1. Arden Wine Bar & Kitchen
The new restaurant and wine bar in the heart of the Pearl District is sleek, urbane and, at times, extraordinary—an avowedly wine-focused restaurant bringing wine-friendly cuisine to a city both literally and figuratively thirsty for it.
2. Bistro Agnes
The new venture from the chefs behind Ox is at its best with rich, no-holds-barred French dishes. The cassoulet has enough duck confit, pork belly, toulouse sausage and white beans to work as an entree for two.
The third restaurant from superstar chef Gabe Rucker is now open, and it promises to be much more casual than either Le Pigeon or his downtown bistro, Little Bird.
The venerable izakaya now offers counter service, and while the new format isn't entirely successful, the tonkatsu bento box is excellent.
5. Poison's Rainbow
By far the best thing about the new bar owned by Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock is Ranch Pizza. The bar is serving thick, sweet-sauced deep-dish "quarters" big enough to make a hearty meal for $4.50 to $6.50.