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America’s 50 Best Casual Restaurants

America’s 50 Best Casual Restaurants


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Each year when we set out to compile our ranking of America’s 101 Best Restaurants, we’ve been hit with a dilemma: Do restaurants like the legendary Frank Pepe Pizzeria, as stellar as they are, really belong in the same category as Eleven Madison Park, with its three Michelin stars? While they’re both legendary establishments and serve incredibly delicious food, there’s simply no way to compare the two; it’s apples and oranges, pizza and foie gras. So this year we decided to separate the upscale restaurants out from the casual ones. We named the 101 Best Restaurants in America for 2014 last month, and from hot dog shacks to beloved neighborhood institutions, now we can reveal the 50 best casual restaurants in America.

America’s 50 Best Casual Restaurants (Slideshow)

So what makes a restaurant casual, exactly? It goes far beyond the dress code. Our main criterion was the price factor: can two people fill themselves up and get out for less than $50, excluding alcohol? Other factors we took into account were an overall comfortable and relaxed ambiance, a “destination” status, and how long the restaurants have been around for.

To assemble our ranking, we took a similar approach to the one that we’ve used when compiling our ranking of the 101 best restaurants in America in years past. We began by reaching out to a panel of more than 500 of the nation’s leading food writers, bloggers, and journalists, representing a wide spectrum of the American culinary landscape, asking them to send us the names of their favorite casual restaurants.

Of course, we didn’t stop there. We beefed up our initial list with hundreds of additional restaurants culled from our existing rankings of America’s best purveyors of pizza, burgers, hot dogs, wings, and more, ending up with nearly 500 restaurants that we believe represent a vast cross-section of America and the casual restaurants that make it great. From there we assembled a survey, classifying each restaurant according to both location and cuisine, and sent it back out to our initial panel, asking them to vote for their favorites, but only ones that they’d dined at within the past two years.

In the end, we’re left with a comprehensive ranking of the 50 Best Casual Restaurants in America. It’s a list we can fully stand behind, and also one that helps to round out our ranking of the 101 best restaurants in America (which admittedly focuses on restaurants that are out of many peoples’ price range) with a collection of restaurants that are affordable and accessible to all.

Our list includes many different types of restaurants, from all across the country. There are six Asian restaurants including Oakland’s perpetually packed Ramen Shop, eight barbecue spots ranging from the legendary (Arthur Bryant’s) to the newfangled (BrisketTown), five burger joints (including the rockin’ Kuma’s Corner), three Jewish delis from New York to Los Angeles (Langer’s), one diner (Little Goat), four hot dog stands (thankfully there’s one Gray’s Papaya left), four Mexican or Tex/Mex eateries (nobody should leave San Francisco without visiting La Taqueria), four neighborhood institutions (like the birthplace of Buffalo wings, Anchor Bar), ten pizza and Italian spots (even high-end pizzas like those at Pizzeria Bianco are inexpensive), and five soul food restaurants (Willie Mae’s might serve the best fried chicken on earth, unless Gus's does). Many of the results were surprising: for example, while New York is thought of as a pizza capital, there are just as many pizzerias from California on our list as there are from New York. As for barbecue, our ranking proves that there really are capitals of ‘cue: Austin and Lockhart in Texas, Kansas City, Memphis, and Alabama are represented, as well as the country’s newest barbecue melting pot, New York. Thirteen of the restaurants on our list are in New York City and 12 are in California, but five are from New Orleans, affirming the Crescent City’s status as a great place to eat well inexpensively. Other well-represented states include Texas and Tennessee, with cities including Chicago, Portland, New Haven, and Santa Fe rounding it off.

So come with us on a journey through 14 states and the District of Columbia, through 10 different cuisines, from tiny soul food spots to sprawling temples of barbecue, as we present our inaugural ranking of the 50 Best Casual Restaurants in America. Head to page two for the full list, and let us know if we missed any in the comments.

Dan Myers is the Eat/Dine Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @sirmyers. Additional reporting by Arthur Bovino.


61 Must-Try Black-Owned Restaurants in the U.S.

Support the Black community by patronizing any one (or all!) of these Black-owned restaurants.

