With its signature orange roof, glistening pool with both high and low dives, restaurant with signature clam strips and 28 flavors of ice cream when nationwide chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla were typically all that was offered, Howard Johnson’s had it all.
Tapas, those wonderful small plates of food served throughout Spain, have their own international holiday this June 16th. According to the Tourism Office of Spain, World Tapas Day is taking place in cities and destinations throughout Spain as a tribute to one of the most delicious culinary customs in the country: tapas.
Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) Commissioner Erin Harkey have just announced the designation of 2022 as the “Year of Chicago Dance”, a yearlong collaborative initiative which will activate Chicago’s dance industry to address critical issues facing dancers and showcase dance performances, social dancing, and special events for the public in dozens of venues throughout the city.
With careful COVID-19 protocols and social distancing in place, hybrid and live events will return to the city with the
Chicago Restaurant Week will follow soon after in late March/early April, celebrating the city’s award-winning culinary scene with special prix fixe lunch and dinner menus (ranging from $25-$55) available via dine-in or takeout/delivery options. At long last EXPO Chicago, the international exhibition of contemporary and modern art, will return to Navy Pier in early April.
Come find out why Chicago was once again designated by Conde Nast Traveler’s readers as the Best Big City in the U.S. in 2021, for the fifth year in a row and check out what’s new for Winter/Spring 2022! Visit www.ChooseChicago.com for more information.
Chicago was ranked “Best Big City in the U.S.” in 2021 for the fifth consecutive year by Condé Nast Traveler’s discerning readers in the CNT Readers’ Choice Awards.
Tripadvisor’s new Winter Travel Index listed Chicago as one of the Top 10 Winter Domestic Destinations in the U.S.
The Michelin Guide celebrated Chicago’s resilient culinary scene by granting three new restaurants Michelin stars, including:
Ever (West Loop – Two Star), where Chef Curtis Duffy and Michael Muser preside over a bespoke room in which fine dining enchants palates with complex flavors, stirring textures and visual fireworks;
Moody Tongue (South Loop – Two Star), Jared Wentworth’s seasonal, ingredient-driven tasting menu concept housed in the Moody Tongue brewery building;
Porto(Bucktown – One Star), where Chef Marcos Campos’ style is anchored by his Spanish heritage and explores the Atlantic coast of Spain and Portugal through its conservas, seafood and specialty rice dishes.
Canopy by Hilton Central Loop, located directly across the street from Willis Tower, in the epicenter of Chicago’s financial district, features a total of 215 total guest rooms (192 regular rooms and 23 suites). Famous attractions such as The Art Institute of Chicago, Millennium Park, and Chicago Riverwalk are less than 10 minutes away.
Open all day, the onsite Depot 226, a Bistro, market and coffee shop, offers a stylish, retro space that is inviting and comfortable and perfect for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or even a casual dinner.
The Chicago Hotel Collection welcomed a new location in Millennium Park this summer featuring 4-Star all-suite accommodations with full kitchens, perfect for business, leisure, extended stays, corporate relocations, or large groups/families.
Guests will have access to an expert Concierge Team and receive an incredible daily amenity package featuring 3 drinks per night, free Wi-Fi, use of Peloton Bikes on-site with reservation, early check-in/late check-out, booking credits to use for their next stay when booked direct and a complimentary 1-year Club 1 Hotels membership. Another outpost, the Magnificent Mile Hotel & Suites, opened December 2021, just 350 feet from Michigan Avenue.
Experience fine dining at Grill on 21, an elevated and modern take on the classic American grill concept featuring a focus on quality and sustainability. An expansive gym offers premiere TechnoGym equipment as well as Peloton bikes. World-class accommodations include spacious rooms averaging 430 square feet, oversized Calacatta marble bathrooms with luxurious walk-in showers, and a window-side marble top dining table. The hotel is projected to open in March 2022.
Pendry Hotels & Resorts announced its further U.S. expansion with the renovation of the Art Deco Chicago landmark, the Carbide & Carbon Building (and former St. Jane Hotel), as Pendry Chicago in spring 2021.
Featuring 364 redesigned guestrooms and suites in a contemporary palette awash in warm minimal tones and comfortable finishes, the Pendry Chicago also features public spaces thoughtfully designed by Alessandro Munge’s Studio Munge. The hotel’s signature restaurant and bar concept, Venteux, is helmed by Executive Chef-Partner Donald Young (Temporis, Les Nomades, Bistrot Saveurs), Chicago’s youngest Michelin-starred chef, and overseen by hospitality and nightlife pioneer, Andy Masi, and his Clique Hospitality group. In addition, the hotel features a lobby bar and lounge, a spectacular rooftop lounge, 12,000 square feet of meetings and event space, curated fitness and wellness programming, and an extensive art collection.
Through architectural ingenuity and a shimmering homage to sky and water, the 101-story St. Regis Chicago, designed by award-winning architect Jeanne Gang, has changed Chicago’s iconic skyline. It is now the third tallest building in Chicago, the 10th tallest in the United States, and the tallest building in the world designed by a female. The tower’s crystalline form was inspired by the facets of a shimmering gem and the building is coated in six varying shades of blue-green glass to reflect the changing colors of Lake Michigan. The Hotel will comprise the first 11 floors of the building, featuring 192 luxurious guest rooms, multiple signature dining options, a 12,000 square foot, world-class St. Regis Spa, a fitness center, indoor pool and outdoor sunken terrace with scenic views, a 5,000 square foot ballroom and 3,000 square feet of executive and pre-function space and the St. Regis Signature Butler Service. The Hotel’s backyard is a six-acre wide open botanical green space featuring a children’s play park, dog park, and attractive ornamental and water gardens.
Chicago Restaurant Week
This year marks the 15th anniversary of Chicago Restaurant Week (March 25-April 10, 2022), a celebration of the city’s award-winning culinary scene bringing together hundreds of the area’s top restaurants across more than thirty Chicago neighborhoods. This year there are 50+ women- and minority-owned restaurants participating (many for the first time) from neighborhoods as far ranging as South Shore and Bronzeville. Diners can enjoy special prix fixe menus from restaurants throughout Chicago and nearby suburbs, with multi-course meals available at $25 for brunch or lunch, and $39 and/or $55 for dinner (excluding beverages, tax, gratuity, and delivery fees). This year, diners will continue to have the flexibility to experience Chicago Restaurant Week through dine-in or takeout/delivery options.
Chicago Restaurants & Dining
Opened last summer in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood, Adalina serves a modern and engaging Italian menu by Michelin-starred chef Soo Ahn, previously with Band of Bohemia. Adalina’s menu creates a balance between Northern and Southern cuisines; guests can expect house-made extruded and stuffed pastas, imported meats and cheeses, and hand-selected beef and seafood selections.
