America's Hottest New Hotel Restaurants
Convenient as they are for a quick bite, hotel restaurants can get a bad rap for uninspired menus and bland atmosphere—sometimes, deservedly so.
But there’s been a countervailing trend gathering strength since the mid-’90s, and some of the hottest restaurants are now opening in hotels, proving to be destinations for locals and tourists alike. As Spanish chef José Andrés says, with “so many great dining and drinking experiences in hotels, it is bringing back a golden age when hotels were the only places to meet out for a dinner.”
Savvy hoteliers like Ian Schrager, Andre Balazs, and Steve Wynn were among the pioneers, seeing the possibility of luring guests with high-concept design and high-caliber culinary talent. “Vegas had a lot to do with it,” says Charlie Palmer, who has seven hotel restaurants. “They wanted the branding, not just someone to cook. They realized a lot of people travel by their stomachs, and a great restaurant from a well-known chef not only offers a great dining experience, it brings notoriety to a hotel.”
For chef Daniel Humm, of the three-Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park, opening a new restaurant at the NoMad Hotel in New York stoked his creativity. “We had the opportunity to think about the kinds of things people want to eat while they’re reading in the hotel library or soaking in a luxurious bathtub, things we had never done before,” he says.
Creating a distinctive identity can be crucial to a hotel restaurant’s success. At New York's Locanda Verde, chef and restaurateur Andrew Carmellini insisted on a separate street entrance (“No one wants to walk through a lobby to get to a restaurant,” he says) and contrasting music and décor. He says that, as a result, “the place feels authentic, like it has soul.” Carmellini followed up Locanda Verde with another buzzed-about hotel restaurant: The Dutch at the W South Beach Hotel & Residences.
Let’s face it: no one, even a jet-lagged, hungry traveler, wants to eat at a restaurant jam-packed with tourists. Travelers today seek experiences rooted in a place—and that’s the goal of many of these new hotel restaurants, including a newcomer at Atlanta’s InterContinental Hotel Buckhead that takes southern comfort foods to a new level.
“I really believe this is the future of our industry,” says Wolfgang Puck, who certainly helped fuel the trend; his latest in the revamped Hotel Bel-Air brings his hotel restaurant count to 16. “A great hotelier, a great restaurateur: it’s the perfect marriage.”
China Poblano, Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas
Chef José Andrés’ casual outpost unites Chinese and Mexican food under one high-design roof. Here, ceviche and 10 varieties of tacos perfectly coexist with har gau (shrimp dumplings) and hand-cut noodles. 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702/698-7900; dinner for two $80.
Must-Try Dish: Like Water for Chocolate, a fanciful combination of fried quail, rose petals, and chestnut and dragon fruit sauce, $15; cosmopolitanlasvegas.com.
The Dutch, W South Beach, Miami
At his second Dutch outpost (the NYC original debuted in 2011), chef Andrew Carmellini uses Floridian ingredients in his inventive seafood dishes (the cornmeal-dusted-oyster sandwiches are addictive). Old-timey ephemera, including vintage cookware, adorn the airy dining room.
Must-Try Dish: The homemade salted lime pie, inspired by a recipe Carmellini used to make with his grandmother, $12; starwoodhotels.com.
Redd Wood at the North Block Hotel, Yountville, CA
Chef Richard Reddington’s new, casual pizzeria holds its own in an intimidating, if picturesque, neighborhood (French Laundry is just down the street). The menu changes daily but always includes a mix of house-cured meats, homemade pastas, and wood-fired pizzas. The recipe for a perfect afternoon: a seat in the alfresco stone courtyard, a slice of pie, and a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon grown nearby.
Must-Try Dish: Bucatini pasta, topped with tomato, guanciale, and black pepper, $14; redd-wood.com.
Borgne at Hyatt Regency, New Orleans
Chefs Brian Landry (formerly of Galatoire’s) and John Besh are behind this coastal Louisiana-focused restaurant, which is named after the lake both fished in while growing up. The $10 daily lunch special—local white shrimp and white bean stew on Friday, alligator sauce picante on Saturday—is one of the tastiest deals in town.
Must-Try Dish: Blue crabmeat croquetas, $8; borgnerestaurant.com.
Morimoto at the Modern Honolulu
Masaharu Morimoto—a.k.a. the Iron Chef—takes advantage of super-fresh seafood sourced from Hawaiian and Japanese waters at this, his fourth hotel restaurant. For breakfast, don’t miss the LocoMoto, Morimoto’s take on the iconic Hawaiian dish, made with Wagyu beef (an upgrade from the usual hamburger), a sunny-side-up egg, and hayashi gravy. In the evening, turn yourself over to the chef and splurge on the Morimoto Omakase, a parade of seven courses that best highlight the day’s freshest ingredients and the kitchen’s ingenuity.
Must-Try Dish: Toro tartare with wasabi, Maui onion, and dashi soy, $28; morimotowaikiki.com.
Slopes by Talisker at the Waldorf-Astoria Park City, UT
Slopes brings spa cuisine into the mainstream with healthy dishes that appeal to both carnivores and vegans. Almost everything is made from scratch, from the biscuits to the corned beef hash. You don’t need to be gluten-free to savor dishes like a “display of winter beets” drizzled with pistachio-dill pesto. In a nod to its ski town locale, the dining room goes for a sophisticated mountain-lodge look (saddle leather and mohair-upholstered chairs and wooden antler horns).
