America’s diners have spoken and have chosen their picks for the best restaurants of the year. OpenTable’s annual list compiled over 12 million restaurant reviews submitted by OpenTable diners to highlight the top 100 restaurants in the country. This year’s list brings back old favorites like Geronimo in Santa Fe, N.M., as well as newcomers such as Lahaina Grill in Lahaina, Hawaii. Categorized by state, here’s an inside look at the restaurants that charmed diners the most this year.
Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham
One of the establishments that put Birmingham on the fine-dining map was this brainchild of chef Frank Stitt, who took what he learned from cooking at Chez Panisse back to his home state in 1982, when most people still thought of Southern haute cuisine as shrimp and grits. Thirty-five years later, Highlands and Stitt are still going strong, applying classic French techniques to a bounty of local ingredients, from oysters to shell beans, okra, tomatoes and game. Venerated landmarks live on repeat business; many would have trouble matching the loyalty of Highlands’ fans, new and old.
Cafe Monarch, Scottsdale
Who said special-occasion dining is dead? This stalwart in Scottsdale’s Old Town section proudly boasts of being the perfect place for “your birthday, anniversary, special occasion, or extravagant night out.”
Clearly it’s not the place to pop in for a burger. The prix fixe menu features four courses for $150 per person, excluding beverages. The entree choices include such high-end options as a Niman Ranch pork tomahawk chop and macadamia nut-encrusted Chilean sea bass. And if diners are still hungry, they can spring for the $30 Charred Spanish Octopus add-on.
Fishing with Dynamite, Manhattan Beach
The New England oyster bar has moved cross-country in the form of this seaside outpost. Like Pearl in New York City or Jasper White’s Summer Shack in Cambridge, Mass., Fishing features a variety of fresh shellfish on the half shell, along with such local exotica as Santa Barbara live sea urchin. Any Easterner would feel at home with the chowder (New England-style) or the battered cod.
Heirloom Cafe, San Francisco
Call it the next generation of California cuisine: fare so earthy a patron’s fingernails might get dirty, served with prize wines that don’t require fluency in French. The establishment prides itself on putting flavor and comfort above pretentious sophistication; it brags about using such nonprecious ingredients as carrots and onions, though the seared bavette steak isn’t exactly something an average customer might grill at home.
The menu is fixed. On a recent night, it consisted of a Little Gem lettuce salad with roasted delicata squash; the bavette steak with Brussels sprouts and potato hash; and almond cake with mission figs, raspberries and burnt honey caramel.
Polo Lounge, Beverly Hills
A visitor might expect the Rat Pack to saunter in at any moment, drinks in hand. That sense of stepping back in time to Hollywood’s golden era is a big part of the legendary watering hole’s appeal. As the Los Angeles Times put it this summer, “If celebrity had its own planet, it would look like the Beverly Hills Hotel,” the Polo Lounge’s swanky host site.
The restaurant is more than a museum. For one thing, it serves as the hotel’s signature restaurant, which means doing a bang-up business in power breakfasts. It also features such promotions as the recent 12 Nights of Souffles, a holiday special.
The landmark’s signature dish remains a salad called the McCarthy, made with iceberg lettuce, cheddar cheese, grilled chicken, smoked bacon, hardboiled eggs and beets, all for a lunch price of $24.
Barrique Venice, Venice
Benu, San Francisco
Koi, West Hollywood
Press, St. Helena
Quince, San Francisco
Arethusa al Tavolo, Bantam
Long before the term “farm to table” came into vogue, Arethusa was epitomizing the concept. The business is a 350-cow diary farm. Al Tavolo (“the table”) opened in 2013 to offer dishes made with fresh cheeses and other dairy products straight from the barn (the restaurant’s motto: Julia Child’s quip to home chefs, “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.”)
The dairy and restaurant are located in Litchfield County, Connecticut’s breadbasket, where farms still function a relatively short haul from New York City. The menu sports such appetizers as local baby beets with pickled grapes and red endive, flavored with Arethusa buttermilk ($15), and housemade butternut squash and apple agnolotti, a riff on ravioli ($31).
