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.

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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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Shareable Rum Bucket

I love a good rooftop bar! There’s something about gazing out over an awesome skyline view combined with great drinks and food, that always gets me. Luckily for me, there’s quite a few to choose from in NYC and I’m always down to go to a new one I haven’t visited yet. So when I found out about this beach themed pop up bar at the Arlo Soho hotel’s Good Story rooftop, I couldn’t wait to check it out for this month’s Cocktails Before Love  NYC meet up.

Good Story Roof Top Bar overlooking the East River in lower Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood, is known for its craft beer, well-mixed cocktails and in the warmer months, grilled snacks and small plates. As a twist, various ‘pop-up’ concepts take over Good Story from time to time, as the bar transforms into any given theme. This summer it’s a beach theme pop up called Harry’s Surf Shack and we all agreed they did a great job with its execution. Such a fun and lively spot to bond with my fellow foodies!

Frozen Margaritas and Pina Coladas
Photo by N. Salter

The hotel itself  is clearly chic as you first step through the doors. The lobby is very inviting and I couldn’t help but wander a bit before heading to the roof and take a peak at the nice mix of common spaces complete with sky-lighting and exposed brick giving it a modern city feel, vibe. The hotel also houses the fairly new, Harold’s Meat + Three, a modern restaurant conjuring up Southern flavor,  which I will need to make a return visit to sample the tasty looking  menu items.

On to the roof – stepping off the elevator you are in the indoor portion and transported to…insert name of your favorite island or beach getaway! The walls are done up in graphic, tropical floral prints and the seating arrangements, throw pillows and end tables all have a relaxed beachy vibe – super cute. I zeroed in on the frozen drink machines at the bar and couldn’t wait to find out what the Frozen Cocktails for the day were. There were two to choose from – a margarita and a piña colada. I went with the piña colada while others in the Cocktail Before Love crew sipped on the margarita. We all agreed that the alcohol was definitely present, something that sometimes is lacking in frozen drinks – but not these, they were icy AND still boozy.

Guacamole with cotija cheese and chorizo
Photo by N. Salter

I was all prepared to have my favorite drink this summer the frozen rosé, or frosé as it’s been called, but the bartender informed us that they didn’t have it that particular evening. Apparently they rotate the frozen drink offerings through out the week. I was disappointed but got over it once I started in on my piña colada! The drink menu featured all the traditional choices associated with the beach – a tropical sangria with Pinot Grigio, mango and pineapple and classics such as the Mai Tai (Appleton Rum, lime and orgeat) and Painkiller (rum, pineapple, cream of coconut and nutmeg) The sharable rum buckets, good for up to four people and served in cool sand buckets, were a hit with everyone. Our crew ordered the Rum Punch bucket, a mixture of light, dark and spiced rums infused with fresh guava juice and the Coco Loco bucket, perfect for must of us who loved coconut – coconut rum, light rum, coconut cream and coconut water. Honestly, all the drinks were on point here – balanced, refreshing and potent.

We paired our drinks with small plates straight from the on premises grill. Of course, I had to try the guacamole and chips,  which came in a small and large size with the option to add a mix-in. Mix-ins included roasted red pepper, red onion, jalapeno, bacon bits, chorizo and cotija cheese. It was a tough decision, since all the choices sounded great, but I finally opted for the chorizo and cotija cheese – and I was so glad that I did; it really was delicious! This guacamole wasn’t chunky, instead it had a smooth and creamy consistency, almost dip-like and with the addition of the zesty, mildly spicy chorizo and the cotija cheese, I easily almost ate the whole portion myself! The rest of the group ordered steak and chicken tacos, which were served as sort of a make your own taco station. The taco ‘smorgasbord’ included tortillas, sliced jalapeno, onion, salsa, cilantro and lime and the well seasoned, grilled steak and chicken. Thumbs up all around! Other food offerings such as burgers, hot dogs, Mexican street corn and lobster rolls are sure to please for the next visit.

