A great new cider bar with a vegetable focused menu in the Lower East Side.Read More
I've asked many Brazilians what the best Brazilian restaurant in NYC is. And the spot that comes up most often is Casa, in the West Village. I stopped in last month to check it out, and had a terrific meal.
It's a charming little space, on the beautiful and quaint Bedford St., perfect for a date, or date with yourself, like I usually do.
Brazilian pork sausage ($9.95) with sauteed onions is juicy, flavorful, and delicious.
That staple Brazilian dish Feijoada ($24.95) is done to perfection here. It is the Brazilian national dish of course. A black bean stew with a variety of prime meats, served with white rice, fresh oranges, collard greens, farofa, and vinaigrette sauce. Truly great.
The casual, laid back Soho joint Jack's Wife Freda, has some tasty bites and fine fare. I stopped in recently, and had a solid meal. There is nothing mind-blowing about the space or the place, but, with a relaxed vibe and delicious grub, it's worth stopping in and checking out.
Salt and Pepper Eggplant ($6), is a unique snack that tickled my taste buds with joy.
Chicken ($18) comes with a peri-peri sauce and is tasty as can be. A beautiful crisp outside, and juicy and tender inside, it completely satisfied me.
Flourless Chocolate Cake ($7) with chipotle and chocolate mouse is quite excellent. I loved that kick from the chipotle. Order it.
So leave your ego at home, at this laid back, and solid American joint in the heart of sceney Soho. Solid and tasty bites await.
Jack's Wife Freda
224 Lafayette St. (bet. Broome and Spring)
New York, NY 10012
A new pork-centric restaurant has opened up in the West Village and it's quite good. The name, Swine, means leave your vegetarian friends at home, but you should def. check the place out. With a hip "rock and roll" vibe bar upstairs, and a chill dining area downstairs, it's a great place to grab a drink and devour some delectable bites.
Potato chip nachos ($7), come with tasty pulled pork and are fucking awesome! (I swear I wasn't high) I'm glad I was dieting this night.
Heirloom tomato salad ($13) comes with zucchini blossom, ricotta, tri star berries, and orange zest.
Hudson Valley Duck Breast ($27), is served with a corn crepe, roasted mushrooms, and a honey glaze. It was a great dish and I loved it.
Of course since I was dining at Swine, I needed to try their bacon ice cream for dessert. And guess what it tasted like? Mmmhmm.. If you love bacon like me, then you'll love this dessert. I think they should have sprinkled some bacon bits on top, and just go crazy.
Another gem of a joint has opened up recently in the East Village. This gem is really cool and great, with some awesome New Orleans flare. It's called Exchange Alley and it's worth checking out. The vibe is "inspired by the spirit of venerable New York gathering spots like the San Remo Café and Max’s Kansas City and the vibe of classic New Orleans bars, but takes those influences and adds three-chord cuisine created by chef Paul Gerard."
I've been to Exchange Alley twice so far. After my first taste, I was so intrigued to come back for more chill vibe and good grub.
Jambalaya balls ($8) are wildly popular here (never seen them anywhere else) and quite tasty. Accompanied by a nice dirty gravy, it's a fine starter.
Kale is probably the hottest vegetable these days in the NYC dining scene. A side at Exchange Alley has a nice char and great kick from some Calabrese peppers.
On my second visit, I got to dig deeper into the menu here, and was pleasantly satisfied with the great fare that came out.
Big Easy BBQ Shrimp ($11) were tasty as can be. I've never been to New Orleans, but this dish brought me there. I could imagine this dish being served in a cool joint in those neck of the woods. That BBQ sauce that the shrimp were soaked in was so addictive and fabulous I wanted to bottle it and take it home. A medley of flavor that my taste buds were enamored with. I'd love to have that accompany any bread basket, any day. Delish!
