World’s Top Restaurants and Snaps for Dining

by MRM Staff 9 Min Read

MRM's Daily Bite features top restaurants, top technology and master chefs. Send news items to Barbara Castiglia at bcastiglia@modernrestaurantmanagement.com. 

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World's Top Restaurants Recognized by TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor® announced the winners of its Travelers' Choice® awards for the best fine dining restaurants around the world. This year's awards recognize nearly 400 fine dining restaurants, including the Top 25 in the World, plus dedicated lists for Asia, Europe, India, Canada, Mexico, Australia, South America, South Pacific, the U.K. and the U.S. Award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews for restaurants around the world, gathered over a 12-month period.

"Whether celebrating a special occasion or simply looking for a culinary discovery, travelers can rely on these Travelers' Choice restaurants to serve up delectable meals and unforgettable moments," said Brooke Ferencsik, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor.

Top 10 Fine Dining Restaurants in the U.S.

1.      Daniel – New York City, New York

Daniel Boulud's flagship restaurant is the shining star of an empire that spans four countries. Both the setting and the cuisine are a signature blend of old-world and modern sensibilities. "Just magical. A sense of privacy, peace and intimacy. The extra small touches and care for customers kept coming as the night unfolded," raved a TripAdvisor reviewer.

2.      Victoria & Albert's – Orlando, Florida

Executive Chef Scott Hunnel and Chef de Cuisine Aimee Riverapreside over a wonderful world of cuisine featuring ingredients from far and wide in a classic setting. "There are not enough superlatives to describe the Chef's Table, the most incredible ride at Disney World," a TripAdvisor user praised. "It would be a major bucket list event for any foodie."

3.      Charleston Grill – Charleston, South Carolina

Pure, Lush, Southern and Cosmopolitan are the four sections of the menu created by chef Michelle Weaver. Diners can stick to one or try them all. Experimentation is a proud Charleston Grill tradition. "They get everything right: beautiful, soothing ambiance; wonderful live jazz, extraordinary service and an exceptional, creative menu. The Chef clearly loves food," complimented a TripAdvisor reviewer.

4.      Alinea – Chicago, Illinois

Alinea is the high theater of modern American cuisine. Chef Grant Achatz deconstructs, reconstructs and defines the form by putting flavor and fresh ingredients first. "Food is truly art at Alinea," declared a TripAdvisor reviewer. "The courses went from excellent to mind-blowing and finished with laughter and amusement."

5.      Chef and the Farmer – Kinston, North Carolina

Farm-fresh ingredients and an appreciation for culture and tradition draw local and visiting gourmands and viewers of PBS's A Chef's Life to this small-town restaurant. Neither the restaurant nor chef Vivian Howard disappoint, even for a TripAdvisor reviewer who "drove 200 miles each way." Chef and the Farmer serves traditional "Southern food in inventive new ways, using locally sourced ingredients. It was everything we hoped it would be."

6.      Halls Chophouse – Charleston, South Carolina

Lowcountry cuisine meets top-of-the-line beef at Halls, one of America's premier steakhouses. Halls Chophouse is family-run, with an emphasis on hospitality. "Halls is where you go in Charleston when you want an amazing steak in a great atmosphere with wonderful service," explained a TripAdvisor user. "The owner is present and sincerely happy to please you. This is the best of Charleston."

7.      Geronimo – Santa Fe, New Mexico

A perfect match of setting and food, Geronimo is an elegant 18th-century hacienda serving a "global eclectic" menu that changes with the seasons. Chef Sllin Cruz inherited and has burnished Geronimo's reputation as New Mexico's best. "Geronimo is not a place you go to in Santa Fe, it's the reason you go to Santa Fe," a TripAdvisor reviewer enthused. "Delicious food, fantastic service, great atmosphere and warm hospitality."

8.      Mama's Fish House – Paia, Hawaii

Mama's Fish House has been a Maui must for more than 40 years, known for a changing daily menu inspired by the catch of the day. The vintage island atmosphere is contrasted by the freshest seafood and local ingredients. "Book ahead," advised a TripAdvisor reviewer. "Because this place is fabulous. A lush open-air restaurant with soothing ambiance, view of the ocean through a terrace of palm trees, terrific cocktails and memorable food."

9.      Restaurant Gary Danko – San Francisco, California

Classic French cooking meets California flair at Restaurant Gary Danko, where dining becomes interactive art. "The food is remarkable and the service attentive. But what truly sets the restaurant apart is its creative approach to how diners order," explained a TripAdvisor reviewer. "You can choose three, four or five courses from a menu divided into five categories. But in a nod to flexibility, you can choose an item from any category for any course." 

10.  Merriman's – Kapalua, Hawaii

Chef Peter Merriman has championed the farm-to-table concept inHawaii for more than 25 years and is a pioneer of Hawaii Regional Cuisine. Bountiful local ingredients flavor the food, and stunning views enhance the experience. "Not sure which is better - the view, the atmosphere or the food. Go early," recommended a TripAdvisor reviewer. "Enjoy a few cocktails on the deck as the sun dips into the horizon, a wonderful mood setter for what will be a truly wonderful evening."

