Home is where the heart is. Foodies need look no further than New York, Santa Fe, New Orleans and the Napa Valley for memorable dinner dates.
Make like Adam and Eve and take a bite out of the Big Apple. Foodie favorite Mas in the West Village is true farm-to-fork, with a locally sourced daily prix-fixe menu. The opulent ambiance of One if by Land, Two if by Sea in Aaron Burr's former carriage house is the perfect setting for American and French standards; pair the beef Wellington with an heirloom beet salad. Enjoy casual Italian panini or crostini on Laterna di Vittorio's cozy patio, then keep the night going downstairs at the Bar Next Door, an intimate jazz club.
Enjoy an artful evening at elegant La Casa Sena, featuring a blend of New Mexico tradition and new American flavors. From the cast-iron-seared scallops with warm chayote salad to the green chili cheeseburgers, there is a dish to please any couple. Sit by the fountain at La Plazuela, the La Fonda Hotel's 1920s patio, and let the antique hand-painted windows enhance the pleasure of dishes like pan-seared Rocky Mountain elk with green chili-crimini mushroom risotto. Four candlelit rooms with corner fireplaces make Santacafe a favorite for mood and food, with a menu featuring tiger prawn tempura with red chili sweet and sour sauce. Enjoy the view at the Coyote Cafe and Rooftop Cantina over green chili mac and cheese.
Begin at the Roosevelt Hotel and clink glasses filled with America's first cocktail — the Sazerac, invented in the city 150 years ago. Continue a tour of cocktail culture with the Arnaud French 75, or Ramos Gin Fizz. At dinner, try sautéed branzino with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms at Lilette, considered one of New Orleans' finest (and sexiest, according to Travel & Leisure) dining rooms. Taste genuine crawfish pie, Cajun poutine fries, a catfish sandwich or rack of lamb des allemandes in Café Amelie's beautiful courtyard and then beat the evening heat with delicious frozen daiquiris along Bourbon Street.
Let the region's famed restaurants guide you to love in Napa Valley. Chef Thomas Keller's The French Laundry, considered one of the finest restaurants in America (if not the world), is a must-eat for foodies. The menu invites romance with dishes like "Oysters and Pearls" (Sabayon of pearl tapioca with Island Creek oysters and white sturgeon caviar). Cross a stream to Etoile and savor innovative cuisine such as brie brulee with heirloom beet puree. Pop into the Bouchon Bakery to pick up creative sandwiches and Kollar Chocolates for handcrafted sweets, and then head to Rutherford Hill Winery for a romantic picnic. Afterward, take the "Bordeaux Meets Napa" wine-tasting experience and learn how to talk "notes" and "nose" like a pro.
-By Barbara Beckley, Brand Publishing Writer
For more great summer travel options, go to latimes.com/summertravelseries.