Best Culinary Experiences Ever

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Michelin green books--which rate travel destinations--have a star rating system. 3-star is "Worth a trip". These places are all 3-stars. Get on a plane, bring your SO, your best friend, your sister, and take them here. You won't forget it.
  • 105 Hudson St
    New York, NY 10013
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    I was reflecting on the best culinary experiences of my life and this place is seared into my memory as #1.  It may not be as relevant for today's consumer, but there are plenty of reviews on here that are.

    The atmosphere was wonderful.  High ceilings, the buzz of conversation, and the dimly lit room made the evening perfect.  A minor celebrity sighting was kind of nice (though the Manhattanites at the table were used to it).

    We decided as a table to go for the chef's selection, a 7-course dinner of small plates.  It came recommended, and I would forward that recommendation on.  Each course was spot on.  They even threw in an extra course as lagniappe.  A nice soup with a little bit of fish; a tiny roll of sushi with a piece of gold; it just didn't stop.

    And neither did the sake.  Although I'm a mere sake dabbler I enjoyed introducing the table to something other than hot Geikkekan poured out of the machine.  Round after round, I think the sake bill was 3x the dinner bill.

    The prix fixe menu didn't have a set price, it was "Market".  When course number 3 came out with gold (Au) on it, with me just out of school and buying for the table, I thought "This isn't good."  Even eating gold, the charge was completely reasonable.  An unforgettable meal with your sister and friends, though, is priceless.

    An overall amazing experience that I would highly recommend.

  • 430 Dauphine St
    New Orleans, LA 70112
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    Susan Spicer's restaurant is in my top 3 in my hometown of New Orleans.   Exquisite cuisine, with a good balance of different nouveau American/French dishes.  The atmosphere and service is top notch.  Many memorable experienes here...a relative (who has lived in NYC/SanFran) said this was the best dining he's ever had.

    The things that stick out in my mind as the most memorable are the diced sweetbreads/potato/beet/mushroom appetizer (yum yum) and the scallops.  There is a PBJ-Duck sandwich for lunch that's worth getting, too.

    Biggest con is that the menu hasn't changed much over time.  As a regular, I am forced to go elsewhere for something new and fresh.

  • 5.0 Sterne

    Bisbee, Arizona.

    I remember coming here as a little girl on school field trips.  Back in the day it was a run-down town which had its guts ripped out when one of the largest copper mines in the Western Hemisphere shut down.  

    We would visit on school field trips from Tucson, the lot of us spilling out of yellow school buses.  With much excitement, we would go deep into the recesses of the earth into the old tunnel systems of the underground mine.  Of course, this was replaced by strip mining and then by Chile.  

    I think this sparked my interest in the subterranean world which continues to this day with my study of the Houston tunnel system and it's inhabitants.

    Fast forward many years, and Bisbee, as a monument to the failures of industrialism, has reinvented itself as an artsy-hipster community with many local artists and boutique shops.  (I would add, though, that there are a number of locals who used to work the mines--probably for good money--who now run tours--for probably not so good money.)

    On a visit with my parents, to recapture my lost youth, we were floored by how good Cafe Roka was.  I suppose we should have predicted it, given how the community is rebranding itself...but seriously, this good?

    The restaurant had great ambience with good mood lighting and several levels.  We sat on the main floor.  The service was impeccable.

    The prices were very reasonable, in no small part due to the portions.  When I go this upscale, with this quality of food, I'd prefer to pay less and get less.  The portions were sized so you could easily go for a 3- or 4-course meal and have a chance to experience all the flavors.

    The wine list was short but sweet--they had a good selection of major and not-so-major varietals from various wine regions.  The prices were marked up reasonably, and they had a wide variety of wines by the glass.

    They rotate the menu quite a bit, I'm told, so what we had may not be there on a given night.  My rack of lamb was done to perfection and I sampled the ravioli which was some of the best I've ever had.

    It's been a few years, but I remember the details of this visit to this day.  It was probably in the top 5 culinary experiences of my life.  I think my visit to Nobu in 2001 was the only one more memorable.

  • Maisons-de-Bricourt
    35350 Saint Méloir des Ondes
    5.0 Sterne
    Erster Beitrag

    Déjà vu.

    As we drove up to the Château, something tugged at my memory about this place.  It was familiar...but from where?  A contact I had in Normandy made a reservation for me here, knowing my interest in local cuisine and ingredients.

    Sitting in the main dining room with an exquisite view of the French (English, to some) Channel and watching the tides' tremendous retreat, it struck me.  Anthony Bourdain had been a guest of Chef Olivier Roellinger in his Brittany episode...which may explain why, at 2 tables, people were taking pictures of every dish.  Gastro-tourism at its finest.

