11 Bucket List–Worthy Restaurants Where Wine Wows

Extraordinary wines can create unforgettable memories at these Restaurant Awards winners

11 Bucket List–Worthy Restaurants Where Wine Wows
Guests from around the world travel to Walland, Tenn., to have a one-of-a-kind wine and dining experience at Blackberry Farm. (Beall + Thomas Photography)
Jul 14, 2022

What dining experiences do you dream of having over the course of your lifetime? For many wine lovers, it’s a truly exceptional, one-of-a-kind meal, shared with close friends and family. These 11 Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning restaurants from around the United States present unique adventures in gastronomy, interweaving rare and extensive wine offerings, artful courses and impeccable service in locales ranging from a Tennessee farm to a Vegas art palace.

This is just a small sampling of standout wine spots. For more wine-and-food destinations around the world, search all of Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Award–winning restaurants, including all our Grand Award recipients.

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!

Note: Opening hours and menus are subject to change as the industry continues to adjust to evolving regulations.


Bern’s Steak House

1208 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, Fl.
Telephone (813) 251-2421
Website bernssteakhouse.com
Grand Award

 A dining room at Bern’s Steak House
Since opening in the 1950s, Bern's has grown from one to eight dining rooms. (Amy Pezzicara)

A Grand Award winner since 1981, Bern’s Steak House is a Tampa institution. The restaurant’s founder, the late Bern Laxer, opened Bern's in 1956 in what was originally a bar in a strip mall. Over the years, he bought up the surrounding stores to expand the restaurant to its current eight-room dining area, and developed a private organic farm in North Tampa to supply much of the steak house’s produce. Today, wine director Eric Renaud offers a list that spans a massive 6,800 selections, including a dizzying 150 wines available by the glass and backed by an inventory of half a million bottles. Rare treasures include verticals of Château Palmer, Château Mouton-Rothschild and Château Pontet-Canet, among other leading wineries. For those with any room left after steaks or the many other dishes on executive chef Chad Johnson’s menu—from lump crab cakes to tuna tartare to charcoal-grilled bacon—one of the restaurant’s unique features is the Harry Waugh Dessert Room, where guests can enjoy a range of desserts, along with Ports, Sherries and Madeiras.


Blackberry Farm

1471 W. Millers Cove Road, Walland, Tenn.
Telephone (865) 984-8166
Website www.blackberryfarm.com
Grand Award

 The Blackberry Farm estate
Blackberry Farm's Tennessee estate is the picture of Southern charm. (Beall and Thomas Photography)

On 4,200 acres in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in Walland, Tenn., luxury resort Blackberry Farm and its namesake restaurant have become a destination for food-and-wine lovers. Alongside the late Sam Beall, wine director Andy Chabot developed the list from humble beginnings in this once dry county to Grand Award status in 2006, a distinction it has achieved each year since. Today, the list is one of the most comprehensive in the country, offering 9,000 selections, with strengths in California, France, Italy, Australia, Germany and farther abroad. The 155,000-bottle cellar is packed with wines to pair with chef Cassidee Dabney’s seasonal tasting menu of dishes like wood-grilled Wagyu flank steak, Elysian Fields Farm lamb with crispy polenta, thyme-basted grouper and wood-roasted cauliflower. The commingling of Southern influences with Appalachian ingredients creates what the restaurant dubs “foothills cuisine.”


Blue Hill at Stone Barns

630 Bedford Road, Pocantico Hills, N.Y.
Telephone (914) 366-9600
Website www.bluehillfarm.com
Grand Award

 A set table at Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Blue Hill at Stone Barns offers world-class dining set amidst the idyllic Hudson Valley. (Evan Sung)

Blue Hill at Stone Barns may be just a train ride from Manhattan, but it feels a world away. A culinary retreat on the vanguard of farm-to-table innovation, the establishment is renowned for its emphasis on local and sustainable foods, with a groundbreaking prix-fixe menu from chef and food author Dan Barber. Nestled in a courtyard surrounded by the historic stone barns, the restaurant’s rustic, yet elegant views provide an idyllic backdrop to enjoy its extensive beverage program; wine director Hannah Williams’ list sits at nearly 2,115 selections, including a significant number of large- and small-format bottles. Offering everything from Bordeaux classics with verticals of first-growths to regional options from the Finger Lakes and Long Island, the restaurant has earned a Grand Award since 2016.


