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The Tuesday Master List

26 Apr

Here’s a running list of my favorite spots and their Tuesday night offerings:

Agozar (Noho: Bowery btwn Bond/Bleecker) – book your reservation online for 50% off all your food items from 8-11pm. The sangria is STRONG! Full dinner menu here.

Flea Market Café (E. Ville: Ave A btwn 8th/9th Sts) – $16.95 gets you unlimited mussels (4 different kinds) and fries PLUS a glass of wine or a beer. Solid deal, but get there before 8:30pm to make sure they don’t run out!

Matilda Ristorante (E. Ville: 11th St btwn Aves B/C) – Ladies Night special includes 1/2 off all the specialty cocktails ($5.50 w/discount) and FREE glass of wine (red or white) with your meal!

Poco (E. Ville: Ave B @ 3rd St) – $35 per person for unlimited red or white house-infused sangria plus your choice of two tapas.

Public House (Midtown East – 41st St btwn 3rd Ave/Lex) – $35 for a 3-Course dinner with unlimited wine! Regular Happy hour is 5-7pm ($3 Drafts/$4 Wine/$5 Well)

Affaire (E. Ville: Ave B btwn 3rd/4th Sts) – 3 Course Prix Fixe All Evening for only $24.95. Or, you can choose to book through Savored for 30% off your total dinner bill.

And now for the Savored Love – book online for the following specials:

In Vino (E. Ville: 4th St btwn Aves A/B) – book a rez through Savored to get 30% off your dinner bill. The Ravioli Tartufati ai Porcini ($17) is AMAZING. Great date spot too!

Double Crown (Noho: Bowery btwn Bond/Bleecker) – book through Savored to get 25% off your total bill. Very swanky scene with a British-themed Asian fusion menu.

Gyu Kaku (E. Ville: Cooper Sq @ 5th St) – book your reservation through Savored – you’ll get 30% off your entire meal!

Brindle Room (E. Ville: 10th St btwn 1st Ave/Ave A) – book a rez through Savored to get 30% off your dinner bill. The mussels are great and the oyster baked with a creamy leek puree is superb!

Nirvana (Midtown East: Lexington btwn 39th/40th) – book a rez through Savored to get 30% off your dinner bill. The Gobi Manchurian may be one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, seriously.

Always check the websites or give a call before you go – and if you have comments or additions to the list, we’re all ears!

…it’s Tuesday, where’s the party at?!

I Feel Ya, Tequila: Mayahuel

20 Apr

Peruse The Tequila Library

Tequila has been known to make clothes fall off and the likelihood of a rowdy evening increase exponentially… But maybe it’s gotten a bad rap; Tequila deserves to have someone clean up its act and reveal it for the classy drink it is. Here to restore Tequila’s good name (and potentially drag yours through the mud, after a few cocktails), is the East Village’s very own Mayahuel (6th St btwn 1st/2nd Aves).

Being a cocktail dungeon devoted solely to the advancement of Mexico’s favorite imbibement, Mayahuel is a Tequila lover’s paradise. Don’t miss it; the entryway bears no signage, but fear not, you’ll eventually notice the strange cabin-like façade and set foot into a tastefully themed cocktail den. The casual bar area downstairs pales in comparison to the luxurious couches and mosaic tiled tables in the upstairs lounge -you may have to wait a bit, but it’s worth it. Give the doorman your cell, hit up a wine bar in the vicinity and you’ll be back to swig a little bit of Mexico in no time.

The drinks (~$13-14) can be a bit intimidating (the menu should probably include a glossary), but thankfully the staff are all quite helpful when it comes to making a selection. All you have to do is say a few choice adjectives (sweet, savory, spicy) and they’ll tell you your best bet posthaste. My personal fave is the Pilot Punch (oober spicy – made with Blanco Tequila, Jalapeno, Yellow Chartreuse and Lime + a hint of cucumber and mint). Don’t get too attached to any drink though; their menu is constantly changing to bring you new and exciting flavor combos. I should also mention that they have eats ranging from shareable bites like the Palomitas (Popcorn with lime, Cojita cheese, and ancho chili – $5) to the larger Platos Fuertes ($12-21), if you’re really looking to get your south of the border grub on. I prefer to keep it simple with strictly cocktails, but you know how I do.

Next time you’re contemplating something different to spice up your evening’s drinks, think Mayahuel. With Tequila-based cocktails this good, you may find yourself doing a Pee Wee Herman-esque dance – and why shouldn’t you? After all, Mayahuel might be your next Big Adventure. Get crazy and enjoy it responsibly, folks.

Holy Guacamole: AYCD Brunch @ Mercadito Grove

12 Apr

I’m aware that hearing about a new all-you-can-drink brunch special makes me way too happy.  We all have our own cheap thrills, right?  Mine just happen to be primarily concerned with cheap, boozy brunches…  Throw in outdoor dining on a happening West Village corner (7th Ave South @ Grove St) and Mercadito Grove moves its way right to the top of my list (or way up there).

The Mercadito Group has several restaurants throughout NYC and the US, but Mercadito Grove is by far my favorite member of the family.  With a fairly large outdoor seating area and excellent, inventive Mexican dishes on a very diverse menu, it’s my new warm weather go-to brunch spot.  The best example of their creative take on south of the border standards is the Guacamole Granada ($9.50) which is interspersed with juicy pomegranate seeds and topped with queso fresco – I didn’t think it was too hot, though it does boast habanero as an ingredient.   If you’re looking for a little more heat, ask them for a side of the habanero hot sauce to use throughout the meal.

