The US has no shortage of outstanding restaurants that serve everything from flavour-packed amuse-bouches to hand-crafted desserts.
To find the best one that each state (and Washington, DC) has to offer, we sifted through our list of the best restaurants in America, the James Beard award nominations, expert reviews, and local recommendations, paying particular attention to fine-dining establishments.
It wasn’t always what we expected. Turns out, if you’re in need of some hearty food and a menu of vodkas, Portland, Oregon, has one of the best Russian restaurants out there.
Consider this your personal guide to the very best places to eat in your own state.
Chef: Frank and Pardis Stitt
Savoury dishes and impeccable service have made Highlands Bar and Grill a favourite in Birmingham since it first opened its doors in 1982.
The iconic spot shifts its menu daily to incorporate fresh, seasonal ingredients -- think summers filled with okra soft-shell crab and winters of root vegetables and venison -- that merge French techniques with Southern flavours.
Chef: Jack Amon
Freshness is a priority at the Marx Bros. Cafe, where chef Jack Amon updates the menu nightly to reflect fresh seafood offerings. Enjoy creative dishes such as tea-smoked duck or Neapolitan seafood mousse, and be sure to pair each with a glass of wine from the cafe's extensive list.
Chef: Chris Bianco
At Pizzeria Bianco, James Beard award-winning chef Chris Bianco uses only the freshest ingredients, including Sicilian oregano and homemade mozzarella, to concoct simple yet flavorful pies. More than just a neighbourhood pizza joint, this restaurant typically draws an hours-long wait.
As well as launching a new cookbook, Bianco is now opening another restaurant in Los Angeles.
Location: Little Rock
Chef: Joel Antunes
A former James Beard award semifinalist for best new restaurant, One Eleven at the Capital prides itself on superb service and artisanal food, with dishes that include seared diver scallops with shiitake mushrooms and a lamb shank with roasted potatoes.
The restaurant has been spruced up by a New York-based design firm so that the interior is as inspiring as the food.
Location: San Francisco, California
Chef: Michael Tusk
At the three-Michelin-starred restaurant Quince, diners are treated to a $US250, 13-course tasting menu featuring the season's top produce. Examples include black sea bass served with squid and fennel, and a Monterey Bay abalone served with green tomatoes and celtuce.
With a scenery that is elegant without being stuffy, and the option to order à la carte from the restaurant's salon, you can enjoy a high-quality meal without all the formalities.
Chef: Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson
Not only does Frasca Food & Wine serve exquisite Italian dishes like rabbit gnocchi, but the restaurant also features an extensive wine list led by Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey. Only 149 wine professionals in the world have earned that distinctive title.
Taste a little bit of everything with the chef's tasting menu for $US115, or for a more budget-friendly option, stop by on a Monday for a condensed tasting menu that will set you back just $US55.
Chef: Thomas Henkelmann
Situated on the lush acres of Greenwich's Homestead Inn, this upscale restaurant combines French, German, and Swiss influences in a selection of elegant, seasonal dishes.
Start the meal with seared Hudson Valley duck foie gras before digging into fillets of Dover sole filled with lobster mousse. And don't forget dessert: Options include a warm chocolate soufflé cake with a liquid chocolate center.
Location: Rehoboth Beach
Chef: Hari Cameron
At a(MUSE.), Chef Hari Cameron, a James Beard semifinalist, serves up creative and ever-changing tasting menus with seven or 11 courses.
Diners can experience a bit of everything, from foie-gras mousse to pan-roasted scallops to lavender-honey ice cream. Or, you can stop by late for $US5 and $US10 'happy hour' specials that run from 10 p.m. to closing.
Chef: Michael Lewis
At KYU, Chef Michael Lewis serves up a diverse menu inspired by his travels and Japanese grilling techniques.
Expect 'chilled and refreshing' dishes like a tuna tataki served with fermented chilli and citrus, as well as 'smoked' offerings like a Wagyu beef brisket served with black shichimi pepper.
Chef: Perry Bateman
Though the proprietors might not be native Hawaiians, they aim to showcase traditional Polynesian dishes and fresh local fish at Mama's Fish House, so named to distinguish it from Maui's abundant steakhouses.
The menu changes daily to feature the catch of the day, and each fisherman's name is put on display. Freshness is guaranteed: Every fish is caught and served within a 24-hour period.
Chef: Nate Whitley
Housed in a boutique hotel in Boise, this restaurant is the place to go for handcrafted cocktails and bites from James Beard award-nominated chef Nate Whitley.
Forget wings and fries -- the elevated bar menu at The Modern Hotel & Bar includes lamb, beef, and pork dumplings served with crème fraîche and smoked trout on rye bread, which can be enjoyed on the hotel's outdoor patio when the weather permits.
