Zagat picks for good restaurants on a business trip

It's the red snapper with raspberry chipotle sauce and lump crab meat that makes business trips to Galveston, Texas, special for Greg Newell.

  • Sommelier Kathryn Bangs pours wine for patrons at Komi Restaurant in Washington, D.C.

    By Scott Suchman

    Sommelier Kathryn Bangs pours wine for patrons at Komi Restaurant in Washington, D.C.

By Scott Suchman

Sommelier Kathryn Bangs pours wine for patrons at Komi Restaurant in Washington, D.C.

Newell, who works in the software industry and travels frequently, says the red snapper at Rudy & Paco restaurant is one of his favorite dishes.

"I always look forward to a trip to Galveston, so I can stop in for that snapper dish as well as a breakfast stop at The Donut Shoppe, home to the Bronco Burrito," says Newell, of Riverview, Fla. "Yum."

Good food and top-quality restaurants mean a lot to many business travelers. They provide a memorable dining experience and a welcome break from the stresses of constant travel. They're also great places to impress or bond with a client.

Business travelers looking for the best of the best may want to heed the findings of Zagat Survey, which today announces the country's top restaurants, in its view.

The restaurant guidebook publisher says 30 restaurants received a score of 29 out of a possible 30 for food. Most are very expensive and have impeccable service and attractive décor.

Zagat Survey also announced the top five restaurants for food in 45 areas of the country.

America's top restaurants

Zagat Survey says these restaurants, which scored 29 of a possible 30 points for food, are the best restaurants in the country.

Atlanta: Bacchanalia

Boston: O Ya

Connecticut (Branford): Le Petit Cafe

Chicago: Les Nomades, Alinea, Schwa

Cleveland (Vermilion, Ohio): Chez Francois

Dallas/Fort Worth: Bonnell's

Kansas City (Smithville, Mo.): Justus Drugstore

Los Angeles: Matsuhisa

Miami: Naoe

Milwaukee: Roots, Sanford, Eddie Martini's (Wauwatosa, Wis.)

New Jersey (Red Bank, N.J.): Nicholas

New York City:Le Bernardin, Daniel, Sushi Nanase (White Plains, N.Y.), North Fork Table (Southold, N.Y.)

Sacramento area: Mulvaney's Building & Loan, The Kitchen, Ambience (Carmichael, Calif.), Sunflower Drive In (Fair Oaks, Calif.), Taste (Plymouth, Calif.)

San Diego: Market

San Francisco: Gary Danko, French Laundry (Yountville, Calif.)

Washington, D.C.: Komi, Marcel's, Inn at Little Washington (Washington, Va.)

Unexpected locations

Surprisingly, it isn't food capitals such as the New York and Los Angeles metropolitan areas with the most restaurants with a 29 food score. Five restaurants in Sacramento or within an hour's drive — Ambience, Mulvaney's, Taste, The Kitchen and Sunflower Drive In — earned the coveted score.

At Mulvaney's Building & Loan in downtown Sacramento, the menu for Oct. 18 featured as appetizers warm chanterelle and trumpet mushroom salad, and Cuban bean soup. Entrees included 28-day dry-aged rib-eye steak with chimichurri butter and Alaskan halibut with olive tapenade. Appetizers ranged from $8 to $13, and large-plate entrees were priced from $28 to $36.

Mulvaney's Building & Loan offers a "daily changing menu of luscious, adventurous farm-to-table New American dishes in a quaint old fire station with a lovely patio," Zagat Survey and its reviewers say.

Unlike most of Zagat Survey's top restaurant choices, Sunflower Drive In in Fair Oaks, Calif., has "no décor," and diners order at a window, Zagat Survey and its reviewers say. But people "drive miles out of their way to eat there" for "awesome-tasting, good-value vegan health food," they say.

