New York Restaurant Week
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New York Restaurant Week has been running since January 22. Our insiders didn’t waste a moment getting in on the action! They’ve been dining at the hottest restaurants New York has to offer. Now, we’ve rounded up our favorites for you. The best part, New York Restaurant Week doesn’t end until February 9, so there is still time to try some of our favorites.

Danielle’s Picks

Lunch
Price: $$$
Craft Restaurant is the brain child of Chef Tom Colicchio, a producer and judge of Bravo‘s Top Chef. Craft offered a great variety for their Restaurant Week menu. For the first course, the Fluke Crudo offered flavors that were clean with a crisp yet subtle heat from the jalapeños, and the Beef Tartare with homemade potato chips was delicious! The Gemelli Pasta with short rib ragu was tasty, and the chicken sausage was so succulent. The Apple Tarte Tatin and taste of ginger sorbet were the perfect touch to top the meal off. The food was delicious, and the service was amazing. The waitress Charlene felt like a long lost friend.
Craft
I started off with a glass of Gruner Ventliner, which went nicely with my first course – the Fluke Crudo. Photo by Danielle Fontus.
Dinner
The Cecil Steakhouse, 210 W 118th St., New York, 10026
Price: $$
This Harlem favorite has recently reopened as a steakhouse and has continued to offer an elegant experience. From the Restaurant Week menu, the Ella & Louie Chicken with white wine caper sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and well seasoned french beans, was a winner. It exceeded the expectations from the menu description. The flavors were bold and memorable. The brownie a la mode and tres leches cake were both so good that it would be hard to choose one.

Brianna’s Pick

Lunch
Legasea — Tao Group’s new seafood brasserie in the Moxy Hotel — has been making waves since opening last October. Their delicious Restaurant Week menu is available for lunch daily and dinner on Sunday, and I declare their Spicy Crab Beignet as the MVP of the entire meal. This savory appetizer is made with fresh crab and chipotle crème fraich tucked between a pillow-soft beignet and topped with butter powder (YES—butter powder). To complete your meal, I suggest the server-recommended Flounder “Francaise” for your main and the Baked Alaska for dessert!
Legasea Spicy Crab Beignet
Photo by Legasea.

Arielle’s Pick

Dinner
Jue Lan Club, 49 W 20th Street, New York, NY 10011
Price: $$
Jue Lan Club is and will always be a New York City favorite! Coupled with its gourmet Chinese cuisine is an equally tasteful ambiance at its iconic location next to the former hotspot, The Limelight. For New York Restaurant Week, Jue Lan Club offered a fixed menu which offered three courses of their most popular dishes and a dessert. After trying three items for each course, I have to say my favorites were the edamame dumplings, the wok charred beef, and the chicken fried rice. Not to mention, every dessert was amazing! I will absolutely be dining at Jue Lan Club again. Their outdoor space will be perfect for a summer evening!

Jue Lan Club
Photo courtesy of Jue Lan Club.

Robin’s Pick

Dinner
Empire Steakhouse, 237 W. 54th Street, New York, NY 10019
Price: $$$$
Empire Steakhouse was the very first place I ever visited during NYRW, and I have been going faithfully every year since. This steakhouse has some of the best cut steak in Manhattan; Sirloin, rib-eye, filet mignon, you name it! If you aren’t big on steak, no worries because the chicken parmesan or poached salmon are both mouth-watering. But don’t fill up too fast on the entrees, because the star of this place is their chocolate mousse cake, which will absolutely blow your mind!

Empire Steakhouse
Photo courtesy of Empire Steakhouse.

Now that you’ve got our picks, where will you be dining before the week is over? Let us know which restaurants you’ve enjoyed most in the comments below! Don’t forget to tag #YumCam and #FoodBeforeLove on Instagram so we can share your awesome pictures.

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Sakerum
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It’s no secret that Washington D.C. has become one of the most talked-about food cities to visit. Therefore, celebrity chefs have made their way to the nation’s capital to show off their culinary talents. These D.C. gems below are often forgotten because of all the new restaurants opening up. So, I had to show them some love. Whether you’re in the mood for small tapas, comfort food or high-end dining, D.C. has it all. Here are my favorite hidden gems sprinkled throughout the city.

