Celebrate Summer: The 100 Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America 2016 #OpenTable100

In honor of spring and to kick off summer travel season, we are thrilled to reveal the 100 Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America 2016. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 20,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America 2016

Featuring restaurants nestled on white sand beaches and under majestic desert skies to those in chic urban areas, the complete list features winning restaurants in 19 states and Washington, D.C., and includes Hau Tree Lanai in Honolulu, Farm & Table in Albuquerque, and Perch LA in Los Angeles. The scenic state of California claims almost half the number of winning restaurants with 44, followed by Florida with 13, Hawaii with 12, and Arizona with eight. North Carolina and South Carolina boast three honorees apiece. Maryland, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania have two each. Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. are also represented. Menus showcasing American cuisine are most popular; however, many highlight regional fare, including Californian, Hawaiian, and Mexican, and seafood is a common theme at coastal restaurants. Other cuisines strongly represented include French and Italian.

Check out some of the delightful outdoor dining experiences in our slideshow below.

 

The 100 Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America list is generated from more than 5 million restaurant reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners between May 1, 2015, and April 30, 2016. All restaurants with a minimum “overall” score and number of qualifying reviews were included for consideration. Qualifying restaurants were then scored and sorted according to the percentage of qualifying reviews for which “great for outdoor dining” was selected as a special feature.

Based on this methodology, the following restaurants, listed in alphabetical order, comprise the 100 Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America 2016 according to OpenTable diners.

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The ‘Burbs: The Best New Restaurants in the Boston Suburbs

For New England foodies, spring is about farmers markets, food trucks, and flowers, but this season there’s something else growing: new restaurants in the Boston suburbs. A cadre of notable city chefs are tossing their toques into the Interstate 95 ring, attracted by more space, lower rents, and excited diners waiting, fork and knife in hand. Take a look at the best new restaurants in the Boston suburbs.

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Chef Rachel Klein, formerly of some of the city’s top hotel restaurants, gave up her gig as executive chef at Liquid Art House to pursue something closer to home in Needham – leading RFK Kitchen, slated to open in late summer. “I’ve been living here for 10 years, and I wanted to do something a little bit more upscale but with price points that the town already has,” she said, also noting that it’s easier to overcome hurdles like liquor licenses that can go for half a million dollars in Boston. “We’re trying to bring a bit more of that Boston aesthetic and feel with a serious bar program, people who are on the cutting edge of their craft. But nothing pretentious or anything that makes you feel stupid. Nothing hoity-toity!”

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The mother of two is looking forward to offering other parents a cloth-napkin option that welcomes kids; the open-kitchen concept is ideal for upcoming classes for families and singles looking to mingle during bar seminars. Having fine dining within an Uber’s ride away also means that no one needs to skip out on the fun to be the designated driver or add on the cost of valet and a babysitter to the meal check since RFK is in the heart of town. “It’s really about being part of the community,” Klein said. “And yes, sometimes it’s good to be a big fish in a small pond.”

Restaurateur and chef Joe Cassinelli just expanded to Metrowest as well, with the opening of Osteria Posto in Waltham. While most of his locations are in Somerville, a hip, smaller Boston-area city accessible by public transportation (Posto, Painted Burro, and Rosebud American Kitchen & Bar also call it home), a trip to Osteria requires a car. So why take the chance with a new audience and locale? “I live in the suburbs, and most of the options out here are chains,” he explained. “Waltham is really centrally located, and it’s not overdeveloped, although there are a lot of families and tech people coming in now — the time is right.” Some of his guests even include fans of his chef-driven Mexican food hot spot and thin-crust upscale pizzeria.

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What they’re finding is a more refined menu of prime steaks and homemade pastas with an airy 8,000-square-foot space that seats 240 (in addition to a 100-person function space) that wouldn’t be available in a city as built up as Boston. “With more space we’re able to offer a great wine program with extensive vintages so it’s really a cool experience,” Cassinelli said. “The palate is a little more foodie-driven and the service is more refined, but it’s still casual fine-dining.”

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This Is the End: 9 Chefs on Their Last Suppers

What would you want to eat for your last meal? The sky’s the limit; anything you want. Don’t get bogged down in the finality of the situation. Instead, think about the dishes and drinks that have given you the most pleasure in your life. This might be the first time you’re considering this question, but many chefs think about it constantly. After all, their lives are focused on and consumed by food, so they have some pretty strong feelings on the subject. We asked nine of them what they would want to enjoy for their last suppers before joining James Beard and Escoffier in the great big kitchen in the sky.