Opened in September 2021 in the West Loop neighborhood, Alla Vita (which means “to life” in Italian) is the newest concept from Executive Chef Lee Wolen and Boka Restaurant Group, serving a casual, family-style menu of fresh, delicious Italian food made simply with the best ingredients.
Chef/Owner Stephen Gillanders (S.K.Y., Somerset) debuted his newest concept, Apolonia in the South Loop in April 2021. Named after Gillanders’ grandmother, Apolonia offers seasonal, seafood-centric coastal European and Mediterranean fare. Pastry chef Tatum Sinclair has developed a collection of noteworthy items such as a savory black truffle puff bread, and a signature pistachio gelato. Sommelier Jelena Prodan has created a distinct beverage program with wines thoughtfully sourced from all around the globe, an expansive by-the-glass selection, and an exciting, one-of-a-kind vermouth program with custom-blended Apolonia vermouth on tap.
In partnership with the famous Gibsons Restaurant Group. Chef José Andrés debuted Bazaar Meat and Bar Mar in December 2021 inside Bank of America’s new Chicago headquarters, near the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Bazaar Meat celebrates all things carnivorous, including personalized tasting menus featuring expertly dry-aged Wagyu and the like hand-selected from more than 400 cuts of meat, while Bar Mar is a true celebration of the bounty of the sea, with modern takes on iconic seafood classics like fried calamari and lobster rolls.
Eric Williams, owner of The Silver Room boutique, has partnered with global hospitality design trailblazer Cecilia Cuff of The Nascent Group on his newest venture: Bronzeville Winery. Opening in 2022, guests of the winery will enjoy a rotating wine list with selections from around the world highlighting African American-owned labels paired with an ever-changing seasonal menu that pays homage to the flavors of the African diaspora, paired with wine, craft cocktails and beer for every palate. The team’s goal in the design of the Winery is to encourage guests to spend time, to socialize and network in the space. To that end, the decor will feature a revolving art collection, and a state-of-the-art sound system will pipe in a well-curated playlist and live music. Programming will feature wine talks, art openings, and cultural events; the space will also be available for private events.
Esmé Chicagoopened August 2021 in Lincoln Square, from Chef Jenner Tomaska and Katrina Bravo. This fine-dining concept is also mission-driven and community-focused as they partner with local artists on collaborative tasting menus.
Gordon Ramsay Burger, a new concept from celebrity chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay, opened in a 5,000 square foot space in the city’s River North neighborhood in December 2021. The Chicago location, equipped with an island bar and seating for 120, will be the second Gordon Ramsay Burger location in the U.S – and the chef’s first restaurant in Chicago. Alongside elevated, butter-based burgers (blending different cuts of meat to impart a bolder flavor), the developing menu also plans to include milkshakes, fries, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. There are also ketchup-laden hot dogs on the menu (a bold choice for a Chicago audience).
Hinoki Sushiko from Chef Otto Phan & Chef Gustavo Barahona, opened April 2021. This two-story space in the Elston corridor offers two types of chef-driven experiences under one roof: a 50-seat izakaya-style downstairs lounge serves traditional Japanese comfort food with a modern take, along with craft cocktails and Sake and a 40-person upstairs dining room (and 8-seat sushi counter) for Edomae-style Omakase dining serving a 15 piece meal.
Kitchen United MIX, a to-go food hall, is opening a second Chicago location in the former Wells St. Market. Kitchen United MIX, the future of takeout & delivery, is the nation’s first “Multi-Restaurant Ordering” to-go experience, the only destination that allows foodie fans who love variety to order meals from 10+ restaurants, all on the same bill. They have locations around the nation, including one in Chicago’s River North neighborhood. The new 10,500 square-foot facility houses local, regional and national restaurant brands, including Hawaiian Bros, Greenleaf, Siri Indian Express, Trejo’s Tacos, Dog Haus, Plant B and more.
Black owned Kitchen + Kocktails, which made its debut last summer 2021, has taken the city by storm. From flavored fried chicken and lobster tails, to shrimp and grits and southern classics with a twist, this is a great addition to the River North culinary scene.
KOVAL Distillery opened its hotly anticipated tasting room last fall on Chicago’s Malt Row, named for the bevy of breweries in the Ravenswood neighborhood. The sun-filled tasting room, outfitted with a marble bar and leather sofas, seats 96. French doors open to an ivy-covered outdoor patio that accommodates up to 30 people. Guests can sample flights of whiskey and gin, or try cocktails made with KOVAL spirits and paired with small bites.
DineAmic Hospitality reinvented its popular, decade-old concept Public House, as Radio Room last summer, an American restaurant sports bar and music lounge set. The 10,000-square-foot space can seat 300 guests at full capacity in four unique spaces and becomes a go-to for everything from game day to late-night jam sessions.
A 15-foot stage is backlit with a wall of smart marquee bulbs that strobe and dance with the music during late-night live performances or laid-back sets at brunch, and the design theme juxtaposes vintage kitsch with today’s tech. At The Studio, an intimate private event and daytime dining space inspired by a real-life recording studio, guests can partake in blue-tooth headphone karaoke that only their party can hear. Meanwhile, nostalgia reigns in The Deck, a 10-by-10-foot space housing the Pop-A-Shot Shot Bar, where guests can shoot baskets and sip throwback shooters like Flaming Doctor Peppers and Pickle-backs. Chef Nolan Narut, former Executive Chef of Ella Elli and Stefani Prime, hits all the right notes with a menu inspired by American Southern comfort food from culinary cities like Nashville and Charleston but made with fresh, local ingredients.
Joe Flamm, the South Side Chicago native, Spiaggia alum and Season 15 winner of Top Chef, debuted Rose Mary in April 2021, inspired by his Italian heritage and the bold, bright flavors of Croatian cuisine.
The space, located in the historic Fulton Market District and named for Flamm’s grandmothers, as well as the herb rosemary which grows natively along the Italian and Croatian coastlines, offers a seasonal menu of rustic yet refined dishes that encapsulate what Flamm has coined “Adriatic drinking food.” Designed by award-winning Los Angeles-based firm Studio UNLTD, the dynamic interior with whitewashed brick walls, honey-colored oak millwork, and pale stone surfaces—all accented by moments of red clay and deep, azure blue tilework—reflects the utilitarian yet celebratory spirit of traditional family-run, age-old taverns in Croatia known as konobas. Rose Mary has also taken second place in TimeOut’s list of The 21 best new restaurants in the world right now.