Orecchiette, sweet sausage, spiced tomato, and vodka cream is fucking awesome. Period. It's got such a beautiful kick, balanced with that wonderful sweetness of the homemade sausage, a truly great dish. I devoured it in seconds
So stop by Exchange Alley when you have a moment. Grab a drink and a bite, sit back and enjoy the vibe, enjoy life. As their website states, Exchange Alley is "a restaurant and bar, but it’s more than just that. It’s a hideout, a clubhouse, and a new century twist on the iconic spaces of the past where high and low could find common ground and drink, eat, laugh and carouse together to the small hours. The way we see it, it’s an outpost for the mad ones." I am totally a mad one, and you should be too.
424 E. 9th St. (bet A and 1st)
New York, NY 10009
Yes, the restaurant is called Bugs. But don't be alarmed. In fact, be excited. Why? Because it's a absolute gem of a Japanese joint in the East Village that you will love. The chef, Sho Boo, will serve you some fabulous Japanese fare in her tiny 15-seat space, that is cute as can be. I opted for a $60 tasting menu a few weeks ago and enjoyed every moment of it.
A nicely salted edamame was perfect.
A chilled tomato and tofu soup was refreshing and wonderful.
Mushroom salad with a wasabi herb dressing was delicious.
Sashimi was fabulous.
Local grilled snapper with torched sea urchin sauce was splendid.
Berkshire Pork Belly slowly simmered in soy-sauce, sake & dashi with gobo chips, shishito pepper & mashed potato was absolutely terrific.
The sushi at Bugs happens to be quite fabulous too. Fresh, unique, and ingenious. Tuna with a yuzu/ginger sauce, Yellowtail with burdock balsamic, Scallop with yuzu rock salt, Fluke with a plum tofu sauce, and Toro with yuzu pepper. Raw fish perfection!
Chef Sho Boo is cute, petite, and terrific, just like her restaurant. As she told the Local East Village NY Times, "Bugs tend to gather, especially around a bright light and this restaurant is the bright light that everyone would gather around." Lets all gather around soon.
504 E. 12th St. (bet a and b)
New York, NY 10009
Succulent Peruvian rotisserie chicken awaits you at Pio Pio, everyone's favorite NYC Peruvian joint. Pio Pio is a restaurant that has come up a bunch of times, when yours truly, the Foodie Magician, asks people to think of their favorite restaurant in NYC. I've guessed it correctly every time, even though I had never been- until two months ago. I stopped by their Hells Kitchen location to dine on their rotisserie chicken, and see what the hype was all about.
I'm happy to say that the chicken at Pio Pio is one fine bird. Succulent, tasty, flavorful, a true joy to eat. You can add an accompanying hot sauce for kick if you like, or pair the chicken with a side of Yucca fries. A bird packed with flavor awaits.
The hottest restaurant in NYC right now is Rosemary's Enoteca & Trattoria in the West Village. Nestled on the vibrant corner of Greenwich Ave and West 10th, this place has been packed from day one. Every time I walk by there are people crowded by the bar, or waiting outside to nab a table.
I stopped in on a recent Sunday evening when it was less hectic and had a wonderful meal. Most of the tables were filled with women, which was a good start for me. And once the food arrived, as I perched myself solo at the bar, I was able to see why this hot spot is always packed.
Homemade mozzarella ($10) with Tuscan olive oil and basil was delicious. I love me some homemade mozzarella, and this one surely hit the spot. Order it.
A small vegetable dish of beets, dandelion, and hazelnuts ($5) was superb. Those beets fresh and sweet as can be. The crunch of the hazelnut; perfection.
A pasta dish of chitarra alla carbonara ($13), with guanciale, scallions, pecorino romano, and egg, was fantastic. What Sunday Supper is all about.
You'd be smart to end your meal like I did with the olive oil cake, ($8) with whipped cream and blueberries. It was light and wonderful.
