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101 Best Restaurants in America for 2013

101 Best Restaurants in America for 2013

There are some 200,000 full-service restaurants in America, so it’s no small task to determine the best ones. A storied Northern California palace of perfection? A counter in Brooklyn where an intimate 24-course tasting menu is prepared by a moody chef? A Texan 'cue shop that sells out of brisket the moment it opens? What factors make one restaurant better than another? Can you compare a roadside burger joint with an urban fine-dining restaurant whose theme changes every few months? And how do all these restaurants stack up against each other in a list of the 101 best? "Best restaurant" lists are tricky, but answering these questions is what the third annual list of The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Restaurants in America sets out to do.

View Slides: 101 Best Restaurants in America for 2013

How did we arrive at this list? It wasn’t easy. We put together our first 101 list, in 2011, with a simple criterion: Where did we, The Daily Meal’s editors, like to eat? Accounting for our mood, budget, and where we happen to be when we get hungry, how would we vote — not with our critical faculties, but with our mouths and wallets? Where would we send friends? We devised a list of 150 places from every part of America, and argued, advocated, and cajoled on behalf of restaurants ranging from old-fashioned to avant-garde, ultra-casual to super-fancy. We categorized selections, invited an illustrious panel of judges (mostly restaurant critics, food and lifestyle writers, and bloggers) from across America to help order the restaurants via an anonymous survey, then tallied results to assemble a ranked list. We repeated that process in 2012, considering 2011’s winners and nominees, and suggestions from judges and readers, ending up with 202 nominations.

Read More: 101 Best Restaurants in America for 2012

Read More: 101 Best Restaurants in America for 2011

But it’s getting harder every year to winnow down nominees to even the 202-restaurant master list we begin with. That’s partly because the quality and variety of restaurants across America is constantly improving. Note that in addition to winners and nominees from the previous two years, we considered readers’ suggestions and canvassed what we’re proud to note was an even more impressive panel of judges (174 esteemed panelists) for nominations. We’re proud to note that this year we considered more restaurants from an even more geographically diverse area than ever. A list of 303 nominees was narrowed to 202, then voted on by the panel and our staff, with each restaurant getting the chance to be selected three times on the basis of location, type of cuisine, and factors of price, level of "buzz," formality of food and atmosphere, classic status, and epic meal experience offered.

The results were thought-provoking and contentious — and, incidentally, definitely got us thinking about how we’ll continue our commitment to coming up with the best list possible for years to come (this is, of course, a work in progress).

As for 2013, chef Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry, first place in 2011 but dethroned in 2012, reclaimed number-one restaurant status, knocking last year's number one Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin — to third place. Not everything was peachy for Keller, though — his New York outpost Per Se fell for a second year, 10 spots to 17th place. There were other significant drops from the top 10. Both chef Grant Achatz’s Alinea and Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse fell to 14th and 15th places respectively, and Osteria Mozza fell to 22nd place. They made way for the Girl & the Goat, ABC Kitchen, Blue Hill at Stone Barns, and Babbo. Other restaurants fell further, like Grant Achatz’s theme-shifting Next, down 22 spots, and the Seattle classic Canlis, plummeting 57 rungs. Meanwhile, among other rises, Chicago’s The Publican surged 28 spots and Portland, Ore.’s Beast climbed 35.

There were 34 first-year restaurants, places that hadn't made the list before. Eight restaurants — Bern's, Clio, CUT, Fore Street, Frasca, Guy Savoy, Hominy Grill, and Rasika — returned from our inaugural list after falling off in 2012. There were 55 restaurants that returned from 2012, and 46 restaurants have been on the list all three years.

We try hard to represent a wide geographical spread, but the fact is that there are "food towns" around the country — Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Portland (both Oregon and Maine), San Francisco, and a few others, including (grumble away) New York City — where many of the best restaurants seem to be congregated, at least sometimes because talented chefs and restaurateurs from other regions gravitate to there. There are some 71 urban areas in the U.S. with populations of 500,000 and above, and while they’re all full of restaurants, does each of these have one or two places that can really be compared with the best America has to offer? Maybe. But probably not.

We’re all for regional pride, but the question we’d encourage panelists (and readers) in areas that seem underrepresented to ask themselves is: Is the restaurant I love here something I’d recommend people make a special trip here to experience? The answer to that question would be yes for most if not all of the top-ranking restaurants that made 2013’s 101 best list, whether they’re gastronomic shrines or just iconic local institutions that happen to do a certain thing better than anyone else.

That being said, in the jostle for positioning, the list’s most prominent regions did lose spots to a more geographically diverse group of winners in 2013. While the top 20 spots were still dominated by New York, these fell from 12 to 11 and overall, New York City’s 28 spots in 2012 fell to 26 restaurants in 2013. Similarly, California dropped from 24 winners to 20, and Chicago slipped to seven finalists. Restaurants from 22 states and Washington, D.C. are represented in 2013, up from 19 and D.C. in 2012. The newcomers were Hawaii, Mississippi, and Ohio; cities not previously represented include Honolulu, Oxford, and Cleveland.

While winners from the East and West Coasts dropped, there were more restaurants from Florida, Las Vegas, and South Carolina. This year’s regional breakdown featured 39 restaurants on the East Coast, 25 on the West Coast and Pacific, 16 in the South, 13 in the Southwest, and eight in the Heartland. Gramercy Tavern, The French Laundry, Cochon, Joël Robuchon, and Girl & the Goat took top billing in their respective regions.We’re all for regional pride, but the question we’d encourage panelists (and readers) in areas that seem underrepresented to ask themselves is: Is the restaurant I love here something I’d recommend people make a special trip here to experience?

In terms of cuisine, restaurants serving American fare, standard, traditional, and modern, dominated. French cuisine held steady after a dramatic fall in 2012. Asian restaurants increased after a dip last year, and Italian restaurants, which have climbed by a third since 2011, surged again. Perhaps most noticeably, the number of avant-garde restaurants on the list nearly doubled. Does this list represent a rise in quality and innovation at restaurants outside some of America’s biggest cities or the falling off of the same things at places in them? Can we finally say that Italian, Asian, and avant-garde cuisines have stuck a fork in French cuisine? Hard to say, given that The French Laundry tops this list. These questions are up for debate. Can you look forward to more liquid nitrogen and agar-agar in your food? Probably.

There were winners that will be certain to infuriate detractors and inspire advocates. In its first year on the list, Shake Shack’s claim to the 11th spot (above Jean-Georges, Daniel, Alinea, Chez Panisse, Del Posto, and Per Se) will likely anger more than In-N-Out lovers. Less controversial were additions of Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, é by José Andrés, The NoMad, The Restaurant at Meadowood, Sushi Yasuda, The Catbird Seat, and Benu. Food media and culinarian favorites Mission Chinese, Torrisi, Underbelly, Stella!, and Yardbird likely also won’t set off too many arguments. But hey, it’s not like best restaurant lists are a subjective thing, right?

