While games of chance predominate at the 942-room Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, the food served at this iconic property, which was the first to bring gaming to Atlantic City in 1978, is a sure bet. An array of 10 restaurants plus a food court with six eateries offers a smorgasbord of choices, from casual (Bubbakoo’s Burritos, Dougherty’s Raw Bar, the Breadsticks Cafe, the Landshark Bar & Grill and Margaritaville, to name a few) to fine dining (Dougherty’s Steakhouse & Raw Bar, Mukashi Sushi Bar, the Capriccio Italian Restaurant and more).
Of course, the 80,000-square-foot casino beckons, as does world-class entertainment in two theaters, an indoor/outdoor swimming pool, a health club and spa, and an impressive 64,000 square feet of high-tech meeting space, which includes a 13,000-square-foot ballroom, a new 12,500-square-foot conference center, and enough function space to host between 10 and 1,350 guests.
In downtown Washington, D.C., the venerable 328-room Hamilton Hotel has seen a lot of history within its halls, and a lot of exquisite Italian cuisine within its Via Sophia restaurant, presided over by executive chef Colin Clark. Here, a wide menu selection is complemented by an Italian-imported wood-burning oven, serving Neapolitan pizza prepared by a master pizzaiolo. Classic dishes are paired with specialty cocktails, craft beers and a discerning but friendly wine list. Guests dine in a lively, sophisticated setting with a high-end urban design, in what feels like an authentically European experience. The hotel also has 18,000 square feet of meeting space.
In the Hamptons on Long Island, N.Y., the 158-room Gurney’s Montauk Resort & Seawater Spa has all the amenities and water sports one would expect to find at a beachfront property, but this iconic gem also is a gustatory paradise thanks to a wide range of eateries including grab-and-go fare at OG Coffee & Juice, Italian hotspot Scarpetta Beach, the outdoor Firepit lounge for specialty cocktails and light bites. The resort has lots of venues for meetings as well, including the Beach Club with its private outdoor patio; the Great Hall, which can host banquets for up to 225, and Latitutde, a bright, airy room with ocean views, for cocktails parties of up to 50 people.
Overlooking the gardens and fountains of Philadelphia’s historic Rittenhouse Square, the luxury-class Rittenhouse Hotel has 118 oversize guest rooms, a full-service health club, a Belgian stone courtyard, manicured gardens and 12,000 square feet of meeting space. But perhaps the most memorable experience is found in the hotel’s famous Lacroix Restaurant, featuring upscale international cuisine in mouthwatering dishes like beau Soleil oysters with wildflower mignonette, grilled lobster with beef fat and wild berries, aged duck with caesura and pommel de Terre, and grilled lamb with fermented plum.
Led by chef Guillaume Robin, who spent nearly 20 years in Michelin-starred kitchens, the signature venue Bacán at the Lake Nona Wave Hotel in Orlando features exquisite Central and South American cuisine. Supporting the local community, the eatery partners with nearby fishermen for fresh catches and Orlando farms for eggs, poultry and more. The wine list features more than 60 selections from countries such as Mexico Greece, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Upstairs, Haven offers an indoor-outdoor experience with Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, while the Living Room Bar serves innovative cocktails.
Nona’s talented in-house culinary team also has created special offerings for groups including a smoked scallop appetizer with a glass cloche reveal, and a “Cereal Killer” buffet with nostalgic cereals that evoke childhood memories. The hotel has 234 guest rooms, the Dr. Deepak Chopra Mind-Body Zone and Spa, and meeting spaces such as the 3,000-square-foot Wave Ballroom for receptions of up to 300.
Flavors abound at the luxurious 1,501-room Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, where guests can indulge in 15 unique and flavorful, dining experiences. A Land Remembered is an award-winning steakhouse serving succulent Black Angus Five Diamond Prime Beef along with a bountiful array of fresh seafood and specialties. Cala Bella has Tuscan-inspired cuisine with an authenticity that takes diners on a culinary journey. Other on-site venues include Café Osceola, Mi Casa Tequila Taqueria, Banrai Sushi and Tobias Burgers & Brews. The resort also offers world-class golf and fully 524,000 square feet of meeting space.
