4/02/2013 10:11:00 AM

The Most Iconic Restaurants in 15 U.S. Cities

Joe's Stone Crab, Miami
When traveling to a new city with limited time on your hands - whether it's for a 36-hour business trip or a quick getaway for your cousin’s wedding - you may have only one opportunity to venture to a celebrated local restaurant. To experience the unique flavor of a city with one meal, consult our list of America’s Most Iconic Restaurants, released today. Compiled by Zagat editors, this list includes 15 U.S. restaurants that embody the essence of their city. Read on for some culinary inspiration - and maybe even a local history lesson!

38 comments :

  1. Once again Zagat misses the mark, by their own definition! Get some freakin' new food writers on your staff, or stop calling yourself a Restaurant Ratings publication. What a joke! You list the Salt Lick in Driftwood, Texas. In what world does a stoplight, in the middle of nowhere, with a poulation of under 2,500 constitue a "City". In fact, Driftwood is 30 miles from the closest "city," Austin. And the only BBQ awards it has ever won were Best of... in Austin! This exemplifies the lack of your staff's knowledge on the subjects that you've been covering for the past couple of years. It just keeps getting worse. Done with Zagat!

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    1. Have you ever eaten there? We are from Miami and we think it is fantastic and so worth the visit!

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    2. I'm not the original poster. I have eaten at Salt Lick. While it may be iconic and I'll admit it's an experience for out-of-towners, it's not the best BBQ. I'd take Franklin's in Austin any day if you can get in. But, for the real deal, Kreuz Market and Smitty's in Lockhart or Cooper's in Llano is where I would send people.

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    3. To anonymous (from Miami): the poster who said go to Lockhart or Llano for better Texas 'que, is right on the money. I would add the towns of Taylor, Elgin and LaGrange to that elite list of destinations which are almost as close to Austin as Driftwood (where Salt Lick is). Salt Lick is ok, but don't think for a minute that it's the best in Texas, or even the Austin area for that matter! By the way, Lockhart was designated by the Texas legislature as "BBQ Capitol of Texas", and since Texas has the BEST BBQ in the world, I guess Lockhart would be BBQ capitol of the world!

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    4. The Salt Lick is not real Texas BBQ, beginning with the sauce. Previous poster is spot on.

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    5. Right. Salt Lick has an open pit and they baste with a wet sauce. Central Texas tradition calls for a closed pit and dry rub. In Texas when they dish up your meat, they better not pour sauce on--if they insist on giving sauce, then serve it on the side or face the wrath of the customer.

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    6. Louie Muellers in Taylor, TX. Best BBQ in Texas and a James Beard Award on the wall. I am a food snob and a Texan. It is true that Lockhart is The BBQ Capitol but give Louie a try. When the flag is out front, its time to eat. Go early because they run out of goodies every day.

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    7. we are at the Atlanta. airport now heading to San Antonio for the weekend. Any great ideas for restaurants? We will definitely go to Llano as we are always looking for the best Texas BBQ. what about Texas Pride BBQ

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    9. You could not be more wrong. The Salt Lick .. there is not even a close second as an iconic Austin restaurant. All you can eat, by the way - AND they let you take home enough leftovers to eat for three more days at home .. for about $12 bucks. Amazing and set on several square miles of land .. be sure to drive down to the creek .. if you just pop into and out of the main restaurant, then you missed half the experience.

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    10. By the way, a lot of folks from Lockhart posting here! (If one wants to split hairs, actually the best BBQ in the world is Hick's Barbecue, a roadside stand in Northport, Alabama (in Tuscaloosa county). But this isn't about Northport, or Lockhart, but Austin.

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    11. The premise of Zagat's article was that someone just passing thru Austin with limited time to spend, should go to Driftwood to eat at Salt Lick. Depending on traffic, that could easily be a 2 hr. round trip for dinner.

      We may disagree on how good Salt Lick is or isn't, but it's absurd for Zagat to send readers to a little town 35 miles from downtown Austin when time is of the essence. Hell, if you got 2 hrs. winshield time time to kill, I say the BBQ is better in Lockhart (and I'm not from there or anywhere close).

      So when you say this (the article) is not about Lockhart, but Austin, apparently it wasn't about Austin after all. It shouldn't be about Driftwood either. Surely, Zagat could have found a restuarant (regardless of type of food) in Austin that didn't require a long commute. It's stupid of Zagat to devise this premise about time being short, then suggest a 2 hr. round trip commute.

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  2. Hello??? Ever hear of Seattle? Ever hear of Canlis? Or dozens
    of other wonderful and varied fine restaurants in the Northwest?
    We are not a wasteland and everyone but Zagat seems to know that!

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    1. My guess is you're the annoying one in your group.

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  3. I really "love" this "article" but would you "please" stop using the "damned" quotes? They indicate a "certain" lack of "writing" skills.

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    1. Pick up a Zagat Guide and maybe you'll understand how this works.

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    2. Joe’s Stone Crab is a big tourist trap,I live next to it. eat their several times. now stopped going

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  4. Yet another zagat article with the same damn cities...Austin ranks behind Houston and Dallas as a food city, yet keeps getting mention in every article.

