One of the philosophies by which we live at SAVEUR is that there’s no such thing as a bad trip. We’ve found that every country, every city, every street has a delicious story within—but that doesn’t mean that some journeys aren’t better than others. To honor the world’s best cities, markets, restaurants, bars, hotels, airlines, and other experiences, we’re thrilled to announce the SAVEUR**** Culinary Travel Awards. Across thirteen categories, we’ve identified the very best—according to both an expert panel of world travelers and you, our readers—as well as additional outstanding and notable picks in each category. See all the winners right here, or see a full list of honorees here »
BEST RESTAURANTS AND DINING Cities greater than 800,000
Experts’ Choice: TOKYO, JAPAN > The attention to detail is everywhere, from the casual to the luxurious Outstanding international fare and classic Japanese cuisine taken to breathtaking new heights are just some of the reasons we love dining in Tokyo. Whether it’s the elegant multi-course kaiseki extravaganzas, with their mouthwatering plates of sashimi, fresh vegetables, and succulent meats, or streetside yatai stalls serving the most comforting ramen dishes we’ve ever dreamed of, this city is exceptional in every way. “The attention to detail is everywhere,” says Culinary Travel Awards panelist Kerrin Rousset, “from the casual, to the luxurious; how they prepare noodles at the tiniest noodle shops, how they select a sake, even how they decorate a pastry.” So careful is the selection of ingredients here that, at many restaurants, “produce sommeliers” are hired to make sure the quality of the fruits and vegetables never wanes. At RyuGin restaurant, chef Seiji Yamamoto serves a stunning 11-course feast that might include autumn vegetables in a pine-nut dressing or deep-fried sea urchin with an edamame paste. Meanwhile, at Koju, chef Toru Okuda brings kaiseki ryori into the future, using locally sourced ingredients for dishes such as octopus, pumpkin, and winter melon, as well as a plate of uni, horse crab, and eggplant. Furthermore, chef Yoshihiro Narisawa presents ingenious French dishes at his namesake restaurant, and Kenichi Takase does a similar turn for Cantonese at Sense. It’s no wonder the city recently surpassed Paris in its total number of Michelin stars. See related SAVEUR stories on Tokyo »
BEST RESTAURANTS AND DINING Cities greater than 800,000
Readers’ Choice: NEW YORK, NEW YORK > This is a city where dining trends are born, flourish, and spread out to the rest of the world Our readers are exhilarated by the extraordinary range and diversity of dining options in New York, rating it the top city in the world for food. They love the city’s ability to deliver on any craving for any global dish, any time of day or night—from dim sum to spanakopita; kimchi to bacalao. You can find foods for budgets big and small, whether it’s a gyro from a street-side halal truck, a rustic-chic roast chicken at a hip Brooklyn restaurant, kimbap from a take-out window in Korea Town, or an eleven-course meal from a kitchen manned by one of the world’s top chefs. New York’s dining scene also delights readers with dizzying, innovative style; this is a city where dining trends are born, flourish, and spread out to the rest of the world. And it’s home to culinary risk-takers and trend-setters: New York is where the game-changing Momofuku empire was born, where Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park worked literal magic tricks into his tasting menu, where Rich Torrisi and Mario Carbone reimagined Italian-American cooking as cuisine worthy of its own high-end pedigree, where Roberta’s reinvented the neighborhood pizzeria as an impossibly hip–yet unfailingly welcoming–extension of a laid-back Bushwick creative space. All this under the canopy held up by celebrated masters of the classic like Alain Ducasse, Daniel Boulud, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. See related SAVEUR stories about New York »
OUTSTANDING RESTAURANTS AND DINING Cities greater than 800,000
Chicago, IL | Lima, Peru | Los Angeles, CA Pretty much everything tastes good in Chicago, Illinois (1), whether it’s an eight-inch-tall burger named for a heavy metal band at Kuma’s Corner, an exquisitely prepared seasonal tasting menu at Grace, flavor-forward Asian fusion at Fat Rice (pictured above), or Paul Kahan’s pitch-perfect refinement of Midwestern classics at The Publican–and you won’t find better Italian sub sandwiches or topping-laden street cart hot dogs anywhere else. Drawing on Peru’s confluence of Spanish, African, Asian and pre-Columbian influences, talented young chefs are hell-bent on making Lima (2) the culinary capital of the Americas. Giacomo Bocchio’s Manifesto brings a rush of Southern Peruvian flavors, there’s the outstanding ceviche at spots like La Pescaderia in Barranco and El Mercado in Miraflores, and the preponderance of inexpensive anticuchos (grilled, skewered meats) throughout the city is simply irresistible. No doubt about it, Los Angeles (3) is a fiercely global food city: “Because this city attracts so many immigrants, there is a vast variety of world cuisine,” says Culinary Travel Awards panelist Ariana Lindquist, and you’ll find kitchen pantries drawing on decidedly global pantries, all atop a foundation of Southern California’s famously perfect produce. From trendsetters such as Hinoki and the Bird to genre-defining classics including Lucques and Jitlada Thai to the city’s abundance of taco trucks, you have to work really hard if you don’t want to eat well in LA.
