Tag Archives: NYC

The Master Summer List

3 Jun

Once summer comes, all bets on your usual favorite spots are off; the restos and watering holes that are warm-weather friendly become the hottest commodity there is.  However, rather than completely disregard some of the spots I’ve recommended to you all, I’ve decided to let you know which ones to hit as we continue towards the imminent summer solstice.

Where the Sidewalk Ends (and Dinner Begins!):

Matilda – (E. Ville: E 11th St btwn Aves B/C) – Whether you opt for sidewalk seating or perch in the windowsill, you’ll get the outdoor experience along with a healthy serving of bold Tusc-Mex flavors.  Go Tuesday night for Ladies night!

Mercadito Grove – (W. Ville: 7th Ave South @ Grove St) – The mix of location, upscale Mexican and a diverse list of tacos makes this place a fan favorite.  The corner location provides prime sidewalk real estate for people watching.

Philip Marie – (W. Ville: Hudson St @ W 11th St) – Though the outdoor tables are few, I think braving the wait is always worth it.  Especially when you take the unlimited bloodies + mimosas into consideration!

Poco – (E. Ville: Ave B @ 3rd St) – Since it tends to be particularly loud inside this resto, the seats outside are a best bet.  With a kickass brunch and different nightly specials like $15 bottles of wine, all you can eat mussels, and unlimited sangria, any time’s a good time to head over to Poco.

A Good Backyard is Hard to Find:

Ninth Ward – (E. Ville: 2nd Ave btwn 11th/12th Sts) – While the front sidewalk space is always a great option, the large backyard is a much better space to hang with your crew.  Grab one of their many interesting cocktail options (or a beer) and hang Nawlins style.

Pure Food & Wine – (Gramercy: Irving Pl btwn 17th/18th) – What could be better than eating a delicious and healthy vegan meal?  Eating it in a beautiful, large backyard patio, of course!  You’ll be surrounded by nature while feasting on nature’s bounty; it just works.

Sunburnt Cow – (E. Ville: Ave C btwn 8th/9th Sts) – An excellent brunch deal and attractive staff/patrons are two things that can only get better with a retractable “sun roof”.  You’ll appreciate the nice breeze too; you may need some cooling down.

Fair Game:

Hester Street Fair – (LES: Hester St @ Essex) – Forget stinky halal meat and generic kettle corn stands; this street fair is the real deal.  Open every Saturday through the end of October, this gourmet fest rotates in some of the best and most celebrated foodie faves of NYC.  Bring a blanket and pop a squat on the lawn with a Luke’s Lobster Roll or Shaved Ice Shop creation for a fabulous outdoor (and out of the box) day.

And finally, for the days when you want a sunny space, without being directly IN the sun:

Flea Market Café – Their front paneled doors open to the street, transforming the space into an open air café.  The Tuesday night all you can eat moules frites special is out of this world – get there.

Macondo – If you’re lucky enough to grab a stool at the front of this place, you can bask in the sunlight while sipping your drink of choice (I recommend you go for brunch and grab a vanilla bean mimosa)!

Consider yourself schooled in my recommended spots you should hit up this summer.  Need some fashion tips to make sure your summer style is lookin so flossy?  Check out Poor Little It Girl; she’ll see to it you’re well-dressed for all your outdoor drinking + dining endeavors.  Now break out the wayfarers and tank tops (no, not you boys) and get yourselves outside!

A Restaurant with a Pedigree: The Beagle

1 Jun

NYC’s East Village is rapidly becoming one of the most gourmet hoods in the entire city; the cat’s out of the bag on that one.  So it’s no surprise that the latest top dog to enter nipping at the heels of this trend is The Beagle, the E.Ville’s latest cocktail bar slash eatery (and not the other way around, Fabio).  Taking over the former Orologio space on Avenue A (btwn 10th/11th Sts), the self-described “academic” cocktail program and excellent eats may just make The Beagle a contender for the title of Best in Show.

While The Beagle’s concept favors equal billing for cocktails and food, I tend to think that the former stole the show; the cocktail list reads like a study in the classics, with modern twists.  The London Buck ($12) is adorned with a slab of candied ginger and features a dry gin, ginger, lime juice and seltzer – deliciously crafted with surprisingly delicate flavors that go down easily with the help of your metal mixologist straw.  The complete liquor offerings are a comprehensive list that my Scotch-aficionado man-friends dubbed the Who’s Who of the Scotch world.  Though, if you’re a barley and hops fan, you’ll only find 4 beers to mention – but they are thoughtful additions to the liquid imbibement line-up.

One of the more interesting menu offerings are the pairing boards ($17), which, true to their name, team a tasting of food with a modestly sized cocktail.  Of these duos, we ordered the Burrata and Gin (the former a creamy white cheese doused with pepper, much to my delight) and the Pressed Pig Head and Rum (Pig Head = not nearly as offensive to me when served in pastry square form, also, the “pickled things” were a hit).  The happiest accident was the unplanned order of Lamb Neck and Rye which had the table foodgasming – the anchovy relish was quite a remarkable condiment. The Dates served with Prosciutto weren’t bad, but were unremarkable.  My table faves were the Fresh Baby Corn ($6) skewered and topped with a lime/mayo/cilantro concoction – perfect for sharing, such a fun dish – and The Shrimp ($10) with Vermouth, Mirepoix and Crème Fraiche, very well executed.