Chef: Grant Achatz, Mike Bagale (executive chef), and Simon Davies (chef de cuisine)
Alinea is a three-Michelin-starred restaurant with avant-garde dishes that showcase the molecular gastronomy skills of Chefs Grant Achatz, Mike Bagale, and Simon Davies.
Diners are constantly surprised by the delicious creations, from a DIY ravioli course to a hot potato that's been topped with a slice of black truffle and suspended above cold potato soup.
Chef: Jonathan Brooks
Milktooth was voted one of the best restaurants in the US by Eater in 2016. Owner and chef Jonathan Brooks channeled his energy into perfecting the art of daytime cuisine; the restaurant only serves breakfast and lunch.
The food is 'unconventionally creative' for that time of day, and you can expect to eat anything from pancakes and waffles to bulgur tabbouleh with slow-roasted watermelon.
Location: Des Moines
Chef: Sean Wilson
Three-time James Beard semifinalist Sean Wilson is both the chef and owner of Proof.
He draws influences from the Mediterranean and northern Africa when designing the dishes he serves, which include roasted bone marrow and kebab platters served with couscous.
Location: Prairie Villa
Chef: Philip Quillec
Cafe Provence is a family-run restaurant serving French cuisine. The executive chef, who is also part of the family, spent time in Paris working for several Michelin-starred restaurants, and the menu is inspired by his experiences. It was voted one of the top 100 restaurants in the US by OpenTable users.
The family also runs a store nearby, selling take-out soups, stews, and desserts that are offered at the restaurant.
Chef: Cameron Roszkowski
Heirloom keeps to a simple, no-frills menu, but it does it well. Entrees include scallops with poached lobster and smoked jalapeno-avocado purée, and the famous 'Mary burger' served on a brioche bun.
'This restaurant did not disappoint. The staff were charming and the food delicious,' one TripAdvisor user writes.
Location: New Orleans
Chef: Donald Link (executive chef), Rebecca Wilcomb (chef de cuisine)
Featuring a menu that blends American and French influences, Herbsaint is one of the most beloved restaurants in New Orleans.
Highlights include a beef short rib starter that comes with potato rösti and salsa verde, as well as a duck confit served with dirty rice and a citrus gastrique for an entree.
Chef: Sam Hayward (chef/partner), Nathan Nadeau (chef de cuisine)
An entree at Fore Street, situated just a block away from Portland's waterfront, will cost you between $US27 and $US40.
Chef Hayward sources all of his ingredients from local farmers, fishermen, and cheese-makers, and he designs a new menu daily using whatever is available.
Chef: Cindy Wolf
Charleston combines French traditions with the low country flavours of South Carolina, the state in which the restaurant's eponym resides. Guests can choose from three courses all the way up to six, with prices ranging from $US79 to $US124.
Wolf, a three-time finalist for the James Beard Foundation's award for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic region, tweaks the menu daily to integrate only the freshest ingredients.
Chef: Carl Dooley
This 20-seat restaurant feels as intimate as a private chef's table, hence the name. The four-course prix fixe menu costs $US69 and combines seasonal ingredients with international flavours, leading to an exciting menu of dishes like a Jonah crab served in grilled corn lettuce wraps, and a roasted pork belly with ginger pork sausage.
They also serve a snack menu that is available at the bar if you don't land a seat. This is paired with wines and beers.
Chef: Aramis Jones
According to Foursquare analysis, Roast is the best steakhouse in the state of Michigan. It's considered a carnivore's dream and offers several different cuts of dry-aged beef with an extensive array of sides.
Aside from the steaks, they have several other meat and fish dishes costing between $US30 and $US38.
Chef: Gavin Kaysen
Located in a former horse stable, the aptly named Spoon and Stable adds a French twist to standard Midwestern flavours.
James Beard award-winning chef Gavin Kaysen grew up in Minneapolis and seeks to celebrate the local culture through his food, with dishes like rainbow trout served with lobster mushroom and fennel dragon tongue beans.
Chef: John Currence
This Oxford landmark serves up Southern comforts, such as shrimp and grits or brown butter-seared catfish, that are elegant and unpretentious.
Now a mainstay in the Mississippi food scene, City Grocery pushes itself to experiment with new flavours and techniques.
Location: Kansas City
Chef: Colby and Megan Garrelts (owners and chef/pastry chef) and Andrew Longres (executive chef)
A semifinalist in the running for the 2017 James Beard award for Outstanding Restaurant, Bluestem lights up Kansas City with hospitality that's as on-point and outstanding as its food.
Choose from a three-, five-, or seven-course tasting menu that spans a diverse profile of flavours and costs between $US75 and $US110. Expect experimental dishes like a yellowtail hamachi crudo served with green tomato gazpacho.
Chef: Mike Hyyppa
Lucca's cosy dining room -- which holds a mere 15 tables -- creates an intimate environment for guests to enjoy Chef Hyyppa's carefully crafted dishes.
