In this issue: Austin, Las Vegas, Montréal, Puerto Rico, and San Diego…
Austin’s Italian Chophouse
Joe DiMaggio’s Italian Chophouse. Don’t be intimidated — the sharply dressed man standing outside the looming iron door may ask for your reservation, but you don’t have to be on a special list to gain admittance to this swanky chophouse. Plush, deep-set booths surround the dark perimeter of the dining room, which is adorned with black-and-white portraits of Joe DiMaggio. The gooey Cambozola cheese, roasted garlic pods, and a heavenly sun-dried tomato tapenade smeared on warm flatbread will stop you in your tracks, though it’s not likely to deter you from savoring a colossal 24-ounce porterhouse. Cap off your decadent meal with the chocolate soufflé paired with a crème anglaise. 11410 Century Oaks Terrace, in the Domain Shopping Center. 512/835-5633. AE, MC, V. No lunch. Median entrée price: $35.
Sin City See-for-All
Koi Vegas. It’s only fitting that Koi, a see-and-be-seen restaurant with locations in New York and Los Angeles, has launched a third U.S. outpost at the renovated Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The cavernous, 220-seat eatery attracts A- and B-list celebrities who line up for dishes that include baked lobster rolls, yellowtail carpaccio, and Kobe-style filet mignon. The main dining room can get noisy, so ask for a table along the back wall. After dinner, order a Setting Sun Cosmopolitan in the lounge and head for the open-air patio to enjoy the fountains at Bellagio across the street. 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. S. 702/454-4555. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Median entrée price: $35.
In Puerto Rico, Caribbean Cuisine
Blue Macaw. Polished wood and brushed steel give this restaurant a sleek, sexy look. It’s hard to resist sitting at the curvy banquette in the front dining room, but on a cool evening it’s even harder to pass up a table in the enclosed rear courtyard. The kitchen turns out classic dishes like crispy duck with plum sauce, osso buco with braised vegetables, and lamb tenderloin in a raspberry sauce. The menu features plenty of smaller dishes that are perfect for sharing, such as the quesadillas with smoked chicken. Calle Antonio Mellado, at Calle Luis Munoz Rivera, Isabel Segunda, Vieques. 787/741-4000. Reservations essential. AE, MC, V. Median entrée price: $25.
In Atlanta, a Boutique Hotel
The Ellis Hotel. This renovated boutique hotel provides Southern hospitality in a restored 1913 historic landmark. Each morning, the bright lobby invites budget-conscious hipsters to sink into modern lounge chairs with their newspapers and coffee in tow. Atlanta’s public transit system, MARTA, is across the street. A unique feature is the women’s-only floor, which provides secured entry into its stylish rooms with in-room amenities such as curling and straightening irons. Pros: 24-hour fitness and business centers; free in-room Wi-Fi. Cons: street noise; on-site restaurant closes at 10 p.m.; breakfast-only room service. 176 Peachtree Street N.W., Downtown. 404/523-5155 (ph.). 404/525-7872 (fax). www.ellishotel.com/. 127 rooms. In-room: Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel:1 restaurant, room service, bar, gym, laundry service, public Internet, public Wi-Fi, parking (fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at $175.
A Rockin’ Stay in San Diego
Hard Rock San Diego. Receive rock star treatment at the Hard Rock San Diego, ideally located downtown near Petco Park and overlooking the glimmering San Diego Bay. The interior boasts laidback sophistication, with guest rooms featuring cantilever furniture and illuminated platform beds. For a true rock star experience, choose from one of the 17 Rock Star suites, including one designed by pop group The Black-Eyed Peas. Have a drink at one of two bars owned by noted restaurateur and bar-owner Rande Gerber, followed by to-die-for sushi at the in-house Nobu San Diego. Pros: custom music mixes are played in public spaces. Cons: The Vault music venue doesn’t open until the end of 2007. 207 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp Quarter. 619/702-3000. www.hardrockhotelsd.com. 420 rooms, 176 suites. In-room: safe, refrigerator, Ethernet, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, room service, 2 bars, pool, gym, spa, laundry service, concierge, parking (fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at $225.
A Makeover in Montréal
Hotel Nelligan. Located just blocks away from the Basilique Notre-Dame-de-Montréal in romantic Old Montréal, the Hotel Nelligan has added a third 19th-century building to its original two. Due to its multi-million dollar expansion, the hotel now boasts a total of 105 spacious and luxurious guest rooms featuring exposed granite, brick, and beams from the original buildings and modern touches like CD sound systems and jetted tubs. The hotel’s leather furnishings, fireplace, and soaring glass-roofed atrium continue to inspire tourists, business travelers and locals alike. Complimentary Continental breakfast is included, and wine and cheese are served daily from 5-7 p.m. Pros: well-priced room service and mini-bar items. Cons: many sights, restaurants, and shopping options are not within walking distance; room service delivery can be slow. 106, Saint-Paul St. West, Vieux-Montréal, Montréal, Québec H2Y 1Z3. 877/788-2040 (ph). www.hotelnelligan.com/. 44 rooms, 59 suites, two penthouses. In-room: safe, kitchen (some), refrigerator, DVD (some), Ethernet. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, room service, bars, gym, spa, laundry service, concierge, Wi-Fi (fee), parking (fee), some pets allowed (no fee), no-smoking rooms. AE, DC, MC, V. Rooms start at CAD $235.
Contributors: Karen Catchpole, Jessica Dupuy, Tanja Kern, Hyon Jung Lee, Mark Sullivan, Matt Villano