Resy’s 61 Favorite Things of 2021: A Guide to Restaurants We Love

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It’s been a second since we’ve been able to put out a list like this. In a pandemic year geared toward recovery, dining as we knew it slowly came back to how it used to be. And this time around, we’ve never been more grateful for it.

If there’s one thing you should know about team Resy, it’s that we love restaurants.

As dining rooms reopened to the tune of vaccination rates shooting up, we were reminded of the great privilege of experiencing a restaurant. Of being taken care of, of delicious surprises and discoveries, and being fed wondrous things that made our palates travel further than current travel restrictions allowed. Such is the transportive power of this industry.

From New York to San Francisco, and from London to Charleston, our staff has had an incredible year of dining. So, we thought we’d go over our dish highlights and best-of dining experiences, our gems and go-tos we’d almost rather keep to ourselves but are willing to share here with you — from A to … well, to W.

Welcome to our 61 top dining moments of 2021. We’re already hungry for what next year brings.


1. Was it the Buffalo-style whole perch?

The trout toast with fresh roe? Or the shrimp toast with tots? A meal at Lee Gregory’s Alewife was the best of high and low beautifully stitched together, an homage to mid-Atlantic fisheries and myriad influences, and a reminder of why American cuisine is better today than ever. // Richmond, Va.

 

2. The absolute pleasure of…

Sitting at Anton’s perfect wooden bar, a martini in hand, when New York finally allowed bar seating again. // New York

 

3. Missing and coming back home to…

Chef Ray Garcia’s cooking at Broken Spanish’s NeueHouse Hollywood pop-up. Dining there brought back so many good memories, and the incredible refried lentils and tortillas were as good as ever. // Los Angeles

 

4. A birthday dinner at…

The lovely Café Deco in Bloomsbury. Incredibly grateful for the comforting fare (Lamb pie! Rhubarb trifle!), candlelight, friends, and some of the warmest service we can remember of late. // London

Bread service and a spring menu at Café Deco. Photo by Resy staffer David Paw

5. The always-rewarding food…

(Shoutout to those grilled oysters) at Cochon. But more than that, to the people present, from the friendly staff to our table neighbors, all of whom were so lovely, and who turned our meal into a proper party. // New Orleans

 

6. Sipping on a Sazerac from…

The porch at Columns, a place that’s big on old-school New Orleans charm and the perfect spot to people-watch and take in the streetcars of St. Charles. // New Orleans

 

7. The most serendipitous of timings…

For our Resy at Contessa: Our Negronis hit the table as soon as the sun started to set, as if on cue. What a meal, and what a view. // Boston

 

8. The vanilla soft serve…

With soy sauce caramel at Cote: The perfect cool-down to quell the meat sweats after partaking in the restaurant’s decadent Butcher’s Feast// New York

 

9. The level of hospitality… 

That da Toscano puts on display — whether it’s your first or 20th time, you’re treated like a regular the moment you step in. Get the oysters and don’t sleep on the spaghetti al Telefono; it’s the epitome of delicious simplicity: fresh pasta, cheese curds, tomato sauce, basil, and that’s all. // New York

Roasted oysters topped with crab fat butter and rosemary focaccia at da Toscano. Photo by Resy staffer Lala Liban

10. Kudos to…

Dame for bucking restaurant trends, becoming leaders in the industry, and devising one of the most playful (sea)food and wine menus out there. Co-owners Patricia Howard and Ed Szymanski are killing it, every step of the way. // New York

 

11. Feeling like we’d won the lottery when…

We successfully ordered the elusive rabbit feast at Dhamaka, a flavor-packed Rajasthani preparation featuring fork-tender rabbit cooked in a clay pot that only a single table a night can reserve. // New York

 

12. The joys of shabu-shabu at…

DipDipDip Tatsu-ya, the Tatsu-ya family’s ode to the Japanese hot pot experience, in which you dip and dunk meat and veggies into a simmering pot of broth, fitted right into the sleek wood tables. // Austin, Texas

 

13. A surprising date night at…

Disco Mary, a cocktail pop-up at Columbia Room bent on plant-based apothecary and non-alcoholic drinks. We couldn’t stop raving about the vegan nachos and the Dope Kaleidoscope (that’s pumpkin, chai maple, coconut milk, aquafaba and Hemp oil for you). // Washington, D.C.

