Tag Archives: NYC

101 Things I Won’t Miss About NYC

i-love-NY-banksy

1. Fearless rats the size of cats
2. Flying cockroaches
3. Screaming people
4. Dog shit sidewalks
5. Piss puddles
6. Taxi driver funk
7. Piles of hot smelly garbage
8. The mélange of disgusting street smells
9. Deafening sirens
10. Absurdly high rent for teeny tiny apartments
11. How expensive everything is
12. Wall Street arrogance
13. Entitled NYU students
14. Watching NYU execute their 2030 plan to dominate + destroy the Village
15. Being threatened by my nosy landlady
16. The bitchy people I’ve sublet apartments from
17. Not having hot water or heat for days
18. Climbing 5 flights of stairs to my apartment every day
19. Bad water pressure
20. Living with other people’s ugly furniture
21. The smells in the hallway
22. My neighbors slamming their doors
23. My various jobs
24. Always swimming upstream
25. Hustling 24/7
26. Fearing for my safety
27. Lack of personal space
28. The overwhelming desire to flee the city and knowing I can’t
29. “Bag lady syndrome” (i.e. carrying 20 lbs. of crap around with you all day)
30. Dragging my laundry 4 blocks to the closest dirty Laundromat
31. 5+ months of freezing cold winter
32. Dripping with sweat on humid summer days
33. Blizzards and hurricanes
34. An over abundance of beards
35. The urban lumberjack look
36. The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade
37. St. Patrick’s Day drunk-a-palooza
38. The non-stop party
39. Angry drunk fucks
40. Dumb drunk chicks who can’t walk in their high heels
41. Dumb drunk identical jocks who roam in packs
42. People passed out on the street with their pants down
43. A culture that revolves around alcohol
44. Puke puddles
45. The unmistakable stench of death
46. Crusty punks and their poor dogs
47. Walking up the subway stairs behind guys with saggy ass jeans
48. Tourists who block the sidewalk
49. Feeling lonely in a crowd of people
50. Subway train claustrophobia
51. The looks on people’s faces commuting to/from work
52. Being forced to listen to people’s boring cell phone conversations
53. People who do extremely inappropriate things on the subway
54. Being stuck inside subway train
55. Gropers
56. Wanting to pass out in the subway station due to heat/smell on a hot day
57. Waiting for buses that never come on schedule
58. Rude bus drivers who refuse to let you on after they’ve closed the door
59. Not having money left on my Metrocard when I go to get on the bus
60. The MTA
61. The NYPD
62. Mayor Bloomberg
63. ConEd
64. Time Warner Cable
65. The opening of yet another Subway, 7-11, and Duane Reade
66. The slow gentrification and de-personalization of neighborhoods
67. Ben Shaoul’s destruction of the Village/Lower Manhattan
68. Realizing another beloved place has gone out of business
69. The desperation in the air
70. Seeing other people cry in public
71. No longer giving a shit if people see me cry in public
72. The woman who screams “JOEY!” at the top of her lungs
73. That horrible dog who barks like he’s being strangled
74. Being asked for money every five feet
75. Flippant beggar signs
76. Rampant racism
77. An abundance of inconsiderate assholes
78. Being chased down the street by crazy freaks
79. The risk of being robbed for my iPhone again
80. Daily stories about people dying from being hit by the train
81. Daily stories about people being murdered where I just was
82. Unfathomable fatigue
83. Workaholic men with too many options
84. Annoying “salon deal” salespeople who insinuate your hair looks awful
85. People who insist on talking to you when you’re wearing earbuds
86. Crowds that make you want to kill someone (or yourself)
87. Slow walkers
88. Clueless tourists with their maps and big cameras
89. People who can’t seem walk and talk at the same time
90. People who take pictures of squirrels in the park
91. Fighting the hoards while shopping at Trader Joe’s on 14th St
92. The black soot on my feet after wearing sandals all day
93. Bed bug phobia
94. Random blood stains
95. The queasy feeling I get around Ground Zero of the WTC
96. The fishy smell of Chinatown
97. Waiting an hour and half for a table
98. Spending $80 for dinner and leaving hungry
99. Snooty wait staff at overpriced restaurants
100. The state of most public restrooms
101. That nagging feeling I don’t belong here

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Filed under Culture, New York City, Travel

Ice Cream Dreams

With this luscious breeze in the air, feels as though the seasons are a changin’, but luckily there are still oodles of opportunity this weekend to get your fill of summer’s favorite dessert: ICE CREAM! (Did you just scream?)

