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Union Sushi and Barbeque Bar, Chicago

By Conde Nast Traveler Wednesday, May 18 07:00 AM

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You've had South Carolina barbecue, Texas barbecue, even Korean-style. But just when you thought the BBQ trend was growing cold, Chicago's new Union Sushi and Barbeque Bar throws some coals on the fire.

The River North restaurant is set to get Americans all hot and bothered about Japanese-style BBQ. Chefs maintain their kushiyaki robata grill at a blistering 600°F to sear chicken thighs with Japanese curry, prosciutto-wrapped scallops with wasabi-avocado puree and sweet plum sauce, and fish cakes with Wisconsin pepper jack and togarashi.

For those who prefer to keep it cool, there's an assortment of inventive sushi rolls (spicy tuna, seared salmon, and ponzu with cilantro and okra, wrapped in collard greens). And the dining room's spray-painted murals evoke 1980s street art and anime flicks, making it the kind of space that invites you to kick back a few cold ones and eat your fill. Go ahead--with everything priced under $20, you won't get burned.

Photo: Courtesy of Union Sushi and Barbeque Bar

L.A. Delivers Mail-Order Munchies

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, May 12 07:00 AM

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Your next meal in L.A.? Signed, sealed, and delivered at Manhattan Beach Post, a new restaurant located in a former post office in a boho beachy community of southwest L.A.

From the open kitchen, chef and co-owner David LeFevre, formerly of the shmancy Water Grill, sends out hearty shared plates to the funky vintage-style dining room, with walls of mismatched reclaimed wood, lab stools, and old industrial lights. Fleur de sel soft pretzels come with house-made mustards. Bacon cheddar biscuits are slathered in Vermont maple butter. Then there are the seafood dishes LeFevre is known for, such as green curry mussels with Vietnamese sausage and sticky rice. Wash it all down with the only-in-L.A. take on a Manhattan: whiskey, vermouth, and sea salt-caramel bitters in a glass rimmed in bacon dust--strong enough to make you go postal.

Photo: Courtesy of Manhattan Beach Post

A Must-Have for Memorial Day Cookouts

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, May 09 01:33 PM

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Coming to a campsite near you: a portable grill ($50) that isn't unwieldy or a hot mess to clean up. And whom do we have to thank for this charcoal-fueled little wonder? The creative minds at iconic workwear brand Carhartt, so it's no surprise that this stainless-steel beauty is more than just a pretty face.

This filet mignon-worthy grill comes in a messenger-style bag not much bigger than a laptop case. In less than five minutes, you can set it up, toss in some charcoal, and get a slow burn going to cook up your catch of the day--or, let's face it, whatever caught your eye at the local grocery store.

Photo: Courtesy of Carhartt

Locanda, San Francisco, California

By Conde Nast Traveler Sunday, May 08 12:53 PM

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Brought to you by the fine folks behind cult San Francisco restaurant Delfina, the Mission District's newest arrival, Locanda, is an update on Rome's family-style eateries. Traditional Thonet bentwood chairs, candles flickering in old anchovy tins, and geometric wall tiles give this open, loftlike space a warm, contemporary feel.

Since this is San Francisco, seasonal local produce can be taken for granted (the pancetta couldn't be more local--it's cured in-house). However, there's no nattering about farms and free-range this and that on the menu of Roman pasta classics, including cacio e pepe and bucatini all'amatriciana. There's also a nod to the Eternal City's love affair with entrails. Fear not: Locanda's capable crew can win over the most determined sweetbreads skeptics. But there's only one way to put that to the test.

Photo: Courtesy of Eric Wolfinger

The Dutch, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Monday, May 02 04:28 PM

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What do you call a New York City restaurant with classic American grub on the menu helmed by a chef known for his Italian cuisine? The Dutch, a new multi-culti joint in Soho, proves you should never judge a restaurant by its name.

Chef Andrew Carmellini (of Locanda Verde fame) spent a year road-tripping through the States for inspiration, scoping out seafood shacks, taquerías, BBQ joints, and everything in between. The result-dishes like spicy fried chicken with made-to-order biscuits, and pecan duck with Big Easy-worthy dirty rice-is served up under Waffle House-style lighting, along with barrel-aged cocktails and rotating microbrews. Make ours a double, Dutch.

Photo: Courtesy of The Dutch

Divino Tuscany, Florence, Italy

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, April 26 04:27 PM

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There are wine trips and there are wine trips. And Divino Tuscany's inaugural excursion makes all others look like a box of Franzia Chablis.

