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GQ Picks the 10 Best New Restaurants in America & 2 Are in L.A.

Photo of Beef heart, rocoto sauce at Picca by foodforfel via the LAist Featured Photos pool on Flickr
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Los Angeles, we get the bragging rights for this one, because the number one Best New Restaurant in America according to GQ is our very own ink., Michael Voltaggio's daring new "modern eatery." And, just to put a little more swagger in our Angeleno strut, our fair city gets a second nod with Picca, Ricardo Zarate's Japanese-influenced Peruvian resto. Raise the roof!

GQ's Alan Richman and the other publication editors take a year and a lot of tastes and a lot of notes to come up with this annual list.

Of the "wildly popular" Picca (in the number 6 slot), Richman marvels at the sheer volume of small plates (sometimes a thousand a night) that emerge from the small kitchen to serve perhaps just a hundred diners. Peruvian cuisine, hailed by many as the next big thing, is done superbly here, with kudos to Zarate, for the ceviche, of course, and so much more: "He modernizes such Peruvian classics as anticuchos (brochettes) and causas (potato cakes). The most perfectly executed anticucho featured small, sweet scallops, and my favorite causa was topped with spicy yellowtail," writes Richman.

And then there's ink. Voltaggio has the Top Chef cred, the tats, and the "gadgets," yes, and he's making what he calls "Modern L.A. Cuisine" though that classification is fairly oblique, even for Voltaggio. ink. is experimental and playful, with dishes that often represent the chef's imaginative "take" on something familiar, like chicken and waffles, in Richman's example. (We know: We've nibbled on Voltaggio's take on chicken nuggets and other creations coming out of Test Kitchen and his last post at the Langham's Dining Room.) It seems it's the risky "laboratory"-style approach Richman lauds Voltaggio for, with results that aren't always successful, and are sometimes surprisingly "soft and soothing."

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Here's the complete list:

The “Ten Best New Restaurants in America” selected by GQ for 2012

1. Ink (Los Angeles, CA)
Modernism Never Tasted So Good

2. Brushstroke (New York, NY)
Our Finest Japanese Import

3. Next (Chicago, IL)
No Holds Barred, Nothing Left Behind

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4. Mission Chinese Food (San Francisco, CA)
The Pop-up That Endured

5. The Catbird Seat (Nashville, TN)
The Best Duet in Nashville

6. Picca (Los Angeles, CA)
Peruvian Is Here to Stay

7. The Woodsman Tavern (Portland, OR)
We’ll Be at the Bar

8. Mica (Philadelphia, PA)
French Technique Moves to the Burbs

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9. Ruxbin (Chicago, IL)
Small, Scrappy, and Satisfying as Hell

10. Barley Swine (Austin, TX)
The Restaurant That Grew Up in a Trailer