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    1. I've enjoyed many great restaurants in Dallas and Houston and have lived in both cities. But, neither has a food scene like Austin. They are completely different.

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    2. Right, Houston's is far better than either of them!

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    3. Exactly! Houston is a primo food town with its fusion of Mexican and Cajun influence to go along with Gulf Coast, East & Central Texas cuisines. Then there's the international side of Houston. Not many cities have a better food scene than Houston, but you'd never know it reading Zagat.

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  5. I completely agree with the distracting "quotes". How annoying!!! I had to skim the paragraph to get the gist of what the author was trying to write. How stupid.

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  6. The Atlanta Colonnade? Definitely your father's Oldsmobile. Kind of like characrterizing PoFolks restaurantd as iconic. Similar food, clientelle, ambience. Where are Nick and Nina? What have you done to Zagat? Do any of your editors cook? Yegads, what mishmash!

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  7. Victoria and Alberts is the absolute best out of this world!!!

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  8. Galatoire's is certainly an classic and interesting experience, but it is not at all representative of New Orleans' dining scene and overall atmosphere. While appreciable for what it is, the food and atmosphere are pleasing only in a nostalgic sense.

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    1. Nathaniel: 3 come to my mind: Brennan's, Court of Two Sisters and my favorite, Tujaques. Which ones am I missing?

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  9. When I read that restaurants in 15 cities were featured, I figured Zagat would finally mention Houston. Zagat seldom writes about Houston, the nation's 4th largest, an international city with great restaurants.

    Instead, they selected Salt Lick BBQ in the "Austin area". While a very good BBQ joint, that selection makes no sense given their premise that time is short, "a 36 hour business trip or quick getaway".

    At lunch time the travel time from downtown Austin to Driftwood is 35 minutes at best. Dinner time it would be at least 45 minutes and more likely an hour considering Austin's notorious traffic commute time.

    So Zagat's brilliant staff writers would have you consider a 1-2 hr. round trip when you are in Austin for a quick business trip? And all the while ignoring Houston--what are we, chopped liver?

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    1. The selection of the Salt Lick is actually quite impressive .. they are thinking outside of the box of literal city limits (which are defined differently everywhere .. The Salt Lick is closer to the heart of Austin than the Empire State Building is to most of NYC). The Salt Lick is an Austin restaurant because that is its clientele .. the drive through the authentic Austin country side is part of the experience that makes the Salt Lick "iconic".

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    2. I don't think I have ever heard Austin and NYC mentioned in the same sentence in terms of how long it takes you to get around. Let's see, NYC has 10X the population of Austin.

      The premise of Zagat's article was: if you're in a city for the first time, and have a limited amount of time to spend there. That said, why would anyone opt to drive a couple hours round trip for dinner, regardless of how beautiful the drive is?

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  10. Really the most iconic restaurant for New York City is the Four Seasons? I have a feeling the writer was put up there for the night and never left the hotel.

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    1. The Four Season Restaurant pre dates the Hotel in New York. Definetely icon of New York opened in 1959, it was the first restaurant in New York to have a seasonal menu. The dinning rooms are classic and declaired by New York a landmark under preservation status. I just had lunch and was once again pleased that it had not slipped. The food and service are top notch.

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  11. My thoughts are prayers are with Austin, as EVERY other restaurant in town must have been closed down. I have traveled far and wide around our great state and Salt Lick is by far the worst abhorrent abomination of "BBQ" I have ever tasted! They cook their defiled meats in OVENS and then place them on a smoke pit (seen above) for "smoke flavor". An angel looses it's wings everytime someone says Salt Lick is "good". Please people for all that is meaty and holy go eat REAL BBQ at somewhere like Snow's, Louie Mueller's, Cooper's, Kruez Market, or Luling City Market.

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    2. No argument from me that Snow's, Louie Mueller's, Kruez or Luling have better Texas 'que than Salt Lick. If I'm near Driftwood then I'll go to Salt Lick. But I wouldn't drive past of these that are mentioned to get to Salt Lick!

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  12. I think Zagat did well,The Old Ebbitt Grill was very nice,excellent crab cakes Iconic,The Swan Oyster Bar ,Iconic,the Four Seasons sort of still there,Joe's Stone Crab/,Spago's Galatoires have been to all.Each had there special moment.Never forget sampling the finest wines and meeting movie stars at Spagos,wine list was excellent food very good and for me the staff were brilliant.The Old Ebbitt had very good crab cakes not the best but the wine list and service was excellent.The Swan Oyster Bar when I was there was looked after by the the sons? or grandsons? service good ,quality, excellent food,decor and menu dated BUT that's why it is iconic,.Joes Stone Crab watching the guys in the kitchen prepare the claws amazing their skill

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  13. Although no one will read this..

    One needs to read between the lines of the restaurants Zagat has chosen for this list. These are "iconic" restaurants that are great examples that eximplify an individual city's dining experience.

    Is there better BBQ in Texas than the Salt Lick? Of course. Are there better eats in Miami than Joe's? Most assuridly. Yet these restaurants are great at what they do and are wonderful examples of Austin and Miami dining, especially if you are visiting that city for the first time.

    Take a breath people..

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  14. But with regards to Austin, why would Zagat throw out the time-is-short-scenario, and then say a 2 hr. drive makes sense??

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