Get Local: Great Travel Initiative in Asia

WithLocals Market

Hit the local market with your guide!

What are your favorite travel memories?

My guess is that most of you will immediately think of an experience with locals. You were invited for dinner in a new friend’s home, or met some local people in a bar and spent your evening together playing traditional card games? These moments seem more special, since while on vacation, it’s easy to spot all of the other tourists at the major sites, but the locals can be hard to find.

So often we follow a tourism handbook to an awesome old local café and arrive to find it overloaded with tourists from our home country!

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Top five sushi restaurants on the Strip in Las Vegas

Best restaurants in Vegas Blue RibbonSince Las Vegas is in a desert, many people are surprised to learn about our love affair with sushi. All of this confusion when we are just a 45-minute flight from the California coast, not to mention the private jets that fly in daily from Japan and the Mediterranean! (Of course, after living in Las Vegas for so long, nothing surprises me anymore). Yes, fresh seafood is alive and well in Sin City. While steakhouses remain the norm in bachelor party-heavy Vegas, there is so much amazing sushi on offer. During my almost three years as editor-in-chief of my city’s luxury magazine, which covers the best restaurants in Vegas, I’ve tasted my share. Visitors are always asking me my favorites, so I’ve compiled them here.

My picks? Read on!

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Daydream of the Week: Cha Cha Cha

Cha Cha ChaAs I settle into winter, which has finally hit Las Vegas, I can’t help but dream of brightness, which I got a dose of during my first day in San Francisco, first here at Cha Cha Cha, and then during a walking tour of Haight-Ashbury. Talk about color! But before I embark on my amazing trip through that fascinating city, plus Napa and Sonoma, this is the photo that I can’t get out of my mind. So how else could I kick off this unbelievable experience? On our very first day, we stopped by this yummy Cuban/Caribbean hot spot and indulged in some day-time sangria and tons of tapas: sweet plantains, yummy beans, spicy shrimp, and cheesy quesadillas. It was a lively watering hole. But when I stepped out of the packed dining room to find the restroom, I fell in love with the adjacent bar. Clearly a nod to the Cuban portion of the restaurant’s influence, the photos were tropical, colorful and historical. Next time, I’d love to hit Cha Cha Cha around happy hour time, so I could belly up to the bar in this lovely room, which boasts my kind of decor.

I toured San Francisco, Napa and Sonoma as a guest of Trafalgar Tours, but all opinions are my own.

The most delicious champagne and sashimi tasting at Bar Masa

Leora Hasas Abby Tegnelia

Two happy girls on a champagne campaign.

One of the best parts about living in Las Vegas for a foodie like me is that so many food and wine festivals come through town. The Food & Wine All-Star Weekend did not disappoint — especially the decadent champagne tasting at Bar Masa. From start to finish, it was truly one of the best events I’d ever been to! The menu was ridiculous, and we got to sit with who-ever we wanted. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday afternoon. We had a blast!

But who cares about the company (kidding) when surrounded by all of this food and amazing champagne!

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On the Cusp: Panama City’s Emerging Food Scene

Abby Tegnelia Vitelio ReyesHaving spent a year in Costa Rica that included many trips to Nicaragua, I was excited to spend some time in Panama, just one country south. Panama City was very different from the parts of Central America I know so well. For me, living in the tropics was about the simple life: rice and beans, beer, maybe a coconut. But being in a big city was different. I loved having three days to eat my way through Panama City’s emerging food scene, and the fun started almost the second I got there. Just an hour after arriving at the Trump Panama, I made it downstairs to its Tejas restaurant for a private cooking class with Chef Vitelio Reyes. His impressive pedigree told me right away that we were no longer in the land of rice and beans! I hadn’t thought about the fact that with the Canal, Panama City didn’t have the same importing difficulties that its neighbors to the north had. It was a whole new world!

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Champagne Campaign

So it wasn’t all bad… I recently mentioned all of the work commitments that led me to major burnout, and now I feel obligated to tell you that some of the events are very, very fun. (The burnout comes from weeks of not being able to get a good night’s sleep, do laundry, or spend time with my dogs, rescues from Costa Rica.) The Las Vegas Strip recently hosted a huge food and wine festival called Vegas UnCork’d, and my foodie friend Cat De Orio came in from Chicago for it. We kicked off the four-day extravaganza with (what else?) some Veuve Clicquot — delivered to our fabulous suite at the Cosmopolitan.

Don’t you think the Rubik’s Cube is a nice touch?

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