Legendary Greek Party Spot Nammos Headed to New York City

Legendary Greek Party Spot Nammos Headed to New York City

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Nammos by the Sea, a New York outpost of the Mykonos beach restaurant Nammos, will open at the Battery Maritime Building in 2015

Legendary Greek Party Spot Nammos Headed to New York City

Iconic Mykonos beach restaurant and popular party venue Nammos, which boasts “an international jet-set clientele” and “insane parties that start immediately after dessert is served and $1,000-plus bottles of Champagne and fresh fish” is opening up an outpost in New York City in 2015, reports the Tribeca Citizen.

New York City restaurateur Harry Poulakakos reportedly decided to help bring the restaurant to New York after throwing his son’s wedding there.

Including his son Peter, the Poulakakos family owns 10 restaurants in the Financial District alone, including Harry’s Café and Steak, Bacchanal, and The Dead Rabbit.

According to Greek news outlet Proto Thema News: “The idea is to promote Greek products to American customers through Nammos, [wherein] the restaurant will cooperate with Greek fishermen so that New Yorkers would be able to taste Greek fishes. The design and architecture of the site is curated by the famous designer Lionel Ohayon. The ground floor will be used as an event hall with a capacity of 2,500 people, while the first and second floor will be converted into a hotel with 61 rooms.”

New York’s Nammos by the Sea will be a rooftop restaurant at the Battery Maritime Building, and is scheduled to open in 2015.

For the latest food and drink updates, visit our Food News page.

Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.

Robert Gould Shaw

Robert Gould Shaw (October 10, 1837 – July 18, 1863) was an American officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Born into a prominent Boston abolitionist family, he accepted command of the first all-black regiment (the 54th Massachusetts) in the Northeast. Supporting the promised equal treatment for his troops, he encouraged the men to refuse their pay until it was equal to that of white troops' wage.

He led his regiment at the Second Battle of Fort Wagner in July 1863. They attacked a beachhead near Charleston, South Carolina, and Shaw was shot and killed while leading his men to the parapet of the Confederate-held fort. Although the regiment was overwhelmed by firing from the defenses and driven back, suffering many casualties, Shaw's leadership and the regiment became legendary. They inspired hundreds of thousands more African Americans to enlist for the Union, helping to turn the tide of the war to its ultimate victory.

In recent years, tourism to the island has exploded as global partiers and a new generation of celebrities and the ultrarich discovered the Grecian paradise after moving on from now-passé hot spots like Ibiza and Saint-Tropez.

I was picked up by Michael, the driver for the guest house I would be staying at and a 50-ish "financial refugee" from Athens.

"The thing you have to understand about Mykonos," Michael said, in a riff that quickly turned Shakespearean, "is that Mykonos is absolutely nothing. There is nothing special about the island. It is a theater stage and you are the stars."

This East Village Restaurant Will Transport You to the Mediterranean

There is no lack of reclaimed wood-clad eateries and self-consciously disheveled dive bars populating the East Village in New York City. But a two-story, immersive seafood restaurant, whose every nook and cranny surrounds you with aquatic splendor, is a rarer occurrence. Lamia&rsquos Fish Market, which opened this month on a stretch of Avenue B between Third and Fourth Streets, is a fresh counterpoint to the downtown scene&rsquos rampant hipness. The creation of restaurateur Lamia Funti, the spot nods to her Mediterranean background and style of eating, with a menu including whole fish baked in salt (served tableside with mallets for diners), squid ink noodles with sea urchin and a 12-seat raw bar boasting a daily selection of oysters and ceviche.

Funti worked with designer Dara Young and the artists Will Kurtz, Brian Ferrell, and Michela Martello to bring the space&rsquos six separate rooms to life, each with its own, singular environment. The raw bar sits beneath a 30-foot skylight and features a living wall and mirrored barnacles, while the downstairs dining room has a sea-blue floor and an exposed, original stone wall (it is dubbed The Grotto). Here, Funti walks us through the design of Lamia&rsquos Fish Market.

The restaurant&rsquos name was inspired in part by a port city in Greece called Lamia and also by an ancient sea monster of the same name. Can you tell me about this mythology and how it influenced the concept and design of this restaurant?

We always wanted to open a seafood restaurant and offer it at an affordable price in a beautiful setting. When looking for inspiration, it came to mind that my name itself is a beautiful town in port city in Greece and also a sea creature in Greek mythology. We wanted to create a feminine Mediterranean space and brought in designer Dara Young, founder of Aviva Collective and 4Front Hospitality Development, whose work has been nominated for and won multiple International Restaurant and Bar Design Awards. Dara worked alongside us for two years, bringing this space to life and funneling our direction. We also had the pleasure of working with incredible artists such as Will Kurtz, Brian Farrell, and Michela Martello&mdashall of whom helped bring these details together through their own unique interpretations.

What did this space look like previously? How much work did you have to do in transforming it?

Some people know this as the previous, legendary Le Souk space, which had multiple closed-up rooms that weren&rsquot connected. Since we wanted to create a very different concept, we had to completely gut a 7,000-square-foot space and transform it into an all-encompassing multi-level restaurant environment. With that much square footage, the entire process took two years to complete. We even built a 30-foot skylight above the marble raw bar in order to open it up and make it feel more airy and bright.

How did you decide to have six different environments within the restaurant and why was that important to the overall look and concept?

We wanted to bring something special to New York, and with such a large space, we knew we had the opportunity to truly create multiple experiences under one roof. I personally get bored going to one place that is the same throughout, but we know guests can come in one night on a date in a quiet corner of The Grotto, dine with friends at The Raw Bar, and celebrate with a large party in The Ship themed private dining room. It&rsquos all a different ambiance with new things to discover every time you come in.

What was the inspiration behind each of the six rooms you created?

Bar &mdash When it comes to a design concept like this, there is a fine line to walk between kitschy and tastefully done. We wanted guests to feel as though they just boarded the ship, but without it being over the top. Dara worked with us and pulled salvaged boat parts, created tables showcasing maps from different regions of the Mediterranean, and softened it with plush velvet seating.

Octopus Room &mdash What is the Mediterranean without our tentacled friends? I love the inspiration behind this room&mdashfeeling like you&rsquore in the ebb and flow of the ocean while dining in curved banquette seating as an octopus mural hovers above. Dara and Michaela did stunning work on capturing the feel of the waves and creating beautiful art that brings the concept to life.

Raw Bar &mdash We knew we wanted a light and airy oyster bar, so we created the 30-foot skylight to make you feel like you&rsquore looking up from under the water. Dara built a massive living wall that fills the space with lush green, like seaweed, which sits opposite of the mirrored barnacles. It&rsquos the breath of air&mdashwhite, light, marble&mdashbefore you head down to the depths below.

Deck/Ship Room &mdash The private dining room inspiration came from the captain&rsquos quarters of a ship. The large, two-tiered table is spread with dishes rather than maps of the abyss, salvaged portholes give a glimpse of the outside, and the walls have all been hand-painted by artist Brian Farrell. The Deck right outside is my favorite seat in the house. You&rsquore able to get a glimpse of almost every room while feeling like you&rsquore dining on the water in Greece.

Grotto &mdash We love the original stone wall downstairs and wanted to showcase it, paying tribute to New York City&rsquos vibrant seaport history. It provided inspiration for The Grotto, creating a sexy, sleek vibe where guests can either dine under the skylight or be tucked away in a cushy banquette in the corner.

The overall feel of this restaurant is very immersive, even theatrical. How would you say this meshes with the East Village neighborhood you chose for the location?

There is nothing like this in the East Village&mdasha multi-level restaurant of this size and design. It&rsquos truly unique to the neighborhood and my family and I are East Village residents. Bringing this concept to life in a place we call home, and whose guests we know personally, has been a wonderful experience.

Tasty memories: 97 long-gone Portland restaurants we wish were still around

Restaurants are special places. We celebrate milestones like birthdays and anniversaries there. We go out to eat when we need a taste of comfort after a hard day. And the best eateries leave us with wonderful memories of great meals and laughter that can last a lifetime.

Oregonian file photos

But restaurants tend to have short lifespans, with many of them lasting only a handful of years. Even restaurants with unbelievable staying power eventually run out of gas. This year, several longtime Portland favorites closed their doors. The 21-year-old Indian restaurant Bombay Cricket Club poured its last mango margarita in August. In September, downtown's Veritable Quandary closed after 45 years. In November, Old Town's Alexis Restaurant dished up its last souvlaki after 36 years in the dining game.

Rose Howerter, The Oregonian

And early next year, the German restaurant Der Rheinlander will end its 53-year run of schnitzels, bratwurst and singing waiters. And so it goes …

But these long-gone restaurants live on in our memories. Earlier this year, we asked readers which closed restaurant they missed the most, and the response was incredible. From the elegant Italian spot Alba Osteria & Enoteca to the legendary Zefiro, which redrew Portland's dining map, here are 97 historic dining spots we wish were still around. Some were quirky reflections of who we are. Others elevated our tastes and expectations.

Brian Feulner, The Oregonian

Alba Osteria & Enoteca

Southwest Portland's Hillsdale neighborhood has never had the concentration of ambitious restaurants that you find in other parts of town, but this wine-focused Italian kitchen ranked among the city's best during its seven-year run. Chef-owner Kurt Spak specialized in Piedmontese cuisine, including house-made pasta, like agnolotti stuffed with veal, pork and rabbit. The wine list offered Italian vintages not found elsewhere, and the vibe was spiffy without being stuffy, making it popular with regulars. It closed on New Year's Eve in 2010, making way for Sasquatch Brewing Company.

Alberta Street Oyster Bar & Grill

The late restaurateur Peter Hochman created this Alberta Arts District temple to surf & turf in 2005, where then up-and-coming chef Eric Bechard celebrated not just oysters, but rustic fare like fried veal sweetbreads with glazed shallots, chestnuts and a raisin sauce. But heavy debt sunk the restaurant's fortunes. After a change in ownership forced it to briefly close and reopen, it never fully recovered, closing for good in 2009. Bechard went on to open McMinnville's acclaimed Thistle (and achieved notoriety over a fist fight over the provenance of a pig), and the space is now the Irish pub T.C. O'Leary's.

Torsten Kjellstrand, The Oregonian

For 36 years, dining at Old Town’s Alexis Restaurant felt like a party in a boisterous Athens tavern. The Greek fare included comforting fare like braised lamb shanks, fried calamari, and saganaki, an ouzo-drenched cheese that was served in flaming glory. The business gradually expanded to include a line of products sold at grocery stores. But it became challenging to attract diners in recent years, as lower West Burnside became the epicenter of Portland’s homeless problem. In November, owner Gerry Tsirimiagos shuttered the restaurant, which he had opened just a few years after immigrating from Greece.

Rob Finch, The Oregonian

In 1995, New York attorney Darryl Joannides and his wife, Sarah, opened this Sellwood Italian restaurant, which got terrific reviews and drew big crowds. Under chef Teodoro KuMay, the kitchen produced an array of meat and seafood dishes. But the real stars were the 18 types of pasta, including lemony spaghetti with seared scallops and homemade ravioli. If you couldn’t decide on one, you could order a sampling of noodles, chosen by the chef and served with great ritual to the entire table. After a decade, the Joannideses sold the business to new owners, who opened a short-lived second location in Beaverton. Two years later, the original closed, too.

Stephanie Yao Long, The Oregonian

In the 1980s and ➐s, this romantic restaurant on the 30th floor of the U.S. Bancorp building was one of the city's top dining destinations. The big draw, of course, was the stunning view of downtown Portland, the city's east side and (on clear days) Mount Hood. At its peak in the mid-➐s, under then-wunderkind chef Mark Gould, the kitchen served towering constructions of food – this was the era of architectural cuisine – with hints of Asia running throughout. Meals became less reliable after several chef changes, but the bar remained a vital part of the city's jazz scene, with live music most nights, including a standing gig by the late Leroy Vinnegar, the grandfather of the walking bass. In 2001, the restaurant lost its lease and closed, making way for Portland City Grill, which has those same great views, but little of the magic.

