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Ten Restaurants That Changed America

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3.75  ·  Rating details ·  721 ratings  ·  119 reviews
Combining a historian’s rigor with a foodie’s palate, Ten Restaurants That Changed America reveals how the history of our restaurants reflects nothing less than the history of America itself. Whether charting the rise of our love affair with Chinese food through San Francisco’s fabled The Mandarin, evoking the richness of Italian food through Mamma Leone’s, or chronicling ...more
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by Liveright
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Robert
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: x2017-18-season
Weighty, intense, and amazing. The author delivers exactly what the title promises - examinations of ten restaurants that - for whatever reason - changed America. Not the ten historically best, not the ten most famous, not the ten most influential, yet nevertheless ten fascinating stories.

Every chapter not only looks at the restaurant in question but places it in context for its place and time. No PR puff pieces here.

Capped with an Epilogue that explores in more depth five themes of modern
...more
Steven Peterson
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is a very good book! It looks at a series of restaurants throughout American history. Paul Freedman, the author, says of his goal: "Reading about the ten restaurants gives me a sense of American diversity, and how these different experiments expressed a sense of love that is the basic ingredient of any major endeavor."

The restaurants selected? Some great names and some surprises. The places: Delmonico's (America's first "great" restaurant), Antoine's (a Creole restaurant), Schrafft's ( a
...more
Karen
Nov 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I wanted to like this book. Started off liking this book. Then ended up barely skimming the last 100 pages or so. The concept is not just about the ten restaurants the author identifies as being particularly influential in America, it's also a social history of times and places from long ago to the present. Some chapters were really strong, but others were not ... to the point where they felt poorly written and often boring. His discussion of the key French restaurants was really good ...more
Ensiform
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, food
A chronological overview of ten of the most influential and important (not necessarily the best) restaurants in America, from the traditional to the start of a new cuisine. Freedman, surprisingly a professor of medieval history, delves into the development, food, and personalities behind the original Delmonico's; Antoine's (still going strong and family-run after 175 years); Howard Johnson's; the candy-store-turned-comfort-food-haven Schrafft's; Mamma Leone's; the stuffy, French martinet-run Le ...more
Catherine
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
"Disdain for gastronomic pretentiousness has often influenced politics. During the 1840 presidential campaign, the incumbent Martin Van Buren was portrayed as routinely eating fricandeau de veau and omelette soufflé, or in another attack, enjoying pâté de foie gras from a silver plate followed by soupe à la Reine sipped from a golden spoon. His opponent, William Henry Harrison, an aging hero of the War of 1812, was extolled for his simple tastes, by contrast, favoring raw beef without salt, and ...more
David Stone
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This is a book that will keep giving for years to come. Do you want to remember all the flavors of Howard Johnson's ice cream? That information is here. The origin of the chop suey craze? Asked and answered. The original name for Baked Alaska? Alaska, Florida (impress your cruise tablemates with that one.) Which restaurant changed its typewriter ribbons with the seasons? The Four Seasons, of course. Can one restaurant review launch a place into decades of success? Ask Sylvia's. When did Chez ...more
Paige
Jan 22, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a good book that makes valid points on how restaurants and the experience of dining have a place in American history. The Four Season restaurant cost more to create than the Guggenheim museum?! *Mind Blown*
Kirsti
Nov 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a fun read. The author includes the chain Schrafft's because it was the first to cater to middle-class women who dined alone or with female friends. Before that, restaurants catered to men, and women eating alone were sometimes assumed to be prostitutes.

The author's ten restaurants are in New York City, the Bay Area, and New Orleans, plus there are two chain restaurants that had locations in several states. So this is not a comprehensive history of American restaurants, but it isn't
...more
AJ
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Didn't get very far in this one: First you need to be a weight lifter to read this, it's about 20 lbs. Second, other than menus and decor, this book hardly teaches you much about history and goes into significant details about foods such as turtle and where it came from, and reiterates that to you multiple times, then as a second half of a phrase gives you a motherlode of information, such as "the red velvet line was created at delmonicos when the elite would come into the restaurant and the ...more
Elaine Ober
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm giving this remarkable book only 3 stars because its readability is severely undermined by its design. The book is physically larger than it should be; there is a second color in use that is such a dark green it is indistinguishable from the black; the type size/leading and the wide type page make tracking extremely difficult; much eye strain!
But there is so much fascinating information -- and excellent illustrations -- that it is worth the struggle. The book is so much more than a
...more
John
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have to give this book five stars.

An excellent, informative, and detailed look at ten restaurants that had an impact on American history. There are many things we take for granted about restaurants and cuisine, and so this look at the development of that in the dynamic of history, change and the future is a neat idea to study. Kudos to the author for a richly detailed look at these individual restaurants and the people who made them what they were.

You'll even find things you might not have
...more
Lauraadriana
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, audible
This was a really fascinating book. I love food histories and this one was full of interesting information and gave a some really in depth looks at the human stories behind these greats restaurants.
Rachel Rickard
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really fascinating look at why we eat what and how we eat.
Katie
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction-read
I love all things food, so this was an interesting exploration of restaurants over the past hundred and fifty years.
Thomas Nevins
Feb 26, 2017 rated it liked it
a heavy volume written about the rise and sometimes fall of 10 iconic american restaurants from le pavillon to hojo's......pretty in depth about the owners, cooks, menus and facilities....i found what we used to eat, canvasback ducks, sweetbreads etc very interesting, the writer likes loooong words and there are many of them...interesting, longish..
Nathan
Dec 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Readers cannot browse the internet without encountering listicles—the portmanteau from “list” and “article.” The prevalence of the top-10 lists is so common that you might pick up Paul Freedman’s book and expect a beefed-up list that expounds on the best restaurants in America. Yet a best-restaurants book is not Freedman’s objective, and his effort produces a far more interesting and edifying result that is worth anyone’s time.