Here’s the scoop:

Saturday, August 18, Dylan’s Candy Bar will be giving away FREE scoops from noon – 4 p.m at their flagship location, 1011 3rd Avenue @ 60th Street.

Sunday, August 19, New Amsterdam Market will host their 3rd Annual Ice Cream Sunday, from noon – 4pm, directly next to South Street Seaport.

This afternoon-long fundraising event will benefit NAM’s ongoing projects while bringing together the most eclectic and seasonal northeast ice cream makers, each of which will create up to four unique ice creams specifically for the market, using only seasonal and responsibly sourced ingredients. Save room to sample creamy creations by:

Gabrielle Carbone of THE BENT SPOON
Joseph Roselli of DREAMSCOOPS
Amy Miller of EARLY BIRD COOKERY
Tracy Obolsky of ESCA
Keren Weiner of  IL BUCO
Ashley Whitmore of MARLOW & SONS
Fany Gerson of LA NEWYORKINA
Catherine Oddenino of LUCA & BOSCO
James Distefano of ROUGE TOMATE
Forbes Fisher of STEVE’S ICE CREAM
Ben Van Leeuwen of VAN LEEUWEN ARTISAN ICE CREAM

EARLY BIRD ADMISSION – Starts 12pm
$30 for 10 Tasting Tickets, redeem for 10 miniature cones

GENERAL ADMISSION – Starts 1pm
$20 for 8 Tasting Tickets, redeem for 8 miniature cones

AT THE DOOR: $35 for Early Bird, $25 for General Admission

Purchase advance tickets here and use promo code EDIBLEICECREAM12 for a $5 discount.

Monday, August 20, The Brooklyn Kitchen will host an Ice Cream Making Class, from 6:30 – 8:30 pm, with their resident everything dessert instructor, Megan Fitzroy, Owner/Chef of Fitzroy Specialty Cakes, and former pastry chef at Torrisi Italian Specialties. She’ll teach you the science behind making perfect ice cream as you sample a slew of specialty flavors, and receive basic recipes to experiment with at home.

I’d also recommend an any time visit to new kid on the block, Fresco Gelateria on 2nd Avenue in the East Village, which serves up their family’s recipe for traditional Greek yogurt-y gelato. The space is beautifully designed. Its simple chic, white-washed space invites you to linger in nooks and on comfy benches as you people watch from the large bay windows. They make some really unusual flavors like rosewater, mastic, and goat cheese, and some road-less-traveled flavors like passionfruit, peanut butter, and biscotti. Not-so-standard vanilla bean, chocolate, and peppermint are also on hand to keep the less adventurous very pleased indeed.

So, treat yourself to a double scoop and happy lickity licking!

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Filed under Dreams, Events, Food, Music, New York City, Photography, Workshops

Wine With Friends

Gerard Bertrand collection

I love to nurse a great glass of wine, when out socializing at a wine bar or paired with a delicious meal at a local restaurant, but I wouldn’t call myself a connoisseur, by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not even a particularly voracious drinker. Mostly, I just know when I like something, and find it pleasing enough to drink an entire glass, and when I don’t.

Over the years, I’ve slowly become familiar with an array of winemakers and varietals, discovering some that I enjoy imbibing more than others. I tend to make my wine selections based on a few simple criteria: what I’m eating, temperature and season, country of origin, recommendations from the wine merchant or my fellow diners, and when all else fails, most artistic label.

When I’m feeling celebratory (or indecisive), I opt for the bubbly. Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava always make me a happy camper. This I know well. I typically prefer red to white wines, but sometimes a red is just too heavy, especially on a hot summer night, at which point, I’ll go for a nice rosé. I tend to like wines from California, France, Italy, Spain, Chile, and Australia, most of all. A broad range, it’s true. When I eat a certain regional cuisine, I’ll take the ‘when in Rome’ approach, and choose a wine from that same neck of the woods.

That’s about the extent of my novice wine selection thought process – when I’m flying solo. Which is why I absolutely love getting together with my dear friends, Kristen Siebecker, Certified Sommelier and epicurean event director, and Matthew Wexler, food/travel writer and seasonal chef extraordinaire, who know eons more about wine than I do. Not only are they tons of fun to drink with and hilarious conversations ultimately always ensue, but they’re both exceptionally knowledgeable about food and vino, so I actually end up learning a lot in the process.