In Summer 2021, José Andrés, chef, restaurateur and founder of the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, and his ThinkFoodGroup— opened Jaleo, in River North, bringing alive the spirit and flavors of modern-day Spain through an impressive assortment of tapas, paellas, sangrias, Spanish wines and sherries, all within a festive, casual atmosphere. In fall, he opened Pigtail, an intimate, speakeasy-style bar on the lower level of Jaleo, taking its name from the ibérico pork which infuses almost every dish on the menu (Pig), and the bespoke cocktails (tail).
Time Out Market Chicago is excited to add to its carefully curated showcase of delicious cuisine with Lil Amaru set to open late January 2022 . A spinoff of its sister restaurant Amaru, located in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, Lil Amaru will feature globally inspired Latin Street Food and Tacos.
Opened this past April 2021 in Chicago’s River North neighborhood, Tree House is a flourishing, nature-inspired, chef-driven bar and restaurant serving up elevated renditions of comfort food and bar classics, including three distinct styles of pizza. Marco Colin (The Publican, Soho House, Alinea), executive chef at La Luna Chicago, will take on the additional role of executive chef at Tree House with a high quality, ingredient-focused approach to modern Italian fare. The kitchen’s two ovens, a custom-built, wood-burning brick oven and traditional deck oven, serve up Tree House’s three styles of pizza. The bar program pairs well with chef Colin’s playful menus, featuring an array of vibrant cocktails curated for celebrating, such as Negronis, spritzers and frozen cocktails. In full capacity, the restaurant holds 200-seats, glistening with a disco ball fixture overhead and an aesthetic enlivened through fixtures like tree-inspired installations made by local artists, sprawling greenery, exposed concrete and bright colors and patterns.
New York food hall Urbanspace will open two Chicago locations, the city’s first new food hall since the pandemic. Urbanspace West Washingtonrecently opened while a second 12,000 square foot location, inside Willis Tower, is projected to open in Winter 2022.
This spring, Chicago’s youngest Michelin-starred chef, Donald Young (Temporis, Les Nomades, Bistrot Saveurs) debuted Venteux, a lively French brasserie featuring a swanky oyster and Champagne bar located in the new Pendry Chicago. As Executive Chef-Partner, Young opened the high-energy brasserie in partnership with acclaimed national entertainment maverick and restaurant operator, Clique Hospitality (Pendry Hotels & Resorts, MGM Resorts International, Blackstone Group). Located at 230 North Michigan Avenue within the city’s historic 1920s art deco landmark Carbide & Carbon Building, Venteux commissioned world-renowned design firm Studio Munge to create a luxurious ambiance that invites guests in to get wrapped up in comforting French fare imbued with Young’s signature creativity.
Cover photo courtesy Christopher|F Photography featured on Choose Chicago.
The James Beard Award Semifinalists today announced their 2022 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalists in advance of the returning James Beard Awards® presented by Capital One. Winners will be celebrated at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards ceremony on Monday, June 13, 2022, at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Restaurant and Chef Awards nominees, in addition to honorees for Leadership, Lifetime Achievement Award, and Humanitarian of the Year Awards will be revealed on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, in Scottsdale, AZ. Nominees for the James Beard Foundation Media Awards will be released on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in New York City.
The James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards were established in 1991 and is one of five separate recognition programs of the Awards. James Beard Awards policies and procedures can be viewed at jamesbeard.org/awards/policies.
Check out the 2022 Restaurant and Chef Award semifinalists below.
Ashok Bajaj, Knightsbridge Restaurant Group (Rasika, Bindaas, Annabelle, and others), Washington, D.C.
Kim Bartmann, Bartmann Group, Minneapolis
Chris Bianco, Tratto, Pane Bianco, and Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix
Jason and Sue Chin, Good Salt Restaurant Group, Orlando, FL
Brandon Chrostowski, EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute, Cleveland
Larry and Jessica Delgado, Delgado Collective, McAllen, TX
Ravi DeRossi, Overthrow Hospitality, NYC
Greg Dulan, Dulan’s Soul Food Restaurant, Los Angeles
Kevin Gillespie, Red Beard Restaurants (Gunshow, Ole Reliable, and Revival), Atlanta
Andrew Le, The Pig and the Lady and Piggy Smalls, Honolulu
Marc Meyer, Vicki Freeman, and Chris Paraskevaides, Bowery Group (Shuka, Shukette, Vic’s, and others) NYC
Joe Muench, Black Shoe Hospitality, Milwaukee
Willy Ng, Koi Palace, Dragon Beaux, and Palette Tea House, San Francisco
Akkapong “Earl” Ninsom, Langbaan, Hat Yai, Eem, and others, Portland, OR
Todd Richards and Joshua Lee, The Soulful Company (Lake & Oak), Atlanta
J.D. Simpson and Roger Yopp, SavannahBlue, Detroit
Deborah Snow and Barbara White, Blue Heron Restaurant & Catering, Sunderland, MA
Chris Williams, Lucille’s Hospitality Group, Houston
Ellen Yin, High Street Hospitality Group (Fork, a.kitchen + bar, High Street Philly, and others), Philadelphia
Edwin Zoe, Zoe Ma Ma and Chimera Ramen, Boulder and Denver, CO
Reem Assil, Reem’s, Oakland and San Francisco, CA
Mashama Bailey, The Grey, Savannah, GA
Andrew Black, Grey Sweater, Oklahoma City
Peter Chang, Peter Chang, VA and MD
Austin Covert, Rosewild, Fargo, ND
Christopher Gross, Christopher’s, Phoenix
Stephen Jones, The Larder + The Delta, Phoenix
Ji Hye Kim, Miss Kim, Ann Arbor, MI
Kyle Knall, Birch, Milwaukee
Emiliano Marentes, ELEMI, El Paso, TX
Niki Nakayama, n/naka, Los Angeles
Keiji Nakazawa, Sushi Sho, Honolulu
Josh Niernberg, Bin 707 Foodbar, Grand Junction, CO
Alex Raij and Eder Montero, La Vara, NYC
Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli, Don Angie, NYC
Michael Schwartz, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Miami
Douglass Williams, MIDA, Boston
Cindy Wolf, Charleston, Baltimore
Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi, Joule, Seattle
Brennan’s, New Orleans
Butcher & Bee, Charleston, SC
Chai Pani, Asheville, NC
Cora Cora, West Hartford, CT
Di Fara Pizza, NYC
El Burén de Lula, Loíza, PR
Friday Saturday Sunday, Philadelphia
Hell’s Backbone Grill & Farm, Boulder, UT
La Morada, NYC
Living Kitchen Farm & Dairy, Depew, OK
Métier, Washington, D.C.
