100 Best City Restaurants
Sure, you can whip out your iPhone and consult a slew of restaurant apps with screens and screens of user reviews. But were they written by real customers or the restaurants themselves? More important, if you’re planning a daylong urban foodie tour, app-checking isn’t necessarily the most efficient way of culling and assembling a can’t-miss itinerary.
That’s where we come in. From a spectacular sashimi breakfast in Tokyo to a plate of after-hours fish and chips in London, we’ve compiled a list of some of the world’s top tables and scheduled hours of overindulgence.
So the next time you visit New York, consider yourself one of the city’s in-the-know eaters. In the morning, head straight to TriBeCa’s Locanda Verde for chef Andrew Carmellini’s dreamy breakfast menu (sheep’s-milk ricotta drizzled with truffled honey; olive-oil coffee cake). At lunch, Midtown’s Má Pêche—the latest restaurant from the city’s burgeoning Momofuku empire—is a must. Try the pork ribs in lemongrass caramel or the tender skate with brown butter and pea shoots. And if you’re a seafood addict with time for only one Big Apple dinner, look no further than Marea on Central Park South: here, chef Michael White works his magic on frutti di mare, with jewel-like crudi and fusilli with red wine–braised octopus.
Fortunately, culinary greatness doesn’t always come with an expensive price tag. In Barcelona’s Barri Gòtic neighborhood, La Plata is a humble, tile-walled bodega that former El Bulli pastry chef Albert Adrià considers one of the finest examples of classic Catalan cuisine. Traditional dishes such as fried sardines or tomato-and-onion salad are sources of inspiration for Adrià’s popular Inopia tapas bar, but you won’t pay much more than $15 for two people.
Great restaurants can also become an integral part of their communities. San Francisco’s Nopa—a favorite hangout among Bay Area chefs, including Daniel Patterson of the city’s two-Michelin-starred Coi—exudes a casual conviviality that has helped transform its namesake neighborhood (North of the Panhandle) from an emerging area to a vibrant community. Other businesses have since grown up around Nopa, but locals still consider the pioneering restaurant the neighborhood gathering spot.
New York: Breakfast, Snacks, and Lunch
Oh Manhattan! So much to taste, so little time. Here’s a foolproof plan for your bites of the Big Apple. Start the day with a visit to Locanda Verde (breakfast for two $35), best known for popular chef Andrew Carmellini’s magic at the stoves, but which happens to serve breakfast out of a daydream. Try cloudlike sheep’s-milk ricotta drizzled with truffled honey and moist, fragrant polenta muffins or olive-oil coffee cake from pastry princess Karen DeMasco. Save some calories for a mid-morning snack at the lovable Nolita spot Torrisi Italian Specialties (sandwiches for two $18), where a duo of young Café Boulud veterans creatively update Italian-American deli fare. (They also do fabulous prix fixe dinners.) Choose the chicken parm from the sandwich list, and do try an antipasto or two, since lunch will be blissfully light at ABC Kitchen (lunch for two $52). At this restaurant occupying the stylishly rusticated space inside the furniture emporium ABC Carpet & Home, Jean-Georges Vongerichten shines the spotlight on farm-to-fork vegetables. Even the simplest dishes—a cumin-infused roasted-carrot salad dolloped with sour cream; a delicious bowl of heirloom beans—deliver that signature Jean-Georges zing. Then again, if you’re not intent on being too virtuous, Má Pêche (lunch for two $72), the latest from the burgeoning Momofuku empire, with the fiercely gifted Tien Ho at the h
New York: Dinner
Next up: an elegant meal at Aldea (dinner for two $105), where Portuguese-American chef George Mendes’s menu (the most perfect salt-cod croquettes west of Iberia; refined-rustic rice studded with bits of chorizo, olives, and duck confit and cracklings) is a succession of highs. Book a seat at the open-kitchen counter to watch Mendes and his tattooed team in action, grating Meyer lemons onto a gorgeous composition of smoked fluke, almond milk, and crunchy soy pellets. Finally, how could we not mention Marea (dinner for two $150), where chef Michael White romances frutti di mare in a luxe Central Park South space. The setting might be subdued but his jewel-like crudi, boldly sauced pastas—try the fusilli with red-wine-braised octopus—and the seafood brodetto ferry you straight to the Italian coast. —Anya von Bremzen
New York: Wine Bars
These new wine bars are ideal places to swirl, sip—and sup.