Four restaurants in the New York area scored a 29 for food, though only two — Le Bernardin and Daniel — are in Manhattan. North Fork Table is on Long Island's eastern end in Southold — about a two-hour drive from the city — and Sushi Nanase is in White Plains in suburban Westchester County.

The Chicago, Milwaukee and Washington metropolitan areas each have three restaurants with a 29 food score.

Chicago's Alinea serves "amazing avant-garde food in a labor-intensive multi-course wild ride that incorporates all the senses," Zagat says. A three-course dinner with a drink and a tip at the "progressive New American gastronirvana" is an estimated $199 per person.

At Washington's Belgian-French restaurant Marcel's, master chef Robert Wiedmaier "orchestrates culinary miracles" in "a romantic Proven?al setting," Zagat says.

The menu changes daily, and the per-person cost without tax, tip and beverages is $85 for four courses, $105 for five courses, $125 for six courses and $145 for seven courses. Entrees on past menus have included filet mignon with baby artichokes and Yukon Gold potato puree, and lamb tenderloin wrapped in phyllo pastry.

It does a body good

An enjoyable meal at a top restaurant has a positive effect on a business trip, says Pittsburgh-based Frank Glazer, who worked as a fundraiser for universities and traveled every other week for more than 20 years before retiring in April.

Glazer maintains a 97-page list of restaurants he has enjoyed during his travels domestically and abroad.

"The meals are a simple pleasure after spending a lot of time traveling a long distance away from home," Glazer says. "The service and cuisine of a top restaurant add to the business experience with clients."

Frequent business traveler Marcelo Almeida of Coppell, Texas, says it's great to be able to eat at a nice restaurant on an expense account, but he has to stick to a daily meal allowance. "Being able to go to a nice restaurant while on a business trip is actually like a reward at the end of a long and stressful day," says Almeida, who works for an education company.

Eating at a top restaurant "means we are celebrating a great deal, a perfect trade show or a winning bid," says Avi Rosenthal, a vice president of an energy management company.

Among his favorites: a steak at St. Elmo Steak House in Indianapolis, the cheese plate at Morels French Steakhouse & Bistro in Las Vegas and desserts at Aureole in New York.

"One of the true perks of being a road warrior is the ability to try new things and find that great place," Rosenthal says. "Some day when I retire, I hope to be able to bring my wife to these finds and enjoy them with her."

