Best Restaurants in America

April 24, 2019 by Steven M. Peters

Source: City Foodsters / Wikimedia Commons
Naming the best restaurants in America might seem like an impossible task. According to the latest figures, there are some 660,755 quick-service and full-service eating establishments around the country. The population of the U.S. is something over 327 million. Some 76% of that population is over the age of 18 — that’s roughly 249 million people — and presumably a goodly portion of those people (as well as a number of under-18s) frequent restaurants of one kind or another and have their favorites. These are the cities where people go out to eat all the time.

They might like these places because of convenience and/or price; they might like them because they’re “hot” or trendy; they might simply like them because they consider that the food — whether a fast-food burger or some intricate creation involving truffles and foie gras or anything in-between — tastes really good. And we all know that there’s no accounting for taste.

Anyone who sets out to anoint certain restaurants as “best,” then, must expect disagreement. “You call THAT a great restaurant?” Or “What about XXX?” Another common complaint people have about these lists — and a justified one — is that they tend to be focused on a few big cities, primarily New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. What about the very fine restaurants in Naples, Florida, or Denver, Colorado, or Houston, Texas?

A list of America’s 100 or 200 or 1,000 best restaurants would doubtless include representatives from all of these places and many more. But the fact is that some cities have higher concentrations of very good restaurants than others, that the competition is increasingly stiff around the country, and that establishments that might serve superb food in a given community might not generate enough national interest to draw diners from other places (though there are certainly exceptions to this).

What 24/7 Tempo has assembled here, from a variety of sources, then, is a list of a mere 30 truly excellent restaurants across 11 states and the nation’s capital. All are expensive, sometimes stunningly so. All operate at the highest levels of the gastronomic game. Any one of these should provide a truly memorable dining experience.

Click here for the 30 best restaurants in America.
Click here to see our methodology.

“Average price per person” is computed by adding together the cost of the cheapest appetizer, main dish, and dessert on the dinner menu, along with those of the most expensive, then averaging the totals. In every case where an average price is given, it will be possible to dine for less than that amount. “Fixed-price menu” means that a restaurant offers only one or more multi-course tasting menus, or charges a set price for a three- or four-course meal.

None of these prices account for supplemental menu charges (as for luxury ingredients like truffles or Wagyu beef), beverages, taxes, or gratuities, unless otherwise noted. Some restaurants add a service charge for larger parties, typically six or more.

In some cases, these restaurants operate on a ticketing system instead of taking conventional reservations. This requires either prepayment in full or a substantial deposit, and tickets are not refundable (though they may be passed along to others).

Some of the restaurants listed have bar or lounge menus, which may be à la carte, but in any case will be less expensive than the main menus. Some of these restaurants are also open for lunch, offering à la carte and/or cheaper fixed-price menus.

If your favorites aren’t on this list, never mind. The best restaurant in America, for you, is the restaurant you like the best, no matter what or where it may be.

Source: Courtesy of The Kitchen Restaurant via Yelp

30. The Kitchen Restaurant
> Location: Sacramento, California
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $135

This family-owned establishment in the California capital was founded in 1991. Executive chef Kelly McCown sources ingredients locally and from around the country for such seasonal preparations as crispy Maine lobster cakes, slow-roasted rack of lamb, and huckleberry and rhubarb crumble.

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Source: Courtesy of Le Coucou via Yelp

29. Le Coucou
> Location: New York, New York
> Average price per person (food only) $79

Chicago-born chef-restaurateur Daniel Rose made his reputation with a small restaurant he opened in Paris in 2006 called Spring, now closed. In 2015, he launched a second Paris restaurant, La Bourse et la Vie, and the following year he took over a classic bistro called Chez la Vieille. Also in 2016, he started cooking professionally in the U.S. for the first time in his career, with his comfortably elegant Le Coucou. His food, which is pure French, both modern and traditional — oysters with seaweed granité, grilled foie gras with artichokes, duck à  l’orange — has won rave reviews ever since.

Source: Courtesy of The Herbfarm Restaurant via Yelp

28. The Herbfarm Restaurant
> Location: Woodinville, Washington
> Fixed-price menu per person (wine included) $205 and $285

The menus at this rustic but extravagantly accoutred institution northeast of Seattle, in one of the state’s major wine regions, change seasonally but also from day to day, and are built around seasonal themes (Chambers of the Sea, Salmon Nation, An Indian Summer, etc.). Such Pacific Northwestern ingredients as Alaska weathervane scallops, Dungeness crab, Rosario Strait halibut, and “historic bark and root decoctions [beverages] of the American West” are featured.

