In its list of 50 top U.S. restaurants, Gourmet places the Wolgang Puck institution in fourth position, behind Thomas Keller's French Laundry and Per Se (listed as a single entry), Berkeley's Chez Panisse and in the top spot, Chicago's Alinea. As for Spago, here's the writeup:
Look! There's Julia Roberts. And over there, isn't that Tom Hanks? After 20-something years of catering to movie stars and the people who love them, after spawning an empire for owner Wolfgang Puck, this retaurant has no right to be as good as it is. But executive chef Lee Hefter is brilliant, and the pampered diners who sit on his patio can count on exciting dishes that follow no rules. A mousse of foie gras with an apricot tartlet might be followed by tiny sweet shrimp with uni and caviar in yuzu juice and then by a beautifully lacquered squab cooked like Peking duck. And folded into the fabulous flavors, the great wine, and the beautiful setting, you can always expect liberal doses of fun. Few restaurants are this exhilerating.
Yeah, but what exactly is a "lacquered squab"? By the way, only two other locals made the list of 50 - Providence (one of the specialties is pairs of squid with sweet shreds of pig's ear - Yumo!), and Urasaw, the 10-seat sushi bar in Beverly Hills. MIA are Campanile (ranked 13th in 2001), Valentino and Lucques. Here's the full list, courtesy of Chowhound.