Beyond The Travel Guide

Greetings!

My wife, Gaby, and I love to travel. And we love to eat. Friends often ask us for restaurant or hotel recommendations when they are going to a new city. So we decided to put some of our favorites on the ILS web page in hopes that you can benefit from some of the places we love.

Enjoy,

Michael

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MG: Beyond the Travel Guide: Lucca, Italy

Not far from Florence (near Pisa), is Lucca, a beautiful walled city. Puccini was born there; and Caesar, Crassus and Pompey carved up the Roman Empire from Lucca. The best food in the world is to be had, and while it is a good tourist town, there are surprisingly few Americans. Next to Paris, it is our favorite spot on the globe.

Getting There: Fly into Pisa and take the commuter train to Lucca

Hotels: We love Il Seminario, via del Seminario 5, a small, clean B&B with a very good breakfast and air conditioning. Within the walled city. Moderately priced.

Stay a week or two. Rent an apartment. It is cheaper and more relaxing than a hotel. We have used Destination Lucca and have been very pleased.

Use Lucca as your base and take day-trips to Florence (We go by train), Pisa, and all the many villages in the surrounding area.

To Do: Walk or bicycle on the wall surrounding Lucca. Shopping is very good. Strolling the city is a pleasure. Day-trips. Opera in the churches. Puccini; great ceramics; food and wine.

Dinner:

Cantine Bernardini
Via del Saffragio 7

Vissidarte
Via Calderia 20

Osteria via S. Gregorio
Via S. Gregorio 26

Do not eat at the large central plaza. Go there after dinner for drinks.

 

MG: Beyond the Travel Guide: London

London… ‘nuff said. One of the world’s five greatest cities, London remains a welcoming, engaging, fascinating tourist destination. While in London, by all means do all the required tourist activities (although I’d pass on riding the London Eye – the view is underwhelming and the best views of London are to be had merely by strolling on the South Bank).

Here are a few places you might consider once you’re past the tourist spots:

To Do:

Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House, The Strand (not far from Covent Garden)

Outstanding collection of Impressionist paintings, including my favorite painting of all-time, Edouard Manet’s, “A Bar of the Follies—Bergere” (1882)

Do not miss this!

Hampton Court

Brick Lane

Hyde Park

Kew Gardens

Design Museum

Ronnie Scott’s 47 Frith St., great jazz club

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

Portobello Market

Covent Garden

British Library

Tate Museum (and Tate Modern)

Food

Twenty years ago London was not a great food city. Today, it is one of the top ten food cities in the world. But a word of warning: London restaurants are very expensive, more expensive than most are worth. So dine ethnic - it is more affordable and more fun as well.

Restaurants:

The Green Room

Chef Nuno Mendes

Bethnal Green

Zucca

Bermondsey

The Delaunay

Covent Garden, 55 Aldwych

Brawn

49 Columbia Road, Excellent charcuterie platter

Four Seasons (our favorite Chinatown restaurant)

12 Gerrard (set menu with Peking Duck is tops)

Princi

Italian

135 Wardour in SoHo

(South of Oxford Street, West of Charing Cross Road)

Bibendum

Michilin House

81 Fulham Road

Seafood

Noor Jahan

Indian

The Atlas

Gastropub

Wagamama (various locations)

Asian fusion

Shanghi Knights Bridge

Chinese

Pubs:

Fire Station 150 Waterloo Road

Hotels:

20 Nevern Square, Earl’s Court (ask for the Paska Suite)

The Cranley

Eggerton 

 

MG: Beyond the Travel Guide: Philadelphia

The birthplace of America and the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia has quite a few places to enjoy a fine meal aside from  the classic Philly Cheesesteak.

Dining:

Alma de Cuba 

1623 Walnut (Rittenhouse)

 

Matyson (BYOB)

37 S. 19th Street

 

Tashan (Indian/fusion)

Get the $25 tasting menu with wine pairings.

777 S. Broad

MG: Beyond the Travel Guide: Washington, D.C.