Ardesia Order irresistible house-made pretzels, the quail-egg toast (a sly take on eggs Benedict), and a banh mi sandwich reimagined with house-cured duck. Snacks for two $45.
Terroir Tribeca With a zillion times more space than the cult East Village original, this brick-walled TriBeCa location still gets seriously crowded. That’s because Paul Grieco’s quirky wine list reads like a pop postmodern novel and chef Marco Canora’s fried sage–wrapped lamb sausage and veal-and-ricotta meatballs are addictive. Snacks for two $24.
Bar Maialino Maialino’s enoteca is a perfect place for a pre-dinner quartino of new-wave Lambrusco and a few rosy curls of La Quercia prosciutto. Come before seven to snag a spot with a view of Gramercy Park. Snacks for two $50. —Anya von Bremzen
San Francisco: Breakfast, Snacks, and Lunch
When Charles Phan (of Slanted Door fame) opened a branch of his delicious neo-diner, Out the Door, in the Fillmore neighborhood, residents—and visiting shoppers—rejoiced. On the cross-cultural breakfast menu at OTD Bush Street (breakfast for two $28): beef pho, slow-poached Hill Farms eggs over Niman Ranch brisket, and those now-legendary Hong Kong–style coconut-jam buns. Might you be one of those people who crave a mid-morning foie gras fix? Head to Naked Lunch (sandwiches for two $30), an extraordinary North Beach sandwich counter that serves up duck liver inside a crusty Acme baguette alongside prosciutto and an umami accent of truffle salt. At lunchtime step into the salsa-intensive universe of Nopalito (lunch for two $50), where the owners fuse sustainable NoCal ingredients with authentic Mexican flavors. A quesadilla here means house-ground organic masa tortillas folded around asparagus, maitake mushrooms, and queso fresco. On your stroll through the Mission District, your toughest decision will be your ice cream pit stop. Should it be one of the dozen daily off-the-wall ice cream flavors (Thai chili lime; McEvoy olive oil) at the cutting-edge Humphry Slocombe (ice cream for two $6.50), also known for its wicked lard caramels? Or a wholesome scoop of dairy-farm goodness at
San Francisco: Dinner and Drinks
As for where to sip before dinner: you’d be simply mad to miss the extensive Burgundies-by-the-glass list at RN74 (wine for two $32), a collaboration between wine-world phenom Rajat Parr and restaurateur Michael Mina. To impress the sommeliers, make your white a 2007 Louis Carillon Puligny-Montrachet and your red a 2007 Domaine Fourrier Gevrey-Chambertin Aux Echezeau. The longer you linger here, spreading pain de mie with smoked-sturgeon terrine, the better your chances of scoring a late-night table at newcomer Flour & Water (dinner for two $80). From greenmarket-fresh antipasti and salumi to thin-crusted pizze singed in a 900-degree oven, the Italianate menu delivers everything we love about San Francisco cuisine. Actually, the same goes for the concise, crowd-pleasing menu at the intimate Frances (dinner for two $100), another notable debut, with superchef Melissa Perello’s haute comfort food and a cool $1-per-ounce house wine pricing policy. Whatever you order, start with applewood-smoked bacon beignets and raise a toast to the end of an incredible food day with a glass of vintage Madeira. —Anya von Bremzen
San Francisco: Chef Favorites
Here, three insider favorites from Daniel Patterson, the owner of Coi and Il Cane Rosso restaurants.
Aziza In his intimate restaurant in the Richmond District, chef Mourad Lahlou combines inspiration from his native Morocco with obsessive sourcing and modern flair. Among the standouts: slow-cooked egg with charmoula. Dinner for two $90.
