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Noche is a tapas staple on the Atlanta scene. Though I wouldn’t say it has the best small plates in town, the price to portion size ratio makes Noche a winner in my book. Most of their plates are a good size, making it easy to get a good deal on dinner, as opposed to some other tapas restaurants where the small $6-$9 plates add up very quickly to a hefty tab.

The Highlands location is cozy and often crowded. The new Vinings outpost is larger, with a big patio to match, and is quickly becoming a popular hot spot. Both locations have a colorful, festive atmosphere and reasonably good service. Other Noche locations are in Johns Creek and Brookhaven.

Noche is the perfect atmosphere for a group gathering and is often a popular destination for casual birthdays or celebrations. The small plate service encourages sharing and conversation. The Highlands location is especially intimate indoors and I’ve always noticed how full of life and laughter the dining room seems to be.

Bonus tip: Monday night all-you-can-eat tapas at Noche Virginia Highlands is one of the best deals in town. For $10 per person, you get about 10 different tapas from a limited menu and once you’ve tried them all, you can keep on ordering your favorites until you’re full! This is a great way to try new items you’d normally not choose for yourself.

Here are the locations:

Brookhaven – 705 Town Blvd NE Atlanta, GA 30319, Phone 404.364.9448
Highlands – 1000 Virginia Avenue NE Atlanta, GA 30306, Phone 404.815.9155
Johns Creek – 3719 Old Alabama Rd Johns Creek, GA 30022, Phone 770.777.9555
Vinings – 2850 Paces Ferry Rd SE Atlanta, GA 30339 Phone 770.432.3277

Magic tricks and more at Timothy O’Toole’s

In a quiet part of the River North neighborhood, it’s somewhat surprising to discover how hopping Timothy O’Toole’s is. Tucked away at the bottom of a staircase, the spacious Irish sports bar offers more than just drink specials and pub grub. In one corner, there’s a handful of pool tables and video games. But best of all? On Saturday nights, a magician makes his rounds, showing off some card tricks and creating balloon animals for the local crowd, which isn’t made up of just Northwestern students. Even with all these entertainment options, Timothy O’Toole’s motto couldn’t be more true: “Win or lose, we came for the booze.”

Hardwood Smoky Goodness at Rocklands BBQ

Stepping into Rocklands Barbeque and Grilling Company you will see a huge bucket of peanuts, a whole bookshelf of hot sauce selection, and several rolls of no-nonsense paper towels – you know this is the perfect prerequisites to a hearty meal of BBQ.

With the meat, seafood, and poultry cooked by real red oak and hickory, you can smell the woody deliciousness half a mile away! Munch through the ribs, briskets, sausage, sides, and corn bread and don’t forget to take a swig from their tasty Coolant Root Beer (refill available)!

Insider info: You can have Rocklands prepare their famous barbequed pigs, displayed whole on a decorated board for your special events!

Grom with Ereka Vetrini

Grom is a high quality gelateria
The idea is to apply to the artisanal gelato production, a principle common to all the best restaurants in the world: the purchase of absolute top quality raw materials.
With this purpose in mind, at the end of 2002, Guido Martinetti and Federico Grom set out to search the best that agriculture has to offer, from the Langhe to Sicily and Central America. The standards are strict: only fresh seasonal fruit, coming from the best consortia in Italy and from our farm Mura Mura no colorings or artificial additives, Lurisia mountain water for the sorbets and high-quality whole milk for the creams, organic eggs and a selection of the best cocoas and coffees from central America.

In 2007, Grom opens its first shop abroad, in New York City, with lines of over 30 meters forming immediately. In the same year, we finally realize one of our most ambitious projects: the purchase of 8 hectares of land in Costigliole d’Asti to start our farm Mura Mura, where old cultivar varieties of peaches, apricots, pears, figs, strawberries and melons are planted. The goal is once again to obtain the best fruit possible, cultivated organically and in compliance with the times dictated by nature and the environment. In 2008, we open in Paris (with great reviews by Le Monde) and in 2009 we open the first store in Tokyo, Japan; at the same time, we start an important green project “Grom Loves World” Grom loves World motivated by the respect of the environment and the eco-sustainability…all plastic (spoons, retail and garbage bags) is therefore replaced by Materbi, an extraordinary material derived from corn starch and vegetable oils that is completely biodegradable, and all paper is replaced by Fsc certified paper, a prominent international entity caring for responsible forest management and the life conditions of the indigenous populations; all this complemented by eco-friendly waste management and the acquisitions of new low emission trucks for the logistic.

