Pujol (Mexico City, MX)

Pujol
Tennyson 133
Col. Polanco
11570 México, D.F.
Dining date: 8/11/17

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On my first trip to Mexico City, Pujol was high atop my desired restaurants to try. Reservations fill up well in advance, but I was able to get an early dinner reservation on a Friday that I would be there (OpenTable can be your friend with some persistence).

Pujol chef Enrique Olvera is the most internationally acclaimed chef from Mexico City. The chef opened Cosme in New York at the end of 2014, which was a hit from the beginning, earning the 40th spot on the top 50 restaurants in the world. Pujol, generally regarded as one of the top fine dining establishments in Mexico, is ranked #20 in the world.

The restaurant recently moved from its original location into a modern, new property in March – it ‘s really a beautiful space. I don’t know what the original location looked like, but I felt like I could’ve been in LA or NYC here – virtually all of the diners were speaking English and the music was loud American hits.

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Melisse (Santa Monica, CA) [4]

Melisse
1104 Wilshire Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Dining date: 8/5/17

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It’s been a couple of years since I last dined at Melisse. One of the few real fine dining establishments left in the city, the restaurant is still going strong 18 years in. To celebrate their anniversary, the restaurant was running a promotional 4-course anniversary menu for $99 (it felt more like 7 courses). There were a couple of options for each course, giving us the ability to try a number of different menu offerings.

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Kiriko (Los Angeles, CA)

Kiriko
11301 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064
Dining date: 8/4/17

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Kiriko has been a mainstay on the corner of Olympic and Sawtelle for almost two decades. I’ve been to the restaurant once many years ago for lunch. I don’t really remember anything from that visit, but came back for a sushi-focused dinner. We did a sushi omakase which priced out to be about $80 per diner before tax/tip/drinks.

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Mugaritz @ SAAM at The Bazaar (Los Angeles, CA)

Mugaritz + Saam
SAAM at The Bazaar
SLS Hotel
465 S La Cienega Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dining date: 7/21/17

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It’s been over 4 years since I dined at the Saam Room, the tasting menu-only private room in the back of The Bazaar by Jose Andres. I’ve appreciated the experimental nature of the restaurant – it never fails to provide something new, exciting, and different with a flair for the whimsical. Andres’ organization recently announced that the Saam Room was closing to re-conceptualize. To mark the occasion and provide a sort of farewell, the restaurant hosted a two-night dinner with chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of Mugaritz. Mugaritz, a well-known restaurant in Spain, currently holds two Michelin stars and is ranked the ninth best restaurant in the world. Aitor Zabala, who will be chef of Somni when it takes the place of the Saam Room, teamed up on the collaboration. The menu was about 20 courses ($250), with Aduriz and Zabala more of less alternating on each course.
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Fishing with Dynamite (Manhattan Beach, CA) [2]

Fishing with Dynamite
1148 Manhattan Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
Dining date: 7/16/17

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It’s been almost four years since I’ve been to David LeFevre’s seafood-focused restaurant in Manhattan Beach (he has steakhouse Arthur J and MB Post as well). We came in for a weekend lunch during DineLA Restaurant Week and ordered one meal off of that pre-fixed menu ($25 for 3 courses was a steal) and one meal a la carte.

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Vernick Food & Drink (Philadelphia, PA)

Vernick Food & Drink
2031 Walnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Dining date: 6/23/17

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Vernick Food & Drink is high on many lists of best restaurants in Philadelphia. It’s been one of the most highly regarded upscale restaurants since opening in 2012, from being named one of the best new restaurants in America by Bon Appetit to its chef, Gregory Vernick, being named ‘Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic’ this year by the James Beard Foundation. As expected, the restaurant is very popular but we were able to squeeze in on a late Friday seating.

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