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India Hot Chicken at Pub Royale in Chicago
<p>India Hot Chicken at Pub Royale in Chicago</p>

Trending Tables: 50 hot restaurants for winter 2015-2016

NRN highlights concepts gaining strong local followings and national attention

The melting-pot nature of American food is expressed well in this winter’s Trending Tables, many of which defy categorization.

Pub Royale in Chicago offers a lot of Indian food, but also a savory pie of cider-braised rabbit. Voltaire in Kansas City serves Mexican influenced pork loin, but also coffee- and chicory-rubbed lamb ribs with mustard greens and cheese grits, which is kind of southern, and kind of not. Alter in Miami serves a Peruvian-influenced blue crab with aji, a dish of East Asian accented grouper cheeks with black rice and shoyu hollandaise that smacks of the avant-garde influences of Catalonia.

There are two new restaurants that are pretty much traditional French — The Blanchard in Chicago and Bon Marché in San Francisco — and three pizza places: Pizzabella in Kansas City, Aldo’s in Memphis and Bruno Pizza in New York City.

You can find mostly straight-up Italian at Sotto in Cincinnati, although Japanese shishito peppers find their way into the ragù served with the grilled octopus.

Several trend watchers expect to see a spread of Hawaiian food in 2016, and that’s represented here with Super Six in Seattle, offering specialties from the islands including Hawaiian-style chicken wings as well as malasadas — the Portuguese doughnuts adopted as a favorite dessert in the state. More subtly, Black Iron Bystro, in the suburbs of Buffalo, N.Y., has a Hawaiian ahi tuna poke on the same menu as jerk shrimp nachos and cider-brined pork belly.

Tacos at Eloisa
A taco dish at Eloisa in Santa Fe, N.M. Photo: Eloisa

What all 50 restaurants have in common is a nearly fearless sense of individualism as they carve out their own niche in the expanding culinary landscape.

We take a look at four new markets this season: Kansas City, Mo.; Las Vegas; Memphis and Phoenix/Scottsdale, Ariz.

Contact Bret Thorn: [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

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