Activities and Interests

Our 14 All-Time Favorite Splurge-Worthy Restaurants

activities and interests, best of travel, destinations, food and drink, news and tips, restaurants, our 14 all-time favorite splurge-worthy restaurants

Commanders Palace Restaurant (Photo Credit: Commander’s Palace)

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What’s your favorite way to celebrate? I know mine, along with many of you, is enjoying a delectable meal worth splurging for. Of course, the food must be divine, but I’m after the full dining experience, including impeccable service, thoughtful wine pairings, and a relaxing, enjoyable environment. Throw in a great view and that’s the cherry on top!

From the ambiance to the creative mouth-watering dishes, these splurge-worthy restaurants take your dining experience to the next level. Read on to discover the best upscale restaurants in the world.

Fair warning: Similar to grocery shopping, we recommend not reading this on an empty stomach.

activities and interests, best of travel, destinations, food and drink, news and tips, restaurants, our 14 all-time favorite splurge-worthy restaurants

Commander’s Palace Restaurant in Uptown New Orleans (Photo Credit: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock.com)

1. Commander’s Palace (Winner)

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans is known for its tasty Creole food, and Commander’s Palace has been a staple in the town since 1893. This spectacular restaurant meshes modern New Orleans cuisine with “Haute Creole” to achieve creative dishes with a traditional flair. Of course, this includes bountiful, flavorful seafood. Their motto is “dirt to plate within 100 miles,” and 90 percent of the ingredients are sourced within 100 miles of the city so you can be sure you’re always eating the freshest local cuisine around.

Must-Try Menu Items:

  • Wild Louisiana White Shrimp
  • Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé

Editor’s Note: Commander’s Palace is available nationwide via Goldbelly, so if you can’t make a trip to The Big Easy, order now and enjoy at home!

2. Vicia

St. Louis, Missouri

Vicia in St. Louis, Missouri, was voted the Best New Restaurant when it opened in 2017. Vicia prides itself on providing the full restaurant experience. In fact, they currently only offer a three-course Farmer’s Feast menu experience or a walk-in bar snack menu.

Sit-down guests are treated to seasonal chef-selected menu items that use only fresh locally sourced ingredients, with optional hand-selected wine pairings. The first course includes a variety of small plate and shareable snack items. The main course is also served shareable, combining protein, veggies, and grains in a unique manner. Finally, settle in and enjoy your exquisite plated dessert.

Must-Try (Sample) Menu Items:

  • Grass Fed Lamb with Date and Lamb Jus Sauce
  • Ginger Ice Cream with Rhubarb Jam, Diplomat Cream and Olive Oil

Editor’s Note: Although Vicia offers a standard three-course menu, the chef is happy to accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions as long as they are noted in the pre-visit questionnaire.

activities and interests, best of travel, destinations, food and drink, news and tips, restaurants, our 14 all-time favorite splurge-worthy restaurants

The French Laundry Restaurant (Photo Credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com)

3. The French Laundry

Yountville, California

The French Laundry is a French restaurant set in a charming stone cottage in beautiful Napa Valley. The menu changes daily but focuses on serving classic French cuisine with the highest quality service. The chef focuses on developing strong relationships with its ingredient suppliers to ensure it only receives and serves the best and freshest.

The French Laundry is no stranger to acclamation and has received the coveted three-star Michelin rating, the James Beard Outstanding Restaurant Award, the Chef Thomas Keller Outstanding Restaurateur award, and, finally, the Wine Spectator Grand Award.

Must-Try (Sample) Menu Items:

  • Charcoal Grilled Japanese Wagyu
  • Gougère – French fondue

activities and interests, best of travel, destinations, food and drink, news and tips, restaurants, our 14 all-time favorite splurge-worthy restaurants

Husk Restaurant (Photo Credit: Tim J. Nichols / Shutterstock.com)

4. Husk Restaurant

Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston loves its Southern style, especially when it comes to food, and Husk Restaurant embraces this wholeheartedly, adding a modern distinction. The number one rule with Husk is, “If it doesn’t come from the South, it’s not coming through the door.” They pride themselves on being casual-chic when it comes to both ambiance and food, creating a relaxing yet creative dining environment.

