I travel frequently and am often asked for recommendations…while this list isn’t exhaustive, it does contain my hit list for some of my go-to spots in several cities:
- New York City
- San Francisco
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Home to the best burger in the world, this place always has a line…up-to four hours depending on when you arrive. Order the single (it’s really a double) and if you’re feeling up to the challenge, add the bacon and fried egg.
800 W Randolph St, Chicago, IL
A classic steakhouse that doesn’t feel stuffy…my go-to spot for a burger if I don’t feel like the trek and wait at Au Cheval. The whole menu is tremendous really…shrimp cocktail, steaks, and salads. Order a martini and take it from there.
192 E. Walton St., Chicago, IL
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Three Dots and A Dash
Tiki-themed…so let’s just get that out there. Walk down the stairs and under the wall of skulls…these drinks will get you pretty banged up, so be ware. I go for the Dead Reckoning and then try and make it out alive.
435 N Clark St, Chicago, IL
Make reservations…get there on time and forget about ordering an Old Fashioned…this place is cocktails + science, FTW! Order the one bird flying away from farthest away from the name…the server will know what you’re talking about.
955 W Fulton Market, Chicago, IL
GQ once named this one of the best whiskey bars in America…cool rooftop location and fantastic drinks. As with many craft-cocktail places the service can seem a bit slow…don’t be afraid to order before you’re empty.
201 E Delaware Pl, Chicago, IL
My favorite coffee spot in Chicago…double espresso and a sparkling water then back on the street.
I spend a lot of time on the road, and thus at O’Hare. For being one of the largest and busiest airports in the world this place has abysmal food options…with a few exceptions, the most notable being Rick Bayless’ famous tortas shop…great salad, loaded guac, margaritas, and of course, tortas – my favorites are the smoky shrimp or Milanese.
Richard Branson’s first Virgin hotel right here in Chicago…modern furnishings and cool rooftop bar. Good for stays south of the river & close to all the stuff in The Loop.
203 N Wabash Ave, Chicago, IL
The Public Hotel
Looking to get away from The Loop, or stay further north maybe? Check out The Public Hotel…tucked away in The Gold Coast neighborhood and housing a very cool bar and great restaurant; The Pump Room.
1301 N State St, Chicago, IL
⚐ New York City
The Palm Court, The Plaza Hotel
Make your way to the iconic Plaza Hotel, and navigate your way to the classically decorated Palm Court for an ice cold martini off the table-side cart. Since the drinks are prepared table-side, you don’t need to sit at the bar, make them bring the bar to you. Classic vodka and gin martinis poured and mixed right out of ice encrusted bottles. See how many you can have before they ask you to leave.
It’s been a long time since Anthony Bourdain manned the kitchen here – but he’d still be proud of the food I bet. Simple, relatively inexpensive menu that focuses on the French classics. Steak Frites and glass (or bottle) of something red.
Two Locations: Downtown & Park Ave.
Tucked into a space on the garden level, Crispo has great authentic Italian dishes…go for the carbonara and feel good about your choice.
240 W 14th St, New York, NY 10011
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Looking for a little more upscale, but still simple and authentic? Check out Scott Conat’s Scarpetta – get anything you like…but I’m telling you the plain old spaghetti will be life changing, honestly.
355 W 14th St, New York, NY
This two-level shrine to Japanese cuisine and sushi is impressive…start with literally anything on the menu and let the server guide your meal if you’re looking to indulge.
Chelsea Market, 88 10th Ave, New York, NY
Across the street from Morimoto is Del Posto…if you’re really (really) looking to indulge. A bit stuffy actually, but the service is incredible…and you wont be jammed together with a lot of tables. Incredible Italian dishes and wine list to kill.
85 10th Ave, New York, NY
Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog
Time to hit the drinks…head upstairs (skip the downstairs ale bar) at Dead Rabbit for extremely unique cocktails and learn the story of the The Dead Rabbits…also, buy a menu book before you leave.
30 Water St, New York, NY
The Ace Hotel
Located mid-town, the Ace Hotel has a well renowned lobby for lounging late-night or working on your Macbook mid-day. Visit the bar and hit Breslin for a burger…in the morning, wax up your mustache and grab a coffee at the hipster heaven of the New York outpost of Portland-based Stumptown.
20 W 29th St, New York, NY
⚐ Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
Two words: lawn bowling. Walk through the door and feel like you’re across the pond in a London pub…complete with sporting memorabilia, brewery signs, and pictures of the Queen Mother. Go upstairs and outside to either participate or just watch some lawn bowling. Bonus points if you find the sign that says: “Don’t be a tosser, roll your bowls.”
