Dining at a resort restaurant means an escape from the everyday. Views, whether of snowcapped mountains, soaring waterfalls, or beautiful gardens, are exceptional. And the food is a chance to dive deep to experience the best that a community has to offer. Sure, chefs can use high-end ingredients like foie gras and lobster but the best resort restaurants use these and other local and internationally-sourced ingredients to provide a unique experience, a momentary pause in the rush of life, a departure from the familiar and the customary. That could mean fish pulled from the sea in front of you and cooked on a live fire grill or housemade pasta with mushrooms foraged from the woods just beyond the hills that frame the view. No matter if you enjoy city, beach, or mountains for your resort getaway; these gems stand out for the complete experience they provide. Just make sure to bring along your sense of wonder.
Mariposa at Deer Valley Resort, Park City, Utah
It is said that some of the best snow in the world falls in Utah. Dry powder, loose and fluffy, is, after all, a skier’s dream. Following a full day on the slopes, park your skis by the door at Mariposa, located mid-mountain at Deer Valley Resort, to savor the new dinner menu from executive chef Chris Gibson. Signature dishes have recently included those that blend classic flavors and hot trends to satisfy hearty appetites. The harissa and herb-crusted lamb loin is made with local Morgan Valley lamb rubbed with harissa and seasoned with finely minced herbs. Garam masala adds zip to the accompanying kalettes (a cross of kale and Brussels sprouts). Tangy raita pulls it together. Chef Gibson bakes his own bread for the ahi and avocado toast. “It is a version of Russian black bread full of roasted spices and elements like dark cocoa powder and coffee,” he said. Dressed with pickled haricot vert, sous vide egg yolks, and a garnish of Spanish white anchovy, the dish has quickly become a guest favorite. Ask for the table by the walk-in sized fireplace to ward off a chill. Make a reservation at Mariposa at Deer Valley Resort.
Manta at The Cape, a Thompson Hotel, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Hailed as a culinary innovator with a deft hand for forward-thinking Mexican cuisine, Executive chef Enrique Olvera (you know him from Chef’s Table) helms Manta, where he brings his straightforward-yet-refined approach to the flavors of the Pacific Rim. The octopus anticucho is a fine example of the seafood-forward menu at Manta. Utilizing South American octopus and a chorizo mayo, the dish manages to be familiar yet different. Fresh flavors are perfect for the beachside setting at this eatery, where large, hand-carved wooden doors open to an exhibition-style kitchen with teppanyaki and robata grills. A seat on the terrace adds an auditory element to your meal – lapping surf. It is an ideal spot to dine or sip one of Manta’s small-batch tequilas and other aged Mexican spirits and toast the culinary riches of Mexico. Make a reservation at Manta.
Il Villagio Osteria at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Teton Village, Wyoming
Wyoming has its share of snow-covered mountains and Jackson Hole offers heli-skiing and hella good eats on the mountain and in town. But it is at the base of the mountain where you will find Teton Village and Il Villagio Osteria at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Beloved by locals for its authentic Italian cuisine, Il Villagio Osteria recently celebrated its 40th year in business. The simple décor belies the depth of flavors in the food. “I focus on creating simple dishes in which each ingredient shines,” said executive chef Serge Smith. Pizza is popular here, but it is in chef Smith’s pasta dishes that his ethos shines through. Creste Rigate pasta features housemade pasta infused with puréed black garlic and black trumpet, hedgehog, and maitake mushrooms. A brief sauté in a bit of white wine and butter and a toss of chives and parsley are all that is needed to create a dish that exemplifies the beautiful simplicity of the Italian culinary canon. Make a reservation at Il Villagio Osteria.
Japengo at The Hyatt Regency Maui, Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii
Ka’anapali Beach is home to the Hyatt Regency Maui, its oceanfront spa, and Japengo, one of the resorts in-house restaurants. With the Pacific Ocean sparkling in front of their eyes as the kitchen staff work, it is easy to see why chef de cuisine Gevin Utrillo, who was born and raised in Lahaina, keeps the focus on the flavors of the Pacific Rim. A signature dish is Lobster Dynamite. Defrocked of its shell, the lobster tail is prepared with an eye on the flavors of Japan. A mixture of opilio crab is seasoned with slightly sweet Kewpie mayonnaise and a dash of yuzu and then placed back in the shell before a run under the broiler; it’s then topped with salmon roe and kabayaki sauce. The unique presentation takes the dish far beyond the sushi bar to a more inspired place. Make a reservation at Japengo.