1. Brookland’s Finest (Brookland Neighborhood)

If you’re in the mood for comfort food, Brookland’s has got your covered. A few of my must-have starters are the brussel sprout chips and pretzel bites. The sprouts are crispy perfection alongside a tangy lemon dill sauce, which complements the chips beautifully. The pretzel bites are tossed in a delicious buttery white truffle oil. As an entree, I usually get the seared salmon and cheddar grits with tabasco beurre blanc. It is delicious down to very last bite.

For dessert, you can’t leave without indulging in the brioche bread pudding. The waitress comes out with your bread pudding in one hand and a side of bourbon sauce in the other. The table’s candle light burner doubles as the bourbon sauce warmer. After a few seconds, the delicious bourbon sauce is ready to pour over the thick-cut brioche bread pudding. If you’re looking for tantalizingly comfort food, Brookland’s Finest is the place!

D.C. gems
Brioche bread pudding is a must when dinning at Brookland’s! Don’t forget to drizzle the warm bourbon sauce over this dessert before chowing down!

2. Compass Rose (U Street)

You don’t have to travel 4,000 miles to have a unique international market food experience. Compass Rose offers cuisines from Spain, Hawaii, Malaysia, Demark, Georgia and even Mexico! The eclectic around the world menu is what sets this place apart from the others. There are no limits to how creative you can get when choosing your meal. I ordered the Georgian Khachapuri cheese-filled bread and paired it with Spain’s fried fingerling potatoes with spicy tomato sauce. Compass Rose is not like any other experience because of the flavorful international tapas available in this cozy place without packing your suitcase!

Compass Rose
Compass Rose has a menu chock full of traditional international dishes like their Lamb Kefta. Photo by Compass Rose.

3. Copycat Co. (H Street Atlas District)

Have you ever wanted tasty, cheap, authentic Chinese street food and crafted cocktails? Enter: Copycat Co., a favorite late-night, fast-casual spot. You can order potstickers for $5, one skewer for $4.50 each and $1.50 steamed boas!

The chicken skewers were very succulent and spicy. If you are mild spice lover you may want to stick with the regular spiced option. The pan-fried chicken potstickers come with a soy-based dipping sauce; perfect for the mild flavored dumplings.

Upstairs, on the second floor is where the libation magic happens! It’s similar to a chic speakeasy with dim setting. Behind the bar are handwritten drink titles and recipes on a chalkboard as a smart way to school customers on the history of classic cocktails like Martinis, Manhattans, and Mules. The bartenders are very skilled and can whip up or suggest any drink concoction. As a result, this is late night experience that will leave you very satisfied!

Copycat Co.
A tray full of dumplings, skewers and boas all for a great price! Wash it all down with one of Copycat’s signature cocktails. Photo by Copycat. 

4. Sakerum (14th Street)

Looking for a Latin and Asian inspired happy hour? Sakerum has beautiful decor and a fantastic happy hour. They serve up fresh sushi rolls, savory tapas, specialty rum and sake cocktails.Their food specials include the spicy, crunchy salmon and salmon avocado sushi rolls, grilled calamari with eel sauce, sweet teriyaki glazed chicken skewers and zesty cashew lime edamame. Best part, each of these options cost just $5!

You can’t go wrong with a menu that offers such an assortment for such an excellent price! This place is perfect to grab both drinks and tasty food; consider Sakerum for your next happy hour or weekend late night bite!

Sakerum
With half a dozen sake choices and even more sushi roles to indulge in, there’s something for every sushi lover at Sakerum! Photo by Sakerum.

5. Miracle on 7th Street (Shaw Neighborhood)

It’s beginning to looking like Christmas with this holiday pop-up bar. This themed bar is sure to put everyone who visits in the holiday spirit. The bar consists of 3 adjacent bars (Mockingbird Hill, Southern Efficiency and Eat the Rich) with different Christmas decor in each. This year’s menu consists of creative holiday drinks, spiked or topped with cookie dough bites and peppermint candy canes. All featured drinks are $14 and shots are only $5 each! Each drink name is holiday themed too. With names like Brew Dolph the Rein Beer, Cookie Dough & Snuggles and I Sleigh All Day it’s easy to get into the holiday spirit while at this bar.

