6 U.S. Cities with Seriously Affordable Gourmet Food

Between the farm-to-table movement, the rise of culinary TV and celebrity chefs, and the explosive popularity of food trucks, foodies are having a moment. There’s never been a better time to be a person who loves to eat high-quality, artfully prepared food. But if you’re not a member of the 1%, you’ll need to pick your culinary destinations wisely.

That’s where these six cities come in. In any of these locales, you’ll be able to enjoy a gourmet appetizer and an entree (and, in some cases, a cocktail) for less than $50. Eat your heart out.

1. Baltimore, MD

Baltimore’s gourmet food scene can best be summed up in one word: “eclectic.” Whether your preference is for traditional French fare or experimental fusions, pristine white tablecloths or seasonal food served at community tables, Baltimore has you covered. Not sure where to start? Head to b bistro for thoughtfully prepared (and often seasonal) dishes; hit up B&O American Brasserie for earthy New American fare; or visit Bookmakers Cocktail Club for amazing cocktails paired with unique dishes such as rye gnocchi with pastrami sugo.

2. Charlotte, NC

Charlotte’s Southern gentility extends into its restaurants. You’ll want to dust off your nicest pair of pants before heading to any of the city’s upscale food establishments, but don’t worry—you’ll still be able to afford the food (provided you know where to look). Head to Barrington’s for simple, seasonal, and delicious dishes such as seared organic chicken or scallops with veal cheek ravioli; visit Kindred Restaurant for nationally-acclaimed fare from a husband-and-wife duo; or dine in The Asbury or Evoke, both of which feature menus that speak to the distinct perspectives of their respective head chefs.

3. Columbus, OH

It took Columbus some time to find its bearings in the food world, but now the city’s food scene is up and running—and making up for lost time. Restaurants in Columbus range from starched-tablecloth affairs to casual dining; the city is also developing a name for itself as a hub for stellar Indian, Pan-Asian, and Mediterranean fare, and Korean and Persian restaurants are currently on the rise. You can’t go wrong at Kihachi Japanese Restaurant, a nationally recognized establishment that’s held its own in Columbus for more than 20 years. If New American food is more your style, then don’t miss a meal at the trendy M.

4. Indianapolis, IN

“Gourmet food” might not be the first thing you think of when Indianapolis comes up in conversation, but it’s high time you adjusted your expectations. There’s something for everyone in this Midwestern city: From farm-to-table and organic fare to upscale, handcrafted pizza, gourmet burgers (think peppercorn-bourbon glaze with horseradish Havarti), ice cream made fresh from local cows, a classic (and exceptionally high quality) steakhouse, artisanal meats, and the nationally acclaimed Milktooth, which is redefining brunch—Indy’s got it all.

5. Pittsburgh, PA

Steel City has certainly refined its palette. Bon Appetit designated Pittsburgh as the “next big food town” in 2013, and the city’s food scene has only continued to explode since then. Upscale elegance and trendy ambience define Pittsburgh’s restaurant scene, which is home to several James Beard Award-nominated chefs and a strong local aesthetic. Perhaps surprisingly, you’ll be able to enjoy all this good food for a relatively affordable price. Don’t forget to make reservations at local favorites Cure and Bar Marco, or head to up-and-coming establishments such as Gaucho Parrilla Argentina or Eighty Acres Kitchen & Bar.

6. St. Louis, MO

When it comes to great-yet-low-budget restaurants per capita, St. Louis might just take the cake. Whether you’re looking for farm-to-table fare (bison sausage, anyone?), down-home ambience spearheaded by celebrity chefs, old-fashioned ice cream parlor desserts, outstanding sandwiches, Chinese-American fusion, or anything in between, you’ll find affordable upscale food in St. Louis by throwing a stone in any direction.

In addition to amazing food, each of these cities offers an exciting array of attractions, from arts, music, and nightlife, to sightseeing and outdoor adventures. So book your flight and eat up—you’ll need the energy to go exploring.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on March 11, 2016.

The Best Apps for Productivity Across Time Zones

For many folks, travel is a way to escape from the daily grind, relax, and gain some much-needed rejuvenation. But for the world’s more than 480 million business travelers, travel too often involves worrying about missed emails, dropped expense reports, or scheduling meetings or keeping a project on track from across different time zones.

It can be tough to get work done far away from the office, but that’s where each of these apps comes in. Every entry on this list meets a specific need of the modern business traveler. Taken together, they offer business travelers a maximum-productivity package that will help ensure you’re able to get work done pretty much anywhere.

Asana

Asana is perfect for anyone who needs to tackle collaborative projects with a remote team. It’s developed by one of the co-founders of Facebook, and it’s just as on-trend as the behemoth social media platform. The app lets you lay out the steps necessary to complete a project, assign each task to a collaborator, track the project’s progress, and communicate with other team members—all without being in the same room or worrying about scheduling a phone call across time zones.

CamCard

Perfect for trips on which you anticipate doing lots of networking, CamCard allows you to digitally store business cards and contact information for new prospects or collaborators. So there’ll be no more panicking when you get home and realize you lost that potential new client’s contact info en route.

Docusign

For the executive on the go: Docusign makes it easy to digitally execute contracts, manage transactions, and issue legally binding electronic signatures across mobile devices. The service prides itself on being usable from virtually anywhere in the world (it’s already in use in 43 languages and 188 countries), and it’s secure as it is functional.

