photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Uchi spread


We Think We’ve Seen These Restaurants Before

It’s not just restaurant deja vu. These are the restaurant transplants we actually like, plus some we’re growing tired of.

Since our jobs consist of eating multiple types of crudo per week, we notice a lot of restaurant trends. They come and go like the popularity of high-rise pants, but there’s one pattern we’ve seen gain a bit of momentum recently: transplants. We’re not talking about the folks who move to NYC and order a scooped-out bagel at the deli, but popular restaurants expanding into new cities across the country, without fully becoming a chain. 

But even though we think it’s great when more people get to try our favorite restaurants in different cities, some of these transplants are straight up bad and leave us homesick for the original. Here’s what we think of all the different restaurants moving around like they’re investors of UHaul, plus some openings we’re keeping tabs on as they start to unpack their new homes. 

A spread of dishes from Carbone on a table with a white tablecloth with red chairs.

photo credit: Kate Previte


Carbone might not be the best Italian restaurant in New York City, but it doesn’t stop people from consistently crawling into our DMs to ask if we know how to get a reservation. And once they staked their claim in Miami, it was only a matter of time before they opened in Vegas, Dallas, and beyond. The original is still reliable for spicy rigatoni with a side of celebrity-spotting, but just like Barbara Streisand’s cloned dogs, the locations in Dallas, Miami, and Vegas haven’t been able to exactly copy Carbone’s New York success consistently.

Sometimes, this is a good thing; $89 veal parm and uni-topped clams almost make more sense in Vegas than they do in Greenwich Village, plus it fills a gap for fun, spendy dinners perfect for pre-gaming Jersey Boys. But the iteration in Miami is laughably bad and not worth the effort, since the city already has a high density of fun Italian spots and places for celeb spotting. Meanwhile, in Dallas, Carbone’s New York-iness is sort of the point. It’s a go-to for people who want to pretend they’re on a night out in Manhattan (without paying $4,000 a month for a studio).

We Think We’ve Seen These Restaurants Before image

photo credit: Alex Staniloff


In an ideal world, we’d all be able to take a month-long sabbatical to eat our way through Venice and Rome. But since that’s not our reality, we’ll readily settle for the Italian imports arriving stateside. The Italy-to-NYC restaurant pipeline is a well-documented phenomenon (see: the old-school Italian spots that opened more than a century ago), and we’re grateful for the opportunity to taste Roscioli's pasta or All’Antico’s Florentine sandwiches without having to cross the Atlantic.

In Roscioli’s case, the Soho outpost is more fun and easier to get into than its Roman counterpart. LA is also no stranger to greeting newcomers to their city—All’Antico also has a location there, with a Koreatown addition coming soon. We’re generally fans of the generous amount of mortadella and pistachio cream, but we aren’t excited enough to deal with street parking on Abbot Kinney. 

Uchi Table Spread

photo credit: Jessie Clapp


In less than 20 years, Uchi went from a tiny Japanese spot in South Austin to a thriving sushi empire spanning seven cities and five states. It’s easy to be a cynic and assume that Uchi has become less special and relevant as they’ve expanded to places like Denver and Miami, but we still get excited about each new addition—and probably won’t tire of it anytime soon (unlike a certain cinematic universe). Even in a city like LA that’s full of incredible sushi spots, Uchi stands out as a place to celebrate your friend’s pilot being green-lit with plates of yellowtail crudo and nigiri.

Meat on a korean barbecue grill.

photo credit: Felipe Cuevas


The sheer density of NYC restaurants that have replicated themselves and flown down to Miami is staggering, and we’ve watched carefully to see which spots have held their own. We’ve already discussed a few in this guide, but in the case of Cote, this doppelganger actually outshines their New York twin. And it just might be easier to fly down and snag a table at the Florida Lucali than fighting for one of their pies in Carroll Gardens.

We Think We’ve Seen These Restaurants Before image

photo credit: Joshua Perez


We understand the appeal of taking a successful New York French bistro, boxing it up, and shipping it to a new city. People know what to expect, and restaurateurs get to slap a “Now In From New York” sticker on their window like it’s an As Seen On TV kitchen gadget. But just like a labyrinthian brownie pan or a slappable vegetable chopper, results can vary wildly.

In Miami, NYC export Pastis gives you the chance to feel like you just walked in from a Parisian stroll, eat garlicky escargot, and watch someone feed french fries to the tiny designer dog in their purse. But that formula doesn’t translate for La Grande Boucherie in Chicago. Maybe it’s because Chicago already has lots of great French restaurants that will make you start looking at flights to France. We think it’s mostly that the massive space is crammed with too many people and not enough good food.

We Think We’ve Seen These Restaurants Before image

photo credit: Nicole Guglielmo


New York City has a lot of cool, interesting neighbors (lookin’ at you, Jersey), but we’re paying particularly close attention to the city’s restaurant exchanges with Philadelphia. In the last few years, some of our favorite spots have jumped between these cities. The team behind Laser Wolf and Zahav are known for cornering the market on silky hummus and mezze, but Brooklyn's Laser Wolf is even more notable for being the rare rooftop restaurant that promises a great view and excellent food. On a similar note, Paulie Gee’s Slice Shop has been our saving grace when we’re dehydrated and hungry from hours of thrifting in Greenpoint, and you can also find their sesame-crusted slices in a funky space in Center City that’ll remind you of post-soccer game pizza parties.


Some big restaurant names are about to learn what regions of the country don’t say “the” before a freeway (hint: it’s most of them). And there’s a few we’re keeping a close eye on. Does the world need more Cafe Bouluds or Bazaar Meats? Probably not, but they’re coming to LA anyway. We can’t wait to see how Din Tai Fung fits into New York’s stacked dumpling scene, and we’ll soon find out if Dead Rabbit’s Old New York bar is worth braving Dirty Sixth in Austin. And while smashburgers are on everyone’s minds right now, Minetta Tavern opening in DC later this year is proof that thick patties still have clout. Only one thing’s certain: we’ll be there to let you know whether these transplants are worth your time and effort.

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