Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.






  • pinitbutton What I Did on My Summer Vacation
panoramic view 300x200 What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Panoramic View from a suite in the Park Hyatt Aviara

by Jeff Hoyt

How could anyone turn down free airfare? That was the choice I recently made when American Express offered me 250,000 Membership Rewards points to plan my family summer vacation. If you’ve never had to wake a sleeping child from a nap to fold up their stroller to get through security; if you’ve never had to prove to the TSA that milk in a baby bottle was truly milk in a baby bottle; if you’ve never had to submit to the complete pat-down inspection because you wanted to carry milk in a baby bottle onto a flight; if you’ve never had a child screaming on a descending airplane because the tyke was too young to alleviate the pressure in her ears; if you’ve never had to wrestle ill-fitting baby seats into a rental car in the rain at the airport while the pint-sized passengers lustily vented their frustrations; then you would never understand why I would take my family via car to San Diego rather than accept free flights anywhere else.

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Travel More for Free

on July 19th, 2012
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  • pinitbutton Travel More for Free
IMG 7641 300x200 Travel More for Free

Driving up the coast in a Land Rover

by Jeff Hoyt

I recently wrote about how charge and credit cards bonus points can be used to travel for free. That is certainly true, but the more you know, the more bang you’ll get for your no bucks!

I have accumulated more than 150,000 American Express Membership Rewards points on my own. But American Express offered to give me an additional 250,000 points to book my family summer vacation through them, and I was thrilled by the opportunity.

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  • pinitbutton Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast
pismo beach north 300x200 Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast

The northern end of Pismo Beach

by Jeff Hoyt

When people think of Northern California, their thoughts often turn to San Francisco. Southern California cities that come to mind include Los Angeles and San Diego. But what about the Central Coast of California? Unlike other parts of the Golden State, there are no large cities in the area, allowing the focus to be on its natural beauty. As you cruise the Pacific Coast Highway south of Monterey all the way to Santa Barbara, you’ll enjoy rugged mountain vistas, coastal and ocean views, verdant farmland and picturesque vineyards.

Sandwiched between Northern and Southern California makes the Central Coast an easy place to visit for Californians as well as visitors from around the world looking for a different experience than Disneyland and the Golden Gate Bridge. Although the weather is pleasant year-round, we think the best time to visit is during the harvest.

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Travel for Free

on July 11th, 2012
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  • pinitbutton Travel for Free
american express card 300x196 Travel for Free

Travel for free with American Express

by Jeff Hoyt

Who hasn’t received one of those marketing postcards that offer a 3-day, 2-night Florida vacation that seems too good to be true? Do you know anyone who went on such a trip, because I don’t! But there are legitimate ways to travel for free.

I’ve been accumulating credit card bonus points for years. Some I’ve turned into Amazon gift cards. Others, I’ve stockpiled. On my American Express card, I’ve been able to accrue more than 150,000 Membership Rewards points just by buying things I normally buy, whether at gas stations, in stores, or online.

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  • pinitbutton 2012 Wimbledon Tournament on Tennis Channel

wimbledon 2012 Wimbledon Tournament on Tennis Channel

by Jeff Hoyt

The world’s best athletes will soon gather in London for the Summer Olympics. But some of them are there right now, competing in the world’s oldest tennis tournament. The Championships, Wimbledon is being conducted at the All England Club in Wimbledon, London, where it has been held since 1877.

If you can’t make it there to enjoy strawberries and cream at Centre Court, you can catch the action on the Tennis Channel series Wimbledon Primetime, which offers seven nightly hours of original Wimbledon programming. The first four-hour edition each night will include three hours of on-court stories and encore match coverage, followed by an hour of fast-paced highlights and interviews. This will be followed immediately by a second edition with three entirely new hours of the day’s best tennis, before the concluding catch-up hour. Moreover, the program will run every night of the tournament, through the final on Sunday, July 8.

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  • pinitbutton From Gayot to The New York Times
fresh garden peas 300x221 From Gayot to The New York Times

Fresh-picked garden peas

by Jeff Hoyt

We are very pleased with our international team of reviewers who write about restaurants, hotels and more from Sydney to the Galapagos. We are especially proud of one of our Paris correspondents, Jean-Claude Ribaut, who is the food critic for the French newspaper Le Monde.