RESTAURANTS AND DINING Cities smaller than 800,000
Experts’ Choice: SAN SEBASTIÁN, SPAIN > The chefs here hold a true reverence for traditional Basque cooking You can eat spectacularly well in San Sebastián, but what we most appreciate about this picturesque coastal city in the Basque region of Spain is the accessibility of its fare. “Truly great dishes are available to everyone regardless of their wallet,” says Culinary Travel Awards panelist Alexander Lobrano. The best chefs here hold a true reverence for traditional Basque cooking and their dedication to its techniques and ingredients have turned this city into a true gastronomic destination. San Sebastián is now home to a concentration of the world’s most renowned cutting-edge restaurants, as well as the renowned Basque Culinary Center, its board headed by Ferran Adrià, head chef of ElBulli, considered one of the world’s best restaurants before closing in 2012. For longer meals, let yourself be astounded by chefs like Andoni Luis Aduriz, who delivers a multi-course menu of some 20 intricate plates at his Michelin-starred Mugaritz, in an old farm house not far outside town, or the legendarily influential Juan Mari Arzak who, along with daughter Elena Arzak Espina, continues to turn out amazing meals at his eponymous restaurant. The beautiful Michelin-starred Akelarre, with views out to La Concha Bay, is another standout to which we can’t wait to return. Haute cuisine aside, we also delight in the city’s modern pintxos (snack) bars, especially spots such as Zeruko, which couples wild mushrooms and foie gras mousse on its small-plates menu, Borda Berri, with its garlic soup with pig’s ear and its bacalao taco, or Ganbara (pictured above), famous for its steamed percebes–briny, strange-looking gooseneck barnacles. “These restaurants are among the best in Europe,” says panelist Lorena Garcia. Or quite possibly the world. See related SAVEUR stories on San Sebastian »
Best Culinary Destination, Small Domestic
New Orleans, LA
OUTSTANDING RESTAURANTS AND DINING Cities fewer than 800,000
Bologna, Italy | Charleston, SC | Lyon, France Among the great Italian food cities, Bologna (1) the capital of the Emilia-Romagna region in the fertile Po River Valley, stands out. We gravitate to the city’s food markets and traditional trattorias that serve local specialties such as mortadella, tagliatelle with the namesake ragù alla Bolognese and lightly fried crescentine (puffy bread). And we can indulge as well at Chef Agostino Iacobucci’s I Portici, which earned the city’s first Michelin start with dishes like Mora Romagnola pork with mustard crust, red turnips, apple and myrtle. “When I was a kid in Charleston (2), you didn’t eat out, there was nowhere to go,” explains Saveur panelist Shane Mitchell. But now, the city boasts a dining scene that’s impossible to ignore: Chef Sean Brock elevates South Carolina’s Caribbean- and African-inspired lowcountry fare to culinary-anthropological art at Husk, while Mike Lata of FIG and Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill reinterpret lowcountry classics in surprising new ways, while staying true to the home-cooked flavors on which the city’s palates came of age. “The food in Lyon (3) is indelibly inscribed in my memory,” says Culinary Travel Awards panelist Ariana Lindquist. The city “is a repository and keeper of unique culinary traditions expressed in their highest possible form.” In the birthplace of Paul Bocuse, we’re as happy to dine at long-standing, rustic bouchons serving unpretentious fare like boudin noir (blood sausage) as we are to put ourselves in the hands of top-tier chefs–Annie-Sophie Pic, Georges Blanc, Michel Troisgros.
BEST MARKETS & ARTISAN SHOPS
Experts’ Choice: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA > The city’s major focus on sourcing locally makes it possible for specialty shops and artisan markets to thrive Our panelists singled out San Francisco as the world’s best city for food markets and artisan shops not only for the depth and breadth of its offerings, but for the level of support the city’s growers, bakers, and makers receive from residents as well. “There’s a sense in San Francisco that people are truly interested in learning about where their ingredients are coming from and how they are treated,” says Culinary Travel Awards panelist Kerrin Rousset. “And there are so many passionate artisans who are excited to discuss these products with them.” With a preponderance of the city’s chefs actively sourcing ingredients from local suppliers, it’s no surprise this scene has flourished. There’s nothing quite like visiting a San Francisco market and learning from a passionate vender the subtle differences among strawberry varieties, tasting local olive oils, or sampling the bountiful fruits and vegetables from the abundant farms that surround the city. Our panelists are also floored by the quality of small-producer products found in town, from ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery, to Cowgirl Creamery cheese, to some of the best bread anywhere at Tartine. For a one-stop bonanza, we suggest the Ferry Plaza Market, which draws about 25,000 visitors each week to stands selling produce, prepared meals, organic meats, as well as fresh herbs and flowers (it also provides beautiful views of the bay). The year-round Fort Mason Center Farmer’s Market offers stacks of mandarin oranges, heirloom tomatoes, and kale. “Butcher shops and cheese shops are significant as well,” says panelist Kristen Korey Pike. “The city’s major focus on sourcing locally makes it possible for specialty shops and artisan markets to thrive.” See related SAVEUR stories on San Francisco »
BEST MARKETS & ARTISAN SHOPS
Readers’ Choice: PARIS, FRANCE > The food-centric pulse of Paris beats especially strong in its phenomenal markets It’s no surprise our readers find Paris the world’s greatest city for food markets and shops. With such an array of purveyors—who take their goods very seriously—you can wander into virtually any boulangerie or fromagerie and bite into the best croissant or cabecou you’ve ever tasted. Then there are the dozens of fantastic chocolatiers and the many artisanal food shops owned by members of the Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, an organization that recognizes exceptional French craftsmanship. The food-centric pulse of Paris beats especially strong in its phenomenal markets, where you can sample goat cheese, heirloom apples, fresh oysters, and crusty breads. One of our readers’ favorites is the sprawling Marche Bastille market, home to some of the best cheeses, olives, and seafood the City of Light has to offer. See related SAVEUR stories about Paris »
OUTSTANDING MARKETS & ARTISAN SHOPS
Bangkok, Thailand | Barcelona, Spain | Seattle, WA “Thai markets are all about Thai food in its correct season,” says Culinary Travel Awards panelist Lillian Chou, and there’s no better range to be found–from fresh-pulled noodles to fiery spices, bitter melons to sweet-sour tamarind pods–than in the markets of Bangkok (1). “No matter how often I’m there, I see something new,” says Chou. Bangkok’s market scene is bright, noisy, and beautiful: The Klong Toey Fresh Market, the Saphan Khao Fruit Market, and the one-of-a-kind, 35-acre Chatuchak Market, with a whopping 15,000 stalls, make the city a dream, whether you’re a browser or a haggler (or both). Even if Barcelona (2) didn’t have such a remarkable volume of markets and artisan vendors, it might make this list for the sheer quality of its shopping and snacking alone. Of course there’s La Boqueria, one of the finest markets in the world, just off La Rambla, with fish just hours out of the sea, counters full of sweets, and incredible produce. But, says panelist Matt Goulding, “It’s the markets that anchor every neighborhood, from Gràcia to El Born to Poblenou, that make Barcelona such an incredible place to shop for food.” While Pike Place Market is the most famous draw in Seattle (3) for locals and tourists looking for vibrant produce and specialty food shops, we’re impressed by the year-round farmer’s markets that operate throughout the city, including the University District, West Seattle and Ballard. And Melrose Market, with its independent vendors selling bread, meat, baked goods, and sweets, adds a new spin to the artisan shop scene in Capitol Hill.
