The Best Places To Eat At The Bar

The bar is more than just a waiting room for your table

Even if you're using a fancy app, booking a table can be a real hassle. And if you forgot to reserve your spot ahead of time, you're in even more trouble. Luckily, more and more places are extending their full dinner menus to their bars, saving both diners and restaurants countless hours of wait time.

There are so many reasons grabbing a stool beats heading for the dining room. Perhaps you are dining alone and looking for a more casual experience, or maybe you're in a time crunch and just need a quick pre-theater bite. No matter your reasoning, America's top 10 restaurant bars are here for you.

① Minetta Tavern (New York)

Every New Yorker knows to expect a long wait at this West Village institution. Next time, skip the dining room and head straight for the bar, where you'll receive the same excellent service and top-tier eats. The bartender will even lay out a white napkin as a place mat, going the extra mile to provide a distinctly dining room-like experience.

② State Bird Provisions (San Francisco)

Sitting at the bar certainly has its advantages. Here, you get the opportunity to see the chef and cooks at work in the open kitchen, and if it's not too busy, you can ask the chef about all his delicious creations.

③ Au Cheval (Chicago)

The Au Cheval burger is the talk of the town, and that's a fact. Waiting for a two-top can take up to three hours on an average weekend night, but the bar is 100 percent first come, first served. Get there early to claim your spot and prepare to dig in.

④ Indian Accent (New York)

At chef Manish Mehrotra's New Delhi-influenced restaurant, you have the option to order à la carte at the bar instead of signing up for the entire nine-course tasting menu. Bar options include pathar beef kebab, soy keema and the other dishes that put this hot spot on the map. 

⑤ Bavette's Bar & Boeuf (Chicago)

Inside, this upscale, leather-clad steakhouse is like a scene straight out of a classic romance film. Cozy up to the intimate bar where you can sip on craft cocktails and slice into the steak of your choice.

⑥ Buvette (New York)

A spot at the bar gets you a front-row seat to all the action, since this section doubles as a prep area for some of this adorable French bistro's dishes.

⑦ Twenty Five Lusk (San Francisco)

Diners can pick between the upstairs bar or downstairs lounge at this luxe Downtown restaurant. But don't dwell on your choice too much—both options offer a great atmosphere, excellent cocktails and, best of all, a full menu (including a particularly tasty grilled octopus dish).

⑧ Union Square Cafe (New York)

Before becoming an accomplished restaurateur, frequent traveler Danny Meyer found himself dining alone quite often. So it only makes sense that down the road, the superstar chef would make sure all of his bars offer more than drinks. This concept is center stage at Union Square Cafe, where bar dining is actually encouraged.

⑨ Jaleo (Washington, D.C.)

José Andrés's funky D.C. outpost, located just blocks from the U.S. Capitol, specializes in Spanish cuisine like tapas and paella. And, lucky for you, bar-goers can also enjoy the full menu.

⑩ Bestia (Los Angeles)

No reservations are required at the bar, as the restaurant specifically holds those seats for walk-ins. Table or not, all diners are welcome to order off the full dinner menu, including dishes like slow-roasted lamb neck or cavatelli alla norcina.