Award-Winning Restaurants in Every State That Won’t Leave You Broke

There are options to enjoy affordable award-winning dining — even at restaurants with Michelin stars or several James Beard Awards — all over the U.S.
Last updated June 2, 2023 | By Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Edited By Michele Zipp
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When most people think of Michelin-starred or award-winning restaurants, they think of fancy and — most likely — exorbitantly-priced dishes. But not every eatery that’s earned prestigious rewards will break the bank.

In fact, there are highly-regarded restaurants all over the U.S. that still offer relatively inexpensive, or at least moderately priced, fare. Check out this list of top-rated restaurants with affordable dining in every state. If you're looking for ways to save money, consider dining at one of these top-notch eateries.

Acre in Alabama

Courtesy of Acre Restaurant Restaurant interior

Acre, located in the downtown district of Auburn, offers a unique take on Southern traditional foods. The spot earned James Beard Foundation Awards in both 2019 and 2020 and is known for delectable butcher’s and cheese boards (both of which you can nab for under $20).

Dinners range from around $30 to just over $50.

Jack Sprat in Alaska

Courtesy of Jack Sprat Table in restaurant

A popular spot in Girdwood, Jack Sprat — known for its tagline “fat and lean world cuisine'' — offers customers the opportunity to try a little bit of everything, with dishes inspired by different traditions all over the world. Executive chef, Andrew Brown, was nominated for a James Beard Award for the Best Chef: Northwest in 2015.

Main courses run between $25 and $45 and guests can try everything from a good, old American steak to Korean bibimbap.

Vecina in Arizona

Courtesy of Vecina Two servers in restaurant

Vecina in Phoenix made it to the semifinals for the 2020 James Beard Award for best new restaurant, and for a good reason. The restaurant offers dishes inspired by Latin spices and ingredients.

Diners can check out main courses like the Mesquite grilled prime carne asada ribeye or Adobo Duroc pork chop (which range in price from $28 to $42) or chow down on some of their famous tacos.

The Hive in Arkansas

Courtesy of The Hive Restaurant interior

The Hive offers a unique take on traditional country garb that’s a massive hit with diners, proven by how many awards the restaurant has garnered. Executive chef Matthew McClure has nabbed accolades from the Arkansas Food Hall of Fame, Food & Wine magazine, and the James Beard Foundation.

The restaurant, located in Bentonville’s 21c Museum Hotel, offers a stacked dinner menu with dishes like the famous Hive Burger, curried panisse, and a beef ribeye ranging in price from $20 to $46.

State Bird Provisions in California

Courtesy of State Bird Provisions Restaurant interior

State Bird Provisions is one of the only places where you can score a bargain deal at a Michelin star restaurant. In fact, you can enjoy a three-course meal at the Bay Area spot for around $45.

The restaurant, run by Chef Proprietors Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski, began specializing in quail dishes, but has evolved to include a more eclectic menu — which includes dishes like duck liver mousse and almond financiers, and pork belly “salad.”

Blackbelly in Colorado

Courtesy of Blackbelly Heritage pork entree

Blackbelly in Boulder is run by Top Chef Season 5 champ Hosea Rosenberg. The restaurant offers delicious options with a focus on sustainability and locally-sourced foods.

Dinner entrees range from tagliatelle to a rotisserie half chicken to ora king salmon — and range in price from $17 to $36, though some of the meat cuts will depend on market rates. The restaurant also has an attached butcher shop.

Viron Rondo Osteria in Connecticut

Courtesy of Viron Rondo Osteria Restaurant interior

Located in Cheshire, Viron Rondo Osteria was honored with last year’s Connecticut Restaurant Association’s Restaurant of the Year award for its area — no small feat considering the top-notch food culture in the region. The restaurant offers traditional Italian fare in an atmosphere that guests say make them feel like they’re on vacation.

The spot offers different size pasta dishes, ranging in price from around $25 to near $50, and also features brick oven pizzas and a selection of steaks.

