12 Terrific Restaurants You've Probably Never Heard Of

Business Jet Traveler » April 2014
Las Brumas Grill & Cafe, San Salvador, El Salvador
Las Brumas Grill & Cafe, San Salvador, El Salvador
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 - 2:00pm

Last year, several of our favorite travel writers reported on the finest little-known hotels and resorts they'd discovered ("11 Great Hotels and Resorts You've Probably Never Heard Of," February/March 2013). Now it's mealtime. For this feature, we asked some of our globetrotting contributors to write about restaurants they love but that our readers probably haven't heard of. Here are their reports.

La Roca el Balcon (Nogales, Mexico)

Tucson has excellent Mexican restaurants, so it takes a pretty special one to draw locals across the border, 60 miles to the south. La Roca el Balcon, in downtown Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, does just that. The 42-year-old establishment is a crown of authenticity. Set against a rocky hillside above a tiled courtyard with a splashing fountain and big magnolias on a cobbled side street, it’s a formal, cavernous space with old-world styling. Yet it offers an informal atmosphere where wandering musicians play well and also know when to allow you privacy. La Roca is a splendid spot for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Sonoran cuisine abounds, with classic regional offerings of beef, chicken and especially fresh fish. White-jacketed waiters expertly manage service, and big chalkboards brought to your table describe daily specials. Private rooms accommodate business and social gatherings. If you go from the U.S. (an easy drive down I-19 from Tucson), it’s best to park at one of the several well-run lots in the twin city of Nogales, Arizona; from there, it’s a quick stroll across the border to the restaurant. —Joe Sharkey  

Infolarocarestaurant.com, (520) 313-6313

Sudachi (Jackson Hole, Wyoming)

Sushi probably isn’t the first thing you’d associate with Wyoming, but Jackson Hole, the well-known hotspot for super-affluent vacationers, isn’t your typical Wyoming town. Sudachi, one of its best restaurants, is beloved by locals for its New York/Seattle-quality sushi and such other dishes as lobster wrap with Kobe beef sashimi, and spicy tuna on crispy rice. The mixed drinks and deserts are fabulous as well. Sudachi’s chic, Japanese-modern atmosphere and attentive, knowledgeable staff complete the package. Jackson Hole residents bring out-of-town guests here toshow off a jewel of their town’s high-quality cuisine scene. —James Ullrich

Info: sudachijh.com, (307) 734-7832

Frog Hollow Tavern (Augusta, Georgia)

Augusta’s downtown dining scene has exploded over the past 10 years and if you are in town for the annual Masters Golf Tournament, you owe it to yourself to venture into the city. None of the 29 locally owned dining establishments will disappoint, but head first for the Frog Hollow Tavern, where a modern restaurant-meets-bar atmosphere blends comfortable seating, attentive service and exquisite cuisine. Chef Sean A. Wight’s dinner menu features ultra-fresh, mainly local and regional ingredients. Try the wild caught shrimp, pork lardons, house-made andouille sausage and local tomatoes over organic Anson Mills grits, or perhaps cornmeal-dusted North Carolina flounder and caramelized Vidalia onions. The wine list boasts more than a hundred labels that focus on sustainable, organic practices. The bar also features exceptional classic cocktails, all made with fresh-squeezed juices and homemade mixes. Walk off your meal with a stroll along the bricked Augusta Riverwalk—Debi Lander

Info: froghollowtavern.com, (706) 364-6906

Olivar (Seattle) 

Seattle visitors often opt for a dinner at the touristy, overpriced Pike Place Market, but a better bet would be the little jewel called Olivar. Situated in the trendy Capitol Hill neighborhood, it delivers Mediterranean cuisine prepared by top-flight chefs who bring a succulent slice of the warm Med to the cold Pacific Northwest. Cozy and unpretentious, the restaurant boasts a casual atmosphere that fits the personality of its regulars. Favorites include spicy mussels with Spanish herbs, lamb pancetta atop crostini laced with a white bean paste, charcuterie plates with duck terrine, pork pâté and chorizo and lightly seasoned Spanish tapas. Portions are generous, ingredients are fresh and prices are reasonable. Arrive early to beat the locals, who consider Olivar a treat worth leaving the seafood houses for. —James Ullrich

Info: olivarrestaurant.com, (206) 322-0409

Pirogue Grill (Bismarck, North Dakota)

