The Best Power Lunch Restaurant in Every U.S. State

The top places to see and be seen—from coast to coast.

According to Robin Jay, author of The Art of the Business Lunch, the truly savvy businessman always demonstrates a mastery of two basic tenants when meeting a client or colleague for lunch: pick a place where the elite gather, and make sure the menu is, if possible, American. (That way, she says, there won't be anything challenging to eat.) While we can't say that you should always do the latter—as we've discovered, Italian restaurants offer a wonderful power lunch menu—we can certainly help you with the former. We've taken it upon ourselves to compile all of the best power lunching restaurants across the country so you can do business no matter where you are.

One notable caveat: as much as we like the Capital Grille and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, we tried to steer clear of chain steak joints and offer up top-notch eateries with a more local connection. (Hey, don't you want to be "in the know?") In some cases, we've chosen places that aren't your stereotypical "business lunch"—you know, no white table cloths, billowing curtains, and stuffy maître d's—but that doesn't mean they're any less powerful. In fact, quite the opposite. They're the savviest power lunch destinations, because that's where you're guaranteed to find the local business leaders. (Yes, sometimes the unexpected choice carries more power.) And once you've got your lunch meeting on the books, be sure it goes perfectly by brushing up on these common mistakes at fine-dining restaurants.

Post Office Pies; Birmingham, Alabama

You might not think "pizza" when you think of southern cooking, but Post Office Pies is likely to change your mind. The menu of wood-fired brick-oven pizzas offers great opportunities for conversation and debate over which build-your-own to go for, and the fresh ingredients will appeal to meat-eaters and vegetarians alike. If you're worried about your waistline, we've got you covered. Here's how to make pizza work for you—and other healthy living secrets from Italians.

49th State Brewing Co.; Anchorage, Alaska

49th State Brewing Co. is a sprawling space with a rooftop patio and plenty of room inside, ideal whether you are having a one-on-one lunch or with a group. For those who like to have a beer at lunch, their small-batch, locally brewed artisan ales and lagers are tough to beat. Those who skip the lunch drinks have plenty of elevated pub grub to choose from—the burger menu alone boasts patties of local yak, venison, and king salmon. Burger lovers, you may also want to know how to make the ultimate burger yourself.

Barnone; Phoenix, Arizona

For those looking for a place with a free-flowing atmosphere, conducive to brainstorming or big-picture conversations, Barnone offers a mix of lunch options in one central "craftsmen community." It's casual, but classy, with options such as the rustic Fire and Brimstone, which pulls its ingredients directly from the on-site Farm at Agritopia and the organic "plant-centric cuisine" of The Uprooted Kitchen. But if you're finding yourself too buys to steal away for an off-site lunch, here are 30 Best Ways to Stay in Shape While Working.

Brave New Restaurant; Little Rock, Arkansas

Brave New Restaurant is a great go-to spot if trying to impress a client without being stuffy. Set along the coast of the Arkansas River, this steakhouse boasts plenty of outdoor seating and a lunch menu with some top-notch sandwiches and salads—or some more serious entrees like pork tenderloin and pecan trout, if looking for something more substantial. And if steak is your thing, don't miss our collection of the Best Steakhouses in America. 

Soho House West Hollywood; Los Angeles, California

The City of Stars is bursting with lunch spots where high-stakes deals are happening, but perhaps none hotter than Soho House West Hollywood. Named the number one Power Lunch Spot by The Hollywood Reporter for four years running, this private members club is where executives and celebrities congregate, snacking on the salad bar or Mediterranean canteen Nava on the 13th floor. But the food isn't the reason people come here—it's the high-wattage clientele (the views from the 14th floor aren't too bad, either). If you're lucky, you might run into one of these A-Listers who are also real-life heroes.

Elway's; Denver, Colorado

Inside The Ritz-Carlton in downtown Denver, Elway's is a classic steakhouse that offers a few distinctive flourishes (how often do you see fish tacos on the menu of a steakhouse?). The co-owner and namesake is NFL Hall of Famer and current GM of the Denver Broncos John Elway, making this a good spot for entertaining football fans, whether locals or out-of-towners. And if you're grilling your steak at home, here's our guide for getting the most out of your meat. 

Ralph 'n'Rich's; Bridgeport, Connecticut

For friendly local atmosphere, Ralph 'n' Rich's hits the spot with its fine-dining Italian offerings (plus a raw bar and extensive seafood menu). Founded by Bridgeport natives Ralph Silano and Rich Ndini, it's welcoming, but boasts a range of plush dining areas that fit just right for a business lunch. If you're feeling so bold as to order a martini, here's the best martini on the planet. 

