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The Best Restaurants for the Modern Business Lunch

Close the deal at these stylish restaurants across the U.S.

by Terry Zarikian

November 17, 2022

The Mansion Restaurant / Photo: Ethan Tweedie

A fixture of mid-century corporate culture, the “three-martini lunch” evokes an era of glass towers, narrow ties and Madison Avenue indulgence, the professional version of more socially driven afternoons at Le Pavillon or La Côte Basque. Into the 1970s and ’80s, the concept was superseded by the “power lunch,” epitomized at places like The Four Seasons in the Seagram Building, where titans of industry, media and politics observed each other across a crowded modernist room. Two- or three-hour meals became a status symbol if one was seen with the right people. In 1986, however, tax codes were revised, lowering the deductibility of business meals to 80 percent, which was driven down even further to 50 percent in 1994. By this time, the “power breakfast” at the Loews Regency, reflecting more contemporary business practices, had taken hold. Meanwhile, over on the West Coast, more freewheeling places like Hollywood’s Brown Derby—birthplace of the Cobb salad—were lively places to be seen and conduct deals, mostly due to their proximity to the studios. But as the business model evolved, it required an environment that catered to executives and celebrities in a more studied manner, exemplified by the Polo Lounge. Below, from New York to Texas to California, some of the country’s best spots for the modern business lunch.

New York City


Veal tortelli with Parmigiano-Reggiano fondue at Fasano, New York City / Photo: Eric Medsker

Renowned for offering stylish Italian hospitality in São Paulo for more than a century, Fasano now operates 27 restaurants around the world. Its latest venue on New York’s Park Avenue defines the luxury power lunch. Classic dishes include il duetto Milanese (risotto and veal chop) and the classic bollito cart, a traditional Northern Italian selection of boiled meats and vegetables enhanced by signature sauces. Lighter, updated versions of caprese di bufala and hand-dipped ricotta and spinach cappellacci are favorites.

Hudson Yards Grill

Located steps from powerhouse companies, this restaurant helmed by chef Michael Lomonaco (whose Porter House Bar and Grill shines by Central Park) coddles lunch crowds with familiar offerings of deviled eggs with smoked paprika, prime-beef burgers with cheddar cheese and house-made buns, Black Angus steaks, chopped and Cobb salads, and jumbo shrimp cocktails.


An efficient Scandinavian two- or three-course prix fixe menu created by chef Emma Bengtsson makes life much easier, allowing more time for conversation. Expect to start with arctic char with heirloom tomatoes and stone fruit, or gravlax with hovmästarsås sauce. Move to an unexpected schnitzel made out of Icelandic cod, or black bass with hollandaise. End with the signature Princess cake!

Los Angeles

Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air

Wolfgang Puck at Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles / Photo: Courtesy of Dorchester Collection

It’s impossible to imagine a better combination: the serene and exclusive Bel-Air neighborhood, suffused with Golden Age Hollywood glamour, and Wolfgang Puck, a chef who defines celebrity. Beautiful, locally sourced dishes include some famous creations, such as Puck’s tortilla soup, Nancy Reagan chopped salad and the Bel-Air club with maple-glazed freshly baked turkey, smoked ham, crispy bacon and fried egg.

Polo Lounge

One of the most interesting dining rooms on the West Coast is also a perennial lunch favorite. Private booths are ideal for both conversation and people watching. One should start with caviar and Dom Pérignon before moving on to the classic Polo Lounge prime-beef tenderloin steak tartare with herb fries and toast points. Or opt for the McCarthy salad, a recipe prepared for Neil McCarthy, a regular guest at The Beverly Hills Hotel and 1940s polo team captain. He gave the specific list of ingredients, and it has been a signature dish ever since.


The Mansion Restaurant

This restaurant at the historic 1920s Mansion on Turtle Creek made its name by serving New American cuisine rooted in French traditions, garnering popularity among Dallas tastemakers. White-grape gazpacho features avocado, pickles and blue-crab salad, while the tomato panzanella salad is elevated with peaches and creamy burrata cheese. The yellow corn risotto and shrimp—an answer to shrimp and grits—is not to be missed, nor are the Texas Fungus mushrooms sautéed in duck fat and garlic.


Dean Fearing elevated American cooking by expanding the intensity of its flavors. As he explains, there are no borders in delicious dishes blending the sweet and savory, like his sesame-crusted tuna tataki over mango puree with daikon cucumber salad. But Fearing’s classic tortilla soup with Mexican flavors and BBQ Texas Wagyu brisket with “loaded” whipped potatoes represent his best.


Le Jardinier

Burrata with pine nut gremolata and peaches at Le Jardinier / /Photo: Shannon O’Hara

Perhaps the most harmonious concept developed by Michelin-starred chef Alain Verzeroli, Le Jardinier offers cuisine with an abundance of color, aroma and texture. Located in The Museum of Fine Arts, the space features Trenton Doyle Hancock’s monumental tapestry Color Flash for Chat and Chew, Paris Texas in Seventy-Two. It’s an ideal setting to savor sumptuous chilled corn velouté with curried popcorn, burrata with pine nut gremolata, peaches, cherries and tomatoes, and arctic char with heirloom squash and pistachio.


Fiola da Fabio Trabocchi

Fiola, Coral Gables, Florida / Photo: Marco Cimmino

While Michelin has anointed Fabio Trabocchi’s Washington, D.C., location, in Miami it’s the power crowd who have made Fiola the place to be. Memorable lunch offerings from the à la carte or prix fixe menu include light indulgences like farmer’s field lettuces with peaches and goat cheese, yellowfin tuna tartare with pine nuts, lemon, Calabrian chili and mint, stunning fisherman-style brodetto with mussels, chickpeas and green olives, or a 12-ounce Delmonico steak with truffle osso buco sauce with fries.


Power players are always holding court in Cote’s black leather booths, where they can be seen but not heard. Steak & Eggs—a deceptively named nonbreakfast item—features hand-cut filet mignon tartare with a generous dollop of Royal Kaluga Hybrid caviar served with a side of buttery milk toast. Then opt for the Butcher’s Feast and let your servers prepare four selected cuts of USDA Prime and American Wagyu beef with a parade of Korean accompaniments, including a savory egg soufflé and two distinctive stews. Finish with soft-serve ice cream with soy caramel sauce.