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Maison Ladurée, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, September 07 11:47 AM

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When recounting the great New York City cupcake wars of the early 21st century, sugar-charged historians will note August 30, 2011, as the day everything changed, when chocolate and vanilla, red velvet and peanut butter all banded together against a new common enemy: the macaron at Maison Ladurée's new Upper East Side shop.

The first stateside outpost of the venerable Parisian patisserie presents a pastel crayon box of a Belle Époque teahouse. Chocolates, fruit jellies, and miniature pastries vie for attention, but Ladurée's signature sweet is the double-decker macaron--two feather-light crispy shells sandwiching a soft, chewy center--a delicacy the company lays claim to inventing in 1930. There's classic caramel with salted butter, black-currant violet, rose, and pistachio, as well as seasonal flavors like almond Morello cherry and strawberry-mint. Sound the death knell to Upper East Side diets.

Photo: Courtesy of abbietabbie, Flickr, Getty Images

Ink, Los Angeles

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, August 23 07:00 AM

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Chef Michael Voltaggio knows a thing or two about ink: Not only are his arms covered in the stuff, but plenty has been spilled over his talents, thanks to star-making stints at José Andrés's Bazaar at SLS Hotel and Charlie Palmer's Dry Creek Kitchen. (Did we mention he also won the sixth season of Bravo's Top Chef?)

Come September, the 32-year-old chef is opening the doors to his long-awaited signature restaurant--called, you guessed it, Ink--on L.A.'s Melrose Avenue. While the menu is still under wraps, expect unorthodox creations like Voltaggio's cult pigeon pastrami. And an eight-person omakase-style bar off the main dining room will offer a prix-fixe chef's choice tasting.

Can't wait until September to get your Ink fix? Mosey down the block to newly minted sandwich shop Ink.Sack, serving up banh mi (Voltaggio's version uses chicharrónes) and Reubens made with corned beef tongue. Grab a pen, you'll want to write this one down.

Photo: Courtesy of Bart Nagel

Barn and Company, Chicago

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, August 16 12:44 PM

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Chicago newcomer Barn & Company is the pits. Delicious, meaty, hickory-smoked pits, that is. And we're fired up about its country-crossing menu referencing barbecue traditions from Texas to Memphis to Kansas City.

The dining room has a rustic city slicker vibe with reclaimed barn wood walls and rusted tin ceilings installed to add a bit of patina to the space. It's the ideal place to down brisket, ribs, pulled pork, and links. Tables look onto the open kitchen where chef and BBQ expert Gary Wiviott mans the smoker and mixes up sauces. If you can't stand the heat, order up a jam jar of beer or a Redneck Sangria. Pork plus bourbon-spiked wine? That's our idea of a pig out.

Photo: Courtesy of Barn & Company

 

Dekalb Market, Brooklyn, New York

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, August 15 10:20 AM

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The new Dekalb Market has made everything shipshape in downtown Brooklyn. Twenty-two salvaged shipping containers chopped, welded, and painted in rainbow hues now house boutiques selling everything from vintage rompers and 1970s eyewear to Holstee recycled wallets and Alder printed silk scarves by local Pratt Institute design students.

Work up an appetite grooving to tracks spun by the hip-hop heads behind Bbeats, the market's record shop, and then sample everything from veggie muffulettas to mod Filipino fare in the mini restaurants. An urban farm and a beer garden are also on site. Fertile ground for a weekend outing? We think so.

Photo: Courtesy of Dekalb Market

The Pig Hotel, The New Forest, England

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, August 09 08:16 AM

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A self-proclaimed restaurant with rooms, The Pig feels more like a friend's country home than a hotel. Located just outside the village of Brockenhurst, England, in the New Forest National Park, this locavore heaven is all homegrown vintage cool with muted earth tones, overstuffed club chairs, and roaring fires.

Overseen by chef James Golding of Ivy and Caprice fame, the menu depends on the finds of the forager and kitchen gardener (95 percent of the ingredients come from within a 15-mile radius). While you wait for your food, wander the grounds or watch the action at the wood-fired courtyard oven. After your meal, retire to one of 26 shabby chic bedrooms, some housed in the former piggery. These are sties worth wallowing in.

Photo: Courtesy of Wright on the Park

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

Villa Godthem, Stockholm, Sweden

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, July 15 10:17 AM

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Most refurbs don't get the royal seal of approval, but when Villa Godthem in Stockholm revealed a makeover that breathed fresh life and new flavors into a once-fading 114-year-old landmark, the Swedish king and queen came a-calling.

Built in 1894, the ornate wooden structure was originally an opera singer's residence but was converted into a restaurant 23 years later. The Michelin-starred folks behind Grill and Kungsholmen have masterminded the most recent redo. Now the veranda is enclosed in windows and acts as a main dining room, with outdoor dining on an expansive and leafy patio that fronts Djurgården's idyllic Brunnsviken bay.

Signature dishes include steak or Baltic seafood served up on a wooden plank, while the rest of the menu leans toward Swedish traditional tweaked for contemporary palates: lighter, healthier, and of course, locally sourced and organic. Even if you aren't a king, you deserve to eat like one.

Photo: Courtesy of Stefan Anderson

Graffiato, Washington, D.C.

