I don’t typically gravitate towards chain restaurants. There’s nothing wrong with them, I grew up eating at Fridays, Applebees & Chilis. As a spoiled New Yorker today it’s not my #1 pick. However, I think some value can be found in their consistency & corporate nature. That being said, I went to Mexicue with friends for brunch and was pleasantly surprised.
I guess Mexicue is more of a mini-chain. They have 3 locations in NYC . The décor is polished but casual; a great place to drink with friends and be loud in a large space. They have a sprawling cocktail list happily weighted in tequila. The menu is a generous offering of Mexican, BBQ, and Tex-Mex favorites. The ingredients feel fresh, high end, and the dishes made with them are executed well. They have the food you crave in this environment like burritos & tacos. Their queso dip & guacamole are both executed perfectly. The tuna ceviche nachos were topped with perfectly chilled tuna sauced in a creamy, spicy chipotle sauce. The brunch dishes were excellent, try the chiliquiles or the huevos rancheros. When this much tequila, meat, and avocado are involved you’d have to be a monster to not be happy. Here’s what we had:
Tuna Ceiche Nachos – avocado, fresh lime juice, cilantro, watermelon radish, creamy chipotle sauce
Chilaquiles – eggs, cheese, avocado, cilantro
French Toast w/ blueberry & powdered sugar
Huevos Rancheros – avocado, corn, clack beans, cheese, egg, cilantro
Smoked Chicken smoked chicken, creamy chipotle sauce, lettuce, pico de gallo, and cotija cheese.
Cajun Shrimp – slaw, sliced mango, salasa verde, jalapeno mayo, cilantro
Smoky Carnitas smoky carnitas, white cheddar, crispy tortilla strips, corn salsa, creamy chipotle sauce
I’ll just say it – I think chicken & waffles are stupid. It makes no sense to me, these two things have no logical business being together. It’s like someone was just like “Look! Two things that are really bad or you, lets serve them on the same plate.” Maybe it’s because I’m not from the south. Or, maybe it’s because that dish is heavy, beige, & awkward to eat. Regardless, it’s not for me. However, Sweet Chick, who is known for their version of the dish managed to convince me otherwise.
Sweet chick has two locations. You can visit them in Williamsburg or the Lower East Side. The decor is casual and laid back. It's the kind of neighborhood joint you could visit regularly and always feel at home. Lots of distressed wood, exposed brick & booze on display. They have great cocktails and beer to fuel you through an evening. The staff is kind without the normal "fuck off" attitude you normally find from staff in those two neighborhoods.
The grub is southern inspired. You’ll find a whole menu of classic, well executed staples from the part of the US that fries and drowns all their food in butter (nothing wrong with that). Their appetizer selection includes a number of biscuit sliders including crab cake, chicken, pulled pork & duck. The biscuits were the perfect combination of dense and flaky. The chicken & waffles are exactly what you want. The chicken is crispy and juicy, the waffles are soft on the inside and crisp on the outside. They kick it up by bringing you a selection of flavored butter. You can try salads, sandwiches, or composed dishes. I’d spring for the shrimp & grits which are rich, slightly spicy, and swimming in an unctuous tomato sauce. For sides the creamy mac n cheese topped with Ritz crackers cannot be missed. Here’s what we had:
Fried Chicken Slidershousemade biscuits, sliced pickles
Shrimp and Grits - Smoked Paprika and Bell Pepper Sauce, Scallions, Cheddar Grits, Poached Egg
Fried Chicken and Waffles - Bacon-Cheddar Waffle
Mac & Cheese - gruyere, fontina, aged white cheddar, ritz cracker crust
There is a special place in the world for food that will literally kill you. You can’t eat like this on a daily basis, your doctor won’t like it, and you’ll probably hate yourself a little after. But dammit, sometimes it just needs to happen. When that hunger strikes I recommend Breakroom Burgers & Tacos.
You’ll find this tiny hole-in-the-wall in Chinatown just south of Canal Street. It’s a small venue with two tables, a counter for ordering, and a few stools out front. The menu is small but it’ll fix you right up after a long night of drinking. I’m talking the kind of fix-up that can only come from burgers, fries, hot dogs and tacos. That’s all that you’ll find on the menu, and sometimes you don’t need to try any harder than that.
The food was gluttonous but all delicious. They have French fries literally drowning to death in bacon, spicy mayo, and cheese. It was beyond heaven. They have several versions of hot dogs but I recommend the one wrapped in bacon, dropped in the fryer, and smothered in jalapeños and salsa. They have every version of tacos and they are loaded up with fresh veggies, meat and sauce. You can round out your heart stopping, diabetes inducing meal with mountainous burgers layered with gooey cheese. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Here's what we had:
Breakroom Fries runny egg, bacon, onions, cheese, jalapeños & pork belly.
Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño Hot Dog with house slaw and sauce
Tempura Fish Taco tempura-battered catfish, house slaw, avocado and pickled onions.
Grilled Steak Taco pico de gallo and salsa verde.
Chipotle Chicken Taco pico de gallo, cilantro, pickled onions and salsa verde.
The Classic Burger 6oz. angus beef patty with lettuce, onions, tomatoes and pickles.
Breakroom Burger 6oz. angus beef patty with mac n cheese, jalapenos, American cheese, tomatoes, bacon and onion
Eight years ago when I moved here the Lower East Side wasn’t exactly what you’d consider a culinary mecca. You’d certainly consider it a place to find some drugs, that’s for sure. Maybe some cheap late night munchies after partaking in said drugs. But that has all changed now. Restaurateurs are flocking here and it shows. You can visit 5 different countries without crossing one street. There is no better expression of this than on Clinton Street. As you walk south from Houston you will find some of the best restaurants in NYC like Clinton St Baking Company, Ivan Ramen, Pig & Khao, and Speedy Romeo. You can now add The Whales to that list.
I met Andy Kim, the owner of The Whales, for lunch at his brand new restaurant last week. He had major success in the real estate industry and is not trying his hand at restaurants. Immediately I had to know where the name originated. He said he wants people to come eat & spend like whales. I liked him instantly for his hilarious honestly. His restaurant isn’t large; lots of counter seating and a bar taking up the predominant amount of space in the venue. Whiskey decanters hang from the ceiling functioning as light fixtures. There is nothing fussy about the décor; the kind of place you can relax and throw back a few drinks after work casually (or long into the night).
The food is primarily Korean. Every dish is the kind of food you want to pair with alcohol. You’ll see kimchi, rice, and fried goodies all over. It’s the kind of comfort food I imagine my mom would make me if she were Korean. The Korean style fried wings are killer; fried twice and available in face numbingly hot glaze. Kim went outside the box and created a “pizza” with pressed fried rice as the crust. He uses the same rice as a patty for a burger you get with an edible wrapper. How fucking cool is that? If you want something lighter they have an excellent version of poke with all the soy-sesame-umami flavors you crave in the Hawaiian dish. Finally, let me tell you about the ramen. It’s ballsy to even attempt to make ramen when you are next door to the ramen god, Ivan Ramen. However, Kim once again went outside of the box and created a cheese broth ramen that’s a playful fusion version of the traditional dish. Everything is packed with flavor, creative, and not fussed over too death. There’s an ample bar stocked with cocktails to wash it down. I look forward to their continued success. Here’s what we had:
Poke Salad- tuna, mixed greens, edamame, avocado, seaweed salad, spicy mayo
Spicy Korean Style Fried Wings
Rice Pizza - Korean spicy paste, beef, peppers, onion, mozzarella cheese
Cheese Ramen - cheese, scallion, onion, bean sprout, egg
Rice Burger - beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, fried egg, house spicy mayo
71 Clinton Street
New York, NY 10002
All of my favorite bars are on Avenue C. My friends giggle because when pressed for where to go drinking, I will always give the same response. Two of these such spots are unequivocally Edi & the Wolf and The Third Man. When I heard that the owners of these two long time Avenue C staples were opening a new restaurant, I hauled ass there, obviously.
The architectural features are lovely. Inside the space the feeling is vintage and hip. There is a café in the front and a dining room that shares a space with a large bar. Exposed brick lines the walls, dark wood is scattered about the place, and antique (looking) light fixtures hang from the ceiling. It’s a joy to be enveloped by the casual décor whether you’re there for a full meal or just a cocktail.
The menu was created by Michelin starred chef and owner Edi Frauneder. Just like his sister restaurant, the menu is contemporary Austrian. I can’t pretend to know anything about Austrian food, but I do know what good food is, and it lives here. The plating was more elevated than I had anticipated and the options are varied. You could have a wonderful meal of smaller plates like the mussels in a rich tomato broth or perfectly dressed pea & bean salad. If you are looking for something more substantial, the skirt steak is among the greatest pieces of meat to grace my mouth. Like any self-respecting Austrian restaurant, they have a juicy fried weiner schnitzel that hits the spot. Round out the meal with their impressive beer offerings. Here’s what we had:
PEA & BEAN SALAD - Chervil, Pea Shoots, Sauce Ravigote
FLATBREAD – Arugula & peppers
MUSSELS - Artichokes, Lovage, Tomatoes
FREUD BURGER - Farmhouse Cheddar, Onion Jam, Potato Bun
SKIRT STEAK - Snow Peas, Wild Onions, Elephant Garlic
SACHER TORTE - Whipped Cream
Address: 506 LaGuardia Pl, New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 777-0327
Wise Fish Poke opened its doors in early 2016 and I had the pleasure of dropping by last week. It was opened by two friends and built on their love of the classic Hawaiian dish. The space itself if your typical fast-casual setup. It’s white, clean, there are some tables and chairs if you’d like to stay, or grab-n-go. With so much focus on health food today, they have created a concept where you can get something great for you, fast, at a decent price.
