A Bar Covered in Copper

Union Restaurant

Tucked away in the Kleinbasel neighborhood of Basel, the  Union Restaurant is a visual delight of trompe l’oeil.  Famed Swiss architect Aurélie Blanchard lined the walls, tables, and even the light fixtures with copper to create an effect of constant motion.  The food is classic American with a twist, and diners eat family-style at long, oak tables. Locals, immigrants, expats, and students alike frequent the adjoining bar to enjoy old school cocktails.

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The Best Bacalao in Madrid

Casa Labra

The best bacalao in Madrid – since 1860 – can be had at Casa Labra, tucked down a side street just off the Puerta del Sol in the center of Madrid. Order your cod just inside the door and then pop over to the bar for a beer to go with it.  Be prepared to stand in line, but you won’t be disappointed!!

LL Cool J…”Mama Said Stay at the Mama Shelter”

Mama Shelter

Designed by Philippe Starck of Royalton (New York) and Delano (Miami) fame, the Mama Shelter rocks funky.  The ceilings are grafittied blackboards, the walls are exposed or waxed concrete, and the light fixtures are made from birdcages.  On the first floor is a hip restaurant overseen by Chef Alain Senderens, who has created a menu that highlights the best of French regional cuisine.  Before dinner, check out the rooftop bar and enjoy a mean cocktail…or three.

Rooftop bar

Stylish & trendy, this hotel is located in the offbeat Charonne, a colorful neighborhood of art galleries, bookshops, tattoo parlors, and vintage boutiques on the edge of Paris. It is indeed hip Paris at its best.

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The Barry White Crêpe


Ok, so everyone knows about the Belgian waffle.  I can attest to their goodness…and the fact that a waffle in Belgium is very different from one in the U.S.  The most notable difference is that in Belgium, they are made with yeast,  and rather than some kind of faux strawberry topping and non-dairy (gnarly) “whipped cream,” the waffles are left nearly naked — simply sprinkled with a bit of powdered sugar.  But I digress.  Let’s get on to the crêpes.  Yes, go have the waffle…it’s kind of a “must do” when in Belgium.  But then head to the Bar Du Matin for their Sunday Brunch in which they celebrate the crêpe.  I recommend the “Barry White” (powdered sugar) or the “James Brown” (brown sugar).  But if you’re after something savory,  there is the “Fellini” (tomatoes, fresh basil, olive oil, and mozzarella) or the “Clint Eastwood” (ham & cheese). Whatever you fancy, the Sunday “Festival de Crêpes” will soothe your soul…as will the mimosa that accompanies them.

Bar du Matin

But there’s more to Bar Du Matin than the crêpes.  Each Tuesday night, there is what we in the U.S. would call a “drinking game”…but this is a version that is more reminiscent of Mrs. Robinson than Bluto, and is based on the theme of a specific cocktail.  And then there is the music scene, which is fab & ecclectic.   On Thursdays, there’s live music…from reggae to soul to jazz to hip-hop to pyschic blues to funk…whatever your flavor, you’ll find it here.  And on Fridays & Saturdays, dance the night away (à la Leo Sayer) to rockin’ dj sets.  And then finally, we get back round to those Sunday crêpes…just what you need after a boozy Saturday night!

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