This is our editors’ annual rhapsody on their forever-favorite hotels from around the globe. In this year’s incarnation, we went beyond places to stay, including a range of experiences we consider truly exceptional—cruises, flights, restaurants, bars, destinations—along with the deeply personal reasons we love them. This was the stuff we daydreamed about in lockdown, and a few places we were actually able to visit—all that sustained us in a year of curtailed travel. Here, the bars and restaurants we’re still dreaming about.
Read the complete Gold List here.
- D.O.M., São Paulo, Brazil$$$A meal here is an exercise in storytelling. You’re given information and visual aids that explain the dishes’ provenance and the ingredients’ journey from various corners of Brazil to your plate, all served in an incredibly tasteful, modernist living room that feels like a stylish home. I ate there by myself, and I’ve had few more satisfying solo meals in my life. –Jesse Ashlock
- Keens Steakhouse, New York, New York$$$This is the first place I take people when they’re visiting New York. I’ve taken first-timers; I’ve taken tenth-timers. They all leave enamored; I leave beaming. I confess, there were some years when I worked nearby and the bar became my “regular.” When I walk in, I’m still greeted with hugs and high-fives. If I want a stool, they’ll hold it for me and a friend while someone closes out. It’s the history, it’s the camaraderie, and I especially love the irony that it’s a fancy steakhouse where I most frequently eat at the bar and most commonly order oysters Rockefeller. No one cares—your order really doesn’t matter. People are just glad to be there, and for me, that’s the magic of Keens. –Corina Quinn
- Atomix, New York, New York$$$Dinner here was as close as any meal in recent memory has come to being a poem. Each dish at Manhattan’s Atomix pleases the senses and comes with a menu card articulating its inspiration and how it’s rooted in Korean culinary history. The rice brought back such intense memories for my wife of her late mother that she started to cry. –J.A.
- Loose Canon Cheese & Wine, Dublin, Ireland$$When I was in Dublin last, I went back four days in a row—half the time for the wine, the other half for the grilled cheese sandwiches. It’s not much of a bar, per se, in that there are only about 6 stools and people are constantly coming in and out to buy cheese to take home with them, but the folks who work there are top notch, know their stuff, and are friendly to boot. –Meredith Carey
- Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, Lovettsville, Virginia$$$Though this old school farm-to-table spot offers a sophisticated meal with views of the Potomac River, few visitors—nay, locals—make it to this rural spot in Loudoun County. But if they do, they come up a steep gravel drive to find an elegant open patio and greenhouse-style dining room next to a home and a working farm. Ingredients are sourced on-site, which Tarver King and company turn into inventive New American dishes like Swordfish belly over Linden grapevines smoked over cedar. The restaurant is sort of an open local secret that I wish more people knew about. –C.Q.
- Kemuri Tatsu-ya, Austin, Texas$$I think by this point I’ve ordered everything off the menu (with the exception of the squid marinated in its own guts). This izakaya-meets-Texas-BBQ restaurant never disappoints and it’s usually my first and last stop on any trip to Austin. Plus, the cocktails will keep you there for hours on end. –Meredith Carey
- Navy Strength, Seattle, Washington$$Seattle’s Navy Strength is the rare tiki bar that has dispensed with kitsch, admirably deciding that strong, complicated drinks don’t need a resident plastic parrot. I love that the cocktail menu has a travel section spotlighting a new country every six months. They’ve done India and the Philippines in the past and their latest focus was on Japan. –Noah Kaufman
- Alma, Minneapolis, Minnesota$$The best Aperol Spritz I’ve ever had was in… Minneapolis. It’s been years, and yet I haven’t been able to stop thinking about that drink. Alma, a hotel-cafe-restaurant in the city, serves a spritz with chocolate-infused orange bitters, and it was the ideal pre-dinner drink before their incredible prix fixe dinner. –Stephanie Wu
- Wolfgat, Paternoster, South Africa$$Wolfgat has pulled in plenty of accolades in South Africa, but has somehow missed out on the international acclaim of other farm- fish- and forage-centric restaurants; it shouldn’t. The food is beautiful and intellectual, but also easy to eat. You don’t feel like you’re desecrating artwork when you stick your fork in. And the juxtaposition of having a Noma-level meal with your shoes off while the restaurant dog sits at your feet is pretty special. –N.K.