Delfina The place that pioneered serious regional Italian cooking in town is as influential and welcoming as ever—the ideal neighborhood spot. Patterson suggests sitting at the diminutive bar. Dinner for two $75.
Nopa A favorite after-work hangout of Bay Area chefs, this sprawling place is the Zuni Café of the 21st century: community, conviviality, organic local ingredients, and terrific cocktails. Order the country pork chops. Dinner for two $75. —Anya von Bremzen
Buenos Aires: Breakfast, Snacks, and Lunch
Here’s a nook once loved by Jorge Luis Borges. Over there, a table favored by tango singer Carlos Gardel. At Café Tortoni (breakfast for two $22) your café con crema comes surrounded by history. Order the tostado especial Tortoni, the world’s biggest yet lightest grilled cheese, ham, and tomato sandwich. After hitting the Palermo Soho boutiques, recharge with a frothy concoction (grapefruit-lemongrass-spirulina, perhaps) at the new juice bar bBlue (snacks for two $12), adored by the neighborhood’s skinny-jeans brigade for its cozy patio and yogurt muffins loaded with blueberries from the owners’ farm. For lunch drop by Paraje Arévalo (lunch for two $40), Palermo’s new hidden gem, helmed by a pair of young chefs whose résumés include stints at such avant-garde temples as Fat Duck and Mugaritz. The daily-changing blackboard lunch menus are breezy affairs, featuring decadent risottos of the day and locavore salads. The sandwiches are artful—try the olive focaccia with arugula and smoky jamón. A postprandial gelato break? The sleek Un’Altra Volta (dessert for two $12) obliges with more than 60 flavors—try the sambayón granizado dotted with chocolate or the wicked dulce de leche—hidden inside stainless-steel canisters. —Anya von Bremzen
Bueno Aires: Dinner and Drinks
After the ice cream and before dinner, compare Malbecs from Argentina’s different regions around the tall marble tasting bar of Vinoteca Palacio Duhau–Park Hyatt Buenos Aires (wine for two $50). Here, superman sommelier Marcelo Rebolé oversees a 7,000-bottle cellar with some five dozen by-the-glass offerings complemented by house-aged cheeses. Go ahead and have another glass: dinner, at Fervor (dinner for two $80), is just around the corner. The interiors here are taberna-meets-brasserie, and while the Porteño grilled-beef classics are exemplary, well-heeled Recoleta regulars come for the expertly sizzled parillada de mar (seafood grill). Borges is forgotten, at least for a while. —Anya von Bremzen
Buenos Aires: Bodegones
The city’s past lives on in its bodegones, neighborhood restaurants that often began as grocery stores. Here are the best places to soak up Porteño spirit.
El Obrero This 1954 stalwart on a hard-to-find street in La Boca serves up nostalgia alongside plump steaks, tortillas de papa, and shared tureens of homey soup. Yes, that is a photo of Bono and Francis Ford Coppola on the wall. Dinner for two $24.
El Preferido de Palermo Lost in a time warp amid Palermo’s trendy spots, this classic has retained its original grocery. Eat in the back room with red-checked tablecloths where a mix of old-timers and barrio hipsters order the signature fabada (Spanish bean-and-sausage casserole). Lunch for two $30.
Miramar Once a tailor shop, then a deli with a bar, this ur-bodegón is famous for its collection of old vermouth bottles, grilled sardines, and a wine-infused oxtail stew. Dinner for two $30.
