Grant Achatz (pictured) with Simon Davies
What makes it special: The key ingredient infused into every Alinea meal isn’t a mountain of caviar, or a fat puck of foie gras. Since Alinea’s debut in 2005, chef and owner Grant Achatz has built a reputation for designing dishes spiked with emotion; eliciting playful nostalgia from his diners via sophisticated riffs off a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, or pheasant served with smouldering oak leaves he calls Aromas of Fall.
What’s on the menu: Alinea has kept itself at the forefront of modern creativity via edible vanilla beans, langoustine yuba, crystal-clear pumpkin pie and what has become Alinea’s most famous dish: an edible, helium-filled, floating balloon designed by former executive chef Mike Bagale.
Best seat in the house: To commemorate Alinea’s 10th birthday, Achatz shuttered his wildly successful restaurant for four months, giving the place a total overhaul. When Alinea reopened in June 2017, the temple of haute cuisine emerged with a clean and bright look, in addition to a new dining experience: a glassed-in kitchen table. With room for four to six diners, The KT (The Kitchen Table) is where guests embark on a lengthy bespoke menu, often with more than 22 courses with interaction with chefs encouraged.
A bit of listory: Alinea first entered The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2007, when it debuted at No.36, the Highest New Entry that year. In 2009, Alinea moved up to No.10 and advanced to No.7 the following year, when it was also the highest ranked North American restaurant. Alinea maintained its top North American spot for 2011 and moved up one position overall to No.6, which was its highest-ever ranking.