Joking aside, this list includes every kind of restaurant you could imagine. Besides burger joints, taquerias, and noodle shops, there are "molecular" and tasting-menu restaurants like WD-50, Alinea, and Next rubbing shoulders with steak houses like the venerable Bern's and cult favorites like Xi’An Famous Foods, known for tingly lamb face salad.

You may question the results ("La Taqueria is better than minibar? Geez, El Farolito is better than La Taqueria!"). You may ask how many of the restaurants our editors and panelists visited (most). Some listed restaurants may even drive you mad with knowledge that your firsthand experience positions you to better order this list, or replace a number of winners with places you think are more deserving ("Where’s Manresa?"), but given the nature of what’s being ranked, it would be surprising if there weren’t disagreements. Indeed, there were places we were pulling for that didn’t cut it. Please let us know what you think we missed or misranked — we do read your comments even if we don’t always agree with them. As we have every year, we’ll publish a follow-up with your comments — and hey, if you turn us on to places we missed, so much the better.

We think our list turned out well. The quality and sheer diversity of menus and cuisines at the restaurants on this list and the hundreds of others that almost, but didn’t quite, make the cut demonstrate there are some really exciting cooks in America, chefs who are raising the bar to a level this country has never seen. For that we salute the hard-working people who make dining out in America a truly rewarding adventure. We’d also like to sincerely thank our panelists for helping us (check out the full list here). You can be certain that we will continue to sign up more trusted panelists and refine the process by which we make our choices. What will the next 101 installment bring? You’ll find out on The Daily Meal.

101 Best Restaurants for 2013

101. Lola, Cleveland
100. Rasika, Washington, D.C.
99. Providence, Los Angeles
98. Stella!, New Orleans
97. Benu, San Francisco
96. The Four Seasons Restaurant, New York City
95. minibar, Washington, D.C.
94. Fearing's, Dallas
93. Sushi Yasuda, New York City
92. Woodshed Smokehouse, Fort Worth, Texas
91. The Catbird Seat, Nashville, Tenn.
90. Underbelly, Houston
89. Congress, Austin
88. Canlis, Seattle
87. The Barn at Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.
86. Dahlia Lounge, Seattle
85. Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare, Las Vegas
84. Al Forno, Providence, R.I.
83. Jaleo, Las Vegas
82. Michael's Genuine, Miami
81. Fore Street, Portland, Maine
80. The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, Calif.
79. City Grocery, Oxford, Miss.
78. Al Di La, Brooklyn, N.Y.
77. Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix
76. Zahav, Philadelphia
75. Hominy Grill, Charleston, S.C.
74. SriPraPhai, Queens, N.Y.
73. Le Pigeon, Portland, Ore.
72. Lucques, Los Angeles
71. Kreuz Market, Lockhart, Texas
70. Joe's Stone Crab, Miami
69. McCrady's, Charleston, S.C.
68. Yardbird Southern Table and Bar, Miami
67. TRU, Chicago
66. Craigie on Main, Cambridge, Mass.
65. Komi, Washington, D.C.
64. State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
63. Clio, Boston
62. O-Ya, Boston
61. Alan Wong's, Honolulu
60. Bern's Steak House, Tampa, Fla.
59. The NoMad, New York City
58. Frasca Food & Wine, Boulder, Colo.
57. é by José Andrés, Las Vegas
56. Michael Mina, San Francisco
55. FIG, Charleston, S.C.
54. Quince, San Francisco
53. Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare, Brooklyn, N.Y.
52. Coi, San Francisco
51. CUT, Los Angeles
50. Next, Chicago
49. Spago, Los Angeles
48. Di Fara, Brooklyn, N.Y.
47. Xi’An Famous Foods, Queens, N.Y.
46. Spiaggia, Chicago
45. Guy Savoy, Las Vegas
44. Torrisi Italian Specialties, New York City
43. The Bazaar, Los Angeles
42. La Taqueria, San Francisco
41. Il Buco Alimentari e Vineria, New York City
40. Galatoire's, New Orleans
39. Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, New Haven, Conn.
38. Blackbird, Chicago
37. The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Va.
36. Ippudo, New York City
35. The Publican, Chicago
34. Beast, Portland, Ore.
33. Vetri, Philadelphia
32. WD-50, New York City
31. Marea, New York City
30. Bar Tartine, San Francisco
29. Masa, New York City
28. August, New Orleans
27. Mission Chinese Food, San Francisco
26. Franklin BBQ, Austin
25. Joël Robuchon, Las Vegas
24. Husk, Charleston, S.C.
23. Bouchon Bistro, Yountville, Calif.
22. Osteria Mozza, Los Angeles
21. Gotham Bar and Grill, New York City
20. Animal, Los Angeles
19. Zuni Cafe, San Francisco
18. Commander's Palace, New Orleans
17. Per Se, New York City
16. Del Posto, New York City
15. Chez Panisse, Berkeley, Calif.
14. Alinea, Chicago
13. Daniel, New York City
12. Jean Georges, New York City
11. Shake Shack, New York City
10. Cochon, New Orleans
9. Girl & the Goat, Chicago
8. Babbo, New York City
7. ABC Kitchen, New York City
6. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, N.Y.
5. Eleven Madison Park, New York City
4. Momofuku Ssäm Bar, New York City
3. Le Bernardin, New York City
2. Gramercy Tavern, New York City
1. The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif.


The 100 Best Places to Eat in America, According to Yelp

Yelp has released its 2020 list of 100 Best Places to Eat in America and with eateries in nearly all 50 states, we can’t think of a better reason to start planning that road trip.

To be clear, this isn’t a pure list of the 100 restaurants with the best overall Yelp ratings, but rather a curated list showcasing some of the best Yelp-reviewed joints across the country. To determine Yelp’s Best Places to Eat in 2020, a data science team first pulled the top restaurants by ratings and number of reviews in 2019 across the U.S. and then curated a list with representation based on the regions overall share of top-rated restaurants.

The results are a dynamic and sometimes quirky snapshot of American dining with a little bit of everything, from white-tablecloth Italian in Chattanooga to a gumbo food truck in Portland, Oregon. Despite good overall diversity, a whopping 20 restaurants on the list are located in California—by far the most of any state.

