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Sweet Cheeks, Boston

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, December 09 12:03 PM

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Great barbecue north of the Mason-Dixon Line? It's not just a Yankee myth. At Top Chef alum Tiffani Faison's debut restaurant, Sweet Cheeks, they're serving up righteous Texas-style barbecue a ball's throw from Boston's Fenway Park.

The vibe is down-home folksy, with a wink and a nod; tables are recycled from old doors and bowling alley lanes. Your meal arrives on a metal tray or butcher's paper, while beverages--sweet tea, American craft beers, and moonshine--are served in Mason jars. Tuck into sustainably raised brisket, ribs, and pork belly from Tootsie, the joint's 4,700-pound, wood-powered smoker. The meat isn't the only rib-sticking goodness--leave room for shamefully good Southern sides like slaw, hush puppies, and mac 'n' cheese (a recipe from Faison's mom). We'd call that a home run.

Photo: Courtesy of Sweet Cheeks

Frank's Bar, Barcelona, Spain

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, November 10 01:13 PM

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The lure of Barcelona's nightlife has destroyed many a reputation. That's why we find the idea of dedicating a bar to creation--at least in terms of architecture--a refreshing concept. Behold Frank's Bar in the Hotel Arts Barcelona, a homage to the creative mind of starchitect Frank Gehry.

The bar honors Gehry's famous fish sculpture that sits on the waterfront adjacent to the hotel. The interiors draw from the palette of colors that the sculpture reflects throughout the day, from graphite to gold, plum to emerald. The arcs of the sofas, the geometry of the decorative moldings, and the diamond tufting of the ottomans draw lines of order, while signature margaritas (named after Gehry's wife, Berta) blur them. Sounds like the blueprint for a top Catalonian night out.

Photo: Davide Lovatti, Courtesy of Hotel Arts Barcelona

Woodsman Tavern, Portland, Oregon

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, October 25 09:34 AM

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Stumptown Coffee founder Duane Sorenson put Portland on the caffeinated world map. But now he's turning his attention to other pursuits, namely those of the alcoholic and gastronomic variety, at the new Woodsman Tavern. The restaurant's roster reads like a who's who of the Portland dining scene, all in one unassuming, reclaimed-wood setting.

Joining Sorenson are chef Jason Barwikowski and bartender Evan Zimmerman from city institutions Olympic Provisions and Laurelhurst Market, respectively. They're serving a mix of drinkin' food such as chorizo crisps and pickled mackerel along with haute tavern fare including guinea fowl with savory bread pudding. Wash it down with a cask ale or a cocktail of rye, vermouth, and cedar-steeped Campari. Or both. You can caffeinate off the hangover back at Stumptown tomorrow.

Photo: Courtesy of the Woodsman Tavern

Salón Hecho, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, October 21 09:00 AM

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Just when we considered ourselves fluent in the upscale Mexican nightlife movement sweeping Nueva York, along comes Salón Hecho to school us in a whole new lingua franca of mezcales, micheladas, and curados.

Next to sister restaurant Hecho en Dumbo, the brand-new space is modeled on downtown Mexico City's hip neighborhood cantinas: part local watering hole, part performance space (Thursdays will feature live music), part showcase for the many moods of the agave plant. We're intrigued/borderline-scared about the cantina's signature tipples, abocados--mezcal traditionally infused with out-there flavors like juniper, lamb, and turkey. Owners Ethan Smith and Danny Mena assure us they'll be sticking to more benign spikings, however, including avocado and allspice. How do you say, "I'll ease into it with a margarita?"

Photo: Courtesy of Kimberly Sentner

Bar Ilegal, Austin, Texas

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, October 07 07:00 AM

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Your dusty boots have trodden the weathered wood of unruly saloons all over the world. But so far, you've managed to stay on the right side of the law. Well, partner, there's a new bar in town, and it's got danger written all over it. Saddle up for a night at Austin's new Bar Ilegal (609 Davis Street).

This 1920s stone shack lit by a rusted iron candelabra serves up one thing and one thing only: Ilegal Mezcal. The smoky-smooth cousin of that rabble-rouser tequila comes in jicama bowls made for sipping. It's illegal in name only (the brand hails from Oaxaca). But what you do while under the influence? That's anyone's guess.