Joel Davis, The Oregonian

B. Moloch/Heathman Bakery & Pub

For 10 years, this downtown delicatessen, bakery and pizza spot was a popular pre-theater spot with the symphony crowd, drawn by affordable sandwiches and salads in a cheery two-level space featuring large paintings by 19th-century French caricaturist Colomb – who signed his name backwards as B. Moloch. In its early years, the rustic Northwest menu was overseen by chef Greg Higgins, who was chef at the sister Heathman Restaurant, and later would go on to win a James Beard award at his own namesake restaurant. In 1998, B. Moloch served its last designer pizza, and the space was transformed into the seafood restaurant SouthPark.

Angela Pancrazio, The Oregonian

There was no way diners could keep from smiling while having breakfast at this funky North Portland café, which dished up creative breakfasts and hefty sandwiches beginning in 1994 on a then-gritty stretch of North Killingsworth Avenue. Owners Bill Lockner and Virlis Kikel filled the dining room with old car memorabilia – vintage hubcaps, hood ornaments and fenders were everywhere. The menu’s stars were omelets, like Green Eggs and Ham, a pesto-egg scramble filled with Black Forest ham. After 20 years, it closed in 2014, and the space now is a marijuana dispensary.


H e doesn’t love me. He never loved me. And he isn’t looking for me — so I damn well better survive the night on my own. No food, no tent, no map. No one to blame but myself. Too bad burning hot shame isn’t a heat source.

Moonlight traces a craggy ridgeline up around me in a massive arc. The sparse lodgepole pines give way to barren rock, which means 12,000-foot elevation. Thin air breeds spartan creatures — mountain lions, king snakes, bighorn sheep. Not soft-fingered writers.

My body curls into the fetal position inside the soggy sleeping bag as my teeth chatter with percussive violence. No comfort for animals that don’t belong. The hard earth refuses to yield an inch to the curve of my hip.

I lay my spine flat and look up — I haven’t seen a star in nine years. Even through my panicked fog, the glory catches me. The sky glitters and winks like a showgirl. The Perseid Meteor Shower should peak tonight. Hey if I don’t make it, at least I’ll get a good show, right? But nothing falls.

“W e tell ourselves stories in order to live,” writes Joan Didion. “We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.”

My compulsion started around the time my father surprised everyone by dying. I’d just been dumped by the first person I’d ever kissed (and asked to keep it a secret). Then I’d blown out my knee in a basketball game and torpedoed my collegiate career. I craved control over an uncontrollable world.

So I began to write. When I’m overwhelmed, I imagine I’m inside a movie of my own design. Nothing can hurt the omniscient narrator.

This is a love story. More specifically, it’s a story about how I froze the phantasmagoria into a false map and got terribly lost. Sure, emotionally lost, but also get-me-the-fuck-off-this-mountain lost. We tell ourselves stories in order to live, unless they end up killing us.

I met Mountain Man at a boarding school in Ojai, California — my first job out of college. As an expression of its “ranch values,” the school assigned each kid a horse to ride and shovel shit for. The faculty led mandatory backpacking trips twice per year, often to a camp under Mount Langley in the Sierras.

I was eager to create new memories in the wild after my last experience: a college trip in New Hampshire where we went off course. Administrators spent three days searching the White Mountains to tell me that my father had died. Others might hold a grudge against Nature for this affront, but not me.

My dad, a second-generation Finn, respected Nature’s brutal majesty. I’d seen the photographs of him in pre-suburban life — paddling on wooded lakes and tromping across snowy bluffs. Two summers earlier, I’d completed an Outward Bound leadership training course. I’d spelled out sisu in my head over and over when the trail got tough. He beamed when I told him this. Sisu means “guts” in Finnish.

At 6-foot-4, I’ve inherited my dad’s frame. I’m the tallest woman most people have ever seen. Strangers tell me so on sidewalks, at cash registers, and in public bathrooms. A hipster once asked, “Do you secretly hate yourself?” No. I was just bone-crushingly lonely. I was a 24-year-old Harvard-educated virgin with a signed copy of The Elements of Style. I’d never had a boyfriend. Given Ojai’s microscopic dating pool and my waning confidence in the allure of late bloomers, perhaps I never would.

Mountain Man arrived my second year at the school — the hirsute love child of Ryan Gosling and Bear Grylls. His eyes were the blue of alpine lakes, and although only 5-foot-11 he swaggered like an NBA champ. He took jobs when he felt like it and lived off the grid when he didn’t. Before this gig he’d led scared-straight wilderness treks in Idaho — like the one he’d been sent to as a teenager. He brewed his own kombucha, caught trout with his bare hands, and had once lived in the Sierras for 40 days and nights alone. How Biblical.

I saw him for the first time at an outdoor school assembly. I’d spent the morning asking 12-year-olds, “What three adjectives would you use to describe yourself?” and proffering gingersnaps to their anxious mothers. I stepped out of the air-conditioned Admission Office wearing a Laura Ashley knockoff from The Tall Girl Shop. Mountain Man strode in from the Horse Department — sweat-stained in jeans and leather. Blades of grass leaned toward him, hoping for the crush of his boot.

I’d heard about him. News travels fast at small schools in small towns. He’d taken his freshman boy advisees out for pizza that week and a minx had dropped her number on his plate — solidifying his godlike status among the prepubescents faster than you can say arrabbiata.

Mountain Man introduced himself to the student body and began a tutorial on how to light a fire by rubbing sticks together and blowing on them —

[A film producer interrupts from behind her posh desk.]

Without a match? You’re shitting me!

This is exactly how it happened.

Love it! Add a kitten rescue in the rewrite.
(picks up phone)
Gina, is Chris Hemsworth available? …
How about Liam? …

I looked across the faces in the crowd — there was a blaze all right. Even the aged school nurse and her hound had heart-eye emojis. My married colleague, heavily pregnant with her second child, leaned over and whispered, “Damn.”

This guy is such a cliché, I thought. Hard eye roll — chased by self-loathing.

I, too, was charmed by Handsome McMuscleface, which made me a worse cliché — Girl Who Didn’t Stand a Chance. I hadn’t successfully dated anyone, let alone Field & Stream’s cover boy. Plus the height difference? My desire was humiliating.

Yet still! My storytelling brain sensed an opportunity of Hughesian proportions. Sexiest guy in school falls for intriguing, overlooked assistant admission officer.

The secret to elevating my dating game lay in the heart of my favorite teen rom-coms: Don’t be yourself. I pictured him with a SoCal Lara Croft — half assassin, half sun-bunny. You know, a cool girl.

Adorkable overachiever was my brand. Cool was not. My mother once punished me in high school by forbidding me to study on a Friday night.

Another time, I accidentally outed my 14-year-old sister, Sarah, for taking the family car on a joyride. I was 16 and hadn’t bothered with the car yet — the library was within walking distance. When Sarah wasn’t in bed after midnight, I’d assumed she’d been kidnapped.

“I’m so sorry,” I told her when she was grounded into oblivion. “I never considered the possibility of something fun.”

“It’s OK,” Sarah’s braces gleamed beneath headgear. “I know.”

Nonetheless, I had minor superpowers. I understood narrative. I knew how to play a part. See: Lady Macbeth, third runner-up, Central New York’s Teen Shakespeare Monologue Competition.

How hard could it be to write myself into this story?

C ool Girl made no effort to meet Mountain Man for weeks. I watched from afar in the cafeteria. He’d clomp over to the soft serve station in his big boots after lunch.

[Re-creation of the famous balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.]

Mountain Man (Juliet) swirls up a vanilla ice cream cone and takes a sensuous bite as Cool Girl (Romeo) watches below, unseen.

(Elizabethan accent)
O, that I were sprinkles upon that
cream, That I might touch that lip!

I forced my eyes away as he passed. Let him come to me. Cool Girl 101.

The Spanish teacher at my lunch table said, “I’m a happily married woman — but for a chance with him … ?” She whistled through her teeth. “You should go for it.”

“He’s not really my type,” I said, channeling my best James Dean lean.

“That man is everyone’s type,” she hissed. I smiled and shrugged.

B asketball season rolled around in November. As head coach, I mentioned I could use an extra practice player. He offered with a grin. I put on my best game face, but my players, teenage girls fluent in body language, tittered on the sidelines.

As Mountain Man and I drove the team in two passenger vans to an away game one sunny afternoon, my van started to giggle. I turned to look at his, the next lane over on the highway. One of the darlings pressed a handmade sign to the window: Ms. Johnson, he’s too short for you!

Both vans shrieked with laughter. He couldn’t see the sign. I prayed they didn’t tell him what was so funny.

Kill me now. Just end it.
I smiled at my girls and shrugged again.

I was assigned to chaperone a holiday school dance. I’d seen Mountain Man’s name on the list too. However, it was midnight and all of the students had left, with no sign of him. He was probably out birthing a foal or eating a volcano. The school webmaster-cum-DJ cranked up ’90s jams and we chaperones took over. Nothing like earnest high school teachers getting stanky to “Big Pimpin’.”

I danced, sweated and didn’t care how I looked. A tap on my shoulder — I turned. It was him. His cerulean eyes locked with mine. “Trust me,” he said, and put his forearm against the small of my back. Cool Girl was ready to rob a bank.

I leapt up and back as he flipped all 76 inches of me, 360 degrees, head over heels. Adrenaline surged through my veins as I stuck the landing. Cheering friends circled around. He flipped me again. I was giddy, dizzy, unable to comprehend the physics of such a move — but when the ground looks like the sky it’s no time for thinking.

The lights came up and the music stopped. I gave him an awkward high-five and bolted for home, like a Cinderella who knew tonight’s ration of magic was up.

I laid awake in bed. After the school year, I’d be moving to New York City to accept a fellowship in public affairs. Time was running out.

The following week, my basketball team, perennial underdogs, won a big game on a heart-stopping buzzer beater. Mountain Man and I celebrated by playing pool in the back room of a local dive bar. It was the first time we’d been alone together. I matched him point for point until his final turn. I swigged my beer like Angelina Jolie — if Angelina Jolie drank Miller High Life.

I perched against the table, blocking his approach and said, “Take your best shot.” He stepped between my legs, took my face in his hands and kissed me hard.

All the fireworks fired. Holy shit I’m a natural!

Some minutes later we were still atop the pool table when a guy opened the door.

“Are you guys still playing or … can I have a round?”

The darkness enveloped my flush. “Sorry man, all yours,” Mountain Man said with a wink. “She’ll do anything to win.”

We drove to my little house where he strummed his guitar and sang a song by U2. His eyes were closed and his voice was deep.

In a little while
This hurt will hurt no more
I’ll be home, love …

I held myself, fingers digging into flesh — tight, lest I burst into flames.

The sex was great, but what really blew my mind was the story. To be desired by the Most Desirable, I must be fucking exceptional.

As our romance progressed, he confided that he was drawn to a solitary life in nature. “I’m bad at relationships,” he said. Again, with those eyes.

I’ve never been in one.
“Me too,” I answered.

He liked independent women with their own passions — but so often they changed, lost themselves. Like one college girlfriend who started showing up to watch his lacrosse practices.

Pathetic, I thought. I wouldn’t do that in a billion years.

I doubled down on Cool Girl. I served up the fun, wild parts of myself and kept the wobbly bits hidden. A nasty blister stained the inside of my boot blood red on one of our treks, but I didn’t let on. I drank whiskey without flinching, hustled darts with my opposite hand, and wore low-cut tops with black bras when we played pool. Oh, if the Teen Shakespearians could see me now!

I listened for cues to up my game. “Don’t ask for what you kind of want,” he said after hearing me on the phone with a customer service representative. “Ask for exactly what you want.”

I didn’t just love him I wanted to be him.

He suggested we try dating long-distance. I was elated. Coup of the century!

M y sister Sarah, now a design student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, moved in with me in the Big Apple. We caught five mice in our decrepit apartment in the first week. Yet as long as Sarah was there, I was home. I wrote her résumés. She framed fashion feedback in a way I could understand: “Your outfit,” she’d say with the forbearance of a monk, “is not telling a consistent story.” She threw herself into the maelstrom of New York dating as I happily abstained.

