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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The 7 Best Female-led Restaurants and Bars to Watch in 2023

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A Cook, Software analyst & Blogger.

Female-led Restaurants and Bars: The restaurant industry has been male-dominated for a long time. But things have changed and we can see many female chefs helming the kitchens of various renowned restaurants.

Their leadership in the field is also an inspiration for countless other women who aspire to be champions in the culinary field.

Their passion, creativity, and talent for curating scrumptious delicacies draw huge crowds to enjoy an unforgettable dining experience. 

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Wish to experience it for yourself?

We’ve got you covered with our list of the 7 female-led restaurants and bars to watch in 2023.

Dive in! 

Nobody’s Darling, USA #1

Located in the Andersonville neighbourhood of Chicago, Nobody’s Darling is an LGBTQ+-friendly bar that offers a fun dining and drinking experience.

It is run by two Black queer women, Renuada Riddle, and Angela Barnes who wanted to create a safe space for Black queer women to express themselves.

The name of the place is taken from Alice Walker’s poem “Be Nobody’s Darling”, which inspires all the misfits and outcasts to accept their authentic individuality.

 Restaurants and Bars
You can see the poem on one of the bar’s walls.

The lounge atmosphere is perfect to unwind with your favourite cocktail.

The colourful flags supporting the LGBTQ+ community add to the welcoming vibe. Order one from their category of riffed-on classic drinks called Darling Cocktails.

Craving for a stronger drink?

Choose from one of The Boozy Darlings that come with a higher concentration of alcohol.

For those who don’t drink alcohol, there are zero-proof options called Darling, You’re Drunk. One of their most popular drinks is the Carry Me Home Darling, a gimlet riff that has flavours of St. German liqueur.

The Bar’s Penicillin is also delicious. With delectable cocktails, great music, and a diverse community, the place is perfect for a fun evening out. 

Brujas, Mexico #2

How about sipping on a delectable concoction prepared by witches in an apothecary setup?

This is quite the vibe at Brujas.

Featuring modern gothic interiors and a back bar that looks like an apothecary, this place is led by Gabriela Lozada and her talented all-female team.

Located in the Roma Norte neighbourhood, this place takes its name from the building in which it is housed ‘La Casa de Las Brujas’ which means ‘house of the witches’.

Female-led Restaurants and Bars
It was once the house of Pachita, a local shaman who also knew herbal medicine.

Today, Gabriela Lozada too takes inspiration from Mexican herbalism, utilizing the power of nature’s best ingredients to curate delectable cocktails.

As you enter, you’ll find a strong fragrance of copal, an incense that is used to cleanse energies.

The sweet musical notes accompanying it make the atmosphere seem surreal and relaxing. Their menu is inspired by courageous women who have shattered stereotypes and were labelled witches for their revolutionary ideals.

They add their unique touch to classics like Martinis and Spritzes using Mexican herbs and some seasonal ingredients.

You can go for Epifania, with mezcal, plum shrub, lemon verbena, lime, cempasúchil liquor, and jasmine.

Another delectable option here is the Yerbera that has Havana Club 7 with caramel, Kalakas Red Mixe endemic chili pepper liqueur, and Armonizados vermouth. 

Bonjiri, Kuwait  #3

Established in 2021, Bonjiri brings Japanese delicacies to Salmiya.

Helmed by Kuwait-born Maryam ‘Mimi’ Al Nusif, the restaurant specializes in yakitori, which is basically chicken pieces grilled on a skewer.

Here, you can get different parts of the chicken such as inner thighs, knee cartilage, and breasts instead of just chicken wings.

Feel like trying something different?

Choose chicken tail or liver skewers.

Although you won’t find any meat, there is duck and you can also get seafood sometimes, based on the supplier. Leave some room for dessert because their Eton Mess dessert is delectable. 

Female-led Restaurants and Bars
The whole ambiance exudes a charming vibe.

The interiors are very different from most other restaurants in Kuwait. There is an open kitchen in the middle and a bar on both sides.

Mimi’s training at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school and her rich professional experience has helped her create a name for herself in the industry.