SugarFoot; Wilmington, Delaware

"Fine Foods, Casual Gourmet" is the tagline of SugarFoot, which captures the appeal of this hip but unpretentious dining spot, serving artisanal soups, salads, and sandwiches made from fresh seasonal ingredients. Its high-end café atmosphere and lighter fare make it a good option for taking out a younger client or a health-conscious colleague. If you're a health conscious eater, you should check out these Ten Painless Ways to Upgrade Your Diet

Bistro AIX; Jacksonville, Florida

A popular spot for Jacksonville's business community, Bistro AIX offers white-tablecloth French cuisine without being uptight about it. The lunch menu includes a selection of raw seafood, salads, sandwiches, and main French classics like steak frites and mussels frites, all presented with a dramatic flourish. It will feel like you just had a pricey meal without denting your expense report. And whether you're in a boardroom or at Bistro AIX, here's how to conquer your next business meeting.

King + Duke; Atlanta, Georgia

The chef-owned King + Duke in the affluent Buckhead district of Atlanta, is anchored by a 24-foot open hearth where they do all kinds of open-fire wood cooking (the hearth roasted good breed chicken is a lunch menu highlight). Its menu features the essentials, but always with a surprising twist that's sure to leave an impression on those joining you. With two floors of seating, there is always space for a power lunch, even when it's packed (as it often is). However, if you're clients are jonesin' for BBQ, you've got a great one not far away.

The Pig & the Lady; Honolulu, Hawaii

The Pig & the Lady elevates the family meal to something pretty extraordinary. Run by James Beard Award semifinalist Andrew Le, as well as his mom and brother, this restaurant of Vietnamese-inspired dishes brings together formal culinary training and home cooking to create a menu that balances classics and innovation. And for more great advice on upping your business game, here's the one email signature every man should have.

The Basque Market; Boise, Idaho

Boise's Basque block is a must-see destination in the city for any out-of-town clients, and The Basque Market makes for an ideal business lunch spot on Wednesdays and Fridays when they pull out a massive skillet and whip up paella fit for a crowd. It's a casual option (a plat will cost you just $8.99) but one that's conducive to conversation and is sure to make a big impression.

Steadfast; Chicago, Illinois

The marble, leather, and dark wood of Steadfast sets an elegant tone for a power lunch, but the menu is anything but stuffy, from its freshly baked artisan breads to main dishes like crab spaghetti and Egyptian spiced mussels. Part of the Kimpton Gray hotel, set in the former New York Life Insurance Building, it's food can almost compete with the stunning architecture. But if you're in Chicago and craving something a little more casual, check out Superdawg Drive-In, one of the Greasy Food Meccas You Have to Visit Before You Die.

Harry & Izzy's; Indianapolis, Indiana

At Harry & Izzy's, you can get a world-famous St. Elmo Shrimp Cocktail for lunch—that's something even the original St. Elmo Steak House can't do (it opens at 4 p.m.). While that alone makes this a great option for a power lunch, this downtown steakhouse has all the other essentials covered, from a French onion soup made from a trio of sweet caramelized onions, to a mouth-watering menu of Black Angus steaks. Steak lovers, we also tracked down the best steakhouses in America for you.

Centro; Des Moines, Iowa

It's generally wise to avoid ordering too much at a business lunch—unless you want to be sleeping under you desk for the afternoon. But the urban Italian eatery Centro might get you to make an exception, with its substantial portions of outstanding pasta and pizza. It's lively atmosphere leads to plenty of crosstalk among diners, but it's not so noisy that you won't be able to get down to business.

Public; Wichita, Kansas

Public has been in business since 1910, but its appealing gastropub fare is hardly old school. From brisket tacos to a banh mi sandwich to Cuban sandwich, the menu draws on a wide range of culinary styles that offers something for everyone. But it also offers its share of unique house dishes (try the "prairie sliders" made with espresso and mushroom-seasoned bison patties).

Dudley's on Short; Lexington, Kentucky

When in Lexington, a great bourbon bar would usually be the go-to option, but since a business lunch may not be the best time to sip on spirits (depending on who you are dining with), you might consider the classic local spot Dudley's on Short. More than 35 years in the business, this restaurant offers up some high-quality sandwiches, salads, and memorable entrees—and in warmer months, it's got the best rooftop patio in the city.

