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




Happy New Year of Eating

on December 30th, 2011
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  • pinitbutton Happy New Year of Eating
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Beijing duck soup

by Jeff Hoyt

Still haven’t made New Year’s Eve plans? No sweat. We can help you out with our lists of the Best Places to Dine Out on New Year’s Eve. If you’re entertaining, or being entertained, check out our Champagne and Sparkling Wine lists. We have everything from the Top 10 Champagnes Under $30 for the budget-conscious to the Top 10 Tête de Cuvées for those who simply want the best. If bubbles are not your thing, we also feature the Top 10 Holiday Wines.

Even if you can’t make it to any of the featured destinations, check out our Top 10 Places to Celebrate New Year’s 2012. If you don’t have the time or the funds to travel next year, take your taste buds on a trip instead. We recently enjoyed a holiday feast at the Plum Tree Inn, a signature restaurant in the Chinatown area of downtown Los Angeles. We’ve been fans of Beijing Duck for so long, we remember when it was simply called Peking Duck. But the roast duck recipe dates back so many centuries that it can actually be found in an imperial cookbook written in 1330! At this meal, we ate the duck in soup as well as the traditional method: wrapped in Mandarin pancakes with hoisin sauce and scallions. We were also introduced to Lion’s Head, a dish of oversized meatballs that we never knew existed.

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Set Sail for Hawaii

on December 27th, 2011
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The beach at Lihue, Kauai

by Jeff Hoyt

We think anytime is a great time to visit Hawaii, but we appreciate The Aloha State the most when winter hits the mainland. Fun in the sun is so much more so when you know your neighbors back home are knee deep in snow.

If you want to put sunscreen on your neck instead of a scarf, we recommend a trip to Kauai. As more and more people discover this once-remote island, developers are making over the pristine landscape. Although we’d like to stop this wave of “progress,” one advantage is that there are more top places to stay, and more top toques to satisfy your appetite. Our Kauai travel guide will tell you where to book reservations for hotels and restaurants while you’re in search of volcanoes.

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  • pinitbutton Johnnie Walker Double Black
johnnie walker double black 116x300 Johnnie Walker Double Black

Johnnie Walker Double Black

by Jeff Hoyt

“Make it a double!” is an oft-spoken command to a bartender, but it takes on a different meaning when the spirit in question is Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch whisky. Jim Beveridge, Master Blender of the House of Walker, has produced the company’s newest release, Johnnie Walker Double Black.

If you enjoy the smoky, peaty flavor of Johnnie Walker Black Label, then this new limited release gives you more of what you look for in a Scotch. The distinctive blend is even smokier, even peatier and even bolder than its younger brother, but eminently drinkable.

Double Black is composed of select single malts of naturally smoky aged whiskies and whiskies that have matured in deep charred oak barrels. Despite its strength, it is still quite complex, with fruit, vanilla and spice flavors also evident. We recommend drinking it on the rocks with water, which helps release more of the flavor.

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The $100 Egg Roll

on October 05th, 2011
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  • pinitbutton The $100 Egg Roll

by Jeff Hoyt

How much would you spend for an egg roll? Chef Jack Lee has created what he calls The $100 Egg Roll, made with premium ingredients: Maine lobster tail, Alaska King Crab meat, summer black truffle, caviar and gold leaf. The Los Angeles-based private chef recently cooked a seven-course meal called “Beyond the Seven Seas,” which also featured his distinctive Chinese Art Scroll made of Chilean sea bass with rice noodle and scrolls made from asparagus.

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Green & Great Chefs

on November 16th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Green & Great Chefs
great chefs la4 Green & Great Chefs

Chefs Mary Sue Milliken, Adam Horton, Josie Le Balch, Matt Carpenter, and Jimmy Shaw at the 24th Annual Great Chefs of LA "Go Green, Go Organic" Event

by Jeff Hoyt

The weather gods smiled on the 24th Annual Great Chefs of Los Angeles “Go Green, Go Organic” event, where threatening skies turned into warm afternoon sunshine. The event featuring food, wine, beer and fun benefitted the National Kidney Foundation. Since its inception in 1987, it has raised more than $4.5 million.

Featured Great Chefs included Adam Horton from Saddle Peak Lodge, named one of our Rising Chefs, who prepared braised wild boar with leek soubise; Matt Carpenter of Momed, who wowed the crowd with his duck shwarma; and Onil Chibás & Alberto Morales of Elements Kitchen who cleverly crossed cultures with their satisfying marinated flank steak kimchi tacos. The most memorable food product of the day: Sushi Poppers!