Mixtli, San Antonio, TX
Paragary’s, Sacramento, CA
Post & Beam, Los Angeles
Odd Duck, Milwaukee
ShinBay, Scottsdale, AZ
Sushi Izakaya Gaku, Honolulu
The Walrus and the Carpenter, Seattle
Manuel “Manny” Barella, Bellota, Denver
Angel Barreto, Anju, Washington, D.C.
Kristi Brown, Communion, Seattle
Rochelle Daniel, Atria, Flagstaff, AZ
Calvin Eng, Bonnie’s, NYC
Casey Felton, Bahn Oui, Los Angeles
Shenarri Freeman, Cadence, NYC
Ben Grupe, Tempus, St. Louis
Donald Hawk, Valentine, Phoenix
Cleophus Hethington, Benne on Eagle, Asheville, NC
Brian Hirata, Na‘’au, Hilo, HI
Serigne Mbaye, Dakar Nola, New Orleans
Thuy Pham, Mama Đút, Portland, OR
Mia Orino and Carlo Gan, Kamayan ATL, Atlanta
Edgar Rico, Nixta Taqueria, Austin
Amanda Shulman, Her Place Supper Club, Philadelphia
Amanda Turner, Olamaie, Austin
Chris Viaud, Greenleaf, Milford, NH
Crystal Wahpepah, Wahpepah’s Kitchen, Oakland, CA
David Yoshimura, Nisei, San Francisco
Best New Restaurant
ABACÁ, San Francisco
Angry Egret Dinette, Los Angeles
Café Mamajuana, Burlington, VT
Casian Seafood, Lafayette, CO
Fritai, New Orleans
Gage & Tollner, NYC
Horn BBQ, Oakland, CA
Laser Wolf, Philadelphia
Leeward, Portland, ME
Lengua Madre, New Orleans
MACHETE, Greensboro, NC
Matia Kitchen & Bar, Orcas Island, WA
The Marble Table, Billings, MT
Nani’s Piri Piri Chicken, Asheville, NC
Oyster Oyster, Washington, D.C.
Pier 6 Seafood & Oyster House, San Leon, TX
República, Portland, OR
Roots Southern Table, Farmers Branch, TX
Sooper Secret Izakaya, Honolulu
Union Hmong Kitchen, Minneapolis
Zacatlán Restaurant, Santa Fe
Zitz Sum, Coral Gables, FL
Outstanding Pastry Chef
Antonio Bachour, Bachour, Coral Gables and Doral, FL
Nicolas Blouin, Destination Kohler, Kohler, WI
Warda Bouguettaya, Warda Pâtisserie, Detroit
Mark Chacón, Chacónne Patisserie, Phoenix
Angela Cicala, Cicala at the Divine Lorraine, Philadelphia
Kate Fisher Hamm, Leeward, Portland, ME
Michelle Karr-Ueoka, MW Restaurant, Honolulu
Margarita Manzke, République, Los Angeles
Claudia Martinez, Miller Union, Atlanta
Elise Mensing, Brasserie by Niche, St. Louis
Camari Mick, The Musket Room, NYC
Ruben Ortega, Xochi, Houston
Shannah Primiano, Porto, Chicago
Rabii Saber, Four Seasons, Orlando, FL
Caroline Schiff, Gage & Tollner, NYC
Anne Specker, Kinship, Washington, D.C.
Krystle Swenson, The Social Haus, Greenough, MT
Sofia Tejeda, Mixtli, San Antonio, TX
Jen Yee, Hopkins and Company, Atlanta
David Cáceres, La Panadería, San Antonio, TX
Maya-Camille Broussard, Justice of the Pies, Chicago
Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery, Portland, ME
Susannah Gebhart, Old World Levain (OWL) Bakery, Asheville, NC
Marissa and Mark Gencarelli, Yoli Tortilleria, Kansas City, MO
Joseph, Archalous, and Caroline Geragosian, Old Sasoon Bakery, Pasadena, CA
Don Guerra, Barrio Bread, Tucson, AZ
Aaron Hall, The Local Crumb, Mount Vernon, IA
Mike Hirao, Nisshodo Candy Store, Honolulu
Clement Hsu, Katherine Campecino-Wong, and James Wong, Breadbelly, San Francisco
Nobutoshi “Nobu” Mizushima and Yuko Kawashiwo, Ihatov Bread and Coffee, Albuquerque, NM
Evette Rahman, Sister Honey’s, Orlando, FL
Rhonda Saltzman and Mercedes Brooks, Second Daughter Baking Co., Philadelphia
Caroline Schweitzer and Lauren Heemstra, Wild Crumb, Bozeman, MT
Khatera Shams, Sunshine Spice Bakery & Cafe, Boise, ID
Zak Stern, Zak the Baker, Miami
Elaine Townsend, Café Mochiko, Cincinnati, OH
Maricsa Trejo, La Casita Bakeshop, Richardson, TX
Louis Volle, Lodi, NYC
Pamela Vuong, The Flour Box, Seattle
Outstanding Hospitality (Presented by American Airlines)
BaoBao Dumpling House, Portland, ME
Bar del Corso, Seattle
Coquine, Portland, OR
Cúrate, Asheville, NC
House of Prime Rib, San Francisco
Johnny’s Restaurant, Homewood, AL
Lil’ Deb’s Oasis, Hudson, NY
Mudgie’s Deli and Wine Shop, Detroit
Phoenicia, Birmingham, MI
The Preacher’s Son, Bentonville, AR
Steve and Cookie’s, Margate, NJ
Sylvia’s Restaurant, NYC
Ticonderoga Club, Atlanta
Tutka Bay Lodge, Homer, AK
Valter’s Osteria, Salt Lake City
Outstanding Wine Program
a.kitchen + bar, Philadelphia
The Four Horsemen, NYC
Golden Age Wine, Mountain Brook, AL
High Street Wine Co., San Antonio, TX
Hiyu Wine Farm, Hood River, OR
L’Etoile, Madison, WI
The Little Nell, Aspen, CO
Lucky Palace, Bossier City, LA
Lyla Lila, Atlanta
Madam, Birmingham, MI
Maydan, Washington, D.C.
Polo Grill, Tulsa, OK
The Punchdown, Oakland, CA
Rainbow Ranch Lodge, Gallatin Gateway, MT
Rebel Rebel, Somerville, MA
Vicia, St. Louis
Outstanding Bar Program
Alley Twenty Six, Durham, NC
Avenue Pub, New Orleans
Bar Leather Apron, Honolulu
barmini by José Andrés, Washington, D.C.