Lone Eagle Grille at The Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Incline Village, Nevada
The views from the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa, and Casino are gasp-inducing at sunset, no matter the season. Situated lakeside with soaring ceilings and massive granite and roughhewn wood features, the resort is the essence of a 1920’s grand lodge. The stone fireplace at Lone Eagle Grille carries the aesthetic into the dining room where chef de cuisine Shane Hammett prepares cuisine inspired by the high Sierras. The menu ranges from cider-marinated beet salad and Passamore Ranch trout with a green grape and celeriac purée to American Wagyu flat iron steak and elk strip loin. But this restaurant is known for its iconic Baked Tahoe dessert. Its architecture is drawn from the frozen pinecones that cling to the region’s famous cedars, and the dish is anchored by a buckwheat brownie layered with vanilla ice cream and toffee. The meringue topping, toasted with a blowtorch, looks porcupine spiky. The sweet aroma of caramelized meringue will convince even the most steadfast naysayer to indulge in a bit of fun. After dinner, enjoy a Coal Miner’s Daughter cocktail, infused with lavender and fresh tarragon, in front of the roaring fire. Make a reservation at Lone Eagle Grille.
Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette at The Sanctuary Beach Resort, Marina, California
California coastal cuisine is what’s happening at Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette. Situated in the dunes of Monterey Bay, the epicenter of the sustainable seafood movement, Salt Wood Kitchen keeps it local, cooking many of the menu’s dishes on the wood-fired grill at the center of the restaurant. Chef David Baron grew up eating Kamayan-style – that “means we ate with our hands,” Baron said – and the menu reflects his wish to make the food fun and approachable. While it is not recommended to eat the seafood boil with your hands, the dish epitomizes chef’s casual approach. Fresh salt spring mussels and Manila clams sit cheek by jowl with merguez sausage and whole prawns. Corn, grilled over an open fire, fresh herbs, and a rich lobster stock make this dish a perfect meal for the seaside location that Salt Wood calls home. “I built the menu off of food that I wanted to eat on my day off,” said Baron. Make a reservation at Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette.
Blue Ribbon at The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas, Nevada
The white dishes with blue trim that cradle a serving of Blue Ribbon’s beef marrow & oxtail marmalade suggest casual diner. The grand mahogany bar and sea of chandeliers suggest uptown elegance. And that is exactly how it should be at Blue Ribbon at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. Chef Jason Corwin helms a kitchen known for top-quality ingredients carefully prepared and an eclectic menu that is perfectly suited for everyone from Elvis impersonators to divas dressed to the nines. First served at Blue Ribbon’s first New York location some 25 years ago, the dish stands the test of time. “We use center cut canoe bones that are salted for three days to extract impurities,” said chef Corwin. “And the rich, soft, and silky oxtail marmalade provides a sweet and tangy component to pair with the marrow.” This is a dish best enjoyed after a day of clubbing. You can do that in Vegas, you know? Make a reservation at Blue Ribbon.
Ave at the Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Close relationships between local fishermen and Ave’s executive chef Massimo De Francesca help drive the seafood-forward menu here. Located on renowned Seven Mile Beach on Grand Cayman, Ave at the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa is known for blending Mediterranean influences with the impeccable local ingredients. Savor a Spanish gin and tonic in the lounge while watching the sunset over the Caribbean Sea before making your way to the cozy confines of Ave. Wahoo crudo with pickled scotch bonnet chiles expresses the fresh flavor of the nearby sea while the Mediterranean swordfish is a menu must. Slow-grilled with lemon and herbs, the fish’s character is brightened with grapefruit reduction and a garnish of sun-dried tomato. “We wanted to create a dish that was not being offered on the island, a diverse alternative,” said De Francesca. Sweet and savory, delicate and hearty, it is a dish that suits the chef and the location. “Although European swordfish is incredible, when we can secure it locally, the taste is even better,” De Francesca confirmed. Make a reservation at Ave.
Point Royal at Diplomat Beach, Hollywood, Florida
An extensive raw bar with playful cocktails in tiki cups is your first hint that Point Royal is all about island style. Helmed by chef-partner Geoffrey Zakarian, Point Royal ‘s coastal seafood focus, from crab croquettes to Louisiana seafood gumbo, is apparent throughout the menu. Grab a seat at the airy bar on the terrace to try the GZ butter-poached lobster roll. Seasoned with a spicy mustard sauce, the secret of the dish’s success is butter. Chef Zakarian concurs. “Warming the lobster in butter brings the lobster to life.”(Figuratively speaking, of course.) Make a reservation at Point Royal.
Estérelat Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California
The sapphire blue walls and sunflower yellow leather banquettes are the first sign that you may have temporarily departed L.A. for the south of France at Estérel at the Sofitel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. The French garden patio with flowered trellises and a Provençal-inspired garden planted with fragrant tarragon, thyme, and lavender are another sign. The French-speaking staff and ‘Provence by way of California’ menu from chef Pete Manfredini seal the deal. “My favorite time of the day is when I go out to our garden and pick fresh herbs to use in my dishes,” said Manfredini. Brunch is an ideal time to escape to France (try the pain au chocolat), but dinner offers the opportunity to experience the half-grilled lobster with asparagus, fava beans, and tarragon cream. Incorporating fresh herbs and local and organically sourced ingredients, the dish has an exceptional freshness that is Manfredini’s signature. Bonus: spotting celebrities while sipping a Normandie cocktail at the on-property jazz club after dinner? That takes your dinner experience to 100. Make a reservation at Estérel.
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