Customers can wander through five themed areas, including the Chinese and a Movie room, a Hanukkah homage and a Gingerbread house that leads guests into a Candy Land inspired room. You can slay your selfie game with the decorated Christmas tree or the painted backdrop of Beyonce, inspired by her visual album Lemonade. There’s even an antique sleigh to sit in!

This Christmas bar is a local favorite and returns every year with a magical winter wonderland scenery!

Miracle DC
The Whobilation (Gin, Dry Curacao, Spiced Cranberry Soda) and I Sleigh, All Day (Calvados, Apple cola, Semi-Dry Cider, Sparkling Water). Photo by DC Nomster.

 

Miracle DC
This Beyonce inspired room is sure to get you into the holiday spirit! Photo by Drink Company. 

This article was written by BonAppéDee (D’Angela S. Moore), a Washington, D.C. food blogger. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter for more!

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Philadelphia is consistently evolving to be a power player in the culinary game. From Michael Solomonov to Rich Landau, there are many people that contribute to its evolution. During my two and a half years here I’ve seen a lot. I’ve seen restaurants open, close and sometimes even re-brand because their initial concept wasn’t working. It’s fascinating, especially being from New York because I’ve also seen some of my hometown favorites make a splash in this scene as well. Although there are many spots I love to grab a bite from in Philly, this time I’m focusing on the basics. Here are four of my favorite places that I think you should check out in Philadelphia.

Beiler's Doughnuts
Beiler’s Doughnuts is great for those with a sweet tooth. From Oreo Creme doughnuts to apple fritters, they’ve got something for everyone.

Beiler’s Doughnuts

I am a sucker for sweets. I love desserts. Honestly, if I could just eat sweets all day I would! However, everything should be consumed in moderation! (Do foodies really live by that rule though?) The brain child of Alvin Beiler, now run by his sons Kevin and Keith Beiler, is a classic food stop that people make when visiting Reading Terminal. Their Apple Fritters and Apple Cider doughnuts are a must. Also they have an assortment of doughnuts that will appeal to everyone’s palate. Reading Terminal is amazing in itself, but this is a must!

Wiz Kid

Vegetarians, vegans, plant-based lovers (or however else you choose to identify) this place is for you. Why? It’s tasty plant-based food that is budget friendly. This place is the fast food joint from the owners of Vedge and V Street, which are reputable vegan friendly restaurants. Vedge is more on the higher end, V Street is in the middle and Wiz Kid is on the lower end. The Korean Fried Tempeh, known as the KFT is one of the popular dishes served here. I’ve also tried the Wiz Kid Philly (seitan based), which is good too. The Rutabaga Wiz (vegan cheese) is pretty good and although I’m not a vegetarian, I found the food to be pretty yummy and the drinks refreshing. They do have a bar so you can add alcohol to their homemade drinks making it the perfect balance for happy hour!

 

Korean Fried Tempeh
The Korean Fried Tempeh also known as the KFT.

Spice 28

This place is one of my favorites because I’ve never had a bad meal here. One of my favorite meals to order when I go here is the Penang Curry with Chicken. The fried rice and the Asian greens are some of my go-to dishes as well. They have a phenomenal happy hour which features an assortment of foods ranging from Chicken Satay to Dumplings in Chili Oil. Drinks during happy hour run from $3-$6 which makes this a budget friendly spot. I’d also consider this a cute place for date night because the ambiance is casual, relaxed and dimmed lights are sprinkled throughout the restaurant.

The Penang Curry with Chicken is my go-to dish when visiting Spice 28.

Time Restaurant

Lovers of live jazz will fall in love with this place. Located on Sansom Street between 13th and Juniper, this venue is unique not only for the jazz, but for the dance party on Saturdays and their amazing whiskey bar. The shrimp and grits and wings are my favorites here, but the happy hour deals here are pretty good as well. This is a great place to visit any day of the week, whether you’re out with your friends or want grab a bite with bae. The vibes are good and you will leave here full and satisfied.

shrimp and grits from Time Restaurant.
Shrimp and grits from Time Restaurant.