  1. Shawarma Guys – San Diego, CA
  2. Pisces Poke & Ramen – Los Angeles, CA
  3. Farmbird – Washington DC
  4. Burgerama – Valley Village, CA
  5. Cocina Madrigal – Phoenix, AZ
  6. Fratellino – Coral Gables, FL
  7. Yardie Spice – Homestead, FL
  8. Sweet Rice – Gardena, CA
  9. Soichi Sushi – San Diego, CA
  10. Pikul Thai Bistro – Fairfield, CA
  11. Kahuku Farms – Kahuku, HI
  12. Shish Ke Baba – San Francisco, CA
  13. The Fuel Shack – San Clemente, CA
  14. PorkChop & Bubba’s BBQ – Bakersfield, CA
  15. Roundhouse Deli – Roseville, CA
  16. Tommy Tamale Market & Cafe – Grapevine, TX
  17. SP Brazilian Steakhouse – Lakeway, TX
  18. Kra Z Kai’s Laotian Barbeque – Corona, CA
  19. Karved – Las Vegas, NV
  20. Southern Charm Cafe – Cape Canaveral, FL
  21. Gino’s Deli Stop N Buy – San Antonio, TX
  22. Craft Pita – Houston, TX
  23. Taneda Sushi in Kaiseki – Seattle, WA
  24. Mumbo Gumbo PDX – Portland, OR
  25. Garlic Yuzu – Las Vegas, NV
  26. Mr bibi – Oceanside, CA
  27. Bulegreen Cafe Yard – Oakland Park, FL
  28. Sky Rocket Burger – Dallas, TX
  29. Scotty’s Cafe – Columbus, OH
  30. The Aussie Grind – Frisco, TX
  31. Greek Unique – Ashburn, VA
  32. Yahya’s Mediterranean Grill & Pastries – Denver, CO
  33. Nini’s Deli – Chicago, IL
  34. Lewis Barbecue – Charleston, SC
  35. Daybreak Pleasant Street – Gainesville, FL
  36. Otis – Brooklyn, NY
  37. ACHILLES – Santa Clara, CA
  38. Gotta B Crepes – Evanston, IL
  39. Taqueria La Familia – Denver, CO
  40. Hometown Cafe & Poké Bar – Providence, RI
  41. Zaap Thai – Portland, OR
  42. Asiana Thai & Sushi – Cincinnati, OH
  43. Selam Ethiopian & Eritrean Cuisine – Orlando, FL
  44. Chellas Arepa Kitchen – Lancaster, PA
  45. New Mexico Tamale Co – Ferndale, WA
  46. German Knoodle – St. Petersburg, FL
  47. Kuji Asian Grill – Woodland, CA
  48. Bombay River – Red Bank, NJ
  49. Carmelina’s – Boston, MA
  50. Arario Midtown – Reno, NV
  51. Indo – St. Louis, MO
  52. The Curry Pizza Company 2 – Fresno, CA
  53. Barista Del Barrio – Tucson, AZ
  54. Korai Kitchen – Jersey City, NJ
  55. 310 Eatery – Albany, CA
  56. Dia De Los Takos – Albuquerque, NM
  57. Healthy Substance – Chicago, IL
  58. Forma Pasta Factory – Brooklyn, NY
  59. Flight Restaurant & Wine Bar – Memphis, TN
  60. Croby’s Urban Viddles – Charlottesville, VA
  61. Mr. Pollo – Pensacola, FL
  62. Yassin’s Falafel House – Knoxville, TN
  63. The Local Wood Fired Grill – Alpharetta, GA
  64. Hold Fast Kitchen and Spirits – New York, NY
  65. Tibbitts @ Fern Hill – Tacoma, WA
  66. Acevedo’s Hawaicano Cafe – Kahului, HI
  67. Tuna Kahuna – Burlingame, CA
  68. Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que – Kansas City, KS
  69. Hawaii Poke Bowl – Eagan, MN
  70. Trattoria 360 – Campbell, CA
  71. Porque No? Tacos – Oakland, CA
  72. Stella’s – Richmond, VA
  73. Indian Gardens Cafe & Market – Sedona, AZ
  74. Noodle Man – Virginia Beach, VA
  75. Peck Peck Korean Style Chicken – Teaneck, NJ
  76. Pruller Restaurant – Marlborough, MA
  77. Jackie M’s & Son – Augusta, GA
  78. JJ’s Caffe – Brockton, MA
  79. Odd Duck – Milwaukee WI
  80. Chez Genèse – Greensboro, NC
  81. Otaru Sushi Bar – New Haven, CT
  82. Fox & Fig – Savannah, GA
  83. The Box & Burgers Eatery – Kirkland, WA
  84. Yummy Pollo – Louisville, KY
  85. El Bocado – Philadelphia, PA
  86. Inizio – Buffalo, NY
  87. MOZZ – Provo, UT
  88. Bae Bae’s Kitchen – Pittsburgh, PA
  89. Alleia – Chattanooga, TN
  90. Yannis Golden Gyros – Indianapolis, IN
  91. Sunny Point Café – Asheville, NC
  92. Wright’s Barbecue – Johnson, AR
  93. Banh Mi Brothers – Charlotte, NC
  94. Ten/6 – Coeur d’Alene, ID
  95. Los Primos Tex Mex & Grill – Rockville, MD
  96. Plank Seafood Provisions – Omaha, NE
  97. Cafe Kacao – Oklahoma City, OK
  98. MAKS Asian Kitchen & Sushi – Fort Myers, FL
  99. Vizo’s African Bar & Restaurant – Lubbock, TX
  100. Falafel cafe – Birmingham, AL

Header image courtesy of Getty images.

Related


50 Nominees for Best New Restaurant in America 2013

Andrew Knowlton , the Bon Appétit Foodist, spent countless hours and traveled thousands of miles in search of America's Best New Restaurants (see the winners in our Hot 10 feature ). After way too many dinners alone at the bar, he returned home with this list of 50 trendsetting nominees–from New York's Alder to Charleston's Xiao Bao Biscuit.

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A culinary bucket list: ‘101 Best Restaurants in America’

New Yorkers looking to eat in the best restaurants in the America are at quite an advantage. According to a ranking just released by the Daily Meal of the 101 Best Restaurants in America, 27 of the country's top restaurants are in the Big Apple.

The restaurants were chosen by a panel of 176 food critics, cookbook writers and others in the food business, said Colman Andrews, the editorial director of The Daily Meal.

The results mix fine dining restaurants — like Eric Ripert's swanky Le Bernardin, with affordable options like Shake Shack and SriPraPhai in Queens.

The list serves as a sort of culinary bucket list of places to try across the country.

"In the back of my mind, I had an idea similar to what the Michelin Guides do, where one star means it's really good food, two stars means it's worth a detour and three stars means it's worth a special trip," Andrews said.

There are places on the list where people regularly make special trips, like French Laundry in Calif., but also places like Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, in New Haven, Conn. where pizza lovers would definitely make a detour — if not plan a trip around it, Andrews said.

"These are all places I'd recommend to food lovers. If you went to ever restaurant on this list, you'd have a really good idea of the state of American food. You might be poor, sick and fat," Colman joked. "But you'd really know what was going on."


Gourmet Pub Grub: The 40 Best Bars in America for Food Lovers

Leave those basic burgers and no-frills fries behind at these watering holes where you can slake your thirst without sacrificing your appetite.

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Haute Watering Holes

Getting to sip top tipples doesn’t preclude having a gastronomic experience — at least not at the country’s top 40 bars for food lovers. These bars, pubs, lounges and speakeasies could have phoned it in when it came to the food menu, but instead they sought top talents to produce dishes that go far beyond cheese and charcuterie or a gourmet burger. Think sardines a la plancha, eye-catching okonomiyaki and seafood towers overflowing with the ocean’s bounty. These watering holes are known first and foremost for their drinks, but maybe they shouldn’t be.