Ña Serapia Cocina criolla—northern Argentinean flavor—rules at this no-frills, dirt-cheap cult favorite across from the Parque Las Heras. The carne picante (spicy beef) empanada is the juiciest in town, and the carbonada stew teeming with pumpkin and corn spells comfort food. Lunch for two $20. —Anya von Bremzen
Barcelona: Breakfast, Snacks, and Lunch
Don’t bother braving the white-hot dinner scene at Bar Velódromo (breakfast for two $35), a 1933 landmark reopened last year with local superstar Carles Abellán. Instead, come in the morning to admire the restored Art Deco interiors and ponder whether to have the eggs from the famed Calaf town in a lush tortilla or served estrellados (sizzled and broken up over french fries). Either way, the buttery croissants from pastry whiz Oriol Balaguer are a must. Next, feed your jamón addiction at the new branch of the venerated Ibérico ham specialist Jamonísimo (snacks for two $50) just up the road. Lunch is at another Carles Abellán outpost: the equally assured Bravo 24 (lunch for two $190). At his new-wave asador inside the Ricardo Bofill–designed W, steaks from 10 kinds of pedigreed cows (we loved the domestic Rubia Gallega) are grilled to uncanny perfection over freshly made oak coal. Walk off your meatfest while nibbling on plump pistachios and Marcona almonds roasted at the 1850’s shop Casa Gispert, and on your rounds of the city don’t forget to pick up some decadent bonbons—with hints of curry or tomato or violet marshmallow—from Willy Wonka–like pâtissier Carles Mampel of Bubó (bonbons for two $12), also in El Born. Even at the airport, Barcelona doesn’t disappoint. The gratinéed macaroni timbale at
Barcelona: Dinner and Drinks
For cocktails and cross-cultural tapas, join the fashion crowd at B Lounge (drinks for two $26). Pizza? In Spain? Absolutamente. If the toppings include delicious sobrasada sausage and the slowly fermented sourdough crust is featherlight. The pizzeria in question is the mod, white-and-red Saltimbocca (dinner for two $50) opened by the avant-garde chef Jordi Vilà. —Anya von Bremzen
Barcelona: Chef Favorites
Albert Adrià, former pastry wizard at El Bulli and owner of Inopia, a cult tapas bar, weighs in on a few Catalan classics.
La Plata Inside the tiled Barri Gòtic bodega, order fried sardines and the refreshing tomato-and-onion salad that inspired a similar dish at Inopia. Tapas for two $15.
Bar Mandri Claim an outdoor table in the folksy Sarrià district’s stalwart bar and try the city’s definitive patatas bravas. Tapas for two $30.
El Quim de la Boquería Everything at this Boquería Market stall is exalted, especially the llanqueta, tiny fried fish served with eggs. Lunch for two $45.
La Clara The perfect Sunday lunch means a seat at the counter and a plate of La Clara’s canelons de la casa (house cannelloni). Lunch for two $77. —Anya von Bremzen
London: Breakfast, Snacks, and Lunch
Chef Anna Hansen’s inventive, globally inflected small plates are irresistible for lunch or dinner at her airy, shabby-chic Clerkenwell spot Modern Pantry (breakfast for two $30). And when the morning sun glints invitingly over the white wooden tables, good luck choosing between the traditional English breakfast and Hansen’s signature omelette, laced with sugar-cured shrimp and a bracing dash of smoked-chile sambal. From here, it’s a long, leisurely amble across the Millennium Bridge to Borough Market. Arrive before the lunchtime crush at Wright Brothers Oyster & Porter House (oysters for two $33) to sample half a dozen of the freshest bivalves in town with a glass of Prosecco. Back across the Thames, St. Paul’s Cathedral beckons with its restored Christopher Wren magnificence, a new installation by sculptor Antony Gormley, and greenmarket cuisine at its vaulted The Restaurant at St. Paul’s (lunch for two $68). On the New British menu the Loch Duart salmon with purple broccoli and a lemony leek purée is gloriously simple. And isn’t it nice to know that the gingerbread ice cream sandwich is sweetened with honey from Regent’s Park bees? In the afternoon, if you find yourself strolling through picturesque Marylebone, satisfy your craving for both cheese and tea with a sampling of obsessively sourced farmhouse beauties, one of Robert Wilson’s single-estate teas, and a crumbly almond biscotti, perhaps, at the oh-so-chichi La Fromagerie (tea and
London: Dinner and Drinks
At night, get thee to Soho, the current epicenter of London’s restaurant renaissance. Here, recession-friendly prices, a low-key vibe, and delicious cicchetti (Venetian snacks) make prime-time seats scarce at the wildly popular Polpo (dinner for two $65). Kill time over an archivally inspired cocktail at Mark’s (cocktails for two $19), the groovy, boozy basement bar of Hix, the restaurant recently launched by London’s food idol Mark Hix. Order a Lamb’s Wool (Hix IPA with roasted-Bramley-apple purée), then amble over to Polpo to attack the pizzette, bruschette, and baccalà served atop grilled polenta. But wait! Could your evening have a more adventurous script? For instance, an envelope-pushing tasting menu—think razor-clam shell filled with smoked yogurt and rosemary dashi—at the brand new East End hot spot Viajante (dinner for two $150), located in the handsome former town hall in Bethnal Green. Dessert: a deconstruction of carrots courtesy of chef Nuno Mendes. —Anya von Bremzen
Whether you want a perfect pint or good grub beyond bangers and mash, these three favorites deliver.