BEST COCKTAILS AND DRINKS CULTURE
Experts’ Choice: NEW YORK, NEW YORK > Both the endurance of old-school watering holes and emergence of modern mixology call for a collective cheer In the city that never sleeps you can order up a fresh draught at a 150-year-old tavern frequented by the writer O. Henry, sip a flight of rare sake at a Japanese lounge, discuss the mayoral race over a sidecar at a Prohibition-inspired speakeasy, peer out over the Manhattan skyline from a rooftop bar, drown your sorrows in a perfectly poured Guinness at an Irish pub, or flirt with your date over any liquid nitrogen cocktail you please. Indeed, both the endurance of old-school watering holes and emergence of modern mixology in the Big Apple call for a collective cheer, no matter what your drink. “The most impressive part of New York is the fact that you can walk into a bar on any block and find a menu with impressive libations,” Culinary Travel Awards panelist Matt Goulding says. “The level of cocktail culture has risen to such heights that even dive bars serve drinks you find yourself copying at home.” From Pegu Club‘s Audrey Sanders to Joaquin Simo of Pouring Ribbons, the city’s barkeeps will make sure the cocktails you enjoy at their establishments are on par with the meals you devour in the city’s top-notch restaurants. You can find classics made the way they were meant to at spots like Monkey Bar (pictured above), and our panelists also praise New York’s bespoke cocktail scene. At Little Italy’s Mulberry Project, for instance, “you can tell mixologist Scott Fitzgerald what your preferences are in terms of flavors and liquor, and his team concocts a custom-crafted drink,” panelist Kristen Korey Pike says. As if there weren’t enough spots to imbibe in Manhattan alone, visits to the outer boroughs are just as intoxicating: Try the cocktail saloon Dutch Kills in Long Island City, Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, and the Clover Club in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. See related SAVEUR stories on New York »
BEST COCKTAILS AND DRINKS CULTURE
Readers’ Choice: NEW YORK, NEW YORK > New York is the world’s best city for drinking, no matter what your preferred poison might be Our readers agree with our expert panelists: New York is the world’s best city for drinking, no matter what your preferred poison might be. Beer lovers can down a cold local brew at the Ginger Man, a classic beer bar in Midtown, or a small-batch imported sour at the slick, Danish-inspired Tørst in Greenpoint. Cocktail drinkers can go for a custom drink made with boutique rye and homemade bitters at the Dead Rabbit in the Financial District, let themselves in through the false-phonebooth door to PDT, or just sit back and watch the masters work at Employees Only (pictured above). And for wine, you can enjoy the extraordinary depth of the list at classics like Daniel or newcomers like Charlie Bird, or you can go left of center with the irreverent take on the vine on offer at any of Terroir‘s three locations. From fancy rooftop perches to laid-back beer halls, from moody hotel lobbies to plush restaurant front rooms, there’s nowhere our readers would rather take a sip than New York. See more SAVEUR stories about New York »
OUTSTANDING COCKTAILS AND DRINKS CULTURE
Las Vegas, NV | London, UK | New Orleans, LA No matter how you feel about the neon, the showgirls, and the gambling, there’s no argument that Las Vegas (1) is a discerning drinker’s paradise–just try to be unhappy while drinking through a vodka flight at Bellagio’s luxe Petrossian Bar, cozying up to the bar at China Poblano with one of Jose Andres’s remarkable Salt-Air Margaritas, or sipping on an Old Fashioned at the spetacularly retro Peppermill Lounge. Everyone knows there’s no better place to down a proper pint than a London (2) pub–we love sitting in a centuries-old local that’s packed with character–but it’s also one of the best cities in the world to get a brilliantly-made cocktail. Try the speakeasy-esque Experimental Cocktail Club, the extravagantly-garnished drinks on offer at Nightjar, or the opulent, David Collins-designed Artesian in Marylebone. New Orleans (3) is the birthplace of both the Sazerac and the Hurricane, which in many ways says it all. There’s a certain old-fashioned sophistication to the drinking scene that’s still apparent in classic spots like Arnaud’s French 75, but the Crescent City is also pushing cocktail boundaries. The bordello-styled Bellocq, from the crew behind Uptown’s equally inventive Cure, offers modern takes on nineteenth-century libations, while forward-looking restaurants like Sylvain stock their bar with house-made shrubs and fresh juices side by side with rare liqueurs and digestifs. Amidst this refinement, there are plenty of dive bars we love, like the cozy Apple Barrel in the Marigny, where we can hear live blues and jazz every night of the week.
