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13 Restaurants Where Wine Means Business

From power lunches to after-dinner drinks, these Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners are deal-making destinations
Photo by: Mina Group
Bourbon Steak's 700-bottle wine list has earned a Best of Award of Excellence for nine consecutive years.

Posted: October 26, 2017

Choosing the right restaurant for business dining can make all the difference, whether you’re seeking a steak house for a high-stakes meeting or a modern Italian eatery for light lunching with a client. Count on these 13 restaurants across the country for powerful wine lists and impressive fare.

To check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s more than 3,500 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 87 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!


‘21’ Club

21 W. 52nd St., New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 582-7200
Website www.21club.com
Open Lunch and dinner, Monday to Saturday
Grand Award

'21' Club
Manhattan’s ‘21’ Club is rich with history, from prominent patrons to the secret wine cellar.

For decades, diners have enjoyed ’21’ Club’s traditional American cuisine, currently crafted by chef Sylvain Delpique. An acclaimed burger and modern plates like foie gras terrine continue to excite. Yet the Grand Award winner is perhaps best known for its Prohibition-era cellar. The three rooms are hidden behind a 2.5-ton moving wall and hold 20,000 bottles to support the restaurant’s 1,455-selection list. Regional maps preface pages of verticals from top producers, and there are particularly strong wines from Bordeaux, California, Burgundy, Italy and the Rhône. Though ‘21’ Club is famous as a historic destination for New York’s elite, longtime wine director Philip Pratt makes a conscious effort to include more than 100 bottles at $60 or less.


Delmonico Steakhouse

The Venetian Resort, Hotel & Casino, 3355 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas, Nev.
Telephone (702) 414-3737
Website www.emerils.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Grand Award

Delmonico Steakhouse
Delmonico Steakhouse delivers big steaks and a lively environment that matches the city’s energy.

With nine Restaurant Award–winning establishments including two Grand Award winners, chef Emeril Lagasse takes his wine programs seriously. His Las Vegas restaurant in the Venetian, Delmonico Steakhouse, fits the city’s over-the-top theme with show-stopping steaks and a Grand Award–winning list. Lead sommelier Dylan Amos oversees the 2,350 selections with impressive strength in several areas such as California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Italy, Rhône, Oregon, Australia and Spain. On chef Ronnie Rainwater’s menu, steak house staples are offered alongside dishes with Emeril’s Creole flair like New Orleans barbecue shrimp and buttermilk fried chicken.


Benny’s Chop House

444 N. Wabash Ave., Chicago, Ill.
Telephone (312) 626-2444
Website www.bennyschophouse.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Benny’s Chop House
Dine at Benny’s Chop House Wednesday to Saturday to enjoy live music with a premium chop.

Live jazz and creative cocktails make Benny’s Chop House an ideal spot for an after-work drink, but the lunch hour brings its own array of culinary attractions. Chef Mike Clark creates bites like a mushroom-truffle flatbread and indulgent entrées like lobster grilled cheese alongside the extensive menu of USDA Prime cuts. To better serve the lunch crowd, wine director Mark Maruszak has recently focused on growing the by-the-glass and half-bottle lists. The Best of Award of Excellence–winning program now comprises 1,700 selections, with 35 available by the glass and 42 available in half-bottles. California, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Italy and Spain shine, as well as big-name verticals such as four vintages of Château Mouton-Rothschild going back to 1970.


Bones

3130 Piedmont Rd., Atlanta, Ga.
Telephone (404) 237-2663
Website www.bonesrestaurant.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Bones
Bones presents its 1,300 Best of Award of Excellence-winning selections on an iPad list.

Bones has been delivering a top steak-house experience in Atlanta for nearly four decades and has maintained a Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list for 27 consecutive years. Today wine steward Peter Apers upholds the reputation of the program with a list of 1,300 selections highlighting California, Bordeaux, Italy, Burgundy and Australia. The list is presented on an iPad, allowing guests to browse bottles by type of wine, region, grape, vintage, bottle size and price. Bones caters to a wide range of budgets, offering everything from splurge-worthy verticals, such as four vintages of Harlan Estate Napa Valley from 2004 to 2007, to an impressive 400 selections under $100. In the kitchen, chef Leonard Lewis showcases steaks and chops with extravagant add-ons like crabmeat Oscar, foie gras and Maine lobster tail.