    What was nice about having seen the show was knowing the backstory.  The attention to detail, the emphasis on local ingredients, the gardens, the locally sourced meats and fish.  Even the simple country bread was memorable.

    We enjoyed a decadent (prix fixe) lunch, consisting of an appetizer, entrée, and dessert.  The selections were seafood focused, with local Cancale Oysters as a highlight (you can see the chateaux from the oyster houses on the coastline), and various fish and shellfish.  I enjoyed the "Mont St. Michel" lamb, as well.  World class, exquisite fare that was fresh beyond belief...although classic French, the modern influences, even some Asian in a little lagniappe that we had at the start of the meal.  (Yes, I know lagniappe is Cajun not Continental French, but although you can take the girl out of Louisiana...)  

    We could not pass up the cheese cart (insert between entree and dessert).  It's a required gastronomic experience when visiting northern France...Normandy and Bretagne cheeses are the best in the world, in my opinion...though my Norman travelling companion had a strong opinion on #1 in that constest.

    The dessert cart was a superlative could make a feast of that alone.  I went for a mere four little tastes including a delicious pistachio confection and (for me) the obligatory chocolate treat.

    The wine list was pretty phenomenal, as I would expect, and we enjoyed a bottle of Chassagne Montrachet, a noteworthy wine to accompany an unforgettable experience.

    Indeed.  I won't forget this one.

  • 5.0 Sterne
    Erster Beitrag

    Greatest.  Meal.  Ever.

    There's great food.  There's great atmosphere.  There's a great view.  And there's this.

    Finding it is a bit of a trick.  Take SS 373 up from the coastal road, and eventually you will come up to it on the right.  It's in an alley.  You can stand on the drive up, and turn around to see it at:

    The view is world class.  I mean, you can eat on a balcony, the vista is a valley overlooking the Mediterranean.

    Years later, I can remember the meal.  Simple, rustic, home made, wonderful.

    The freshness of the pasta.  The simple margherita pizza, all the ingredients fresh off the vine.  Wonderful flavors that impress.  We enjoyed the bruschetta as well.  I would recommend going as many courses as you can.  Locally sourced and traditional, it's what locals and tourists enjoy.  We were brought to this place by a local that knows all the ins and outs, and the choice was superlative.

    We didn't peruse the wine list, going for a carafe of wine, both red and white.  And limoncello for dessert.  


  • 祇園町 南側570-123
    東山区, 京都府 〒605-0074
    5.0 Sterne
    Erster Beitrag

    Gion Matsudaya is at one of the peaks of culinary experience that I've experienced in my life.

    Admittedly, as an American, I've only had a chance to swim in the kiddie pool when it comes to sushi excellence.  I've had a range of down-to-earth to upscale styles served in the US by native Japanese chefs, but the freshness and quality of fish in Japan is a cut above.  And Gion Matsudaya was in the stratosphere above that.

    From lessons in many cuts of Sake (Salmonidae family of fish) to sake (liquidus maximus) to tasting species from the briny deeps to more familiar fare, this was a journey that I will never forget.

    An added bonus to the evening, I went in the very off hours (as in, when they opened) and I was the only customer there at the time.  This let me chat with the chef and his family for a bit in English (they have worked in the US) and were very helpful in guiding me on my culinary journey.  The personal touch was fantastic and I cannot recommend this Michelin star restaurant more.

  • 904 Westheimer Rd
    Houston, TX 77006
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    In my dreams, a Monolith appears in space.  Solid, beautiful,  Pink like the perfect piece of tender fish.  The orchestra begins the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey.  Duh, duh, da-duh! The Monolith then moves forward, and into my mouth.  The effect is a close second to mankind gaining sentience: pure food ecstasy.  That is the Uchi experience.

    The menu is superlative.  Though they have entrees, the tasting menu (hot and cold) is an opportunity to explore many different flavors, creatively combined.  The hama chili (yellowtail, chili, orange) was brilliant, the yokai berry (salmon, pear) were delicious.  For hot, I'd recommend the bacon tataki.  A wagyu beef special was excellent, as well.  But you really need to go for the sushi.

    The fish is of the highest quality, and is on your table 16 hours after being purchased at the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo.  Unbelievable freshness, melt-in-your-mouth consistency, just an explosion of flavor.  And the rice really is the best in the world.  I love the salty taste of soy sauce on my sushi, but the subtle interplay of flavors in the sushi should be eaten with no interference.

    They have a good wine list, but when I go I'm in full sake mode.  A wide selection of many styles, and I thought the waitstaff did a good job recommending different items.  Top notch service across the board.

    A culinary gem--though be warned that you'll be paying precious-gem prices for it.  Worth every penny.  An all around memorable food experience and surpasses the highest expectations.

  • 625 Chartres St
    New Orleans, LA 70130
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    Far from Bourbon Street, and close to God.  