BEST HOTEL IN-ROOM DINING
Experts’ Choice: MANDARIN ORIENTAL, HONG KONG > Its extensive menu caters to the hotel’s international clientele without sacrificing authenticity Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013, the exquisite, 501-room Mandarin Oriental, overlooking Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong’s Central neighborhood, does in-room dining absolutely right. Its extensive menu caters to the hotel’s international clientele without sacrificing authenticity. For breakfast, lunch, and dinner, guests choose from an array of Chinese, Japanese, European, American, and Middle Eastern options, mixing and matching to create a truly global meal. No matter your mood, you can find something to eat; options range from comfort food like katsu don, bangers and mash, and double cheeseburgers, to elegant dishes like crispy suckling pig with wild fennel, halibut with an almond cream sauce, or saffron risotto. Any of those can come with a bottle of wine from a smart list of old- and new-world varietals. But best of all, you can call down to have the Mandarin Oriental’s famed afternoon High Tea service right in your room–a beautiful experience in a beautiful hotel. _Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong
5 Connaught Road
Central, Hong Kong
+852 2522 0111 See related SAVEUR stories about Hong Kong »_
BEST HOTEL IN-ROOM DINING
Readers’ Choice: FOUR SEASONS HOTEL GEORGE V, PARIS, FRANCE > It’s enough to make you never want to leave the room The staff at this posh 224-room hotel, located just off the Champs-Elysées, must undergo three months of training before they’re allowed to deliver meals to the hotel’s beautifully appointed rooms—and the results show in their polished and friendly demeanor. They’re also exceptionally accommodating to guests looking to customize dishes and dining options, even if it means creating celebratory meals on the hotel’s rooftop. Oh, and our readers say the food is amazing—all of it hailing from Le Cinq, the on-site restaurant helmed by Michelin–star executive chef Eric Briffard. Seeing the milk-fed veal chop casserole with fresh verbena, preserved lemon, and Noirmoutier potatoes roll in on a cart adorned with fancy linen, fine china, and candles is enough to make you never want to leave the room. _Four Seasons Hotel George V
31 Avenue George V
75008 Paris, France
+33 1 49 52 70 00 See related SAVEUR stories about Paris »_
OUTSTANDING HOTEL IN-ROOM DINING
Healdsburg Hotel, Healdsburg, CA | Beverly Hills Hotel, Beverly Hills, CA The Little Nell, Aspen, CO The highlight of in-room dining at Sonoma’s boutique Healdsburg Hotel (1) is the opportunity to order such outstanding regionally inspired dishes as celeriac bacon and chardonnay beurre vert from Charlie Palmer’s outstanding on-site eatery, Dry Creek Kitchen–but options like the remarkable charcuterie platters (not to mention plenty of exceptional wine) aren’t too bad, either. At the Beverly Hills Hotel (2), those who decide to dine in their room are rewarded with daily specials available only through room service, such as classic steak tartare or a Siberian osetra caviar service. Says Saveur panelist Debi Mazar of her experience here: “It was the best service we ever had. A magnificent cart was rolled in by three people. It had flowers, bread baskets, bottles of olive oil. It was amazing.” At The Little Nell (3), a ski-in/ski-out boutique hotel on Aspen Mountain, guests have access to a sumptuous room service menu, including dishes like octopus ceviche and rabbit terrine, and can order anything from the European-inspired, farm-fresh menus of chef Robert McCormick’s two on-site restaurants. But the menu is merely a starting point; for guests with specific requests, the staff has been known to go out of their way to make sure their cravings are fulfilled.
BEST HOTEL RESTAURANT Hotels greater than 100 rooms
Experts’ Choice: THE BAZAAR BY JOSÉ ANDRÉS, SLS HOTEL BEVERLY HILLS Spanish-born chef José Andrés helms our favorite hotel restaurant in the world in a stunning space at the Philippe Starck-designed, 297-room SLS Hotel Beverly Hills. It’s here that he creates unforgettable dishes in a deceivingly nonchalant manner. “Everything on the plate feels like it’s there naturally,” Culinary Travel Awards panelist Gabriele Corcos says. “No items are too progressive. It’s clean and humble with incredible character.” > “Everything on the plate feels like it’s there naturally” We’re also struck by this five-year-old restaurant’s spacious dining room, which is divided up into six distinct spaces, each with a unique décor and vibe. There’s a bar, a tapas lounge, a patisserie, and an intimate chef’s tasting room where guests move through 20-plus small courses, such as a Wagyu beef taco with grilled eel, shiso, cucumber, wasabi, and chicharron, or a “not your everyday caprese” salad made with spherified mozzarella. “The most brilliant part about The Bazaar is that it can be whatever you want it to be,” says panelist Matt Goulding. “It’s a place to drop in for a cocktail and a few small bites, a restaurant for homesick Spaniards to eat stellar versions of classic tapas, and a wonderland filled with the latest shock-and-awe delights. Ultimately, that’s what a great hotel restaurant should be: a canvas for guests to create their own experience.” _The Bazaar by Jose Andres
SLS Hotel Beverly Hills
465 South La Cienega Boulevard
Los Angeles, California 90048
310/246-5555 See related SAVEUR stories on Los Angeles »_
BEST HOTEL RESTAURANT Greater than 100 rooms
Readers’ Choice: ALAIN DUCASSE AU PLAZA ATHÉNÉE, PARIS > This temple of haute French cuisine serves unforgettable dishes Despite the fact that it’s closed for renovations until spring 2014, our readers still voted Alain Ducasse’s outpost at the Plaza Athenee their favorite hotel restaurant. We can’t fault them: This temple of haute French cuisine serves unforgettable dishes in a sumptuous dining room located in a Belle Epoque-style hotel near the Champs-Elysées. Readers love Ducasse’s saddle of lamb with sautéed artichokes and his langoustines, which more than one reader noted takes their breath away. (Luckily, for those in need of a fix while the restaurant is freshening up, Ducasse has set up shop at Paris’s Le Meurice hotel, opposite the Tuileries Garden, where he’s turning out dishes like guinea fowl pie and offering confections from his new chocolate factory.) Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athenee
25 Avenue Montaigne
Paris, France 75008
+33 1 53 67 66 02 See more SAVEUR stories about Paris »
OUTSTANDING HOTEL RESTAURANT Greater than 100 rooms
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London | Anne-Sophie Pic, Beau au Rivage Palace, Lausanne La Mer at the Halekulani, Honolulu Dining at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (1), at London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, you could feel inspired by the Tudor-inspired room designed by Adam Tihany, or by the views of the gleaming kitchen with its innovative pulley-based roasting spits. But it’s the food that’s truly remarkable, a menu of historically inspired British dishes–spiced pigeon with ale and artichokes circa 1780, for instance–brilliantly executed by Blumenthal protegee and executive chef Ashley Palmer-Watts. Staying true to a family tradition that goes back to 1889, the eponymous chef of Anne-Sophie Pic (2)**, at Switzerland’s Beau au Rivage Palace hotel, offers two tasting menus and a la carte options all focused on regional specialties, like a roasted rack and saddle of Sisteron lamb with smoked creamy goat cheese Berlingots and a minted lamb broth. The view is spectacular at La Mer (3) at Honolulu’s Halekulani Hotel, but if you can tear your eyes off the rolling surf on Waikiki beach, you’ll notice that your tasting menu seamlessly incorporates local Hawaiian ingredients into its nine French-inspired courses, and the cocktails from the restaurant’s bar, L’Aperitif, are impeccably prepared.
