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A Five-Star Gear Patrol Dining Survey

The 25 Best Restaurants in America

Trusting someone with a restaurant suggestion is a show of great faith. A good suggestion puts you in the inner circle, a candidate for godfather of the next child, a guy whose name is mentioned behind closed doors, approvingly, with vigorous nodding. A bad suggestion keeps both parties involved up at night. There is so much good food in America right now that winnowing the lot to a few handfuls of the best is difficult. Do you include the roadside shack that isn’t technically a restaurant? Do you disqualify a place for foam smears and cheese dust? Are you being persuaded by hype?

And so our litmus test was simple: these 25 American restaurants are the places we’d send a friend if he had time for one meal in Chicago, Denver, Houston or any of the other cities on this list. One city, one suggestion, one good meal. Thank you. You’re welcome.

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A GP Architecture Survey

The 21 Greatest Buildings of the 21st Century

So often we look beyond the walls of our surroundings in an attempt to grasp everything around us — to better understand our place. Where are we? When are we? Nowhere is this more aptly embodied than in the throes of architecture. From pole to pole, the pervasive, vast trade spans projects from home renovations to soaring landmarks only describable through prepositions: above, within, beyond.

For our latest survey, we immersed ourselves in the current state of 21st century architecture. Narrowing down such a broad subject to a mere list of 21 entries, so soon, is bound to create fallout; our list isn’t immune. To maintain focus, we’ve kept the list’s perimeters within the realm of completed public and private institutions, avoiding the vast world of home designs and projects still under construction. We’re only 14 years into the 21st century, and only time will tell if the impact of these buildings will endure. But one thing is for certain: these buildings are certainly emblematic of our world today.

Presented-by-lexus-logoThis month's features are presented by Lexus. The pursuit of perfection.
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Intentionally Stranded in a City of Gridlock

One Less Car in Los Angeles

Navigating LA, which is known for its vastness and interlocking freeways, without a car is akin to a New Yorker pulling his vehicle from storage to run errands in midtown for a few hours. It’s crazy. It doesn’t even seem like an option. But what if I made it an option? I decided to try the unthinkable: live in LA for one week while my car sat in the driveway. The goal: see just how dependent I was on my car — and determine just how much I could buck that dependency.

Presented-by-lexus-logoThis month's features are presented by Lexus. The pursuit of perfection.
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Your new resource for all things Braun

Introducing the Braun Brand Guide

Without the radio, there would be no Braun electric razor.

Sounds weird, right? But before Braun started producing cutting-edge electric razors — before they were even Braun — the precursor to the German company made components for radio sets. This was back in 1921, when Max Braun opened up a little shop in Frankfurt. Only eight years later, he began producing the sets himself. Under his vision and commitment to innovation, it wasn’t long before that little shop became Braun, one of Germany’s leading radio manufacturers.

Radios, you say? That’s right. And there’s a lot more about this storied brand, the most recognized name in electric shaving today, that you surely don’t know. In celebration of the new CoolTec razor, we’ve created an entire guide to Braun, including a complete history, a timeline of their most important innovations, a collection of kits for any traveling situation, and even a breakdown of the new CoolTec and its features. You seem to be growing long in the beard already — so click here to see it all.

Braun-Sponsored-LogoBrought to you by Braun CoolTec, a simply outstanding shaving experience for men with sensitive skin.
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When perfect is not enough

Behind the Wheel: 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus

In 2008 Audi introduced the R8, a mid-engine V8 somewhat inspired by their highly successful R8 Le Mans Prototype race car, and blew the world away, winning both the World Performance Car and World Design Car of year awards. It’s undergone only minor changes — until this year. The 2014 Audi R8 V10 Plus ($171,000) gets one of the best upgrades yet, a smooth-as-glass and lightning fast seven speed dual clutch S Tronic transmission. We drove it.

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A Gear Patrol Film

On Location: Oakley Pro Bali, Indonesia

When we catch a glimpse of the surfing community, we always slap our heads collectively and wonder why we didn’t pursue a life of beaches, sun, and drinks with little umbrellas. We had one such moment this summer. Fortunately, there was plenty of time to reflect on our life decisions while enjoying the beaches, sun and drinks with little umbrellas in Bali, Indonesia, where we covered the Oakley Pro Bali, the fifth stop of the year on the pro surfing tour.