 

14. A seat at the backroom bar at…

Double Chicken Please. Get the Japanese Cold Noodle (not a dish, but a drink) and order yourself a Taiwanese fried chicken sandwich for a perfect after-10 p.m. snack. And don’t skip a trip to the bathroom, where you might just feel like you’re in a chicken coop. // New York

 

15. 82 Queen, because…

It’s the essence of Southern hospitality. Pro tip: Get the she-crab soup and any dish with grits. // Charleston, S.C.


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16. The most delicious way…

To begin the end of a meal: Estela’s perfect dessert “appetizer” of thinly shaved curlicues of Queen of Corona cheese. // New York

 

17. The miracle of…

Snagging a bar seat at the perpetually booked FIG, for a plate of chicken liver pâté and some of the most pillowy gnocchi you may ever have. // Charleston, S.C.

 

18. The must-order…

Dry-aged crown of duck at Francie, with its exquisite presentation and flavor. To open a fine dining restaurant in the middle of a pandemic is nothing short of a miracle, and Francie nailed it — it’s Brooklyn’s perfect splurge spot. // New York

The crown of duck at Francie. Photo by Resy staffer Michelle Wilner

19. Hanchic., because…

They really do fusion right. Chef Kyungbin Min’s bouillabbong — a cross between France’s bouillabaisse and Korea’ jjambong — is always comforting, even on a hot summer day. // Los Angeles

 

20. The most extraordinary breakfast sandwich…

Nabbed from Honey Road’s takeout window: Herby baked egg, tomato-and-pepper jam, cheese, and zhug on a Turkish simit bun. Chef-owner Cara Chigazola Tobin is a genius. // Burlington, Vt.

 

21. Feasting on…

Beijing duck rolls, la zi ji, and bone marrow fried rice to Wu Tang Clan blasting inside one of Hop Alley’s ice fishing huts — one of the best outdoor set-ups we’ve had the privilege to experience this winter. // Denver

 

22. A highlight of the week…

Eating our way through the brunch menu at Jackrabbit Filly. Never skip their seasonal fritters and the karaage, which are out of this world. And we’d be remiss not to mention their excellent bloody Mary options, beer back included. // Charleston, S.C.

 

23. Consoling ourselves for…

Not being able to get a Resy at Zahav by ordering pastries at K’Far, their sister bakery. It doesn’t get much better than a pistachio sticky bun devoured at Rittenhouse Square Park. (The chocolate babka is fire, too.) // Philadelphia

The chocolate babka and pistachio sticky bun from K’Far. Photo by Resy staffer Tess Gostfrand
The chocolate babka and pistachio sticky bun from K’Far. Photo by Resy staffer Tess Gostfrand

24. The electrifying atmosphere at…

Lenoir. Everything chef Vivian Howard does, from the cornmeal catfish and pork chops to the mashed potatoes (seriously, do not overlook these) is a masterpiece. // Charleston, S.C.

 

25. The buttery….

And flaky pineapple puff at Lin Asian Bar + Dim Sum that’s like the tropical toaster strudel of your dreams. // Austin, Texas

 

26. A chef’s counter spot for two at…

Luthun, one of the most exciting tasting menu restaurants in town (still in awe of that hot-and-cold cod porridge), led by a chef with an incredible background. // New York

 

27. Malagón, because…

A meal at this gem of a restaurant will transport you to a small town in Spain. // Charleston, S.C.

 

28. When you dine three times in two days…

At a restaurant, that tells you something … Such was the case with Mandolin Aegan Bistro, where the roasted beets with creamy tahini yogurt and the perfectly dressed maroulosalata kept us coming. // Miami

 

29. A holy trinity of…

Prosecco, charcuterie, and martinis at Mercantile Dining & Provision, with a front-seat view of the open kitchen, right from the bar. // Denver

 

30. The crawfish linguini at…

Michele’s. Made with crab nage, lobster butter, brandy, and tarragon, it’s simply non-negotiable. // Washington, D.C.

