13 Best Restaurants in Rural America 2023
You don’t have to live in a major city to enjoy some of the best food in America. Thankfully, editors at many of the top food & dining magazines are starting to catch on to what Rural Americans already know, expanding their search area for their annual lists of best restaurants in the country.
In Bocca al Lupo
Ore Hill & Swyft
Brochu’s Family Tradition
Tiffany’s Bar & Grill
Campione Roman Kitchen
Silvana’s Oysters & Seafood
As the American fine dining industry continues to expand and evolve, both up-and-coming and all-star chefs are setting out to make their culinary mark outside of the country’s major metropolitan dining centers, like New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami.
Likewise, when it comes to putting together their annual list of best new restaurants in the country, food editors from the top food & dining magazines like The New York Times Food section and Bon Appetit magazine, are widening their search areas, too. The results? A more diverse line-up of dining experiences better represents the true geological landscape of good food in America.
We looked over all the latest lists of best restaurants published this year to create our own special list of Rural America’s 13 Best New Restaurants of 2023!
In Bocca al Lupo
Alaska boasts some of the widest and wildest array of fresh food anywhere in the world – no doubt, it is also a great place to take in delicious Italian food. While the owners of In Bocca a Lupo (which means “good luck” in Italian) opened their doors in Juneau back in 2016, they have continued to earn great respect in the culinary world, securing a James Beard Foundation Award semi-finalist nomination in 2019, as well as making The New York Times’ Restaurant list this year.
Ore Hill & Swyft
Whether you go to admire the architecture or the menu, you are sure to be delighted on a visit to Ore Hill & Swift, a tavern located inside the Swift-Bull House, a carefully restored 170-year-old farmhouse situated in Kent, Connecticut — an idyllic area near the border of New York State. According to the owners: “On the basis of extensive research, a restoration was undertaken in 2016, preserving the post-and-beam frame, matching original materials, respecting historic methods of construction […] the Swift-Bull House is testimony to the modesty and integrity of another era, still legible in the building itself and still timely.” Within the inviting walls of a home still bearing the names of the families that owned it for centuries, diners can enjoy an inspiring meal of farm-focused fare (like dairy and meat raised on a nearby estate) that “flows with the seasons.” Plus, at a prefixed price of $95 a person, customers can savor a Michelin-level meal without breaking the bank.
Brochu’s Family Tradition
If you live somewhere in the Southeastern Coastal region, you cannot go wrong with a sojourn to Brochu’s Family Tradition — in fact, the trendy spot made both The New York Times and Bon Appetit’s list of Best New Restaurants this year! After making a name for himself in the Chicago dining scene, Chef Andrew Brochu set up shop in Savannah, Georgia, the hometown of his business partner and wife, Sophie. The spot is quickly making a name for itself due to its quirky decor as well as serving fine food that is both deceptively simple and decidedly Southern. For dessert, make sure to ask for a slice of their Frozen Cookie Dough Pie.
Tiffany’s Bar & Grill
After nearly two decades of success as a local “secret,” Tiffany’s Bar & Grill in Wailuku, Hawaii, on the island of Maui, is making waves on the international culinary scene thanks, in part, to its new, all-star owner (that is, Top Chef Season 10 semi-finalist and Season 14 “fan favorite,” Sheldon Simeon). The restaurant was spared by the devastating Maui wildfires, and now, longtime lovers of the spot don’t need to worry about the place losing its charm either. Simeon told The New York Times, he plans to keep the original charm of the pace intact. Instead, he will focus on lifting the artisanal quality of the food Tiffany’s has always served with his signature spin on traditional Hawaiian favorites. If you can’t make it out to the Big Island any time soon, bring the bar’s vibe to wherever — queue up the Spotify playlist they share on their website while you cook up one of these eight recipes from Simeon’s best-selling cookbook, Cook Real Hawai’i.
As the popularity and influence of Mexican culture expands further into the central United States, exceptional restaurants serving elevated, traditional Mexican cuisine are popping up all across Rural America — one such star is Amano in Caldwell, Idaho, recently recognized by The New York Times. As a child, Chef/Owner Salvator Alamilla’s family immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico, to Santa Ana, Calif., and later inland to Homedale, Iowa. Growing up in the Corn Belt, Alamilla developed a captivation for his mother’s cooking and the flavors of his childhood, which led him to pursue a career in culinary arts. He opened Amano in 2019, which he runs alongside his wife, to serve an awe-inspiring line-up of French-Mexican cuisine inspired by his journey and influences, ranging from tartare tostada to Birrah tacos to mole negro served with house-made tortillas.
Iowa City, Iowa
Sam Gelman spent his childhood eating lunch in Pearson’s Drug Store with his father and grandfather, located just down the street where they both worked. “This is where I first came to experience the beauty of community,” Gelman said. “That counter was where I enjoyed egg salad sandwiches and strawberry milkshakes.” After years away, studying at the Culinary Institute of America and working in four-star restaurants across Manhattan, making a name for himself under superstar chefs like Tom Colicchio and David Chang, Gelman returned to his hometown, Iowa City, with his wife to open The Webster, a trendy Asian-Italian fusion restaurant, in the very same space. Now, they are utilizing their chic culinary sensibilities to serve customers sustainably sourced dishes across what is now a chef’s counter in a town The New York Times dubbed a “cosmopolitan corner of the Midwest.”
