The 11 Best Restaurants for Ambiance in the U.S.

For Food & Wine’s first Global Tastemakers awards, readers voted these restaurants as best in class for ambiance.

Best US Restaurants for Ambiance Merois

Courtesy of Merois

Global Tastemakers is our first-ever reader’s choice awards, celebrating the best culinary destinations in the U.S. and abroad. F&W readers voted based on travel completed within the past three years, on categories including restaurants and bars, cities, hotels, airports, airlines, and cruises. Due to the limitations of pandemic travel, this year’s Global Tastemakers winners reflect a smaller portion of the globe. In many categories, we’re including an editor’s pick to shout out some more culinary destinations in places you can’t miss. See all the winners at

Restaurants are about more than just food. Ambiance plays a critical role in the dining experience, setting the mood for first dates, celebrations, or casual catch-ups with friends.

For some, good ambiance is synonymous with being “Instagrammable,” and while we don’t discount the benefits of a good photo, we love the way beautiful restaurants make us feel. Our readers voted the following 10 U.S. restaurants as best in class for ambiance, featuring everything from beachfront views to over-the-top luxury. Read on to discover the restaurants with auras just as remarkable as their menus.

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Yolan: Nashville, Tennessee

Best US Restaurants for Ambiance Yolan

Courtesy of Yolan

Yolan, an upscale Italian restaurant in Nashville, feels like pure luxury. The restaurant is located at the lavish hotel, The Joseph, and it’s driven by the vision of Tony and Cathy Mantuano. Tony, a James Beard Award-winning chef, and Cathy, a master of wine and pairings, have created a gorgeous setting for their award-winning food. The restaurant boasts contemporary decor with an earth-tone color palette, complemented by warm lighting that is as inviting as their impressive wine selection. Every aspect, from the glassware to the spectacular kitchen visible through open shelves holding massive rounds of Parmigiano-Reggiano, has been carefully orchestrated to create an exceptional dining experience.

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Merois: Los Angeles, California

Best US Restaurants for Ambiance Merois

Courtesy of Merois

On the roof of Pendry West Hollywood, Wolfgang Puck's Merois restaurant, a fusion of Japanese, Southeast Asian, and French cuisines, offers fine dining at its finest with stunning views of Sunset Boulevard. With a glam Art Deco-inspired interior that features high ceilings, plush velvet seating, and bold geometric patterns, guests are immersed in a world of glamor. Reserve a table for sunset dining for an even more upscale dining experience.

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Camphor: Los Angeles, California


Josh Telles

It doesn’t get more inviting than Camphor, an intimate French-inspired restaurant located in downtown Los Angeles' buzzing Arts District. Led by executive chefs Max Boonthanakit and Lijo George, Camphor is a modern bistro that offers an exceptional dining experience with a minimalist decor that features light wood accents and serene low lighting. Despite its calm atmosphere, Camphor is a bustling must-eat spot in Los Angeles.

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Skull's Rainbow Room: Nashville, Tennessee

Skull's Rainbow Room


Named after David "Skull" Schulman, a former owner and prominent figure in Nashville's entertainment scene during the mid-20th century, Skull's Rainbow Room pays homage to Schulman's legacy with live music that captures the spirit of Nashville's iconic music scene. With its shimmering crystal curtains and state-of-the-art sound system, the restaurant's main stage is the centerpiece of the space. Plush velvet seating and vintage-inspired accents evoke the golden age of jazz. Plus, guests can enjoy a stellar meal, all while being dazzled by some of the city's most talented musicians.

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Providence: Los Angeles, California


John Troxell

This Michelin-starred restaurant in Los Angeles has been serving award-winning seafood for over a decade. With a spacious room richly illuminated by natural lighting, the restaurant's look is contemporary and sleek, designed with clean lines, soft lighting, and a color palette driven by earthy tones. Beyond aesthetics, Providence's commitment to sustainability and environmental awareness makes it a feel-good place to eat. Each dish on the menu is made from sustainably sourced, wild-caught seafood and hyper-local, seasonal ingredients.