So what makes this the best of booze vacations? Your guide for the four-day tour, starting June 2 in Florence, is James Suckling, former European bureau chief of Wine Spectator. There's a gala dinner on the banks of the Arno River cooked up by the folks behind the three-Michelin-starred Enoteca Pinchiorri restaurant. And some of Tuscany's most famous wine families have invited you over to their palazzi for dinner. Tastings run through the region's best brunellos and merlots, and the whole thing ends with a boar roast at Sting's Florentine villa. How's that for a smooth finish?

Photo: Courtesy of Divino Tuscany

Food and Wine Trails Cruise, Australia and New Zealand

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, April 12 03:49 PM

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Beatles vs. Stones. N.Y. vs. L.A. Tyson vs. Holyfield. History's great rivalries are seldom easily settled. But a new Food & Wine Trails sailing with Oceania Cruises will take on perhaps the biggest debate of all: red wine vs. white.

Next February, the godfather of zinfandel, Ravenswood founder Joel Peterson, and the king of cabernet, winemaker Gustavo Gonzalez of Robert Mondavi, will enter the swilling ring aboard Oceania Cruises' Regatta. As they sail from Auckland, New Zealand, to Sydney, Australia, they'll host onboard tastings and dinners in an attempt to win over the die-hard oenophiles in their midst. On-shore excursions to top wine estates could spell a grape escape for whites or a crushing victory for reds. But don't expect a clean fight--spitting is encouraged.

Photo: Courtesy of Oceania Cruises

Tickets, Barcelona

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, April 01 04:06 PM

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What do you do once you've revolutionized haute cuisine and your Michelin-lauded restaurant pulls in over a million reservation requests a year? If you're Ferran Adrià of El Bulli (closing this summer), you exit victorious, wizard those laurels into caviar droplets, and serve them up as tapas in Barcelona.

Newly opened Tickets, Adrià's second act, is like a buzzing avant-garde food court with a bright and Pop-y interior. Five bars handle different facets of the menu: La Presumida (oysters, seafood, charcuterie), La Estrella (the main area for drinks), El Garatge (grilling, pa amb tomàquet), La Dolça (desserts), and Nostromo 180286 (cheese serums, crunchy ham powders, sparkling mayonnaise, and other items of molecular gastronomic trickery). A sixth small cubicle, in English "the Marx Brothers' Cabin," crams in drink swillers hoping to jump on a cancellation.

Therein lies the best innovation: online-only reservations. Unlike at El Bulli, with its lottery system, seats here open three months prior, so Tickets is accessible with some planning. July in Barcelona is lovely, by the way.

Photo: Courtesy of Sergi Vicente Puig

Eataly's La Birreria, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, March 25 07:02 PM

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Blizzards and ice storms and snowpocalypses are giving way to warmth, and with that, the patios and gardens of New York City will fill with sunseekers. The newest alfresco fun? La Birreria, a 5,000-square-foot beer garden set to open later this spring on the roof of the Batali/Bastianich foodtopia, Eataly, in the Flatiron District.

Copper vats will turn out microbrews created by U.S. sudsmeister Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head fame and Italians Teo Musso of Birra Baladin and Leonardo Di Vincenzo of Birra del Borgo. The unfiltered, naturally carbonated brews will be hand-pulled through traditional beer engines and paired with pizza and sausages. And there's a retractable roof, should Old Man Winter decide to make a last-ditch appearance.

Photo: Courtesy of Samantha Decker

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, February 25 04:54 PM

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The hottest ticket in England these days isn't the royal wedding, it's scoring a table at Dinner. The new restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is the first London outing of Heston Blumenthal, the patron saint of modern British cooking.

A departure from the mad scientist fare at The Fat Duck, Blumenthal's three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Berkshire, Dinner aims to resurrect centuries of British food tradition with dishes such as turkey pudding with cockscomb and rice and flesh. The elegant dining room has playful touches, such as porcelain sconces in the shape of antique jelly molds and a wall of 16th-century British cookbook prints that appear and disappear, depending on the light. Just the kind of magic that will keep them coming back for ages.

