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Ten Top Tongues' Tastes of Choice
It's a big country with food that's getting better all the time, so coming up with the best restaurants in America could be a daunting task. We tackled it by asking the food critics in 10 cities their favorites. Prices listed are for dinner.
The 10 cities:
Meet Phyllis Richman, food critic for the Washington Post, online at OBS: click on
Hordes will flock to Atlanta for the 1996 Summer Olympics. Christiane Lauterbach, the dining critic for Atlanta Magazine, suggests some of the finer places to dine.
- Brasserie Le Coze
- 3393 Peachtree Rd., Lenox Square Mall; 404-266-1440
- French Bistro; Entrees $10 to $20
- Best French restaurant in town; authentic, unpretentious food.
- Buckhead Diner
- 3073 Piedmont Rd.; 404-266-1440
- American; Entrees $7.50 to $17.50
- The glamour spot of the Big Peach, creative American cuisine coupled with visiting celebrities such as Elton John.
- The Dining Room
- 3434 Peachtree Rd. NE,; 404-237-2700
- Creative continental; Prix fixe, $56, $80 w/ wine.
- The best restaurant in Atlanta; renowned chef Gunter Seeger creates daring and fresh seasonal cuisine.
- Flying Biscuit Cafe
- 1655 McClendon Ave. at Clifton Rd.; 404-687-8888
- Southern-reg.; Entrees $5.95 to $12.95
- The best breakfast, available all day, great biscuits, vegetarian specialties, and full-scale dishes as well.
- The Horseradish Grill
- 4320 Powers Ferry Rd.; 404-255-7277
- Southern-reg.; Entrees $8.95 to $18.95
- Traditional southern cooking translated for the modern world.
Mat Schaffer, the restaurant critic for Boston Magazine, makes his picks.
- Grill 23 & Bar
- 161 Berkeley St.; 617-542-2255
- American; Entrees $18 to $28
- Try the prime sirloin; it's aged 21 days and grilled to taste.
- Carl's Pagoda
- 23 Tyler St.; 617-357-9837
- Chinese; Entrees $4.75 to $17.95
- Asking for the menu at this hole-in-the-wall Cantonese restaurant brands you a neophyte so remember: tomato soup, clams in black bean sauce, fried oysters, whole steamed fish, ginger lobster, chicken and broccoli, Carl's special steak, scrambled eggs and shrimp, Chinese sausage and broccoli, and pork lo mein with Carl's rice.
- East Coast Grill
- 1271 Cambridge St., Cambridge; 617-491-6568
- American; Entrees $11.75 to $18.25
- Aggressively seasoned meats, poultry, seafood cooked over wood. Served in a crowded, noisy, fun atmosphere.
- Hamersley's Bistro
- 553 Tremont St.; 617-423-2700
- French Provencale; Entrees $19 to $28
- Simple, sophisticated, honest, delicious food; the cassoulet and seafood will transport you to Provence.
- Rowes Wharf Restaurant
- 70 Rowes Wharf; 617-439-3995
- New England; Entrees $18 to $35
- Exceptional cuisine well worth the price; try the house-cured maple-smoked Atlanta salmon.
Phil Vitell, the restaurant critic for the Chicago Tribune, names his top picks.
- 4156 N. Kedzie Ave.; 312-539-1909
- Thai; Entrees $13.95 to $23.95
- A beautiful dining room with museum-quality art is combined with culinary excellence.
- 440 South La Salle St.; 312-663-8920
- French; Entrees $28 to $32
- Located on the 40th floor of a building. Try the pork cheeks with lentils.
- Topolobampo Frontera Grill
- 445 N. Clark St.; 312-661-1434
- Mexican; Entrees $14 to $21, Grill, $8 to $17
- Two restaurants in one space, Topolobampo is a smaller, more upscale dining room, while Frontera is more crowded and casual. Both offer unsurpassed regional Mexican food.
- 1625 Hinman Ave., Evanston; 708-733-8746
- Fusion-American; Entrees $23 to $38
- Brilliant cross-cultural cuisine served in dazzlingly artistic presentations often including slabs of granite or marble.
- 71 W. Munroe; 312-332-4040
- Italian; Entrees $16 to $22
- Light, stylishly presented, contemporary Italian food.
Dallas Morning News lifestyles editor Dotty Griffith's favorites are less upscale than the renowned Mansion at Turtle Creek, and a little more off the beaten path.
