to success, in charge. Coming in February
Enrique Olvera Project, New York
OK, so we don’t have much to give you here except that Enrique Olvera, the pope of Pujol, one of Mexico City’s most esteemed restaurants, is committed to a space in the Flatiron district, according to Eater.com. Even without much information, this is terribly, terribly exciting, and game-changing news. Opening month TBD.
Botequim, New York
Marco Morreira has two Michelin-starred eateries in NYC: 15 East and the longtime favorite Tocqueville. While he has excelled in cuisines outside of his heritage, with the successful sushi and Franco-American restaurant, we’re chomping at the bit for him to explore his native Brazil, which he is poised to do with the opening of this subterranean spot within the Hyatt Union Square. Coming in February
Chinese-Mexican spot from Jean-Marc Hoummard, New York
Jean-Marc Hoummard knows hot: he made Indochine a “thing” in the 80s, and he’s also responsible for winner brands such as Bond St. He even had the wherewithal to import Mads Refslund, co-founder of Copenhagen’s Noma, to jumpstart a new Nordic craze in NYC. So when he says that Mexicasian is the next big thing, we believe him. The as-yet-unnamed, Lower East Side restaurant will feature Alex Lopez (Kittichai) as the chef. Coming in April 2014.
Next, more restaurants to watch in New York, Seattle, and more…
El Nosh, Los Angeles
A cockamamie idea sprung to life when Eric Greenspan (LA’s The Foundry) met Roberto Trevino (San Juan’s Bar Gitano) while both were competing on Next Iron Chef: in the grand tradition of Sweathog Juan Epstein, why not combine efforts for Puerto Rican/Jewish cuisine, via traveling pop-ups and food trucks? So far the concept was a hit in San Juan, New York, Miami and is launching officially as a food truck in Los Angeles in early 2014. We wouldn’t be surprised if a entire fleet and a solid brick-and-mortar followed.
Rosa Blanca, Philadelphia
While Jose Garces seems to have cornered the market on every Latin-themed restaurant in the city of hermano-ly love, there are a few stones unturned, and this is one of them: a Cuban diner, a concept which the Iron Chef has been kicking around for nearly a decade, and is also a tribute to his wife’s heritage. We’re keen to see what comes of such long and hard thought, not to mention that we have a soft spot for spousal tribute.
Jason Stratton’s long-anticipated follow-up to Spinasse, one of the 7 restaurants that define Seattle according to Seattle magazine, had a buzz well before opening, thanks in large part also to the chef de cuisine, Carrie Mashaney, currently doing well on Top Chef New Orleans.
El Born, Brooklyn, NY
Opened at just the tail end of 2013, this Greenpoint restaurant, named after a fashionable neighborhood in Barcelona, brings a contemporary spin on tapas. Traditional ingredients with a modern presentation, such as a “butterflied” octopus cooked on a stone, are the forte of chef Diego Gonzalez, who had previously made a splash in Williamsburg at Alioli.