7 Stellar New Wine Destinations Open for Dine-In

These buzzworthy spots across the U.S. are relatively recent additions to the restaurant scene, and first-time Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners

7 Stellar New Wine Destinations Open for Dine-In
Chef Chris Shepherd's Georgia James in Houston, Texas, is open for dine-in at 50 percent capacity. (Julie Soefer)
Jul 2, 2020

The just-announced list of Wine Spectator’s 2020 Restaurant Award winners comes after a tough few months for restaurants, stemming from the coronavirus pandemic that started shutting down dining rooms in March. But these seven highly anticipated U.S. wine destinations, opened in the past year or two and earning honors for the first time, are back to serving their communities with world-class wine lists and dining experiences that live up to the hype.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s nearly 3,800 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 100 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!

Note: Opening hours and menus are subject to change as the industry continues to adjust to evolving regulations.


Georgia James

1100 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas
Telephone (832) 241-5088
Website www.georgiajamessteak.com
Best of Award of Excellence

For almost a decade, chef Chris Shepherd has brought new concepts to the Houston restaurant scene, like his annually altered location One Fifth, and his modern take on a steak house, Georgia James. Georgia James is now a Best of Award of Excellence winner, with a dining room opened at half capacity and serving up beefy dishes like a long-bone rib eye, a Wagyu zabuton and a hanger steak aged 100 days. Lighter dishes are also available, like marinated shrimp, a kale Caesar salad with cornbread stuffing or pan-seared Gulf fish. Wine director Matthew Pridgen’s wine list adds another layer of complexity, with 450 labels focused on California, France and Italy. There is also a range of sparkling wines from Champagne, Austria and farther abroad, alongside an equally international selection of white wines. A deep assortment of Cabernet and Merlot from Bordeaux and California brings the necessary body for steak pairings, and reds from Italy and Spain add diversity.


Majordōmo Meat & Fish

The Palazzo at the Venetian Resort, 3325 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, Nev.
Telephone (702) 607-3060
Website www.majordomolv.com
Best of Award of Excellence

A spread of dishes at Majordōmo Meat & Fish
Chef David Chang’s signature Asian-inspired flavors are on full display at the Las Vegas outpost of Majordōmo Meat & Fish. (Andrew Bezek)

Earlier this year, David Chang’s Momofuku group brought the Majordōmo brand to the Palazzo at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, with a similar flavor to that of the original location in Los Angeles, a Best of Award of Excellence winner. With its focus on seasonal fare and fresh ingredients from local farmers, Jake Lewis—the beverage director who built the list—described the restaurant as “like an American steak house but with your Korean grandmother in the kitchen.” This comes through in chef Brian Lhee’s menu. True to the restaurant’s name, there is a mix of meat and fish dishes, including crab mafaldine, grilled striped bass, skirt steak and small plates like tingly lamb. Wine director Nathan Rogevich’s wine list, an eclectic mix of 700 labels with a focus on Burgundy, Tuscany and Piedmont, has recently earned a Best of Award of Excellence for its pairable array of full-bodied whites like Chenin Blanc and Riesling, as well as heavier Zinfandel and Cabernet options, among many more.


Maple & Ash

7135 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, Ariz.
Telephone (480) 400-8888
Website www.mapleandash.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Last year, chef Danny Grant opened a second location of Maple & Ash in his hometown of Scottsdale, Ariz. Like the original Chicago outpost, the new restaurant maintains Grant’s focus on contemporary cuisine and steak dishes, as well as hearty red wines to pair with them. And with Maple & Ash’s dining room reopened since May 21, guests can again enjoy dishes like heirloom citrus and burrata salad, potato gratin or yellowfin tuna tartare, as well as beefier fare like a full rack of Australian lamb or a classic rib eye. Thanks to the restaurant’s virtual wine tastings, guests were able to enjoy a piece of Maple & Ash’s wine program while its dining room was shut. But the full Best of Award of Excellence–winning list is back, with 475 labels to choose from. Overseen by wine director Jason Caballero, the 4,300-bottle cellar focuses on wines from California, Italy and France. A substantial by-the-glass list brings a lighter array of Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs, plus a range of Champagnes. But the reds take center stage here, with a collection of top red Burgundies and Bordeaux, and bottlings from Piedmont and Tuscany, including several older vintages. Maple & Ash’s California list is hefty too, offering several verticals from noted wineries like La Jota and Corison.


