Top Restaurants for a Business Lunch/Dinner

Taking an important or prospective client out is a well-worn tactic for cementing a relationship. Beyond goodwill and gratitude, an evening on the town can help build a better understanding of the client’s needs, and your thoughts, and shows that you care about them. But it can also backfire. We’ve been to events where the host was distracted, stingy, or overall misread what the client wanted in a night out. These instances are rare and are all easy problems to solve:

  • Give the client your full attention—but don’t try to make a sale! No one wants to look at blueprints in a dark nightclub.
  • Decide on a budget and choose the location (and provisions) that won’t exceed it. Don’t put yourself in the position of having to watch the pennies. That’s not going to make anyone comfortable.
  • Who is your customer? What are your goals and what are their goals? Choosing the right room is vital. There are perfectly nice restaurants that are simply too loud for proper conversation. Likewise, if you have a boisterous group, don’t go somewhere intimate.

Here, we’re going to list a few restaurants located in some marquee cities, but more importantly explain why these are great spots to take a client. No matter whether you’re in Seattle or Columbus, Ohio, the same principles apply. In general, we’re looking for fun, yet professional, places with an air of easy class.

New York City

The Big Apple is one of the country’s premier foodie cities—in fact, one of the world’s top foodie cities. Culinary empires are built here. It’s also, of course, in many ways the center of gravity for the global economy. Steakhouses around Wall Street and the financial centers downtown, upscale business-casual fine dining midtown, and an ever-changing array of choices uptown make New York a dizzying dining scene—and that’s just Manhattan! Across the river in Brooklyn a galaxy of eating options await, as is the case in the up-and-coming Bronx district and ethnically diverse Queens.

The classics:

Polo Bar

Polo Bar—Dinner in Ralph Lauren’s lovely and lively new American-food restaurant is a difficult reservation to get. If you can, come early because the bar upstairs is a fantastic place to see and be seen, but bear in mind that you’ll need a reservation to even be at the bar.

Maialino—One of celebrity restaurateur Danny Meyer’s original eateries. Expect great Italian food in a comfortable, well-lit room with an atmosphere that’s both relaxing and energizing.

Bar Massa—Find this very high-end, modern Japanese food behind a cloth  curtain in a wood-lined room that looks like something straight out of Tokyo.


Le Grill de Joel Robuchon

Le Grill de Joël Robuchon—This elegant modern French restaurant located in the front of L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon already has a great reputation for being both sophisticated and approachable. The name alone will score style points.

Ed’s Lobster Bar—In what was once the famed Four Seasons’ restaurant, The Grill has all the old-school, mid-century, Mad Men, flaming-desert features you associate with New York business dinners. Coupled with the super-high ceilings and lively bar scene, this is a meal no client will forget. One door over, The Lobster Bar is just what it sounds like.

Temple Court—Located in the stunningly renovated Beekman Hotel, not too far from City Hall, this casual but elegant space is great for any occasion.


Once known primarily for its pork and steaks, Chicago is now America’s Midwest food hub, with very high-end experimental restaurant food sharing space with more traditional fare.

The classics:

Gibsons Italia

Gibson Italia—This Italian-inspired steakhouse plays on Chicago’s heritage, pairing amazing antipasti, crudos, and pasta with choice American, Australian, and Japanese cuts of beef. The large, modern dining room has an easy comfort that invites conversation.





Travelle Kitchen + Bar

Travelle Kitchen + Bar— Another restaurant playing on Chicago’s growing international influences, Travelle offers a play on the word travel. It has a casually elegant vibe and features a lounge, bar, and dining room in the landmark Mies van der Rohe tower. Look out for its seasonal American cuisine.






The Albert


The Albert—Bright and lovely, The Albert dining room features eclectic artwork that adds an extra dimension to the dining experience. It certainly should spark an interesting conversation with your clients. The New American menu is fun and light, but also features a decadent-sounding cheeseburger perfect for your lunch.



Arbella—A globally inspired cocktail bar (are you sensing a trend) rooted in the restaurant team’s diverse cultural backgrounds, Arbella thrives on tradition and exploration. Music and art are blended into the flavors of the food. This is a particularly good place to bring a younger, globally curious client.





Everyone knows Miami for two things: seafood and Cuban food. Both are fantastic in this city, it’s true, but there are, of course, plenty of other options. While locals have favorites like Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, it can be a little too loud and raucous for a business dinner, unless you get outside seating.

What many don’t realize about Miami is how sushi-crazy the city is. Japanese and other light fare are perfect when paired with the Miami heat.

The classics:


Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill—A great and surprising sushi and sashimi restaurant with a red-vinyl diner vibe, Sugarcane has sister restaurants in Brooklyn and Las Vegas. It’s great for a casual but delicious get-together with a client.

Joe’s Stone Crab—Casual and fun, this is a Miami institution. Here, we once sat at the same table as Micky Arison—the billionaire CEO of the Miami Heat NBA team and Carnival Cruises. We were the only two ordering fish, not crab. Large-scale corporate events take place here, so if you’re looking for elegant and intimate, this might not be right. It’s great for casual dining, however.


Makoto—Celebrity chef Makoto Okuwa has put together a top-notch Japanese dining that somehow still manages to be elegant even with its picnic table seating. Like most great yakitori places, the best seats are at the bar.

Pinch—They’re serving serious cuisine at this homey neighborhood hideaway. It’s not fancy, but their executive chefs, John Gallo and Rene Reyes, are culinary celebrities in Miami, so expect some great comfort food in a comfortable setting.


Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the West Coast foodie hub with a style all its own. Actually, if you live there, you know LA is more a region than a town. With so many celebrities looking to be seen in the most glamorous restaurants, it’s easy for the bill to spiral. If you have that sort of budget, go for it. If not, be sure to do some further research before picking up the tab.

The Classics:


Providence—Chef Michael Cimarusti’s award-winning cuisine in the heart of Los Angeles is truly a place to be. It’s known as much for its atmosphere and clientele as for its fabulous fare.

République—In a building constructed in 1928 by Charlie Chaplin, République is Los Angeles through and through. With European and Asian influences, the chefs here also bring in true American fare, such as the unexpected pigs’ feet.





Redbird—It’s funny to list this restaurant as a newcomer because it’s so classic. With an award-winning cocktail menu and simple, straightforward plates, Redbird will impress without appearing to try too hard.

Bestia—Seafood, pizzas, light pasta, and lovely pork chops, this hip and young restaurant will impress equally with its creative cocktails.

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