Photo of Matador Bar’s avocado pizza courtesy of The Miami Beach EDITION

The Alembic Bar (San Francisco)

Known for its flattering lighting and its throwback cocktails that come with stories, this Haight Street watering hole deserves more love for what&rsquos flying out of the kitchen. While the menu changes with the chef&rsquos whims, there are two dishes that would incite a riot if they were removed from the repertoire: jerk-spiced duck hearts served with pickled pineapple and thyme salt, and bone marrow smeared with caper gremolata and garlic confit. Other highlights include house ricotta, Berkshire pork fritters and a Meyer lemon parfait for dessert. A backyard garden supplies the bartenders and cooks with the herbs they need to turn out inspired drinks and plates.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Dalton

Leyenda (New York City)

Most flock to Leyenda Brooklyn Cocteleria to sip a drink from renowned cocktail maven Ivy Mix. The Latin American-inspired Brooklyn bar turns out drinks like the Say Anything, with jalapeno-infused tequila, cachaca, Aperol, watermelon, lime, mint and salt. It tastes like vacation. So does the food. Chef Sue Torres&rsquo churrasco skirt steak is memorable long after the check is settled. So, too, are her panuchos &mdash fried tortillas topped with coconut-habanero shrimp, refried beans and avocado. Mix jokes that she "accidentally opened a restaurant," but the kitchen and bar are equal parts awesome.

Photo courtesy of Hanna Lee

Drink (Boston)

Drink&rsquos cocktail game changed Fort Point when it won Tales of the Cocktail World&rsquos Best Cocktail Bar award in 2013. Maybe it even changed Boston. The cocktails, like the food, rely on farms for the freshest ingredients, and the bar team and kitchen staff work together seamlessly. While it&rsquos impossible to make a stop at Drink without dipping thick-cut fries into malt vinegar aioli, in-the-know visitors save room for steak tartare, savory doughnut holes, the foie gras frankfurter and the ice cream sandwich of the day. Every visit feels like you received a coveted invitation to a cocktail party.

Photo courtesy of Wayne Chinnock

Vanguard Bar (Milwaukee)

Opening a food-lover&rsquos bar doesn&rsquot mean you need polished utensils and cloth napkins. Vanguard Bar, which makes its name on a list of more than 100 brown spirits, is also a sausage emporium. The top-selling sausage is the duck BLT, which comes wearing shredded lettuce, hollandaise aioli and bacon, but the bar is also home to the original Milwaukee-style bratwurst topped with cheese curds, cheddar cheese and Cheez Whiz. The 26 sausages in total tempt patrons with exotic combinations like octopus chorizo and, for vegetarians, Soy Meets World. Each link comes with a recommended beer pairing.

Photo courtesy of Vanguard Bar

Pub Royale (Chicago)

The first thing patrons check when they enter Pub Royale is the draft list at the back of the India-inspired pub. That&rsquos where a board displays a swath of low-bitterness beers and ciders because they pair best with the spicy Indian food coming out of the kitchen. Cocktails, too &mdash like an Iced Royale Chai, with whiskey, coconut, chai, cinnamon and black pepper &mdash can tame the heat. One of the most-popular dishes, Gobi Manchurian, is the ideal bar snack, with crispy cauliflower, sweet and spicy Manchurian sauce, sesame and cashews. Other favorites include the buttered paneer, India hot chicken, mussels and naan, and salt cod samosas.

Photo courtesy of Martha Williams

Trou Normand (San Francisco)

San Francisco&rsquos Trou Normand is known equally for meticulously crafted cocktails and in-house charcuterie. The drinks let French brandies and spirits take the lead, most notably Armagnac and Calvados. Trou Normand, after all, refers to the French tradition of taking a small drink between courses to cleanse the palate. The owners feel the rich, fatty flavors of cured meats stand up well to distilled spirits, hence the 40 different types of charcuterie on offer, from the familiar mortadella, bresaola and 'nduja to exotic salame like rabbit with preserved orange, cumin and cara cara. Order charcuterie by the board for the best value, and also consider the roast pork off the dinner menu.

Photo courtesy of Colin Price

Nightcap (Austin)

The cocktails are fun to order at Nightcap because of their clever names like Tequila Mockingbird and Jalapeno Business, but the real magic lies in the fact that you can order a next-level dessert with your drinks. Take the doughnut and foie gras, for example: a ricotta beignet, lemon, pickled blueberry, foie buttercream and granola. Nightcap has plenty to entice you on the savory side, too. The roasted chicken breast with potato dauphine, black garlic, maitake mushroom and truffle jus has already emerged a winner at the still-new spot.

Photo courtesy of Kristyn Miller Photo

Cure (New Orleans)

NOLA is smitten with Cure&rsquos happy hour, which stretches seven days a week and includes 12 classic cocktails priced at $6 each. The bar&rsquos generosity during peak hours isn&rsquot the only ride worth buying tickets for on Freret Street: The seasonal cocktails are fiercely original, and the small plates are so fresh they don&rsquot feel like bar food. Chef Jason Klutts says he can&rsquot get enough of his own steak tartare, but patrons are also smitten with the pimento cheese and the crunchy, oven-fried chicken served with arugula salad.

Photo courtesy of Cure

Eat the Rich (Washington, D.C.)

Ice-cold Virginia oysters are the yin to hot hushpuppies&rsquo yang at Eat the Rich. The punk-rock bar from James Beard nominee Derek Brown is so unpretentious that the cocktails come in pitchers, oyster cages serve as chandeliers, and bartenders seem to instantly know your name. They serve Rappahannock River Oysters &mdash some of the region&rsquos best bivalves &mdash plus a slate of seafood dishes like trout hash, a fried fluke sandwich, prawn mac and cheese, and "redneck laundry," or caviar served with Route 11 potato chips. Wash it all down with the Buck Hunter, a pitcher of bourbon, house ginger syrup, lemon, soda and angostura bitters.

Photo courtesy of Scott Suchman

Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen (Denver)

Euclid Hall borrowed drinking foods from around the world to complement its lengthy, idiosyncratic beer list (divided by types of math to indicate drinking difficulty level). That&rsquos why you&rsquoll find pad Thai pig ears served alongside Bavarian schnitzel and Canadian poutine. Where the kitchen really shines, though, is sausages. From short-rib kielbasa to boudin noir, there&rsquos something for every sip. What you&rsquoll notice is that chefs and bartenders share one counter during service &mdash a sign that the food and drink operations are as linked as their sausage.

Photo courtesy of Chad Chisholm

Armoury D.E. (Dallas)

Armoury D.E. graciously keeps its kitchen firing until 2 a.m., which means haute Hungarian late-night eats for the crowd in Deep Ellum, an artsy neighborhood in East Dallas. Gulyas, a Hungarian goulash soup, goes great with the extensive set of double-distilled fruit brandies and strong house cocktails. There are some popular picks that don&rsquot carry a Hungarian accent, like the short-rib burger made even better by pecan-smoked bacon and the charred pulpo featuring octopus that simmers in white wine and Spanish spices before seeing the grill.

Photo courtesy of Armoury D.E.