Dropbox

No matter where you are in the world, you can access all of your files from Dropbox. If you know you’ll need access to certain documents while traveling, simply upload them to the service ahead of your trip. Then you’ll be able to access them from any device, at any time. (It sure beats having to wait several hours until a coworker wakes up and can email you the documents you need.) You can also easily share files with simple links.

Expensify

Never worry about processing expense reports on the go again. Expensify allows users to quickly import card transactions, add cash expenses, record billable expenses, auto-categorize expenses, create custom invoices, ditch paper receipts, issue reimbursements, and more—and it will do it all while supporting more than 160 currencies and international taxes.

HipChat

For those times when you need to communicate with your team in real-time (but you’re in, say, Bangkok while the rest of your team is in NYC), turn to HipChat. The app offers a group chat service that’s available on desktops, tablets, or smartphones. The app will also deliver messages to your phone even when you’re signed off, so that you and your teammates will be able to reach each other at any time should a pressing issue arise.

Hipmunk

Sure, we’re shamelessly self-promoting. But it’s only because we think we’ve made the best travel app on the market. Hipmunk’s app eliminates wasted time in the planning stages of a trip by finding the best hotel and flight deals, providing free flight fare alerts, and offering instant booking. Business travelers can also use the app to coordinate group travel. Leave the trip planning to us so you can get back to work.

World Time Buddy

World Time Buddy is a world clock, time zone converter, and online meeting scheduler all in one convenient app. Need to plan a conference call with someone inSan Francisco while you’re in Dublin? Skip the math and simply plug in what time zone you’re in, what time zone they’re in, and bada boom: The app will provide you with a selection of compatible meeting times. The app also tracks market hours.

XE Currency

If your business travels take you to multiple countries in one go and you need to calculate currencies in a hurry, then XE Currency has you covered. The app allows users to view historical charts and current exchange rates and calculate prices from a mobile device. You can also create customized comparison charts for prices anywhere in the world.

The only downside to these apps? They’ll limit your excuses for not getting work done during your travels. Welcome to the great big mobile world!

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on February 18, 2016.

The Sweetest Hotel Perks You Can Get Right Now

Free wi-fi, a couple bottles of water, coffee, and gym access were once considered hotel luxuries, but they’re now just the baseline when it comes to travel perks. Hotel chains are packaging up unforgettable experiences for visitors, featuring some truly out-of-the-box amenities, activities, company, and memories.

While some can get pretty pricey, these amazing experiences are more often than not worth it. Take a look at some of the sweetest hotel perks travelers can get right now.

A Personal Concierge

Folks who stay at any of Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria properties — such as its flagship location in New York City, located just blocks from Rockefeller Center and Broadway — can have their trip planning taken care of. Waldorf offers a personal concierge to “guarantee your every request is met” before, during, and after each visitor’s stay. The concierge waits for arriving visitors in the lobby to show them straight to their rooms. They’re also available throughout the stay to answer questions and suggest enjoyable (and sometimes discounted) events in the area. And when it’s time to go, they will neatly pack the visitors’ suitcase and send them on their way.

Fender Guitars

The Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago offers is fair share of standard perks, as rooms include flat screen TVs, mini-bars, and coffee-makers. But this property also cranks things up a notch, in true Hard Rock fashion. Visitors get complimentary access to a mouth-watering selection of 20 guitars and bass guitars, from a candy-apple red Coronado Guitar to a Baja ’60s Telecaster. The chosen guitar is delivered right to the visitor’s room, along with a headphone amplifier and Nixon headphones.

Your Very Own Photographer

When it comes to exciting vacations, the generally accepted mantra these days seems to be “Pics or it didn’t happen.” This next hotel perk, offered at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, is a few steps above an artsy, filtered Instagram posts of the property’s luxurious outdoor pool or stunning city views. Visitors who choose the “California Getaway” package get to enjoy an hour-long photoshoot with a professional photographer in iconic locations like the Santa Monica Pier, Griffith Observatory or Rodeo Drive. Other perks in the package include laundry service, valet parking and unlimited in-room entertainment — but those won’t last a lifetime like photographs.

Super Cars

To call a Ferrari 458 Italia a hotel perk might just be the understatement of the year, but that’s what it is for visitors of the Arizona Bitmore in Pheonix. This Waldorf hotel used to be an invitation-only resort, but now anyone can book a room and enjoy the 39-acre property, plus its gardens, golf courses, pools and supercars. Select Waldorf locations offer “driving experiences” that let visitors drive Ferraris, Lamborghinis and other fancy sports cars around the stunning property.

A Part-Time Pet

Pet-friendly accommodations are becoming increasingly common and luxurious at hotels across the country, but what about vacationers who don’t have a pet? Well, folks who stay at the Red Mountain Resort in Ivins, Utah can borrow a puppy in what’s perhaps the most adorable hotel perk ever. The adventure spa provides access to unlimited exercise and wellness classes, including a “Pound Puppy Walk” during which visitors travel to the local shelter and enjoy a morning walk with a dog in need of a home. Other more standard perks at this remote haven include an extensive spa menu and flat-screen televisions, but a part-time puppy has to be the cherry on top.

 

This post was posted by The Hipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind Blog on February 12, 2016.