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New York Hilton Midtown Unveils Herb N’Kitchen, its New Restaurant Concept

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When the New York Hilton Midtown—the city’s largest hotel, at nearly 2,000 rooms—announced in January that it was doing away with room service, people were shocked. The reality: Hilton saw that today’s traveler preferred a quick meal at a reasonable price, and room service was losing money. It was time for a change.

Enter Herb N’Kitchen, the hotel's new lobby dining outlet, open from 6 a.m. until 1 a.m. It’s like an upscale grab-and-go cafeteria, offering everything from made to order gluten-free corn arepas to Pat La Frieda cheeseburgers. Also for sale: bottles of wine and locally made snacks, such as Tumbador chocolate-covered animal crackers from Brooklyn. In the adjoining room (which feels more like a restaurant), guests can have a hot buffet breakfast, or just enjoy their takeaway treats. And food from Herb N’Kitchen can be delivered to the room—it just comes in a paper bag.

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Q+A: Sarah Simmons of New York City’s City Grit Culinary Salon

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One recent evening in New York City, I traveled to Memphis, and back. At City Grit, a culinary salon founded and nurtured and helmed by Food & Wine’s 2010 Home Cook Superstar Sarah Simmons, diners are invited to new tastes and experiences, often supplied by guest chefs who sometimes fly in just to make a single meal. It’s one of the coolest ways we know to travel and still stay at home.

The evening’s spotlight was on two Tennessee chefs, Michael Hudman and Andrew Ticer, whose restaurant Hog & Hominy blends Southern and Italian cooking, and has earned legions of pork-loving fans.

Tonight the duo is back. To celebrate today’s release of their new cookbook “Collards and Carbonara,” Ticer and Hudman are again firing up the stove at City Grit, with Simmons playing back-up. 

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America's Hottest New Restaurants

King + Duke

New York City: The playful vibe (yellow leather banquettes; framed photos of boomboxes) belies the serious dishes coming out of Charlie Bird ($$$), the SoHo spot from chef Ryan Hardy and sommelier Robert Bohr. The wines—many made from little-known grapes—can all be ordered by the half bottle.

Philadelphia: Peter Serpico earned his chops as second-in-command at New York’s Momofuku empire. Now he’s partnered with restaurateur Stephen Starr at Serpico ($$$). The seasonally driven menu includes raw diver scallops and an indulgent deep-fried duck leg.

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Pittsburgh Restaurant Serves Cuisine from Countries in Conflict with the U.S.

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It all started—as many ideas do—with an off-the-cuff conversation. While brainstorming concepts for a possible restaurant project in Pittsburgh, artists Jon Rubin and Dawn Weleski started listing types of food they couldn’t find in the city. “We realized we were naming cuisines from countries that the U.S. government was in conflict with,” Weleski says. And just like that, Conflict Kitchen was born.

Every three months, the take out-only spot in Schenley Plaza rotates its menu—and its design scheme—to reflect a different destination, one that they hope will stimulate thoughtful political conversations. So far, they’ve featured Venezuela, Afghanistan, and Iran, and Cuba is up until October.

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Q+A with Susana Balbo, Argentina's First Woman of Wine

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Susana Balbo has been making a name for herself in the wine industry for over 30 years. She was Argentina's first female winemaker and the first woman president of Wines of Argentina, an organization that promotes the country's wine industry to a global market. Blending is Balbo's specialty and her talents have served her well. In 1999, she began building Dominio del Plata Wineryin her hometown, Mendoza, Argentina. Today, the 75,000-square-foot winery is surrounded by 47 acres of vines that produce two million liters of wine per year.

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New Burger Joint Shakes Things Up in Harlem

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Long before there was Baauer, there was the actual Harlem Shake. And luckily, long after there was Baauer, the tradition lives on…as a new burger joint in Manhattan’s famous uptown neighborhood.

Harkening back to an age of classic diners and Americana, Harlem Shake features a green-and-white retro design with painstakingly restored high coffered ceilings. Locals and visitors alike are flocking to the restaurant for its fresh take on diner food, with a wide range of burgers, dogs, and milkshakes. Our favorite? The Hot Mess burger—topped with pickled cherry pepper-bacon relish, American cheese, and a chipotle mayo. Another crowd pleaser? A cholesterol-be-damned hot dog wrapped in bacon.

On the corner of 124th and Lenox, Harlem Shake sits just a two-minute walk from Red Rooster, celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s hotspot, and within earshot of Alexander Small's duo of soon-to-open restaurants, The Cecil and Minton's, in the former Minton's Playhouse jazz club.

All this goes to show that while Baauer’s song went viral then disappeared, the restaurant scene in Harlem will be shaking (in a good way) for the foreseeable future.

Peter Schlesinger is a Research Assistant at Travel + Leisure. You can follow him on Twitter at @pschles08.

Image Courtesy of Harlem Shake

Sweetgreen Salad Shop Debuts in New York

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Ask a New Yorker where to get a salad in Midtown Manhattan, and you’ll likely get an answer that includes “too expensive,” “wilted lettuce,” or other unenthusiastic sentiments. As of tomorrow, however, there will be another response: Sweetgreen, a new organic, farm-to-table salad shop at the Nomad hotel.