Cochon Butcher; New Orleans, Louisiana

In a city this rich with culinary traditions, you will have no trouble finding a great lunch spot, but Cochon Butcher should be right near the top of your list. A tribute to Old World butcher and charcuterie shops, this part-grocer, part-restaurant has a casual feel. But there's nothing casual about the quality of food they serve up, including muffaletta filled with house-made meats, hot boudin, and brisket sliders.

Walter's; Portland, Maine

Walter's feels like a traditional business lunch spot, but the menu's full of surprises, devised by chef–owner Jeff Buerhaus. Inspired by flavors of Asia, the Mediterranean, and Caribbean, his dishes give unusual twists to the classics. For example, the Japanese Caesar with miso wasabi dressing and smashed edamame, or the Portland Square Burger made with Kobe beef and pecan smoked bacon, topped with house boursin cheese.

Waterfront Kitchen; Baltimore, Maryland

Set on the ground floor of the Frederick Douglass–Isaac Meyers Museum, looking over the Inner Harbor, the Waterfront Kitchen earns its name. The harbor view alone would make it a striking place for a business lunch, but the "seed-to-table" menu, with an emphasis on local seafood will impress anyone who joins you here.

Abe & Louie's;Boston, Massachusetts

For a classic power lunch experience, you can't do much better than the Back Bay gem Abe & Louie's. It's got all the necessary accouterments of a quality steakhouse, with attention to the details (such as corner holes sewn into the dinner napkins to allow the diner to button it on his shirt). The menu's expansive enough to allow for a lighter lunch of sandwiches and shellfish, or some serious steak eating.Speaking of great steak, let us help you cook steak at home like a pro

Selden Standard; Detroit, Michigan

The recently opened Selden Standard has already made a mark on the exploding food scene in Detroit. Its rustic small plates and ingredients sourced from local farms give an innovative take to Italian dishes that will leave a good impression with colleagues or clients.'

Manny's; Minneapolis, Minnesota

Manny's means business, with its vast bar and a menu packed with must-try dishes. The 85-day aged bone-in ribeye is one for steak eaters to try, but also worth considering are the expansive seafood offerings (including fresh Alaskan King Crab legs). If you have room for dessert, be sure to order the restaurant's famous whiskey bread pudding, doused with Maker's Mark. Whiskey lovers, you should also check out this list of the Ten Best Small-Batch Bourbons for Connoisseurs.

Manship Wood Fired Kitchen; Jackson, Mississippi

The relatively new Manship Wood Fired Kitchen has terrific wood-fired pizzas (not to mention both BBQ and Greek-style spit-fired chicken), with plenty of salads and sandwiches that will appeal to most tastes. Its seafood options are the standout offerings, with dishes like fried Simmons catfish and redfish, as well as daily specials that won't disappoint.

LC's Bar-B-Q; Kansas City, Missouri

When in Kansas City, barbecue is the move, even for a business lunch (though maybe avoid the ribs to avoid messy fingers). LC's Bar-B-Q is well known for its burnt ends (a Kansas City signature), which it rubs with dry garlic and salt then passes through the hickory wood smoker twice. The paper soda cups and rolls of paper towel on the tables are as casual as you can get, but what this place lacks in décor it makes up for in flavor. And speaking of barbecue, we've also compiled a list of the best barbecue in every state.

Local Kitchen & Bar; Billings, Montana

In a state where agriculture is a top industry, you're going to want to go somewhere that sources locally. Local Kitchen & Bar, as its name implies, does just that, sourcing from local ranchers and gardeners for dishes ranging from its light Farmer's Market Salad to the more substantial bison hash.

Jams American Grill; Omaha, Nebraska

For years, Jams American Grill has been a popular lunch spot for Omaha's business community, serving up sandwiches, small plates, and a small selection of Mexican-inspired dishes. It has two locations in Omaha, but the Old Market one is the best move for a power lunch, offering a more scenic option than Midtown.

Jose Andres' Bazaar Meat; Las Vegas, Nevada

Similar to New York City and Los Angeles, the options are endless here for terrific lunch spots that will make a good impression on business contacts. But one dining spot that strikes an ideal balance between old-school steakhouse and hip culinary innovation is Jose Andres' Bazaar Meat in the sbe hotel. Visitors are greeted by the slabs of meat they will be choosing from on entering the restaurant and the space feels at once rustic and otherworldly, with a menu of tartares, cured meats, and of course steaks, that's equally impressive.