Source: Courtesy of Chef Mavro via Yelp

27. Chef Mavro
> Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $95, $155, and $192

This Honolulu classic offers “the best of the season [from] ocean, forest, farm, ranch.” The restaurant’s three multi-course fixed-price menus include such local gastronomic treasures as confit Big Island abalone, roasted Keahole lobster, and onaga (longtail snapper) in tomato and ogo seaweed sauce for two, served tableside.

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Source: Courtesy of Cliff H. via Yelp

26. Herons
> Location: Cary, North Carolina
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $95, $105, and $150

Herons is the dining room at the upscale Umstead Hotel and Spa, near North Carolina’s Raleigh-Durham International Airport. The dinner menu offers three- and four-course menus, plus a special eight-course Art Tour menu, inspired by the hotel’s art collection. Sample dishes include white asparagus soup with smoked trout, quail with salsify purée and fava beans, and jasmine sorbet with Meyer lemon curd and Earl Grey shortbread.

Source: Courtesy of Kai via Yelp

25. Kai
> Location: Chandler, Arizona
> Average price per person (food only) $87 (fixed-price menus, $135 and $225)

In this rustic-elegant hotel dining room with its sweeping mountain views, chef Ryan Swanson draws on local Native American traditions for dishes like wild spearmint gnocchi, local tomatoes and goat cheese with buckwheat and saguaro cactus seed tart, and tribal black cod wrapped in shaved cedar planks.

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Source: Courtesy of Shelley Z. via Yelp

24. Bavel
> Location: Los Angeles, California
> Average price per person (food only) $72

This eclectic Middle Eastern newcomer — widely hailed as one of L.A.’s best restaurants — was opened last year by chefs Ori Menashe and Genevieve Gergis, also proprietors of the acclaimed Italian restaurant Bestia. The imaginative menu offers duck ‘nduja hummus, fried quail with cardamom date sauce, slow-roasted lamb neck shawarma, rose clove chocolate donuts, and other non-traditional but evocative southern and eastern Mediterranean fare.

Source: Courtesy of Chloe’ L. via Yelp

23. Gabriel Kreuther
> Location: New York, New York
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $155 and $235

This elegant restaurant’s Alsatian-born namesake, who won plaudits and a Michelin star at The Modern in the Museum of Modern Art, serves a highly imaginative selection of modern French and American fare here. Among the offerings are langoustine tartare with flying fish roe, sturgeon and sauerkraut tart with caviar mousseline, and heritage pork tenderloin with grilled cabbage. The far-ranging wine list is, not surprisingly, particularly strong in Alsatian vintages.

Source: Courtesy of Daniel via Yelp

22. Daniel
> Location: New York, New York
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $158 and $250

Despite having lost its third Michelin star in 2015, famed chef Daniel Boulud’s contemporary cuisine in this superbly run, elegant restaurant is as good as ever. Choices might include rabbit terrine in a tarragon gelée, broiled squab breast with black tea and vadouvan (French curry powder) crust, and chocolate tarte soufflé with kirsch-soaked cherries.

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Source: Courtesy of Louise E. via Yelp

21. n/naka
> Location: Los Angeles, California
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $200 and $225

Niki Nakayama is one of the few women anywhere who serves a kaiseki menu (the ritualized multi-course feast that is considered the pinnacle of Japanese cuisine). In her 26-seat restaurant, open only four nights a week, she serves a seasonally changing progression of delicacies that combine traditional Japanese ingredients (matsutake mushrooms, unagi eel, Miyazaki wagyu beef) with such Western foodstuffs as jalapeños, foie gras, and spaghettini. The late, revered Los Angeles Times critic Jonathan Gold wrote that Nakayama’s cooking “eclipses what you find in grand dining rooms whose chefs appear in national magazines.”

Source: Courtesy of Lisa H. via Yelp

20. Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare
> Location: New York, New York
> Average price per person (food only) $362.21

Chef’s Table kept its full name even though it moved from Brooklyn to Manhattan in 2016. It also kept its format — a pricey seasonal multi-course fixed-price menu served at an 18-seat counter wrapping around the open kitchen — and its three Michelin stars. Chef César Ramirez changes things up constantly, but past dishes have included seared bay scallops with white truffles, black cod in bouillabaisse sauce, and quail with a mustard and pomegranate reduction.

