1 | New York City
Restaurant: Fatty 'Cue
Chef: Zak Pelaccio of Manhattan's Fatty Crab serves genuine fusion barbecue at his Brooklyn outpost.
Menu: Malaysian and Thai food for lovers of southern barbecue, including hickory-smoked spareribs marinated in fish sauce and brisket-topped bao buns.
2 | Denver
Chef: Lon Symensma ran the kitchen at New York's Buddakan before taking his wok to the Rockies.
Menu: Asian flavors tinged with French flair, such as tamarind-glazed lamb shank and stir-fried egg noodles with shrimp, calamari, and scallops.
3 | Los Angeles
Chef: Wolfgang Puck, who puts his name on airport cafes, still knows how to open a stellar restaurant.
Menu: The 24th-floor views are trumped by the impeccably modern Chinese dishes, like fried rice with lobster and hot-and-sour soup with prawn-stuffed wontons.
4 | Portland, Oregon
Restaurant: Whiskey Soda Lounge
Chef: Andy Ricker opened it for spillover from Pok Pok, his first hit, but the bar is now also a destination.
Menu: Thai food best enjoyed with Kaffir-lime-infused gin cocktails and bottles of Beer Lao: fried pork riblets, papaya fritters, grilled beef with galangal-chili dip.
5 | San Francisco
Restaurant: Mission Chinese Food
Chef: Danny Bowien serves up inventive twists on classic dishes that originate all over China.
Menu: Familiar fare that's been elevated by delectable, responsibly raised pork in dishes like ma po tofu and by the liberal use of Szechuan peppercorns.