The menu sports more mention of dairy ingredients than most fine-dining bills of fare might. Go figure.
District of Columbia
The lone restaurant from the nation’s capital to rank among the top 100, Rasika describes its fare as modern Indian, with a smattering of regional dishes from the subcontinent. They include a number of barbecue (sigri) and griddle-cooked (tawa) specialties, in addition to tandoori-style items that are more familiar to American diners. Vegetarian items figure prominently into the mix.
The menu sports a mix of familiar items (tikka masala, baingan) and more exotic fare, like mango shrimp. There are also some nods to local favorites, such as the crab pepper masala, made with Chesapeake Bay blue claws.
Buccan, Palm Beach
James Beard-nominated chef Clay Conley opened this small-plates concept in 2011. The New York Times called out Buccan as a must-visit spot for those with 36 hours in Palm Beach. Menu highlights include steak tartare, wood-fried octopus tabbouleh and large plates of Asian-influenced strip steak with smoked soy, black garlic, bok choy and matsutake mushrooms.
A 2,400-square-foot art deco building that was once a private home is now home to the 65-seat Crust restaurant. The concept, which offers dine-in, carry-out and delivery, centers on inventive pizzas and modern Italian cuisine.
The Grill at The Ritz-Carlton, Naples
This white-tablecloth steakhouse, with its crystal chandeliers and high-backed chairs, is known for its high-end menu of classic dishes. Menu items include truffle risotto, dry-aged steaks and traditional side dishes like creamed spinach, au gratin potatoes and truffle macaroni and cheese. The Grill also offers private dining, as well as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus.
This Atlanta stalwart opened in 1979, with a focus on steaks and seafood paired with Southern specialties like grit fritters. The space features multiple private dining rooms, as well as seating at the bar. Bones is also known for its expansive wine list.
La Grotta, Atlanta
Another longtime Atlanta dining staple is La Grotta, which debuted in 1978. The restaurant, with its courtyard garden views, bills itself as “casual fine dining” and features a menu of Italian dishes like grilled veal with red wine veal jus, goat cheese-stuffed ravioli in butter sauce and roast quail stuffed with Italian sausage.
Most everything at Umi, from the simple stone chopstick rests to the dress code to the sleek pale-wood chairs, reflects sophisticated modernity. That design aesthetic is also reflected in the menu of Japanese dishes, from sushi rolls to hot dishes like foie gras and baked lobster tempura.
Lahaina Grill, Lahaina
This contemporary American bistro began as a 55-seat restaurant in 1990 and is now in a 130-seat space after several expansions. The space reflects Maui’s vibrant landscape, with bright watercolors throughout. The menu leans heavily on fish and seafood, such as ahi poke, seared scallops and Pacific salmon.
Mama’s Fish House, Paia
It’s hard to get fresher fish than the ono, mahi-mahi and uku served at Mama’s Fish House. Fishermen bring their catch directly to the beachfront restaurant, where the menu lists the name of the person who made the catch.
Girl & the Goat, Chicago
Celeb chef Stephanie Izard’s first concept, Girl & the Goat, opened in 2010 with a family-style menu of inventive (and goat-centric) dishes like goat chorizo-lardo pizza, calamari bruschetta with goat milk ricotta, goat empanadas and confit goat belly with bourbon butter.
Tasting-menu restaurant Oriole earned two Michelin stars in its first year. The 28-seat dining room is separated from the kitchen by two windows, so diners can watch the multiple courses being prepared.
Riccardo Enoteca, Chicago
This bustling Italian spot from the owners of Riccardo Trattoria is known for its wood-burning pizza oven. The wine bar also serves classic pastas, grilled meats and charcuterie.
RL Restaurant, Chicago
RPM Restaurants, Chicago
True Food Kitchen, Chicago
Cafe Provence, Prairie Village
This longtime family-owned restaurant melds Midwestern ingredients with classic French recipes. The restaurant recently launched a French Market in a nearby shopping center, selling soups, sauces and desserts to go. Cafe Provence also hosts a seasonal prix fixe dinner each Tuesday.
