If you want to start an argument, make a “best-of” list. If you want to start a big argument, make it a long one. The food website Daily Meal came out with its fourth annual rating of restaurants in America this morning. Let the discussions begin.
The “101 Best Restaurants in America,” selected by the Daily Meal staff, aided by food writers from around the country, are mostly familiar names. And really, it’s hard to argue with most of them. Le Bernardin, Eleven Madison Park, the French Laundry, Per Se, Chez Panisse, Alinea and Daniel – you could toss a coin and any of them could be No. 1.
But with every list there has to be an element of controversy. Vinny Dotolo and Jon Shook are our local boys, but is Animal really the eighth-best restaurant in the United States? Better than Providence, Lucques or Spago? Or Jean-Georges, Gramercy Tavern and Del Posto in New York?
Like we said, if you want to start an argument, make a list. Some of the choices we agree with; others, not so much.
Actually, Los Angeles restaurants fared pretty well in the Daily Meal countdown. Besides Animal, nine other restaurants were included – Jose Andres’ Bazaar at No. 19, Osteria Mozza No. 35 (we told you: It’s a list!), Lucques No. 43, Hinoki & the Bird, No. 73, Spago No. 75 (don’t make us repeat ourselves), Bäco Mercat No. 77, Providence No. 82 (this is getting old), Cut No. 84, and Night + Market No. 95.
Probably the hottest new restaurants in Los Angeles -- Dotolo, Shook and Ludo Lefebvre’s Trois Mec, Ari Taymor’s Alma, Walter Manzke’s République and Ori Menashe’s Bestia -- didn’t even make the list.
Our archrivals from the north had 13 restaurants, if you include the wine country. Besides the Laundry at No. 3 and Chez Panisse at No. 5, State Bird Provisions is No. 18, Zuni Café No. 23, Bar Tartine, No. 32, Bouchon Bistro No. 33, Michael Mina No. 44, Coi No. 48, Gary Danko No. 51, Quince No. 56, Mission Chinese No. 61, Yank Sing No. 85 and the Restaurant at Meadowood No. 91.
Indeed, Thomas Keller was probably the list’s biggest individual winner with four of his six restaurants placing – both French Laundry and Per Se as well as the Bouchons in Las Vegas and Yountville.
New York, predictably, swept the most places with 26 restaurants –- more than Los Angeles and California combined -- and three of the top four spots.