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Monday, June 30, 2014

NYC Blog Post 6.30.2014

Alright folks, now that Yacht Week BVI and busy season at work are out of the way I have a TON of New York bars and restaurants to catch you up on.  Since there are so many I'm going to breakdown into areas and give the short version.  Today is Brooklyn through Flatiron and then hopefully the rest of the alphabet tomorrow.


At my roommate's suggestion we went here for my birthday dinner.  I got the "Hake Cake" which looked exactly like it sounds... a multiple layered cake of fish.  Sounds weird but tasted delicious.  My whole goal was to try something random and new and it turned out great.  This restaurant is very cute - perfect for an intimate dinner with friends or a significant other.  The menu is always based on fresh ingredients and is everchanging.  I recommend it however even with a reservation they made us wait awhile which was a little annoying.

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Berry Park
I can't remember if I've written this place up before... probably back when I first came and hadn't had the opportunity to test out the rooftop.  The rooftop is golden!  One of my favorite places in Brooklyn although the line to get in can get a little crazy.  If you go during summer don't be concerned by the utter lack of people inside... we are all on the roof.  They have great drinks, a good beer selection, great DJs (most of the time), lots of seating and DELICIOUS fries.  YOU MUST GET THE FRIES.  Go there.

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Cafe Mogador
I've been to the one in East Village before but this was my first time at the Williamsburg location.  I think they've got really good food and great wine.  Nice for a second date because it's intimate but not too quiet.  You do sit awfully close to other people though so helps to know the person you are with.  Super easy to walk in and get a table on a weeknight.

 Photo Credit: Mogador Website

Colonia Verde
My new favorite pasttime in good weather has been walking the East River, over the Brooklyn Bridge, into Brooklyn and wandering my way back up to the Bedford L Stop.  This time I cut in a little more than usual and found myself in Fort Greene which is an adorable town that doesn't feel like New York at all.  We decided to stop for some food at this restaurant literally just by picking a place off the street.  We sat at the bar with the very friendly bartender who made us some awesome cocktails.  There was a mess up with the kitchen so we ended up waiting an hour for our food but when it came it was very good.  I had the steak which was perfectly cooked and a very large portion.  Scrumptious.  And they took a round of drinks off for the annoyance of waiting which was a smart move.  I would definitely eat here again when and if I end up in Fort Greene again.  It's the type of place I'd take some friends to hang out or dinner with the parents.

Photo Credit: Colonia Verde Website


Ganso Ramen
I ordered the shishito peppers, short rib buns, crispy gyoza and ramen and all of them were SO good.  One of the best ramen places I've been to in New York.  Definitely gives Ippudo a run for the money although it's a bitch to get to from Manhattan.  Highly recommend if you randomly find yourself in downtown Brooklyn.

 Photo Credit: Gansa Website

Harefield Road
I hate to admit that "cash only" restaurants automatically lose points with me but they do.  Especially when you are trying to go for brunch and have to skimp on what you want to order so that you can ensure you have enough skrilla to cover the bill.  Not ideal!  That aside Harefield has a nice brunch and a great atmosphere.  Not sure I need to return but it was an enjoyable meal.

Photo Credit: Harefield Website

94 Wythe
For those of you who love Kinfolk Studios OR amazing design, you HAVE to check out this brand new spot by the same people as KS.  It's called 94 Wythe (aren't you smart that IS the address!) and then inside architecture is like something out of a design magazine.  It's breathtaking.  There's a few couches and a dance floor in addition to the main bar area.  The only downside are the cocktails... they weren't that good.  Always a bummer for me.  Such a cool place to impress a first date or to have a birthday party.  I will definitely be back.

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Nita Nita
I have mixed feelings on this place.  Their slogan is "stiff drinks, great eats,"  I agree the drinks are stiff... and also terrible.  I took one speak of mine (and I love cocktails) and ordered a beer.  And then they charged me for the cocktail.  That pissed me off.  So I'll skip to the better part of the evening... the food.  The pulled pork with cornbread was not only a different take on something that seems very traditional but it was VERY tasty.  Like one of the better dishes I've had recently.  The flavors all just merged together into something new and different.  If you somehow end up here... at least order that.  Otherwise bypass this place for some of the better options in the area.

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Ah, the infamous Roberta's Pizza.  The tales about this place are unlimited so I had to see for myself.  I finally made it out there and was delighted to find that the stories are accurate.  This place is f-ing cool.  It feels like some post-apocalyptic outpost in the outskirts of Brooklyn.  You walk through a random, dilapidated door stuck in the middle of a deserted street and enter into a warm, eclectic dining area.  Walk in a little farther and there's another room and another, all haphazardly joined together like an afterthought.  But it works!  And then there's the pizza.  It's SO good.  I can't say enough good things about this place (and they have boozy hot cider in the winter) and definitely need to get back there for the summer version.