Savvy Snoot

Making consignment shopping cool, Savvy Snoot presents an ever-revolving inventory of designer furniture and accessories at their two hip, relaxed and easy to shop Atlanta locations. Picking only the best of the best from local consigners, Savvy Snoot is a spectrum of design styles featuring photo worthy vignettes that pair turn-of-the-century bookcases with traditional sofas, modern lamps, and original art by local artists. The urban-eclectic mix of consigned goods is fused with found objects from national shopping trips and custom furniture pieces that capture the Savvy Snoot “collected look”.

Never knowing what you’ll find behind the doors, Savvy Snoot transforms cast-off pieces into trendsetting must haves making the wildly popular locale the perfect spot to find one-of-a-kind pieces to complete a design or become the inspiration to the decor of a room.

Savvy Snoot has three locations:

Midtown at 1080 Brady Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30318, 404.355.1399
Historic Alpharetta at 30 North Main Street, Alpharetta, Ga.30009, 770.442.1315
East Cobb Merchant’s Walk at 1311 Johnson Ferry Rd, Suite 540, Marietta, GA 30068, 770.977.1339

Visit savvysnoot.com for more information.

The Frick Collection

The Frick Collection includes some of the best-known paintings by the greatest European artists, major works of sculpture (among them one of the finest groups of small bronzes in the world), superb eighteenth-century French furniture and porcelains, Limoges enamels, Oriental rugs, and other works of remarkable quality.

Treasure Island WineFest October 10

Treasure Island WineFest 2010

October 10

Jodi Wine country is returning to historic Treasure Island, San Francisco for the 2nd Annual Treasure Island WineFest. Taste your way through 200 wines exclusive to the Lodi appellation while sampling artisan cheese and olive oils or indulging in our gourmet wood-fired pizzas. Take part in educational wine seminars, enjoy live acoustic music and take in the absolute best view of Fleet Week’s aerial shows. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to meet the passionate vintners and growers behind the delicious wines that make up California’s best kept secret.



Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fun: The Robusto Room

Named for a type of stogie, The Robusto Room serves as a rare sanctuary for smokers—and a swanky one at that. One part cigar bar, one part martini lounge, The Robusto Room boasts a robust amount of Citysearch Awards, cleaning up everything from Best Club to Most Romantic Bar and Singles Scene.

Hidden in a courtyard off a suburban street, this dark, wood-and-leather-filled Lone Tree martini lounge and cigar bar doesn’t only sell hundreds of tobacco labels but also rents private humidors for regulars to maintain their stashes. And though there’s not much food on the menu—with only a couple of appetizers, you should plan to dine elsewhere—there’s lots of entertainment in store: besides plasma TVs and free Wifi, karaoke, poker, trivia, and DJs all turn The Robusto Room into a refined rec room on any given night.

O Ya Puts Boston on the Culinary Map

If you have been on every “best of” list like Boston’s O Ya restaurant, can things get any better? From being named the number one restaurant in the country by the New York Times to receiving accolades for being one of the world’s 10 best new restaurants by Food & Wine Magazine, the praise is well deserved. This cozy little gem serves up contemporary Japanese fare, including nigiri, sashimi and Wagyu beef. Don’t miss the chilled homemade soba noodles, which can be perfectly paired with some sake. Be sure to call ahead and make a reservation as this Leather District hot spot fills up easily and waits can be long at the intimately lit O Ya tavern, which is located in a former firehouse. Valet parking is available at the corner of South and East Streets in Les Zygomates.

Insider’s Tip: O Ya is expensive, with some entrees running up to $60, but nearly all diners leave happy, saying every bite was worth every penny. Visit oyarestaurantboston.com for more information.

Keste is Neapolitan for “This Is It”

San Marzano tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella flash-frozen in Campagna, Italy before shipping to New York, sea salt, volcanic stone heated to one thousand degrees: these are just some of the necessary ingredients for a true Italian pie at Keste Pizza & Vino. And this attention to authentic detail is working, as the newest contender for the best slice in New York, it has already ranked #1 on NY Mag’s list of NYC’s Top Pie.

Keste Pizza & Vino offers over twenty pizza pies ranging in price from $9 to $19 with striking toppings such as imported cooked ham, butternut squash cream and truffle spread. Once the order is placed and the toppings are spread over the dough, pizzas cook in just one minute thanks to the thousand degree oven.