She has shattered stereotypes in her society where being a chef isn’t a common profession for women. 

Bekeb, Mexico #4

Sip on your favourite cocktail as you look over the colourful and historic streets of San Miguel de Allende, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

This special experience is offered by Bekeb, a popular bar run by Fabiola Padilla, a lawyer turned mixologist who focuses on Mexican flavour and artisanal ingredients for her creations.

Female-led Restaurants and Bars
The name is taken from the Tzotzil language and means ‘seed’. It fits with her reverence for her native land.

She uses plants, roots, seeds, endemic fruits, and local agave distillates to bring forward a distinct local flavour to the drinks.

Try the Bekeb cocktail that mixes elderflower Liqueur, mezcal, lemon verbena, and pineapple. The drinks’ creative presentation elevates the experience.

Their Mexican gin-based Lavender Sour is served in a bird-shaped glass which also offers an AI experience wherein you can see a botanical scene through your phone.

Love coffee?

They also have a selection of coffee-based cocktails and some non-alcoholic cocktails options as well.

With hanging cocoons and cacti plants around, the place exudes a relaxed vibe and is perfect to enjoy a spectacular sunset with mountains in the distance.  

Opa, Israel #5

This vibrant restaurant in Israel has made waves globally owing to its various gastronomic delights.

It is the brainchild of Chef Shirel Berger who trained at the Culinary School of America and worked in some of the best restaurants in New York before opening her own in Israel.

Her love for plants can be seen in her cooking. The dishes at Opa are curated while keeping in mind waste minimization as they use the entire fruit and vegetable.

The plant-based cuisines go over 11 courses. The focus is to use the best revolving crops and organic ingredients. They even have a terrace garden, a source of wild herbs and fresh produce.

Female-led Restaurants and Bars
Relish their potato compote with dill and chives, celery cream tartlet, sunchoke ice cream, and toffee.

They also have “mindfck brownies”, prepared with wheat ice cream, smoked dates, blueberry liquor, and aged almond miso.

The glass-enclosed kitchen at the entrance allows the guests to watch the chef cook, an enjoyable performance in itself.

The light-hued interiors exude a serene vibe, cutting the place off from the outside hustle and bustle of Levinsky Market. 

CoChinChina, Argentina #6

Located in Buenos Aires’ bustling Palermo district, this hip bar serves delectable cocktails with global flavours.

The well-known mixologist Inés de los Santos takes inspiration from French Indochina, namely Vietnam for her special curations.

The place features fun interiors where you can find various references to Vietnam and even a secret private room.

Go for the Se-Sa-Hattan, which has blended whiskies and vermouths with sesame oil and banana oleo, or try the Chulita which is dissolved cherry and eucalyptus candy gin blended with juices.

Female-led Restaurants and Bars
CoChinChina, Argentina

Spread over two storeys, the place also has an inventive cocktail-paired tasting menu on the top floor.

What’s more?

Watching the bartenders prepare drinks is an impressive sight. 

Potong, Thailand #7

One of the most popular chefs in Thailand, Pichaya Soontomyanakji, known as ‘Chef Pam’ has numerous restaurants under her belt.

Potong is one of them. Housed inside her family’s ancestral pharmacy building, the restaurant is the first to serve new-wave Thai-Chinese food in the country.

Female-led Restaurants and Bars
Female-led Restaurants and Bars

Chef Pam takes inspiration from her Thai-Chinese-Australian roots for her curations which are based on the five elements of salt, spice, acid, Maillard reaction, and texture.

The dishes blend the traditional with the modern. Relish the 14-day dry-aged duck, try the stir-fried Chinese kale, or indulge yourself in barbequed Angus beef, there is a variety of delicacies to enjoy here.

You can also try the blue crab with mud crab roe emulsion and black pepper jam. The fermented drinks pair well with the food.  

The 20-plus-course tasting menu offers something for everyone, with storytelling deeply embedded in it.

The space brings together modern and rustic decor, from its ground floor bar to the rooftop space. 

These women-led restaurants and bars offer a memorable dining experience.

So, the next time you’re in these locations, you know where to go for a delectable treat.

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