We love dining out — it serves as a form of entertainment, relaxation, and it can be exciting to try something new. Dinner seems to be the meal we enjoy eating at restaurants the most, and last year we spent roughly $15 per meal while out to eat. That’s really a lot of money when you think about it. When you and a guest go out and spend $30 (even more than that when you add in a higher tip rate), you could be buying at least three dinners instead. So what are we really paying for? We can entertain ourselves other ways, for free. We can relax at home sitting on our couches.
Is it the experience? On anniversaries, gatherings, and special occasions, people are content shelling out a few hundred dollars on a single meal. Restaurants make us feel like for that evening, it is our turn to have people tend to our needs as during the week, we’re caring for children, turning in assignments to our bosses, and reporting to someone. Five-start restaurants only enhance this feeling.
Some of the most expensive restaurants in the country pull out all of the stops, creating an unforgettable dining experience. Using a publication by The Daily Meal, we found some restaurants that can really break the bank. Is it worth the price tag? Well, that’s for you to decide.
1. Masa in New York City (the check is typically around $1,270)
“Refined beauty that isn’t affected by time or social changes. Shibui is never complicated or contrived. Purity of being, of living, of sensing is inherent in all elements of the Masa experience,” reads the Masa website. Chef Masa Takayama’s attention to detail and simplistic approach to creating artful dishes has turned his restaurant into an eating experience that’s tough to match. Customers call their dining experience “unforgettable” and their dishes “works of art.”
These artful food creations come with an extreme price tag, though. With each person looking at a cost of $450 (and that’s before tip), this restaurant is either for the wealthy, or for really special occasions. When you plan a night out a Masa, make sure you have a solid plan because if you fail to cancel a reservation without at least 48 hours notice, a $200 per person cancellation fee applies.
2. Urasawa in Beverly Hills (average price of around $1,100 per table)
This Sushi bar is also known for its artful dishes. It’s located on North Rodeo Drive, in one of the more expensive areas of the country. Yelp reviews say this restaurant has “delicately balanced flavors in a beautiful environment” and “every dish is presented with such attention to detail.”
With multiple-course meals, and premium desserts, Chef-owner Hiroyuki Urasawa has created a restaurant that many sushi lovers really enjoy. On the other hand, some reviewers had negative comments about the service, and at a starting price of around $390 per person (before gratuity), this restaurant can put a serious dent in the wallet.
3. Per Se in New York City (table check is at least $850)
Chef Thomas Keller’s restaurant has won the James Beard award for outstanding service. It has also been named on lists of the best restaurants in the world. Per Se overlooks Central Park, and its ambiance is well-received and highly reviewed.
If you order a chef’s tasting, you’ll be dining on a nine-course meal with a cost of $310 (before tip.) The restaurant also offers a seasonal vegetable tasting — a seven-course meal with the same price tag.
4. The French Laundry in California (check of around $800)
Chef Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry is known for beautiful food creations and fine cuisine. Reviewers say the restaurant “lives up to its lofty reputation” and that the food “melts in your mouth.” With a price tag of $270 for the chef’s tasting menu — and that’s before tip — we would certainly hope so.
Some of the meals include Oysters and Pearls and Blackmore Ranch Wagyu Beef, which are carefully created. The menu changes regularly and you may have a unique experience each time you visit The French Laundry.
5. Alinea in Chicago (table check of around $700)
“Featuring a single, seasonally driven tasting menu of between 18 and 22 courses, the experience of dining at Alinea is not only delicious, but also fun, emotional, and provocative,” says the Alinea website.
The picture above displays one of the restaurant’s dishes — it is displayed on binchotan, inspired by Tokyo cuisine. A visit to Alinea may be unforgettable, but it’ll cost you around $210 per person.
6. Joël Robuchon in Vegas (your check will be around $640)
This French restaurant is the first Vegas winner of Michelin’s Three Star, and it has also won various other awards. It has a starting price of $120, which pales in comparison to some of the other fine dining establishments on this list. But, this $120 price is for a two-course meal. Four and six-course meals are also available for a higher price per person.
Some of the menu’s feature items include Le Caviar and smooth cauliflower cream. The establishment is highly reviewed. Customers seem to enjoy of the food, and also the small, intimate setting the restaurant provides.
7. Moto in Chicago (you’re looking at around a $570 check)
“Innovative. Artistic. Thought-provoking. Surreal. Entertaining. All words used to describe Chef Homaro Cantu’s Moto, a Michelin-starred restaurant and world-renowned leader in the post modern gastronomy movement. Equal parts chef and inventor, Cantu challenges and transcends limiting culinary conventions,” reads the Moto website.
Moto has an indoor farm, and Chef Cantu (pictured above) certainly makes unique food creations. Many reviews of the restaurant are excellent. “Delivers a show” some reviewers say and “a superb dining experience,” says another reviewer. However, this restaurant does have more than a few critical reviews that all have a similar theme. Is the science experiment that is your dinner worth the price tag of $175 per person before wine or tip?