Each year Wine Spectator releases their list of the restaurants with the best wine programs in the world. There are three levels to the award:
- Grand Award (highest level; 81 winners): The highest honor given by Wine Spectator. The wine lists at these restaurants have over 1,000 different wines to choose from and showcase many producers with mature vintages, large format bottles, excellent pairings with the menu, excellent organization/presentation/service.
- Best of Award of Excellence (973 winners): Mid-level award that gives special recognition for wine programs exceeding the basic Award of Excellence. Lists in this category usually have over 350 or more wines available.
- Award of Excellence (lowest level; 2,564 winners): Selection from quality producers that matches the menu in terms of price/style; usually ~90 selections.
For the purposes of this article, we will focus only on the Grand Award and Best of Award of Excellence winners in the beautiful state of Florida. We have been to some of these restaurants and others we plan to visit in the future. What we are intending to provide our readers is a compact list of these restaurants to guide them to their next, great fine dining experience. Here’s the list of Florida restaurants who have been recognized by Wine Spectator:
- Grand Award Winners
1. Bern’s Steak House, Tampa: We are planning to visit this famed restaurant in the near future and we have very high hopes. Bern’s wine cellar is legendary, in fact, it is said to be the second largest wine collection in the world, containing over 500,000 bottles. Recently, the restaurant reportedly found a bottle of 1947 Chateau Latour (one of the five 1st growth chateaus in Bordeaux) in their cellar, valued at $30,000. The restaurant also has a separate, upstairs dessert room where guests can visit after dinner. The room, called The Harry Waugh Dessert Room, offers approximately 50 dessert options with over 1,000 dessert wines/spirits.
2. Bleu Provence, Naples: This French restaurant has been open since 1999 and has received a Zagat rating along with the Wine Spectator Grand Award.
3. HMF, Palm Beach: Located inside the incredible Breakers resort in Palm Beach, FL, HMF is named after the founder Henry Morrison Flagler. The restaurant was designed by Adam D. Tihany, who also designed various other top-ranked restaurants like Per Se, Restaurant Daniel and Le Cirque.
4. Marcello’s La Sirena, West Palm Beach: Their wine cellar contains over 900 selections and covers 10 countries. They also offer an excellent section of the wine list called “50 under $50”, which contains top wines at an affordable price.
- Best of Award of Excellence
1. Alfano’s Restaurant, Clearwater
2. Angelina’s Ristorante, Bonita Springs
3. Arturo’s Restaurant, Boca Raton
4. Azul, Miami
5. Baleen, Naples
6. Blue Water Bay, Melrose
7. Bourbon Steak, Miami
8. Cafe Boulud, Palm Beach
9. Cafe l’Europe, Palm Beach
10. Casa D’Angelo, Ft Lauderdale/Boca Raton
11. Casa Juancho, Miami
12. Charley’s Steak House, Orlando/Tampa
13. Columbia Restaurant, Tampa
14. db Bistro Moderne, Miami
15. Diplomat Prime, Hollywood
16. Emeril’s Orlando, Orlando
17. Flagler Steakhouse, Palm Beach: We have experienced the excellent food and great setting at this steakhouse, which is connected with the Breakers.
18. Forlini’s Restaurant, Clearwater
19. Hakkasan. Miami
20. Haven, Tampa
21. Juvia Miami Beach, Miami
22. Massimo’s Eclectic Fine Dining, Palm Harbor
23. McGuire’s Irish Pub, Pensacola
24. Ortanique, Coral Gables
25. Red, The Steakhouse, Miami Beach
26. Restaurant Orsay, Jacksonville: Orsay! One of our absolute favorite restaurants in Jacksonville. We’ve written extensively about this restaurant, including an article in the Jax’s Best Dishes series, it was the number 4 restaurant in all of Jacksonville in our list of the best restaurants in Jacksonville and we named it as the best French restaurant in our recent list of the best restaurants in Jacksonville by category. Lastly, we ranked Oray’s wine list as the best wine list in Jacksonville for its wide-array of New and Old World selections and excellent organization of the wine list.
27. Roccoco Steak, St. Petersburg
28. Sale E Pepe, Marco Island
29. Scarpetta, Miami
30. Sea Salt, Naples
31. Seagull’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, Destin
32. Shula’s Steak House, Lake Buena Vista/Naples
33. Smith & Wollensky, Miami Beach
34. Stripsteak, Miami Beach
35. The Capital Grille, Miami/Jacksonville/Orlando/Fort Lauderdale/Naples: We have visited the Jacksonville location and frankly, we were underwhelmed by the food. For the price, the steak just wasn’t on par with places like Salt, Bistro Aix, Eleven South, Orsay, Three Forks, or even Ruth’s Chris. In fact, we ranked Capital Grille’s $35 filet mignon 10th out of our list of the top 10 steaks in Jacksonville. We were also disappointed in the service. The wine list however, is impressive and we are hoping for a better experience the newer Orlando location that we plan to visit in the near future.
36. The Crow’s Nest, Venice
37. The Dutch, Miami Beach
38. The Restaurant, Miami Beach
39. The Vineyard Wine Company, Lake Mary
40. The Wine Room on Park Avenue: This is more of a wine bar than a restaurant. Patrons put a certain amount of money on a card and swipe it in the wine tasting machines that they have throughout the building. This allows you to taste some interesting wines are prohibitive in price in the bottle like Sassicaia and Caymus.
41. Victoria & Albert’s: Located at Disney’s Grand Floridian hotel, this is one of only 3 AAA Five Diamond Award winning restaurants in Florida for 2015 (the other two are Palme d’Or in the Biltmore Hotel Coral Gables and Salt, located inside the Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island). We tried this restaurant for a special occasion and it was very impressive, especially in terms of the service, which include a “bread flights” with each course.
42. Vines Grille & Wine Bar, Orlando
43. Vito’s Chop House, Orlando
44. Zuma, Miami
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