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Name Your Favorite Restaurants for Atmosphere, Past or Present

 Hawaii restaurant post
There are some restaurants that stick in your mind, not for the food, but for the atmosphere and the unique people the restaurants seems to draw in. I think it would be fun to share some of those. Here are some of mine for the US, please share yours from all over                                                   
Past restaurant:   
The one past restaurant that sticks in my head was one I went to as a kid.  The Luau in Beverly Hills.  It was always dark and had the Tiki atmosphere and dry ice to make the drinks smokey.  The characters it attracted is something I still remember.  And talking to older people that loved that restaurant, I found out there was a lot more going on then I could tell as a small child.   From movie stars, to spies, to call girls at the bar.     
 Current restaurants: too many to list but here are a couple that stick in my mind:
The Fort in Morrison, Colorado.  Not only is the food and location wonderful, but people feel comfortable going in their with suits or jeans so you get a good mix of folks.  And the atmosphere is purely Colorado.
Another restaurant that sticks in my head is just an inexpensive little place that Goods Furniture has in their wine cellar.  It's in Kewanee, Illinois, but they do a pretty good job in recreating the feel of wine cellars in Austria and Germany.  And since your in the heart of the Midwest, in a small town, it is unique.


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  • A real Luau in Hawaii, but what the restaurant in Beverly Hills was striving for

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One of the most memorable places I ever ate at was a small taco joint in La Paz, Mexico.  Sorry, but I don't remember its name.  I was on a guided whale watching/kayaking trip and would NEVER have gone in except for our guide saying it was safe to do so.  The outside was dingy, dirty, poorly kept -- signals for dysentery if I'd ever seen them (but apparently expected -- make it nice and the vandals will deface it).  The inside was clean and simple, but the food was absolutely outstanding!  Extremely tasty, fresh, safely and carefully prepared -- absolutely wonderful!  The finest steak tacos I've ever had.


I guess the moral of the story is never judge a book by its cover, but it pays to be careful what you eat when you travel.  Nothing quite like "the runs" to spoil a memorable holiday.

Green Chili Restaurant, Nyaungshwe, Burma.


Setting:  A simple elegant house in a garden, converted to it's current use, in a residential neighborhood off the beaten path.  Seating on the veranda or in the high-ceilinged dining room.


Service:  Like the decor, low key.  Responsive and friendly.  In a word, perfect.  Friends from the 2nd visit.


Food:  The best Burmese I had in several weeks in the country.  After the first try I couldn't eat anywhere else for the duration.


I didn't expect to find a place to eat so wonderfully in a small town in a developing country, one that would stand out in any sophisticated place on the planet.  Unpretentious yet with a graceful elegance unlike any I can recall.  I'm glad it's far away from "civilization" and may remain unchanged until I can get back.  One day, I hope.

Last edited by PortMoresby

For the sake of the memory I'm going to add another place here where I had possibly the best meal of my life.  I cannot tell you the name of it or if it had a name or even where it is exactly, somewhere along the country road between Jinghong (Yunnan, China) and the Burma border.  


I'd hired a guide/driver to take me to the tribal market, famous in those parts, and on the way back suggested we stop for lunch.  I'm one of those who believe regional Chinese is the best food in the world and this placed confirmed that opinion.  The building was a small tower, several stories tall with the top floor devoted to an open-sided dining room to take in the 360° view of the neighboring gorge and tea growing on the hillsides.  The place didn't seem to have open hours but, being in the countryside, cooked for whoever showed up whenever they arrived.  


The best dish of the many that were offered was forest ferns gathered by the cook and served in a wonderful sauce.  Unbelievably delicious.  The food took some time to get to the table so, for all I knew, he'd run out on our arrival and picked them just for us.  The guide was clearly pleased as I have no doubt these were friends and if I was happy they were happy.  We were all happy.  I'll never forget that meal.

That sounds like a great meal, PortMoresby!  Thanks for sharing with us.


I'm curious about the fern dish.  Were they the young coiled ferns just budding from the ground (known as "fiddleheads" in eastern Canada), or were they the more mature plant?  It's pretty rare for a restaurant to serve fern in my experience.

DrF - I'm sure that's what they were, or whatever the version is that grows in China.  Young & tender.  Sigh...   But this place, as I mentioned, was out in the countryside, not even in a village, as close to wild growing things as you can get so no surprise.

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