The 20 Best Restaurants From Top Chef Contestants

Twenty seasons ago, in 2006, a new cooking competition named "Top Chef" premiered on Bravo. It came on the heels of the cable network's popular fashion design show, "Project Runway," featuring an array of up-and-coming restaurant chefs. It quickly took off, as the show had something some reality competition programs lacked: talent.

The cheftestants were, of course, T.V. savvy with an understanding of cooking in front of a camera. However, they didn't have huge social media followings (that wasn't even a thing then) and didn't come with a propensity for drama, a trait often seen on reality shows. They came with the ability to create beautiful food inside a fast-paced kitchen under a deadline. Most were familiar with the high-pressure atmosphere. Many worked inside some of the finest kitchens in America, often for Michelin-starred chefs.

Over the years, "Top Chef" has traveled throughout the U.S. and abroad, with each season featuring new chefs who whip, bake, flambé, and sauté their way through the competition. Along the way, contestants became household names for viewers watching the show. Because of this, "Top Chef" has become a launching ground for some of the country's most talented cooks who have gone on to open their eateries, having earned notoriety from the show. It has also helped contenders find their voice, honing their skills while focusing on the style of food they love. Here are some of the best restaurants from "Top Chef" contestants through the years (spoilers about the show will be mentioned).

Roots Southern Table

Chef Tiffany Derry is living her best life. The Season 7 fan favorite and Season 8: All-Stars competitor has become a well-respected celebrity chef, judge, and competitor, all while showcasing her southern roots at her James Beard-nominated North Texas restaurant, Roots Southern Table. Focusing on eating seasonally, Derry crafts farm-to-table delights that celebrate her South Texas upbringing, delivered with a healthy helping of southern hospitality.

The restaurant features Derry's take on classic country favorites, like fried shrimp and grits, hoppin' john, her mother's gumbo, and smothered greens with smoked pork, along with modern flavors like duck and foie gras boudin and gorgeous white asparagus with tomato confit. Roots cocktail menu draws has a nod of nostalgia with a boozy Kool-Aid with rum and curacao.  The essential drink of the south, a glass of sweet tea, includes vodka, lemon, and Cointreau. Save room for dessert, as Root's tropical key lime pie with mango is the perfect sweet and tangy end to a comforting meal.

Kōbo Pizza

Watching Season 18 fan favorite and finalist Shota Nakajima create his intricate plates with keen attention to detail is inspiring. The Japanese-born, Seattle-raised, and Japanese-trained chef ties precision with beauty to create harmonious symmetry on each of his Asian-inspired plates. While seeing his work is delightful, having the opportunity to taste it is even better. Now, locals and visitors to Seattle have the chance at the chef's recently opened Detroit-style, square pizza restaurant inside the Redhook Brewlab named Kōbo Pizza. But you won't find the typical sausage and pepperoni at Kōbo.

Instead, Nakajima treats the dough like a canvas, painting ingredients that tell the story of the chef's Asian roots. Pie options include an elevated twist on a classic Hawaiian pizza with pork belly, kimchi, and pineapple, teriyaki short rib with fried egg aioli, and umami-laden roasted mushroom with miso.


On Madison Avenue in the posh Upper East Side of New York City, Chef Buddha Lo creates elegant dishes for Huso Restaurant's nightly eight-course tasting menu featuring one high-end, highly-desirable ingredient, caviar. Using domestically-raised caviar harvested within days from sister company Marky's Caviar, the Season 19 winner and current Season 20 "Top Chef World All-Stars" contestant brings humble ingredients together with caviar creating harmonious dishes accentuating the flavor of the fish eggs at the Michelin-plated restaurant.

There is even a dessert Buddha Lo swears he prefers with caviar (it's flan). Sadly, our caviar dreams are temporarily on hold. On March 22, the chef posted on Instagram that an electrical fire at Huso had temporarily shuttered its doors. Fingers crossed it will reopen soon.

