Food + Drink
The most frustrating part of planning a trip? Not being able to score the right restaurant reservations (well, for this foodie, anyway). Several city-specific tools have cropped up to serve those of us who are both discerning eaters and poor planners (SoonSpoon.com in Boston; TableSavvy in Chicago; New York’s @LastMinuteEatin’ on Twitter), but today OpenTable is announcing a new program that will take the model coast to coast.
With Hot Tables, OpenTable lets VIP users (those who make at least 12 reservations a year) sign up for alerts when their preferred restaurant is already booked—anyone who has signed up for the alert will get a text message notification the second a table opens up. (In other words, there will still be competition.) Sound a lot like Rezhound? That’s because it is—the independent site had been offering the exact same service without being under OpenTable’s purview, proving just how much demand there might be for an official product.
Chef Thang Pham—born in Vietnam, raised in America, running a kitchen in Barcelona— presents the world on a plate, the summation of his influences wrapped in a banana leaf: his mother; his childhood best friend who welcomed him into an African American southern home; Washington, D.C.’s Anne Cashion; his Catalan present. Pham’s restaurant “Me” (Vietnamese for Mother), is in Barcelona’s Eixample neighborhood. Here, this architect-turned-Cordon Bleu graduate presents nimble plates for a sophisticated audience.
Q: How did you end up in BCN?
A: Having studied architecture, I came here because of Antonio Gaudi and I stumbled upon Ferran Adria and all those fantastic chefs—it was a very creatively rich atmosphere. My plan was to stay here a year—13 years ago! Spain has an absolutely amazing the sense of passion for and quality of product that is unrivaled—the black pork, all the seafood, even the artichokes. The reverence for simple, quality food is unique.
The waterfront district of Chiaia—long home to top-notch Italian tailors—is now bursting at the seams with style.
Anhelo: The source for locally roasted Neapolitan coffee—and a go-to spot for Italian ladies who lunch. Tapas-style dishes make the most of regional Italian ingredients (try the tempura squid with pepper sauce). 3 Via Bisignano. $$
Rubinacci: The maestro of unstructured men’s tailoring has moved into appropriately posh digs: the imposing 16th-century Palazzo Cellamare. You’ll find brightly colored ties, silk foulards depicting Neapolitan landmarks, and soft-shouldered suits in new and vintage fabrics. 149 Via Chiaia.
Plug into the scene at one of these stylish spots.
Borkonyha Wine Kitchen, Budapest: A fashionable bistro dedicated to Hungary’s woefully underrated wines. Late nights draw well-heeled locals for sautéed duck liver and freshwater trout with dill. 3 Sas Utca. $$$
Paraje Arevalo, Buenos Aires: On the still-boho side of Palermo Hollywood, this storefront bistro attracts a chic clientele with brilliantly flavored blackboard specials influenced by the chefs’ stints at renowned European restaurants Mugaritz and the Fat Duck. 1502 Arevalo. $$$$
Where to end a night on the town.
Octopus Bar, Atlanta (pictured): In an unmarked room behind an East Atlanta pho house, kitchen workers and industry minions meet after work to lick their wounds and shoot Fernet. To eat, there’s high-minded Asian cooking, like monkfish-liver torchon and freshwater-eel congee. 560 Gresham Ave. S.E. $$
East Side King, Austin, TX: James Beard Award–winning chef Paul Qui is behind this graffitied food trailer (one of two) that sets up in the backyard of East Side hot spot Liberty Bar and serves till 1:30 a.m. Get the piping-hot beet home fries with Kewpie mayo and sweet deep-fried chicken thighs. 1618 1/2 E. Sixth St. $$
Bar Velodromo, Barcelona: The sprawling Art Deco interior of this 1933 landmark is as inviting in the madrugada (late at night) as it is during the day. Why wait for breakfast to order huevos estrellados (eggs over fries)? $$
Tatsu Ramen, Los Angeles: A stylish strip-mall noodle bar in Little Osaka that serves a rich and savory tonkotsu ramen as well as a vegan-friendly version (this is L.A., after all). 2123 Sawtelle Blvd. $$
La Sandwicherie, Miami Beach: Swing by this teeny SoBe sandwich shop late enough, and you’ll see chefs such as José Mendin (of the ragingly popular PubBelly) scarfing down post-shift saucisson-and-Camembert baguettes. $
Restaurant Pricing Key
$ Less than $25
$$ $25 to $75
$$$ $75 to $150
$$$$ More than $150
Appeared as “95 Places to Eat Like a Local: After Hours” in T+L Magazine
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Photo by Alex Martinez
It’s not every day that one of France’s most respected chefs—we’re talking the three-Michelin-star, Bocuse d’ Or-winning ilk—would travel to Manhattan and cook for an entire weekend. In fact, it’s been more than 20 years since Régis Marcon of Hôtel et Restaurant Régis et Jacques Marcon has cooked in New York City.
