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Hotels for Culinary Travelers

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Hotel restaurants have not always had the best reputation, but many hotels offer food and drink that's worth sampling, even if you're not staying on property. Here's an ever-expanding list of hotels in the North America where the food is definitely worth eating.

Fairmont Banff Springs, Alberta

With twelve restaurants and lounges on property, there's plenty to eat at Fairmont Banff Springs. Not all of it is remarkable, but Castello Ristorante is. The restaurant serves the always tourist-pleasing Italian fare, and is designed to feel like an Italian courtyard, complete with a statue in the center. The menu relies heavily on food producers from Alberta – from local beef carpaccio to tomatoes from a nearby farm.

The Aleyska Resort and Hotel in Girdwood, Alaska

Seven Glaciers, the marquee restaurant at Aleyska lies is at the top of an aerial tram that whisks you to 2,300 feet above sea level. Unlike many restaurants with views regularly described as "jaw dropping", the food does stands up to its surroundings. There’s an emphasis on local seafood, supplemented with supplies from "outside", as Alaskans call the rest of the country. The chef’s menu is a good value and a good way to taste the best of the evening’s fare.

The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Montana

The main dining venue at this upscale ranch resort is Pomp, which aims for an adjective rich style of cooking, described as “refined rustic ranch cuisine”. It features -- you guessed it -- locally sourced produce and meats. Here, that means Montana elk short loin, with a spice berry rub and spring onions, 
or local rainbow trout, served with green beans, almonds, brown butter and lemon.

The James Hotel, Chicago

The restaurant at The James is David Burke Primehouse. It's definitely a steak house, and you want to order a dry aged steak, but don't pass up the rest of the menu. For instance, there's bacon on a stick, glistening with maple syrup which you drag through black pepper. You can continue the sweet/savory theme with foie gras served on a bourbon quince cake with cinnamon and chile, and then freshen you palate with the Caesar salad made tableside, with crispy crab croutons.

The Blackstone, Chicago

The Blackstone's restaurant is Mercat a La Planxa, run by Jose Garces -- who is most often referred to by his full name, “Celebrity Chef Jose Garces”. The concept is modern Catalan, mostly traditional tapas although not at all rustic. The charcuterie and queso are well chosen, the house bread is a Catalan specialty called pa amb tomaquet. Your primary dining challenge will be not to fill up on these tasties, because of course you're going to order bacon-wrapped dates, which arrive with a little pitcher of melted blue cheese. And then you're going to want the coca (a flatbread) topped with beef short rib, horseradish, parmesan and bacon, and then gambas al ajillio (garlic shrimp) and then a small Spanish omelet.

Forty 1 North Hotel, Newport Rhode Island

If you're a long time visitor to Newport, you may have memories of a rockin' good time at Christie's. The place you know is no longer, but the new Christie's, which is the casual dining restaurant of Forty 1 North Hotel, is a place worth creating a few new memories. The menu is a Latin/Asian mix, with heavy emphasis on seafood. Small plates to pass around are lobster quesadilla with roasted poblano pepper, grilled corn and salsa verde, which packs some nice heat, and delicate scallop dumpling with wakame salad and sesame soy dipping sauce, thoughtfully served with chopsticks. The burger here was named one of the best in New England by the Boston Globe.
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