The House of William & Merry in Delaware

Courtesy of The House of William & Merry Michelin star chefs

The cancellation of the James Beard Awards last year was one of many ways COVID-19 changed restaurants, but the prestigious food award ceremony is back this year and owners Bill Hoffman and Merry Catanuto of The House of William & Merry nabbed their first nomination.

The restaurant offers a fine dining experience at a price that won’t break the bank — like a delicious yellowfin tuna poke at $20 a pop or the braised and glazed Wagyu beef cheeks entree for $42.

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Oak & Ola in Florida

Courtesy of Oak & Ola Restaurant interior

Another James Beard Award winner, Anne Kearney, has made a name for herself in Florida with the delicious and vibrant Oak & Ola in Tampa.

The restaurant is located in the Armature Works Food Hall, and boasts a large menu where most entrees are under $40, unless you really want to spring for the $76 New York strip steak. The menu also offers fire roasted pizzas, an impressive list of starters, and quite the drink selection.

Miller Union in Georgia

Courtesy of Miller Union Restaurant interior

Miller Union’s chef, Georgia native Steve Satterfield, is also a James Beard winner, taking home the prize for Best Chef: Southeast in 2017. The Atlanta restaurant offers delectable, yet comforting dishes, with entrees for around $30.

It’s an excellent option for those who are budgeting, but still trying to indulge in some award-winning fare. Enjoy hearty meals like seafood gumbo, fried pork schnitzel, or sauteed quail at this hot spot.

The Pig and the Lady in Hawaii

Courtesy of The Pig and the Lady Plates of food

The Pig and the Lady Chef Andrew Le has been nominated for a 2022 James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurateur, his third nomination. This delightful little spot in Honolulu offers a delicious take on modern Vietnamese cooking — and it won’t break the bank either.

The restaurant offers something for every type of diner, from a $20 Pho 75 for those who like to keep it simple to an $80 bone-in short rib wrap (which feeds 2-3 people) for the high-rollers.

Amano in Idaho

Courtesy of Amano Plates of food

Amano, a craft Mexican kitchen in Caldwell, offers fine-dining mixed with tradition. The restaurant’s chef, Salvador Alamilla, was nominated for the 2022 James Beard Award for Best Chef: Mountain Region.

While Amano’s steaks will run diners up quite a bit (particularly the $140 Tomahawk ribeye), you can also enjoy the spot’s famous tacos, enchiladas, or even try a salsa flight — all for under $25.

Table, Donkey and Stick in Illinois

Courtesy of Table, Donkey and Stick Restaurant interior

There’s a reason that Table, Donkey and Stick in Chicago is not only a local favorite, but also a seven-time winner of Michelin’s Bib Gourmand. The cozy spot honors the eating and drinking traditions of the Alps, offering delicious grub at unbeatable prices.

The restaurant is known for their stacked cheese and charcuterie platters, but even their large plates — think seafood stew, grilled pork, or braised duck — all go for $30 or under.

Beholder in Indiana

Courtesy of Beholder Restaurant interior

Indianapolis restaurant Beholder was a James Beard semifinalist for outstanding wine program in 2020, but it’s not just the incredible selection of fine wines that sends locals running to this gem.

The restaurant also offers an incredible selection of a la carte dishes, as well as a stacked four course tasting menu. The menu is fresh and seasonal, and recent offerings include seared sea scallops and cast iron margherita focaccia for under $40.

Harbinger in Iowa

Courtesy of Harbinger Plate of food

Harbinger in Des Moines offers diners small plates inspired by chef Joe Tripp’s travels to southeast Asia. Tripp has been nominated seven times for James Beard Awards for the Best Chef: Midwest.

The dinner menu consists of an array of fine dining, small-plated options ranging in price from an $8 sweet potato twice fried to a $25 lamb shoulder marinated with cumin and dried chilies.

The White Linen in Kansas

Courtesy of The White Linen Restaurant interior

Visit Topeka lists The White Linen as one of the top restaurants in Kansas’s capital city. The menu is inspired by both French and American cuisine, and Chef Adam VanDonge makes unique (and delicious) dishes out of locally grown, bred, and produced products.