Mountain Man sent me handwritten missives and pencil sketches of my face. He highlighted words in a pocket Spanish dictionary — amante, beso, toque. In between pages, he pressed columbine and Indian paintbrush. He included a little satchel of rocks — limestone, hornfels, mica — tiny treasures from his rambles in the high places. His letter read, “My longing, in a pocket for you.” New York City was kicking my ass, but my belief in our epic love story buoyed me.

He even came to visit me in Babylon, as he called it, for New Year’s. It was the first time I saw him away from his other woman, the wild. He strained to put on a good face despite obvious irritation with the concrete canyons, $14 gin and tonics, and affected hipsters. I joked about the local wildlife (pigeons, rats in the subway, my asshole mice roommates), but it was plain that he was lost without his true love. I could never compete.

“So great to see you killing it out here,” he said.

This city is crushing my soul.
“You know me,” I said.

Cool Girl was wearing me out. I’d pulled off the heist but now had to live with the con.

When it was time for Mountain Man to fly back home, I watched him in the ticket agent line, certain he wouldn’t be let on the plane. He’d lost his license. This was post 9/11 LaGuardia — no chance. Sure, he knew how to survive in the wilderness with nothing but a pen and ball of twine, but I knew how this city worked. He waited, beaming at the agent, wafting manbrosia from 20 feet away.

“Driver’s license?” She called him forward. I shook my head. I’d tried to warn him.

“I don’t have a driver’s license,” he replied, “but I do have a diver’s license.”

He slapped a scuba certification ID onto the desk. In it his hair stuck out in all directions, his expression adorable. She laughed and waved him through. What?! Manic Pixie Dream Boy strikes again. He gave me a winning smile and headed toward the gate, back to his mistress.

I took a taxi home, depleted and confused. Was he even a real person?

Life got harder in New York. My mother, living alone in Syracuse, was hospitalized with a perforated bowel. I had just worked up my courage on a phone call to tell him how scared I was to lose her, when his surf buddy knocked on his door.

Please don’t go. Choose me.
“Of course,” I said. “Have fun!”

I craved his support but wouldn’t break out of my role. Needs? Cool Girl didn’t have needs. Gross.

He called once a week from a landline. He didn’t believe in cell phones. I held my cell all February 14th, certain he’d call any minute. He didn’t. Later he remarked, “Hallmark holidays are such bullshit, right?”

But you’re my first Valentine.
“Total bullshit,” Cool Girl agreed.

Sarah saw through my story. “You’re not happy with him,” she said. “Stop being an idiot.”

[Sarah addresses camera.]

More like, “Stop being a fucking

I couldn’t explain how being his girlfriend made me exceptional. It sounded pathetic. There but for the grace of God, go I to the lacrosse practice.

A year into dating, I visited him in Ojai. We returned to the dive bar where we’d had our first kiss. He loaded up “Sweet Melissa” on the jukebox but was out back having a cigarette with strangers when it came on. I felt like a hollowed-out piñata.

A woman at the bar advertised palm readings for five dollars. I didn’t hesitate.

“Let’s see what we can see,” she said.

I placed my clammy, open-faced hand into hers.

“Hmm.” Her brows knit together as she traced a ridgeline.

“You’ve got the Jupiter Mate Selector,” she whispered, like it was a tumor.

“You know, Jupiter, Roman god of the sky. Zeus to the Greeks.”

“You fall for powerful men. You put them up on a pedestal and keep yourself down low.”

Stone-faced, she folded my sweaty hand and gave it back to me.

“If you don’t believe that you’re just as powerful as the man you’re with, then you’ll be alone forever.”

My Cool Girl act proved that I didn’t feel like his equal. So I could either get real quick or break up with him. I chose the latter. Maybe I didn’t think he’d like my true neurotic self. Or I valued the preservation of my fairy tale over the actual relationship. Or I was just damn exhausted.

We went on one last backpacking trip in the Sierras. Distance was a perfect excuse. Nobody’s fault. “A good run.” I exited the union the way I’d entered, by suppressing my emotions and calling it strength. He told me how amazing I was, but I knew the truth. I didn’t cry until I was alone. What a fraud.

I consoled myself by expanding the story. I wasn’t another notch on his lipstick case — he was in pain too. No girl had broken up with him before! He’d start calling me The One That Got Away and flirt with me into our 80s. I’d smile and shrug — cool till the end.

He started dating someone a nanosecond later.

“I’m sure she’s great,” I told our mutual math teacher friend through a stiff smile.

Yet, his claim of wanting to stay friends seemed genuine. He set up times to talk on the phone during his brief interludes down from the Sierras that summer. Then he flaked every time. WTF? The dull ache in my chest tightened into something sharp.

Autumn came, still I waited, hating myself for it. I worked insane hours for low wages at an environmental nonprofit run by a sociopath. I hadn’t had sex in four months and all my first dates had flopped.

One afternoon I got a voicemail from him. Finally! But it was a pocket dial. (Now he gets a cell phone?!) A week later I rode the tide of commuters up from the Union Square subway station, buoyed and beaming. He’d left another message, surely a real one this time.

Nope. Another pocket dial. In it I heard Mountain Man coaching his lacrosse team. He sounded so happy and I was so miserable. The final indignity.

The dam that had held back my messy self for so long burst. I’m getting tossed out like yesterday’s trash? Hell no. NOBODY DOES COOL GIRL LIKE THIS!!

I scream-shouted my own voicemail, “Learn to use a fucking phone and delete my number!!” I hung up and put a hand over my mouth to block the sobs. The gray-black river of indistinguishable New Yorkers streamed past me on the sidewalk. I wasn’t exceptional anymore.

N ine years passed in New York. I wrote stories for money. Got rejected. Wrote more. My mom’s health worsened. Then improved. Then worsened again. I dated a police officer, a tech entrepreneur, a newspaper man. Sarah and I upgraded to a “garden-level” apartment. I had pigeons in an air shaft outside my bedroom and Sarah had a dumpster full of mice outside hers. At least the vermin were outside now.

Sometimes, especially in summer, I’d squint my eyes and see Mountain Man on the poster of Mount Langley above my bed, climbing the ridgeline. So small, only I could see him. While I never opened his box of letters and pressed flowers under my bed, I didn’t throw it away either. My longing, in a pocket for you.

I spent my life’s savings to create a film that sold to Showtime. For once I hadn’t sought anyone else’s permission. I’d leaned back, jumped into a flip, and stuck the landing on my own. I decided to move to Los Angeles, though leaving Sarah was like leaving behind a limb.

I hadn’t spoken to Mountain Man in almost a decade. Missing him and missing the mountains felt the same — a tug to abandon acceptable society and get dirty. I considered reaching out to him. I’d done hard things. I was stronger now — his equal, right? Maybe it could work?

I’ll be my 100 percent true self this time.

[Orchestral music swells. A narrator speaks.]

The lovers reunite in the wilderness.
Older. Wiser. Only now can they truly —

“Aren’t there like, other mountains in California?” Sarah interrupted my reverie, eating peanut butter out of the jar. She’d never bought into Mountain Man’s charms.

Mountain Man answered my email with a warmth that made my entire body blush. He welcomed me for a weekend at the school’s camp in the Sierras. I knew the location under Mount Langley well I’d led student trips there. We’d rendezvous at the parking lot trailhead in three weeks. I’d join a group of alumni who were vacationing at the school’s camp. Their burro train would be easy to spot with Mountain Man at the helm.

I let Sarah keep all of our furniture, and she helped me pack my books and wardrobe into Goldmember, my secondhand Subaru. “If I catch you wearing Birks,” she warned, “I’m bringing you back.”

I drove alone from New York to Los Angeles in a daze of possibility. I was about to start telling stories for a living in the City of Angels. Who knew what might spark between Mountain Man and me under the stars? I wandered through story castles in my mind as miles of Midwestern corn flew past my window.

I awoke on a bright August morning in Silver Lake. My friend Adam was letting me crash in his converted garage until I found my new home in L.A. Today was the day. Butterflies danced up my thighs but Cool Girl was back and took charge. I pulled on new Patagonia shorts I couldn’t afford, laid down in the garden and rolled around in the dirt.

“Whatcha doing?” Adam asked from the kitchen window, bleary-eyed in boxers, coffee in hand.

“Gotta rough ’em up,” I explained. “Can’t look too new.”

I debated the merits of cowboy hat versus baseball cap in the bathroom mirror for 20 minutes. Then I painstakingly applied no-makeup makeup: professional grade mascara, concealer, tinted SPF and bronzer — camouflage to the untrained male eye. Why, Cool Girl hadn’t aged a day.

I hit the road late. No matter, I could make up the time on the five-hour drive. Goldmember bombed through the scorching Mojave Desert, past Joshua trees, Death Valley, and the dried-up salt of Owen’s Lake — grim tribute to the unnatural thirst of Los Angeles — into the Inyo National Forest. I climbed the precarious switchbacks, well-known to wilderness junkies and location scouts, into the mighty Sierras, youngest mountain range in the United States. Impossibly young, like me.

View of the Sierras from the Sequoia National Park, adjacent to Inyo National Forest.

I shout-sang to the radio until it fuzzed out. My ears popped as I dodged fallen rocks with one hand and called Mountain Man with the other. There were no guardrails and the road narrowed to a blind turn, above a thousand-foot drop-off.

It went to voicemail. “It’s me,” I said, buzzing with adrenaline, “I’m a little late. No need to wait — I’ll walk myself into camp!” Cool Girl knew the way.

I arrived at the sprawling parking area, dotted with dozens of trailheads. Goldmember quickly found the right one. Mountain Man and the alumni had departed. Fresh burro tracks crowded the trail. Fair enough, I was 20 minutes late.

The midafternoon sky was hard and bright as a marble. I reapplied no-makeup mascara and started down the trail, recognizing trees and streams as I passed. Cocky about my sense of direction, I stopped to meditate on a felled trunk, freebasing sunshine and alpine air.

I’ll catch up to them in 30 minutes, tops.

H ours later, I climbed a grueling series of switchbacks as sunlight narrowed to a thin ribbon over the saddle. My mascara had fallen into racoon eyes. I distracted myself from my gnawing hunger by rehearsing my opening line to Mountain Man.

[Cool Girl, dressed in trench coat and fedora, addresses camera.]

Cool Girl
(as Humphrey Bogart)
Say, what’s a girl gotta do to
get a drink around here?

I hadn’t eaten since breakfast. No problem, I’d see Mount Langley from the top of the pass and the camp beneath it. There’d be a full spread waiting.

Landscape of the Sierras viewed from the Sequoia National Park.

S-I-S-U, S-I-S-U … I repeated the old mantra on a loop in my head.

Sweat-drenched and huffing, I made it to the saddle and looked out upon the long-shadowed wilderness. No Langley.

The trusty burro tracks were still there. I scurried down the opposite slope into the gloaming. Raindrops pinged my bare arms but there was a lake up ahead that I recognized. Just a little farther.

Night ambushed me. Total blackness. My instinct was to yell, “Not funny, guys!” as if that might bring up the house lights. I balanced my pack on a rock, hands trembling as I fumbled with an ancient headlamp mummified by duct tape. I didn’t notice that the sleeping bag at the bottom of my pack was getting soused in a puddle. Was I shaking because of the cold or my nerves? The rain intensified. Just a little farther.

Tharump-tharump-tharump! A mountain lion pounded down the ridgeline behind me, jumped with jaws wide, ready to rip into my flesh — I whipped around, hiking poles braced. Nothing. It was only the sound of my own heart, trying to beat its way out of my ears.

Nausea washed over me. I knew the hypothermia risk of sleeping out in precipitation. I was at the tree line, 12,000-foot elevation, which meant near freezing temperatures, even in August.

Is this a joke? Donner, party of one? I wandered aimlessly now. Just a little farther.

My story mind grew emboldened. A voice spoke up like my personal HAL 9000, “DON’T PANIC … DON’T PANIC … PANIC … PANIC … ”

“Stop that!” I hissed, sounding like the homeless man who used to wander around my block.