Photo: Courtesy of Bar Ilegal

The Tippler, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, October 04 11:32 AM

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Good news for New Yorkers whose favorite annual celebration is Repeal Day (December 5, for those taking notes): There's a new gin joint in town. Subterranean cocktail spot the Tippler has opened in a cavernous 3,000-square-foot space hidden beneath Chelsea Market.

It might be infused with sepia-toned nostalgia--including vaulted ceilings, original 1880s brickwork, salvaged water-tower timber, and railway tracks reclaimed from the neighboring High Line--but this watering hole has none of the speakeasy snobbery of its similarly appointed compatriots. There's Bud in bottles and cocktail categories like Fast & Furious (shots!) and Lushies (spiked slushies). Let's toast underground without the attitude.

Photo: Courtesy of the Tippler

The Everleigh, Melbourne, Australia

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, September 02 07:00 AM

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If you had any doubt that the visionaries behind New York's Milk & Honey and PDT would go to the ends of the earth to spread their cocktail gospel, the opening of their latest venture--in Melbourne, Australia--should prove it.

Plush new bar The Everleigh recently opened its doors (at the top of a flight of stairs behind an unmarked street door) on the seedy-turned-suave strip of Gertrude Street. Under the watchful eye of mixology maestro Sasha Petraske, The Everleigh's cocktail list is heavily weighted toward Gilded Era libations such as the Old-Fashioned and the Rum Fizz.

In a town renowned for its fantastic swank-on-a-shoestring bar scene, this joint--sporting now-familiar touches such as hand-cut ice, cozy leather booths, and a whiff of the speakeasy--fits in like a waxed mustache on an old-timey barkeep. And, yes, there will be waistcoats.

Photo: Courtesy of The Everleigh

Roxy/Josefine Nightclub, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, August 19 07:00 AM

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If there's one thing Brazilians have the lock on (aside from looking effortlessly sexy in swimwear), it's partying. And with more bars per capita than either Rio or São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, the cachaca-charged capital of central state Minas Gerais, is the place to shake your moneymaker--especially now that its famed Roxy/Josefine nightclub has been redesigned and reopened.

The four-year-old club's original architect Fred Mafra has transformed his former vision into a mind-bending array of hexagons and colored LED lighting, as if some honeybees set up shop on the Tron set. Two dance floors, three bars (in acoustically sheltered bays so bartenders can hear your order), and a smoking deck with a retractable roof all include prismatic trickery. In comparison, the beautiful people--straights on Wednesdays and Fridays (Roxy), gays on Thursdays and Saturdays (Josefine)--might as well be window dressing.

Photo: Courtesy of Jomar Bragança

Vodvil, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, July 29 07:00 AM

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It's game on for Vodvil, L.A.'s newest adult entertainment venue. But before you grab that pile of $1 bills, you should know that this adult entertainment comes with a PG rating. And prizes.

Vodvil is like game night for the stiletto set, with trivia, game show-style challenges, charades, and other classic fun. Tables play against each other for prizes such as penny candy or donations to charities. The look is haute-1960s rec room, with lemon, lime, and orange retro furniture. The menu includes pretzel bites, chips with onion dip, and bowls of punch (try the No Whammies with whiskey, elderflower liqueur, and lemon juice). Add the private karaoke rooms, and it's pretty much the most fun you can have with your clothes on.

Photo: Courtesy of Vodvil

Quimby's At 19th Food Cart Pod, Portland, Oregon

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, July 26 10:17 AM

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Don't get us wrong. We love the food truck trend and scoring tasty, creative fare for less than a tenner. Eating on the run? Not so much. That's why we're excited to take a seat at Quimby's, Portland's newest pod of food carts (1502 N.W. 19th Avenue).

Simple black-leather booths and exposed brick walls give this renovated bar a no-nonsense, neighborhood-y feel. The food trucks that congregate outside dish up everything from Thai curries and chili cheese fries to overstuffed artisanal omelets and rustic smoked-meat sandwiches--all of which pairs nicely with the range of local microbrews on tap. Bring your food inside, pull up a chair, and order a cold one (minus the brown bag).

Photo: Courtesy of Travel Portland

District 13, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, July 21 05:34 PM

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Cultural appropriation goes both ways, it seems. While Angelenos are busy installing East Asian meditation gardens and yoga studios up in the Hills, popular Hollywood Thai restaurant Soi 56 was reincarnated last Friday as District 13, a gourmet SoCal version of a hofbrauhaus.