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, July 13 11:07 AM

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Talky Top Chef and José Andrés alum Mike Isabella's new D.C. restaurant, Graffiato, will spoil you with crave-worthy deep-fried strawberry-sugar-dusted dough balls--a.k.a. zeppole--even though they're not on the menu.

Secret desserts aside, Graffiato exudes openness, from its raw wood beams and exposed brick walls to its peekaboo kitchen and list of local farm and dairy partners spelled out above a seven-seat ham bar. Think of it as a bustling stage for small plates as bold as the celeb chef himself. Our favorites? Spiced red beets with pork-fried almonds, bone marrow with cured lemon, and a rustic Countryman pizza topped with duck egg then pulled charred and bubbling from a wood-burning oven.

Isabella works the crowd, chatting as you chew. And as at any proper show, there's Prosecco to go with it. On tap.

Photo: Courtesy of Greg Powers 

L'Opéra Restaurant, Paris

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, July 07 11:32 AM

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After 136 years on the drawing board and three near launches, L'Opéra Restaurant at Paris' legendary Palais Garnier finally opened to the public on Monday. And it's every bit as theatrical as you'd expect.

Starchitect Odile Decq's huge white-plaster shapes curve organically around the restaurant's columns, and deep ruby chairs and carpets add Puccini-esque drama. The food from chef Christophe Aribert of Grenoble's two-Michelin-starred Les Terrasses is equally showstopping. Star dishes include roasted guinea fowl, creamed artichoke and foie gras soup, and two versions of house-smoked salmon (classic, with blini and caviar, and contemporary, with brioche and a horseradish and mustard sorbet).

Our inner fat lady ain't singing here. She's eating.

Photo: Courtesy of L'Opéra Restaurant

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

Boxing Room, San Francisco

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, June 23 10:02 AM

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Creole cuisine bubbled up out of a mixture of cultures. So why shouldn't you throw a few more ingredients into the gumbo? That's the idea at San Francisco's Boxing Room, a New Orleans-flavored restaurant and bar that's just opened in Hayes Valley. The space, formerly a packing room of a shirt factory (hence the name), reflects a mix of influences: Douglas fir walls and reclaimed Monterey cypress say California, while the zinc bar and faux-alligator stools nod toward the Big Easy.

Chef and Louisiana native Justin Simoneaux includes seasonal Californian ingredients in traditional Cajun and Creole dishes. The results? A salad of fried Pacific oysters dressed in Herbsainte vinaigrette, perhaps, or grilled Monterey squid with tasso, roasted-garlic aioli, and fried okra. With food like this, everyone's a lover, not a fighter. "Laissez les bon temps rouler."

Photo: Courtesy of Boxing Room

Original Maine Lobster Kit

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, June 07 07:00 AM

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There are few summer traditions more hallowed than a lobster bake. Unfortunately, this may also be the ritual most likely to make a mess of your madras. Thankfully, the prepsters at J.Crew have got you covered with the Original Maine Lobster Kit.

This pocket-size wooden case, filled with four shell-crackers and picks, does more than expedite your dinner: Proceeds help support the Nezinscot Guild, a Maine nonprofit organization that provides employment to people with disabilities.

The only catch? Lobster bibs aren't included. So you might want to pick up an extra polo shirt while you're at it.

The Original Maine Lobster Kit available from J.Crew ($32) or direct from the Nezinscot Guild

Photo: Courtesy of J.Crew

Smorgasburg, Brooklyn

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, May 24 07:00 AM

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We have good news and bad news. Capitalizing on their runaway success with indie design and secondhand serendipity, the masterminds of the Brooklyn Flea have just unleashed Smorgasburg, a high-end foodie bazaar on the banks of the East River in Brooklyn. The bad? Your summer body doesn't stand a chance.

Part packaged-food and baked-goods stands, part cooked-to-order purveyors, and part greenmarket and kitchen store, this hundred-booth behemoth aims to incubate unknown artisans and top chefs' passion projects alike. Our faves include the gazpacho with crab meat dished up by Alexandra Raij of El Quinto Pino and chicken 'n' biscuits from a Momofuku Noodle Bar cook and a Prime Meats bartender. Get your kombucha tea by the growler, your fruit pies on a stick, and your oysters shucked fresh. But eat your fill: Like an organic blueberry-jasmine ice pop left in the sun (yes, they have those, too), Smorgasburg is a fleeting summertime treat. (Open Saturdays 9 am to 5 pm.)

Photo: Kate Glicksberg/Brooklyn Flea

't Zilte Restaurant, Antwerp, Belgium

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, May 20 07:00 AM

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Back when the world was flat, the spice trade was the peak of culinary adventure. So it seems fitting that Belgium's Michelin-starred powerhouse 't Zilte restaurant--where classic cuisine is given a modern twist--has made a new maritime, ethnographic, and folklore institution, Antwerp's Museum Aan de Stroom, its second home.

Occupying the entire ninth floor of the hulking rust-colored stone-and-glass sentinel, the restaurant overlooks the city and river Schelde through floor-to-ceiling windows. 't Zilte may be sitting on top of some noteworthy exhibitions, but we're guessing chef Viki Geunes' creations, including five inventive variations on foie gras, are likely to be the most enticing of all.

Photo: Courtesy of 't Zilte

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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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