The Coolest Restaurants To Eat At In 2023 – Forbes

The dining room at AlpiNN
To say 2022 was a challenging year for the restaurant world is an understatement. And yet it’s still going strong, as resilient and creative as ever. The restaurant-award industry is also still booming, with the Best Chef Awards sharing attention with Michelin star announcements, La Liste and those World’s 50 Best lists.
This isn’t one of those lists.
Rather, a few hand-picked experts who enjoy eating well—professionally, in fact—weighed in on what’s up-and-coming, where they’ve been pleasantly surprised, and the places to which they’re eager to return. Some of the restaurants might go on to get the big-time accolades; others might not, and that makes them no less worthwhile. (Note that they’re presented here in alphabetical order.)
Kristian Brask Thomsen is a culinary ambassador, award-winning filmmaker (Michelin Stars), producer of a second documentary, world tour manager and host of dinner parties extraordinaire. Marco Invernizzi is the first non-Japanese Bonsai master, a deep diver with orcas and a passionate seeker of the world’s most innovative restaurants. And Lithuanian supermodel turned world food ambassador Aiste Miseviciute made her gourmet name with the blog Who Said that Models Don’t Eat? and now runs the more serious Luxeat.
They came up with ten restaurants whose praises they wanted to sing (in alphabetical order here). None is particularly famous—at least not yet. For now, they provide a modicum of bragging rights and a great amount of joy.
AlpiNN
Driven by world-renowned chef Norbert Niedelkofler’s forward-thinking “Cook the Mountain ” philosophy, this innovative restaurant is settled atop one of the peaks of the majestic Italian Dolomites, explains Invernizzi. “Guests can enjoy the mountain-inspired menu based on strict seasonality and the greenest approach to local ingredients in a unique dining space that looks like a living room and has a breathtaking 270-degree view of the valleys and snow capped mountains all around. Guests feel, breathe, taste and finally get lost in this unique natural setting at the highest fine dining restaurant in Europe.”
A conceptual dish at Bagá
Miseviciute notes that before opening the seven-seat Bagá in his hometown and receiving his first star, chef-owner Pedro Sánchez got a classical French training in Château de Bagnols in France, as well as beside such Spanish legends as Martín Berasategui. “His cooking is technically perfect, comforting and delicious,” she says, “but at the same time bold and pushing the limits of creativity. You can really see Pedro’s talent. Who would even think of serving 180-day-old beef with vanilla sauce or honeycomb with roasted garlic praline? Yet in his brilliant hands, all these combinations work perfectly.”
Haoma
“Haoma is a very different, very original and fun fine dining experience,” says Brask Thomsen. “Meanwhile, it has to be one of the most sustainable restaurants in the world.” It started as a “neo-Indian” restaurant with an impressive urban garden in the chef’s home (he has since moved next door), and they also breed their own fish. “They even serve the Thai-monsoon rain as ‘still or sparkling,’ not to mention having a superb and wizardly wine program.” He sums up: “A super passionate culinary project that on the side has also cooked half a million meals so far for the homeless of Bangkok. Goodness exists.” [Editor’s note: Haoma was awarded its first Michelin star last week.]
Jeremy Chan and Iré Hassan-Odukale
“One of the most visionary European chefs of his generation,” in the words of Miseviciute, Jeremy Chan founded Ikoyi with his friend Iré Hassan-Odukale in 2017, inspired by Nigerian cuisine, something unheard-of back then. “Two Michelin stars and five years later, Ikoyi has largely outgrown itself. The cooking is still very much about the ingenious use of West African spices, but it’s more focused on the interpretation of British seasonality and finely sourced products.” [Editor’s note: Ikoyi is currently undergoing a relocation and will open in a new space with a new menu December 12.]
Jean-Georges Philadelphia
After ascending to the 60th floor of the tallest building in the city, you journey down the waterfall-encased staircase to be welcomed by a Champagne trolley at “one of the most spectacular restaurants in the United States,” in Invernizzi’s opinion. “While enjoying a sunset like an eagle, guests experience the global flavors rooted in French technique that have made all of Jean-Georges’s restaurants so dear to many all over the world.” Chef Cornelia Sühr gathers around her a diverse team of professionals, many of whom are women, and she collaborates with ceramic artists to create unique vessels. They’re what present the “elegant but decisive dishes of the two six-course menus.”
Lafleur
“Amid high rises and finances, you find the two Michelin-star Lafleur in a giant palm garden,” says Brask Thomsen. This is where Andreas Krolik has since 2014 cooked vegan haute cuisine, “long before this became the trend inofe uday. He does so with an intensity, depth and complexity that makes you forget all about not having meat or seafood. In fact, Lafleur serves two menus; a more classic one built on seafood, caviar, meats, foie gras and so on—and it’s wonderful—but the vegan tasting menu is the showstopper.” Brask Thomsen also raves about the wine list, with “deep wines from classic top producers you otherwise wouldn’t associate with vegan cuisine.” [Full disclosure: Brask Thomsen provides communications assistance to a small group of restaurants in which he strongly believes, including Lafleur.]
La Villa Madie
“Lunch with sweeping-sea views in the scenic Mediterranean port of Cassis?” asks Miseviciute. France’s newest three-star, La Villa Madie is headed by chef Dimitri Droisneau, a Normandy native who worked at top restaurants in Paris before moving to the South of France 15 years ago and taking over La Villa Madie with his wife, Marielle. “His love for le Sud is reflected in his cooking,” she says, “which is full of sun, colors and masterfully balanced flavors. Without a doubt, one of the best discoveries this year.”
Mélisse
“The Los Angeles institution by chef Josiah Citrin has transformed itself from a 70-seat grand scene into a marvelous backstage dining room,” raves Brask Thomsen. It has a separate entrance and an open kitchen, where Scottish head chef Ian Scaramuzza cooks creative California cuisine tasting menus for only 14 guests at 5 tables, “up close and personal in a comfortable and unintimidating space. It’s no wonder when you’re having dinner listening to vinyl from the likes of the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Oasis and Queen. Yes, please.” [Disclosure: Brask Thomsen also works with Mélisse.]
Silver Lakes
In Kakheti, in the historic amber wine country of Georgia with a crazy-majestic view of the Caucasus Mountains, you find the restaurant at Silver Lakes Farm, says Brask Thomsen. It’s a new project from “the queen of Georgian gastronomy,” Tekuna Gachechiladze. It’s “a farm restaurant secluded from paved roads—and almost from the law.” Getting there involves a two-hour drive over mountainous roads from Tbilisi, potential with wild dogs chasing your car, until “you enter this pristine property that offers what best can be described as an ultra charming summer villa.” He goes on, “The restaurant part is a laid-back Georgian fata morgana of casual culinary joy with grand feasts of the best possible products served at long table outside on a porch from an an open kitchen inside. Tekuna equally knows how to cook and to entertain, how to create a dinner party.”
A plate at Tsurutokame
“In a man’s world, a narrow set of stairs take guests underground to a very unique restaurant where all the chefs are women,” says Invernizzi. “It’s the only one in Japan.” Fourteen seats at a traditional wood counter have full view of the team made of chefs who are committed to serving “the best seasonal kaiseki experience. using their grace and synergy as well as their knives and pans.” He continues, “No challenge is too big for this inspiring team, who not only share a kitchen but spend hours together studying languages, calligraphy, ceramics and many other art forms so to always keep improving their skills as humans as much as cooks.”

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