Standby (Detroit)

The kitchen and the bar play like old friends at Standby. That&rsquos why the barbecue sauce is spiked with mezcal, olives are marinated in gin, and carrots get a boost from brandy. The cocktail newcomer found on the Belt has a substantial food menu with hearty entrees that lean a little Renaissance Festival, such as milk-braised lamb, Moroccan steak and lacquered turkey leg. If you&rsquore just grazing, there&rsquos horchata and shrimp cakes, duck-fat-fried almonds and an American take on the classic Japanese street food takoyaki that folds in hot sauce, feta and fennel pollen.

Photo courtesy of Sal Rodriguez

Interurban (Portland, Ore.)

North Portland&rsquos Interurban humbly describes itself as a neighborhood drinking den, but its enviable whiskey list and command of craft cocktail recipes add up to more, especially considering that the kitchen cranks out memorable snacks for $16 or less. The boar burger satisfies on a carnal level, with Los Roast Hatch chiles, fried onions, queso botanero, pickled jalapenos and aioli. Jonny Henry does all his curing and sausage-making in-house, which doesn&rsquot go unnoticed on the Publican&rsquos Board, boasting rabbit rillettes, venison-cherry terrine and more. There&rsquos also a corn dog, for those who fondly recall going to a state fair.

Photo courtesy of Interurban

Matador Bar (Miami)

The menu at Matador Bar is in the hands of recent Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford, who also serves as the executive chef de cuisine at Matador Room next door. To further the pedigree, this one-two punch of bar and restaurant is a creation of Jean-Georges Vongerichten, so you know the bar bites will go way beyond average. Instead, plates pop with Floridian appeal. The raw shaved Florida red snapper comes with a zesty green-chile dressing and crunchy rice, and the peekytoe crab and corn fritter is golden-brown enough to go with a cold beer. If you&rsquore looking for a dish worthy of snapping a pic, there&rsquos the avocado pizza, whose namesake vegetable fans out like a rose.

Photo courtesy of The Miami Beach EDITION

Bar Goto (New York City)

Bar Goto channels Tokyo with the vibes of both an izakaya and a Japanese-style whiskey bar. You know the drinks sing, since they come from Pegu Club alum Kenta Goto, but nothing is lost in translation when it comes to the food, either. The okonomiyaki &mdash a savory pancake that comes in four flavors &mdash is a work of art, and the miso wings bring waves of umami. It helps that Goto&rsquos mother had an okonomiyaki shop in Chiba, Japan, where he chopped the cabbage and made the dough when he was growing up. For an outside-the-box pairing, try gobo fries made out of burdock root with a plum Sazerac.

Photo courtesy of Paul Wagtouicz

Holeman and Finch Public House (Atlanta)

The Holeman and Finch burger is as beloved in Atlanta as the Braves, and it pops up on national best burger lists on the regular. But there&rsquos much more to Linton Hopkins&rsquo menu: The chef is committed to using the whole animal, with dishes like Buffalo chicken skins, veal brains with black butter and toast, and clay-pot onions with kale and lamb testicles acting as proof. Even the cocktails feel chef-driven. The Chrysanthemum goes down smooth, with housemade chamomile liqueur, bittersweet vermouth, blanc vermouth, absinthe and thyme.

Photo courtesy of Bart Sasso

Portland Hunt + Alpine Club (Portland, Maine)

Portland was a city best known for beer until the Portland Hunt + Alpine opened in 2013 with cocktails that drew national attention. Riffs on classic cocktails &mdash plus some originals &mdash continue to attract imbibers, as does the Scandinavian comfort food worthy of an evening at The Beard House. Try the Norseman cocktail &mdash an aquavit old fashioned that's been fat-washed with brown butter and garnished with apple slices &mdash alongside the bar&rsquos signature Smorgasbord, which overflows with meat, fish, local cheese, steamed clams and breads. Other must-try items from the small but mighty kitchen include gravlax sandwiches, popcorn spiked with green-chile powder and a butterscotch budino with whipped creme fraiche.

Photo courtesy of Meredith Perdue

The NoMad Bar (New York City)

This Super Bowl of hotel bars has all the finesse and flavor of its sister restaurant, the acclaimed NoMad, but the bar setting enables guests to kick back a bit. Cocktails may have been the intended main draw, but the food gets equal buzz. Bring a small team to take down the chicken pot pie made NoMad-worthy with black truffle and foie gras (using the restaurant&rsquos renowned chicken), or try the burger that yields return visits because of its Pat LaFreida patty that incorporates dry-aged beef, bone marrow and suet (delectable fat). There are also three types of tartare, a refreshing lobster roll and even a hot dog wrapped in bacon with black truffle and celery.

Photo courtesy of Patrick Michael Chin

Latitude 29 (New Orleans)

The godfather of tiki drinks, Jeff "Beachbum" Berry, is behind Latitude 29, so bendy straws and other Instagram-worthy garnishes are the lei of the land. Asian eats have always been the natural pairing for fresh and fruity tiki drinks, but this French Quarter bar serves food inspired by the islands of Hawaii instead of Cantonese flavors more typical of mid-century tiki bars. The best example is a take on loco moco featuring a hamburger patty, coconut rice and savory mushroom gravy. Other stunners include cross-cut pork ribs, a mahi mahi banh mi sandwich and a reimagined take on bacon-wrapped rumaki. Latitude 29 cuts no corners in the kitchen: Almost all bread is baked in-house, and microgreens are sourced from a nearby farm in Tremé.

Photo courtesy of Latitude 29

Libertine (Indianapolis)

Libertine takes the humble deviled eggs and elevates them into something for foodies. Order them and marvel when three varieties arrive: classic smoked trout with Kentucky spoonfish caviar and beet pickled with horseradish. That&rsquos just a nibble of Libertine&rsquos bar bites, designed to complement a sophisticated slate of cocktails named for personalities such as Andy Warhol and David Bowie. One cocktail comes in a teacup, forming a juxtaposition with the far less dainty food, including chicken wings that are cooked sous vide in bacon fat for four hours before they hit the fryer. There&rsquos also a cornmeal waffle with fried chicken livers and barbecued mushrooms, for those with an appetite.

Photo courtesy of Libertine

The Partisan (Washington, D.C.)

The drink menus are dizzying at The Partisan. It&rsquos hard to know where to begin: with a daring wine program that showcases Lambrusco and other eccentric sips a beer menu full of sours or a spirits selection that&rsquos hard to rival. Pick your poison, then grab a sushi-menu-like checklist to order housemade charcuterie that&rsquos serious about using the whole animal. There are absinthe-lime pork rillettes, Thai basil bresaola and a pickled half smoke, to name a few choices. Follow the meat board up with a seared pork trotter with bacon kraut, bacon-wrapped partridge or a gaucho-style lamb shoulder sure to satisfy caveman cravings.

Photo courtesy of Marissa Bialecki

Canon Whiskey & Bitters Emporium (Seattle)

Bring your spectacles if you plan to peruse Canon&rsquos award-winning, 160-page list of spirits, dubbed the Captain&rsquos List. Chances are that if you&rsquove heard of a spirit, the bar has it available. But there are more attractions at Canon beyond the library of spirits and 40 well-crafted cocktails. The food menu, which changes every two months with the seasons, is full of whimsical selections like the angostura-bourbon nuts and the signature bone-marrow luge that can be a vehicle for sherry, mezcal or whiskey. Other options include the pork belly bun with apple slaw and the pork loin with carrot romesco.

