12 Most Expensive Restaurant Dishes In America

In modern society, food is about more than eating. For some, it's a status symbol. This is most evident at ultra-luxurious restaurants where rare, precious, and expensive ingredients are used to create show-stopping dishes. Winston Chesterfield, director of wealth intelligence company Wealth-X, explained the allure behind this kind of food to CNBC: "Scarcity is the ultimate, defining quality of true luxury ... consuming something which is rare, prized and valuable — and likely to increase in value still — is an expression of luxury and wealth."

The social credit associated with expensive restaurant dishes has ballooned thanks to social media. Instagram allows customers to easily flaunt the expense — and supposed quality — of dishes, and restaurants have adapted by creating offerings that are easily identified as expensive. The predominant way this is achieved is by coating food with extravagant ingredients like edible gold and silver, even though they do not benefit the dish in any meaningful way. Failing this, some customers simply share pictures of their exorbitant bills to social media as a way of proving how expensive their meal was. 

The furor surrounding expensive dishes shows no signs of abating. For those who are into such flexing, the United States offers a myriad of opportunities to spend extravagantly while tableside, as the following dishes demonstrate. 

1. Oops! I Dropped My Ice Cream, $225 (Barton G., Los Angeles)

For most of us, $200 is a lot to spend on an entire meal, but for people eating at Barton G. in Los Angeles $200 doesn't even cover dessert. That's because Oops! I Dropped My Ice Cream, a dish that features a 4-foot-tall ice cream cone complete with vanilla cake and strawberry ice cream, costs an incredible $225. Chocolate frosting and a chocolate crumble complete the dish.

Although it is the cheapest dish on this list, Oops! I Dropped My Ice Cream is also the most surprising. No edible gold, truffles or other rare and expensive ingredients are used to make it, which begs the question why is the dish's price so high? The answer is quite simple: presentation. Barton G.'s entire business model is built around making dishes that are Instagrammable. Dishes come complete with props or whimsical designs that surround the plate. In the ice cream's case, it is the sheer scale of the dessert which makes it so alluring. Evidently, there is something visually striking about a 4-foot-long, upturned ice cream. Whether this makes the dessert worth $225 is another matter, although numerous ex-customers claim it does.

2. Sealand, $325 (Restaurant Guy Savoy, Las Vegas)

Located in Caesars Palace, Restaurant Guy Savoy is one of Las Vegas' most prestigious restaurants. The à la carte menu is home to numerous dishes that top $100, but none is as expensive as Sealand, Restaurant Guy Savoy's indulgent take on surf and turf that costs $325. Featuring Japanese A5 wagyu and lobster tail served alongside taro, purple potato, and cabbage, Sealand is a decadent display of wealth that, given the kitchen staff's credentials, should also taste brilliant.

The most obvious contributors to Sealand's high price are the dish's two main ingredients: A5 Japanese wagyu and lobster. Japanese wagyu is known for being some of the most expensive beef in the world. This is not without reason; the cattle are fed extensively and for a prolonged period of time in order for the animal to build up the marbling that marks it as A5-grade quality. This itself is an expensive process, although a great deal of wagyu's cost is also associated with the beef's rarity and its reputation as some of the best meat in the world.

Lobster is another expensive ingredient. In this instance, it's because demand for the crustacean far outstrips supply. This increases the product's perceived value, meaning Americans are willing to pay more for it. As both ingredients take center stage in Sealand, it's not surprising that the dish is expensive. What's more, it's served in one of the most prestigious resorts in Las Vegas which further inflates the cost.

3. Tomahawk Ribeye, $339 (Barton G., Los Angeles)

The most expensive dish at Barton G. in Los Angeles is a tomahawk ribeye steak served with asparagus and whipped potatoes. This steak weighs an impressive 45 ounces and should feed two people at the very least. Like all Barton G. dishes, the ribeye is dramatically presented. In this instance the steak is leaned against an illuminated steer's skull.

The steak itself is Australian wagyu. This meat comes from cattle descended from pureblood Japanese wagyu that were imported to Australia during the late 1990s. Generally speaking, Australian wagyu has slightly less marbling than its Japanese counterpart. In turn, this means the meat has a lesser texture and flavor, although both remain far superior to many other types of steak.

Although this ribeye does not demonstrate wagyu's fullest potential, it is still a good steak. This is reflected in the number of positive reviews which mention the dish. Many celebrate the quality of the meat and claim the steak was cooked perfectly, no mean feat for a cut of this size.

4. The Gold Experience, $400 (212 Steakhouse, New York)

The Gold Experience is a $400 dish served at 212 Steakhouse in New York City. It features a 6-ounce Kobe steak, the outside of which is encased in 24-karat gold leaf. While an edible gold coating makes the steak stand out, it does not do anything for the favor of the dish. Edible gold is tasteless and odorless and, when used in leaf form, has little discernible texture. What's more, it is biologically inert; if consumed, your body will not interact with the gold. It simply passes through you.

