As we begin traveling for the Holidays we felt it was time to update some of our favorite restaurants. If on the Eastern Seaboard this season and looking for a foodie experience, we have a few suggestions!

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The Matador Room’s bull ring and chandelier

The Matador Room- South Beach, Miami

If you are into sun and hankering for that atmosphere that can only be satiated by a martini straight up with olives, the Matador Room on South Beach fits the bill. Jean George Vongerichten has created a sumptuous atmosphere from the days of the 1940’s and 50’s with a rich Moderne interior centered around a huge historic chandelier.  The service is as flawless as the food, a tapas style serving with a combination of Spanish, Caribbean and South America flavors.  Afterwards, take a walk down the moonlit white sands of South Beach- beats shoveling snow!

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Chef Sean Brock of Husk making oyster stew (Tastingtable)

Husk- Charleston, South Carolina

If you are heading South to Charleston there is no better stop than Husk to sample a truly Southern cuisine. While hanging out at Husk with Parts Unknown host Anthony Bourdain, Bill Murray quipped “I’m right on the edge here of telling people this is a really nice place to come. Really, I don’t want anyone else to come. I like it the way it is.” Set in a traditional southern belle mansion in the heart of the historic city, one can explore the South through a culinary experience.

At Husk there are some rules about what can go on the plate. “If it doesn’t come from the South, it’s not coming through the door,” says Brock, who has even stricken olive oil from the kitchen. As he explains, the resulting cuisine “is not about rediscovering southern cooking, but exploring the reality of southern food.” Yet Brock isn’t so snooty about his food that he doesn’t do a burger- perhaps the best burger I can claim I’ve ever eaten, but a burger none the less.

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The kitchen working on their famous ripped-noodles (WSJ)

Xian Famous Foods- New York City

A favorite of celebrity foodies such as Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern, Xian Famous Foods is co-owned by a twenty something, Jason Wang and his father. Jason, called a phenom by Forbes Magazine, expanded his family business from Flushing into Manhattan with a few small hole-in-the-wall restaurants. When I say hole in the wall, I mean small. There is no “atmosphere” and there is barely enough room for a line to the counter and bar seats facing the wall on either side. What made Jason so “famous” was his family recipe for hand made ripped-noodles (best served with the spicy lamb curry).  A sign clearly states (in both Chinese and English) that they should be eaten on the spot, for the noodle does not carry well. Not for the faint of heart when it comes to spice!

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A cozy table at The Spotted Pig

The Spotted Pig- Greenwich Village

This neighborhood restaurant and bar is tucked into the charming heart of West Village. Best in winter when you don’t mind cozying up to your neighbor. The New York Times says “The Pig should hand you more than a menu. They should hand out a special Karma Sutra on the contortions to get to and from your seat.” True its tight and crowded, but the atmosphere matches the coziness in its warmth and material. The feeling is of a room where one would meet their writer’s agent over whiskey and oysters to hash out the plot of a 40’s noir mystery novel. The combination of English and Italian cooking is just as comforting. Be prepared for a wait; the hostess usually takes your cell number and tells you the neighborhood is charming for an evening (sometimes 2 hour) stroll before you may be seated.

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Lost Kitchen’s Chef Erin French

Lost Kitchen- Belfast, Maine

I’m actually still trying to get into the Lost Kitchen, since one must carefully plan their trip to Mid-Coast Maine with a two month wait. According to Food & Wine, “To eat at the lost kitchen, you first have to find it. From the mid-coast town of Belfast, Maine, drive 17 miles inland through woods and rolling farmland on a two-lane country road. Watch closely or you’ll miss the sign for Freedom. Take a quick left on Main Street, and there’s The Mill at Freedom Falls—The Lost Kitchen’s once crumbling, now beautifully renovated home. Cross a narrow bridge over a rushing stream, and you’re there.” Actually, called the Lost Kitchen because this unique food experience was started by Chef Erin French as an underground supper club out of her apartment in Belfast. Now based in an old mill in the woods, friends text her pictures of their farm-fresh produce before rushing it over for the evening meal. Food & Wine says, “Lost Kitchen is as farm-to-table as it gets.” If you can get in, I will be happy to book a ticket to join you!