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Source: Courtesy of Tiffany L. via Yelp

19. Restaurant Guy Savoy
> Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
> Average price per person (food only) $223 (fixed-price menu, $385)

The eponymous chef-proprietor of this Las Vegas dining palace is best known for his superlative, opulent Michelin three-star establishment in Paris. When a writer for Gourmet sampled almost identical dishes in both of Savoy’s places back in 2007, he found that “the food in Las Vegas is absolutely the equal of its French counterpart.” Savoy classics served in this location include artichoke and black truffle soup with mushroom brioche, salmon with osetra caviar and beurre blanc, and milk-fed veal chop with chanterelles.

Source: Courtesy of Digna B. via Yelp

18. minibar by José Andrés
> Location: Washington, D.C.
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $275

The peripatetic Spanish-born chef, restaurateur, and humanitarian José Andrés oversees more than 20 restaurants around the country, plus a growing vegetable-centric fast food chain (ironically called Beefsteak) and a food truck. Minibar was one of his earlier efforts, but it remains one of his most avant-garde — and smallest: There are four seatings for six guests every evening, with admission by pre-paid ticket only. The modernist menu changes constantly, but in the past, diners have eaten such things as sea urchin with Ibérico ham and fresh wasabi, skate wing with “egg yolks” made from lemon, and chocolate-covered bacon ice cream.

Source: Courtesy of Mona W. via Yelp

17. Saison
> Location: San Francisco, California
> Average price per person (gratuity included) $148 and $298

Chef Laurent Gras and his team work with local fishermen, hunters, farmers, ranchers, and foragers to source the raw materials for Saison’s modern American cuisine. Expect creations like uni (sea urchin) toast, braised Monterey abalone with soy-yuzu sauce, and king salmon with Japanese chile seasoning and celery root purée. The award-winning wine list is extensive.

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Source: Courtesy of Shirlana D. via Yelp

16. Vetri Cucina
> Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $165

The original Vetri (there is now an outpost in Las Vegas) is an elegantly appointed 32-seat dining room in a historic townhouse in downtown Philadelphia. Here, chef Marc Vetri consistently turns out some of the best Italian food in America. While the menu evolves constantly, it avoids the usual clichés in favor of such offerings as sweet onion crêpe with parmigiano and white truffle fondue, garganelli with duck ragù, and leg of lamb with turnips and artichokes.

Source: Courtesy of Holly H. via Yelp

15. Manresa
> Location: Los Gatos, California
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $275

One of only 15 restaurants across America to earn a coveted three-star rating from Michelin, this sleek establishment in the small Northern California town of Los Gatos uses California produce, local seafood, foraged mushrooms, and other first-class ingredients to construct imaginative multi-course fixed-price menus. Michelin singles out the striped bass in saffron bouillabaisse and the duck with foie gras for special notice.

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Source: Courtesy of Kim N. via Yelp

14. Atelier Crenn
> Location: San Francisco, California
> Average price per person (gratuity included) $335

This intimate eight-table restaurant features multi-course fixed-price menus created by Dominique Crenn, who became, in 2018, the first woman in America to be awarded three Michelin stars. Past menus have included such innovative dishes as caviar in ginger and carrot sauce with hazelnuts, mountain trout with Greek yogurt and shaved foie gras, and olive and pistachio sorbet with olive oil and sea salt.

Source: Courtesy of J. L. via Yelp

13. Blue Hill at Stone Barns
> Location: Tarrytown, New York
> Average price per person (gratuity included) $258

Part of the 80-acre Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, occupying a former Rockefeller family estate in Westchester County, chef Dan Barber’s Blue Hill (there is also an urban branch in New York City) serves an ever-changing nightly fixed-price menu based almost entirely on foodstuffs sourced from the property — from greens to beans, eggs to heritage-breed pork.

Source: Courtesy of D. T. via Yelp

12. The Restaurant at Meadowood
> Location: St. Helena, California
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $350

Licorice-coated foie gras, terrine of rabbit with lobster and sweetbreads, and duck rubbed with chermoula (a Moroccan herb sauce) are examples of the kinds of specialties chef Christopher Kostow and his team serve in the upscale-ranch-house-style three-star destination restaurant. Not surprisingly, given its location, the wine list is extensive and superb.

