What is a "nice" restaurant?

Check for yourself. It looks like the prices have gone up a tad since I was there, and there are in fact some seafood options pushing the $70 mark, but the most expensive steak dinner is only $38.50, and that’s for 30 ounces of meat.

And honestly, if you’re going there and getting something other than a steak, you’re missing out.

So the Seafood does put you up into the $70 range and the beef seems cheap compared to places around here in Central Jersey. Our Seafood is a little cheaper, but either local or at least shorter transport.

FYI, for those of you who don’t necessarily want to shell out quite so much to try these places, a lot of areas will have a “Restaurant Week” that benefits some charity or other, where the high-end places will have a prix-fixe deal that’s reasonable for the week- around here (DFW) it’s about $40 per person, minus drinks.

My wife and I have used that in years past to scout out restaurants that we might not otherwise want to pay full price to try- typically ones that aren’t quite our style, or cuisines we’re not totally enamored with. (that typically means steakhouses).

OK, I did a Zillow search, and starter homes are < $200,000, but “nice” homes are about $350k
Anyhow, I stand by my “nice” restaurant links.


I’d say a Nice restaurant probably has a host and usually takes reservations. A bar is likely, wine list, too. There are probably daily specials that aren’t on the regular menu. Linen napkins, no condiments or coffee stuff on the table when seated. Service is fairly polished; it’s unlikely to be any FOH staffs’ first job in the industry. The check will be brought in a device. Care has been taken in selecting the decor, seating, cutlery, menu design. Unless attached to a hotel, it probably isn’t open for breakfast.

A $70 pp meal is probably Nice, three diners @$70 total probably isn’t. There are exceptions to each and every one of these but those would be my expectations.

That’s a silent butler (Etsy link for photos).

Here in Tucson casual dress is pretty much the rule; people aren’t interested in dressing up when it’s over 100 and probably over 110 for a chunk of the year. On a travel forum I frequent people sometimes ask about one of those restaurants with a strict dress code here in Tucson and we’re “that doesn’t exist here”.

Those places are getting pretty rare in my area. Only 2 nearby where I would feel off in a neat T-shirt and khaki style shorts. As many of our finest places are on the water, the expectations of dress aren’t too high.

Yeah I don’t really factor in dress code. The only places that have much of a dress code are what I call “traditional fine dining”, traditional fine dining and “nice restaurant” aren’t synonymous. In the DC area for example most of the best, trendiest, most acclaimed restaurants are not traditional fine dining. They will easily set you back $50/person or more (before drinks), and $70-100+ a person isn’t uncommon. But as long as you don’t come in wearing a burlap sack or something no one is going to critique your outfit.

In most markets traditional fine dining often doesn’t have the top rated food, traditional fine dining has kind of become known for very classic dishes, extremely high levels of service, but due somewhat to their stodginess and conservatism around menu items, in a bustling urban area they usually aren’t the very top end of dining anymore. Most big metros have at least a couple true fine dining restaurants that pull off some form of modern take on traditional fine dining, and that gets rated highly enough that the food is considered really top tier, but as an example, WaPo’s food critic Tom Sietsema puts out an annual list of the best restaurants in DC (I’ve been to some of these), and on this year’s list I think maybe one requires a jacket: The best D.C. restaurants: Tom Sietsema’s 2021 favorites - Washington Post. A couple say things like “no athletic wear, torn clothing, or shorts.”

Meanwhile this place-- 1789 Restaurant | American Restaurant in Washington, DC which is kind of the standard bearer of traditional fine dining in DC–is strictly jacket required, the waiters will be dressed in black tie, and the service will feel right out of the 1970s or earlier (by design.) However while the food at 1789 is good and it’s always decently reviewed, it doesn’t frequently make “top” lists. In some markets, especially smaller ones, where maybe only one historic fine dining restaurant was viable, those have often “decayed” into gross caricatures of their former glory, often kept in busy through sad special events, and the food has usually regressed as well. A lot of those places have not kept up with the times and have decor and menus stuck in the 1970s.

While I’m sure that there are some in the Chicago area (particularly downtown), they’re even “nicer” than what I go to. :slight_smile:

The aforementioned Mon Ami Gabi, which is our very favorite restaurant (and which, sadly, is closing next month, as their lease is up) is located in a somewhat upscale outdoor shopping mall. Due to that, a fair amount of their clientele is people who stop in during a shopping trip, and aren’t particularly dressed up.

Nonetheless, when we go there, I wear a sportcoat and slacks, just because it makes it feel a little more special.

“Nice” means different things to people depending on their economic situation and what they are used to.