The menu was written keeping in mind sustainability and responsibly-sourced seafood. You can design your own poke bowl or choose from their suggested combinations. Each bowl is served on your choice of either white or brown rice, mixed greens, or zucchini noodles. You can then choose from tuna, crab salad, and salmon. Then dress up your bowl with great toppings like hijiki seaweed, wasabi-avocado cream, tobiko, and citrus-ponzu sauce. Everything is crazy fresh and the perfect temperature. They have rotating specials as well so we grabbed the insanely addicting spicy tuna nachos. They were drowning in spicy mayo and jalapenos; I still dream of them. This is the kind of food that makes you feel good. Here’s what we had:
W E S T S W E L L ahi tuna, sweet onion, herb mix·masago, wasabi avocado cream, wisefish sauce
H A W A I I S T Y L E ahi tuna, sweet onion, hijiki, scallion, classic sauce
H E A T W A V E T H E C H E L S E A salmon, cucumber, herb mix, jalapeño, scallion, spicy citrus shoyu
Spicy Tuna Nachos w/ jalapeno, wasabi-avocado cream, tobiko, spicy mayo
Address: 263 W 19th St, New York, NY 10011
Phone : (212) 367-7653
There aren’t many reasons for me (or you for that matter) to go to the Upper West Side. I find the culinary scene lacking and I’ve been to more than my fair share of Lincoln Center performances. I also live in Brooklyn so the UWS is basically China to me. And if I’m going to trek up to China, it better be god damn good.
Jacob’s Pickles has been a hot spot in the UWS since opening in 2011 and with good reason. The lines that await you don’t lie. The place is almost too cute to function. It’s modern & industrial but still homey. There are two dining rooms split by a short hallway and a large bar in the front. You'll find exposed ceilings, brick walls, and dark wood lining the floors. It will be packed with people of all ages and buzzing.
The food at Jacob’s is like a cheat day for your cheat day. It will literally fucking kill you and I don’t even care. The menu is southern inspired and they have tons of beer, pickles, and biscuits to bring your way. Portions are massive; you could split each dish with 3 people. They have some of the best, juiciest fried chicken on the planet that you can get on fluffy pancakes, or in a sinful bacon & cheddar biscuit. They have great versions of southern classics like shrimp n’ grits or fried green tomatoes. The show stopper for me was the insane buffalo mac n’ cheese with giant chunks of chicken and oozy cheese. Every dish we had was worth every calorie, and worth returning for. Here’s what we had:
Deviled Eggs chives, paprika
Grit Crusted Fried Green Tomatoes sour green tomato brine, house picnic sauce
Steel Cut Organic Oatmeal steel cut organic oatmeal w/ strawberry preserve, toasted almonds, brown sugar, hemp seeds, dried fruit
Chicken & Pancakes fluffy biscuits pancakes, buttermilk fried chicken, crispy sterling bacon, homemade syrup
Chicken Bacon Egg & Cheese buttermilk fried chicken, sterling bacon, egg, picnic sauce, 2 year aged vermont cheddar
Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese
I could eat Mediterranean food pretty much every day. The cheeses, the breads, the vegetables, oh my. I first visited what is known as Philly’s top restaurant, Zahav, 5 years ago. It is a beautiful modern Israeli restaurant. Following the success of Zahav, the team opened a fast-casual version of their concept called Dizengoff. They did the right thing by me and opened their second location in NYC recently at Chelsea Market.
Dizengoff is modeled after the hummus stalls you find on the corners of Israeli streets. It fits in perfectly in the loud and bustling space of Chelsea Market. Locals and tourists alike pack into the space to shop, dine, and graze. It is the ideal location for a counter serving fast and delicious bites. Dizengoff offers a small menu of freshly made hummus, salatim (Israeli salads), and shakshuka. The hummus, which is among the best you’ll ever find, comes with a rotating roster of seasonal garnishes. I particularly loved the one with fava beans, olive oil, and mint. They all come with freshly baked warm pita for dipping. It’s the perfect snack; light & healthy. Definitely worth a stop as you stroll through the relative chaos of the market. Here’s what we had”
Hummus w/ squash
Hummus w/ fava beans & mint
Hummus w/ french fries
Address: 75 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011
Phone: (646) 833-7097
I want Chef John Doherty to adopt me. He is the executive chef of Black Barn on the northern border of Madison Square Park. Yesterday I watched as this man coordinated service along with serving dishes, busing tables, and pouring champagne. He spoke with a confident smile on his face to everyone. He confided in me that he doesn't often like being out in the front of house, out of fear that he is "intruding" upon the guests. I call bullshit. The guy blew us away with his kindness, professionalism, and cooking skills.
