Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Big Flavors in Little Malta: Legligin Wine Bar’s Incomparable Tasting Menu

Before a recent trip to Malta, I had never sampled Maltese food. It was a cuisine that simply didn’t exist where I lived, and one that had never crossed my mind to seek out. But after a nearly three-hour dinner at Legligin Wine Bar on my first night in the country’s capital of Valletta, I was completely addicted. Malta’s culinary offerings reflect the country’s complicated history, during which this archipelago was occupied by Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Muslims, Normans, Aragonese, Knights of St. John, French, and British, culminating in a complex and outstanding cuisine that this superior restaurant deftly and deliciously captures. Read more about Legligin >


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The Sweetest Restaurant in Buffalo, New York

After a two-mile late-afternoon walk down historic Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, New York, lined with tremendous mansions and noteworthy churches from the city’s heyday, the weather suddenly turned dark, blustery, and chilly. Almost before I began searching for a warm place for dinner, I saw the signage for The Chocolate Bar, the sweetest restaurant in the city. Who could resist that? Read more >


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East Meets West at Khazana in Edmonton, Alberta

My third gray, drizzly, chilly day in Edmonton, Alberta, took a delightfully warm and colorful turn when I opened the door to Khazana. Consistently ranked as one of the best Indian restaurants in Alberta’s capital, Khazana (which means “treasure”) captures the timeless spirit of India through both its décor that combines traditional and modern and its outstanding menu of the finest the subcontinent has to offer. Bolstered by polite and flawless service, this fine-dining establishment creates a culinary experience of unmatched authenticity. Read more >


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Indulging in a Dutch Tradition at The Pancake Bakery

All around Amsterdam, I had been noticing a formidable number of restaurants touting their pancake menus. I didn’t realize what all the fuss was until I read up a bit on this traditional Dutch mainstay, and then I was intrigued when I learned just how creative pancakes can get in the Netherlands. They’re not your typical grilled batter with maybe some blueberries or chocolate chips thrown in. At The Pancake Bakery, a menu of 79 different types will make you completely reevaluate your notion of what a pancake can be. Read more >


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More Than the Goddess of Wisdom: Minervas in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Since it opened nearly 40 years ago, Minervas has expanded to 10 locations in the upper Midwest. But its original venue in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is still the most elegant. I came upon it by accident, while I was roaming around the downtown area and admiring the artwork of the annual SculptureWalk dotting the sidewalks. The unassuming brick building featured an outdoor seating area of about a dozen tables protected from the street by globular planters overflowing with pink and yellow flowers and occupied by happy diners enjoying both their meals and the view of the historic 90-year-old State Theatre across the street. That — and the tantalizing menu under glass — was more than enough for me to step inside for dinner. Read more >


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Great Food and Unexpected Entertainment in a Downtown DC Restaurant

Without a reservation, I struck out twice in a row in my search for somewhere to have dinner in downtown Washington, D.C., which seemed to be lacking in options for anyone who’s near the National Mall after 5 p.m. or on the weekend, so the ones that do exist are packed. Eventually, I wandered into the only McCormick & Schmick’s location in the District of Columbia. This national chain of seafood and steak restaurants stretches from California to Massachusetts, but the one in D.C. seems like it would be unique among 60 locations, based solely on its location in the epicenter of American politics. Neither the food nor my fellow diners disappointed, as I enjoyed one of my most tasty and entertaining dinners in the national capital. Read more >


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Fish in a Sea of Steakhouses at Plank Seafood Provisions

A fine seafood restaurant dead center in America’s heartland, nowhere near the Great Lakes, seemed, perhaps, not the best choice for dinner. But the recommendations I had been receiving from everyone around town — the staff at my hotel, the saleslady at the art gallery, the masseuse at the day spa — were uniform in their zeal. So, putting aside the ribs and steak knives for a night, I enjoyed a fantastic meal at Plank Seafood Provisions, one of the top seafood restaurants in Omaha, Nebraska. Read more >