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Unclean and loving it

The Road Less Traveled: Taking On the Trans-America Trail in the Land Rover LR4

When you’re looking to travel from coast to coast, you’ve got several options; planes are the fastest, trains are probably the cheapest, the interstate is a good DIY choice. But for the adventurer, the Trans-America Trail (TAT) is one of the best. The TAT is a westbound dual-sport motorcycle trail across America on unpaved roads. Sam Corerro, original founder of the TAT, spent years passionately pursuing his goal of charting a coast-to-coast, off-pavement motorcycle adventure. After studying reams of maps and personally surveying thousands of miles of unpaved roadway, Corerro finalized this 5,000-mile route across America in 1999. Over a year ago, Land Rover, too, had the idea to travel across the continental United States completely off road, and we recently joined them for a long leg of the trip.

octane-promo-box-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of a new original series, OCTANE -- a premium take on all things motoring.
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Jurassic Park(ing)

Behind The Wheel: Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

After twelve generations of model updates, the Ford SVT Raptor is arguably the most tenacious version of the Blue oval’s numerous F-150 iterations. Truly testing this machine called for something more than a few days piddling around Los Angeles, so when when we were invited to go attend the one-day Raptor Assault School at Miller Motorsports Park in the wide open Utah countryside we moved quicker than a rattle snake on the floor of a country line dance. What we drove was an out-of-the box, insanely capable machine able to run, jump and crawl over just about anything in its path.

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A look beyond the usual suspects

Baggage Claim: 10 Modern Takes on the Commuter Bag

Once you’ve got your bike, which you should by now, the next step is to pick up the appropriate accessories. For commuters, second only to a helmet is a suitable bag that holds the necessities and, beyond that, meets specific, personal work- or looks-related criteria. The next thing to consider is the style of bag — backpack, messenger or something else entirely? We’ve got all of the above, with a preference toward backpacks.

limits-promo-logoThis article is part of a new original GP series, LIMITS, dedicated to exploring the physical and mental borderlands of human capability. And beyond.
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Page Turners

Picture That: 20 Great Photography Books

This list of our favorite photography books represents an attempt, however incomplete, to reseat the photo book in its rightful place alongside the Scarface posters Warhols lining your walls. We wouldn’t call it a compendium of the greatest photographers or a comprehensive survey of the medium — it’s just a few selections to help broaden your photographic horizons, or at the very least spark some compelling conversation around the coffee table.

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Subtitles are no excuse

The Streaming Cinephile: 40 Foreign Films to Watch Instantly

In the golden age of the so-called “art cinema”, college-aged cineastes and middle-aged professorial types needed only to congregate at the local repertory theatre for a fix of the latest and greatest in international film. They could catch a Bergman-Fellini double feature and wile away the evening in a coffee shop discussing the Christ-figure symbolism or whatever. “If only I had lived then”, laments the modern cinephile, “what films I could have seen.” Our young moviegoer, correct though they may be to bemoan the passing of Truffaut’s heyday, has forgotten one thing: a vast library of international movies are available to watch instantly with the stroke of a keyboard, granted they’re already paying for access to services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime. The same goes for you, Mr. Ignorant Summer Blockbuster. You too can become a film snob — with very little actual work.

But nothing’s ever that easy. The plight of the internet age is not access but selection. We’ve done some of the heavy popcorn lifting for you and picked out forty of the best foreign films available for instant streaming today. Go forth and become a global movie connoisseur.

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One step closer to the open road

The Complete Guide to Buying Your First Bike

It’s a perfect day. You’re pedaling along between La Rochepot and Baubigny in France’s Côte de Beaune region, a wheel of epoisses and a baguette ancienne tucked in the front basket. A little tight on good wine. Sun warm on a crisp day. Your girlfriend rides alongside and looks at you affectionately. You do that thing where you reach out and touch fingertips. Then you hit a little bump in the dirt road: You don’t even know how to ride a bike, and now there’s spittle on your Macbook Pro trackpad. Fortunately, that’s all about to change, because you’re about to buy your first bike.

limits-promo-logoThis article is part of a new original GP series, LIMITS, dedicated to exploring the physical and mental borderlands of human capability. And beyond.
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Tagging sharks in the Bahamas

To Catch a Tiger

Sharks are hot right now, despite, or perhaps because of, their scarcity. People love them, vilify them, study them or eat their fins. Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week” is one of the year’s most highly anticipated television events, up there with the Super Bowl or finale of “The Bachelor.” Still, they’re very endangered due to a combination of targeted fishing to satisfy the appetite for shark fin soup, pollution, coral reef degradation or as bycatch in nets and on long lines. This last method, which claimed an estimated 97 million sharks in 2010 alone, accounts for 80% of shark deaths annually and is the subject of an ongoing study being conducted by scientists at the Cape Eleuthera Institute in the Bahamas. We endured a bumpy ride in a tiny turboprop to visit this remote outpost and see what they were finding. Along the way we came face to face with this top predator of the deep.

limits-promo-logoThis article is part of a new original series, LIMITS, dedicated to exploring the physical and mental borderlands of human capability. And beyond.
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A thoughtful look behind the case back

Why Do Watches Cost So Much?