- City Cafe
- 5757 W. Lovers Lane; 214-351-2233
- Regional American; Entrees $13 to $19.
- Seasonally based, creative food with a menu that changes every two weeks.
- Matt's Rancho Martinez
- Lakewood Plaza 6312 La Vista Dr.; 214-823-5517
- Tex-Mex; Entrees $7.25 to $15.75
- Stupendous chiles rellenos.
- The Palm Restaurant
- 701 Ross Ave. at Market; 214-698-0470
- American; Entrees $14 to $25
- Steaks, lobsters, and the beautiful people crowd.
- Star Canyon
- 3102 Oaklawn Ave, Suite 144; 214-520-7827
- New Texas; Entrees $14 to $23
- Sophisticated food with Texas roots. Favorite dish: chilled shrimp and jicama soup with fresh buttermilk and basil.
- Sonny Bryan's
- 2202 Inwood Rd.; 214-357-7120
- Traditional Bar-B-Q; $5 to $12
- Ribs and brisket so good that people often stop in on their way to the airport.
Irene Virbila, the restaurant editor for the Los Angeles Times, made picks that varied as much in style as they did in price--from under $10 all the way up to $300.
- The Bar Bistro at Citrus
- 6703 Melrose Ave.; 213-857-0034
- French; Entrees $9.50 to $17.50
- French comfort food from the same kitchen as Michel Richard's French-California flagship, Citrus.
- 624 S. La Brea Blvd.; 213-938-1447
- California-Mediterranean; Entrees $15 to $26
- Great breakfasts and lunches. At dinner try the flattened grilled chicken with parsley salad or the bistecca fiorentina.
- Chinois on Main
- 2709 Main St., Santa Monica; 310-329-9025
- East-West fusion; Entrees $19 to $29
- Wolfgang Puck's--the creator of L.A. restaurant/institution, Spago--best restaurant yet.
- Ginza Sushi-Ko
- 218 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills 90210; 310-247-8939
- Japanese; Entrees $200 to $300
- The most expensive restaurant in Los Angeles, this exquisite little sushi bar has the fish flown in daily from Japan.
- 3115 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica; 310-829-4313
- Italian; Entrees $18 to $25
- Possibly the best Northern Italian restaurant in North America. Instead of ordering from the menu, ask chef Piero Selvaggio to prepare a series of small courses.
Not just for grandparents anymore, Miami these days is hot, filled with celebrities, models, and great restaurants. Geoffrey Tomb, a restaurant critic at the Miami Herald, surveys the scene.
- Chef Allen's Restaurant
- 19088 N.E. 29th Ave.,; 305-935-2900
- Fusion-American; Entrees $22.95 to $29.95
- Don't miss the 16-ounce veal chop with double mustard sauce, wild-mushroom risotto, and ginger-flavored calabaza.
- 2530 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables; 305-567-2444
- Neo-French; Entrees $14.75 to $23.95
- Lush, earthy combinations such as essence of farm cream in lentils with poached salmon.
- Le Sandwicherie
- 229 14th St.; 305-532-8934
- Casual fare; Entrees $5 to $10
- Open till 5 a.m. on weekends, this sidewalk joint is as likely to serve people in tuxedoes as cab drivers.
- Osteria del Teatro
- 1443 Washington Ave.; 305-538-7850
- Italian; $14 to $24
- Excellent Italian food and maybe the best restaurant in town. Emphasis is on seafood.
- The Raleigh Restaurant
- 1775 Collins Ave.; 305-534-1775
- Creative American; Entrees $9 to $19
- A 1940s gem; the ghost of Esther Williams lives here. Sit outside and order the warm goat cheeseDpotato cakes.
Five restaurants, impossible! That was Florence Fabricant, a food and restaurant columnist for the New York Times, who couldn't get her list down to five. We let her cheat a little.
- 120 W. 51st St.; 212-956-7100
- Fusion French; Entrees $19.50 to $26.50
- The food here reflects chef Claude Proistros's great French heritage intertwined with the vibrancy of his 10 years in Brazil--all in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.
- Gotham Bar and Grill
- 12 E. 12th St.; 212-620-4020
- American; Entrees $10 to $32
- The finesse of Alfred Portale's food arranged in breathtaking pinnacles matches the celebratory, high-ceilinged space in which it is so deftly served.