To fully capitalize on our $25 of all inclusive brunching time, we decided to jump around the drink menu (note: everyone at the table needs to partake in the special – I don’t make the rules…).  We tried all the mimosas (strawberry/pineapple/mango) – they’re the traditional OJ + champagne w/ a puree of the chosen fruit on top – strawberry was by far the best.   The white sangria (white wine, brandy, pineapple, elderflower) was excellent, and t’was lovely to have beer in the AYCD options.  For entrees, the rancheros are where it’s at: an ooey gooey delicious swamp of eggs and beans piled onto crispy tortillas.  Spicy habanero sauce really kicked up the intensity of the somewhat bland Tacos de Camarones (shrimp).  The Torta de Carne is a rosemary marinated skirt steak sandwich topped with bean purée, napa cabbage, tomato, jalapeño, avocado, oaxaca cheese – interested? Yep, thought so.  Throw in the massive plates of black beans and herbed rice served with warm tortillas and you’ve got a feast of epic proportions.

Hungry yet?  Actually, we left QUITE full… and you can believe I’ll be heading back – especially since they take brunch reservations!  Also, have to mention that they have All You Cat Eat Tacos (10 varieties), ALL night Sunday/Monday, after 10pm Tues/Weds/Thurs and after 11pm Fri/Sat for only $23!   So go on, Speedy Gonzales, get your fiesta started.  With these great deals, you’ll be shouting “¡Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!”

Fall In Love with In Vino

5 Apr

When someone asks me where they should take a date for dinner, I’ll do some Q&A to figure out what they’re looking for… BUT despite their answers, one of my suggestions is almost always bound to be In Vino.  This East Village (4th St btwn Ave A/Ave B) dining destination is the perfect spot to get your love connection on – and regardless of the company, you’re going to adore this eating experience.

The wine list (or bible, if you will) can be a bit intimidating so if you find yourself lost, just ask your server for a recco.  The Cannonau “Nero Sardo” ($32) is a versatile red I’ve gone back to again and again – a very reliable bottle.  The Insalate di Endivia ($10) is a light option with bold flavors (mmm gorgonzola) and I’ve also had the Mussels which may have been a special (not on the online menu) but were definitely a good sized portion and great for sharing.  One item I may not EVER share?  The Ravioli Tartufati ai Porcini ($17); savory sachets of pasta deliciousness with a creamy truffle sauce.  Best Ravioli I’ve ever had, hands down.  Go get your own!  Just to note, the pumpkin ravioli which appears from time to time on the specials menu is good, but I prefer a thinner consistency; they were more like dumplings (but still very tasty).

Though you lose the dark grotto-esque ambience that nighttime lends, weekend brunch at In Vino is still a hip scene with great eats.  We started with customized mini-pitchers of sangria – I had the red and got a sparkling Prosecco topper (do it!).  The brunch entrees were decadent – the Pane Tostato  Mandorla ($10) French toast stuffed with strawberry + marscapone and THEN crusted with sliced almonds was completely over the top – I only got ½ way through but each bite was heaven.  We also had the Uovo Benedetto ($11) – warm Poached Eggs on Rosemary Focaccia Toast w/ Grilled Prosciutto Cotto and Basil Hollandaise.  Wowza.

If you’re a deal lover, book a rez through Savored to get 30% off your dinner bill Mon-Weds nights or Saturday till 3pm for brunch.  Go with friends or bring the object of your heart’s desire and get a heart-on for these amazing Italian eats.

Holy Basil, Batman; That’s Fine Thai Dining

29 Mar

Generalization time: many Thai spots in NYC blend together in a haze of generic, undersized storefronts with some variation of the same menu. For the last 4 years, I’ve walked past a nondescript entryway labeled “The Holy Basil”, which leads up a staircase, into a building – presumably to ANOTHER Thai resto waiting to be added to my arsenal of the forgettable. Sounds a bit shady, even for this curious foodie – BUT upon hearing from 2 trusted sources that Holy Basil in the East Village (2nd Ave btwn 9th/10th Sts) is a must-try, I decided to give it a go.

Once past the entryway sitch, I found myself in an Asian Speakeasy – and not one of those places that is designed to LOOK like a speakeasy; the decor is authentic (makes me wonder if it had another eatery identity in a past life). The music is a mix of swing and up-tempo jazz, the crowd was lively, even at 6:45pm on a Saturday. Normally I don’t eat that early, but it worked out nicely because I got in on the pre-7pm 1/2 priced drinks and we also each received a free salad + spring roll as part of the “happy hour” special.

The service was meticulous – our waiter answered all our questions about the menu with enthusiasm – we were never rushed; the pacing was excellent. We appetized with Beef Satay, Steamed Spring Rolls and the Papaya Salad. All solid options – of note, the Papaya Salad was spot-on with the traditional Thai preparation of the dish. My entrée, the Koong Kaprow – seared shrimp with peppers, onions and the namesake Holy Basil – was divine. My dining companions went for the Crispy Duck in a red curry sauce w/lychee and pineapple – glowing reviews. If you like it hot, the spiciest menu items have a double-starred (**) indicator, but I could’ve gone even hotter – so speak up if you want extra heat. Everything we ate was legit; like the ambiance there was just an authenticity to the meal.

It’s uncommon to enter a restaurant and be completely floored that the space even exists, but walking into this solid Thai resto, I had a total “who would’ve known?” moment…  and now YOU know.  So if you want a spot with a completely unexpected (and welcomed) vibe, grab your crew and check it out – you’ll soon be a devout aficionado of Holy Basil.

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