You can offer cutting-edge sessions, top speakers and fabulous venues, but if you take attendees to a less-than-stellar restaurant, your entire event might leave a bad taste in their mouths. To help satisfy your group's appetite, we've assembled the following roster of hot restaurants from industry tech giant Cvent's list of the Top 10 U.S. Meetings Destinations, based on group-booking activity across the company's venue sourcing sites and the Cvent Supplier Network. Tuck in your napkin and check out the following.
This two-story chophouse (pictured above) located on Orlando's famed International Drive features five private dining rooms, two full bars and outdoor patio space for groups ranging from 12 to 150. Some of executive chef Greg Thompson's specialties include Shanghai-style fried calamari with sweet chili glaze, bean sprouts, cherry peppers and crushed peanuts.
Meat-eaters get to choose from 16 cuts of steaks and chops, including a Wagyu-beef tasting of 3-ounce Japanese A5, Australian and Rosewood, Texas, filets. Del Frisco's in-house sommeliers can guide groups through 1,200-plus labels, pairing prime cuts with perfect Pinots. View the full menu here.
2. LAS VEGAS
Tucked away in the MGM Grand is Joël Robuchon, a famed French restaurant decorated with three Michelin Stars, five stars from Forbes and five AAA Diamonds. The cozy space is designed to resemble an art deco townhouse with lush gardens and marble floors.
The namesake of the late founder and chef Robuchon -- dubbed France's chef of the century by the Gault and Millau restaurant guide -- serves delicacies like la cuisse de grenouille (frog's-leg fritters with red miso and espelette pepper). Groups of 7 to 75 will revel in Robuchon's 16-course dégustation menu, unfolding in one of the spot's two private dining rooms (a full property buyout is available). View the full menu here.
- 302 North Green Street, (773) 645-1400
Part of the Windy City's historic Fulton Market District, Aba ("father" in Hebrew) is chef and partner C.J. Jacobson's second restaurant and an extension of his original River North venture, Ema (Hebrew for "mother"), under Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises. This airy rooftop spot serves Mediterranean dishes with an emphasis on raw and cooked proteins. Guests will enjoy the crispy short rib hummus with grilled onions, sherry and beef jus, or the grilled skirt steak with shawarma spice, cucumber and tomato salad. Currently available is raw big-eyed tuna with pistachio and ginger shiso, and beef carpaccio with creamy horseradish, crispy kale and cherries.
A chef 's table accommodates groups of up to 12, while its semiprivate dining spaces seat 25. Groups of up to 600 can gather in Aba's private event hall, the Dalcy, located just below the rooftop space. View the full menu here.
The city's northeastern neighborhood of Johns Creek is home to Ari Korean Steakhouse, rated Zagat's hottest new restaurant in town in 2018. The upscale Korean BBQ spot features delicious grilled meats prepared table side, while the kitchen turns out a wide selection of noodle dishes and stews. Groups of up to 40 are invited to enjoy Ari's private dining room, where they can feast on Kobe beef tartare bibimbap, a Korean rice dish served with locally sourced radish, mushrooms and fresh vegetables of the day. Or they might test their hands-on culinary skills by grilling proteins like glabi (beef rib), pork belly, thinly sliced "bulgogi" chicken and seafood choices such as king prawns on open gas grills embedded in the center of the dining tables.
The Cakeshop, Ari's in-house confectionery, serves traditional sweets with a twist, including bourbon pecan pie and strawberry cream cake. View the full menu here.
The signature restaurant at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, Fearing's blends elevated cuisine with innovative design. Owner and chef Dean Fearing, author of The Texas Food Bible, provides diners with a tasting menu compiled from local farm-to-market ingredients. Recent menu items included English pea, basil and homemade ricotta tortellini appetizer served on summer corn puree with melted leeks, pickled beech mushrooms and smoky ham-hock broth.
The fall menu brought in mesquite-grilled salmon with pumpkin/sage tortellini on parsnip puree, melted leeks, butternut squash and beech mushrooms with smoked rich turkey broth. Fearing's hosts private groups of up to 250 in its newly renovated Ocaso room. The wine cellar with vaulted ceilings provides a private dining space for groups of up to 16. View the current menu here.