BEST HOTEL RESTAURANT Hotels with fewer than 100 rooms
Experts’ Choice: LE COMPTOIR, HOTEL RELAIS SAINT-GERMAIN, PARIS > Dinner reservations are often made six months in advance–yes, it’s that good! This 40-seat restaurant run by chef Yves Camdeborde, who is also the man behind the adjoining boutique hotel Relais Saint-Germain, calls on exquisite local ingredients for his superb prix-fixe dinners. On one evening, you might experience such dishes as a rolled saddle of lamb with vegetable-stuffed Basque ravioli; roasted scallops in algae butter served in their shells; and a Pyrénées cheese board. It all comes in a welcoming environment: We love the casual bistro seating, as well as the no-reservations-required weekend lunches with selections like a boned and breaded pig’s trotter. The restaurant “stays true to the classic staples of French cuisine,” says Culinary Travel Awards panelist Lorena Garcia, who finds the place “magical.” Wine comes courtesy of small French producers. And just next door you’ll find Avant Comptoir, a tiny stand-up bar with selections of charcuterie, the perfect place to wait out the lines for lunch. Keep in mind that dinner reservations at Le Comptoir are often made six months in advance–yes, it’s that good!–so be sure to plan ahead. _Le Comptoir
Hotel Relais Saint-Germain
9 Carrefour de l’Odéon
+33 1 44 27 07 97 See related SAVEUR stories on Paris »_
BEST HOTEL RESTAURANT Fewer than 100 rooms
Readers’ Choice: THE INN AT LITTLE WASHINGTON DINING ROOM, WASHINGTON, VA > Chef Patrick O’Connell was forging alliances with local artisanal producers long before it was trendy It’s worth a stay at this luxurious 18-room Relais & Châteux inn–set in a rural town northwest of Washington, D.C.–just to feast at its straight-out-of-a-fairytale dining room, say our readers. The venue has been in operation since the late 1970s, and chef Patrick O’Connell was forging alliances with local artisanal producers long before it was trendy. His kitchen turns out glorious regional American farm-to-table tasting menus that change daily. Items might include a breast of pheasant served with creamy sweet corn pudding, succotash and chanterelles, or curry-dusted veal sweetbreads with roasted local plums and Virginia country ham. Readers are also impressed by the 2,400-strong wine list, focused on European and Californian vintages. And they love the restaurant’s rich embroideries, spot-on service, tables that can be reserved in the kitchen, right where the action takes place, and the dining room’s huge bay windows overlooking the garden. The Inn at Little Washington Dining Room
Middle and Main Street
Washington, Virginia 22747
540/675-3800 _ See more SAVEUR stories about culinary travel _
OUTSTANDING HOTEL RESTAURANTS Fewer than 100 rooms
The Main House Dining Room at Blackberry Farm, Walland, TN The Restaurant at Meadowood, St. Helena, CA | ABaC Restaurant, Barcelona Tucked in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, The Main Dining Room at Blackberry Farm (1) isn’t just blowing smoke when it boasts about farm-fresh ingredients–just a few hundred yards from your table you’ll find produce and herb gardens, cheese-makers, beehives, bakeries, and preserve kitchens, plus a wine cellar storing 155,000 bottles to back up its 8,500 selections. We’re partial to the signature dish on executive chef Joseph Lenn’s menu: Anson mills grits with ramps, Benton’s country ham, sorghum, and hollandaise, paired with a Peter Jakob Kuhn St. Nikolaus riesling. Chef Christopher Kostow creates an innovative, seasonal New American menu at the Restaurant at Meadowood (2), his 45-seat restaurant in the Napa Valley’s boutique Meadowood resort. We’re impressed by the nine- and ten-course experiences that combine opulence with intelligence in preparations like a green tomato, clam, lovage, and sea lettuce dish that also incorporates geoducks, surf clams, littlenecks, and whelks. As you might expect in Napa, there’s a pretty epic wine list–1,200 options, to be precise–and there’s plenty of attention to detail in presentation, too: the restaurant works in collaboration with local artists to design custom plateware that often inspires the chef’s creations, rather than the other way around. You can fit more people into ABaC Restaurant (3) in Barcelona than you can into the hotel where it’s located: The restaurant has 56 seats, while the eponymous hotel upstairs offers just 15 rooms. Located in Barcelona’s Sarriá-Sant Gervasi neighborhood, the restaurant is helmed by chef Jordi Cruz, who works in a dramatic, black-and-steel open kitchen, crafting an equally dramatic menu of experimental fare like a roasted pig’s feet cylinder with sea cucumbers and vanilla chickpea cream. The all-white dining room boasts views into the garden.