The restaurant features an industrial urban design, with graffiti murals and TVs tuned to sports and Speed networks. Former Soi 56 chef Aoi Ratanamanee's menu is similarly no-nonsense, with an emphasis on beer and brats and other tried-and-true brew foods like mini pizzas, fish 'n' chips, and peanut butter pie for dessert. Pick from 18 different kinds of wieners (including beef, lamb, duck foie gras, alligator, and vegan chipotle), eight dipping sauces for your fries (wasabi mayo, tzatziki yogurt), and more than 19 draft beers from the Golden State. If you're still craving that Thai heat, top your meat with some red rooster sriracha chile sauce. Did you know it's actually made in California? Fancy that.

Photo: Courtesy of LM&A

The Office, Chicago

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, June 30 03:30 PM

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Chicago super-chef Grant Achatz (Alinea, Next, the Aviary) has a new trick up his toque: the Office (955 W. Fulton Market), a basement cubicle-turned-speakeasy that's invite-only (if, like us, you prefer your nightlife mysterious and exclusive).

What awaits in Chicago's hottest inner sanctum? A 14-seat lair of Oriental rugs and battered leather chairs, and a dark wood bar holding exclusive bottlings and one-off runs. The ice is custom-chipped and -molded; the 165 tinctures, 30 syrups, and herbal potions, wizarded in-house. If you're tempted by a tequila-claret-applewood-eucalyptus-lemon balm concoction or a snifter of 70-year-old Chartreuse served in clandestine surroundings, we suggest you call in your connections now.

Photo: Courtesy of Grant Achatz

Mizlala, Tel Aviv, Israel

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, June 30 07:00 AM

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Starched linens, starched clientele--upscale eats can get pretty stiff and formal. But top Tel Aviv chef Meir Adoni has found a way to inject some fun back into the endeavor at his new restaurant, Mizlala (57 Nahalat Binyamin, Tel Aviv, Israel). Roughly translated, it means to stuff your face. Why, gladly.

Our favorite at this narrow, boisterous space a block off the Bauhaus- and bar-laden Rothschild Boulevard is the signature "shot and a bite." Order the Rosie O'Donnell, for example, a rosemary-infused Absolut Peppar vodka with Aperol, grapefruit, cranberry, and ginger, and it will arrive with a bite of salmon tartare dressed in yogurt and preserved lemon. Fun and flirty, Mizlala is tradition reworked with international flair, a microcosm of stylish Tel Aviv, one forkful at a time.

Photo: Courtesy of Dan Peretz

Master of Malt Drinks by The Dram

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, May 06 11:03 AM

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The only thing worse than a flight delay is the quality of beer on offer as you kill time at the airport. Thankfully, the fine folks at Master of Malt have brewed up something to keep you in good spirits: Drinks by the Dram, a selection of over 300 high-end single malts and ryes in sealed 1-fluid-ounce containers. (Perfectly sized to pop in a ziplock bag with your TSA-friendly toiletries.) So, for half the price of a watery Michelob (prices start at $4), you can sip the peaty fire of a 15-year-old Glenfarclas or Laphroaig Quarter Cask.

Be sure to down the draught before boarding time: Consuming a private stash of booze in-flight doesn't fly with the Feds.

 Photo: Courtesy of Master of Malt

Lexington Social House, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, April 28 01:33 PM

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The new Lexington Social House brings a dose of cool to what was once L.A.'s most (in)famous intersection: Hollywood and Vine. Hookers and panhandlers, out; Victorian wallpaper, pressed-tin ceilings, and Carrara marble bar, in.

There's also some serious muscle in the kitchen: Chef Mette Williams honed her craft in the celeb-driven fires of Spago, Cut, and, most recently, Soho House in West Hollywood. The latter stint no doubt influenced Lexington Social House's casual private-club vibe and elegantly rustic menu (fried chicken, confit pork belly, crab salad). On the libations front, there are craft beers and artisanal cocktails featuring Earl Grey bourbon, peanut rum, and other house-infused tipples.

But don't get too cozy. Twice-weekly dance parties are slated for the coming months. Until then, L.A.'s pretty people will keep things hot around the garden's outdoor fireplace, nestled safely away from the paparazzi. And those fried-chicken calories.

Photo: Ryan Forbes, Avablu

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Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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