The standards for fine dining are scaled according to the level a restaurant is given by some relevant authorities or organizations operating for the industry. In America, this is not a strictly enforced system and is often about commercial means of providing food to certain audiences. The star system is done for grading any kind of fine dining place.
The five star grade is the highest while three stars could be had, while the other stars are not often advertised and people could think they are not actually used. The definition of best restaurant therefore may be relevant to how it is placed or located. It might be one that is set in the heart of a small town and patronized by the people there.
Restaurants in bigger cities often have need of a star grading system which could be provided by a French tire company. But the bias is Continental or French and not necessarily about some of the best foods provided by countries like Japan or Mexico. The actual rating systems are complex and could be like a jungle for people who are not aware of this fact.
Thus the definitions often come from experts and the audiences themselves. The better hotels in cities like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles may have Michelin ratings for their restaurants, but these define only a part of available cuisines and entrees in this country. Italian restaurants, for instance, are not defined by a rating system but could be popular.
They could have established chefs, who created their own reputations through hard work and the life of the dining place itself. Communities appreciate good food, and American taste has always been democratic, and often have trends for any kind of cuisine brought in by immigrants. The best is often something that is classy and have excellent entrees.
How these are judged however is something that travel or food magazines could measure. And while the classifications remain amorphous, some great companies are putting out reliable food guides for this country. These have remained under the radar in terms of controversy although a lot of people put their faith on what they provide.
Michelin is arguably one of the finest restaurant rating systems around. But it still has to come out of the French bias and address all other cuisines equally and without prejudice about materials, processes and the like. Other national cuisines do not care about this classification and often rely on word of mouth or local reputation to call itself the best.
Most folks who like to eat well rely on the traditionally known dining places famous in cities. There will always be these as arbiters of good taste, and most people consider dining out on these a special occasion. But there are more restaurants that are making waves with foodies throughout cities recognized for their strong cuisines.
In any case, definitions that apply may be ones that you yourself make. And all sorts of dining places are readily accessible in any place you might be. The emphasis has always been for fresh, well made food items that have great nutritional values and served in generous helpings, and also for cooking done on grilles or al fresco.