19 Restaurants That Defined Dining in America This Year

It’s fair to say that 2023 was the year we wanted everything. Did we want places that entertained and went big with their vibe? Did we want spots that felt intimate, that impressed more by doing less? Yes, and yes.

You could detect that shift toward dinner-as-party in the proliferation of big new restaurants this year — grand rooms in which to see and be seen. But parties come in many forms. Vibes were just as vibrant in small spaces — with restaurants like New York’s Foxface Natural offering personal, daring, take-it-or-leave-it approaches to dining… Modern takes on Mexican cooking, too, keep proliferating, not just at Atlanta’s Palo Santo but Austin’s Bacalar and beyond.

17. Bacalar

AUSTIN | Rainey Street Historic District | map

“Top Chef” winner Gabe Erales opened Bacalar to celebrate the food and culture of the Yucatan region of Mexico where his family is from. The two-story space has an outdoor patio with views of the Town Lake trail and a spacious interior with modern decor and small mezcal bar upstairs. If that description doesn’t make it obvious, Bacalar makes for a great date-night spot, so make a Resy for you +1.

Though the menu has traditional Mexican dishes like tostadas and tamales, the ingredients are not what you’d expect — like the papadzul tamal with squash and soft boiled egg on the side, or the castacan tacos with pork belly and salsa verde. Bigger dishes like the cochinita pibil or the steak with mushroom confit are great for sharing with the table. And cocktails are also crafted with precision, like the Cocosanto with its scent of  palo santo. We expect Austin to be at the forefront of modern Mexican cooking, and Erales is for sure helping to keep it there. – Adele Hazan

Read the full list at blog.resy.com »

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