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




Wet and Wild

on May 12th, 2010
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  • pinitbutton Wet and Wild
lego man waterpark 246x300 Wet and Wild

Currently under construction, the LEGOLAND Water Park in Carlsbad, CA is set to open May 28

By Jeff Hoyt


We recently visited LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad outside of San Diego for the very first time. Our two-year-old was impressed with the Fairy Tale Brook ride which took us over water through storybook characters like the Big Bad Wolf and Jack and the Beanstalk, as well as the 3-D Bob the Builder movie.


The indelible memory I have is of the Mexicali earthquake which measured 7.2 on the Richter scale. There was still plenty to do in the quake’s wake as the rides were shut down and inspected, including visiting MINILAND USA, which features notable buildings from New York City to San Francisco made entirely out of LEGOs.


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  • pinitbutton Sad Ending for Happy Meals?
115057 mcdonalds Sad Ending for Happy Meals?

McDonald's Happy Meals may undergo a drastic change

By Jeff Hoyt


I admit to bribing my two-year-old daughter with television to get her to eat her dinner. Is it worse to use toys to get her to eat? Some legislators think so, when the meal in question is as bad for her as Sniper is to Dora.



County officials in Silicon Valley, California, have banned the inclusion of toys in any restaurant meal that has more than 485 calories, more than 600 mg of salt, or high amounts of sugar or fat. This seems to put the ubiquitous McDonald’s Happy Meal squarely in their sights. But my precious Jemma can’t ride her Elmo tricycle by herself through the Golden Arches drive-through. Is this the government getting too involved in parental decisions, or an effective method to combat childhood obesity in kid-friendly restaurants? We want to hear from you. Weigh in on our community forum on this and other hot topics.


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  • pinitbutton I Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans
no band 300x225 I Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans

2009 JazzFest musicians

By Jeff Hoyt


I enjoyed my first visit to New Orleans so much, that I was on the verge of renting an apartment there. But tragedy struck, and somehow, it took me more than two decades to return. I vowed to visit this year, but once again, fate stepped in.


In 1986, I drove to the Crescent City for the one-sided Super Bowl between the Chicago Bears (of Super Bowl Shuffle fame) and the New England Patriots, and fell in love with the city’s music, food, and joie de vivre. My traveling companion and I made plans to rent a place so we could stay at least through Mardi Gras.


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  • pinitbutton World’s Best Restaurants
worlds best restaurants 300x266 World’s Best Restaurants

The S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants

By Jeff Hoyt

We’re a big fan of S. Pellegrino, both their water and their awards. For the last few years, we’ve helped judge their cooking competition for young chefs. Last year, was even able to attend the gala night they announced the world’s 50 best restaurants.

We’re glad to note that many of the American selections earning a World’s 50 Best Restaurants Award already graced our choices of top 40 restaurants in the USA, including Daniel, Per Se, The French Laundry, and Alinea. (For more on Alinea, The Aqua Panna Best Restaurant in North America, read André Gayot’s description of his recent meal there.) Around the world, we’ve written extensively on the soon-to-shutter El Bulli in Spain, and reviewed many of the honored restaurants, from The Tasting Room at Le Quartier Francais in South Africa to Quay in Australia to Iggy’s in Singapore to Biko in Mexico. We have nearly 500 restaurant reviews each in London and Paris, including The Fat Duck, which S. Pellegrino ranked #3 in the world, and Le Chateaubriand, ranked #11. You can view the rest of the winners at:

So keep coming back to for the latest in restaurant reviews and news worldwide.

  • pinitbutton Don’t Wine about this Free Dinner
grand cru wine bar Don’t Wine about this Free Dinner

Grand Cru Wine Bar in Bellevue, WA near Seattle

By Jeff Hoyt


They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but you can enjoy a free dinner in Bellevue, Washington, courtesy of the Grand Cru Wine Bar, even on the weekend. Make a reservation at this wine bar in Seattle’s neighbor to the east, and enjoy “Dinner on Us.” The promotion runs on Saturday nights, as well as Wednesdays.


