From Las Vegas to Monte Carlo, New York to São Paulo, these establishments prove guests needn’t leave the building for extraordinary cuisine
É by José Andrés
The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas
José Andrés is no stranger to breaking barriers. His burgeoning restaurant empire has earned him a slot as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People, as well as an Outstanding Chef award from the James Beard Foundation. A self-described “48-year-old millennial,” he is also founder of the World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that develops “smart solutions to hunger and poverty.” At a White House ceremony last year, his efforts were recognized by President Barack Obama, who awarded Andrés with a National Humanities Medal.
Securing a reservation at any of Andrés’ 28 restaurants is not always easy, and this is especially true at é, an exclusive (as in nine-seat, two seatings a night) dining experience set within his Spanish restaurant Jaleo at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Andrés has likened é to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory, a place without boundaries, where the chef’s imagination is free to explore endless possibilities.
Reservations are made online, up to three months in advance, and successful applicants are awarded a special golden ticket, which allows access to a small red room with a brass-top bar. The $250-per-person, 20-plus-course tasting menu provides a glimpse into the mind of a culinary maverick—one dish, the bite-sized Spanish “clavel” snack, is served on a mold of Andrés’ own hand.
Other playful creations can include the chef’s take on a specialty taco—a “shell” of ibérico ham wrapped around a filling of caviar—as well as a “drink” of gelled cava with watermelon and mint, and lobster with a hint of jasmine air. With so many courses to get through, you’ll be thankful for Andrés’ concentrated spin on classic comfort foods.
Ai Fiori by Michael White
Langham Place Hotel, New York City
Michael White’s talent in the kitchen is matched by his commitment to hospitality. Food may be the star at his restaurants, but the service is a frequent scene-stealer. The Wisconsin-born chef, 46, made his way to Chicago after high school, enrolling in culinary classes at Kendall College, where he learned French techniques while getting a hands-on education in refined Italian cuisine at Spiaggia at night. An internship at the Michelin-starred San Domenico in Italy led to an eight-year stint in European kitchens. He moved to New York in 2000, and two years later became executive chef at Fiamma Osteria, taking the city by storm. In 2009 he formed the Altamarea Group with partner Ahmass Fakahany, which now owns and operates 15 restaurants worldwide.
White’s Michelin-starred Ai Fiori, which opened at New York’s Langham Place hotel in 2010, offers a menu reminiscent of the Italian and French Riviera. His signature pastas typically feature seasonally available ingredients, alongside crafted meat and seafood dishes. The most fawned-over creation is his astice, a butter-poached lobster that was described by the New York Post as the “greatest dish in the world.”
White doesn’t scrimp on luxury—there are times when it seems he uses black truffle shavings the way others use salt. Yet the restaurant remains an approachable way to experience some of the world’s most elevated cuisine. For an even more relaxed atmosphere, the adjacent Bar Fiori serves a mouthwatering White Label Burger, plus a craft cocktail program to keep the most devout non-foodie happy.
Le Louis XV by Alain Ducasse
Hôtel de Paris, Monte carlo
Alain Ducasse opened his first restaurant in 1987, in Monaco’s Hôtel de Paris, and made an immediate splash. In 1990, his Le Louis XV became the first hotel restaurant to be awarded three Michelin stars. And yet, despite being considered a standard bearer for fine dining, the restaurant was given an overhaul in 2015. Improvements included a new central service station that provided a front-row seat for his culinary symphony, in which the bread basket receives the same loving attention as any of the restaurant’s intricate creations. Ducasse revamped the menu, too, with a new focus on Mediterranean-inspired items alongside the signature French dishes.
Meanwhile, as ever, locally sourced fish, meats and vegetables are all enhanced by Ducasse’s classic broths. His ability to bring out the most delicate of flavors through a perfectly balanced sauce or jus is one of his great skills, raising traditional dishes to new heights. His commitment to using fresh local ingredients stems from his childhood in southwest France, where meals were sourced from the family garden—a simple approach that has garnered him 18 Michelin stars among his various establishments.
Zuma by Rainer Becker
Epic Hotel, Miami
Located at the mouth of the Miami River, Rainer Becker’s Zuma at the Epic Hotel is the epitome of bustling tropical sophistication. Opened in 2010, the restaurant provides an informal izakaya-style dining experience—yet the scene is anything but, typically hosting a who’s who of Miami society, celebrities and influencers. Modern interpretations of Japanese dishes are Becker’s signature: Take, for instance, the grilled scallops, which you would expect to see on many a Miami menu—but here pickled plum, shiso and mentaiko butter are added for a new blend of unexpected flavors. Dishes like the hotpot with mushrooms and vegetables, rib eye with garlic chips, and lobster with shiso-ponzu butter also surprise with their singular combinations.
Emiliano by Andrea Montella
Hotel Emiliano, São Paulo
For years, South American food has been winning over diners across the world, and São Paulo’s Emiliano—located in the hotel of the same name—produces some of the best South American food there is. Opened in 2001, Emiliano excels in regional dishes like tuna medallions with braised bell peppers, executed by Italian chef Andrea Montella, who has also added a few innovations of his own: carbonara with seafood, pici with lamb ragout, and pappardelle with saffron. The integrity of the fare is matched by the refinement of the décor, which includes a stunning vertical garden that gives the impression that you’re eating on the edge of a jungle.