An international retail and restaurant guide for getting your fashion and foodie fix.
Department stores might seem like a throwback in the age of Amazon Prime but this list reminds travelers that shopping and noshing in a swanky setting can’t be done online. The OG of all department stores, Paris’ Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche, opened in 1852 with a food hall curated for epicurean enthusiasts added in 1923. Macy’s claims to have started the trend in the United States, luring mostly female shoppers with a retail repast. While New York City and London tend to dominate the retail and restaurant scene, plenty of other cities have followed suit. Think gourmet food halls instead of food courts, along with fine dining, casual cafes, and loungey bars rewarding department store loyalists. Many of the restaurants offer unexpected views of the city allowing patrons to gaze at sightseeing hotspots far from the crowds. Another bonus: these foodie-approved locations provide the perfect place to park less-enthused shopping companions.
Zodiac at Neiman Marcus
WHERE: Dallas, Texas
Note the Texas historical marker out front before making your way inside Neiman Marcus, the Dallas original, which has been hosting ladies who lunch at the Zodiac since 1957. Back in the day, big spenders could splurge on a prime rib with a baked potato for $2.25, plus a glass of pink champagne for $1.25. Now, regulars return for the restaurant’s complimentary consommé and popovers served with strawberry butter. Famous faces who have dined here include Julia Child and Prince Edward and Prince Philip on a 1993 visit to the Lone Star State. But Santa reigns supreme every December when reservations to breakfast with him go quick.
INSIDER TIPThe Neiman Marcus Christmas Book, a catalog of extravagant gifts and travel experiences that comes out in mid-October, makes for an appropriate restaurant reading instead of your cellphone.
10 Corso Como Café at 10 Corso Como
WHERE: Milan, Italy
Milan is Italy’s center of fashion with Prada, Armani, Valentino, and Versace all headquartered here. It’s also home to 10 Corso Como, a fashion-forward concept store that’s more akin to a high-end gallery with artful displays of merchandise. The slow shopping setting, housed in a former Fiat garage, encourages browsing where multiple floors showcase cutting edge clothing, beauty products, and home furnishings. That relaxed atmosphere extends to the on-site restaurant, 10 Corso Como Cafe, with seating options inside and tucked away in their secret garden space.
INSIDER TIPPlan a stylish sleepover by booking a room at 10 Corso Como’s hotel, Three Rooms.
L’Avenue at Saks Fifth Avenue
WHERE: New York City, New York
Bergdorf Goodman has culinary competition now that Fifth Avenue rival, Saks Fifth Avenue opened L’Avenue on two levels of its New York City flagship. A spinoff of the Parisian original, the NYC location sports an interior by design mastermind, Phillipe Starck, and a private elevator entrance, used by model Gigi Hadid who chose the venue for her birthday celebration. But there’s also a nod to the U.S. with solid oak tables crafted by an artisan crew of Vermont woodworkers. Views of Rockefeller Center come courtesy of an outdoor terrace and a bar with a ski lodge vibe when cooler temps prevail.
Rose Bakery at Dover Street Market NYC
WHERE: New York City, New York
In the same way, L’Avenue takes inspiration from its namesake counterpart in Paris, Rose Bakery is an offshoot of the beloved bakery run by Rose Carrarini and husband, Jean-Charles in the Ninth Arrondissement. However, the Dover Street Market backdrop is a much more laid-back alternative but with the same sartorial and foodie cred. This modern interpretation of a department store was started by another husband and wife team, Rei Kawakubo, founder of Comme des Garçons, and her husband Adrian Joffe. Yarn bomber and textile artist, Magda Sayeg, gives the spartan bakery a burst of color with a knitted kaleidoscope-patterned turtleneck for a floor-to-ceiling column.
INSIDER TIPMagda Sayeg’s work first showed up on the streets of her hometown of Houston where she covertly covered stop sign poles with cozy knits.
Tesse Bakery and Café at Fred Segal Sunset
WHERE: Los Angeles, California
Once upon a time in West Hollywood circa 1961, Fred Segal launched his eponymous store cultivating a style scene inside a tiny 350-square foot shop with nothing but denim for sale. Musicians made up the store’s early fan base with Elvis, Bob Dylan, and Diana Ross as customers. Now, the shop on Sunset Boulevard offers 21,000 feet of more than just blue jeans, including its own line of merch ranging from t-shirts to coffee mugs. You can also have a cappuccino at the Tesse Bakery and Café inside Fred Segal Sunset where there’s the very Cali choice of avocado toast alongside French fare a la Croque Monsieur.
Fifth Floor Bar at Harvey Nichols
WHERE: London, England
Harvey Nichols might not have had the same name recognition as nearby ritzy retailer, Harrods, until the Absolutely Fabulous drinking duo, Eddie and Patsy put Harvey Nicks on the bubbly map. The Fifth Floor Bar recently had a facelift but it’s still very clubby and crowded especially since the location offers a glimpse of the Knightsbridge skyline. “Fizz flights” of champagne are available along with cocktail masterclasses for mixologists-in-training.
Caffé La Terrazza at La Rinascente
WHERE: Florence, Italy
Packs of travelers armed with selfie sticks maintain a constant presence in Florence’s Piazza del Duomo. However, you can score a postcard view of Filippo Brunelleschi’s photogenic dome capping the Florence Cathedral on the rooftop of La Rinascente’s Caffe La Terrazza. After you’ve finished perusing the whimsical selection of Alessi kitchen tools and home decor on the fourth floor, make your way up a flight of stairs for aperitivo al fresco.