 

A monumental city with monuments. D.C. is a great city for tourists. The Metro is excellent, safe, and clean. The food is fantastic. The museums outstanding. And the city oozes power.

Drinks: Roof of the “W”, rear left, great rooftop bar with spectacular view

Dining:

Equinox
 818 Connecticut @ WH
Expensive and excellent; continental fare

Kinkead’s
200 Pennsylvania, near WH
Seafood; a hangout for movers and shakers

Oceanaire
1201 F St. NW
Expensive but excellent seafood

Obelisk
2029 P St. (DuPont Circle)
Simply put, one of the finest restaurants in DC; expensive

Johnny's Half Shell and Pesca
2001 and 2011 P St.
Two fine and moderately priced seafood stops

Etete
1942 9th, NW
Ethiopian, affordable; great stews and sambucas (lenti-filled pastry)

Tortilla Cafe
Eastern Market, Capitol Hill
Papusas and chicken tamales are great; affordable

Ben's Chili Bowl
1213 U St.
Chili, cheese fries, inexpensive 

Filomena
Georgetown @ C&O Canal
Pasta

Bread Line
Pennsylvania @ WH
Great lunches, salads, soups, and sandwiches

Jaleo
480 7th NW
Jose Andres tapas restaurant 

Legal Sea Foods or McCormick's and Schmick's
704 7th NW
Chain restaurant but quite good; moderately priced

Rasika
633 D St. NW (near Archives)
Excellent Indian Food

Vidalia
1990 M Street

Old Ebbit Grill
675 15th Street (near White House)

Firefly
1310 New Hampshire Ave
Truffle fries are a must

1789e
1226 36th (Georgetown)

Bistro Lepic
1736 Wisconsin Ave (Georgetown)

Shake Shack
1216 18th Street NW

Hotel Tabard
1739 N Street NW

Off the Beaten Path:
Politics and Prose
Bookstore/Cafe
5015 Connecticut Avenue

Political Americana
For political junkies and souvenir hunters (kiosks at airport)
1331 Pennsylvania @ WH

Secret Service Museum
9th and H near WH
A little gem with few visitors

The Phillips Collection
1600 21st St. NW
A must; great art gallery - I go almost every time I am in DC

Friendship Heights
DC’s best for shopaholics

Woodrow Wilson House
2340 S. St. NW
DC’s only presidential museum

 

MG: Beyond the Travel Guide: Oxford

Oxford, the greatest university city in Europe, is an hour and a bit outside London. Its colleges are magnificent, its culture is high end collegiate, its restaurants good but not great, its pubs- fantastic and welcoming.

For twenty years, LMU’s Institute for Leadership Studies and Study Abroad Office have had a summer study program at The Queen’s College, Oxford University. Oxford makes a great day-trip from London, or even better, spend a night and really enjoy the beauty of Oxford.

Dining:

Chiang Mai
130A High Street
Very good Thai; moderately priced

Wagamama
Behind covered Market
Fun fusion; a bit pricey

Aziz
230 Cowley Road
Good Indian food

Brasserie Blanc
71-72 Walton St.
French
Chef Raymond Blanc’s most accessible restaurant

Le Manoir Aux Quatre Saisons
Church Road, Great Milton, Oxford
Blanc’s high end restaurant and Manor House (hotel)
Very expensive; very good
Beautiful grounds; 2 Michelin Stars

Covered Market

High Street

Shops and small restaurants

Be sure to have Ben’s Cookies!


To See and Do:

Punting

Rent a punt (a boat) and punt your love on the Char.

(Friends don’t let friends drink and punt)

 

Blackwell’s

A Bookstore on Broad Street

A gem

 

Blenheim Palace

Woodstock, just outside Oxford

Winston Churchill’s birthplace

Beautiful ground and Manor House

 

Warwick Castle

Outside Oxford

Worth the trip, especially if you have children

 

Stratford-Upon-Avon

Shakespeare

Very touristy

 

Ashmolean Museum

Beaumont St.

