Fondue Restaurants, Ranked Worst To Best

Do you fondue? This cook-it-yourself dish is more than a meal, it's a form of interactive entertainment. While pairing bread and cheese is as old as both individual dishes, and melted cheese with wine gets a shoutout in the Iliad (which itself dates back to high school English class ... err, we mean ancient Greece), the cheese fondue we know today is probably a product of the 19th century. It's also most likely Swiss in origin, and that country has declared it their national dish.

Non-cheese fondues, however, may be more a product of the American fondue craze of the 60s and 70s. It seems as if nearly every suburban couple owned a fondue set such as this literal museum piece in a lovely shade of midcentury mustard, and people started expanding their fondue meals into multi-course ones including meat cooked in oil or broth and fruit dipped in chocolate. There were also entire restaurants devoted to fondue, including one in Florida with the patriotically punny name of the Melting Pot. Fast-forward nearly 50 years, and the Melting Pot is still around, now with nearly 100 locations throughout the U.S. and one in Canada. They're the undisputed king of American fondue chains, particularly as they may be the only one (unless you count the Chocolate Wonderfall at Golden Corral, shudder). There are, however, a number of non-chain restaurants still offering the dip & dunk experience with varying degrees of success.

14. Alpinist and the Goat

Fondue, particularly traditional cheese fondue, is considered the classic apres-ski meal, perhaps because its Swiss origins make you feel as if you've just been schussing down the Matterhorn. It comes as no surprise, then, to find a restaurant at a Colorado ski resort offering Swiss specialties, although Telluride's Alpinist and the Goat also offers dishes from other areas of the Alpine region. The fondues on their menu are all of the cheese variety, but include an Italian version with gorgonzola and garlic, a French one with black and white truffles, a Basque one with manchego and chorizo, and an American one with bacon and cheddar.

The problem with these fondues, and the reason why Alpinist and the Goat lands at the bottom of our rankings, is the fact that several Trip Advisor users have complained that the fondue isn't all that good. One person from a Swiss family calls out the "worst 'Traditional' cheese fondue ever," upset that their version doesn't include kirschwasser, but instead the liquor is a pricey add-on. Other customers are dissatisfied with the amount of bread as well as the fact that the fondue pots lack any means of regulating the flame — this is kind of important, since otherwise the fondue may get too hot and break or burn, or else become cold and congeal. Some reviewers also feel that the prices are on the high side "even for Telluride."

13. Murray's Cheese Bar

If you're a regular Kroger shopper, you may be under the impression that Murray's is their house brand for gourmet cheese, but there's a real Murray's Cheese that has been supplying New Yorkers with the finest in fromage since 1940. More recently, they've opened a restaurant called Murray's Cheese Bar that specializes in, you guessed it, cheesy stuff. Cheese boards, cheese sandwiches, mac and cheese, cheesecake, that sort of thing.

While Murray's Cheese Bar does offer cheese fondue, it's not without issues. For starters, it's only offered on Mondays, which isn't everyone's favorite day to dine out. It also only comes in the traditional Swiss style, although in addition to the cheese and bread you do get pickles, chorizo, and apples. The price for this single fondue (currently $65), however, is more than twice the $24 you'd pay for a cheese fondue at the Melting Pot in White Plains, that being the closest one to NYC. In fact, at the chain restaurant you could add on a salad ($7) and an entrée ($27 to $34) or dessert fondue ($24) and still pay about what you'd shell out just for Murray's cheese fondue. Of course, if you want to save a few bucks more, you can always just pick up a package of Murray's fondue mix at a Kroger or Kroger affiliate near you. Add a loaf of bread, some cornichons, apples, and sausage, and you'll probably still have enough left over to buy your own fondue set.

12. Roaring Fork

The Roaring Fork is what you'd call a mini chain, or perhaps even a micro one, as they have just 3 locations: two in Austin, Texas, and one in Scottsdale, Arizona. We still stand by our assertion that there are no fondue chains but Melting Pot, however, as it seems that only one of the Austin Roaring Forks offers fondue on its menu. This wasn't always the case, as Food Network once praised Roaring Fork's famous lamb chop fondue with chili pecan bread, a not-so-secret recipe that the chef once shared with the Phoenix New Times.

Well, it's a good thing that the recipe survives, as the dish itself, alas, is apparently no more. At the downtown Austin Roaring Fork, the menu instead offers a beef fondue appetizer. The fondue itself is still made from pepper jack cheese, as was the case with the earlier dish, and it still comes with roasted butternut squash, as well. The grilled lamb chops have been replaced with beef tenderloin, while sourdough croutons take the place of the chili pecan bread. According to photos shared on Facebook, it also appears that this dish isn't the kind you cook at the table. Instead, you just get meat and bread on skewers with a cheese dip, one that doesn't even come with a candle to keep it warm. Tasty, yes, but is it fondue? Kind of stretching the definition a bit, we'd think.

