Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

The Gayot Top 40 Places to Dine in the U.S.

November 1990

To be or not to be the best? That is the question, and also the raison d'être, of scores of young chefs around the country. The revolution that shook French ovens twenty years ago, when Gault Millau revealed the birth of nouvelle cuisine, has now spread to the entire world. Previously unsung talents have emerged. Gourmet eating is no longer a guarded privilege enjoyed by a pampered few. Naturally influenced in the beginning by its European roots, America has integrated the flavors of Asia and Latin America into the melting pot, and succeeded in creating at least half-a-dozen original, genuinely American cuisines: Californian; American nouvelle; Northwestern; Southwest; Cajun; Creole; Floridian; and guess what—even Alpine American.

No one will be surprised to find that the best restaurants are located in large, cosmopolitan areas: money draws; and the ready cash in urban areas seeds terrific restaurants. But there are creative talents all over the country that need to be encouraged. Accordingly, we have searched for the best in the rest of America as well. And this explains our far-reaching list of the best.

We've been busily honing our reviewing skills over the past thirty years in restaurants, auberges, inns, cabarets, posadas and weinstüben, and yes, our choices are subjective. Agree or disagree with our conclusions, it's up to you.

Vive la démocratie!

Le Cirque

Le Bernardin

Restaurant Lafayette

The Quilted Giraffe



Le Bec Fin



Chez Panisse

Chinois On Main

The Everest Room

Fleur de Lys


Inn at Little Washington


Le Marquis de Lafayette



San Domenico



Charlie Trotter's


Lark Creek Inn

Mark's Place

Jean Louis



La Panetière

Roy's Restaurant

St. Estephe



Café Annie

Coyote Café


The Grille Room

The Mansion on Turtle Creek

The Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead

Stay in a romantic mood with this Rosé Champagne.

Read GAYOT's review.