Must-Try (Sample) Menu Items:

  • Pastrami-Glazed Swordfish
  • Pickled Shrimp with Normandy Sourdough, Dragon Tongue Beans, Butter Bean Hummus, Fresno Mustard

Editor’s Note: Husk operates restaurants in Nashville, Tennessee, and Savannah, Georgia, in addition to the Charleston, South Carolina location.

5. Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

Rangali Island, Maldives

It’s not hard to see what sets this upscale restaurant apart. The Ithaa Undersea Restaurant is quite literally under the sea, 5 meters below the top of the ocean. It is the world’s first all-glass 180-degree underwater restaurant, and many assumed that would be enough of a draw. However, the food at Ithaa stands up to its incredible setting. The rotating menu items are matched with complimentary wine pairings so the guests can sit back and enjoy the views and their palate.

Must-Try (Sample) Menu Items:

  • Foie Gras and Truffle Dumplings
  • Reef Lobster Stuffed with Calamarata Pasta

Editor’s Note: Ithaa Undersea seats just 14 people at a time, so make your reservations well in advance.

activities and interests, best of travel, destinations, food and drink, news and tips, restaurants, our 14 all-time favorite splurge-worthy restaurants

People dining outdoors at FIG Restaurant (Photo Credit: zimmytws / Shutterstock.com)

6. FIG

Charleston, South Carolina

FIG is another Charleston, South Carolina, restaurant on our list that embraces the Southern roots of the city. It’s touted as a neighborhood bistro with an elevated finesse. The environment and service are especially welcoming and all of the ingredients are locally sourced, skyrocketing FIG to one of the top culinary destinations. FIG’s “labor of love” motto is something that must be experienced in person, and in palate.

Must-Try (Sample) Menu Items:

  • Lowcountry Bourride
  • Clam Chowder à la Minute

7. Earth At Hidden Pond

Kennebunkport, Maine

Earth at Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport, Maine, is a true farm-to-fork restaurant. It has two organic gardens to supply fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs to complement the locally sourced seafood and meat. Earth offers exclusive private dining experiences in their cutesy Potting Shed, Painting Shed, and Earth Room. Finish off your meal around the bonfire for the ultimate celebration.

Must-Try Menu Items:

  • Octopus with Soy Glaze
  • Doughnuts with Sassafras and Sarsaparilla Glaze

Editor’s Note: Earth is located within the luxury Hidden Pond resort, but you do not need to be a resort guest to make a reservation.

activities and interests, best of travel, destinations, food and drink, news and tips, restaurants, our 14 all-time favorite splurge-worthy restaurants

Sierra Mar Restaurant Deck (Photo Credit: Post Ranch Inn / Kodiak Greenwood)

8. Sierra Mar

Big Sur, California

First of all, Sierra Mar offers absolutely stunning views over the Pacific Ocean in Big Sur, California. Guests can sit inside or on the patio outside while enjoying a prix fixe four-course dinner menu. If you enjoy wine pairings, this restaurant has been awarded the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award. Many dishes include ingredients directly from the onsite Chef’s Garden and wine selections are chosen from the stunning wine cellar.

Must-Try (Sample) Menu Items:

  • Big Sur Bouillabaisse
  • Handmade Tortellini with Yukon Gold Potatoes

Editor’s Note: Sierra Mar is located within The Post Ranch Inn, but you do not need to be an Inn guest to make a dining reservation.

9. Alinea

Chicago, Illinois

Alinea is all about the show of food as the food itself! If you are looking for a truly divine treat-yourself experience, this is the place to go in Chicago. The high-quality creative dishes are only rivaled by the perfectly timed presentation and service. It has also received the James Beard Award and boasts three Michelin stars.