Kristen and Matthew have a real knack for pinpointing the subtle nuances of flavors, that I’d never pick up on in a million years. I can usually identify a particular fruit, or a hint of spice that’s present, but I often struggle to put my finger on exactly what I’m tasting. Listening to them as they sip and grasp for the perfect adjective, gives my own palate a much clearer understanding. Thankfully though, they manage to talk about wine in a down-to-earth way that makes it engaging and entertaining, rather than highfalutin and stuffy. Kristen is a delightful story teller who gives each bottle a rich context. She manages to highlight some element of that particular wine and make it relatable to just about anyone. Her passion and expertise, coupled with her unpretentious style and enthusiasm for teaching, doesn’t leave you feeling like a total dunce, and makes tastings with her a most pleasurable experience. Not to mention, Matthew’s exceptional knack for pairing takes the whole culinary experience to another level entirely, coaxing flavors out of both the food and wine, which make both sing more sweetly.

So, when Matthew was recently tasked with the assignment of writing about three bottles from the Gerard Bertrand collection, it seemed like the perfect excuse for our threesome to unite around the table at Kristen’s spectacularly situated Midtown apartment once again, and conduct a taste test in the name of “research”. Matthew got to ball rolling, tossing out a few inciting questions, pen poised to paper. Kristen popped our corks and poured each glass to perfection. We settled on sushi as the cuisine du jour and each took turns in the driver’s seat, navigating the lengthy online menu in a quest for an appropriate pairing to suit the wines, as well as our cravings. They lobbed descriptive adjectives back and forth across the table, like a tennis match, and I stuck to what I do best: taking photographs!

And now, the results of our wine tasting collaboration:

2010 Cremant de Limoux
First up, the 2010 Cremant de Limoux. Kristen tasted: “light, clear, bubbly, crisp, and toasty! An excellent bang for your buck”. I spied: an emerald green bottle, spouting sparkly bubbles; a glowing champagne toast, afore a teal table setting.

Gris Blanc
Next, the Gris Blanc – Kristen tasted: “simple, nice fruit, easy to drink. Light for a rose, more of a peachy color. You could sip this at a summer picnic all day and night.” I spied: an aptly named wine for this cloudy day. The overcast back light perfectly illuminating the colors of this peachy flesh tone rose; the bottle mirroring a subtle silhouette of the Empire State Building.

Muscat
Finally, the Muscat – Kristen tasted: “a sweet wine with a robust lychee, coconut and tropical fruit nose, best served with dessert.” I spied: a royal blue label popping from golden yellow sweetness; when set on a blonde wood tray or against a cubist wine rack, moody romance ensues.

For Kristen’s full write up of this experiment, click here, and for Matthew’s post, click here. If you’re inspired to discover other memorable wines for under $20, also check out The New York Times : Food Section’s latest article.

Want to learn even more about wine in a fun, down-to-earth way? Or discover the perfect pairing of your soon to be favorite new wines and gourmet nibbles? Host an intimate gathering of friends at your abode or create a custom tasting at a local culinary hot spot! Contact Eye For Style Services and we’ll create a unique event with Kristen and Matthew, specially crafted for you and yours. Share your vision and leave all the pesky details to us. It’s never been easier to play the perfect host.

Also, be sure to stay tuned for more details about Wine With Kristen’s upcoming classes for beginners and experts alike, coming soon to Skillshare.

Cheers, mates!

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Filed under Cocktails, Culture, Events, Food, New York City, Photography, Style, Workshops

Eye For Style – Summer Services

Eye For Style Services is an exclusive personal concierge service for all your dining, entertainment, shopping, and travel needs. I love turning other savvy souls onto my favorite things, creating memorable experiences, and helping people live their best life. I’m a bonafide tastemaker with very high-standards, and lucky for you, I’ve got an arsenal of carefully curated sources and contacts, insider deals and tricks-of-the-trade, right at my fingertips and ready to tap at a moment’s notice. So, you share your vision, and I’ll make it a reality. No dream is too big or small. Imagine the possibilities…


*Special summer promotion:

Book between now and September 1, 2012, and you’ll save 10% off ALL style services. That’s any request, big or small, hourly or flat rate projects. I know you’re busy, so don’t procrastinate! Call the apple of your eye and make that date; flee the city for that long overdue coastal getaway; host an outdoor soiree before summer’s end; find that perfect look to make you feel like a million bucks! Life is short, but juicy. Savor it…
 

Service #1: Just a Suggestion

Do you need a spot-on recommendation? Where’s the perfect bar for a casual drink, or cool restaurant for a hot date? Where do you take that hard to impress client or out-of-town friend? What’s the quintessential boutique to find that perfect gift? Call me for a quickie phone consult and I’ll help you locate a guaranteed “no fail zone” to get exactly what you’re looking for. Don’t have time to take care of all the particulars? No worries. I’ll do the research, make the arrangements, and message you the deets. You just show up – and take all the credit for your impeccable taste.

From $40/hr.

Service #2: Wanderluster’s Cure

Desperately need a weekend getaway? Fantasizing about your next vacation abroad? Call me for a quick phone consult and tell me what kind of respite you’re craving. Whether it be spa, sports, or sightseeing, I’ll do my homework and provide you with a short list of available destinations, tailored specifically to your interests and budget. Don’t have time to make all the trip arrangements yourself? Fear not! I’ll customize a complete travel itinerary, from transportation to hotel, activities and eateries, for that perfect solo expedition, romantic escapade, or family adventure you’ve been dreaming of. Just pack your bags and prepare to explore new horizons. I’ll handle every tiny detail, you send me a postcard.

From $60/hr

Service #3: Omnivore’s Dilemma

Want to have a few friends over to chill? Host a fancy dinner party? Create a romantic evening in for 2? Call me for a quickie phone consult and share your culinary vision. I’ll head to Eataly, Chelsea Market, Dean & Deluca, Whole Foods, whatever you’re in the mood for, to custom-design a terrific food & drink menu for you and yours. I’ll procure the all the necessary ingredients for you to cook, or devise an easy to assemble, pre-prepared feast. Better yet, hire one of my favorite private chefs and sommeliers to cater every course in style! Let your guests in on the action, or pretend you did all the work yourself. It’s our little secret.

From $80/hr

Service #4: Ready to Wear

Looking for a few new pieces to perk up your closet this season? Does your wardrobe need a complete overhaul? Don’t have time to find that perfect outfit for an event? No sweat! Eye For Style offers personal wardrobe services, with a seasoned commercial stylist, specifically suited to your needs, taste, and budget. We’ll shop together at your favorite shops or I’ll bring a collection of handpicked items right to your home or office. Looking fashionable has never been so fun and easy!

From $80/hr

Service #5: Order From Chaos

For information about my home & office organizing services, please click here.

Can’t wait to get started? Kick off your quickie consult via this request form:

**

Testimonials from happy clients provided upon request. Just ask!

Flat rates available, depending upon scope, for every project and budget. 

Food & wardrobe services available in New York City and Los Angeles only.

Personal concierge & travel services available in the United States.

**

Artwork by: freya art and design. Check out her delightful store on etsy.com!

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Filed under Cocktails, Culture, Dreams, Events, Food, New York City, Style, Travel

Best of NYC Summer 2012

Happy Summer Solstice, everyone! This truly is the best time of the year in NYC. There are so many FUN and FREE activities happening all over the city, where do you start? Lucky for you, I’ve taken the guess work out of it, posting this carefully curated list of my own personal favorite, tried-and-true, classic summer pastimes, as well as a slew of sizzling hot new offerings, ripe for picking this summer only. Enjoy!

EAT, SHOP, EXPLORE:
East River Ferry: to/from Long Island City, Williamsburg, DUMBO, and South Street Seaport
Smorgasburg (Sat 11 – 6) & Brooklyn Flea (Sun 10 – 5), Williamsburg waterfront + ferry to Photoville
New Amsterdam Market – Sundays, 11 – 4
Dekalb Market – Daily, 8 – 8ish
Hester Nights – Thursdays, 4–9pm, thru 10/25, 851 Sixth Ave @ 30th St
Hester Street Fair, Saturdays, 10 – 6
The High Line & Chelsea Market
Eagle Street Rooftop Farm
Edible Manhattan and Urban Oyster food & drink tours/events
Taco crawl in Jackson Heights, Queens or Sunset Park, Brooklyn
Eat and shop Astoria, Queens
Field trip to Hoboken, NJ