11. Swiss Hibiscus

Swiss Hibiscus is a Portland, Oregon eatery that, as its name implies, does specialize in Swiss food. It's not clear what the "hibiscus" part of the name refers to, as the menu doesn't have any apparent tropical influences, but it may be a nod to the fact that the proprietor's dad once ran a popular Swiss restaurant in Hawaii. Guy Fieri visited Swiss Hibiscus on an episode of "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives," but it seems as if he stuck with sandwiches, schnitzel, and sausages rather than sampling the fondue.

And yes, Swiss Hibiscus does offer fondue on their menu, but they only have the one kind: a fairly traditional Swiss cheese fondue made with kirschwasser (not an add-on, at least!) and white wine. It's available as an appetizer and comes with nothing more than bread cubes, although you can get some crudités for an upcharge. It'll also run you a few bucks more if you want to sub in gluten-free bread.

10. Kashkaval Garden

Kashkaval Garden is a restaurant located in Hell's Kitchen –- not the Gordon Ramsay show, but the NYC neighborhood whose name belies its modern-day incarnation as a haven for the artsy and the wealthy. Still, the edgy name reminds people that back in the day (that being the 19th century), these streets were once pretty mean. The populace remains as diverse as ever, however, or perhaps even more so, which makes for a particularly vibrant restaurant scene. Case in point: In many parts of the U.S. a Mediterranean restaurant may run to nothing more than Greek and Italian food, but at Kashkaval Garden the Mediterranean offerings include offerings from regions such as Turkey and Bulgaria.

While Kashkaval Garden does not specialize in fondue, they offer four different ones on the menu, all cheese-based: a classic Swiss, one made with Gruyere and truffle oil, a cheddar/cider fondue with onion jam, and a nowhere-but-NYC (or Sofia) fondue made from Bulgarian sheep's milk cheese. The reasonably priced fondues (currently under $20 per person) come with baguettes for dipping, although additional dippers like fruit, vegetables, charcuterie, and roasted potatoes can be purchased a la carte. Kashkaval Garden also offers a prixe fixe meal ($95 for two at time of writing) that comes with a shareable appetizer or salad, a dessert, a bottle of wine, and your choice of fondue accompanied by vegetables and meat in addition to the bread.

9. Rok N Fondue

At Rok N Fondue, a restaurant in Redlands, California, fondue isn't relegated to the appetizer list. Instead, they offer a menu that's pretty much built around this dish. Their fondue is evidently pretty decent as well, judging from their 4-star overall Yelp rating, although a few diners have complained that the portions are on the small side. The one issue we have with Rok N Fondue, however, is the fact that all of their fondues are a la carte and they don't offer any multi-course fondue "bundles."

Unusually for a fondue restaurant, Rok N Fondue doesn't have a traditional Swiss-style cheese option. Instead, they have several cheddar-based ones, one flavored with spinach and artichokes, and another made with sun-dried tomatoes and basil pesto. The entrée fondues include various combos of beef, chicken, shrimp, sausage, and ravioli, as well as a vegetarian one with Portobello mushrooms and tofu, all of these cooked in bouillon or, for an upcharge, wine sauce. Dessert fondues come in a choice of white, dark, and milk chocolates, including flavored varieties like peanut butter cup and salted caramel. Dessert dippers include apple and banana slices, strawberries, marshmallows, cake, brownies, and Rice Krispies treats. All in all, this restaurant comes across as an indie Melting Pot, only without the special meal deals.

8. Urban Fondue

Portland, Oregon is turning into quite the fondue hotspot (or hotpot). Not only do they have Swiss Hibiscus, but they've also got Urban Fondue, a restaurant that serves a full three-course fondue meal. You can order fondues a la carte, but there's also a package deal on a meal for two that bundles a shared cheese and dessert fondue with individual entrées. While the restaurant does have 4 stars on Trip Advisor, some point out that the venue is on the small side, which can lead to tables feeling cramped as well as a high noise level when things get busy. But then again, the word "urban" in the restaurant's name doesn't exactly imply spacious and quiet environs, so patrons can't say they weren't warned, even if indirectly.

Urban Fondue's offerings could best be described as Melting Pot goes hipster (Portland will be Portland, after all). Cheese fondues include brie and gorgonzola with hazelnuts, Swiss and gruyere with caramelized onions and port, and pesto caprese with balsamic vinegar. The entrees include various steak, chicken, and seafood combos as well as veggies and tofu, and the broths include a pho-flavored one and another made with tomatoes and fennel. The dipping sauces, too, range from the traditional (béarnaise) to the trendy (marionberry ketchup, chimichurri), while the desserts include options like salted caramel cognac, marionberry cheesecake, and Heath Bar fondues. According to menu photos, dessert dippers may include pretzels, dried apricots, strawberries, marshmallows, and cookies.

