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These 15 Mom and Pop Restaurants Are the 'Hidden Gems' of American Cuisine From green miso sea bass in an Adobe house built in 1756 to the best pancakes in Arizona, these local restaurants are must-taste stops.

By Entrepreneur Staff

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This story appears in the July 2023 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Alice F. | Yelp
The green miso sea bass at Geronimo in Santa Fe, NM

Entrepreneur asked Yelp to dig into its data, to reveal which ones America loved the most. Together we created America's Favorite Mom & Pop Shops™, a list of 150 local, independently owned and operated businesses across 10 categories — including, yes, restaurants.

To see every category, as well as the methodology behind the list, click here. Below are the 15 companies included in the restaurant category.

Note: Some businesses may have multiple locations. Only one location is listed for each.

1. ITs Izakaya

Las Vegas, NV

Company website | Yelp page

The Las Vegas Strip is full of chain restaurants and multi-million dollar establishments, but the rest of Sin City contains some locally owned gems that are worth your time. And if Japanese tapas with some beer and sake sounds good, then ITs IZAKAYA has you covered.

This establishment is known for its reliable service and creative dishes, and its portion sizes are more than generous. Carla C. on Yelp writes, "This restaurant stands out as a true gem, offering an unforgettable culinary journey. With a remarkable selection of Bluefin tuna, fresh oysters, uni pasta, and flavorful sushi rolls, this restaurant is a haven for seafood aficionados."

2. Thanh Tinh Chay

San Diego, CA

Company website | Yelp page

Visit Thanh Tinh Chay in San Diego for authentic Vietnamese vegan cuisine. In operation since 2021, the restaurant was opened by a former nurse with a mind for eating healthy.

More than 200 different dishes are available, all made with fresh ingredients. The restaurant advertises that they do not use any preservatives or MSG in their foods — only organic vegetables and non-GMO ingredients.

Yelp named Thanh Tiny Chay the fourth best vegan restaurant in the United States last year, and number one in San Diego.

3. Pla-Tu Sushi Thai Tapas

South Miami, FL

Company website | Yelp page

At Pla-Tu in South Miami, you'll find highly experienced chefs serving authentic Thai and Japanese cuisine — as well as some of the highest rated sushi dishes in the region.

The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner, and operates in a newly renovated space. Plat-Tu uses only fresh, hand-picked ingredients, and creates every order by hand. It's not easy to stand out in Miami's booming restaurant scene, but Pla-Tu is clearly doing it: Yelp users overwhelmingly rate their experience five-stars, noting the attention to detail with each dish and the friendly customer service.

4. Nahm Thai & Burmese Cuisine

Boise, ID

Company website | Yelp page

As the name suggests, Nahm Thai & Burmese Cuisine offers a unique combination to locals in Boise: They serve a combination of Thai and Burmese foods, with a menu full of authentic dishes like laab kua (Thai street food) and kau swe (Burmese soup).

The dishes have bold flavor profiles and spices. Yelp user Mya L. writes, "Literally the best restaurant in Boise. The staff is wonderful, the food is delicious, and the portions are generous."

5. Zeke's Kitchen & Bar

Smyrna, GA

Company website | Yelp page

Zeke's Kitchen & Bar was founded by a blended American-Haitian family, and their food contains the same loving marriage: The menu is all about "elevating authentic Haitian dishes and fusing them with American favorites." For example, you'll find Rasta Pasta (jerk chicken, shrimp, onions, peppers, jerk alfredo) and a Creole Burger (cheddar, lettuce, tomato, creole glaze) — and lots more.

Bianca G. on Yelp writes, "This place is a locally owned gem. There's no better way to describe it. The food is out of this world good. Everything I've tried has been amazing." Zeke's is also widely praised for its bar selections and cocktails.

Related: This is What the Small Business Model of the Future Looks Like

6. Anton's Craft Kitchen

Oklahoma City, OK

Company website | Yelp page

Anton's is a family-owned operation and a new addition to the Oklahoma City restaurant scene. If you go, you'll likely see the owner Anton himself — because he's there serving as chef, and is eager to chat with patrons and make sure they're enjoying themselves.

Diners compliment Anton's on its laid back, relaxing atmosphere, as well as its homemade-style meals. You'll find Mediterranean inspired dishes, with notable menu options like the eggplant dip, shrimp maisa and homemade piano cake. Everything is made fresh to order.

7. Lewis Barbecue

Charleston, SC

Company website | Yelp page

John Lewis, owner of Lewis Barbecue, grew up in Texas and honed his craft while living in Austin. He's grown a dedicated following over the years for both his meats and the dedication he has to the art of the BBQ — going so far as to weld his own smokers.

Lewis Barbecue opened in Charleston during the summer of 2016 and has earned rave reviews from multiple publications since. When dining in, expect a laid-back atmosphere, accompanied by some honky tonk music and great brisket, of course.

