Top Picks For You

This Week: Berlin, Washington D.C., California Wine Country, Boston, St. Kitts, Bahamas

Karvana Café & Lounge, Berlin.

Karvana, situated in the hip neighborhood of Friedrichshain, has a relaxing effect on its customers. Simple yet sophisticated décor adorns the tall white walls, while dark wood accents contrast with wall panels that are backlit with muted red light. The light fare served here is a cut above other neighboring cafés. Dishes and drinks are delicious and artfully presented, but your bill will be in keeping with Friedrichshain’s generally cheaper prices. Start your day with a good cup of coffee and a large, French-style buttery croissant served with clotted cream, jam, sliced bananas, strawberries, and plump blackberries. The kitchen also serves eggs, ciabattas, sandwiches, cheese and antipasto plates, and bagels with assorted toppings. The bar offers a large selection of coffee drinks, schokolades (chocolates), and traditional British teas, as well as fresh juices, smoothies, and a long list of spirits. 4 Gabriel-Max-Strasse, Friedrichshain. 0178/3433256. V. Median entrée price: €6.

Good Stuff Eatery, Washington, D.C.

Fans of Bravo’s “Top Chef” will first visit this brightly colored burgers-and-shakes shack hoping to spy charismatic TV chef Spike Mendelsohn, but they will return for the comfort food favorites. The lines can be long, as it has quickly become a favorite lunch spot of congressional aides, but Spike’s inventive beef dishes—including the “Blazin’ Barn” Asian burger topped with Thai basil and pickled radish—are worth the wait. After placing your order cafeteria-style, remember to grab several of the fresh dipping sauces for the tasty thyme and rosemary seasoned hand-cut skinny fries. Just as importantly, leave room for a toasted marshmallow or chocolate malted shake that’s as thick as the ones you remember from childhood. 303 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Capitol Hill. 202/543-8222. Closed Sun. during summer. MC, V. Median entrée price: $6.75

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Diavola Pizzeria, California Wine Country.

Just a few doors down from renowned sister restaurant Taverna Santi, the bright and casual Diavola Pizzeria specializes in simpler cuisine than its counterpart. Pizza, sandwiches and antipasti with house-cured charcuterie are the focus here. Owner Dino Bugica spent months building the restaurant’s wood-fired pizza oven, where he now cooks nine types of pizzas including one with zucchini flowers and buffalo mozzarella, and another with caper, anchovy and hot pepper. The true star of Diavola’s menu is the salumi: smoked venison loin, proscuitto, N’duja (a spicy, Calabrian-style meat), and many things in between are all available. Locals line up on weekends for a seat at the bar, which serves a full menu and a variety of Italian wine. 20121 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville. 707/814-0111. Closed Tues. AE, MC, V. Median entrée price: $14.

banQ, Boston.

Casually chic patrons sit at candlelit tables at this former South End bank. Its wood-strip ceiling looks like the canopy of a stylized Banyan Tree, while a frosted-glass wine cellar “trunk” holds the restaurant’s 250-bottle wine list. Aside from the stylish setting, the piece de resistance is Chef Ranveer Brar’s Southeast-Asian-inspired French cuisine. Appetizers such as the juicy pan-seared scallops with guava sauce and wasabi cured cantaloupe are a masterful union of tropical and Continental flavors. Your friendly server will help you decide on an entrée, with options ranging from the buttery, boneless cotes-du-Rhone braised short ribs to the pan-seared flounder with jasmine rice, ginger pilaf and coconut brie fondue. 1375 Washington St., South End. 617/451-0077. No lunch. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Median entrée price: $24.

The Beach House, St. Kitts.

This on-the-beach dining and imbibing boîte is best described as easy and breezy. Auberge Resorts (the folks behind swanky Auberge du Soleil in Napa) recently relaunched the property as one of the island’s premiere (and pricey) dining destinations. Chef George Reid, formerly of Anguilla’s five star “Cap Juluca” fame, thrives on infusing simple ingredients, such as island-grown squash and wild-caught swordfish, with a punch of island spice. Highlights include turtle reef fish soup, sautéed crayfish with mango and papaya relish, and gumbo of local lobster. Their rendition of rum punch, made with fresh juice and premium liquor, is not to be missed. The thoughtfully chosen décor—including reclaimed wood flooring, wicker furniture, swaths of sheer white sashes, and glass pillar lighting—shrewdly avoids trying to compete with the views of the Caribbean Sea or nearby Nevis. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or swinging by for a quick bite, it’s not uncommon to see scuba divers, swimmers, families, couples and random locals all soaking up what is easily one of the best waterfront dining spots on the island. Boaters can tie up at the restaurant’s private dock. S.E. Peninsula Rd., Turtle Beach, St. Kitts, West Indies. 869/469-5299. AE, MC, VC. Median entrée price: $28.

Marley Resort & Spa, Bahamas.

Fans of legendary reggae icon Bob Marley are not the only ones who will love this resort and spa, opened by his wife and children. The Marleys have transformed their vacation home of twenty years into an all-around appealing two-story boutique hotel just west of the Cable Beach strip. All of the rooms are named after famous Bob Marley songs. One Love is the honeymoon suite, complete with a private Jacuzzi for two overlooking the beach. Royal Rita, also with an ocean view, is the room where his widow, Rita Marley, used to sleep. Some rooms, including Three Little Birds, which is big enough to sleep a family, are located in the courtyard building and are without pool or ocean views. Tributes to Bob Marley are subtly infused throughout the property, including as an earthy twist on the signature red, yellow and green color scheme. The hotel pays close attention to even the smallest details of personal service, even ensuring that each room is scented with the guest’s favorite fragrance and has their personal pillow preference. The Simmer Down Restaurant features gourmet Caribbean cuisine and the jerk fish is divine. Guests can chill out poolside, in the tropical gardens of hibiscus and banana plants, or at Stir It Up, the on-site bar. A visit to the Natural Mystic Spa is a must, where the feet washing ritual and outdoor herbal baths help guests completely relax. Pros: One-of-a-kind customizable resort experience; 200-feet of private beach. Cons: Located on busy main road (though peaceful and quiet); must drive to nearby attractions; no activities for children. West Bay St., Nassau. 242/702-2800. 11 suites, 5 deluxe rooms. In-room: bar, Wi-Fi, safe. In-hotel: bar, restaurant, room service, pools, Jacuzzi, spa, beachfront, Wi-Fi. AE, D, MC, V.

Contributors: Robert Brenner, Emma Fox, Jen Laskey, Elana Schor, Jessica Robertson, Matt Villano

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