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Zou Zou's: New York, New York


Noah Feck

Zou Zou's is a lively 75-seat restaurant in the heart of New York City. As part of its menu, the restaurant features a variety of dishes that celebrate the cuisines and flavors of the Eastern Mediterranean region. The restaurant's decor boasts dark woods, off-white plasters, vibrant red seats, and green tiles that highlight the open spaces punctuated by arches and domes. The restaurant's open kitchen allows guests to watch as their dishes are prepared, adding to the overall dining experience.

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Aldama: Brooklyn, New York


Sandra Grattarola

Aldama is a vibrant restaurant that's firmly rooted in Brooklyn while paying homage to the diversity of Mexican cuisine. From the eclectic decor featuring funky lighting fixtures and bright murals to the boho-chic feel of the poured concrete bar with its woven-seat bar stools, imported wood panels, textiles, and ceramics, Aldama is a delightful place to enjoy a meal. The menu from chef Gerardo Alcaraz features creative dishes, such as vegan mole and a Cornish hen Pollo Coloradit.

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Le Bernardin: New York, New York

Le Bernardin

Nigel Parry

A quintessential New York institution, from its decor to its menu, Le Bernardin exudes a sense of refined luxury. The space is elegantly minimalist, with dark, muted tones, sleek furniture, and a warm atmosphere conducive to focusing on the phenomenal food and wine. The menu is centered around the highest quality seafood imported from around the world, prepared using classic French techniques with a modern approach. Its commitment to excellence in every aspect of the dining experience, from the cuisine to the service to the ambiance, has earned it numerous accolades and recognition as one of the world's best restaurants.

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Nobu Malibu: Los Angeles, California

Nobu Malibu

Benny Marty / Alamy Stock Photo

The flagship from renowned chef and 1989 Food & Wine Best New Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa, Nobu is an upscale Japanese-Peruvian restaurant located in Malibu, California, that has become one of the most recognized Japanese restaurants in the world. With the stellar backdrop of the Pacific Ocean at this beachfront property, the restaurant's interior design is the epitome of sleek, showcasing natural materials that complement the stunning views of the ocean.

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The Catbird Seat: Nashville, Tennessee

The Catbird Seat

Andrew Thomas Lee

The Catbird Seat in Nashville, Tennessee, offers an intimate dining experience centered around an open kitchen. There are only 22 seats available in the small space, which has a U-shaped counter that surrounds the kitchen, allowing guests to observe the chefs as they prepare each course. Despite having an industrial feel being surrounded by the kitchen, the ambiance is still inviting, with dim lighting and comfortable seating. A simple, contemporary decor is intentional and allows diners the focus on the food and the overall experience.

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Moon Rabbit: Washington D.C.

Moon Rabbit


Moon Rabbit, a restaurant in Washington D.C. with Vietnamese roots, boasts an ambiance that falls perfectly between chic and cozy. The dining room is embellished with modern Vietnamese-inspired decor, including bamboo light fixtures and colorful murals, that contribute to its vibrant yet sophisticated environment. Seating options range from cozy booths to communal tables, providing an inviting atmosphere for both large and small groups. The combination of delicious Vietnamese cuisine, attentive service, and stylish ambiance make Moon Rabbit a must-visit restaurant in D.C.

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Editor’s Pick: Mamey: Coral Gables, FL


Kris Tamburello

Both the food and decor at Mamey make you feel like you’re in a lush, tropical paradise. Food & Wine Best New Chef Niven Patel uses ingredients sourced from his own ranch to craft dishes inspired by his travels throughout Asia, Polynesia, and the Caribbean at this must-visit spot in Coral Gables. Painted botanicals line the walls, and greenery seems to pop up on every surface inside the thoughtfully-designed interior. Plants hanging from above and warm, ambient lighting combine to make you feel like you’re outdoors, while still creating a cozy atmosphere. - F&W Editors

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