Travel + Leisure
February 24, 2011

Q: How can I use Twitter to make traveling easier? —Steve Landman, Michigan City, Ind.

A: “While you can search for what’s trending on Twitter, it’s best to rely on companion websites that help you filter tweets based on your interests. You can sort them by city and eight other categories, including deals and cruises, on Trazzler (buzz.trazzler.com). Meanwhile, at Schmap (schmap.com), you can pinpoint exact locations with Google Maps, so that recommendation of a great dinner or shopping excursion is easy to find no matter where you are. Finally, for fun, check out PicFog (picfog.com) for a live feed of all the photos tweeted, which you can search by region.” —TravelandLeisure.com associate editor Joshua Pramis

Q: We want to try some new restaurants during an upcoming trip to Los Angeles. Any top picks? —Leigh Morrison, Northport, N.Y.

A: Start with breakfast at the husband-and-wife-run Huckleberry (breakfast for two $27) café, in Santa Monica; order the standout “green eggs and ham” (made with La Quercia prosciutto) or pick up a few artisan breads to go. For lunch head to the cavernous Church & State Bistro (lunch for two $50), where chef Walter Manzke turns out French classics, from frisée salad and steak frites to house-made charcuterie. The rustic Animal (dinner for two $95)—imagine heavy wood tabletops and a menu written on recycled paper—serves savory dishes such as balsamic pork ribs paired with roasted squash.

Q: Are there any plans to extend in-flight cell phone use to domestic airlines? —Alex Wu, Newport, R.I.

A: Despite news reports that a handful of international carriers, including Emirates and Ryanair, are now allowing travelers to talk on a cell phone or via Internet (with VoIP services like Skype) while flying, most airlines are not changing their cell phone policies anytime soon. According to Michael Cintron, a spokesperson for the International Airline Passenger Association, about 88 percent of frequent fliers say permitting cell phones on planes would be “a source of great irritation.” The FCC already prohibits cell phone use in flight, and legislation has been introduced in Congress for a permanent ban. If passed, it will make talking on a cell phone or through the Internet while in flight illegal for all domestic airlines as well as all international carriers flying over U.S. territories.

Q: We’re traveling to Costa Rica’s Pacific coast next month. Can you recommend a few resorts with beach access? —Sylvia Moore, San Antonio, Tex.

A: The eco-minded El Remanso Lodge (doubles from $155), set on a 185-acre Osa Peninsula reserve, has 12 streamlined rooms and a private path that leads to a secluded beach with tide pools and waterfalls. Another excellent option is located about a 2 1/2-hour drive southwest of San José: the boutique Xandari by the Pacific Resort & Spa (doubles from $260) has 20 freestanding villas—plus a 3,250-square-foot spa—facing Playa Esterillos Este, a five-mile stretch of sand. And 165 miles northwest in Guanacaste, many of the 22 earth-toned rooms at Hotel Capitán Suizo (doubles from $190) are equipped with private balconies that overlook a quiet part of the otherwise crowded Playa Tamarindo.

El Remanso Lodge

The eco-minded lodge, set on a 185-acre Osa Peninsula reserve, has 12 streamlined rooms and a private path that leads to a secluded beach with tide pools and waterfalls. Activities include everything from tree climbing to rappelling down waterfalls. It’s paradise for the adventurous set—and at the end of the day, a hammock awaits.

Animal

The city’s top new restaurant may not, at first, seem very L.A.: plain, boxy interior; “Don’t Fear the Reaper” on the stereo; and a menu of the pig-happy, nose-to-tail Dude Food you’d expect in Brooklyn or Chicago. But it’s the ethereal produce, not the protein, that raises the restaurant  to such dizzying heights. A plate of crackly pig’s ears—punctuated by chile-garlic paste and a gooey fried egg—comes on like an amp set to 11, but is brightened and lightened by a splash of tart lime juice and fresh scallions. Crunchy nuggets of fried hominy go up with wasabi peas and popcorn in the holy trinity of salty snacks. The unexpected gem is the crudo: a recent combo of raw fluke, yuzu, serrano chile, apple, and pungent mint was no macho plate but downright girly—silky, sexy, and impeccably dressed.

Xandari Resort & Spa

A working coffee plantation 3,900 feet above sea level is the setting for this relaxing resort and spa. Panoramic views of the Central Valley, the lights of San José, and distant mountains can be enjoyed from almost every window on the property—and from the private terraces of the 22 private, curvilinear adobe-style guest villas. Each of these has rattan furnishings, tile floors, and boldly colored walls (adorned with locally made textiles and artwork). The common areas include two 60-foot-long lap pools, a spa offering yoga classes and coconut body wraps, and a restaurant with a large outdoor terrace and many vegetarian choices. The lush grounds have miles of private trails and a number of waterfalls, and are wonderful for exploring.

Room to Book: No. 20 has a palm-leaf roof and a garden that attracts tropical birds.

Doubles from $255, including breakfast.

Huckleberry

After training at San Francisco’s renowned Tartine Bakery, pastry chef Zoe Nathan teamed up with husband Josh Loeb to open this popular café, known for its use of local, organic ingredients. The dining room is open and airy, with a high ceiling, wooden tables topped with miniature flower vases, and glass display cases filled with Nathan’s homemade treats, which range from salted caramel bars to maple-bacon biscuits. Breakfast favorites include the “green eggs and ham” (La Quercia prosciutto, pesto, and arugula on an English muffin), while the lunch menu lists specialties like the barbecued pork sandwich with spicy house-made pickles.

Church & State

Serving a contemporary take on French bistro cuisine, this eatery loccated inside a New-York-style loft space in east downtown. Church and State occupies a loading dock within the 1925 Nabisco building, and the interior design elements include dark wood, hanging string lights, and the building’s original brick walls and floor. Chef Walter Manzke, formerly of Bastide, plates up decadent French favorites including lard-cooked frites, sautéed diver scallops, and a tarte flambé stuffed with Gruyere and smoked bacon. The wine list has plenty of French options, while the cocktail selection has options like ginger julep, made with Plymouth gin, bols genever, mint, ginger, and lemon.

Hotel Capitán Suizo

Many of the 22 earth-toned rooms are equipped with private balconies that overlook a quiet part of the otherwise crowded Playa Tamarindo.

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