After reading Locanda Verde had “the best breakfast in New York” on Serious Eats, and being a fan of the current chef, Andrew Carmellini, last month I dragged a starving David crosstown for brunch. Naturally when we got there, the restaurant was closed, and after speaking to the doorman at the Greenwich Hotel, I learned Locanda Verde is not open for breakfast on the weekends. Major brunch FAIL! (For those interested, starting this Saturday, Locanda Verde is opening for brunch service, 11am-3pm. I’ll probably go in a few weeks, after the dust settles and the memory of the brunch fail dissipates.) I then considered venturing back east for brunch, but David looked near death from hunger, so we crossed the street and wandered into a curious restaurant with no signage, but with a large inviting door. Later from the menu we discovered we were in Smith & Mills. MORE »
In the summer I get antsy. It’s hard to sit in a restaurant for too long when it’s gorgeous out, especially this year in New York when the number of sunny days are eclipsed by rainy ones. I want to be outside and feel the sun on my face. As a result, I find myself grabbing quick eats best enjoyed sitting on a park bench or lounging in the grass; a bagel here, some Mexican corn there, and when the carnivore in me demands it, jerky from Malaysia Beef Jerky. MORE »
For a few years now, every time I passed by Barrio Chino overflowing with hipsters I assumed the worst; fake Mexican food for posers. Trendy and tasty don’t usually go hand in hand. However, after hearing from friends fawning over the place over and over again, I decided it was about time to walk those three blocks over to Broome. Every restaurant deserves a shot in my book/blog/stomach, even the pretentious ones.
As expected, Barrio Chino (Chinatown in Spanish) tries very hard to assume the bohemian charm of most restaurants in the Lower East Side. There is exposed brick, tiny tables spaced just short of shoulder to shoulder contact with your neighbor, a drink menu on a piece of cardboard borderline scary to touch, and precarious lighting in the bathroom that will initially cause alarm when you have to feel your way out when the light goes out mid pee. However, surprisingly, it works because the food is actually good and their margaritas are killer. MORE »
Taste is highly subjective and often influenced by nostalgia and fond childhood memories. For example, my brother loves General Tso’s chicken, the pervasive dish found at most Chinese take-outs in America, but found nowhere in China. Me, I wouldn’t order it unless it was the only thing on the menu at the last restaurant left standing after the apocalypse. That said, to a certain extent, I like similarly battered, fried, and viscous sauce-coated foods at Korean-Chinese restaurants. [Ganpoog sehwoo (깐풍새우, fried shrimp in a spicy soy ginger sauce) is my favorite, but tangsooyook (탕수육, sweet and sour beef) reminds me of eating out when I was a kid. We used to order it a lot because my brother liked it.] It is what is. Chinese fast-food interpreted for another culture. If you don’t expect an authentic gourmet meal, you won’t be disappointed.
This was the case when I went to Chinese Mirch (an Indian-Chinese restaurant in Curry Hill) with Simrit, one of my besties from Parsons. She warned me in advance. “You won’t like it, it’s something Indian people crave because they grew up with it” she said, but I didn’t really understood until a few bites into the meal. MORE »
Grilled corn on the cob is good, but smothered in a creamy mayonnaise concoction and sprinkled with spicy chili pepper, salty Cotija cheese, and a squirt of lime, it’s amazing. Walking by Cafe Habana in the summertime, it’s hard not to stop in for some elote — on the menu as Grilled Corn Mexican Style ($1.95 from the takeout section next door to the restaurant) — especially when you see the hordes of pretty people outside licking their lips as they gnaw on their orders of corn. A while back, as I sat on the wooden bench in front of Cafe Habana chowing down on my elote, Heather Graham appeared out of nowhere and proceeded to nonchalantly eat her order of corn right in front of me. This corn is Hollywood endorsed!
I haven’t had the elote at Pinche Taqueria yet, but compared to La Esquina, I prefer Cafe Habana’s corn because they grill the corn the perfect amount so it’s sweetly charred but not too dried out. La Esquina’s corn leans towards the latter.
If you don’t live in New York, or want to pig out on elote without breaking the bank, it’s quite easy to make elote at home in the oven or on a grill. I’ve had successful results trying both methods. Below is an adapted recipe from one of the co-owners of Cafe Habana, Richard Ampudia. Just plan to double the recipe if it’s for more than two people. I know I can eat a whole lot of corn, especially Mexican-style corn. And perhaps if you make enough, Heather will stop by for a bite. You never know. MORE »