My mother took my daughter and me to a “nice” restaurant a couple of years ago. I’m sure it came out to under $70 total. But my 13 year old daughter would not regard that as a nice restaurant. Her “nice” would be something that would be closer to $150 for three people including one drink each (one nonalcoholic of course). By the time she starts dating she’s going to bankrupting boys, but we live in a town with a median household income over $150k and median home price pushing a million. It’s what she’s used to.

My mother grew up in a family where a kid losing her hat was a major financial hit, and would cause her to lose her pocket money for months.

My parents aren’t poor, but they don’t do fancy. Hampton Inn and Courtyard by Marriott is “nice” to them. My daughter thinks the Doubletree is slumming.

If you can count on someone bringing a toddler, you’re not at a “nice” restaurant.

I recently visited a Cooper’s Hawk restaurant for the first time for a milestone birthday gathering. It’s a chain with about 50 locations in ten states and at a similar pricepoint to Mon Ami Gabi (Lettuce does do a nice job with these kind of places). It was pretty Nice, though it would be pretty easy to get out of there for under $50 pp. I wore a dress shirt and my best black shoes and didn’t feel overdressed at all. However, there were people there in shorts and baseball caps which, while not something I would have worn, didn’t seem too out of place.

Heh, if we’re talking dress codes, that steakhouse I linked to earlier has one. Specifically, ties are prohibited. If you come in wearing a tie, they’ll cut it off, and hang it as a trophy on the wall (I imagine that they give warning for any patron not aware of this custom).

Somehow I don’t think that’s quite the sort of dress code folks here are referring to.

I believe we have the originator of that meme, the Pinnacle Peak Patio Steakhouse, in the mid '50s or so. It was what was then way out of town and offered only T-bone steaks in three different sizes done over a mesquite wood fire.

The waitresses had a pocket in their apron with big shears in it and so far as I know gave no warning. We went with my aunt and uncle, who without asking my Dad, wore a tie. He was observant and spotted the trophies nailed to the wall so by the time we were seated, the tie was in his pocket. Judging from their appearance, not a few of the ties were worn specifically so they’d be cut off.

A nice restaurant is one I have to make a reservation for. Sometimes a month in advance. With a deposit!

I can’t say I’ve ever been to a restaurant where that would be the per-person price. Nor do I even know of such a place anywhere near me, even if I go to the largest cities in the area. I can of maybe a particularly fancy place that might have a $70 entree as a top-of-the-line item, but not that being anything most people would actually purchase.

To me, the term “nice restaurant” means a step above the casual restaurant (which is itself a step above the fast casual restaurant). I could see three people eating at one for $70, though they’d have to forgo appetizers and deserts, and stick with refillable drinks.

It seems to me you guys are thinking of those fancy restaurants they show on TV—the ones the characters only ever went to in order to show off for their date. Those do not sound to me like the type you would use in order to try and sell how cheap something is.

The first time I observed such a thing was at III Forks in Dallas back in 1994 and I admit I was impressed. It was perhaps the first time in my life I had gone to an upscale restaurant and both the food and the level of service were amazing to me. I would classify such a place as fine dining rather than “nice.” Which still leaves us the question of what is a nice restaurant?
I would probably consider most restaurants on the upper end of the casual dining spectrum to be nice restaurants.

This pretty much sums it up for me, if I’ve enjoyed my meal and would look forward to dining there again then that’s a nice restaurant

Any waiter that comes out with a pair of shears, planning to cut my $75 silk tie off is going to find himself in a world of hurt. I don’t care about “no-tie policies,” nor how “har-de-har-har” it is to other patrons, it is an item of my clothing, that I bought and paid for, and should not be disturbed. Hey, why don’t we just rip the skirt off that girl? Or the pants off that guy? Taking and destroying a patron’s clothing is OK, so all of these instances are the same thing, right?

I like wearing a tie. If you don’t want customers like me, that’s fine. Make it clear ahead of time that you do not want gentlemen wearing ties in your establishment, and I will steer clear. (Makes me wonder what kind of “gentlemen” are allowed in, actually.) Surprise me when I show up in your establishment wearing a tie, and you think that you can cut it off, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.

I believe the original poster referred to $70 per person for

1 appetizer for two people
Two entrees
At least one drink- wine, mixed drink, craft beer per person.

That’s not a $70 entree - I’m guessing that’s maybe a $50 ish entree. (although I can’t be sure as I never order dessert and drink soft drinks with meals. But $70 per person restaurants aren’t only to show off - every time I’ve been to one of these it’s been pretty crowded. And I don’t even consider that a “nice” restaurant.

As far as what’s a nice restaurant, it’s hard to describe - it’s easier to say what is not a nice restaurant. A nice restaurant isn’t a large chain like Outback, it isn’t in a mall or baseball stadium or anyplace where it is meant to attract people whose primary purpose in being at the mall, etc is eating (although that does not exclude restaurants that are near the water or touristy areas - like I said, it’s hard to describe)