Ever wonder how online reviews of restaurants compare to the opinions of professional critics? It’s an interesting question to ponder – especially if you’re curious to know whether or not the most critically acclaimed food hunts could be the restaurants of the people as well.
One way to find out is to analyze restaurant reviews. Which is exactly what online travel reviews site TripAdvisor did in order to come up with this year’s list of travelers’ favorite fine dining restaurants in the US. The review site came up with the rankings by collecting and analyzing millions of restaurant reviews and ratings posted by users over the past year.
Michelin-starred Alinea in Chicago, which opened in 2005, took the top spot in this year’s list. It’s been a pretty good 2014 so far for the Windy City: earlier this year, TripAdvisor ranked another Chicago destination – the Art Institute of Chicago – as the favorite museum in the world.
Here are the 10 best restaurants in America, along with TripAdvisor review highlights that perfectly capture what diners are saying about each establishment.
TripAdvisor’s 2014 favorite fine dining restaurants:
10. Daniel (New York City)
“I have dined all over the world as a single diner. Above ANY experience I have had Daniel has been the most memorable. I was treated like a queen. Even though the food was spectacular – and I do mean SPECTACULAR – the maître d’ was the high point of the evening. He kept checking on me with perfect timing to make sure I was doing well.”
9. Papa Bros. Steakhouse (Dallas)
“Quality of food is very important but other things contribute to make it the best! The service and attitude toward the customer is BIG at Pappas. The food is delicious. The steak is some of the best any where! Crisp white linen tablecloths, doilies, mint, candle light are just a few nice touches coupled with polite knowledgeable waiters make for a wonderful evening.”
8. Canlis Restaurant (Seattle)
“Always the most beautiful dining space in the Northwest and, with the demise of Rover’s, unsurpassed service and personal attention. We were very pleasantly surprised with the new menu – much, much shorter and more focused. Priced (as seems to be the trend) by the number of courses. The quality of the food remains superb – if anything more delicate and well plated than before. The Muscovy duck was fantastic – but so was the cauliflower soup. All in all a great dinner.”
7. Bouley (New York City)
“French provincial taste and glamour in decor and service that is ten times better than anything Gallic! Superb food and outstanding wines selected with help of the knowledgeable sommelier. Food was prime quality, beautifully prepared and presented with exquisite flavours. We love excellent food and look for it world wide – this restaurant experience is one of the best we have ever had worldwide.”
6. Uchi (Austin)
“We love this place, especially at Happy Hour. Everything is exceptional, so we always tell the waiter to surprise us and bring out their recommendation, and they never cease to make us really happy. We love to take clients there or go with friends. This is a really special place and always a treat.”
5. Victoria & Albert’s (Orlando)
“7 course meal left me in a food coma!! From the time Svetlana sat us down at our table and offered to take photos of us, to the end this was a spectacular experience! Our servers Seaun and his experienced helper of 20 plus years provided details of each course as if they had a PHD in food, I promise you will not leave hungry, don’t let the price scare you. My wife did the wine pairings and they were great. For me I just did bourbon. The coffee pot is a must to cap off dessert.”
4. Halls Chophouse (Charleston)
“This is one of the most delightful places to have dinner or brunch in Charleston. Even upstairs, we enjoy the piano tunes at dinner and the Sunday gospel brunch. The wait staff members are attentive and responsive. The shrimp and grits are the best I’ve had anywhere.”
3. Restaurant Gary Danko (San Francisco)
“What a great restaurant. The service was fantastic, the food was excellent, and a very nice atmosphere. Had dinner with four others, and everyone enjoyed their selections. Incredible wine list, with appropriate recommendations. When in San Francisco, this is a must, but make reservations early.”
2. Eleven Madison Park (New York City)
“Me and three friends had the pleasure to eat at this restaurant last year. This was probably the best set menu I’ve ever had in a restaurant. Every single dish was an amazing experience for our taste buds. I particularly enjoyed the deep fried foie gras, the sturgeon and caviar and the delicious carrot plate. One of my friends had special dietary requirements and they created different dishes for him. Halfway through the dinner we were invited inside the kitchen, where we were treated to a cocktail just as the staff worked in front of us.”
1. Alinea (Chicago)
“What can I say, food meets theatre and the most memorable meal I have had in years. The last of its like was The Fat Duck in Bray. What can I say the 22 courses and accompanying wine pairings left us in ongoing anticipation and awe! Cost wise not for the faint hearted but save up and worth it for memories.”
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(Image credit: Alinea Facebook Page)