It’s a question that’s posed to everyone who lives to dine out, and it’s also one of the most loaded questions that can be posed to a food writer: “Where should I eat?” We asked a handful of the country’s most esteemed food writers, “If a friend were coming to your city to visit, what’s the one restaurant where you would tell them to dine?” and allowed them to suggest restaurants outside of their city along with that.

Their responses ranged from the new and hip to the tried-and-true, and one restaurant was, surprisingly, suggested by two writers. There are restaurants that you’ve probably never heard of, and others that are nothing short of legendary. We also asked the writers to provide an explanation for their choices, so you know exactly what, in their opinion, makes these restaurants so great.

Respondents included Esquire’s John Mariani, Texas Monthly’s Daniel Vaughn, the Miami Herald and Miami.com’s Evan S. Benn, Houstonia Magazine’s Robb Walsh, Forbes.com and USA Today’s Larry Olmsted, the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s Heidi Knapp Rinella, Chicago Magazine’s Penny Pollack, and Bedford + Bowery’s Daniel Maurer.

It’s not easy to narrow down your favorite restaurants to visit, but these writers were up to the challenge. Read on for restaurants that you should definitely plan on visiting in 2015.

1. Bazaar Meat, Las Vegas


(SBE Group, Bazaar Meat by Jose Andres)

“A dedication to careful sourcing and showcasing various types of meats in many forms separates Bazaar Meat from the pack.” — Heidi Knapp Rinella, Las Vegas Review-Journal

2. Bern’s Steakhouse, Tampa


(Bern's Steak House)

Both Larry Olmsted and Heidi Rinella suggested making a special trip to Bern’s. Here’s what Olmsted had to say: "'Best' is very subjective and, in my opinion, there are very few big cities, like New York, London, and Paris where you claim just one ‘must eat’ restaurant. However, in a few places there is one restaurant so special in its way that, to me, a trip to that city is wasted if you miss it. A perfect example is Bern's Steakhouse in Tampa. I'm just never going to Tampa and not eating at Bern's, which, in addition to great food, has the best and most unique wine program in the country if not the world.”

3. Galatoire’s, New Orleans


(Louis Sahuc, Galatoire's)

“Even though there is a branch of Galatoire's Bistro now in Baton Rouge, the original still looks, feels, smells, and tastes like New Orleans and its menu and cooking has only gotten better under new ownership. If you want to get a sense of Creole cooking unadorned and immutable and if you want to get a feeling for the particular character of New Orleans revelers, there's no better place to be than Galatoire's.” — John Mariani, Esquire

4. Gotham Bar & Grill, New York City


(Gotham Bar and Grill)

“Everything that typifies NYC is here at Alfred Portale's 32-year-old restaurant: a grand dining room and good long bar, swank, swagger, a very devoted New York crowd of regulars, and cuisine that is always inventive, always generous, never trendy. Service hits that ideal note of professionalism and personality.” — John Mariani, Esquire

5. Hog Island Oyster Bar, Marshall, Calif.


(Hog Island Oyster Co.)

“The DIY grilled oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. in Marshall, California were incredibly memorable in November, and I think I'll have to find a way to get back out for a view of Tomales Bay in 2015.” — Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly

6. Knife, Dallas


(Knife Modern Steak)

“Any visitor to Dallas is probably looking for at least one meal that involves steak, barbecue, or Tex-Mex, at least they should be. Chef John Tesar's Knife just opened last year, and it's a carnivore's playground. Tesar had his own dry-aging room where the beef goes as long as 240 days (which goes for a hefty $80 per inch), or you can get a four different cuts of beef grilled over wood for just $25.” — Daniel Vaughn, Texas Monthly

See more must-visit restaurant hotspots for this year.

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