(NEXSTAR) – TripAdvisor has revealed its top-rated “hidden gem” restaurants in the United States, highlighting 25 relatively unknown eateries that consistently earn praise from the platform’s users.
These top-rated “hidden” restaurants (which likely won’t stay hidden for much longer) were announced Wednesday as part of TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best Awards, an annual ranking of the site’s top-rated dining destinations across seven different categories.
The honorees in this year’s “hidden gem” category include plenty of no-frills, under-the-radar restaurants serving up everything from lobster rolls and fries to tikka masala and whoopie pies. But only one restaurant can take the No. 1 spot — and this year, that honor goes to a burger-and-shake joint in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
Cookie Dough Monster, located in an unassuming strip mall just a few miles from Dollywood, earned high marks for its food, service, value and atmosphere, according to TripAdvisor.
“Reminds me of a little burger joint in a college town,” one recent TripAdvisor reviewer remarked. “Will definitely come back.”
A complete ranking of TripAdvisor’s top 25 “hidden gem” restaurants in the U.S. can be found below.
|1.||Cookie Dough Monster – Pigeon Forge, Tennessee|
|2.||Riverfront Seafood Company – Kingsport, Tennessee|
|3.||Kaya Island Eats – Key West, Florida|
|4.||Rendezvous Bar & Grill – Fort Lauderdale, Florida|
|5.||Happy Fish Peruvian Fusion Restaurant – Tampa, Florida|
|6.||Katherine Meets Toni – New York City, New York|
|7.||Piccola Cucina Osteria – New York City, New York|
|8.||Express Cafe – Kissimmee, Florida|
|9.||Cru Cafe – Charleston, South Carolina|
|10.||Spice Symphony – New York City, New York|
|11.||The Barn Bowl & Bistro – Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts|
|12.||JBJ Soul Kitchen – Red Bank, New Jersey|
|13.||Trish’s Mountain Diner – Gatlinburg, Tennessee|
|14.||The Jazz Corner – Hilton Head, South Carolina|
|15.||Giuliana’s Ristorante – Staten Island, New York|
|16.||Indigo Coastal Shanty – Brunswick, Georgia|
|17.||Cafe Pamlico – Buxton, North Carolina|
|18.||The Travelin Lobster – Bar Harbor, Maine|
|19.||42nd Street Bar and Grill – Myrtle Beach, South Carolina|
|20.||Lawrence Park Dinor – Erie, Pennsylvania|
|21.||Haywood SmokeHouse – Waynesville, North Carolina|
|22.||A Little Pizza Heaven – Scranton, Pennsylvania|
|23.||LaBinnah Bistro – Hannibal, Missouri|
|24.||Shaka Tacoz – Captain Cook, Hawaii|
|25.||IL Punto Ristorante – New York City, New York|
It’s unclear exactly how TripAdvisor categorized each restaurant as a “hidden gem,” though a representative for the platform said eateries earn the designation through a “combination of user reviews and feedback.” In addition, each of 2023’s honorees has never before been ranked in TripAdvisor’s previous “Best of the Best” rankings to further the focus on lesser-known restaurants.
The winners of this year’s Best of the Best Awards were chosen based on the quality and quantity of user-generated reviews between June 1, 2022, and May 31, 2023, according to TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor’s complete rankings, including its 2023 lists of the best family-friendly, vegetarian-friendly and fine-dining restaurants, can be found on the official TripAdvisor website.