Maybe Mountain Man can hear me from here. I released a high-pitched cry into the wild dark.

Up and down the ridgeline I paced, redoubling my ragged cries.

Then I heard it — a faint, deep voice across the lake. I shouted Mountain Man’s name from the deepest place inside me.

“HEY!” the voice rang back. Relief, pure and sweet, dropped through me. I was already in that warm cabin, laughing it off—

“SHUT UP!” the voice said. Not. Mountain. Man.

Should I shout again? What if he’s a serial mountain rapist ready to cast me in a gritty reboot of Deliverance?

Weary, I hunkered down with my wet sleeping bag and used my dirty sneaker as a pillow. Dankness soaked into my bones. My knee throbbed. I couldn’t stop shaking. I began sit-ups to generate body heat as hail pummeled my face.

If I die, I’m gonna haunt Serial Mountain Rapist’s ass for eternity.

[A movie trailer voice-over interjects.]

(deep, authoritative)
She’s a vigilante specter with nothing
to lose. He’s the dick across the lake
who couldn’t be bothered. GHOST JUSTICE,
coming to CBS this fall.

I closed my eyes for short, drowsy intervals, and opened them mechanically, as if triggered by the slow, audible click of a lever behind my ear. The view changed a little bit each time. Hazy, no stars. Then a low, drippy moon. Then faint white pinpricks everywhere.

View of the Sierras from Sequoia National Park with the moon high in the sky.

Click. I opened my eyes again to find a clear-eyed moon bearing down on me like an interrogation lamp. I threw myself upon its mercy.

I confess. I’m here because I took too long putting on my Cool Girl bullshit costume. I was trying to impress an asshole who couldn’t wait 20 fucking minutes after TEN YEARS. I understand the story now. It’s a cautionary tale. Let me survive this and I’ll drop Cool Girl forever. Please.

Click. I opened my eyes wide to take in thousands of stars, a dusting of cosmic sugar that extended beyond my periphery, brilliant and twinkling.

There was something new — bright white lines drawn around constellations, like the poster on my sister’s childhood bedroom door. HAL narrated, “ANDROMEDA, THE BEAR, CASSIOPEIA … ”

I didn’t know that I knew the names of these constellations — sweet!

HAL continued, “PEGASUS, SAGITTARIUS … ” It was a movie screen in the sky.

Revelation punctured my woozy delight. What I was seeing wasn’t real. I shook myself upright and pinched my arm. Snap out of it, Johnson! But the shapes didn’t go anywhere.

I squeezed my eyes shut and laid back down.

It’s OK — just a little stress hallucination. Deep cleansing breath. I’ll open my eyes and the shapes will be gone.

I reopened one millimeter at a time.

I locked my eyes shut. A frantic sparrow was trapped inside my head, flying room to room, bloodying itself against every window — looking for the way out.

I t was a long sleepless wait before I dared to open my eyes again. The stars were gone now, and I watched the sky change from black to indigo to pink, like a bruise healing. I rose, quaking as a colt. Everything hurt. The muscles around my knee spasmed. My lungs worked for every breath in the oxygen-depleted air.

On the far side of the lake I spied campers packing for departure. I shuffle-ran toward them, legs screaming, desperate to make it before they left. They were just below me when I realized this must be Serial Mountain Rapist and friends.

Just be as polite as possible.

“Beg your pardon!” It came out in a British accent. That’s weird. My survival instincts had turned thespian. Six grave, bearded mugs turned to face me in unison. Bloody ’ell.

“I appear to be in a bit of a pickle. Might you have a map?”

They were a group of fathers and sons from San Diego and were horrified to hear that I’d spent the night exposed to the hail and rain. I inhaled three bags of their M&Ms and two Nature Valley bars. They were hiking out today and encouraged me to join them.

Their map showed that I was nine miles and 2,000 feet up in the wrong direction. I’d confused the Cottonwood Pass Trail with the Cottonwood Lakes Trail and recognized landmarks because I’d taken trips of students out on this route. I’d been wrong from the first step.

Me at Cottonwood Lakes in Inyo National Forest, with the Sierras and Mount Langley peeking out in the back. Photos courtesy author.

I toed the back of the line with the eldest father. We settled into a meditative cadence. The others got farther ahead.

“You know that camp I was headed to?”

“It’s run by my ex-boyfriend. Haven’t seen him in 10 years.”

“Yeah.” I paused. “The good part is, bet he hasn’t noticed that I haven’t arrived yet. Or he thinks I’m coming tomorrow, or whatever.” I forced a laugh.

“Maybe,” the father said, “or maybe he’s really worried about you.”

Fathers aren’t big on tears in my experience. I’d never seen my dad cry. Misty-eyed once, when his sister died. But never cry. He’d requested two things for his eulogy, which we both knew I’d be writing. First say, “Not bad for a poor Finnish boy from Quincy, Mass.,” and second, “Don’t go crying and carrying on.” He was the original Jupiter. While Sarah and my older sister, Toby, fell apart next to me at the lectern, and my mom sobbed in her pew, I held steady. My tribute. Don’t show your feelings. Be cool.

I was glad to be ahead of this father, single-file, so he couldn’t see my wet face.

T he day was late back at the trailhead parking lot. I slumped in Goldmember’s hatchback, sorting through wet clothes. Hair ratty, makeup frightful, I was downwind from the public toilets and too spent to move. Portrait of The Uncool.

A school van rolled towards me.

“Melissa Johnson,” a serious voice said, “everyone is looking for you.”

Bearded, older, but those unmistakable eyes. Mountain Man.

He sounded pissed — his voice, low and even. I’d never seen him like this. Then I realized — I’d scared him. The unflappable guy, flapped.

“I got lost,” I said in a soft voice. He got out of the van. We embraced.

He had waited for me at the correct trailhead, five minutes away, until nightfall. Then he’d sent out the call. State troopers were looking for me on the highways park rangers were searching in the mountains student workers from the camp were scouring the trails — a full-scale search-and-rescue operation. His backpack held an emergency oxygen tank.

He’d used his satellite phone to track down our math teacher friend who had, in turn, called the headmaster on vacation in Wyoming, my friend Adam in Silver Lake, my former boss in Oakland — and Sarah.

We drove to a nearby vista so I could call Sarah. She screamed to the point of squeaking.

“You are an ASSHOLE! I thought you were DEAD!”

My tongue was thick with shame. This was the worst thing I’d ever done, to the person who loved me the most. She’d been on her way to tell Mom that there had been no sign of me for 24 hours. It was worse than the search for me in the White Mountains, because she knew I was alone.


To this day when this story comes up, Sarah leaves the room.

M ountain Man and I walked to the camp from the correct trailhead. It took 45 minutes. I looked up at Mount Langley — eternal and unchangeable to a small human.

We sipped tequila that night in his cabin.

“After we broke up, I missed you so bad. Thought we’d be friends. All this hard stuff was happening. I couldn’t understand why you just … dropped me. You were a real shit.”

My body trembled. I’d never been so forthright.

“What?” His face fell. “You told me to delete your number. You didn’t want to have anything to do with me. Why didn’t you tell me?!”

Turns out, I’m the hero of this story and also the villain. In my search for a romantic lead, I’d replaced him with a totem. Mountain Man neither possessed nor could tolerate weakness. But his real name was Gabe. He wasn’t a god out of Roman mythology. He was born in Reno with a clubfoot to parents who got divorced. He’d failed to graduate college and went back years later. He was self-conscious about his hairy back. Clean arcs resist messy details.

At a grassy alpine meadow in the Sierras, two days after reuniting with Mountain Man.

“The way you live your life apart, I realized you don’t need people,” I insisted.

“That’s not true. I absolutely need people.”

No, he didn’t need people! It was a pillar of my story. But then he opened up about his own bone-crushing loneliness after his last breakup. It had been drawn out, ugly, emotional — an altogether human affair. I felt the hurt radiating off his body. I couldn’t hide from the deeper, more painful truth —

The words sat heavy in my mouth. I ached to say them, to drop the Cool Girl mask for good. Vulnerability is death. Yet lack of vulnerability is also death. What a rotten trap! I wanted to shout back at the voice in the wilderness that had told me to shut up. I wanted to sob at the lectern. I wanted to be messy and real and loved for it all.

But I choked. I filled my mouth with tequila instead.

“I would have gone up every trail,” he said, “followed the road all the way back to Los Angeles to find you.” My heart split in two and fell to the ground.

All my stories had been wrong.

I’d picked the wrong map, gone down the wrong trail and reassured myself with misinterpreted data points that I was going the right way. I’d been wrong from the first step.

L ater that evening, I lay snug in the open meadow under bountiful stars. No white lines tonight, only Gabe’s red laser pointer naming constellations. Middle-aged alums had returned to see the stars they’d known as kids, to feel young again in the seeing.

Andromeda was about to be eaten by a sea monster. Callisto was transformed into The Bear so Zeus could hide her from his wife. Virgo, daughter of Demeter, was stolen by Hades. Ancient poets and wandering minstrels flung these stories about women upon flaming balls of hydrogen and helium — so they could feel less alone in the dark night.

We hope our stories will protect us from sailing off the edge of the earth, or the unpredictability of the harvest, or loving someone who doesn’t love us back. Our toy swords against the dragon.

T he rest of the weekend was full of hikes, hammocks, and music around the campfire. I reminded Gabe of that first fire he’d made at the school assembly.

“God, that was so embarrassing,” he confessed, “when I couldn’t get it to light.”

What? I stared at him. Exactly how different had our stories been over the years?

What if neither of us was right? What if both of us were right? What if all the stories were true and untrue? What if we could experience the multitude of competing narratives at once — and enter the Spider-verse like a god, like Jupiter?

[Characters address camera in montage format.]

It was like watching two superheroes

He was a garden-variety dilettante with
an REI card. And his beard was gross.

Have you seen him play lacrosse?

I mean, I’m a happily married woman —
but for a chance with her … ?
(whistles through teeth)

I never met a mouth I liked more.

I predicted the whole thing.

I’m the one who insisted that he start
the search party.

She came back to see the mountains.
She didn’t come back to see me.

W hen the time came for me to return to L.A., Gabe invited me to join a river rafting trip with him and two ranger buddies deeper into the wild. They were bringing homebrew and a yeti costume.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” he said.

Indeed, it was. Manbrosia flooded my senses.

“So?” he shrugged with a devilish smile. All creatures in his gravitational orbit bent toward him. I felt the pull and leaned away.

He is the guy. He’s not the guy. He’ll always be the guy. He never was the guy.

I could hold all of the stories at once, devour them in a mouthful. They swirled together in my magnificent round belly. There was no past and no future here. Nowhere else to be. I felt my life force expanding in a primordial storm. I was the descendant of supernovas.

“What’s it gonna be?” he asked.

I had thought that becoming his equal would mean that we’d be together. I was wrong.

I have a life to go build.
“I have a life to go build.”


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10 of the World’s Best ‘Hidden’ Restaurants You’d Never Find on Your Own

Nondescript doors, secret passageways, underground environs - these are some of the hallmarks of the world’s hard-to-find eateries. Hunting down a meal can be exhilarating getting lost before getting fed lends an air of adventure to any culinary quest.

There’s something quite rewarding about sitting down to a meal that requires usage of a GPS, a guidebook, and your wits to find. Scoring a seat at one of these clandestine restaurants adds a sense of exclusivity as many are not for the faint of wallet.

Ronin (Hong Kong)

An ominous matt-black door that seamlessly blends in with its surroundings is the only identifying marker of this Hong Kong hidden gem. Located on a quiet side-street on the bustling side of the city, the izakaya only has 24 seats, and finding it has been the cause of despair for many eager diners, but the real reward lies beyond the cold exterior. The warm, ambient lighting and plush seating, coupled with a hand-hewn bar crafted from 150 year-old kiln-dried Japanese timber, oozes luxury. An artful curation of rare whisky presents itself in the form of the bottles that line the bar shelves, and an elevated menu of fresh seafood is locally sourced from nearby Japanese waters. The menu rotates frequently and guests receive a detailed education about the provenance of each offering - imagine crab, uni, and smoky eel paired with complex-flavoured sakes, craft beers, wine, and artisanal cocktails.