Doherty was the former executive chef of the Waldorf Astoria for 23 years. He opened Black Barn less than one year ago. The space is nothing short of breathtaking. It resembles a barn, in the most chic and hip sense. There is a bar & cocktail area in the front, and down a short hallway the space opens into a sprawling dining room with a large open kitchen. You’ll find private event spaces on every level ranging from a large open mezzanine space to a stunning private wine cellar. The decor straddles elegant and urban. Rustic details are all around; rakes and buckets hang from the exposed wooden walls. Every details has been thought of from the 3 styles of custom leather chairs, to napkins specific to their dining room, to the wine list where they refuse to have something as gauche as prosecco. I secretly hope they go out of business so that I can just go live there.
I've had the pleasure of dining at Black Barn for breakfast, brunch, and dinner (lunch is available as well). The menu is farm-to-table inspired with dishes that are seasonal and modern. The ingredient list features local producers, lots of vegetables, and dishes meant for sharing. Every plate is assembled thoughtfully and cooked well. Each time I go I can't believe how much care is put into each component of a dish. They even have 2 chef’s tables in the heart of the kitchen where you can dine on a special coursed out menu. They hit the mark on service, food, and ambiance. Here's what we had:
Housemade Pastries- Bacon-Cheddar Biscuit, Croissant, Chocolate-Apricot Coffee Cake, Vegetable-Goat Cheese Focaccia, Kouign-Amann, Seeded or Plain Bagel
Apple + Almond Filled French Toast - cornflake crust, vermont maple syrup
Egg White Frittata - mushroom, spinach, goat cheese, roasted tomato
House Made Granola - berries, vanilla greek yogurt
Steel Cut Oatmeal Brûlée - strawberry coulis
Vegetable Goat-Cheese Focaccia - poached egg
Buttermilk Pancakes - strawberry-white chocolate, vermont maple
Avocado Toast - tomatoes, baked ricotta, poached egg
Smoked Salmon Tartine - poached egg
Spicy Pork Sausage Sandwich - fried egg, cheddar
Quinoa + Almond Milk Porridge – apricots & almonds
Corn Cakes + Chorizo - black beans, poached egg, cheese, cilantro cream
Fried Chicken, Rosemary-Parmesan Waffle - Vermont maple butter sauce
Grilled Burger- fried egg, jalapeno, pork belly, pawlet cheese, BBQ sauce, parmesan frie
Few NYC foods are as steeped in tradition as the ones found at Jewish appetizing stores. They were opened by the hordes of immigrants that poured into the Lower East Side in the late 1800's from Eastern Europe. Sadly these are a dying breed. Once you could find 100's of these stores and today there are only a handful in the city. The phrase “they don’t make ‘em like the used to” applies directly to Kossars. They are keeping the tradition alive.
The store was opened in 1936 by Morris Kossar. Today it is the oldest remaining Bialy bakery in the United States. The establishment was taken over by new ownership in recent years but remains committed to upholding the traditions of this Jewish great cuisine. I spent some time with owner David Zablocki and he had a story behind every ingredient and a passion that is unparalleled. There is a reason for every vendor he works with from the whitefish he gets, to the bakery that makes his babka recipe, to the facility he uses to cure his salmon with his own recipe. You want to know the secret to staying open for 80 years in the greatest food city on earth? You need to give a shit. A big shit. About every product and ingredient that walks in and out of your establishment. Zablocki is a man who gives a big shit.
Kossars offers a huge range of items to go or for dining in. In their cases you’ll find stacks on cream cheese, cured fish, loaves of babka, and fresh challah. You can choose from fresh bins of brick oven baked bialys and kettle boiled bagels. They will stack your bagel high with any combo of salmon, sable, white fish, or egg salad. For something a little modern, they have gooey chocolate babka French toast that tastes like heaven. They even have my childhood favorite, pizza bagels. I look forward to many years of their success. Here’s what we had:
THE CLASSIC - Sliced Nova, Everything Cream Cheese, Tomato, Red Onion, Capers, Dill
THE YENTA - Whitefish Salad, Pastrami Salmon, Lettuce, Shaved Celery, Tomato, Red Onion
Babka French Toast - 2 slices of our delicious chocolate or cinnamon babka. Served with butter and syrup
Address: 367 Grand St, New York, NY 10002
Phone :(212) 473-4810