As the world continues to grapple with widespread systemic racism, police brutality, and other racial and social injustices perpetrated against the Black community, non-Black allies are looking for more (or new) ways to support the Black community. Though there are a number of actions one can take to help support, protect, and uplift Black communities &mdash like participating in peaceful protests, sharing accurate information to help spread knowledge, educating and correcting those closest to you who aren't anti-racists, and donating money to grassroots organizations that have long been doing this work &mdash frequenting Black-owned restaurants (as well as Black-owned businesses in general) every chance you get is an easy but substantial way to support Black people, Black families, and Black neighborhoods.

Though patronizing Black-owned restaurants may not seem like a monumental action item, according to Eater, Black-owned restaurants&mdashmany owned by women&mdashhave been hit the hardest by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many Black restaurateurs have either closed their businesses permanently or have lost a significant amount of revenue, as reported by CNBC. In particular, New York City Black restaurant owners have seen as much as an 80 percent decrease in revenue, which is significantly more than those of their non-Black counterparts. While there are plenty of Black-owned restaurants in states like Georgia, California, Florida, and New York, other states may not have a particularly robust number of Black-owned businesses to patronize. That doesn&rsquot mean, however, that Black-owned restaurants are completely inaccessible in your home state. And while you may have to drive a longer distance to find one in your area, discovering a new hidden gem is totally worth it.

To help aid your search, here&rsquos a list of 62 must-try Black-owned restaurants from each state that needs and deserves your support.


This Is the Best Fine-Dining Restaurant in America, According to Tripadvisor

Surprisingly, the California institution hadn&rsquot made the list since 2016.

Few restaurants in the world have received the kind of praise lavished upon The French Laundry since chef Thomas Keller opened the eatery in 1994: twice topping the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, receiving a James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Restaurant Award, and holding three Michelin stars every year since 2006.

Though dining out looks very different this year, Tripadvisor still released its annual Travelers’ Choice Awards this week, and landing the title as “The Best Fine-Dining Restaurant in the U.S. for 2020” was none other than Keller’s legendary Yountville, California, fine-dining establishment. As the future of fine-dining (and restaurants in general) remains in question, the accolade was based on user-generated reviews and ratings from 2019.

Interestingly, The French Laundry hasn’t even appeared on Tripadvisor’s yearly top ten list since 2016 when it landed the ninth spot. But this year, Keller and company appeared out of nowhere to knock last year’s champ—the also perennially-praised Daniel in New York City𠅍own to number two and take the top position for the first time.

“With over 1,100 𠆎xcellent’ Tripadvisor reviews, [The French Laundry] is called 𠆋ucket list’ or ‘life changing’ by diners who visit,” the travel site stated. Tripadvisor&aposs best restaurant selections are 100-percent user driven “winners are calculated based on the millions of reviews and opinions collected in 2019 from travelers and diners around the world on Tripadvisor,” taking into account both quality and quantity of feedback.

Rounding out the top ten fine-dining award winners are Halls Chophouse in Charleston, South Carolina Flight Restaurant and Wine Bar in Memphis, Tennessee GW Fins in New Orleans, Louisiana Geronimo in Santa Fe, New Mexico Collage Restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida Cafe Monarch in Scottsdale, Arizona Charleston Grill in Charleston, South Carolina and Peninsula Grill, also in Charleston, South Carolina.

Though the awards are based on 2019 reviews, being named a "best restaurant" in 2020𠅊 year where many restaurants have struggled to even open their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and countless have permanently shuttered—is bittersweet.

“This has been a tough year for our industry, but the global desire to go and explore, whether the destination is an hour away or across the world, remains strong,” Lindsay Nelson, chief experience and brand officer at Tripadvisor, said in announcing the results. “We’re passionate about guiding travelers to the good out there, especially the good found within these recognized hotels, restaurants and airlines that rise to the occasion in offering the best of the best.”


The Bagel Shop Everyone Is Talking About In Your State

If donuts and other sweet pastries just don't do it for you in the morning, chances are you're a bagel fiend. According to Yelp, these are the bagel shops you need to stop at for your coffee and carb fix, whether you prefer yours smeared with cream cheese, topped with smoked salmon or piled with other fixings to make an epic bagel sandwich.

"The bagels here are definitely made fresh and I enjoyed the plain bagel with the sausage and egg. The bagel had a really nice bite to it and a soft but chewy center. This is a really nice place to have breakfast with some friends or a significant other! " - Ylep user Kevin N.

