This story is republished from, your source for restaurant bookings and discovery.

By Cait Teegarden

After a couple of years of remote work, it’s finally time, oh seasoned business traveler: Dust off your precisely packed carry-on and start putting in that face time.

Of course, as business travel ramps back up, let’s not forget the real opportunity that presents itself: dinner on the corporate card. The chance to build relationships around the table again is more meaningful now than ever.

The trick is finding the right spot to meet the moment.

And that’s where we come in. Trust us, we get it: Too often business dinners fall prey to that middle-of-the-road sameness. (We see you, chain steakhouse.) We’re not here for that, not after the past couple of years we’ve all had. It’s time to have actual fun, even if we’re on an expense account. Especially if we’re on an expense account.

So where can you conduct business and have an exceptional meal? We scoured major cities across the country to find 12 spots that suit every situation — and some backup options, too. So whether you’re tasked with hosting a group of prospective clients, celebrating a reunion of friendly faces, or figuring out where to reunite with your team, we’ve put together a list of options that will strike just the right chord. You can thank us later.

1.     Gage & Tollner

NEW YORK | Downtown Brooklyn


You want to set the tone with a bit of historic restaurant lore.


In search of an ice breaker? Gather your party around a table in this glitzy landmark in downtown Brooklyn and regale them with the tale of the 100-year gauntlet the restaurant has been through. You’ll be in good hands: Gage & Tollner operates under the watchful eye of long-time friends and heavyweight restaurateurs Sohui Kim, Ben Schneider, and St. John Frizell.

In a space that oozes comfort and community, choose from American classics — steaks, chops, and a fried chicken dish that will imbue any budding professional relationship with confidence. That doesn’t even factor in Frizell’s exceptional cocktails, or Kim’s twists on historic classics, like a clam-belly broil that has as much history as the restaurant.

See also: Dear John’s (Los Angeles), Galatoire’s (New Orleans), The Village at Italian Village (Chicago), Keens Steakhouse (New York), Fox’s Lounge (South Miami).

2. Bar Moruno

LOS ANGELES | Silverlake


You want to pack a lot into a small plate.


Should you be mercifully granted a night off the clock (either solo or with colleagues) or have a client who doesn’t mind sharing, Bar Moruno is waiting for you with open arms and plenty of delicious tinned fish. It’s a handy Silver Lake spot to have in mind should you be looking for a buzzy atmosphere to indulge in innocent workplace gossip. Chef Chris Feldmeier fires up Spanish-style tapas not often found on Sunset Boulevard.

The focus here is smaller format but that just allows for the intense flavors to shine succinctly. Heavy up on standouts such as the oven-roasted marinated feta or the chorizo Scotch egg. And yes, the salmon martini is a thing.

See also: Ernesto’s (New York), Buddy (S.F.), Estadio (D.C.), Barceloneta (Miami), Toro (Boston), Costera (New Orleans).

3. Galit

CHICAGO | Lincoln Park


You want options and structure (and pita).


Over in Lincoln Park, Galit offers up the inviting communal atmosphere of a Middle Eastern dining experience with much-appreciated guardrails. Here, guests are presented with a four-course “choose your own adventure” style menu for when ordering for the table might be presumptuous. The fixed price of the menu also allows for a level of clandestine budget management for groups, should you be tasked with that parameter.

Owned and operated by Andrés Clavero and James Beard Award-winning chef Zachary Engel, Galit explores the best of what hospitality can be through the lens of the migrant cuisines of the Middle East and Israel. Wherever your choices take you (be it the stuffed peppers vs. the smoked turkey shawarma), you won’t be led astray.

See also: Aziza (Atlanta), Mazeh (Miami), Maydan (D.C.), Laser Wolf (Philadelphia), Miss Ada (New York), Leila (Detroit), Saba (New Orleans)

4. Cranes Spanish Kaiseki

WASHINGTON, D.C. | Chinatown


You want to play it by ear (and enjoy a cultural remix).


In a true representation of a transient town that holds onto the influences of all those who pass through it, Cranes melds Spanish and Japanese technique. Chef Pepe Moncayo of Singapore has built a tapas offering with impeccable attention to detail. Respective gluten-free and dairy-free menus accommodate a range of dietary needs.

Consider Cranes a perfect option to adjust your experience on the fly. Need to make this meeting a working lunch? Elect the efficient weekday Executive Omakase (with or without a beverage pairing).

See also: Kato  (Los Angeles), Atoboy (New York), Revolver Taco Lounge (Dallas), Little Fish BYOB (Philadelphia), Owamni By the Sioux Chef (Minneapolis), Meridian (Dallas), Kasama (Chicago)

5. Boia De

MIAMI | Buena Vista


You want to surprise and delight.


Out-of-towners may be skeptical as they navigate to an unremarkable shopping plaza in Little Haiti. Marked only by a pink neon exclamation point, Boia De pays off on the buildup. The interior is a feast for the eyes and everything on the compact, Italian-inspired menu is a hit.

Chefs Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer “locally sourced” seriously. Everything ordered is sourced from pals in the area. There are plenty of shareables, but the pastas do the heavy lifting. At the conclusion of the meal, everyone may wonder if this may have been the sole purpose of the business trip.

See also: The Four Horsemen (New York), Ramen Shop (Oakland), The Good King Tavern (Philadelphia), Porcelain (New York)

6. Bar Volpe

BOSTON | South Boston


You want to take the pressure off, Italian-style.


