Most travelers love to eat, and 2015 was a great year for stuffing face around the world. I and my fellow Expedia Viewfinder bloggers logged countless hours in restaurants on assignment. Now, in this post, we share our favorites of the bunch with you.
For me personally, No. 1 on the restaurant list for 2015 was Bardot Brasserie inside Aria Resort & Casino, in Las Vegas. This French bistro from Michael Mina is the real deal. The food—escargot! Chicken Paillard!—is so authentic you’ll feel like you’re in Paris. The service is second to none, and the ambiance, too, is transcendent; after one glass of champagne there’s no way you’ll remember that you’re in the middle of a giant Vegas hotel. I loved this place so much, I tabbed it as one of my Expedia Viewfinder Pick winners for 2015. Definitely check it out.
Here’s a closer look at some of the best-restaurant pics from my colleagues; the write-ups are in their own words.
The Bearfoot Bistro, in Whistler, British Columbia, is the definition of a triple-threat night out, combining hand-picked provisions meticulously prepared by one of Canada’s most celebrated chefs, chic bar-side enclaves such as the coldest vodka tasting room in the world, and an environs where sabering a bottle of bubbly is the norm. Some restaurants are a sure thing every time you visit, which is why I always implore anyone visiting the mountaintop retreat to eat and imbibe at Bearfoot. Complete with a host and founder who lives the bon vivant lifestyle and attracts regulars of the royalty and A-list realm, if it’s good enough for this choosy community, it’s good enough pour moi.
Captain and Clark
The Grizzly House serves up some of the best—and most exotic—food in Banff, Alberta. Choose between traditional fondue bowls or sizzling hot rocks on which you can cook your protein of choice. Diners can choose from the more traditional (beef, chicken, and buffalo) to the exotic (rattlesnake or shark). End your meal with a creamy pot of chocolate fondue, and go for both sweet and savory morsels to dip. If you need a little excitement between courses, pick up the phone located at your table and dial up any of your fellow diners. It’s a great way to get to know new people and take your mind off the food that’s about to grace your plate.
In southern Spain, local specialties such as cured ham, olives, hard cheeses, and flavorful marinated veggie dishes are heavy hitters. Often they are served on small tapas plates, traditionally without much flare in presentation. But some restaurants are raising the bar to haute cuisine, combing Spanish flavors with techniques and ingredients from France and Italy and creating a genre onto its own. La Bulla, in Sevilla, is one such restaurant. Here, each plate is a work of art with vibrant colors and tastes. The ever-changing and inventive menu has offered an array of dishes, from duck leg and fois gras to clam pasta, octopus carpaccio, and beef loin. La Bulla is all about sophisticated and delicious food in a stylish yet casual setting at a reasonable price. Walls are covered with chalkboards that list the daily menu. Chairs are mismatched purposefully. And the red, wooden tabletops call to the painting of the big red rooster hung on the wall. You can drop in for lunch but make a reservation for dinner. Just don’t forget to ask for desert; during this experience, the waiter will bring one of each dessert served in individual containers. You pay for as many as you eat!
What began many years ago as a tiny waterfront dock in Savaneta, Aruba, selling fresh fish to locals has become ZeeRovers restaurant. Today the dock has tripled in size and accommodates a mix of locals and hungry travelers passing through for some of the region’s freshest fish. Fisherman bring the catch of the day every morning. On the day I visited it was delicious barracuda and giant prawns. They were deep fried, seasoned, and thrown in colorful baskets with some lime and hot Papaya sauce. If you eat there, wash down your meal with some local Chill beer and take in the most gorgeous views of the Caribbean Sea. Try to grab the table at the end of the long dock. It’s the coolest seat in the house!
Viewfinder Tip: When you are traveling, be sure to do your homework on restaurants before you patronize them. Go online to see what customers are saying. Look at menus in advance. Remember: You are in control of where you eat.
Girl Gone Travel
Nothing gives you a greater sense of Guatemala City’s cosmopolitan feel than the various food experiences you can have around town. For a contemporary twist on Guatemala’s most traditional and favorite dishes, one must visit Flor de Lis. Headed by Chef Diego and his team, the restaurant serves works of art and adventures for the senses. The Chef’s Menu, on which Diego picks a multi-course meal for you, is best reserved for those willing to try something new or rather, something traditional served in a new way. It’s a great intro to the many culinary treats in which you can indulge while traveling around the country.
San Diego is great for Mexican food, and we recommend that you gobble up as much as you can when in this gorgeous, ocean-side city known for its temperate weather. Our top restaurant pick for 2015 exemplifies our favorite way to eat: local, inexpensive, hearty, and uncomplicated. Las Cuatro Milpas is known for homemade flour tortillas rich with lard but not at all heavy. The restaurant also serves up crispy rolled tacos (rolled and fried right in front of you) dusted with cotija cheese, and bowls of deeply flavorful huevos con chorizo. Bring cash (no cards!) and be ready to order the minute you hit the front of the line (yes, there always is a line). You can dig in on the spot—elbow to elbow with other fanatics sitting at communal picnic tables—or take away your order to enjoy in the glorious San Diego sunshine.
Midlife Road Trip
Il Cortile is a fine-dining, farm-to-table Italian restaurant in downtown Paso Robles, California, that spotlights made-from-scratch pastas. Our favorite is a handmade pappardelle with mushroom ragu. As you can imagine, the wine list is exquisite with perfect pairings for your pasta, fresh seafood, meats or antipasti. This restaurant is a true gem!
What is your favorite restaurant and why?