Shareable Rum Bucket
Photo by N. Salter

If you haven’t been to the beach all summer, Harry’s Surf Shack at Arlo Soho hotel’s Good Story roof top, gets you in the mood without stepping near the ocean. I wonder what the next pop up theme will be? I certainly plan on returning to find out!

If you want to be down with our next foodie adventure, be sure to RSVP for the next meet up.

Cheers!

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Lori Lane And Pizza NYC

I fell in love with &Pizza the very first time I took a weekend trip to D.C. a few years back, so much that I went back 3 times that same weekend. Ever since, whenever I am visiting D.C. or Philly, I make it my business to stop by one of their shops and get some pizza. I’ve been praying to the food gods that they would bring a shop to New York, and they finally answered my prayers when they announced they would be opening a shop in NYC this summer. This has been my favorite pizza shop for 3 years running, so of course, I was delighted when they invited us to their pre-opening party at their new NoMad location to try out some delicious pizzas and cocktails.

Feta Pizza And Pizza

At &Pizza, you can choose from some of their delicious already crafted pie options, or opt to create your own pizza masterpiece. At the event, we feasted on some of their pre-crafted options. If you opt to create your own, you start with choosing your dough, which includes gluten-free options and my favorite, Ancient grains. Then you pick a sauce which includes everything from classic tomato, to basil pesto, mushroom truffle and a spicy tomato. Next you can choose between Shredded cheese, fresh mozzarella, or vegan cheese. Once that’s done, you move on to toppings, and they have so many! Broccoli, pineapple, mushroom, spinach, spicy chickpeas, jalapeños, the list goes on. Then you top it off with a protein of your choice with classics like pepperoni, Italian sausage and chicken, but also shrimp, scrambled eggs, and a vegan beef crumble. Then they pop it into a conveyor belt like oven and you wait for it to come out hot and delicious from the other end. Before boxing it up, they allow you to add a few finishing touches like parmesan cheese, fresh basil, olives, and even hot sauce!

Robin Thomas And Pizza NYC

And Pizza Spread

At the event, they showered us with tastes of some of their NoMad pizza creations such as the OG, which had classic tomato sauce with mozzarella, tomato, and basil. The Farmer’s daughter had spicy tomato sauce and was topped with spinach, mozzarella, Italian sausage, egg, parmesan and red pepper chili oil. My favorite was the Maverick which was stacked with pepperoni, salami, and Italian sausage, and had their delicious pesto sauce drizzled on top.

Lori Lane And Pizza NYC

But what really stole the show for us was the dessert pizza called Lori Lane. It had sweet ricotta, strawberries, powdered sugar and a berry drizzle on top. I’ve never had a dessert pizza before but WOW, this one was amazing. So good that we found ourselves watching for when they would bring out a fresh one. While nibbling on bites, they also had wine and beer to sip on a DJ spinning tunes, and some awesome &Pizza merchandise to grab. One cool handout was a personalized pizza pie box, by an artist who would design it with whatever you wanted.

Graffiti And Pizza NYC

While at the event, we also got the chance who to chat with &Pizza co-founder and CEO Michael Lastoria who shared that the idea for &Pizza came to him while living in Chelsea, and although he eventually took the idea to D.C. where it was born, he always knew it would come back to the Big Apple. So, it turns out that &Pizza has a little New York already inside of it!

Make sure you check out &Pizza NoMAd at 15 West 28th street, between Broadway and 5th avenue. You won’t regret it!

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Bacon Macaroni and Cheese Mullanes

Who knew that macaroni and cheese could be the topic for such a great debate? One that we would settle once and for all at Mullanes. For a group of people from a variety of backgrounds and palettes, there was a variety of preferences. At our first monthly #MacAndCheeseBeforeLove NYC Meetup, we gathered at Mullane’s in Fort Greene, Brooklyn to bond over their love of mac and cheese.

