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Travel + Leisure 50 Best New U.S. Restaurants 2009
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Scarpetta, NYC. One of Travel + Leisure's 50
Best New U.S. Restaurants of 2009

From Travel + Leisure by Anya von Bremzen and Soren Larson: You know the American restaurant paradigm is shifting when communal benches become more desirable than leather banquettes. When humble kimchi is suddenly chic, and the words local and seasonal are recited as routinely as fried or sautéed. At a time of economic difficulty and changing consumer tastes for both food and décor, we crisscrossed the country in search of outstanding new restaurants with a very different mind-set.

We gravitated toward spots that offered us warmth and a sense of human connection, and greeted the opening of a neighborhood noodle parlor or artisanal sandwich shop with an enthusiasm formerly reserved for high-concept eating destinations. In Chicago, a delicious take on Korean street food is dished out at Urbanbelly, an inexpensive joint with four communal tables that is generating enormous enthusiasm among dumpling lovers in the Windy City. At San Francisco’s Sentinel, a tiny downtown sandwich spot, the once-tired standard of a quick lunch is being transformed into an aesthetic masterpiece.

See the slideshow of Travel + Leisure's 50 Best New U.S. Restaurants.

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