Top 10 Travelers' Choice Restaurants in the World

  1. The Black Swan at Oldstead – Oldstead, England
  2. Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons – Great Milton, England
  3. Maison Lameloise – Chagny, France
  4. L'Auberge de l'Ill – Illhaeusern, France
  5. Martin Berasategui – Lasarte, Spain
  6. Daniel – New York City, New York
  7. La Colombe – Constantia, South Africa
  8. David's Kitchen – Chiang Mai, Thailand
  9. Maido – Lima, Peru
  10. El Celler de Can Roca – Girona, Spain 
Snapchat’s New Context Cards Can Make a Reservation with OpenTable

Snapchat has introduced Context Cards, an exciting new way to learn more and take actions on many of the Snaps you see in the app, including Snaps taken at restaurants with the help of OpenTable. By simply swiping up on yummy looking Snaps that say “more,” diners can discover and book a restaurant reservation at any one of the tens of thousands of restaurants on OpenTable in the United States and Canada.

Snapchat’s Context Cards display information about the Snap you’re viewing and provide a way to take simple actions — like reserving a table through OpenTable. Snapchat has also integrated Stories into Context Cards, making it easy to see more Snaps from eateries that interest you.

“In partnership with Snapchat for their new Context Cards feature, we’re excited to be offering a new way for Snapchatters to book any of our restaurants that they see in Snaps,” said Catherine Porter, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Business Development at OpenTable. “We know the simple act of swiping up on a Snap to reserve a table will provide an experience that our diners and restaurants will love.”

Yext for Food Debuts

Yext, Inc. launched Yext for Food, top photo, to help restaurants better attract and serve diners. Yext for Food enables restaurants, bars, and cafes to appear in search results, not only for general searches like restaurant name or cuisine type, but also for specific menu items and attributes. For example, with Yext for Food, a Mexican restaurant can appear when a nearby diner performs the search, "tacos near me."

A Yext blind study found that 83 percent of consumers read a restaurant menu online before deciding where to eat.

"Diners are searching for specific food items and details about restaurants, and that's fundamentally changing the game for restaurants all around the world," said Marc Ferrentino, Chief Strategy Officer of Yext. "We built Yext for Food to put restaurants in control in this highly competitive climate, so they can be found when diners search for a menu item like 'chicken parmesan', or for an attribute like 'outdoor seating.'"

Restaurant visits are declining year over year in the United States, and restaurants worldwide are adapting to online ordering and changing consumer behavior. The digitization of this traditional brick-and-mortar industry creates new opportunities for restaurants to be discoverable for specific menu items when hungry diners search online. In fact, a Yext blind study found that 83 percent of consumers read a restaurant menu online before deciding where to eat, and restaurants that stand out with rich details about their locations and menu items attract more business--in fact, over 76 percent of diners are more likely to choose a restaurant with in-depth attribute information available, like price range, dress code, and meals served. And with over 67 percent of diners considering three or more options before deciding where to eat, the search landscape for restaurants is extremely competitive.

Starting today, restaurants using Yext can:

  • Publish menu details across the digital ecosystem. Restaurants can control and feed in their menu data to Google, Yelp, Facebook, Bing, Foursquare, AllMenus, delivery.com, MenuPages, and more, making them discoverable for the specific dishes they serve in more places and across more types of searches that diners perform.
  • Sync more information from the Yext Knowledge Manager to new food search platforms. Postmates, Zomato, delivery.com, MenuPix, and Slice are now part of the Yext PowerListings® Network, allowing restaurants to control their information across more resources that consumers use to decide where to eat.
  • Manage new types of restaurant details. Restaurants can now label themselves with attributes like price range, meals served, attire, happy hour specials, and more in the Yext Knowledge Engine, and publish those details throughout intelligent search.

Kickstarting the launch of Yext for Food, Yext has hired veteran food service technology expert Lee Zucker as Head of Industry for Food Service. Zucker was previously Vice President of Sales and Restaurant Partnerships at food tech startup Slice, and Director of Enterprise Sales at SinglePlatform.

"Restaurants are fundamentally different from any other industry for two reasons: volume and immediacy. People eat three meals a day, which translates to food being the most-searched-for business category, and they tend to search within minutes of wanting to actually visit or order from a restaurant," said Zucker. "I'm proud to join Yext to provide restaurants with the tools to adapt to and compete for digital-native diners, and today's announcement is just the beginning."

"Yext for Food is about empowering restaurants to be there; to be front and center when hungry customers know what they want to eat, but not where to get it," added Ferrentino. "For the first time, food service businesses will be able to control menus and other crucial restaurant information all across the internet from one place--The Yext Knowledge Engine--so they can spend more time doing what they do best: serving great food."

