In the era of food Instagramming, it’s no surprise that restaurants are upping their culinary game. If you’re looking for something special on your plate, don’t just stick with major cities because foodie hot spots in second-tier destinations aren’t holding back when perfecting unforgettable feasts for guests. Step away from your regular rotation and explore new dishes on menus across lesser-known urban hubs.
Venetian Chop House at Caribe Royale Orlando Resort – Orlando, FL
At Caribe Royale Orlando Resort‘s acclaimed Venetian Chop House guests can savor a lobster bisque so exquisite it will have them reaching for their cameras before the first bite. Delicious cold-water lobster meat is arranged below an intricately crafted puff pastry cage and the bisque is poured through the netting tableside.
Caribe Royale Orlando’s pastry chef Josh Cain experiments with showy after-dinner bites. The Venetian Chocolate Sphere features a chocolate dome – made by dipping and airbrushing a balloon – nestled over a dark chocolate chewy caramel tart. A vanilla caramel liqueur is poured on, and the dessert is lit on a fire tableside.
Goldee’s Barbecue – Fort Worth, TX
You probably wouldn’t expect to find Laotian food in Texas, but DFW is home to the third-largest population of Laotians in America. Goldee’s Barbecue has taken this mix of cultural influences and created something new: the Laotian sausage is served with sticky rice and jeow som sauce. The dish is conceptualized by Nupohn Inthanousay, one of the five owners of Goldee’s, who infuses the Southeast Asian flavors of his childhood into the traditional and award-winning craft barbecue that Goldee’s is known for.
Margaux at the JW Marriott Grand Rapids – Grand Rapids, MI
The French-inspired bistro Margaux at the JW Marriott Grand Rapids in Western Michigan serves the Tour de Fruits de mer Rôties au Four seafood tower. Instead of being served cold as typical of seafood towers, this version includes a selection of shellfish roasted on the hearth, finished with garlic butter, lemon and espelette pepper for a cozier dish to warm diners up on those chilly Michigan days. The restaurant’s servers gracefully pour house-made pasta into the seafood mix upon delivering the tower to the table, to ensure none of the rich sauce is wasted.
MDRD at Amway Grand Plaza, Curio Collection by Hilton – Grand Rapids, MI
MRDR, the Spanish-inspired restaurant with panoramic views from the 27th floor of the historic Amway Grand Plaza serves a charming and magical dessert called the Árbol de Caramelo. It features a stunning chocolate “tree trunk” topped with willowy puffs of pink spun sugar.
Merriman’s Hawaii – Locations on Oahu, Maui, Big Island and Kauai
Merriman’s Hawaii‘s most popular dessert – the Waialua Chocolate Purse – is a unique treat. Resembling its namesake, this molten chocolate dessert is encased in phyllo dough and served alongside house-made vanilla ice cream with a salted caramel drizzle. The texture is simultaneously flakey and smooth with a chocolate filling made from 70% and 55% cacao chocolate from Hawaii’s Waialua Estate.
The Bar at Deer Path Inn – Lake Forest, IL
The Bar at the Deer Path Inn, a celebrated English-inspired boutique hotel on Chicago’s North Shore serves all kinds of whimsical cocktails. Guests are invited to taste a gin-based cocktail served in a cereal box, an electrifying beverage with tongue-tingling electric daisies in a lightbulb, a Japanese Martini served in a take-out container, a citrus-based drink brought out in a grapefruit, or a maple bourbon milkshake piled high with desserts.
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