The places that make you feel good and make you want to go back to again and again. Vote for your favorite and send me your recommendations!
1. Bolete – Bethlehem, PA. Aside from the fact that Gourmet Magazine just listed it as one of its favorites, it’s so close to home it’s the place I go when I get a chance to go out to someplace nice (which, trust me, with my job and a 2-year-old is not nearly as often as I’d like). The food and atmosphere is much better than most New York City restaurants. Chef Chizmar is devoted to fresh, local, organic, and delicious foods. And the house smoked foods are awesome. www.boleterestaurant.com.
2. Savoy – New York, NY. Other New York City restaurants get all the attention, but this is the real deal—absolutely delicious food that is unpretentious and unrepentant. Chef Peter Hoffman was doing seasonal, local, and organic long before it was cool. Eating here makes you feel good in more ways than one. www.savoynyc.com
3. Restaurant Nora – Washington, DC. Speaking of ahead of its time, Nora has been around for a long time. My father took me there when I was just a young woman not knowing where I would end up. And since then, I go back every time I am in Washington (and think of him). The food is consistently fabulous, the atmosphere lovely, and the pedigree perfect. In 1999, Nora’s became America’s first certified organic restaurant. www.noras.com.
4. Fore Street – Portland, ME. Ahh, the smell of meat roasting over a fire, the salty tang of Maine seafood, wild-harvested vegetables, and delights served in a friendly, simple manner makes this restaurant worth a trip to Portland. I can forgive them for the fact that they had no high chairs because my daughter ate everything on her plate (and mine) anyway. And although I am not a price-sensitive diner, the bill seemed incredibly reasonable. www.forestreet.biz.
5. The Farmers Diner – Quechee, VT. My family thought I was nuts for making us drive two hours out of our way to go to a diner. It’s not fancy or gourmet. But with the tagline “food from here” I just had to check it out. It is delightfully unpretentious down-home cooking in a true diner atmosphere. It’s even got jukeboxes with really cool tunes right at the table. I wish there was a Farmers Diner in every town. www.farmersdiner.com.
6. Chez Panisse – Berkeley, CA. Well, it’s a pilgrimage, isn’t it? And of course it doesn’t disappoint. Alice Waters is the mother of perfection when it comes to simple, fresh, local, and organic food. It’s a set menu every night, so hope you like what she’s serving. But it’s all good. www.chezpanisse.com.
7. Shelburne Farms – Shelburne, VT. So romantic! So family-friendly! So lovely and delicious. It has the feel of an old club from days gone by, but with an delightfully up-to-date menu. It’s the past and the future all blended together that makes me hopeful. The inn is also completely worth a stay, and the barn is finer than most mansions. It’s truly a remarkable place worth visiting. www.shelburnefarms.org
8. Blue Hill at Stone Barns – Pocantico Hills, NY. Chef Dan Barber gets all the press and attention, and it’s well deserved. He has created a magnificent, passionate dining experience in a beautiful, historic setting. He gets extra credit for having the most pristine greenhouse in history and probably also the happiest pigs. While I prefer more simple fare on a regular basis, it’s a great place to go for a special treat. www.bluehillfarm.com.
9. Higgins – Portland, OR. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Higgins, but I know if given the chance I would go back. The Pacific Northwest has a surprisingly amazingly diverse cornucopia of fresh, seasonal, organic foods and Higgins highlights the best. Chef Greg Higgins has been at it for a while and I hope he keeps at it. www.higgins.ypguides.net.
10. The Farmhouse – Emmaus, PA. It’s local. It’s organic. It’s seasonal. It’s wonderful. Chef Michael Adams has been cooking up delicious food for years and developed a loyal following. He even won the Pennsylvania Farm Show Iron Chef competition in 2007—beating out the chef at Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia. But it’s the cozy atmosphere and satisfying meals that keep me coming back. www.thefarmhouse.com.