13 Restaurant Recommendations from Top Food Experts

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What are some of the best restaurants in the US? Let’s see what the expert chefs, restaurateurs and celebrities have to say. After seeing such helpful advice from our last two round-up posts on travel savings tips and inspirational travel advice, we could hardly wait to see the words of wisdom that we would hear from a new batch of travelers. So, in an effort to learn from some of the world’s most experienced industry professionals, we reached out to them to hear their response to this one simple question:

What’s your favorite restaurant in America and why?

We got loads of great advice, as these travelers reflected back on their many years of dining and really gave us some tips from the heart. So without further ado, here are their responses, which are shared in the order that they were received:


1. “It’s impossible for me to have one favorite restaurant. I have a special place in my heart for my Emeril’s restaurant in New Orleans because that’s where it all started. Nearly 25 years later many of my classic dishes are still favorites, like barbecued shrimp and banana cream pie, but at the same time our menu continues to creatively evolve under my chef de cuisine David Slater.”

Chef Emeril Lagasse, Chef-proprietor of 13 restaurants, Named “Chef of the Year” by GQ magazine, @Emeril


2. “One of the best meals I’ve had in the last year came from a sort of secret sushi restaurant in West LA called Yamakase. To secure a reservation you need to fill out a form on the restaurant’s website, and you’ll notice that that website doesn’t list an address or phone number. Once you actually show up at Yamakase, there’s a sign outside that always says ‘Closed’ and the window curtains are drawn. Inside, the tiny unadorned eatery is littered with empty bottles of expensive wine, Champagne, and booze — this is a special occasion place. For the next four and a half hours you will dine on kaiseki and pristine sushi — some of the best I’ve had in the seven years I’ve lived in Los Angeles.”

Kat Odell, Bravo’s Eat, Drink, LoveEater LA, @Kat_odell


3. “Mari Vanna… It’s the Russian version of The Ivy..I’m addicted to it and sit there for hours when I’m in LA.. I love the Blini with black caviar!!

Jonathan Cheban, Kim Kardashian’s BFF, AMA Host, Sushi MiKasa Owner, @JonathanCheban


4. “When asked your question, Pastis came instantly to mind. I mean, without hesitation. And there are a few reasons why. First, I’ve enjoyed many cocktails and “bites at the bar” after long days of shooting Quick Fix Meals in Food Network’s studios just 2 blocks away. The trendy, uber-friendly bar is the perfect place to unwind after a day on set. Next, the location: New York’s meat-packing district is about as fashionable as it gets. Funny thing is, I don’t care about that – I just love the cobblestone streets and Old New York feel of the neighborhood. The place is always bustling and as you nibble on items from their simple, yet expertly crafted menu, you hear laughter and chatter from every corner of the lively room. On a recent trip, I brought my two boys (ages 10 and 11) and experienced the place in a completely different way. That sealed the deal for me; no matter what my day has been like , I adore cozying up to the vibe, food and company of Pastis.”

Robin Miller, Author of “Robin Takes 5” and host of Food Network’s Quick Fix Meals, @RobinVMiller


5. “Saw’s Juke-Joint in Birmingham, AL is a quintessential Southern barbecue and soul food restaurant. From the sweet tea fried chicken sandwich to the best smoked wings in the country, I love coming back to my old stomping grounds and sitting in with some fabulous Southern blues artists. The Heart of Dixie has the best food in the world – hands down.”

Taylor Hicks, American Idol 5th Season Winner, Headliner at Paris Las Vegas, Named People magazine’s “Hottest Bachelor of the Year,” Restauranteur, @TaylorHicks


6. “My favorite restaurant in America would be Husk in Charleston South Carolina. The food is amazing and they are doing America a service by remembering the cuisine of our earliest roots as a nation. The line Cooks and chefs drop the food off at your table and can explain all of the dishes. Chef Brock is truly cooking American Cuisine.  Every restaurant in America should take a page from Brock’s book.

When it comes to New York we are dealing with a much harder question to answer. With that being said If I stripped away all the chef talk and personal relationships, it would be Blue Ribbon Sullivan Street. Being a chef and working late hours, you miss out on dining at the new hot spots.  The fact that the Blue Ribbon serves a full menu till about 4 am is super clutch. You can stroll in with a a few buddies after a night of partying and have a dozen oysters, a foie gras terrine, fried chicken, tofu ravioli’, hummus, or just about anything. The fact that it’s all pretty darn good is a huge plus. The cocktails and wine selection are tailored made or restaurant professionals and full on foodies. Order the fried oysters and the salt and pepper shrimp, trust me. This place never disappoints and is a must visit if you love good food and love it late night.”

