August 2016 Restaurant Weeks: Summer Savings Ahead

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At home or on the road, you can enjoy discounts on meals this month at cities across the nation, thanks to August 2016 Restaurant Weeks.

* Dine Out Downtown Delray Restaurant Week brings you the best for less with $20 lunches + $20-$40 dinners through August 7. Make a reservation.

* Baltimore County Restaurant Week will charm you with $15-$25 lunches and dinners, through August 20. Make a reservation.

* New Orleans COOLinary offers lunches for $20 or less + $39 or less through August 31 in NOLA. Make a reservation.

* Houston Restaurant Weeks make for a most delicious month. Book $20 brunches + lunches and $25, $35, and $45 dinners through September 5. Make a reservation.

* Miami Spice delivers two months of nice. Take advantage of $23 lunches + $39 dinners through September 30. Make a reservation.

* Downtown Cincinnati Restaurant Week has three ways to save with $25, $35, and $45 dinners, August 8-14. Make a reservation.

* DFW Restaurant Week Preview is your chance to get a sneak peek of all the dining fun to come. Snag a seat for $20 lunches and $30 or $45 dinners, August 12-14. Make a reservation.

* Bethesda Magazine Restaurant Week showcases the tastiest of Maryland with $16 two-course lunches + $36 three-course dinners, August 12-21. Make a reservation.

* San Antonio Restaurant Week features $10 + $15 lunches and $25 + $35 dinners with heart, August 13-27. Make a reservation.

* Dine Out Boston is coming soon. Book now for $15, $20+ $25 lunches and $28, $33 + $38 dinners, August 14-26. Make a reservation.Continue Reading

Dine Like a Local in New Orleans: Top Picks for the Best Eats in the Big Easy

A visit to New Orleans should be on everyone’s culinary bucket list. There are regional specialties galore and more storied restaurants that you possibly fit in one trip. But once you’ve had beignets, bananas Foster, red beans and rice, jambalaya and crawfish étouffée at iconic restaurants like Arnaud’s, Galatoire’s and Brennan’s, it’s time to branch out. Here are some more of the places that are ideal for when you want to dine like a local in New Orleans.

Shaya
Shaya is one of the current darlings of the New Orleans food scene. An anomaly in the area, the focus is modern Israeli cuisine with influences from North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Turkey, and Greece. But many of the products are locally sourced and add a unique spin to classics. The dinner menu is designed for sharing; try a selection of the “for the table” dishes, such as paddlefish caviar spread with shallots or wood-roasted okra with tahini, tomatoes, and duqqa. Dishes like the roasted cabbage served with muhammara, tahini, and hazelnuts are a riot of flavors and textures but combined in such a way that the result is much more than the sum of its parts. Make a reservation at Shaya.

Dine Like a Local in New Orleans

Compère Lapin
This newish restaurant from Top Chef contestant Nina Compton is located in the hip warehouse arts district in a space adjoining a cool boutique hotel. Her food sometimes shows hints of her Caribbean background, but mostly it’s her excitingly fresh approach to New Orleans ingredients and vegetable-forward cuisine that tantalizes. Because Compton previously worked at Scarpetta in Miami, her pastas are noteworthy. But even simple dishes like the beet salad is a revelation. It’s composed or both cooked and raw beets, pesto, tender baby beet greens, candied pistachios and ciabatta croutons. Make a reservation at Compère Lapin.

Dine Like a Local in New Orleans

La Petite Grocery
La Petite Grocery is set in a historic building which was once the Central Tea, Coffee and Butter Depot, across the street from the bustling Jefferson Market. Over a hundred years later, it positively oozes with charm. Award-winning chef Justin Devillier has been in New Orleans for more than 10 years and has worked at some of the best restaurants in town, at which he absorbed the local techniques and approaches to food. His creative dishes include fried green tomatoes with burrata, arugula, country ham, and herb oil, and blue crab beignets. The restaurant is located on Magazine Street in a part of Uptown on the edge of the Garden District that is well worth exploring. Make a reservation at La Petite Grocery.