The restaurant's authentic Italian cuisine, including gnocchi sauteed with asparagus, grape tomatoes, and pine nuts, earned it a 4.5-star rating on TripAdvisor, as well as a certificate of excellence from the site.
Chef: Tim Nicholson
Housed in the former boiler room of a 120-year-old building, this restaurant has been lovingly restored to maintain its rustic look, harking back to its industrial days. Chef Tim Nicholson was shortlisted for the James Beard Foundation's Rising Star Chef award this year.
The Wagyu flank steak with braised leeks, freekeh, roasted fennel, and heirloom tomato costs $US34.
Location: Las Vegas
Chef: José Andrés
Located in the SLS Las Vegas hotel, Bazaar Meat by José Andrés is a carnivore's paradise exploring the versatility of all types of meat, including live scallops, braised lamb neck, and Japanese Kobe Ribeye.
You can even order an entire suckling pig, which is roasted in a wood-fired oven.
Chef: Matt Louis
Whenever Chef Matt Louis adds a new 'modern American tapas' dish to the menu at Moxy, it must do three things: be inspired by New England culinary tradition, highlight local food, and have a modern twist.
And with small plates like crispy Rhode Island calamari and New Hampshire rabbit pasta, he achieves just that.
Location: New Brunswick
Chef: Bruce Lefebvre
The Frog and The Peach is housed in the former printing press of a local newspaper. It's been renovated, and the building is now as elegant-looking as its dishes. The head chef has stayed true to the restaurant's New Jersey roots, and vegetables are sourced from around the Garden State.
Guests have the option to choose from the à la carte dinner menu or opt for a five-course tasting menu that costs $US64.
Location: Santa Fe
Chef: Sllin Cruz
Noted for its impeccable service and complex dishes, Geronimo was named as one of the best restaurants in the US by OpenTable last year. The setting is formal to match its intricate and elegantly put-together dishes.
The menu boasts a host of mouthwatering dishes, including grilled Maine lobster tails served with Thai basil pasta in a creamy garlic chile sauce.
Location: New York City
Chef: Daniel Humm, Dmitri Magi (chef de cuisine)
Eleven Madison Park continues to impress, earning three Michelin stars and the top spot on the World's 50 Best Restaurants list this year.
The restaurant, though currently closed for renovations, offers only an elaborate prix fixe menu that goes for $US295 per person. Each meal is based on ingredients sourced locally in New York.
Chef: Lon Bounsanga
With low lighting, wooden accents, and bamboo shoots adorning the ceiling and walls, Bida Manda's cosy atmosphere wholly evokes the comforting family vibe that inspired owners Vansana and Vanvisa Nolintha to open it.
The spot serves up the traditional Laotian dishes that they grew up eating, reflecting the flavours of street food and family tables in Laos.
Chef: Eric Watson
Located in historic downtown Fargo, Mezzaluna combines the glamour of an upscale restaurant with the coziness of a small town. Its menu features dressed-up, contemporary Amercian cuisine like bacon and barbecue meatloaf and rosemary-garlic grilled rack of lamb.
Mezzaluna was voted one of the best restaurants in the US by OpenTable last year.
Chef: Todd Kelly
With an ornately decorated dining room and a refined menu that adjusts to incorporate seasonal ingredients, Orchids at Palm Court epitomizes fine dining.
High ceilings, golden murals, and plush seats create a luxurious atmosphere for diners to enjoy its equally extravagant tasting menus -- choose between three, four, five or ten courses, which cost between $US60 and $US110.
Chef: Justin Chamberlain (executive chef), Antonio Godoy (chef de cuisine)
An upscale restaurant and fish market in one, Bodean Seafood guarantees that it serves only the freshest fish available. Offerings include seafood favourites like broiled lobster tails, seared yellowfin tuna, and smoked paprika-crusted Atlantic salmon.
And with an impressive wine list, each meal can be paired with the perfect glass of vino.
Chef: Bonnie Morales
Portland's Kachka brings all the flavours of Russia to the US without any of the harsh weather. Feast on everything from 'herring under a fur coat' (a savoury layered salad) to pelmeni (Russian dumplings stuffed with beef, pork, or veal), to golubtsi (cabbage rolls). And don't forget the vodka -- the restaurant sources a mix from around the world.
Kachka was voted one of the best restaurants in the US by Eater in 2016.
Chef: Michael Solomonov
Zahav -- which translates to 'gold' in Hebrew -- is the highly acclaimed creation of Israeli chef Michael Solomonov, who won the prestigious Outstanding Chef award from the James Beard Foundation for 2017.
The dinner menu is broken down into three categories: salatim and hummus, mezze, and grilled fish, meats, and veggies.