    I tended to avoid the Quarter when I lived in New Orleans, primarily because of the tourists but also because there was no shortage of good food near my Uptown abode.  However, Sylvain did not exist when I lived there, otherwise I might have been cabbing to the FQ more often.

    This is craft cocktails and craft food.  I'm not a cocktail drinker in general, but I make an exception at this place.  Your best bet is to sit at the bar and put yourself into the masterful hands of the mixologists who know their stuff.  Great Sazeracs, a terrific Aviation, yummy 20th Century...tell them the flavors you want and they'll come up with something delicious on the spot.  I discovered the Paloma here (Like button pressed).  The wine and beer list is decent as well.

    The food is upscale comfort.  I'd recommend a number of appetizers including the Southern Antipasti plate, chicken liver crostini, and roasted beet bruschetta.  The sweetbreads were done "buffalo style" and after having it there first, I've seen it elsewhere.  Their fries are a perfect late night munchie food as you're stumbling your way through the Quarter.  Mostly I like to sample appetizers, but they have full range of entrees (pork sandwich is delish).

    They also have a highly recommended Sunday brunch buffet to end your weekend with a bang.

  • 5.0 Sterne

    I picked a route at random from my book on Texas road trips and decided to go by Round Top and Washington-on-the-Brazos for a little shopping, Texas history, and with luck some Texas cuisine.  I had a local barbecue placed picked out--which was out of business.  Then I stumbled on this gem.

    Southern cuisine with an influence of top notch New American.  Texas sized portions of course.

    The outside was covered with bits of Americana, including custom signs by folk artist Simon of New Orleans fame.  I was sucked right in.

    The inside was dimly lit, chaotic, and packed with folks.  I ended up talking with a group of ladies at the table next to the door.  Just a very friendly vibe overall.  The owner, "Bud" was chatting us up as well from his perch at the register.  After a short wait, a space opened up at the bar.

    An enormous, succulent pork chop was brought out to the woman I was talking to.  I was certain that I was going to get it, until I saw the menu.  The thing dared me to eat the Great Steak OMG! which, at a whopping $41 in a casual country joint, seemed excessive.  It bragged that customers say "it is the best steak they have ever eaten!"  It came out perfectly done, and was phenomenal.  If it wasn't the best, it was in at least the Top 5.

    It came a mashed potato that I didn't want, so they were happy to substitute a broccoli salad.  Cold broccoli with a sweet sauce and raisins--pretty heinous in my opinion but when they saw I wasn't eating it, they brought out some sauteed spinach pronto.  I was really pleased with how they handled it.

    Their pies are very well known and they have a great selection--chocolate, buttermilk, pecan, peach, etc.  They were all set out on a big table as they came out of the oven and smelled (and looked) heavenly.  I was feeling the steak a little too much and passed.  Next time!

  • 5.0 Sterne

    Mandina's.  One of my greatest regrets in life was that I lived in Mid-City for 10 years, and only after the post-Katrina re-opening did I go there.  Yes, I am an idiot.

    As old school as it gets, Mandina's serves up a great, diverse menu at a good price.  I've really only gone for their seafood fare, though the other options look delicious as well.

    They make the best fried seafood on the planet.  My mother lives elsewhere.  She is so averse to dietary fat I sometimes wonder if she has an eating disorder.  But all she talks about when she plans to visit is the pure greasy goodness of the fried shrimp at Mandina's.  Oysters, soft-shell crabs, fish, you name it.  It's all good, tasty, and fresh.

    They don't make the best tasting cocktails in town, because they load them up with more alcohol than everyone else.  And that's not a bad thing.

  • 250 W 19th St
    Houston, TX 77008
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne
    12.1.2011 Aktualisierter Beitrag
    Beitrag des Tages 16.6.2011

    I've got it made in the Shade.

    Discovering this place just after moving here, I hastily wrote a review, probably on my cell phone at the airport.  I luv u Shade.  kthxbye.  Having fully sampled what it has to offer I'm back for a REAL review.

    How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.

    HAPPY HOUR:  A loooong happy hour that has pretty good deals on wine and appetizers.  2 apps+2 glasses of wine = dinner.  

    Among the appetizers are the Ahi Poke (Ahi sashimi on seaweed, with nice wasabi-ish sauce), the cheese plate, and the best Mac'N'Cheese I've had.  Gruyere, truffle, the perfect balance of cheesiness and bread crumbs or double-baking.  To me, this is comfort gourmet to the max.  And the famous Soups!  They offer a trio, and when the stars align and they offer my perfect triumverate of soup my head practically explodes.

    WINE:  Let's now move from Happy to Happier.  They have a really good wine list, with quite a wide selection by the glass.  I sometimes wonder why all restaurants can't do this?  Skill might be involved.