Dine Like a Local in New Orleans

Willa Jean
It’s no surprise that this new spot is a combination of a Southern bakery and a café; the flaky biscuits here are already being hailed as some of the city’s best. While technically a John Besh restaurant, it’s really all about pastry chefs-bakers Kelly Fields and Lisa White. Super popular at lunch, locals rave about the meatloaf sandwich and the avocado toast with poached egg, olive oil, tomato and sea salt. A pure nostalgia dessert is the “cookies and milk” — chocolate chip cookies are served with a glass of Tahitian vanilla milk alongside a beater full of fresh cookie dough. Make a reservation at Willa Jean.

Dine Like a Local in New Orleans

GW Fins
The French Quarter may be filled with tourists, but locals head there, too, for live music and cool drinks. They also make a beeline to what’s often regarded the best fine dining seafood restaurant in town. In business for more than a decade, it has a fresh and modern dining room. Signature dishes from chef and co-owner Tenney Flynn include the Lobster Dumplings with fennel, tomato concassé, and lobster butter and Scalibut, a combination of halibut encrusted with sea scallops, served with lobster risotto, snow peas, and pea shoot butter. If you’re lucky, you could find lionfish as a special. Make a reservation at GW Fins.

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Heroes in a Half Shell: 9 Unique Tacos for #TacoTuesday (or Any Day)

Tacos are so awesome that they get a day of the week – Taco Tuesdays. This means there are dozens of days a year when you’re practically required to down a taco (or five; we won’t judge). But why content yourself with shells packed with the usual suspects, like pollo asado or ground beef? Chefs are filling their freshly griddled tortillas with far more interesting ingredients – from duck and Wagyu steak to vindaloo sausage and grasshoppers (really). Here are 9 unique tacos you won’t find on the menu at your local Chipotle.

Johnny Sánchez, New Orleans, Louisiana
Remember make your own taco night? Your mom or dad would put all the components out on the dining room table and you got to play taco chef? Chefs John Besh and Aarón Sánchez have created a similar setup for this DIY dish. Starring fire-roasted amberjack served whole, it arrives with charred avocados, crispy sweet potatoes tossed in jalapeño vinaigrette, and more, so you can make yours just the way you like it. Make a reservation at Johnny Sánchez.

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Nacional 27, Chicago, Illinois
Hawaiian poke – raw fish salad – is having a moment. This secret off-menu taco features tuna poke dressed up with oil, red wine vinegar, ginger, and chipotle powder. It’s topped off with avocado and jicama salsa and served in a gyoza shell. Make a reservation at Nacional 27.

Unique Tacos

Sushi Garage, Miami Beach, Florida
The Far East meets South of the Border in this inventive taco. Chef Sunny Oh uses a perilla (sesame leaf) instead of the traditional tortilla. He folds into it minced toro, kizami wasabi salsa, and sushi rice mixed with crispy shallots. It’s both delicioso and oishii. Make a reservation at Sushi Garage.

Unique Tacos

Kuro, Hollywood, Florida
Chef Alex Becker didn’t want to use your average Angus in his tacos. So, he upped the ante by subbing in Wagyu instead. They’re brightened with spicy cilantro, soy shallots, and aji amarillo aioli. Guests can squeeze on some fresh lime juice to add an acidic pop. Make a reservation at Kuro.

Unique Tacos

Oyamel, Washington, D.C.
Trust José Andrés to come up with a taco that defies stateside convention. He piles a corn tortilla high with chapulines, which sounds dainty and delightful when you say it in Spanish. Before you take a bite, let us translate. It means “grasshoppers.” Let us reassure you though, the crunchy insects taste like what they’ve been sautéed with – shallots, chipotle purée, and tequila – more than anything else. Also, if you were in Mexico, downing a few of these tacos would be no big deal as they’ve been enjoying the little hoppers for centuries. Make a reservation at Oyamel.

Unique Tacos

Kachina Southwestern Grill, Westminster, Colorado
The kitchen crew found inspiration in Native American cuisine when they conceived the Mojave Navajo tacos. Rich duck confit, crispy duck skin, and Manchego cheese get a lift from pickled cactus and spicy sweet chipotle agave. In keeping with the theme, the taco forgoes a tortilla for housemade fry bread. Make a reservation at Kachina Southwestern Grill.

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Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges: Where to Spend Your Refund

April showers bring May flowers or if you’re really lucky, the month itself brings a big fat tax refund. Since experiences bring more happiness than possessions, a big splurge dinner on the town seems like the perfect way to spend it. Here are some top picks Tax Day 2016 dining splurges to live and eat large if only for one night. please note that the most exclusive wines are available in extremely limited quantities, so it’s best to inquire ahead of time if you have your heart set on a particularly splurge-y selection.

