Restaurant Awards: Our Editors' Favorite Eateries Around the World
We may not be Michelin inspectors, James Beard judges, or New York Times critics at MyDomaine, but two things we love are great interiors and even better food. Just as the James Beard Foundation revealed its nominees for 2016, we thought to give our own restaurant awards—to highlight noteworthy establishments we encountered along our travels. You may not need to get on a months-long waiting list to get into these slightly off the Michelin star–beaten path. We used a five-point scale for décor and food to help you decide where to go first. Keep scrolling for our favorite restaurants that have marked our memory one way or another.
Food: 5 | Décor: 4.5
Entering ZZ’s Clam Bar in New York’s Greenwich Village is akin to entering a parallel universe imagined by Wes Anderson. With only four tables and three staff members—one majordomo guarding the door, one waiter, and one blond, bearded mixologist in a white tuxedo—the place is intimate, to say the least.
Under the watchful eye of Thomas Waugh, said bearded mixologist (formerly at Death & Co.), cocktails parade out in flaming coconuts resting on beds of crushed ice, lit by sticks of torched cinnamon bark. Nothing is too elaborate for the man standing behind a curved mahogany paneled and marble bar—not unlike one you would see at the Grand Budapest Hotel—surrounded by elaborate arrangements of fresh fruit and seafood laying on extravagant ice beds. The menu is a raw bar of seared live scallop with Sicilian pistachios, cured Japanese sardines in verjus, or red snapper and kaffir lime. The must try: an uni toast worth its weight in gold.
ZZ’s Clam Bar | 169 Thompson St., New York
Decor: 4.5 | Food: 5
Walking into Le Filet is a delight for any tennis fan. Staff are outfitted in chic black Lacoste tennis polo shirts and dresses. The logo is vaguely reminiscent of a private country club. The dominant color scheme is blush pink and grass-court green, surrounded by glimmering mixed metallics and stark black modernist light fixtures.
Their menu orchestrated by chef Yasu Okazaki is headlined as “Game, Set, Match” for appetizer, entrée, and dessert. The focus is a deliciously refreshing blend of local seafood with Japanese, and sometimes even Italian, undertones.
Le Filet | 219 Avenue Mont-Royal Ouest, Montréal
Food: 5 | Décor: 5
Set on the 55th floor of the Rialto in Melbourne, you can expect some stunning views. This dark and dramatic restaurant, which is said to represent the pinnacle of Melbourne fine dining, has won many awards and accolades over the years.
In the dining room, the chairs are covered in kangaroo skins (don’t worry, they are overpopulated in Australia)! The monochrome interiors leave all the attention to the sprawling city views—accented by orb lighting suspended from the ceiling and twinkling like stars. Expect a vaguely molecular cuisine celebrating the best that Australia has to offer.
Vue de Monde | 55, Rialto Towers, 525 Collins St., Melbourne
Food: 3.5 | Décor: 4
Caffè Stern is unabashedly quirky and theatrical. Whatever this Philippe Starck–designed establishment lacks in polish and formality, it makes up for in originality and joie de vivre. After walking along a labyrinth of covered backstreets (called passages), you are greeted with a pair of taxidermied animals (a coyote and a lynx) wearing extravagant dripping diamond necklaces.
You may also be welcomed by a quirky Italian waiter in a top hat and bow tie, who will insist on ordering on your behalf—a Campari apéro, and the entire dégustation menu—as opposed to, say one small plate and a glass of wine. And you will comply, because the Michelin-starred Italian chefs Max and Raf Alajmo will make it worth your while. The top hat–attired waiter may also try on your sunglasses or scarf, or pretend to management that you are complaining about the soft Boyz II Men ballads playing in the background—it’s all part of the fun. The interior, set in an old engraving shop, is ornate and intimate. A maze of rooms separate small dining rooms from others. The floors are original herringbone, and the walls are covered in embossed leather.
Caffè Stern | 47 Passage des Panoramas, Paris
Food: 4 | Décor: 3 (but 5 for the view!)
You may want to arrive at Nammos in one of their private speedboats dedicated to guests with yachts, says our lifestyle editor Sophie Miura. If that’s not your speed, you can also just walk in. One of Mykonos’s uncontested trendiest spots is perfect for a lazy lunch and an afternoon on the beach.
The fare is unfussy local Greek food: golden-fried calamari and dishes sprinkled with capers and sundried tomatoes. The food may be simple, but it's utterly fresh and delicious. Besides, you really can’t beat that view.
Psarou Beach, Mikonos
Food: 4.5 | Décor: 4
“Sit outside, and order a Painkiller and the grilled octopus” says our senior editor Jillian Knox-Finley. Under the cheery striped umbrellas and string lights of this Austin staple, a friendly staff serves seafood and oysters in a simple, but meticulously executed manner. “The service is the pinnacle of friendly Texan charm,” adds our senior editor.
The seafood-focused menu has an all-American feel, ranging from creole grilled oysters to New England–steamed mussels and New Orleans–style barbecue shrimp.