Canton Arms This new south London magnet, transformed from an old boozer with some of the original clientele still intact, has serious kitchen talent in chef Trish Hilferty. Her foie gras “toastie” was recently dubbed bar snack of the year. Start with snacks but stay for dinner. Dinner for two $56.
Fox & Anchor At this super-snug Victorian in trendy Clerkenwell restored by hotelier Richard Balfour-Lynn, order seasonal cask ales and greaseless fish-and-chips, rabbit-and-cider pie and, in the morning, a proper Full English. Dinner for two $65.
The Rake This diminutive pub offers mind-bogglingly esoteric and constantly changing on-tap selections, plus more than 100 bottled beers. Beer for two $9. —Anya von Bremzen
Copenhagen: Coffee and Lunch
When touting Copenhagen’s serious caffeine cred, javaheads usually cite the Coffee Collective (coffee for two $8), founded by World Barista Champion Klaus Thomsen in the scruffy-chic Nørrebro district. After sniffing out the bergamot notes in your Hacienda Esmeralda espresso, stroll over to sweet-smelling Karamelleriet to admire candies being made with old-fashioned equipment. The store’s blond co-owner Charlotte Vigel—a.k.a. the pop icon called Tiggy—is as much an attraction as her butterscotch dainties. Up next: lunch at Noma (lunch for two $340), the city’s haute temple of terroir, recently ranked No. 1 in the world by Restaurant magazine. New Nordic Cuisine star René Redzepi romances local ingredients in such tour-de-force presentations as caramelized salsify with Gotland truffle purée, milk skin, and rapeseed oil. For dessert: biodynamic barley and birch-tree sap. —Anya von Bremzen
Copenhagen: Dinner and Drinks
Biodynamic is a word you’ll hear often at Ved Stranden 10 (wine for two $20). At this new wine-lovers’ hangout in a 1796 erstwhile tea shop, a savvy list that’s especially rich in Austrian offerings and the dashing neo–Midcentury Modern interior are just two of the draws. In good weather, quaff outside at one of the canal-side tables. Over in the Vesterbro district, Kødbyens Fiskebar (dinner for two $138) opened to raves last year inside the now-trendy former slaughterhouse complex. Despite the tile walls and meat hooks used for coat hangers, this industrial-chic space trades in seafood with an artful Scandinavian twist. Don’t misread the party vibe: Noma-trained owner Anders Selmer delivers serious sophistication with razor clams (dressed with fennel and ramson cream) and pollack ceviche decorated with pansies and gleaming shaved radishes. Or just slurp up some briny oysters from Lim Fjord at the raw bar, then watch jellyfish swim in a giant aquarium. Last call isn’t until well after midnight at the high-ceilinged Ruby (cocktails for two $32), located near the Gammel Strand. Make your nightcap a Red Rum (currants muddled with sloe gin then given a shake with Bacardi 8 Year Old) in the gorgeous space that preserves many of its original 18th-century details. —Anya von Bremzen
From classic to cutting-edge, here are three restaurants that offer up Denmark’s signature open-faced sandwich, smørrebrød.
Aamanns Etablissement Open-faced sandwiches with toppings such as cold-smoked seasonal herring with potatoes, capers, and lovage dressed with elderberry vinaigrette. Lunch for two $35.