Bourbon Steak

Four Seasons Hotel Washington D.C., 2800 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 944-2026
Website www.bourbonsteakdc.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Mina Group
Michael Mina’s Bourbon Steak has five Restaurant Award-winning locations.

Bourbon Steak is a destination for elegant wining and dining in Washington, D.C.’s Four Seasons Hotel. Chef Drew Adams’ creativity shines through lunch entrées like prime hanger steak cobb salad and a lamb burger made with an Ethiopian spice called berberé and topped with tomato and onion chutney, tzatziki and feta. Head sommelier Winn Roberton’s list of 700 bottles shows strength in classic wine regions of California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne and Italy, alongside several selections from Portugal, Greece and the Mediterranean. Three “secrets of the sommelier” pages designate Roberton’s favorites. The restaurant is part of chef Michael Mina’s Mina Group, which includes 10 Best of Award of Excellence–winning restaurants across the country, including four other locations of Bourbon Steak.


Brennan’s of Houston

3300 Smith St., Houston, Texas
Telephone (713) 522-9711
Website www.brennanshouston.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Brennan's of Houston
Brennan’s of Houston serves true New Orleans flavors and an 825-bottle wine list.

Opened in 1967 as the sister restaurant of Grand Award winner Commander’s Palace, Brennan’s of Houston brings a taste of New Orleans to Texas. Chef Joe Cervantez uses local ingredients and Southwestern flavors to create unique Creole cuisine matched to a stellar wine selection. Wine director Marcus Gausepohl's Best of Award of Excellence–winning program features 825 selections and an inventory of more than 9,500 bottles. The restaurant claims status as a historical early adopter of domestic wines, before the practice became common on wine lists in the U.S., and it strives to maintain those same domestic winery relationships today. In addition to the particularly strong California selections, Brennan’s of Houston’s excels in wines from Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhône and Italy.


The Capital Grille

444 Brickell Ave., Miami, Fla.
Telephone (305) 374-4500
Website www.thecapitalgrille.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

The Capital Grille
The wine list at the Capital Grille in Miami has held a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award since 1997.

Miami’s Capital Grille is located in Brickell, a neighborhood filled with bustling nightlife in the evenings and a busy corporate scene by day. It became one of the first locations of the steak-house chain to earn a Restaurant Award, in 1997, before being promoted to Best of Award of Excellence in 2006. The Capital Grille now has 56 Restaurant Award winners across the country, all overseen by corporate wine director Brian Phillips. While Phillips ensures each program has a strong foundation, each location’s wine director has the freedom to tailor the list to local tastes. In Miami, Fred Sutherland manages the 580 selections with strengths in California, France, Italy and Spain to complement chef Steve Harmon’s steak-house cuisine.


Lacroix at the Rittenhouse

The Rittenhouse Hotel, 210 W. Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, Pa.
Telephone (215) 790-2533
Website www.lacroixrestaurant.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Lacroix at The Rittenhouse
Lacroix at the Rittenhouse offers a wine list of 1,410 selections and views of the park square.

Set in a luxurious hotel in Philadelphia’s Center City, Lacroix at the Rittenhouse has earned a Best of Award of Excellence for three years running. Wine director Hai Tran favors complex wines that are balanced yet provide higher acidity to complement the contemporary international cuisine. The 1,410-bottle wine list strengths span the globe, from Bordeaux to California to Germany. Burgundy, Champagne and the Loire Valley are also standout regions. Dine at the chef’s table to experience chef Jon Cichon’s work firsthand as he prepares a custom menu for up to seven guests with pairings specially selected by the wine team.


Marea

240 Central Park South, New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 582-5100
Website www.marea-nyc.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Tara Donne
At Marea, fresh pastas are paired with a wine list showcasing several strengths, including Italy, Burgundy and California.