Chaz Brown, Bravo’s Top Chef, Mid-Atlantic Chef of The Year, @Dacheezyjuan


7. “To pick one favorite restaurant in all of the US is a bit overwhelming! If I had to pick just one I think I would pick Gramercy Tavern in NYC. I know – it has been around for a while.  But Gramercy Tavern has been spot on in service and food every time I have ever been which at this point is several dozen times. Whether I’m there to me a friend for a drink, a casual solo dinner in the Tavern or a fancier affair in the dining room Gramercy Tavern always feels just right. More importantly the staff always makes you feel welcome and appropriate no matter the occasion. Seasonal, creative, delicious food, truly warm and welcoming ambiance and service – true excellence in hospitality in every way. On second thought, it wasn’t hard at all – Gramercy Tavern is my favorite restaurant by far.”

Keegan Gerhard, Food Network’s Food Network Challenge, Owner of D Bar Restaurant in Denver and San Diego, @KeeganGerhard


8. “Vetri to me it is the perfect restaurant…unreal food, incredibly charming & perfect unpretentious service.

Michael Symon, Food Network’s Iron Chef, Named by Food & Wine magazine as “Best New Chef,” Co-host of ABC’s The Chew, Restauranteur, @Chefsymon


9. “Our favorite restaurant in the USA is BEAST in Portland, OR. With its communal style seating and at-home ambience, Beast is a must visit for an affordable fine dining experience without the pretentiousness. They have an amazing prix fixe menu that changes weekly filled with fresh ingredients. It’s worth the trip alone for their charcuterie plate and foie gras bon bon.”

Phil Shen, Behind The Food Carts@Behindfoodcarts


10. “Right now my favorite restaurant is my own, Jayde Fuzion at the M Resort in Las Vegas. It is my first restaurant and I am very proud of it. I’ve never seen a restaurant like mine. I have spent so much time creating the menu and working with all the chefs to make it a one-of-a-kind Asian dining experience. Right now, I’m in love in the crab salad, which is a popular dish and I made it on Food Network’s Restaurant Express show. I also love the gochujang pork and kimchi fried rice that we offer.”

Seonkyoung Longest, Winner of The Food Network’s Restaurant Express, @Seonkyoung


11. “My top four favorite restaurants are, in no particular order… {Elway’s – Cherry Creek, CO, Elway’s – Ritz Carlton, CO, Elway’s – Vail, CO, and Elway’s – Denver Airport} …What can I say, I wouldn’t put my name on them if they weren’t going to be my favorites. They all have a little bit of a different flair based on their location. It is fascinating how restaurants can take on the personality of their locations, but I believe that to be true with each of them. Rather than brag about the food, just go try them. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

When I leave Denver, I have a couple of choices I prefer… IL Mulino – Manhattan – Claudio, the maître d completely makes the experience. We order nothing and he brings me everything. The chef’s specialties. It is a warm, engaging atmosphere with amazing food.

Frasca – Boulder, CO – It’s a great little escape for me when I decide to venture out from Denver. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere which serves amazing Italian food. The quality and diversity is something you’d find in New York or San Francisco.”

John Elway, Celebrity Restauranteur, Executive VP Of Operations For The Denver Broncos, The Oldest Quarterback To Win A Super Bowl, @JohnElway


12. “Tropical Chinese in Miami. I just celebrated the Chinese New Year there, and have been doing so for over 20 years. Located in a strip mall in South West Miami,  it has a beautiful open kitchen and a great wine and beer menu. The daily dim sum for lunch is excellent and the lobster lettuce wrap with pine nuts are my favorite…you can even find Penfolds Grange on the menu.”

Raul de Molina, Iron Chef America, Author of “La Dieta del Gordo,” Multiple Emmy award-winning cohost of Univision’s “El Gordo y La Flaca,” @Rauldemolina


13. “I really love the new restaurant, The Heath, which is in the McKittrick Hotel in Chelsea right by the Highline. It just opened and I have already been there three times, twice with friends and once on a date. It’s fun with live music and the atmosphere is sultry, chic and romantic. The speciality drinks are fun and the food is amazing. It’s definitely one of my new NYC hotspots.”

Countess LuAnn de Lesseps, The Real Housewives of New York City, Singer, Author of “Class with the Countess: How to Live with Elegance and Flair,” @CountessLuAnn


Those craving the taste of chunky chocolate or the chill of an ice cold beer will want to be sure to also check out our post on The Top 10 Chocolate & Beer Tours in America!



Taylor Goldblatt

After years of research, travel, and dreams, I have created this website for people like you who want to experience the things that only America can offer. My passion is to explore and share America's greatest destinations and attractions. Follow me on Twitter @USCityTraveler for additional travel tips and ideas.

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