vl-team-with-captionJudging from posts I see on Facebook and Instagram, there’s a collective obsession with food. We take pictures of our drinks, meals, and dining venues, check in with each other for restaurant recommendations, and delight in sharing new discoveries.

This is especially true when traveling. Food (and drink) can be so emblematic of a place, it’s a sure-fire way to immerse yourself in a destination. It’s the basis for entire itineraries, the reason to visit certain regions, and certainly the subject of much planning. And it’s the basis of this, Virtuoso Life’s annual food and wine issue. In these pages you’ll learn where the local tastemakers eat across the U.S., what makes India’s Darjeeling tea so special, what’s new in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and more.

When I travel, even if it’s for business, figuring out where to eat tops my to-do list. The Virtuoso Life editorial team (pictured left) take our food seriously. Our offices are in Seattle and Fort Worth, and we never have a bad meal when we meet. (Fort Worth equals Mexican food or steak; Seattle equals all kinds of locally sourced, fresh, and trendy finds.)

Because we’re into food and travel frequently, I thought I’d share our list of dining do’s and don’ts. What are yours?





Elaine Srnka
Editorial Director
Virtuoso, Ltd



november-VL• Order the regional beer – even if you’re not a beer drinker, it’ll make you feel like a local. I’ve sampled brews from Bavaria to Belize, and remember those bottles as fondly as the priciest wines on the menu. – E.S.

• If you find a shop you like in a new city, ask the staff for a few bar and restaurant recommendations. Chances are, if you like their shop, you’ll like their taste in dining too. – M.C.

• If there’s hot sauce on the table, try it; it’ll give you insight into the local heat index. If there’s not, ask – you’ll often be rewarded with a head-clearing house-made concoction. (And if you’re really serious, as my father is, travel with mini bottles of Tabasco.) – E.S.

• When in doubt, order the New Zealand sauvignon blanc. – K.S.

• Be adventurous. When dining at a Japanese restaurant, order omakase – it’s a chef’s choice tasting menu. I’ve tried the most creative dishes this way. – M.F.

• Thursday night is the best night out – you get the restaurant’s top staff without the weekend crush. On Mondays, the A-team’s off, so you take your chance with rookies. – J.P.

• Mexican food heals all. – K.S.

• The amount of coffee you can drink on a European vacation is approximately triple what you can drink at home. Scientific fact. – M.C.

• The “Don’t order fish on Mondays” adage doesn’t hold as much water now (especially if you’re on the coast). To be sure, ask when the seafood order came in. – J.P.

• Buy local candy as a gift for people back home. Corner stores are a gold mine for whatever the local version of Bottle Caps and Kit Kats may be. – M.C.

• Take a matchbook, even if you don’t smoke. You’ll remember that great meal the next time you light candles at home. – J.P.