Must-Try Menu Items:

  • Alinea’s menu changes daily, so we recommend going in with an open mind and empty stomach!

Editor’s Note: Alinea requires advance reservations and meal purchases via their website here.

activities and interests, best of travel, destinations, food and drink, news and tips, restaurants, our 14 all-time favorite splurge-worthy restaurants

Spoon And Stables Restaurant (Photo Credit: Dia Dipasupil / Staff via Getty Images)

10. Spoon And Stable

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Spoon And Stable takes its name, very literally, from the horse stable it’s housed in, a building dating back to 1906. The James Beard-award-winning chef strives to fuse his French heritage with Minneapolis’s Midwestern style, creating unique spins on traditional dishes. At Spoon And Stable, don’t be surprised to see patrons indulging in hearty favorites like Wagyu beef followed by whimsical desserts like fresh cotton candy. This place keeps upscale dining fun and inventive!

Must-Try Menu Items:

  • Corzetti with Braised Veal
  • Bison Tartare

11. Atria

Flagstaff, Arizona

Atria is another fresh farm-to-table upscale restaurant that made our top list. This is the newest fine dining establishment to hit downtown Flagstaff, Arizona, opening in 2021, but it has immediately made a splash. The chef brings modern flair to traditional American cuisine, creating savory, colorful dishes.

Must-Try (Sample) Menu Items:

  • Grilled Oysters
  • 18-ounce Linz Ribeye (for two)

activities and interests, best of travel, destinations, food and drink, news and tips, restaurants, our 14 all-time favorite splurge-worthy restaurants

Interior of noma Restaurant (Photo Credit: THIBAULT SAVARY / AFP via Getty Images)

12. noma

Copenhagen, Denmark

noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, is no stranger to awards; the three Michelin star-rated restaurant was named the best restaurant in the world multiple years. The name comes from two Danish words: “nordisk” (Nordic) and “mad” (food). The modern Nordic restaurant menu is seasonal, and each diner enjoys a set multi-course tasting dining experience.

Must-Try (Sample) Menu Items:

  • The Hen and the Egg
  • Stuffed Zucchini with Bee Larvae

Editor’s Note: noma requires advance reservations and meal purchases via their website here.

activities and interests, best of travel, destinations, food and drink, news and tips, restaurants, our 14 all-time favorite splurge-worthy restaurants

La Grande Cascade Restaurant (Photo Credit: Julia Kuznetsova / Shutterstock.com)

13. La Grande Cascade

Paris, France

The Parisian La Grande Cascade is in the heart of Bois de Boulogne, a gorgeous botanical garden. This restaurant offers both a traditional menu and a set six-course tasting menu, available with wine pairings. The historic setting was once a hunting lodge for Napoléon III and many of the original decor remains.

Must-Try (Sample) Menu Items:

  • Blue Lobster
  • Crisp Veal Sweetbread

activities and interests, best of travel, destinations, food and drink, news and tips, restaurants, our 14 all-time favorite splurge-worthy restaurants

Owamni Restaurant (Photo Credit: Owamni / Dana Thompson)

14. Owamni By The Sioux Chef

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Owamni by The Sioux Chef is right on the Mississippi in Minneapolis, bringing Native American cuisine and culture back into the city. The restaurant sources its food ingredients from Indigenous farmers locally and nationally and does not use any colonial ingredients (think wheat flour, cane sugar, and dairy). We recommend sampling as many different flavors from the menu as you can!

Editor’s Note: Owamni by The Sioux Chef was named the Best New Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation for 2022.

Must-Try (Sample) Menu Items:

  • Game Tartare with Cheyenne River Bison and Duck Egg Aioli
  • Maple Chaga Cake

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activities and interests, best of travel, destinations, food and drink, news and tips, restaurants, our 14 all-time favorite splurge-worthy restaurants

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