Located along the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, Charleston offers guests a choice of six different prix fixe meals that feature a mix of Low Country and French cuisine. Favorite dishes by reviewers include the lobster soup, fried oysters and the shrimp and grits.
Owned and operated by brother and sister team Josh and Stephanie Hershkovitz, Hersh’s aims to offer Italian dishes made with simple ingredients that are served in a comfortable setting. Along with an extensive drink list, the menu features shareable dishes such as rustic Italian small plates and housemade pasta as well as pizza with creative toppings such as its kale and pistachio pizza.
Linwoods, Owings Mills
Opened over 20 years ago, Linwoods still incorporates some traditional fine-dining elements such as white tablecloths and folded napkins, but has also embraced modern times with an open kitchen format and an innovative menu, which includes dishes such as spinach and goat cheese pizza, crab and shrimp tacos and a stir-fried vegetable sushi roll.
Designed for an intimate dining experience, Coppa is hidden away on a quiet street in Boston’s South End. Its menu comprises Italian small plates made with ingredients that are sourced locally and sustainably. The space also hosts a popular brunch during the weekend from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Table at Season to Taste, Cambridge
This concept by chef Carl Dooley seats only 20, with 16 table seats and an additional four seats around the restaurant’s open kitchen. Guests are treated to a daily prix fixe menu featuring four courses. Those not looking for a sit-down dinner can enjoy a quick drink and a small bite to eat at the restaurant’s standing wine bar.
Billing itself as a “modern reinterpretation of the supper club,” this Instagram-friendly spot includes floor to ceiling bookcases, cowhide chairs and a fireplace. Its drink menu is made up of a mix of classic and inventive cocktails, and a silhouette printed alongside every drink on the menu illustrates what glass the drink will be served in.
Giulia Restaurant, Cambridge
Saddle River Inn, Saddle River
Serving guests since 1981, Saddle River Inn offers French-inspired fine dining in an old barn that once housed a sawmill and basket-weaving factory. Led by chef Jamie Knott, the menu changes twice seasonally and incorporates as many local ingredients as possible.
Steve and Cookie’s By the Bay, Margate
Serving new American fare, Steve and Cookie's by the Bay includes a raw bar as well as a variety of meat dishes for carnivores on its menu. Guests are also treated to live jazz while enjoying their meal.
Geronimo, Santa Fe
Located inside an adobe home built in 1756, Geronimo has been offering guests new American fare since opening 26 years ago. This is the fifth time it has been included in OpenTable’s Top 100 list, and it is also New Mexico’s only Mobil four-star and AAA four-diamond restaurant. The elk tenderloin is a favorite among diners.
Sushi Nakazawa, New York City
Guests dining at Sushi Nakazawa are treated to a 20-course omakase meal that includes fish from both local and international waters. The menu changes daily depending on what was freshly caught. Diners especially love sitting at the bar to watch their meal being made.
Del Posto, New York City
In 2010, Del Posto became the first Italian restaurant in almost 40 years to earn four stars from The New York Times. Now under the direction of Executive Chef Melissa Rodriguez, Del Posto offers both prix fixe and a la carte menus depending on the size of the party.
1770 House, East Hampton
Opening its doors to guests for over 250 years, 1770 House offers two different dining settings for consumers. Diners can choose to enjoy traditional fine dining inside the main dining room and adjacent garden patio, or opt for casual pub fare at the tavern downstairs. Guests frequently commend the service as well as the ambiance.
Atera, New York City
Bondst, New York City
Daniel, New York City
Gabriel Kreuther, New York City
Gramercy Tavern, New York City
Jungsik, New York City
Lartusi, New York City
Le Coucou, New York City
Marc Forgione, New York City
Marea, New York City
The Modern - Bar Room and Dining Room, New York City
Momofuku Ko, New York City
Per Se, New York City
The Polo Bar, New York City
Raoul’s, New York City
Upland, New York City
Bida Manda Restaurant and Bar, Raleigh
The buzz around most top restaurants in North Carolina has typically focused on chefs who are reinterpreting Southern cuisine with locally sourced ingredients and modern techniques. But in 2017, the spotlight is on a restaurant specializing in the food of Laos—a world away from America’s Southern culinary legacy but a sure sign that the world is shrinking. Bida Manda in Raleigh is one of the first Laotian restaurants in the States, according to its website. The restaurant’s name is Sanskrit for mother and father, and the menu items are inspired by the owners’ family recipes. The authentic dishes vie with the hospitable service as selling points for Bida Manda, according to reviews.