Cafe La Trova, Miami
Chapel Tavern, Reno, NV
Friends and Family, Oakland, CA
Genever, Los Angeles
The Jewel Box, Portland, ME
La Factoría, San Juan, PR
Las Almas Rotas, Dallas
Llama San, NYC
Nobody’s Darling, Chicago
Valkyrie, Tulsa, OK
Vicia, St. Louis
Water Witch, Salt Lake City
Best Chefs (Presented by Capital One):
Best Chef: California
Chris Barnum-Dann, Localis, Sacramento, CA
Sylvan Mishima Brackett, Rintaro, San Francisco
Val M. Cantu, Californios, San Francisco
Keith Corbin, Alta Adams, Los Angeles
Srijith Gopinathan, Ettan, Palo Alto, CA
Tony Ho, Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant, Rosemead, CA
Judept Irra, Tamales Elena y Antojitos, Bell Gardens, CA
Nobody’s Darling, Chicago San Francisco
Matthew Kammerer, The Harbor House Inn, Elk, CA
Bryant Ng, Cassia, Santa Monica, CA
Heena Patel, Besharam, San Francisco
Natalia Pereira, Woodspoon, Los Angeles
Melissa Perello, Octavia, San Francisco
Minh Phan, Phenakite, Los Angeles
Justin Pichetrungsi, Anajak Thai, Los Angeles
Carlos Salgado, Taco María, Costa Mesa, CA
Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong, Jitlada, Los Angeles
James Syhabout, Commis, Oakland, CA
Pim Techamuanvivit, Nari, San Francisco
Anthony Wells, Juniper and Ivy, San Diego
Best Chef: Great Lakes (IL, IN, MI, OH)
Omar Anani, Saffron De Twah, Detroit
Rodolfo Cuadros, Amaru and Bloom Plant Based Kitchen, Chicago
Diana Dávila Boldin, Mi Tocaya Antojería, Chicago
Paul Fehribach, Big Jones, Chicago
Jason Hammel, Lula Cafe, Chicago
Anthony Lombardo, SheWolf, Detroit
Hamissi Mamba and Nadia Nijimbere, Baobab Fare, Detroit
Thomas Melvin, Vida, Indianapolis
Dave Park, Jeong, Chicago
Michael Ransom, ima, Detroit
Darnell Reed, Luella’s Southern Kitchen, Chicago
James Rigato, Mabel Gray, Hazel Park, MI
Jose Salazar, Salazar, Cincinnati, OH
Noah Sandoval, Oriole, Chicago
Ahmad Sanji, AlTayeb, Dearborn, MI
John Shields and Karen Urie Shields, Smyth, Chicago
Jill Vedaa, Salt+, Lakewood, OH
Sarah Welch, Marrow, Detroit
Erick Williams, Virtue Restaurant & Bar, Chicago
Kate Williams, Karl’s, Detroit
Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)
Anthony Andiario, Andiario, West Chester, PA
Joey Baldino, Zeppoli, Collingswood, NJ
Angel Barreto, Anju, Washington, D.C.
Amy Brandwein, Centrolina, Washington, D.C.
Adam Diltz, Elwood, Philadelphia
Antimo DiMeo, Bardea Food & Drink, Wilmington, DE
Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, Canal House Station, Milford, NJ
Matt Hill, Ruthie’s All-Day, Arlington, VA
Bill Hoffman, The House of William & Merry, Hockessin, DE
Jesse Ito, Royal Izakaya, Philadelphia
Kate Lasky and Tomasz Skowronski, Apteka, Pittsburgh
Wei Lu, China Chalet, Florham Park, NJ
Cristina Martinez, South Philly Barbacoa, Philadelphia
Peter Prime, Cane, Washington, D.C.
Carlos Raba, Clavel Mezcaleria, Baltimore
Michael Rafidi, Albi, Washington, D.C.
Chutatip “Nok” Suntaranon, Kalaya Thai Kitchen, Philadelphia
Yuan Tang, Rooster & Owl, Washington, D.C.
Wei Zhu, Chengdu Gourmet, Pittsburgh
Bethany Zozula, 40 North at Alphabet City, Pittsburgh
When Piña de Plata or the Silver Pineapple first opened in 1817, the location in what is now La Habana Vieja, Spanish for Old Havana would have been just known as downtown Havana back then. Located at the end of Calle Obispo, across Monserrate Street from the National Museum of Fine Arts of Havana, the streets in front of the muddy pinkish-red stucco exterior with its famous neon sign bustles with cars with fins in Easter egg colors and matching interiors. It’s a sea of pinks, purples, sky blues, two tones of white and maroon and other combos. We could be in a scene from “Mad Men,” but instead of crystal clear martinis, we’re heading to El Floridita.
200 Years and Counting
The name changed from the Silver Pineapple happened in 1914 about the same time that Constantino Ribalaigua began learning to mix drinks from his father. Four years later, Ribalaigua, who later earned the nickname of “El Rey de los Coteleros” or The Cocktail King of Cuba, had earned enough money to buy the place. He was only 26 and would own it for decades, creating more than 200 cocktails and adapting dozens more.
Creating the Hemingway Daiquiri
It was one of Ribalaigua’s adaptations that made him famous—the recipe and the person who frequently left his apartment down the street after spending the morning writing and relaxed with a couple—or maybe even more—daiquiris. A concoction of white rum, maraschino liqueur or cherries depending upon the recipe, freshly squeezed lemon juice or pineapple juice and sugar or a sugar syrup, it pleased Ernest Hemingway so much, that soon El Floridita, daiquiris, and Hemingway became an icon of the bestselling author’s days in Cuba. El Floridita soon earned a subtitle, becoming “la cuna del daiquiri” or the cradle of the daiquiri.
At opening time, the doors open and people stream in. They’re a mixed lot. College students, older literary types, locals probably bemoaning that they can’t have a quiet drink because of all these tourists, men who looked like artists and musicians, women in exotic outfits looking like poets and writers. The shiny mahogany bar is an extravagant piece of beautiful wood where red-jacketed bartenders swiftly add ingredients and then buzz them in the blender.
Daiquiris for All
These bartenders are smooth, able to mix and pour two daiquiris at a time. They need to be, the surge of people is endless. There’s a neo-classicist style to the decor. Huge paintings back up the bar and line several large walls. Chandeliers drip from the ceiling, the tables in the large dining room have white tablecloths and louvered doors. The bar itself is rather dark though streaks of the stunning sunshine stream through the door. Musicians come up on the small stage and play Cuban music, jazz, Bolero, Timba, and their own compositions as well including music from the eastern end of the island.