Founded in 2007 by three then-seniors at Georgetown University, Sweetgreen became a fast favorite in Washington, D.C., and over the last six years, expanded to 20 locations in Virginia, Maryland, Philadelphia, Boston, and, now, New York. (A Tribeca location will open in December.) All of the ingredients are locally sourced; a chalkboard lists the New York or New Jersey farm where each originated. As for the prices, nothing on the signature menu costs more than $11.85 (the "District Chopped"), and that one comes with roasted chicken, goat cheese, bacon, and avocado—a who’s who of costly add-ons at most other spots. Beyond salad (which are big enough to last two meals), you’ll find fresh-pressed juice, gazpacho, and “sweetflow” tart frozen yogurt. Try it all tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the Nomad location is inviting diners to pay what they want, with all proceeds going to City Harvest.

Brooke Porter
Brooke Porter is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.

Photo courtesy of Brooke Porter

James Beard Awards Brought Food and Film to Lincoln Center

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Last night, the food world’s glitterati came together at New York’s Lincoln Center for the annual James Beard Awards. Food and film was this year’s theme (tagline: “Lights! Camera! Taste!”). Actor Oliver Platt hosted, guests wore 3-D glasses, and the post-award reception menu included movie-inspired bites (Nate Appleman’s take on Pulp Fiction’s Royale with Cheese was a big hit).

Here, we highlight a few of the night’s big winners—and all the things we’ve had to say about them.

Best Chef: Great Lakes
Stephanie Izard, Chicago
The Top Chef winner took home top honors for her work in Chicago. Her Girl & the Goat empire now includes Goat Market and Little Goat Diner, which we highlighted in this roundup of America’s coolest diners.

Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic
Johnny Monis, Washington, D.C.
This Virginia-born chef was just 24 when he opened the Greek-inspired Komi, featured in our definitive guide to Washington, D.C.

Best Chef: Southeast
Joseph Lenn, Walland, Tennessee
The Tennessee native creates masterful dishes using ingredients fresh from Blackberry Farm, where he is executive chef. In our April food issue, Aleksandra Crapanzano penned an ode to outdoor dining at this classic Great Smokey Mountains retreat.

Best Chef: New York City
Wylie Dufresne, Manhattan
Call him the Susan Lucci of the James Beard Awards: this kitchen wizard has finally won after 10 nominations. His famed restaurant wd-50 made our list of New York’s most adventurous restaurants.

Best New Restaurant
State Bird Provisions, San Francisco
Adam Sachs didn’t show a lot of love for this quirky spot known for its dim sum-inspired cart service—but his recent story on San Francisco dining proves the city is the place to be for new boundary-pushing restaurants.

Rising Star Chef of the Year
Danny Bowien
The blue-haired chef (pictured above) has been the talk of both coasts, now that his runaway hit Mission Chinese Food is open in San Francisco and New York. Both locations were showcased on this list of best Chinese restaurants in the U.S.

Brooke Porter
Brooke Porter is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @brookeporter1.

Photo credit: Kent Miller

On the Menu: French Chef Spices Up Sushi

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Top Chef finalist, Pierre Sang Boyer, has finally settled down in the Oberkampf area of Paris after a number of pop-up restaurants. The Korean, French-raised chef offers a fixed menu at his eponymous Pierre Sang Restaurant.

Original course combinations include tempura of andoilette with tuna sashimi, roast-suckling pig with pumpkin puree, and a moelleux of chocolate with wasabi and Armagnac foam. The restaurant is first come, first serve with no reservations or telephone, so plan to beat the 1 o’clock lunch crowd for less waiting and more munching.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo © Niki Photograph

Rome: Convenient Street Eats

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Choosing where to eat while abroad, even in the sure-shot restaurants across Italy, can be tough. Cafés close early and locations near landmarks are all too crowded with tourists. Luckily, we now have three new restaurants that fit the bill.

Garnering consensus in Rome is Sanacafe', a cafe and restaurant open from 8 AM to midnight, seven days a week. This airy, designer-led space sources organic and biodynamic ingredients – some of which are on sale. For breakfast, choose from blended fruit and vegetable juices, yogurt, homemade cornetti and cakes; at lunchtime there are salads, vegetarian menus and home made ice cream; in the evening, the menu features local, creative cuisine: pecorino, pear and black pepper tart; chocolate mousse with salt crystals. Centrally-located in the Prati district, check this café out on Via Pompeo Magno.

Also worth investigating in Rome is La Caffetteria di Fandango Incontro, a cafe, bar and meeting point on the second floor of the publicly owned, 18th century Palazzo Incontro, which is also home to a bookshop, cinema, exhibition space and theatre workshop. Furnished mostly in wood and white, and dotted with plants, the bar is a great place for breakfast, light lunches and aperitifs – with an intellectual air. There is also a good selection of wines.

For those knocking landmarks off their list, try Baccano, a new multi-functional restaurant close to the Trevi Fountain, serving breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.  Think 1950's Parisian (dark wood, mosaics, antique ceiling fans) for the atmosphere, but the menu is strictly Italian.  You'll find all the classics here – from spaghetti alla carbonara to ossobuco, A good selection of artisanal beers and wines accompany the traditional fare.

Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

Photo Courtesy of Sanacafe Italy

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