Top five restaurant rankings by area


1. Bacchanalia 2. Quinones Room 3. Aria 4. McKendrick's 5. Bone's

Atlantic City

1. Old Homestead 2. Il Mulino 3. Chef Vola's 4. White House 5. Girasole


1. Uchi 2. Eddie V's 3. Wink 4. Torchy's Tacos 5. Vespaio*


1. Charleston 2. Volt 3. Prime Rib 4. Samos 5. Di Pasquale's


1. O Ya 2. Oleana 3. La Campania 4. Nuptune Oyster 5. Lumiere


1. Barrington's 2. McNinch House 3. Fiamma 4. Fig Tree 5. Toscana


1. Les Nomades 2. Alinea 3. Schwa 4. Arun's 5. Topolobampo


1. Boca 2. Nicola's 3. Daveed's 4. Jeff Ruby's Precinct 5. Orchids


1. Chez Francois 2. Johnny's Bar 3. Parallax 4. Lola 5. Downtown 140


1. L'Antibes 2. Refectory 3. Akai Hana 4. Cameron's 5. G. Michael's


1. Le Petit Cafe 2. PolytechnicON20 3. Thomas Henkelmann 4. Mill at 2T 5. Jean-Louis

Dallas/Ft. Worth

1. Bonnell's 2. Saint Emilion 3. French Room 4. Cacharel 5. Pappas Bros.

Denver Area

1. Fruition 2. Frasca 3. Matsuhisa 4. Splendido 5. Mizuna


1. Lark 2. Bacco 3. Common Grill 4. Zingerman's 5. Cafe Cortina

Fort Lauderdale

1. La Brochette 2. Cafe Sharaku 3. Canyon 4. Casa D'Angelo 5. Eduardo de San Angel


1. Sushi Sasabune 2. Hiroshi 3. Alan Wong's 4. La Mer 5. Chef Mavro


1. Le Mistral 2. Kanomwan 3. Pappas Bros. Steak 4. Mark's 5. Da Marco

Kansas City

1. Justus Drugstore 2. Bluestem 3. Michael Smith 4. Oklahoma Joe's 5. Le Fou Frog

Las Vegas

1. Joel Robuchon 2. Todd's Unique Dining 3. Steak House 4. Raku 5. Sen of Japan

Long Island

1. North Fork Table 2. Siam Lotus 3. Mosaic 4. Kitchen A Trattoria 5. Maroni

Los Angeles

1. Matsuhisa 2. Angelini Osteria 3. Asanebo 4. Melisse 5. Urasawa


1. Naoe 2. Palme d'Or 3. Zuma 4. Palm 5. Il Gabbiano


1. Roots 2. Sanford 3. Eddie Martini's 4. Bartolotta's Lake Park 5. Ristorante Bartolotta

Minneapolis/St. Paul

1. La Belle Vie 2. 112 Eatery 3. Vincent 4. Alma 5. Bar La Grassa

Naples, Fla.

1. Cote d'Azur 2. Bleu Provence 3. USS Nemo 4. Truluck's 5. Capital Grille

New Jersey

1. Nicholas 2. Shumi 3. Sapori 4. Washington Inn 5. Lorena's

New Orleans

1. Bayona 2. Stella! 3. Brigtsen's 4. Clancy's 5. Royal China

New York City

1. Le Bernardin 2. Daniel 3. Per Se 4. Bouley 5. Jean Georges

Orange County, Calif.

1. Marche Moderne 2. Basilic 3. Tradition by Pascal 4. Hobbit 5. Studio


1. Victoria & Albert's 2. 4 Rivers 3. Del Frisco's 4. Jiko 5. California Grill

Palm Beach

1. Marcello's La Sirena 2. Chez Jean-Pierre 3. 11 Maple St. 4. Captain Charlie's 5. Cafe L'Europe


1. Vetri 2. Fountain 3. Birchrunville Store 4. Amada 5. Gilmore's


1. Kai 2. Binkley's 3. Quiessence 4. Noca 5. Barrio Cafe

Portland, Ore.

1. Painted Lady 2. Apizza Scholls 3. Beast 4. Toro Bravo 5. Nuestra Cocina


1. Taste 2. Ambience 3. Mulvaney's 4. Kitchen 5. Sunflower Drive-In

Salt Lake City Area

1. Mariposa 2. Forage 3. Takashi 4. Mandarin 5. Tree Room

San Antonio

1. Dough 2. Il Sogno 3. Bohanan's 4. Frederick's 5. Bistro Vatel

San Diego

1. Market 2. Sushi Ota 3. Hane Sushi 4. Wine Vault 5. Addison

San Francisco

1. Gary Danko 2. French Laundry 3. Cyrus 4. Manresa 5. Aubergine


1. Cafe Juanita 2. Paseo 3. Mashiko 4. Spinasse 5. Herbfarm

St. Louis

1. Niche 2. Stellina 3. Sidney St. Cafe 4. Trattoria Marcella 5. Tony's


1. Beach Bistro 2. Pane Rustica 3. Bern's 4. Cafe Ponte 5. Maison Blanche


1. Fleming's Prime 2. Vivace 3. Dish 4. Le Rendez-Vous 5. Cafe Poca Cosa

Washington, D.C.

1. Marcel's 2. Inn at Little Washington 3. Komi 4. CityZen 5. Rasika

Westchester/Hudson Valley

1. Sushi Nanase 2. Xaviars at Piermont 3. Il Cenacolo 4. Freelance Cafe 5. Buffet de la Gare

* Indicates a tie with the restaurant above

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