Eleven Madison Park

11 Madison Ave., New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 899-0905
Website www.elevenmadisonpark.com
Grand Award

 A set table at Eleven Madison Park
With its new menu, Daniel Humm hopes Eleven Madison Park can form stronger links to regional farmers. (Courtesy of Eleven Madison Park)

Enjoy superior food, wine and views at Grand Award winner Eleven Madison Park in the heart of Manhattan. Since 2021, chef Daniel Humm’s contemporary seasonal tasting menu has been exclusively plant-based. A shorter version of the menu is also available at the restaurant’s bar, along with snacks. Wine director Gabriel Di Bella complements Humm’s cuisine with a 5,000-selection wine list, with particular excellence in Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, the Rhône, California, Italy, Germany, Austria and farther abroad. Service is equally exceptional: Wines are served in variety-specific Riedel glasses, and bottles are carefully decanted at the sommelier's or guest's discretion. Accompanied by spectacular views of Madison Square Park and a stunning interior that pays homage to the restaurant’s setting in the historic art deco Metropolitan Life Building, the dining experience encapsulates the spirit of New York elegance.


Le Bernardin

155 West 51st Street, New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 554-1515
Website www.le-bernardin.com
Grand Award

The dining room at Le Bernardin.
Le Bernardin is a destination for seafood fans and wine lovers alike. (Courtesy of Le Bernardin)

For more than three decades, New York’s Le Bernardin has been at the forefront of luxury French dining, serving as a temple to fresh, pristine seafood. Founded by the Le Coze siblings, it has continued to build its international reputation under chef and (later) co-owner Eric Ripert; he and acclaimed wine director Aldo Sohm steered the restaurant to Grand Award status in 2021, with a list specifically curated for the seafood-focused menu. Under Sohm, Le Bernardin has built a massive, 1,300-label wine program with strengths in Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, Germany, Austria, California and more. Leading names abound, from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti to Bedrock Wine Co. and even Screaming Eagle, mixed in with less widely known bottlings. Ripert spotlights the sea’s bounty across his prix-fixe and chef’s tasting menus (a vegetarian menu is also available), where guests will find dishes such as lightly cured Spanish mackerel, flash-marinated fluke ceviche, poached lobster in a miso-sake lobster broth, octopus with a chorizo emulsion and steamed halibut with confit potatoes. Amid the bustle of Midtown, Le Bernardin provides a serene, luxurious retreat with impeccable service, delivering one of the city’s ultimate dining experiences.


Picasso

Bellagio, 3600 Las Vegas Blvd. S, Las Vegas, Nev.
Telephone (702) 693-8105
Website www.bellagio.mgmresorts.com
Grand Award

 Outdoor tables at Picasso
Treasures abound at Picasso, from its spectacular art collection by its namesake painter to its Grand Award–winning wine list. (MGM Resorts International)

At the Bellagio’s Picasso, eight works by the Spanish master—worth tens of million and watched continuously by 74 miniature security cameras—hang on the walls. The restaurant’s cellar also holds its share of masterworks. With an inventory of 15,000 bottles, wine director Jeffrey Bencus’ list has earned a Grand Award each year since 2003 and offers guests 1,500 selections, highlighting California, Burgundy, Champagne, Bordeaux, Spain and Germany. Executive chef Julian Serrano, a native of Madrid, has overseen Picasso since its inception in 1998. His prix-fixe menu excels with seafood of all types, offering pan-seared scallops with potato mousseline, roasted Maine lobster with flying fish caviar, halibut in a Hollandaise sauce and more.


Saison

178 Townsend St., San Francisco, Calif.
Telephone (415) 828-7990
Website www.saisonsf.com
Grand Award

 Tables at Saison
Only a handful of guests at a time can enjoy chefs Richard Lee and Paul Chung’s California-inspired courses at Saison. (Philip Harvey)

Located just off the San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront, Grand Award winner Saison presents a coveted dining opportunity for a select number of guests each evening. The restaurant serves its 8 to 10 courses to just 20 diners at a time in an intimate open space, with menus prepared by chef de cuisine Richard Lee and culinary director Paul Chung. (An abridged “salon” menu is also available for 8 guests at a time.) True to its name, Saison’s prix-fixe menu spotlights seasonal California ingredients with a selection of wood-fired dishes. Guests can also add an optional Wagyu supplement. “Saison Classic” and “Saison Reserve” wine pairings are available for each guest’s meal, overseen by Saison co-founder and wine director Mark Bright and beverage director Molly Greene. Thanks to Saison’s cellar of more than 8,000 bottles, comprising 2,015 selections, guests have plenty to choose from in the way of Burgundy grands crus, California gems and more, including many older vintages.