Chef-owner Roberto Caporuscio is a traditionalist when it comes to making his twelve-inch Neapolitan pies. With an oven that was made by artisans flown in from Naples, Keste Pizza & Vino is the newest contender for the legendary New York slice status, even if it is through and through Italian. The name sake pie has tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto di parma, arugola, gran cru and extra virgin olive oil. And for the purist there is always the simple elegance and perfection that is the equally popular Margherita.

Italian Culinary Heavyweights Deliver at Del Posto

For an authentic yet modern, inventive Italian meal, not many restaurants in NYC deliver in style like Del Posto. With both Mario Batali and Lidia Bastianich at the helm- er kitchen- from the first steps guests are greeted to a grand experience:del posto classical pianists set the mood in the ballroom of a dining room with balcony seating, three sets of marble staircases, wrought iron railings, and wooden beams in the high ceilings.

Start your meal with the Abalone Carpaccio with Grilled Asparagus and Young Ramps or with Lidia’s Lobster Salad alla Catalana with Tomato and Celery. For your primi course, the hand made Orecchiette with Lamb Shoulder Sausage, Crispy Morels, and Minted Soybeans is worth it for the minted soybeans alone. For your secondi course, there’s no way to go wrong, but if you are feeling adventurous try the Roasted Turbot – from the Mediterranean – with Caponatina, Crunchy Fregola and Moorish Spices. To finish, the Chocolate Ricotta Tortino with Toasted Sicilian Pistachios and EVOO Gelato is a masterpiece of a dessert and the perfect ending to a beautiful Italian meal.

At Del Posto, the atmosphere and the service are impeccable, but in the end, it is all about the food – as it should be.

Le Bernardin for Award-Winning Seafood Perfection

A 4 star restaurant that has been named the #1 restaurant in New York by New York Magazine, New York Times and Zagat’s Guide; has won more James Beard Awards than any other restaurant; and has been awarded the highest number of Michelin stars: 3, Le Bernardin is the premier French restaurants in New York City – and arguably the world – and certainly one of the most elegant dining rooms in the country.

Picture 67The philosophy of Le Bernardin is, very simply put, the fish is the star of the plate. With the focus on seafood, Chef Eric Ripert (whose name and restaurant may sound familiar from multiple Top Chef appearances) has created an ambitious yet uncomplicated dinner menu that is broken into three courses: almost raw, barely touched and lightly cooked. Chef Eric Ripert’s favorite dishes are the Tuna made of Layers of Thinly Pounded Yellowfin with Foie Gras and Toasted Baguette; the Crab with Stuffed Zucchini Flower with Peektoe, King Crab and “Fine Herbs – Lemon” Mousseline Sauce; and the Surf and Turf of Escolar and Seared Kobe Beef with Sea Bean Salad and Eggplant Fries.

Le Bernardin is one of those restaurants that is the special occasion as it will probably be the most memorable dining experience of your entire life.

Insider’s Tip: As Le Bernardin’s reputation precedes itself throughout the globe, make sure to make a reservation well in advance and bring a heavy wallet; such perfection is priced accordingly.

2. Photography Exposed at the Denver Art Museum June 1-30

Picture 104The Denver Art Museum’s newest exhibition digs deep into its art pockets with Exposure: Photos from the Vault. It literally is just that, featuring over 50 of the best photographs from the nearly 7,000 (!) piece collection to choose from. Highlights include iconic images by Ansel Adams and Chuck Close alongside recent acquisitions from up-and-comers Petah Coyne and Shirin Neshat. Not only is this exhibit showing the best of DAM’s photography collection, it also includes many works that have yet to go on view at the landmark museum. Check out the beautiful and the quizzical images all through June.

Sofitel Hotel is Synonymous with Luxury

Sofitel is a name synonymous in the hotel industry with prestige, luxuPicture 18ry and elegance. The Sofitel in Philadelphia is right off of ritzy Rittenhouse, and carries the company’s signature blend of French and American styles.

The Sofitel notoriously houses some of Philadelphia’s most high profile visitors, including politicians and famous musicians (have you heard of the New York Philharmonic? I thought so). It is no surprise that the cream of the crop is staying here because the service is impeccable, having won Travel & Leisure’s Best Hotels of 2010 award.

The basic run-down of amenities is quite more than basic. Sofitel is pet friendly, and by that we mean the front of house staff will learn Fido’s name before they learn yours, and the hotel’s charming brasserie Chez Colette has received accolades over its lifetime for its French cuisine and stylish 1920s atmosphere.