Many people will assume the gold is what warrants this dish's extortionate price. Contrary to common belief, however, 24-karat gold leaf is not that expensive. Sheets sell for only a few dollars each. The actual reason The Gold Experience is so expensive is because of another ingredient: the meat.

Kobe beef is taken exclusively from Tajima-gyu cows (which are part of the Japanese Black breed) that've been raised in Japan's Hyogo Prefecture. This beef is supposed to be the purest and best form of wagyu, and it is incredibly rare. Due to the exclusive nature of Kobe beef, many restaurants erroneously claim to serve it. However, diners at 212 Steakhouse can rest assured they are getting the real thing, as the establishment has been authorized by the Kobe Beef Association. For some diners, that peace of mind is worth paying for.

5. 24 Karat Gold Wings, $400 (The Ainsworth, Rockville Centre)

The Ainsworth owns three multi-use venues, and the location in Long Island's Rockville Centre is home to the company's most expensive menu item, 24 Karat Gold Wings. Customers can choose to order 10 gold-coated chicken wings for $60, 20 for $110, or 50 for $400. The final option includes a bottle of Dom Pérignon Champagne which is served alongside the wings.

The Ainsworth claims $200 worth of gold goes into every 50-wing platter. A large proportion of the price tag is also due to the Champagne. There is no denying Dom Pérignon's quality; the Champagne is made from pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. A strong minerality is usually present, and every bottle is a vintage that's been aged for at least seven years.

Interestingly, the 24 Karat Gold Wings dish served at The Ainsworth used to cost $1,000 and was served with a bottle of Armand de Brignac Champagne. Knowing this almost makes the current option seem like a bargain.

6. A5 Wagyu Duo, $445 (Bourbon Steak, Washington D.C.)

Bourbon Steak is a restaurant located in Washington D.C.'s Four Seasons hotel. As a steakhouse, Bourbon Steak's main appeal is meat, and the restaurant covers many bases by serving a variety of cuts from a number of different cattle including black angus and Japanese black. The A5 Wagyu Duo is the most desirable menu option of all, including meat from two of Japan's leading suppliers: Miyazakigyu and Uenae.

Miyazakigyu is one of the most lauded wagyu brands in the whole of Japan. It has won numerous awards for its meat including back-to-back Wagyu Olympics and three consecutive Prime Minister's Awards. The cattle raised at Château Uenae are also known to be one of the best examples of wagyu in the world. A lot of this has to do with the painstaking rearing process; all of Uenae's cows live their whole life on one farm where they are fed a unique blend of foods designed to develop the ideal level of marbling.

Much like how wine varies from region-to-region, wagyu also tastes different depending on where and how it was reared. Ordering the Wagyu Duo at Bourbon Steak allows diners to taste the regional differences present between these two exceptional products. This makes for a fantastic — albeit astronomically expensive — option for steak aficionados.

7. Baked Potato with Selection Oscietra caviar, $540 (Caviar Kaspia at The Mark, New York)

Originating in Paris, Caviar Kaspia has since expanded to countries around the world, including the United Arab Emirates and the United States. In New York City, Caviar Kaspia can be found inside The Mark Hotel. As the name of the restaurant suggests, caviar is the focus of the menu, and many varieties can be purchased. Caviar is also used as a condiment for a variety of dishes, including a baked potato. Five different types of caviar — in three different weights — can be used to top the potato. The most expensive of the 15 total options is an 80-gram serving of Selection Oscietra, which results in the dish costing $540.

Oscietra caviar, otherwise known as osetra caviar, is one of the most prestigious types of caviar in the world thanks to its rich flavor and firm texture. Only beluga caviar is deemed superior. As a result, osetra caviar is incredibly expensive and is the driving force behind the price of Caviar Kaspia's baked potato.

Another reason for the high cost is the dish's notoriety. It is the flagship dish of the restaurant and is therefore in great demand. This was highlighted to Caterer by the CEO of Caviar Kaspia, Ramon Mac-Crohon: "The baked potato with caviar is the star and protagonist of our story. The simplicity of a potato, married to the most luxurious culinary product, caviar, makes this dish so particular and exceptional."

8. Gold Standard, $700 (Drury Beer Garden, Philadelphia)

The Gold Standard is a $700 burger served at Drury Beer Garden in Philadelphia. The ingredients list reads like a who's who of expensive products and includes an A5 wagyu burger patty, caviar, black truffle, gold leaf, and lobster. This final ingredient is flambéed with Louis XIII cognac, a liquor that routinely costs over $4,000 per 750-milliliter bottle. A 1-ounce pour of this prestigious cognac is also served alongside the burger.