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Source: Courtesy of Genevieve Y. via Yelp

11. Joël Robuchon
> Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $127, $198, $250, and $445

The late French master chef and restaurateur, whose numerous restaurants at one point held more than 30 Michelin stars, opened this temple of gastronomy (itself garlanded with three stars when the guide covered Las Vegas) in 2005. It has been known ever since for its opulent setting — rich purple fabrics, intricate chandeliers, flowers everywhere — and such preparations as frogs’ legs fritters with miso and truffled langoustine ravioli in foie gras sauce.

Source: Courtesy of Maricar T. via Yelp

10. Masa
> Location: New York, New York
> Fixed-price menu per person (gratuity included) $595

Chef Masayoshi Takayama’s exquisite omakase (chef’s choice) sushi restaurant in the Time-Warner Center was the first Japanese restaurant in America to earn three Michelin stars (there is only one other one so honored, SingleThread in the Napa Valley). Luxury ingredients, like finely minced toro (bluefin tuna belly) with a heap of oscetra caviar or Maine sea urchin with white truffles, are interspersed with flawless versions of more familiar sushi preparations, made with the highest quality fish and shellfish.

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Source: Courtesy of Kim N. via Yelp

9. Benu
> Location: San Francisco, California
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $310

Korean-born Corey Lee, a former head chef at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry (see No. 4), opened this landmark of modernist cuisine in 2010, earning three Michelin stars four years later. His Asian-inflected contemporary American fixed-price menu might include such exotica as caramelized anchovy with potato salad, frog’s leg with mountain yam, and baked ham with fish maw (dried swim bladders of croaker or other fish) and black truffle.

Source: Courtesy of Gabriela H. via Yelp

8. Spago
> Location: Beverly Hills, California
> Average price per person (food only) $157 (fixed-price menu, $145)

The ubiquitous Wolfgang Puck revolutionized American dining when he opened the original Spago in 1982, proving that a serious chef could cook high-quality food in a casual atmosphere (a new idea at the time) and creating a whole new genre of “California” pizza along the way — along with other distinctly Californian grilled dishes, salads, etc. Puck opened this second Spago, in Beverly Hills, in 1997, subsequently closing the original. Spago today has evolved from its pizza days (though a few pizzas are still served at lunchtime and on the bar menu), into one of the most refined upscale restaurants in the state. Examples of the cuisine? Squid-ink garganelli pasta with Maine lobster and sweet onions, slow-roasted turbot with morels and peas, and Colorado lamb rack with falafel “macarons” and smoky eggplant, and coconut panna cotta with blackberries and cactus-pear-mezcal sorbet.

Source: Courtesy of The Inn at Little Washington via Yelp

7. The Inn at Little Washington
> Location: Washington, Virginia
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $238

The dining room in an elegant country inn in Washington, Virginia — about 60 miles southwest of its better-known counterpart — chef-proprietor Patrick O’Connell’s Michelin three-star establishment serves such highly original dishes as “curious beet noodles” with caviar and lemon-vodka vinaigrette, “star-kissed” tuna and foie gras confit, and “a Lilliputian pomegranate and maple Dreamsicle.”

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Source: Courtesy of Go B. via Yelp

6. Per Se
> Location: New York, New York
> Fixed-price menu per person (gratuity included) $225 and $355

When Thomas Keller opened this East Coast counterpart to his celebrated French Laundry in the Napa Valley (see No. 4) in 2004, its menu closely echoed the latter’s. Today, after a revamp prompted by a stinging 2016 takedown of the place by The New York Times, demoting it from four stars to two, it goes its own way with great verve and imagination. (It still has three Michelin stars.) Hudson Valley foie gras with poached apricots and hazelnut purée, confit fillet of Pacific halibut with creamed ramp tops and green almonds, and veal rib-eye with short rib raviolo and morels and just a few of the offerings on the extensive fixed-price menu.

Source: Courtesy of M C. via Yelp

5. Providence
> Location: Los Angeles, California
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $130, $185, and $240

The late Los Angeles Times restaurant critic Jonathan Gold regularly named this superbly run establishment L.A.’s best restaurant. The specialty here is seafood of the highest quality, but chef and co-owner Michael Cimarusti and his team prepare it in a style that is both sophisticated and accessible. Santa Barbara spot prawns with asparagus and fava beans, black cod with artichoke and mint, and Japanese mackerel with baby carrots and sesame are typical preparations.

