1708079961 How we chose the list

How we chose the list

How we chose the listplay

Check out the USA TODAY Network's 2024 Restaurants of the Year

Our local journalists know the food scene in their markets better than anyone. We used their expertise to choose our Restaurants of the Year.

When food writers dine together, sharing is the norm. Before anyone gets to grips with their own order, the plates are spread around the table so everyone can sample a bite or two.

This love of sharing is what sparked the creation of our 2024 USA TODAY Restaurants of the Year list.

We know there are other “best restaurants” lists out there. This idea is hardly new. So what sets us apart? While other organizations send teams of writers to parachute into locations and sample the food, our journalists live in the communities they cover.

The restaurants on our list are places we frequently recommend and visit with friends and family. These places are so endearing that we often plan our next visit while we sit there at the table and finish dinner.

“Our food writers live here, they work here, they eat here,” said project leader Liz Johnson, senior director at The Record and Northjersey.com and a former food writer. “You know your stuff. These may not be the fanciest restaurants in the US, but some are. These are the restaurants we want to eat at again and again.”

How many have you been to? Check out USA TODAY's 2024 Restaurants of the Year.

You'll notice that our list doesn't leave out the country to fly over, as many do. Yes, you can have great food in Los Angeles or New York (we have restaurants from those cities on our list, by the way), but you can also enjoy excellent dining experiences in Goshen, Kentucky and Shreveport, Louisiana.

With more than 200 locations in 42 states, the USA TODAY Network has deep roots. We took advantage of this expertise and asked our writers to share with us their favorites, the best of the best from the cities they cover. We received more than 150 nominations.

A team of experienced editors and writers then whittled the list down to 47, looking for places with consistently great service, unique atmosphere, and food that will keep you coming back.

We also looked for and found a rich buffet of flavors, from a third-generation, counter-service seafood restaurant in Cortez, Florida, to a Laotian restaurant in Oklahoma City run by a James Beard Award-nominated chef was.

Our criteria for USA TODAY's 2024 Restaurants of the Year

“For me, reading this list was a delicious journey across America,” said Todd Price, who writes about restaurants in the Southeast and is a former member of the James Beard Award nominating committee. He is one of the writers who helped select and edit our Restaurants of the Year. “The restaurants from large and small towns show how varied the food is in this country today. So many other national lists rarely do more than point their toes outside the largest cities, and they miss so much about how and how well people eat in the U.S. today.”

Most of the restaurants we've highlighted are located in the communities we cover, although we also have some listings outside of town. When our authors aren't traveling in their home country, they enjoy traveling to eat. If we didn't, how would we know how great the places in our hometown really are?

Now we invite you to come in and enjoy our 2024 USA TODAY Restaurants of the Year.

Suzy Fleming Leonard is a features journalist with more than three decades of experience. Find her on Facebook: @SuzyFlemingLeonard or on Instagram: @SuzyLeonard.