Marcon brought his talented sons Jacques and Paul with him last weekend, teaming up with longtime friend Daniel Boulud to create a series of exquisite meals out of Boulud’s equally Michelin-star-studded Restaurant Daniel. After dropping by the kitchen to chat with Chef Marcon during the city’s annual Citymeals-on-Wheels benefit (Boulud is co-president this year—check out his awesome new Chefs Deliver initiative), I’m dying to dine at his restaurant in France’s south-central Ardèche region. Read on, and then fight me for the last available aisle seat to France tomorrow.
What hotel employees crave during their shifts.
Chicago: Hearty rib-eye sukiyaki and shoyu ramen from Cocoro are go-to orders for the staff at the Peninsula, seven blocks away. 668 N. Wells St. $$
Hoi An, Vietnam: The bell desk at the Nam Hai swears by the pork-and-pâté bánh mì from beloved Hoi An stallkeeper Phuong, who recently opened a brick-and-mortar shop. 2 Phan Chau Trinh St.; no phone. $
Mexico City: Around the corner from the Four Seasons Hotel México, D.F., Tacos de Fabiruchis fills fresh-made tortillas with chorizo in salsa verde or home-style chicharrón prensado (pressed and shredded pork rinds). Calle Burdeos; no phone. $
Mumbai: Just behind the landmark Taj Mahal Palace is the equally iconic Bademiya, where Mumbaikars have come since 1942 for their late-night smoky, spicy kebab fix. Tulloch Rd.; 91-22/2284-8038. $
Appeared as “95 Places to Eat Like a Local: Staff Meals” in T+L Magazine
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Photo by Jonny Valiant
How do China’s rival food capitals stack up?
The Noodle Joints
Shanghai: Wei Xiang Zhai (pictured)
Join a communal table and order ma jiang mian, thick wheat noodles covered in a peanut-sesame sauce and spiked with chili oil. 14 Yandang Lu; 86-21/5383-9032. $
Hong Kong: Kau Kee
Beef brisket on noodles (flat, egg, or vermicelli) in a clear, flavor-packed broth is the ultimate Cantonese comfort food. Taste it at this tried-and-true spot. 21 Gough St., Central; 852/2850-5967. $
Your unofficial fourth meal awaits.
Flour Bakery, Boston: Call ahead to reserve your sticky bun—these caramel-smothered, pecan-studded brioche rolls are among the best you’ll ever have. No wonder they sell out in mere hours.
Charly’s Bakery, Cape Town: Where to find Cape Town’s premier buttercream-frosted everythings? Behind a pastel-pink-and-white façade resembling a giant layer cake, of course. Our preferred pairing: the “wicked” chocolate cake, topped with a layer of dark ganache. 38 Canterbury St.
Gion Kinana, Kyoto, Japan: With a taste akin to peanut butter, kinako, or roasted soybean flour, is as quintessentially Japanese as matcha. It’s the signature ingredient at this tiny ice cream shop, inside a traditional wooden merchant’s house in the Gion geisha district. 570-119 Gion-machi Minami-gawa.
Where every order comes with a side of history.
Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor, Dania Beach, FL: Alongside an endless array of vintage kitsch (turn-of-the-20th-century license plates; displays of retro candy) are 45-plus flavors of south Florida’s favorite ice cream, handmade daily for 58 years. 128 S. Federal Hwy. $$
Fountain Coffee Room, Beverly Hills: The luncheonette at the Beverly Hills Hotel has served local starlets and studio heads since 1949. While the banana-leaf wallpaper remains, there are nods to today’s tastes: cold-pressed juices and a decadent caramel pumpkin pie named for Mary J. Blige. 9641 Sunset Blvd. $$$
Pellegrini’s Espresso Bar, Melbourne: Melbourne’s reputation as a coffee capital began here, where the city’s first-ever espresso was made in 1954. The look is pretty much unchanged, as is our order: a short black. 66 Bourke St.; 61-3/9662-1885. $