Perla’s | 1400 S. Congress Ave., Austin
Décor: 3 | Food: 4
Communal tables, an Italian-Californian fare, and shared small plates define this Cali-chic Venice Beach establishment. Open since 2008, Gjelina has amassed a sort of cult following for its laid-back surfer vibe aspirations. To this day, getting a table can be tricky.
Still, deceptively simple spaghetti tossed with anchovies and pomodoro confit pizzas continue to draw the crowds in with flawless execution and quality locally sourced food.
Gjelina | 1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice Beach
Food: 4.5 | Décor: 5
Crow’s Nest evokes precisely the type of carefree barefoot attitude that Montauk once represented, an increasing rarity in the swarming East End weekend destination. On a particularly balmy summer night, my girlfriends and I threw on our favorite off-the-shoulder dresses and lace-up sandals and headed down to the restaurant.
The space, which used to be a pirate’s lair–themed family friendly all-you-can-eat lobster joint, is now an elegant bohemian and worldly eatery, though the pirate theme very subtly remains. The menu is a mouthwatering blend of simple local flavors and Mediterranean spices, from fresh honey-drizzled ricotta to harissa-flavored striped bass or roasted beet salad with pistachio yoghurt. Order the Mezze platter and the Meadowbrook farm burrata. They just might change your life.
The Crow’s Nest | 4 Old West Lake Drive, Montauk
Décor: 5.5 | Food: 4
One of Paris’s hottest new spots is the three-tiered Les Chouettes in trendy Le Marais. At first glance, the Lázaro Rosa-Violán–designed space is exquisitely stunning—with its white painted 20-meter-high iron structure, patterned floors, and glass roof.
The ambiance is casual, but the food is not. Traditional bistro fare is executed by Nicolas Hébraud (formerly of Hotel Costes and the Savoy in London).
Les Chouettes | 32 Rue de Picardie, Paris
Décor: 4 | Food: 4
Ask anybody coming back from a trip to Tulum what their highlights were, and Hartwood will surely be mentioned. The restaurant doesn’t use electrical appliances (except a blender), so all the food is grilled or cooked in a wood-burning oven. Serving simple revisited Yucatan fare in a bohemian outdoor setting is their specialty.
Hartwood stems from the dream of New Yorkers Eric Werner and Mya Henry to leave their hustle and bustle life behind to open a simple restaurant in a paradisiacal place. Every aspect of this open-air restaurant revolves around the four elements. From arbol chiles and dragon fruits harvested from local-farmers to an ever-changing menu of freshly caught mahimahi or dorado.
Hartwood | Carretera Tulum Boca Paila 7.6km, Tulum
Food: 5 | Décor: 4.5
No matter the weather in New York City, you can always find a sunny resort escape at Santina, Major Food Group’s latest opening tucked under the High Line and newly reopened Whitney Museum. Dining in a Renzo Piano–designed glasshouse underneath fully grown citrus trees and colorful murano glass chandeliers will have that effect on anyone. The universe created by the Torrisi boys is 1960s summer on the Amalfi Coast. Picture a sun-kissed Jude Law singing Tu Vuò Fà l’Americano in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
In true Torrisi fashion, the cocktails are a must—though they're more toward tiki than Mediterranean. Every plate is colorfully hand-painted in Salerno. Order the cecina, a chickpea crepe garnished with five topping options ranging from raw tuna in chili oil to avocado trapanese. Most enjoyable at lunchtime when the sun is streaming in and the music is quieter.
Santina | 820 Washington St., New York
Décor: 4 | Food: 5
One of the best things I’ve ever eaten is chef Yotam Ottolenghi’s slow-roasted eggplants stuffed with cinnamon-scented lamb and pine nuts—and that was just me cooking it from his cookbook! That is the brilliance of this British-Israeli chef. His London restaurant Nopi showcases the best of his cuisine in a polished brass and white marble setting—serving coriander seed–crusted burrata with slices of blood-orange, and courgette fritters.
The menu changes seasonally, but the delicate Mediterranean flavors stay the same. For a restaurant that Forbes once called “London’s best restaurant,” we highly urge you to give it a try.
Nopi | 21 Warwick St., London
Décor: 4 | Food: 4
The eat-in kitchen at Palazzo Margherita captured our hearts, because not only do you get to taste traditional Basilicata cooking, you get to try your hand at cooking it too. The menu is rustic, home-made, and local, of course, ranging from hand-shaped orecchiette to grilled pork ribs. The space is outfitted with a traditional wood-fire oven, Carrara marble countertops, and a show-stopping vaulted brick ceiling.
The Coppola family–owned palazzo is not your traditional restaurant—you’ll have to stay there, to eat there—though after seeing the dramatic turquoise and white herringbone tiles and hand-painted ceilings of the Jacques Grange–designed guest rooms, we don’t believe you’ll mind.
Palazzo Margherita | Corso Umberto I, 64, Bernalda
We want to hear which restaurants you’d give your awards to. Share your favorites in the comments below.