Best of the best
White tablecloths, top-notch service, and a hefty bill—all things you can expect when you head out for a night of fine dining. Going out to eat at these restaurants is an experience like no other and Americans drop serious cash to get a taste of the good life. Check out these fine-dining establishments that were recently ranked by TripAdvisor as the best 10 throughout the country.
1. The Inn at Little Washington
The Inn at Little Washington is the only three-star Michelin restaurant in the D.C. metro area and chef Patrick O’Connell has created an environment you won’t want to leave. Stepping into the restaurant feels like you’ve been transported to an old country house, except nothing is old about the service here. Much of the produce and herbs are grown on site and the menu reflects the mind of a culinary creative genius.
Offerings such as fennel-dusted pacific halibut and pepper-crusted Long Island duck breast are just a couple of the many delicious items that rotate through the menu. Got a sweet tooth? Try their coconut sorbet with passionfruit and ginger granite. And if you really don’t want to leave (trust me, you won’t) the Inn may just have a room available for you, as the restaurant shares its location with a fabulous inn.
2. Café Monarch
This Scottsdale, Arizona, restaurant is known as being one of the most romantic fine dining restaurants in the country. On top of that, Café Monarch also has one of the best wine collections you’ll find in any restaurant. Dishes like Fresno chile glazed pork belly and New Zealand rack of lamb grace Monarch’s menu, but that’s not all. Try their caviar service where you can get three kinds of osetra caviar.
Three kinds of caviar not fancy enough for you? Check out Monarch’s wine menu that goes on for more than 90 pages! You read that right. If you can think of a bottle, there’s a good chance Monarch has it. Just be ready to spend some serious cash as bottles here can go for well over $1,000.
3. Halls Chop House
Chop houses have long been a player on the fine dining scene. When people think about an elevated dining experience, many first think of chop houses and their white table cloths, courteous serving staff, and intimate atmosphere. Halls in Charleston, South Carolina hits all of these marks and more. Opened by the Hall family in 2009, Halls offers more than just red meat and potatoes. You can’t be in Charleston and not offer a taste of the coast, which Halls does wonderfully. Classics like shrimp and grits, and oysters Rockefeller can be found on the menu, along with stunning sides like pancetta-roasted brussels sprouts and wild mushroom risotto.
Halls has multiple locations throughout South Carolina with plans on opening a location in Nashville as well. Halls also serves brunch, where you can get crabcake eggs benedict or a chophouse omelet, which is served with prime steak and creamed spinach. Brunch at a chop house? Sign me up.
Situated in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Sazon is a unique addition to this list. Chef Fernando Olea, originally from Mexico City, has been wowing those who visit his restaurants with beautiful and complex flavors. His unique interpretation of Mexican dishes never ceases to amaze, especially his world class moles. Described as offering elevated Latin American cuisine and specialty cocktails, Sazon is sure to impress with items like Coyoacan, a shrimp enchilada with a creamy zucchini blossom sauce, and Oaxaqueños, baby grasshoppers infused with olive oil, garlic, and citrus.
Need something to wash those grasshoppers down? Try the Diego River, a mezcal cocktail with coconut water and passion fruit puree, or the always refreshing Brisa De Hierbas, a gin-based cocktail mixed with fresh lemon juice, rosemary, and green chartreuse. Reservations are almost always a must, as the restaurant fills up fast with patrons clamoring to try one of chef Olea’s moles.
5. Collage Restaurant
St. Augustine is a beautiful coastal city located in Northeast Florida. With sterling beaches and stunning architecture, the city is a perfect place for a fine dining experience. Enter Collage Restaurant. Collage, opened by Mike Hyatt and Cindy Stangby, utilizes its proximity to the coast by offering guests fresh, local seafood and produce throughout the menu. Homemade lobster ravioli served with sautéed shrimp in a pesto cream sauce and paella cooked in an open fire are fantastic offerings for seafood lovers. For those looking for a land-dwelling entrée, the char-grilled filet or tenderloin au-poivre should do just fine.
With an extensive wine list that caters budgets of all types and wait staff dedicated to making your time at Collage relaxed and memorable, it would be a mistake not to visit Collage when in the St. Augustine area.