Must-Try Dish: The tuna paillard appetizer, served with shaved butternut squash, pine nuts, and habanero-garlic vinaigrette, $16; parkcitywaldorfastoria.com.
Southern Art at the InterContinental Hotel Buckhead, Atlanta
Talk about southern charm. When you walk into Southern Art, the latest from Art Smith, Oprah’s former personal chef, you’re greeted by a homey space hung with brass chandeliers and damask wallpaper, an “artisanal ham bar,” and a pie-laden dessert table. Then there’s the menu, featuring a diet-busting array of fancified comfort foods like grilled rib eye served with jalapeño grits. Whatever you do, save room for dessert: bourbon pecan pie and 12-layer red velvet cake.
Must-Try Dish: Chef Art’s buttermilk fried chicken with Yukon gold potato purée, garlic green beans, and red pepper gravy, $22; southernart.com.
Wit & Wisdom, Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore
It’s hard to decide what draws more attention in Michael Mina’s new harborside venue: the central display kitchen—complete with a wood-fired grill and rotisserie—or the regionally inspired dishes created by executive chef Benjamin Lambert. Order the Maryland crab cakes griddled in a cast-iron skillet for a true taste of the Chesapeake.
Must-Try Dish: Dry-aged Papa Weaver Farm’s pork chop with apricot mustard, grilled stone fruit, and pork-fried almonds, $29; witandwisdombaltimore.com.
Burritt Room and Tavern at the Mystic Hotel, San Francisco
In an unusual move, chef Charlie Palmer recently took over both San Francisco’s Victorian-era Mystic Hotel and the on-site restaurant and bar. The property’s long-beloved, film noir–inspired hotel bar remains the same, but the adjoining tavern got a speakeasy-themed makeover, with six velvet-curtained booths and framed historic photos. The classic private club fare includes three cuts of steak and salads that spotlight seasonal ingredients.
Must-Try Dish: Pan-seared Scottish salmon served with wheat berry risotto, English peas, morels, and lemon-chervil crème fraîche, $29; burritttavern.com.
Härth at Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, VA
Chef Thomas Elder is committed to locally sourced ingredients—so much so that he planted his own kitchen garden and installed a beehive on the restaurant’s rooftop. Dishes spotlight Virginia-raised meats and produce grown in the surrounding Shenandoah countryside (McLean is just 11 miles northwest of D.C.). As befits the restaurant’s name, a copper-clad wood-burning oven anchors the dining room and turns out creative flatbreads like caramelized pear with Maryland blue cheese and roasted mushroom with truffled sea salt.
Must-Try Dish: Chef Elder’s grandma’s meatball recipe, made from a combination of beef, pork, and veal and topped with roasted tomato sauce, $9; harthrestaurant.com.
J&G Grill, St. Regis Bal Harbour
Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s latest venture brings his signature Asian- and French-inspired cuisine beachside. Time your reservation for sunset, and snag a seat by the floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the pool and shimmering Atlantic. The menu, executed by chef de cuisine Richard Gras, is a mix of Vongerichten’s greatest hits (peekytoe crab cakes with sugar snap pea rémoulade, warm chocolate cake) and simple preparations from the grill (local red snapper, diver scallops).
Must-Try Dish: Glazed short ribs with apple-jalapeño purée and rosemary crumbs, $28; jggrillmiami.com.
Wolfgang Puck, Hotel Bel-Air, Los Angeles
The iconic hideaway recently reopened after a two-year hiatus—and the restaurant is already a star. The Mediterranean-inflected California cuisine, such as the baby beet, celery root, and goat cheese salad, is a magnet for the likes of Justin Timberlake and Ryan Seacrest. Hiding from the paparazzi? Reserve a secluded patio alcove.
Must-Try Dish: The Japanese snapper crudo with Santa Barbara uni, sea grapes, black plums, and pickled daikon, $25; hotelbelair.com.
Parallel 37, Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco
The once-formal restaurant (heavy draperies; starched white linens) got a contemporary makeover last year, with an open layout and communal tables that encourage diners to dish about chef Ron Siegel’s hyper-local preparations and potent cocktails courtesy of mixologist Camber Lay.
Must-Try Dish: The menu changes frequently, but the slow-cooked pork shoulder ($27) and beef ribeye from Shasta County ($32) are reliably stellar; ritzcarlton.com.
Allium at the Four Seasons Chicago
Allium honors what’s grown and sourced regionally, with a shout-out to the restaurant’s 18 local farming partners at the top of the menu. Fans of variety, rejoice. Small plates are the strength here, and diners are encouraged to share a cornucopia of items: PB&J French toast and a sausage scramble for brunch; 24-hour onion tarte Tatin and bison tartare for lunch; and mint gnocchi and miniature Wagyu short-rib sliders for dinner.
Must-Try Dish: Chicago-style hot dog with homemade everything and a bag of fries, $14; alliumchicago.com.
NoMad at the NoMad Hotel, New York City
This Beaux-Arts–inspired restaurant and its hotel share more than a name: “We strived to make the hotel and restaurant as unified as possible,” says chef Daniel Humm. As a result, there’s not a single dining area but rather several interconnected spaces, including a parlor, a bar, a library, a glass-roofed atrium, and a fireplace room. The spaces differ, but Humm’s menu is consistent: contemporary French food (roasted duck with apples and vadouvan, suckling pig confit with dried apricots), simply prepared and rustically presented.
Must-Try Dish: The whole-roasted chicken for two people, stuffed with brioche, foie gras, and black truffles, $78; thenomadhotel.com.