The 10 Busiest Restaurants In The US

While there are nearly 800,000 operating restaurants in the United States as of 2023, each of us has our favorite spot to eat, and many food lovers have argued with friends over which place, in their opinion, is the best restaurant in town. However, when we look at industry statistics and how much cash hits the table at certain restaurants, there can only be one true champ.

These top 10 earners in the restaurant industry represent five different cities across the States, along with wildly different dining experiences. On the menus of these spots, you'll find porterhouse steaks, Alaskan king crab legs, caviar with potato chips, turtle pies, and even helium balloons for dessert. You might see cars drive on water, or be asked to eat edible paint off the table as part of an artistic dining experience, and what is this rubber ducky doing in your cocktail? All these unique aspects are exactly why these places land on our list of the most happening restaurants.

We pored over the stats from the 2023 Restaurant Business Report to find out which independent locations (i.e., not chain restaurants) raked in the most cash in America. Plus, we tapped Michelin critiques, actual customer reviews, and emojis commented on Instagram to measure the hype behind each establishment ("fire" and "yummy face" emojis dominated the social media posts). Ranking their numbers from least to most in sales, these are the top 10 busiest restaurants in the U.S. Let's dish.

10. Alinea — Chicago, Illinois

Welcome to the wonderful world of theatrical delight at Alinea in Chicago, Illinois. This stunner with three Michelin Stars constantly reimagines its modernist menu, so there's almost always something new to tickle your taste buds. With an average tab of $650 per meal, and roughly 45,489 meals served, Alinea raked in an estimated $28,359,015 in 2023. If you were wondering, this is the place that serves white chocolate, coffee, and grapefruit dessert "paint."

So what really gets the butts in the seats? in addition to a feature on "Chef's Table" Season 2, chef Grant Achatz has been playing around with food since the outpost opened in 2005. Writer and chef Ruth Reichl explained, "It's a carnival of food delight ... I found myself laughing throughout the meal. This is food as performance, food as surprise, food as you've never seen it before." Katherine Fiorillo recalled for Business Insider, "I expected the elevated experience but was pleasantly surprised that it was also fun." Green apple taffy balloons inflated with actual helium that guests are meant to inhale, then eat, definitely count as fun.

Take your pick of three unique dining experiences within Alinea: the exclusive Kitchen Table where you can peek behind the scenes at the cooking; the experiential dining Gallery room; or the luxurious Salon, where you might catch the gossip from the party next door whispered between sips of champagne. That is, if you can snag a notoriously tricky reservation. Open tables are released two months in advance, so you'll have to save your spot by purchasing your dining experience (the number of courses) ahead of time. 

(312) 867-0110

1723 N Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60614

9. Alexxa's — Las Vegas, Nevada

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, so you might have to take a special trip to experience this singular restaurant on the famed Strip — and it will be worth it. Located at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, Alexxa's (formerly Hexx) hosts brunch, dinner, and bachelorette parties seven days a week. How many $50 cocktails served in life-sized disco balls does it take to nab the 9th spot on our list? In 2023, Alexxa's cranked out 600,435 meals, with the average check clocking in at $80, bringing home around $28,800,000. Well, that deserves a toast.

One Yelp user who ordered the Colossal Bloody Mary (complete with an Alaskan king crab leg, bacon, and jumbo shrimp garnish) wrote, "Easily one of the best ground level views of the strip ... I got a Bloody Mary that was an 11/10. Their drinks are excellent." Another wrote, "100% perfect brunch place." And did you know you can get 2 hours' worth of bottomless mimosas for a mere $30? "Even on a random Monday this place was packed," noted another reviewer, though they added that the friendly service didn't skip a beat.

Alexxa's is all about the full Vegas vacation experience, with a menu that features plenty of jello shots and an Instagram feed full of fire emojis from dedicated fans. Soak up the prime time people-watching with the beautiful Bellagio Fountains as a backdrop to your meal, and you've got yourself a brunch you'll never forget.

