Global Tastemakers is our first-ever reader’s choice awards, celebrating the best culinary destinations in the U.S. and abroad. F&W readers voted based on travel completed within the past three years, on categories including restaurants and bars, cities, hotels, airports, airlines, and cruises. Due to the limitations of pandemic travel, this year’s Global Tastemakers winners reflect a smaller portion of the globe. In many categories, we’re including an editor’s pick to shout out some more culinary destinations in places you can’t miss. See all the winners at foodandwine.com/globaltastemakers.
The restaurants our readers voted for as the country’s best in our first-ever Global Tastemakers awards draw inspiration from cuisines that span the globe, from Italy and Vietnam to Mexico, France, and beyond. The No. 1 spot on this list goes to a restaurant that borrows from Italy’s diverse regions, with comforting versions of Roman trattoria fare side-by-side with cotoletta alla milanese. Below, find the full list of the 10 best U.S. restaurants, as voted by Food & Wine readers.
Acclaimed chef Tony Mantuano set the bar for Italian fine dining at Spiaggia in Chicago, and he’s done it again at Yolan, located inside the Joseph, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Nashville. He and his wife, Cathy, a wine and hospitality expert, have created a serious food destination that doesn’t take itself too seriously, with fun touches like an Aperol Spritz cart with riffs on the classic aperitivo. The tasting menu draws inspiration from various regions, with Roman classics like bucatini all’amatriciana and cacio e pepe, as well as cotoletta alla Milanese. Peek inside the glass-enclosed cheese cave, which houses 80-pound wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano and other Italian cheeses.
This glamorous restaurant on the rooftop of the Pendry West Hollywood proves that Wolfgang Puck has still got it. With draped fabric creating a tented effect, chandeliers, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls that offer sweeping views of Los Angeles, the gorgeous interiors set the tone for sophisticated, thoughtful dishes. Puck takes culinary inspiration from countries including Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore, and Mongolia to create a wide-ranging menu that runs the gamut from delicate sashimi to flavor-packed red Thai curry with shrimp, sea bream, and lemongrass-coconut broth.
Chefs Max Boonthanakit and Lijo George met in Bangkok while working at Blue by Alain Ducasse, and Ducasse’s influence can be felt at their Michelin-starred restaurant in L.A.’s hip Arts District, which fuses French techniques with South Asian flavors. The menu sidesteps seasonality and instead goes all in on luxuriously timeless preparations, with dishes like lentils and lamb featuring traces of cumin and cardamom or seared beef tenderloin in Cognac cream sauce infused with peppercorn. With just a pop of color from the navy banquettes, the stark white dining room creates a sleek, modern backdrop for the chefs’ contemporary creations.
This two-Michelin-starred fine-dining restaurant, helmed by award-winning chef Michael Cimarusti, might be the best place to eat seafood in Los Angeles. Cimarusti sources the best quality sustainable seafood from American waters, turning the raw material into artful and delicious dishes. The menu changes often, but you might get a gently cooked Pacific oyster topped with Champagne butter and caviar or salt-roasted Santa Barbara spot prawns. With tasting menus priced at $295 per person, it’s definitely a special occasion kind of place, but Providence feels less fussy and more laid-back than the typical fine-dining restaurant.
This hip restaurant in the shadow of the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn serves the kind of ambitious Mexican cuisine more commonly found in Mexico City than in New York. The vibe manages to be modern, a bit rustic, and sultry all at once, with wooden tables, chairs with basket-like woven seats, mezcal served in clay copitas, and Latin American music setting the tone. Must-try dishes include the vegan mole negro, daikon tostadas, and taco de trompo, with pork belly, flank steak, adobo, and pineapple-serrano gel on an heirloom corn tortilla.
For many, a meal at Atelier Crenn is a once-in-a-lifetime event worth traveling to San Francisco for. Legendary chef-proprietor Dominique Crenn broke records when she became the first two-, then three-Michelin-starred female chef in the U.S. Now Crenn is using her platform to champion sustainability. Atelier Crenn is the first restaurant in the U.S. to become certified plastic-free, and it recently did away with meat entirely due to its harmful impact on the planet. The restaurant now serves pescatarian tasting menus.
It would be impossible to list all the awards and accolades bestowed upon this iconic New York City restaurant since it opened in 1986. Chef Eric Ripert has guaranteed the consistently superb quality of the menu for nearly 30 years and has three Michelin stars to prove it. The emphasis here is on seafood, though there are a few meat dishes and a vegetarian tasting menu. But why would you order filet mignon when you could eat delicate scallop carpaccio with basil julienne or pan-roasted dover sole with green olives, toasted almonds, and aged sherry wine emulsion? That’s what you go to Le Bernardin for.
A relatively new addition to New York City’s restaurant scene, this glitzy spot inside the Pendry Manhattan West is a good reason to make the trek to Hudson Yards. Quality Branded — the hospitality group behind Don Angie and Quality Meats — has created a stand-out Eastern Mediterranean restaurant. Popular dishes include the platter of dips (hummus with black garlic, ember-roasted eggplant, whipped ricotta with saffron apricots, green tahini with aquafaba and cilantro, and kabocha squash with brown butter and toasted almonds), the duck borek, and Yemeni au poivre kebab.
At this must-visit Michelin-starred restaurant inside the InterContinental Washington D.C. – The Wharf, chef Kevin Tien does wondrous things with Vietnamese cuisine. Named one of our Best New Chefs in 2018, when he was cooking at Himitsu — his first solo effort as a chef — he is leaning even more into inspiration from his first-generation, Vietnamese-American upbringing, which began in Louisiana. Bring a group because these dishes are meant for sharing, and you’ll want to taste as much as possible.
Award-winning chef Corey Lee surprises and delights guests with highly technical preparations and ambitious tasting menus at Benu, earning many accolades and three Michelin stars in the process. The restaurant feels like a tranquil oasis in the center of San Francisco. The dishes are contemporary interpretations of classics like xiao long bao and Korean beef barbecue. What unites them all is Lee’s singular insistence on perfection.
Editor’s Pick: Daru (Washington, DC)
This spectacular “Indian-ish” restaurant in Washington, D.C., is nothing short of delightful. A meal at Daru is always surprising in the best way, with showstoppers including tacos filled with tandoori-grilled chicken, fluffy naan brushed with za’atar olive oil, gorgeous striped bass cooked in makrut lime leaves, and even burrata swimming in black daal. (Don’t miss the cocktail with Indian whiskey, banana, and black walnut.) No matter the day, chef Suresh Sundas and bar manager Dante Datta remain committed to regional Indian flavors while using American ingredients in surprising, soul-warming ways. – F&W Editors