Though The Beagle’s menu is carnivorously driven, I managed to find several delicious veggie/pesky options.  As for reviewing the meat dishes, I got by with a little help from my friends (overall consensus: Tasty, with a capital T).  So round up your dogs dawgs, and take yourselves out for a walk – over to The Beagle, of course.

Dine Simply – Soju and Sushi: Mono + Mono

5 May

Try to picture ME (a non-meat eater) going to a Korean Fried Chicken joint.  Weird, right.  BUT, I’m always determined to find my way around a menu, so I decided to make Mono + Mono my challenge.  At first glance, you’ll clearly notice the decor has an inexplicably cool appeal, but what I didn’t expect are the simple + amazing Soju Cocktails (think vodka but sweeter) and Sushi Rolls.  Trust me: you’ll be beyond ecstatic that you took my advice by heading to this East Village spot (4th St btwn 1st/2nd Aves).

Full disclosure: the first time I went to Mono + Mono, the service was just wrong.  I talked to the manager who confessed they were short staffed and the normal chef was out that night.  He asked that I give them another try, so months later, I returned.  After all, dark mood lighting, a grand piano doubling as a communal table and a DJ perched a good 1.5 stories above the dining room, spinning awesome jazz standards equals a second chance, as far as I’m concerned.  The AMAZING Soju Cocktail Sampler ($11) didn’t hurt my decision to come back either…

As an overall document, Mono + Mono’s menu can be a bit perplexing.  Grilled Edamame ($5.95) presented inside a hollowed corn husk?  Weird, but also really freaking tasty.  Also odd-yet-wonderful are the Grilled Tofu Sliders ($10.95), perfect for sharing too.  Surprisingly, the Crouching Tiger Shrimp ($14.95), grilled w/white truffle oil, saffron and fennel bulb sauce were a bit small + chewy and didn’t really do it for me.  The best part of the meal, by leaps and bounds, was the sushi rolls.  We went with the Ninja, Spider, and Crunch California Rolls ($11.95-$12.95) which were all SUPERBLY executed.  The rolls each have 11-13 perfectly bite-sized pieces, the flavors are so fresh and they’re made with sushi rice that seems less dense than any roll I’ve ever had.

I may not have had the featured Korean Fried Chicken but I’m sure I’ll go back, and will eventually get the scoop on it.  What my experience with Mono + Mono DID teach me is that if at first a restaurant doesn’t succeed, and the signature dish is something you won’t eat, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an epic fail.  OK, in most cases it does – BUT, in the case of M+M, I learned: judge not [too quickly], lest ye will miss out on some pretty amazing Soju and Sushi.

Contender for No. 1 Sandwich Spot in NYC: No. 7 Sub

15 Mar

When I did a little research into the latest and greatest in NYC sandwich culture, a sammy shop called No. 7 Sub popped up quite a few times.  Located in Flatiron (B’way btwn 28th/29th Sts) and situated in the ground floor of the Ace Hotel (though there’s no direct access between the 2, as far as I could tell), I made a mental note to add this spot to my to-do list.  Seeing as they’re only open for lunch Mon-Sat from 11:30am-5pm (or until they run out of bread for the day), I decided the buzz on this place warranted skipping Saturday brunch in lieu of a rocking good sub-day.

No. 7 Sub is an offshoot of the No. 7 Restaurant in Fort Greene, BK – the sub spot has a quirky yet swanktified vibe about it, stealing a page out of the Ace Hotel book.  Head in and order any of the subs (all $9 bucks), take the 5 strides necessary to cover the width of the resto, and hang while they freshly prepare one of their amazing innovations made  just for you.

I was really torn between a few of the options but I had the insane pleasure of grubbing on the General Tso’s Tofu Sub.  Breaded and fried, the tofu is so flavorful that it would be amazing by itself; throw in pickled ginger, shisho (a minty Japanese herb), spaghetti squash, and what I think was spicy mayo – full on party in my mouth.  Seriously, may have been the best sandwich I’ve ever had (aggressive call, I know).  The gents I dined with had the Lamb Meatloaf Club which was smothered in white sauce (possibly tzatziki?), a red sauce that was currified and topped with salad – finally got to hear how amazing it was during the brief halftime break.  Additionally, the Cilantro Chicken Sub with avocado and feta was greatly enjoyed.  For my next visit (which I’m obvi already planning), the Brussels Sprouts Reuben needs to happen – a friend who’s a veggie skeptic said it was damn good.

For lunching perfection, walk your eats the few blocks down Broadway and sit at one of the tables just outside Madison Square Park; take a minute to fully relish your sub.  These sandwiches are unique creations best savored (if you can manage to pause from bite to delicious bite).

