The Wine Enthusiast Restaurant Hall of Fame

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.
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.

Maccaronara Pasta from A16
Maccaronara Pasta from A16 / Photo by Melanie Duerkopp

A16

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

Rutherford, CA

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

Tampa, FL

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.

Blackbird

Chicago, IL

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.

The Canlis Dining Room
The Canlis Dining Room

Canlis

Seattle, WA

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.

Commander’s Palace

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

Chappaqua, NY

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.

Octopus at Craigie on Main
Octopus at Craigie on Main / Photo by Mike Piazza

Craigie on Main

Cambridge, MA

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.

DANIEL

New York, NY

Daniel Boulud’s flagship remains one of New York City’s most desirable special-occasion restaurants. Impeccable service and a serene neoclassical dining room match flawless French cuisine that takes a seasonal approach to French culinary traditions. Head Sommelier Raj Vaidya oversees a constantly evolving 25,000-bottle cellar with particular strength in Burgundy and Champagne.

Deseo

Scottsdale, AZ

Deseo features one of the country’s only wine programs exclusive to South America, which complements creative cuisine from the continent, especially Chile and Argentina. It’s located at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, which also houses the Scotch Library, a lounge with more than 250 Scotch selections.

Element 47 at The Little Nell

Aspen, CO

The Little Nell, the resort that houses Element 47, has a whopping 50 sommeliers on staff. That includes Little Nell’s Wine Director Carlton McCoy, who oversees the restaurant’s cellar with over 20,000 bottles. It holds hard-to-find mature vintages from some of the wine world’s biggest names, as well as new discoveries that the staff is eager to share.

Daniel Humm, Executive Chef of Eleven Madison Park, NY
Daniel Humm, Executive Chef of Eleven Madison Park, NY

Eleven Madison Park

New York, NY

Following its win as the best restaurant in the world, Eleven Madison Park underwent a significant renovation and reopened last October. Chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara hope to reach new heights and new customers, thanks to the availability of an abbreviated tasting menu in the bar area.

Fiola di Fabio Trabocchi

Washington, DC

Fabio and Maria Trabocchi’s flagship restaurant is one of the most elegant Italian restaurants in the country, with prix fixe dining at dinner and affordable a la carte menus at lunch. Besides the many Italian wines, the list is strong in French, German and domestic wines as well.

Five & Ten

Athens, GA

Now a famed restaurateur, cookbook author and Top Chef judge, Chef Hugh Acheson’s first restaurant was this modest gem. Opened in 2000, it helped define modern Southern cuisine for the new millennium, with a globetrotting wine list that continues to champion small producers and sustainably-farmed wines.

Frasca Food and Wine

Boulder, CO

Frasca was a pioneer when it opened in 2004, with a focus on Friuli-Venezia Giulia, at a time when Americans had much less of an understanding of regional Italian cuisine. Bobby Stuckey, owner and master sommelier, has an educational wine list that strays into France, Austria, and the U.S., but always through a lens of Northern Italy.

Gramercy Tavern
Gramercy Tavern / Photo by Daniel Krieger

Gramercy Tavern

New York, NY

Warm hospitality and knowledgeable service never goes out of style, as evidenced by this New York City icon—still one of the city’s top tables after almost 25 years in business. Gramercy Tavern’s market-driven cuisine has varied global influences, well matched by a wine program with strengths in the U.S., Germany, Austria, France and Italy.

The Herbfarm

Seattle, WA

While “farm to table” is now common, The Herbfarm stood almost alone among American restaurants when it opened in 1986 with an ethos of serving 100% locally grown ingredients. Though the gargantuan wine list spans the globe, it’s always focused on the Pacific Northwest, with uncommon depth in hard-to-find vintages.

L'Etoile
L’Etoile / Photo by Nick Bernard

L’Etoile Restaurant

Madison, WI

L’Etoile is a lesson in how to stay relevant without resorting to trends. Since taking over this decades-old restaurant in 2005, Executive Chef and Co-Proprietor Tory Miller has consistently made it one of the Midwest’s most exciting restaurants by developing deep relationships with local farmers. Wines are largely from higher latitudes like the restaurant’s own, highlighting terroir-driven offerings from grower-producers.

Le Bernardin

New York, NY

Le Bernardin is all about the very best seafood prepared as simply as possible. Dishes are separated into “almost raw,” “barely touched” and “lightly cooked” categories. The 900-label wine list focuses on Burgundy, Germany and Austria, the latter being the native home of Aldo Sohm, the wine director. It eschews traditional ideas of “white with fish, red with meat.”

Manresa

Los Gatos, CA

When it opened in 2002, just as the Silicon Valley’s tech bubble burst, Manresa’s lofty ambitions seemed unattainable. Executive Chef-Owner David Kinch not only proved skeptics wrong, but helped establish a new paradigm for inventive fine dining in the Bay Area and beyond. A global wine list is especially strong in France as well as the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains AVA.

Miller Union

Atlanta, GA

Not yet in its 10th year, Miller Union is already an Atlanta icon, serving both as a destination restaurant and neighborhood hangout. Executive Chef and Co-Owner Steven Satterfield’s personal take on Southern cuisine, with a deep commitment to local and seasonal ingredients, has been influential throughout the South. An extensive but dynamic wine list features two dozen pours by the glass that change frequently.

Per Se
Per Se / Photo by Deborah Jones

Per Se

New York, NY

Opened in 2004 as a New York version of The French Laundry, Per Se’s nine-course chef’s tasting menu changes daily, and while it’s one of the country’s most pricey meals, it’s also among the most celebrated. The recent elevation of Corey Chow to chef de cuisine, where he runs the kitchen under Chef-Owner Thomas Keller, brought subtle changes to the menu, energy and consistency of the restaurant. The 2,000-label wine list includes many rare and older bottles.

