Ask restaurateurs which modern restaurant company they admire, and many will name Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group. Ask Danny Meyer, and he is likely to name Hillstone.
In a love letter to Hillstone Restaurant Group last year, Bon Appetit’s best new restaurants aficionado Andrew Knowlton declared that the group known especially for its chains (gasp) “runs some of my favorite places to eat in the country.” And he got Meyer, David Chang and a parade of celebrated restaurateurs to enthusiastically cosign.
The MCO’s collection includes 15 different casual full-service concepts, most notably Houston’s (16 locations in eight states) and Hillstone (nine locations in six states). Consistency and quality are the stated promise. The menu at the group’s first-ever restaurant, Houston’s in Nashville, for example, listed out the “little things that make our quality unique,” including orange juice fresh-squeezed to order. The group has expanded slowly and deliberately since 1977, for the purpose of preserving its standards and attention to detail.
It’s that quality and consistency that persists today, as Knowlton and other fans point out, in features like every table being bolted to the floor to avoid any wobbling and a strategically placed spotlight above every table to make it easy to read the menu in the dark, moody dining room. Its tables are in multiples of three, so no server is ever strapped with more than a trio of parties and everyone’s introduced by name. Every time.
Concepts: Bandera, Cherry Creek Grill, East Hampton Grill, Gulfstream, Hillstone, Honor Bar, Houston’s, Los Altos Grill, Palm Beach Grill, R+D Kitchen, Rutherford Grill, South Beverly Grill, The Grill at Bal Harbour, White House Tavern, Woodmont Grill