Burger Building Bonanza: The Counter

25 Feb

I’ve always been a big fan of burgers, especially adding unique toppings to make different flavor combos. However, being a vegetarian has put a bit of a damper on my willingness to eat burgers – most veggie burgers at restos are microwaved little pucks of breadcrumbs – it’s an offense to all other burgers! So when I heard about the upscale, custom-built burger joint, The Counter in Times Square (B’way /41st St), I figured I’d give myself another chance at having my heart stolen by the hamburglar.

The resto is modern, but pulls off a casual vibe with snugly placed tables and a bar with games showing on their huge flat screens. We went for dinner and the place was just about full – though I can imagine it being a zoo for lunch – the advanced order form menu is most handy. Speaking of the menu, we started with the sweet potato fries – they were AWESOME – not too fried, crispy outside, melt in yo mouth inside. We also HAD to try one of the Boozy Adult Milkshakes – the Strawberry Shake was weak on booze, but big on flavor.

For my burger, I went Tex-Mex: a veggie patty (a properly delicious one!), roasted red peppers, avocado, black bean+corn salsa, grilled onions and tomato, all melted beneath jalapeno jack cheese and thrown onto their classic bun smothered with chipotle aioli sauce. OMFG – they should add my creation to the signature burgers – it was that good. My dinner date went Greek with a turkey patty on a ciabatta roll sauced w/feta spread and topped off by hot pepperoncinis, grilled onions and sundried tomatoes, with tzatziki sauce on the side – t’was a Mediterranean delight.

After my amazing (and filling) dinner, I’m certain I’d brave the lunch frenzy to partake in the tailored tastiness of The Counter Burger, or at least swing by after work again. Plus, for lighter options, you can always shed the bun and top a salad with your creation – so grab your clipboard and start building your ideal burger!

Lunch’s Best Friend: Grey Dog

8 Feb

Mexican Hot Cha-Cha-Chocolate

Nothing tugs at my heart strings like a good prix fixe brunch special, so you know if I’m skipping brunch to hit up a lunch spot on my weekend afternoon, it’s going to be nothing short of fantastic…  Which, in a nutshell, describes Grey Dog’s Coffee – the quintessential neighborhood coffee and lunch spot in Greenwich Village (University btwn 11th/12th Sts).

Take a step into the cozy, country-styled dining room and witness dining efficiency at its peak.  Don’t let the long line to order deter you – tables are turned over pretty quickly so take a second to eyeball that table of hotties at the front, check out some of the quirky local art covering the exposed brick walls, then focus your concentration on the massive chalkboard menu; it’ll be your turn to order in no time.  While they do offer wine, beer and sangria, we opted for Mexican Hot Chocolate (made with cinnamon) and espresso – when in a coffee shop, right?

Our table had the Grey Dog’s Breakfast with Pancakes, which also included eggs, taters, and fruit, but the bacon (I’m told) was the star of the show.   I’m more partial to the sandwiches; one of my fellow diners had the #7: a Turkey Sandwich with Granny Smith Apple, Brie & Raspberry Mustard – on the Cranberry Bread, it was legit.  I went for the #5 – Portobello Mushroom, fresh Mozz and Roasted Red Peppers which is Panini pressed to perfection.  The sammies are pretty huge so I’d recommend doing a combo with 1/2 a ‘wich + the country salad; their homemade vinaigrette is one of my favorites out there.

The Carmine Street location and the latest addition, a Chelsea locale, give you a few options to hit up.  Whichever you decide to go to, do yourselves a favor and check out the amazing lunch goodness that is Grey Dog’s Coffee –  it will have you running to fetch more.

Tap into Tapeo 29

31 Jan

All Hail Cocktails

Listen up, because this one’s making the list of TOP brunch spots.  Too often I’ve come to find that when you’re getting an excellent brunch special, the sacrifice is in the quality of the food.  So when I heard about Tapeo 29, a Zagat’s rated tapas spot offering a stellar brunch deal, I knew my weekend research was going to take me to the Lower East Side (Clinton @ Stanton).

Tapeo is a true bar and restaurant that, unlike many spots with both these features, doesn’t suffer from an identity crisis.  The resto’s expansive center bar is surrounded by high top tables which are closely situated and make it easy to strike up a conversation with your neighbors, if you so desire.  With the drink special, which is $20 for an entrée + 2 drinks (mimosas, bloodies, screw drivers), I’m certain you’ll be chatting up your fellow brunchers in no time.  Done with your first 2 drinks and fiending for more?  No worries, after your included drinks, additional cocktails are $2 each or $5 for a pitcher, if you’re really looking to get after it.

Wrapped Up in Brunch Bliss

The special also gives you free range of the whole menu, so you have the option to choose a traditional breakfast item, or to order $20 worth of tapas.  The Brunch Wrap with eggs, cheddar and avocado slices was great; the salsa verde was an awesome sauce and the home fries are the ISH – the Eggs Benedict were “super” as well.  A table favorite was the Chorizo al Sidra – medallions of chorizo slow cooked in apple cider and cinnamon, which even I had to admit, smelled phenomenal.

This Benedict's No Traitor

The bartenders and wait staff are friendly and accommodating, which makes it easy to settle into a nice long day of debauchery.  So assemble a crew, make a reservation and get ready to warm up your barstool – Tapeo 29 is the spot.

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