Best Wine Restaurant Icons

Crabtree's Kittle House

In celebration of Wine Enthusiast’s 2016 Best 100 Wine Restaurants—our 6th-annual list of restaurants that represent the year’s best dining options for wine and food lovers—we want to extend a hearty congratulations to the establishments that have appeared on our coveted list at least five times.

These destination-worthy dining spots sport deep wine lists, brilliant sommeliers and reliably luscious cuisine that knock it out of the park every time. These are true icons of the wine and food world that continue to impact the national dining scene and nurture the young talent responsible for future best wine restaurants. Cheers!

A16

One of the Bay Area’s best Italian restaurants in the guise of a casual pizza place, A16 Wine Director Shelley Lindgren has done a lot to introduce people to the intricacies of Italian wine, celebrating regions like Campania and Sicily before they were fashionable.

Bern’s Steak House

With a cellar boasting a half-million bottles and almost 7000 unique labels (and 200 poured by the glass), Bern’s has put Tampa permanently on the wine map—and the steaks are the best in the area, to boot.

Blackbird

Blackbird was a pioneer in farm-to-table cooking when it opened in Chicago in 1997, and continues to redefine Midwestern fine dining, with a deep French-heavy wine list.

Blue Hill Restaurant
Blue Hill at Stone Barns / Photo By Ira Lippke

Blue Hill Stone Barns

Just north of New York City is this working farm that provides almost all the ingredients for the restaurant’s opulent tasting menus, with an epic wine list that reflects Wine Director Charles Puglia’s passions, such as the Northern Rhone, Madeira, and older Austrian and California whites.

Canlis

This 1950s-era classic has long had Seattle’s deepest wine cellar, but recent rejuvenations of both food and beverage programs have insured it’s not just resting on its laurels.

The Catbird Seat

The Catbird Seat’s format—one tasting menu served at bar seating around an open kitchen—rocked Nashville’s dining scene when it opened in 2011, and has since served as an incubator for wine and food pros that have made Nashville one of the country’s top dining destinations.

Commander’s Palace

It’s not a trip to New Orleans without a visit to Commander’s Palace, where most of the city’s most iconic chefs have spent time and where wine is an intrinsic part: Over 50 current staffers have passed exams with The Court of Master Sommeliers.

Crabtree's Kittle House
Crabtree’s Kittle House

Crabtree’s Kittle House

While the restaurant was built in 1790, it was exactly 200 years later that Kittle House Owner John Crabtree set out to build one of the greatest restaurant wine lists in the world. Today, with 40,000 bottles and 4,000 selections to choose from—including verticals of most of the world’s greatest producers—this iconic spot is a must-visit not just for wine, but also for creative cuisine that highlights ingredients from neighboring farms.

Craigie on Main

Few restaurants “walk the walk” as convincingly as Craigie On Main in terms of responsibly sourced ingredients and ethical business practices. These practices extend to the wines as well, which are sourced from small, environmentally conscious producers and includes many affordable bottles with a decade-plus of bottle age.

Daniel

Daniel, and its eponymous chef Daniel Boulud, is the epitome of New York fine dining, and as pampering an experience now as ever. The wine staff is uncommonly well educated and the list is no less dynamic for its 25,000+-bottle size.

db bistro Moderne

Daniel Boulud’s first Miami outpost brings a breezy, tropical touch to his classic French preparations—think lobster salad with compressed watermelon and avocado chutney—and a wine list that works as well with the warm weather as it does the famous db Burger with short ribs, foie gras, and black truffle.

Deseo

Deseo boasts one of the largest South American wine lists in North America, which continues to grow along with those wine regions. Similarly, the “Nuevo Latino” cuisine seamlessly blends South American styles in a way that feels perfectly at home in the American Southwest.

Eleven Madison Park

Subtle evolution has kept “11Mad” at the top of New York’s rotating restaurant heap. Though one of the world’s top restaurants, it has an accessible atmosphere, a wine program with a surprising number of affordable bottles, and a commitment to New York State ingredients and producers.