Cotton; Manchester, New Hampshire

Serving elevated pub grub like chipotle chicken tacos and jumbo crab cake burger, as well as burgers sources from the nearby PT Farm, Cotton is a people-pleaser. The chefs put time into the presentation of each dish, and during warm months, the patio is a great place to talk shop.

Fernandes Steak House; Newark, New Jersey

On the outskirts of this city's Ironbound enclave, filled with great spots for authentic European cuisine, you'll find Fernandes Steak House. Combining Spanish dining with a Brazilian steakhouse, the first-floor bar is ideal for grabbing a casual bite while the upstairs is better for more formal lunch meetings or gatherings for large groups. The menu is vast, with almost 100 items ranging from filet mignon to poultry to seafood, and chances are good whoever you bring here is going to find something they love.

Vinaigrette; Albuquerque, New Mexico

Named one of "ABQ's Top Power Lunch Restaurants" by the Albuquerque Business Journal, Vinaigrette serves up seasonal salads and sandwiches (with 70 percent of its produce coming from the same farm about 20 minutes north of Santa Fe (though it also offers a lengthy menu of meats and seafood). It's well-lit interior fits the warm temperatures of this southwestern city, and has proven a popular destination for the local business community.

The Breslin; New York City, New York

Where to even begin? Selecting a power lunch spot in NYC, you'd first have to figure out which industry to focus on—Finance? Law? Entertainment?—then you'd have to decide what neighborhood, cuisine, and dozens of other qualifiers (is it no longer the top quality it once was? Is it too popular and impossible to get a table?). Once you figure all that out, you would probably have about a dozen solid options to choose from. So let's just say…The Breslin. Everyone loves a burger and they've got one of the best in the city. Speaking of New York City, it's one of our Twenty Cities You Have to Visit Before You Die.

Evoke; Charlotte, North Carolina

Evoke is an ideal power lunch spot. A nouveau steakhouse that offers some enticing riffs on the classics (such as the pork belly and quail egg appetizer, or waygu strip-loin carpaccio), while nailing the staple dishes (the 35-day dry-aged New York strip is probably the best in the city). It evokes both tradition and modernity and should hit the spot with any colleague.

Maxwells Restaurant & Bar; Fargo, North Dakota

Despite what a certain film or television show might have you think, this city has plenty of business going on that does not involve murder or lesser crimes. And one of the best restaurants for taking care of (legitimate) business is Maxwells Restaurant & Bar. Boasting the area's widest selection of wines (and winning the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence several years running) and creative and mouthwatering dishes like the pepper-seared New Zealand elk tenderloin steak and chili-lime pork tenderloin, this is a great spot to impress a client.

Schdmidt's Sasuage Haus; Columbus, Ohio

This city's German roots run deep, and Schmidt's Sausage Haus is a great place to see how deep they go. In operation since the 1880s, this place is a great option for discussing business, whether over a beer, a signature sausage platter, or a sandwich. The whole place exudes history in a friendly, energetic way that creates an ideal atmosphere.

Cattlemen's Steakhouse; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

At more than a century old, Cattlemen's Steakhouse has been a meet-up spot for rodeo greats, politicians, and business luminaries going back decades. Located in the historic Stockyard City, it's clear this meat isn't shipped in from across the country.

Gracie's; Portland, Oregon

In a foodie capital like Portland, it's wise to hold your power lunch at a restaurant known for its locally sourced Pacific Northwest dishes, and Gracie's fits that bill nicely. A Conde Nast Traveler Reader's Choice Award recipient last year, this restaurant is set in the elegant Hotel deLuxe and serves perennial favorites like steak frites, tuna Nicoise salad, and a turkey club, but with a quality and in a plush atmosphere that's perfect for a business conversation. You can also cap off your meal at the Driftwood Room, one of the best hotel bars in America.

Devon Seafood Grill; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

It's a good sign that you've chosen the right place for a power lunch when "Power Lunch Combos" are one of the offerings on the menu. That's what you will find at Devon Seafood Grill, an upscale seafood spot with what it calls a "chic-casual atmosphere." The power lunch combos in question include a grilled shrimp salad, pretzel-crusted trout, and ravioli of shrimp, scallop, and crab.

Nick's on Broadway; Providence, Rhode Island

Named a "Must-Eat Place in Providence" by Forbes, Nick's on Broadway was opened by young chef Derek Wagner in 2002, providing seasonal vegetables, meats, and seafood. The name comes from the original Nick's on Broadway, which Wagner frequented while growing up in Providence, and bought from the original owner. It specializes in brunch dishes (even on weekdays) as well as signature dishes like fish tartine.

