The French Laundry
America’s best restaurants tend to come across as monoliths, temples of gastronomy that arrived on the scene completely intact and stayed that way over the years. But these restaurants are deep down just businesses run by really talented folks, and they all have really interesting stories to tell.
We pulled the top 10 restaurants from our 2016 ranking of America’s top 101 — Jean Georges, Spago, Gabriel Kreuther, Restaurant Guy Savoy, L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, The French Laundry, Eleven Madison Park, Daniel, Providence, and Le Bernardin — and did a deep dive into each restaurant and its history. We consulted everything from the restaurants’ websites to old write-ups, reviews, and The Daily Meal’s own editorial director Colman Andrews to track down as much information about these restaurants as possible; we bet you were unaware of most of them.
When we visit a much-lauded high-end restaurant, we tend to not go into it with more than the information necessary to enjoy the meal. If you were to dine at New York City’s Babbo, for example, you’d probably familiarize yourself with the menu ahead of time and know that it’s the flagship restaurant of chef Mario Batali. But you can dine there 10 times and still not know that from 1949 to 1993 the space was home to a beloved West Village institution named the Coach House, where James Beard ate his Christmas Eve dinner every year. The more you know about a restaurant and its context and history, the more “human” it becomes, in a way.
Read on to further your knowledge of 10 of America’s finest restaurants. And when you finally get a chance to dine at one of them (or if you’re lucky enough, to make a return visit), we bet that your appreciation for them will be deeper than just a respect for what’s coming out of the kitchen.