If you know about Tinder Hearth, then you know how special it is to savor a slice of their wood-fired pizza. You see, their pizza is a hot commodity in the area since the restaurant only fires 150 each night they are open, just four nights a week. So, their recent write-up in The New York Times is likely creating a bit of a scarcity mindset when it comes to those special slices. The restaurant and bakery are located next door to owners Lydia Moffet and Tim Semler’s secluded farmhouse in Brooksville, Maine. To get there, diners must travel to Blue Hill Peninsula, a remote finger of Maine’s rugged coastline—a perilous journey most locals are hoping you won’t make!
Campione Roman Kitchen
When it comes to serving Italian-inspired “Montalian” cuisine at Campione Roman Kitchen in Livingston, Montana, its three partners — Josh Adams, Anthony Sferra, and Jeffrey Galli, who together have more than 30 years of culinary experience — know their celebration Montana’s culture, values, and history are indispensable to their enterprise, which was championed by the Livingston community when it opened mid-pandemic in 2020. Tiled into the entryway of the eatery, Campione’s motto, “In the Service of Others,” is a thread that runs thought everything they do. “We came up with the idea of ‘champion’ not in a sense of winning,” Galli told the editors of Edible Bozeman. “Instead, we mean the restaurant is a champion for Livingston, that is, for the community first; really focused on service and inspired by local agriculture.”
Pine Plains, NY
Far away from the dazzling lights and sounds of New York City, Stissing House in Pine Plains, New York, is transporting diners on a culinary journey back to the dawn of the American Republic. The restaurant’s building, built in 1782, houses a tavern, guest rooms, and America’s first domed ballroom. Today, Chef Clare de Boer enchants guests with classic American cuisine in menu full of locally-sourced, mouth-watering ingredients like fresh-caught Atlantic seafood, heritage-breed pork, rabbit, heirloom tomatoes, wild greens – even rounding out the meal with a slice of coconut cake.
Sedalia’s Oyster & Seafood
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Thanks to impressive strides in the pack-and-ship seafood supply chain as well as the steadfast dedication of hard-working chefs and restauranters like Zack Walters and Silvana Arandia Walters, dazzling restaurant like Sedalia’s Oysters and Seafood are beginning to pop up across the Central United States, transporting diners to the coast with fresh, delightful raw seafood once impossible to enjoy in landlocked locales like Oklahoma City. The menu is ever-rotating, just like the mismatched retro serving ware at Sedalia’s, a quaint neighborhood “oysterette.” As co-owner, Silvana, writes on the restaurant’s website: “My hope is to be able to create a space in our community that provides some of the warmth, authenticity, and integrity that some of the best places provide. I have so much gratitude in my heart for OKC; the way we’ve been received has been with open arms, kind words and appreciation! we couldn’t ask for more.”
In a quiet corner of the Pacific Northwest lies Okta, a fine dining, tasting menu concept inspired by its own sense of place, featuring a menu inspired by the micro-seasons of Oregon’s Willamette Valley where the restaurant is located. Chef Matthew Lightner, who once cooked at Noma as well as other lauded establishments, adopts a similar scientific approach to gastronomy, but in a way that melds organically with the local ecology. According to the Times, “roots, fruits, leaves, creatures – even twigs and rock” – make their way into Lightner’s dishes, paired with locally raised or caught proteins. While guests might not have leftovers when they leave Okta, they will likely takeaway a deeper understanding of the rich history within each dish they tasted.
Falls Church, Virginia
Michelin-starred duo, Carey and Yuan Tang are sharing their take on comfort food back to their roots with their concept, Ellie Bird, located in their hometown of Falls Church, Virginia. The contemporary casual restaurant serves a range of menus, from brunch to prefix, and welcomes guests that range in age from children to adults. According to The New York Times, the food at Ellie Bird is so good, that it will bring out the kid in you! (which might be why the restaurant’s staff page features childhood photos of each employee!)
Bainbridge Island, Washington
When it comes to traveling to Seabird, a new restaurant located on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, it might be a bit easier to get there if you’re a bird than a human diner. It requires a 35-minute birds-eye ferry from Seattle to get there. However, the jaunt over is the perfect time for diners to gather not only a sense of place but also an appreciation for the restaurant’s warm, cozy atmosphere and its meticulously sourced menu of local seafood and farm-fresh produce. And, where else could you sample such a selection of raw oysters, seaweed focaccia, kelp Caesar salad, and fresh fish that was line-caught just down the road? One glance at the menu will have you enthralled by your undertaking of such a singular experience — that is, Chef Brendan McGill’s heartfelt tribute to the island and the greater Olympic Peninsula. You can read more about the restaurant in Bon Appetit.