As more and more of you dream and scheme your vacations around unforgettable meals, T+L has searched far and wide—through eight cities across four continents, to be precise—to unearth the world’s greatest new dining experiences. What have we gleaned? Well, with celebrity chefs roaming and foaming up a storm, design trends traveling at light speed, and Wagyu beef more ubiquitous than KFC, the planet does indeed seem to be getting smaller. But it’s getting tastier, too. The upside of globalization? We can indulge in a Vegas replica of a grand Parisian restaurant that seems more convincing than the original, taste an exotic Amazonian berry in Paris’s 11th Arrondissement, or navigate a Los Angeles freeway to a spot straight out of Hong Kong. And no, we haven’t forgotten those singular neighborhood kitchens powered by homegrown ingredients. From Barcelona to Hong Kong, from Tokyo to Montreal, from Paris to Vegas and beyond, here’s the skinny on where to eat well in the world. Your table is waiting.
These days the entire planet seems to be abuzz over molecular gastronomy. Spain, meanwhile, having pioneered the trend, is moving on—to ingredient-inspired simplicity. This paradigm shift is most evident in the city’s new crop of dining bars and chef-driven bistros, among them the irresistible Tapaç 24 (269 Carr. Diputació; 34/93-488-0977; dinner for two $85), created by El Bulli alum Carles Abellan. Unlike his conceptual tidbits at Comerç 24, the cooking at Tapaç is all about transforming a few choice ingredients—purple-tinged artichokes, cured-tuna shavings—into swoon-inducing treats. Fight your way to a stool at the counter, a playful evocation of a produce-laden stall at the Boquería market, and don’t stop ordering. After the truffled bikini (grilled cheese sandwich) of mozzarella and ibérico ham, try a fragrant sauté of wild mushrooms, then silken anchovies laid on a slab of requeson cheese. Stop back in for a breakfast of a plush salt-cod tortilla, then return at midday for gently cooked duck eggs broken up over french fries. Foam? What foam?
For a city that commands such a choice stretch of Mediterranean coastline, Barcelona has a curious shortage of waterfront restaurants with panoramic views. Enter Mondo (Imax Bldg., Moll d’Espanya, Maremàgnum; 34/93-221-3911; dinner for two $150), worshipped by cognoscenti as the source for the best seafood in town. Here, you get the complete package: a terrace overlooking the old harbor, a chic white-and-red interior, and plenty of leather sofas on which to chill out with a copa. Cut straight to the menu section labeled PRODUCTOS to order delicate raw Carril clams, outrageously perfect cigalas (langoustines), and espardenyes (sea cucumbers) seared, not a second too long, a la plancha. None of it comes cheap, but this is an indulgence worth every euro.
We like grilled seafood as much as the next Spaniard, but when nothing but Spain’s wildly creative alta cocina will do, we book at Lasarte (Hotel Condes de Barcelona, 259 Carr. Mallorca; 34/93-445-3242; dinner for two $200), the Barcelonan outpost of Basque virtuoso Martín Berasategui. For those who never made it to Berasategui’s namesake three-star flagship outside San Sebastián, Lasarte’s menu reprises some of the chef’s greatest hits. Here’s that legendary—and much copied—napoleon of smoked eel, foie gras, and caramelized apples. Here’s the diaphanous mosaic of vegetable hearts and raw mackerel touched with seafood essence and dotted with lettuce cream—a dish so stunning it deserves to be framed. But Berasategui’s young Catalonian chef de cuisine, Alex Garés, is putting his own earthy stamp on things: sizzled prawns with an egg yolk-and-truffle emulsion share a plate with papada (pork jowl) ravioli with an explosion of liquid-onion confit inside. Clearly he, too, is a fan of life’s simpler pleasures.
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