If you’re the type who hangs in moneyed circles in Taiwan, Hong Kong or Shanghai, you may have noticed that si fang cai—or what founder and executive chef George Chen describes as “private château cuisine”—is very much in vogue. Now, this opulent style of dining, with roots in the Qing dynasty of 17th-century China, has reached San Francisco. Hidden on the second floor of Chen’s $20 million Chinatown complex, China Live, Eight Tables is the kind of place where super-rich diners might spend close to four figures on wine, cocktails and a prix fixe Chinese banquet for two. That will buy you some singular food, including a gorgeous opening array of nine cold dishes, a har gow dumpling embellished with luxe ingredients like uni and Osetra caviar, and a truly astounding cube of red-cooked pork belly. They say money can’t buy happiness, but you’re better off getting this pork belly anyway. INSIDER'S TIP True to its name, the restaurant only has eight tables in the dining room, but there is a ninth—the exclusive chef’s table—located inside the kitchen. 415.788.8788
Snug inside the Atlanta Braves’ new home, The Battery at SunTrust Park, is the brainchild of Atlanta culinary icon and James Beard Award winner Linton Hopkins. In partnership with his wife, Gina—who is the sommelier overseeing 900 bottles—and chef Damon Wise, formerly of Sauvage in New York and Tom Colicchio’s Crafted Hospitality, Hopkins crafted C. Ellet’s in the image of a true Southern American steakhouse. Separated into distinctly designed spaces, the restaurant (named after Hopkin’s great-grandfather Charles Ellet) is large, yet feels cozy all the same. In the Dining Room, it’s apropos to order the French center-cut filet; the 38-ounce tomahawk for two; or the baseball steak, a Delmonico chuck or an Eureka cut flank. Top it off with a bone marrow or green peppercorn sauce—because why not? The more casual Club Room provides many of the same items, plus a few newcomers, including the dry-aged cheeseburger—a nod to the Hopkins’ H&F Burger empire. INSIDER'S TIP Don’t skip the vegetables. For some, they’re the star of the show. On rotation, find everything from Hungarian-style coleslaw to roasted baby carrots with sorghum glaze and creme fraiche. 678.996.5344
Miami Beach, Fla.
Executive chef Jeremy Ford and his team have added interactive movement to their craft. Not everything happens at the same tabletop level, on the same tabletop surface. Sometimes fire is involved. Other times, there’s dry ice. Often, it’s both, taking place in a space that’s simultaneously industrial and art deco. Though the menu is small and relies on what’s in season, it’s nearly impossible to tire of Ford’s creativity. Take the umami short rib, which lives up to its name with a lid of miso-mustard butter that melts into the succulent meat—so deeply glazed it looks like chocolate. It’s accompanied by maitake mushrooms and a variety of playfully done carrots that are either shaved into a curl, roasted or pureed, or turned into sweet pale bubbles. In a less seasoned chef’s hands, these culinary antics could come across as cliche, but it’s clear Ford understands how to deliver both reach-for-the-smartphone presentation and superior flavor. INSIDER'S TIP The prime spot is the Chef’s Table for eight, which is adjacent to a large picture window that reveals all the kitchen action. 786.322.5211
Umami short rib with trumpet mushrooms, heirloom carrots and miso-mustard butter
Sparrow + Wolf
While many taste buds turn to world-famous names to get a fine-dining fix, foodies with a keen radar know that some of Vegas’ most dynamic culinary experiences can be found off the Strip. As the city booms, pioneering chefs have opted to pursue an independent path. One such talent is Brian Howard, whose hot spot, Sparrow + Wolf, in Chinatown allows him to flex old-world techniques—from his days at Bouchon Bistro in Napa Valley, Calif., and Comme Ça on the Strip—to create new flavors. The eclectic menu ranges from an uni melt with burrata and blood orange kosho to beef cheek and bone marrow dumplings with spring onion and lemon ash—imaginative shareable plates that make the adventure away from the casinos completely worth it. INSIDER'S TIP Order the snail toast, a secret menu dish that will signal your culinary prowess. Then, end your meal with a pour of Howard’s prized 1848 reserve cognac from the private collection of the late Jacques Hardy—one of only 25 bottles produced—that is also not on the menu, but available to those who ask. 702.790.2147