7. Colorado Fondue Company

Colorado Fondue Company is a restaurant whose name practically screams "chain," particularly if you realize that they're located in Casselberry, Florida, approximately 1,500 miles from the Centennial State. As it turns out, they're not a chain, just a stand-alone restaurant, albeit one with a somewhat chain-like menu. The real beef we have with this restaurant, however, lies with their horrible website. We were unable to access the menu –- or, as the landing page puts it, "hike the trails" -– at all. Luckily, there are other websites that publish such information.

According to Sirved, Colorado Fondue Company's "trails" consist of three options: Beginner, offering a cheese and a dessert fondue plus soup or salad; Intermediate, with soup or salad, cheese fondue, and a main course fondue of beef, chicken, shrimp, and jerk pork; and Expert, with all of the above (dessert included) plus filet mignon. Hopping over to AllMenus, we see that the cheese fondues may include a Caribbean spiced one, a salsa-spiked southwestern one, a Greek-inspired fondue with olive tapenade, and a luxury fondue with lobster, champagne, and saffron. The meats included with the main fondues include all of the aforementioned ones, but there's also a "nature's way" fondue with nothing but veggies. For the dessert menu, we had to rely on Google Images, but it seems they offer the typical dark/milk/white chocolate choice along with a selection of flavored fondues including raspberry, caramel, and liqueur-spiked.

6. Little Dipper

Little Dipper is another restaurant that comes across as somewhat chain-like, what with its punny name and a menu that is somewhat reminiscent of the equally puntastic Melting Pot. They're no chain, though, but rather a stand-alone restaurant located in Wilmington, North Carolina. One thing we particularly like about Little Dipper is that, although fondue is often thought of as being a group or at least a couple's meal, their menu does offer fondue for the solo diner, as well.

While Little Dipper's main page touts fondue's nostalgia appeal, the menu features a few less traditional offerings like a cheddar/beer fondue with habanero peppers or one made with Havarti and dill. The dippers included with the main course fondues include such items as lobster ravioli, pot stickers, and sashimi tuna in addition to the more typical meats, veggies, and tofu. They also offer 16 different dipping sauces -– you get a choice of three if you're dining alone, or four if you order fondue for two. Some of the intriguing sauce options include wasabi lime aioli, hibachi yum yum, and coconut curry, and cooking styles for the main course fondues include broths flavored with port or sake. Dessert fondues come in two varieties: "timeless favorites" such as plain chocolate, turtle, and s'mores or, for a few bucks more, "swanky fondues" like tequila and chili-spiked chocolate or mint chocolate with peppermint schnapps and peppermint patties.

5. Simply Fondue

Livermore, California's Simply Fondue has, as per its name, a menu that's almost entirely fondue-focused. While the salads, cheese fondues, and dessert fondues are all available a la carte, it seems that the "mains" are only available as part of a package deal, and the downside here is, these deals are for couples only. Well, you don't need to be married or dating, you could be a couple of friends, but Simply Fondue's menu makes clear that there's a two-adult minimum. Should you be dining with non-adults, there's a lower price for anyone under 18 (and lower still if they're under 13), but these lower-priced diners wouldn't count toward that minimum. That means no fondue for you if you can't scrounge up a date! (Is there a fondue share app for that?)

Should you line up a dining companion, Simply Fondue features a fairly typical selection of cheese fondues, with the standouts being a beer-based smoked gouda with bacon and a beer/cheddar with horseradish and whiskey. With the main course fondues, though, they really go all-out with such non-standard offerings as coconut shrimp, Korean-style beef, buttermilk fried chicken, and Dijon rosemary pork. There are a number of meat-free options, too, including vegan beer brats and smoked mozzarella ravioli. The dessert menu also has a few out-of-the-ordinary options like a Hawaiian Dream fondue with chocolate, caramel, coconut, and macadamias and a "snickerfondoodle" of white chocolate with cinnamon sugar.

4. La Fondue

Many of the restaurants we've covered here seem to be on the same level as a Melting Pot, basically tilting toward the upper end of casual dining. La Fondue, however, is aiming at more of a fine dining demographic. Okay, so they don't require a suit and tie (the website says the dress code is "Smart casual," whatever that means in Saratoga, California), but the venue and décor could be described as opulence meets elegance. The menu, too, features some decidedly higher-end offerings –- and is priced accordingly.