ART:
Photoville, BK Bridge Park, 6/22 – 7/1
Keith Haring @ Brooklyn Museum (thru 7/8)
+ BK Botanic Garden: W – Sun, 11 – 6, + late summer hours Th & Sat
The Cloisters: Tues – Sun, 9:30 am – 5 pm
Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations at The Met (thru Aug 19)
+ Cloud City & rooftop cocktails
Bike ride, picnic, and Interactive Sculpture Park on Governor’s Island
River to River Festival, 6/17 – 7/15

MUSIC:
FREE:
Hot Sardines – 6/20, 6pm, Bryant Park, Fountain Terrace
Nellie McKay – 7/11, 7 pm, Madison Square Park
The New York Philharmonic – 7/13, Great Lawn, Central Park
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo – 7/22, SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park
Little Dragon/Frankie Rose/Voices of Black – 8/1, 7 pm, Prospect Park Bandshell
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings – 8/18, 5 pm, Williamsburg Park

Norah Jones – 7/3, 6 pm, SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, $50
Jane’s Addiction & Die Antwoord – 8/17, 6:45pm, Williamsburg Park, $50

OUTDOORSY/NATURE:

Monet’s Gardens @ NY Botanical Gardens (with Mastercard Priceless offer)
Explore The Bronx’s City Island
Ferry to Jacob Riis/Fort Tilden and/or Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge
BEACHES, BEACHES, BEACHES: Rockaway, Coney Island, Long Beach, Montauk, Fire Island, and more!
McCarren Park Pool – reopening in June 2012 after a 28 year closure and $50 million dollar renovation

AL FRESCO FILM:
6/28 – Taxi Driver, Tompkins Square Park
7/5 – Exit Through the Gift Shop, Tompkins Square Park
7/9 – Side by Side, Elevated Acre, 55 Water St, off Old Slip
7/12 – Fantastic Mr. Fox, Tompkins Square Park
7/16 – Roman Holiday, Bryant Park
7/18 – Raising Arizona, McCarren Park
7/28 – The Muppet Movie Sing-A-Long, Prospect Park Bandshell
8/21 – Do The Right Thing, Sheep Meadow, Central Park
8/23 – The Big Lebowksi, Sheep Meadow, Central Park

For even more movie listings, check out:

Watch It Outdoor Movie Guide 2012
Time Out NY Movies in the Park 2012
Nitehawk Cinema, Williamsburg
Rooftop Films

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Filed under Architecture, Art, Cocktails, Culture, Events, Film, Food, Music, New York City, Style, Travel

Best Mexican Food in Manhattan

I’m a born and raised Los Angelina, currently dwelling just a mere stone’s throw from Loisaida, and thus, take my Mexican food very seriously. I’ve come to discover over the last several years since I moved to New York City that much to my shock and dismay, an abundance of good and cheap Mexican eats does not necessarily exist in other large metropolitan melting pots, even where a significant Hispanic population has more than a substantial presence.

It’s a conundrum I find more than a little strange. Hispanic/Latino culture is obviously thriving in NYC. They comprise nearly 30% of the city’s population, according to the 2010 census. So, why the dearth of good Mexican food in a city that has close to 24,000 restaurants?

My first couple foodie forays, to what certain friends (who shall remain nameless) deemed as “the best Mexican restaurant”, left me rather broken-hearted. $14 guacamole? No handmade tortillas? No fish tacos? Can someone please make me a decent mole?!

So disillusioned was I that at one point, I simply gave up, vowing only to eat Mexican food when I traveled back home to visit. And I would, the entire time, just to get enough of a fix, to tide me over for a couple months. It had been a several times a week staple of my California diet, and I refused to let NYC sully a cuisine I treasured. I’d rather abstain rather than risk further disappointment.

