Throughout the region, the stripping down of pretense prevails. The General Muir (pictured here)
renews Atlanta's delicatessen cravings for real-deal bagels, house-cured lox, and truly memorable chopped chicken liver. Meanwhile, Houston's Oxheart
has guests retrieving their own silverware and cooks doubling as waitstaff. But there, chef Justin Yu has elicited tears of rapture with his deceptively simple beet salad dressed with lemon blossom vinegar, quinoa, and almonds. In Durham, Pizzeria Toro
perches seasonal highlights (Brussels sprouts, fiddlehead ferns, rapini) atop pizzas. And Xiao Bao Biscuit
, tucked in an old gas station in Charleston, has given the Peninsula a new take on the lunch counter with its Asian comfort foods, such as ramen with stewed greens and a farm egg.