8. Sushi Kaunta

Kent, WA

Company website | Yelp page

This is a small establishment with a big reputation. When dining at Sushi Kaunta, you'll get made-to-order sushi dishes made by one man who will go out of his way to make your experience special. The chef handles everything here — from taking the orders to delivering them. It is as personal of an experience as you can find when dining out.

As Brian C. writes on Yelp, "The chef works hard to serve and prepare your meal from start to finish. This is in addition to phone calls and takeout orders that he also handles. The ambiance is very cozy and it feels like the chef/owner customizes each individual experience."

9. Xalisco Latin Cuisine

Redmond, OR

Company website | Yelp page

Xalisco Latin Cuisine is a family-owned restaurant that shares its passion for authentic Latin and Mexican cuisine. Diners are noticing. As Jen K. explained on Yelp, "You are greeted with a bowl of pleasantly spicy salsa and small corn tortillas rather than a bowl of chips." Another reviewer notes that the food is so good that "you will want to eat here seven days a week."

Xalisco's menu contains many standard Mexican and Latin dishes, but also offer some specialty plates that are harder to find north of the border — like costillas en salsa de tamarindo (tamarind baby back ribs, smoked and smothered in the chef's special tamarind sauce) and camarones momia (bacon-wrapped shrimp smothered in chipotle sauce).

10. Malinche Mexican Culinary Experience

Ellisville MO

Company website | Yelp page

Chef Doña María Gutiérrez Molina shares more than 150 years of her family's culinary history with the greater St. Louis area at this highly rated establishment. But despite the deep history, her menu is small and curated — ensuring that each dish is prepared exquisitely and with care. It's all about quality over quantity, and that's been a winning formula here.

The chef has partnered with mixologist Rachel Stuber to provide the perfect drink menu to compliment the food. Expect Mexican cuisine that is authentic as it comes.

Related: 4 Keys to Opening a Successful Restaurant

11. Anatolia Mediterranean Restaurant

Somersworth, NH

Company website | Yelp page

Anatolia is a worldwide experience with a local flair — serving authentic Mediterranean dishes made from locally sourced produce and meat from New Hampshire farms.

Signature dishes at Anatolia include hummus, falafel, kebabs and various flatbreads. But beyond the food, the restaurant sets itself apart by the decor and location. You're surrounded by a rustic atmosphere, complete with vintage brick and low lights. Yelp reviewers often call it a "hidden gem" — but it might not be that hidden. The restaurant's website suggests getting a reservation ahead of time, because its reputation continues to grow.

12. Original Breakfast House

Phoenix, AZ

Company website | Yelp page

The Original Breakfast House almost didn't exist. Its owner, John Stidham, originally moved to town for retirement — but then he noticed a vacant building, and started to imagine what could be there. Ten years later, the Original Breakfast House has won legions of hungry fans, as well as the title of "best restaurant for breakfast in Arizona" by the breakfast-obsessed website Extra Crispy.

There's something here for everyone — whether you like legendary omelets made from linguica, meaty eggs, Arizona beef, chicken-friend steak, ham, Spam, carnitas, or chili. Plus, the establishment earns rave reviews for its pancakes and French toast.

13. Geronimo

Santa Fe, NM

Company website | Yelp page

At Geronimo, you're surrounded by history. The restaurant is built inside a 1756 adobe home known as the "Borrego House," which was owned by Santa Fe leaders and spent more than a century hosting major local social and political events.

Today, diners say the food is its own kind of major event. Geronimo was created by restauranter Geronimo Lopez, and the menu changes by season. Diners especially love the Green Miso Sea Bass, but there's always plenty to choose from — which is why Geronimo has been named one of the top ten restaurants in the country by Trip Advisor.

14. Zeneli Pizzeria e Cucina Napoletana

New Haven, CT

Company website | Yelp page

There's a lot of pizza in New Haven — but according to locals, none are quite like Zeneli Pizzeria & Cucina Napoletana. The restaurant was founded in 2019 by a group of Albanian immigrant brothers, who excel at offering traditional recipes, fresh ingredients, and Naples-style pizza.

As Dan F. put it on Yelp, "The brothers have raised the bar and are really producing something special that all starts with their hospitality and commitment to their craft."

15. Huli Sue's BBQ & Grill

Asheville, NC

Company website | Yelp page

Traditional Hawaiian style food mixes with Texas BBQ to form a unique mix at Huli Sue's in Asheville. Located in the historic Grove Arcade district, the restaurant brings Hawaiian flavors, fresh fish, poke, Hawaiian island cocktails, big country cakes and some of the highest rated BBQ dishes in the area.

After living many years on Hawaii's Big Island, the restaurant's founders, Lisa and Ben, opened up in Asheville after moving to the area in 2019. Huli Sue's operates by the motto "good food, good company and good times."

Related: Leadership Qualities the Most Successful Small Business Owners Share

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