Excellent museum and nice rooftop cafe

 

Bodleian Library

Impressive!

 

The Colleges

Try to get a tour of one more of the Colleges, especially Christ’s Church

 

Pitt Rivers Museum

S. Parks Road

Excellent natural history museum

Great for kids

 

Iffley Walk

Walk along canal to Iffley

 

Pubs:
Turf
4-5 Bath Place
A must!

 

Head of the River
St. Aldate’s
On a warm night sip a pint of Guinness while watching the boats sail by

 

The Eagle and Child
49 St. Giles
Literary hangout, where Tolkien and Carrol met to drink and critique each other’s work

The Trout
195 Godstow Rd.
A short drive out of central oxford
Beautiful pub; along canal

 

MG: Beyond the Travel Guide: New York City

Dining:

The Breslin at Ace Hotel

20 W 29th St. at Broadway

Lamb Burger

 

Grand Central Oyster

42nd at Park

Deep within the bowels of Grand Central Station

Great fresh oysters

 

Angelo’s

146 Mulberry St., Little Italy

(Your father’s Italian restaurant)

 

Keens Steakhouse

72 West 36th Street

Classic. Start with a dozen oysters, then a Caesar Salad, the Mutton Chop or NY Sirloin

 

Melvin’s Juice Bar

130 West Houston Street

Best fresh juice in NYC

 

Red Forum

529 Hudson Street

Best roast chicken in NYC

 

Blue Smoke BBQ

116 East 27th Street

Go for the BBQ; stay for the jazz

 

Pulino’s

282 Bowery

Pizza (and yes, breakfast pizza)

 

PO

31 Cornelia Street

Outstanding Italian restaurant

 

Szechaun Gourmet

21 West 39th Street, Mid-Manhattan

Crispy lamb fillet is a must

 

Gray Papaya

402 6th Street

2090 Broadway and 72nd

Hot dogs!

 

The Dutch

131 Sullivan Street

Pie! Pie! Pie!

 

Don Antonio by Starita

309 W. 50th Street and 8th Avenue

Pizza

 

Salinas

136 North Avenue at 18th Street

Suckley pig is fantastic

 

Balthazar’s

80 Spring Street

Wonderful French Bistro

Great fries to die for

 

Millesime

92 Madison Avenue

Caesar Salad – best in NYC

 

Di Fari

1424 Avenue J, Brooklyn

Great Pizza

 

Patsy’s

2287 First Avenue

Pasta, Pizza, old school

 

J.G. Melon

1291 3rd Avenue

Wow, what a hamburger!

 

Lombardi’s

32 Spring Street

Pizza at its best!

 

Lupa

107 Thompson

Mario Batali’s relaxed neighborhood osteria

 

Fraunces Tavern (and Museum)

54 Pearl Street, Battery and Broad

Early NY/Colonial history and good beer

 

Yankee Stadium (tour and game)

The Bronx

 

Century 21

22 Cortland Street and 1972 Broadway

Discount clothes store

 

Central Park

Picnic; 200; stroll

 

Museums – too many to list

 

Blue Note

131 W. 3rd Street

Classic Jazz club

 

Cha Cha’s House of Ill Repute

212 West 35th Street

Hats – really

 

C’H’C’M

2 Bond Street at Lafayette Street

Men’s Clothing

 

The Cloisters

Fort Tryon Park, Washington Heights

Medieval Abbey and Museum

 

Drinks:

Le Bain, The Standard

444 West 13th Street at Washington Street

Great rooftop bar

 

Silver Lining

75 Murray Street at 20 Broadway

Wonderful cocktail bar

 

Noorman’s Kil

609 Grand Street near Leonard Street, Williamsburg

Classic whiskey bar

 

MG: Beyond the Travel Guide: Boston

To Do:

The Gardner Museum

280 The Fenway, not far from Fenway Park (where some minor league baseball team plays – Go Yankees!)

This is the quirkiest museum you’ve ever seen. Isabella Stewart Gardner was, to be polite, eccentric. This home and collection reflects her personality – quirks and all!

