The people have spoken—that is, the roughly five million people who make reservations and write reviews on OpenTable, the online restaurant reservation system. Hats off to chef Holly Smith and her team at Café Juanita, the only Washington state restaurant to make OpenTable’s 2013 roster of the 100 Best Restaurants in America.
The list was culled from a field of roughly 19,000 restaurants nationwide. The top 100 were selected based on reviews from verified OpenTable diners between November 14, 2012, and November 15, 2013
“It feels great to be on a list that is guest generated,” says Smith. “These reviews come only after a guest has dined with a restaurant and therefore it reflects happy guests.
It’s well-deserved recognition for the 13-year-old Kirkland restaurant, a favorite with critics from the start. In a 3.5 star review in the The Seattle Times in July 2002, Nancy Leson wrote, ” Innovation, artistry, and superior ingredients are key to the kitchen’s success.”
More recently Café Juanita earned James Beard Award semifinalist nods for Outstanding Restaurant (2011), Outstanding Chef (2011 and 2012) and Outstanding Service (2013). Smith snagged the James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest in 2008.
Café “Waneda” (as my first-grader and her pal once spelled it on a make-believe menu while playing restaurant years ago) is in good company. Others making the cut include Michelin-starred establishments such as Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry in Napa; the palatial Del Posto, a Batali-Bastianich venture in New York; and Atelier Crenn and Acquarello in San Francisco.
Predictably California and New York own the biggest share of the list, running neck-and-neck with 14 and 13 slots respectively. Not to be chauvinistic, but it’s hard to believe just one Washington restaurant was recognized, especially when Oregon has three: Noisette, a French charmer in NW Portland, plus two posh, wine country destinations, The Painted Lady and Jory, both in Newberg.
OpenTable published their list alphabetically but ranks the top ten. Check out that eclectic and geographically diverse group below.
1. St. Francis Winery & Vineyards, Santa Rosa, California
2. Mama’s Fish House, Paia, Hawaii
3. n/naka, Los Angeles, California
4. Halls Chophouse, Charleston, South Carolina
5. Charleston, Baltimore, Maryland
6. o ya, Boston, Massachusetts
7. Orchids at Palm Court, Cincinnati, Ohio
8. Fearrington House Restaurant, Pittsboro, North Carolina
9. The French Laundry, Yountville, California
10. goosefoot, Chicago, Illinois