Photo courtesy of Canon

Band of Bohemia (Chicago)

With much of the ownership&rsquos lineage hailing from famed, Michelin-starred Chicago icon Alinea, expectations are high at Band of Bohemia. The culinary brewhouse is renowned for slightly bonkers brews like guava-pink peppercorn and cocoa nib-fig-bay rum black ale. The food menu complements the draft list by recommending small plates to pair with each quirky pour. A spunky banana curry with roasted cauliflower, goat-milk caramel, peanuts and eggplant goes with the lime-leaf-lemongrass-jasmine beer, for example. Meat lovers will be especially satisfied with grilled steaks from humane purveyor Jefferson Township.

Photo courtesy of Ruby Rubio

Employees Only (New York City)

Try to find a bucket list of Big Apple bars that doesn&rsquot include Employees Only. The West Village titan shares responsibility for birthing the craft cocktail movement that&rsquos cresting today, but by no means should you go there for drinks only. The carefully sourced menu was designed with cocktail pairings in mind, such as the Provencal, a take on a gin martini using herbes-de-Provence-infused vermouth it begs for a dozen fresh East Coast oysters. Want something cooked? Try bone marrow poppers, bacon-wrapped New Zealand lamb chops or elk loin with Yukon potatoes, oyster mushrooms, Tuscan kale and charred onion.

Photo courtesy of Emilie Baltz

American Sardine Bar (Philadelphia)

Most swim to American Sardine Bar for the small but well-curated craft beer list that touches on almost every style of suds. But the name of the bar is a clue that there&rsquos some food as well, namely sardines prepared four ways: sauteed, grilled, a la plancha or fried. (If you count sardines on a sandwich, the number rounds up to five.) The small but flavorful fish go great with a cold saison. Additional dishes include the spaghetti sandwich and the occasional "Pittsburgh cheesesteak" that pays homage to the Steel City&rsquos beloved Primanti Bros.

Photo courtesy of American Sardine Bar

Butcher and the Rye (Pittsburgh)

Yes, there are wacky murals, antler light fixtures and taxidermy, but this bar that nods at lodge culture is big-city refined when it comes to food and libations. Known for cocktails, an 800-bottle whiskey list and an attractive beer selection, this Cultural District saloon is also the first Pittsburgh bar to be nominated for a James Beard Foundation Award for outstanding bar program since the category was created. Richard DeShantz&rsquos food menu is designed to pair with whiskey, including dishes like Dirty Pasta, with ground duck, strozzapreti, sage, brandy and Pecorino Romano. The Sunday Gravy, with tomatoes, ricotta and lamb neck, is just as savory.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Florentine

Lion’s Share (San Diego)

In a craft-beer-soaked city fueled by fish tacos, it&rsquos a nice change of pace to visit a bar that serves broody cocktails with game meat, like the bar&rsquos beloved antelope sliders. They&rsquore adorned with red-onion marmalade, smoked Gouda cheese and grain-mustard aioli, and make a great first act. Another popular dish that goes great with the cocktails at Lion&rsquos Share is the rabbit hand pie held together by a duck fat pie crust. Chef Mark Bolton recommends trying a rye-based cocktail called De la Louisianne to pair with his elk loin steak served with caramelized Brussels sprouts, Honeycrisp apples, smoked onion puree, grits and a Cabernet reduction.

Photo courtesy of Lion&rsquos Share

Julep (Houston)

Julep serves everything you&rsquod want at your dream Derby Day party: pimento cheese, johnnycakes, oysters, hushpuppies and drinks that define the South. Alba Huerta stirs a mean mint julep, Sazerac and Ramos gin fizz, for example. Those with deep pockets and discerning palates can even order a Pappy Van Winkle bourbon tasting. When it comes to food, the seafood tower is the top pick, arriving with lobster, crab, oysters, scallops, shrimp and fino sherry to sip on. Smoked-fish deviled eggs make a nice start to a meal in the gray-and-white-hued cocktail bar.

Photo courtesy of Julep

The Rabbit Hole (Minneapolis)

This husband-and-wife-owned bar &mdash modeled after a Korean pojangmacha &mdash has a sense of humor. Just look at Kat and Thomas Kim&rsquos best-selling Harold & Kumar Poutine, with house-cut fries, pork curry gravy, kimchi, caramelized onion, Parmesan, cheddar, soft-poached egg and chipotle aioli. That monster dish, plus the Rice Rice Baby (kimchi-fried rice with bacon and pickled jalapenos), preps stomachs for the bar&rsquos inventive, stiff drinks. The honey pig saam, double-fried chicken wings and go go noodles are also worth the calories.

Photo courtesy of Julia Merle-Smith

Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour (Phoenix)

No stranger to "best bars" lists, Bitter & Twisted boasts a serious setting (its 1920s-era Luhrs City Center address) and has an even more serious cocktail program. More than a few minutes are required to flip through the drink menu. The food, on the other hand, can only be described as fun. They&rsquore in on the ramen burger craze, for starters: Crispy ramen noodles form the bun. Traditionalists can try the dumpling burger, whose pork and beef patty is made even better by the addition of dumpling sauce. Be sure to start every meal with Hurricane Popcorn blitzed with Asian spices, then end with booze-infused "high spirited" cupcakes.

Photo courtesy of Bitter & Twisted Cocktail Parlour

Tørst (New York City)

The spunky beer list at Tørst is biblical in size, with rare finds that practically emit a bat signal for beer geeks to come hither. Though suds are the main attraction at the sister bar to the Michelin-starred restaurant Luksus, Chef Daniel Burns&rsquo bar snacks span a fine take on Welsh rarebit, kedgeree (smoked whitefish, curry and soft-boiled egg) and a duck confit sandwich with spicy cabbage and pickled cucumber. It&rsquos imperative that guests order a dish that comes with the bar&rsquos housemade, traditional Danish rye bread, such as the charcuterie plate. Those who visit on Sundays will get a traditional United Kingdom-inspired Sunday roast.

Photo courtesy of Signe Birck

The Rum Line, Open Seasonally (Miami)

The Rum Line stocks 165 varieties of its namesake sugarcane spirit, which skilled bartenders stir into punches, daiquiris, jungle birds and even Inca Kola. To match the tropical vibe, the South Beach bar&rsquos kitchen prepares beachy bites like oyster ceviche, salmon tacos and jerked chicken lollipops. It&rsquos not uncommon to see groups sharing both a volcano bowl cocktail and a raw-bar seafood tower during an afternoon that easily stretches into evening because you&rsquore on island time at The Rum Line.

Photo courtesy of The Rum Line

Black Market Liquor Bar (Los Angeles)

If a speakeasy and a gastropub swirled their DNA together, the offspring would be Black Market Liquor Bar. The Studio City spot&rsquos list of high-proof "fancy drinks" includes the notorious "Fade to Black" with 103-proof bourbon, Clément Sirop de Canne and walnut bitters. That much liquor requires a cushion of comfort food like barbecued short rib, ricotta gnudi, oxtail tagliatelle and spicy Korean chicken wings. Before you call it a night, cash in on the deep-fried Fluffernutter that screams after-school snack.