Photo Credit: Roberta's Website
Shelter Pizza
It's weird that this place is called "Shelter Pizza" because I don't really think of pizza when I think of it.  A friend of mine works here as a bartender so I sat at the bar when I went in.  They've got nice wine and the pizza is pretty good.  I actually think of the empanadas when I think of this place though.  They are really good and they have lots of choices.  The bar has a cool, lodge-like feel to it with sheepskin rugs, low lighting and wooden walls.  Feels very cozy in the winter.  A cool place overall but I probably wouldn't return if my friend didn't work there since there are other similar places I like better.

I RANDOMLY ended up at this fine, Bushwick establishment late late night to meet up with some friends.  I was concerned in the cab ride over that I'd been given a faulty address since it was nowhere near anything I've ever heard of or been to.  Turns out it is pretty sweet.  It was packed in the upstairs bar and then downstairs in the basement was a huge dance party.  Beers were also pretty cheap and the crowd was laidback but fun.  Not sure I will ever randomly end up out here again but if I do I'll be pretty happy about it.  You should try it out!

Photo Credit: Tutu Website

This should've been added to my last blog post re: concert venues but I hadn't been yet.  It's a huge warehouse esk venue where I saw Chromeo.  I'll be the first to admit that you definitely need to trade in your ticket for another ticket at the door and I just walked right past that and in.  To be fair I did BUY a ticket.  There's a coat check just inside and then it opens into the bar and the large dance floor.  It was very fun although would be difficult to fill up I feel like. I'll be back but probably only for another show; not just for dancing.

Photo Credit: Verboten Website

The Woods
Last but not least of the Brooklyn posts... The Woods.  If you've ever been to Portland, OR, you will feel like you've been transported to the Pacific Northwest.  The wooden interior of the bar and the large picnic table ladened backyard are so PNW.  Hence why I love it so much.  And when I thought I couldn't love this PBR bar anymore than I already do... I discovered their pork-sicles.  Not sure if that's the actual name for them but it's my best description.  It's literally pork belly on a stick.  I think I ate five in a row last time I was there before I ran out of cash.  Otherwise they'd have run out of pork belly.  This post is making me hungry.  I need to go back.

  Photo Credit: Michael F on


Heath at the McKittrick Hotel
Went here for a registered party which was a terrible party but as with all the other aspects of the McKittrick Hotel the interior decoration of this place was magical.  The area in the photo below with the tables was open for dancing when I arrived so I'm sure it's a completely different experience usually.  I loved the little area in the second picture which was a replication of a train car.  I would like to come back and try it out for dinner or drinks again.  Maybe when the parents are in town.  They'd love this.

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Le Baron
Another long time favorite that I just haven't had a chance to write about.  I rarely make it down to Chinatown (need to remedy that!) but when I do I can't help but mingle with the fancy French at this nightclub.  A smallish club that features three intimate floors of dancing and drinking, you feel like you've been whisked away to a dirty dancing night in Paris.  The drinks are crazy expensive but the venue is worth it.  A great place to take that girl you've had your eye on.  She'll be impressed... and you'll be poor.  Just feels and looks like a hot bed of sin.

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Old Man Hustle
I can always expect to find random, weird little places with a certain friend of mine and this place was no exception.  Within 30 minutes I found myself playing Cards Against Humanity with the bartender and my three friends to the chagrin of the other patrons.  A small little bar that fits about 15 people on a random street in Chinatown.  I'll totally stop in again next time I'm in the area. 

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Whiskey Tavern
Imagine my surprise to learn that there is YET ANOTHER bar in the Whiskey family??  In addition to loving Whiskey Town in the EV and Whiskey Brooklyn in Williamsburg, I can now add Whiskey Tavern in Chinatown to my list of favorites.  Check. It. Out.

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If you are looking for "18 years olds" who love to karaoke this is your place! I walked in and immediately felt 31720457124514 years old.  But it was hopping and really fun.  Just know what you are in for!  I think it was a birthday party so this clientele might be different on a regular night; I just thought it was hilarious.  Definitely a dive bar good time.

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Empire Biscuit
Their slogan is "Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Drunk." and I've managed three of the four (I'll let you make your best guess).  I've been desperate to find a place on the East Coast that understands what a biscuit is... and FINALLY I've found it.  Not to mention they also have Blue Bonnet iced coffee making this the happiest place on Earth.  My future husband is gonna know whose to blame for the extra LBs I've packed on.  I'm salivating just thinking about this place and now will likely need to stop by on my way home.  Yum.