French Charm in the Heart of Union Square at Petit Auberge

Luxury, exceptional customer service and convenience don’t have to come from a big corporate hotel.  Look past the over-starched bellhops and stay at Union Square’s Petit Auberge, ranked one of the top 75 hotels in the US by Conde Naste Traveler.

Like a French B&B you might discover Picture 8down a back alley in Paris, Petit Auberge’s tucked away, downtown location is convenient for all the sightseeing San Francisco has to offer all while acting as a peaceful escape from the high-traffic city scene.  Anyone who’s ever gone out for a day of sightseeing in San Francisco knows that it’s also like spending a full day with Jillian Michaels; the hills and excitement will surely leave you exhausted, and you’ll look forward to the crackling fire, wine and hors d’evoures that await you back at Petit Auberge.

Even honeymooners searching for joie de vivre can find it in the hotel’s luxury Petit Suite with a private entrance and deck, hand-painted French king bed, and champagne and chocolates.  In the morning, enjoy a fully stocked gourmet breakfast, and out the beveled glass French doors are only two blocks from Chinatown, Union Square shopping and the Nob Hill cable cars.

Twin Peaks’ Views For Lovers & Sightseers

While the city skyline is beautiful from the balcony of a downtown hotel, nothing can compare to the city’s best views, Twin Peaks Vista Point.  Called Los Pechos de la ChocaPicture 23 (breasts of the Indian maiden) by early Spanish settlers, Twin Peaks is perfect for lovers and sightseers alike.

The drive up is stunning, especially at night, so hire a limousine or taxi to fully enjoy the ride.  Of course, you can also take a bus or hike up during the day– it’s worth the trek in clear weather once you see Ocean Beach, the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge all in one sweeping glance!

Twin Peaks are a must for anyone who comes to San Francisco and for anyone who hasn’t been in a while.  Bundle up for the wind, and you’ll enjoy eucalyptus-shrouded hiking, bird-watching, city-watching and the most popular place to snuggle with your loved ones in the city.

Moooving up to One of Boston’s Top Steakhouses

Steakhouses in Boston are everywhePicture 5re, so finding one of the best in the city was a challenge until Mooo made its debut. Chef/owner Jamie Mammano’s modern steakhouse with the unusual name offers some of the juiciest, well prepared steaks in town and a private Wine Cellar dining room. Located in Beacon Hill across from the State House, Mooo attracts numerous politicians (Governor Deval Patrick is said to be a regular).

It’s difficult not to fill up on the Staub skillet of four dense hot buttered sweet rolls topped with sea salt, but be sure to save room for the likes of a 35-day dry aged New York sirloin, bone-in Delmonico, pepper crusted prime sirloin au poivre or ribeye steak. Top it off with a béarnaise, red wine, bordelaise, steak or barbecue sauce. Dishes are a la carte so complement your dinner with panko and parmesan crusted onion rings, mushroom risotto and creamed spinach. The restaurant also offers a good selection of seafood dishes, including grilled salmon, seared sea scallops and butter poached Maine lobster. End the night with the ultimate indulgence – a $25 Bailey’s hot fudge sundae for two. Visit mooorestaurant.com for more information.

Live Music Noon to Midnight at World Cafe Live

The World Café Live is hands down the best place to hear music that’s not getting played on the radio. It was named best club in Philadelphia by NBCphiladelphia.com in 2009 and best new music venue by Philadelphia Magazine when it came out on the scene in 2005. Whether you’re looking for indie singer-songwriters, hip hop artists, or African drumming; The World Café Live is your destination.

world cafe live

One part music venue, one part restaurant, you never know what you’re going to get when walking into World Café Live. Downstairs is a three tiered music hall which seats 300 people in a bistro style set up, and as many as 650 people in the standing room only section. Upstairs is a café on historic Walnut Street. Comfortably seating 100 people, the café features live radio broadcasts and performances every day of the week. It has an extensive menu and the best happy hour specials near the Drexel Campus.

The World Café Live is also home to the annual Beta Hifi Music Festival, and puts on weekly concert series called Peanut Butter and Jams, a lunch time concert for children and their parents every Saturday. It’s safe to say that if you want live music any hour of the day, just head over to World Cafe Live.

XV Beacon Offers First Class Luxury- With a Heart

The complimentary Lexus sedan parked outside the front door of XV Beacon lets you know you are in for a luxurious stay. The sophisticated Beacon Hill hotel just recently celebrated its 10 year anniversary, and it’s no wonder why the property remains one of the top luxurPicture 11y hotels in the city for service, style and value.