The Oak Table; Columbia, South Carolina

The Oak Table is constructed using wood from a 19th-century log cabin and it promotes the local farmers and fishermen from whom it sources its ingredients. That kind of transparency and sense of partnership sets the right tone for a business lunch, as do the restaurant's rotating menu of seasonal dishes, which includes favorites such as whole fried lobster and Certified Angus Beef ribeye.

M.B. Haskett Delicatessen; Sioux Falls, South Dakota

M.B. Haskett Delicatessen may be set in a former brothel, but the ingredients are as classy as they come. Named for owner Michael Haskett, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, he serves up high-quality sandwiches made with top-notch local ingredients (including eggs from his own farm and bread from a nearby artisanal bakery).

McEwan's Memphis; Memphis, Tennessee

When in Tennessee, it's best to eat southern. And McEwan's Memphis offers some great local favorites, including home-style meatloaf and chicken pot pie (with sides like fried okra and spicy greens). But while the food tastes like home cooking, the high-end atmosphere makes it a great spot for closing a deal.

Caracol; Houston, Texas

Serving up Mexican-inspired seafood, Caracol is a popular spot for the city's booming real estate industry, among others. Chef Hugo Ortega serves up innovative dishes such as lobster tamale and shrimp tortilla soup, creating dishes that aren't just delicious, they're conversation pieces. If you're visiting Houston then stay at Hotel Derek, one of the swankiest boutique hotels in America. 

Pallet; Salt Lake City, Utah

With an intimate but cozy ambiance, filled with soft, natural light, Pallet creates a quiet space for talking business, in a restored building from the early 1900s that once housed SLC's first creamery. It's filled with commissioned artwork that connects to the building's 100-year history and the furnishings, dining-room floor, and other elements are constructed of reclaimed wood. Oh, and the food's pretty good, too.

The Windjammer Restaurant; Burlington, Vermont

Recently named "Best Restaurant for a Business Lunch" in the county by Vermont Business Magazine, The Windjammer Restaurant has been serving up steak and seafood to South Burlington for more than 30 years. For those looking for a more casual feel, head upstairs to the Upper Deck Pub, offering pub favorites and a selection of craft beers.

Rockafeller's Restaurant; Virginia Beach, Virginia

After some false starts, the state of Virginia has cultivated an impressive local oyster-farming industry, and it's worth seeking out a lunch spot serving them up. Rockafeller's Restaurant is perfect for this, serving up fresh local seafood, offering up all variety of seafood dishes, as well as raw oysters farmed on Rock Hole Creek, an offshoot offshoot of the Wicomico River. While the food is good, the best part may be the terrific view of Rudee Inlet. Plus, oysters are one of The 25 Foods That'll Keep You Young Forever.

Blueacre Seafood; Seattle, Washington

Speaking of oysters, Seattle boasts no shortage of terrific seafood spots that make for great business lunch options. Blueacre Seafood is one of the city's best, focusing on sustainably sourced clams, mussels, and oysters. Dishes like Dungeness crab cocktail and potato chip crusted fish and chips give light twists to seafood classics, and the spacious dining area creates a welcoming atmosphere.

The Block; Charleston, West Virginia

In the center of downtown Charleston, The Block's impressive wine collection is likely the first thing you will notice when entering the restaurant. But beyond it's 500-bottle wine list, the contemporary European dishes on offer here elegantly pated and flavorful, and the ambience strikes a comfortable balance between sophisticated and casual.

Merriment Social; Milwaukee, Wisconsin

There's got to be at least one serious burger place on this list, and Merriment Social is a worthy choice. It's a casual spot and the high-stacked burgers are likely to get messy (two strikes against an ideal power-lunch spot), but when the food is this good, it's worth bending the rules. With burgers like the Tony Perkis (Havarti cheese, smoked pastrami, caraway kraut, and pickled peppers) and the Cream City Special (with beer cheese, carmelized onions, and sweet mustard-mayo), it's no wonder this has become the hot spot for local business people.

Rib & Chop House; Cheyenne, Wyoming

You don't come to Wyoming for big-city culinary options and the Wyoming's Rib & Chop House keeps things strictly no frills, even offering "Steak & Potato" as one of the dishes. But its welcoming feel and Old West décor make it a great spot to cut to the chase and suss out who you want to do business with, and who's "all hat and no cattle."

For more amazing advice for living smarter, looking better, and feeling younger, follow us on Facebook now!

Alex Daniel
A journalist based in Brooklyn, New York. Read more
Filed Under