This is just a sampling of what my city has to offer. But don’t worry, there’s more to come. If you plan to visit any of these places, let me know your thoughts in the comments below. And if there’s a restaurant we’ve just got to try tweet us. I look forward to continue to provide more places that are great and will make you fall in love with Philadelphia. Do not sleep on Philly!

 

For The Love of Ritas’ is a visual blog of Philly’s food and drink scene. Coley Cole is determined to show you places in Philadelphia that provide excellent experiences. You can find her on Instagram by clicking here

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Pokebab

We recently hosted a meet up at Pokebab, a bright and quaint Poke (pronounced Poh-Kay) Bar in the heart of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Poke, which is native to Hawaii, is a dressed raw tuna salad with fresh toppings such as scallion, cucumber, and seaweed salad. This restaurant had more of a Japanese influence so ingredients such as edamame, masago, oshinko and ponzo are available.

As I entered, I immediately felt a warm and inviting environment. The restaurant was brightly lit with earth toned decor. The relaxing ambiance and neutral decor allowed all of the vibrant colors of the fresh toppings to stand out. This enabled me to build a Poke Bowl based off of how the options looked rather than the taste. I haven’t had many of the Hawaiian and Japanese vegetables and flavor options before eating at Pokebab and I am excited that I was able to explore the diversity of Island flavors.

This restaurant offers a fast-casual dining experience (think Chipotle but with Poke) allowing customers to create their own unique Poke Bowls, Poke Burritos, and Poke Salads. Already being an extremely indecisive person, I did not know where to start. When it was my turn to order I froze and quickly chose the Classic Poke Bowl. The sweet counter person who made my bowl made many suggestions and gave me an array of sauces to sample. Their Ponzu sauce which looks similar to soy sauce is Amazing! Also their Pokebab Sauce had me licking the spoon. It’s super tasty. At one point i was just shaking my head yes to whatever she suggested for my bowl. The end result was a colorful and nutrient packed bowl with raw tuna, corn, cucumbers, radish sprouts, ginger, edamame, scallions, with their Sweet and Sour, Pokebab, and fresh Ponzu flavors on a bed of spring greens and white rice. If consuming raw tuna is not your thing, grilled chicken, seared tuna, shrimp and tofu are alternative protein options. They also have canned tropical juices available like Strawberry Guava. I sipped on an Island Iced Tea.

Pokebab

Upon first taste, I drew a similarity to Sushi. Poke reminded me of a deconstructed tuna roll. With my extra toppings added it was as if a tuna roll literally let loose and had a dance party. Poke was extremely fun for me to consume and I really enjoyed how all of the many flavors and textures were able to marry into pure deliciousness.

Although the dining area was limited, we were able to join tables and enjoy our Poke Bowls. Everyone had different bowls and most of us were able to agree that the Poke was fresh and delicious. All the flavors really stained my taste buds with a happy feeling which makes me want to go back and make endless Poke Bowl combinations. If you’re ever in Williamsburg, I totally recommend that you try Pokebab at 209 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11211.

Do not forget to add the Pokebab Flavor!

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beer overhead
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Because it’s National Beer Lovers Day, we know you want to celebrate the right way. Now, craft beer is becoming a lot easier to find nowadays but there’s something about a place that has an atmosphere that compliments the intricate craft beer it serves. Whether it’s a relaxing patio, a lavish rooftop or sidewalk views, there is something for all occasions and we’ve picked out the best places to enjoy that Double IPA you’ve been looking for on National Beer Lovers Day. 

Covenhoven – Brooklyn

730 Classon Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11238

We will start in Brooklyn at Covenhoven , a relaxing oasis filled with beer lovers, board games and good times. With 16 taps on hand and a wall length fridge of bottles and cans available for on-the-go or on site consumption, they are sure to have something for everyone. Both draft list and the fridge are carefully curated each week to ensure quality regardless of season. The staff is engaging and you are sure to make new friends here.

