Though the holiday season is over, there still are plenty of reasons to get excited. The New Year promises quite a few new and exciting dining spots in the Valley, including several new concepts from some of our favorite chefs and restauranteurs and second locations of popular local spots.
Here's our list of the 10 restaurants we're most excited to see in 2014.
It's been more than six months since we heard the news that Central Bistro owner German Osio had plans for an ambitious new venture. Sumo Maya Mexican-Asian Kitchen is billed to be "the focal point of Scottsdale Marketplace, a new mixed-used development on the northwest corner of Lincoln Drive and Scottsdale Road." Food-wise, we're looking forward to tapas-style small plates, sushi, ceviche, and tacos but the real wow factor sounds like it will be the restaurant's super-modern design. Osio has plans for a 24-foot-tall hand-carved tree at the room's center, a 78-seat patio featuring 148-inch glass projection screens, 30-foot ceilings, floor-to-ceiling glass walls, and hand-carved pewter wood floors. The restaurant originally was expected to open in November 2013.
Southern Rail Spring 2014
This new restaurant from chef Justin Beckett is just one of the reasons we're excited about The Newton, a mixed-use development that will come to the space formerly occupied by Beef Eaters Restaurant on Third Avenue and Camelback Road. Southern Rail will be joined by a second location of Changing Hands Bookstore, a co-working space called The Lively Hood, and other offices. The restaurant will focus on the flavors of the South, serving lunch and dinner as well as craft beers and small batch spirits. The menu will include "low-country" cooking of the coastal Carolinas, Cajun and Creole fare of New Orleans, and the slow-smoked barbecue from south Texas.
Hula's Modern Tiki, Scottsdale Early 2014
There aren't many things you can't find in Old Town Scottsdale, but since Trader Vic's fled town for the second time, it's been damn hard to locate a tiki drink. This year, Central Phoenix's Hula's Modern Tiki will be heading to Scottsdale, specifically 213 East First Avenue, in the former home of Big Earl's BBQ. Like the original location, Hula's Modern Tiki's Scottsdale location will aim for a retro Midcentury Modern vibe and will serve Hawaiian-inspired eats and tropical cocktails.
LoLo's Chicken and Waffles (and Zinburger), Gilbert Summer 2014
There's still a while to wait but Gilbert-ites have a couple of reasons to get excited this year. In addition to Postino East, SoCal Fish Taco Company, and Joyride Taco House -- all of which put down stakes in downtown Gilbert within the past few years -- Lo-Lo's Chicken and Waffles and Sam Fox's Zinburger will open locations at Heritage Marketplace, a new, 31,000-square-foot mixed-use complex in Gilbert's historical Heritage District, in 2014. The new development will be located at the northwest corner of Gilbert Road and Vaughn Avenue and will also feature retail and office space.
Joyride Central Early 2014
And speaking of Joyride Taco House, the "fifth and final piece to Craig DeMarco and Lauren Bailey's nucleus of restaurants," one will be coming soon to Central Phoenix. The restaurant will join Postino Central, Windsor, Churn, and Federal Pizza on Central Avenue, bringing tacos, salads, burritos, tortas, and other specials to the dining hub. Though originally expected to open in December 2013, it looks like we'll be able to expect the new spot sometime in the first couple months of this year.
Grassroots Kitchen & Tap, Phoenix January 2014
You could say we're fans of Grassroots Kitchen and Tap, the North Scottsdale restaurant specializing in simplicity, precision, and clarity. It may not be where you'll find the most interesting food in the Valley, but when it comes to service and plainly delicious food the restaurant totally delivers. Owner and fourth-generation restaurateur Christopher Collins will be bringing the concept to the Town and Country Shopping Center early this year, to join Snooze, Pizzeria Bianco and the Valley's newest Whole Foods Market.
Taco Haus Early 2014
Chef Payton Curry and restaurateur Dave Andrea -- the duo behind Brat Haus in Scottsdale -- are teaming up again this year. This time they're focusing on tacos, specifically Latin eats inspirited by the cuisines of Mexico, Spain, and Central and South America. Expect housemade tortillas, fresh seafood, and Niman Ranch pork and beef, family-style entrees, and a ceviche bar. As far as the booze goes, look forward to some fun offerings including tableside margaritas, micheladas made with Mexican imported beers and local tomato juice, and aguas frescas available either with or without alcohol.
Sweet Republic, Phoenix February 2014
We've been mad about Sweet Republic's artisan ice cream since the sweet shop opened in 2008 and we're not the only ones -- their creations have been recognized as some of the best ice creams in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, the Food Network, and others. As of next year we won't have to drive up to north Scottsdale to satisfy our craving for a scoop of Honey Blue Cheese. Owners Jan Wichayanuparp and Helen Yung will be bringing their dessert to 6054 North 16th Street, on the west side of 16th just north of Bethany Home Road by early 2014. We're already worried for our waistlines.
Bitter and Twisted Early 2014
Downtown Phoenix will welcome a new watering hole to the neighborhood when Bitter and Twisted Cocktail Bar finally opens its doors. The cocktail parlor will open inside the historic Luhrs Building and comes courtesy of mixologist and co-founder of Arizona Cocktail Week, Ross Simon. Though the focus will definitely be on the drinks, the bar will also serve up "globally inspired bar bites as well as some soulful and funky music that gets stepped up on weekends."
Steak 44 Early 2014
This year we can look forward to a new beef-focused restaurant from the team behind Michael Dominick's Steakhouse, the extremely posh steakhouse at the Scottsdale Quarter. Steak 44, located at 44th Street and Camelback, will serve high-end steaks and seafood as well as a la carte sides like potatoes with caramelized onions and mozzarella, green bean casserole, and sauteéd mushrooms and onions. Owners Michael Mastro, Dennis Mastro, Jeffrey Mastro, and Scott Troilo have brought on Marc Lupino, of Dominick's Steakhouse, as executive chef and Geoff Baumberger as head chef of the new spot.