Playa Provisions

Season 14 champion Chef Brooke Williamson brings multiple concepts together under one roof at her 7,000 square foot space, Playa Provisions. With four restaurants under one roof, Playa Provisions was the third of many Los Angeles-based dining concepts the chef and her husband, Chef Nick Roberts, have opened.

Set beachside in Playa Del Rey, King Beach Cafe is the concept's casual breakfast and lunch spot serving freshly made pastries, sandwiches, and salads. For dinner, Dockside offers more contemporary California cuisine inspired by coastal ingredients with a rotating menu that changes seasonally. For those with a sweet tooth, Small Batch provides ice cream and frozen treats with childhood favorites like root beer floats, malted shakes, and sundaes. When it's time for a cocktail, the cozy bar at Grain offers a plethora of small-batch whiskeys from around the world. In other words, you could start your day at Playa Provisions and never leave, as Williamson delivers something to enjoy from morning through night.


Season 12 winner Mei Lin features Sichuan-style fried chicken at Daybird in LA. Though spicy tenders and fries are available, her hot chicken sandwich is the reason to stop by the chef's strip-mall eatery. The sandwich uses colossal free-range Jidori chicken thighs fried in rice bran oil. Lin tops the sando with a fresh slaw mixed with pickled chilis to amplify the heat before stuffing the whole thing into a soft, welcoming potato roll.

Lin opened Daybird in 2021, shortly after closing her first restaurant, Nightshade, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, you shouldn't think fried chicken is all this dynamo can do. The chef is a culinary powerhouse honed from years of working in some of the country's best kitchens, including working for Wolfgang Puck, Marcus Samuelsson, and "Top Chef" alum Michael Voltaggio. Earlier this year, Lin became the latest winner of Food Network's "Tournament of Champions," beating fellow "Top Chef" competitor Shota Nakajima in one round and ousting former winner Chef Maneet Chauhan in the final round.


In the heart of New York's midtown east, Chef Jae Jung from "Top Chef" Season 19 is crafting Korean dishes with Cajun flair at KJUN. Giving proper praise to her mentor, Chef Leah Chase, Jung found the connection between Korean and Cajun flavors while working at the Creole Queen's iconic New Orleans restaurant, Dooky Chase, particularly the extensive use of seafood, spices, pickles, and pork.

After spending five years in New Orleans, focusing on her vision and culinary voice, the chef moved to New York. She needed the competitive atmosphere and intensity of the city to help refine her vision while continuing to learn from the best. She found this while working in the kitchens of Chefs Daniel Boulud and Eric Ripert. In 2021, Jung opened her Murry Hill restaurant, focusing on Korean-Cajun dishes with refined flair and elevated ingredients, like using her mother's recipe for spicy kimchi instead of hot sauce. The chef's house specialties include seafood gumbo with okra kimchi, traditional jambalaya with three-month fermented kimchi, and Korean-style barbecue ribs.

Arlo Grey

Several seasons into the filming of "Top Chef," the show began a digital offshoot featuring eliminated chefs from the current season called Last Chance Kitchen. The opportunity proved positive for Chef Kristen Kish, who successfully won that competition, regaining her spot on the main show before winning Season 10.

Interestingly, Kish doesn't really enjoy cooking for herself. Thankfully, she seems to enjoy cooking for others, as is evident at her Austin-based restaurant, Arlo Grey. With a focus on French, Italian, and Midwestern fare utilizing local ingredients of Central Texas, Arlo Grey's menu features dishes like her signature mushroom-filled mafaldine with champignon sauce, house-made cappelletti with duck confit, Berkshire pork chops, and Peeler Ranch wagyu ribeye steak from a South-Texas ranch.

Four Flamingos

Chef Richard Blais is fearless in combining unlikely ingredients to create something original and completely delicious. A fierce competitor, the chef came in second place in Season 4 before winning the first All-Stars competition in Season 8. Known for his high energy and intensity, the chef displayed innovative uses of modernist methods and avant-garde style in both seasons. Today, his bi-coastal restaurants showcase these techniques while featuring locally inspired flavors.

