Although there have been positive signs of economic recovery in recent months, don’t expect this to be a summer of adventure on the restaurant scene.

As Nation’s Restaurant News’ quarterly feature, Trending Tables, looks at dining establishments that are bringing in customers, we’re seeing a return to old favorites like Café Juanita in Seattle, Backstreet Café in Houston and Palme d’Or in Miami.

Even in Dallas, a city not as badly harmed by the recession as most others, sees diners looking for comforting restaurants with “personal” touches.

New places that have resonated with consumers tend to be straightforward, but with precise visions and interesting stories, like Milt’s Barbecue for the Perplexed, a Chicago restaurant serving kosher barbecue — and named after Guide for the Perplexed, the 11th-century magnum opus of Jewish scholar Moses Maimonides — and Leon’s Full Service in Atlanta, which is trying to bring back the feeling of an old-fashioned gas station.

But that doesn’t mean there’s not a place for the trappings of fine dining, as we see with the success of Uchi in Houston and Hakkasan in San Francisco.

High-concept O-Ya continues to do well in Boston, but back-to-basic places like Barrio Cantina and Boston Chops are doing well, too.

Angelenos are tapping into the grilling and whole animal cooking that have been all the rage farther north. New Yorkers are continuing their love affair with Italian food and Michael White at Costata, and are also continuing to seek creative combinations at places like The Pines and The Fourth.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary