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
189 by Dominique Ansel
If you’ve ogled pastries on Instagram, chances are you’ve seen the influence, if not the work, of Dominique Ansel. The New York-based chef wowed the world with his ultimate food hybrid—the cronut—which has since inspired countless spinoff Frankenfoods hoping to catch the same lightning in a bottle. But Ansel also has a way with the savory. He opened his first spot, which features a bakery on the first floor and a full-service restaurant above, in Los Angeles at The Grove last year. At the restaurant, the cooking is inventive, eye-catching and delicious. The menu is filled with dishes that are rooted in traditional French techniques yet utilize Cali flavors, such as a perfectly roasted chicken with black garlic rice stuffing and a shot of jus, or a pull-apart sweet corn milk bread that plays on the flavor of the elotes (Mexican-style grilled corn) popular at local street vendors. The restaurant, the name of which references the address of Ansel’s original bakery in New York City, fits in seamlessly with other new dining establishments at The Grove, where institutions like Ladurée and The Fountain Bar have also moved in. INSIDER'S TIP Spring for the boozy Brown Derby cocktail—a whole fresh grapefruit infused with Eagle Rare bourbon. The staff slices it open and brulees it with a pinch of brown sugar tableside; then it's juiced over ice. 189 The Grove Drive, 323.602.0096
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
Not only was Aspen the country’s first location for Chefs Club, but this summer, the restaurant gets another debut: The Chefs Club residency program will bring five-time James Beard Award nominee Matthew Accarrino, of Michelin-starred SPQR in San Francisco, to town. The multicourse prix fixe menu, available through August, showcases Accarrino’s California approach to his Italian ancestry. The menu includes dishes such as an aperitivi of zucchini and runner bean salad with sheep’s cheese and Senise pepper; a primi of gnocchi with sweet corn and smoked mushroom; a secondi of sea bass with charred vegetable sauce and blistered peppers; and a contorni, or selection of side dishes, followed by dessert. The partnership brings Accarrino back to Aspen; he first visited in 2014 for the Food & Wine Classic, during which he was named a best new chef by Food & Wine magazine. Little did he know, he would call Aspen a part-time home only four years later. INSIDER'S TIP Veteran master sommelier Jonathan Pullis remains at the helm of Chefs Club and will pair Mediterranean wines to complement Accarrino’s menu. 970.429.9581
Chef Matthew Accarrino's fresh cooking style combines West Coast attitude with Italian tradition, as seen in alla spianatoia, a polenta topped with leek, peas and summer truffle.