Restaurant Schønnemann Book way ahead at this 1877 institution and order the halibut with truffled-egg sandwiches. To drink: a selection of four dozen aquavits. Lunch for two $65.
Royal Café What happens when you cross sushi with smørrebrød? Dainty “smushi” at this Moderne-Baroque space just off the city’s main shopping drag. Try the ham salad with quail eggs. Lunch for two $43. —Anya von Bremzen
Paris: Breakfast, Snacks, and Lunch
If your vision of a perfect Parisian matin involves slices of honey-hazelnut bread, airy brioche, and silken smoked salmon, claim an outdoor table at Bread & Roses (breakfast for two $28), a chic organic bakery with an unbeatable location on the edge of the Luxembourg Gardens. Then again, their newest branch near Place de la Madeleine is just as inviting. Press on for in-depth pastry research at the eye-popping La Pâtisserie des Rêves (pastries for two $11), from the French sugar sultan Philippe Conticini. If burnished tarte Tatin displayed in space-age glass capsules is not your speed, opt instead for the vibrant fig sorbet at the artisanal Le Bac à Glaces (ice cream for two $11), just up the street. For lunch, hit a savory note at the 20-seat Rino (lunch for two $56). Giovanni Passerini, its young Italian chef, made waves at the restaurant Uno e Bino, in Rome, then worked under innovative Swedish chef Petter Nilsson at La Gazzetta, in Paris. At Rino, expect Nordic purity, French technique, soulful Italian service, and an unforgettable barley risotto highlighted with anchovies, preserved lemon, and glistening fish roe. In the evening, fortify yourself with plump croquettes de jambon at the zinc counter of L’Avant Comptoir (snacks for two $30), the new hors d’oeu
Then venture to the wayward Quartier des Gobelins, where tout Paris has been flocking of late to experience the zingy, citrus-inflected cuisine of six-month-old L’Agrume (five-course prix fixe for two $89). Chef Franck Marchesi-Grandi is a veteran of such haute kitchens as Le Bernardin, in New York; here, he and his bubbly wife embrace a more casual vibe, offering vigorous welcomes, generous pricing, and such unexpected delights as ginger-seaweed scallop carpaccio and an ethereal grapefruit soup ringed with an emerald puddle of basil oil. Call ahead and ask for comptoir (counter) seats. —Anya von Bremzen
Paris: Chef Favorites
Christophe Michalak, the award-winning pastry chef at the Plaza Athénée, offers the scoop on the city’s most decadent treats.
Des Gâteaux et du Pain Paris’s meilleurs croissants are worth a trek to this design-centric bakery in the 15th. Try the fleur de sel–and-caramel religieuse pastries, too. Pastries for two $12.
Du Pain et des Idées Hit this antiques-filled, hospitable boulangerie in the 10th for Christophe Vasseur’s astounding baguettes. Pastries for two $11.
Pain de Sucre At this beautifully curated Marais patisserie run by a pair of Pierre Gagnaire’s former pastry chefs, try marshmallows in flavors like rose and angelica. Pastries for two $13.
