A recent ranking of emerging restaurant brands from Czar Metrics and Bellwether Food Group aims to do just that—to cull multiple data sources to find restaurants to watch during the next few years.
This historical social media research and data info, Czar Metrics notes, is increasingly valuable and used by investors as part of their due diligence.
"Most of them are not going to develop into big national brands," said Mike Lukianoff, founder and CEO of Czar Metrics, in a phone interview. "I think a good number of them have potential to be super regionals and develop that cult following."
The index includes an array of extensive data sources: 300 million restaurant-related tweets, 2.6 million Foursquare records, including check-ins, comments and reviews, 1.3 million reviews from 42,000 restaurants across multiple review sites, 15,000 blog posts and 9 million restaurant-related Facebook posts.
Many of the restaurants on the list include fast-casual chains that offer more premium items at quicker speeds than sit-down dining. Twisted Root Burger Co. is one example of these emerging fast-casual players, coming in at No. 9 on the list. One of its build-your-own creations is shown here.
"It's been fascinating to me—how much attention the restaurant space is getting from the investment community," Lukianoff added.
Indeed, several restaurants on the list have attracted attention and investment from large investors—money that they've used to expand.
Click ahead to see this year's emerging restaurant brands.
—By CNBC.com's Katie Little
Updated 15 April 2015
Originally posted 12 Feb. 2015