Eliesa Johnson

Chef Gavin Kaysen opened Spoon and Stable in Minneapolis, in a buildling that served as a horse stable in the early 1900s and is now bathed in natural light from a 100-foot-long skylight and expansive windows.

Top 100 Independent Restaurants

FSR celebrates 100 Independent Operators around the U.S.

More often than not Top-100 lists are based on sales volumes, the same restaurants appear time and again, and the geographic representation is concentrated on the major metropolitan areas where—unsurprisingly—outstanding restaurants are scoring the highest sales in the industry. There could easily be a Top 100 list for New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and all of the major metropolitan areas. However, equally noteworthy are hundreds of independent restaurants around the country, many of which are helping to establish their cities as credible culinary destinations.

For the FSR 2015 list of Top 100 Indies, the major metro areas were taken out of the running, as well as markets like Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Charleston, South Carolina, that are already regarded as top-tier restaurant destinations. Instead, the spotlight is on outstanding independent operators in secondary cities, markets that are fast becoming culinary meccas in their own right. Places like Minneapolis, Philadelphia, and Seattle with large and vibrant populations, as well as some of the smaller but burgeoning markets like Austin, Texas; Greenville, South Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia.

Among this Top 100 are landmark restaurants with reputations that span decades, sometimes centuries, as well as restaurants that have yet to celebrate the first decade—in a couple of cases not even the first year—of operation. All of these restaurants have created a stir and earned accolades within their local communities, from industry professionals, and, often times, from prestigious entities like the James Beard Foundation.