Platinum List 2019: Best Classic Restaurants

Antoine’s, Il Becco, Enoteca Pinchiorri, Etxebarri, Spago

September/ October 2019
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Long-standing favorites, iconic venues and perennial hotspots that withstand the changing tides of fashion.

Antoine’s Restaurant

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

The diner from California was insisting to Antoine’s proprietor that the oysters Rockefeller placed before her were inauthentic. “She said, ‘I have had oysters Rockefeller everywhere, but yours are wrong. There’s no spinach, no bacon, no hollandaise.’ ” Rick Blount had to explain to her that his great-grandfather Jules Alciatore had created the dish in 1899, and it was indeed the original preparation. “She just looked at me and said, ‘Well, why don’t you change the name of yours?’ ”

The fame of oysters Rockefeller (and its dubious variations) has become so universal that sometimes people forget it was invented at Antoine’s, the New Orleans institution founded in 1840 and the country’s oldest family-run restaurant. Blount represents the fifth generation to oversee the establishment, which began as a boarding house and eatery opened by Antoine Alciatore when he was just 18. The French native’s culinary skills set it apart from other places in the Vieux Carré, and over the decades the Haute Creole menu expanded to include such creations as eggs Sardou—poached eggs, artichoke bottoms and hollandaise sauce—and oysters Foch, consisting of toast spread with pâté and topped with fried oysters.

The restaurant currently has 14 dining rooms of varying decor and sizes, from the baronial Grand Annex seating 220 to the fiery-red Tabasco Room for eight, while the streetfront Hermes Bar lures new patrons. Curious passersby used to look in the window and walk off, worried that the dress code or price point would be forbidding. “How could they interface with this icon?” Blount wondered. “So we opened the bar where someone could walk in wearing shorts but still glimpse the interior and order a drink and food. It was a way to potentially fall in love with the place.” As for the oysters Rockefeller, the actual recipe remains a house secret. But rest assured, it contains no bacon.
—Eric Newill

Il Becco Restaurant

Mexico City, Mexico

This staple in the Four Seasons offers Mexico’s longest list of Italian wines and dishes such as tuna with crispy salicornia.  

Enoteca Pinchiorri

Florence, Italy

Opened in 1972, this sublime restaurant has been awarded three Michelin stars for its cuisine. Here, the spicy dark-chocolate ribbon.

Etxebarri

Axpe, Spain

Everything is cooked over a grill at chef Victor Arguinzoniz’s rustic restaurant, which has been named the world’s third best.  

Spago

Beverly Hills, California, United States

Wolfgang Puck became world-famous when his signature restaurant opened in 1982, with specialties like smoked salmon pizza.  

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