8 On Wo Lane, Ground floor, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong

Jim Haynes’ Sunday Dinner Party (Paris)

Jim Haynes’ legendary Sunday dinner parties aren’t really a secret. He’s been throwing these ‘salon chez moi’ fetes for more than 40 years, but in a city that’s known for a slew of famous landmarks, it’s a unique experience that offers a break from a hackneyed itinerary. In true French bobo (bohemian) style, a motley crew of diners - mostly expats and tourists - gather at Haynes’ home for a convivial evening of food and conversation, all while being regaled with the host’s life stories. The dinners feature a steady stream of free-flowing wine and a rotating lineup of guest chefs dishing up comfort food which, for the asking price of ‘admission’ of 30 euros, is one of the least expensive nights out in the city.

Atelier A-2, 83, rue de la Tombe Issoire 75014, Paris

Frevo NYC (New York)

Food and art have been inextricably linked since time immemorial, so it seems natural that this hideaway spot is literally tucked behind a painting at a New York City art gallery. The trick to discovering the restaurant? Stroll through the exhibition while gazing upon the abstract work of French artist Toma-L. and once you’re vis-a-vis with the largest painting in the gallery (you can’t miss it), you’ve found Frevo. The cosy space only seats 24 and the menu is a jumble of delights, ranging from the bright, clean flavours of fresh seafood, to the deeply rich spices of curry.

Derrière (Paris)

Cheekily named restaurant Derriѐre lies just behind a restaurant and bar in the heart of the popular Marais district. Ironically, this tucked-away restaurant may be hidden from sight but it’s where the chic set goes to see and be seen. The dining room is meant to mimic an apartment and its eclectic interior design does just that the pared-down menu of approachable classics like roasted lamb and foie gras en ballotine is reminiscent of Sunday dinner at your grand-mère’s (if your grandmother’s a top chef).

69 Rue des Gravilliers, 75003 Paris

The Cave of Nikolas (Santorini)

The view doesn’t get better than this. The world’s most famous caldera is a photographer’s (or social media influencer’s) dream. Enjoying a meal while overlooking the Aegean Sea and bearing witness to the famous Santorini sunset may seem a bit like gilding the lily, but that’s what you’re treated to when dining at this man-made cave dwelling. Originally, the cave was built by a fisherman for his boat he and his wife were later persuaded to convert the space into a sort of makeshift restaurant to feed local workmen. Today’s menu still showcases many of the original offerings - tomatokeftedes, fava bean salad, moussaka, lamb, and chloro cheese (a handmade specialty goat’s milk cheese that is rarely found in restaurants) provide a wonderful foray into Greek cuisine.

The Marram Grass (Wales)

The directions to this Welsh eatery sound like instructions you’d receive to go rescue a fairy-tale princess they involve spotting an island just off the northwest coast of Wales, crossing the bridge that connects the mainland to the island, and a quick jaunt to the village of Newborough, then on to the potting shed where the restaurant is housed. Just like in a fairy tale, there is a reward for properly following said instructions - in this case sea-breeze-fresh oysters and lobster from the nearby Menai Strait, and island produce. Don’t worry if you can’t locate the obscure restaurant right away - locals are more than happy to direct you to the pride of the island.

White Lodge, Niwbwrch, Pen-lôn, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll LL61 6RS, United Kingdom

Hop Sing Laundromat (Philadelphia)

Technically, Hop Sing is a bar not a restaurant. The unassuming door to this hotspot is guarded by a metal gate and is not only adored by locals but was voted one of the Best Bars in the World by Condé Nast Traveler in 2015, thanks to a catalog of artisanal and inventive cocktails that keeps the patrons pouring in. Hop Sing epitomises everything Philadelphians love - gruff service, strict rules, and an eccentric owner. The beautiful interior of blood-red patterned wallpaper, mismatched furniture, and haunted house-esque candelabra adorning each table casts a mysterious air the hideaway is made for photographs but don’t dare. Reclusive owner , who has assumed the comical identity of faux-dictator, forbids cameras and cell phones he also imposes a strict (and often random) dress code. To avoid an embarrassing run-in with the bouncer, follow the rules and enjoy one of best drinks in the city (if you’re hungry after imbibing, head to one of the nearby Chinatown noodle shops).

1029 Race St., Philadelphia, PA 19107

Figures (Toronto)

Never judge a book by its cover, especially if it’s a comic book cover. This secret resto is located in the back of a comic book store but the food isn’t what one’s mind or palate would imagine. The speakeasy-like eatery pays homage to a host of comic book characters with tasteful, artwork - Pac-Man chases ghosts on the ceiling while a reimagined Wonder Woman carries a Gucci handbag (seriously, it goes nicely with those awesome wrist cuffs). The chef here brings the creativity theme to the plate with shareable dishes and tapas. A neon-fuschia smear of beet purée is topped with a yellow and red beet tartare and a thinly-sliced beet carpaccio. A small goat-cheese croquette makes a perfect crown for this kingly vegetarian dish. Expect everything from seared crab cakes and briny oysters, to pillowy gnocchi and braised lamb shank, to grace the changing menu.

137 Avenue Rd, Toronto, ON M5R 2H7, Canada

Cookies Cream (Germany)

Everything about this covert German restaurant is slightly confusing. The name gives the impression that it may be an ice cream parlour (wrong) and the location suggests that it’s a loading dock (wrong again). In fact, the progressive vegetarian restaurant offers complex dishes that defy most thoughts about veg-forward cuisine the food is a hybrid mashup of tradition and futuristic approaches and techniques. The food is a dream, but finding the place can be a bit of a nightmare. It requires a walk through the Mitte alley and an olfactory-offending dash past a row of garbage bins a lone chandelier signifies your arrival. Don’t breathe a sigh of relief just yet you’ll still need to be buzzed in. The spartan exterior gives way to a plush Victorian bar - think velvet everything - before you ascend a staircase to the actual restaurant. The upstairs is modern and sophisticated, not at all unlike Berlin itself.

Behrenstraße 55, 10117 Berlin, Germany

Sushi by Buo Suite 1001 (New York)

There’s nothing new about a restaurant inside a hotel, but inside a hotel room is a different story. Dining at this 150-square foot sushi speakeasy is only half the allure finding it is the other. After a successful booking (walk-ins are not accepted), guests are given a key to the nondescript room located on the 10th floor. The teensy room houses a cosy lounge area complete with a sake vending machine and 4-seat sushi bar where omakase offerings alleviate order anxiety - try a piece of the buttery uni for an especially luxe experience. Claustrophobic guests can toast with cocktails on the 500-square foot terrace bar where they’ll be treated to views of the Empire State Building.

Legendary Greek Party Spot Nammos Headed to New York City - Recipes

I have always enjoyed eating Greek food, or I should say, the Greek food that I have become familiar with in restaurants and homes in America - souvlaki, spanakopita, moussaka, baklava, and generally anything containing Kalamata olives or feta cheese. This summer, I had an opportunity to visit Greece shortly after the Olympic Games. While there I experienced some of the dream hotels and resorts in Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini, along with their culinary offerings.

As I prepared for my trip, I imagined that I was headed on a journey to experience the sweet ambrosia of the gods. It would be a spiritual awakening to taste the country’s traditional foods and connect with a culture rooted in ancient history, mythology, and philosophy. I would have tried hemlock had it been offered to me. Instead, I tasted Italian food, Japanese food, and French food, with a few morsels of Greek food tossed in. Most often, I tasted “Mediterranean” food, a term which never bothered me at home, but which irked me to no end throughout my travels.

With Greece’s successful hosting of the 2004 Olympics, the country’s restaurant and hospitality industry has proven that they can accommodate travelers from all parts of the world. The Greeks are a warm people who gladly speak English as soon as they recognize your foreign status. This is not terribly surprising since the country’s major source of revenue is tourism, particularly on the islands. But in terms of restaurants, what makes Greece an attractive tourist destination is precisely what prevents the country from putting forth a strong national culinary identity. Chefs and restaurateurs work tirelessly to give visitors familiar tastes, instead of giving them a taste of Greece. Most of the hotels and restaurants I experienced seemed particularly committed to this philosophy.

There were some notable exceptions, of course. I was pleased to experience several exceptional restaurants that serve modern renditions of Greek cuisine. Apla Aristera-Dexia in Athens, is one such restaurant. The trendy eatery specializes in a variety of small plates or mezzedes, each achieving a delicate balance of flavors and textures. Among several notable dishes I enjoyed was a plate of thinly sliced grilled eggplant rolled up with shrimp and tomatoes and then stewed in moscato, delivering a pleasant combination of sweet, tangy, and smoky tastes.

At Hytra, the newest restaurant at the Grand Resort Lagonissi outside of Athens, Chef Yiannis Baxevannis’s influence is French master Marc Veyrat, but his dishes are distinctly Greek. Baxevannis forages the countryside for wild herbs and mushrooms for his dishes. The night I dined there, his precious mushrooms showed up in a shot of soup topped with creamy foam, along with a ceramic spoon filled with delicate sea urchin – meant to be tasted in between sips of soup. Restaurants like Apla Aristera-Dexia and Hytra, located mostly in Athens, demonstrate that not only does Greek food have a past, but it also has a future. What many of the other restaurants lacked in terms of Greek identity, they made up for in romantic views. It seemed like every meal was served with a whopping side of it. What’s not to love about that?

While I took in the most spectacular views of the bluest waters imaginable, lounged around mesmerizing infinity-edge pools, and slept on the highest thread-count sheets known to mankind, overall I was somewhat disappointed by my first visit to Greece in terms of the food. I think Nektarios Iskas and Christos Athanasiades, the head chefs for all of the restaurants at the Grand Resort Lagonissi outside of Athens, hit upon the issue when they informed me that the Greek cuisine of the islands is vastly different from the cuisine of the northern region of the country, and that, to truly grasp and appreciate Greek cuisine, I would have to travel throughout the country (and, I suspect, off the tourist-trodden path.) Most likely I would have to forego all the trappings of the luxury resorts and spas – the Bulgari bath amenities and the high definition TVs - for a more honest taste of Greece’s cooking. In a nutshell, I traveled around Greece as a tourist, and so I lived and ate like a tourist.
While I had many “fine” meals, they often lacked authenticity. I felt like chefs were trying to impress me with their expertise and knowledge of French, Italian and Asian techniques and dishes, rather than their own native cuisine.

There were also a few highly recommended restaurants that I was unable to visit during my limited time. For example, Varoulko, the only Greek restaurant in Athens with a Michelin star, was closed for renovation while I was there. It’s definitely on my list for the next trip, along with a half dozen or so other places that the chefs I met along the way recommended to me. Though not without some disappointment, my first visit to Greece provided a taste sufficient to whet my appetite and convince me to return to further investigate the rich culinary landscape.

I slept like a king in the Hotel Grande Bretagne, a former royal palace and landmark building situated in the heart of Athens. The property was built in 1862 and has hosted politicians, diplomats, famous movie stars and VIPs from all over the world. Having completed a $100 million renovation in time for the 2004 Olympics, the Grande Bretagne has been restored to its former grandeur and stands elegantly overlooking the Syntagma (Constitution Square) in Athens. Operating under “The Luxury Collection” brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, the hotel’s opulent warmth is communicated through the dominant colors of red and yellow. Luxurious rooms are appointed with classical mahogany furniture and elegant drapes, regal marble bathrooms, plus the softest bed linens, towels and robes imaginable. Service is formal and professional throughout the hotel.

