These 19 Restaurants Are the Dining Institutions of the West
These are the West’s culinary roots—the classic restaurants that weave together culture, atmosphere, and the best ingredients
Musso & Frank Grill, Los Angeles
The spirit of the rebellious West and ‘50s Hollywood glamour is alive and well at Musso & Frank, where dark wood and clubby booths have been a scene for an entire century. Don’t miss the rib-eye, bone in, medium rare.
Chez Panisse, Berkeley
Mark L. Stephenson/Corbis
The restaurant founded by Alice Waters and her friends in the ‘70s is still a bastion of California’s slow-food movement, focusing on the produce and farmers of Northern California. Waters’s restaurant continues to serve a prix fixe nightly in its cozy, warmly lit dining room where blowsy floral bouquets, white tablecloths, and water glasses engraved with Chez Panisse’s name set the scene. Order whichever dish features peak-season produce, which is pretty much everything. The restaurant’s classic arrangement of perfectly ripe fruit on a plate remains a symbol of Alice Waters’s ethos.
Zuni Cafe, San Francisco
Though it originally opened with a Southwestern theme (hence the name), Zuni quickly morphed into one of California’s quintessential restaurants under the guidance of the late chef Judy Rodgers. Under owner Gilbert Pilgram it continues to serve simple classics from the hearth, briny Pacific oysters, and cocktails at its copper-topped bar. The roast chicken with bread salad for two (pictured) has been one of the restaurant’s most ordered dishes for decades, though house-cured anchovies served with crunchy, cold celery and earthy Niçoise olives have been on the menu since day one.
Kevin Scott/Courtesy of Canlis
A family-owned restaurant and architectural icon, Canlis was built by Peter Canlis in 1950. Since then, Canlis has maintained a civilized dining experience for all of its almost seven decades. The dress code remains steadfast: suit or sport coat for the gentlemen, and no shorts, t-shirts, or athletic attire. “It’s about respect for the stranger, respect for the other person in the room,” says co-owner Mark Canlis. “We think that is the foundation of hospitality. The stuff that’s happening in the restaurant is sacred. Those moments don’t happen again, and to risk it with the guy sitting next to you wearing cutoffs and flip-flops and t-shirts … let’s have respect for one another.” The Canlis salad is one of the restaurant’s most beloved dishes, a take on the Caesar salad but with bright lemon, aromatic mint, and crispy bacon lifting it to a new level. It’s an anomaly on the menu, which is filled with meticulously modern dishes from chef Brady Williams, where it remains as a nod to the Canlis history (and its legions of fans).
Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles
Buckhorn Exchange, Denver
Tadich Grill, San Francisco
Thomas J. Story