Thankfully, right about that time, I was sent on a mission by Tasting Table to photograph Tehuitzingo (695 10th Ave., between 47th & 48th St.), a little joint in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen that serves amazing, authentic Mexican food out of a hole in the wall in the back of a grocery store. And by a hole in the wall, I mean, you head all the way to the back, past the glass cases of traditional ingredients (piles of cactus, cilantro, rainbows of peppers, & home made cheeses); through a narrow mirrored seating area with less than a dozen stools, lit bright neon green by the cerveza signs overhead; to a literal hole in the wall, where-in two senoritas wait to take your order in one muy pequena cocina. They’ve got some slightly unusual ingredients on the menu, like goat, tongue, and tripe, for more adventurous eaters. I opted for one pollo and one carne asada taco, which came simply topped with diced tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. A variety of bottled hot sauces adorn the counters, to add your own brand of spice. The first bite instantly transported my palate and sense memory right back home. I couldn’t stop at two and quickly ordered another, blissful in the knowledge that I’d found an answer to my comida cravings after all. Tehuizingo is a funky little gem, serving up real Mexican flavors, in a no frills setting, where one can easily walk out stuffed for less than $10. It’s a great spot for a weekday lunch with co-workers, a quick bite when you’re on the go, or a late night snack, when in Midtown.

Faith restored, I dared to try Mexican restaurants in NYC once again, and soon discovered several surprisingly delicious joints along the way. Here’s my carefully curated short list, just in time for your Cinco de Mayo festivities:

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Dos Toros Taqueria137 4th Avenue; 11 Carmine Street

Dos Toros is to NYC, what Poquito Mas is to LA. It’s not fast food. It’s really good, fresh food, served fast. There’s usually a long line (actually a good sign), but it moves fast as they’ve got their system down to a science. It can be tricky to find a seat, but people don’t tend to linger either. They’ve got the standard fare – tacos and burritos with your choice of chicken, carne asada, or carnitas – being the most popular. Quesadillas, tostadas, and platos con arroz y frijoles round out the rest of the menu. I’m a creature of habit when it comes to this place and always go for the carne asada burrito with guacamole. Everything is made to order just the way you like it and typically comes with a heaping portion of crispy tortilla chips. Their prices are cheap by NYC standards. The portions are quite filling and delicious. I also give them props for their sustainable business practices. They make a point of letting customers know that their chicken is locally raised with no hormones or antibiotics; their produce is locally sourced; and that they compost, recycle, and use non-toxic products.

Tacombi 267 Elizabeth Street, between Prince & Houston; in Chelsea Market, W 15th Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue

Tacombi’s tacos make me so happy I could cry. They simply explode with layers of undeniable flavor and spice. The “barbacoa” – shredded beef cooked in a red chile sauce – is a must eat, go-to favorite of mine. That’s until I bite into a “pollo verde” – shredded white meat chicken in a mild green chile sauce – and lose my mind with delight. Their fish tacos, either fried in a crispy beer batter or seared, topped with red cabbage and creamy pepper sauce, are sure fire winners, as is the shrimp taco, prepared in one devilishly spicy sauce that seriously kicks. You must get one of their fresh “agua” concoctions to wash it all down. The hibiscus tea and watermelon juice aguas are refreshing and not too sweet. I actually love mixing the two brews together. Not to worry, they sell beer by the bottle too.

Tacombi has a cute little “tacobike” cart set up at Chelsea Market, in the 15th Street Arcade, which is perfect for a quick bite at lunchtime or a mid-afternoon snack. You may have to fight the hoards for a seat at one of the indoor tables though. Better yet, since it is street food, that’s often where I’ll eat, on a nearby bench or up on The High Line, for a picnic overlooking the Hudson River.

The ambience of Tacombi’s Nolita location is loads of fun. Their sky lit, open warehouse is home to a bonafide 1970’s VW bus that’s been converted into their taco serving station. Peek through the bubble window as they warm your tortillas on the grill and assemble your taco with all the fixings. The space is filled with cream-colored metal folding tables, painted with red checker/chess boards on top. Kitschy 60’s surf films screen on the walls, and the vibe is upbeat, yet relaxed. It’s a slice of Playa del Carmen or Baja, right in the heart of Lower Manhattan.

Hecho en Dumbo354 Bowery, between E 3rd & Great Jones St

Hecho’s reputation for killer cocktails is what initially drew me. Their food solidified it as a real contender for this list. We walked in sans reservations, late one Saturday afternoon, and were able to nab those prime seats at the end of the bar, right in the front window. The bartender was very friendly and knowledgeable, helping steer us towards a Tres Vidas (smoked chile, bell pepper, lime & mezcal) and a Margarita Tamarindo (tequila blanco, fresh squeezed tamarind juice, and chile piquin rim). Both were spicy, yet refreshing, stiff, quality cocktails. Instead of sitting down for dinner, we stayed perched at the bar, for optimal people watching and several small plate antojitos – short rib steak tacos topped with diced onion and cilantro, queso fundido with fresh salsa and warm flour tortillas, and a tuna sashimi tostada – perfect choices for a leisurely afternoon or happy hour. I love that they use all locally sourced and organic ingredients, and make all the fundamental components of their dishes, fresh in-house. You can definitely taste it.