Daniel, New York, New York
Daniel Boulud’s flagship restaurant on the Upper East Side just off of Central Park is the epitome of contemporary French extravagance. The seven-course tasting menu clocks in at $234 or $459 with wine pairings and includes signature dishes like velvety Minted Pea Soup with chicken mousse and Louisiana crayfish and garlic pennycress and can include courses of langoustines, beef, and quail with foie gras. The wine list has selections such as Chateau D’Yquem 1918 for $10,000 or Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 2009 for $15,000. Or if you’re celebrating with similarly flush-with-cash friends, how about a magnum? You can’t go wrong with the Domaine Henri Jayer Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru “Cros Parantoux”1995 for $20,000. Make a reservation at Daniel.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Providence, Los Angeles, California
Chef Michael Cimarusti’s 2-Michelin star paean to fine dining in the heart of Los Angeles features the chef’s menu, a 12-course tasting menu with sustainable seafood from the U.S. and beyond, as well as other delicacies like prized A5 wagyu beef. Decadent touches include ossetra caviar and white truffle and black truffle fondue. It’s $220 or $325 with wine pairings. But if you’re really looking to splash out, begin your evening with a bottle of 1998 Krug Clos d’Ambonnay Champagne for $3,500 and then move on to a bottle of 2012 La Tâche Domaine de la Romanée-Conti for $4,000. Finish the evening with a bottle to remember in the way of a 1959 Staatsweingut Kloster Eberbach Riesling Auslese for $3,500. Make a reservation at Providence.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Saison, San Francisco, California
Chef Joshua Skenes and sommelier Mark Bright have crafted one of the most unique high-end dining environments at Saison, with its open floor plan encompassing the dining room, bar, lounge, and kitchen — effectively removing all walls. The goal is to bring diners into the chef’s world, in this case, a minimalist redesign of the California Electric Light Company building. Dishes have vague and poetic names such as Fire in the Sky Beet, Bone Marrow Roasted over Coals and Sea Urchin, Liquid Toast. The prix-fixe Discovery menu is a luxe $398 for about 16 courses with an additional $298 for wine pairings. But if you want to really max out the credit cards (assuming you can pay it off with your return dough), you might consider ordering the Domaine Georges Roumier ‘Bonnes-Mares’ Grand Cru 2009 for $15,408 or ending the experience on a truly sweet note with Château D’Yquem Premiere Cru Supérieur, Sauternes 1942 for $6,888. Make a reservation at Saison.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

StripSteak by Michael Mina, Miami, Florida
Located in the historic Fontainebleau hotel on Collins Avenue in Miami, StripSteak is swank and clubby with its wood tones and rich browns. Start your meal with rare golden osetra caviar service for $295, and then indulge in a beefy entrée like the 50-ounce Australian tomahawk for $150 or the Japanese Miyazaki prefecture A5 striploin for $32 per ounce. Then gild the lily with add-on extras like half a Maine lobster tail or seared foie gras. The restaurant prides itself on having one of the largest pre-embargo Cuban cigar collections in Miami, all dating back to 1962 and earlier with prices generally in the $100-200 range but topping out at $395 for a 6-inch Montecristo. To accompany your stogie, choose a tableside Japanese whisky ceremony or perhaps a glass of 25-year Macallan for $370. Make a reservation at StripSteak by Michael Mina.

Tax Day 2016 Dining Splurges

Grace, Chicago, Illinois
This Michelin three-star restaurant is also one of the biggest splurges in Chicago. Elegant and understated, chef Curtis Duffy’s Windy City gem is upscale without being fussy. The menu offers an 8-12 course tasting menu format at $235. The dishes are described in classic minimalist style such as Alaskan King Crab, sudachi, cucumber, lemon mint or Pig Tail, endive, cauliflower, oxalis. Many dishes have Asian accents and the vegetarian “flora” menu is as captivating as the “fauna” menu, which showcases seafood and protein. The wine list features saves and splurges among 1,400 selections. Teetotalers can splurge on bespoke teas that cost upwards of $20 each. Make a reservation at Grace.

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