Photo courtesy of Black Market Liquor Bar

The Townsend (Austin)

Despite its cavernous setting inside the historic Townsend-Thompson Building, this Austin cocktail authority is laid-back. As proof, two of their signature dishes are a no-muss burger and a clever North African-spiced take on hot chicken served with semolina flatbread and red sauce. Both are from from Chef Justin Huffman, whose resume includes local greats like Uchi and Contigo. The cocktail menu is long enough that you could try a different drink every day for two weeks straight, but come for the food, too.

Photo courtesy of Ruben Morales

Taste (St. Louis)

The bar team at Taste knows all the tricks trending today. They&rsquore barrel-aging, stirring in sherry, incorporating vegetables and herbs, and reaching for the spice drawer. The shareable small and large plates that make up the food menu are seasonal and slightly simpler. The best-seller, after all, is the bacon-fat-fried cornbread, an indulgence that goes with any cocktail on the menu. The pork burger and brick chicken are equally popular with regulars. They also serve mussels in a fragrant coconut-milk bath, jagerwurst with all the trimmings typical of Germany, and churros accompanied by velvety almond panna cotta.

Photo courtesy of Tuan Lee

The Gin Joint (Charleston, S.C.)

Pick your potent potable at Charleston&rsquos jewel box of a cocktail bar and then don&rsquot pass Go without collecting the house popcorn, which smacks of pad Thai. It&rsquos one of several housemade salty snacks that act like an accelerant for bitter elixirs like the Tweed Ring, with amaro, Fernet, Aperol, grapefruit liqueur, lime and bitters. Another is beef jerky so good that Edmund&rsquos Oast now uses the recipe. More-substantial eats from MariElena Raya include clams and chorizo served with grilled ciabatta for dipping, and pork buns piquant with hoisin sauce. Find that second stomach for dessert, because the Peanut Butter Chocolate Bar is an experience, thanks to the inclusion of popping candy.

Photo courtesy of The Gin Joint

ABV (San Francisco)

With a name that stands for alcohol by volume &mdash the measurement of how boozy a drink is &mdash cocktails are the clear emphasis at this Mission District bar. Trendy spirits like Japanese whiskey and mezcal lure the masses, but most patrons also come hungry. The kitchen stuffs olives with Hudson Valley foie gras mousse, for starters. That isn&rsquot to say that there are frills: All of ABV&rsquos food is meant to be eaten with your hands, including their best-selling beef tongue Reuben, Mapo sloppy joe and falafel lamb dog.

Photo courtesy of ABV

Lobo Fell’s Point (Baltimore)

Hang out in Lobo for a few hours and you&rsquoll start to understand why Baltimore&rsquos nickname is Charm City. The drinks incorporate iconic local ingredients, most notably so the Spring Shandy with cult classic Natty Boh beer, fresh-squeezed grapefruit and cantaloupe. While most patrons visit for the original and classic cocktails, the food encourages customers to make a meal out of small plates. There&rsquos a cheeky cheeseburger tartare that tops rare filet with micro celery, shaved cheddar, pickled tomatoes and sesame seeds, for example. There&rsquos also the smoked pork loin sandwich, which lures those in the know with Binkert&rsquos smoked pork loin, provolone, roasted garlic spread and broccoli rabe. A full charcuterie program and raw bar are also available.

Photo courtesy of Lobo Fell&rsquos Point

Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar (Boston)

Boston&rsquos brown-liquor aficionados make their way to Citizen for 220 whiskeys, including rare finds like a dozen proprietary single-cask bottles created just for the bar. Oyster options rotate daily, but the kitchen also embraces pork in a big way. Guests can order a whole-roasted pig dinner that feeds 10 or more people. "You learn a lot about the guests who choose to eat the eyeballs," says the bar&rsquos owner, David DuBois. If that&rsquos too primal, another top pick is the house-smoked linguica with cheddar grits, rainbow chard and bacon jam.


50 Best Restaurants | Recipes

Finally, the winners of the World's 50 Best Restaurants sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna have been announced. Spain's El Celler de Can Roca took first place and we couldn't be happier for brothers Joan, Josep and Jordi. To celebrate the occasion we've decided to feature recipes from some of the chefs in the top 10.

We begin with Italy's Massimo Bottura, chef at Osteria Francescana, who ranks third in the 2013 World's 50 Best Restaurants list, which is sponsored by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna. Bottura is known for his avant-garde spin on classic Italian dishes like this foie gras popsicle pictured below.

Ranking at number six on the list is Alex Atala, chef of D.O.M. in Sao Paolo. Atala draws inspiration from local Amazonian ingredients and was recently featured in the Times 100 list of the most influential people in the world. He shared this recipe for banana-lime ravioli made with priprioca, one of his favorite ingredients from the Amazon.

Remaining at the eighth spot on the list is Arzak from Spain. This family restaurant is run by Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter Elena Arzak, the 2012 Veuve Clicquot Female Chef of the Year. Together, they create avant-garde dishes from a pantry that stocks over 1,000 rare ingredients from all over the world. They shared this lemon dessert with honey mead with FDL.

Still hungry? Here are more enticing pictures of food from other chefs in the World's 50 Best Restaurants list. For more fascinating dishes from chefs all over the world, we recommend you swing by our Recipes section.


20 Best Restaurants in North America

1. The Willows Inn, Washington
2. SingleThread, California
3. Saison, California
4. Alinea, Chicago
5. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, New York
6. Manresa, California
7. Raymonds Restaurant, Newfoundland
8. Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, New York
9. Minibar by Jose Andres, Washington, DC
10. Oriole, Chicago
11. McCrady's, Charleston
12. The Restaurant at Meadowood, California
13. Catbird Seat, Nashville, Tennessee
14. Per Se, New York
15. Castagna, Portland, Oregon
16. Smyth, Chicago
17. Eleven Madison Park, New York
18. Hugo’s, Portland, Maine
19. The French Laundry, California
20. Aubergine, California


Commonwealth Cravings: The Most-Iconic Dishes in Virginia

Try a taste of history with these iconic foods — and the best places to sample each — from the Old Dominion state.

Related To:

Photo By: Tyler Darden ©Tyler Darden

A Legacy of Good Eats

Once a state of rolling farmlands, Virginia is home to plenty of iconic food and wine, dating back to President Washington’s days. Whether you’re craving peanut soup, oysters or hand pies, here’s where to savor the bounty, from Chesapeake Bay to the Shenandoah Valley.

Illustration by Hello Neighbor Designs

Pimento Cheese

Go to a party in the South and you’ll find savory, salty, creamy and yellow pimento cheese. The spicy blend of sharp cheddar, mayo, roasted red pepper, shallot and tarragon is the most-popular starter at Pasture in Richmond. The dip is served with Ritz crackers — because they’re Chef-Owner Jason Alley’s favorite — along with pickles and crudites. Alley knows Virginia classics: He’s a native of Pulaski, outside of Blacksburg.