- 303 Demonbreun Street, (615) 522-0685
Serving global flavors and desserts by chef Deb Paquette and pastry chef Megan Williams, Etch is on the ground floor of the Encore tower in the Music City's SoBro (South of Broadway) District. The restaurant's eclectic menu includes selections like duck tart appetizer -- a tasty combination of duck confit, sweet potato, caramelized onion, orange curd, japa caramel, black olive mole and cherry coffee butter in puff pastry. Williams' peach raspberry pavlova dessert -- to die for -- combines brown sugar meringue, roasted peaches, raspberries, whipped cream and pistachios.
Etch offers two private dining rooms with customizable F&B menus. The Intermezzo room seats up to 12, while the Encore accommodates 36 seated guests or 50 standing. View the full menu here.
7. SAN DIEGO
- A.R. Valentien
- 11480 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, Calif., (858) 777-6635
Overlooking the 18th hole of the golf course at the Lodge at Torrey Pines in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla, A.R. Valentien highlights regional cuisine via James Beard award–winning chef Jeff Jackson's frequently changing menu based on locally sourced provisions and seasonal fare.
Guests have come to expect fresh and vibrant choices like lemon and thyme-basted halibut with roasted escarole, artichokes, Castelvetrano olives, capers, garlic and blistered cherry tomatoes; also of note recently was the braised veal cheek with fresh shelling bean ragu, pimiento peppers, preserved lemon and cipollini onions. Named for an early 1900s California artist, A.R. Valentien is adorned with locally celebrated art, stained-glass lanterns and exposed beams. Groups of up to 12 can enjoy an intimate experience in the private dining room. View the full menu here.
8. NEW YORK
In Midtown Manhattan on West 42nd Street across from Bryant Park, Gabriel Kreuther's luxurious contemporary French and Alsatian-inspired dining experience is set amid airy environs. Both the chef and his namesake eatery are Michelin starred and noted in James Beard's "Best of New York City"; the restaurant also was ranked the 16th best in the world by TripAdvisor's 2018 Traveler's Choice Awards.
Summertime starters included the foie gras terrine and sesame praline garnished with poached green strawberries and apricot jam atop a spiced waffle. For dinner, a favorite was Long Island duck-leg confit served alongside marinated summer beans, basil and oil-cured olives. Gabriel Kreuther offers two private dining rooms, one of which, the Grace room, includes a full-service bar. The two spaces can be combined for groups of up to 150. View the full menu here.
With 40 Peruvian restaurants in 12 countries plus one chocolate shop, the Acurio Organization's La Mar is its Miami outpost, the signature restaurant of the Mandarin Oriental. Multi-award-winning chef and author Gastón Acurio brings authentic flavors to the menu from his home country. Diners indulge in a range of culinary styles from novo-Andean to Asian-Peruvian fusion.
The ceviche bar offers 15 traditional dishes including the clásico with fluke, cilantro, aji limo chile, red onions, Peruvian corn and leche de tigre (a citrus-spice sauce). La Mar's dining room and terraces accommodate groups of 20 to 100. For larger events, buyouts can be arranged. View the full menu here.
10. WASHINGTON, D.C.
One block from the White House, the Oval Room features authentic American cuisine in all its glory. With a wide-ranging menu and wine list, the place is annually named by Washingtonian magazine as one of the top 100 best restaurants, and owner Ashok Bajaj was recently honored with the Duke Zeibert Capital Achievement Award for his initiative to increase the profile and success of dining in Metropolitan Washington.
Menu selections include dishes such as cauliflower Grenobloise with maitake mushroom, pine nuts and arugula, as well as crispy-skin branzino in a pork-compressed plum sauce with rosemary, lentils and cress. Featuring three private dining rooms, a bar and a patio, the Oval Room accommodates up to 150 guests for a cocktail reception and 100 for a seated dinner. The main dining room hosts up to 65 seated, while the Curtain Room is perfect for a group of 15. View the full menu here.