Amy Brandwein, Centrolina, Washington, D.C.
“I imagine my last supper with my husband, family, and closest friends. I’d start with tuna nigiri with ginger and soy sauce. Followed by a bowl of buckwheat chitarra with anchovies and chickpeas, which I’d make myself. I’d move on to chestnut trofie with financière sauce featuring sweetbreads, veal, and chicken livers by Roberto Donna of Al Dente in Washington, D.C. From there, I’d want pad si-ew with duck and Chinese broccoli at Duangrat’s Thai in Fall’s Church, Virginia. Next up? Pat LaFrieda’s ribeye with turnip greens cooked with garlic, hot pepper, and anchovies, plus Robuchon potatoes from Rose’s Luxury in Washington, D.C. To finish, I’d have one of my favorite desserts: coffee gelato with whipped cream, salted peanuts, and Kahlua.” Make a reservation at Centrolina.

Last Suppers

Juan Manuel Barrientos, El Cielo, Miami, Florida
“I’d want traditional Colombian cuisine – fried rice, plantains, chorizo, chicharrón, avocados, arepas with hogao sauce (made with tomato and onion), and aguardiente (an anise flavored liqueur). Dessert would be sweet figs cooked tender in sweet water served with queso blanco, along with coffee and guarapo (cane sugar juice). Everything would be served family style and, of course, my family would be there. Family is the most important thing for me, and they bring balance to my life.” Make a reservation at El Cielo.

Last Suppers

Trae Basore, Pearl & Ash, New York, New York
“I would start off with a plate of fried pickles from Penguin Ed’s Bar-B-Q in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with a tall New Belgium Fat Tire. For dinner, I’d just have charcuterie – mortadella, chicken liver paté – and a cheese plate with three year-aged Parmesan, a stinky Époisses, and a really nice Gorgonzola. That would come with a big crusty French loaf, Dijon mustard, and pickles. A pint of strawberry Häagen-Dazs to finish. I’d like to enjoy it with my fiancée and all of my friends and some bluegrass music from Old Crow Medicine Show.” Make a reservation for Pearl & Ash.

Last Suppers

Ed Scarpone, DBGB Kitchen and Bar, Washington, D.C.
“I’d want to cook my own burger because no one really knows how you like your burger. I go for medium rare with a nice redness in the middle. It’s simple. Just nice ground meat, a thick slice of onion, mayo, and aged cheddar cheese on a Martin’s hamburger roll. I’d have it with really good fries – cut bigger, skin on, and double fried, so you get that nice crispy outside and that mashed potato inside. Mayo on the side for dipping, because I despise ketchup. PBR to drink. I love pecan pie, but I’ve been allergic to pecans since I was 14-years-old. But if I’m going to kick it, I’d go for it and have grandma-style pecan pie with graham cracker crust for dessert.” Make a reservation at DBGB Kitchen and Bar.

Last Suppers

Jennifer Carroll, Requin, Fairfax, Virginia
“My last supper would be an all-day affair on a beach on St. John with my fiancée, Billy, my family, and best friends. It would start with breakfast – a Taylor’s pork roll, egg, cheese, and scrapple on a buttered English muffin. This is what I grew up eating, and my dad still makes it for me when I go home. I know – super healthy. I’d be drinking rosé all day – morning, noon, and night. I’d move on to eating mango, pineapple, and papayas. For dinner, there would be simply grilled fish – red snapper or black bass – with lemon, oil, and herbs. And I’d need sides – my mom’s mac ‘n’ cheese with ham, roasted turnips, and pickled beets. For dessert, there would be angel food cake – because I love the simplicity of it – every ice cream in the world, Sour Patch Kids, peanut M&Ms, and chocolate-covered pretzels, along with Fernet and aged dark rum to drink.” Make a reservation at Requin.

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Dram It! 8 Restaurants for World Whiskey Day

The first Saturday in May may be all about big hats and horses, but the third Saturday in May gives us yet another reason to celebrate Kentucky: World Whiskey Day. It’s said that the spirit made its way to Louisiana from the heartland and got it rich color and flavors as it aged in barrels along the journey. Today, the tipple’s ripple is felt all over the world — most recently in exclusive Japanese blends — and there are flavors and flights of fancy for everyone from the novice drinker to the expert. Here’s where to get your 1- or 2-ounce pours, specialty cocktail, or an eye-popping $50 pop to toast this dram fine day.