 

31. The famous brioche toast at…

Miro Kaimuki, a freshly baked and buttery marvel topped with ahi tuna, nuff said. // Honolulu
Miro Kaimuki’s brioche toast topped with ahi tuna. Photo by Resy staffer Charles Zhao

32. A seemingly simple dish of…

Burrata and ham that takes on new heights at Monteverde Restaurant & Pastificio. The rosemary tigelle makes the dish magnificent and you’re going to want to add some of that prosciutto butter (yes, you read that right). Honorable mention to the incredible hospitality that makes dining at Monteverde truly special. // Chicago

 

33. A DIY dish from…

The bygone era of takeout and delivery only: The crispiest of chicken wings from Nari, which you finished and tossed in a beautiful, not-too-sweet, Sriraja glaze by yourself, at home. // San Francisco

 

34. The seemingly impossible…

Next-level pasta special of the day at Nora Gray: A double-stacked ravioli that made us do a double take (no pun intended), with one half filled with ricotta cheese, and the other with mushrooms. // Montréal

 

35. A match made in heaven at…

L’Oursin: Crushing seafood towers whilst sipping natural wine. Need we say more? // Seattle

Nari’s finish-at-home chicken wings. Photo by Resy staffer Paolo Lucchesi

36. Dining al fresco on…

Duck, potatoes Dauphinois, and dirty gin martinis at Pasjoli in the spring, with visiting Resy colleagues in need of some literal (and metaphorical — that food!) sunshine. // Los Angeles

 

37. A perennial bistro…

Whose staff is always friendly, whose mood is always easy, and whose food is always exactly what is needed … There’s still nothing like a meal at Pastis. // New York

 

38. Truly, everything on…

The Pêche menu. Go crazy and order family-style — the steak tartare, brussels sprouts, and crab pasta are musts. // New Orleans

 

39. A first meal after…

Lockdowns number one and three in the U.K. at Pique-Nique. Sitting in that buzzing, heated terrace, seeing so many smiling faces … and then that incredible Chateaubriand and cep jus! A reminder that restaurants were back, baby. // London

 

40. The Hot 4 U pop-up in…

The Plough’s kitchen, which sent out dishes like ox tongue Reuben and mapo beef fried pizza — so interesting and so delicious, all from the setting of an old-fashioned London boozer. // London

 

41. Walking into…

The magnificent garden at Pusadee’s, and feasting on khao yum, khao soi, and grilled squid under the stars this summer. // Pittsburgh

The khao yum salad at Pusadee’s Garden. Photo by Resy staffer Deanna Ting

42. As dining in London returned…

Sitting outside in the spring sunshine with magnums of rosé at the unreal and ever iconic Rochelle Canteen. // London

 

43. The melt-in-your-mouth perfection…

That is every piece of nigiri at Royal Sushi. Go for the omakase, stay for the izakaya out front — with fun frozen drinks and delicious small bites, it’s always a good time. // Philadelphia

 

44. The best date-night dinner…

That Denver can gift you: The silkiest hummus, more pita than you could ever eat, perfectly crispy and fragrant Persian rice, and a sweet and savory braised lamb shank, courtesy of Safta. // Denver

 

45. The incredible staff at…

Saint John — shoutout to Lyn, the nicest general manager — who’ll make you feel right at home at chef Eric Cook’s beautiful (that artwork!) new restaurant. // New Orleans

 

46. After following up Adda with…

Dhamaka, you just knew Roni Mazumdar and Chintan Pandya were going to crush it with Semma. And they did — everything from the gunpowder dosa to the Goanese oxtail is incredible, and best of all: It still feels like a secret. Go before the word gets out. // New York

 

47. The tantalizing…

Hawaiian-meets-French cuisine on display at Senia, where a pair of Per Se alums slather roasted bone marrow on Hawaiian sweet rolls. (Pro tip: Do order the beautiful lilikoi and grapefruit-cured hamachi, too.) // Honolulu

