The "Flamin' Hot Cheeto" at Bar Esmé; Photo by Dan Piotrowski, courtesy of Bar Esmé
The "Flamin' Hot Cheeto" at Bar Esmé; Photo by Dan Piotrowski, courtesy of Bar Esmé

Dining Access Hit ListNational

Ten Essential Restaurants Across America, Winter 2022 Edition

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February is precisely that point at which winter begins to feel interminable, at least in the colder parts of the nation.  And yet, after this year’s winter, there’s surprising energy in many corners — Omicron is largely in the past tense, we’re allowing ourselves to talk about the world opening back up, and, groundhog shadows be damned, spring feels thisclose.

More than that, restaurants are also finally filling back up — almost uncommonly so — as this most unkind of winters winds down. And for many of us, two years of pent-up desire to get back out and travel are finally being fulfilled. Which means it’s time to think again about not only our favorite spots in town, but also all those meals in all those places we’ve been eager to visit.

And funny you should ask, we do have a list for that. We’ve been craving a return to Brad Deboy’s Ellē in Washington, where fermentation transcends from science to high art; we’re dying to once again dine our way through the ATL, including a stop at Aziza for a southern take on neo-Middle Eastern. For that matter, the past two years have given us plenty of craving for comfort, which is why we’re overdue for a return visit to Cookshop in New York’s Chelsea, one of the formative restaurants in giving the city tutelage in locavore pleasures. And we’re restless to get back to L.A., too, where Spago is not only back in splendid form but is celebrating a certain big birthday, smoked salmon pizza and all.

If there’s any challenge right now, it’s that this slightly early reawakening has left many of the best tables tougher to get, which is why it helps that all these are bookable with Global Dining Access by Resy.

So make the most of this winter, because if you think things are bustling now, spring is going to be a blitz.