In Florida, the chef is fusing food and traditions at his new restaurant, Four Flamingos, inside the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando. Blais introduces tropical components into the restaurant's featured steak and seafood dishes, lifting the profile to create extraordinary flavors. Highlights include oysters and pearls, crab raviolo with papaya vodka sauce and Florida lobster, bacon-wrapped filet with a coconut au Poivre sauce, Brazilian seafood stew known as Moqueca, and whole Florida lobster with citrus beurre blanc.

Tiffany's Maui

Chef Sheldon Simeon was raised on a guava farm on the rainy side of the Big Island of Hawaii. When Simeon arrived on Season 10 of "Top Chef," some may have doubted the Hawaiian's culinary expertise. However, the engaging chef who loves to share his local traditions has much more than a stereotypical Hawaiian plate lunch, spam musubi, and a batch of fried malasadas up his sleeve. The chef successfully worked his way through the competition until the final round. Though the chef lost to Brooke Williamson, he did walk away with the fan-favorite title.

Years into successfully operating his Maui lunchtime hot spot Tin Roof, Simeon and his wife took over the operations of Tiffany's in 2022. Tiffany's is a 20-year-old Maui mainstay now elevated with Simeon's take on authentic Hawai'i cuisine representing native Hawaiians and those who have come to call Hawaii home, including the Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, and Pacific Islanders who have worked the Hawaiian land, like his Filipino grandparents who worked on the plantations. Like Simeon, the food is honest, affordable, and completely authentic. Guests can enjoy Simeon's cultivated take on local favorites like loco moco, Ahi tuna poke, miso butterfish, and kimchi fried rice.

Compère Lapin

The world would be missing out if Chef Nina Compton had not competed in "Top Chef Season 11: New Orleans." Compton won the fan favorite title and came in second during the season, but it was the feeling of New Orleans that changed her life. The St. Lucian chef's experience in the city inspired her to move from Miami to New Orleans to open Compère Lapin in 2015. She named the restaurant after the central character in a Caribbean folktale she read as a child.

Named Best Chef: South by the James Beard Foundation in 2018, Compton notes her food is to create memories by telling her native story through thoughtful, distinctive dishes. The menu focuses on Cajun and Caribbean flavors utilizing local ingredients like a curried goat with sweet potato gnocchi, Jerk pork belly with tamarind jus, and buttermilk biscuits with bacon butter.


The Truth about Antonia Lofaso is that she has drive, determination, and refined detail, bringing eclectic imagination to her Los Angeles-based restaurants. Season 4 and Season 8: All-Stars competitor brings her Italian heritage, Long Island roots, and perseverance to each of her concepts, including Scopa Italian Roots, Black Market Liquor Bar, The Peasant Kitchen, and DAMA. In LA's trendy fashion district, DAMA is Lofaso's 5,000 square foot Latin-inspired restaurant with a retro Latin-American vibe, complete with an indoor-outdoor cocktail lounge and huge outdoor lanai big enough for salsa dancing.

Inspiration for the menu's flavors came from Lofaso's travels south of the border, including kanpachi aguachile, oxtail tostada, bone marrow with Serrano, and charred octopus with olive tapenade. DAMA's creative libations compliment Lofaso's flavors, crafted by award-winning beverage director, and managing partner, Pablo Moix. We suggest the smoky, sweet Sierra Norte with mezcal, Aperol, lemon, and pineapple to pair with LoFaso's seafood tostada brimming with octopus, calamari, shrimp, and pickled chilis.

Girl & the Goat

Stephanie Izard, now the owner of the Girl & the Goat, made history when she became the first woman to win "Top Chef" Season 4, beating Richard Blais in the final round. The star Chicago chef has gone on to become a James Beard award winner, Iron Chef, product developer, author, and owner of half a dozen restaurants, including Girl & the Goat in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Girl & the Goat's cuisine is global while feeling familiar. With a focus on hospitality, Izard and her team ensure each guest feels they are sitting at her table in her home. Dishes like whole branzino and braised lamb mingle with a plethora of veggie options, like her menu staple, umami-laden magic green beans, and of course, several goat dishes, including goat liver mouse and roasted goat belly. The menu isn't extensive, but the flavors are fresh, balanced, and delicious. Bonus, the dishes also come with reasonable prices that can be hard to find at some celebrity chef's restaurants.

