Eater's picks for top spots reflects how many, many people eat now in cities across the U.S. It's delicious democracy with incredibly high standards and a solid payoff as well.
— Kristen Hawley
Eater has released its annual list of America’s 38 Essential Restaurants, compiled by restaurant editor Bill Addison.
It includes 18 new-to-the-list restaurants, with 20 returning from last year. And it does a great job of representing women in the industry — just under a third of listed restaurants have women at the helm — including Addison’s top pick for the year: The Grey in Savannah, noting he can’t think of another restaurant that has fulfilled its promise so richly. “Eating here communicates wholeness,” he says.
Eater’s list feels like a solid representation of the American dining scene, with beloved regional classics (Austin’s Franklin Barbecue) to nationally-known fine dining stalwarts (Chicago’s Alinea; San Francisco’s Benu) to newer favorites that have taken the country by storm (L.A.’s Squirl, ILU, ricotta toast!)
As previously discussed here, restaurant rankings are a tricky business. It’s nearly impossible to provide universal context by which to rank anything, let alone a set of diverse restaurants meant to represent the current dining scene in this country. (Eater’s list isn’t ranked; it’s alphabetical.) Most best-of lists and rankings skew heavily toward fine dining and expensive experiences, which, sure, are fantastic but aren’t necessarily representative of what’s happening on the local level nor which trends and ideas that have started in smaller kitchens are affecting the way that we dine out today. Kind of like the first time you eat at Chez Panisse and you’re like, yeah, sure this is great but is it that transcendent? And then you remember that Alice Waters did the farm-to-table thing long before it was an actual thing and has influenced the way that we eat every day. Like that.
As the trend in restaurant coverage turns more to focus on the people within those businesses, positive and negative, Eater’s list is a great representation of the way we eat today. It’s inspirational, aspirational, and inclusive — which is solid ground during tumultuous times.
- Al Ameer, Dearborn, MI
- Alinea, Chicago, IL
- Bad Saint, Washington, D.C.
- Bateau, Seattle, WA
- Benu, San Francisco, CA
- Bertha’s, Charleston, SC
- Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, NY
- Cala, San Francisco, CA
- Compère Lapin, New Orleans, LA
- Le Coucou, New York City, NY
- Dumpling Galaxy, New York City, NY
- Eventide Oyster Co., Portland, ME
- Franklin Barbecue, Austin, TX
- Frasca Food & Wine, Boulder, CO
- The Grey, Savannah, GA
- The Grocery, Charleston, SC
- Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, AL
- Hugo’s, Houston, TX
- Kachka, Portland, OR
- Mariscos Jalisco, Los Angeles, CA
- Milktooth, Indianapolis, IN
- Miller Union, Atlanta, GA
- Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco, CA
- Monteverde, Chicago, IL
- Mud Hen Water, Honolulu, HI
- n/naka, Los Angeles, CA
- La Petite Grocery, New Orleans, LA
- Poole’s Downtown Diner, Raleigh, NC
- Prince’s Hot Chicken, Nashville, TN
- Prune, New York City, NY
- The Publican, Chicago, IL
- Republique, Los Angeles, CA
- Willows Inn, Lummi Island, WA
- Sally’s Apizza, New Haven, CT
- Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis, MN
- Sqirl, Los Angeles, CA
- Staplehouse, Atlanta, GA
- Zahav, Philadelphia, PA
This post originally appeared in the November 8, 2017 Skift Table newsletter. Subscribe to get the latest in your inbox.