Top 10 Restaurants in the United States
The United States is filled with great restaurants in equally wonderful foodie cities. These restaurants may span from classic French to an avant-garde gastronomy experience, but they all focus on showcasing the best of the seasonal and local ingredients and offering something extraordinary to their diners. Here are our picks for the 10 best restaurants in the country for 2016.
The Hollywood restaurant has served impeccable seafood-focused menu for 11 years, coupled with a strong service and bar program. The amuse-bouches takes on a gastronomy slant with Dark & Stormy gelee or a mojito sphere, but classic technique and presentation remains, such as in the Santa Barbara spot prawns, salt-roasted tableside. Chef Michael Cimarusti does wonders with his seafood, as evidenced in his signature Ugly Bunch dish, a trio of sea urchin, geoduck, and abalone served over crème fraiche panna cotta.
9. Willows Inn
On Lummi Island just north of Seattle sits the historic and charming Willows Inn, and the attached award-winning restaurant. Thirty-year old Chef Blaine Wetzel has working in the kitchen since age 14 and is a veteran of the acclaimed Noma in Copenhagen. It’s worth taking the drive and the ferry ride to Lummi Island to taste for yourself the food that garnered Wetzel the title of Best New Chef in 2012 by Food & Wine Magazine and the title of the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef in the Northwest in 2015. The nightly tasting menu features seasonal ingredients from the surrounding environment, such as house-smoked sockeye salmon, chanterelles, and aged wild venison.
8. The Restaurant at Meadowood
The restaurant at Meadowood Resort is an outstanding example of California Wine Country dining. The resort is in St. Helena, amid the mountains and vineyards of Napa Valley. Chef Christopher Kostow’s inventive tasting menu highlights the local ingredients, including those from his own 3-acre garden. Roasted avocado may be served with squid from Monterey, while a boldly flavored smoked eel wrapped in beef tongue is followed by a more subtle cucumber seed risotto. Through blending the surroundings, ingredients, cooking, and wines, The Restaurant at Meadowood captures the sense of place of Napa Valley.
After a fire that forced a six-month closure of the restaurant, Chef David Kinch’s Manresa has returned. The décor is simple yet elegant, the food deceptively simple. The restaurant draws diners from across the country to Los Gatos, in the Southern part of Silicon Valley. There is a relaxing hospitable atmosphere true to the California spirit. The nightly tasting menu highlights the best of the day’s seasonal offering. The signature “Into the Vegetable Garden” has been re-created but is still a fundamental example of collaboration between the chef and local farmers. You may also find sika deer raised in Texas, or perhaps crab with matsutake mushrooms, accompanied by Manresa’s hard-to-resist bread basket.
6. Blue Hill at Stone Barns
About 30 miles north of Manhattan stands Blue Hill at Stone Barns, a marriage of a farm and restaurant that exemplifies locavorism and farm-to-table dining. As you drive up to Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture (a non-profit dedicated to creating a healthy and sustainable food system), you’ll be welcomed by the 80-acre farm which houses pigs, sheep, hens, honeybees, and plants that make up the ingredients at Blue Hill, which also sources material from about 40 other farms. There is no menu. The $238 tasting (“Grazing, Pecking, and Rooting”) is set based on each diner’s dietary restrictions and the food will keep coming as long as the diners want. There are meat dishes in the tasting, but Chef Dan Barber has an extraordinary way of presenting vegetables. It’s an extraordinary dinings experience, that even offers of the choice of eating in the kitchen or outside.
5. The French Laundry
Sure, you can dine on Thomas Keller’s food at Per Se in New York, but dining is about the whole experience in addition to the food, hence the advantage of The French Laundry in Yountville, California. The stone farmhouse that houses the restaurant is surrounded by gardens that grow the organic ingredients. Keller’s dishes remain some of the best of the country and the tasting menu remains impeccable. The fine dining world of this country would not be the same without Keller’s influence since he started cooking at The French Laundry in 1994.
4. Le Bernardin
French seafood is the specialty at Chef Eric Ripert’s legendary Midtown Manhattan restaurant, Le Bernardin. It has been named as New York’s Best Restaurant eight years in a row by Zagat, and given three stars from the Michelin Guide. For more than 20 years, Ripert has maintained Le Bernardin’s status as the premier French and seafood restaurant in the country. Seafood lovers travel across the world for his dishes, separated into three categories: Almost Raw, Barely Touched, and Lightly Cooked. As a practicing Buddhist, Chef Ripert shows influence from Asian cuisine in dishes such as caviar tartare served with a smoked dashi gelée, or a seared langoustine in a citrus-sambal sauce.
What started as a pop-up a few years ago is now California’s most expensive restaurant. But the consensus is that the price tag on Chef Joshua Skenes’ food at Saison in San Francisco is well worth it. It is also one of the most exclusive, with only eight tables in the dining room. The 20-plus course tasting menu, for $398, offers an innovative and complex foray into the best ingredients that Northern California and beyond can offer. Dive into one of Saison’s signature dishes, the “liquid toast” of buttery sea urchin from Fort Bragg, served on sesame sourdough from Tartine, a local bakery.
Chicago’s Alinea is more than a restaurant: it is dining theatre. The food may be presented on more than just plates, including contraptions specifically designed for each dish, and oftentimes a series of dishes flow onto one another like scenes from a play. Grant Achatz’s avant-garde cooking has often been named as the best restaurant in the country and the world. Nevertheless, Achatz does not sit on his laurels. The restaurant has revamped the look and the menu.
1. Eleven Madison Park
The art deco building serves as a grand setting to this temple of fine dining in New York City. Chef Daniel Humm and co-owner Will Guidara offer a course tasting menu during lunch and dinner that focuses on seasonal ingredients accompanying impeccable service. Chef Humm’s innovations are firmly rooted in the traditional and classic techniques. Chef Humm pays attention to each dish and the waitstaff to each diner. Each tasting menu starts with a conversation so the meal can be curated individually, thus personalizing the dining experience.