America’s 38 essential restaurants to eat at in 2018 have been revealed.
Eater has published its annual guide compiled by the food site’s national critic Bill Addison, who consumed nearly 600 meals in 36 cities in a bid to discover the very best.
Along the way, Addison says he noticed that what it means for food to be deemed “American” is changing: “Coded culinary language denoting ‘them’ and ‘us’ – as ‘American’ or ‘other’ – is slowly but inexorably dissolving,” he wrote.
This year, 17 new restaurants make the list.
Here are the 38 best restaurants in the US in 2018, according to Eater.
2M Smokehouse, San Antonio
Addison says the chefs here “transcend the Texas smoked-meats melee by also serving a frictionless combination of dishes that express their Mexican-American heritage.”
Atelier Crenn, San Francisco
Dominique Crenn won praise for finding “the middle ground between intellect and emotion, between heady presentation and flat-out deliciousness.”
Brennan’s, New Orleans
Brennan’s has made the list for perfectly balancing “timeless pageantry and relevant, finely honed cooking.”
Here’s Looking At You, Los Angeles
According to Eater, the chef who owns this LA eatery, Jonathan Whitener, is “arguably the country’s most creatively energised practitioner of the ‘global plates’ aesthetic.”
With a menu inspired by owner Kaiser Lashkari’s Pakistani heritage, Eater recommends the restaurant’s smoked brisket masala.
Jose Enrique, San Juan, Puerto Rico
The guide advises diners “build a meal around an Enrique classic: whole fish fried into a kinetic sculpture, crowned with a chunky salsa of papaya and avocado and set over mashed yam.”
JuneBaby focuses on the foods of Eduardo Jordan’s African-American heritage and the foods of the South.
Koi Palace, Daly City, California
Head to this dim-sum spot for dumplings, noodles, congees, sweet and savoury cakes, piled greens, and crisp-skinned meats.
Mary & Tito’s Cafe, Albuquerque
While this cafe’s founders, Tito and Mary Ann Gonzales, have died, the restaurant they opened in 1963 lives on and is run by the couple’s daughter Antoinette Knight and her family.
Momofuku Ko, New York
“The wit and technical command behind the tasting menu at David Chang’s toniest outpost perpetually makes Ko one of Manhattan’s worthiest splurges,” says Eater.
Palace Diner, Biddeford, Maine
Heralded as “the ideal realisation of a daytime Americana diner,” Addison says he can’t find better pancakes or a more perfect tuna melt than the ones at Palace Diner.
Park’s BBQ, Los Angeles
This Korean barbecue joint is worth a visit for both the food and the service: “The cooking alone distinguishes the restaurant; the engaged, near-telepathic staff propels the experience even higher,” reads the guide.
Smyth & the Loyalist, Chicago
Husband and wife-led restaurant Smyth offers a 12-course tasting menu that fuses Japanese, Nordic, and Southern-American cuisine, and downstairs at the Loyalist, the pair serve up classic American grub, including “what may be the most righteous cheeseburger in Chicago.”
Superiority Burger, New York
This Lower East Side restaurant specialises in vegetarian burgers and often has hungry punters queueing down the street to get in for a meat-free meal.
Via Carota, New York
Addison’s “favourite place to eat in New York,” Via Carota offers “soul-soothing” dishes such as tagliatelle with parmesan and prosciutto.
Xi’an Famous Foods, New York
Think “hand-ripped noodles with spicy cumin lamb, liangpi ‘cold skin’ noodles, and a lamb burger stuffed in a hamburger-bun-shaped bao,” and head to any of the locations of the family-run New York chain.
Hugo Ortega and his chefs have been praised for “delving into Oaxaca’s earthy, exhilarating, spicy-sweet cuisine, with its colour wheel of moles and its masa-based specialties shaped into irresistible geometries.”
Al Ameer, Dearborn, Michigan
This Lebanese family-run restaurant has an in-house butcher meaning all the meat dishes “exhibit exceptional freshness.”
Benu, San Francisco
Corey Lee’s flagship restaurant sees the chef fusing Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisines to create “intricate, striking dishes.” Addison said: “I don’t know another place in America that serves food more dazzlingly, gratifyingly singular than Benu.”
Bad Saint, Washington DC
With no reservations and just 24 covers, you can expect to queue for hours before getting into Bad Saint – but it’s worth it for the restaurant’s “peerless” Filipino Cuisine.
Think American steakhouse, but reinvented. The beef is raised on nearby Whidbey Island before being dry-aged, and diners are given a choice of lesser-known cuts as well as French-inspired sides like kale gratin.
Bertha’s Kitchen, North Charleston
This traditional soul food restaurant serves up simple meals of fried chicken, cornbread, mac and cheese, lima beans, garlic shrimp, and more. It’s run by sisters Sharon Grant Coakley, Julie Grant, and Linda Pinckney, who serve up the food their late mother Albertha Grant made.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York
Addison believes this is in fact the best restaurant in America, where meals are “elegant, interactive experiences” that can last as long as four hours.
Compère Lapin, New Orleans
At St. Lucian chef Nina Compton’s restaurant “she knits together cultures with dishes like snapper with vinegary pepper escovitch and carrot beurre blanc.”
Addison believes FIG should be the first, and perhaps the last, place you eat in Charleston thanks to its “ever-creative, always-constant” menu.
Franklin Barbecue, Austin, Texas
Aaron Franklin and his wife, Stacy, raised the game when it comes to Texas barbecue, and Addison says their brisket “altered his brain chemistry.”
The Grey, Savannah, Georgia
Named Eater’s Restaurant of the Year for 2017, expect to find dishes such as “salt-preserved grouper on toast” and “quail scented with Madeira.”
Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
“The timeless relevance of Frank and Pardis Stitt’s affable Southern-French haven” was praised in the guide.
Kachka, Portland, Oregon
Head to Kachka for winning Belarusian-Georgian-Russian cuisine, including blini, dumplings, and caviar.
Mariscos Jalisco, Los Angeles
Pay a visit to Raul Ortega’s truck for “arguably the most perfectly constructed taco in the whole blessed country.”
More is more at this inventive breakfast joint: Wrap your lips round Dutch baby pancakes with fluffernutter and grape jelly, sourdough-chocolate waffles with oolong-infused maple syrup, and bacon and beef sloppy Joes.
Mud Hen Water, Honolulu
At this Hawaiian restaurant, “O’ahu native Ed Kenney connects the cultural dots like no one else on the islands,” according to the guide.
n/naka, Los Angeles
You’ll need to book three months in advance to get into this LA restaurant, but if you can nab a table, it’s worth it for “the country’s most poetic kaiseki meal.”
Head to this Korean restaurant for dolsot bibimbap and sesame-laced beef stew.
Prince’s Hot Chicken, Nashville
Founded by James Thornton Prince in the 1940s, this restaurant is the home of Nashville-style hot chicken.
Spoon & Stable, Minneapolis
The meals here are compelling yet comforting, according to Eater, made with local ingredients.
Head to Staplehouse for the tasting menu which may feature fancy mousses and powders but, importantly, is still delicious and satisfying.
Zahav’s owner Michael Solomonov has been credited with kickstarting America’s newfound interest in Middle Eastern cuisine. The Israel-born chef serves up sharing plates of hummus, salads, grilled duck hearts, labneh, smoked lamb shoulder, and more.