8 Ways To Spend Your Upcoming Tax Refund In Spectacular Fashion

Today is Tax Day, which is not really that fun to think about. That is, until you get to the refund portion of the program. You are likely owed a little something back. You could, of course, chip away at the mortgage or pay off a credit card. That would probably be the responsible thing to do. But you could also fly to Paris for dinner with Ducasse, or throw down for an epic omakase. Hell, it's only money, right? Here, Food Republic staffers give best advice for spending it wisely.

1. Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare

You're going to have to drop three large for a spot at the 12-seat table that Bouley vet Cesar Ramirez sets in the back of a Brooklyn grocery store. (It's more of a counter, with the chef and an assistant cooking in the center). Fare has become one of the hardest reservations in all of New York City, and the borough's only three Michelin star restaurant. Dinner is an enchanting trip, mostly through France and Spain, with courses simply called "halibut," "loup de mer" or "chocolate." I was first introduced to the restaurant during its first few months of operation — on a visit in spring 2009, langoustines were paired with speck, parsley purée and snails raised by a mother-son team in Washington state. The richly intense mollusks were fed primarily basil during their short lives, and had arrived via FedEx that morning. How did we know? Ramirez dutifully told us before racing back to prepare the next course some two feet from our seats. At the time, six primary dishes and eight canapes ran $90. Today the cost is $225 per person with wines that start at $60 a bottle. Have I been back? Not yet, but I still think about those snails a lot. 200 Schermerhorn St, Brooklyn, NY 11201 brooklynfare.com (Matt Rodbard)

2. Alain Ducasse at La Plaza Athénée

The first time I walked into the dining room at Alain Ducasse at La Plaza Athenee in Paris, I saw light dancing off chandeliers, white-tablecloth tables spread so far apart that diners would have to shout to each other to be heard, and silver. Lots of silver. Alas, I was there only to tour the hotel and was in and out of the room in 48 seconds. A few years later, however, this past November to be exact, I returned as a guest, taking my velvet-y seat for dinner and emerging many hours later, having been wined, dined and whisked into a land of gastronomical wonders. The breads (delivered via cart), the meats, the cheeses (another cart), the wines, the desserts (still another cart!) — all one grand decadent dance that amounted to a tribute to French culinary perfection. 25 Avenue Montaigne, 75008 Paris, France alain-ducasse.com (Richard Martin)

3. The Catbird Seat

We've written extensively about The Catbird Seat, the 32-seat restaurant that cemented Nashville's ascension to national food recognition. Having been fortunate enough to dine there twice during my college days – once as a graduation present and once because I am downright spoiled – I can attest that the restaurant more than lives up to its hype. From crispy hot chicken skin to tender ash-coated short rib, each of the seven courses ($100) is an absolute treat and the expertly paired beverages are a bargain. 1711 Division Street, Nashville, TN, 615-810-8200, thecatbirdseatrestaurant.com (George Embiricos)

4. Matsuhisa

Within the Greater Los Angeles area, don't just order the omakase because it's a semi-affordable $75 splurge at your local upscale sushi spot. Spend $150 on the premium omakase at the first American restaurant of arguably the most famous name in elevated Japanese cuisine: Nobu Matsuhisa. That way on the ride home, you won't be debating in your head whether it was worth it. It's not the $450 you'll spend at Masa, not even close. Besides, even that kind of cash can't buy extremely reliable celebrity sightings. Don't think you won't get a hearty slab of the signature, endlessly-imitated but never-nailed miso black cod — which kind of counts as a celebrity sighting in our book — because you probably will (and yes, you're allowed to request it). Expect rare ingredients imported from Japan, like yamamomo mountain peach and intensely red, marbled Wagyu beef that's actually from Wagyu. The presentation will be so picturesque you'll hesitate to disturb it with your chopsticks even after Instagamming. You'll even have enough cash left over to gas up the car — we've heard the neighborhood can get a little trafficky. 129 La Cienega Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90211 nobumatsuhisa.com (Jess Kapadia)

5. Blue Hill At Stone Barns

The setting itself, amid rolling hills and farmland, is a wonder. But it's Dan Barber's cooking and execution that makes sitting in the opulent, high-ceilinged dining room at Blue Hill At Stone Barns so enchanting. The set-course meal (ranging from $108-$208 with wine pairings from $80-$150) isn't really about courses, it's about tasting the difference between truly farm-grown and –raised vegetables and meats and what we're used to in our daily lives. Barber's way is clearly better. Carrots arrive at the table in their soil, thin slices of ham carry flavor imparted from the land around the barns, wines are poured along with an anecdote about the man or woman who made them. It's an exclusive-feeling experience that is meant to be shared by everyone, with hopes that word will spread of how when we eat better, we treat the world better as well. And if that sounds too message-y, well then focus on the best pork, duck and salad you've ever eaten. There, that does the trick. 630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills, NY 10591 bluehill.com (RM)

6. Momofuku Seiobo

To enjoy a dinner at Momofuku Seiobo, David Chang's first Momo extension outside of New York City, you have to get yourself to Sydney, Australia. First of all, it's so worth it! Next you have to score a reservation, which can be tricky. But once you've made all of that effort and find yourself seated at the counter of the restaurant located near a food court in the massive Star Casino — where choice Tribe Called Quest or Built To Spill tracks will boom — 15 exceptional courses will begin to arrive. Sea mullet with blood orange vinaigrette and nori powder. Day-caught marron tail with an artful squid ink gel. A closing course of pork shoulder eaten with one's hands. You might have just spent $185, and much more on the flight. But do you have a good story to tell your friends when waiting in line at Noodle Bar. 80 Pyrmont Street Level G Sydney, NSW 2009 momofuku.com (MR)

7. Kuruma Zushi

In a city home to some of the nation's finest sushi, it is difficult to pick one New York City spot that stands above the rest. My personal allegiances lie with Kuruma Zushi, the tiny Japanese mecca located on the second floor of a very nondescript Midtown building. Let maestro Toshihiro Uezu tantalize your palate with his omakase creations that slowly melt in your mouth ($250). We tend to frown on that expression but you'll understand why we have to use it once you experience the fish here. 7 East 47th Street, New York, NY, 212-317-2802, kurumazushi.com (GE)

8. Indigo

Housed in a huge colonial-style urban bungalow, South Mumbai's Indigo may be the poshest restaurant in Bollywood. Owned by the restaurateur king of Maharashtra, Columbia engineering grad Rahul Akerkar (who also opened three branches of Mumbai's first delicatessen, Indigo Deli in case you needed further convincing on how cool this half-Indian half-Jewish guy is), Indigo is Golden City's catbird seat of "see and be seen." Choice cuts of meat, poultry and seafood are prepared with European flavors Indian-style in a blindingly hot tandoor oven, which more of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants should utilize (Indigo was ranked #28 for 2013), while handmade pastas will encounter truffles, wasabi is utilized in ways that make you wonder how it ever went out of style Stateside — sweet and spicy crême brulée, anyone? — and, their very, very famous soufflé arrives precisely 20 minutes after ordering in a different variation every day. A trip down the menu will run about $150 before tax, tip and drinks, and by the way, definitely drink: a few fruity cocktails are de rigeur — India's fruit is some of the most flavorful you'll ever taste. 4, Mandlik Rd, Apollo Bandar, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India foodindigo.com (JK)