January 4, 2016 Mariko_Admin

The Wanderlust List of Favourite Things

I’m a lover of many things. Herewith a list of some of my favourite restaurants, bars, hotels and other establishments that have stood out while on my travels. With the purpose of keeping current, I’m only listing places that I’ve been to in the last five years but it’s probably best to do a quick online search before you actually head there. Check back often, as I’ll continue to update this list as I travel this beautiful world 🙂

NORTH AMERICA

NYC

The Manhattan Skyline, seen from the boat of Fin Chaser Charters.

The Manhattan Skyline, seen from the boat of Fin Chaser Charters.

Ma Pêche Momofuku & Milk Bar, Ma Pêche is one of David Chang’s original restaurants. Every single dish was super tasty (best to order a bunch of stuff to share). There was even a dish with food that moved! ….and Milk Bar is his dessert line. Buy a few birthday truffles to go. So good they should be illegal.

Clinton St. Baking Co., really good for breakfast/brunch. I especially loved their blueberry pancakes.

Freeman’s, in Lower East Side, down a charmingly lit alleyway. This place is kinda hipster-y, the food is good and the atmosphere is fun…it’s just a bit loud, which I didn’t mind.

RedFarm, on 529 Hudson. Amazing chinese fusion stuff. Great for sharing a bunch of dishes.

Hudson Clearwater, at Hudson & Morton, I don’t think this place has a sign so just ask around once you get to the intersection.  Really good, farm to table food.

Rubirosa, for delicious authentically italian pizza.

New York Palace (hotel), loved staying here. The courtyard with trees, and a view of the beautiful old church across the street does it for me.  Nice place for drinks.  Although it’s old, the rooms are really nicely kept with comfy bed.

Gansevoort Park Hotel, I really like this one. Trendy yet good quality everything. Also good hair salon and yoga studio/gym right in the hotel…and easy location.

Sohotel, 341 Broom Street. No bells and whistles but the location can’t be beat. In one day, I went to a Soul Cycle class, hit up my favourite shops, got my hair done all within a few blocks of the hotel.

SAN FRANCISCO

House of Nanking in Chinatown, for slam bam thank you mam kinda service, super tasty dishes and lots of spicy options.

Tokyo a go go, for good quality sushi.

Mas Sake, for good sushi, but even better party atmosphere. This is good for those nights where you want a late dinner that turns into an even later night.

PORTLAND

Voodoo Doughnut, yes yes, it’s the place that every person recommends, but for a reason if you ask me! The eclectic doughnut shop bakes some of the tastiest doughnuts I’ve ever had.  It’s one of those places that is fun to visit for both the actual product but also the interesting vibe. As the locals say “Keep Portland Weird”!

Hood River, cute place to stay for a night. About an hour from Portland, it has a lot of charm. Reminds me of Ellicottville.

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Sushi on Fire, (main strip of Huntington Beach) and has really good spicy edamame.

Juicy Burger (in LA, Hollywood & Iver), was packed late-night post bar, but the burgers and fries were so good I’d return sober 😉

Church & State (downtown LA), my Manhattan was perfect and all our dishes were prepared nicely. A good, bustling atmosphere with nice “loft-lodge” decor.

Gjelina (Santa Monica), intimate and loud at the same time, a great place to order a bunch of plates to share.

Selanne Steak Tavern, everything is delicious at this quaint but lively establishment – from the steaks, to the part comfort food part fancy sides, to the cocktails and wine.  The atmosphere is also on point. It has a laid-back surf vibe with a glimmer of big city sparkle. And if you’re into it, you may just run into the retired pro hockey player who owns the eponymous restaurant.

NEW ORLEANS

Red Fish Grill, I cooked with the chef for one my shows so I’m biased, but I think the fare would please anyone.

Deanie’s, for grilled oysters, casual family feeling but good hearty food.

NASHVILLE

Burger Up, delicious gourmet burgers.

Red Door East, good little pub with good patio.

Robert’s, only good traditional honky tonk bar on Broadway.

Station Inn, amazing live folk/rock music. It’s also one of the, if not THE oldest concert venue in Nashville. Small, casual place with lots of character.

Rotiers, old school diner. Good homemade burgers.

OCEAN CITY, MD

Mackey’s, fun and casual bar & grill on the beach.

Seacrets and Fagers Island, best two spots to party.

