Dine out in style.

Take a bite out of summer!

Travel is about all the stimulation of the senses. This trip, consider a destination known for its food, and indulge your taste buds with these unique dining experiences.

Photo credit: Edouard Pierre

Ribs, pizza, hot dogs, are just tip of the culinary iceberg in the midwestern capital of Chicago. This is a city where ordinary everyday foods are elevated to legend, and true gastronomy is unparalleled. Big Star seems like just your average taqueria, but what started out as a tiny walk up window in a now defunct 1940s gas station, has grown into a Wicker Park staple. Opened by Paul Kahan, this is the place for taco and honky-tonk in this Midwest city. And be sure to check out Big Star Recording Co., their in-house record label. For dining of a different sort, make reservations (well in advance) at Alinea. Roughly $355USD per person for 16 to 18 unbelievable courses (one which might even include an edible helium balloon), this three-Michelin starred restaurant is at the top of modernist cuisine with an interior design aesthetic to match. As a four-time holder of the Best restaurant in America title, it’s an unforgettable experience. If you’re after something more clandestine, stop by Safehouse. Guests of all ages are welcome… if you can provide the right password at the door of course. Once inside, this local landmark has been providing “spies” with sustenance since 1966. Interactive games and technology heighten the spy experience and make for an authentic adventure in espionage.

Not always known for its outstanding food offering, things have taken a drastic turn over the last 20 years, making London one of the top destinations in the world to chow down. Otto Lenghi, Heston Blumenthal and Mark Hix are but a few masters of cuisine who hail from this capital, but they’re not the only stand outs. Circus is as you would imagine, a circus. A cabaret restaurant and cocktail bar with a pop-up circus, it keeps diners entertained with aerialists, contortionists, fire-breathers and more. Of course, there is their Pan-Asian menu to compliment the evenings wonders. Restaurant Story is equally captivating, although without the acrobatics. Awarded a Michelin star after only having been open for five months back in 2013, the resto has maintained its commitment to outstanding food with tasting menus focused on British classics and seasonal stars. Don’t expect to receive a menu upon arrival though. Meals are designed to suit the preference of the diners using Story dishes from their arsenal, as well as seasonally inspired creations so you can tell your culinary tale. St. John Bread and Wine is a perennial favourite for a reason. The granddaddy of nose-to-tail dining serves dishes like pig’s head and beans or veal tail soup, and chef and co-founder Fergus Henderson has not only won a lifetime achievement award, but managed to keep his simple resto thriving since it opened over 20 years ago which is no small feat. It was one of the first places to make its home in the now hopping neighbourhood near Spitalfields Market in East London and is a destination for many — small, simple, satisfying.

In the “heel of the boot” in southern Italy, get immersive in some rich Italian cuisine. First, make your home at Masseria Torree Coccaro. Situated in an old-world farmhouse that’s been converted into a family-friendly retreat, the beaches are close, the rooms are comfy, but most importantly their gourmet bicycle tour is amazing. You can stop at an ancient olive oil plant, a cheese farm to see how mozzarella and burrata are made, and in the fishing village of Savelletri for fish carpaccio and crayfish straight from the sea. Ever wanted to eat in a cave? Now’s your chance. Grotta Palazzese is situated inside a natural cave that’s been used since the 1700s to host people, parties and feasts. These days, chef Felice Sgarra offers two menus, “Dream” and “Unforgettable” which seems fitting given the intrigue of the ambience and the breathtaking views of the landscape below. And if you’re really feeling to get your hands dirty, take a class at Cook. The people behind Cook in Puglia have designed classes entered around local food and culinary traditions leaving you something you can take home to remind you of Puglia.

In a city the size of Tokyo, it’s easy to miss out on some of the special spots. Sushi and noodle houses abound, but there are some truly unique restos in this truly unique town. Over at Kayabukiya Tavern in Utsunomiya just north of Tokyo, it sure seems like nothing but monkey business… This traditional sake-house offers a diverse menu and a wait staff like nowhere else. Monkeys! Yat-chan, dressed in a collared-shirt and shorts takes your drink order, while the Fuku-chan brings your hot towel so you can clean your hands before your meal. They also have human waiters who deliver your food order making this a one-of-a-kind experience. Looking for something decidedly different? Ninja Akasaka is a themed restaurant that offers a private dining room, a drawbridge and a secret passageway with hidden doorways that lead to the dining area. Throughout your meal, revel in the ninja magic tricks and demonstrations that add to the creative culinary cuisine. Like being called the best bakery in Paris, a city full of bakeries, being the best udon noodle shop in Tokyo is no small feat. A long line of diners waiting for a table greets you at the doors of Udon Maruka. but the 45-minute wait is more than worth it. No photos are allowed inside and the client turn around is tight — eat, leave and be thankful that you didn’t miss out.

Photo credit: Eric Wolfinger

Home to the Golden Gate Bridge, sea lions at the port and the Painted Ladies colourful houses, this California city is iconic in more ways than one. First up? Tiki bars! Check out the Tonga Room and Hurricane Bar at the Fairmont San Francisco. Operating since 1945, this “tropical” spot offers Polynesian fusion cuisine and marvellous Mai Tais to quench your thirst. Check out the band that floats on a stage in the middle of the Tonga Room pool, and watch for passing rainstorms (sprinkler) that come with the sounds of thunder. Next, stop by In Situ, located inside the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for some global, artful dining. The menu features dishes created by chefs the world over, and like the art collection, it is curated to offer something for everyone, no matter their tastes. Travel to Brazil, Spain, Italy or Poland in one day, and on your next visit, Germany, England and Denmark, all through the food. And as a city located on the ocean, it is apropos that Farallon would offer not only outstanding food, but oceanic fun. A seafood spot, the decor calls up imagery from the sea in everything from the jellyfish chandeliers to the underwater murals. Take a seat on their octopus stools in the Jellyfish Lounge and be transported.

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