The Best Restaurants to Try This Fall
Ah, travel. You plan and plot to piece together that unforgettable, in-the-moment experience you’ve dreamt of for months, maybe years. Shouldn’t the cuisine be as awe-inspiring as the scenery? Of course it should. Summer is not the only season to dine outdoors. Indeed, by incorporating the beauty of autumn and the uniqueness of the locale into your dining scene—be it a harborside patio on the Cote d’Azur or a riverside perch in California wine country—you are sure to unwrap one of travel’s greatest rewards. We’ve sought out four tempting tables around the world that you should treat yourself to … show-stopping scenery included.
Mediterranean Magic; Achill's Villefranche-sur-Mer in France
What says romantic summer frolicking more than pretty Provence? From turquoise waters to balletshoe pink rosé flowing from carafes up and down the Cote d’Azur, it’s the ultimate beach-centric getaway. Add the soundtrack of lapping waves and lilting langue Française and you have a dream in motion. But there are an awful lot of ho-hum (and overpriced) eateries along the beauteous blue coast—and with such belle scène in your midst, you’d like the eye candy to continue on the plate, bien sûr.
For a seat with a sweeping view of a small harbor just outside Nice, check out Achill’s in Villefranche. Entering its third season, Achill’s delightfully chilled-out vibe and simple but super-fresh menu make it the kind of place you’ll find your sandaland-sarong-clad self wandering into more than once. Grab a seat on either the umbrelladotted terrace or the see-for-miles rooftop (closed during the winter months) and hunker down for honest Provencal cuisine without the price gouging.
Start off with a chilly, vibrant-orange bowl of refreshing gazpacho, dig into a pile of plump moules mariniéres, the sweet velvety mollusks made fragrant with white wine, garlic and fresh herbs, or perhaps a slice of tatin de chèvre et courgettes (goat cheese and zucchini tart). Just make sure you abandon all restraint at the door, ending it all with their light-as-air white chocolate crepes. C’est magnifique!
On the Vineyard, California Wine Country
Husband-wife chefs Estes and John Stewart have always been inspired by the terrific local produce that surrounds their successful Sonoma-centric spots: Zazu in Santa Rosa and the late, great Bovolo in Healdsburg. But their recently opened Zazu on the River will inspire you, too. Grab an umbrella-shaded table in the midst of the organic garden (where your meal’s ingredients have just been plucked, naturally) overlooking the gurgling Russian River and get ready to dig into John and Duskie’s decadent dishes.
This California wine country gem is open only during the day, an idyllic hideout to while away an afternoon. Graze upon the maple-bacon popcorn, black pig bacon-wrapped dates, and bright watermelon and blistered-tomato gazpacho while sipping on wines from Davis Family Vineyards. And to be filed under ThrowYour-Calorie-Counting-in-the-Russian River: Do not under any circumstances miss Duskie’s peanut butter ice cream sandwich, complete with chocolate dipping sauce from America’s first bean-to-bar chocolate maker, Scharffen Berger of San Francisco.
Rooftop Splendor; The NoMad Hotel
Manhattan, Beyond Central Park, or a trek out to the beach in the Rockaways, it can be challenging to find great outdoor space in New York City. Rather than trying to carve out a narrow sidewalk spot, one of the best newcomers in the city opted to build up instead. The intensely talented chef Daniel Humm—who made his mark at Danny Meyer’s Eleven Madison Park—is rolling aces at his new spot, NoMad Hotel, as well.
Humm’s ethereal dishes with outstanding ingredients are even better sampled on the pedestal perch of the eponymous lower Midtown Beaux Arts-style hotel’s rooftop. It can be about as tough to score a seat as scaling the sides of the building itself. Reservations for each day are sold in the form of tickets that are available starting at 11 a.m. from the website only. But, oh, is it worth it… Up, up in the elevator you’ll go, opening to decadent velour-upholstered seating in the lounge for cocktails and the first course, and then off to the round tumbled-marble table for the rest of the four courses of the nightly tasting menu. Escaping the bustle of the streets below, this rooftop nest serves romance and glamour in the ultimate urban al fresco environment.
Ciao Time; Il Postale, Tuscany
It’s a given that you will drink well in Tuscany. Is it also a given that you will eat well in Tuscany? Well, surprisingly, no. To dine deliciously among the rolling hills and dales of the Tuscan countryside takes a little bit of exploring. And one of the greatest finds in all the region is the forward-thinking cuisine of chef Marco Bistarelli, whose Michelin-starred Il Postale in hilltop-perched Perugia will, quite frankly, blow your mind.
Here, we trade al fresco dining for dining under historic ceiling frescos at one of only four tables in the medieval stone Monterone Castle (theatrical European setting: check). While the storybook scenery is vacationdreamy, as soon as the food arrives you could be eating in a box for all you’ll notice—every ounce of attention will be on Bistarelli’s beautiful plate presentations and your taste buds, as whispers of “mmmmm” and “ohhhh” and “yummmmm” breeze through the room. Peer inside the tiny and tidy open kitchen and smell the tempting aromas of dishes like risotto with creamy artichokes, roasted sweetbreads, white truffles, or the duck-duo of honey-kissed breast and leg confit with smoked, savory eggplant.