The Daily Meal's Top 19 Restaurants in California

A nationwide panel of experts chose their favorites


When we reached out to 176 critics, food and lifestyle writers, and bloggers to help compile our list of the 101 Best Restaurants in the country, what we received back was a wealth of knowledge and insight. Our list of 202 nominees, whittled down from 303 before being narrowed down even further into our final 101, ranked restaurants nationwide according to location, style of cuisine, and other categories including budget, classic, and serious dining. Forty-one of the 202 restaurants were located in the state of California, and of those, 19 made it to the final 101.

Click Here for the Top 19 Restaurants in California Slideshow

One of our most important voting criteria was the fact that panelists couldn’t vote for a restaurant unless they had eaten there. This way, someone who has never been to Los Angeles couldn’t decide to put in a vote for Spago just because they heard it was good. This makes our list, which we’ve whittled down here to the top California restaurants, dependable and reflective of the opinions of some of New York’s culinary leaders. Here’s the list of the panelists who participated in the voting process.

A quick look at the list of California’s top 19 restaurants reveals that the vast majority of the state's top eateries are in its two major cities, Los Angeles and San Francisco. Seven of the restaurants are in Los Angeles, and eight are in San Francisco (nine if you count Chez Panisse, which is in Berkeley). The three that remain, Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bistro and The French Laundry, and The Restaurant at Meadowood, are in Napa Valley.

To find out which other restaurants from around the country made it into the top 101, you can find the full list here.


19. Providence
18. Benu
17. The Restaurant at Meadowood
16. Lucques
15. State Bird Provisions
14. Michael Mina
13. Quince
12. Coi
11. CUT
10. Spago
9. The Bazaar
8. La Taqueria
7. Bar Tartine
6. Mission Chinese Food
5. Bouchon Bistro
4. Osteria Mozza
3. Animal
2. Chez Panisse
1. The French Laundry