Top Hops – LES 

94 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

Heading across the Williamsburg Bridge to LES lies a true hidden gem in Top Hops. The enormous draft list towering with 18 taps including unique information handily sets it apart from the competition. While many breweries offer information on location and alcohol content, very few, if any, will tell you the last time the beer was tapped to gauge freshness, a luxury true craft beer lovers will appreciate. Toss in free delicious bar snacks, knowledgeable staff, educational events and 600+ bottle and cans from around the world and they may just never leave.

beer-bottles
Photo by Thomas Picauly

Milk & Hops 

166 9th Ave, New York, NY 10011

On the quiet side of Chelsea you’ll find Milk and Hops, a craft beer bar and bottle shop. What appears to be a coffee shop from afar actually is a pretty neat location to meet up for business or for pleasure. Taps here tend to be a bit more diverse as I’ve seen beer from as far as Florida on tap. There’s somewhat sidewalk seating available and plenty of light to relax and enjoy. 

La Birreria/Sabbia – Manhattan 

200 Fifth Avenue, Roof, New York, NY 10010

A stone’s throw away you’ll find a brewery but not just any brewery, a rooftop brewery. Residing above Eataly in Flatiron, La Birreria welcomes you with energy and smiles. The selection here stretches internationally but particularly you’ll see special Dogfish Head options that you won’t find anywhere else. Heads up, may be harder to find a seat here but it’s all worth it. Arguably one of the best places to grab a beer in the City, La Birreria is a must amongst beer lovers. 

beer overhead

Singlecut – Queens

19-33 37th St, Astoria, NY 11105

Rounding out the tour we head out to Queens. Yes Queens, specifically Astoria. Grab your beer loving buddies and get away from the City for a bit. Here there are 12 taps with outstanding range of craft beers brewed just behind the main wall. This isn’t an onslaught of IPAs and Pale Ales either, there are sours and Belgian style Ales as well. The tasting room is spacious enough to stretch out a bit, again, this isn’t the City. The “trek” is worth it. 

 

Honorable Mentions: 

Five Boroughs Brewing in Sunset Park 

The Wilky in Bedford Stuyvesant 

Gun Hill Tavern – The Bronx 

This post was brought to you by Black x Crafty. Barry Greene is the founder of Black x Crafty, a movement centered around increasing attention to black owned breweries and craft beer consumers. Bridging the gap, one beer at a time. 

Wish You Were Beer Pin

If you’re looking for a way to be unapologetic about your love for beer, this is certainly the way to do it.  .

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Emily-Burger-Brooklyn

Our Burgers Before Love crew and I took our cravings and taste buds over to Emily in Clinton Hills, Brooklyn. Emily is traditionally known for their delicious pizzas (hence instagram name @pizzalovesemily), however they also created a massively rich burger known as the Emmy Burger.

Emily-Cocktail

Emily is a cozy rustic inspired Brooklyn favorite. Seating can be limited, so I recommend making a reservation in advance, especially on their busy nights. This was not my first time checking out Emily, yet I wanted to make an extra special date to check out the Emmy Burger. As I always do, while I waited for the rest of the burger lovers, I enjoyed two of their Auntie Blayze cocktails. I knew this burger would be huge, so I saved my appetite for when the group arrived.

IMG_5117

As the group arrived we headed over to our table to get our grub on. We wanted to try everything, however in true Emily culture, we ordered a pizza pie for the table to share. We kept it plain with a classic cheese pizza topped with basil as we all knew the size of burger we would soon get.

Emily-Burger-Brooklyn

The Emmy Burger is composed of a 7oz artisanal Pat LaFrieda meat patty, EMMY sauce, caramelized onions, Grafton cheddar cornichon and a side of skinny fries. All of this comes in at a price tag of $26. When it arrived to the table, it stole the show as you could see all the beautiful layers of flavor it possessed. The Emmy Burger was so large that I could hardly wrap my hands around it in order to take a full bite. After that initial bite, flavors began to explode in my mouth. It was incredibly meaty and rich, caused by the combination of special sauces and caramelized onions. It is a perfect marriage in your mouth.

Emily is definitely worth returning to, however I suggest bringing along a friend to help you finish your burger!

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