Saint Jacques French Cuisine, Raleigh
Traditional French cooking draws guests to Saint Jacques in North Raleigh. The restaurant is back on the Top 100 list for the second year in a row, thanks to classics such as escargots, duck confit and profiteroles. Although the recipes adhere to the originals, native Frenchman chef Serge Falcoz-Vigne sources seafood and produce from the area to give dishes local flavor. Falcoz-Vigne is also GM of the restaurant, assuring smooth front-of-house operations as well.
Restaurant L, Cincinnati
Described on its website as a “Parisian-style restaurant with a little New York attitude and an abundance of Cincinnati charm,” Restaurant L specializes in French food updated with on-trend flavors and twists. There are a la carte lunch and dinner menus, as well as an extensive lounge menu, but the best deals are the tasting menus. They range in price from $55 per person for two courses to $110 for the six-course Menu Gourmand; wine pairings are optional for an extra charge.
The cozy brick interior of this Cincinnati restaurant reflects its rustic Italian menu, and patrons appreciate the synergy between food and ambience, according to their comments. Sotto’s kitchen offers authentic preparations of Italian favorites, such as gnocchi, fusilli Bolognese, bruschetta and branzino. Housemade items are a signature, including the cured meats, crudo and pastas. Many dishes are shareable—another aspect of Sotto that earns praise from customers.
Orchids at Palm Court, Cincinnati
Five-star fine dining attracts guests to this French-inspired restaurant located in the landmark Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel. Orchids’ luxe art deco design, polished service and ingredient-driven tasting menus have turned it into a special-occasion destination for Cincinnati residents and tourists alike, landing it in OpenTable’s Top 100 for seven years running. Other highlights include a rooftop beehive and herb garden.
The Metro Wine Bar & Bistro, Oklahoma City
Located in Oklahoma City for over 28 years, The Metro Wine Bar & Bistro keeps up with the times by updating its menu in step with the trends. The upscale restaurant has built a reputation as the place to go to impress a date or celebrate a special occasion. While the dining room boasts a formal setting, with linen-draped tables, a 400-bottle wine list and refined service, the bar has a casual vibe—a place where guests can drop in for a glass of wine and appetizer-sized bites.
Before Michael Solomonov opened Zahav in Philadelphia in 2008, Israeli cuisine was pretty much under the radar on the American dining scene. In the years since, chef-owner Solomonov has won several prestigious awards and published a cookbook, "Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking," further familiarizing American diners with his modern take on Israeli food. Customers appreciate Zahav for its diverse menu of small plates, infused with culinary influences from the Middle East, North Africa, the Mediterranean and even Eastern Europe.
Vetri Cucina, Philadelphia
With only 11 tables, this tiny restaurant in a historic Philadelphia townhouse aims to give guests a dining experience that’s both personal and authentic. Vetri Cucina serves a tasting menu only, curated by chef-owner Marc Vetri and his team and customized for each guest. The four-course menu includes antipasti, handcrafted pasta, an entree and dessert, all highlighting seasonal ingredients. Vetri Cucina, in operation since 1998, has garnered many awards and built a reputation as a leading Italian restaurant in the U.S.
Double Knot, Philadelphia
This Philadelphia hot spot is on-trend both with its menu and secretive location. Calling itself a “Japanese speakeasy,” Double Knot features a sushi and robatayaki bar hidden away beneath a coffee shop. It’s the brainchild of Michael Schulson, a chef who has helped bring national attention to Philadelphia’s dining scene through several prior concepts. In addition to sushi, the menu hits on popular street food-inspired items such as Asian dumplings and buns, satays and kimchi rice, and the beverage side lists an innovative selection of specialty coffees, matcha drinks and craft cocktails.