Portland City Grill

Portland, OR

Come for the view and stay for the wine at this 30th-floor perch that serves Asian-influenced seafood and steakhouse dishes. Portland City Grill’s wines focus on Oregon and Washington, with a reserve list that features many back-vintage bargains.

PRESS St. Helena

St. Helena, CA

This modern California steakhouse claims to have the world’s largest collection of Napa wines, with vintages going back half a century. However, PRESS has just as many affordable bottles from up-and-coming producers as it does hard-to-find vintages from benchmark producers. It also sources both the produce and the meats locally.

Proof on Main
Proof on Main / Photo courtesy of 21c Museum Hotels

Proof on Main

Louisville, KY

Proof on Main is located in Louisville’s art-themed 21C Museum hotel, and the dishes are as eye-opening as the rotating contemporary art that graces the walls. Examples include strawberry-rhubarb pop tarts with cardamom and chicken liver, and chile-spiked onion-almond soup with ramp powder and butternut oil. Like the cuisine, wines change frequently and revolve around small farmer-producers.

Quince

San Francisco, CA

Quince helped bring California cuisine into the 21st century when it opened 15 years ago, and remains one of the Bay Area’s top restaurants. A nearby farm grows heirloom produce exclusively for Quince and its sister restaurant, Cotogna. Look for ingredients like crosnes, oxalis, nepitella and Douglas fir. Wine selections have doubled over the past few years, contrasting the greatest Old World regions with established and emerging California producers.

Restaurant Latour

Hamburg, NJ

Real estate developer and wine collector Gene Mulvihill never did anything halfway. He created New Jersey’s notoriously hair-raising Action Park during the 1970s, so when he set out to amass one of the world’s great wine collections, he succeeded. Though he died in 2012, his collection of more than 6,000 labels and 105,000 bottles are available to diners at Restaurant Latour. Don’t miss the daily cellar tours.

Sage

Las Vegas, NV

Consistently one of the most requested fine-dining tables on the Strip, Sage serves an innovative take on comfort food. Pea soup comes with carrot gelée, while wagyu steak is matched with gochujang and roast chicken arrives with sunchokes and a Vin Jaune sauce. The wine list gives equal weight to modestly priced independent producers and classic bottles for high rollers.

Sepia

Chicago, IL

At this charming West Loop restaurant, Executive Chef Andrew Zimmerman serves playful New American cuisine with subtle Italian and Asian influences in a former 19th-century print shop. Though longtime Wine Director Arthur Hon recently left, his replacement, Jennifer Wagoner, brings a similar sense of fun and curiosity, maintaining the 600-label list’s focus on discovery and food-friendliness over recognizable names.

Spiaggia

Chicago, IL

One of the country’s most refined, creative and acclaimed Italian restaurants, Spiaggia has few peers. The Sommelier and Beverage Director, Rachael Lowe, oversees a dynamic mostly Italian list that currently hovers around 800 labels. The restaurant’s 30-plus years in business means lots of back-vintage gems.

The Barn at Blackberry Farm
The Barn at Blackberry Farm

The Barn at Blackberry Farm

Walland, TN

Guests come from around the world to this 4,200-acre resort in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains as much for the restaurant’s wine and food as the spectacular setting. Much of the food comes from the restaurant’s farm, while the 160,000-bottle cellar includes an uncommonly long half-bottle list.

The Catbird Seat

Nashville, TN

Calling itself a “culinary incubator,” The Catbird Seat has just 22 seats around a small U-shaped kitchen that offers one set tasting menu and two seatings nightly. Wine pairings change as often as the menu, and the bottle list has the same sense of adventure as the cuisine.

The French Laundry

Yountville, CA

Since buying this historic restaurant in 1994, Chef and Proprietor Thomas Keller has made it one of the most important and iconic restaurants in the U.S. It’s ostensibly French cuisine, but with a modernist sensibility and a focus on ingredients over technique. The bottle list aims for both quality and quantity, while menu pairings and glass pours change often.

The Pass and Provisions
The Pass and Provisions

The Pass & Provisions

Houston, TX

This two-in-one concept gives diners the option of an intimate tasting-menu at Pass or the more casual setting of Provisions. However, both offer modern cuisine with globetrotting influences. The wine list reaches from Macedonia to Mendoza, with helpful wine-region maps to guide the way.

The Restaurant at Meadowood

St. Helena, CA

Since its reinvention over a decade ago with the addition of Chef Christopher Kostow and Nathaniel Dorn as restaurant director, Meadowood has played a major role in Napa’s emergence as one of the country’s top fine-dining destinations. The wine list boasts almost 2,500 labels, including many lengthy Napa verticals.

Troquet on South

Boston, MA

A recent move to an expansive new location provided a refresh of this formal Boston classic, where Asian-inflected modern French cuisine meets one of the city’s most extensive wine lists, with just under 50 labels offered in 2- or 4-ounce pours. Tip: Lunch is a relative bargain, with the same stellar food and service.

Woodberry Kitchen

Baltimore, MD

Start with seasonal Chesapeake Bay oysters and end with a Port-style wine from Maryland’s own Black Ankle Vineyards at this Baltimore favorite. Chef-Owner Spike Gjerde says every ingredient is sourced from local farmers or fishers, and wines are entirely organic, biodynamic or local.

Published on June 12, 2018
Topics: Restaurant Trends
About the Author
Nils Bernstein
Contributing Editor, Food

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.

Email: nbernstein@wineenthusiast.net




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