Everyone in your party can enjoy a complimentary two-course dinner from a pre-selected menu, such as Caesar salad and Dungeness crab mac ‘n cheese, or corn and red pepper chowder followed by classic beef Stroganoff. For small parties, there’s only a small catch: an 18% gratuity will be charged based on the value of the meal. Parties greater than six must spend an additional sum of $150 on other food, dessert, or, of course, wine. See why we named this one of the Seattle-area’s top 10 wine bars, and tell them sent you!


Keep coming back for more Seattle Restaurant News, Restaurant Reviews, Culinary Events and Seattle Wine Dinners.


minilogo Don’t Wine about this Free Dinner



  • pinitbutton elBulli Restaurant Closing
elbulli elBulli Restaurant Closing

Leche eléctrica from elBulli restaurant

 By Jeff Hoyt

UPDATE 7/30/2011: Today, the last meal was served at elBulli. Ferran Adrià’s culinary academy is scheduled to open in 2014.

Chef Ferran Adrià announced that the world’s center of molecular gastronomy, elBulli in Spain, is to close for 2012 and 2013.

Is this the end of culinary alchemy, as we’ve asked ourselves in our blog in March?

Continue reading “elBulli Restaurant Closing” »

R2L Opens in Philadelphia

on January 25th, 2010
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maindinningroom1 300x200 R2L Opens in Philadelphia

The main dining room of R2L in Philadelphia

by Jeff Hoyt


Chef/owner Daniel Stern’s (formerly of Le Bec-Fin, Gayle and Rae) contemporary American restaurant R2L has opened on the 37th floor of Two Liberty Place in Center City, the third tallest building in Philly. The posh space, which includes 14 cushy banquettes, a sculpture by artist Ali Ahmad and an open kitchen, is already booked for dinner through January 29th, but you can still enjoy a drink and the views from Bar2L 

Keep coming to for more Philadelphia restaurant newsreviews, and events. 

Continue reading “R2L Opens in Philadelphia” »

Trumpeting the Trumps

on November 16th, 2009
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tower 268x300 Trumpeting the Trumps

Trump International Hotel & Tower Waikiki Beach Walk

By Jeff Hoyt


Is Donald Trump trading the boardroom for board shorts? November 16 marks the opening of the Donald’s 38-story Trump International Hotel Waikiki Beach Walk, featuring 462 guest rooms and suites, with the largest exceeding 2,000 square feet.

Since Trump always strives for the best, the hotel’s Penthouse accommodations boast full gourmet kitchens with granite and marble countertops and travertine flooring, and will be outfitted with appliances by Wolf, Sub-Zero and Bosch as well as under-counter wine cellar storage, affording guests the option to have the hotel’s chef prepare a meal in the privacy of the suite. Other guests will have to make do with the Honolulu branch of Laurent Tourondel’s BLT Steak scheduled to open December 16 on the street level.

  Continue reading “Trumpeting the Trumps” »

Shots All Around!

on October 28th, 2009
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  • pinitbutton Shots All Around!
gun Shots All Around!

A new gun law passes in Arizona

By Jeff Hoyt


Better be careful about rooting too loudly for your favorite World Series team Wednesday if you’re in an Arizona bar… especially if someone favoring the other team isn’t drinking.


Just in time for the first World Series game between the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, a new law in the state of Arizona takes effect Wednesday, October 28, that allows patrons with concealed weapons permits to carry their loaded guns into bars.


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KAHLÚA, Old and New

on October 23rd, 2009
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  • pinitbutton KAHLÚA, Old and New
kaluabottle 90x300 KAHLÚA, Old and New

KAHLUA coffee liqueur

by Jeff Hoyt


We grew up with the iconic coffee liqueur, and remember walking back across the border with a newly-purchased bottle the first time we visited Mexico. But we were surprised to learn that the more-than-70-years-old brand had diversified greatly.


While the original flavor has been around since 1936, there are currently five other KAHLÚA’s available for cocktails, spiking coffee and even cooking. (Not to mention two pre-mixed cocktails for lazy bartenders).


We recently enjoyed a dinner at the Lotería Grill in which each of the dishes was prepared with KAHLÚA, including a flaming cheese and chile botana on which KAHLÚA Especial had been poured and set aflame. 

  Continue reading “KAHLÚA, Old and New” »

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