    DINNER:  Scallops, steak...all good but my favorite is the grilled double pork chop, "glazed" the menu said but it's a hint of a glaze.  I think overall the style has a lot of flavors, but they are balanced and in general on the light side.  Places can overwhelm you with savory, but...not here.

    BRUNCH:  Brunch is great and packed with folks.  The ultimate winner:  The pastry plate.  All made from scratch, in house (at the sister Canopy), it's a wonderful sampling of goodies.  GO FOR IT!  I've had the omlette as well, YUM...but the lunch offerings are just as good.  BLT heirloom with mozarella?  Best BLT I've ever had.

    AMBIENCE:  I LOVE the bar.  I mean, the stone used in the bar.  Check it out.  Two separate areas, the bar in the front is very chic and fun.  I love sitting here.  The back is a more formal waitservice situation.  Overall very minimalist and cool.  When the places is crowded, though, the acoustics can make conversation hard.

    SERVICE:  I think it says something about the quality of the place when you see the same friendly faces everytime you go...good staff that's valued by management.  The hallmark of a good restaurant.

    And all on top of that, it's keystone part of the Heights.  It's an anchor for 19th street (back when it needed an anchor more), there are many "regulars" who come here.  

    The Heights Blue Laws?  They are a hoot.  Apparently only the original folks who banned demon liquor can repeal the law.  So we either need a Zombie Apocalypse (and some clever campaigning) or a Federal Case (sue to change it) to allow booze to flow down 19th Street again.  But Shade, the lone exception, is a "club" and I'm a member!

    Indeed.  I do have it made in the Shade.

    5.0 Sterne
    22.4.2010 Vorheriger Beitrag
    One of my favorite places to eat in Houston.  The ambience, location, and food are all winners.

  • 5908 Magazine St
    New Orleans, LA 70115
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    Tucked along one of the nicer stretches of Magazine St., this French bistro is one the best places I've eaten, ever.  Certainly in the top two in New Orleans (Bayona being the other).

    The interior is rather small, (think "French country house") but it has a large, beautiful patio which is great if the weather is good.

    One thing that stands out is that their menu has a lot of depth; every time I go, I can't decide.  Everyone gets something different, and it's all good.

    They also have no-corkage / wine amnesty Tuesdays.

  • 1152 Danby Rd
    Ithaca, NY 14850
    Vereinigte Staaten
    5.0 Sterne

    I live in New Orleans (let's be honest; on a per capita basis we have the best restaurants in the world) and travel to Texas a lot on business--that means a lot of top-notch steaks consumed.  John Thomas in Ithaca, NY is one of the best steakhouses I've ever been to.  How messed up is that?  Atmosphere, though, is nothing like feels like you are in someone's dining room in a nice Upstate home.  Very welcoming.

    I visit my alma mater above Cayuga's waters once a year and John Thomas is a destination always on my list.  They do a great job with steaks, all the cuts you could ask for.

    I really do enjoy their salads and appetizers.  Phenomenal tomato salads (blue cheese and caprese-style), classic seafood appetizer options, good desserts.

    It's not that they do things no one else does; they do things other restaurants do, just better.

    Their prices...well, you get what you pay for.

  • 5.0 Sterne

    I consider myself lucky to have "stumbled" into this place.  Or maybe destiny?  We had last minute change to dinner plans and I suggested this, having heard good things from fellow yelpers.  The place was packed with folks and some in our party were decidedly underdressed, but they were able to find us a spot.  (Note:  Make a reservation)  Again, folks, destiny.

    The atmoshpere is loud, pleasant, with a distinct nautical theme of warm woods, and other adornments that makes you feel like you are in the cabin's captain on an 18th century sailing ship.

    The wine list is very impressive--with a decent selection by-the-glass as well.  They have a wide range of wines with a touch of age on them, and thus very drinkable.  Amarone, Rioja, southern Rhone...the good stuff.  And from notable vintages, too, like '04 (now sold out) tempranillo, '06 Amarone, etc.  The cocktails are intriguing as well--I had a coffee cocktail for dessert (the Spanish).  Delish.

    Foie Gras Quebecois--the words roll off the tongue like the savory pate itself.  I'd heard of the quality of it down in Texas, even, and it did not disappoint.  Nicely sliced with toasted baguette slices to give it some structure--and a glass of Sauternes (yay wine list again!).  I topped it off with the main meal of fresh Nova Scotia lobster (half) and a perfectly done tenderloin in a reduction sauce.  Scallops, lobster soup, a cioppino stew (with half a lobster) were enjoyed at the table--the restaurant was the highlight of our week-long trip.

    The service was impeccable.  I've got to say that my colleagues and I were about the most difficult group of people to handle, and our waitress did it like a champ.  This place is pure restaurant WIN.

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2320 Hilfreich, 1280 Witzig und 1782 Cool


Houston, TX, Vereinigte Staaten

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