BEST HOTEL BAR
Experts’ Choice: THE LIBRARY BAR AT THE NOMAD, NEW YORK > What better place is there for good drinks than a well-curated, high-ceilinged library? “It harks back to a time when a well-made cocktail was the lubricant for a night of heady discussions and future promises,” says Culinary Travel Awards panelist Matt Goulding of the Library Bar at the NoMad Hotel, located just north of New York’s Flatiron District. After all, what better place is there for good drinks and heady discussion than a well-curated, high-ceilinged library–lined with books divided into categories ranging from rock ‘n roll to French literature– with plush couches and a graceful spiral staircase imported from the South of France? In a city where trendy bars come and go, the Library Bar, barely two years old, already feels like a classic. At its 20-foot mahogany bar you can enjoy cocktails along with a full lunch and dinner menu, while an extensive snack menu (as well as a particularly tolerable version of bottle service) is on offer in the 45-seat library area. The dazzlingly talented Leo Robitschek hits all the right notes with his list of classic cocktails—an Americano, Jungle Bird, mint julep, mai tai—and creative newcomers like the Old Alhambra, featuring a 10-year Laphroaig single malt scotch, Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry Blanc, Emilio Lustau East India Solera sherry, and crème de cacao, garnished with a grapefruit twist. It’s all entirely sublime. _The Library Bar at the NoMad
The NoMad Hotel
New York, New York 10001
212/796-1500 See related SAVEUR stories on New York »_
BEST HOTEL BAR
Readers’ Choice: LOBBY BAR AT ALVEAR PALACE HOTEL, BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA > You’ll feel like royalty while sitting in this gorgeous space While each room at Buenos Aires’s plush Alvear Palace Hotel comes complete with personal butlers and Hermès toiletries, our readers would rather be downstairs at the Lobby Bar, manning a leather bar stool while eyeing a vast menu of cocktails, scotches, and single-malts. With its ornate antique furnishings and a generous measure of marble, bronze, and gilded surfaces, you’ll feel like royalty while sitting in this gorgeous space. Since its opening in 1932, the Lobby Bar has been the place to mingle with the city’s well-heeled and well-traveled. We also love its irresistible classic cocktails, like the Gran Alvear—a witty combo of gin, champagne, Benedictine, pineapple juice, and lemon drops. The Lobby Bar
Alvear Palace Hotel
Avenida Alvear 1891
Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires Province, C1129AAA
Argentina See related SAVEUR stories about Buenos Aires »
OUTSTANDING HOTEL BARS
Beaufort Bar at the Savoy, London | New York Bar at Park Hyatt, Tokyo The Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans The American Bar at London’s Savoy hotel might be the more famous one, but we’re partial to the Art Deco opulence of the Beaufort Bar (1), with its golden walls, sinuous curves, and nightly live entertainment–not to mention its list of meticulously crafted cocktails, each of which is presented on the menu with a brief synopsis of its inspiration, whether a nineteenth-century bartender’s bible or the Impressionist paintings of Claude Monet. You may find yourself in Tokyo, but when you’re having a drink at the New York Bar (2), on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt in the Shijuku Tower, you’re drinking in homage to the Big Apple. Many of the cocktails on the list are named for Manhattan landmarks, including Radio City and the Rainbow Room. We love the extensive list of cognacs and brandies, and the expertly mixed classic and original cocktails–not to mention nightly live jazz. Set in the historic Roosevelt Hotel in the Central Business District of New Orleans, the Sazerac Bar (2) takes us back to an earlier era, when Governor Huey P. Long frequented this clubby room, renovated in 2012. We like to settle into a plush banquette here, gaze at the Depression-era art on the walls, order the namesake drink, and participate in a bit of New Orleans history.
BEST IN-FLIGHT DINING First and Business Class
Experts’ Choice: EMIRATES > We feel like we’re in the world’s highest-altitude fine-dining restaurant Spectacular seven-course meals are served a la carte aboard Emirates, our expert panel’s top pick for the best First- and Business-Class dining. That may be what landed this Dubai-based airline in the top spot– or maybe it’s the fact that guests sip flutes of Dom Pérignon and choose from a selection of three hors d’oeuvres, soups, salads, and five or six entrées, including unexpected selections like Thai-style chicken curry. Or perhaps it’s the variety of warm and chilled dessert options, the scrumptious cheese board accompanied by Croft Vintage Port, or the sort of impeccably fresh seasonal fruit you might not have anticipated sampling so far above the clouds. We aren’t quite sure which of these things entice us the most, but we do know that, when it arrives on our fold-out trays—on Royal Doulton fine bone china no less—we feel like we’re in the world’s highest-altitude fine-dining restaurant. See more SAVEUR stories about culinary travel »
BEST IN-FLIGHT DINING First and Business Class
Readers’ Choice: SINGAPORE AIRLINES > The level of service is, as you might expect, sky-high When it comes to conceiving in-flight menus for first- and business-class travelers, Singapore Airlines has tapped top culinary talent including French chef Georges Blanc, Japanese chef Yoshihiro Murata, and chef Carlo Cracco of Italy to join its distinguished international panel of experts. Together, they’ve crafted a fine-dining experience our readers find on par with anything they’ve had below 30,000 feet. Well in advance of their flights, travelers can order meals from a lengthy menu, complete with global dishes tailored to the cuisine of departure and destination cities. On a flight to Sydney, for example, you might enjoy Tasmanian salmon in wild lime butter sauce with steamed green beans and pasta, while a trip originating in London might involve roast breast of guinea fowl stuffed with Stilton cheese in a port wine sauce, with a potato-turnip mash. The vintages served on board pair up beautifully, with first class selections including Louis Jadot Clos Vougeot 2006, Dom Pérignon 2000 and Graham’s 20-year-old Tawny Port. Since Singapore Airlines’ flight attendants must endure months of training, the level of service is, as you might expect, sky-high. See related SAVEUR stories on Singapore »
OUTSTANDING IN-FLIGHT DINING First and Business Class
Korean Air | KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines | Cathay Pacific Korean Air (1) makes dining in its upper classes a formal affair, replete with Wedgewood china, silver chopsticks, and fine linen. While there’s an international array of options, we particular love the airline’s focus on traditional Korean fare–some of the best bibimbap we’ve ever tried was served by a flight attendant at 35,000 feet. Flying on KLM – Royal Dutch Airlines (2), we look forward to digging into Dutch-inspired dishes like fillet of sole with North Sea crab, served alongside cauliflower confiture, Opperdoes potatoes, and seaweed–one of the signature Business Class dishes designed for the airline by Dutch master chef Richard Ekkebus. We also credit the airline for its commitment to sustainable products, including the use of bread baked from organically cultivated grain sourced in the Netherlands. We can’t help but be impressed by the presence of rice cookers, toasters and skillets in the First Class galley on Cathay Pacific (3), the better to craft the airline’s cooked-to-order items; when we’re in Business, we take advantage of signature Chinese dishes such as slow-cooked pork belly with preserved Hakka mustard greens, served on custom-designed takes on traditional tableware. Passengers can order one of 80 wines on board, and guest wine consultants also create promotions for selected labels throughout the year. See related SAVEUR stories about culinary travel »
BEST IN-FLIGHT DINING Economy Class
Experts’ Choice: TURKISH AIRLINES > There’s a commitment to showcasing Turkish cooking in all classes on this airline We’re bowled over by the variety of meals served in economy class on Turkish Airlines, as well as the onboard preparation on transoceanic flights. “There’s a commitment to showcasing Turkish cooking in all classes on this airline, and the quality of the food is outstanding,” says Alexander Lobrano, a Culinary Travel Awards panelist. “As soon as the tray arrives, the air fills with the delicious smells of seriously good cooking.” Meals are prepared with fresh ingredients by onboard chef assistants who give professional support to the cabin crew, and menus are rotated weekly. We relish having a choice of three main courses, which might include Turkish dishes such as shish kebab, mercimek köftesi (lentil balls), and sigara böreği (cheese-and-herb-filled pastry rolls), or a traditional Turkish breakfast of farmer’s cheese and briny olives with fresh eggs and vegetables (pictured above). We also like the range of special meals that can be ordered in advance, including dishes tailored to raw-food, kosher, and gluten-free diners. Loyalty-club members can even pre-order a cake for special events celebrated on board. See related SAVEUR stories on Turkey »
BEST IN-FLIGHT DINING Economy Class
Readers’ Choice: SINGAPORE AIRLINES > Singapore Airlines still brings a splash of glamour to flying Also our readers’ pick for best in-flight dining in First and Business class, Singapore Airlines still brings a splash of glamour to flying—even in economy class. With friendly flight attendants who treat each passenger as a valued guest, the airline offers plentiful snacks and a menu with entrée choices that include Asian and international selections, including one of our readers’ favorites: pan-fried chicken with creamy herb sauce, which can be enjoyed in spacious, comfy seating while watching a touch-screen TV. Even in Economy, everything here is best in class.
