Michelin-level food, stellar service, or awe-inspiring settings can go a long way to creating a memorable meal. However, sometimes it’s the littlest touches that make the biggest impact. Here are 10 thoughtful restaurant amenities that help diners enjoy a next level experience.
Madison, San Diego, California
Situated in the trendy University Height’s neighborhood, the sleek Mediterranean eatery boasts a gorgeous cedar-lined patio. On evenings when the temperatures dip, guests dining al fresco can request one of the monogrammed fleece blankets. As they snuggle up, we recommend ordering another round of well-executed cocktails – such as the View From Above with rye and ancho chili liqueur – to help ward off the chill. Make a reservation at Madison.
La Mar Cebicheria Peruana, San Francisco, California
A lot of restaurants have valet parking. But this waterfront eatery is one of the few to offer free valet parking — for diners’ boats. The dock and dine perk allows waterborne guests to enjoy a seamless experience from the decks of their yachts to the restaurant’s patio. Make a reservation at La Mar Cebicheria Peruana.
Besito, Burlington, Massachusetts
There are amenities galore at this Mexican restaurant. Little diners are given complimentary banana and avocado when they arrive, giving them something to nosh on while their parents peruse the menus. During the summer months, outdoor tables are stocked with sunglass cleaning wipes and treat/water bowls for dogs. And guests are sent home with still warm, freshly made churros at the end of their meal. The only perk we can’t guarantee is a besito (little kiss). Make a reservation at Besito.
Stars, Chatham, Massachusetts
Forgot your glasses at home, so now you can’t read the menu? Never fear, there’s an array of Moscot glasses on hand in a variety of prescriptions and styles. Once the menu is in focus, we recommend the butter poached lobster and the oyster stew topped with pork belly and caviar. Make a reservation at Stars.
Swift & Sons, Chicago, Illinois
Want tickets to the sold out Kanye West concert happening that night? Forget to bring flowers to your anniversary dinner? Looking to get into an exclusive speakeasy for post-dinner drinks? The in-house concierge can help with all these problems and more. Frankly, we wish they were available to tag along with us on all our nights out on the town. Make a reservation at Swift & Sons.
Azul, Tucson, Arizona
Coloring at the table is no longer just for kids. In an effort to promote wellness and chilling out, adults are offered complimentary Blue Star Coloring titles. Stay between the lines or show off your love of abstract pointillism – the choice is yours. Make a reservation at Azul.
Cuba Libre, Washington, D.C.
Nothing says, “Happy anniversary, honey!” like a complimentary snifter of rum. The longer the marriage, the more prestigious the spirit. Couples celebrating a marriage for a decade or less receive a glass of Barbancourt 3 Star. Those who have been married for 51-60 years receive Atlantico Private Cask. And those medical marvels who have been enjoying holy matrimony for 91-100 years enjoy Zacapa XO. Make a reservation at Cuba Libre.
The Inn at Little Washington, Washington, Virginia
The staff at this five-star gourmand’s retreat always goes above and beyond to ensure guests have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Discerning diners will delight at some of the smaller, but still thoughtful touches, such as hairbrushes in the ladies room. And, everyone goes home with a collection of cookies packaged in a small box that doubles as a miniature cardboard replica of the original Inn building. Make a reservation at the Inn at Little Washington.
Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Here they’re so proud of their restrooms that they call them “bestrooms.” No, really. The wow-worthy washrooms are stocked with breath mints, cologne, needle and thread for quick clothing fixes, and Tide pens to help erase that splash of Burgundy that somehow ended up on your freshly pressed white shirt. Make a reservation at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse.
Brennan’s of Houston, Houston, Texas
Catching a show after your meal? Guests can reserve seats on the B-Line shuttle, which can drop them off at the Wortham Theater Center, Hobby Center, or Jones Hall. If you’ve parked at the restaurant or are staying nearby, you can even arrange to have the shuttle take you back to the restaurant after the curtain call. Make a reservation at Brennan’s of Houston.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, D.C.-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell and Instagram @nevinmartell.
Photo credits: Gordon Beall (The Inn at Little Washington); Anthony Tahlier (Swift & Sons).