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Hip Hop Cognac, part 3

on November 09th, 2010
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Rapper T.I. reportedly loses his Remy Martin deal after his arrest

By Jeff Hoyt

We hate to say, “I told you so!” And by “hate” we mean “love,” like, in hip-hop, “bad” can actually mean “good.”


You may recall that we questioned the wisdom of Remy Martin Cognac naming felon/rapper T.I. their Global Creative Consultant after serving time on weapons charges. Shortly thereafter, we reported on his Los Angeles drug arrest. Now it appears the cognac house and others believe it’s time to drop him like he’s hot.


After being sentenced to eleven additional months behind bars on the probation violation stemming from the arrest, T. I. has reportedly lost his Remy Martin deal.  In addition, he has also lost his sponsorship deal for AXE Body spray. It seems there are only a certain number of felonies a rapper can get caught committing before endorsement deals dry up.

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  • pinitbutton Dining Out More, but Enjoying it Less?
dining out enjoying less Dining Out More, but Enjoying it Less?

FLIP Burger Boutique in Atlanta, one of our Top 40 Cheap Eats in the U.S.

by Jeff Hoyt

Americans are dining out more, but spending less per meal. That’s the conclusion of payment processor First Data. Comparing September 2010, to a year earlier, food service establishments posted a 12.7-percent jump in transactions, the highest increase in 18 months. However, they also suffered a 4.5 percent decrease in the average check for the month, meaning customers were ordering less and taking advantage of promotions. Perhaps diners are sharing appetizers and desserts, or forgoing the steak for the hamburger.

To make your dining dollars go further, check out our Top 40 Cheap Eats in the U.S. and Best Value Restaurants near you. In our GAYOT Economic Stimulus Plan, we list the Top 10 Value Hotels Worldwide which can help you save on your vacation, and even the Top 10 Value Automobiles to help you get there. And if dollars are so tight that you’re stuck at home, why not try one of our Top 10 Wines Under $10? Cheers to better times ahead.



  • pinitbutton Stop Grilling the Witness!
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Have no fear Rogue States fans! Try a hamburger from one of's Top 10 Burger Restaurants in Washington DC

by Jeff Hoyt 

It can be tough when your neighbors are lawyers. Just ask the owner of Rogue States, a Washington, DC, hamburger restaurant that was sued by the high-powered law firm located nearby. Yesterday, a judge ordered the restaurant to stop grilling hamburgers because of the “intense and noxious odor.”

According to the Washington Post, employees at the firm Steptoe & Johnson complained about itchy eyes, headaches and nausea, which they attributed to grilling fumes from the neighboring Dupont Circle eatery. Despite the restaurant’s attempts to upgrade its air-cleaning equipment, the firm filed suit and prevailed. The result could be the permanent closure of the restaurant, since it only serves burgers and fries. 

A Lot at Steak

on October 13th, 2010
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Bite into’s guide to cooking the perfect steak

by Jeff Hoyt

New Yorkers may think their metropolis is superior to Kansas City — both Kansas and Missouri — but there’s one place where they’re completely equal: inside a cow. Believe it or not, a New York strip steak is identical to a Kansas City strip steak. They’re both the marbled larger end of the short loin. That muscle, which is tender because it isn’t used much, is also called a striploin, shell steak, or sirloin club steak, although I’d imagine New York clubs are superior to Kansas City clubs!

Now keep that same strip steak on the bone, and add a piece of the nearby tenderloin, and you’ve got a T-bone steak. Unless you add a lot of the tenderloin, which gives you a Porterhouse. Confused? Check out our guide to beef cuts, which explains the difference between Rib-eye and Prime rib.
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  • pinitbutton From Daniel Boulud to Food Truck
detroit food taco truck 300x204 From Daniel Boulud to Food Truck

Tacos from chef Wesley Holton's food truck, Jacques Tacos, in Detroit, MI

by Jeff Hoyt

Wesley Holton worked in Daniel Boulud’s kitchens in New York City and Palm Beach, Florida, before becoming executive chef at the Daniel Boulud Brasserie in the famed Wynn Las Vegas hotel. But since that high-end French restaurant closed earlier this year, Holton has a new gig: making tacos in Detroit’s first food truck!

And while the Daniel Boulud Brasserie offered caviar, $43 steak au poivre, and a $32 hamburger with foie gras and short ribs, Holton’s new menu offers short ribs in a $2.50 taco, served with warm corn tortillas, fresh black bean & corn salsa queso fresco, and sauce vért. Other ‘high-end’ items include little piggy slow-roasted pork tacos and marinated avocado tacos at $2.50 apiece.

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