Sweet Cheeks Q

Not winning "Top Chef" Season 1 didn't phase Chef Tiffani Faison, as the red-headed dynamo has proved she is unstoppable. Today, the celebrity chef sits at the helm of five Boston establishments, including a Champagne and hot dog bar named Bubble Bath, a cocktail-forward snack bar named Fool's Errund, and Sweet Cheeks Q, her first restaurant, which opened in 2011.

A love for Texas barbecue inspired the chef to open Sweet Cheeks Q in the Fenway area of Boston, creating flavors that prove the world is better when you cook low and slow. Menu favorites include classic dishes like sliced prime brisket, St. Louis-style ribs, church basement potato salad, and heritage pulled pork. Our hearts were won over with Sweet Cheeks' take on aSsouthern favorite, pimento cheese with a sleeve of Ritz crackers, followed by the Burt Reynolds specialty sandwich combining pulled pork and hot links with barbecue sauce and coleslaw.


Though many cheftestants have worked at Michelin-starred restaurants, very few have owned an establishment that has received a coveted star. Season 9's Beverly Kim earned this credit in 2016 at her 1-Michelin-starred Chicago restaurant, Parachute.

One of the best restaurants in Chicago, Parachute features a contemporary twist on traditional Korean fare, a concept that Kim and her partner Johnny Clark opened in 2014 in the North Side of Chicago. The establishment earned its star in 2016. Kim and Clark were named Best Chef: Great Lakes by the James Beard Foundation in 2019 for their innovative take on Korean cuisine.

Dining at Parachute satisfies all of your senses. Clark and Kim's style and excellent attention to detail reveal their passion for creating savory dishes. Their flavors are familiar to lovers of Korean cuisine. However, the duo elevates each plate with a refined execution. The heritage pork bossam comes with various accompaniments, like raw oysters, a spicy radish salad called musangchae, and fermented salted shrimp known as saeujeot, all for wrapping in Napa cabbage leaves. The 30-day dry-aged bulgogi barbecue beef has deep umami notes accentuated with enoki mushrooms and scallions. The restaurant's star was removed during the COVID-19 pandemic when the restaurant closed for an extended remodel. However, with flavors like these, we are sure it will earn it back soon.


Season 12 and Season 17 finalist Chef Gregory Gourdet's Kann Restaurant in Portland came from an idea conceived during one of "Top Chef's" favorite episodes, restaurant wars. Gourdet's Haitian-inspired pop-up was the winning concept in Season 17's episode, featuring the island cuisine of Gourdet's native country.

The name means cane in Haitian Creole, a nod to the island's sugarcane fields. Kann's menu harmoniously melds Caribbean, African, and Pacific Northwest flavors, like heavily spiced stews, whole roasted fish, traditional Haitian twice-cooked pork (which Gourdet featured in the Season 17 episode), and an abundance of vegetables like peanut creamed greens, taro root fritters, and Haitian black mushroom rice with lima beans. Kann leads with a mission of equality and sustainability. This comes from the ingredients Kann uses to the team's quality of life. Kann delivers beautiful, flavorful dishes in a holistic environment, often paired with sweet and savory zero-proof cocktails featuring tropical fruits and syrups.


James Beard Award winner for 2019 Rising Chef Kwame Onwuachi's new restaurant in NYC's Lincoln Center celebrates today's Upper West Side art and culture scene while giving the nod to the 1980s hip-hop scene Onwuachi experienced growing up in the Bronx. Onwuchi's food blurs traditional lines to create unique, inspired fare. Tatiana opened in 2022, with the chef naming the restaurant after his sister and culinary muse creating comforting flavors that fuse into a melting pot of savoriness.

Tatiana features dishes from Onwuachi's childhood, including influences from New York, Louisiana, the Caribbean, and West Africa, with a side of Chinese take-out. Head-on shrimp with Creole butter are offered beside curried snow crab with coconut and pastrami-style Nigerian Suya with Wagyu short rib beef.