What’s more — you can currently enjoy a five-course prix-fixe dinner at the local teasure for just $49.

Beaumont Inn in Kentucky

Courtesy of Beaumont Inn People in restaurant

Beaumont Inn is Kentucky’s oldest family-operated bed and breakfast, and even if you’re not staying at the spot, you can enjoy some amazing — and cheap — classic country dining at the inn’s Old Owl Tavern.

The Beaumont Inn scored James Beard’s American Classic Award in 2015. Enjoy a pulled pork BBQ sandwich, southern fried catfish, or slow-cooked baby back ribs all for $20 or less at the tavern.

Commander’s Palace in Louisiana

Courtesy of Commander’s Palace Restaurant exterior

Commander's Palace, located in the Garden District in New Orleans, is as delicious as it is famous. The restaurant, which has been around since 1893 and has collected seven James Beard Awards, combines modern New Orleans cooking with Creole traditions.

The menu makes exquisite use of locally-sourced fare and offers traditional dishes at affordable rates. Guests can also choose a three-course option — which comes with a soup/salad, seafood or quail entree, and a dessert — for just under $45.

Scales in Maine

Courtesy of Scales People eating in restaurant

James Beard Award winning Chef Sam Hayward and renowned chef Dana Street teamed up to open Scales, a top seafood spot in Portland. The restaurant offers a stacked raw bar, house made breads, and an eclectic mix of seafood entrees.

Fish dishes range in price from $27 for fish and chips to $42 for pan roasted halibut or grilled swordfish. Several dishes, like lobster or whole market fish, are priced based on market value.

NiHao in Maryland

Courtesy of NiHao Chinese food

Relative newcomer, NiHao in Baltimore, is making quite a name for itself in the Maryland food scene, nabbing a Best New Restaurant nomination from the James Beard Foundation for 2022.

The family-run establishment serves contemporary Chinese food, offering cheap options (under $20) on diner favorites like crispy noodles, Kung Pao chicken, and cumin lamb skewers.

Neptune Oyster in Massachusetts

Courtesy of Neptune Oyster Oysters and seafood on ice

Neptune Oyster in Boston made it to the semifinals for Outstanding Restaurant in the 2020 James Beard Awards. This is a must-see spot for seafood fans visiting New England — and offers everything from a Nantucket Blue Fin to a delectable Maine lobster roll.

All of the seafood entrees are under $40 and the restaurant also offers an enviable raw bar selection.

The Apparatus Room in Michigan

Courtesy of The Apparatus Room Restaurant interior

Detroit’s The Apparatus Room, located in the Detroit Foundation Hotel, is headed by Michelin star chef Thomas Lents and boasts a historic, yet tastefully modern vibe and an unbeatable menu.

Despite Lents’ incredible success, the dinner items at this top-notch restaurant remain affordable, with each main entree — from the selection of steaks, salmon, and chicken — for under $40.

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Young Joni in Minnesota

Courtesy of Young Joni People holding drinks over pizza

Young Joni is located in Northeast Minneapolis and headed by James Beard award-winning chef Ann Kim. The menu boasts a huge array of garb inspired by different regions around the globe, like Thai Sausage and Butcher’s Cut Ssäm, as well as more than a dozen signature wood-fired pizzas — from the delectable Korean BBQ pie to the French-inspired La Parisienne.

Bully’s Restaurant in Mississippi

Courtesy of Bully’s Restaurant Food spread

Bully’s Restaurant in Jackson is known for having some of the best soul food in the area — and some might say, even in the whole country. The spot won the James Beard Award for American Classics back in 2016, and locals say this is a top spot to score some incredible home-cooked comfort food for a bargain price.

Supper Club in Missouri

Courtesy of Supper Club Restaurant interior

Chef Michael Corvino has received several nominations for Best Chef from the James Beard Foundation, along with a handful of other accolades for the unique and mouth-watering experience at his Kansas City restaurant.

At Supper Club, find an eclectic mix of dishes — from Maitake mushroom to gnocchi bolognese to steak tartare — all under $30.

