Yesterday OpenTable announced our 2015 list of the 100 Best Restaurants in America, based on more than 5 million reviews from diners in our network. The lineup is diverse, but we still noticed some common threads among the winners, from the signature dishes to VIP treatment and beyond.
Restaurants that earn rave reviews tend not to be chef-driven, but more focused on creating holistic memorable experiences for guests. Every detail is important. These are the restaurants where guests celebrate special occasions, or where an average Tuesday becomes a special occasion by virtue of dining there.
Read on to discover more top trends from the Best Restaurants in America.
1. Established Restaurants
Restaurants with a legacy, a long-standing reputation for excellence — and in some cases, a storied history — hold special places in guests’ hearts. Well-established restaurants occupy dozens of spots on our list, including classic New York institutions such as Daniel and Gramercy Tavern. Fourteen of the restaurants featured are more than 30 years old, such as Mama’s Fish House, and La Grenouille opened its doors way back in 1962.
Seen at: Les Nomades. Mama’s Fish House. McNinch House. Michael’s at South Point. Mistral. Acquerello. Blue Hill at Stone Barns. La Grenouille. Bones. Castagna. Chez Nous. Daniel. Eleven Madison Park. The French Room. Geronimo. Gramercy Tavern. La Folie.
2. Luxury & Rare Ingredients
In the restaurant universe, 2015 may have been the year of the lobster — demand is on the rise at top restaurants. And with the ban on foie gras repealed in California, the ingredient is more fashionable than ever (despite the surrounding controversy). Also trending: burrata, game meats, and octopus.
Seen at: Arethusa al Tavolo. Bouchard Restaurant and Inn. Bouley. Joseph Tambellini. Laurel. The Modern Dining Room. Norman’s at the Ritz. O ya. Sonoma. Yono’s Restaurant.
3. Michelin Stars
Clearly stealthy Michelin inspectors and OpenTable diners have similar criteria when it comes to rating restaurants. Many Michelin-starred restaurants made this list, from Benu (three stars) to The Modern (two new ones).
Seen at: Boka. Blue Hill at Stone Barn. Benu. Auberge du Soleil. Acquerello. Farmhouse Inn Restaurant. The French Laundry. La Folie. Del Posto. The Modern-Dining Room. Per Se. Quince. Trattoria L’incontro.
4. Formal Attire
While white tablecloths may be on their way out, suits and ties most definitely are not. Many of our honorees indicate a jacket is required or preferred in the dining room.
Seen at: Addison Restaurant, Chicago. Acquerello. Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Bouley. Chez Francois. Daniel. Del Posto. Fearrington House. The French Laundry. The French Room. L’Auberge Chez Francois. La Grenouille. La Mer. Le Bernardin. La Cep. Les Nomades. McNinch House. Nicholas. Per Se. The Phoenician-Afternoon Tea. Quince. Thomas Henkelmann. Yono’s.
5. Chef’s Choice
Tasting menus are alive and well at many of our winning restaurants, with some offering the full experience alongside an a la carte or prix-fixe option. Several offer only a tasting menu or don’t even print a menu at all (Atera). All of these trends reflect diners’ desire for a more chef-curated experience.
Seen at: Atera. Benu. Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Castagna. The Cellars. Fearrington House. n/naka. Per Se. Vetri. Laurel.
6. Epic Wine Lists
Wine is a key component of the concepts at many of these top-tier restaurants, which boast extensive and noteworthy lists. From Auberge du Soleil’s 17,000 wines to Arroyo Vino’s adjoining retail wine shop and St. Francis’ winery, it’s no surprise guests are coming for more than just the food.
Seen at: Acquerello. Addison Restaurant, San Diego. Arroyo Vino. Auberge du Soleil. Blue Hill at Stone Barns. Bones. Charleston. Eleven Madison Park. Fearrington House. Halls Chophouse. La Mer at Halekulani. Le Bernardin. St. Francis Winery & Vineyards. Vetri. Yono’s Restaurant.
7. Dinner Only
Similar to our Best Restaurants for Foodies list, the restaurants featured here tend not to serve lunch. Opening exclusively for dinner allows them to focus solely on a single, flawless service and dedicate all their space (and staff) to prep.
Seen at: Ambience. Artistanal Restaurant. Bacchanalia. Bavettes. Benu. Boka. Bouchard Restaurant and Inn. Cafe Monarch. Carlos’ Bistro. Castagna Restaurant. The Cellars. Chez Francois. Chez Nous. Chimney Park. Collage. Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant. Forage. The French Room. Geronimo. Jillian’s. Joan’s in the Park. Joseph Tambellini. Kai. La Folie. Le Cep. Les Nomades. McNinch House. Nicholas. Quince. Sushi Nakazawa.
Look out, New York: Seven of the 100 Best Restaurants are located in the City of Brotherly Love. From Kate Jacoby and Rich Landau’s plant-forward Vedge, which has made a national splash and ignited our appetites for vegetables, to longtime local fine dining fave Vetri, this town stands on its own merits and is no longer New York City’s sixth borough.
Seen at: Vedge. Zahav. Vernick. Laurel. Vetri. Volver. Talula’s Garden.
9. Sister Farms & Onsite Gardens
“Farm-to-table” dining is so ubiquitous now that restaurants don’t need to tout it. But many of the 100 Best have taken the concept to the next level, using their own gardens and farms to produce ingredients for the kitchen. The French Laundry is famous for its bountiful kitchen garden, while Arethusa al Tavolo was born out of Arethusa Farm — chefs and growers are more connected than ever.
Seen at: Chez Nous. Arethusa al Tavolo. Arroyo Vino. Bacchanalia. Blue Hill at Stone Barns. The French Laundry. n/naka.
10. Chef’s Tables
Any meal at a restaurant on this list will be special, but for diners looking to get up close and personal to the chef and kitchen staff, the chef’s table offers an extraordinary experience. Here’s where chefs have an opportunity to interact directly with guests, tell the story behind the food, and guide them through a memorable experience.
Seen at: Café Juanita. Bouley. Café Monarch. Geronimo. McNinch House. Talula’s Garden. Volver. Zahav.