The 25 most expensive restaurants in America
Thomas Keller is a very lucky man. Not only is he the only chef and restauranteur in the U.S. to be awarded three Michelin stars for two restaurants simultaneously, his two restaurants, French Laundry in the Napa Valley, and Per Se in New York City's Columbus Circle, are consistently ranked among the world's best restaurants by Restaurant magazine.
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Keller has one more thing to be proud of: Diners are willing to consistently drop hundreds of dollars at his restaurants, which make French Laundry and Per Se among the most expensive restaurants in America. And not just among the most expensive, but the most expensive. Keller's French Laundry is the most expensive restaurant in America.
Want to know how much you're probably going to spend at a restaurant before you go there?
To determine our list of America's most expensive restaurants, we examined our spending data, and looked at average check sizes based on millions of transactions done in restaurants across the country. We filtered out places like catering services and wedding venues and then ranked the most expensive restaurants by average check size.
Keller's French Laundry ranked at the top of our list with an average check size of $957 per visit. Per Se had an average check size of $883 per visit. Rounding out the top five are the eponymous Michael Mina restaurant in San Francisco, Calif, which has an average check size of $844, and two Chicago restaurants: Chef Grant Achatz's Alinea, which has an average check size of $736 per visit, and the eponymous Charlie Trotter's, which has an average check size of $666 per visit.
And if you're looking for degrees of separation, Chef Grant Achatz was the former sous chef at Keller's French Laundry, which makes us wonder if Keller has the Midas touch.
The most expensive restaurants in America also tend to fall in two categories of cuisine: French and American Noveau. Of the top 10 most expensive restaurants, half are French and half are American Noveau. Other cuisines make a limited appearance — Robert's Steakhouse in the Penthouse Executive Club (ranked 12th), for example, and Italian restaurant Del Posto (ranked 22nd).
In addition, the majority of the restaurants on our list were from three major cities: New York, Chicago, and San Francisco, with a few outliers in cities like San Diego, Calif., Washington, D.C. and Washington, Va.
So what makes diners drop an average of $957 at The French Laundry, or $439 per visit at Washington D.C.'s Italian and Greek-influenced Komi (ranked 23rd)? Yes, the food is exquisite — any foodie would be elated to score a hard-to-get reservation at any of the restaurants on our list. But what's likely the reason for the big checks are the prix fixe menus: Per Se and French Laundry have the highest prix fixe prices respectively at $295 and $270 per person. Alinea has the third highest prix fixe price at $210. And if you'd like a wine pairing with your prix fixe, be prepared to pay $330 at Le Bernadin (ranked 14th).
Obviously, you have to be pretty well off to pick up the check at any of these restaurants without breaking a sweat. Personally, my credit card has seen very few Michelin-grade restaurants. Of course, we always have Restaurant Week.