Five & Ten

In the last 15 years, this little spot in Athens, Georgia—star chef Hugh Acheson’s flagship restaurant—has had as much an impact on Southern wine and food as any, with its humor, comfort and an inspired wine list that introduced Georgians to many emerging regions and esoteric wines.

Frasca Food and Wine

Could the current interest in the wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia be traced to this Boulder restaurant, specializing in the cuisine of that area? Given its popularity—and wine-world influence of Owner and Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey—it’s entirely possible.

The French Laundry

Following an expansive nine-month remodel, The French Laundry—and its chef/owner, Thomas Keller—are back and at the top of their game, looking to redraw the limits of American cuisine and wine service for another 22 years, as they have since 1994.

Gramercy Tavern

After more than 20 years, Gramercy Tavern still defines downtown Manhattan dining, and—like the elaborate tasting menus—its wine list undergoes constant reinvigoration.

The Herbfarm

Still a must-visit for Pacific Northwest foodies, the Herbfarm—whose ever-changing menus come from their own gardens—went from quirky upstart to still-quirky stalwart, introducing things like pine-needle sorbet into the culinary lexicon. The wine list has more than 4,500 labels reaching back to the 1700s, with almost 2,000 from Washington and Oregon alone.

Le Bernardin Restaurant
Chef Eric Ripert, Le Bernardin

Le Bernardin

Aldo Sohm, longtime wine director at this temple of haute seafood, became so popular in his own right that he and chef/owner Eric Ripert opened Aldo Sohm Wine Bar next door. At the restaurant, Sohm offers interesting choices from emerging regions alongside an impressive range of French classics.

Manresa

One of the country’s most influential restaurants, Manresa and chef David Kinch created a new vision for new California cuisine, and stretched the possibilities of the seasonal tasting menu. The wine list is largely French, but celebrates distinctive and lesser-known bottlings.

Miller Union

The ingredients for chef–owner Steven Satterfield’s modern take on Southern home cooking come straight from small organic farms—as does the wine. General Manager and co-owner Neal McCarthy sources from small producers that work organically or biodynamically, and has turned many local somms onto some previously unknown gems.

PRESS Napa Valley

It would be enough if PRESS offered a huge range of local Napa wines to go with their terrific modern-steakhouse fare. But the wine team here is committed to creating a virtual museum of Napa winemaking, with extensive back vintages as well as innovative new producers.

The Restaurant at Meadowood

Meadowood and Napa are virtually synonymous. Chef Christopher Kostow digs deep (literally) into the area’s culinary bounty, just as Wine Director Victoria Kulinich looks for local producers both classic and new for the 6000-bottle cellar, which has Napa bottlings back to 1935.

Sage

In a city with no lack of glitzy restaurants and encyclopedic, big-spender wine lists, Sage stands out for its focus on simple, impeccably fresh ingredients and a wine list as concerned with discovery and value as with rare and collectible bottles.

Spiaggia
Spiaggia

Spiaggia

The idea of a four-star Italian restaurant in the U.S. now makes perfect sense, but in 1994 people thought Spiaggia Chef and Owner Tony Mantuano was pazzo (that’s crazy in Italian). It’s since become one of the most influential Italian restaurants in the country, with a newish Wine Director, Rachael Lowe, committed to celebrating less-known Italian regions and grapes.

Troquet

Why mess with success? Troquet’s modern French cuisine merges classic technique with internationally inspired ingredients, and its massive wine list reads like a roadmap of legendary regions and producers.

Woodberry Kitchen

In its nine years, Woodberry Kitchen has deepened its relationships with local Chesapeake Bay food producers, just as they’ve helped support the emerging Virginia and Maryland wine regions. It’s still one of Baltimore’s most inspiring restaurants.

Published on July 8, 2016
Topics: Restaurants and Bars


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