The Five Best Restaurants in the U.S.
Luxist readers nominated the restaurants that they believe to be the best and most luxurious restaurants in the country. From Napa Valley and Las Vegas to Chicago and New York, here are their top five favorite places (in alphabetical order):
Charlie Trotter's (Chicago)
While most top chefs boast degrees from the traditional powerhouses of the culinary world, Charlie Trotter is an exception. The chef of the Chicago restaurant that bears his name never had a former education in the world of food---but that hasn't stopped him from turning his eatery into a Luxist nominee in the best domestic fine dining category.
Charlie Trotter became a foodie in college after learning a few cooking tips from his roommate. Fascinated by the culinary arts, he took a year off from earning his degree in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin's Madison campus to read every book he could, including a ton of tomes on cooking. After graduation, he went into the catering business, eventually deciding that he wanted to run his own restaurant.
Trotter opened his eponymous eatery in 1987, with his late father, Bob, as a partner. In the intervening years, Charlie Trotter's has blossomed into one of the finest restaurants in the country, developing relationships with Midwestern farmers in order to ensure the freshest ingredients are available at every meal. The menu changes nearly every day, but recent highlights include yellowfin tuna sashimi with English cucumber and Rashiri kombu, as well as Meiwa kumquats with frozen meringue and cured black olives.
Prix fixe options range from the $135 Vegetable Menu to the $225 Kitchen Table Menu, where no walls separate the guests from the cooks. For those who'd prefer to enjoy Trotter's delights from the comfort of their own home, Trotter's To Go offers all manner of gourmet take-home foods. Reservations for the restaurant can be made by calling (773) 248-6228.
Gallery: Charlie Trotter's
Four Seasons (New York)
Most restaurants offer a menu that changes with the seasons; few boast an ambiance that physically changes as summer turns to fall, fall to winter, and so on. The Four Seasons in New York does just that, thanks to a canopy of trees located inside the restaurant-just part of the reason the vaunted eatery is a Luxist nominee in the best fine domestic dining category.
When Four Seasons opened in midtown Manhattan in 1959, it delighted patrons with sprawling dining rooms, opulent décor and a delicious menu. Little has changed, from the furnishings-a grand chandelier, works by Picasso and Pollack, a bubbling pool in the middle of one room-to the seasonally-influenced menu. The affluent clientele remains as well.
Helmed by a two-headed executive chef team of Larry Finn and Pecko Zantilaveevan, both of whom have trained at some of New York's finest eateries, Four Seasons still offers a menu that gives guests a true taste of the season. This summer, dishes included Shinnecock fluke carpaccio, Maryland crabmeat cake, and a risotto with prawns, summer corn and chanterelles.
Order dinner à la carte and the tab can easily exceed $100 per person before tax, tip and drinks. Early-bird diners can enjoy a pre-theatre prix fixe dinner for $65 a head; if that's too much, there's a two-course lunch available for $25.
Gallery: Four Seasons restaurant
The French Laundry (Napa Valley, Ca.)
Few fine restaurants boast a past as sordid as The French Laundry. Even so, the Yountville, Calif. eatery is consistently rated among the world's best, and makes for an easy choice as a Luxist nominee in the best fine domestic dining category.
In the late 1880s, the building that currently contains the three Michelin star French Laundry was a humble saloon. When a town ordinance mandated that no alcohol be served within two miles of Yountville, the building was converted first into a brothel, then to a French steam laundry by the 1920s. In 1974, the town's mayor bought the laundry and converted it into a restaurant; twenty years later it was purchased by current owner and chef Thomas Keller.
Keller had spent much of the prior decade working at some of the finest restaurants in the world, including Guy Savoy and Taillevent in Paris, both Luxist Awards' fine dining nominees in the international category . He used his experience abroad to create the French-influenced American cuisine that currently populates The French Laundry's menu-like a foie gras dish decked with a Riesling glaze, Silverado Trail strawberries, Piedmont hazelnut streusel, radish, watercress and black truffle.
The French Laundry's prix fixe dinner menu costs $250, service included; drinks can run the tab much higher. Throughout the nine-course tasting menu, though, no single ingredient is ever repeated, leaving the palate surprised and delighted at every turn.
Gallery: The French Laundry
Masa (New York)
In soccer, there's Pele. In music, there's Madonna. When it comes to chefs, one of the most prominent one---name wonders is Masa, owner of the restaurant of the same name in New York. Not only for its proprietor's reputation but for its vaunted menu, Masa is a Luxist nominee in the best domestic fine dining category.
Chef Masa didn't always have just one name---he was born Masa Takayama, son of a family of seven, in Tochigi, Japan. He learned cooking as a child, working for his parents' catering business and fish shop. After high school, Masa found a job at Ginza Sushi-ko in Tokyo, working his way up from dishwasher to sushi chef. He moved to Los Angeles in 1980, eventually opening his own restaurant.
In 2004, Masa sold his Los Angeles eatery and headed east to launch an eponymous restaurant in New York's Time Warner Center. Since then, his establishment has earned numerous accolades including three Michelin stars. There are no menus at Masa---just the chef's whims---and diners are served five appetizers before a sushi entrée, flown fresh from Japan.
For the honor of dining at Masa, guests must pay $400 each, excluding alcohol, tax and tip. Diners on a tighter budget can order à la carte from the adjoining Bar Masa, where meals can be had for a quarter of the price of the menu next door.
Restaurant Guy Savoy (Las Vegas)
When searching for a taste of the City of Lights in the City of Sin, look no further than Restaurant Guy Savoy. The Las Vegas eatery is chef Guy Savoy's only location in the U.S, and with two Michelin stars to its name, it's also a nominee for a Luxist award in the best domestic fine dining category.
At the tender age of 27, Savoy opened his first Paris restaurant in 1980. Seven years and two Michelin stars later, he moved into the current Restaurant Guy Savoy location on Rue Troyon (a Luxist Awards nominee for Best International restaurant). Savoy also helped to establish Nouvelle Cuisine, a lighter approach to French cooking. By the turn of the century, Savoy was one of the world's most famous chefs; he opened his Las Vegas location in 2006.
The menu at Restaurant Guy Savoy in Las Vegas includes some of the chef's signature dishes from Paris, namely artichoke and black truffle soup and oysters in ice gelée. For those with the most decadent of tastes, there's a caviar sampler on the menu, along with a host of other culinary delights. Order the 10-course Menu Prestige, the 90-minute TGV tasting menu, or dine à la carte-the fare is delectable either way.
For an ultra-luxurious experience, reserve the Krug Room, a private dining room where guests can enjoy dishes paired with the finest vintages of Krug bubbly (a Luxist nominee in the best champagne category). Just be sure not to drain your bank account at the poker table before dinner-a meal in the Krug Room will set you back $750, nearly three times the cost of the Menu Prestige.
Gallery: Restaurant Guy Savoy