I found that I took few notes during the first half of the book.
...more
Mark Congiusta
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
A delight for the literary palette.
Jamie McMahan
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
That a book devoted to the history of the American restaurant would appeal to me would come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well, given my affinity for food and history. "Ten Restaurants that Changed America" by Paul Freedman certainly obviously will find its home on the bookshelves of "foodies" and history buffs, but the book is more than that. This book follows the entire length and breadth of American history through food, particularly through the food that Americans "eat out". When you ...more
Sandy
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is the book choosen for the February meeting of the Acton Library Foodie Book Club. With 500 plus pages I though Oh No. However it was an excellent book and Hoopla at the library had it so I listened to it. Choosing 10 restaurants must have been hard but after listening to the whole book, Paul Freedman made excellent choices and it all came clear why he choose the restaurants he did. Excellent research brought this book to the level of fine reading or listening if you are even slightly ...more
Carrie
Jan 31, 2017 rated it liked it
This was an extensively researched work and really explained why these ten restaurants were and remain the most influential in America. I learned a lot about each establishment, and about the time and place in which it developed. The author thoroughly documented his information and provided wonderful illustrations throughout. Unfortunately I don’t think this book had an editor. I found many grammatical errors throughout, which was distracting and made it seem like the book was put together ...more
Michael Berman
Feb 11, 2017 marked it as books-i-m-not-going-to-finish
Shelves: history, food
Interesting, but waaaayyy too long and detailed. Can't finish.
James
Sep 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Let's start with three subjects (not an appetizer, main, and desert):. [1] American cuisine in regions (the Chesapeake Bay, New Orleans, Low Country, and West) as well as restaurant chains across the country (Schraff's and Howard Johnsons); [2 ] adoption of ingredients by immigrants Chinese, Italians, Thais and many more) and integration (Rice-A-Roni as many as 19 flavors; and [3] influences of France.

Throughout there are tidbits such as the expectation at Antoine's in New Orleans was to
...more
Apilrain
This book takes all the puzzle pieces of how and why &the cultural & history of important restaurants, and pulls it all together. In spots it was a bit heady, but it needed to be so to get the whole picture. I found it to be pretty fascinating!
Joel
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Many fascinating ideas about our cuture, adaptability, and even the concept of restaurant and how it is shaped by culture
Pixie
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Meh, it wasn't a good read. The first chapter -- and I had been looking forward to learning more about Delmonico's -- was so snoozy I had to put it down and then when I finally picked it back up because it was going to be due at the library I had to skip that chapter to keep moving. Then I just skimmed the last couple of chapters. I don't think it was very compellingly written, nor did it deliver on the "restaurants that changed America" promise of the title. It was more "restaurants that ...more
Ang
Oct 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was super great. I wish I had been able to eat at all of these ten restaurants while they were open, just to experience all the things the author points out as being important or tasty. As it is, I think three (?) are still open, and I can't imagine I'll make it to any of them, honestly.

This book is CHOCK FULL OF FUN FACTS, DELICIOUS, and GREAT FOR FOODIES.

(Bear with me, I'm trying out some new appeal factor work. Also, don't be surprised if you get an email or message from me recommending
...more
John Vandike
Dec 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fabulous book on the history of restaurants in America, if for no other reason than how the author traces the ebbs and flows of the American palate for the last 200 years.

The early chapters on Delmonico's and Antoine's are easily the best, while the later chapters on Le Pavillon and Chez Panisse may drag a bit if the reader enjoys slightly higher end food. Freedman's epilogue makes up for the slowness of the last few chapters.
E
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
Nothing new here - I've read about almost all of these restaurants before (in fact, read entire books about both Chez Panisse and Antione's in New Orleans.) Could not be bothered to go deeper. The story of French cuisine in the US and the first restaurant was semi interesting but all information presented was based on concepts I had read about before (Howard Johnson's - why so revolutionary, etc.) Totally disappointing.
Julie
Dec 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Pretty much what it sounds like and perhaps, for me at least, a little too much of a good thing. I'm interested in these restaurants and in the social history of dining in the US, but I may not be quite as interested as Freedman's ideal reader. I think his choices are really interesting and his observations often thought-provoking. But I got tired of it. (It's long.)
Jason Diamond
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wasn't sure what to expect. A history of restaurants in America told through the ten places in this book sounded like a tall order, but this one was really engaging and totally fascinating. Probably the best food history book I've read this year.
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Paul H. Freedman is the Chester D. Tripp Professor of History at Yale University. He specializes in medieval social history, the history of Spain, the study of medieval peasantry, and medieval cuisine.

His 1999 book Images of the Medieval Peasant won the Medieval Academy's prestigious Haskins Medal.

~~

Professor Freedman specializes in medieval social history, the history of Spain, comparative
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“At the head of the Forum menu, the equivalent of the Hawaiian Room menu’s cheery “Aloha,” was the portentous “Cenabis bene . . . apud me” from Catullus (“You will dine well . . . at my table”).18 The ice buckets for Champagne were modeled on Roman soldiers’ helmets. The head of Bacchus, the god of wine, decorated copper and brass service plates (made in Milan), and the waiters were gotten up in imperial-purple and royal-blue outfits that vaguely suggested togas.” 0 likes
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