ATLANTA

Vortex Burger, in my top 5 burger places. They’re more gourmet burger style than fast food burger style, with options of bison, turkey, vegan and of course regular beef patties.  Really hits the spot, every time…and fun, funky decor.

The Compound, club with lots of hip hop and R&B. All white, a lot of it outdoors. When I was there, DJ Jazzy Jeff was their guest DJ – it was awesome.

Woodfire Grill, fine dining – knowledgeable staff and super quality food.

Nick and Jim’s (outside of Atlanta), good southern bbq.

FRIDAY HARBOR – SAN JUAN ISLANDS (Washington state)

Cafe Demeter, get the walnut croissant!

KETCHIKAN (Alaska)

Hole in the Wall, super wicked small bar with lots of character.

VEGAS

Nobu, for asian fusion cuisine.

SW, for top quality steak and oysters and a modern fine dining atmosphere.

MAUI

Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice, for the best shave ice. I had the leche flavour with ice cream in the middle with shaved coconut on top & we also tried one with a selection of fruit flavours with fresh mochi balls – sooooo tasty!

VANCOUVER

Vij’s, delicious Indian fusion cuisine.

Banditos, on Commercial on the East side, amazing vegetarian resto.

Hotel Georgia, high end comfortable hotel in the heart of the city, with exceptional service.

Hawksworth (in Hotel Georgia), sexy vibe and totally worth the splurge. Officially rated as one of the best restaurants in the city.

Prohibition Bar (in Hotel Georgia), as the name suggests – Prohibition era decor, with specialized cocktails.

Pure Bread, a long spread of the most scrumptious baked goods. My favourite is the raspberry cheesecake brownie.

TOFINO

Breaker’s Deli, for delicious breakfast sandwiches.

The Spotted Bear, really delicious sit down breakfast/brunch.

Wild Side Grill, we went Chanterelle picking with one of the owners then cooked mushroom soup with him in his kitchen so I’m biased, but actually, their chocolate peanut butter brownies are possibly the most delicious brownies I’ve ever had…and I eat a lot of brownies.  It’s a small shack in one of the “plazas” off the main road in Tofino.

OTTAWA

Oz Cafe, solid food with an intimate vibe.

NEW BRUNSWICK

Grant’s Donairs (Miramichi area), best donairs I’ve ever had. Go for lunch and sit on the picnic table outside.

MONTRÉAL

L’Orignal, really good farm to table food in an imitate, chalet type atmosphere.

Garde Manger, owned and operated by celebrity chef Chuck Hughes. Really delicious everything including their customizable seafood platter. Sexy and fun ambiance. Also good for drinks post dinner. In Old Montreal.

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico

Gordo Lele, I cannot begin to describe the happiness I felt when I was here. Basically, it’s a tiny one room place that can seat maybe 10 people, the tacos are one of, if not the best tacos I’ve ever eaten, and a large man with a mini guitar “serenaded” us while we ate.

Happy Ending, fun, small bar. I think it attracts surfer types, locals and tourists alike. When we were there they were giving out awards for a body surfing competition and an older lady started strip dancing on top of the bar.

PLAYA DEL CARMEN, Mexico

Banyan Tree Mayakoba, 5 star villa resort. The villas have everything you’d want from outdoor bathtubs, to breakfast nook, to personal pool and hot tub – all within a rainforest setting.  The main pool for all guests is also a draw. Clean lines, facing the ocean, and they make the most delicious coconut drink fresh off their palm trees. Service here is possibly the best service I’ve ever encountered, anywhere.

Rosewood Mayakoba, same description as Banyan Tree, but with even better food. Every restaurant on the property is top notch. Two of them consist of fusion food (Italian with a Mexican twist, Japanese tequila bar with a Mexican twist) and another is meant to be family style, with romantic christmas lights strewn above the outdoor space and serves traditional Mayan cuisine.

I “heart” tacos, bad service but delicious place for straight up tacos in the main area of Playa del Carmen.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS

Bahamian Grille, super delicious BBQ, home cooked food. Not fancy, only locals, just delicious.

CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA

SÃO PAULO

Kiss and Fly, a small intimate night club with lots of Brazilian models. I think they get the best DJ’s in town. When we were there, Avicii played a set and it was before he was a big deal.

