Spend enough time with your dog, a house cat or stalking a deer and you get that thought: man, you’re a weird creature, but we’re not all that different — even if scientists tell us that our culture, morality and abstract reasoning sets us apart. Visit us on a Saturday morning and you’ll reconsider that notion. But there is one difference that’s indisputable: while sheep nibble on grass in fields, while lions tear gazelles to pieces in the Mara, we humans tuck in our shirts, travel in safety-inspected vehicles and arrive at much-discussed restaurants to eat pate and oysters, braised short ribs and fried chicken, sausages and choucroute. We have things called “absinthe service” and “dégustation”. We pay quietly and take a receipt.
This year, like last year, we did our fair share of dining. We hunted for barbecue in Texas, ate all the burgers in L.A. and went inside the new American supper club. We found that, like television, restaurants are in the best form they’ve ever been. These are 25 of our favorite restaurants in America, chosen by our editors and writers across the country for their newness, their hospitality and the quality of their food — though not always in that order.
Join us in our humanity. Tuck in your shirt. Go out and eat.
Our litmus test was simple and replicates our process for last year: these 25 American restaurants are the places we’d send a friend if he had time for one meal in New York, Minneapolis, Philly, St. Louis, or any of the other cities on this list. One city, one suggestion, one good meal. You’re welcome.