To spot these up and comers, predictive analytics company Czar Metrics sifted through data from Twitter, Foursquare, online review sites, Facebook and blogs to create a list of the top-10 emerging restaurant brands.
"We basically harvested every bit of information we could find about emerging restaurants across all of the different review and social media channels, and then we synthesized the data into the most important themes to help us understand levels of enthusiasm for the different emerging brands," said Michael Lukianoff, CEO and founder at Czar Metrics, a predictive analytics firm.
Czar Metrics then compared comments about the themes—the food, atmosphere, service and price—to those about more established brands. It found diners at emerging restaurants focused more on the dishes and culinary experience rather than just price or service.
These brands face a transitioning industry as millennials' dining habits change the space, said Fred LeFranc, founder and president of Results Through Strategy, a hospitality industry consulting firm.
LeFranc sees millennials as a "generation of diners that wants to have an event when they go out rather than a stodgy meal."
In the top 10, several trends jump out—from restaurants that emphasize all-natural ingredients to those that focus on pizza and burgers.
California concepts also figure prominently on the list.
"I think California and New York tend to be the birthplace of a lot of the trends," Lukianoff said. "California is always on the cutting edge of more health conscious trends."
Click ahead to see the top 10 emerging restaurant brands.
Correction: This slideshow has been updated to reflect Project Pie's current location counts and expansion plans.
—By CNBC's Katie Little