My 7 Favorite Restaurants and Most Epic Meals

When I travel, I like to eat. In fact, some of my favorite vacation memories have to do with food. Epic meals … flavors I can’t get at home … just that special feel of a place. There’s nothing better than restaurants and food to really get you into the culture of a new place. So, for FBG’s Fit Bottomed Vacay Week, I thought it might be fun to share a few of my favorite restaurants from my travel adventures. Some of these I’ve shared here in previous posts — but others are from my eats of pre-FBE yesteryear!

My Favorite Restaurants From Vacation

1. Daniel in New York City. Of all the restaurants I’ve been to, this is probably the fanciest of the fancy and the most well-known in the high-end culinary world. Ryan and I went to Daniel with a couple of friends years ago with the purpose of going to one of the best restaurants in the country — and, well, Daniel certainly was that. To this day, I still don’t think I’ve ever had a more gorgeous and impressive meal from start to finish. I’d go back in a heartbeat, even if a night there is roughly the cost of a two-night stay in an NYC hotel. Totally worth it.
2. JUSTIN in Paso Robles. I blogged about the epicness of this meal, and having dinner at The Restaurant at JUSTIN is still one of those vacation memories that I look back on and smile at. Like, did I really do that? Eat all that? Get pampered like that? Yep, I did. And it was beautiful. A truly gorgeous meal with great service and fabulous wine in a setting that can’t be beat. Special.
3. Portage Bay in Seattle. Yep, I’m still dreaming of Portage Bay in Seattle. That brunch — and specifically that French toast and pancake topping bar — was just beyond words good. Local, fresh and with to-die-for gluten-free options, go ahead and just call it heaven.
4. Fig Cafe in Glen Ellen, Calif. This favorite restaurant pick is another pre-FBE selection. Ryan and I honeymooned in Sonoma, Calif., and stayed at the cutest B&B in Glen Ellen. There, the awesome chef recommended we dine at the local The Fig Cafe. Run by the same owner as the famous The Girl & the Fig but a bit more understated and more affordable yet just as tasty, we loved the Fig Cafe so much that we ate there twice. When you travel to try new foods, that’s almost a sin — or a sign that a meal is so, so, SO good.
5. Justus Drugstore in Smithville, Mo. So I tried to only include non-local (Kansas City) restaurants since this is all about favorite restaurants while on vacation, but Justus Drugstore is about an hour’s drive north from my house, so going there is definitely a special treat that feels like a mini-getaway. And it’s definitely worthy of this list. I’ve only been once, BUT, the meal left its mark. From fabulous cocktails to a farm-to-table menu that’s high-end yet rustic and true to the small-town landscape, this place has as much charm as it does deliciousness. Not to mention that the owner regularly goes from table to table, chatting up patrons about the dishes and what they think. We had 15-minute-plus conversation with him about how the chefs and employees there actually go and forage the food they cook with. Now that’s fresh.
6. Place Pigalle in Seattle. This land-locked girl wishes she had a local restaurant (and view!) like this in town. French, charming, friendly, fresh and delicious, Place Pigalle is definitely a must-go-to restaurant when in the Pike Place Market area. Oh, and try the pot de creme. Ryan and I are still talking about it!
7. Central Grocery in New Orleans. Although it’s certainly the least fancy of any of the rest of the restaurants on this list, I had to include it. I know there area lot of ridiculously epic restaurants in New Orleans. And, since my parents lived there for five or so years, I’ve had the privilege of going to a lot of them. But, there is just something magical about the Central Grocery muffuletta. They created it, and the first time I had it, it was like angles were singing. Now I have to get my fix at home with a gluten-free twist, but, man, oh, man do I remember those first bites years ago. Magic!
If you had to narrow your favorite restaurants list down to just seven, what would make the cut for you? —Jenn

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