Omakase of the West by Jane Sigal

Sommeliers on the Farm by Tara Q. Thomas

Great Wine Under $50 by Wolfgang M. Weber

Chefs at the Bar Star chefs like Daniel Boulud and Alain Ducasse are taking wine bars to the next level.

Extreme Mixology Bartenders at swank lounges and modern speakeasies have incited a cocktail revolution.

Underground Wine Riesling Spätlese off the Vegas Strip. Cult cabernet at a sandwich counter. Take an insider's tour of unusual restaurants with amazing wine lists.

Izakaya Sake meets small plates in our izakaya crawl from Manhattan's hidden bars to Bay Area strip malls and hip watering holes in Vancouver.

Three resourceful chefs and sommeliers focused on wines and foods from their own backyards.
The most dynamic restaurant trends we've noticed this year have been in ethnic restaurants. For years, this term has been synonymous with cheap; the food may be delicious, but don't look for atmosphere and service, let alone a wine list. That's no longer the case when it comes to Spanish, Indian and Argentine cooking.
   Spanish food has become an international phenomenen, due in large measure to the influence of Spanish chefs such as Juan Mari Arzak at Arzak and Sergi Arola of La Broche. Here in the States we've seen a proliferation of restaurants playing off the tapas tradition, from the relaxed food and atmosphere to great Spanish wines.
   Indian cuisine has also found a welcome balance between low-budget chaat shops and ornate, expensive palaces: The new breed of Indian restaurants offers the vivid, complex flavors of the cuisines of the subcontinent with wines to match.
   In the case of Argentina, the country's wines finally have showcases equal to their stellar quality. From New York to Novato, California, you can have your malbec and your steak, too-and not on a flaming stick wielded by a guy in a gaucho getup.
   So whether you're craving Spanish wine and tapas to match; Argentina malbec and juicy empanadas, or exotic Indian curries with Loire whites and red Burgundies, you'll find the places to quell your hunger in the pages that follow.

In restaurants, there is rarely anything that's original or new. So says Joe Bastianich, a partner in eight of New York's top restaurants. Yet at W&S, we look to people like Joe and his partners Mario Batali and David Pasternak at Esca, when we want to taste something new. They introduced the concept of crudo to New York, and suddenly raw fish in the style of the Adriatic is appearing on menus around town and around the country.
  There's a parallel to the Greeks, who are inventing haute cuisine out of their heritage of home cooking, bringing some of the freshest fish to their chic new dining rooms. It's a matter of getting the fish from the sea to the plate in the shortest possible time.
  Which isn't very different from the goal of chefs like Jerry Traunfeld at the Herbfarm outside of Seattle, who took farmers' market menus one step closer to the source, growing his own food to serve at the highest levels of cuisine. With the advent of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, the spirit of locally grown produce and meats has come to New York. The wines on these restaurants' lists may be sourced internationally, but the freshness of the food, whether crudo, Greek or home-grown, seems to bring out the local character of the wines.
  We've noticed one other satisfying trend new restaurants with low markups on wines, whether rare collectibles or current vintages. Check out any of these destinations, and you're in for exceptional wine and food.

Since we are what we eat - and drink - it's always revealing to consider where we eat. Whether the economy is strong or struggling, people are constantly opening new restaurants, or changing the theme of their current kitchens. This year, when we set out to research how diners are spending their tax cuts, we found some intriguing trends.
  One is that the authentic can be less expensive than the fancy (or fanciful). If Le Cirque 2000 was the Italian concept restaurant of the last century, family cooking from the small towns of Italy is the comfort food of this one. Similarly, Panamerican fusion extravaganzas like Douglas Rodriguez's original Patria, which flew high in the nineties, have led to Peruvian çeviche joints with no tablecloths at all - and often, no wine lists. Just bring your own sauvignon blanc.
  Or bring your own Burgundy to Montrachet, or any number of big name restaurants of the last decade that have recently established BYOB nights. Even so, one night a week is not enough for some wine collectors, who've chosen not only to bring their own, but to start their own - restaurants, that is. Melissa Clark investigates this trend in her Chefs & Collectors story, on page 74.
  And if you're headed out to buy your own, direct from the wineries, you'll be pleased to find great new restaurants opening up in wine country far beyond the well-traveled roads of Napa and Sonoma. We didn't set out to build a destination section for budget-minded diners. But we did find a lot to keep us well fed for less.


The marriage question. We heard it this year from sommeliers we interviewed for our 14th Annual Restaurant Poll, we heard it from chefs doffing their tocques to sign up for wine classes, we heard it from friends at the tables next to us: wine pairing, the question of what to drink with what you eat, is hot.
And it's a question that dovetails with some of the year's top restaurant trends. If your stomach is growling for HOUSE-MADE CHARCUTERIE, for instance, be it foie gras and saucisson or lardo and testa, the sommeliers inside these pages will know what to suggest. If you'd rather experiment on your own, go BY THE GLASS through some of the country's most ambitious lists. But when you're puzzling over what to drink with that plate of blue corn enchiladas or crawfish etoufée, consider what the folks working in AMERICAN REGIONAL CUISINE have to say. Or maybe we've got you all wrong, and a cloudberry martini is your kind of drink: if so, check out the latest in LOUNGE CUISINE.
The twelve restaurants profiled within are tops in their neighborhoods, but don't worry if their reservation line doesn't happen to be in your area code. The 428 restaurants who responded to our annual poll are listed starting on page 94, every last one of them wine-savvy and vino-adventurous. Drop in, and find out what's new on the culinary horizon.


Wondering where restaurants are headed next? So were we. W&S talked to sommeliers and chefs around the country - and then profiled twelve restaurants on the leading edge of three provocative trends.
      Defy your expectations about what foods will work with the world's greatest wines at some of the country's most vinously adventurous ASIAN RESTAURANTS, then jump back to a European tradition for a look at the boom in ambitious CHEESE LISTS. And if all this racing around is too much work, hop a plane or a train to some of the country's most luxurious WINE GETAWAYS - you'll be glad you did.
      And speaking of wine, in these profiles you'll find a wine list's worth of information and suggestions from some of the top voices in the field. So start making reservations.


Looking for what's hot? So were we. Join W&S as we take a look at five of the most provocative trends in the restaurant world today. We scoped the scene, tasted the food, talked to sommeliers and chefs around the country - and then profiled four restaurants on the leading edge of each trend.
      Start your culinary quest at a RAW BAR, then follow up the oysters with a little BISTRO bonhomie. Next, take in some tapas at a few of the country's top SPANISH restaurants. Still hungry? Good. It's sirloin time on the STEAKHOUSE circuit. And finally, after a modest meal like this one, how can you pass up the handiwork of the nation's top DESSERT CHEFS?
      And did we mention wine? Of course we did. In these profiles you'll find a wine list's worth of information and suggestions from some of the top voices in the field.