Seven hip restaurants that mesh fine fare with a fun time
Some restaurants draw you in with their fresh ingredients. Others concentrate on the atmosphere or location. Still others aim to entertain. And some provide a complete experience that leaves you happy and your stomach satisfied, all in a stylish setting with mouthwatering morsels.
That said, here are a few of our favorite eateries from around the world, sure to satiate any appetite:
A multiple-year chart topper on the S. Pellegrino list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, Spain’s elBulli takes molecular gastronomy to its highest level. Chef Ferran Adrià runs the kitchen at this behemoth eatery, which employs dozens of chefs to carry out the award-winning cuisine. Adrià, for his part, spends half the year traveling and the other half in his food laboratory, mixing, heating, cooling, texturizing and tasting new creations. Here, the art of preparing food really is a science.
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The outside of Botanic Cafe is historic; the inside, all modern and infused with personality. The fashionable spot features an Italian menu with a Mediterranean flourish; the wood-fired pizzas score high for their reasonable price and packed flavor. The atmosphere is decidedly young and cosmopolitan, with plush sofas and leather ottomans, funky artwork lining the walls, subdued lighting and a large marble centerpiece table.
Chicago, United States
For interesting food pairings, an interior that meshes industrial Japan with the elegance of Europe, and a prime setting right along the Chicago River, Japonais is a stunning place to spend an evening. The setting is the star here, with a few distinct environments sprinkled throughout the restaurant; an all-season terrace, for example, uses daybeds and candlelight to create a tranquil feeling. While you’re admiring the scenery, try hot and cold appetizers like Japanese beef maki and chilled jumbo shrimp, which set the stage for delectable entrees, including teriyaki salmon and spicy octopus sushi.
The best of Nordic food fare is all at Noma, which pays homage to a long history of the area’s cuisine while incorporating modern dishes and ingredients into the mix. Those who try to choose healthy options when eating out will like it here; veggies and wild plants play a big role in the meals. For other ingredients, think horse mussels and deep-sea crabs from the Faroe Islands, wild salmon and cod from Iceland, and lamb and pure drinking water from Greenland.
Cape Town, South Africa
Oenophiles will salivate for Belthazar, the largest wine bar in the world, but it’s not just about the glasses of vino here — the restaurant serves up great Karan beef, Mozambican shellfish and fresh South African seafood. Also on the menu: views of Table Bay and a cozy wharf location. Cutting-edge wine technology keeps the taste superb, while good service enhances your experience.
Sketch: The Gallery
Pairing art with dinner, Sketch: The Gallery is not your typical dining venue. A video presentation wraps around the walls, and a live DJ plays Wednesday through Saturday. The gastro-brasserie’s menu changes seasonally, but look for items like organic fish entrees, corn-fed chicken and green ravioli. Dessert tempts with bubblegum ice cream, Limoncello sponge cakes and pumpkin cream. With Sketch, even the website is an experience (seriously, check it out).
Skye at Unique Hotel
São Paulo, Brazil
People head to the top of Unique Hotel for the amazing view of São Paulo below, and they stay for the food and drinks (and, yes, that breathtaking skyline view). The food is a mix of national and international fare, and the crowd follows suit, with locals and visitors alike enjoying a meal. The fruit-filled caipirinhas de frutas are highly regarded to sip while you take it all in. And in case you plan to go swimming in the rooftop pool, it has an underwater sound system so you don’t miss out on the music.