If giant, crowded spaces aren’t really your thing, take heart. Around the country, sometimes tucked away in bustling destinations, you can find restaurants that serve just a few people a night. Some serve dinner at a communal table for intimate parties of 10, others welcome solo diners or pairs to a Japanese tasting menu experience, and a few offer boundary-pushing menus that harken back to the techniques of the late, great El Bulli. Here’s where to hunt down some of the country’s smallest restaurants.
é by José Andrés, Las Vegas
Finding José Andrés’s eight-seat counter, which serves a 20-plus-course tasting menu, is a bit like opening a Russian nesting doll. It’s a restaurant within a restaurant (Andrés’s Jaleo) inside a hotel (The Cosmopolitan). Still, finding the restaurant is simple compared to snagging one of the coveted reservations.
Talula’s Table, Kennett Square, PA
A market by day, this sweet space turns into a small farm-to-table restaurant at night where friends can gather around a farmhouse-style table that seats 10 to 12. Reservations are taken a year in advance and the table is booked as a whole, so you are guaranteed to enjoy your dining companions for the evening. There is also a chef’s table in the space—but that one’s invite only.
N by NAOE, Miami
Miami isn’t exactly known for small restaurants, but Kevin Cory’s high-end Japanese establishment is an exception worth seeking out. A shabu-shabu meal, where vegetables and beef are lightly cooked, is served at a communal table for as few as two and as many as 16 diners.
Mr. Donahue’s, New York City
Ann Redding and Matt Danzer, who own perennially busy Thai restaurant Uncle Boons, took a different approach for their second restaurant, opening a retro-inspired nine-seat space, which serves proteins like chicken-fried pork cheeks with a choice of sides and a sauce.
Walk through the crowd of hipsters at Roberta’s, pass the radio recording booth in a shipping container, cross the yard where someone is likely chopping wood for the pizza oven, and you will arrive at this pristine 12-seat tasting menu counter. Diners who are fortunate enough to get a reservation are treated to a 20-plus-course tasting menu from the talented Carlo Mirarchi.
Sushi Nakazawa, New York City
One of New York’s most skilled sushi masters, Daisuke Nakazawa, works behind this well-lit 10-seat sushi bar in the West Village, serving diners one piece of sushi at a time from his seasonal omakase menu.
Minibar, Washington, D.C.
Across the country from José Andrés’s é is another one of the chef’s tiny restaurants, which has two six-seat counters where guests are served a forward-thinking tasting menu. Think a margarita in the shape of a watermelon slice and a little piglet-shaped meringue filled with bacon ice cream.
Mr. Pollo, San Francisco
Just 12 diners at a time are treated to the regularly changing four-course tasting menu, which goes for around $35. Arepas stuffed with chicken regularly make the lineup, which is rounded out with items like tomato thyme soup, cherry ice cream and deconstructed s’mores.
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