The Sebastian, Vail, Colorado

By Conde Nast Traveler Thursday, February 17 04:32 PM

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The Sebastian (formerly the Vail Plaza Hotel & Club) is perfectly placed if you're all about the après-ski rather than the slopes. The hotel, which sits at the gateway to Vail Village, reopened in January 2011 with 107 plush rooms, a spa, and valets for everything (so you can avoid schlepping a single piece of gear). In the restaurant, Block 16, chef Sergio Howland marries Maine lobster with braised veal cheeks, but you might be more interested to hear that the hotel bar has one of the largest Scotch collections in the Colorado Rockies.

And while you're there--

Eat here:
Atwater on Gore Creek
Chef Adam Votaw's clubby dining room overlooking a slope-side stream specializes in savory meat and seafood crowd-pleasers, such as soy-glazed beef short ribs and mustard-crusted diver scallops. Leave room for dessert: Pastry chef Felicia Jablonksi adds a scoop of house-made fig ice cream to the sticky toffee pudding and pairs coconut sorbet with the flourless chocolate cake.

Play here:
Adventure Ridge
If riding a bike over the snow and through the treesat night, with only a headlamp illuminating the path aheadis your kind of thing, then head straight for Adventure Ridge. This adrenaline junkie's dream at the top of Vail Mountain is actually pretty child-friendly, too, with a long, multilane tubing hill, trampolines with bungee harnesses, and pint-size snowmobiles for kids ages 6 to 12.

The Dandelion, Philadelphia

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, February 11 04:15 PM

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The Beatles. Deep-fried candy bars. Colin Firth. Our neighbors across the pond have given us many gifts over the years. But this weekend, we're giving thanks for Britain's greatest export, the gastropub.

Philadelphia now has one to call its very own, courtesy of Stephen Starr's the Dandelion. This new watering hole hits all of the haute-pub highlights: cask ales, creative takes on hearty Brit classics (rabbit pie with cipollini onions, oyster mushrooms, and grain mustard), and hangover-curing morning fry-ups. The interiors feel lived-in, with two carved wooden bars, tartan-covered stools, and a mishmash of quirky ephemeraceramic dogs, souvenir plates, a life-size plastic cow. In other words, it's exactly the kind of place you'd raise a pint to.

Ember Room, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, February 08 04:05 PM

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If your tastes tend toward the bold in flavor and decor, then Ember Room, an American-Asian barbecue restaurant that has just opened in New York City's Hell's Kitchen, will feed your desires.

Chefs Ian Chalermkittichai and Todd English collaborate on dishes that pack a punch: chocolate baby back ribs, red miso bamboo-roasted black cod, and Berkshire pulled-pork burgers. And designer Roy Nachum's sultry surroundingswalls decorated with Chinese characters, ceilings covered in tiny Thai bellsare bathed in a deep, golden light, like, well, burning embers. But the focal point is the open kitchen, equipped with a clay-brick and volcanic-rock oven, where chefs wok, roast, and grill for your viewing (and tasting) pleasure.

Minimalist, this is not.

The Rose Club, The Plaza, New York City

By Conde Nast Traveler Tuesday, February 01 02:27 PM

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If you prefer your whiskey like your steakrare and Americanhurry to the Rose Club at the Plaza hotel in New York City. Through February only, the Rose Club will be serving the full range of rare whiskeys by Brown-Forman (the distiller behind Jack Daniel's, Old Forester, et al.), a few of which date back to the Prohibition era.

As you sink into one of the velvety sofas with a 1930s King Kentucky Straight bourbon in hand, remember that this wood-paneled bar was once a nightclub that hosted the likes of Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday. And if you really want to recapture those speakeasy days, order an Earl of Canton cocktail (Earl Grey tea with a splash of Early Times bourbon) and contemplate whether temperance made liquor taste better.

150 at The May Fair Bar, London

By Conde Nast Traveler Friday, January 21 03:13 PM

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Conspicuous consumption may have fizzled out over the past few years, but it's certainly bubbling back up again at the May Fair Hotel in central London, with the opening of 150. The stylish watering hole gets its name from the magnums (150 cl) of Champagne on the menu, which deep-pocketed guests can order alongside specially matched small plates by Brit star chef Silvena Rowe.

The fizzy parties start at $1,000 for four magnums of Moët & Chandon Impérial, including one blinged out with the name of the host in Swarovski crystals. But the real indulgence is the $6,800 Dom Experience: four magnums of 1998 Dom Pérignon Rosé paired with canapés like pomegranate-glazed foie gras and West Mersea oysters with Sevruga caviar and Szechuan-spiced butter. Now that's what we call bottle service.

Photo: Courtesy of the May Fair Hotel

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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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