|Vancouver’s “jazzy” Prohibition bar is accessed through a slightly hidden door next to the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.|
The world of gastronomy is complex; no longer is it on trend to eat only at the top restaurants, usually found in hotels, while traveling. Now, travelers want to eat where the locals dine. Moreover, the food-conscious tourist is looking for the new, stylish, delicious, authentic and undiscovered eateries. That sounds like a fantastic trend, but it poses a challenge to agents who must now be able to provide top dining recommendations from around the world. Luckily, we’ve rounded up some amazing restaurant recommendations from our newest 30Under30 travel agents, class of 2016. Here’s what they had to say.
|Leon’s Oyster Shop can be found in a hip, up-and-coming neighborhood in Charleston, SC.|
Seafood and Cocktails in Reykjavik…
For the best fish and chips around, try Icelandic Fish and Chips in Reykjavik, says Anne Beddoe, of Frosch in New York City. This family-owned eatery rotates the menu based on the fresh catch of the day. Don’t forget to tell the beer fans that this eatery also serves up organic Icelandic brews on tap. After the main course and those salty chips, head to Slippbarrin at the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina. Beddoe notes that this cocktail bar is located next to a ship harbor. (That to us seems like the quintessential spot to grab a drink in Iceland.)
|Restaurant Cornelius, set on a small island outside of Bergen, Norway, is accessible by boat, and has a menu that specializes in locally sourced seafood and ingredients.|
…and a Little Closer to Home
Did someone say oysters? These succulent shellfish are such a trendy seafood treat, they seem to have their own foodie following. If your client is looking for a top oyster experience, suggest Leon’s Oyster Shop in Charleston, SC. Located in a hip, up-and-coming neighborhood, Leon’s is one of those special spots where you could sit for hours enjoying the scene and food, Beddoe tells Travel Agent. If you head north to Maine, you will find another seafood favorite, fried clams, at Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery. This is located off the busy Route 1. “The happiness caused by fresh and fried northern seafood is one of a kind,” says Beddoe. Another seafood stop in New England is Douzo in Boston. This trendy Back Bay sushi restaurant is a must-visit. Make reservations early and try the Tiger Roll, suggests Steven Gould of Goulds Travel in Dunedin, FL.
|Big Star Chicago has a patio for summer supping.|
For clients traveling to island destinations, suggest the following. Sundae Café on Tybee Island, GA, may look mundane with its strip location, but the small restaurant is always packed, says Leigh Elizabeth Bryan, of Avondale Travel, an affiliate of Valerie Wilson Travel in Jacksonville, FL. “Don’t let the location fool you, business casual is [the] suggested attire for dining,” she notes.
If clients are traveling through the Caribbean islands, suggest Scotchies in Montego Bay, Jamaica. “Best jerk chicken and pork on the island. It’s a no-frills kind of place, so it really gives you that authentic Jamaica experience,” says Katie Levent, of Elite Travel Management Group in Palm Harbor, FL. Scotchies serves the chicken by the pound and on foil. There is also the well-known rice and peas dish and good local beer to wash it down with, Levent adds. She also recommends dining at Banana Tree Grille on St. Thomas. Here, it’s all about the steak and the amazing view of the entire city, she says. Her favorite item on the menu is the flashed calamari and black pepper crusted filet mignon.
The Discovered Gems
Not all the best, tacos, ramen and desserts are easy to find. Sometimes travelers may have to hunt for the primo spots to grab a bite. Here are some top eateries that serve under-the-radar. “If I ever have clients on the coastal Route 1, I send them to an amazing taco place,” says Marley Gibbons of Skylark in New York City, an affiliate of Ovation. The taco hotspot, Mercado & Taqueria De Amigos, in Pescadero, CA, is actually in a gas station. But this is great food, she promises.
|Big Star Chicago is renowned for its Taco al Pastor and other mouth-watering comfort food.|
For that hidden, delicious dessert, Samantha Bilkey of Germantown Travel in Germantown, WI, suggests a shop called La Reina in Sayulita near Punta de Mita, Mexico. Here, in the shop, travelers can get fresh Popsicles in flavors like papaya and coconut, explains Bilkey. “I always tell my clients to visit that village and make sure to stop in for a Popsicle,” she continues.
For some delicious ramen in Tokyo, tell travelers to head to the train station. This is where they will find Tokyo Ramen Street, known for its delicious, soup-like dishes. “For each of these restaurants, you order from a machine and receive a receipt. You then wait for a seat and the food you ordered is brought to you. It is a common way of dining in Japan, but quite a unique experience for a foreigner,” explains Lauren David of SmartFlyer in Chicago.
