What makes a good restaurant a “best?” Food that’s better than just good, of course. A dining room and a level of service that suit the quality of what’s on the plate. A good wine list (which doesn’t always mean an encyclopedic one), good beers and/or cocktails where appropriate. And then the less easily quantifiable stuff: personality, imagination (or intelligent commitment to a lack of same), consistency.
A great meal at an outstanding restaurant can be a life-changing experience. But with new places popping up every day, it can be difficult to decide which spots are worth your time — and hard-earned cash.
We combined six noteworthy lists compiled by food critics, experts, and diners to come up with a definitive ranking of the best restaurants in the country.
We gave each restaurant a numerical rating based on how many lists the restaurant appeared on and how high it appeared on lists that were ranked. Restaurants that appeared on multiple lists ranked higher on our list, while restaurants that ranked on only one of these lists ended up closer to the bottom. For restaurants that tied, we broke down the rankings based on reviews, price, and our own editorial discretion.
All this makes trying to rank the country’s best restaurants more and more challenging, but also more and more worthwhile and intriguing.
But here’s the thing: There are more than 600,000 restaurants in America, counting fast-food outlets, dinner house chains, small places where the food might be fine but the amenities are slim, and places with no particular pretensions to quality at all. Bracket all these out and we’ve still got — what? — maybe four or five thousand places that are striving to be “best restaurants” and possibly think they already are.
The lists we used were The Daily Meal’s 101 Best Restaurants in America 2016, OpenTable’s 100 Hottest Restaurants in America for 2016, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, the James Beard Foundation’s 2016 Restaurant and Chef Award Semifinalists, Eater’s The National 38, and the Michelin Guide.
Read on to check out the best restaurants to eat across America:
25. Del Posto
Chef: Mario Batali, Mark Lander (executive chef)
Location: New York, New York
A New York City staple, Del Posto blends flawless service with “palate-enlightening” fare, such as salsa-verde-charred octopus and burnt beef rib eye.
The elegant Italian spot, which holds a Michelin star and a four-star review from The New York Times, has a five-course tasting menu for $149 and an eight-course one for $179, which can be substituted for a vegan version as well.