Many times the food at new hot spots in NYC is lackluster, and plays second fiddle to the scene. At Rosemary's, the hot and sexy scene, matches the wonderful fare. A rustic hot spot, with many women, great food, and one foodie magician, sounds like a magical night to me.
18 Greenwich Ave (at 10th St)
New York, NY 10011
Have you ever tried the flavors of the Yunnan province of China? Most likely, not. The only restaurant in Manhattan serving food inspired by this province of China (that I know of) is the recently opened Yunnan Kitchen in the Lower East Side. I dropped by back in June and had a tasty meal. The owner, Erika Chou, told me the dishes, from chef Travis Post, are not 100% authentic, but inspired by the flavors of the Yunnan province The low-key, casual vibe, mixed with tasty bites, makes this a great place to explore these flavors and have a magical culinary adventure in the heart of the LES.
Fried potato balls ($8) with Yunnan spices and a soy-vinegar sauce are a fine little snack. It was hard for me to eat all these balls solo, so def. bring some friends to share.
Tofu ribbon salad ($8), with mint, cilantro, and chiles, is refreshing as can be. The flavors really open up your senses.
Shao Kao is the Yunnan's version of skewered meats. The lamb meatballs I had were juicy and flavorful, and a real nice bite.
Ham rice cakes ($11) with chilies and tomato, was really delicious.
The Lower East Side is becoming quite the culinary destination. With Mission Chinese around the corner, Chinatown is expanding and modernizing eastward. Yunnan Kitchen is a truly welcome addition to the neighborhood. Grab a bite, have a beer, and enjoy your own little culinary adventure.
79 Clinton St. (bet. Rivington and Delancey)
New York, NY 10002
On the day both the NY Times and NY Mag file their reviews of Mission Chinese, I shall write about my time there too. I've been to Mission Chinese twice actually, the cool and hip LES Chinese joint from San Francisco. The place takes Sichuan Chinese fare and puts their own spin on it, or what chef/owner Danny Bowien calls "Americanized Oriental Food". I eat Sichuan cuisine often, such stands out in NYC are Szechuan Gourmet, Grand Sichuan, and Cafe China. I really like what Mission Chinese is doing, and I love the hip atmosphere. The Lower East Side is the perfect home for Mission Chinese.
If you aren't a fan of spicy food, then you should absolutely NOT go to Mission Chinese. Almost all the dishes are spicy and will tingle your tongue.
Sichuan dumplings are delicious and tingly. As is the thrice cooked bacon ($11.50). Shaiganese rice cakes, tofu skin, bitter lemon, and chili oil. These dishes are not for the faint at heart. If you can handle the heat, then you'll be one happy eater.
You can try to balance the heat with an order of salt cod fried rice ($11). Slow cooked mackerel, Chinese sausage, lettuce, and egg.
On my second visit, I knew sweating from the brow, and overpowering spice, was not my cup of green tea, so I tried to order non-spicy dishes.
Smashed cucumbers in garlic sauce ($4), with salted chili, sesame paste and fresh coriander, was refreshing and a fine starter.
Chlled buckwheat noodles ($9), with yuba, grated radish, green chili sauce, and pear, was perfect and tasty.
And then there was the broccoli beef brisket with smoked oyster sauce ($15). The best beef and broccoli dish I have ever encountered. I loved the use of brisket in this dish, and that smoked oyster sauce was wonderful. This dish is ingenious, and a great representation of Mission Chinese as a whole: Unique, Inventive, Hip, and Fun.
So, if you can handle the heat, Mission Chinese is a great place for sharing reinvented Sichuan cuisine. I should note that the prices are beyond reasonable, and make this place a great bang for your buck! Also, 75 cents from every dish you order goes to the Food Bank of NYC which is truly awesome! Def. check out one of their bathrooms, where the theme to "Twin Peaks" plays. A tad creepy, a tad quirky, but all in good fun and taste.
154 Orchard St. (Bet. Stanton and Rivington)
New York, NY 10002