Word has it that this place gets pretty packed and noisy for dinner, but they recently started offering a 5-course chef’s table menu, which seems to me perhaps the best way to experience Chef Danny Mena’s skills. Parties of two only are seated at the back counter, peering straight into the open kitchen. The menu highlights fresh seafood and local meats, prepared in cherished, traditional Mexican style, for a reasonable prix fixe of $55. It’s available by booking online only, via their website or at Open Table. You heard it here first, amigo. De nada.

Hell’s Kitchen679 Ninth Ave, between W 46th & 47th St.

I had the rare pleasure of indulging in a 7-course chef’s tasting menu at Hell’s Kitchen recently that put all other past experiences of Mexican cuisine to shame. Chef Jorge Parilla pulled out all stops to give us a taste of his hometown of Alpoyeca, Mexico and his most cherished family recipes. We kicked off the feast crunching tri-colored crispy corn tortilla chips, served with not one, but 3 distinctive types of guacamole, which we paired with a classic margarita a casa. We were then treated to another series of ‘pequenos trios’: First, 3 golden empanadas, each with their own incredible sauce to match – roasted pork with crema fresca and salsa, duck en mole with pico de gallo, and huitlacoche truffle and mascarpone cheese with salsa verde. Then, 3 pillowy maize tostadas – tiger shrimp, ground pork, and carne asada – drizzled with salsa verde. Perfect little bites! Next, the chef utterly captured my heart with his traditional pasole – a hominy and pork stew, topped with avocado and fried leeks, cooked with such love, it warmed my belly and soul. It’s an unforgettably comforting bowl of goodness that would make any hangover run for the hills. As if that wasn’t enough, we then dove into 3 huge entrees – roasted lamb shanks with cilantro mashed potatoes, tamarind rubbed grilled sirloin with fresh vegetables in an endive-pasilla sauce, and pan seared sea bass with sweet plantain puree – all cooked to perfection.

We sipped on a Hell’s-Ma-rita, with fresh tamarind and lime juice in an ancho-salt rimmed glass, and a Watermelon Mint Lemonade, as Chef Parilla chatted with us about his inspirations. He was so humble, sharing stories about his food, an expression of passion for his land and close-knit familia. Eating this meal felt like a privilege and an honor. The food was not only one of the best meals I’ve had in recent memory, but Chef Parilla’s dishes are some of the most colorfully creative, genuinely artistic plates around. I can say with total and utter confidence that Hell’s Kitchen is the best Mexican restaurant in New York City. Hands down, period, the end. Vamanos immediamente!

I’d be remiss not to mention a couple of other spots that serve up some signature cocteles that make for a mighty fine siesta:

El Camion Cantina and Tepito are terrific East Village joints for margarita happy hours. They both serve up great classic margaritas as well as some really tasty fruity margaritas, my favorite being passion fruit, pomegranate, raspberry, or hibiscus. They all go down way too easy, and for a mere $5, why not sample them all? I’d recommend the margaritas in lieu of the food at both of these places, though the meals that I had at each were good.

Yerba Buena, however, serves up some really special cocktails, not to be missed. Their Piquito Picante is probably one of my favorite cocktails in NYC. It’s an intoxicating concoction of gin, jalapeño infused cointreau, cilantro, cucumber, and lemon juice that strikes a perfect balance of spicy and cool, and smells like pure heaven. I also love The Desert Rose, made with dried rose infused gin, prickly pear puree, and lemon juice. In all seriousness, there’s no bad call on this cocktail menu. Imbibing here is a bad habit waiting to happen because you want to try every single offering. The bartender and host are also easy on the eyes and fantastically cool gentlemen to boot. I can’t speak to the food, yet, as I’ve only been for drinks at the bar, but the place is always packed, and the restaurant is a beautifully designed, intimate, warmly lit space. Yerba is easy to overlook from Avenue A, but swing open the door and you’ve stepped into one sexy space that plays that sophisticated, but not overly so, note just right. It’s a great, laid back place to bring that date you want to impress. Lucky for you, they’re offering a special Cinco de Mayo menu. ¡Disfruta la fiesta!

