The Wine Enthusiast Restaurant Hall of Fame

Person holding a plate with food styled into a pyramid
610 Magnolia / Photo by Sara Babcock

The Wine Enthusiast Restaurant Hall of Fame welcomes 12 new restaurants to the list 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.

610 Magnolia

Louisville, KY

Edward Lee’s innovative cooking merges traditional Southern ingredients and global influences. It was considered radical when he took over this fine-dining institution in 2004, but today, Lee’s embrace of the diversity of Southern cuisine has proven prescient. An extensive global wine list is matched by one of the region’s best selections of Kentucky Bourbon.

A16

San Francisco

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.

Alter

Miami

Bradley Kilgore’s tasting menus offer original expressions of Florida ingredients that pull from warm-weather cultures around the world. Inventive dishes like seared foie gras with Lambrusco bubbles, verjus curd, jalapeño and gingersnap pair well with an adventurous wine list.

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.

Ava Gene’s

Portland, OR

“Locally sourced, aggressively seasonal” is the mantra at Ava Gene’s, where Joshua McFadden reimagines Roman cuisine from a vegetable-driven perspective. The beverage director, Caryn Benke, has crafted a wine list that’s mostly Italian, with a focus on family producers that practice environmentally conscious farming and winemaking.

Overhead photo of people eating, 6 plates of food visible, focus on person twirling pesto pasta
Ava Gene’s / Photo by A.J. Meeker

The Barn at Blackberry Farm

Townsend, 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.

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 63 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

One of Chicago’s most influential restaurants, Blackbird, remains at the forefront of this great culinary city’s dining scene 21 years after its debut. 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.

Canlis

Seattle

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.

The Catbird Seat Nashville
The Catbird Seat

The Catbird Seat

Nashville

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.

Commander’s Palace

New Orleans

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.

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 City

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.

Six people sitting in a banquet, tasting wine
FIG

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 to oversee a cellar with more than 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 are eager to share.

Eleven Madison Park

New York City

Pegged perennially as one of the world’s best restaurants, Eleven Madison Park’s recent renovation has provided a fresh perspective. The chef, Daniel Humm, and restaurateur Will Guidara reach new heights and new customers, thanks to an abbreviated tasting menu in the bar area.

FIG

Charleston, SC

Since the beginning, the FIG wine list has leaned to Old World and domestic finds as seasonal as the food menu. Today, it shines even more light on small producers with stories that the staff is eager to relay to guests. Regular wine training means that anyone on the floor can walk you through even the most esoteric selections.

Fiola di Fabio Trabocchi

Washington, D.C.

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.

A white oval plate with vegetables and sauce on a wooden table
Fish & Game

Fish & Game

Hudson, NY

This cozy, hearth-based restaurant housed in an old blacksmith’s shop has been very influential in upstate New York, where thoughtfully farmed ingredients and wines that follow eco-conscious philosophies have become increasingly the norm. The restaurant continues to feature hearty, locally sourced food with, they state, “terroir-expressive wines produced with minimal intervention.”

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.

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.

Gramercy Tavern

New York City

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.

A red leather banquet and table next to a large brick fireplace, candles and things about
Iron Gate / Photo by Scott Suchman

The Herbfarm

Woodinville, 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.

Iron Gate

Washington, D.C.

Greece and Southern Italy are the core of Iron Gate’s wine program, which pairs well with Tony Chittum’s menu of Mediterranean small plates. A gradual shift toward smaller producers and lesser-known grapes reflects both increased availability and enthusiasm toward them. Guests also shouldn’t miss the creative cocktail program and extensive amari list.

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 City

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.”

Le Pigeon

Portland, OR

In 2006, Gabriel Rucker helped transform Portland’s dining scene when he opened this spot. His partner/wine director, Andrew Fortgang, did the same for wine lovers when he came on board a couple years later. Still one of the Pacific Northwest’s best restaurants, Fortgang gives equal love to classic producers and more experimental ones, with great values at every price point.

Image of cooks at work on the line in an open kitchen, customers on left
Le Pigeon / Photo by Carly Diaz

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

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

New York City

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.

Picasso at Bellagio Resort & Casino

Las Vegas

Dine among Picassos at this luxe venue in the Bellagio Hotel. Julian Serrano’s Spanish- and French-influenced cuisine is no less artful than the decor. More than 1,500 bottles focus on the great Old-World wine regions, many from hard-to-find vintages at their peak.

Lobster meat atop sliced carrots, topped with golden crispy strands
Picasso at Bellagio Resort & Casino / Photo by Anthony Mair

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

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

Quince helped bring California cuisine into the 21st century when it opened 16 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.

Redbird

Los Angeles

This gorgeous restaurant, in the former rectory and courtyard of a 19th-century cathedral, was an important part of downtown Los Angeles’s dining boom when it opened five years ago, and it’s no less thrilling today. Though Wine Director Josh Wibbenmeyer highlights smaller producers and lesser-known grapes from classic and emerging regions, the wine list has something for everyone, including lots of back vintage and an extensive by-the-glass list.

The Restaurant at Meadowood

St. Helena, CA

Since its reinvention over a decade ago with the addition of Chef Christopher Kostow, The Restaurant at 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.

Cooked tuna and sauce on a white gold-rimmed plate on white marble
Redbird

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

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

At this charming West Loop restaurant housed in a former 19th-century print shop, Andrew Zimmerman serves playful New American cuisine with subtle Italian and Asian influences. Jennifer Wagoner, the wine director, brings a similar sense of fun and curiosity, as the 600-label list focuses on discovery and food-friendliness over recognizable names.

Spiaggia

Chicago

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.

Spoon and Stable

Minneapolis

The flagship restaurant in Gavin Kaysen’s Minneapolis mini-empire, which also includes Bellecour and Demi, has been instrumental in the city’s emergence as a dining destination. The global wine list is arranged largely by grape and explores varietal expressions from varied regions and climates.

Pork chop topped wtih vegetables, over orange sauce, on a gray plate on white marble
Spoon and Stable / Photo by Bonjwing Lee

Studio

Laguna Beach, CA

A panoramic oceanfront view meets a 2,500-bottle wine list curated by the beverage manager and sommelier, Troy Smith, that boasts a large range of half-bottles. The six-course tasting menus sport an indulgent vegetarian option and include regular or “grand” wine-pairing options.

Taberna de Haro

Brookline, MA

Taberna de Haro is a no-brainer Hall-of-Famer not just for its epic, all-Spanish wine list that features more than 325 selections and includes around 75 Sherries, but also owner Deborah Hansen’s passion for the country’s ever-changing wine landscape. It’s also a popular haunt for Boston sommeliers.

Troquet on South

Boston

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

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 13, 2019
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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