Schafer’s Restaurant in Montana

Courtesy of Schafer’s Restaurant Outdoor restaurant table

Schafer’s Restaurant in Bigfork holds the number one spot in the area on Open Table. The restaurant offers a “casual fine dining experience” and is a carnivore’s paradise with a huge selection of top notch cuts, from prime rib to their Tomahawk pork chop to a thick-cut top sirloin, all for under $50.

The restaurant is currently on the move, having closed its Woods Bay spot in March. It will reopen at the Eagle Bend Golf Club.

The Boiler Room in Nebraska

Courtesy of The Boiler Room Restaurant interior

Omaha’s hot spot The Boiler Room is also the number one spot in the area on Open Table. The restaurant itself offers a unique vibe — since it is a converted boiler room in the industrial Bemis Bag building.

The cuisine is American and French-inspired and the menu offers an array of options from duck breast to Wagyu sirloin steak. Nearly every item on the menu is under $50.

Wing Lei in Nevada

Courtesy of Wing Lei Restaurant interior

Wing Lei was the first Chinese restaurant in North America to earn a Michelin star. Though Michelin no longer rates restaurants in Las Vegas, Wing Lei’s reputation lives on. The restaurant serves Cantonese, Shanghai, and Szechuan flavors.

While several dishes on the menu can be quite pricey (over $100), there are also plenty of options for the casual diner — like $20 field greens with Peking duck, $22 honey-glazed BBQ spare ribs, or $36 crispy pork with sweet and sour sauce.

Polly’s Pancake Parlor in New Hampshire

Courtesy of Polly’s Pancake Parlor Pancakes and pancake mix

While Polly’s Pancake Parlor isn’t going to be your typical fine dining experience, it is the winner of several James Beard Awards for American Classics. The breakfast joint, which has been serving pancakes for nearly a century, offers up several different types of batter for both pancakes and waffles as well as several other breakfast favorites.

The restaurant also offers some classic lunch menu items — like a Reuben and a tuna melt — and don’t expect to pay much more than $10 for anything on the menu.

Razza in New Jersey

Courtesy of Razza People eating in restaurant

Dan Richer of Razza in Jersey City was nominated for the James Beard Best Chef Award five times in a row. The pizza joint is well-known for wood-fired pizzas — with some questioning if their product was the best pizza in New York City, despite being across the Hudson River.

Pies — which come in varieties like Jersey margherita, funghi (mushroom), and panna (topped with arugula) — all cost around $20.

Rancho de Chimayo in New Mexico

Courtesy of Rancho de Chimayo Restaurant tables outside

Rancho de Chimayo, located in Chimayo, has been serving up traditional New Mexican fare for more than 50 years. It won a James Beard Award for American Classics in 2016.

The restaurant is known for a few signature dishes — spicy guacamole, hand-rolled tamales, blue corn enchiladas, and more. Every item on the menu is under $30, and many are under $15.

15EAST in New York

Courtesy of 15EAST Chefs cooking

Located in Union Square in Manhattan, 15EAST offers diners the opportunity to enjoy Michelin-star dining at a reasonable price. While the Japanese restaurant’s sushi bar entrees can be on the pricey side, it also offers entrees like homemade tofu, spicy fried chicken, and Argyll Coast ocean trout all for under $45.

The restaurant’s owner, chef Marco Moreira, also owns a French American restaurant next door, Tocqueville, and amid the COVID-19 pandemic, decided to combine the two into one.

St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar in North Carolina

Courtesy of St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar Restaurant interior

Sunny Gerhart was nominated this year for the Best Chef: Southeast James Beard Award for his hit restaurant in Raleigh, St. Roch Fire Oysters + Bar.

The spot is a seafood lover’s paradise, serving up flame-roasted oysters, fried catfish, gumbo, crawfish, hushpuppies, and much more. All of the main entrees cost $28 and under and the restaurant also offers a stacked raw bar.

