Departures editors share restaurants around the world that are so much more than just a meal — they’re an experience.Less
Tetetlán is a community space, restaurant, and one of our writer’s favorite gift shops in Mexico City. The food is a mix of traditional Mexican fare (tlayudas, quesadillas, sopes), peppered with international comforts: green juice, croissants, and matcha lattes. The gift shop above is full of treasures, but the real gems are to be found underneath the staircase in a cellar-like room with floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with Oaxacan pottery at very reasonable prices.
With a Scandinavian-inspired decor and fine-dining offerings, there’s a warmth and a lightness to the atmosphere. The restaurant is located in the Social Haus, a central gathering place visible from each of the homes at the all-inclusive adults-only luxury resort, The Green O, located in Greenough, Montana. One unique and delightful aspect of a meal here is that each chef serves their own dish and describes the ingredients, whim, or philosophy behind it to diners.
The quintessential tiki tavern tucked away in San Francisco. Appearing like a hidden cave inside the majestic old Fairmont Hotel, the Tonga Room was designed with help from a Hollywood set director, and it’s cinematically and dimly lit, with a pool in the center made to look like a lagoon. While they are best known for their umbrella drinks, their Pacific Rim cuisine is an absolute must while you’re in the bay.
This is an amazing paella restaurant on the water that’s only accessible by boat on the Balearic Islands of Spain. After anchoring your boat, a short swim to shore and up a series of stone steps you find the restaurant perched on a hill with an incredible view of the cove. More amazing is the open outdoor kitchen with a series of paella pans atop a wood-fire stove.
A recent visit to Jongro, a barbecue restaurant that occupies the second and fifth floors of an office building in NYC's Koreatown, provided a different kind of transportive experience, with K-pop blaring from the speakers while swiftly efficient servers grilled meat at the table. After too many meals cooked at home, shared our Editor In Chief, we could have wept for the explosion of different flavors from the banchan alone.
At Zou Zou’s in NYC, the interiors are big and grand. A bubbling plate of cheese brought to the table is drizzled with a clear liquid then promptly set ablaze. A wonderful sommelier presents wine in a bulbous decanter, lifting the spout impossibly high to release thin streams all the way down into glasses. The pièce de résistance is their fire-roasted lamb that can be comfortably shared between four to six, depending on appetites.
This elegantly restored 1927 mansion in Buenos Aires includes a restaurant, flower shop, library, garden and, once, it also had a perfumery on-site. It’s also home to an unconventional bar, which is an ideal laboratory for a bartender hungry to experiment. Head bartender Flavia Arroyo brings cooking methods like fat washing and fermentation to her bar’s inventive seasonal menu.
This very special Memphis restaurant used to be a beauty parlor in the 1960s, where Priscilla Presley would get her hair done. It is now an incredible woman-owned restaurant that serves everything from floral shrub mocktails to root beer floats. To boot, they still have the hair dryer stations in there.
Described as a love letter to India, Singapore’s Firangi Superstar is a contemporary Indian restaurant that provides a truly cinematic dining experience. Moving through the restaurant, each themed room offers a surprise: the stately officer’s club, the old railway room that resembles a moving train car, the plush jungle lodge, and the gold-gilded elephant palace. It’s an appropriately sumptuous setting for Firangi’s food and drink offerings, which are equally dazzling.
The ramen is literally set on fire at Menbakaichidai, a noodle counter known for its in-the-bowl charring techniques. Grab a spot at the 12-seat counter in Kyoto, Japan to watch the chef pour molten liquid from a cast iron pot into your bowl, setting it aflame. The process chars the thin slices of pork chashu and green onions, giving the ramen a smoky unctuousness.