The Top 10 Power Lunch Restaurants 2016
Elevated cuisine in a Midtown oasis
Even on a humid Friday in August, when much of Manhattan has started its weekend exodus, Gabriel Kreuther attracts a power crowd. Three international bankers discuss the elections at one table, a trio of tech types erupts in laughter at another, a couple of real estate brokers celebrate a pending deal nearby. All have come for the rustic sophistication and calm of the restaurant’s dining room, which looks out at Bryant Park; but even more, they’ve come for executive chef Gabriel Kreuther’s creative take on Alsatian food. Lunch might start with a sturgeon and sauerkraut tart imbued with applewood smoke that gets released when the server lifts its glass cover (shown above) and end with a panna cotta set amid 10 flavors of sorbet. In between, the Michelin–starred and James Beard Award–winning Kreuther will provide plenty of reasons to miss that ride to the shore.
Contact: 41 W. 42nd St., 212.257.5826, gknyc.com
Cost: $52 for two savory course prix fixe; $78 for three savory course prix fixe
The Classics: Le Bernardin, Michael’s, 21 Club
A temple to LA’s diverse culinary heritage
Housed in the former rectory of St. Vibiana’s, LA’s first Catholic cathedral, Redbird could have overdosed on gravitas. Instead, the restaurant is an airy, colorful and comfortable space, and its downtown location is helping to attract a diverse group of power players—including agents, studio executives, wealth managers, lawyers and the city’s arts leaders. Chef Neal Fraser, born in Hollywood and raised in the Hollywood Hills, is bringing the wonderful breadth of LA’s culinary influences to bear on his menu—standouts such as hiramasa with togarashi, spit-roasted chicken with chayote and guajillo-garlic sauce, and duck confit with vegetable fried wild rice and gochujang. Fraser, a Top Chef Masters and Iron Chef America winner, is creating a multicultural style all his own.
Contact: 114 E. Second St., 213.788.1191, redbird.la
Cost: $16 to $28 for entrees; $32 prix fixe
The Classics: Craft Los Angeles, the Grill on the Alley, Spago Beverly Hills
PRIME & PROVISIONS
An impressive new steakhouse for a classic meat town
The Windy City has a dynamic and varied culinary scene, but does anything say power lunch quite as forcefully as a Chicago steakhouse? Located on the border of River North and the Loop, the 12,000-square-foot Prime & Provisions is bringing in the city’s business, political and cultural leaders for traditional, beautifully prepared steakhouse fare, such as a hand-cut dry-aged ribeye and whipped potatoes with a horseradish and Parmesan crust. But the restaurant also speaks to contemporary sensibilities with Tuscan kale and other substantial salads, plenty of seafood and a proud note above the menu’s steak options: “Lightly finished with Wisconsin grass-fed butter. Humanely raised, no hormones or antibiotics.” Taking the healthier route might make you feel better about purchasing something from the restaurant’s in-house humidor after your meal and retiring to the patio reserved for cigar smokers.
Contact: 222 N. LaSalle St., 312.726.7777, primeandprovisions.com
Cost: $29 to $68 for entrees
The Classics: Gibsons, Morton’s (Wacker Place)
BUTCHER & BEE
Southern roots with global reach
This new outpost of a Charleston, S.C., favorite speaks to Nashville’s laid-back business vibe. Housed in an industrial space in artsy East Nashville, Butcher & Bee is luring leaders of the city’s music, design, media and real estate scenes. There are terrific sandwiches, from braised brisket with house kraut on a brioche roll to fried avocado with sour mango aioli and pickled fresnos on a baguette. Don’t miss the mezze—the small plates include nods to Southern tradition such as okra or pink eyed peas. And the menu also features sophisticated accents from global fare—skhug, a Middle Eastern hot sauce, and whipped feta on the burger, for example, or a plate of chorizo gnocchi.
Contact: 902 Main St., 615.226.3322, butcherandbee.com
Cost: $11 for sandwiches; $5 to $15 for other plates
The Classics: Capitol Grille, the Loveless Cafe, the Palm
THE INDEPENDENT BAR & KITCHEN
Scotch eggs and music history
As this city’s business leaders can well attest, Dallas is about more than 10-gallon hats and monster steaks. Deep Ellum, a neighborhood known in the 1920s for hosting blues greats like Lead Belly and Bessie Smith, is home to this hot new restaurant that reflects the city’s broader interests. The Independent’s rustic setting and menu of European comfort food—not to mention 20 brews on tap and 100 choices of bottled beer—are attracting Dallas’ entrepreneurs, lawyers and tech leaders. They come for vinegar-laced fish and chips, beef-and-lamb shepherd’s pie, pork knuckle with spätzle and a banger and mash. But it’s the Scotch eggs that are the talk of the town. Instead of an outer layer of breading, the dish is made simply with seasoned sausage wrapped around the egg and fried, then served with mustard and curry piccalilli. How’s that for flouting clichés?