- Le Bernadin
- 155 W. 51st St.; 212-489-1515
- French; Entrees $68
- Sublime seafood. Two greats: Winey sea bass with mashed potatoes or silken roast cod.
- Le Cirque
- 58 E. 65th St.; 212-794-9292
- French; Entrees $22 to $32
- A wondrous restaurant, tiny copper casseroles with exotic mushrooms, a simple bouquet of vegetables bathed in olive oil, and heady lobster risotto.
- 105 Hudson St.; 212-219-0500
- Fusion; Dinner $45 to $50
- The most inventively delicious food in town: Deep-fried kelp adorns roasted lobster nuggets or caviar on seared tuna.
- 145 W. 53rd St.; 212-581-4242
- Italian; Entrees $15 to $28
- Francesco Antonnuci unerringly commands pasta, risotto, foie gras, anchovies, duck, salmon, and zabaglione.
The challenge of good eating in San Francisco is the transient nature of restaurants there, says Michael Bauer, the restaurant critic at the San Francisco Chronicle. His picks:
- The French Laundry
- 6040 Washington St., Yountville; 707-944-2380
- French; Prix Fixe $49
- The $49 menu includes five courses all reminiscient of a three-star country restaurant in France.
- 570 Fourth St. at Bryant; 415-543-0573
- French; Entrees $10 to $15
- The best casual French restaurant in San Francisco; don't miss the mussels flecked with parsley and fried garlic.
- 648 Bush St.; 415-989-7154
- French; Prix Fixe $68 to $75
- A great special-occasion restaurant with a four- to six-course classic French menu.
- Yank Sing
- 427 Battery St.; 415-781-1111
- Chinese; Entrees $10 to $15
- Unparalleled dim sum, minced squab in crunchy lettuce cups, and Peking duck with sweet, doughy buns.
- Zuni Cafe
- 1658 Market; 415-552-2522
- American; Entrees $10 to $28
- Great people-watching and casual food. Signature dishes: chicken with bread salad and hamburger on foccacia.
Tom Sietsema, the food and restaurant critic for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, defines his favorite restaurants by the ones he returns to over and over again. Five of his regulars:
- Cafe Campagne
- 1600 Post Alley; 206-728-2233
- French; Entrees $6.95 to $14.95
- A fantastic, gourmet meal-to-go place with a tiny bar serving samplings of upscale wine and appetizers.
- 2400 First Ave.; 206-443-3301
- American; Entrees $19 to $22
- A luxurious and seasonal menu; opt for the cheese course after dinner, which includes handcrafted local samples.
- Macrina Bakery
- 2408 First Ave.; 206-448-4032
- American; Entrees $8 to $20
- The bakery is well known for its rustic loaves and European coffee cakes, but the witty little cafe adjoining the bakery also turns out excellent lunches and dinners.
- 2220 Queen Ann Ave.; 206-285-3360
- Georgian; Entrees $16-$22
- Inspired food from the Republic of Georgia, which also embraces the sunny flavors of the Mediterranean.
- The Herb Farm
- 32804 Southeast IssaquahDFall City Rd., Fall City; 206-784-2222
- Regional; Prix Fixe $115
- An extraordinary restaurant 30 minutes east of Seattle. The prix fixe price includes nine herb-infused courses.
Phyllis Richman, the food critic for the Washington Post, recommends:
- 1110 21st St., NW; 202-293-7191
- Italian; Entrees $18 to $28
- Chef Roberto Donna's pappardelle and risotto with first-of-the-season alba truffles are famous.
- Inn at Little Washington
- Middle & Main St., Washington, Va.; 703-675-3800
- New American; Full course $78 to $98
- Self-taught American chef Patrick O`Connell coaxes wonders out of local ingredients such as Virginia ham, Chesapeake Bay crabs, berries, and herbs. A bit of a drive from the District.
- Jean-Louis at the Watergate
- 2650 Virginia Ave., NW; 202-298-4488
- French; Full course $45 to $95
- Fans know to make sure that Jean-Louis will be in town when they make a reservation.
- 2000 Pennsylvannia Ave., NW; 202-296-7700
- American; Entrees $14.50 to $24
- Regional seafood shines here in an informal and energetic atmosphere.
- 2029 P St., NW; 202-872-1180
- Italian; Prix Fixe $38
- A tiny restaurant that personifies Italian simplicity--excellent wine and grappa.
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