The Catbird Seat
The hottest restaurant in this newly obsessed-over food city is a fun, elegant counter spot from chefs Erik Anderson and Josh Habiger. F&W contributing editor Andrew Zimmern is a fan: “Diners sit at a U-shaped bar as chefs (who’ve worked in some of the top kitchens in the world, including Noma, the Fat Duck and Alinea), prepare your meal—a multicourse prix fixe menu that changes weekly and is accompanied by Jane Lopes’ unique, small-batch beverages.”
Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Sustainable-food visionary and chef Dan Barber runs this restaurant on a stunning Rockefeller estate in Westchester County, which is also home to Stone Barns, a non-profit educational center and farm that grows much of the produce for the restaurant. There is no traditional menu; every day, Barber creates a prix fixe (ranging from five to 12 courses) based on what’s in season.
Chef Alex Atala’s avant-garde experiments use Amazonian ingredients and French techniques, resulting in dishes like braised zebu (a kind of oxen) with mashed potatoes and pequi, a licorice-inflected yellow fruit.
Chef-hero René Redzepi is out to define New Nordic cuisine at the pioneering Noma. His fiercely regional vision disavows black pepper, olive oil and other nonlocal staples; Redzepi’s dishes highlight vegetables and wild edibles. A signature dish: white asparagus cooked with branches from pine trees grown nearby.
In a jewel box space, chef Pascal Barbot creates tasting menus with ethereal, architectural dishes—like a multilayered galette of thinly sliced raw mushrooms with verjus-marinated foie gras.
On a quiet street in Modena, chef Massimo Bottura’s experimental restaurant serves modern, often deconstructed versions of classic food from Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region.
El Celler de Can Roca
Three Roca brothers (chef Joan, pastry chef Jordi and wine director Josep) run this postmodernist Catalan destination like a culinary playground. Surprises might include caramelized olives presented in the branches of a miniature tree and palate-cleansing Campari bonbons.
One visit to Swedish iconoclast Magnus Nilsson’s remote mountain restaurant was not enough for The Spotted Pig’s April Bloomfield. “All of the food is foraged from the surrounding land and it would be great to experience what a different season has to offer. The first time I went was in the early winter, so I’d like to go in the spring or summer.”
Patrons brave long lines for an early morning sushi breakfast at this no-frills shop in the renowned Tsukiji fish market. The fish are among the city’s freshest, and the location is a perfect starting point for touring the immense wholesale market.
Chef Ben Shewry is both high tech (he uses molecular techniques) and primal (he forages ingredients). His complex Thai-Australian dishes, like an electric bong-smoked trout, have cemented his reputation as one of the country’s most promising young talents.
Click here for 100 restaurants worth a pilgrimage in North America.