JBF Partners with Reserve

 The James Beard Foundation (JBF), is partnering with Reserve to benefit guests in gaining access to coveted seats at the James Beard House by enhancing the overall digital booking experience. Guests can now book using Reserve for dinners taking place at the Beard House as of November 1.

“Partnering with a cutting-edge technology company to help streamline James Beard House reservations was key to our decision to partner with Reserve,” said Kris Moon, vice president of the James Beard Foundation. “Reserve’s user-friendly features and functionalities will provide members and non-members alike with an easy-to-use platform for booking seats while increasing the Foundation’s operational efficiency behind the scenes of the booking process.” 

Since its launch in 2015, Reserve has seated over 24 million diners in all 50 states for 800-plus restaurants including some of the most buzz-worthy establishments. With more than 200 unique dinners a year in the heart of Greenwich Village, the Beard House will gain the ability to optimize seating and better understand its diners by using the Reserve system, allowing participants to enjoy an exceptional dining experience.

“Bringing new technology to such a revered institution as the Beard House is a great indication that things are changing in the restaurant technology space,” said Greg Hong, chief executive officer of Reserve. “Our partnership will enable the Foundation to better oversee floor management and reporting capabilities, as well as provide chefs with information that will enable them to understand their guests more efficiently and comprehensively—ultimately leading to a better dining experience.”

By using Reserve, the James Beard Foundation will bring more benefits to chefs that extend beyond the experience of cooking at the Beard House. This includes providing pre-event reporting so chefs can understand the diners to the extent they would in their own restaurants. Reserve, whose clients also include Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Carbone, Cúrate, Frontera Grill, Lord Stanley, Manresa, Mission Chinese Food, Russ & Daughters, and the Fabio Trabocchi Group, among others, will also allow the Foundation to provide online early access to members of JBF for seats at sought-after Beard House dinners. 

Three Chefs Achieve ACF Certified Master Chef

After an exciting display of culinary expertise, Gerald Ford, CMC, Joseph Leonardi, CMC, and Shawn Loving, CMC, were named to the prestigious group of culinarians known as Certified Master Chefs® (CMCs®) by the American Culinary Federation (ACF). The ACF Certified Master Chef designation is the highest level of professional certification that a chef can receive in the United States. The 2017 exam took place Sept. 30-Oct. 7 at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan.

“The American Culinary Federation is proud to honor our 2017 class of Certified Master Chefs,” said ACF National President Stafford DeCambra, CEC, CCE, CCA, AAC. “The skill, creativity and discipline called for by the exam are considerable, and the experience gained is invaluable to the chefs themselves and to the culinarians they mentor. We are inspired by their commitment to the culinary arts and congratulate them on an extraordinary achievement.”

The newly certified chefs traveled from across the U.S. to test their culinary mettle.

  • Gerald Ford, CMC, winner of the Les Amis d’Escoffier competition in 2010 and former executive chef of Château Robert in Montgaillard, France, is executive sous chef at The Everglades Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
  • Joseph Leonardi, CMC, captain of the silver medal-winning 2012 ACF Culinary Team USA and 2009 U.S.A.’s Chef of the Year, is director of culinary operations at The Country Club in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
  • Shawn Loving, CMC, CCA, is culinary arts department chair at Schoolcraft College. A seasoned culinary competitor, he also served as executive chef for the U.S. men’s and women’s Olympic basketball teams in Beijing and Rio de Janeiro.

The path to the CMC title requires immense dedication to the craft of cooking and calls upon the candidates to demonstrate their abilities across a broad range of styles and techniques. During the progressive, eight-day practical exam, chefs are tested on healthy cooking, buffet catering, classical cuisine, freestyle cooking, global cuisine, baking and pastry, Continental and Northern European cuisines and “market basket,” a mystery basket of ingredients from which they must prepare a five-course meal.

Chefs are evaluated and assessed by current CMCs and earn points based on kitchen skills, presentation and taste, as well as on the leadership they demonstrate in working with a student apprentice each day. Candidates are required to maintain a 75-point average in order to continue.

“A lot of time, dedication and sacrifice went into the CMC exam and it all paid off. I’m delighted that I proved to myself that I’m able to do it,” said Joseph Leonardi, CMC.

“I had to be sure I was prepared mentally and needed to believe in myself. I felt confident in my skills and ability because chefs train every day. At the end of the day, it’s just cooking at the highest level.”

Chefs Ford, Leonardi and Loving received their certifications after successfully completing nearly 90 hours of culinary demonstration throughout exam. With the addition of these chefs, there are now 68 current CMCs in the United States.

"The ACF Certified Master Chef designation is a journey of culinary excellence,” said Ron DeSantis, CMC, AAC, MBA, and CMC exam evaluator. “Regardless of the outcome of the exam, each chef becomes a better and stronger culinarian. Having been part of the ACF CMC exam for more than 25 years, I am proud that the chefs of our nation have the outstanding craftsmanship required of this level of certification."

CMC and CMPC are the culmination of the progressive ACF credentials that enable foodservice professionals to certify their skill, knowledge and expertise at each stage of their careers.

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