Photo courtesy of Pasture

Fried Pies

Fried pies, also known as fry pies, can be found at bakeries and small town stores across the state. These hand-held pies are a regular item at The Shack in Staunton, deep-fried in canola oil for a sweet and savory bite. The restaurant’s Apple Bourbon Sorghum Caramel Fry Pie, served with a warm thyme custard, doubles down on local favorites with rich sorghum and local apples.

Photo by Sera Petras, courtesy of The Shack

Rappahannock Oysters

After years of focused conservation and entrepreneurial efforts, Virginia leads the East Coast in oyster production. The Rappahannock Oyster Co. farms oysters across the Chesapeake Bay, including sweet and buttery Rappahannock River oysters. The shellfish is harvested daily on the farm in front of Merroir, a restaurant located on the Rappahannock in Topping, about an hour from Richmond. The kitchen goes through about 12,000 oysters a week in peak season from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

Photo courtesy of Merroir

Ham & Biscuits

Owner Tim Laxton and the bakers at Early Bird Biscuit Co. in Richmond pull hundreds of buttermilk biscuits out of their ovens each day to stuff with ham from Crabill’s in the Shenandoah Valley, making the state’s original breakfast sandwich. Early Bird also features a daily specialty biscuit made with Virginia-milled flour and full-fat buttermilk, which comes in savory flavors like Parmesan Peppercorn and Old Bay Cheddar as well as sweet varieties such as Macchiato and Cinnamon-Raisin Pecan.

Photo courtesy of Cameron Charles Lewis

Apple Butter

Peanut Pie

Peanuts have been grown commercially in Virginia since the 1840s, and the Virginia peanuts are the largest in the nation. The Virginia Diner — located in the heart of Virginia peanut country, Sussex County — bakes as many as four dozen peanut pies a week. There’s a half-pound of crushed salted peanuts in each sweet, buttery dessert.

Photo courtesy of Virginia Diner

Trout

The state is home to more than 2,900 miles of trout streams, and brook, brown and rainbow trout are popular among anglers and diners. The Palisades Restaurant in Eggleston sources its fish from Brackens Fish Hatchery in Wytheville and serves rainbow trout with a toasted oat and almond crust, lavender honey and rhubarb. The western Virginia restaurant hosts live music, and also offers a cooking camp for kids in the summertime.

Photo courtesy of The Palisades Restaurant

Macaroni and Cheese

Thomas Jefferson brought a pasta machine back from Europe in the 1790s, and often served “macaroni” to guests during his time at Monticello in Charlottesville. The president’s legacy lives on at the Virginian Restaurant, where the Stumble Down Mac N' Cheese is a favorite order for students at the nearby University of Virginia — which was established by Jefferson in 1819. Cavatappi pasta is mixed with cream, pepper Jack cheese and salt and pepper, then topped with a fried cheddar potato cake, which the staff recommends guests mix into the creamy dish.

Photo courtesy of Virginian Restaurant

Shrimp & Grits

Virginia — with hundreds of waterways and a long agrarian history — has been producing top-quality grits for centuries. Coarse-ground white grits from Byrd Mill in Ashland star in the Shrimp ‘n’ Grits dish at José Andrés’ America Eats Tavern in McLean, a restaurant that specializes in iconic American food. The grits in this Southern staple are combined with aged white cheddar and topped with wild Gulf shrimp and North Carolina ham and peppers, then finished with chopped corn nuts.

Photo courtesy of Rey Lopez

Brunswick Stew

Virginia is one of several Southern states that claim to be the birthplace of regional icon Brunswick Stew. In the colder months, Grey Goose in Hampton sells up to 10 gallons a week of the hearty mix of chicken and vegetables, including crushed tomatoes, corn, carrots, lima beans and potatoes. It’s one of their top sellers and comes with a side of biscuits. Mark your calendar: The fourth Wednesday in January is Brunswick Stew Day at the Virginia statehouse.

Photo courtesy of Bob Harper Photography

Baked Oysters

For an utterly Virginian take on a classic Rockefeller, try the baked oysters at family-owned Molasses Grill in Halifax, close to the North Carolina border. Chef Steven Schopen’s dish features oysters that are often sourced from the James River or Chincoteague Bay. Instead of spinach and bacon, they’re topped first with local collard greens sauteed in shallots and garlic, then sugar-cured country ham from Kite’s in Wolftown. The dish is finished with lemon hollandaise and grated Parmesan.

Photo courtesy of Molasses Grill

Soft-Shell Crabs

Summer is soft-shell crab season in Virginia, when blue crabs molt to make way for new growth. Crabs are harvested just as this stage begins and held until the new shells are ready — and delicious. At Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, Virginia crabs are served with wild-foraged chanterelles (a friend of the restaurant procures the golden mushrooms from West Virginia) and fennel blossoms from the restaurant’s garden, which add a touch of anise flavor to the dish.

Photo courtesy of Restaurant Eve

Norton Wine

Viognier Wine

Peanut Soup

A mix of onion, celery, chicken stock and peanut butter lays the base for this hearty soup that was popular in Colonial Virginia. Its roots are African, but the version served on Fridays at 1776 Log House Restaurant was adapted from one that was once served at the historic Hotel Roanoke, which was constructed in the 1880s. The family-run restaurant is located in tiny downtown Wytheville in the western part of the state, and is set in an actual log cabin built in its namesake year of 1776.


101 Best Restaurants in America worth a Visit

The list that includes restaurants that "offer a truly memorable culinary experience" puts the three Michelin starred restaurant, run by chef Grant Achatz and business partner Nick Kokonas at number one, once again. The duo, who opened the Chicago restaurant 15 years ago, still offers "some of the most imaginative and delicious modernist cuisines in the country," according to The Daily Meal. Their other Chicago restaurant Next appears at no.18 on the list.

Daniel Humm's Eleven Madison Park in New York takes second place, while Dominique Crenn's Atelier Crenn in San Francisco is in third position. Dan Barber can be found at number 10 with Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

See the top 20 below, which is dominated by California with seven entries.


24 Best Seafood Restaurants in the United States

    , Photo: 167 Raw , Photo: Bob’s Clam Hut , Photo: Matunuck Oyster Bar , Photo: koss13/stock.adobe.com , Photo: Roe , Photo: Angry Crab Shack , Photo: sitriel/stock.adobe.com , Photo: Fiola Mare , Photo: M.studio/stock.adobe.com , Photo: ilolab/stock.adobe.com , Photo: Mama’s Fish House , Photo: Mariscos Chihuahua , Photo: Pacific Beach Fish Shop , Photo: Pêche Seafood Grill , Photo: Providence , Photo: Red Fish Grill , Photo: Vasiliy/stock.adobe.com , Photo: FabioAlfanoPH/stock.adobe.com , Photo: Select Oyster Bar , Photo: Shaw’s Crab House , Photo: ALF photo/stock.adobe.com , Photo: The Place , Photo: Sergey/stock.adobe.com , Photo: The Walrus and the Carpenter
  • Cover Photo: Anna_Anny/stock.adobe.com

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