(702) 331-5100

3655 S Las Vegas Blvd, Las Vegas, NV 89109

8. Gibsons Italia — Chicago, Illinois

Like your rib-eye with a view? Gibsons Italia invites you to sink your teeth into their premium Angus beef, as well as other dishes full of classic Italian flavors, and feast your eyes upon the skyline in the heart of downtown Chicago, Illinois. This Michelin Guide favorite dished out 290,631 meals, with an average check of $115, bringing 2023 sales to a whopping $28,806,727.

Reviewer Jeff Ruby at Chicago Magazine noted, "Yes, it's loud and crowded and expensive, but there is something ultimately endearing and encouraging about Gibsons Italia." It's the cooler, younger Italian brother of the spot Gibson's Bar & Steakhouse, which has been dominating the local meat-eater scene since the '80s. Featuring everything from charred octopus to 7-year aged Acquerello risotto with scallops and a Carrara 640 Wagyu New York strip, this outpost stealthily leverages the well-known Gibson restaurant brand to take home the dough. Don't freak out if your wallet isn't fat — they also offer $11 French fries. If you can splurge, though, you must try the hen of the woods mushrooms sautéed in wagyu beef fat and served with red wine sauce.

One TripAdvisor reviewer who managed to nab a reservation shared, "The wagyu tartare was the star of the show, but it was all delicious. We could have sat there all night admiring the view." And another shared, "[The] roasted garlic bulb was an unexpected pleasure." An Instagram fan commented on a rather tantalizing slow-mo video of the raviolo carbonara, posting, "I dream of that Carbonara!" Someone else was the rest of us, writing, "Drooling over here."

(312) 414-1100

233 N Canal St, Chicago, IL 60606

7. Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse — Chicago, Illinois

Just inching past Gibsons Italia to secure 7th place is the godfather of all Chicago steakhouse institutions: Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse, in Chicago, Illinois. The atmosphere is as welcoming as the warm cherry pie ($14.25 on its own, but you should add a scoop of ice cream), and it's such a neighborhood icon that the menu even features a "local favorites" section. But it's not just Chicagoans coming back for the lamb chops and French dips. Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse plated 322,352 meals, at $97 per check, to total $28,837,192 in sales for 2023.

Gibsons sources some seriously spectacular beef as the sole restaurant group in America to earn a USDA Prime certification. That means you'll find little specks of fat all over each steak, so it's perfectly juicy and tasty and melts in your mouth. The Infatuation noted, "Gibsons has everything this city is proud to be known for — lots of delicious meat, enormous portion sizes, and friendly Midwestern service." Of course, those who aren't Chicago natives will love it, too.

Yelp users say you're gonna want to try the signature W.R.'s Chicago cut 22 oz. steak (named after food reviewer William Rice, who was the first to recommend that Gibsons get itself a signature cut of steak). Definitely don't miss the macadamia turtle pie for dessert. One Yelp review warned, "I'm not going to Gibson's without ordering the macadamia turtle pie ... A thick graham cracker crust with a mountain of vanilla ice cream, packed with whole macadamias, and covered in chocolate ganache and caramel." As for the portion size, another fan shared, "Their turtle pie is bigger than your head!"

Gibsons Bar & Steakhouse

(312) 266-8999

1028 N Rush St, Chicago, IL 60611

6. Sierra Mar — Big Sur, California

Far from the bustle and buzz of a big city, restaurant Sierra Mar at The Post Ranch Inn sits high atop a rocky cliffside overlooking the ocean in Big Sur, California. Looking around, there seems to be a contest going for Best in Solitude and Serenity. You'll be so stunned by the view that you'll wonder if people come here to eat, or just to look. Well, plenty of diners seem to be shelling out for a bite to go with the scenery: At roughly $200 per check, Sierra Mar served 174,000 meals and walked away from 2023 with roughly $28,978,562 in sales. That just might make seagull-watching the most expensive pastime in America — or in Big Sur, at least.

Along with advising a reservation at sunset, and highlighting the always-changing seasonal menu, Forbes noted, "The restaurant has one of the most extensive wine cellars in North America with well-known wine producers and hard-to-find bottles from boutique vineyards." It's California, after all — did you expect the state not to show off its vino? With a focus on sustainability, the prix fixe menu also reveals who produced which ingredients and where, when it comes to farmers and purveyors.