The French Laundry

6640 Washington St., Yountville, Calif.
Telephone (707) 944-2380
Website www.thomaskeller.com
Grand Award

 Andrew Adelson and the French Laundry wine cellar
Head sommelier Andrew Adelson focuses heavily on creating meaningful guest experiences at the French Laundry. (David Escalante, Michael Grimm)

In Yountville, Calif., chef-restaurateur Thomas Keller’s iconic French Laundry makes its home in a historic stone cottage with past lives as an early 19th-century saloon and then a French steam laundry. Today, the restaurant offers a world-class dining experience to guests in Napa Valley. Devoted to both the restaurant’s surroundings and its French culinary influences, wine director Andrew Adelson’s 2,500-selection list focuses on California, with plenty of offerings from Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Rhône as well. With 15,000 bottles in the cellar, the wine program has earned the French Laundry a Grand Award since 2007. Executive chef David Breeden captures the spirit of classic French cuisine in his two, daily changing prix-fixe menus: the "Chef’s Tasting Menu" and the "Tasting of Vegetables." The restaurant boasts several private dining spaces for reservation, including an outdoor courtyard and a board room next to the wine cellar.


Manresa

320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, Cali.
Telephone (408) 354-4330
Website www.manresarestaurant.com
Best of Award of Excellence

The exterior of Manresa.
The quality of Manresa’s cuisine continues to lure visitors to this low-key, converted, ranch-style house in a Bay Area suburb of San José. (Nick Vasilopoulos)

Manresa is synonymous with one man, chef David Kinch, who opened the world-renowned restaurant in 2002, a culmination of the discipline he learned training in top French kitchens during the 1970s and ’80s. (Kinch and his team even returned to France to collaborate with three of the country’s leading restaurants in 2017; the journey was documented in French director Rémi Anfosso’s 2020 documentary, A Chef’s Voyage.) Back in Los Gatos, Calif., Kinch continues to impress with his distinctive, Californian cuisine, offering a sumptuous tasting menu of dishes like abalone chowder, roast squab with endive and Dungeness crab with Romanesco—made with ingredients so good they are transcendent. These dishes are joined by wine director Jim Rollston’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning, 900-selection program, in which Burgundy, California and Germany star. Following a substantial half-bottle selection, diners will find a significant list of Champagnes, as well as plenty of bottles from the nearby Santa Cruz Mountains—plus potent verticals of celebrated wines like Ridge’s Monte Bello Santa Cruz Mountains and Raveneau’s Chablis Butteaux.


minibar by José Andrés

855 E St. N.W., Washington, D.C.
Telephone (202) 393-0812
Website www.minibarbyjoseandres.com
Best of Award of Excellence

The open kitchen and tables at minibar by José Andrés.
José Andrés’ minibar serves only six guests each night, offering some of the country’s finest contemporary cuisine. (Courtesy of Thinkfoodgroup)

Just a few guests at a time can enjoy the heralded dining experience at minibar by José Andrés, located off the National Mall in Washington, D.C. With boundary-pushing bites from the celebrated chef and humanitarian, the multicourse tasting menu explores the intersection of art and science in cuisine. Wine pairings are available as “José’s pairings,” encompassing carefully crafted pairings for each course. Guests can also choose “bespoke” pairings further catered to their preferences. At 90 selections, wine director Jordi Paronellas’ list is both compact and commanding. There is an emphasis on Spanish wines, of course, as well as an array of other international selections to round out the dining experience.


Momofuku Ko

8 Extra Place, New York, N.Y.
Telephone (212) 203-8095
Website ko.momofuku.com
Best of Award of Excellence

 Chefs working in the open kitchen at Momofuku Ko.
Chef David Chang offers Korean-leaning cuisine with an extra-creative edge at Momofuku Ko. (Courtesy of Momofuku Ko)

Tucked away on the historic Extra Place, Momofuku Ko offers a renowned dining experience in Manhattan’s East Village. The crown jewel of the Momofuku Restaurant Group, the restaurant is the most upscale of chef-owner David Chang’s multitude of restaurants in New York and farther afield. Guests in the main dining room enjoy the three-hour multicourse tasting menu, and those sat at the bar can choose from an à-la-carte menu, with all dishes prepared by executive chef Esther Ha. For wine, beverage director Nikita Malhotra ensures her program’s 1,015 selections keep in step with the restaurant’s reputation for the avant-garde. The lengthy, Best of Award of Excellence–winning list offers a truly global selection to complement Chang’s Asian-influenced American cuisine, spanning Burgundy, California, the Loire Valley, the Rhône, Italy, Champagne, Germany and beyond.

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