Maxwells in North Dakota

Courtesy of Maxwells Basil pesto grilled salmon

Maxwells in West Fargo offers a unique dining experience with a menu that has a bit of everything, which is probably why it takes the number one spot in the area on Open Table. From thick-cut steaks to lobster fettucine to pad thai, Maxwells has something for everyone.

The spot also boasts the region’s largest collections of wines, with a diverse collection of beers and spirits as well.

Salt+ in Ohio

Courtesy of Salt+ Restaurant interior

Small plates, craft cocktails, and a focus on the overall ambiance of the dining experience are the focus at Salt+ in Lakewood. Chef Jill Vedaa was nominated this year for the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Great Lakes.

The restaurant’s small plates — which include veggie dishes like white bean puree with mashed olives and grilled bread, fish dishes like charred baby octopus, and meat dishes like chicken liver pâté — are all under $20, with most under $15.

Florence’s Restaurant in Oklahoma

Courtesy of Florence's Restaurant Founders of Florence's restaurant

In 2022, an Oklahoma restaurant took home a James Beard Award for the first time in history. That hot spot was Florence’s Restaurant in northeast Oklahoma City, where Florence Kemp has been cooking soul food since 1952.

The restaurant is a local favorite, where diners can pick up house specialties like yammed fried chicken, grilled tilapia, or even oxtails for a bargain. Almost everything on the menu is under $20.

Ox in Oregon

Courtesy of Ox Food on grill

The married owners of Ox in Portland, Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton, took home the top chef James Beard Award in 2017, after being nominated for the prior three years. Their award-winning restaurant, which is inspired by the wood-fired grilling tradition of Argentina, offers an eclectic menu that showcases fine meats and fish.

While many of the steak dishes can be on the pricier side, diners can enjoy plenty of main entrees — like grilled Alaskan halibut, skirt steak, or maple-brined pork chops — for $52 or less.

Fork in Pennsylvania

Courtesy of Fork Restaurant interior

This Philadelphia spot is often credited with playing a major role in the Old City neighborhood’s path to becoming a hot dining destination. Fork, which is known for its dinner and brunch dishes, serves up some of the area's finest produce, seafood, and meats.

Owner Ellen Yin has garnered several James Beard nominations for Outstanding Restaurant and Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic. Diners can expect dishes like skate smoked clam or a good old burger and fries all for under $35.

Ella’s Fine Food & Drink in Rhode Island

Courtesy of Ella’s Fine Food & Drink Ella's restaurant sign

Ella’s Fine Food & Drink chef Jeanie Roland has been nominated for several James Beard Awards, and for a good reason. The Westerly restaurant has something for everyone — from tuna tacos to duck udon to rigatoncini sausagnaise.

Some of the items on their eclectic menu are on the pricer end — like a $56 Filet la Saison — but most main entrees at Ella’s hover around $35 or less.

Husk in South Carolina

Courtesy of Husk Restaurant exterior

Husk has made quite a name for itself at its Charleston location. Founding executive chef Sean Brock was the Best Chef: Southeast James Beard Award winner back in 2010, and the restaurant has collected several accolades since.

The gimmick here is that all ingredients come from the South, so you’ll get a real taste of local living with their ever-changing menu. Currently, diners can score catfish, chicken, snapper, and more main courses for around $35.

22TEN Kitchen and Cocktails in South Dakota

Courtesy of 22TEN Kitchen and Cocktails Restaurant interior

Diners on Open Table all seem to agree that 22TEN Kitchen and Cocktails is the place to be in Sioux Falls. The cozy restaurant offers an eclectic array of dishes, including shareables like elk ravioli, baked brie, or mussels and saffron.

Dinner entrees mostly fall in between $20 and $30 and include enough variety to please even the pickiest of eaters.

City House in Tennessee

Courtesy of City House Restaurant exterior

This Nashville staple offers a unique Southern take on all your pizza and pasta favorites. City House chef/owner Tandy Wilson nabbed a James Beard Award in 2016 for the unique cuisine, after making it to the semifinals for the award a whopping nine times.

Diners can share a delicious brick-oven pizza — each sells for around $20 — or try a loaded pasta dish.

Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House in Texas

Courtesy of Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House Restaurant interior

This incredible restaurant in San Leon, which earned a Best New Restaurant nomination in this year’s James Beard Awards, offers the ultimate seafood experience.

Get your oysters on the half shell or from the grill before indulging in one of their lucious dinner entrees. Pan seared grouper? Crab cakes? Piri piri grilled shrimp? You can nab all of these at Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House for under $30.

Manoli’s in Utah

Courtesy of Manoli's Plates of food

Manoli’s in Salt Lake City is Greek dining taken to the next level. The restaurant was one of the chef’s choice picks in this year’s Salt Lake magazine’s dining awards. Owners, Manoli and Katrina Katsanevas, take traditional Greek dishes and add a bit of influence from France, Spain, and Italy, creating a delectable Mediterranean mash-up.

Most of the dishes on Manoli’s dinner menu cost less than $20, and they're quite famous for their brunch offerings as well.

Honey Road in Vermont

Courtesy of Honey Road Plates of food

Burlington’s Honey Road was known as a hot spot to locals long before Chef Cara Chigazola Tobin was named a semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast in the 2018 James Beard Awards.

The restaurant, which offers an Eastern Mediterranean Mezze dining experience, focuses on shareable dishes like babaganoush, house pita, or dolmas — and everything on the menu is under $25.

Ashby Inn in Virginia

Courtesy of Ashby Inn Restaurant patio

Culture Trip calls Ashby Inn one of the top 10 dining experiences in the state. The inn, situated inside a nearly 200-year-old building, is a serene backdrop for some delicious dining.

Guests can expect a unique farm-to-table experience with a menu that changes with the seasons. Nearly every entree on the menu can be enjoyed for around $50 or less.

JuneBaby in Washington

Courtesy of JuneBaby JuneBaby chef smiling

JuneBaby in Seattle celebrates Southern traditions and adds a unique flair to them. The spot nabbed the Best New Restaurant title in the 2018 James Beard Awards and offers an eclectic menu, while still sticking to its Southern roots. Nab dinner dishes like Louisiana gumbo, fried catfish, or Momma Jordan’s Suya oxtails all for under $30.

Ichiban Pan-Asian Restaurant in West Virginia

Courtesy of Ichiban Pan-Asian Restaurant Restaurant exterior

This restaurant in Charleston offers sushi, seafood, steaks, and drinks galore — making it an ideal spot no matter what type of night you’re looking to have. Ichiban Pan-Asian Restaurant also happens to have a few Charleston’s Best Bartender wins under its belt.

The eatery has been in business for over 30 years and offers a full sushi bar, as well as seafood, meat, and noodle entrees, all for under $30.

Solly’s Grille in Wisconsin

Courtesy of Solly’s Grille Restaurant exterior

Solly’s Grille in Milwaukee, which has been owned and operated by the same family since its inception in 1936, won its first ever James Beard Award for American Classics this year.

Famous for their signature “butter burgers,” the joint has been a local staple for decades.

You can head to Solly’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but it’s recommended to try the “Big Boy” burger for $15.

Wild Sage in Wyoming

Courtesy of Wild Sage Plate of food and wine

Inside the Rusty Parrot Lodge is Wild Sage, an eatery that offers diners fresh local meats, seafood, and organic produce. It also happens to be the only restaurant in Jackson to earn the AAA Four Diamond Award.

The menu is chock full of delicious dinner entrees like Alaskan halibut, lamb loin, and veal osso bucco — all for under $45. However, the spot is unfortunately under renovation until the end of 2022.

Bottom line

Courtesy of The White Linen Plate of food

You can score delicious, and award-winning, cuisine all over the United States. Though Michelin only reviews dining in a few areas (New York, California, Washington, D.C., and Chicago), James Beard — and others — celebrate chefs and dining experiences in every state.

No matter what part of the country you’re traveling to, there’s always the opportunity to enjoy top-notch fare at an affordable price. Eating at one of these restaurants is a great way to save money while also enjoying a top-notch dining experience.

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Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.