Today I was reading an article about the Top 40 Restaurants in the US. Most were in or near major cities and were places I'd either heard about only in passing or not at all. While I'm not extremely well traveled, I do like to think I've not been limited only to a tiny speck of this planet and have been beyond the borders of my home state. Given that I also enjoy a very good meal as much as the next self-proclaimed "foodie," it seems that limiting to just 40 great restaurants out of the entire US is a tough feat. On top of that, what makes a restaurant "Top 40" material? Must it be swanky, oozing with the trendiest looks or have an extraordinarily elegant ambiance? Is is the quality of the food only? Are we limited only to restaurants that are stand-alone, no chains or franchises? Could it even be... fast food?
Here's some of my picks for Top restaurants in the US. I won't commit to 40 as I know there are too many good ones out there to stop there; at the same time I'll get tired of writing and you'll be sick of reading my opinions before I can ever make it to 40. That said, let's get on with the list.
In no particular order...
Ruth's Chris Steak House - One of my all-time favorites. I avoid going on the weekends as it's busier then and service has on occasion suffered because of it. Usually it doesn't, but it has happened. Then again, "bad" service at Ruth's Chris is better than fabulous service at many other restaurants. Locations worldwide.
Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company - The food is excellent, the menu diverse and presented with a touch of humor and the atmosphere is the most fun I've seen anywhere. Asheville, NC
The Melting Pot - I know it's so cliche because of the fondue theme but for something different, or maybe a girls night out it's just what you need. The intimate environment gives you privacy that I've not found in any other restaurant. Locations nationwide.
Jameson's By the Sea - Some of the best fresh seafood I've had anywhere, period. Very casual setting, choose a table outside for the view. Located in Haleiwa, Oahu, Hawaii.
Mama's Fish House - Again some of the best fresh seafood ever. With the name you'd expect a laid back affair, but this is far from it. It's a much more gourmet presentation of seafood. The menus are printed fresh daily to incorporate which fisherman caught what items, even going so far as to tell you the name of the boat. Yes, that ahi tuna was caught by John Smith on his boat The Fair Lady. Located just outside of Paia on the Hana Highway in Maui, Hawaii.
BJ's Pizza - This was some of the best pizza I've ever tasted. The Blue Hawaii wasn't bad either. I blame this place for introducing me to POG and thus leaving me permanently in search of an equally good fresh fruit juice combination to rival this one. Locations throughout the US.
I'll end my list here for now, but those are just a few of my clearly biased favorites. What's on your list of best dining? Are they ones you reserve for special occasions or is it the place you go every Friday for lunch? Is it the food, the atmosphere or everything all in one?