Translating to “tide” in Italian, Marea is a modern Italian restaurant with a focus on coastal cuisine. Chef Michael White’s menu showcases ingredients like red wine–braised octopus, Manila clams and jumbo lump crabmeat with fresh housemade pastas. Marea also has a selection of caviars and oysters that encourage pairing with wines from the Best of Award of Excellence–winning list. Wine director Francesco Grosso and his team of sommeliers help guests choose from more than 1,000 bottles, where strengths extend far beyond Italy into Burgundy, California, Bordeaux and Champagne.


The Polo Lounge

The Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows, 9641 Sunset Blvd., Beverly Hills, Calif.
Telephone (310) 276-2251
Website www.dorchestercollection.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Beverly Hills Hotel
West Coast glitz meets fine dining at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Housed in the century-old Beverly Hills Hotel, the Polo Lounge is a top destination for L.A. power dining. The lavish dining room embodies old Hollywood glamour, and the patio sets a lush scene of vibrant flowers and ivy-covered arches. Chef Kaleo Adams’ menu infuses classic American cuisine with fresh California influences in dishes like gazpacho with avocado and watermelon and a lobster tagliatelle with corn and summer squash. The restaurant’s star is its Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine list of 1,600 selections, supported by an inventory of 30,000 bottles, overseen by beverage manager Andrzej Lewczyk. The Polo Lounge also has an exciting array of by-the-glass pours like Groth Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville Reserve 2012 ($50) and Louis Roederer Champagne Cristal ($90).


Smith & Wollensky

294 Congress St., Atlantic Wharf, Boston, Mass.
Telephone (617) 778-2200
Website www. smithandwollensky.com/our-restaurants/boston-atlantic-wharf
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Smith & Wollensky
Smith & Wollensky’s roots go back to 1977, when the two names for the steak house were randomly selected from a phone book.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of its original location this month, Smith & Wollensky represents seven Best of Award of Excellence–winning restaurants. The Boston Atlantic Wharf location has one of the largest of these programs, with 600 selections and a 4,500-bottle inventory. There are 34 wines available by the glass, including Smith & Wollensky’s own Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc and Private Reserve Meritage by the Kunde Family Estate in Sonoma Valley. Wine director Richard Cheshul lists seven pages of domestic wines while showcasing solid selections from France to pair with chef Matthew King’s steak-house fare. For less traditional dishes, choose from featured items like barbecue yellowfin tuna and gorgonzola-crusted filet with apple wood–smoked bacon.


Sullivan’s Steakhouse

1928 South Blvd., Charlotte, N.C.
Telephone (704) 335-8228
Website www.sullivanssteakhouse.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Best of Award of Excellence

Sullivan's Steakhouse
Sullivan’s Steakhouse features 560 wines on its Best of Award of Excellence-winning list.

The Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Charlotte, N.C., boasts the largest wine list of all 15 Restaurant Award–winning locations across the country. Wine director Lindsay Deal's 560-selection list is heavy on reds, to pair with chef Justin Walters’ signature steaks. Yet among the program’s strong regions of California, Italy and France are plenty of white wines for pairing with the large selection of seafood appetizers. The chain is managed by Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, which owns 50 Restaurant Award winners, including 2017 Grand Award winner Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House in New York.


Sundance the Steakhouse

1921 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, Calif.
Telephone (650) 321-6798
Website www.sundancethesteakhouse.com
Open Lunch and dinner, daily
Award of Excellence

Sundance The Steakhouse
Sundance the Steakhouse has held a Wine Spectator Restaurant Award for 26 years.

Founder Bob Fletcher bought this once worn-down property in 1973 and rehabilitated it into an upscale steak house. Bob passed Sundance the Steakhouse down to his sons Galen and Aron, who still own and operate the business. Aron serves as general manager and Galen is director of the wine program, which has held its Award of Excellence since 1992. The 320-selection list focuses on California, with a page titled “Fletcher’s Cab Collection” that includes trusted names like Stag’s Leap and Quintessa. Though chef Alfredo Flores’ menu is undeniably meat-focused, there are plenty of seafood alternatives like New England scallops and Chilean sea bass.

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