  • Rooms: 321 rooms
  • Rates: 215 euros – 4,250 euros. Click here for currency converter.
  • Credit Cards: AMEX, Diners, MasterCard, Visa, JCB
  • What to Do: Have cocktails on the roof and take in the panoramic view of Athens at night, featuring a breathtaking view of the Parthenon - all aglow

Grand Resort Lagonissi
40th km Athens-Sounion, 190 10 Lagonissi, Attiki Greece
Phone: 30 22910 76000
Fax: 30 22910 24514

Located 40 kilometers from the center of Athens, Lagonissi is a 72-acre private resort spread out along a small peninsula on the Aegean Sea. Every spot affords a breathtaking view of legendary blue waters. Accommodations are ranked among five clubs. The Comfort Club is the most modest level – its rooms are located in the main building of the hotel. In addition to views of the sea, key features of these accommodations include 24-hour room service, twice daily housekeeping, satellite TV, marble-lined bathroom and terrycloth bathrobes and slippers. The Premium Club hosts guests in private bungalows – these suites include spacious baths, plasma screen TVs, and electronic controls of curtains and thermostat. The best feature of the bungalows is a private balcony overlooking the sea, with personal access to the beach, lounges and umbrellas. Accommodations for the Grand Sports Club, Exclusive Club and Platinum Club are even more lavish in proportion to the rates!

Dining options at Lagonissi appeal to guests from all over the world, with a range of tastes. In addition to Aphrodite, the hotel’s main dining room and banquet facility, there is also Ouzeri, a traditional Greek taverna serving specialties like eggplant salad, lightly fried baby squid, and grilled octopus Captain’s House, an Italian restaurant for fine dining that offers homemade pastas and other classic dishes Mediterraneo, a casual Mediterranean restaurant on the beach for light snacks Kohylia, a Polynesian restaurant in a vibrant and trendy atmosphere, and Hytra, the latest restaurant at the resort, where noted Greek Chef Yiannis Baxevannis translates his successful establishment in Athens to this nearby paradise. The fish served throughout the resort come straight out of the surrounding waters, courtesy of local fishermen who dock their boats right on the resort. Bars and nightlife opportunities also abound here. In addition to gorgeous beaches and pools, the facility includes tennis courts, mini golf and two spas. In short, Lagonissi is a fully loaded spot that will enchant you for days without any need to leave.

  • Rooms: 290 rooms and suites
  • Rates: 350 to 25,000 euros. Click here for currency converter.
  • Included: Extensive buffet breakfast, Champagne and fruit upon arrival, bathrobes and slippers, Bulgari bath amenities
  • Credit Cards: AMEX, MasterCard, Visa and Diners Club
  • What to Do: Have a moveable feast like I did, working your way from the Ouzeri to the Captain’s House, to Kohylia, and finally to Hytra

Belvedere Hotel
84 600 Mykonos
Phone: 30 2289 025 122
Fax: 30 2289 025 126

There isn’t a hotel more happening on Mykonos than the Belvedere, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Owned by the Ioannidis family (brothers Tasos and Nikolas run the operation), the hotel and guestrooms are designed in the Cycladic island style, featuring white marble, wood, steel, rocks, sand, rope peddles, and sail fabrics. Rooms and suites are light and airy, each with a balcony or terrace. Special room amenities include a cordless phone which can be used within all hotel premises and a satellite flat screen TV. All of the action centers around the hotel’s swimming pool, which pulsates with the hippest club music and the most beautiful jetsetters in town. Life can’t get better than having a restaurant from Nobu Matsuhisa in your backyard (in operation from May until the end of September).

  • Rooms: 39 rooms and 8 suites
  • Rates: 155 to 620 euros. Click here for currency converter.
  • Included: Buffet breakfast, fruit plate upon arrival, bathrobes and slippers
  • Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, American Express
  • What to do: Lounge by the pool all day long, sipping signature cocktails from Matsuhisa Mykonos

Zannos Melathron
Pyrgos, 84701, Santorini
Phone: 30 22860 28220
Fax: 30 22860 28229

Zannos is the only Relais and Chateaux property in Santorini and is located at the top of Pyrgos village, a quiet and remote part of the island. Built in 1885, the hotel is the former home of a captain’s daughter. Legend has it that she was so unattractive that her father built her a mansion to attract suitors. Arriving at the top of the hill via a friendly donkey, I was immediately whisked away into a beautifully furnished 19th Century sitting room, with a welcoming and refreshing glass of Champagne. With its 9 spacious suites, Zannos Melathron is the place to go for total relaxation and serenity in Santorini. Every suite is decorated differently, with antique furniture and fabrics. Notable features include bath amenities from Hermes and a mini wine cellar bar. The staff is small but extremely personable and attentive, led by the gracious manager Kleovoulos Deligianis. Don’t miss dinner, expertly prepared by Chef Voytek Pluteski (see description under Restaurants).

  • Rooms: 9 suites
  • Rates: 360 to 970 euros. Click here for currency converter.
  • Included: American breakfast, bottle of wine and fruit basket upon arrival, bathrobes, slippers, round-trip transfer upon arrival and departure to airport or port
  • Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express
  • What to do: Arrange a wine tasting in the hotel’s wine cave, and sample Santorini’s finest offerings

Oia (Ia), 84702, Santorini
Phone: 30 22860 71401

Katikies means “residences” in Greek, and every guest enjoys their own private cottage at this exclusive hotel set high on a cliff. A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the hotel appears to be a vertical labyrinth of classic Aegean structures, painted bright white, connected by endless steps and bridges. I got plenty of exercise walking up and down the stairs, and plenty more relaxation in the two swimming pools and open-air jacuzzi. Rooms are furnished with an eclectic mix of charming island antiques and more modern touches (as in the leopard print wastebaskets and tissue boxes). All suites and rooms have a private balcony for taking in the exquisite views of the caldera and for enjoying breakfast al fresco. Service is extremely friendly and professional throughout the property. There are a number of dining options including the casual Pool Restaurant Kirini, the White Cave Restaurant featuring traditional Greek food, and the Katikies Gourmet Restaurant, serving Mediterranean specialties (see description under Restaurants). Katikies is an ideal spot for sophisticated travelers. Note that children under the age of 13 years are not permitted.

  • Rooms: 23
  • Rates: 225 to 1,150 euros. Click here for currency converter.
  • Included: Champagne American breakfast, wine and fruits upon arrival, bathrobes, slippers and Bulgari bath amenities
  • Credit Cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express
  • What to do: Bask in the infinity edge pool overlooking the caldera basin and then sink into a giant frozen specialty cocktail

La Maltese
Imerovigli, 84700, Santorini
Phone: 30 22860 24701

La Maltese is a neoclassical mansion located at the highest point of the caldera in Santorini. With its mesmerizing views of the sea, it is the ideal spot on the island for a wedding or reception (and honeymoon). La Maltese currently has 2 bedrooms that are rented together, but the property is expanding and starting in spring 2005 it will have 9 rooms, 4 of which can be rented together as a private villa. The property features a Jacuzzi and steam room, a grand salon and a verandah overlooking Skaras, the first city of Santorini (and now mostly below sea level). There is a private chef on staff at all times.

  • Rooms: 2 rooms
  • Included: Full breakfast served at the lounge or on the verandah
  • Credit Cards: Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, American Express
  • What to do: Invite 100 people to your private villa for a spectacular party



Apla Aristera-Dexia
Andronikou 3, Athens 118 54
Phone: 30 210 342 2380

Translated as “Simple Right-Left,” this restaurant, set in a former warehouse-turned gallery in the New York City equivalent of the ultra-trendy Meatpacking District, presents itself as the downscale, summertime version of Aristera-Dexia, one of Athens’ gourmet modern Greek restaurants. The laid-back waiters are all clad in white tee-shirts, and you’re likely to find scooter helmets parked on the ground next to the hip clientele. The food is simply delicious, and there is no mistaking that you’re getting Greek food here, although it is not the Greek food that anyone’s grandma is making at home. Small plates of meticulously prepared Greek delicacies are accented by fresh herbs that are grown in the garden along the perimeter of the outdoor restaurant. Chef Andreas Lagos is a chef to watch. The 23-year-old skillfully holds down the fort for executive chef Chrysanthos Karamolengos, who recently opened an Aristera-Dexia outpost in the suburban town of Ekali.

  • Recommended Dishes:
    Octopus Salad with Tomato Sauce, Onions and Olives
    Thin, Grilled Eggplant with Shrimp, and Tomatoes Stewed in Moscato
    Lamb Kebab with Tomato Paste Dressing

Hytra at the Grand Resort Lagonissi
40th km Athens-Sounion, 190 10 Lagonissi, Attiki Greece
Phone: 30 22910 76000
Fax: 30 22910 24514

Awaiting its final home at the Grand Resort Lagonissi, this haute Greek cuisine currently is served for dinner at the spot of the Mediterraneo – a casual beach café. Hytra is destined to become Lagonissi’s finest dining facility. Chef Yiannis Baxevannis, influenced by masters like Marc Veyrat, forages throughout the Greek countryside in search of wild herbs that are usually overlooked. Yiannis says he’s inspired by little old ladies, but there is nothing old about his progressive cuisine that clearly reflects a modern sensibility. A shot of wild mushroom soup topped with a creamy foam, comes with a ceramic spoon filled with delicate sea urchin – meant to be taken in between sips of soup. A fricassee of sea bass with peanuts and black eyed peas was simple but balanced in its unusual flavors. My personal favorite were the candied orange beignets, served with chocolate chips and confectioner’s sugar. The chips melted and oozed over the lightly fried oranges which had been stewed in sugar for five days.

  • Recommended Dishes:
    Wild Mushroom Soup
    Fricassee of Sea Bass with Peanuts and Black Eyed Peas
    Candied Orange Beignets


Matsuhisa Mykonos
At the Hotel Belvedere
84 600 Mykonos
Phone: 30 2289 025 122
Fax: 30 2289 025 126

Arguably the finest meal to be had in Mykonos is the farthest thing from Greek food imaginable. Matsuhisa Mykonos is only open from May until the end of September, so plan your trip accordingly. The atmosphere at Matsuhisa is strictly Greek chic- the airy restaurant is an extension of the Belvedere Hotel - radiating cool vibrations every which way. You can order off the menu a la carte, but for a truly fabulous experience, sit back and try the Omakase – chef’s choice tasting menu. English chef Matt Hoyne executes Nobu’s menu with precision. (Hoyne has been working for Nobu for over 5 years, coming most recently from Nobu London, and next headed to New York to open Nobu’s new midtown restaurant.) Be sure to start with a signature cocktail – perhaps a Saketini or Yamamomo Royal (Ume Shu, Yamamomo and Veuve Clicquot)

  • Recommended Dishes:
    Seabass and Sweet Shrimp Tiradito with Uni and Yuzu Dressing
    Grilled Yellowtail with Wakame, Karashi and Miso Sauce
    Braised Beef Fillet with Shiitakes and Gorodare Sauce

Aqua Taverna
Little Venice, Mykonos
Phone: 30-22890-26083

Aqua is a fitting name for this Italian restaurant set on the shoreline of Little Venice. The proprietor is from Rome, and virtually all of the menu items are imported from Italy. The menu is simple but authentic. Pastas are cooked perfectly al dente, and the flavors of each dish are uncomplicated, but well balanced. This the ideal spot for a romantic dinner, complete with the sounds of the sea crashing on the shore and the moon beams reflecting on the water.

  • Recommended Dishes:
    Bresaola with Sun Dried Tomatoes
    Spaghetti with Lemon, Olive Oil and Parmigiano Reggiano
    Millefeuille with Marsala Cream and Caramelized Oranges

Taverna at Agios Sostis, Mykonos
This gem of a taverna has no name or telephone number, but it’s easy to find: rent a car or scooter and follow a map outside of the city center toward Agios Sostis, one of Mykonos’ most pristine beaches. You can’t miss the smells emanating from the little taverna just beside the church. The establishment got electricity three years ago, but even so, it only operates from 1-6 pm for lunch only. The restaurant consists of an outdoor brick oven and a patio under a glorious shade tree, plus a small enclosed building with just enough room for a kitchen, a display case, and a commode. Diners can choose from grilled marinated pork chops, chicken cutlets, calamari, octopus, and prawns, plus a variety of homemade salads ranging from artichokes dressed in a tangy lemon-mustard vinaigrette to tabbouleh, corn salad, and black eyed peas with herbs. If the patio is crowded, wait a few minutes outside to take in the view. Before you know it, a table will be ready. Wines are served in charming copper pitchers and poured into mismatched tumblers and stemware, evocative of a rustic lifestyle, even if the food is somewhat overpriced.

