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Alfresco Dining

No need to wait around for room service: These three hotels take guests on food expeditions that conclude with a cooking lesson, a wonderful alfresco meal or both.

Alfresco Dining: Foodie Field Trips

Alfresco dining: Colorado Fly-Fishing
Fly-Fishing. Photo courtesy of The Little Nell

Fly-Fishing: Aspen, CO

In June, the Little Nell began offering fly-fishing trips on the Roaring Fork River in a handcrafted boat. Robert McCormick, the hotel's new executive chef, waits downstream with a picnic.

Bike Tour: Whistler, Canada

Four Seasons Resort chef Edison Mays leads cruiser-bike tours of the farmers' market; afterward, guests learn how to make their own marinades and rubs with the herbs they sourced.

Abalone Harvest: Santa Barbara, CA

Canary Hotel guests can get a close look at one of the world's priciest seafoods at a sustainable abalone farm. The hotel's chef, Brian Parks, then teaches how to pan-roast the abalone.

Alfresco Dining: Austin

Alfresco dining: Sliders
Ox-tongue sliders. Photo © Knoxy.

When you're sitting under a cedar elm amid a sprawl of picnic tables, a meal at Contigo Austin feels like an escape from the city—which is precisely the point. Co-owner Ben Edgerton aims to re-create the spirit of his family's hunting ranch at this small-plates spot in fast-developing East Austin. Our server, a horticulture student with a beet tattoo, suggested an El Pepino (tequila, cucumber water, mint and lime). We followed it with pork pâté, white-bean dip with duck fat and ox-tongue sliders with pickled green tomato. Sleek apartments are going up just blocks away, but Contigo Austin's food and vibe still feel untamed.

Insider Tip

Contigo Austin's meat-heavy menu features charcuterie made with chicken, beef, pork and quail from nearby farms.

More Alfresco Dining Ideas:

Published August 2011
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