After Jason Heaton tells people that he writes about watches, the question inevitably arises: why do some watches cost so much? (This after the incredulity that one can actually make a living doing what he does.) The answer is not so simple. Good thing Mr. Heaton has the time to explain. Read on for his argument.

timekeeping-promo-logo-gear-patrolThis article is part of GP's fresh new face to TIMEKEEPING, a weekly chronicle on the utility, design, tradition and innovation of watches.
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Everything you need to know, nothing you don't

Espress Yourself: How to Buy an Espresso Machine

Espresso is so the new moonshine. But these latter day at-home concoctions don’t run through slipshod copper stills or spend time fermenting in claw foot tubs. Instead, amateurs and connoisseurs across the globe utilize beautiful, complicated and completely legal kitchen countertop machinery to whip up and drip out high-grade buzz that people pay good money to sip.

Novices looking to break into the shot pulling biz, though, will find that buying the proper equipment is an intimidating affair, complicated by ever-escalating price tags and more mechanical nerdery than a bus full of mathletes with erector sets. Rest assured, the right espresso machine for you is out there, and Eliot Ness isn’t going to forcefully confiscate any of these puppies any time soon. Because he’s dead. Follow our guide on buying an espresso machine and you’ll have all the schoolin’ you need to pick an ideal home setup.

A hearty thanks to the good folks at Clive Coffee for their expertise and assistance in producing this buying guide. If you're on the quest for top-tier coffee gear, your search is finally over.
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The watch company that came in from the cold

Saxon Snow: To the Heart of German Watchmaking with A. Lange & Söhne

Gear Patrol’s Jason Heaton travels to Saxony, home of A. Lange & Söhne, to explore the region, experience the watchmaker and learn its storied history. Read on for our short film, photo essay and his story — filled with snowy drives, German culture, precision watchmaking and an incredible company that came out of the cold.

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Right on time

Mondaine Swiss Railway Clock

If you’ve been to Switzerland — or just watched The Eiger Sanction or The Bourne Identity — you may have seen the clocks of the venerable Schweizerische Bundes Bahnen (SBB), or Swiss Federal Railway service. The clock design, created in 1944 by then-SBB employee Hans Hilfiker, is instantly recognizable. Black points stand starkly against a…

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20 slices of pie. Repeat.

The Holiday HIIT Workout

You’re outnumbered. At the time of battle you are one man up against a battalion of holiday comestibles so enticing and made with such love that it’s near impossible to imagine not eating them all: cheeses and charcuterie, spiced pistachios, herbed popovers, potato mash, various crostini of unknown constituents, assorted root vegetables — roasted — cassoulet, a standing rib roast. It’s not like you haven’t been wading through poultry and roasted meats since Thanksgiving. Plus, the harsh reality is that between extra-fortified eggnog and Champagne you’re two sheets, approaching three, to the wind.

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The real gear you'll need to survive when it all falls down

Apocalypse Essentials: The Almost Serious Survival Guide

The world isn’t going to end in 2012. But things could still get hairy sometime in the future. So, what would you need to carry on after the grid permanently dissolves? What are the necessities, and how could you improve your chances of accessing them over the long haul? As a team of curious souls, we decided to dive into the brain trust of the unsociably paranoid and prepared — the sharers of secrets across dedicated survival blogs and forums — in search of answers.

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Slipping through time, nearly untouched, in a Belizean Cave

Immaculate Tomb: Exploring Actun Tunichil Muknal

In the Tapir Mountain Nature Reserve of Western Belize, late in 1989, Dr. Thomas Miller jumped into a tributary of the Roaring River and swam inside an unnamed cave’s vine-covered mouth. But the American geologist wasn’t in pursuit of a lost Maya relic; he was there to study geomorphology: the formation of caves. What he found, however, led him to contact Dr. Jaime Awe, director of the Belize Institute of Archaeology, who recorded his findings in 1992.