  • Recommended Dishes:
    Grilled Marinated Pork Chop
    Black-eyed Pea Salad
    Marinated Artichoke Salad

Psarou Beach, Mykonos
Phone: 30-22890-22440

The atmosphere is casual elegant at this beachfront restaurant, billed as one of the fine dining establishments in Mykonos. Nammos offers a mix of Greek and Italian specialties, with the occasional Arabic dish tossed in for good measure. Ask for a table overlooking the water and soak up the moonlight. Then tuck into a satisfying plate of Mykonian meatballs – the lightest meatballs you’ve ever tasted - deep fried and scented with fresh oregano.

  • Recommended Dishes:
    Mykonian Meatballs
    Marinated Anchovies
    Risotto Nammos


Zannos Melathron
Pyrgos, 84701, Santorini
Phone: 30 22860 28220
Fax: 30 22860 28229

High up on the hill in the village of Pyrgos, the restaurant at the Zannos Melathron Hotel (a Relais and Chateaux property) offers a classical French menu reinterpreted with seasonal Greek products and specialties. Chef Voytek Pluteski trained as a chef in Poland before coming to Greece almost 20 years ago to cook. After a turn at Aristera-Dexia in Athens four years ago, Pluteski came to Zannos Melathron, where he playfully fuses the continental and Greek cuisines that he has mastered. Delicate slices of foie gras are served with red lentils from Macedonia drizzled with a balsamic reduction. Baklava shows up not as a cloyingly sweet dessert but in the form of a savory pastry filled with celery root and almonds and served as an accompaniment to the crown of lamb. An après-diner spoonful of sweet stewed Santorini tomatoes signifies the traditional hospitality of the hotel and restaurant.

  • Recommended Dishes:
    Foie Gras with Lentils from Macedonia
    Crown of Lamb with Petit Farci De Courgette and Celery Baklava
    Two Shots of Cremacota (flavors vary)

Katikies Gourmet Restaurant
Oia (Ia), 84702, Santorini
Phone: 30 22860 71401
Fax: 30 22860 71129

There are only four tables at this exclusive restaurant located at Katikies, which gives preferential treatment to guests staying at the hotel. The view of the Caldera at night, framed by the white-washed stones of the hotel, is one of the most romantic vistas in Santorini. The evening gets even better when chef Ilias Taousanis’s first course arrives. This 29-year-old chef is skilled beyond his years. Each plate is a gorgeous piece of art, visually stunning, and almost a shame to eat. But eat, you must, his delicately balanced Mediterranean dishes based on local Santorini produce, as in the perfectly al dente risotto with three kinds of tomatoes and aged Parmigiano flakes. Save room for dessert, in particular the chocolate pyramid - after getting over the guilt of pillaging one of the wonders of the world, you’ll savor the pure Valrhona chocolate mousse inside.

  • Recommended Dishes:
    Salad of Langoustine and Aubergine Canneloni
    Risotto with Three Tomatoes
    Chocolate Pyramid


While I couldn’t make it to every top restaurant in Athens, Mykonos and Santorini, the chefs I met along the way had these noteworthy places to recommend.

  • Chef Lefteris Lazarou is considered by many of his peers to be Greece’s best chef. Currently he is the only Michelin-starred Greek chef in Athens.
  • Chef Christoforos Peskias takes a philosophical approach to modern Greek cuisine.
  • Considered one of the best French-Mediterranean restaurants in Greece, Spondi is favored by locals and tourists alike.

I ran into Nobu while staying at the Belvedere and asked him for his favorite restaurants on the island. Here are his picks:

  • Greek food is served with a French accent at this popular spot, not to be confused with Katrine’s Bar

Chef Ilias Taousanis of Katikies Gourmet Restaurant recommended these Santorinian eateries:

50 Ridiculously Epic Desserts to Eat in NYC Before You Die

New York City is home to many crazy food concoctions. From churro cones to cookie shots, this city is constantly coming up with ridiculously cool new ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. NYC’s dessert scene is one of the best in the country, so Spoon has taken up the task of compiling all of the must-try desserts in one epic list.

Whether you’re just visiting or a NYC native, here is the ultimate New York City dessert bucket list:

1. Dominique Ansel Bakery: Milk and Cookie Shot

Photo courtesy of @foodbuffs on Instagram

This classic from Dominique Ansel Bakery is a must-try on your trip to NYC. People wait in line for hours to try this new food trend. A cookie shot glass is completed with cool milk poured in right before your eyes. This dessert isn’t just a treat: it’s an experience.

2. Big Gay Ice Cream: Ice Cream Cone

Big Gay Ice Cream has been taking NYC by storm with multiple storefronts and a truck. This shop is known for its rainbow decor and innovative toppings. Get your cone rolled in crushed Nilla wafers or a rocky road mixture.

We recommend trying one of their specialties cones, like the Salty Pimp or Bea Arthur.

3. Lady M Confections: Mille Crepe Cake

Meaning “a thousand crepes” in French, the mille crepe cake certainly does not disappoint. Each crepe is placed and painstakingly layered with cannoli cream, combining to form a soft, fluffy cake. Lady M also makes different mille crepe cake flavors, such as strawberry and green tea.

4. Holey Cream: Donut Ice Cream Sandwich

This hole-in-the-wall shop just does dessert right. At ice cream sandwich.

#SpoonTip: Balance out the sweetness of the donut with chocolatey ice cream flavors.

5. Momofuku Milk Bar: Birthday Cake Truffles

Momofuku Milk Bar has been an NYC classic for years, and rightfully so. It serves products like crack pie (What’s in it? Nobody really knows but it’s great.), cereal milk ice cream, and best of all, birthday cake truffles.

#SpoonTip: If you’re feeling really decadent, get these little truffles in whole cake form. #treatyoself

6. M’O Il Gelato: Warm Gelato Panino

A gelateria straight from Italy, M’O Il is as authentic as it gets. The gelato is phenomenal on its own, but amp it up a notch and get it pressed between warm brioche buns.

What makes gelato so different from ice cream? Check out this article to find out.

7. Chobani SoHo: Greek Yogurt

This decadent Greek yogurt will prove once and for all that yogurt is a dessert. Chobani SoHo lets you custom build your Greek yogurt with fruits, nuts, and more decadent toppings like coconut shavings and chocolate.

8. Dough: Hibiscus Donut

I know what you’re thinking: this donut is flower-flavored? I know it sounds crazy, but this hibiscus donut from Dough strikes the perfect balance of sweet and fruity. Plus, the gorgeous pink color makes it totally #instaworthy.

9. Schmackary’s: Cookie Dough Cookie

Double the cookie dough, double the fun. Schmackary’s actually ices their chocolate chip cookies with more cookie dough. After eating this cookie, I’m pretty positive that heaven exists and is full of cookie dough.

10. Bibble and Sip: Cream Puff

Photo courtesy of @foodbuffs on Instagram

Biting into one of Bibble and Sip’s luxurious cream puffs is like opening a teeny tiny present. The smooth filling perfectly complements the flaky, crunchy shell. With elegant flavors like matcha cream and earl grey, your tastebuds will be thanking you for these cream puffs.

#SpoonTip: Have a napkin on hand, it can get messy.

11. Black Tap: Milkshake

Photo courtesy of @nycsibs on Instagram

These outrageous milkshakes have been trending on every social medium there is. Black Tap is building the sugar-lover’s dream dessert fully loaded with toppings like M&Ms, cotton candy, rock candy and chocolate chip cookies.

12. Bouchon Bakery: Chocolate Eclair

Photo courtesy of @foodbuffs on Instagram

Bouchon Bakery is serving some killer pastries, but my favorite is definitely the chocolate eclair. How could you not like a dessert garnished with gold leaf?

#SpoonTip: Complement this pastry with an iced coffee for a refreshing caffeine fix.

13. Dominique Ansel Bakery: Frozen S’more

Photo courtesy of @foodbuffs on Instagram

From cronuts to milk and cookie shots, Dominique Ansel has been coming up with tons of innovative ways to get your sweet on. One of our favorites is the frozen s’more. It’ll bring you back to nights around a bonfire at summer camp, but it’s also perfect for helping you cool off in the NYC summer heat.

14. Sprinkles: Sprinkles Sundae

Photo courtesy of @foodbuffs on Instagram

Ice cream and cupcakes: two of your favorite desserts combined into one perfect sundae. Sprinkles is now topping its ice cream with cupcakes.

#SpoonTip: On the go? Stop by one of Sprinkles’ cupcake ATMs to get some quick and easy dessert.

15. Levain Bakery: Chocolate Chip Cookie

Photo courtesy of @julianne_rucker on Instagram

Perfectly photogenic and instagrammable, these chocolate chip cookies are anything but boring. Levain Bakery has grown famous for the melty, gooey inside of their chocolate chip cookies.

16. Boqueria: Chocolate Churros

Photo courtesy of @alison.albright on Instagram

A major step up from street-side churros, Boqueria is doing it right with its chocolate churros. They’re perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, and to sweeten the deal even more, these churros are injected with chocolate. Wow. Just wow.

17. Wooly’s: Shaved Snow

Photo courtesy of @foodbuffs on Instagram

It’s not ice cream, but it’s not exactly shaved ice either. According to Wooly’s, “shaved snow is a hybrid between shaved ice and ice cream.” This shaved snow will melt in your mouth and explode with flavor.

#SpoonTip: Load up on the toppings. Go big or go home.

18. The Good Batch: Ice Cream Sandwich

Photo courtesy of @foodbuffs on Instagram

After a long morning of wandering around Smorgasburg, Brooklyn’s ultimate flea market, a Good Batch ice cream sandwich will give you the boost you need to keep going. The Good Batch is mixing it up with cookie flavors like brownie and rice crispy sandwiching vanilla or mint ice cream.

Can’t make it to Smorgasburg? Visit The Good Batch’s Brooklyn bakery instead.

19. Ample Hills Creamery: Ice Cream

Ample Hills will throw almost anything into its ice cream, including your favorite snack foods. Our favorite flavor is “The Munchies,” complete with Ritz crackers, potato chips, pretzels and mini M&Ms.

#SpoonTip: Get your ice cream in a luxury cone, like a chocolate chip cookie cone.

20. Magnolia Bakery: Banana Bread Pudding

Photo courtesy of @biteee_meee on Instagram

Magnolia Bakery has been serving up legendary cupcakes for as long as we can remember, but it’s really hit the jackpot with its banana bread pudding. The classic banana flavor never disappoints, but if you’re feeling adventurous, try out their chocolate bread pudding.

Throwing a party? Magnolia sells double bowls of its famous bread pudding that serve 20 people. Don’t worry about leftovers because this bread pudding will be the first dessert to disappear.

21. Ladurée: Macarons

Photo courtesy of @f00diefriends on Instagram

Coming straight from Paris, these macarons are as authentic as you can get. The Ladurée SoHo storefront will transport you to a high tea parlor in France with its delicate pink and green decorations. Make sure to get a box to take home, you’ll be thanking yourself later.

22. Dominique Ansel Bakery: Cronut

Photo courtesy of @natalie_beam on Instagram

The infamous cronut is a must-try NYC favorite. The line outside Dominique Ansel Bakery is worth it to try one of these donut-croissant hybrids. Plus, Dominique Ansel always concocts a new flavor of the month, making each visit unique.

23. The Smith: S’mores in a Jar

Photo courtesy of @foodbuffs on Instagram

Save room during your indulgent dinner at The Smith, because its dessert menu will blow you away. “Deconstructed” is usually code for less work, but The Smith is certainly not slacking with this s’mores in a jar. This new take on a childhood favorite will elevate your tastebuds to new heights.

