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Savor seasonal fall menus in these captivating culinary destinations

Changing colors, emerging flavors and seasonal ingredients inspire the elevated fall dining scene in these world-class destinations. | By Paul Oswell | August 31, 2023

When visiting a destination with a thriving culinary scene, the signs of seasonal changes are clear in everything from the farmers markets produce to the carefully curated menus in restaurant kitchens. For an elevated getaway that promises memorable dining amid an idyllic fall backdrop, head to these destinations:

  • New York: The changing colors in Central Park mean that inspiring fall flavors are on the way

  • Amsterdam: The Dutch capital has some of the most tempting seasonal snacks and confections

  • Santa Monica: California cools down after the heat of summer, and the menus get heartier and spicier to coincide

Couple having dinner at a restaurant
Savor fresh seasonal flavors in a contemporary atmosphere at Conrad New York Downtown.

New York

In and around New York, fall brings a bracing change of colors and mood. The foliage turns from vibrant greens to warm oranges and reds, inspiring locals and visitors to journey outside of the city for some of the best views of this spectacular natural display. Fall is also a perfect time to savor craft ciders, explore pumpkin patches and listen to the leaves crunch under your feet in Central Park.

Seasonal changes are also afoot in the kitchen at Conrad New York Downtown, where chefs are harnessing various elements to expertly craft unique fall-inspired menus. According to Hugo Saavedra, executive sous chef at the hotel’s Atrio Wine Bar and Restaurant, the kitchen takes into account which locally sourced ingredients will be in abundance throughout the fall, while also incorporating growing culinary trends. Says Saavedra, “One trend we see is the use of more plant-based items, along with an overall larger selection of options on menus.”

For the upcoming fall menu, the chefs will be adding dishes such as a vegan Bolognese pasta that replicates the same hearty notes as a traditional ragu would. Says Saavedra, “This also goes with the type of food styles one would see as we begin to go into the colder months of the year.”

food dish on plate
Exquisite cuisine in a refined setting awaits you at Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam.

Amsterdam

In a city with nearly half a million trees, fall leaf-peeping is almost unavoidable in Amsterdam. Red, orange and yellow leaves frame the historic streets and picturesque canals. It’s also the perfect time to sample traditional Dutch fare.

Popular foods include the famous Dutch pancakes, poffertjes, which can be found at pancake houses and street markets. Another delight is the stroopwafel, which is a thin, round waffle cookie made from two layers of sweet dough held together by caramel. Fall also sees more food trucks selling bitterballen, a warm Dutch meatball that’s breaded and fried.

The changing of the seasons makes for an adventurous culinary journey at Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam. Flagship restaurant Spectrum has two Michelin stars, a testament to the care and attention brought by executive chef Sidney Schutte. Rich dishes such as blue lobster, foie gras, duck with pomegranate and lamb with artichokes all shine on the restaurant’s gourmet tasting menu.

Couple sitting at table eating meal with focus on man
Experience intimate and elevated dining experiences at Oceana Santa Monica, LXR Hotels & Resorts.

Santa Monica

The changing seasons in sunny California take on a different form than other destinations. In Santa Monica, a slight dip in temperature means that the streets and beaches are often less crowded, and while there’s plenty of sunshine, you can still witness the leaves changing.

Culinary inclinations also transform this time of year, including in the kitchens at Oceana Santa Monica, LXR Hotels & Resorts, where chef Kaleo Adams says that he looks forward to the fall. Says Adams, “I like the break from the summer heat and the changes that you begin to see at the farmers markets. I feel that fall evokes an excitement for heartier soups, braised meats and salads that peel away from having bright and crisp lettuce to spicy, peppery chicory.”

At Sandpiper, Oceana Santa Monica’s signature restaurant, you can expect grilled treviso with Cara Cara oranges, toasted hazelnuts and shaved pepato cheese, as well as a smoked chicken and farro soup with kale and butternut squash. Says Adams, “I’ll also start to prepare dishes such as a local fisherman's bouillabaisse served with rouille and toasted bread. Or braised wagyu beef cheeks with roasted baby Japanese sweet potato.”

Fall flavors and ingredients inspire chefs and diners all over the world. When exploring a new city, combine the beauty of nature’s changing colors with curated seasonal menus and you’re guaranteed a memorable fall getaway.

Paul Oswell is a British award-winning journalist and published travel author based in New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States. His books include Bucket List North America and The Great American Road Trip, as well as New Orleans' Historic Hotels. He has also been an editor of and contributor to several guide books/editions published by Dorling Kindersley (owned by Penguin), including New Orleans, Florida, Orlando, Los Angeles, California and The United States. His work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure (both of which he has written multiple online travel guides for) and The Guardian, as well as dozens of international newspaper and magazine titles, and inflight magazines for major airlines.

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