OUTSTANDING IN-FLIGHT DINING Economy Class
British Airways | Korean Air | Virgin Atlantic In a smart move, British Airways (1) holds its menu taste tests at cruising altitude, taking into account the fact that taste buds function differently at 30,000 feet. Working with renowned chef Heston Blumenthal, economy passengers enjoy three-course meals aboard longer flights, while premium economy passengers enjoy the airline’s luxe Business Class meal–and depending on the time of day, everyone in the cabin can participate in afternoon tea or, on morning long-haul flights, a full English breakfast. A well-deserved nod goes to Korean Air (2) for its focus on traditional dishes–even in economy, you get the airline’s justly famous take on bibimbap with fresh gochujang (fermented hot pepper sauce). On the ground, the airline operates its own organic farm for sourcing ingredients for in-flight meals. We can’t help but love the retro-styled attendants on Virgin Atlantic (3) who stroll down the aisles bearing usherette trays filled with popcorn and ice cream as the in-flight movies begin. But this airline is serious when it comes to its economy-class menus, constantly refining offerings based on cabin crew flight reports, training the staff on plating and products, and taking into account sustainable sources and seasonality. Plus, all economy passengers all get a welcome-aboard cocktail (with or without vodka, as you like).
BEST IN-FLIGHT WINE PROGRAM
Experts’ Choice: ALITALIA > When you realize your flight attendant knows more about wine than some waiters you’ve encountered, well, that’s impressive Here’s what’s great: The chief cabin steward on all Alitalia flights doubles as a professional sommelier trained by the Italian Sommelier’s Association of Rome. “When you realize your flight attendant knows more about wine than some waiters you’ve encountered, well, that’s impressive,” Culinary Travel Awards panelist Gabriele Corcos says. Alitalia’s official sommelier, in collaboration with the Sommelier Association, selects a range of seasonal and regional Italian wines—such as Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG Barone Ricasoli—and serves them in glassware created by the classic Italian brand Richard Ginori. Further adding to the “Made in Italy” experience is a wine card, provided to each passenger, featuring a map that includes the background of the wines offered in each region of Italy. A video about the regions’ food and wines is shown onboard as well. See related SAVEUR stories on wine and travel »
BEST IN-FLIGHT WINE SERVICE
Readers’ Choice: AIR FRANCE > The airline is one of the few in the sky to offer complimentary drinks to all passengers If you’re looking to have a drink at 40,000 feet, you’ll love Air France, say our readers, who voted this 80-year-old airline the best wine and spirits program in the skies. For one thing, Air France employs one of the world’s top wine connoisseurs, Olivier Poussier, to formulate a list of vintages that hold their quality well at high altitudes, where dry air and cabin pressure can affect your taste receptors. Poussier selects many young, full-bodied wines and special vintage Champagnes; flight attendants, all of whom are trained in wine service, expertly deliver them with both knowledge and grace. Four varieties are available on each flight, and past offerings have included Haut-Médoc Château de Villambis 2009 Cru Bourgeois and Limoux Terroir Haute Vallée 2010 Cave Sieur d’Arques. Not interested in wine? Not a problem! Your flight attendant can bring you something from their extensive selection of spirits, including armagnacs, calvados, eaux de vie, and other marvelous options. And no matter which cabin you find yourself in, you’re welcome to a drink: The airline is one of the few in the sky to offer complimentary drinks to all passengers, from the back of the plane all the way up to the front.
OUTSTANDING IN-FLIGHT WINE SERVICE
British Airways | Delta | Singapore Airlines Wine expert Jancis Robinson is in charge of the in-flight drinks list for British Airways (1), combing through more than a thousand vintages to create the impressive selection you’ll find aboard these flights. The airline has developed its own cheese cellar to ensure expert pairings onboard; have a wedge of Stilton with your premium vintages such as Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle and wines from Taittinger. The wine program on Delta (2) is run by James Beard Award-winner and master sommelier Andrea Robinson, who oversees the airline’s Sky Sommelier program, where lead flight attendants sharpen their onboard presentation. The airline is particularly strong with domestic bottles, with ultra-premium California labels like Joseph Drouhin Saint-Véran available to pair with chef Michael Chiarello’s onboard seasonal menu. When flying Singapore Airlines (3), we like to test the flight attendants’ impressive knowledge of the in-flight wine lists: They’re well-versed not only in the wines’ unique characteristics, but how and where each bottle is produced. First-class selections include Clos Vougeot 2006 Louis Jadot, Dom Pérignon 2000, and Graham’s 20-year-old Tawny Port.