You don’t have to imagine Hemingway sitting at the bar, a bronze bust of him in his favorite corner was sculpted in 1954. And it’s easy to pause when my eye captures the lifestyle statue of him at the bar that was added almost 50 years later. Another honorific is a plaque with a Hemingway quote: “My mojito in the Bodeguita del Medio and my daiquiri in the Floridita.”
But probably the best indication of the author’s prestige and power as a tourist attraction is the lure of the blender as it mixes another daiquiri (there are four varieties associated with Hemingway and I’ve included two of them below) and the clinking of glasses as patrons toast the author and, of course, his drink.
2 oz. white rum (Floridita uses Havana club)
½ oz. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. maraschino liqueur
1 tsp. granulated sugar
1½ cups crushed ice
Mix the lime juice and sugar in a blender and pulse to combine. Add the maraschino and crushed ice and blend on high speed, gradually adding rum to the mix. Pour into a chilled large cocktail glass.
2 ounces white rum (I prefer Brugal)
Juice of ½ lime
½ ounce fresh grapefruit juice
¼ ounce maraschino liqueur
1 teaspoon simple syrup
Shake with ice, and strain into coupe. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Knowing how much I love historic architecture and enjoy immersing myself in the grandeurs of centuries past, Sara Martin sent me a list of resorts and hotels dating back a century or more. All are in the U.S. except for one in St. Croix. But because it is located in the U.S. Virgin Islands passports are not required for American citizens. Whether you’re looking for a warm weather, winter, an urban or country stay all are relatively easy places to get to by plane or car. So take this step back into history and have a wonderful time.
Back in 1653, Charles Martel, a Knight of Malta, constructed the first building on the eastern end of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. After the Denmark purchased St. Croix 80 years later, a sugar mill and home were built on the estate. Later the land was used for growing cotton and raising cattle. In 1922, the Armstrong family took over the property and continued raising cattle until when, in December 1947 they built and opened an 11-room inn. Now the Buccaneer Beach and Golf Resort, Trademark Collection by Wyndham remains in the Armstrong family and is today considered one of the Caribbean’s finest resorts.
Don’t expect to find a lot of cows mooing around now days. Instead of hay bales, the Buccaneer boasts 131 elegant guest rooms, three restaurants, three beaches, two pools, a water sports center, a full-service spa, a 24-hour fitness center, an 18-hole golf course, eight tennis courts, and more. Committed to remaining an individually owned and operated resort, the Buccaneer recently partnered with the Trademark Collection by Wyndham. Located just a short drive to Christiansted, the capital of St. Croix.
Because the Buccaneer is located in the U.S. Virgin Islands no passport is required for U.S. citizens.
Located in Cooperstown, New York, The Otesaga Resort Hotel, which opened in 1909 has been the crown jewel of this lovely town nicknamed “America’s Most Perfect Village.” Commissioned by the Clark family, who still owns the hotel today, The Otesaga was a very model of what was state-of-the-art back then featuring such luxuries the many Americans didn’t have in their own home like a telephone in every guest room, individually controlled central heating, and a refrigerator cooled with 30 tons of ice.
Maintaining its old-world aura of charm and grace while evolving with time, The Otesaga today features 132 luxurious guest rooms, including 26 suites, spread among a diverse collection of accommodations. A sampling of all there is to see and do at The Otesaga includes golfing at the resort’s highly rated Leatherstocking Golf Course, swimming at the outdoor heated pool, rejuvenating services at Hawkeye Spa, playing tennis at the two all-weather courts, fishing in Otsego Lake using equipment provided by the resort, and more. Guests can also enjoy a rich diversity of dining options at the resort including The Hawkeye Bar & Grill, which serves comfort foods and delicious cocktails.
Though formerly a seasonal hotel, closing in October, The Otesaga is now open year round.
In the early 1900s, the growth of the DuPont Company and the need for hotel and entertainment venues lead the company’s president and secretary-treasurer to commission the development of HOTEL DUPONT. The building, which originally served as the headquarters for the DuPont Company, was the first skyscraper in Wilmington. When it opened in 1913, the luxurious European-inspired hotel featured 150 guest rooms and served as a financial and social epicenter for Wilmington’s elite. A 1918 expansion brought such additions as 118 more guest rooms, a “Gold Ballroom,” and a theater that is today known as the Playhouse on Rodney Square. Throughout the years, the iconic hotel has undergone renovations true to its original roots but with all the amenities expected by discerning travelers. A prime example is the reimagining of the legendary Green Room, originally serving as a venerable gathering place for politicians, business leaders and the occasional celebrity, after a recent remodel, it now is known as Le Cavalier at The Green Room, a French brasserie with a relaxing and inviting vibe.
The Inn at Montchanin Village & Spa, located in the beautiful Brandywine Valley and at one time part of the Winterthur Estate. Its name is a homage to Alexandria de Montchanin, grandmother of Henry Francis du Pont who founded the DuPont Company. One of the few villages or what were also known as company towns still remaining, thee village was where those laborers working the DuPont mills lived. Comprised of 11 restored buildings dating back to 1799, the Inn’s 28 guest rooms and suites today blend historic charm with luxury and modern comforts. Furnished with period and reproduction furniture and marble baths, several of the rooms include cozy fireplaces and many offer beautifully landscaped private courtyards. The property also features a spa, a restaurant housed in a renovated blacksmith shop, and a private “Crow’s Nest” dining room for up to 40 guests.
Hotel Gunter, located along Historic Route 40 in the heart of Frostburg’s growing Arts and Entertainment District, was originally named Hotel Gladstone when it opened in 1897 on the National Road, America’s first federally funded highway. The name changed in 1903 when William Gunter bought the property and embarked upon a 20-year, $35,000 renovation adding such enhancements using electricity instead of gas lamps with electricity. Other improvements meant adding a dining room that sat 175, and when Prohibition loomed, a speakeasy in the basement bar. A savvy businessman Gunter added a jail cell—but not for regular guests. Instead, it was a place for federal agents transporting prisoners to house their charges and enjoy a wonderful stay themselves. T Marhe jail cell is still there but now it’s just a place for the guests to explore. As a nod to its past, the speakeasy was restored though there no longer is cockfighting as there was one hundred years earlier. Amenities also include cozy rooms and event banquet facilities. Hotel Gunter also shares space with Toasted Goat Winery and Route 40 Brewing and Distilling Company.
