FOOD VACATION IDEAS
10 Restaurants That Started a Food Movement
Some of the most popular foods—like Asian noodles, gastropub fare, sushi, and locally grown produce—were relatively unknown only a generation ago. Here, we recognize, and recommend, some of the restaurants and chefs that changed the food world.
For fare that's just as inventive but requires less cash, try Sushi of Gari on New York City's Upper East Side for Masatoshi "Gari" Sugio's inspired creations, like their signature maguro topped with spicy tofu.
How to order at Sushi of Gari: A variety of imaginative sushi and sashimi platters are available for under $50 (sushiofgari.com).
Pret a Manger
Fast food and fresh food are no longer mutually exclusive, thanks to the rapid expansion of the Pret a Manger ("Ready to Eat") restaurant chain, which opened way back in 1986 in London but didn't migrate to U.S. shores until 2000. Pop into one of the chain's 265 stores today (U.S. cities with Pret stores include New York, Washington, and Chicago) and note that the mission is the same as it was back then: freshly made salads, sandwiches, yogurts, and sundries ripe for the plucking from refrigerated shelves are continuously stocked throughout the day, and no unsold selection is stored overnight. Instead, extra food is donated to local charities.
How to order at Pret a Manger: Well, this one's easy. Grab fresh salads, sandwiches, pots of yogurt, and lemonade off the shelf then bring your food to the check-out counter (pretamanger.com).
Santa Monica, Calif.
If you happen to be traveling with a companion who has a food allergy, Planet Raw is the place to bring food fans on a strict diet. The all-vegan, organic, and raw restaurant caused a sensation, as well as inspiring several imitators, when chef Julian Brotman opened its doors in the year 2000 (celebs like Woody Harrelson and Robin Williams are fans of his cuisine). Its drinks menu—actually, make that its "signature elixirs" list—is eye-popping itself, offering up drinks such as Alien Blood, a "savory, salty blend of field greens, cucumber, sea weed, zucchini, salsa, and spirulina" ($9). (Don't worry—there's plenty of plain old organic wine and beer, too.) Even minor details at the restaurant are earth-friendly, from the recycled-paper menu to the sustainable beeswax candles, and budding raw gourmands can take a cooking class with Julian himself on the first Saturday of every month.
How to order at Planet Raw: Divvy up an appetizer of flax meatball sliders concocted from marinara sauce, vegan cream "cheese," and mushroom nutmeat. Then, if you've never had pasta-free pasta, seize the day with Raw's green curry pasta, made from your choice of zucchini or kelp noodles ($17) and Thai nut curry cream. Greens are a classic standby, with 11 different specialty salads and dressings like pumpkin seed oil gracing the menu ($11, planetraw.com).