A TripAdvisor fan recalled the outpost as "A truly special place. Food great. Staff great. Setting and view — without rival." Another noted, "Honestly the views alone were worth the price of admission." On an Instagram post highlighting an exquisitely plated dish of handmade agnolotti pasta and squash with tarragon, ricotta, and Calabrian chili, one person commented, "I would wear that as a necklace!" (Quick reminder: this would be a bad idea, given the seagulls.)

(831) 667-2800

47900 CA-1, Big Sur, CA 93920

5. MILA — Miami Beach, Florida

Enough with the serenity and solitude, people. Grab some Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen and head to MILA in Miami Beach, Florida. The ultra glamorous hotspot lands at No. 5 on the 2023 list thanks to $31,246,339 in sales from 202,715 meals served, at an estimated $147 per check. Plus, the place comes with fire dancers.

Your meal will be crafted from the mind of 26-time Michelin-starred Chef Michaël Michaelidis, and his dishes seek to celebrate the essential elements of life: earth, water, and vegetables (or crops, if you're not that into broccolini). A Yelper noted, "So much culture is embedded throughout the restaurant, the music, dancers, decor, ambience, people, and of course the food. I was so impressed!" Another was totally down for the nightlife, posting, "The music they were playing was so good, I followed their SoundCloud and Shazammed several songs. 10/10 ambience and vibe here."

MILA is definitely a captivating scene, yet it's also designed to feel like a globally-inspired sanctuary — y'know, for people with long legs and Wilhelmina contracts. Having just opened its doors in January 2020, MILA's so-called "MediterrAsian" fusion cuisine was such a hit, the group has since opened three more exclusive dining experiences beyond the main door. These the 10-seat MILA Omakase, the chic MILA Lounge, and the members-only MM (Ooo, they have Kristal caviar by Kaviari Paris in there? New life's mission: Get someone to get us into MILA MM stat.)


(786) 706-0744

1636 Meridian Avenue Rooftop, Miami Beach, FL 33139

4. Maple & Ash Chicago — Chicago, Illinois

Back to Chi-Town once again for No. 4 on our list: Maple & Ash in Chicago, Illinois. Maple & Ash dished up 253,793 meals at roughly $225 per tab, ringing up the final tally to $32,011,192 in sales for 2023. Talk about a Luxardo cherry on top of a gooey hot fudge sundae — and yes, they offer custom sundaes for dessert.

It seems that this steakhouse has been dead set on unstuff-ifying fine dining since it opened in 2015. Need proof? Please reference the Maple & Ash "I Don't Give A F*@k" tasting menu. (Just so you know, it costs $200 per person to not give a f*@k.) A quick scroll through their Instagram feed will also reveal keepsake menus personalized with phrases like "Happy F*@king Birthday, Smiljana!" And "Welcome to F*@king Chicago Carol!" (Aww, just like f*@king grandma used to say.)

Thankfully, stellar food and drinks can back up the language. Wine Spectator called Maple & Ash "Undeniably one of Chicago's leading wine destinations." And, pointing to the overall cheeky wink at classic steakhouse culture, the Chicago Tribune noted, "Maple & Ash might not be the best steakhouse in Chicago, but it's close. And it's certainly the most fun." Is it the fire-roasted seafood tower of Alaskan king crab, wild blue prawn, Manila clams, and scallops? Or maybe it's the caviar, crème fraîche, and potato chips? It's hard to put a finger on anything after saying yes to the mess and going for a bottomless champagne brunch. But maybe this Yelper hit the nail on the head, writing, "I dream about the Mashed Potatoes."

(312) 944-8888

8 W Maple St, Chicago, IL 60610

3. Komodo Miami — Miami Beach, Florida

Here we are at No. 3, back at it in The Magic City. At Komodo in Miami Beach, Florida, you can expect sushi and other Asian-inspired dishes with a little show — look at the Dragon Sushi Platter plated on a red dragon-shaped dish with gold leaf accents and a dry ice smoke effect. A 3-story behemoth of Southeast Asian cuisine since 2015, Komodo served 295,055 meals in 2023 with a typical tab running around $126, which brought in $37,209,977 in sales. Ka-ching.

