Travel Tips Around The World

Apr 21 2017

A few great meals on the island of Moorea, French Polynesia

The island of Moorea, just north of Tahiti in French Polynesia, has managed to maintain its wild, rugged, natural beauty, though it continues to grow in popularity with tourists. Resorts now dot the mountainous islands, and while dining options in the hotels are always a safe bet for a decent dinner, there are some fantastic restaurants that are worth getting out to, for spectacular views and exciting menus. These are a few of our favorites.


                              The tables at Moorea Beach Cafe look out onto the lagoon; photo via

Located right on the beach, Moorea Beach Cafe offers excellent views and pleasant breezes along with good traditional Polynesian food. The fresh seafood is always a reliable choice. The bright yellow umbrellas beckon, and the lagoon vistas are enhanced by good service and a varied menu. No other restaurant on the island is quite as close to the ocean as Moorea Beach Cafe, or quite so charming.

Le Lezard Jaune is another exceptional offering on Moorea. This French restaurant will very likely be the best meal you have on the island: Steak and freshly caught fish are perfectly prepared, served in a casual, relaxed atmosphere. Dessert is recommended. For something different from the resort restaurants, make the trek to this place (pickup and drop-off from your hotel is provided by the restaurant).


                                                   A prawn dish at Snack Mahana; photo via

Snack Mahana is a casual spot right next to the water, especially good for fish—try the garlic shrimp. The steak is also recommended, and portions are large. The vibe is relaxed, and the service reflects that, but for a fine meal in a wonderful location (though, in French Polynesia, they're all wonderful locations!), Snack Mahana is a solid, unpretentious option. Go early, as it often sells out, and is only open for lunch.

The decor at Rudy's Restaurant might be simple, but the ambiance is special, mostly thanks to the incredible menu of finely prepared French food. Excellent service and pickup and drop-off from your hotel round out the amenities at this place, but it's the food that really steals the show. The parrotfish is a standout that draws raves. This place is a must-visit on Moorea.

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Feb 27 2017

Escaping the all-inclusive: Delicious dining elsewhere in Punta Cana

If you get tired of the all-inclusive menu at your resort while in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, there are plenty of options to shake things up, from traditional Dominican fare to stunning restaurants right on the beach; these are a few if our favorites.

                              Image result for jellyfish punta cana

                                       Jellyfish's deck faces the ocean; photo courtesy of the restaurant.

Sitting right on the edge of the waves of Bavaro Beach, Jellyfish serves exquisite, freshly caught seafood. It's truly an experience just for the views, and the food matches in excellence. For a perfectly charming lunch or dinner spot outside of the resort complex, this place can't be beat.


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Dec 16 2016

Dining in Lima, Peru: Ceviche and pisco sours abound

The city of Lima, Peru, is a bustling metropolis and one of the jewels of South America, so it's no surprise that its dining scene is exciting and inventive, with plenty of traditional options alongside fusion and international fare. It's easy to find chain restaurants and plenty of establishments offering everything from French and Italian to Asian and American, but we think you should take the time to sample some of the staples of Peruvian cuisine, especially ceviche and pisco sours. These are some of our favorite food experiences in the Peruvian capital.


                                  The ceviche sampler at La Mar; photo courtesy of Florian Kretschmann.

La Mar is basically synoymous with ceviche in Lima. This buzzing spot is always packed, and does not take reservations—it's best to go at off hours, and be prepared for a wait regardless of the time. It's worth it, though, for the world-renowned ceviche creations that the kitchen doles out. You can't go wrong with any of the ceviches on offer, and the rest of the menu is made up of incredibly fresh seafood. There's really not a bad item on the menu, and the drinks are good too. Truly a must-visit restaurant in Lima.


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Oct 20 2016

Exquisite dining experiences—and views—in Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, is a place for adventure, with a slew of exciting—and often exhausting—activities, from hiking and skiing to hang gliding and parasailing. If a little fatigue sets in, you don't have to give up the great outdoors in order to relax: Of Jackson Hole's many restaurants, there are several with absolutely stunning views, and food to match. These are some of our favorite places to unwind while still feeling in touch with the natural beauty of the area.


                                    All of the good things at The Granary; photo courtesy of the restaurant.

The Granary is top-notch fine dining with incredible views of the valley to match. The food is exceptional—try something local and fresh, like the salmon or elk. No other spot in Jackson Hole has quite the same ambience as The Granary, or the same views. There's patio seating in warm months, but the vistas from the windows in the winter are nothing short of breathtaking. This is one of the best places in town to relax amidst the scenery.


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Sep 22 2016

Chicago Neighborhood Profile: Logan Square

Most visitors to Chicago only make it outside of the Loop (our name for downtown) to head to the Southside for the Museum of Science and Industry, or maybe to head a little bit north to Wrigley Field; and that's a real shame, because our city is vibrant, diverse and full of incredible experiences, many of the best of which are outside the tourist hubs. If you want to escape the endless hordes of people on Michigan Avenue, hop the CTA Blue Line for twenty minutes and get off at either the California or Logan Square stops, and you'll find yourself in Logan Square, the most up-and-coming area in the city, jam-packed with award-winning bars and restaurants. Here are some of my favorite dining, drinking and shopping spots in my neighborhood. 