 

Copley Plaza for shopping

Harvard/Cambridge – a nice way to spend an afternoon

JFK Library – worth a visit

Boston Common – stroll leisurely then shop at Newburg Street

 

Lunch:

Neptune Oyster

63 Salem Street (North End)

Sit at the bar, slurp a dozen oysters, and then have a lobster roll. It is a pile of lobster on a toasted bun – not to be missed.

 

Dinner:

Rino’s

Putnam and Saratoga

Perhaps the best Italian food in Boston

Scampi and lobster ravioli are fantastic

 

Legend Sea Food

A large chain (several locations, including Copley Center)

Good seafood, moderately priced

 

Bricco

Hanover (North End)

Excellent Pasta

 

Teatro

177 Tremont at Boston Commons

Very good Italian food

 

MG: Beyond the Travel Guide: Paris

Hotels:

Jardin D’Odeon (left bank, near Odeon)

Moderate prices

La Sorbonne (left bank, off St. Michelle, near Sorbonne)

Fairly inexpensive

4 Colleges (left bank, near Sorbonne)

Fairly inexpensive

Hotel De La Paix (First Arr.)

225 Blvd. Rospail

Relais St. Sulpice (Sixth Arr.)

3 Rue Garanciere 

La Maison Montpornosse (First Arr.)

21 Rue Moliere

Le Crayon (Firs Arr.)

25 Rue du Boudoi

Hotel D’Albion (Eighth Arr.)

15 Rue de Penthieve

Hotel Des Arts Bastille (11th Arr.)

2 Rue Godefroy Cavaignac

 

Dining

Lunch:

At the top of the Museé D’Orsay is a very nice rooftop restaurant           

Hedier

Le Bon Marché the great left bank department store has a great food court. Buy lunch and eat in one of the parks.

Fauchion

Dinner:

Brasserie Lipp

151 Bld. Saint-Germain, Left Bank

I have the duck comfit, Gaby has the Steak Tartare

Marco Polo

8 Rue de Conde, Left Bank

An Italian restaurant in Paris? Yes, and it is excellent!

Da Rosa

62 Rue de Seine, Left Bank

Spanish topas. Do  have the Jabugo (ham)

Le Boulanger de Monge (5th Arr.)

123 Rue Monge

Pierre Hermé

72 Rue Bonaparte (6th Arr.)

La Fourmi Ailee (5th Arr.) near Sorbonne

Great food and good value

8 Rue Thenard

Café Constant (7th Arr.)

139 Rue St. Dominique           

Café de Flore (6th Arr.)

172 Blvd St. Germain

Les Deux Magots (6th Arr.)

6 Place St. Germaine-des-Pres       

Café Marly (1st Arr.) near Louvre

93 Rue de Rivoli (great view)

Café de L’Homme (16th Arr.)

Palais de Chaillot, 17 Place du Trocadero

Pricy cocktails, great view

To Do: “Tea Time”: around 4 o’clock, stroll the left bank of the Seine, towards Notre Dame at Port de Montebello. Find an outdoor café, sit down, order a litre of vin blanc, hold your lover’s hand, and watch Paris roll by. 

Shop at MonoPrix, a supermarket where you can buy cans of duck confit for pennies…

Bato Bus

Museé D’orsay

Louvre

L’Orangerie

Rodin Museum

Picasso Museum

 

Walk (1) from Sacre Coeur (downhill) to left bank.

(2) at New Opera walk the elevated walk

(3) Stroll La Marie District

 

Sainte Chapelle

Do not miss this gem

Notre Dame

Luxembourg Gardens

Les Halles Market

Day Trips:

Versailles 

Shopping:

Le Bon Marche (7th Arr.)

24 Rue de Sevres

Great left bank department store        

Galeries Lafayette (9th Arr.)

40 Blvd. Haussman           

Printemps

64 Blvd. Haussman (near Galleries Lafayette)            

Monoprix, various locations

Paris’ version of Target