standard The Four Best Restaurants in America

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gnleft size-full wp-image-558″ src=”http://swanklife.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/4009462411_a8fc4a871f_m.jpg” alt=”” width=”240″ height=”180″ />There are restaurants and then there are RESTAURANTS, and it wouldn't kill you to take your girlfriend, wife, or other significant female in your life to one of the latter every now and then, would it? And when you're ready to pull out all the stops on a gustatory excursion, it's good to know who ranks where on the annual rankings of the World's 50 Best Restaurants. For now, we're going to focus on the four best dining spots in the United States for 2011.

Alinea (6th overall, Best Restaurant in North America)
Alinea represents one of the most radical re-imaginings of fine food by any chef in American history and has propelled Grant Achatz to chef superstardom. Everything about his restaurant is unique, from the deconstructed food, unfamiliar flavor combinations and theater to the tableware, with dishes served in and on all manner of implements: test tubes, cylinders, multi-layered bowls that come apart. It's boundary-shifting stuff. More info.

Per Se (10th overall)
Per Se, Thomas Keller's “urban interpretation” of his French Laundry in California, has changed its menu every day of its nearly eight years – that's something like 30,000 different dishes, some reintroduced from prior seasons but continuously refined. With three Michelin stars, it has succeeded as much by consistency as by creativity and remains one of America's true destination restaurants. More info.

Daniel (11th overall)
Daniel Boulud's desire to meld unexpected ingredients and create dishes you won't see on any other menu make for one of Manhattan's most exquisite eating-out experiences, with nothing beyond the Frenchman's imagination. Today his restaurant empire is blossoming, with openings across the world, but for a true taste of the Lyonnaise lion, to Manhattan you must go. More info.

Le Bernardin (18th overall)
Fish is the star of the show at Le Bernardin but only when you eat there do you fully realize the high regard chef Eric Ripert holds for our underwater friends. The menu is a who's who of the sea, with red snapper, monkfish, fluke, turbot, salmon, king fish, halibut, bass, skate and kampachi in forms including “almost raw,” “barely touched” and “lightly cooked.” More info.

If you're anywhere within driving distance of any of these fine establishments, consider making the trip. And if they're all too far, there should be an Olive Garden nearby, as famously recently reviewed by Marilyn Hagerty. Just remember, the way to man AND woman's heart is through their stomach.

Jake Swank's Swank Life Team

Flickr / State R

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