In an industry as diverse as the cuisines it serves, there is no shortage of restaurants worthy of admiration—and the same goes for the people who have fostered those brands and continue to push them forward. Although the daily rigors of restaurant life demand hyper-focus on one’s own operation, industry professionals still take note of their peers and how they are performing, whether the person or brand in question is new to the dining world or a foodservice mainstay.
Rather than handpick a list of restaurants and people, we asked you, our readers, to tell us who you admire the most—something similar in spirit to those old high school yearbook superlatives. Although your nominations didn’t surprise us per se, they did make us rethink how we define success and innovation while also introducing us to some under-the-radar power players.
Divided into 14 categories ranging from favorite legacy chain and best beverage program to most creative brand innovator and fervent industry advocate, these are the restaurants and peers you admire the most.