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Baggage for a lifetime

Canvas & Leather: A Visit to J.W. Hulme

It’s no secret that it’s boom time for American-made heritage products, and companies as diverse as Stormy Kromer, LL Bean and Randolph Engineering are making the most of it. Even within this resurgence of handmade Americana, there is a further niche: Minnesota-made. Maybe it’s the popularity of the urban lumberjack aesthetic or a just a fondness for Midwestern honesty, but there’s no denying that brands from America’s icebox are hotter than ever.

We’ve highlighted some Minnesota companies before — Red Wing Shoes, Duluth Pack and Faribault Woolen Mills — but we recently got a chance to visit another venerable company nestled right in the gritty urban heart of Minnesota’s capital, St. Paul: J.W. Hulme. We stopped in, hoping to see what this bespoke baggage maker is all about.

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Illuminating

Timekeeping: First Look at the A. Lange & Söhne Grand Lange 1 Lumen

Christmas came early in Saxony this year, at least for Gear Patrol and a few other journalists who were given a rare sneak preview of one A. Lange & Söhne’s novelty timepieces for 2013. On a snowy night in a villa overlooking the Elbe River in Dresden, Lange CEO Wilhelm Schmid introduced the Grand Lange…

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Riding a (blast) wave

Defense Journal: The MRAP

Warfare is often a battle against change, and the U.S. military is always attempting to stay ahead of, or at least on top of, the curve. A fairly new yet significant player in this struggle is the MRAP, or Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle. From seemingly nowhere, the ubiquitous “Humvee” (High-Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle, or…

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Your new resource for all things Canon

Introducing the Canon Brand Guide

When you spend as much time as we do scouring the known universe in search of noteworthy products, one thing becomes abundantly clear: building a single great thing is a phenomenally difficult accomplishment, and repeating it is next to impossible. Every so often though, a company emerges that defies the odds and changes the world…

Special thanks to Canon for helping make this brand guide possible. Canon, Long Live Imagination.
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Hey There, Sport

Quick Spin: Range Rover Sport Supercharged

How do you really define overkill? Is 510 horsepower too much or just being prepared? If your $100K luxury SUV can climb a 45 degree muddy slope in a forest, but only goes on grocery runs, does it really make a sound? The 2013 Range Rover Sport Supercharged answers the question, “what if you wanted…

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Time is the wisest counselor of all -- Pericles

Timekeeping: The 10,000 Year Clock

“Time and tide wait for no man”, wrote Geoffrey Chaucer. We spend our days clamoring after bigger homes, nicer cars, the ultimate vacation spot — and time keeps ticking, someday getting the better of us. Death and taxes, as they say. Every so often, in the stillness of the night, we think about the legacy we’re leaving, about what will remain that has our name stamped on it long after we’re food for worms. Discomfortingly, it seems little will. Even in the world of architecture, with varied and vast creations across the globe, it’s a constant struggle to keep many historic buildings intact or to actually restore them to their original glory. Some survive, and many of those buildings aren’t even a century old. Others fall, their legacy continued only in photographs or history books.

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A sublime encounter with the bull

Steering by the Horns: Giro Lamborghini

In the world of exotic Italian automakers, the Lamborghini name needs no introduction — especially with the legacy of V12 superbeasts like the Miura and the Countach. Such icons adorned the walls of many a high school boy’s room just a few decades ago, and still ring true in our memories as a couple of…

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Like a brick through a plate glass window

Defense Journal: Bond’s Gun, the Walther PPK

And so James Bond reluctantly retires his Beretta 418, in .25 ACP — and takes up the Walther Polizeipistole Kurz (police pistol, short) as his issued weapon, in both the original novel and the movie. Ian Fleming had Bond’s original Beretta catch in his holster in From Russia, With Love ; but in 1956 he…

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Rolex? Omega.

Timekeeping: The Watches of James Bond

There’s a bit of dialogue in Casino Royale, the 2006 reboot of the James Bond movie franchise, when Vesper Lynd thinks she has Bond figured out, right down to his watch: “Rolex?” she asks. “Omega”, Bond replies. “Beautiful”, Lynd assesses. Those three words sum up 50 years of Bond and his wristwatches. They also have…

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One family's patty-filled chapter in the book of American Dreams

MoB | The History of In-N-Out Burger

In-N-Out Burger is something of a cult to those living outside of the chain’s west-coast bubble, proselytized by endless waves of sunkissed acolytes devoted to spreading the good burger word. Their brief testaments, filled with whispers of “animal fries”, “secret menus” and multiplied stacks of beef and cheese, speak of a fast-food paradise whose divine…