In the search for essential home furnishings, the quest for the best dinnerware sets falls somewhere in between a couch and a Spiralizer. Sure, plates matter—you can’t eat cacio e pepe over the sink—but they aren’t as crucial to everyday life as your mattress. Perhaps that’s why dinnerware sets tend not to elicit the kind of deep-dive, dark-corners-of-the-internet, sub-sub-Reddit research the way beds and vacuums do. Does this plate hold my food? Yes. Is the color not offensive to my eyes? Yes. Annnnd scene.
Sure, any old thing can serve as a functional vessel for holding roast chicken/avocado toast/Frosted Flakes, but the best dinnerware sets do a lot more. Like a well-tied scarf, a pair of adventurous pants, or a beautifully worn-in leather couch, the best dinnerware sets have the power to telegraph your taste to anyone lucky enough to see them. We’re in the golden age of artisanal-ification, where everything from your clothes to your food to, yes, your home decor is better the vibe-ier (to use a technical term) it is. And triangulating your personal style, your budget, and the need for basic functionality/durability amid the swirl of vibes can make shopping for dishware very tricky.
In order to help you find something both handsome and functional, we first consulted Alex Beggs, senior staff writer at Bon Appetit. Beggs says it’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the material you get above anything else. For example, ceramic dinner sets are great for most people because the material is hearty, dishwasher safe, and looks fancier than it often costs, but it can make eating with metal utensils a noisy affair. She also said you should pay attention to whether your dishware stacks easily, thereby ruling out most square or wavy plates.
With the advice from Beggs, we dove into the wide world of dinner sets you can buy on the internet, scanning the wares of direct-to-consumer startups, small restaurant supplies, and juggernaut home decor brands. We prioritized companies with streamlined, minimalist offerings terms of aesthetics, but also companies with a large range of dishware. Obviously that had to include big dinner plates and cereal bowls, but ideally you could turn to the same company for smaller plates, mugs, and the kind of short, wide, low-profile bowls that have become ubiquitous on Pasta Instagram. And once we had some ideas, we got some help from a team of accomplished designers, including Emilio Halperin (a product designer at West Elm), Jessica Helgerson (of Jessica Helgerson Interior Design), Alexandra Kalita (of Common Bond Design), and Garrett Warnick (a designer at Lindsey Adelman Studio).
The end result is this, a list of the best dinnerware sets we’ve found. The results span a range of materials and price ranges, but we’re confident any of them will make that rushed sheet pan dinner feel like a meal at one of the best restaurants in the world.
Muji White porcelain dishware: The Best Dinnerware Set for Everyday Use
“It's no secret that Muji is the go-to spot if you want to subtly flex your tastefulness without breaking the bank,” says Warnick. Among a growing set of the creative class, Muji clothing, travel gear, and stationary has all been lauded for its simplistic aesthetics and hyper-functionality. The company's dishware, thankfully, strikes the same balance. Muji's white porcelain dishware collection is filled with elegant plates, bowls, storage containers, and tea pots. And where similarly-priced ceramics might scratch easily, the Muji's porcelain dinnerware is hearty and will last through several moves. It's durable dishware that won't feel too precious to use but is still nice enough to serve anyone you have over. And according to Halperin, any one of those dinner parties gives you the perfect opportunity to prove your cultural cache. “Buy Muji everything and you make subtle hints to your friends about ‘how everything is so over-branded now.’”
Our Place “Main” plates and “Side” bowls: The Best Plates, If That's All You Need
$50.00, Our Place
Our Place is most well known for its Always pan, but its dining essentials deserve equal consideration. The plates and bowls have a speckled ceramic surface with a more raw, colored clay bottom. That combo, regardless of which of the three millennial-friendly colors you purchase, imbues the Our Place with a handmade feel that's usually shorthand for "very expensive." Fortunately, the Our Place sets are reasonably priced: $50 for a set of four plates, $45 for a set of four side bowls. Unfortunately, if you want anything else—like a wide bowl for pasta—you'll have to look elsewhere for it. The sets are co-signed by Kalita, who lists the Main plates in a locked Pinterest board of dinnerware she keeps for her clients. “I think [the Our Place dinnerware set] is great if you care about design, but you’re 23 and just moved into a teeny tiny apartment and you just want something that looks good,” she said.
Hasami Porcelain: The Best Dinnerware Set for Minimalists
$55.00, Need Supply
Most of the designers we spoke to were reticent to recommend dishware from direct-to-consumer startups, which tend towards the basic and non-descript. They generally wanted their dinnerware sets to come with a bit more history. Hasami Porcelain fits that bill. The company was founded in this century, but sees itself as the product of 400 years of Japanese pottery in the Nagasaki prefecture. All the products in its line, from dinner plates to planters, have a striking simplicity—thanks to their raised lips, gentle curves, and perfect matte finish. For Halperin, the dinnerware is a hallmark of someone having made it. “Your plates will stack so nicely, you’ll hesitate to use them,” he said. “Why disturb something so beautiful?”