Sitting atop Town Hill Mountain and surrounded by the 44,000-acre Green Ridge State Forest in Allegany County, “The Mountain Side of Maryland,” Town Hill Bed & Breakfast was originally built as a fruit stand in 1916. By 1920, it had become the first tourist hotel in Maryland offering accommodations to those traveling by machine as automobiles were commonly called at the time. Up until then, car gypsies as they were sometimes called, when ready to get off the road, would stop at a farmer’s house and inquire if they could camp on their property. The prices were typically right–$5 might get you a spare room in the house and a homecooked breakfast by the farmer’s wife. Camping was even cheaper.
Like the Hotel Gunter, Town Hill Bed & Breakfast is on the historic National Road. It’s also near the C&O Canal National Park, a perfect place for cyclists and hikers traveling along the historic canal’s towpath. The Inn retain much of its original woodwork and furnishings loving preserved during its many renovations. Today, the 101-year-old Inn offers such amenities as 27 guest rooms, a 65-seat dining room where their legendary breakfasts are served, campfire area and easily accessible hiking trails. Another plus is the overlook with its panorama view of three states and seven counties.
The site of the Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa dates to the beginning of the 19th century when it served as the headquarters of General Andrew Jackson during the War of 1812. The first hotel to debut here was the Franklin House in 1825. In 1829, new hoteliers opened the Waverly Hotel on the site, before the Battle Brothers – James, John and Samuel – constructed their own hotel here in 1852. After operating as an independent hotel for more than a century, the proprietors sold the company in 1958 and is now one of Marriott International’s prestigious Renaissance Hotels brand. The Battle House has 238 sleeping rooms, including 31 luxury suites; a 10,000 square-foot European spa with eight treatment rooms; a state-of-the-art fitness center; and a rooftop pool. Unique dining experiences include The Trellis Room, which serves family-style Italian cuisine at dinner; Joe Cain Café, which serves soups, sandwiches, pizza and salads; and Royal Street Tavern, featuring a menu of appetizer favorites.
The Forte Condé Inn, the second-largest house, built in 1836, was an elegant mansion but time isn’t always kind and the hotel fell into disrepair before being expertly restored in 2010. Now the Inn, alongside nine other restored historic properties that are part of Fort Condé Village. Located in the heart of downtown Mobile, Forte Condé Inn is among the city’s most historic landmarks. A four-star boutique hotel, guests can immerse themselves into the unique charms of its past but have the most modern of amenities. Featuring dozens of one-of-a-kind accommodations in the village with its cobblestone streets lined with century oaks, and verandahs lit by gas lanterns. The inn, known for its legendary breakfasts that pay homage to the many cultures and cuisines in Mobile, recently opened Bistro St. Emanuel.
“We’ll always have Paris,” Humphrey Bogart tells a tearful Ingrid Bergman at the end of the movie classic “Casablanca.” And indeed, Paris often is called the most romantic city in the world. But Francophiles are discovering ways to get their Paris fix — wonderful old cathedrals, superb bistros and historic neighborhoods set amidst a buzz of French chatter — without leaving North America or spending a fortune. That fix is called Montreal.
Bonjour! That’s French for good morning and it’s a great term to use as you wander the cobblestone streets of Vieux Montreal (historic old Montreal) just a short walk from the bustling and very modern downtown.
Among the must-sees is Pointe-à-Calliere, Montreal’s Museum of Archaeology and History. A national historic site, the museum has four main parts, including the recently restored Ancienne-Douane (old Customs House) which was built between 1836 and 1838 and the modern Eperon, a structure erected upon the ruins of older buildings with a basement that houses an ancient crypt.
An additional stopping point is City Hall, a fine example of Second Empire architecture, a style that originated during the reign of Napoleon III (1852-70) — who led the major building campaign to transform Paris into what it is today — a city of grand boulevards and monumental buildings and ultimately influenced Montreal’s architect as well.
Paris has its famous Champs-Elysées shopping area, but the stores along Notre Dame and Saint Paul streets in Montreal also are a delight. Another must-stop is the Bonsecours Market, which opened in 1847. Its sidewalk cafés, vendor stalls and shops still hum with activity today.
And, of course, on Notre Dame Street is the magnificent Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal, an awe-inspiring and magnificent cathedral built in 1892. There are guided and self-guided tours and The AURA, an immersive multi-media experience by Moment Factory that surrounds visitors with an amazing visual and musical universe, presented upon what is described as one of the most beautiful canvases imaginable: the basilica’s nave.
Contrary to what many might think, Montreal is a year-round destination with the 20.5-mile Underground City of stores, cinemas, restaurants, and more—perfect anytime but particularly in the winter when the temperature drops. Check out such places L’Art des artisans du Québec known for its woodwork, blown glass and amazing finery. Beautiful jewelry is made on the spot at Joaillerie St-Jean or Bijouterie Ralph et Elle. For books, stop by Renaud-Bray. Brands to be found in the Underground City include Rudsak for leather goods, Squish for gourmet artisanal candies and the Montréal-based, internationally famed ALDO shoes.
Pricewise, Montreal is a bargain and if you save your receipts, you can get your sales tax back.”
In comparison, the American dollar buys much less in Paris. It is a completely a European city with Old World charm minus the jet lag or a long trans-Atlantic flight.
So who should opt for Montreal instead of Paris?
Anyone who is looking for great value, ease of travel and who has a limited amount of time would be perfec.
Follow the Cajun Bayou Food Trail: A REAL Taste of Louisiana Cajun Country
Just 45 minutes from New Orleans, the Cajun Bayou Food Trail is a journey through the heart of Lafourche Parish and the ultimate road trip for those wanting to explore Louisiana’s food scene. Known as the Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou, this region of the state takes its culinary delights so seriously that the name Lafourche is French for the fork. While some will explain, patiently, the term is a geographical reference to a split in the Mississippi River, we’re thinking that any place with a name synonymous with an eating utensil surely knows its way around a menu.
So grab your car keys and your sunglasses—but you won’t need to bring your own Lafourche as any place on the parish’s Cajun Bayou Food Trail have their own—and hit the road. There are currently 18 restaurants on the trail including the recently added Cinclare Southern Bistro.
“We’re thrilled to be included on the Louisiana Cajun Bayou Food Trail,” says Michael Dalmau, the owner of Cinclare Southern Bistro. “The restaurants that span this historic waterway might be different in what they do and how they do it but know this …. they all do it well. In South Louisiana – and especially up and down the Bayou – feeding and serving friends and family is not only what we do to pass a good time, but it’s how we show our love and support. It’s part of our DNA and that’s why we’re so good at it.”
All the stops on the trail feature authentic food accompanied by the unparalleled Southern hospitality.
