Always stressed about finding the best place to eat, scouring the internet and polling friends before you head out? Well, luckily for you, TripAdvisor, the online travel and restaurant company, has decided to take on that headache and compile a list of its top-rated restaurants throughout the country for its annual Travelers' Choice Awards.
Over a 12-month period, TripAdvisor collected customer reviews based on quantity and quality in three categories: fine dining, everyday dining and fast casual. Across the board, seafood and steakhouses soar in popularity, as do quick and convenient burger joints. The awards also showed that Charleston, South Carolina, which TODAY partnered with earlier this year for its Wine and Food Festival, is clearly a hub for foodies. Of the 10 best fine-dining restaurants, three are based in Charleston.
And here are the rest ...
Fine Dining Award-Winners
When looking for a high-end establishment for a special occasion or impressive date, these are the most refined restaurants for food and service.
1. Daniel, New York City
Daniel, an old-school French restaurant that also scored No. 20 in the entire world, is known for its French fare like foie gras and amuse-bouches. Reviewers also enjoyed the experience of watching servers heat the foie gras and prepare the sauce tableside.
2. Halls Chophouse, Charleston, South Carolina
Looking for some killer surf and turf? This steakhouse serves hearty dishes like prime rib and crab cakes. Reviewers praise the impeccable service and some said it was the best prime rib they'd ever tasted.
3. GW Fins, New Orleans, Louisiana
Swing into the Big Easy for some exquisite soft-shell crab, fresh fish and lobster dumplings at this "must-visit" restaurant.
4. Lahaina Grill, Lahaina, Hawaii
Fans of this Hawaiian vacation spot on the island of Maui called some of the dishes "mind-blowing," especially the wagyu beef ravioli and triple-berry pie.
5. Geronimo, Santa Fe, New Mexico
Looking to try an adventurous cut of meat? Geronimo in New Mexico boasts a rustic and glorious elk tenderloin, as well as more classic — but still upscale — mains like sea bass.
Everyday Dining Award-Winners
To get great service and stellar food, folks don't always need to spend a fortune. There are plenty of restaurants that make it easy to bring the whole family or have an intimate dinner.
1. Pane & Vino, Miami Beach, Florida
This Italian American restaurant will send your taste buds straight to Italy. With star dishes like spaghetti alla ruota and cappelletti verdi tartufati, many customers would eat here any day of the week if they could. And it doesn't require the expensive airfare!
“I’ve been to Rome, Florence, Venice and Tuscany, and Pane & Vino is as good as any Italian restaurant I’ve eaten in all over the world," one reviewer wrote.
2. Carmine's Italian Restaurant Times Square, New York City
It's clear from the reviews that the chefs at Carmine's pour their hearts into these hearty Italian meals. From cold-weather comfort food like penne alla vodka to a shareable appetizer like stuffed mushrooms, there is something for every family member here. In fact, many of the dishes are "gigantic" — perfect to split with a loved one.
3. 5 Napkin Burger, New York City
Juicy cheeseburgers, high-stacked onion rings, saucy wings — need we go on? This casual burger place with notable service has "napkin" in its name for good reason. Be sure to keep one on your lap — or five! — as things tend to get messy.
4. 11th Street Diner, Miami Beach, Florida
The best everyday restaurants in America couldn't be listed without a diner or two, and this one's a classic. It's housed in a fun '50s-style building with a shiny aluminum facade. Red leather booths line the inside and the menu, which readers describe as diner fare "with a twist," is full of favorites like burgers and pancakes.
5. Piccola Cucina Osteria, New York City
Clearly, Italian fare is as popular as ever in the U.S. This New York City osteria has had its food called "perfect" by reviewers, some of whom said the octopus was the most delicious they've eaten in their entire lives. Another recommended dish is arancini, fried rice balls typical of southern Italy.
Fast Casual Award-Winners
Fast-casual restaurants can be real lifesavers for those always on the go. From grab-and-go eats to quick dinners with kids, these restaurants have the highest quality fare according to TripAdvisor's users.
1. Earl of Sandwich, Orlando, Florida
People don't have to go all the way to Disney World to enjoy the Earl of Sandwich, but this location did earn the highest rankings. The national chain has a fun background because, according to its site, the owners are the descendants of John Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich, who is said to have invented the lunchtime staple in 1762.
2. Shake Shack, Miami Beach, Florida
Shake Shack has its die-hard fans around the globe, but this Miami restaurant, in particular, that serves up a simple menu of burgers and fries is a winner, winner burger dinner.
3. In-N-Out Burger, Los Angeles
Shake Shack and In-N-Out Burger may be East Coast-West Coast rivals, but no one can deny they both serve good enough burgers and fries to make this list. Just make sure to try your fries "animal-style" when you visit.
4. The Taco Stand, La Jolla, California
Southern California knows its tacos, and this fun taco stand in La Jolla, an upscale beach town just north of San Diego, has some of the best. Try the spicy shrimp tacos — one reviewer called them "out of this world."
5. Portillo's Hot Dogs, Chicago
For locals and tourists alike, this Chicago staple is the ideal place for a taste of the city's range of food. Its Chicago-style dog with everything — mustard, relish, celery salt, onions, tomatoes, pickle and sport peppers piled onto a poppy seed bun — is, of course, the reviewer favorite.
If you're scratching your head, wondering how your favorite spot didn't make the cut, there's still hope! Check out the complete list right here.
CORRECTION (Oct. 22, 2019, 11:45 a.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated the location of Lahaina Grill in Hawaii. It is on the island of Maui, not Lahaina.