When we reached out to more than 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. Seventeen of the 202 restaurants were located in the Southwest (not including Texas and California), and of those, seven made it to the final 101.
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 New York City couldn’t decide to put in a vote for Pizzeria Bianco just because they heard it was good. This makes our list, which we’ve whittled down here to the top Southwest restaurants, dependable and reflective of the opinions of some of the region's culinary leaders. Here’s the list of the panelists who participated in the voting process.
While, as expected, the bulk of the restaurants are fine dining establishments located in Las Vegas, two are located far from Sin City. Boulder, Colo.'s Frasca Food and Wine, which highlights the cuisine of the Italian region of Fruili, is on our list, as is Phoenix's Pizzeria Bianco. Of those in Las Vegas, chef José Andrés, who was named the 2012 American Chef of the Year by The Daily Meal, is the chef owner of two, Jaleo and é by José Andrés.
To find out which other restaurants from around the country made it into the top 101, you can find the full list here.