At Pirogue Grill, one of the Rocky Mountains’ best eateries, locals and politicos jockey for tables to savor meat straight from the prairie: sausage made from locally raised venison, tender bison medallions and the finest green-pasture-fed, melt-in-your-mouth steak. Proprietors Stuart and Cheryl Tracy named the restaurant after Lewis and Clark’s dugout canoe, and like the two famous explorers, they’ve mapped new territory, serving up such specialties as North Dakota bison osso buco with gremolata, New Zealand butterfish with red pepper and sautéed petrale sole with lemon-and-caper butter sauce. Stuart, who trained at the Culinary Institute of America and was on the Pebble Beach Golf Tournament’s Culinary Team, was chef at the Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa and at The Rivery near Bismarck. The elegant but casual 70-seat eatery features locally sourced seasonal ingredients. All stocks, sauces, breads and desserts are made from scratch, and diners can watch the chefs work through an open archway with a view of the kitchen.—Margie Goldsmith

Info: piroguegrille.com, (701) 223-3770

Las Brumas Grill & Café (San Salvador, El Salvador)

Central America’s “a la plancha” (on the grill) cooking tradition is practiced to perfection here, amidst a volcano-side setting of lush gardens and landscapes overlooking San Salvador. Built in 2009 on the grounds of a former coffee farm, Las Brumas (The Mists) features charcoal-grilled meats and seafood—beef, chicken, rabbit, pork, fish and shrimp—prepared by haute cuisine-trained chefs. Appetizers including pupusitas, empanadas, postelitos and yucca con chicharron, and accompaniments of locally grown grilled eggplant, zucchini, carrot, potato and corn provide as panoramic a view of Salvadoran cuisine as diners enjoy of the valley and El Picacho volcano. Finish your feast with postres (desserts) made on the premises, and 100-percent Salvadoran coffee. The main building occupies the former colonial estate’s refurbished house, which is surrounded by lush gardens and stands of pine and cypress. Trails weaving through the property provide a pleasant way to work off your meal.—James Wynbrandt

Info: lasbrumas.com, (503) 2508-0454

Luzzo’s (New York City)

A lot of people claim to have discovered New York’s best pizza place, but I really have. Located in the East Village, Luzzo’s serves thin-crust pie that tastes perfect: it’s fresh and flavorful, with just the right crispy/chewy mix, and never greasy (you won’t feel bloated the next day). Also notable are the Cesare and rucola salads, fried Carciofi (artichokes) and fried dough balls with Nutella (off-menu) for dessert. Almost better than the food are the attentive service, familial atmosphere and wine list. Children will love the quirky décor (chairs and lamps hang upside-down from the ceiling) and adults will appreciate the wide selection of well-chosen Italian wines. —Jennifer Leach English

Info: luzzosgroup.com, (212) 473-7447

Ballymaloe House Restaurant (Cork, Ireland)

This restaurant, part of the 17th century family-run Ballymaloe Country House Hotel, is itself almost enough to justify a trip to Ireland. Fish, poultry and meat are sourced locally, but everything else is from the Ballymaloe farm: fruits and vegetables are grown in the walled garden; cheese and dairy products, including the thickest fresh cream you’ll ever taste, come from the dairy; and biscuits, breads and desserts are made from scratch. Menus are based on fresh catch and whatever is ripe, such as runner beans, courgettes, globe artichokes, kale and cabbage. The dining room, with its soft lighting, crystal and fine china, is romantic even at breakfast, when you can have eggs, bacon, sausages and homemade rhubarb, ginger, gooseberry and elderflower jams. Lunch offers a choice of a three-course repast or light meal including homemade cheeses, and dinner is a five-course extravaganza with soup, salad or sorbet, fresh fish, seasonal vegetables, pâté and terrines, and sumptuous desserts. All are served with excellent wines from the extensive wine cellar. The Friday night hors d’oeuvres buffet with the best Irish seafood plus Ballymaloe’s smoked mackerel and hake is not to be missed. —Margie Goldsmith

Info: ballymaloe.ie, +353 (0)21 4652 531

Les Terrasses de Lyon (Lyon, France)