"Good food and good coffee. Whether you're going in for a simple bagel and shmear or for a bagel sandwich they have great options. I usually go for the standard egg/bacon/cheese on a salt bagel, but every once and awhile branch out. Their chipotle bacon shmear is super good, and I had a duck confit bagel sandwich that blew my freaking mind last summer." - Yelp user Amanda S.

"The most amazing bagels I've had since New York. The staff and owner are very friendly, and always spend time to visit with the customers while they're waiting for their orders. The line moves very fast, and totally worth the brief wait. " - Yelp user Alex T.

"We stop by at least every other weekend for a dozen bagels. Of course, they never last more than a day! I really like the chewy, traditional texture of their bagels. The flavors are varied and if you are lucky there might be a bag of 'day olds' at a great price." - Yelp user Laura F.

"Excellent quality and very good spreads. I loved my everything bagel with jalapeño cream cheese. Come early! We got there around noon and lots of bagels were gone! Bagels are made in-house and also the donuts." - Yelp user Chantelle L.

"The most legit deli in Colorado. What to get: Pastrami and beef sandwich. Any egg sandwich on a bagel is fantastic, as is their bagels and lox &mdash super fresh fish, with tons of garnish to dress it up. " - Yelp user Cooper S.

"Neil's did not disappoint! We were able to order right after walking in, even though it was packed &mdash everyone is so quick! We got assorted donuts and a bacon, egg, and cheese bagel. Fourteen BEC bagels were called out before ours came out! And there's no doubt why . it was the best BEC bagel that I've ever had!" - Yelp user Nicole C.

"The portions are huge and the food is great. I ordered the Taylor ham, egg and cheese and it was phenomenal. They have several bagel and cream cheese types to choose from. I like that you can get unlimited iced coffee, friendly staff and clean location. Prices are very reasonable. Definitely a go-to! " - Yelp user Jen R.

"Tuckaway sits in a beach house with a tree-shaded patio. It's an ideal environment to have breakfast and coffee and enjoy the morning breeze from the gulf. Be early &mdash it's well-known and will get busy the interior is small and the line can easily reach the sidewalk by 9am. The bagel sandwiches make a nice quick eat. Made with plenty of eggs, great meat, and a soft toasted bagel ." - Yelp user Ryan S.

" D on't forget to try their bagels . they're super fresh and they always have a well-baked crust on the outside, giving them a nice, dynamic bite that I really appreciate. Like, so good that I no longer buy bagels at the grocery store. " - Yelp user Courtney C.


This Is The Best Cheesecake In Your State

We're certainly not above digging into a slice (or five) at The Cheesecake Factory, but if your experience with the rich, creamy, fluffy dessert is limited to chains, it's time for your tastebuds to branch out. According to Yelp, these are the places serving up the absolute best cheesecake in America, and the results are as surprising as they are delicious. In addition to New York &ndash style and lots of fruit-topped numbers, there are also savory cheesecakes&mdashlike shrimp and alligator &mdash and would you believe that New York's favorite isn't even located in NYC?

Don't forget to pin it for later!

"It's like an ice cream parlor for cheesecake. I was a bit skeptical first but you can tell a lot of effort goes into each slice. If you've got a sweet tooth you definitely need to visit ." - Yelp user Austin F.


You'll never get enough pizza in providence, so I'll make it easy for you. Stop by Trattoria Zooma for quality wood-fired pizza and handmade pasta. If you've been wanting to take that trip to Italy but can't seem to find the time or money, this place is the next best thing.

First of all, the aesthetic of this place is A1, which isn't surprising because of its location at the RISD museum. The best part is that they don't just serve coffee, they also serve different types of toast and delicious pastries like donuts and coffee cake. This place is your dream coffee shop, from interior design to the actual coffee.


Blue Hill at Stone Barns

What makes it special: Approximately 30 miles north of Manhattan, chef Dan Barber’s ambitious farmstead restaurant Blue Hill at Stone Barns, set within an enchanting barn on an 80-acre estate shared with non-profit educational space Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, builds a beautiful 30-course tasting menu centred on produce that is often pulled from the earth mere hours before hitting a plate. Barber is committed to deriving the greatest flavour potential from every animal and botanical on the land and devoted to producing food with a low environmental impact.

On the menu: Barber consistently seeks out eco-friendly and low-waste practices to enhance his menus. For example, he cooks vegetables in the heat created by vegetative compost. His latest version of a cacio e pepe style dish uses Tetra squash stems (sourced from Row 7, see below) to create the ‘penne pasta’ element.