Contact: 2712 Main St., 469.872.6860, ibkdallas.com
Cost: $13 to $26 for entrees
The Classics: Sevy’s Grill, the Capital Grille
A window on Peruvian cuisine in the nation’s capital
Peruvian cuisine is having an extended moment, and now D.C.’s power set has a compelling spot to enjoy the fare right in Dupont Circle. Housed in a two-story space with a ceviche lounge (Mochica) downstairs and a sparely furnished restaurant (Nazca) upstairs, Nazca Mochica is welcoming the capital’s lobbyists, consultants and politicians for its tight but expertly prepared menu. There’s chicken sautéed with rice in chifa sauce, ginger and scallions; chicken in lomo saltado sauce; and a bounty of seafood in a peanut and turmeric sauce. Appetizers include lime-marinated seasonal fish, a quinoa and kiwicha salad with Peruvian corn (shown above) and sashimi-style fish. Don’t forget dessert: There aren’t many choices, but the housemade gelato and alfajores, traditional Peruvian cookies with dulce de leche, are worth lingering over.
Contact: 1633 P St., 202.733.3170, nazcamochica.com
Cost: $15 for main courses; $18 for three-course lunch special
The Classics: the Monocle, the Oval Room, the Palm
DUKE’S LA JOLLA
LA JOLLA, CALIF.
A long-dormant prime location is reinvigorated
Duke’s La Jolla—named for the Olympic champion and Hawaiian surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku—has pride of place in San Diego’s restaurant scene. Overlooking La Jolla Cove, the space sat empty for eight years after a previous restaurant closed before TS Restaurants of Hawaii and California opened Duke’s in October 2015. The views and outdoor seating are reasons enough for the area’s biotech, university, theater and real estate leaders to stop in for lunch. But Duke’s menu, with its Hawaiian and Californian notes, is worth exploring—especially the coconut shrimp croquettes with pickled mango and lilikoi-chili water, a kaffir-crusted ahi bowl and a kalua pork sandwich. And Duke’s burger, made with a half-pound of mixed chuck, brisket and hanger, white cheddar and yellow mustard aioli, is rich enough to turn your gaze from the Pacific—at least for a moment.
Contact: 1216 Prospect St., 858.454.5888, dukeslajolla.com
Cost: $14 to $19 for entrees
The Classics: Dobson’s, Grant Grill and Lounge
Beyond Creole traditions
New Orleans is known for the Creole and Cajun culinary traditions represented by grande dame restaurants like Commander’s Palace, which first opened its doors in 1880. But one of the city’s hottest spots is also one of its newest: Shaya, which serves Israeli cuisine and illustrates the diverse influences on the Crescent City’s emergent restaurant scene. Chef Alon Shaya was born in Israel, and his menu marries local farm bounty with recipes from the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. New Orleans’ entertainment, entrepreneurship, development and university leaders are jockeying for Shaya’s hard-to-get reservations, eager to taste the Moroccan carrots with chermoula and mint, lamb ragù with crispy chickpeas, and matzo ball soup with slow-cooked duck and local greens. There isn’t a beignet in sight.
Contact: 4213 Magazine St., 504.891.4213, shayarestaurant.com
Cost: $9 to $16 for small plates and sandwiches
The Classics: Commander’s Palace, Galatoire’s
SOUTH CITY KITCHEN BUCKHEAD
A new outpost for the Southern food movement
Fried green tomatoes. Geechee pork stew. Shrimp and Red Mule grits. South City Kitchen Buckhead offers classic Southern fare with a focus on local flavors and seasonal ingredients. This is the third outpost of the popular South City, which debuted in midtown two decades ago, then opened in the Atlanta suburb of Smyrna. The Buckhead location is fast becoming a mecca for the tony neighborhood’s hospital executives and doctors, diplomats, fashion executives and entrepreneurs. The restaurant’s executive chef, Jason Starnes, was born and raised in North Carolina and is a lauded proponent of the Southern food movement, which emphasizes fresh, often heirloom ingredients and encourages contemporary takes on traditional dishes. Consider, for example, South City’s okra and tomato risotto or red velvet cake with mascarpone cream and beet gastrique.
Contact: 3350 Peachtree Road N.E., 404.815.6677, buckhead.southcitykitchen.com
Cost: $14 to $21 for entrees
The Classic: Bone’s
Asian flavors meet Miami heat
Chef Michael Lewis and his partner Steven Haigh recruited local artists to help design Kyu, located in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood. And the city’s art dealers, fashion designers, models and entrepreneurs have been drawn to the restaurant’s look: dusky colors and lighting that embrace the space’s cracks and imperfections. But the biggest star of Kyu is its wood-fired grill. The kitchen uses it to create everything from roasted Florida red snapper with brown butter and white miso to duck breast “burnt ends” and Korean fried chicken. There are pillowy steamed buns filled with crisp pork belly (shown above) or soft-shell crab, and pork and shiitake gyoza served with truffle ponzu. It’s artful cuisine in the epicenter of Miami’s art scene.
Contact: 251 N.W. 25th St., 786.577.0150, kyumiami.com
Cost: $18 to $32 for entrees
The Classic: Prime 112, the Capital Grille