We connected with a frequent traveller and foodie to learn more about what makes a dining experience stand out to help other restaurant owners think about ways they can create a memorable dining moment.
Garza, Costa Rica --- I have visited this country numerous times and each time it never ceases to amaze my palette. You can find traditional local fare like rice and beans for breakfast consumed by the locals each and every day to fine dining. However there is one place that seemed to stand out amongst the beaches and trees near the shores of Garza, it was Sol y Mar Restaurant at Hotel Playa Garza. YES, it was all about the pizza. This local spot founded by two nice folks direct from Italy. Great pizza surrounded by amazing beaches and they even showed classic Italian films on a makeshift movie screen. My takeaway from the experience? Great food combined with rustic elements (that makeshift movie screen) made this a standout. (Sad news, this restaurant is gone ... but I'll always remember it.)
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Buenos Aires, Argentina --- Coffee, coffee and more coffee please and thank you. During my first trip to South America, I experienced one of most incredible coffees to date. The Recoleta district is home to one of the oldest cafes in BA, La Beila! Robust, dark and flavour-packed coffee was the treat of most days travelling in and around the great city of Buenos Aires. I loved grabbing an espresso and a pastry, and taking in the hustle of the most famous districts in south america. It’s all about the people watching too! My takeaway from this experience? Staying true to your roots, history and your surroundings can help your guests really immerse themselves in what you have to offer and they won’t forget that.
SOHO, New York City USA --- During frequent travels to one of my favorite cities in the world I was on the hunt for a little slice of the Mediterranean. No idea why, but I wanted a few light snacks while taking in the busy shopping mecca of SOHO/Tribeca. As I always do, I pulled out the trusty iPhone and did a quick search for BEST Mediterranean in the area. The Antique Garage website was #1 in ranking. Prior to trying to find my way through the cobblestone busy streets I had a review of their website and Tripadvisor page just to be 100% sure I was not wasting my walking time. Making my decision very quickly after looking both sites, away I went for a mid-afternoon food break and maybe a few drinks. It did not disappoint especially with the great service and live jazz music that was making the atmosphere that much more enjoyable. So enjoyable that I never return to that area of the city without a stopover. You too must make this stop when in the area. My takeaway here? Live music is a great compliment to great food.
New York, NewYork USA --- Wondering about food that travels well? Don’t think any further than a food truck! Nuchas is THE truck to find on your travels around Manhattan. Nuchas serves up amazing empanadas and other fine baked goods. The key is the most amazing food along with the menu for $4 and under. That’s right, just $4 bucks gets you South American goodness on wheels waiting for you. I wolfed down the Argentine and short rib empanada for good measure with zero disappointment. Friendly, fast and ready to go should be all over this food trucks motto. For you non-meat folks, fear not there is a full menu for you to gorge on as well. What would top off this amazing walking food delight? Grab a sweet empanadas for dessert on your way with some Nutella added for good measure. Don’t take my written word, fly there, drive there, walk there, EAT THERE! My takeaway here? A great dining experience doesn’t have to be fancy.
POCANTICO HILLS, NEW YORK USA --- Can there possibly be someone out there that does not have a Netflix account?! If you do and are a foodie you most certainly watched or should watch “Chef’s Table”. The documentary series features of some of the world’s best chefs and their restaurants. This show has made superstars of many chefs who had amazing food already however the power of the internet has now made them bona fide celebrities. One such Chef is Dan Barber of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. After viewing the series and his episode I went to seek out more information on this amazing farm-to-table chef. You can’t help but be amazed when you arrive at the entrance of this large estate farm that is a non-profit center with an amazing restaurant on site. The 24 course (that’s how many I counted anyway) experience all comes over a 4 hour time period so you can actually appreciate each bite. The dance of waiters, bar staff and kitchen all work in tandem as you are actually transported to various parts of the restaurant to experience your meal. The marvel of the food, wine and setting will make you also choose this place as your #1 place to experience a bit of food porn. Now I must stop and you must visit https://www.bluehillfarm.com/dine/stone-barns to begin your food journey. My takeaway? Sometimes going big is worth it.