Together and apart, Margaritaville Hotel Nashville’s JWB Grill and Fins Bar offer guests unique dining and cocktail experiences. The poolside, rooftop Fins Bar overlooks the Music City skyline and offers a selection of shareable appetizers and tasty meals along with a wide variety of refreshing drinks and, of course, signature margaritas. JWB Grill features locally sourced ingredients combined to create unique dishes from Southern soul food and fine-dining favorites to coastal cravings. The 166-room property has meeting space for up to 400 people in spaces like the well-appointed Compass Ballroom.
Connected to its namesake shopping mecca in Bloomington, Minn., the 500-room Radisson Blu Mall of America offers an array of culinary delights at its celebrated In-house restaurant, FireLake Grill House & Cocktail Bar. With a focus on local farm-to-table food, chef Dinesh Jayawardena personally visits farmers markets and local small businesses to source the best local and regional products, which are prepared over a wood-burning stove and served in a pure and uncontrived manner, making it a must-visit for delicious food in an upscale yet unpretentious environment.
For meetings and events (to which the hotel devotes 26,300 square feet), the F&B//events team creates distinctive catering menus for every palate, theme and dietary need. Plus, focused on partnerships with local farmers, ranchers and artisans, most of the food comes from within a 250-mile radius — local and delicious. From high-ends to rustic, to entire menus focused on a color scheme (all green food and beverages, for example) and more, the team creates one-of-a-kind food experiences including gut-healthy breaks that feature yogurt, almonds, berries, dried fruit, avocado, roasted chickpeas and dark chocolate.
In the heart of bustling downtown Grand Rapids, Mich., the 656-room Amway Grand Plaza has a robust F&B program led by MDRD, where diners enjoy elevated Spanish-inspired cuisine against a backdrop of dramatic city and river views, plus chic design details like vibrant 3-D murals created by a local artist. In addition to meat and seafood-driven entrees, MDRD offers beautiful desserts by pastry chef Doug Orr, innovative cocktails and an extensive wine list with a focus on Spanish varietals. The restaurant’s colorful private dining rooms are ideal for hosting small meetings and events, part of a total 47,120 square feet for gatherings that includes four elegant ballrooms and 42 high-tech meeting rooms.
The 219-room Saint Kate’s devotion to fine arts extends to the culinary arts as well. The Milwaukee hotel is home to three restaurants and two bars that receive fanfare from guests and locals alike. Diners can enjoy artisanal American cuisine steeped in Midwestern tradition at Aria, while for fast lunches, Proof Pizza serves Neapolitan style slices. The hotel’s hidden restaurant, The Dark Room, is open for private dining with specially curated menus for small group events. The hotels’ many galleries also can serve as a unique private dining experiences for groups, who can gather among a property-wide total of 11,000 square feet of meeting space.
The culinary team at the 250-room Texas A&M Hotel and Conference Center in College Station, Texas, is devoted to fostering celebrations, collaborations, indeed, any reason for people to come together in purposeful ways, with food as an important contributing factor, whether a quick snack or a large banquet. The food staff also has worked hard to connect their F&B offerings to locally sourced, Aggie-owned vendors to further support the community and A&M family connections.
In addition, each month, the hotel hosts complimentary themed cooking classes to connect with the local community, while on-site dining is offerED at Brazo – Proper Texas Kitchen (locally sourced Texas cuisine), the Block T Bar & Grill (local beer and wine, signature cocktails and popular American fare) and the Junction Market & Cafe (both grab and go, and sit and savor, including delectable sandwich and salad choices). The hotel offers 35,000 square feet of meeting and event space.
Providing high-quality ingredients, creative dishes and an overall impressive dining experience is the goal of the team of chefs and dietitians at the 297-room AT&T Hotel and Conference Center in Austin, Texas. To that end, ingredients are sourced from local farms, cooked with organic ingredient and offered in a wide variety of dishes for guests. In-house outlets include The Carillon, a fine-dining restaurant; Gabriel's, a casual café; the One Twenty 5 Café coffee shop; and the popular Moontower Cafe, a to-go lunch shop, along with impressive catering capabilities for groups.
Nestled within the 200-room Hotel Drover in Fort Worth, Texas, 97 West Kitchen & Bar is known for inventive touches like hand-etched glassware, curated art, and creative dishes and cocktails that speak to the cultural heritage. The restaurant features a broad offering of contemporary Texas fare, elevated ranch classics and reimagined Southern comfort foods. The space features three private dining rooms, an indoor chef’s table adjacent to the open-air kitchen, and an outdoor chef’s table underneath a pergola alongside lush landscaping and overlooking Marine Creek, all complete with fully customized menus and beverage pairings.