Such a luxurious ingredients list makes it obvious why the burger has such a high price. But what makes the Gold Standard even more striking are the dishes which surround it. The rest of Drury Beer Garden's menu items are modest, with most burgers costing around the $20 mark. Smash burgers are even sold at $2.95 during happy hour. As such, owners George Tsiouris and Vasiliki Tsiouris Balis have been forced to deny that the Gold Standard was added to the menu as a marketing gimmick. In an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer Tsiouris Balis said: "It's a serious burger with serious ingredients." We'd like to add that it commands a serious price, too.

9. Golden Opulence Sundae, $1,000 (Serendipity 3, New York)

Serendipity 3 is a New York City restaurant that will soon be entering its seventh decade of operation. Over the years, it has welcomed many notable guests, including both Andy Warhol and Marilyn Monroe. Like every other guest, these two were drawn to Serendipity 3 by its fun, whimsical nature. To this day, the restaurant's style is upheld by its unique décor and erratic menu.

The most impressive item on the menu is the Golden Opulence Sundae. The $1,000 sundae features Tahitian vanilla ice cream, gold leaf, and caviar. It must be ordered 48 hours in advance, partially because it takes at least eight hours to craft the sugar orchid that sits atop the impressive dessert. Aside from ingredients, the sundae is expensive because of how it is served: in a crystal goblet with a gold spoon.

Serendipity 3 is home to many other exorbitantly priced dishes, including some that have been awarded Guinness World Records, such as a portion of french fries that costs $200. What's more, the restaurant used to serve The Frrrozen Haute Chocolate, a sundae that cost $25,000. With a track record like this, it is no wonder Serendipity 3's Golden Opulence Sundae costs four figures.

10. Golden Amor, $1,500 (Nusr-Et, Miami)

Nusr-Et is a restaurant chain helmed by Nusret Gökçe, who is better known by his nickname Salt Bae. Thanks to a video that went viral in 2017, Gökçe transformed from an unknown chef and butcher into one of the most talked-about food personalities in the world. Acting quickly, Gökçe expanded his range of Nusr-Et restaurants into a global empire of that now spans Europe, the Middle East, and the United States.

Given the nature of Gökçe's rise, it is no surprise that the food served at his restaurants is tailor made for social media. This is especially true for Golden Amor, a 24-karat gold-coated Wagyu rib cap. At $1,500, Golden Amor is currently the most expensive item on Nusr-Et Miami's menu.

Rib caps are known for being one of the most flavorful and tender cuts of beef. Nusr-Et supercharges this flavor by soaking the meat in a mustard marinade. After cooking, the entire cut is coated with gold leaf. The end result is a striking, albeit garish, centerpiece. The meat, which is American wagyu, has been simultaneously celebrated by past customers and slated by professional critics. While the meat's quality is up for debate, one thing is for certain when ordering from Nusr-Et: You're paying for the name above the door as well as the steak in front of you.

11. 24K Pizza, $2,000 (Industry Kitchen, New York)

The second most expensive item on our list comes from Industry Kitchen in New York City. Known as the 24K Pizza, this dish is probably the most extravagant pizza in the United States and features high-end ingredients such as French Périgord truffle, platinum osetra caviar, and foie gras. In an interview with New York Lifestyles Magazine executive chef Jonathan Haffmans said: "The sophistication of the flavors in the toppings ... excite me. The experience of this dish is so special."

Perhaps the most arresting of all ingredients is the French Périgord truffle. This is one of the most expensive fungi in the world and is harvested with the help of specially trained animals. In kitchens, it is valued for its extremely fragrant nature.

None of the other ingredients in the 24K Pizza come cheap; the platinum osetra caviar is especially expensive as it is one of the highest-quality caviar classifications in the world. Those who desire further indulgence can also opt to add a half ounce of almas caviar to the pizza for an extra $700. This is the rarest and finest caviar in the world and is incredibly difficult to source as the fish it comes from are all but extinct. 

12. 500 grams of Selection Oscietra Caviar, $3,300 (Caviar Kaspia at The Mark, New York)

The most expensive dish on our list is not really a dish at all, rather a single ingredient that's served at Caviar Kaspia at The Mark in New York City. This ingredient is Selection Oscietra caviar. The largest serving offered by the restaurant — 500 grams — will set diners back $3,300.

While the caviar itself is of impeccable quality, a large proportion of the dish's costs is associated with both Caviar Kaspia and The Mark's reputation. Both are seen as extremely luxurious brands that routinely host A-list celebrities. A collaboration between the two was always going to be seen as the pinnacle of luxury, as Ramon Mac-Crohon explained to Forbes: "Opening Caviar Kaspia inside the iconic Upper East Side hotel is a milestone for our Parisian institution. It's a match made in luxury heaven." With such a combined reputation, spending thousands of dollars on one of the world's most exclusive ingredients is just par for the course.