A strip mall by the airport is not usually known for the best foods, but Rebekah M. Doran of TravelStore in Los Angeles suggests just that in Maui. DA Kitchen Café serves up large portions with big flavors and Hawaiian hospitality, notes Doran. She found the place well suited for a stop after a hike, and ordered the katsu moco.
Tempting Thai Cuisine
David also suggests travelers dine at Haad Bang Po in Koh Samui, Thailand. Guests will enjoy the beach setting in this small fishing village. Away from the tourist scene, travelers can sit on picnic table by the beach, eat freshly caught fish, watch children play and drink local beer, says David. Another top dining experience is Steve Café & Cuisine in Bangkok. “It is very casual with great spicy, traditional Thai food,” she notes. This eatery is on the Chaya River and attracts locals and foreigners alike.
There is also delicious Thai food on East Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. Myste Wright of Protravel International in Beverly Hills, CA, tells her clients about Ruen Pair. “This Thai food heaven is sandwiched between other neon-signed establishments,” says Wright, who also notes that this foodie joint is always busy and is cash only. Her order suggestion is the pork jerky and sticky rice.
Unforgettable Dining in Norway
Meg Taylor Mills of Epperly Travel, an Atlanta-based affiliate of Century Travel, recently spent six weeks in Norway with her husband. During the trip, they discovered Restaurant Cornelius on a small island outside of Bergen. The dining experience began when the owner of the eatery picked up his guests for dinner in a boat for the 30-minute commute to the island. “We felt like VIPs before we even arrived,” says Mills. The couple then watched the sun set as they enjoyed a five-course tasting menu. The menu highlights local seafood and ingredients. This restaurant is appropriate for milestone celebrations and romantic evenings, continues Mills. “The boat ride home is the perfect way to unwind and take in the city views at night before heading back to the hotel.”
City Eats: U.S. and Beyond
Big Star and Small Cheval may sound like opposites, but these two eateries both serve mouth-watering food in Chicago. “Because I am a local, I can attest and say that these restaurants are very popular with Chicagoans,” Megan Paleczny of Frosch Travel in Deerfield, IL, tells us. At Big Star, guests will enjoy some of the best tacos in the city on a large outdoor patio — it’s an excellent outdoor eatery in the summer, she says. As for Small Cheval, this retro diner fields long lines of people — but the cheeseburgers are well worth the wait.
|Franny’s in Brooklyn, NY, is known for its variety of pizzas.|
New York City, of course, is also known for its top restaurants. Levent enjoyed her meal at Vandal, which serves upscale street food and tapas. She ordered steak tartare on a New York pretzel. For dessert, she suggests the Vandal S’mores, which are made with homemade graham cracker ice cream. Also in the Big Apple is Awash, an Ethiopian restaurant on East 6th Street. Lesley Stone from Legacy Travel in Plano, TX, likes to visit Awash with friends. She says it’s one of the few places that all her friends enjoy. For that famous New York pizza, Lindsey Hippen of Humble Travel Service, Ltd. in Cedar Falls, IA, likes to dine at Franny’s on Brooklyn’s Flatbush Avenue. Here, fresh pastas are also served, making it a must-visit for any Italian-food enthusiast.
In Los Angeles, Stone recommends travelers visit The Ivy. “[It] is known for its celebrity sightings and it’s located in a fun area to shop around,” she notes.
While in New Orleans, the place to stop in for a bite is Cochon, says Alexandra Tucker from Auto Club Group in Knoxville, TN. Cochon serves up a modern twist on classic southern food with a focus on pork.
On the Pacific coast, Gould tells his clients about Double Dragon in Portland, OR. Set in the beer-brewing district of the city, Double Dragon serves up quick burgers, which are the best in town, says Gould. His recommendation is to order the Szechuan burger. “The Szechuan peppercorns really light up the flavor palate,” he notes. For something a little less spicy, this agent is also suggesting a visit to Manny’s Steakhouse in Minneapolis. Here, meat-lovers will choose their own cut from a rolling cart. “The ambiance boasts a very upscale dining experience without the stuffiness of most upscale steakhouses,” he says.