BEST CULINARY TOURS
Experts’ Choice: GOURMET ON TOUR There’s nothing quite like hopping a mule to a Berber village in Morocco to prepare a traditional tagine; plucking fresh lemons on the Amalfi Coast for homemade limoncello; or waking up in a hilltop Côte d’Azur village to prepare breakfast with a Michelin-starred chef. The UK-based operation Gourmet on Tour has offered these kinds of immersive, food-focused experiences since its inception in 2000, winning our admiration for its one-of-a-kind experiences. The company focuses on hands-on participation, providing dozens of unforgettable adventures in Europe, Asia, Australia, and America that give participants a true sense of culinary traditions in each country’s regions. “These are people with a background in food and wine who are passionate about it, and see food and travel going hand in hand,” Culinary Travel Awards panelist Kerrin Rousset says. Travelers participate in cooking classes, shop local food markets, visit boutique wineries, and create authentic dishes with both local home cooks and top chefs, returning home with indelible memories of these remarkable experiences. See related SAVEUR stories on culinary tours »
BEST CULINARY TOURS
Readers’ Choice: TAUCK Whether it’s a visit to Oregon wine country coupled with a chef-guided tour of Vancouver farmers’ markets, a trot through the Bayou for a Cajun house party and a private demo at the New Orleans School of Cooking, or an exploration of St. Emilion’s vineyards in southwestern France, the culturally enriching food-focused journeys offered by Tauck have caught our readers’ attention. The 87-year-old, family-run company has carved out a delicious niche with dozens of tours that include unique culinary components. Travelers can dine at a traditional Andalusian inn during a 14-day tour of Spain and Portugal, get a hands-on cooking experience during a 12-day “Best of Hawaii” program, or sample the foods and wines of the lush Tuscan countryside during a 10-day tour of the Italian lake country. Benissimo! See related SAVEUR stories about culinary travel »
BEST: CULINARY TOURS
Classic Journeys | Cox and Kings | Epitourean | Swain Tours The in-depth tours put together by Classic Journeys (1) get to the source with visits to markets, bakers, cheese-makers, and home kitchens. Covering ground from the Napa Valley to the south of France, travelers get an up-close view of the cultural stories behind the local cuisine. We’re fans of 255-year-old tour company Cox and Kings (2) for its outstanding selection of itineraries, and the ability to customize personal tours and journeys. “When it comes to culinary travel they’re particularly strong in Latin America, Argentina, Peru, and Mexico,” says Culinary Travel Awards panelist Kristen Korey Pike. “What separates them from the competition is their access to high-profile chefs.” A prime example is the 10-night “Culinary Journey Through Scandinavia,” which includes oystering in Sweden and dinner at Noma in Copenhagen, one of the world’s best restaurants and hardest-to-secure reservations. Offering travelers the rare ability to customize departure dates for many of its tours, Edible Destinations by Epitourean (2) offers itineraries that include market tours, hands-on cooking classes, Relais & Châteaux lodging, winery visits, and gourmet dinners in 12 countries and throughout the United States. Tell the travel experts at Swain Tours what you’re interested in–a cooking class in India, say, or an inside look at New Zealand’s wine production–and they’ll craft a personalized itinerary that hits every note perfectly. Or join up with like-minded travelers for group excursions, which focus on off-the-beaten-track experiences, with great attention paid to ensuring the best food and drink available.
BEST CULINARY CRUISE LINE
Experts’ Choice: SEABOURN CRUISE LINE > Seabourn stands out for its focus on exceptional ingredients Most cruise lines tout their variety of restaurants and deep wine lists, but Seabourn Cruise Line‘s expertly designed menus include regionally inspired dishes, well-sourced ingredients, and a notable commitment to sourcing excellent wines and spirits to go with them. Regular onboard cooking demonstrations and wine tastings hosted by acclaimed chefs are a further reflection of its culinary bent. Seabourn stands out for its focus on exceptional ingredients, as well: You’ll find organic Jidori chicken, Ibérico pork, and sustainable Black River osetra sturgeon caviar on the menu. Travelers on one of their six ships can also indulge in outstanding specialty cheese dishes that include a Cambozola mousse with herb filo and mixed berry jam. Seabourn manager of culinary operations Bjoern Wassmuth has overseen the development of a “local flavors” section on their menus, with regional dishes reflective of the cruise itinerary. For instance, a Croatian-style pan-roasted sea bass is one of the dishes available on the line’s Mediterranean itineraries. These dishes are beautifully served in an elegant white-tablecloth dining room, though passengers are free to dine in the seafaring comforts of their staterooms, as well. See related SAVEUR stories about culinary travel »
BEST CULINARY CRUISE LINE
Readers’ Choice: CRYSTAL CRUISES Dining at a restaurant with a menu developed by a top-notch chef like Nobu Matsuhisa, Piero Sellvagio, or Wolfgang Puck is a special experience in and of itself; having that meal while you’re sailing the high seas makes the experience simply spectacular. That’s why our readers voted Crystal Cruises–a small luxury cruise line with just two ships–the best choice for culinary travelers. Crystal’s 200-label wine list includes the line’s own proprietary bottling, and if you’re looking for something to pair it with, an onboard cheese sommelier will gladly help you out. Readers are also impressed by the line’s craft beer menus, delicious turndown service treats, and a Vintage Room that offers wine lessons, sommelier-led tastings and wine dinners crafted by chefs such as former Lutèce owner André Soltner. They further appreciate Crystal’s special food-themed cruises that feature, for example, Atlantic Ocean coastal cuisine, including dishes from Iceland, New England, Dublin, Belfast, Reykjavik, and Halifax. There’s also an opportunity to participate in unique culinary experiences at ports-of-call, such as an Arctic beer tasting in the oldest pub in Tromsø, Norway. See related SAVEUR stories about culinary travel »
OUTSTANDING CULINARY CRUISE LINES
Windstar Cruises | Celebrity Cruises | Compagnie du Ponant Dining is an intimate affair aboard the three small ships of Windstar Cruises (1). We’re taken with line’s sophisticated, open-seat main dining room, a menu that often includes fresh-caught fish and always has plenty of vegetarian options, and the 24-hour in-room dining. With 23 ships sailing the globe, Celebrity Cruises (2) has a wide array of specialty restaurants, from a casual crêperie, to spa cuisine, to multi-course fine dining dinners served on Rosenthal bone china. And we further appreciate having the choice of over 500 bottles of wine, as well as access to an Enomatic wine-by-the-glass dispensing system stocked with plenty of excellent and unexpected choices. Not only is the food and drink aboard the four yachts of boutique French cruise line Compagnie du Ponant (3) outstanding, but the line partners with Cuisine et Vins for gastronomic trips with influential chefs like Hélène Darroze. Dishes are primarily French in influence—wild boar tenderloin with candied fig, duck foie gras with pineapple chutney and port wine jelly—and chefs regularly source fresh ingredients at ports-of-call.