                                     The signature dish at Logan Square's Fat Rice. Photo via Bon Appetit.

Dining. Some of the most exciting and unique dining experiences in the city reside in Logan Square. My favorite is Fat Rice, which serves Macau cuisine—Macau was a Portuguese trading outpost in China where many cultures blended, producing a one-of-a-kind fusion cuisine. You'll find dumplings and pork buns along with traditional Portuguese drinks such as caipirinhas, but the real star is the titular dish, the fat rice, which is a rice pot loaded with clams, prawns, a variety of sausages and porks, and hardboiled eggs (it'll feed two to four people). It's basically a treasure trove that you eat. Get a reservation, because I was once told on a Thursday evening that it was a two-and-a-half-hour wait for a party of two. (Tip: Fat Rice has a bakery next door where you can buy a wide variety of buns (they even have a Chicago-style hot dog bun, if you're feeling brave) and coffee and tea that's open during the day.)


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Sep 22 2016

The Goddess and the Baker: Fuel for your trip to Chicago's Art Institute

Category: Destinations | Dining | Favorites | GeneralChristine Norris @ 04:09

The Art Institute of Chicago is consistently ranked as one of the best museums in the world, and with a slew of the world's most famous pieces of art, visiting there is an overwhelming but incredible experience. As a resident of Chicago and a member of the Art Institute, I've been lucky to be able to get an insider's perspective, to learn where everything is in relation to everything else, and finally, to have the luxury of a quick trip of only an hour or two if I'm low on time or just want to check out that one new exhibit. Even though I visit with frequency, and though my visits are rarely exhausting, I still find myself at The Goddess and the Baker before or after every single trip to the museum.



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Jun 2 2016

Delicious, delightful dining in Rio de Janeiro

Category: Destinations | Dining | FavoritesChristine Norris @ 07:56

Brazil's most colorful city, Rio de Janeiro, might be host to this summer's Olympic Games, but it's also a cultural behemoth with a wide array of dining options to satisfy any palate. The traditional Brazilian food that you can find there is to die for, but as a global hub, there are also many international options to choose from; in short, eating in Rio is a treat that will please all palates. These are just a few of our favorite places in the city to nosh, but variety and quality abound all over Rio.

Casa de Feijoada serves Brazil's traditional black-bean stew; the meal is typically eaten on Saturday, but at this restaurant, you can get it any day of the week. The dish consists of black beans cooked with a variety of meat products, including pork, beef, bacon and sausage; pork "trimmings" (feet, ears, tails—you know, the fun stuff) are typical, too. For those a little worried about what parts of what animals they're putting in their mouths, the Casa de Feijoada accommodates you by allowing you to choose the cuts of meat that go into your stew (this is not a usual practice in Rio; everywhere else, be prepared to eat what's in front of you and try not to think about what might be in it). Portions are huge, making this place not only a cultural stop, but a great deal, too.


                    A typical serving of the namesake dish at Casa de Feijoada. Photo via Cruzando Mundo.


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Jun 30 2015

Inspiring Dining Experiences in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Category: Destinations | Dining | GeneralChristine Norris @ 05:10

Zanzibar, Tanzania, an island off the east coast of Africa, has a wealth of dining experiences worthy of a city with so much history and beauty, not to mention its infamous wealth of spices. Wandering the winding streets of Stone Town, you can easily find cafes and restaurants, and any hotel restaurant is certainly a safe bet, but here are a few stand-out eats that we think you should try when in Zanzibar.

The Rock Restaurant is more a dream than a dining experience. Located on a coral island just off the coast, it serves a variety of cocktails and a menu of mainly seafood and house-made pasta. It's pricey for African cuisine, and the food can be hit-or-miss, but the open-air balcony supplies surreal, gorgeous views. Go to The Rock for the experience and the good wine list, and try to catch the sunset. There are only twelve tables, so reservations are a must.


      The Rock Restaurant, situated on a tiny coral island in the Indian Ocean. Photo courtesy of Travelettes.


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Jan 23 2013

Our favorite restaurants in Miami

Category: DiningMegan Leader @ 03:51

It seems that most of the U.S. is experiencing chilly weather this week, and I know I'm not the only one pining for sunshine and sandy beaches. Miami fits the bill for anyone seeking a warm-weather getaway, and one of the draws of Miami is that you're not limited to standard beach fare. Miami is a city of culinary innovation, and with the South Beach Wine and Food Festival approaching in late February, visitors this time of year have more dining options than ever.  More...

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Oct 23 2012

Local eats in Hilo, Hawaii

Category: Destinations | DiningMegan Leader @ 04:32

Hilo, Hawaii, makes a perfect base for exploring all that Hawaii Island has to offer—exquisite botanical gardens, smoking craters, glowing lava flows and crashing waves perfect for surfing. And with all the rain it receives, Hilo remains lush and colorful year-round. But this town offers more than good looks: It's also a haven for foodies.



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