Three to please both foodies and trendies

HOUSTON: Ling and Javier, 2525 W. Loop South, (713) 297-4383
The hot spot of Houston’s hip Hotel Derek, Ling and Javier daringly unites Chinese and Cuban food — not in fusion dishes, but in a split menu offering separate bites of each culture. Papaya-glazed ribs and coconut lobster occupy the Cuban hemisphere, while chile mussels and stir-fried lamb wave the Chinese flag. Trust the culinary skills of chef Alena Pyles, sister of Star Canyon founder Stephan Pyles, to sate both states.

CHICAGO: Wave, 644 N. Lake Shore Dr., (312) 255-4460
Cool from its glass-and-stone walls to its settee seating, Wave swells the design cachet of the new W Lake Shore hotel. But chef Jason Paskewitz manages to warm up the scene with his sunny, seemingly uncomplicated Mediterranean cooking. Stop for preprandial drinks in the lounge filled with seating pods, then get seriously convivial with the grilled baby octopus or a platter of hummus, olives, and feta followed by seafood-rich bouillabaisse.

NEW YORK: Moda, 135 W. 52nd St., (212) 887-9880
Moda — Italian for “style” — touts its looks, a chic assembly of dark wood tables, intimate banquettes, and candlelit walls. It might also have called itself “cucina” for its kitchen. Chef Frank Whittaker, veteran of Park Avenue Café and Napa’s Tra Vigne, contemporizes Italian cooking in dishes like limoncello-cured salmon and grilled quail with polenta and fig jam. Moda’s big and small plate options serve couture appetites. —