There are only seven guest rooms on each floor of this boutique property and every single room has a gas fireplace. Every modern amenity is considered here from the 42-inch flat screen television situated on a stainless steel wall above the fireplace, surround sound stereo system with five-disk CD player and CD library to the amazing marble bathroom equipped with a rainforest shower head, Fresh products and Frette bathrobes.

The pet friendly hotel also offers a sumptuous stay for your four-legged friend complete with a pet bed, bottled water and treats upon arrival. Best of all, the $25 “fee” to bring your dog with you is donated in full to the MSPCA Angell Memorial Hospital to assist with animal medical treatment, rehabilitation and adoption assistance.

Don’t forget to check out the rooftop deck for an amazing peek at the city.

Enclave Encapsulates all the Beautiful People

Wondering where all the beautiful people are? Look no further, they’re at “Best of Citysearch Nightlife Winner,” Enclave. The who’s who of Chicago- and everywhere else- has been/performed here: Lady GaGa, Brody Jenner, Akon, Carmen Electra, Betsey Johnson, Holly Madison, and Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian, to namePicture 10 a few.

Here, it’s all about bottle service. They’ve got anything you want, as long as it’s upscale. Whether it’s magnums of champagne (the real stuff only) or the hot, new, trendy vodka (Grey Goose or Effen), it all comes with fresh flowers and carafes of juice.

House and hip hop beats penetrate with an array of different hot DJs on the weekends and plenty of events to keep the year rolling; from football parties for Northwestern to Lady GaGa mixing it up with the locals. The two-story, 15,000 square foot space has chic, shiny wood floors, beautiful sofas and intimate-inspiring sheer curtains.

With never-ending A-List events and a hot, young, Chicago crowd, Enclave is the place to be for some serious partying in Chi-town.

Nobody Does it Like Noir

If you’re looking for a sexy spot to grab a drink then head over to the sultry lounge known as Noir at The Charles Hotel in Cambridge’s Harvard Square. The red and black interior accents reflect the decadent atmosphere of 1940s nightlife. Noir has been named best bar and lounge by Boston Magazine and has also been featured in Food & Wine. One of the most popular drinks is “Noir’s Boudoir,” a creamy mix of vanilla, chocolate and coffee liquors. In the summer months, the bar opens up its patio where guests can be seen sipping on fruity concoctions from the “Film Noir” section such as the LA Confidential, a blend of Stoli Vanila, Cointreau, peach nectar and champagne. Order up some light snacks like the marinated olives or flatbread to complement the fabulous drinks. Visit noir-bar.com for more information.

Insider’s Tip: Stop by Monday through Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. to sample the 5-4-3-2-1-0 menu, which includes $5 flatbreads, $4 sandwiches, $3 snacks, $2 salads, $1 sweets and $0 nuts. (There is a $6 minimum beverage purchase per guest).

Disney Meets History at Kid-Friendly Port Discovery

Who doesn’t love a little Disney? With the exhibits designed by Walt Disney Imagineering, Port Discovery ranks as one of the Top 5 Children’s Museums in the U.S. by Child Magazine and has about 250,000 visitors a year. It is home to fifteen distinct environments and exhibits, providing a very educational and interactive experience a.k.a. if you’ve got a kid, this is the place to go.

Picture 29Using the philosophy that children learn best through experiences, Port Discovery’s exhibits are very hands on and range from a Sensation Station for toddlers to a mystery house where kids try to solve a mystery using clues and evidence of an Egyptian pharaoh’s “lost” tomb. The museum also offers diverse programs, such as Healthy First Saturdays, which focuses on healthy living, and Discovery Days, which is designed for children with special needs.

This museum is only a short walk from the Inner Harbor and is definitely worth checking out.

New Saigon: An Old Standby

Picture 36Loyal locals have been thronging New Saigon for nearly 25 years—but even the most avid among them have yet to explore every inch of the menu: it’s that big. Denver’s first and foremost Vietnamese restaurant offers literally hundreds of options, from the obvious—pho, noodle bowls, and fresh spring rolls—to the obscure, be it frog’s legs stir-fried with grape leaves, goat cooked and served in a firepot with lotus and taro, or salad with squid, snails, chicken feet and pork ear. And if all that’s not adventurous enough for you, ask about the untranslated items (your server will try to dissuade you, so some persistence is required). Cheap and casual, it’s ever-popular, so go in the off-hours to ensure immediate seating.

Insider’s tip: For a take-home treat, buy a bag of the spicy sesame-cashew beef jerky from the large jars lining the back wall.