Travelers should also be aware of the best places to grab a meal in Madrid. Alyssa Scott of Protravel International in Encino, CA, tells her clients to visit Bodega de la Ardosa. This bar keeps patrons happy with its atmosphere, which plays with history. Scott orders the salmorejo and tortilla with a glass of the house vermut rojo.
No city experience is complete without a night out. Hannah Lee Schremp from Go Girl Travel in Irving, TX, says that the hotspot, Prohibition, is filled with “jazzy lounge music of a different time.” To gain access to this bar, guests will have to find the slightly hidden door right next to Rosewood Hotel Georgia Vancouver. Inside there are unexpected features, dark corners, impeccably dressed guests and forbidden elixirs, she says. For another good find in Vancouver, Schremp also suggests CinCin Ristorante & Bar in the West End. This is an intimate eatery where the service pays attention to detail and the Italian flavors are memorable.
|Franny’s in Brooklyn, NY, is known for the wall where they store the wood used in cooking many of their signature Italian dishes.|
Best in Buenos Aires
|Visitors at Floreria Atlantico (here and below) in Buenos Aires enter like locals through a flower shop to sip drinks that are crafted from scratch.|
Travelers to Buenos Aires who want to find a great local spot to grab a drink should drop in at Floreria Atlantico. Cally Pirrung of Jet Set World Travel in Chicago remembers when she entered this hidden bar through a flower shop in the Recoleta neighborhood. Once inside the shop, she entered a refrigerator door, which took her down a set of stairs to the cocktail bar. She notes that the scene was full of locals and all the drinks were crafted from scratch. She suggests coming in for a drink and tapas, as it’s well fitted for a small dinner or late nigh snack.
Also, in Buenos Aires is El Cuartito, one of the oldest pizzerias in the city. Pirrung says the appeal is not in the restaurant’s interior design, but rather because it’s a great spot to be the only tourist. “Locals hang out here for hours with friends and family, watching soccer while enjoying beers and their pizzas,” she adds.
Cuisine in Cape Town
“I had some amazing pizza in Cape Town,” Mandy Hough of AAA Carolinas in Charlotte, NC, tells us. She found this excellent pizza at Big Route in Green Point. Her only regret going here? She can’t find such delicious pizza back home. The “International Pizza” has tikka chicken, green tea dressing, peas, onions, yogurt and more. She enjoyed the pizza, while a local soccer match played on the TV. “What a great experience,” Hough says. Also in Cape Town, she dined at Mzansi. Here in a township, a family cooks for the guests and food is served family-style as a band plays. (Reservations are a must due to limited seating.) As the evening winds down, tell clients to stick around to hear how the owner lived through the Apartheid. “It’s a beautiful story and wonderful night out,” says Hough.
The Italian Experience
Hough also found a delicious place to eat in Florence, Italy, where she recalls enjoying the best sandwich of her life. The restaurant, All’Antico Vinaio, served her a meal with a pecorino spread, cured ham and eggplant. It was so tasty Hough went there twice in two days.
When in Rome, Frosch Travel’s Paleczny suggests travelers visit Disco Volante. “My mouth still waters when I think of that spaghetti carbonara,” she remembers. She also praises the service and says the spot was popular with the locals. “This was the type of restaurant I dreamed about eating at in Italy,” Paleczny continues. “When I think of an authentic, Italian restaurant, my mind always thinks back to Disco Volante.”
|Cochon in New Orleans puts a modern twist on classic southern dishes.|
Joanna Kuflik of First in Service in New York City also suggests an authentic eatery in Rome, Sora Margherita. This is the kind of place you can only find if you’re looking for it. Traveler should look the red streamers to locate this spot. As for what to order, Kuflik suggests the fried artichoke and the homemade pastas.
Skylark Travel’s Gibbons also has top restaurant recommendations when it comes to Italy, especially on the Amalfi Coast. She suggests travelers visit Ristorante La Fontelina, which is a restaurant and beach club on Capri. This spot is really about the food, she explains, though it’s also about the setting. Imagine tan Europeans perched on the rocks and under bright orange umbrellas.
A Swiss Experience
Kathleen Leuenberger Robinson of Willett Travel, a Frosch Company, in Studio City, CA, suggests a place to eat in the tiny village of Morcote, Switzerland, outside of Lugano. The restaurant, Osteria Portici, dishes out some delicious risotto, which it pours steaming hot over a full wheel of parmigiano-reggiano cheese, Robinson tells. She also suggests pairing the steaming hot risotto with meat like osso bucco. The best part, she concludes, is enjoying the meal outside with views of the lake.