Chef: Albert Bouchard
One of Newport's premiere fine-dining spots, Bouchard Restaurant and Inn provides a charming place to stay and eat in the quaint coastal town. The inn features cosy suites, waterfront views, and food that's not to be missed.
Decadent specials include restuffed roasted lobster and scallops, duck breast sautéed with a coffee crust, and escargot flavored with parsley and garlic.
Chef: Mike Lata, Jason Stanhope (executive chef)
Serving an upscale take on classic Southern dishes, FIG has been a large part of Charleston's growth into a culinary destination.
Expect appetizers like a chicken liver pâte with pickles and Dijon, and entrees like a fish stew provençal with shrimp, squid, mussels, and Carolina gold rice.
Location: Rapid City
Chef: Epi Manzano
Dakotah Steakhouse aims to create an environment that is both upscale and relaxed. It's housed in an old ranch-style building, which is why they play up that it's a cowboy joint.
Meat lovers flock here for its 35-day aged steaks served with homemade fries and a haystack of onions.
Chef: Cassidee Dabney
Tucked into Walland's serene Blackberry Farm, The Barn adds an additional layer of luxury to each stay, with meticulously prepared dishes like grilled Pekin duck breast with roasted vegetables and foie gras.
The tasting menu is $US55 a head for seven courses, or $US250 with wine pairings.
Chef: Aaron Franklin
Preorder any of its brisket, ribs, pulled pork, turkey, or sausage to beat the long lines at this lunch-only spot.
Location: Salt Lake City
Chef: Manoli Katsanevas
Manoli's offers a modern take on traditional Greek food, serving a mix of vegetarian, seafood, and meat small plates costing between $US10 and $US20 each.
Expect mouthwatering dishes like charred octopus with a warm Zürsun bean salad in a sherry vinaigrette. Chef Manoli Katsanevas sources ingredients locally.
Chef: Eric Warnstedt
Hen of the Wood, a Waterbury staple that now boasts a second location in Burlington, aims to serve uncomplicated meals that rotate daily based on what's available from the adjacent Green Mountains and Champlain Valley.
The simple food doesn't skimp on taste, though. Expect bold flavours like kale gratin with prosciutto breadcrumbs, rabbit leg with buttered celery root, and winter squash fritters doused in honey.
Chef: Patrick O'Connell
With Chef Patrick O'Connell at the helm, what started as a simple country inn in a former garage in 1978 has grown into a culinary destination.
The two-Michelin-starred Inn at Little Washington serves modern interpretations of dishes from O'Connell's childhood, like a pan-seared Pekin duck breast served with a bundle of Montmorency sour cherries from the inn's orchards. The restaurant serves three tasting menus, each costing $US218 per person plus $US125 for wine pairings, though they do offer the choice to pick and choose courses from among them.
Chef: Brady Williams
The family-run Canlis was nominated for the James Beard award for Outstanding Service four times, was nominated for Best Chef three years in a row, and this year, won the award for Outstanding Wine Programme.
There's only one option: a four-course tasting menu, which costs $US105 a head. While the concept may be simple, the food is impressively intricate.
Location: Washington, DC
Chef: José Andrés
Minibar is all about pushing the boundaries of what food should be. Each dish seeks to surprise in its presentation, like 'This is Not Carrot Cake,' a mound of gingerbread with sorbet moulded to look like carrots growing out of it, and another dish that requires using a spoon made out of parmesan.
You can dine either at one of the two six-seat Chef's Counters or the even more private José's Table, but it will set you back quite a bit -- prepaid tickets cost $US275 per person for a seat at the counter, while it costs $US565 per person for the table.
Location: Berkeley Springs
Chef: Damian Heath
In a converted home in a small resort town, Chef Damian Heath, a 2015 James Beard award semifinalist, prepares upscale yet unpretentious comfort food.
Lot 12 Public House places an emphasis on supporting local organisations, and Heath sources his ingredients from nearby farms, family gardens, and his own personal herb garden.
Chef: Justin Carlisle
Ardent brings simple yet ornate food to Milwaukee. There is one tasting menu, which varies each night and offers between eight and 12 courses. It costs $US90 with an option to pay $US60 extra to pair it with wine.
Guests can indulge in dishes like a beef tartare with deviled egg and bone marrow, or pasta served with escargot, parsley, and fennel. Chef Justin Carlisle was nominated for the James Beard award for Best Chef for the third year running in 2017.
Location: Jackson Hole
Chef: Jeff Drew
Snake River Grill is no stranger to fame: Its Eskimo bars were featured on 'Best Thing I Ever Ate' as one of Giada De Laurentiis' favourite dishes, and Travel + Leisure named it one of the best restaurants in Wyoming.
The food stands out as well, offering guests fresh updates on fine-dining classics such as its brioche-crusted Idaho trout and spicy Thai glazed pork jowl.
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