Over the past several years, the American dining scene has become less and less formal. Once upon a time, high-end dining was synonymous with white tablecloths, waiters in tuxedos, and more forks than you could count, but today you could find yourself sitting at a counter in jeans at some of the country’s most expensive restaurants, like Nashville’s The Catbird Seat. But for certain restaurants, that most old-fashioned of dress codes, "Jackets Required," is still alive and well. We found 11 restaurants that still make men wear a jacket.
In the not-so-distant past, if you wanted to have a meal at a nice restaurant you needed to dress up. It’s not that outlandish a concept: you’re going out for the night, you’re going to eat a big meal and spend a lot of money at a fancy restaurant, so you put on a jacket and tie for the occasion. But not anymore; today it’s all about how casual we can get away with being.
The trend toward dressing more casually doesn’t just apply to restaurants, either: heck, people even used to wear a jacket and tie to go to a Broadway show, but tourists today show up in shorts and flip-flops.
So what’s the reason behind the "casualfication" of the dining industry? It’s hard to tell, but it’s most likely an attempt to do away with some of the stuffiness that usually goes with high-end dining, and a simple bucking of convention. Expensive restaurants used to involve elaborate theatrics, white tablecloths, and plenty of pomp and circumstance, but many chefs and restaurateurs are purposefully going in the opposite direction, serving food that’s just as refined and delicious to casually dressed diners in smartly designed but unmistakably downscale dining rooms.
But as casual as some restaurants might be, there will always be ones for those who are craving that upscale experience. You’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant these days that still makes men wear ties (there was a lot of uproar when New York’s "21" Club did away with that rule in 2009), but there are still a handful of restaurants left in the country that require men to wear a jacket, mostly concentrated in New York and Chicago. We’ve tracked down 11 of these restaurants, and they just so happen to be 11 of the best restaurants in America.
1. The Four Seasons, New York City
While you won’t get kicked out of the The Four Seasons if you show up in your shirtsleeves, management at this legendary restaurant will kindly suggest that you don one of their "loaners" while you dine. And you definitely should: they’re stylish, dry-cleaned weekly, and you really don’t want to be the only guy in the Pool Room without a jacket on.
2. '21' Club, New York City
While they did away with the tie requirement in 2009, you’re still not getting in without a jacket at this world-renowned speakeasy that became one of the country’s most famous restaurants.
3. Galatoire’s, New Orleans
This beacon of old-world fanciness has been requiring its male customers to wear jackets for well more than 100 years. And while they no longer force men to wear ties and women to wear dresses, if you arrive without a jacket you can take your pick from about 30 available to borrow.
4. Per Se, New York City
Thomas Keller’s Per Se is one of the finest restaurants in the world, and if you have the privilege (and the means) to dine there you’re going to need to wear at least a jacket (and you really should wear a tie as well). And for Pete’s sake, don’t even try to walk in with jeans.
5. The French Laundry, Yountville, Calif.
Just like at Per Se, you’ll need to wear a jacket at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, which has consistently been rated the country’s best restaurant. You also won’t be allowed in if you decide to show up in jeans, T-shirts, shorts, or sneakers. When it’s warm inside the restaurant (it’s cooled geo-thermally, which doesn’t always work so well), you’re allowed to take your jacket off at the table, but check with the waiter first.
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