According to my friend Mindy Bianca, chefs down this way tell how their favorite recipes feature the finest local ingredients along with a true love of their surroundings and heritage. The latter means treating guests the same as family–well, almost, you don’t have to clean up after dinner like you would at your mom’s. All this makes navigating the Cajun Bayou Food Trail an unparalleled culinary and travel experience.
The lives of the people of Lafourche Parish are fully intertwined with the bodies of water that are accessible throughout the region, most notably Bayou Lafourche, a 100-mile waterway that bisects the parish, and the Gulf of Mexico. Residents of the area view the Bayou and Gulf as their personal pantries, finding seafood and other delicacies within and along their waters. If you live here, you’re most likely not going to get kicked you out of the parish for not knowing how to whip up a tasty gumbo (though we can’t promise that’s true) but fortunately most if not all figure it out from an early age using recipes passed down through the generations. That’s why those following the trail get to taste dishes authentic traditional foods that are part of the Parish’s gastronomic heritage–prepared and served as they have been for as long as some can remember. But that doesn’t mean some chefs don’t do their own riff with added ingredients or other ways to make them uniquely their own.
Celebrating not only the restaurants and local food purveyors that honor the culinary customs of the region, the parish also hosts six festivals and events dedicated to honoring and preserving its distinctive traditions. Think La Fete Des Vieux Temps in Raceland, Louisiana
Calling it a cultural gumbo, Mindy says that “restaurants lean toward plenty of fresh seafood and run the gamut from mom-and-pop operations to sophisticated dining rooms.
“The unifying element is that whether it’s fried shrimp at Spahr’s, a restaurant that now has three locations and that has been a staple here for more than 50 years, or an elegant and savory alligator-and-andouille sausage cheesecake appetizer at Kincare, which offers craft beverages and a more upscale dining experience in the heart of downtown Thibodaux, your meal is going to be both delicious and memorable.”
Visitors and locals alike are encouraged to pick up a Food Trail passport and map from any of the participating restaurants or download it from this website, then eat their way through the parish. Collect enough passport stamps and you’ll earn your way into a comfy Food Trail T-shirt. Trust us and order one size larger before hitting the trail. In these ever-changing and unpredictable times, requirements for completing a passport have been modified and the Food Trail can now be experienced more “virtually,” meaning that participating Trail restaurants offer curbside service.
For more information about the dining scene in Louisiana’s Cajun Bayou, to download your passport and map, or to check out some pictures and start dreaming of crawfish and crabs, gumbo and gator, please visit http://www.lacajunbayou.com. The local businesses up and down the Bayou are ready to fill up your plate and offer you a lafourche to use.
You can’t eat all the time, right? In between meals check out some or all of the following stops:
Described as an otherworldly experience, like time travel into the state’s prehistoric past by touring Lafourche Parish’s swamplands. Tour options includes the 2 Da Swamp Bayou Tours & Museum trips to Bayou Des Allemands with traditional Cajun music, and museum displays of artifacts Des Allemands’ early years. Airboat Tours by Arthur Matherne, open seasonally, is a high-octane thrill rides on its fleet of airboats. Torres Cajun Swamp Tours’ guides takes visitor the history and ecology of wetlands’ Bayou Boeuf.
The White family was once among the Louisiana’s political elite. Patriarch Edward Douglas White was the state’s governor in the 1830s; his son and namesake became a U.S. Supreme Court Justice in the 1890s. The elder White’s home is now a Louisiana State Museum site and is a step back into the past showcasing the state’s history. Built from cypress in the Creole Plantation style in 1825, White purchased the home, re-imaging it as a Greek Revival mansion. Learn about the White family, the history of both the home’s history along with that of Chitimacha Indians and Cajun settlers, sugar plantation owners and the slaves that worked the fields in service of them by taking a tour of the E.D. White Historic Site in Thibodaux.
Restaurants in Thibodaux
Thibodaux’s restaurants and fresh markets reflect the local culture and cuisine. Top-rated restaurant spots include Fremin’s Restaurant, where you can take in the architecture of Thibodaux’s downtown area. The food is prepared with a view into the kitchen and the duck-and-andouille gumbo is like heaven in a bowl. Head to Off the Hook, a down-home spot with awesome po-boys, fried seafood and more gumbo! And try something different at the Cajun Potato Kitchen, a quirky and casual restaurant serving huge baked potatoes loaded with Cajun toppings. It’s fun and different and popular with the university crowd. Get a full list of locals’ favorite restaurants.
You’d be hard pressed to find another museum in the U.S.—or really anywhere—that’s a Cajun-themed children’s museum. At Bayou Country Children’s Museum in Thibodaux brings together Cajun history, education and fun, making it a great stop for family fun. Here children can play on a full-size sugar harvester, toss beads from a Mardi Gras float, climb aboard a shrimp boat and more.
The wetlands flowing through Southern Louisianna are a distinct part of Lafourche Parish where more than 100 miles of bayou meander throughout the parish. The Center for Traditional Louisiana Boat Building, located in Lockport is the place to learn how traditional Cajun boats were constructed, including their iconic pirogue boats and flat-bottomed vessels known locally as putt-putts that once common in the region’s bayous.
Part of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve in Thibodaux, the center’s mission is to preserve Cajun tradition and offers such programs as their free Cajun music jam sessions every Monday afternoon, a Cajun-French meetup on Tuesdays, historical Thibodaux walking tours and boat tours of Bayou Lafourche. While there, stop at the Center’s museum store, which has Cajun music recordings, crafts and books for sale.
The trail, made up of 22 parishes includes Lafourche which is part of the Grand Isle Loop. The loop includes sections of Louisiana’s best-known barrier island as well as inland birding destinations teeming with shorebirds and seabirds. Download more information about the Grand Isle Loop on the Wetland Birding Trail.
They really know how to celebrate the two weeks leading up to Mardi Gras Day or as it is also known—Fat Tuesday. Typically there are more than a dozen parades roll through the towns of Golden Meadow, Galliano, Larose, as well as the parish seat of Thibodaux. Learn more about the parade schedules.
Shrimp and Tasso Pasta
Recipe courtesy of Bourgeois Meat Market, a stop on the Cajun Bayou Culinary Trail
1 lb. Bourgeois Tasso
2 lb. shrimp
1 large onion
1 large bell pepper
1 talk of celery
1 can Rotel
1 qt. heavy whipping cream
1 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 bag bow tie pasta
Boil Bourgeois Tasso in a pot with just a little water until tender.
Add onion, celery, bell pepper, Rotel, and shrimp and smother down.
Add heavy whipping cream and let mixture come to a rolling boil.