On the Las Vegas Strip, chefs at the Venetian Resort continuously fine-tune their offerings to reflect key culinary trends, while the resort’s Honest Food program focuses on menus that incorporate wellness options and the sustainable sourcing of ingredients. The result: flexible, diverse and healthful options. Every menu across the property features both vegan and vegetarian choices, 85 percent of the resort’s standard menus are gluten-free, and dishes incorporate a mix of protein sources. Practices such as local sourcing improves food freshness while reducing the carbon footprint.
Standard recipes at the resort avoid any processed or GMO foods, and the chefs butcher their own meat and fish. A waste-tracking analysis is conducted after every group departs, and leftovers are regularly donated to local food banks. Smaller groups get to enjoy interactive experiences such as sushi preparation, mixology sessions and dessert creation. With a propertywide total of 7,093 guest rooms in three towers, some 2.25 million square feet of meeting space and more than 40 dining outlets, such responsible food practices by the resort really do make a difference.
At the 100-room Cloudveil in Jackson, Wyo., the new Bistro from famed restaurateur Gavin Fine presents Parisian brasserie-style dining for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus meetings and special events. With outdoor café dining, a stunning zinc bar, a fresh oyster bar and a variety of dynamic dining areas, the Bistro’s modern, comfortable atmosphere brings the seasonal, beautifully prepared and presented dishes to life. Offering a variety of private event spaces for a wide range of group sizes, the restaurant itself welcome groups of up to 35 people and can provide event catering for up to 225 in the hotel’s meeting spaces and rooftop deck.
A carefully crafted culinary program, attentive team and standout open-air atmosphere among olive trees and foliage make dining at the 175-room Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano a real treat in Southern California. The inn’s signature Ysidora Restaurant and Lounge features a menu of modern twists on classic Spanish favorites, influenced by tastes from around the world. Guests enjoy wood-fired grilled seafood, hot and cold tapas, local meats and seasonal, locally sourced produce alongside craft cocktails with ingredients such as local honey and freshly pressed juices.
INTERNATIONAL AND U.S. TERRITORIES
On Mexico’s lively Riviera Nayarit, the 324-room Conrad Punta de Mita features a robust food and beverage program with four restaurants and three bar concepts offering menus that pay tribute to the age-old techniques and flavors of the local region. Signature restaurant Codex features open-air dining on the secluded edge of the resort, offering beach views and seasonal specialties such as smoked Pacific oysters, crispy soft-shell crab and steamed lamb barbacoa. The resort also is home to Agave Studio, featuring a choice of 50 tequilas, 55 mezcales from 17 agave farms and much more.
Indeed, the hotel offers special programs that take groups through every step of the tequila process, followed by special events such as the Agave Experience, which involves sampling five different spirits paired with Mexican gourmet hors d'oeuvres, while the Mexican Agave Dinner is a seven-course wonder paired with a unique distilled selection of infused beverages created in-house. The resort also recently introduced what it calls the ultimate in dining for inner explorers and food lovers, called the Zarandeado Experience, where groups relax on the beach while chefs bring out the catch of the day and prepare it on the spot.
Groups at the 56-room Thompson Zihuatanejo in Mexico have the opportunity to meet chef Javier Cerrillo at the local fish market to pick out ingredients for a cooking lesson and lunch with a view — right on a private stretch of beautiful Ceniza Beach (catches of the day also are served at poolside). Alternatively, they can join in on regular pop-up culinary experiences that include anything from taco night to surf and turf. Private events can be booked in La Parota, an outdoor jungle space surrounded with menu ingredients grown right on site.
Each of the eight dining outlets at the landmark Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is an epicurean experience unto itself. The signature 1919 restaurant is helmed by famed Michelin-starred executive chef Juan Jose Cuevas, who hand-selects products that are local, artisanal and homemade to craft food that is flavor-forward. The hotel also is home to STK, an artful blend of steakhouse and chic lounge. More casual dining takes place at Tacos & Tequila. Launched in partnership with Tequila Patron, its Mexican-inspired menu was designed by executive sous chef José Alvarez with highlights like mushroom and sweet potato tacos, tacos al pastor and tinga chicken tacos, paired with fresh margaritas and cocktails.