Patrick Roger Pavé (a smooth, bitter-chocolate bonbon with lime ganache) is Michalak’s choice at adventurous chocolatier Patrick Roger’s stylish boutique. Chocolate for two $12. —Anya von Bremzen
Hong Kong: Breakfast, Snacks, and Lunch
Bing sutt—the local equivalent of East-meets-West diners—were recently close to extinction, but luckily they are back in vogue with a vengeance. Witness the adoring crowds at Capital Café (breakfast for two $12), here for the homey black-and-white-tiled space and two-inch-thick toast topped with silky, plush scrambled eggs (corned beef hash optional). Locals also love the café’s macaroni-and-ham soup for breakfast, but don’t feel obliged to follow suit. Toast is no excuse to skip congee, another Hong Kong morning staple. At Tam Keung’s Congee (snacks for two $11), former organic farmer Tam Keung puts a locavore spin on rice porridge. The fish are raised in his pond and the soy sauce is house-made. Despite all the glitzy international openings in Hong Kong, nostalgia is the flavor du jour. Witness the 1940’s ambience, retro chandeliers, and gray-haired servers at the new but oh-so-old-world Chairman Restaurant (lunch for two $60). Flower crab steeped in aged Chinese wine and funky minced pork–and–salted fish patties are just some of the standouts on the seasonal Cantonese menu. —Anya von Bremzen
Hong Kong: Dinner and Drinks
Drinks? At most panoramic bars in the city, a glass wall separates you from the view. For a breath of balmy night air, claim a terrace or rooftop table at the new indoor-outdoor Habitat Lounge (drinks for two $20), atop a skyscraper in the happening district of Wan Chai. Here, potent cocktails intensify the effect of floating amid glittering high-rises. Return to earth with dinner at the romantic Yin Yang (dinner for two $88), tucked into a 1914 heritage building. An advertising executive turned Slow Food diva, owner Margaret Xu grows her own organic vegetables, makes fresh tofu, and grinds the flour for her slippery rice cakes. Among her signature treats: brittle-skinned chicken slow-roasted in terra-cotta, hand-shredded and served by the hostess herself. —Anya von Bremzen
Hong Kong: Dim Sum
Fluffy bao, velvety rice-flour rolls, and decadent dumplings? We've got the best dim sum in town.
City Hall Maxim’s Palace This convention center–size favorite is still everything you want: bustle, extended families, and a never-ending parade of steaming carts proferring crisp taro puffs, steamed king prawns, and chicken feet braised to a dark, burnished tan. Dim sum for two $26.
Man Wah Go to the 25th floor of the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong, for the sweeping views and gold-plated dim sum such as Wagyu beef–and–black pepper puffs and foie gras-and-prawn rolls. Dim sum for two $120.
Tim Ho Wan Even if you arrive well before the 10 a.m. opening, the line will already stretch out the door. Persevere: it leads to the city’s lightest barbecued-pork buns and most supple rice-flour rolls. At the helm is Mak Pui Gor, former dim sum guru at the Michelin three-starred Four Seasons Hotel restaurant, Lung King Heen. Dim sum for two $6. —Anya von Bremzen
Sydney: Breakfast, Snacks, and Lunch
Locals book weeks ahead at Kazbah on Darling (breakfast for two $36), in Balmain, where days start on an exotic note with chef Zahi Azzi’s eye-opening breakfast tagines and sweet couscous with rhubarb and cardamom milk. Another reason to come to Balmain: the deliciously outré confections (rice pudding éclairs; Negroni macaroons) from Sydney’s flamboyant young pastry provocateur Adriano Zumbo (pastries for two $8) at his namesake patisserie. For lunch, the city’s fooderati favor the basement space that houses Neil Perry’s attention-worthy Spice Temple (lunch for two $58). Happiness here means crunchy salt–flecked, cumin-laced lamb pancakes followed by stir-fried quail with silky steamed egg custard from a menu that showcases the tongue-tingling cuisine of Hunan, Sichuan, and Xinjiang, among other provinces. Yes, but what if your mood is Malaysian? Then join the queue of ravenous regulars in front of Mamak (lunch for two $45), home of intricate curries, fierce sambals, and an epically flavorful roti canai, a crisp-edged, flaky flatbread that transports you straight to Kuala Lumpur. —Anya von Bremzen
Sydney: Dinner and Drinks
Pre-dinner, join the New Cocktailians at Eau de Vie (cocktails for two $29), recently launched but already a legend for its speakeasy vibe, vintage bar paraphernalia, and killer Dark & Stormies (spiced rum and ginger beer). For dinner you can tuck into a sublime Queensland spanner crab and buckwheat risotto served under a frothy bubble of pink shellfish essence at Sepia (dinner for two $144), the confident new venture from Tetsuya’s longtime chef de cuisine Martin Benn. Or for an infinitely more laid-back scene with equally razor-sharp cooking, head to Bodega (dinner for two $70), where three partners—one of Polish-Argentine origin, one Italian-born, the other Irish-Cypriot—spin out Spanish tapas with a South American twist and an Australian accent. Welcome to 21st-century Sydney. —Anya von Bremzen
Sydney: Coffee Shops
Whether it’s a flat white or a tall black, this is where to get your ultimate caffeine fix in Sydney.