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Source: Courtesy of The French Laundry via Yelp

4. The French Laundry
> Location: Yountville, California
> Fixed-price per person (gratuity included) $325

The estimable Thomas Keller serves some of the most creative and finely crafted food in America at his flagship restaurant in the Napa Valley, including dishes like his famous “oysters and pearls” (pearl tapioca with oysters and caviar), abalone gratin with wild mushrooms, and charcoal-grilled Japanese wagyu beef with Dungeness crab and a sunny-side-up quail egg.

Source: Courtesy of Annie Z. via Yelp

3. Alinea
> Location: Chicago, Illinois
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $190-$395

With a background that included five years at the French Laundry (see No. 4) and an apprenticeship at the legendary elBulli in Spain, chef Grant Achatz opened Alinea in 2004. It quickly built a reputation as one of America’s — and the world’s — most unusual and respected purveyors of modernist cuisine. Reimagining ingredients and combining them in unusual ways with the help of scientific techniques, this Michelin three-star serves stunning-looking and sometimes animated dishes with deceptively simple names like “lobster, curry, Earl Grey, grapefruit” and “scallop, citrus aromas, fourteen textures.” One dish is called “balloon, helium, green apple,” which is a good indication of just how unexpected the food can be. (Fixed-price menu prices vary according to which of the three dining areas they’re served in and the day of the week.)

Source: Courtesy of Shirley K. via Yelp

2. Eleven Madison Park
> Location: New York, New York
> Fixed-price menu per person (gratuity included) $175 and $335

With its three Michelin stars and its position as the highest-ranking American restaurant on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (at No. 4), this Midtown gastronome’s retreat offers elaborate tasting-menu fare that’s both serious and fun — the likes of sea urchin cappuccino with peekytoe crab; black truffles with celery root, potatoes, and fresh goat cheese; and “milk and honey” with dehydrated milk foam and bee pollen.

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Source: Courtesy of Joel B. via Yelp

1. Le Bernardin
> Location: New York, New York
> Fixed-price menu per person (food only) $160, $170, $187, and $225

Chef and co-owner Eric Ripert has made this seafood-focused Midtown restaurant a must for serious diners, both local and visiting. The dining room is calmly beautiful, the service is impeccable, the wine list is monumental, and Ripert’s finely crafted dishes are well-deserving of the three stars Michelin has awarded the place. Considering the quality, the “basic” four-course dinner menu is a bargain at $160. A sample meal: yellowfin tuna carpaccio with Ibérico ham “chutney” and sea beans, rare smoked sea trout with pickled red onion, steamed black bass with baby shrimp and calamari, and a red wine-strawberry “bonbon” with macerated strawberries and yogurt sorbet.

“Average price per person” is computed by adding together the cost of the cheapest appetizer, main dish, and dessert on the dinner menu, along with those of the most expensive, then averaging the totals. In every case where an average price is given, it will be possible to dine for less than that amount. “Fixed-price menu” means that a restaurant offers only one or more multi-course tasting menus, or charges a set price for a three- or four-course meal.

None of these prices account for supplemental menu charges (as for luxury ingredients like truffles or Wagyu beef), beverages, taxes, or gratuities, unless otherwise noted. Some restaurants add a service charge for larger parties, typically six or more.

In some cases, these restaurants operate on a ticketing system instead of taking conventional reservations. This requires either prepayment in full or a substantial deposit, and tickets are not refundable (though they may be passed along to others).

Some of the restaurants listed have bar or lounge menus, which may be à la carte, but in any case will be less expensive than the main menus. Some of these restaurants are also open for lunch, offering à la carte and/or cheaper fixed-price menus.If your favorites aren’t on this list, never mind. The best restaurant in America, for you, is the restaurant you like the best, no matter what or where it may be.

Methodology: 

To identify the best restaurants in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed U.S. restaurants awarded a AAA 5-Diamond rating and/or at least a 1-star review by the Michelin Guide, adding a small number of others that have been widely acclaimed by reputable critics. (Current Michelin ratings are only available for restaurants in three U.S. cities and their immediate regions — New York, Chicago, and San Francisco — though the guide’s publishers have announced plans to launch its first-ever regional restaurant guide, covering all of California, later this year.)

To be considered for this list, restaurants also needed to have at least 250 combined reviews on Google and Yelp. To rank the restaurants, we used an index of AAA Diamond and Michelin star ratings and credible editorial reviews to measure critical assessments, as well as Google and Yelp ratings to measure popular opinion. Google and Yelp ratings were average weighted by number of reviews.