All fondues are available a la carte, with the cheese ones ranging (at time of writing) from $58 per person for cheddar and beer blends to $62 for fondues with Swiss cheese and white wine all the way up to $66 for four-cheese/white wine blends. The most intriguing of the cheese lineup falls into this last-named category, a pear cider/blue cheese/pecan combo they call "breaking blue." The main course fondues, referred to here as "fondue bourgignon" (their spelling, not ours), start at $50 for lower-end items like chicken, sirloin, and vegetables. Lamb, shrimp, or duck cost $60, while $70 covers ostrich, wild boar, and alligator. Lobster, wagyu, or snow crab are $130. If you have the funds left to cover dessert, all chocolate fondues are $42, whether or not they're liqueur-enhanced or served en flambé. Should you require all three courses plus a salad, La Fondue's four-course menus range at present from $108 to $184 per person.

3. Geja's Cafe

Geja's Cafe is another fondue restaurant that leans toward the fancier side. In 2015, USA Today readers accorded it the honor of being named the nation's "best romantic restaurant," thanks in part to its dim lighting, candles, and classical guitar music. And while nothing dumps cold water all over a budding romance like having to take out a second mortgage to pay for a meal, Geja's also has prices that aren't all that exorbitant for an upscale restaurant — it probably helps that they're located in Chicago rather than on either of the coasts.

Geja's menu only offers one type of cheese and one type of chocolate fondue, both available a la carte ($25 per person as we write), in a combo ($45 for both), or as part of a four-course premier fondue dinner. The cheese fondue is a Swiss-style one with gruyere, white wine, and kirschwasser, and is served with apples, grapes, vegetables, and bread, plus a side salad. The dessert fondue is made with dark Belgian chocolate, comes to your table flambéed with an orange liqueur, and is accompanied by assorted fruits and sweet treats including graham crackers and churros. The four-course dinners range in price from $49 per person for a fondue pot with tofu and veggies all the way up to $84 for one with shrimp, scallops, and lobster. For that price, though, you also get the cheese and chocolate fondues plus salad, as well as eight dipping sauces for your main course.

2. Fondue Stube

Fondue Stube is the Second City's second fondue restaurant on this list, and this Chicago eatery has also earned accolades for romantic ambiance. While Chicago's Best once profiled them as being one of the city's best date spots, they don't just cater to couples. Not only does the restaurant have a children's menu, but their prices are reasonable enough to make for a fairly family-friendly fondue dinner. The best part is, if you're both budget-minded and in possession of a big appetite, for four nights each week Fondue Stube offers an all-you-can eat deal! On Tuesdays and Thursdays you get to dunk all the chicken, scallops, and fish you wish in sizzling soybean oil, while on Wednesdays and Fridays it's all-you-can-eat beef. Not that hungry? Check the web page, as they also offer coupons. At the time of writing, there's a BOGO dinner deal that can be used up to three times at one table.

Fondue Stube's menu isn't an extensive one, but they do offer several different types of cheese fondues: Swiss, cheddar, muenster, and cream cheese with lox (with this last one, you even get bagel chunks for dipping!). The entrée fondues include the aforementioned beef, chicken, scallops, and fish (tilapia), as well as shrimp, and they also have mixed seafood and vegetarian options. For dessert, Fondue Stube has what they call a "traditional fudge" fondue that comes with bananas, strawberries, angel food cake, and marshmallows.

1. Mona Lisa

Manitou Springs, Colorado, is a charming mountain town famed for its way with unwanted Christmas cake. Should you be in town for the annual fruitcake toss, or at any other time, be sure to drop in at Mona Lisa to experience what we feel to be the nation's finest fondue. So what makes Mona Lisa tops on our list? In a nutshell (or fondue pot), their menu goes way beyond the typical Melting Pot-type stuff, but their prices don't.

At Mona Lisa, the cheese, main course, and dessert fondues are available a la carte, but there's also a typical four-course meal deal with all of the above plus a salad. Cheese fondues include traditional ones plus specialties like an emmental/gruyere/blue cheese blend with Greek-style toppers: feta, Kalamata olives, and pine nuts. They also offer a vegan cheese option, so even those who avoid dairy can share in the full fondue experience. The main course fondues include a beef/chicken/seafood combo, a seafood-only option, a meat-free fondue with tofu and veggies, and a wild game one featuring buffalo, duck, elk, and rainbow trout. Desserts include plain and flavored milk, dark, and white chocolates  as well as liqueur-enhanced or flaming options. One thing Mona Lisa offers that other fondue restaurants do not is a seasonal menu. For spring, they're featuring a spinach/artichoke cheese fondue; an entrée that includes lamb as well as beef, chicken, and seafood; and a lovely lemon-lavender white chocolate fondue for dessert.