24. Boulton and Watt: Cast-Iron Cookie

Photo courtesy of @kararosenblum on Instagram

Who knew this elegant NYC restaurant would be the home to the next great dessert: the cast-iron cookie? Boulton and Watt serves a warm chocolate chip cookie in a mini skillet with a small pitcher of milk on the side. A must-try for children and adults alike.

25. Doughnuttery: Mini Donuts

They’re so small, it’s OK if I eat 20 of them, right? Doughnuttery’s baby donuts have a home in Chelsea Market, where you can watch the employee fry and coat your donuts with toppings of your choosing.

#SpoonTip: Don’t skimp on the powdered sugar.

26. ChikaLicious: Churro Ice Cream Cone

Photo courtesy of @leancleanlaine on Instagram

Churro. Ice cream. Cone. I never thought I’d see the day that something this beautiful was invented. This fluffy, warm churro cone definitely trumps the classic wafer cone.

Be careful with this one: once you try a churro cone from ChikaLicious, you’ll never go back.

27. Eight Turn Crepe: Crepes

Photo courtesy of @stefaniechan on Instagram

Japanese crepes? Why not. This cone-shaped dessert is perfect when you’re on-the-go but still need your sweet fix. With Japanese flavors like lychee valentine and classics like strawberry banana, Eight Turn Crepe has something for everyone.

28. 10Below Ice Cream: Rolled Ice Cream

Photo courtesy of @nyc_sweetmates on Instagram

Why eat your ice cream in a scoop when you can have it in 5 spiral rolls? 10Below is changing the ice cream game with this new twist on your favorite sweet. The best part of this deal is that they’re loading on the toppings.

29. Baked by Melissa: Mini Cupcakes

Photo courtesy of @foodbuffs on Instagram

Good things come in small packages. Your trip to NYC is not complete if you haven’t tried Baked by Melissa’s bite-sized cupcakes. Perfect for snacking, you can eat a box of 12 by yourself. Try as many different flavors as you can, but our favorite will always remain tie dye.

#SpoonTip: If you’re not in NYC but want to try these cupcakes, Baked by Melissa ships nationwide. You’re welcome.

30. Serendipity 3: Frozen Hot Chocolate

Photo courtesy of @sheridangold on Instagram

Serendipity 3 has been doing dessert right since 1954. This frozen hot chocolate has been my dream dessert ever since I was a child. Perfect for sharing, this luxurious frozen hot chocolate is not just a cool treat but a social experience.

31. Kith Treats: Cereal Ice Cream

Photo courtesy of @julianne_rucker on Instagram

Kith Treats is NYC’s first cereal bar, but we’re traveling there for the ice cream. Infuse your ice cream with over 20 choices in cereals and tons of toppings to build the ultimate custom blend. Why just have plain cereal when you can blend it into your ice cream?

32. Max Brenner: Chocolate Pizza

Photo courtesy of @maxbrenner_chocolate_bar on Instagram

Max Brenner is bringing the gift of chocolate to the world, centering its entire restaurant menu around chocolate. Yes, you heard that right. From burger buns dusted with cacao powder to decadent chocolate fondue, you can have a five-course meal built around chocolate.

The chocolate pizza is the best of both worlds: not cloyingly sweet, but perfectly indulgent.

33. Play J: Ice Cream

Photo courtesy of @lucygrebin on Instagram

Track down this truck in NYC for a fun twist on your ice cream. Play J is serving vanilla and chocolate soft serve in a crispy, J-shaped cone. This whimsical dessert is just as much fun to look at as it is to eat.

34. Eggloo: Egg Waffle Ice Cream Cone

Photo courtesy of @tooomuchfoood on Instagram

These days, people are making cones out of anything, from churros to chocolate chip cookies. However, our favorite is the egg waffle cone from Eggloo. Straight out of Hong Kong, these light and fluffy cones perfectly compliment your loaded ice cream.

Check out this article to learn more about this new trend.

35. Chloe’s: Soft Serve Fruit

Photo courtesy of @beckyblairh on Instagram

Feeling healthy? Trade in that ice cream cone for this equally as delicious soft serve fruit. Fresh and tart, Chloe’s soft serve fruit is the ultimate way to keep your beach bod while indulging.

For more healthy substitutes, check out this article.

36. The Meatball Shop: Ice Cream Sandwich

Photo courtesy of @spoon_nyu on Instagram

I know what you’re thinking: why would I go to a meatball shop to get ice cream? Well, The Meatball Shop is stuffing its killer freshly-baked cookies with handmade ice cream. You can build your own sandwich from the ground up, choosing your cookie and ice cream flavors to make your dream dessert.

Looking to make your own ice cream sandwich at home? Try this recipe for an easy chocolate donut, Nutella and coffee ice cream sandwich.

37. Melt: Ice Cream Sandwich

Photo courtesy of newyork.seriouseats.com

With fun flavor names like “Lovelet,” “Maplemaker,” and “Seduction,” Melt’s ice cream sandwiches are fun and playful. You can even get them shipped outside of NYC here. After all, a girl needs her ice cream sandwich no matter where she lives.

38. Ice and Vice: Ice Cream

Photo courtesy of Spoon University on Facebook

Ice and Vice will try anything and everything when it comes to ice cream. This experimental ice cream shop partnered with SpoonU to create a custom flavor: Fireball ice cream with a ramen brittle and Flaming Hot Cheeto ramen pieces.

Plus, show them that you follow Spoon on Instagram and get 20% off our flavor. Win-win.

39. The Doughnut Project: Everything Bagel Donut

Photo courtesy of @julianne_rucker on Instagram

Donut and everything bagel: your two favorite breakfast foods, combined into one. A recent NYC innovation, the Doughnut Project described the everything donut as “topped with a light cream cheese glaze, roasted poppy seeds, black and white sesame seeds, pepitas and a hint of garlic and sea salt.”

You may be skeptical on this dessert-breakfast hybrid, but give it a try.

40. Morgenstern’s: Avocado Ice Cream Toast

Photo courtesy of @spoon_nyu on Instagram

I don’t think you could get any more basic than avocado toast, but Morgenstern’s new take has us thanking the dessert gods. Avocado ice cream may sound funky, but our love for avo knows no bounds. You’ll have to trust us on this one and try it for yourself.

41. People’s Pops: Ice Pop

Photo courtesy of @foodbuffs on Instagram

Great pops with a great view. This highline ice pop stand dishes out the perfect treat on a hot summer day. Fruity and fresh, these ice pops will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated for some more NYC exploring. We recommend the raspberry-lime flavor.

Step up your own pop game with these DIY margarita ice pops. The more boozy the better.

42. Parm: Ice Cream Cake

Photo courtesy of @julianne_rucker on Instagram

Go to Parm for dinner, but the real main course is the dessert. Parm’s three-layer ice cream cake definitely beats your 5th grade birthday cake. This chocolate-strawberry-pistachio combo is the total package, complete with a cherry on top.

43. Francois Payard: Macaron Donut

Photo courtesy of @indulgenteats on Instagram

Francois Payard has brought us the newest development in the generation of hybrid desserts: the macaron donut. Payard has 30 years of experience making French pastries, so it’s no surprise that he thought up this innovation on the macaron. Line up to try this specialty dessert because there are only two available per customer.

If you’re ballin’ on a budget, check out these three sweet treats under $3 in New York.

44. Pop Bar: Ice Pop

Photo courtesy of @newyorkbitesblog on Instagram

Who knew ice pops could be so funky? Toss those supermarket ice pops aside for these gourmet frozen treats. Pop Bar is putting its handcrafted frozen gelato on a stick (and sometimes even dipping it in chocolate). With flavors like dulce de leche dipped in caramel corn and green tea, Pop Bar is a must-try.

45. Sundaes and Cones: Ice Cream

Photo courtesy of @julianne_rucker on Instagram

Sundaes and Cones is using Asian flavors to put a new spin on the classic ice cream cone. Flavors range from vanilla and chocolate to wasabi and black sesame. Many of the adventurous flavors are colorful, adding a nice pop to your insta feed.

46. Snowdays: Shaved Snow

Photo courtesy of foodbyskyler.com

NYC back at it again with the shaved snow. With ridiculous toppings and a variety of flavors, Snowdays will make you want to give up ice cream for good. It’s featured frequently on @new_fork_city, one of NYC’s most famous food Instagrams.

47. Round K Cafe: Raindrop Cake

Photo courtesy of @raindropcake on Instagram

Wait… what? You’re probably just as confused as I was when I first saw this raindrop cake. According to Darren Wong, creator of the raindrop cake, it’s inspired by traditional Mizu Shingen Mochi from Japan.

This is a dessert you just have to taste to understand. Head to Round K Cafe on the Lower East Side to see what it’s all about.

48. Batter and Cream: Mini Whoopie Pies

Photo by Maddie Denenberg

Mini. Whoopie. Pies. You may think it doesn’t get better than that, but it does. Batter and Cream will ship its mini whoopee pies straight to you. Talk about convenient.

49. The Stanton Social: Donuts

The Stanton Social is a cool shared-plate collaboration restaurant started by some of NYC’s top chefs. Not only is its dinner delicious, but these chefs are killing the dessert game too. Order a bunch of different dishes and share them so you can try as many of these sweets as possible.

All the desserts are really creative, but I’m a sucker for some fluffy warm donuts complete with caramel, chocolate and berry dipping sauces.

50. Pops by Haley: Cake Push-Up Pop

Photo courtesy of @popsbyhaley on Instagram

Perfectly playful and convenient. Eat your cake without all the mess in Pops by Haley’s layered cake push-up pop. Complete with cake, frosting and sprinkles, you’ll never settle for a boring old slice again.

I hope that this ultimate dessert tour of NYC keeps your sweet tooth satisfied. And remember, there is no such a thing as too much sugar.

TG Picks

Paul Kossoff

AC/DC copied the Free legend’s frenetic vibrato and muscular riff writing, and All Right Now remains a masterclass in building excitement.

Mick Taylor

“Taylor was a very fluent, melodic player,” said Mick Jagger. With wah and slide, he create impressively vocal sounds.

Steve Hackett

Tapping before Eddie and sweeping before Yngwie, the Genesis wizard was also an early adopter of the guitar synth.

Steve Lukather

His easy groove, wild bends and fluid runs made Toto’s guitarist the first call session player of the 80s.

Scott Gorham & Brian Robertson

Thin Lizzy drove the Les Paul and Marshall combination harder than anyone had before, defining the sound and licks of heavy rock guitar.

Second only to EVH for defining 80s rock guitar tone, the Boston man invented the gear behind hundreds of hits.

He wrote Cocaine, originated the Tulsa sound and counted Clapton, Knopfler and Neil Young among his disciples.

Andy Summers

The Police’s songs would have sounded generic without Andy’s innovative add9 voicings and his EHX Electric Mistress flanger pedal.

By using delay as an instrument of its own, with U2 he found an entirely new way to orchestrate guitars.

Robert Fripp

Guitar’s premier mad scientist, Fripp has defied convention and influenced every subsequent progger.

Wayne Kramer & Fred 'Sonic' Smith

The MC5’s garage rock kicked out the jams, predated punk by a decade and sounded angry as hell.

Jeff 'Skunk' Baxter

He played on more records than some people own, most notably adding inspiration to Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers.

Mick Ronson

Created the arrangements for Bowie’s best material. Find any guitarist in makeup and Ronson is probably the reason they started playing.

Dick Wagner & Steve Hunter

They shook the sound of rock first with Lou Reed, then again with Alice Cooper. Hunter played uncredited for Aerosmith.

When rock became a speed competition, Schon made solos you could sing. Journey are still on the radio as a result.

An undisputed slide master, Cooder’s smoking licks even vanquished Steve Vai in Crossroads. His feel and vibrato are unrivalled.

Andy Powell/Ted Turner

Wishbone Ash did more than anyone to introduce harmony guitars to metal. Their twin guitars gave Iron Maiden their cue.

Jerry Garcia

Garcia idiosyncratically borrowed banjo techniques, leaving behind 22,000 hours of recorded music with the Grateful Dead.

Watch the video: Seeb - Say You Love Me feat. Skylar Grey (May 2022).


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