Colette Grand Café at Holt Renfrew
WHERE: Montreal, Canada
The Canadian department store chain, established in 1837, first found its fashion footing as a hatter and furrier with Queen Victoria as a customer. Exclusive rights to sell Christian Dior’s “New Look” line in Canada subsequently solidified Holt’s style status. Go for a brunch and beauty double-header in Montreal by starting at Holt’s Sherbrooke location for a meal at Colette Grand Café. Take the complimentary car service to nearby Holt Renfrew Ogilvy where a massive Beauty Hall spanning 23,000 square feet of self-care awaits.
INSIDER TIPTake a short stroll to 1420 Crescent Street to see the mural of Montreal’s patron saint of song and style, Leonard Cohen.
The Veuve Clicquot Boutique at Alsterhaus
WHERE: Hamburg, Germany
Hamburg’s Alsterhaus opened in 1912 on Jungfernstieg, the city’s grand promenade and main drag for fashionable flâneurs. The sleek Luxury Hall is a high-end lineup of accessories while the food-centric fourth floor is equally extravagant. Upmarket ingredients like black diamond truffles are available for purchase along with caviar and specialty chocolates. But it’s hard to pass up a liquid lunch at the Veuve Clicquot Boutique where the in-house color-coordinated champagne coolers and flutes are as curated as the clothing for sale on the floors below.
INSIDER TIPThe fourth floor is also home to Le Buffet where diners in the window seats have views of the Alster Lake.
Angélina in Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann
WHERE: Paris, France
The domed splendor of this Parisian shopping stalwart never fails to impress, especially during the holidays when a Christmas tree is hung from the art nouveau-infused cupola. Almost every level in Galeries Lafayette offers a unique vantage point but the Glasswalk on the third floor allows visitors to walk a glass runway suspended underneath the dome. Adding to the wow factor of this 120-year-old retail icon is their very own Angélina, the Rue De Rivoli tearoom known for its signature Mont Blanc dessert, a petite mountain of meringue, whipped cream, and chestnut cream.
WHERE: Yountville, California
Restoration Hardware’s hefty 2,500-plus-page catalog inspires more than interior design makeovers. The rebranded RH also takes restaurant reservations for their on-site eateries, with RH Yountville, the Napa Valley compound, in high demand after the location was a featured spread. Chandeliers and olive trees provide an opulent aesthetic for a menu of elevated comfort food far removed from the Swedish meatballs served up at IKEA. The showroom seamlessly blends in with the surroundings which include a wine vault for tasting that’s on the National Register of Historic Places.
INSIDER TIPSneak a peek at the neighboring garden belonging to Thomas Keller’s Michelin-starred and James Beard blessed restaurant, French Laundry.
Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Store’s Food Hall
WHERE: Tokyo, Japan
Mitsukoshi’s origin story begins in 1673 as a kimono fabric shop, featuring the innovative practice of putting price tags on merchandise. Gradually, the store expanded its inventory and developed into Japan’s first department store. The same lion statues stationed at the store’s entrance in 1914 still welcome customers who are also greeted by the staff who bow ceremoniously when the doors open.
Once inside, a statue depicting the Goddess of Sincerity looms overhead as shoppers head to floors displaying the usual suspects of clothing and cosmetics and specialized services like funeral consultations and bonsai workshops. But it’s the diversity of dining options in their depachika (food hall) that draws in gourmands thanks to a satellite location of Yamanoue, the Hilltop Hotel’s tempura restaurant and Club Harie’s freshly baked baumkuchen, a German ring cake popular in Japan.
INSIDER TIPDon’t miss the tailor-made and ready-to-wear kimono collection on the fourth floor for a crash course in the traditional dress of Japan.
KaDeWe’s Food Hall
WHERE: Berlin, Germany
An old school department store which opened as Kaufhaus des Westens in 1907 might seem a tad too traditional given Berlin’s edgy reputation. However, the colossal “Department Store of the West” (KaDeWe for short) goes global in their maximalist gourmet food hall on the sixth floor. Offerings are heavy on seafood plus outposts of antipasti, craft beer paired with fried chicken, and Iberico pork for a cosmopolitan culinary tour.
Woolworths’ W Café at the V & A Waterfront
WHERE: Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is a city not lacking in picturesque panoramas. Even Woolworths, the supermarket and retail hybrid, affectionally known as Woolies, has a stunning view from the W Café located in the V & A Waterfront. While posher patios are commonplace in this tourist-heavy area, there’s a certain satisfaction to taking in a sundowner at bargain prices.
INSIDER TIPWoolworths’ curry powder and spice blends make for a delicious South African culinary souvenir.
Fortnum and Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon
WHERE: London, England
Pinky up at this grand dame of tearooms which gets a universal high five from natives and visitors alike. The Victoria sponge cake is as classic as this British shopping institution founded in the 1700s. The tea salon, which opened in 1926, received a Diamond Jubilee name upgrade after the Queen paid a visit in 2012, accompanied by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duchess of Cambridge, formerly known as Kate Middleton. Shop Fortnum’s line of fine china for a tea party back home.
The Gourmet Experience at El Corte Ingles
WHERE: Lisbon, Portugal
Spain’s only homegrown department store chain opened in 1935 and expanded to Portugal in 2001. El Corte Ingles is Lisbon’s largest department store with a seventh floor housing seven restaurants. Shoppers can snack on traditional Portuguese fare like the country’s top pastry, pastel de nata, a creamy egg custard tart, or sit down for a leisurely meal. The food hall also hosts live music and DJ nights.
Blue Box Café at Tiffany & Co
WHERE: New York City, New York
Yes, you can breakfast at Tiffany’s but reservations are still scarce for aspiring Holly Golightlys who want a table at the fourth floor restaurant done up in Tiffany blue. Tea service is available at the Blue Box Café as well as a la carte items. For dessert, good things come in small packages. The Blue Box Celebration Cake, a camera-ready confection, is an edible version of the coveted blue box served in miniature.