New York City
22 Orchard St.
Imagine a Chinatown cafe with a French Laundry pedigree (if less comfortable chairs) and you get a sense of dinner at Fung Tu. Jonathan Wu worked for famed chef Thomas Keller before he opened this innovative American-Chinese spot where the Lower East Side meets Chinatown. Smart fusion dishes like pork belly egg rolls or chow fun noodles with chorizo can be teamed with wines from Austria, Alsace and beyond.
234 Townsend St.
This little all-day wine bar and bistro in the SoMa district is owned by Mark Bright, the general manager/sommelier at top-rated Saison. He also runs a wine brokerage and draws on a vast collection that favors Burgundy. Even the West Coast selections are Pinot Noir-oriented to accompany the charcuterie, cheese and small tasting menu, with California-inspired variations on classics, from French onion soup to profiteroles. The restaurant also offers an impressive tea and coffee service.
3131 Walnut St.
In a tiny space not far from 30th Street Station, Kevin Sbraga’s team is turning out exceptional barbecue and other Southern classics, including what’s been called America’s best cornbread, baked to order with tasso and molasses butter. The wines are fine, but explore the cocktails that are heavy on the Bourbon. Gooey desserts come in little Mason jars, perfect if you have to rush for a train.
West Glover, Vermont
161 County Road
Tucked in the back of a country general store, this pizzeria has a cult following for its creative pies, craft beers on tap (featuring a local brew, Hill Farmstead, that has a national following) and a small but excellent wine list. The Green Mountain pizza, topped with apples, local Cheddar, bacon, spinach and more, helped put the place on the map. It’s constantly packed with locals, food travelers and actors from the nearby Bread and Puppet Theater.
2728 West Armitage Ave.
Aficionados describe this little restaurant, which draws a crowd of European ex-pats, as having a vibe that feels like a German weinstube—warm and low key. The décor, however, is more unassuming than the food and beverage program. Here you’ll find quality cocktails and simple German reds like Spätburgunder in sync with the food. Highlights on the Alpine menu include duck liver mousse with hazelnuts and seasonal fruit, served with a hot, house-made rye baguette.
2465 SW 17th Ave.
A gas station is not where you would expect to find a great wine bar, but this one is renowned for featuring more than 50 wines by the glass, updated each month. Tapas include boquerones and sardines along with clever twists like a Caesar salad with chorizo. The wine shop is open 24 hours, just in case you need a Tempranillo with your morning coquito from the on-site bakery.
6221 Franklin Ave.
This cafe is far off the beaten path, located above Sunset Boulevard in a grungy strip mall, but inside feels like a Parisian boîte. And the cooking, too, looks and tastes like the New Paris, with artful compositions showcasing local and seasonal ingredients on the $38 prix fixe menu. Choose your natural wine from a rotating selection off the wall, not a list.
1510 Pacific Ave.
“Eat. Drink. Change Lives.” is the slogan for this ambitious restaurant staffed by nonviolent juvenile offenders. They work under the supervision of three professional chefs who bring serious chops from experience at top kitchens in the city and beyond. Daily specials can include fried chicken as well as fancier fare, like shrimp-and-grits beignets. Wines are sold by the bottle at slight markups from retail prices, with none more than $80.
Buffalo, New York
437 Ellicott St.
This is one of the hottest spots in the burgeoning restaurant scene that’s luring diners to the formerly deserted downtown. Louisiana native James Roberts serves stunning Southern favorites, including a New Orleans-worthy muffuletta, a barbecue of the week and a hush puppy of the day. Cocktails are, of course, regionally appropriate, with a good selection made with rye. The industrial space feels neither Cajun nor Rust Belt—just transporting.
3010 SE Division
Troy MacLarty, a Chez Panisse alum with a passion for the flavors of India, recently opened the cafe’s second location. Bollywood films projected on a wall, courtyard seating and a little Indian grocery are added amenities. The menu emphasizes street food and thalis, all served on metal plates. There are also daily wine specials, good beers available beyond Kingfisher (on tap here) and Indian takes on classic cocktails. Devotees rave about the pork vindaloo and the beets with coconut sauce.