If you travel to Lyon and want to have a feel for the culture of France’s second city and its historical link to Italy, Les Terrasses de Lyon (aka La Villa Florentine) is the place to go. As his grandmother was Sicilian, chef Davy Tissot has recently created a menu that wonderfully reinvents some Italian dishes. And don’t miss the Amaretti à l’orange, a dessert that will be a perfect match for a glass of natural sweet wine—among the wine list’s best-kept secrets. Maybe as important as the great and original food is the incredible view you get of Lyon’s Renaissance district. You also will see the modern bridges on the Saône river, which are famous for their beautiful night lighting. And the service is perfect; the waiters and waitresses have a relaxing sense of humor. Les Terrasses de Lyon offers a consistently wonderful experience—and a romantic one, if you visit with your loved one. The restaurant has one Michelin star and, after visiting, you may well wonder why it does not have a couple more.—Thierry Dubois

Info: villaflorentine.com, +33(0)4 72565656

El Olivo (Mallorca, Spain)

Adjacent to the small medieval hilltop town of Deià on the northwest coast of Mallorca, you’ll find an unexpected five-star hotel. Twin historic manor houses, gardens dotted with orange trees, an olive plantation and important collections of sculptures make up the grounds of La Residencia. The hotel’s Michelin-starred El Olivo ranks among the best restaurants in Spain. Executive chef Guillermo Méndez and his team like to blend the flavors of the Mediterranean with the best imported products, as well as organic produce from the hotel gardens. The restaurant staff will guide you through the tasting, à la carte and vegetarian menus while you dine amid flickering candlelight in the majestic surroundings of the Tramuntana Mountains. Select from the excellent wine list, which, year after year, has achieved an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. —Debi Lander

Info: hotel-laresidencia.com, +34 971 63 6046, (800) 237-1236 (reservations essential) 

Blanchy Street (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

This restaurant, which opened last year, is the laidback sister to late-night drinking and dancing den Blanchy’s Tash. Set within a French colonial property along up-and-coming “Alley 74D,” it is named after Paul Blanchy, Saigon’s first French colonial mayor. Australian chef Martin Brito’s menu of Japanese-inspired, pan-Asian cuisine with a South American accent pays lip service to his former posting at Nahm, the first Michelin-starred Thai restaurant in Europe, and six-year tenure at Nobu London. Options range from light and fresh to devilishly decadent: crabmeat salad is complemented by a citrus dressing with crispy shallots and cucumber, while hand-chopped Norwegian salmon tartare with wasabi and tobiko is buttery soft and melts in the mouth. But the must-try standouts are Brito’s crispy pork belly, braised for eight hours then fried and served with a miso sauce; and a half-chicken marinated for three days, pan roasted and served with a side of the chef’s secret signature sauce. Be warned: it’s addictive. —Gemma Price

Info: blanchystreet.com, +84 8 3823 8793

Sugar Palm (Siem Reap, Cambodia)

One of Siem Reap’s greatest institutions, Sugar Palm serves the best Khmer food in town. Owner and chef Kethana Dunnet returned from exile in New Zealand in 2003 to reintroduce Cambodian cooking styles and recipes lost during the Khmer Rouge era; after opening the first Sugar Palm in the capital, Phnom Penh, she built this traditional Khmer timber house in Siem Reap—the jumping off point for the Angkorian temple complex—to house her second outlet in 2006.Kethana’s sweet-sour pomelo salad with sliced pork, dried shrimp, silver noodles and mint and tossed with a citrus-based dressing is refreshing and moreish, but her soufflé-like fish amok—a decadent, coconut-cream-based snakehead-fish curry steamed in a palm leaf—is to die for. Besides being a fine choice for dinner, Sugar Palm is a great spot to take a cooking class: Kethana even schooled Gordon Ramsey on the finer points of Khmer cuisine when Ramsey was filming his Great Escape series in 2010.—Gemma Price

Info: thesugarpalm.com, +855 63 964 838


About the Contributors

Thierry Dubois, who lives in France, writes regularly for BJT sister publication Aviation International NewsJennifer Leach English is BJT’s editorial director...New York City-based Margie Goldsmith has visited 122 countries and written about all of them…Debi Lander is a Florida-based travel writer…Gemma Price, who lives in Vietnam, covers travel, culture and lifestyle in Asia for such publications as Time and Condé Nast TravelerJoe Sharkey writes the New York Times’ On the Road column…James Ullrich is a Seattle-based freelance writer…Longtime BJT contributor James Wynbrandt, a private pilot, has written for the New York Times, Barron’s and Forbes.

 

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AlexSmith
on March 28, 2014 - 3:09am

Thanks a lot for this beauty Enjoying article with me. I am appreciating it very much! Looking Forward to Another Great article. Good luck to the Author! All the best.

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