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Hot Cities to Visit (and Eat in) Now

North: Toronto
Why: A wave of high-end hotel and celebrity chef openings converge in the Ontario capital this season.
Check In: The new 65-story Trump International Hotel & Tower toronto (trumphotelcollection.com) recently opened with 261 rooms, a lounge on the 31st floor, a sprawling spa with a saltwater lap pool, and Stock restaurant overlooking the skyline. Two more high-end hotels are expected by fall, the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto (fourseasons.com/toronto) and Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto (shangri-la.com).
Dine Out: By fall, New York chef David Chang will open Momofuku Noodle Bar and Momofuku Daisho (momofuku.com). Daniel Boulud will front the new Café Boulud at the Four Seasons opening in October.

South: Panama City, Panama
Why: New luxury hotels anticipate the 2014 Panama Canal expansion and next year’s opening of the BioMuseo by architect Frank Gehry.
Check In: Beaches are nonexistent downtown, but just outside the city the new The westin Playa Bonita Panama (westinplayabonita.com) offers resort amenities including three pools, six restaurants, and four bars in a relaxing location convenient to most attractions. Other newcomers include the Trump Ocean Club (trumpoceanclub.com) and the upcoming Waldorf Astoria Panama (waldorfastoriapanama.com), expected in November.
Local Flavor: The gentrifying Casco Viejo, Panama’s old colonial quarter, hosts destination restaurants like Manolo Caracol (manolocaracol.net) and newcomers including the Tántalo Hotel (tantalohotel.com) featuring an international restaurant and panoramic rooftop bar.

From the House

In St. Louis, chef Gerard Craft made a name for himself — and garnered three James Beard best-in-the-Midwest nominations — for his flagship restaurant Niche, championing Midwest artisan producers and farmers. This fall, he branches out with Pastaria, inspired by rustic Italian dough-making traditions of pizza and pasta. The former features Midwest wheat, cured meats from local Salume Beddu, and tomato sauce housemade from locally grown fruit. pastariastl.com

Housemade condiments constitute a way-back-to-basics trend. At Edge, Steak & Bar in Miami, chef Aaron Brooks grows several kinds of peppers, which he dries and grinds into a rub, even rimming it on a BBQ Collins cocktail. edgerestaurantmiami.com

Southern Comfort

While Europe salivates over Scandinavian food, American diners are hungry for modernized Southern food that pays homage to tradition while boosting ingredient quality. In New York, chef Marcus Sam-uelsson veered from Nordic fare to open Red Rooster (redroosterharlem.com) in Harlem, featuring globally
influenced Southern dishes like bass and grits with chorizo and green salsa. 

Gaming for Gourmets

The newly opened Revel resort in Atlantic City corrals a posse of celebrated chefs — including Michel Richard, Jose Garces, and Marc Forgione (pictured) — among 14 restaurants under one oceanfront roof. Located on the boardwalk, the 47-story, 1,800-room hot spot encompasses a 130,000-square-foot casino, a 32-therapy-room spa, a nearly-two-acre rooftop garden, and nightclubs with stages featuring everything from burlesque to rock. Rooms from $239. revelresorts.com
In Dallas, the vintage-styled Sissy’s Southern Kitchen and Bar (sissyssouthernkitchen.com) serves pork T-bones, soon-to-be-legendary fried chicken, and Gulf shrimp and grits. The seafood of the Pacific Northwest meets the wild game tradition of the South at The Parish (theparishpdx.com) in Portland, Oregon, with blackened halibut, fried quail, and rabbit hash. And in Miami, former Top Chef contestant Jeff McInnis opened Yardbird Southern Table and Bar (runchickenrun.com) including sweet-tea-brined ribs, a fried green tomato BLT with pork belly, and a fried chicken recipe that takes 27 hours to prepare.