Few dishes are as comforting as a perfect bowl of fresh-made pasta. To sum up how she describes Bar Volpe, Chef Karen Akunowicz says, “If you’ve spent any time in Italy, this is nice intermediate.” The sequel to her acclaimed Fox & the Knife restaurant is warm and hospitable, with emphasis on the pasta-making craft she learned from the Nonnas of Modena.

Larger parties can more easily be accommodated here and there is a familial ambiance to gently facilitate any new working relationship. Ask about options to buy out various spaces in the restaurant if a more private experience is in order.

See also: Felix (Los Angeles), Forsythia (New York), Elina’s (Chicago), Macchialina Taverna Rustica (Miami), Da Toscano (New York), Il Nido (Seattle), Le Farfalle (Charleston), Hyacinth (St. Paul), Carbone Dallas (Dallas).

7. Ernest

SAN FRANCISCO | Mission District


You want a fresh (as in ingredient) perspective.


Amidst the shifting landscape of the city’s workforce over the last couple of years, the restaurant scene has been cooking up new offerings.  Enter Ernest. Located in the colorful Mission District, this latest venture from Chef Brandon Rice is a nice reentry point for any travelers due for a visit. The menu boasts modern Californian cuisine with global influences and is constantly rotating to reflect Bay Area inspiration.

With a menu divided into four parts: raw bar; snacks; salads and vegetables; and meat and seafood, this spot can easily be customized for groups or one-on-one meetups.

See also: Field & Vine (Boston), Loring Place (New York), Café Chez Panisse (Berkeley), Salt’s Cure (Los Angeles), The Corson Building (Seattle)

8. Boeufhaus

CHICAGO | West Town


You want the creature comforts of a steakhouse, at a higher frequency.


With “beef” alluded to in the name, West Town’s Boeufhaus straddles the line of steakhouse and Midwest brasserie. Chef-owners Brian Ahere and Jamie Finnegan give a nod to the old ways of doing things (for the steakhouse purists), with a contemporary edge.

Beef is the focal point and that comes through in the short rib-filled beignets and the 22-ounce rib-eye showstopper, but there are plenty of seasonal accessories to round out the meal. It is indulgent. It is impressive. It will satisfy the most carnivorously inclined without alienating anyone with alternative predilections. And the wine list is notably progressive – natural-wine adjacent, at the least – without abandoning the steakhouse vibe.

See also: American Beauty (Los Angeles), St. Anselm (New York), The Butcher’s Table (Seattle), Marrow (Detroit).

9. Restaurant Beatrice

DALLAS | Oak Cliff


You want to create a warm Southern welcome.


At Restaurant Beatrice, the motto is simple: Bienvenue to All. The inviting atmosphere is sure to endear you to any visitors to whom the invitation is extended. The contemporary takes on Cajun classics won’t hurt either.

Chef-owner Michelle Carpenter has assembled a team to bring Louisiana hospitality to the Dallas area, to translate tradition through modern perspectives (we see you, vegan gumbo). If you want to deliver a dining experience chock full of TLC, look no further.

See also: Revival (Atlanta/Decatur), Darryl’s Corner Bar & Kitchen (Boston), Brenda’s French Soul Food (San Francisco), Big Jones (Chicago).

10. Cote

NEW YORK | Chelsea


You want people to be thinking about the meal on the plane home.


If you’re ready to put on a show outside of the conference room, a night out in Chelsea at Côte is guaranteed to dazzle. Proprietor Simon Kim brings to life a joyfully interactive experience that blends Korean barbecue with the American steakhouse. It’s an impeccable fine-dining experience where you need not worry about speaking in hushed tones.

Enlist your trust in the experts and opt for the Butcher’s Feast (four selected cuts with Korean accompaniments). Or, if you’re ready to put your foot on the gas, opt for the steak omakase (aka The Grand Tour). It’s sure to send a signal.

See also: Côte Miami (Miami), Dirty French Steakhouse (Miami), Mun Korean Steakhouse (Los Angeles), Doris Metropolitan (Houston).

11. Dama

LOS ANGELES | Fashion District


You want to blend business with nightlife.


Within the Fashion District lies Dama, a lush, jungle-like outdoor patio, which embodies the energy typically found in Latin American metropolises. The folks behind Scopa Italian Roots, Black Market Liquor Bar, and The Chestnut Club have turned the vibe up, without compromising flavor on any of the (shared) plates.

Chef Antonia Lofaso has put together an exceptional menu, all of which goes alongside Dama’s stunning cocktails. At the end of a meal, you might be considering international expansion.

See also: Homestead on the Roof (Chicago), Chica (Miami), Jojo’s Beloved (Atlanta), Las’ Lap (New York).

12. Halls Chophouse – Charleston

Charleston | Harleston Village


You don’t want to reinvent the wheel.


Family-owned and operated, Halls Chophouse is a fail-proof institution for when you’re organizing a dinner for guests who know what they like and know when it’s done right. Here, you’ll find an old-school steakhouse aura and tasteful spins on classics like Gorgonzola-glazed potatoes. Above all else, you’ll experience top-notch hospitality, Southern or otherwise.

A Halls reservation is an act of service that won’t go unappreciated.

See also: Harry’s (New York), Damon’s (Los Angeles/Glendale), The Chicago Firehouse Restaurant (Chicago), Alpen Rose (Philadelphia); and you can also find Halls in Columbia, SC; Greenville, SC; and Nashville.