Mud Ceramics Dinnerware: The Best Dinnerware Set for the Modernist
$58.00, MUD Australia
All of the dinnerware from Mud Ceramics have a beautiful, slightly odd silhouettes, and a shiny matte finish. “It walks the line really well between a traditional dinnerware set and a more modern one,” says Kalita. “I think it's a good registry item, if you can get a bunch of people to cobble a set together for you.” Helgerson has amassed a collection of Mud pieces over the years, with a preference for the company’s softer colored options. “Their pieces are incredibly fine and delicate, but also, somehow, very hard to break—a dream combination,” she said. “I also love the fact that the working side of the plates is glazed but the undersides are unglazed which makes them feel as if the clay itself is pigmented rather than the glaze.”
11 More Dinnerware Sets You Should Consider
Rigby dinnerware set
Rigby makes classic, affordable dinner sets in a few nice, gentle colors. We prefer the porcelain material of the Muji set and the straight lip of the Our Place plates, but all the plates from Rigby we've tried have proved just as capable of handling regular use and dishwasher cycles without looking like they've been attacked by a shredder.
Year & Day dinnerware set
$52.00, Year & Day
Year & Day is another direct-to-consumer brand offering an inoffensive ceramic dinnerware set. The company applies a minimalist aesthetic—with no out-there shapes, distracting finishes, or unnecessary flourishes—to a range of dishware that includes plates of three different sizes (did you know you needed a dip dish?), two kinds of bowls, and mugs. They don’t scratch from fork or knife use, can handle a spin or seventy in the dishwasher without showing any signs of wear (after eight weeks of twice-a-day use, we found nothing so much as a spot of discoloration), and are microwave safe.
New Norm dinnerware starter set
$483.00, Menu Design Shop
That the team at Norm Architecture—who work on everything from expensive soundbars to stripped-down sink faucets—now make a dinner set is unsurprising. It’s even less surprising that the set, which comes in three neutral colors, is beautiful. “Nobody blends craftmanship and timeless styling like the Danes,” says Warnick. “Norm Architect's hand glazed collection for Menu trades the typically industrial flavor of minimalism for a slightly more rustic feel.”
Vintage dinnerware set from Etsy
Etsy is mostly known as marketplace for craft goods and vintage fashion, but it has an enormous catalog of vintage plates. "People think of vintage plates as grandma plates, but you can find really cool, unique plates there that you can buy without creating more waste for the universe," says Beggs.
Fortessa melamine dinnerware set
For those who tend to destroy their dinner sets, and are willing to lean into the mess-hall-kitsch-vibe, Beggs suggests looking into dishware made from melamine. "It's a type of plastic that's basically unbreakable," she said. Beggs herself keeps a melamine plate like this one at her desk, usually for eating chips.
Canvas Home dinnerware set
$88.00, Canvas Home
At home, Beggs uses the stackable plates from Canvas Home’s “Abbesses” collection, which have a glossy white surface with a colored lip. “It’s a charming combination,” says Kalita. “If you’re style is a bit more country, this set splits the difference between a more modern and organic shape.”
Departo dinnerware set
Departo's ceramic dinnerware sets itself apart with a hearty gloss glaze and a pronounced rim. It comes in a few handsome, understated colors. The company's plates are great, but our favorite piece is the Little bowl, which has a striking half-lip edge.
Danny Kaplan ceramic dinnerware set
$125.00, Santa Fe Dry Goods
Despite mostly being into white dinnerware, Kalita says she makes an exception for Danny Kaplan's deeply colored glazes. Kaplan was an interior designer and food stylist before discovering a knack for ceramics in a class he took for fun. “His pieces have an ethereal, otherworldly quality to them, because of their asymmetry and irregularity,” said Kalita.
Royal Copenhagen dinnerware set
$145.00, Royal Copenhagen
If your style leans a bit more traditional, Helgerson suggests you get something white with blue accents. “I am a lifelong lover of blue and white ceramics,” she says. “I love Dutch Delft tiles, Mexican Talavera tiles, Portuguese tile facades, antique Chinese and Japanese ceramics. The beautiful and delicate lines of Royal Copenhagen tableware is a natural extension of that love.” She says they’re just as good in a traditional setting as they are in a Park Slope townhouse with modern chairs and globular lighting fixtures.
Keith Kreeger dinnerware set
$340.00, Keith Kreeger
Chances are, if you're the kind of person that always checks Eater before making reservations, you've seen this plate before. Keith Kreeger's Austin-based operation churns out plates that find their way all over America. They're super hearty and reminiscent of the kind of plates you'd find at your neighborhood Greek diner, especially in the "Linea" pattern.
Ikea "Flitighet" dinnerware set
Though Beggs notes that IKEAs dinnerware sets have a notably short shelf-life (“they look so terrible after being used like, 14 times”), Halperin says they’re fine for any person with a "as long as it holds soup" mentality. "It's clean, simple, and 20 bucks for enough plates to host a dinner party. What more could you possibly ask for?"
Originally Appeared on GQ