For more recommendations, be sure to check out my Eye For Style “Best Mexican Food in NYC” map!

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Filed under Cocktails, Culture, Food, Maps, New York City, Photography

WARNING: Art Overload Ahead

This year, The Whitney Museum of American Art 2012 Whitney Biennial, The Armory Show, the Museum of Modern Art’s Cindy Sherman Retrospective, the New Museum’s signature triennial The Ungovernables, and John Chamberlain: Choices at the Guggenheim Museum will ALL be on view in early March.

Therefore, use these handy links to formulate a game plan and don’t get overwhelmed. There’s tons to see and do, and many elbows to rub, so dress to impress, wear those cute but comfortable shoes, and get ready to schmooze the New York City art world in style. And don’t worry, there’s plenty of time to spread all your art oogling out, with most of these shows running until the cusp of summer. And by the looks of it, we’ve got some dynamite weather on tap to make all your hob-nobbing, art-crawling, simply delightful. Happy Spring, art lovers!

Whitney Biennial 2012

945 Madison Avenue @ 75th Street

Sculpture, painting, installations, and photography—as well as dance, theater, music, and film—fill the galleries of the Whitney Museum of American Art in the latest edition of the Whitney Biennial. With a roster of artists at all points in their careers the Biennial provides a look at the current state of contemporary art in America. This is the seventy-sixth in the ongoing series of Biennials and Annuals presented by the Whitney since 1932, two years after the Museum was founded.

The 2012 Biennial takes over most of the Whitney from March 1 – May 27, with portions of the exhibition and some programs continuing through June 10. For the exhibition, the Whitney’s fourth-floor Emily Fisher Landau Galleries are being used as a dynamic, 6,000-square-foot performance space for music, dance, theater, and other events. This is the first Biennial in which nearly a full floor of the Museum has been given over to a changing season of performances, events, and residencies. Accordingly, the 2012 Biennial is in constant flux, with artists, works, and experiences varying over the course of the exhibition.

So stroll through the exhibitions, catch a film screening, grab a bite or a coffee @ Chef Danny Meyer’s new restaurant Untitled, and pay what you wish on Fridays from 6 – 9 pm! For the full calendar of events, click here.

The Armory Show continues its trailblazing presence in the art world with its 2012 edition: The Armory Show—Contemporary. Pier 92 is host to The Armory Show—Modern, a selection of internationally renowned galleries presenting masterworks of the 20th century, while Pier 94 premieres new works by living artists (where West 55th Street meets 12th Avenue).

This year’s 2012 edition will feature: an international roster of exciting, leading galleries; a lively opening night party and fundraiser at MoMA; a new media lounge with a curated performance series and film screenings of artists’ experimental films and videos curated by Moving Image; an Open Forum of eclectic conversations and panels featuring top figures in the art world; and the work of the 2012 Commissioned Artist Theaster Gates.

The Armory Show has engaged award-winning, New York-based architectural firm Bade Stageberg Cox to re-design the space, creating a more comfortable, luxurious experience, including a new “farm-to-table” restaurant and cafe by Great Performances catering who utilize seasonal, local and artisanal ingredients from their own organic Katchkie Farm in New York’s Hudson Valley.

The Armory Show VIP Program will be offering an unrivaled VIP calendar featuring an exciting series of exclusive events in New York City that have become requisite in the international art circuit. Each year, over twenty prominent art collectors open their homes for private viewings. VIP programming also includes special tours with collecting institutions and special receptions with embassies and international cultural consuls.

VOLTA NY 2012

@ 7W

7 West 34th St, b/w 5th & 6th Ave., 11th floor

March 8th -11th, 2012

An invitational solo project fair for contemporary art with mutually acknowledged VIP access and shared shuttles with The Armory Show.
 
 
And don’t you dare miss:



Cindy Sherman

@ MoMA Museum of Modern Art

11 West 53rd Street, b/w 5th & 6th Avenue

February 26–June 11, 2012

Tisch Exhibition Gallery, 6th floor

View the interactive exhibition site here.
 
 
 

The Ungovernables: 2012 New Musuem Triennial

@ The New Museum

235 Bowery @ Prince Street

February 15 – April 24, 2012


 
 
John Chamberlain: Choices

@ The Guggenheim Museum

1071 5th Avenue @ 89th Street

February 24–May 13, 2012

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