May 29th, 2014
12:30 AM ET
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(Travel + Leisure) No detail is too trivial for New York’s Empellón Taqueria, which stocks more than five types of salt just for its margaritas. One specialty salt is spiked with chiles and ground-up maguey; another, infused with ginger, tops off the spiced pear margarita.

America’s best margaritas, recommended by tequila experts and some of the country’s top mixologists, range from spicy to sweet, shaken to frozen. We wanted to toast the classics as well as quirky variations on the standard recipe of tequila, triple sec, and lime juice. What all these margaritas share with Empellón’s is a thoughtful commitment to quality—and complementary—ingredients.  

The esteemed margarita at Tommy’s Mexican, a San Francisco institution, substitutes agave nectar (honey water) for triple sec with such success that it’s been replicated by bars across America. 

Houston’s Pastry War supplies a bubble tea straw to suck up the whole pomegranate seeds in its frozen margaritas. In New Orleans, Tivoli & Lee draws on local inspiration, adding native hibiscus to its margarita. These versions don’t require limes, an advantage at a time when a lime shortage has been making headlines and raising prices nationwide.

Whether you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo or just the end of the workweek, fill your glass with one of the finest margaritas north of the border.
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Filed under: 100 Places to Eat • Bars • Restaurants • Sip • Spirits • Travel


How to get treated like a bartender
May 22nd, 2014
07:00 AM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

A few weeks ago I was sitting at a bar when they announced last call. Service stopped. Twenty minutes later, two bartenders I know came rolling in. “Oh, man, the bar is closed,” I said. “Last call doesn’t apply to bartenders,” my friend replied. Sure enough, the guy behind the bar sprang into action for them.
 
Since then, I’ve become obsessed with getting bartender treatment. And I found the perfect team to help.
 
Meet some key ladies from Speed Rack. The raucous all-girls bartending competition, where women make drinks at lightning-fast speed and judges pick the winner, isn’t just an awesome party: It also raises money to fight breast cancer ($160,000 so far). Miss Speed Rack USA 2014 is Caitlin Laman of Trick Dog in San Francisco (big applause); Lynnette Marrero and Ivy Mix are the Speed Rack founders (more applause). I asked them for help.
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Filed under: Bars • Content Partner • Etiquette • Food and Wine • Service • Sip


May 21st, 2014
02:30 PM ET
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(Travel + Leisure) You’re not going to say exactly what happened last night, but a few drinks may have been consumed. This morning, all you can think about is waffles and eggs Benedict and king crab legs…ooh and maybe a make-your-own-sundae bar. They’re waiting for you at the all-you-can-eat buffet—that great smorgasbord pioneered, naturally, in Sin City.

The western-themed El Rancho Vegas introduced a gastronomic free-for-all in 1941, rolling out a $1 chuckwagon designed to keep high rollers full and gambling into the wee hours of the morning. Almost 75 years later, the indulgence has spread across America. And why not? Gluttony is at its best at brunch, when you and your fellow travelers can while away the day recapping your exploits over a steady procession of mouthwatering dishes.

The restaurants we’re spotlighting prove that buffet no longer has to mean sacrificing quality for quantity. For example, Orchids Halekulani plays to Hawaii’s strengths with suckling pig and lomi-lomi salmon at a buffet that also includes universal favorites like made-to-order omelettes.

So grab a tray: we’ve got the meal to match your craving, whether it’s Cuban-style suckling pig and taco bars poolside in Miami, nouveau tapas whimsy in L.A., or jazz-fueled Creole in New Orleans.
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Hungry for company? There's an App(lebee's) for that
May 16th, 2014
12:45 PM ET
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The next time you settle in to an Applebee's for a beer and some queso blanco, you may be struck with the urge to speak with one of your fellow patrons. But, instead of just turning to the booth behind you, or (gasp!) walking up to a nearby table full of strangers, why not use an app?

“What’s Applebee's” (a play on What’s App, the target of a recent $19 billion Facebook acquisition) advertises itself as the latest hot new social network. The app allows you to connect with other Applebee’s fans around the country.

But this is a highly exclusive network; you must be physically inside an Applebee’s to use it. Think of it as a virtual red velvet rope.
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Filed under: Applebee's • Chain • Restaurants • Social Media


Red Lobster: for the seafood lover with a spare $2.1 billion
May 16th, 2014
10:30 AM ET
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Darden Restaurants inked a $2.1 billion deal on Friday to unload its struggling Red Lobster business to Golden Gate Capital.

Golden Gate may be able to inject some new life into Red Lobster, but the deal is likely to rile up Darden investors. Shares fell nearly 3% in early trading.
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This hippo-like critter can help you be less lonely
May 16th, 2014
12:45 AM ET
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Talk about creative coping mechanisms for being alone - from the blogger who photographs selfies with his imaginary girlfriend to the company that takes your stuffed animals on vacation without you, Japan appears to be cornering the market on accommodating solo travelers.

You can now add the "anti-loneliness" Moomin House Cafe to the menagerie of "wait, what?" strokes of Japanese brilliance.
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Filed under: Japan • Restaurant News • Restaurants • Solo dining • Theme • Travel • Weird News


Chipotle aims to 'cultivate thought' on its packaging
May 15th, 2014
05:36 PM ET
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Get ready for a side of “thoughtful texts” with your Chipotle burritos.

Starting Thursday, the fast-food chain is rolling out restaurant packaging featuring original essays by authors, actors and comedians, from Toni Morrison and Malcolm Gladwell to Sarah Silverman and Judd Apatow.

“Must a cup, or bag, suffer an existence that is limited to just one humble purpose, defined merely by its simple function?” Chipotle asks on the website of its “Cultivating Thought” author series.
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Filed under: Business and Farming News • Chipotle • Fast Food • News • Restaurants


Walking in a waffle wonderland
May 15th, 2014
01:45 PM ET
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Kate Krader (@kkrader on Twitter) is Food & Wine's restaurant editor. When she tells us where to find our culinary heart's desire, we listen up.

I’ve been very busy celebrating the International Biscuit Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee. (It’s awesome, and everyone should head to Tennessee next year.) But that doesn’t mean that I don’t see another carb-loaded breakfast item that’s poised for world domination.

Every day, the waffle gets a little more famous, as institutions from Taco Bell to Dominique Ansel (the Cronut’s creator) consider its possibilities. The following are some notable waffles that you might be hearing more about.  
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Filed under: Breakfast • Content Partner • Dishes • Food and Wine • Restaurants • Trends


May 15th, 2014
10:45 AM ET
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Fast-food workers walked off their jobs in dozens of cities Thursday, demanding a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

Union organizers say the strikes will reach 150 U.S. cities and several countries.

CNNMoney confirmed that workers were striking at a McDonald's in Trafalgar Square in London.
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