Nicollet Mall, 1110 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN
The W Hotel at the Foshay Tower in MPLS is like my hub when I’m in the city…great lobby, great bars (lobby and Prohibition Room) and Manny’s Steakhouse. Connected to the Skyway system, there is also a entrance through the lobby to Key’s Cafe. Several other great restaurants within just a few blocks.
821 Marquette Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN
Great wine shop close to downtown with a nice cheese and small food shop attached. Also, if you’re flying through MSP, they have a small outpost there as well. Great sandwiches and chesses.
303 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN
Walker Art Center
While the inside of the Walker is cool, very cool, I recommend hitting the outside sculpture garden if the weather is nice, then taking a browse through the Walker Shop for few books or gifts for friends & family.
1750 Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis, MN
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You should catch a show at the incredibly well designed, modern Guthrie Theatre…but if it’s during the day and you’re downtown…take a walk up to the cantilevered perch that looks out over the Mississippi River and then up to the “Yellow Room.”
818 S 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN
Bar La Grassa
Widely recognized as a standout eatery in MPLS – check out the wide range of Italian dishes in the North Loop.
800 N Washington Ave, Minneapolis, MN
⚐ Denver/Boulder, CO
OAK at Fourteenth
Up in Boulder? Hungry & Thirsty? Pop into OAK at Fourteenth and have the bartender mix you up an “Across The Atlantic” and scan the menu – the burger comes with homemade root beer!
Pearl Street Mall, 1400 Pearl St, Boulder, CO
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Williams & Graham
One of the World’s best cocktail bars…tell the bartender what you like and leave the rest up to them.
3160 Tejon St, Denver, CO
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The Squeaky Bean
If you turn up on Sunday, you might catch a game of BINGO…and win a pumpkin (ask me about that if you’re curious)…order the Uncle Jesse and wander to Denver’s other fine eating and drinking establishments later in the day.
1500 Wynkoop St #101, Denver, CO
Beast + Bottle
This place is a fantastic nose-to-tail concept with a changing, seasonal, market-driven menu. Great wine and cocktail list as well.
719 E 17th Ave, Denver, CO
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Back in Boulder, pop in and grab any of one of their great coffees.
⚐ San Francisco, CA
Check out Tyler Florence’s American eatery…cant go wrong with the burger or the fried chicken. Nice atmosphere – solid menu, friendly staff.
558 Sacramento St, San Francisco, CA
Hops & Hominy
Looking for something decidedly more American? Maybe, Southern? Check out Hops & Hominy. California, and San Francisco, can be awash with “West Coast Fare” – this place offers “down home” food and, as you might suspect, cocktails to accompany.
1 Tillman Pl, San Francisco, CA
Bourbon & Branch
Time for more cocktails? Head online, make reservations (or try and pop in) – good list…don’t take a wrong turn when you walk out of here at the end of the night.
501 Jones St, San Francisco, CA
Over in The Marina neighborhood…some great pizza and Italian – and wine list to match.
2355 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA
⚐ Napa/Sonoma, CA
Classic wine estate…Far Niente only makes Cab and Chardonnay…enjoy the tasting, take the tour, and take a few pictures of the car collection.
1350 Acacia Dr, Oakville, CA
Tiny and perched on top of Spring Mountain, going to Barnett will feel like going to visit family on your second visit.
4070 Spring Mountain Rd, St Helena, CA
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When you step inside the hollowed out mountain that hides the gravity fed aging process at Palmaz, you’ll think you’re in a James Bond villain hideout. Oh yeah, the wine isn’t bad either.
4029 Hagen Rd, Napa, CA
Get whatever you want from here, but make sure your order includes a freshly toasted english muffin, the specialty of the house.
Two Locations: St. Helena & Napa
Oxbow Public Market
Stroll the stalls and food stands in the market…can’t go wrong here – oysters, tacos, or coffee…an all around great experience.
610 & 644 1st St, Napa, CA
Grab a burger after a long day of wine tasting…maybe some ahi tacos too.
Have a great meal at Farmstead…the entire menu is great, but check out their specials which always seem to be tremendous…the ribs are killer as well. Enjoy a drink at the outside bar before your reservation.
738 Main St, St Helena, CA
Over in Sonoma, the Kenwood Inn is like traveling all the way to Europe…fantastic rooms, pool, and service. Since you’re nearby, pop over to Kunde for a tasting.
10400 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA
Back in Napa, take in a meal (if you can get reservations) at one of Thomas Keller’s premier restaurants. I suggest the Steak Frites and something local from the wine list.
