Who doesn’t love the tantalizing, exotic flavors of Thai, Chinese, Indian and other “ethnic” cuisine? But because most such eateries in this country are humble, family-run and—let’s be honest—dirt cheap, we’ve come to assume that we need to check our usual standards for organic, humanely raised, sustainably fished and locally produced menu ingredients at the door. As in, “Just gimme that egg roll! I don’t care where it came from.” Alas, this shapes our perception of both the nature and cost of these foods. Real Chinese restaurants don’t serve General Tso’s chicken (it was invented here), and real Mexican restaurants don’t offer nachos (ditto). Asian and Latin cuisines, done right, can be incredibly time-consuming to prepare. Add the expense of sustainable raw materials, and real-deal ethnic should be pricier than a neighborhood pizza joint. Here’s a quartet of places that sacrifice neither quality nor taste.
Los Poblanos Historic Inn & Organic Farm, Albuquerque
Since 1934, this 25-acre property has shone a beacon of sustainability in Arizona. An inspirational venue for meetings and events, it offers 50 guest rooms and Campo, a casual fine-dining restaurant that uses seasonal organic produce from the inn’s farm, as well as local farmers and herdsmen, to produce Mexican classics such as moles. Other menu items reflect a Mexican-Southwestern sensibility. Bon Appetit has called it a Top 10 Hotel for Food Lovers.
Kin Khao, in this busy downtown hotel, is tucked into an unprepossessing space, but chef Pim Techamuanvivit brings “authentically layered, fiery Thai flavor” to the table (says the Michelin Guide, which awarded her a star) by taking time to make sauces and curries from scratch and relying on local and organic farmers and ranchers to fill the larder. The restaurant’s name literally translates to “eat rice,” which colloquially means “let’s eat.”
Hotel Hayden, New York City
Located in Manhattan’s Chelsea, this swanky boutique hotel’s Mykonos Blue restaurant features organic Greek standouts such as avgolemono (egg-lemon soup) and kotopoulo (roasted chicken with lemon potatoes and Greek oregano). All ingredients are all-natural or better. Mykonos Blue Rooftop is a cocktail lounge with several event spaces that serves The Onassis Martini (Syrah red wine, bourbon, lemon juice, egg white and Greek honey).
Swire Hotels’ first North American venture, this Brickell City Centre property offers 20,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and Quinto La Huella, an outpost of a beloved beachfront restaurant in Uruguay. The cuisine of that small South American nation is a fusion of several countries, but its defining feature is the wood-fire parrilla (grill rack) beloved by the country’s guachos (cowboys). Uruguayan grass-fed steaks get loving treatment, as do the products of local, organic farms.