Mecca The city’s best-looking baristas bring the most meticulously sourced beans to dark, mellow perfection in the vintage house roaster. Try brewed coffees from the café’s new high-tech Clover machine. Kenya Ndimaine, anyone? Coffee for two $6.
Single Origin Roasters Outdoor tables, feisty servers, and a decidedly neighborhood feel are as attractive as the sustainably grown, high-grade beans from exotic plantations. Make yours a short black—a.k.a. an espresso. Coffee for two $5.
Vella Nero The hospitable Young sisters deliver on their promise of “coffee couture” in this white-and-robin’s-egg-blue space. Their rich, smooth brews are from beans finished in their sleek black roaster. Coffee for two $6.
Campos Coffee The bionic baristas at this java mecca in Newtown can turn out over 200 perfect coffees an hour without missing a beat. And how can you not love a place where the Obama blend—a mélange of beans described as being “syrupy with an uplifting finish”—is one of the best sellers? Coffee for two $6. —Anya von Bremzen
Tokyo: Breakfast, Snacks, and Lunch
Tsukiji Market is Tokyo’s breakfast shrine, but no matter how early you pry yourself out of bed the wait will be eternal at the fabulous Sushi Dai. Don’t despair: try instead the sashimi of the day and the seasonal nizakana (fish simmered in sake and soy) with rice, pickles, and soothing miso soup at the homey Takahashi (breakfast for two $55). Conclude your early-morning tour with a casual tea ceremony at the tasting counter of the Zen-chic tea boutique Jugetsudo (tea and snacks for two $38), paying due diligence to the emerald matcha ice cream and stuffing your shopping bag with rarefied green teas. Lunch steers you to the Marunouchi Brick Square mall, a new retail wonderland with the butter boutique Échiré, which bakes croissants that sell out in minutes; a café by Joël Robuchon; and a slew of terrific Japanese restaurants. It’s fun to sizzle a midday meal on a tabletop grill at Akira (lunch for two $80), which specializes in skewerless yakitori. Try the tsukune, juicy, shiso-wrapped chicken meatballs. Dessert: a cutting-edge bonbon from the Spanish import Cacao Sampaka on the first floor. —Anya von Bremzen
Get some rest before dinner—at Les Créations de Narisawa (dinner for two $450), currently one of the world’s most thrilling restaurants. The brilliant fortysomething chef Yoshihiro Narisawa weds French finesse and Spanish avant-garde savvy with kaiseki aesthetics and a passion for local ingredients. You might taste dashi infused with Japanese cedarwood shavings, Matsuzaka beef coated in “ashes” made out of leeks, or one impossibly beautiful radish in an edible “soil” fashioned from mustard seeds. Not cheap, but the experience is still worth every yen, unless of course you’d rather tuck into a succulent Kurobuta-pork tonkatsu (cutlet) in a shaggy crisp panko crust at Maisen (dinner for two $80). —Anya von Bremzen
Tokyo: Sake Pubs
Where can you sip like a Tokyoite? Kenji Sato, restaurant director and sake sommelier of the Four Seasons Hotel Marunouchi, reveals his favorite izakaya (sake pubs) and what to order when you get there.
Konakara The house specialty is a refined version of oden (Japanese hot pot). Sit at the counter, select your oden ingredients from a large brass pot, and sip an atsu-kan (hot sake) such as the seasonal Kikuhime Junmai. Dinner for two $90.
Rokukakutei This minimalist Ginza gem got a Michelin star for its divine kushiage (deep-fried skewers). While the wine list is excellent, happo sake (cold sparkling sake) also pairs well with kushiage. Dinner for two $190.
Tsurutontan Come here for the beautifully textured chilled udon noodles. The ginjo-style sake called Koku-Ryu has the fragrance of pears and the mellow freshness of springwater. Dinner for two $50. —Anya von Bremzen