6534 Washington St, Yountville, CA
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⚐ Amsterdam, NL
Tales & Spirits
This friendly bar has a great list…on a recent trip this was home away from home…order “The General Lee” and forgive them for using the Confederate Flag toothpick. Hungry? Grab some crispy chicken to go with your next General.
Lijnbaanssteeg 5, 1012 TE Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 6 55356467
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Hiding in Plain Sight
Recommended from the guys at T&S, Hiding in Plain Sight is a clever bar tucked into a proper neighborhood by the water. I popped in on a weeknight and was one of just a handful of people in there. Met a nice couple from Minneapolis. The world is a small place.
Rapenburg 18, 1011 TX Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 6 25293620
Back on the canals, Brasserie OCCO will set you up right with a real meal…steak, champagne, and the whole kit. Nice setting, delicious food and gracious staff who dont treat you like heathens when you walk in after several hours of cocktails and scare off the date night in progress next to you.
Keizersgracht 384, 1016 GB Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 530 2010
Looking to get fixed up the after a long night of cocktailing around Amsterdam? Look no further than Screaming Beans for a nice cup of coffee to set you right.
Three Locations: Eerste Constantijn Huygensstraat, Hartenstraat, & Haarlemmerstrat
So, you’ve been riding bikes all day in the forest and way out by the farm (don’t say you were at a farm on your customs documents) and now you’re ready for the best sushi you can remember. Chain your bike up by the canal, head to the bathroom and splash some water on your face and fix your hair (what are you, an animal?!) and head into probably the most decadent and proper sushi experiences The Netherlands (or Europe for that matter) has to offer. You’ll need some drinks to go with that…go wild and order the champagne, cloudy sake, and Japanese whisky…not loose enough yet? Head to the bar on the top floor for maybe just one more after dinner.
Ferdinand Bolstraat 333, 1072 LH Amsterdam, Netherlands
+31 20 678 7111
⚐ London, UK
Over in Shoreditch, Nightjar commands a queue on the sidewalk to get in. Worth the wait, head downstairs, make friends with the group at the table next to you and order a few rounds. Make sure one is the pitcher shaped like an owl with dry ice coming out of its beak. After you’re done, try and head to Happiness Forgets around the corner…much of London seems to shut down early…grab a greasy bite to eat at Chicken Cottage and then call it a night.
129 City Rd, London EC1V 1JB, United Kingdom
+44 20 7253 4101
If you’ve done it properly, you’re staying at The Langham Hotel, across from the British Broadcasting Corp HQ…inside you’ll find literally the best cocktail bar in the world, The Artesian. The food menu is great, but focus on the drinks and order the Weekend Lover…it comes with a giant inflated bag…filled with the ‘scents of the bar’ – and vial of something for you to save for later.
1C Portland Place, London W1B 1JA, United Kingdom
+44 20 7636 1000
Rivaling The Artesian is The Connaught…head over and grab a seat in the clubby-lounge. You’ll feel more at home if you dress up a bit. Order the Vieux Connaught (play on the Vieux Carre) and let the Saffron smoke take you away.
Carlos Pl, London W1K 2AL, United Kingdom
+44 20 7499 7070
The Langham Hotel
Stay here if at all possible. Take your breakfast in The Palm Court.
1C Portland Place, London W1B 1JA, United Kingdom
+44 20 7323 2340
⚐ Lisbon, PT
Head into Bairro Alto, the graffiti covered neighborhood and walk up the hill to Majong…a cocktail bar that also calls itself “The Killing Cocktail Room” – go with their recommendations and don’t order a dirty martini.
Rua da Atalaia 3, Bairro Alto, 1200, Lisbon, Portugal
This extremely small and friendly restaurant serves delicious pizza and pastas with a nice little wine list. The only restaurant I visited twice on my visit to Portugal.
Rua do Norte 95, Lisbon, Portugal
Any Coffee Shop/Stand
Portugal has an impressive number of parks…in nearly every park there is a small stand that serves coffees, pastries, beer and wine. I have (hands down) had the best coffee’s and pasties of my entire life in Portugal. Make it habit every day to make a stop or two during your adventures.
Literally, all over this city.
Mercado da Ribeira
Huge, airy, bright and full of delicious (and quite high-end) foods, the Mercado da Ribeira is not to be missed. Close to the Cais do Sodre rail station, make time to visit it early in your trip so you can go back if there’s something else you want to sample before you leave. Inside the market is also the small Underdogs art shop…pick up a book or print from a local artist.
Avenida 24 de Julho – Cais do Sodre, Lisbon, Portugal
A hamburger place in Lisbon?! Absolutely. A little bit of a wait, but one of the top burgers I’ve ever had…no doubt. Perfect for the morning after a late night of indulging at Majong.