Determining which restaurants in the nation offer the steepest prices is a tricky task. Most of the restaurants on this list serve the rarest, most premium, and freshest ingredients available, from kitchens run by chefs with expert levels of craftsmanship and artistry, in dining rooms with an exceptional quality of service provided by the front of house staff. But regardless of the justifications, the fact remains that the restaurants on this list are outrageously pricey.
To arrive at the top 28 we compiled a list of restaurants commonly known for being outrageously expensive (such as Masa, which is known for its $450 per person omakase menu). We started by first pulling data from The Daily Meal's 101 Best Restaurants in America for 2012, and then expanded the research to include a more comprehensive spectrum of fine dining restaurants across the country. From there we gathered data compiled by Bundle.com (a site that tracks average customer spending at restaurants) and Zagat's price ratings — finally, once the list was narrowed down to 50 restaurants, we contacted each one and asked a series of questions, such as their average party size, the percentage of diners that choose the tasting menu (where applicable), and what the average bill totals. From there, we ranked the top 28.
Of course, there are exceptions to consider. Some restaurants are known for offering a particularly expensive tasting menu based on seasonal ingredients. For instance, Spiaggia in Chicago offers a truffle tasting menu each December that costs $295 per person. However, during the rest of the year their tasting menu costs $90 a head (not pricey enough to land a spot on this list).
Furthermore, while it's important to consider how much a meal at these restaurants costs per person, when you're dealing with restaurants of this caliber, which offer diners an experience that transcends what's served on the plate, it's even more important to account for what the total bill costs on average. Most of the restaurants on this list have wines, sakes, and spirits on their menus that could double the price of the meal if you're in a particularly celebratory mood. That being said, the overwhelming majority of the restaurants on this list won't reserve tables for just one person, and many cap the allowed party size at two or four guests. Therefore the rankings reflect the "average check total" for each restaurant — which includes a complete meal (of whatever number of courses) plus one bottle of wine and tax and tip for the average party size (as indicated by each restaurant).
Whether the restaurant is known for using raw products of outstanding quality, like Urasawa in Beverly Hills, or for treating diners to a culinary experience they've never had before, like Alinea, or for upholding a steadfast dedication to impeccable service in the kitchen and the dining room, like Per Se, what all the places on this list have in common is that they all cost a fortune.
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