But not everyone is feeling the hype. The Infatuation gave a thumbs down to the massive (and crowded) dining rooms, reporting, "Both of which are colossal spaces that feel like the Rainforest Cafe took a trip to Ibiza." Over on Reddit, lovers and haters went to battle, with some users wickedly recommending Komodo for their sworn enemies, but one commenter writing, "Their pork spare ribs are one of the best things I've ever eaten." If you need convincing to take a visit and see which side of the debate you'll fall on, just stare at the wild mushroom lo mein with the shaved truffles on Komodo's Instagram. And how anyone be mad at the super cute Pikachu cocktail?

Regardless of the haters, true fans of Komodo show no signs of slowing down. A TripAdvisor reviewer who didn't mind ponying up for a cocktail shared, "[Looked] for something upscale, trendy, and Miami-ish. Found exactly what we were looking for with Komodo." And a local happy customer posted, "[There are] amazing restaurants all over Miami but Komodo is not only fabulous dining, it's the people who make it fabulous."

(305) 534-2211

801 Brickell Ave, Miami, FL 33131

2. The Boathouse — Orlando, Florida

Looking for cars that drive on water, plus literally all the seafood puns you could ever hope for? If you're in the Sunshine State, The Boathouse at Disney Springs in Orlando, Florida is shrimply the best — and you should dolphin-ately check it out. Thanks to the spirit of the open sea, The Boathouse served a jaw-dropping 1,001,254 meals with an average $45 check, to break the bank at $43,863,194 in sales for 2023. You can even make a reservation with your shell-phone. (OK, seriously, someone please call for help — we can't resist this oppor-tuna-ty.)

Friends, this isn't Disney magic — the so-called amphicars are real. These land and sea-worthy vehicles were sourced from collectors of the rare '60s-era vintage cars, and The Boathouse is the one place on the planet where you can jump in and ride around in one. There's also live music every night, a weekly captain's sing-along brunch, and a Duck Duck Razz cocktail with Stoli razberi, peach schnapps, blue curacao, and a ridiculously adorable mini yellow rubber ducky floating on it. And then there's the food. "I could POUND a million Sea of Cortez shrimp," wrote one Yelper.

Dockside classics feature a shrimp boil, jumbo lump crab cakes, and grilled Mahi tacos. A wide selection of "turf" dishes include several varieties of Gibson steaks. (Wait. How?) It turns out that The Boathouse is owned by none other than Gibsons Restaurant Group. And, yeah, that also means GRG landed three spots on this list. Well, we'll just take our hefty key lime pie to go and drive off into the sunset in our amphibious automobile like we're not jealous of their business tactics.

(407) 939-2628

1620 E Buena Vista Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830

1. Joe's Stone Crab — Miami Beach, Florida

There can only be one winner. And clobbering the competition with one of those little wooden crab mallets is Joe's Stone Crab in Miami Beach, Florida. With roots going back to a tiny beachside lunch counter run by Joe Weiss in 1913, we're betting no one in the family could have ever imagined the company's success over 100 years later. With an average check of $120 and 284,799 meals served, Joe's Stone Crab took the 2023 trophy with $45,298,122 in sales. Crack that crab and smoke it.

Of course, you don't get to the top without creating some buzz. Condé Nast Traveler says of the crowds, "The wait for a table here is its own sort of culinary institution." But once you're seated, prepare for an experience like no other. As one Yelp reviewer posted, "Y'all, I just cannot begin to tell you how fabulous the service is. It's just so so good. The only thing better is the food." Of course, stone crab isn't part of the outpost's name for nothing. The claws of these killer crustaceans are full of uniquely flavorful meat. When the crab matures, one of its claws is sustainably harvested, and the crab is sent swimming back into the ocean to grow a new claw. Or, better yet, invest in a taser. (For those of us with delicate sensibilities, stone crab fishing is also heavily regulated.)

Make reservations for the posh main restaurant, or grab your crab in your flip flops by hitting up Joe's Take Away next door. "Joe's is a true classic in South Beach! Not only are they famous for their stone crabs but also for their fried chicken," wrote one fan. "Also, I don't care what diet you're on, you must try one of their pies. Key Lime, pecan chocolate, apple crumble, you can't go wrong." We'll take one of each... plus the bread pudding, the brownie sundae, and...

(305) 673-0365

11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139