GreenRiver, Chicago, Illinois
GreenRiver’s name and extensive Irish whiskey list may celebrate Chicago’s connection to the Emerald Isle, but head bartender Julia Momose is putting a unique spin on it by mixing flavors that are an homage to her Japanese heritage. Growing up in Kobe, she was inspired by both her mother’s passion for hospitality and an adventure through the city’s winding streets that led to a small bar, where the magician behind the counter was hand-chipping spheres of ice for cocktails. Today, the Ivy League design grad makes cocktails her own art, especially using Japanese whiskey. Two of her favorites are the Gray Wolf, her take on the Old-Fashioned, in which 12-year single malt Yamazaki replaces the traditional bourbon and is paired with Benedictine, Demerara, Plum Vinegar, and Angostura Bitters, and the Cullerton Street, with Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese Whisky, Pineau des Charentes, Curry, Barley, Verjus Blanc, and Fukujinzuke. Make a reservation at GreenRiver.

Restaurants for World Whiskey Day

Tremont 647, Boston, Massachusetts
Bostonians cooking for a little comfort food in the tony South End have looked no further than chef-owner Andy Husbands’s approachable cooking at Tremont 647 for years, but neighboring Cambridge is about to share in the wealth with his brand-new BBQ joint, Smoke Shop. Whiskey is just one of the ways he’s seen what used to be considered “jug-swilling stuff turned into this object of desire, with maple, caramel, oak, cherry, and vanilla flavors,” Husbands said of Tremont 647’s extensive bar menu. “When we think about refinement, we think about wine, but we’re seeing it so much with craft now — beer, craft (whiskey) bourbon, and now barbecue. People are really fascinated by how things are made local or small-batch.” That includes Bully Boy, a subtly sweet Boston brand that many diners have been asking for. Husbands turns the tables with his new venture and the James Beard semifinalist is putting an upscale spin on an American staple with seasonal specials like beer-poached shrimp and award-winning recipes for ribs and brisket. Make a reservation at Tremont 647.

Restaurants for World Whiskey Day

Capo’s Chicago Pizza & Fine Italian Dinners, San Francisco, California
The whiskey menu may be global at Capo’s, but it’s strictly the California mindset that puts it on the map. “We have a large community of adventurous drinkers here, and they’re craving something more than your average Jack and Coke,” says bar manager Elmer Mejicanos. With more than 100 varieties, there’s plenty to choose from: local Anchor Distilling Company’s 25-year-old Old Hirsch Rye, Chicago-based Koval White, and Nikka Single-Malt Yoichi from Japan. New offerings are helping draw new imbibers, Mejicanos says, but there will always be a core legion of fans. “Whiskey is part of U.S. history. It’s one of the spirits that, regardless of the new trends, it has always been around. In the last five years, craft cocktails bars have started focusing on getting cocktails back to what they used to be in the thirties and forties, so it’s a no-brainer that whiskey is be one of the main spirits people focus on.” Got an Old-Fashioned state of mind? Capo’s lets you select your own spirits, bitters, garnishes, and sweeteners. Or, try a whiskey flight or interpretations of classic cocktails like Fools Gold, made with Templeton Rye whiskey, green chartreuse, fresh lemon, artisan root beer, and absinthe, or the Friendly Fire with bourbon, pineapple gum syrup, celery seeds, agave nectar, fresh lemon, and dry curacao. Make a reservation at Capo’s Chicago Pizza & Fine Italian Dinners.

Restaurants for World Whiskey Day

Jimmy’s An American Restaurant & Bar, Aspen, Colorado
There’s nothing like a little whiskey to warm up ski bunnies or take a nip out of the mountain air on a summer’s night, and Jimmy’s (and Jimmy’s Bodega) have spirits for all seasons. Among the most popular is Woody Creek Distillers’ Rye Whiskey, which is made from local Colorado rye and aged in American white oak barrels and is popular in the Goldenrye, mixed from La Gitana Manzanilla Sherry, Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur, and lemon. Or, order the Jimmy Mac, a high-end mix of Scotch and Irish whiskeys, like 18-year-old Glenfiddich and 15-year-old Tullamore, with Averna Amaro, Benedictine liqueur, and orange bitters. Owner and spirit aficionado Jimmy Yeager is so passionate about whiskey (his “first love”) that he recently took his entire bar staff on one of several field trips to get first-hand tastes and tours in Ireland and Scotland at Hendricks, Kininvie, Balvenie, and other distillers. Yeager also enjoys making his own ice cubes with two-inch-square crystalline cubes or spheres. “Personally, I like serving whiskey over a Macallan ice ball — it creates a nice ‘wow’ factor, and it’s also elegant,” Yeager says. Looking for an excuse to book an Aspen getaway? Whiskey may be your answer since Jimmy’s has a few bottles of one-of-a-kind Four Roses Bourbon, courtesy of Kentucky distiller Jim Rutledge, who helped to create the recipes and hand-pick the barrels. Make a reservation at Jimmy’s.

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