Earlier this year, I took a weeklong anniversary trip to San Francisco, Napa, and Sonoma with my husband, Lee, an academic who gets hives at the thought of anything luxurious. Keeping him comfortable meant mixing extraordinary meals with unexpected finds and cheap local favorites. Here’s the best of our high-low itinerary that kept both of us satisfied.
Graydon Carter, the Vanity Fair editor-in-chief who moonlights as a restaurateur, has a Midas touch when it comes to reviving classic New York spots. He brought the Waverly Inn back to life in 2006, and Monkey Bar shortly thereafter. His latest transformation, with partners Emil Varda and Brett Rasinski: the West Village’s Beatrice Inn (285 W. 12th St.; $$$$), a 1950’s-era Italian restaurant turned nightclub turned chophouse. Here, Carter dishes on what it takes to succeed, the perfect sound track for eating steak, and more.
What to expect at the Beatrice Inn: This is downtown, so we don’t serve traditional huge steaks. Brian Nasworthy, a former Per Se sous-chef, runs the kitchen. There are a lot of salads—my wife demanded that.
Favorite New York chophouse: Keens Steakhouse (72 W. 36th St.; $$$). It was the hot place in the late 1800's, and it is still packed. The food is wonderful, and the drinks are hearty. I have the roast beef twice a year.
Prefer off-the-radar eateries to flashy, five-star affairs? That’s why Travel + Leisure and CNN teamed up for our series 100 Places to Eat Like a Local. For the next few months, we are combining iReports from you with chef and editor finds to give you tips on the best local food around.
Ever wonder where to get amazing Chinese food in Philadelphia? Chinatown might be a good guess, but how do you choose from the countless noodle houses lining the streets? Thankfully, we discovered Nan Zhou Noodle House (brought to our attention by cathybranch). Nan Zhou’s noodles are hand drawn and made to order, meaning you get to choose how you want them- broad or narrow, thick or thin. You can also pick from an array of proteins- from clam or shrimp to ox tail or lamb- to customize your dish.
Our iReporter suggests spicy pig ears to start while your noodles are being prepared. A few more insider tips- Nan Zhou Noodle House only accepts cash, so make sure to stop by an ATM on your way there. This joint is also BYOB, so while they do not sell wine or beer, you are welcome to bring your own to enjoy. Happy slurping!
Have your own suggestion for eating like a local? Share your iReport today!
Maria Pedone is a digital editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.
Inventive chefs have restaurants in Music City singing a different tune. Check out five of our favorite openings.
With a strong Southern food identity and a bevy of nearby farms, all Nashville needed to become a red-hot culinary destination was a dose of innovation—and it has arrived. At the Catbird Seat (1711 Division St.; $$$), chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson have turned heads with their whimsical tasting menu (Wonder Bread purée, anyone?). Pizzas get a creative spin at Bella Nashville (Farmers Market, 900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.; 615/457-3863; lunch only; $), where toppings include hummus and beets. The hip coffee shop Barista Parlor (pictured; 519B Gallatin Ave.; 615/712-9766; $$) offers more than just cups of joe: its chicken and waffles sells out in hours. Local food icon Deb Paquette goes global at Etch (303 Demonbreun St.; $$$), serving dishes such as Moroccan-spiced duck breast with harissa cranberries. Finally, Silo (1121 Fifth Ave. N.; $$) offers smoked-pork pot pie and grits with bacon jam, proof that even down-home classics can have an edge.
Photo by Caroline Allison
Celebrated Italian restaurateur Sirio Maccioni (the man behind New York's Le Cirque and a handful of other restaurants across Las Vegas and now New Delhi) returns to The Pierre with Sirio Ristorante, forty years after serving as maître d' at the same hotel's venerable La Forêt supper club kickstarted his illustrious career.
Shared plates and creative cocktails have replaced plumbing and electrical supplies at Laurel Hardware, a new West Hollywood haven for hunky men, leggy blondes, and the rest of the trendy Los Angeles crowd.
The city's hippest summer outpost opened recently in a former hardware store on Santa Monica Boulevard (nostalgic appliance-shoppers can take solace in the fact that the original sign and storefront remain).
First came food co-ops, then CSAs, then buy-your-own-raw-milk clubs. Next up: community-supported restaurants. A natural next step in the increasing obsession with hyper-local food, CSRs allow customers to become small investors in local eateries, giving them perks such as free meals—as well as a vested interest in seeing the restaurant succeed. For travelers, dining at a CSR means eating somewhere that is truly rooted in the surrounding community. We think these six new CSRs are worth checking out. If you agree, you can always buy in.
Rock Hill, South Carolina: Lell’s Café
This two-year-old spot features hearty, down-home cooking (bacon and pimento cheese sandwich; vanilla-bourbon sticky-finger French toast) made with seasonal Carolina ingredients. It opened with no bank loans, just the support of community investors.
Is San Francisco the new Munich? With a crop of new German-style drinking establishments in the city, it would seem so. At the uber-popular, 100-seat Biergarten (above) in Hayes Valley, you can sip your brew while sitting on one of the authentic German beer garden benches. There’s plenty of outdoor seating at the new Southern Pacific Brewing Company (below), a big, beautiful brewery that opened in a warehouse in an industrial corner of the Mission earlier this year.
While the pyrotechnics of Alinea’s molecular gastronomy and the tweezer-armed chefs at Noma fussing over strands of seaweed may garner all the accolades in the food world these days, other chefs are turning back the clock. They’re going back decades, even hundreds, of years.
Vintage-inspired menus—think Champagne-glazed Virginia hams, Waldorf pudding studded with nuggets of foie gras, poached salmon bathed in creamy French sauces—took off this year when restaurants across the country commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s demise.
At Prime Meats in Brooklyn, diners paid $150 in April to taste the last meal served on the British ship, supposedly crafted under the consultation of Georges-Auguste Escoffier and Cesar Ritz. A Hindenburg dinner may follow.
It’s a city of pop-ups. San Francisco has bred a myriad of mobile food entrepreneurs who blog, tweet and serve up everything from ramen to fish tacos to loyal customers willing to hit the sidewalk. That’s about to change—slightly. Recently, some pop-ups have gone permanent, shouldering leases and outfitting commercial spaces. A few of the city’s newest restaurant fixtures? Radio Africa Kitchen (below), which serves creative Ethiopian food, recently opened up shop in Bayview. Meanwhile, the super-popular ramen/boba tea spot Ken-Ken Ramen has launched in the Mission. If deli is your thing, don’t miss the outpost of Wise Sons Delicatessen (above)for some of the city’s best bialys and challah.