Rose Mary

Chicago delivers numerous opportunities to dine in a former "Top Chef" contestant's restaurant, including Season 15 winner Joe Flamm's Rose Mary. Flamm was another contestant who benefited from "Last Chance Kitchen." The chef was eliminated after losing a quick-fire challenge, only to return two episodes later to compete and win in the finale.

Flamm was raised in Chicago, cooking beside his grandmother Mary who taught him the art of crafting flavorful Italian-inspired dishes with heart. Like Season 9 finalist Sarah Grueneberg, Flamm worked up to become Executive Chef Tony Mantuano's Spiaggia before departing to open Rose Mary in 2021, naming the restaurant after his grandmothers, and featuring Italian and Croatian dishes crafted in their honor. Menu highlights include tuna crudo with shallot and beef fat vinaigrette, bucatini with rabbit and carrot sofrito, squid ink risotto, and a Slavik cuisine specialty, burek soparnik.


In Chicago's West End neighborhood, Season 9 finalist Sarah Grueneberg crafts Italian-inspired dishes with a modern sensibility at Monteverde. Opened in 2015 with Grueneberg's longtime friend, Meg Sahs, Monteverde's fresh, straightforward, and thoughtful flavors include monthly vegetable-focused fare inspired by Grueneberg's latest cookbook, "Listen to You Vegetables."

Grueneberg's dishes follow the season, featuring local ingredients found in the Midwest, served with loving care and southern hospitality, a nod to Greuneberg's South Texas roots. Various styles of pasta are handmade daily behind the restaurant's bar. Our menu favorites include egg yolk raviolo verde with house-made ricotta & spinach and brown butter pecans, Texas redfish alla plancha, and a Napoli-inspired feast of tomato braised pork osso bucco, soppressata meatballs, Italian sausage, fusilli rustico, and wilted escarole.

Grand Fir

With East Texas roots, Doug Adams is one of Portland, Oregon's most beloved chefs. The chef worked his way up in some of the finest kitchens in the city, including running the kitchen at Chef Vitaly Paley's Imperial. As a finalist in Season 12, Adams showcased his Texas roots and southern flavors from start to finish. Though his efforts were applauded, Adams lost to Chef Mei Lin.

In 2019, Adams opened Bullard Tavern, named after his hometown featuring flavors that reminded him of home, like Texas barbecue and fried chicken, alongside refined dishes that incorporate the chef's French training and local ingredients, showing the chef's appreciation for Portland. Over the next several years, Adams and partner Jennifer Quist expanded to create Holler Hospitality, featuring half a dozen restaurants and eateries.

But in 2021, Adams stepped away from the group to focus on family. Thankfully, the chef and his brewmaster wife, Whitney Burnside, partnered last year to create their new adventure, Grand Fir Brewing. Flavors center around what will pair well with beer, including barbecue pork ta-chos with Tillamook cheddar, smoked wings with Calabrian chili pepper hot sauce, and Adam's riff on a lobster roll with Oregon bay shrimp and pickled jalapeño tartar sauce perfect to pair with Burnside's Tack Shack East Texas lager.

La Salita

Though our list primarily features contestants' restaurants for the United States-based "Top Chef," we did want to toast one of the current competitors on "Top Chef World All Stars" and her Michelin-starred Spanish restaurant. "World All Stars" cheftestant Begoñia Rodrigo is the chef and owner of La Salita in Valencia, Spain.

Valencia is the home of classic seafood paella, but that's different from the food Rodrigo is cooking. Instead, the self-trained chef elevates rustic, local ingredients to create elements of beauty and flavor, producing dishes that are almost too pretty to eat. Believing every palate is different, Rodrigo offers various tasting menus, ensuring her guests enjoy unique, satisfying dishes from the land and the sea that deliver what each may be in the mood for that night, including plates of sardines with cauliflower ice cream, Beluga lentil curry, and Valencia tomato water with fennel.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.