Discover the best award-winning U.S. restaurants that captivate culinary experts and customers alike. In a comprehensive two-part analysis of 64 highest-ranking restaurants recognized by the Michelin Guide, Forbes Travel Guide, and American Automobile Association (AAA) Diamond Awards, I bring you the country’s 10 highest customer-rated award-winning restaurants.
Through statistical and qualitative review sentiment analysis, I uncovered the most exalted experiences and highest-praised features that set these restaurants apart. My investigation even found the most commonly leveled criticisms of these gastronomic behemoths. Join me in delving into this epicurean journey as we explore the culinary prowess behind these crowned dining destinations.
Here is everything you will learn on this page:
Fun Facts: Award-Winning Restaurants
- Gourmet Grand Slam: 10 U.S. restaurants scored what I call a Gourmet Grand Slam 🏆 for acing all three guides; four are also fan favorites!
- Michelin Magic: Michelin Star restaurants top all other award-winning gastronomies, clinching the highest ratings, averaging 4.5 on TripAdvisor and Google.
- Full House: All ten restaurants are AAA Diamonds, seven are Forbes Star-Rated, and just four are Michelin-Starred.
- King California: California is home to 23% of all U.S. Michelin, Forbes, and AAA top-rated restaurants, surpassing New York by two establishments.
- Chef Star Power: Charleston restaurant’s Chef Cindy Wolf has the highest Chef Star Power, with the most mentions by name in customer reviews.
- Happiest Customers: Victoria & Albert’s customers are most content, placing #1 in customer ratings and boasting an unmatched proportion of positive reviews.
- Consistently Excellent: #1 for review count, Le Bernardin, with 6,354 Google and TripAdvisor reviews, boasts a 4.72 review score demonstrating supreme consistency.
Roster: The 10 Best U.S. Award-Winning Restaurants
This article utilizes two types of analysis to evaluate 3-Star Michelin, Five-Star Forbes, and AAA Five-Diamond-designated restaurants — a statistical and qualitative review sentiment analysis. The statistical analysis examines customer review counts and ratings from Google and TripAdvisor to calculate a weighted score I call the Customer Review Score. On the other hand, the qualitative review sentiment analysis of the restaurants with the highest Customer Review Scores extracts feelings, emotions, and nuanced points of view from customer reviews through natural language processing. Combined, these two analyses provide a powerful understanding of customer satisfaction and a holistic evaluation of the highest-rated establishments in the country.
While being featured on multiple guides did not grant restaurants additional points, we acknowledge and celebrate those that appear on Michelin, Forbes, and AAA guides simultaneously by recognizing them as a Gourmet Grand Slam 🏆.
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Visualizations: The Best U.S. Michelin, Forbes, and AAA-Rated Restaurants
Here is a table and a map of the ten highest customer-rated award-winning restaurants in the U.S.
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Independent: My data analysis research is conducted with independence and impartiality to ensure the integrity of the findings. My research is editorially independent, but Trips to Discover may earn a commission for any purchases made through links on this page.
Preliminary Research: I gathered a list of restaurants in the U.S. from the 2023 AAA Five Diamond Restaurant Awards list, the 2023 Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Restaurant Award Winners, and the 2023 list of 3-Star Michelin Restaurants. Between all three award systems, 64 unique restaurants remained. I sought to explore which of these restaurants, acknowledged by experts as the best, are the favorites among customers who dine there.
Data Extraction: These rankings are based on an analysis of 87,171 restaurant reviews for the 64 restaurants between Google and TripAdvisor. Google and TripAdvisor review scores and rating counts for all 64 restaurants were collected on 5/11/23 (4:05-4:43 PM MT) and 5/15/23 (10:05-10:30 AM MT), respectively. At the same time, I extracted the food, service, value, and atmosphere ratings on TripAdvisor and factored into my analysis.
Statistical Analysis Techniques: I used a proprietary ranking formula that, at its core, uses a weighted score analysis using a Bayesian average rating method to weigh each restaurant’s number of TripAdvisor and Google reviews against its average TripAdvisor and Google score separately. I call this the Lox Score in honor of the study it was first created for. We collected and utilized over 87,000 reviews between the 64 restaurants. Scores are on a 5-point scale. I then combined the TripAdvisor (40%) and Google (40%) Lox Scores with the TripAdvisor food (11%), service (3%), value (3%), and atmosphere (3%) scores into one weighted average “Customer Review Score” (CRS) also on a 5-point scale. My rankings are based on the ten restaurants, out of 64 total, with the highest CRS scores.
Qualitative Review Sentiment Analysis: Individual restaurant descriptions were created through qualitative review sentiment analysis using text mining methods and natural language processing. I used Outscrapper, a data-scrapping tool, to gather the most recent 50 customer reviews for each restaurant from Google and TripAdvisor. I used GPT-4 to conduct a qualitative review sentiment analysis of the 50 latest reviews for each restaurant focusing on various perspectives such as what sets the restaurant apart for customers, shared benefits and drawbacks for patrons, and essential decision-making factors for those who choose to dine there. All AI-generated analyses were thoroughly cross-checked for accuracy. Then I wrote the ultimate qualitative summary for each restaurant based on the information contained in the AI-generated qualitative review sentiment analysis.
Replicability: All the data used for this project is publicly available for study replication. The 64 restaurants are on the AAA, Forbes, and Michelin websites. All 64 restaurants are located on Google Maps and TripAdvisor, where you can identify review scores, counts and food, service, value and atmosphere ratings.
Contact Us: If you need assistance building a similar project or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected], and I can walk you through the process.
Data: You can download the data behind my analysis, including all 64 Michelin, AAA, or Forbes top-rated restaurants with their Google and TripAdvisor review scores and numbers at the time of this analysis, including our statistical calculations here in Google Sheets. This workbook also contains the other six Gourmet Grand Slams (top-rated by Michelin, Forbes, and AAA). You will additionally find the 500 restaurant review samples used for my sentiment analysis in that workbook without personally identifying information. I have also removed all proprietary calculations from the books. You can view the raw GPT qualitative sentiment analysis based on these 500 reviews here in Google Docs; however, I am choosing to withhold the valuable and meticulously crafted GPT prompts used to create these analyses. Please feel free to use or share this data with whoever may find this helpful — I ask that your purposes are noncommercial and that you link back to this page so I can receive proper credit for my work.
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