In honor of our America's 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2018, we take a look back at the cream of the crop. Each of these has repeatedly made our list, and are still at the top of their game. Find out who made the cut.
By Nils Bernstein
Element 47 in The Little Nell
The Wine Enthusiast Restaurant Hall of Fame debuts this year. These standouts have appeared on our America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants list four or more times, and they’re still operating at the top of their game. Congratulations to these icons that have changed how we drink and eat.
San Francisco, CA
Named for the highway that crosses Italy from Naples to Bari, A16 is ostensibly a pizza restaurant, but also features seasonal pastas and locally farmed meats in preparations faithful to Southern Italy. The wine director, Shelley Lindgren, has played an important role in highlighting the indigenous grapes of Campania and Southern Italy.
Auberge du Soleil
One of Napa’s first fine-dining destination restaurants, Auberge du Soleil overlooks acres of olive groves and has served Mediterranean cuisine using the best local ingredients since 1983. The wine list is a who’s who of benchmark Napa producers, with many rare back vintages and verticals.
Bern’s Steak House
With more than 6,800 labels and nearly 150 options by the glass, not to mention immaculately cooked steaks and other American classics perfected over 62 years in business, Bern’s is one of the world’s great wine restaurants. Schedule time before dinner to tour the cellar, and end your meal in the Harry Waugh Dessert Room, named for the British wine connoisseur.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of one of Chicago’s most influential restaurants, Blackbird, which remains at the forefront of this great culinary city’s dining scene. Wines focus on the classic regions of France, with equal weight given to domestic expressions of those Old World grape varieties.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Pocantico Hills, NY
Farm-to-table dining doesn’t get more literal than at Blue Hill. Ingredients from the surrounding farm are transformed into elaborate tasting menus that change so often that there are no printed menus. The comprehensive wine list is especially deep in France and California, with Madeiras dating back to 1901.
This Seattle fine-dining icon is still family-owned as it nears 70 years in business with a cellar that has steadily grown to be one of the country’s largest. The original owner, Peter Canlis, commissioned the architects to build “the world’s most beautiful restaurant,” creating a cantilevered midcentury-modern jewel that appears to float over the panoramic scene below.
New Orleans, LA
No trip to New Orleans is complete without a visit to the legendary Commander’s Palace, which dates to 1893 and launched the careers of New Orleans culinary icons like Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse. The wine list boasts over 3,200 labels, with a handy “60 Under $60” list, and 45 glass options available in 3- or 6-ounce pours.
Crabtree’s Kittle House
Owner John Crabtree set out to create one of the world’s great restaurant wine programs, and he amassed a museum-quality list over the ensuing decades. Its seasonal New American cuisine is made from natural and sustainably grown products from the Hudson Valley.
Craigie on Main
The food at this beloved restaurant from Chef-Owner Tony Maws is both innovative and comforting, with French-inspired menus that change daily. The deep Old World wine list has a similar feeling, as classic regions are matched by lesser-known appellations at value prices.
A fan of sweet wines, sour beers, and old-school Rioja, Bernstein is an exhaustive traveler in search of new and unsung chefs and restaurants, innovative wine and food pairings, and eating and drinking at the source. In addition to Wine Enthusiast, Bernstein has written for Bon Appetit, Men’s Journal, New York Times, Men’s Fitness, Hemispheres, and Kinfolk, among others.