6. Mama’s Fish House
For this next restaurant we’re headed off the mainland and over to the Pacific Ocean where Mama’s Fish House calls home on the island of Maui. Mama’s is a fish lover’s dream. Any fish you get from Mama’s is going to be as fresh as you can possibly get (process and served within 24 hours of being caught). Not only that, but all of their fish is locally sourced and brought to the restaurant by local fisherman in small boats. None of that big commercial fishing going on here. Dishes like Hawaii fish sashimi, macadamia nut crab cakes, and Pacific king salmon are sure to have you salivating.
Fish isn’t the only thing on the menu in case that isn’t your thing. Tenderloins, filets, and short ribs can all be found on the menu as well. Be sure to order a Mai Tai with your meal and consider finishing the night with some cookies and Tahitian vanilla ice cream. Mama’s might be the most relaxed environment on this list, but don’t let that fool you into thinking the food is relaxed as well. Everything Mama’s serves is world class.
7. GW Fins
New Orleans is a city of excess and that extends to their fine dining scene as well. Fans of old school, white table cloth service have plenty of options in the city of Jazz, but none quite compare to GW fins. Opened 20 years ago, Fins focuses on the freshest of seafood, changing their menu daily, which is incredibly rare. Chef Tenney Flynn is considered one of the foremost seafood authorities and for good reason. The Wall Street Journal has referred to him as “the fishmonger czar of the South.” In a city known for its culinary offerings, Fins stands out.
Along with supreme seafood offerings, Fins offers a well curated list of beautiful cocktails that pair perfectly with seafood. Try the Watermelon Dumaine, a mix of ginger, watermelon, jasmine sour, thyme and Cava rose if you’re feeling something light and refreshing. If that isn’t your speed, sip on a Pool Side, a coconut rum base cocktail joined with amaretto, triple sec, pineapple, and cranberry. Whatever you do, don’t leave New Orleans without stopping by GW fins first.
8. Lahaina Grill
Buckle up because we’re going back to Maui for the next restaurant on the list. Lahaina Grill has been voted best Maui restaurant for 28 years in a row, a truly unbelievable accomplishment. It’s no mistake though, as Lahaina Grill regularly serves up inspired dishes sourced from local farms, dairies, and the waters that surround Maui. From the outside looking in, Lahaina looks like any other beach restaurant––wood paneling, unassuming. But once inside, diners are greeted by a bright, airy dining room outfitted with wooden chairs and white tablecloths.
Lahaina offers standard fine dining options such as rack of lamb and oven roasted chicken, but it’s the seafood that is truly the star of this menu. Diners would be wise to try some of the lion paw scallops or the locally sourced mahi-mahi.
9. Circa 1866
Charleston, South Carolina is making its second appearance on the list of best fine dining establishments, this time with the restaurant Circa 1886. Circa 1886 is located in an original carriage house in the historic Wentworth Mansion downtown and the setting couldn’t be more appropriate for a restaurant of this caliber. In 2019 executive chef Marc Collins launched a menu featuring native South Carolina flavors from past and present that takes guests on a culinary cruise.
Try the Shrimp N’ Rice grits served with cabbage leaves, goat cheese, and smoked ham hock gravy. For anyone looking for something a little out of the ordinary, maybe the tankora spiced guinea hen, served with jollof rice, chard, benne eggplant pudding, and tiger nut sauce is more your speed. If you can’t make up your mind you can always opt for the Chef’s tasting menu where you certainly will be steered in the right direction.
10. Kokkari Estiatorio
What fine-dining list would be complete without a mention of Greek and Mediterranean cuisine? Enter Kokkari Estiatorio. This San Francisco restaurant, named after a small fishing village on the island of Samos in the Aegean Sea, feels like you’re stepping into an old world Mediterranean rural inn. The cuisine is simple, yet stunning. Where some restaurants opt for showmanship, Kokkari focuses on the ingredients and the cooking techniques to highlight the beautiful simplicity of their menu. A woodfired oven and a charcoal grill provide divine flavors to the various dishes coming out of Kokkari’s kitchen.
No Greek meal is complete without dolmathes, stuffed grape leaves with rice, dill, and mint. The moussaka is also a must try, a Greek version of lasagna layered with spiced lamb and beef, eggplant, potato, and a yogurt béchamel.