Photo Credit: Empire Biscuit Facebook

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Boozy brunch anyone?  I've been searching for a new place to try out (not that Cafe Cortadito isn't still my #1) and Fonda came up.  Their brunch options are slightly on the spicy side for me but I just asked for them to take it easy and they obliged as much as possible.  Thanks to plenty of Rosalitas (their hibiscus margaritas) I managed to make it through the spiciness.  The only hiccup was that this place is known for all-you-can-drink rowdy brunch yet some of the patrons were annoyed with us for being loud.  I tend to feel like you should know what you are getting into at a place like this and should avoid the typical Sunday brunch hour if that's not what you are looking for (not to sound like a jerk).  And we kept it contained to our table.  One person sitting at the bar got in my face about not tipping on the bill which was completely untrue per our waiter who said we had left a very generous tip and frankly none of her business in the first place.  Unfortunately, that really tempered my experience and was enough to make me not really want to come back.

Local 92
My friend who is part Lebanese promised me Lebanese food one night only to find out that the place she was thinking of was closed.  So we ended up at Local out of a deep-seated need for hummus.  Lots of hummus.  Lots of good hummus.  We ended up getting a bottle of wine and a ton of different small plates and it was SUCH a pleasant dinner.  Our waiter was fabulous and the atmosphere felt like we were eating in the kitchen with the chef.  A great lady date!  I probably won't be back unless I desperately need hummus again since there are so many other places to try but definitely a place to check out.

Photo Credit: Local 92 Website

North River
This place is relatively new and looks adorable from the outside.  I finally got to try it and the food was exceptional and inventive.  I had a variety of small plates but the standouts were the pork belly doughnuts and the smoked devil eggs (I have a huge weak spot for deviled eggs).   And the cocktails were great too.  I had a Lemon Grab which was the perfect refreshing light gin drink to go with my heavier food.  This place is heavenly and perfect for a date or a catch up with a close friend.  We had no problem getting a table and the waitress gave us all the time in the world to order since we had so much catching up to do.  It was a very relaxing, friendly atmosphere.  I will definitely be back.

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Oaxaca Taqueria
Went here for a quick bite and wasn't especially impressed.  I've had better.

I was on the search for the spiciest Indian food I could find and somehow ended up at this restaurant.  Low and behold I was just going off Yelp rating only to take a seat and find out that they just got voted the spiciest Indian food in NYC.  Guess I came to the right place!  Note that I arrived with a Texan and a Brit in tow so I knew I was in for it.  Coming from Portland, OR, I am kind of a wimp when it comes to spice.  Even still I sat down and ate super spicy curry with the best of them!  Granted a side of yogurt certainly helped it go down.  I'm not a huge Indian food person but from what little experience I have I thought it was good.  Definitely worth a try!

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The Third Man
I'd hazard to say this is my favorite cocktail bar in Manhattan at the moment.  Reminds me of a Southeast Portland bar with a little bit of a hipster feel and GREAT cocktails.  My current favorite is the Velvet Revolver but I've tried most of the everchanging menu and haven't found one I don't like.  The bartenders are all very friendly and late night you get some great old school hiphop beats which are so ironic for this place that it somehow fits perfectly.  I'll probably be there when you stop by...

Photo Credit: Third Man Website

Tompkin Square Bagels 
Another favorite spot that I'm surprised I haven't covered before.  My favorite bagel place in Manhattan, TSB is cash only, always crowded and hates when you ask for your bagel "toasted" but the final result is 99% worth it.  In fact I had one on Sunday.  Great to pick up and eat in the park which a friend on a casual Saturday morning.  You can literally order any kind of bagel any kind of way.  It's the craziest menu perfect from someone with a crazy imagination.  Go wild!  Go often!

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Yerba Buena
I know I've mentioned this place in regards to its drinks but I've finally had the opportunity to eat here for brunch and dinner.  I have yet to try something that isn't fantastic.  Upon arrival, regardless of time of day, just go with whatever has "short ribs" in it.  That's been my gameplan and I have yet to be disappointed.  You literally feel like you are family here but without the "diner" feel.  I LOVE this place and constantly come back to what feels like a unique, perfect experience every time.  It's perfect for birthdays, dates, family night, friends, etc.

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Hill Country
I know I sound like a broken record when I say "I've been meaning to go to this place" but unfortunately it just ends up being true!  In a city like NYC, you just have to be patient and know the time will come.  And thank god it did because this may have just trumped Mighty Quinn as my favorite BBQ spot.  MQ's still holds the brisket record but all other meat awards go to Hill Country.  And they have live band karaoke... what's not to love?  As I write this I've been offlining with some friends to go tomorrow.  Clearly I love it.  So should you.

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How could you not love a place whose tagline is "Food and Bourbon?"  Yes, please times two!  I happened across this place simply because I Googled "bars near..." and this place popped up.  And boy do they know how to make their bourbon drinks.  I'm not much of a traditional cocktail person (Sazaracs, Manhattans, etc) but they've officially turned me.  I had a Sazerac that burned its merry way straight to my heart.  I'll be back for drinks.  Trust.  There's also something about the horse drawings that in a fancy place like this makes me laugh.

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