Barclay Prime, Philadelphia
Talula’s Garden, Philadelphia
Vernick Food & Drink, Philadelphia
Charleston Grill, Charleston
Opened in 1990, this opulent hotel restaurant is known for seasonally inspired menus and a 1,300-label wine cellar. The menu is divided into four categories—Pure (simple, light dishes), Lush (extravagant French dishes), Southern (regional favorites) and Cosmopolitan (global flavors)—but diners also have the option for a special tasting menu curated by chef Michelle Weaver. The restaurant also plays up the jazz scene, with musicians featured seven nights a week.
Halls Chophouse, Charleston
With locations in both Greenville and downtown Charleston, this elegant, old-world steakhouse is family-owned and
-operated. Although it’s known for its sizable cuts of beef and local seafood, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian dishes are also available. The restaurant’s Sunday gospel brunch, jazz on select evenings and happy hour at the bar appeal to those looking for entertainment. Three private rooms are also available for special occasions.
Zero Restaurant + Bar, Charleston
Zero Restaurant + Bar is located in downtown Charleston at the Zero George Hotel. Chef Vinson Petrillo highlights hyper-seasonal, local ingredients (some from the on-site garden) in contemporary American-style dishes prepared in an open kitchen. Guests can dine in the kitchen house (a carriage house that dates back to 1804) or a palm-shaded courtyard.
Neighborhood Services, Dallas
This original outpost of chef-owner Nick Badovinus’ hip chain of eateries (which includes two other Neighborhood Services locations, Montlake Cut, Off-Site Kitchen and most recently Town Hearth) spotlights new American fare. Comfort foods like chicken piccata, meatloaf and pork chop are gussied up, while a lively bar menus whiskey and house cocktails. Quirky decor includes a pair of denim jeans in the bathroom and black-and-white photos of Badovinus’ grandfather’s construction business.
Rudy & Paco Restaurant & Bar, Galveston
Rudy & Paco menus grilled seafood and steak with South and Central American flair. Specialties range from grilled red snapper to plantain-encrusted chicken to grilled gulf shrimp. Wine tastings and presentations are a regular occurrence, as are pretheater dinner events, as the restaurant’s located next to The Grand 1894 Opera House.
James Beard Award winner Tyson Cole specializes in sushi made with sustainable seafood and local ingredients at this Japanese hot spot. Hot and cold tastings, tempura and sashimi are featured in seasonal preparations that rotate four times a year; omakase tastings are also available. Uchi, which means “house” in Japanese, was built inside a refurbished home (which is similar to many sushi bars in Japan). Opened in 2015, the Dallas restaurant is the third Uchi location after the Austin and Houston sites.
Shinsei Restaurant, Dallas
Le Bilboquet, Dallas
The Inn at Little Washington, Washington
With 30 tables, this opulent restaurant helmed by Patrick O’Connell offers three American cuisine tasting menus, though guests can opt to pick and choose any four dishes they want. Tasting menus are $218 per person, with $125 optional wine pairings from the 14,000-bottle wine cellar. The restaurant’s a go-to spot in a 24-bedroom luxury country inn, which opened in 1978.
L’Auberge Chez Francoise, Great Falls
Also located in a country inn, L’Auberge Chez Francois is an elegant French restaurant that was established in 1976. The farmhouse setting matches the rustic Alsatian fare. The family-run restaurant was originally founded by Francois Haeringer and is now run by his son and chef, Jacques. The dining rooms are filled with family heirlooms and murals depicting scenes in Haeringer’s hometown of Obernai, France; there’s also a garden patio. Cooking demos, wine dinners and other special events are habitual.
Rustic Piedmont, Italy, cuisine and wines dominate the menus at this Seattle restaurant. Executive Chef Stuart Lane has made handmade pasta and seasonally inspired dishes featuring locally sourced, organic ingredients at this bustling hot spot since 2008. The cozy decor and small bar overlooking an open kitchen are reminiscent of an authentic Northern Italian trattoria.