Cafe Boulud has all the right ingredients. And then there's the food ... Photo: Courtesy Gayot(Cafe Boulud has all the right ingredients. And then there's the food ... Photo: Courtesy Gayot)

Café Boulud is a restaurant that points to having all the right ingredients. And then there's the food ... (Courtesy Gayot)

Café Boulud
The Brazilian Court
301 Australian Ave.
Palm Beach, Fla.
Palm Beach's outpost for the French fare of NYC's Café Boulud.

Daniel Boulud's first venture outside Manhattan has been a continuous success since it opened in July 2003. On top of using his culinary talents, he put together all the right ingredients, including the right location in Palm Beach. The legendary, elegant Brazilian Court boasts a hotel and luxurious condominiums, and this restaurant is of the same caliber. A lovely Mediterranean courtyard sets the tone of the colorful interior of Café Boulud. Amber, gold, terra cotta and citron colors bring Palm Beach's sunshine indoors. Boulud has exported to the Floridian coast the same concept as his Big Apple restaurant Café Boulud. The menu, executed by chef Jim Leiken since Zach Bell's departure, is divided into four sections: La Tradition, highlights of classic French dishes; La Saison, featuring courses in harmony with the seasons; Le Potager, inspired by the farmers' market; and Le Voyage, Boulud's interpretation of different cuisines around the world. The pastry chef, Arnaud Chavigny, concludes your meal with sweet preparations, perhaps warm upside-down chocolate soufflé with pistachio ice cream. Read the full review.

The Grape
2808 Greenville Ave.
Dallas
Unpretentious European-style bistro featuring classic dishes and a noteworthy wine list.

Warning: Remove your shades before you enter this intimate restaurant, softly illuminated by clusters of glass grapes, or you'll be unable to find your table. Totally unpretentious and casual, this European-style bistro is the kind of place we'd all like to have in our neighborhood. For four decades, The Grape has drawn loyal crowds and managed to keep up with current food trends, while retaining its bistro ambience. The menu, listed on a colorful chalkboard, changes every month. But one thing that remains the same is the cream of mushroom soup, an opulent concoction that's the gold standard for mushroom soup in Dallas; no visit here is complete without a cup of it. The burger is terrific, too. In addition, the baked Brie plate served with fruit, crackers and honey has a wonderful blend of sweet and salty tastes and a myriad of textures. Entrées have a modern bistro attitude with seasonal fresh vegetables and meat and seafood prepared with little fuss and lots of flavor. The nicely priced and well-focused wine list is the heart and soul of the place and keeps folks coming back for more. Desserts such as the crème brûlée are delightful. Read the full review.

Lockwood(Courtesy of Gayot.com)

Mix elegance with inventiveness at Lockwood.

Lockwood
Palmer House Hilton
17 E. Monroe St
Chicago
Dramatic, eclectic American dishes are served adjacent to the high-ceilinged lobby of the Palmer House Hilton.

Personally, we've always found the historic Palmer House Hilton--what with its clashing patterns, marble and trompe l'oeil murals--as garish as it is gracious. But the hotel's mega-renovation (completed in 2008) left us pleasantly surprised, especially when it comes to this happening, lobby-adjacent restaurant. Now that Greg Elliott (Naha, One sixtyblue) has had time to settle in to the role of executive chef, it's clear that changes have occurred. Dishes, while elegant, are less esoteric than when Phillip Foss wore the toque. The menu changes often, so you might find green garlic and potato soup with clams and pork belly one visit and Alaskan halibut, smoked fingerlings and fava beans the next. The wine list is as good as it ever was. Read the full review.

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Michael's in Santa Monica. Photo courtesy of Gayot.com. // Michael's in Santa Monica(Courtesy of Gayot.com)

The lushly landscaped patio at this culinary landmark is ideal for an al fresco Mother's Day brunch.

Michael's
1147 Third Street
Santa Monica, Calif.
Consistently inventive California cuisine in a lush garden setting that attracts local celebrities and power players.

We've always enjoyed immersing ourselves in the atmosphere of this comfortable and romantic restaurant, with its lushly landscaped dining area that exemplifies the Southern California lifestyle at its best. The garden setting is encompassed by trees, while contemporary art adorns the lounge at the entrance. Restaurateur Michael McCarty is a pioneer of California cuisine and mentor to some of L.A.'s finest chefs, and his establishment has become a culinary landmark and local treasure. The restaurant's adherence to a well-earned reputation for quality market-fresh ingredients and creativity on the plate means that the kitchen, overseen by executive chef John-Carlos Kuramoto, consistently turns out inventive California cuisine.

Starters especially reflect the bounty of the season with options like asparagus risotto topped with salsa verde or a salad of pickled beets, farro, tarragon, caraway croutons and crème fraîche vinaigrette. Alongside the signature Sonoma duck confit, guests might find mains such as Mediterranean loup de mer served with housemade pappardelle, English peas and Nueske's bacon. You'll probably be completely satisfied long before dessert, but if you've got room, try the Harry's Berries strawberry Pavlova or "Michael's Famous Cookie Plate," offering an assortment of sweets. In addition to being a renowned restaurateur, McCarty also has a passion for wine. Selections from his three-acre estate, The Malibu Vineyard, often appear on the sophisticated wine list that is curated by general manager Andrew Turner. Diners browse through the 700 options on iPads--another forward-thinking move. With continuous innovation like this plus lovely scenery, Michael's has made itself a magnet for local celebrities and power players. Read the full review.