Not Everything Has to Be So Great
The Seven Wonders of the World are kind of showy. They’re all “Great” this and “Colossus of” that. Those annual lists of manmade spectacles generally recognize feats of modern engineering or mammoth construction. But what about smaller things that are no less worthy of our wonder? These are seven of them.
As determined by the Whalebone Tourism Bureau
AT TABERNA LEBRE | ERICEIRA, PORTUGAL
In the heart of Ericeira, tucked away down a cobblestone alley between whitewashed buildings with bright blue trim you’ll find Taberna Lebre. It’s an unassuming family-owned tavern, but the prego roll is a wonder of construction and architecture indeed. Strips of seared steak served on a pillowy roll that’s been slathered with garlic butter and only €3. Pair it with a mini ice-cold beer for a combination greater than any wall.
AT BARRACHINA RESTAURANT | OLD SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO
It’s not vacation to some unless they get involved with a piña colada. And the birthplace of the cocktail is indisputably Puerto Rico. And Barrachina in Old San Juan—where Don Ramon Portas Mingot first made Jimmy Buffet’s second favorite drink in 1963—claims to be the boat drink’s originator. There’s a plaque and everything.
7-11 in Montauk on a Saturday night when nothing else is open
MONTAUK, NEW YORK
At 2 a.m. when your Uber driver is nice enough to pull over to let you run into the 7-11 when nothing else in town is open and you really need to stock up on Gatorade and snacks, this shop transcends mere convenience to rank among the world’s most wonderful places. In that moment.
Madison Square Garden when the Knicks play and people still come
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
It’s wondrous indeed that year in and year out the Knicks faithful still come to witness the Dolan Family’s mess running up and down the court despite little encouragement. That they still manage to occasionally cheer is no less than miraculous. Must see to believe.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
It’s not the Taj Mahal or the Colosseum but a monument no less, built not to honor a person or to let lions loose in or hold chariot races, but as a palace to cinema where you can see all of those things unfold in glorious 70mm on its gigantic curved screen. It even had its own onscreen moment in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. The 75-foot tall orb rising out of Sunset Boulevard—the first concrete geodesic dome ever built in the world—seats 800 and was intended as a model for modern movie theaters in 1963. That never happened, though this one remains.
CEBU CITY, PHILIPPINES
Ask anyone who knows and they’ll tell you the best lechon in the world (or as Anthony Bourdain put it “The best pig in the world” period) is in Cebu. Ask a Filipino where the best lechon in Cebu is, and there’s a good chance you’ll be pointed to this tiny stall down Katipunan Street in Labangon Public Market. Opens at 3 or 4 p.m. and closes when they sell out. Locals and people who watched that episode of No Reservations are lined up well before that.
BALLINA, NSW, AUSTRALIA
At nearly 30 feet tall and 40 tons, Big Prawn is massive. The crustacean could have been lost when the transit building it sat atop was demolished in 2009, but a groundswell of public support saved him—and he even got a tail. He’s anything but shrimpy, but if you think that’s big, you should see the barbie.