- Absintherie, Prague, Czechia$$Walk up a cobblestoned side street and into this dimly lit bohemian bar with its coffered ceiling, long wooden bar and team of true absinthe experts. The shelves are lined with close to 100 different bottles. You can try the legendary liquor macerated or distilled—and you should definitely do both. –Lara Kramer
- The Prince, Tel Aviv, Israel$$Don’t let the artfully dilapidated entryway fool you at this rooftop bar and restaurant—this is a place that has its act together, and then some.The balmy Mediterranean breeze in my hair, the beautiful people swilling cocktails under a gauzy halo of string lights, and the amazingly fresh, gorgeously prepared food have made The Prince a first stop whenever I’m in the city. –Betsy Blumenthal
- Nahm, Bangkok, Thailand$$Nahm, inside Bangkok’s COMO hotel, is so special. It fine tunes traditional Isam dishes like mango and chicken soup without ever feeling gratuitously reinventive; the oxtail curry, spiced just so, and mind blowingly tender, is a particular standout. If you skip the food stalls for one excellent sit down meal in Bangkok, do it here. –Erin Florio
- Yuji Ramen, Brooklyn, New York$$I don’t understand how this ramen spot in east Williamsburg is still so under the radar. I think it only has 3 tables, you knock on the door and they’ll tell you the wait time (and usually recommend bars nearby for a drink) before you sit down in a tiny room filled with the scent of their homemade fish broth. It’s ramen like few Americans have tried (think mazemen with Maine uni and sunchoke romanesco) and it’s truly fantastic. -Megan Spurrell
- Dear Irving Gramercy, New York, New York$$$This was one of the first bars that I visited when I moved to New York City. I still remember walking into this speakeasy and thinking, this place is exactly what people imagine when they think of a speakeasy in New York. There are several different rooms, including the JFK room that is straight out of Mad Men, The Gatsby room, glamorous with beaded booths, and the Marie Antoinette room, which looks exactly like it sounds—all chandeliers and red velvet couches. There’s a buzzer when you are ready to order, the drinks are lethal and they do the best Gibson I’ve ever had. –Palllavi Kumar
- Elysian Bar, New Orleans, Louisiana$$I have never wanted to move into a bar permanently more than Elysian. It is absolutely unreal, with incredible decor from the saffron-colored, gingham-filled parlor to the lime green, plant-covered sunny atrium. Built into an old church rectory, its spacious rooms feel like part of a home, rather than an extravagantly designed bar. While the design is a draw, the drinks are even better. I highly recommend the spritz happy hour. I will never not stop here on a trip to NOLA. –M.C.
- Mister Jiu’s, San Francisco, California$$$Located on a throwback, lantern-lined side street in the city’s Chinatown, Mister Jiu’s is elegant and sophisticated and sexy and you will definitely want to order a bottle of good champagne with your Peking Duck. That is in perfect keeping with chef Brandon Jew’s goal of expanding the boundaries of the traditional Chinese-American food he grew up eating. In a city with an abundance of excellent restaurants and dearth of real scenes, this place manages to be both. –Rebecca Misner
- Ministry of Crab, Colombo, Sri Lanka$$I ordered Sri Lankan crab and prawns that were almost the size of my arm at Ministry of Crab, a seafood-focused restaurant in Colombo’s 400-year old Dutch Hospital Shopping precinct. The preparation was so spicy, so tasty, that I shed tears of heat and happiness. It really was that good. –P.K.
- The Gazebo Lounge, Istanbul, Turkey$$$The Gazebo Lounge, a sprawling terrace bar at the Çırağan Palace Kempinski, a former Ottoman palace turned hotel, right on the Bosphorus, is unparalleled come sunset. If I could, I would begin every evening in Istanbul here, with a drink in hand, watching the boats drift back and forth from the Black Sea. –Lale Arikoglu
- Harriet’s Rooftop & Lounge, Brooklyn, New York$$$I have never seen Manhattan look sexier than it does from the corner window table at Harriet’s after the sun goes down and one million dazzling little lights shape the borough’s famous skyline. And the bridge is in the foreground, to boot. The drinks are strong, the food does the trick, the music is good, but it’s the view that keeps me coming back. –E.F.
- Night+Market, Los Angeles, California$$Every trip I take to Los Angeles involves a stop at Night + Market for larb, khao soi haw, and Panang en neua, and some new discovery off the excellent natural-wine list that’s filled with helpful descriptions like ‘electric party juice,’ which sealed the deal on a bottle of Le Sot de L’Ange, Sec Symbole during my last visit. –M.C.
- Finnriver Farm and Cidery, Chimacum, WashingtonThis is the loveliest organic orchard and cidery about two hours northwest of Seattle on the verdant Olympic Peninsula. They’ve been at the forefront of the cider revival and they make the most interesting flavors like black currant and habanero. They also have the friendliest staff that will lead you through tastings. It’s an absolutely stunning location to spend a long, lazy afternoon. –Madison Flager
- Cuc Gach Quan, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam$$The food at this mostly plant-based restaurant is absolutely delicious and the setting, a beautifully restored French Colonial building, is just perfect. There are tons of interesting small dishes that are good to share and I love that a subsection of the menu is ‘Flowers.’ How often do you see that? I dream of doing an internship at Cuc Gach Quan, learning their secrets, and opening a branch in New York City. –Zoe Westman