Buddha Bar, sushi & lounge. I think there may be more than one restaurant in São Paulo by the same name. The one I’m recommending  is in the same complex as Kiss and Fly.

BÚZIOS, Brazil

Vila d’este, one of the most charming and well put together places I’ve stayed at. On the main strip in Búzios, it’s a small boutique hotel with a pool and breakfast area overlooking the bay.  Each room is different and special and the hotel staff super friendly, chill, worldly and helpful.

Fishbone, on Geriba beach. Super chill surfer vibe with delicious fresh Brazilian food.

Rocka, on Brava beach overlooking large rocks and a small cliff like beach, with day beds “Nikki Beach” style and large umbrellas. Lots of super delicious fresh pasta, oysters, Moët and really sexy men working there. A-mazing.

URUGUAY

La Huella, amazing everything (ambiance, menu, decor, people) beachside restaurant in Punta del Este.

Posada Plaza Mayor, a sweet little hotel in Colonia built in the 1800’s. Colonia is a really cool place to visit for a day or two because most of it was built in the 17th and 18th centuries and many of the original buildings remain.

ASIA

SHANGHAI

Nan Xiang Steamed Bun restaurant, in the old quarter – their “chinatown”. Really delicious dim sum with a lively atmosphere, in a location that you’d want to visit anyway.  Also, they have a window where you can watch the chefs roll the dumpling dough.

Din Tai Fung, also really delicious dim sum, there’s one in the French Quarter.

HONG KONG

Tim Ho Wan, the MOST delicious bbq’d pork buns I’ve ever had and probably the best dim sum I’ve ever had (in Kowloon – hard to find but worth it). It doesn’t get more authentic than this. When we finally found the place, it was us in a sea of locals waiting for a table.  I’m drooling right now thinking about it.

Hutong, good chinese food but the real attraction is the view. If you time your reservations right, the city displays fireworks EVERY NIGHT which you can see from this place.

TOKYO

Sukiya-bashi Jiro, of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” fame.  If you haven’t seen this documentary, go watch it, then you’ll appreciate why you’re paying such big bucks for the experience. We went to his sons, Takashi’s (also in the documentary) which is in Roppongi Hills.  I would actually recommend this one over the dad’s because although he follows almost every pure and disciplined method like his father, he has alcohol on the menu and usually has an apprentice that speaks some english which helps. It’s best if you can find someone who speaks Japanese to make the reservations and you need to make them well in advance.  In the top 3 best sushi places in all of the world…many would say best.

Umegaoka Sushi no Midori-Sohonten, great sushi for decent prices and big portions, fresh, and lively atmosphere (there’s one in Mark City building in Shibuya).

PHUKET

Sandalwood, an upscale yet very laid back boutique hotel with Thai decor and atmosphere intact.  Each villa (except for one) has its own pool overlooking the bay and the town of Koh Samui. A total dream. Stay tuned for a full blog on Thailand for more details.

EUROPE

PARIS

Au Petit Sud Ouest, the most charming little restaurant, literally 5 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. Super french but north american level customer service. Good wines, even better foie gras. This place and their staff have serious personality.

Titty Twister, you read that right! A current bar good for drinking, dancing (super sweet tunes) and people watching (mostly models when we were there). Sexy decor. Just off Champs Elysées.

LONDON

The Wolseley, open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner but I have a feeling it’s extra special for breakfast/brunch. We had a mix of in house made pastries and the usual british savoury dishes. The best part though is the atmosphere. Everyone from socialite moms to business men to tourists dine here. It’s a grand room with high ceilings, dark wood and large chandeliers. I could have stayed for hours.

AFRICA

MARRAKECH, Morocco

Les Jardins de la Médina, a lovely boutique hotel that was once a palace in the médina (old part of town).  Staff are exceptional and they have a nice outdoor breakfast area and pool which provides a nice break from the craziness of the city.

Le Comptoir, had so. much. fun. here. The menu consists of moroccan, french and asian and it’s pretty delicious but the real draw here are the belly dancers that come out around 9:30pm and then the Gnaoua musicians (traditional Moroccan music – but not traditional in the tame sense, they rock out. It’s awesome). Try to get reservations upstairs.

ESSAOUIRA, Morocco

Villa Maroc, the most romantic, moody, unique hotel in the heart of the small médina (old part) of town. We didn’t stay here but I would next time. We ate dinner here and it was exceptional.