RPM Seafood

321 N. Clark St., Chicago, Ill.
Telephone (312) 900-9035
Website www.rpmrestaurants.com/rpm-seafood-chicago
Best of Award of Excellence

Prawns in olive oil at RPM Seafood
At Chicago’s RPM Seafood, indulge in seafood items like prawns in olive oil. (John Stoffer)

As an intersection of Windy City steak-house culture and seafood cuisine, it’s fitting that RPM Seafood overlooks the Chicago river with sprawling windows. RPM Seafood opened in early 2020 as the first fish restaurant from Lettuce Entertain You Enterprise’s RPM brand, and since early June, it’s invited guests back for indoor and patio dining. Patrons are offered an eclectic seafood selection, including Alaskan king crab, Japanese Hamachi, miso black cod and tuna au poivre. There are also richer turf options, like steak frites or chicken paillard. Wine director Joseph Lapi selected 1,500 wines to pair with these dishes, earning RPM Seafood a Best of Award of Excellence. There is a varied mix of wines from California, Italy and several French regions. These cover numerous Champagne and Loire options, as well as a robust Burgundy selection, with older vintages from producers like François Raveneau and Vincent Dauvissat. Pinot Noir fans can also look to Sonoma and Oregon options, and there are many top California Cabernets and Syrahs.


Agora Tysons

7911 Westpark Drive, Tysons, Va.
Telephone (703) 663-8737
Website www.agoratysons.com
Award of Excellence

Pouring red wine into glasses
Agora Tysons pairs Mediterranean cuisine with a diverse wine list. (Courtesy of Agora Tysons)

Since its opening in 2019, northern Virginia restaurant Agora Tysons has been a base for Mediterranean dishes that mix the old with the new. And now, like its sister location in D.C., the restaurant is an Award of Excellence winner. Chef Ismet Sahin’s menu of mezzes is influenced by Turkish, Lebanese and Greek cuisines, and guests can now enjoy it in person with indoor and outdoor seating. Expect dishes like kofte, grilled octopus and regional cheeses, along with an assortment of flatbreads and spreads. Many of the bottles on owner and wine director Ismail Uslu’s list share the same influences as Sahin’s menu, drawing from Turkey, Greece, France and California. The list’s 110 labels bring both light and mineral-driven wine styles as well as richer flavors, offering a match for whichever mezze, cheese or soup that guests might choose.


Le Colonial

3035 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta, Ga.
Telephone (404) 341-0500
Website www.lecolonialatlanta.com
Award of Excellence

Le Colonial dining room
Le Colonial’s menu fuses French and Vietnamese cuisines in a charming setting. (Courtesy of Le Colonial)

For decades, Rick Wahlstedt and Joe King’s Le Colonial chain has brought top Vietnamese cuisine to locations around the United States, always in a fine-dining setting. Le Colonial’s Atlanta location, now an Award of Excellence winner, has continued this trend since it opened in 2019. Today, patrons can experience chef Richard Lee’s Vietnamese- and French-influenced dishes, either in Le Colonial’s dining room or on its patio. These include small plates like a crispy shrimp and pork roll, or glazed pork ribs, as well as a wide range of soups and richer dishes like spicy chicken stir fry and roasted salmon. With emphasis on French and Californian bottles, wine director Etienne Penny put together nearly 200 selections to complement Lee’s menu. Among the highlights are Californian and Burgundian Chardonnays, several rosé‎ options and a variety of Pinot Noirs. There are also bigger reds such as several vintages from Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s Château de Beaucastel, and a hefty offering of American Cabernet and Bordeaux.


Mariel

10 Post Office Square, Boston, Mass.
Telephone (617) 333-8776
Website www.marielofficial.com
Award of Excellence

Mariel dining room
High ceilings and impressive chandeliers set the stage at Boston’s Mariel. (Courtesy of Mariel)

Art Deco design meets modern murals in the dining room at Mariel, the newest location for Coje Management Group, which has served up Cuban cuisine in downtown Boston since 2019. As of June 22, patrons can reacquaint themselves with Mariel’s menu beneath warmly lit chandeliers, enjoying dishes from chef Thomas Berry. Berry’s snack list brings small plates like yuca cheese puffs, pork empanadas and avocado con mojo. The Caribbean flavor carries through the menu, with halibut ceviche, fufu gnocchi, blackened shrimp and Havana lamb belly. To match these Cuban dishes, wine director Michael Adkins has put together an Award of Excellence–winning wine list influenced by countries that played a major part in Cuba’s history. Spain, California and France form the bulk of the list, with lighter options like Txakolina and whites from Galicia and the Loire. It’s strong in Burgundy, Bordeaux and Napa Valley, as well as older vintages from noteworthy Ribera del Duero winery Bodegas Vega Sicilia.


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