Best Regional American Cuisine Slideshow
February 23, 2011
From pastrami in New York to grits in South Carolina, these are the best regional American restaurants.
Katz's Delicatessen, New York, New York
"Send a salami to your boy in the army!" This Jewish kosher deli has been making converts with its salami — and pastrami and hot dogs and more since 1888. You go in, get a taste at the counter from one of the expert slicers like Eddie, and marvel at how great it is that a place like this exists. Then you dive into pickles and a huge pastrami sandwich with mustard and a big pricetag. It's worth it — it really is one of the only deli sandwiches a person needs in life. And the pastrami and eggs "made like the boss likes it," with eggs cooked on the hot dog grill to get that greasiness? Not many things better for breakfast. Just don't lose your ticket. You don't want to know what happens.
Commander's Palace, New Orleans
A slice of New Orleans dining history — it opened in 1880 — this culinary landmark has long been collecting accolades for everything from its service to its wine list to its "haute Creole" cuisine. The gold standard of family-run restaurants, Commander's offers a dining experience that could win you over on its Southern charm alone — but you'd be remiss to not order the turtle soup, practically synonymous with the place.
Zuni Café, San Francisco
San Francisco Mediterranean cooking at its best from chef Judy Rodgers, with Chez Panisse alumnus Gilbert Pilgram now in charge of the dining room. The house-cured anchovies with celery, parmigiano, and Niçoise olives, the Petrale sole, and the whole roasted chicken with bread salad for two are among the emblematic dishes in this food-mad town.
Cochon, New Orleans
A cult favorite since it opened in 2006, Cochon is the domain of pork-loving chef Donald Link, proprietor of the popular Herbsaint and winner of a 2010 James Beard Award for his cookbook Real Cajun. Inspired by Cajun and Creole culinary traditions, Link serves up dishes like deep-fat-fried hog head cheese with field beans and ravigote and Louisiana cochon (roast pig) with turnips, cabbage, and cracklins’ as well as such non-porcine delights as fried alligator with chile garlic aïoli and rabbit and dumplings.
Spago, Beverly Hills, Calif.
This more elaborate but immediate descendent of the original groundbreaking Spago remains the flagship of the ever-growing Wolfgang Puck empire. Full of glamour and glitz, it nevertheless remains a place where food is taken very seriously. The famous Spago pizzas are available only for lunch, but it’s almost a shame to waste your appetite on them anyway (almost), given all the first-rate modern Californian fare cooked here under the direction of Executive Chef Lee Hefter, one of the most underrated chefs in America.
Galatoire's, New Orleans
This is what you should know about Galatoire’s: The food is classic Creole and all-around New Orleans in style and it’s not on your diet; the menu has changed little over the past century-plus, and is full of things like turtle soup au sherry, crabmeat au gratin, eggs Sardou (with creamed spinach, artichoke bottoms, and Hollandaise), and Louisiana seafood eggplant cake; and you’ll have a good time if you go hungry — and a better time if you go hungry with a regular at your side.
Herbfarm, Seattle, Wash.
Located just outside of Seattle in a converted garage, The Herbfarm offers a seasonally-inspired dining experience that celebrates the bounty of the Pacific Northwest. Each unique, nine-course meal features the freshest ingredients from forest, farm, and sea, and is paired with five or six wines; the themed menus change with the season about every two weeks.
Restaurant August, New Orleans
John Besh is one of the most interesting and ambitious chefs in the Crescent City today. The American menu at this splendid eatery betrays his love for, and understanding of, French, Italian, and high-level American cuisine, much of it interpreted with a New Orleans lilt.
Fearing's, Dallas, Texas
Located at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas, Fearing’s features modern Southwestern-American cuisine with a farm-to-table approach. Choose from one of the many dining venues on site, from the outdoor patio to the more upscale Gallery; if you’re dining chef-side in Dean’s Kitchen, or at the Chef’s Table, look for the ebullient chef Dean Fearing himself, who is often present.
Hominy Grill, Charleston, S.C.
Located in downtown Charleston, Hominy Grill, located in a onetime barbershop, features chef/owner Robert Stehling's classic Lowcountry cooking, served with relaxed, at-home feel. Don’t miss his stone-ground grits, house-made sausage, or rich Southern-style desserts like buttermilk pie or butterscotch pudding.
Fore Street, Portland, Maine
When chef Sam Hayward opened this brick-framed restaurant in 1996, nobody thought of Portland as a dining destination. He helped change that with his meticulous sourcing of fine local products and the menus that change daily based on what comes in. Wood-roasted mussels and grilled marinated hangar steak are among the items always available, but the seasonal treasures are always worth sampling.
Mustard's Grill, Yountville, California
Napa Valley winemakers crowd into the unpretentious Mustards Grill to sample Cindy Pawlcyn’s American-international cooking, encompassing everything from wild mushroom tamales to grilled Laotian-style quail to seafood tostadas to one of California’s best burgers.
The Barn at Blackberry Farm, Walland, Tenn.
The cuisine is so emblematic that it has inspired a new category — Foothills Cuisine, a term that has actually been copyrighted. Truly farm-to-table, the Barn uses the farm estate’s produce and products for a dynamic menu of Smoky Mountain regional dishes with a global flair.
Lonesome Dove, Fort Worth, Texas
At the premier establishment from renowned cowboy-chef Tim Love, the culinary style is what Love calls “Urban Western Cuisine”. This translates to Texas-style meat and potatoes with an edge of sophistication. Located in the historic Stockyards District of Fort Worth, Lonesome Dove proposed a menu featuring large servings of protein — whole fish, cowboy steaks, roasted turkey, and a variety of wild game among them.
McCrady's, Charleston, South Carolina
McCrady’s is an establishment richly steeped in Charleston history, residing in a structure, built in 1788, that's listed on the National Register of Historic Places and Landmarks. Juxtaposed against the staid surroundings, the menu at McCrady’s is anything but traditional, though chef Sean Bock, who received the James Beard award for Best Chef Southeast in 2010, weaves touches of Southern tradition into the otherwise highly modern cuisine. The bar has become known for its specialty pre-Prohibition-style cocktails.