Mr. Ribaut recently worked with Elaine Sciolino, a Paris correspondent for The New York Times, for an article on eating fresh peas. The two of them traveled to L’Oustau de Baumanière, a top restaurant in Provence where Queen Elizabeth has dined, to eat peas picked fresh that morning from the restaurant’s own vegetable garden.

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  • pinitbutton Ciroc Vodka with Sean Combs
p diddy 300x200 Ciroc Vodka with Sean Combs

Sean John Combs, brand ambassador for Ciroc Vodka

by Jeff Hoyt

Most personalities do their best to make their name a household one, reinforcing their “brand” repeatedly by getting their name out there, via their performances, TV appearances, CDs, DVDs, clothing lines and every media that will have them. But singer/rapper/actor/ producer/mogul/businessman Sean John Combs has bucked that trend, changing his name over and over again while continually staying in the public eye: Diddy; P. Diddy; Puff; Puffy; Puff Daddy; King Combs. Even his clothing lines utilize two different names based on his birth name: Sean John and “Sean by Sean Combs.”

But the multiple Grammy Award winner has only one name for his vodka: Ciroc. When he became a brand ambassador in 2007, the French vodka was only selling about 10,000 cases per month. With the entrepreneur pushing the product, and sharing in the brand’s profits, sales were about 400,000 cases in 2009, and reportedly close to 1,000,000 cases last year. No wonder the singer now refers to himself jokingly as “Ciroc Obama.”

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The Best Easter Brunch

on April 04th, 2012
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  • pinitbutton The Best Easter Brunch
peacock alley 300x214 The Best Easter Brunch

Peacock Alley at The Waldorf=Astoria in New York, one of our Top 10 Restaurants for Easter Brunch in the U.S.

by Jeff Hoyt

If you haven’t made reservations for Easter Brunch yet, you’re running out of time. Consult our lists of the best Easter Brunch available in your area. We also feature the Top 10 Restaurants for Easter Brunch across the U.S. At many of these fine restaurants, you can make reservations for Sunday, April 8, with a few clicks on the website.

If you’re invited to brunch at someone’s house, or hosting one of your own, consult our list of the Top 10 Brunch Wines. They’re good on Easter and year-round.

Our current issue of Tastes features other money-saving wine lists, including Top 10 Wines Under $10, Top 10 Wines Under $20, Top 10 Value Wines and Top 10 Cheap Champagnes that are true Champagnes from France. The newsletter is focused on value, since this is the month we have to do business with the IRS. can save you money with its informative lists of Top 10 Value Cars, Top 10 Value Spas, and the Best Value Restaurants, Cheap Eats and other Meals on a Budget Near You. And if you want to laugh all the way to the bank, check out our picks for the Top 10 Movie Comedies of All Time!

Hawaii’s Best

on March 20th, 2012
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  • pinitbutton Hawaiis Best
manele bay 300x174 Hawaiis Best

Manele Bay on Lanai, one of our Top 10 Beaches in Hawaii

2012 Hawaii Newsletter Published

by Jeff Hoyt

Sure, spring is starting to appear, but wouldn’t you rather be in Hawaii right now? Let us be your guide!

We just published our annual Hawaii Newsletter that can work as a blueprint for your island getaway. We proudly present the Top 10 Beaches in Hawaii, offering readers ten great spots from Maui to Molokai for surfing, swimming, snorkeling and sunbathing. The issue also boasts a perfect five-day itinerary for tackling the islands with kids. Besides this family-friendly guide, travelers can find savvy escapes such as Kauai Honeymoon, Hawaii’s Volcanoes, Hawaii 101 for first-time visitors and Historic Hawaii.

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  • pinitbutton St. Patricks Day Edition of the Tastes Newsletter
boston parade 300x205 St. Patricks Day Edition of the Tastes Newsletter

Boston boasts the oldest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the world

Go Green!

by Jeff Hoyt

When we encourage readers to go green, we usually steer them to our articles on eco-resorts and organic wines. But now we’re referring to our favorite unofficial holiday.

Last month, we celebrated St. Valentine. Tomorrow it’s St. Patrick’s turn. Because March 17 falls on a Saturday this year, you’ll have an entire weekend to party. Let be your guide to the best parades, Irish beers, St. Patrick’s Day restaurants, and even the Top 10 Irish Pubs in the U.S. We published a newsletter today that should help you make the most of the weekend, and even answers the question, who exactly was St. Patrick?

Check out our special St. Patrick’s Day edition of the Tastes newsletter!

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