From the relaxed version of four-star Eleven Madison Park fare you’ll get at the NoMad in New York, to the simple chicken dumpling soup, grilled artichokes with goat cheese and waygu flank steak that José Andrés is cooking at Tres in Beverly Hills, Worth’s annual list offers great eating that complements great dealmaking.
01. The NoMad, New York
You feel it the minute you walk into the NoMad’s belle époque-style dining room: Deals are being done. To your left, Mos Def is breaking bread with an agent, and to your right, an Argentinean real estate mogul is wooing a gaggle of reporters. If you want to be seen, dine in the central room with its massive skylight. For more privacy, take one of several more intimate rooms on the perimeter. Wherever you sit, chef Daniel Humm’s food will please.
$20 to $79 for entrees
The Classics: Le Bernardin, Michael’s, Four Seasons
02. Tres, Beverly Hills, Calif.
José Andrés, the Spanish chef credited with bringing tapas to the U.S., has been generating major critical buzz lately. At his new restaurant in the SLS Hotel, you can see why. Andrés is producing expertly rendered comfort food in a comfortable—though swanky—setting. It’s popular among entertainment execs from the nearby CBS Studios, Writers Guild and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
465 South La Cienega Blvd.
$16 to $28 for entrees
The Classics: Craft Los Angeles, Spago Beverly Hills, Grill on the Alley (Beverly Hills)
03. NOMI Kitchen, Chicago
This top Chicago restaurant reopened in mid-2011 after a redesign, and is much the better for its more accessible style. Located on the seventh floor of the Park Hyatt, NoMI Kitchen still has a sense of privacy and calm—and killer views—but dark wood tables with leather accents have replaced the white tablecloths. Chef Ryan LaRoche is attracting plenty of lawyers, museum and hospital executives, and luxury retailers with his creative cooking. Included on the lunch menu: madai ceviche, muffuletta, smoked duck sandwich and maki, sushi and sashimi.
800 N. Michigan Ave.
$16 to $26 for entrees
The Classics: Morton’s (Wacker Place), Gibsons
04. Juvia, Miami
Juvia’s location—a penthouse in Miami’s Art Deco district— offers sweeping views of the city. The restaurant also features a unique vertical garden designed by botanist Patrick Blanc. And the crowd, which includes plenty of models and Hollywood types, is fun to look at as well. But the food is the real draw here: Chef Sunny Oh, a Nobu alum, blends Japanese tastes with French techniques and Peruvian accents for terrific ceviches, steaks and seafood.
1111 Lincoln Road
$16 to $18 for entrees, $24 for bento boxes
The Classic: Capital Grille
05. Al Dente, Washington, D.C.
Beloved D.C. chef Roberto Donna’s new spot is a hike from downtown—it’s out by American University—but that isn’t stopping his fans, from political power brokers to tech wizards, from traveling. Donna was born in Turin, Italy, but his food is inspired by elements from all over Italy. Housemade pastas, wood oven-baked panini and exquisite pizzas join entrees like Cornish hen al mattone.
3201 New Mexico Ave. NW
$12.95 to $19.95 for entrees, $14.95 for the express special
The Classics: the Monocle, the Oval Room, the Palm
06. Wayfare Tavern, San Francisco
Located in San Francisco’s financial district, Wayfare Tavern is an oasis of comfort for the city’s wealth advisors, bankers and lawyers. Evoking an elegant pub from a century ago, the restaurant offers old-school but sophisticated fare: deviled eggs, a raw bar, fried chicken and an extraordinary burger. More adventurous eaters can try the roasted pumpkin mezzaluna, American kobe tartar and poutine.
558 Sacramento St.
$17 to $30 for entrees
The Classics: Michael Mina, Tamarine (Palo Alto)
07. The Optimist, Atlanta
With a motto like, “I’ve laid aside business and gone a‘fishing,” The Optimist hardly sounds like a power lunch spot. But that’s exactly the appeal for the entrepreneurs, designers and actors (Jake Gyllenhaal, Owen Wilson) who are coming to this new restaurant. Chef/ owner Ford Fry’s seafood is cooked over a wood fire, and a large oyster bar serves up fresh mollusks from both coasts. Excellent she-crab soup, blackened fish and beignet-style hushpuppies create a homey atmosphere that facilitates talking business, if you really have to.
914 Howell Mill Road
$17 to $19 for entrees
The Classic: Bone’s
08. City Landing, Boston
Chef Bill Brodsky was raised on Long Island and earned his reputation on Cape Cod; City Landing, his first Boston restaurant, continues the theme with a location on downtown’s waterfront. City Landing’s menu offers a staple of New England classics, including clam chowder, mini lobster rolls and fish and chips. But the bankers, real estate execs and lawyers who come for lunch can also choose mushroom risotto, duck pizzetta or paprika braised lamb.
255 State St.
$12 to $37 for entrees
The Classic: Bristol Lounge
09. Underbelly, Houston
Houston may be a barbecue city, but Underbelly chef/owner Chris Shepherd is going for something different at his smart new restaurant—what he calls “new American creole cuisine.” In homage to the city’s ethnic diversity, Shepherd blends Korean, Vietnamese and traditional Southern influences.
1100 Westheimer Road
$9 to $20 for entrees
The Classics: Brennan’s, Mark’s American Cuisine, Tony’s
10. Merchants Restaurant, Nashville, Tenn.
Merchants Hotel has been a gathering place in Nashville since 1892. Now the hotel’s new gastropub, Merchants Restaurant, is reinvigorating the historic site. Helmed by chef Jason Brumm, who specializes in Southern cuisine, Merchants offers classics such as fried green tomatoes with spicy pepper jam and sweet tea pork loin. Among those recently spotted at lunch: mayor Karl Dean and designer Otis James.
$14 to $24 for entrees
The Classics: Capitol Grille, the Silly Goose, the Palm, the Loveless Cafe
This article originally appeared in the April/May 2013 issue of Worth.