The lilikoi and grapefruit-cured hamachi from Senia. Photo by Resy staffer Charles Zhao

48. Sitting at the counter…

(A.k.a. the best seat in the house) at Shukette, scooping up creamy hummus with pillowy frena as you watch chef Ayesha Nurdjaja work her magic. // New York

 

49. Quite possibly the best sushi experience…

Outside of Japan … Couldn’t be more thrilled with the return of 69 Leonard Street, with unparalleled sushi chef Shion Uino at the helm. // New York

 

50. Bellying up to the bar at…

Stella’s for a glass of wine and the flaming mushroom saganaki. Yes, everyone at the restaurant will look at you, but we’ll take the flaming cheese and mushrooms with the stares any day of the week. // Charleston, S.C.

 

51. Major shoutout to…

Suerte for creating brisket croissants that make delicious, flaky, and glorious sense. // Austin, Texas

 

52. The buildup of a meal at…

Sushi-Wa: Two chefs, one counter, and 10 fellow sushi revelers ready for an unforgettable omakase experience. // Charleston, S.C.

 

53. A highly anticipated visit to…

Le Swan, featuring Manhattans, a massive platter of steak frites, many drinks, and a cozy dining room that made us feel like we were in our twenties again, chatting nonsense, and forgetting about our worries for a couple of hours. If that’s not what restaurants are about, we don’t know what is. // Toronto

Steak frites at Le Swan. Photo by Resy staffer David Paw

54. The absolute best tasting scallops at…

Tiers Paysage, freshly shucked right in front of you at the raw bar and served with just a smidge of lime. // Montréal

 

55. Tokyo Record Bar, because…

It’s still one of the most unique dining experiences you might ever go to. The food and sake pairings are great, the staff friendly, but really, nothing beats the meal’s final note: A slice of pizza// New York

 

56. The lovely folks at…

Troubadour Dining. Owners Ashley Vosmera-Mitchell and Alex Lamonte make the meal such a personalized and fun experience, and the wine pairings are more than on point. // Pensacola, Fla.

 

57. The umami-rich explosion…

That are the snow crab noodles at Tuome, bathed in decadent dashi butter and squash. // New York

 

58. A celebratory-splurgy snack of…

Caviar service and oysters, while nestled in a cozy couch at Via Mare. // Nantucket, Mass.

 

59. The all-star service provided by…

The Vin Mon Lapin wait staff. From excellent on-the-fly wine pairings to a next-level three-course dinner sampler, kudos for the truly special dining experience. // Montréal

 

60. A snowy December dinner at…

The historic White Hart Inn, in the good company of a well-stuffed armchair, a crackling fire, and a mind-blowing bowl of pancetta, winter vegetables, and gruyère soup. // Salisbury, Conn.

 

61. An above-and-beyond…

Early spring dinner at Winona’s (courtesy of the exceptional staff) that shone bright against the dreary Covid winter days. We ordered three bottles of wine, literally everything on the menu, and an outrageously delicious Eton mess to top it all off. // New York


Contributors: Laura Ackerman, Jordan Andersen, Lana Auerbach, Jamie Beran, Jon Bonné, Johnny Brissenden, Jen Calloway, Colin Camac, Noëmie Carrant, Kevin Cordell, Vince D’Angelo, Rob DeFelice, Parish Felder, James Fordham, Caryn Ganeles, Matt Glassett, Tess Gostfrand, Alex Johnson, Amanda Kaderavek, Vanessa Leitman, Lala Liban, Paolo Lucchesi, Ria Mar-Fan, Marissa McGovern, Liz Mendez, Kathryn O’Brien, Samuel Parker, David Paw, Deanna Ting, Alice Tran, Kelley Travers, Julie Waters, Michelle Wilner, Zac Woodward, and Charles Zhao.

Photos by: Colin Camac, Tess Gostfrand, Lala Liban, Paolo Lucchesi, David Paw, Deanna Ting, Michelle Wilner, and Charles Zhao.

Edited by: Noëmie Carrant.

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