Redesigning food: For years Barber has worked with seed breeders at the genetic level to develop more nutritious fruit and vegetables with deeper flavour. In 2018, he and several long-time seed breeder associates launched Row 7, an operation that sells seeds for plants like Badger Flame Beets and Habanada Peppers designed to taste better, yield more, and resist disease.

Going casual: For those looking to sample Barber’s cuisine without signing up for a four-hour tasting menu, Stone Barns also houses a more casual café open Wednesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Here, diners can find seasonal pastries and more substantial options like roasted chicken.

Award winner: In 2018, Dan Barber was voted by his peers of The World's 50 Best Restaurants list as the winner of the Chefs' Choice Award, sponsored by Estrella Damm.

NB: Barber announced in August 2020 that when the restaurant will reopen in 2021, it will transition to a chef-in-residence format with a new chef taking over each season.


Ruby Tuesday Dishes Out New Pasta Americana Recipes

Maryville, TN ( RestaurantNews.com ) Ruby Tuesday is offering diners a new experience with the introduction of four Pasta Americana menu items. Starting Monday, Sept. 14, guests can try the new Pasta Americana entrees featuring four old-world recipes, starting at $11.99, including Veggie Basil Pesto, Blackened Shrimp & Sausage, Shrimp Scampi and Chicken Carbonara pastas, all served with a garlic bread stick.

“Ruby Tuesday is rooted in simple, craveable and affordable favorites. We wanted to create pastas that highlight the brand’s belief that fresh is best, flavor is key and comfort is a must,” said Jenifer Boyd Harmon, chief marketing officer for Ruby Tuesday. “Pasta Americana is the epitome of true comfort food at a time where Americans are looking for comfort – and our guests love pasta. We’re excited to introduce Pasta Americana and especially our new garlic bread sticks!”

Guests can try Ruby Tuesday’s new Pasta Americana dishes at their neighborhood restaurant or have a pasta night at home with Ruby TueGO.

In addition to the new pasta options, guests can always enjoy Ruby Tuesday signature menu items, including Hickory Bourbon Baby-Back Ribs, Hickory Bourbon Salmon, Asiago Sirloin and Crispy Shrimp and the Endless Garden Bar, available as an add-on or an entrée, with a full selection of fresh ingredients.

Ruby Tuesday is dedicated to providing its guests with an exceptional, affordable and friendly casual dining experience while also protecting the health and safety of its diners and employees. Ruby Tuesday is continuing to adhere to its high cleaning standards and sanitation procedures, as well as following the guidance of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on social distancing protocols.


The 30 Most Keto-Friendly Restaurants In America

So you've decided to try the keto diet and it's going pretty well because, hey, eating a lot of butter rules! But it can be tough to stay on track when family or friends want to hit up a restaurant or order take-out. Temptations abound when your tablemates are going HAM on the bread basket, after all. The best defense is a good offense, though, so prepare for a fun night out by doing your research and suggesting one of the spots below. These chains have plenty of keto-friendly options to help your discipline (in the most delicious way).

You won't even miss the tortillas when you get one of their burrito bowls, which are packed with flavor. Skip the beans and rice but feel free to load up on cheese or guac instead. Chipotle also has started offering a specific keto bowl, which features carnitas, red salsa, and more cheese and guac.


Southern Social

Located in the heart of Germantown, Southern Social offers Southern fare in a fine dining setting.

The main dining room has white table clothes, crystal chandeliers, leather banquettes and top-notch service. It’s the decor of a fine steak house, but one with Southern charm. The bustling bar area offers more casual seating at the bar itself, as well as at tables and booths.

It’s a place where Germantown residents are pretty much guaranteed to run into someone they know.

The menu offers twists on Southern fare.

Start with deviled eggs topped with crispy Gulf oysters or fried pimento cheese sandwiches garnished with pepper jelly.

Entrees, which are generously portioned, include tomahawk pork chops, quail stuffed with cornbread and andouille stuffing, as well as a wild boar Bolognese.

Yelp included Southern Social on its 2019 annual list of “Top 100 Places to Treat Yourself” — and we agree.

Regular’s tip: Fried chicken is fine dining too at Southern Social. Aunt Thelma’s Fried Chicken is some of the best fried chicken in town.


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