Mullanes
Photo by Alissa Nichole

From the beginning, we discovered who the purists were, those who preferred a classic and simple macaroni and cheese and have yet to venture out to any variations, and identified the more adventurous ones, who liked a variety of additions to their mac and cheese, from protein like chicken, shrimp and lobster to vegetables like tomatoes, spinach and jalapeno peppers. From the discussion, we realized just how many ways mac and cheese can be prepared and and which were among the group favorites, from cheese options to crunch and stovetop versus baked.

Calamari and Wings Mullanes
Photo by Alissa Nichole

After identifying that some of our favorites came from places including Max Brenner, Brooklyn Bazaar and Pret a Manger, we worked up enough of an appetite to order mac and cheese and beyond. To offer a variety that would satisfy everyone’s cravings, we went for a plain mac and cheese, one with chicken, one with shrimp and one with buffalo chicken and jalapenos for those who dared to try, and a few extra goodies: sesame ginger wings and calamari.

Sangria Mullanes
Photo by Alissa Nichole

It was a pleasant surprise that the purists braved to try the other options at Mullanes and enjoyed them. Although everyone didn’t love the buffalo chicken option, it was a hit amongst a select few. The wings were so nice we had to order them twice, and the calamari was a crowd pleaser as well. Sangria was a popular choice that didn’t disappoint, even for the woman who considers herself a sangria snob, so that’s saying a lot.

Bacon Macaroni and Cheese Mullanes
Photo by Alissa Nichole

From travel to NYC neighborhoods, the conversation was rich and the connections were genuine. This casual gathering at Mullanes was a success, and we are looking forward to our next outing. We’d love you to join us. Come on over to our meetup to know when we we’ll be doing mac and cheese again and some of our other outings, like #cocktailsbeforelove, #burgersbeforelove and whatever else our hearts and bellies desire.

So we’d love to know!

  • How do you like your mac and cheese?
  • Where are your favorite places to indulge in delicious mac?

*Thank you Alissa Nichole for snapping such great shots.

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Soco Macaroni and Cheese
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National Macaroni and Cheese day is something we try to celebrate often, but it’s official now because you’ve decided to join us.

If you’re like me, you love the creamy, cheesy, deliciousness that is Macaroni and Cheese. A perfect day for you is settling down to a bowl of this comfort meal. Looking to celebrate in New York City the right way? Check out this list of restaurants in that will support your Macaroni and Cheese addiction and help you celebrate National Macaroni and Cheese day correctly

Mangoseed

Mangoseed is a modern Caribbean restaurant located in the heart of Flatbush with new and old island favorites.  One of which is their 4 cheese Macaroni & Cheese dish. It is wonderful on its own but it also pairs deliciously with oxtail gravy. Show up before 7pm to try out their tropical cocktails during happy hour on National Macaroni and Cheese day.

757 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11226

Soco

Soco is another Brooklyn favorite located in Clinton Hills, very well known for their red velvet waffles and their fabulously massive Aunt Cruz macaroni and cheese. Their mac can be perfectly washed down with Soco’s New Orleans inspired cocktail the Mardi Gras. Show up before 7pm for discounted Macaroni and cheese plus, half priced drinks.

509 Myrtle Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11205

Soco Macaroni and Cheese

Bobwhite Counter

Bobwhite Counter is a small, quaint, southern comfort spot located in the East Village. Not only do they give you life with their fried chicken, but their mac & cheese tastes like someone’s Southern grandma put their foot in it. Their macaroni & cheese is only $6 but gives you all the cheesy greatness you are looking for.

94 Avenue C, New York, NY 10009

Miss Lily’s 7A

Miss Lily’s brings authentic Caribbean fare to the east village. With traditional reggae & soca blasting from their speakers, you can have your favorite curried edible with a side of their flavorful mac. Baked like a pie, it brings me back to the islands (Trinidad & Tobago to be exact) where my grandmother whipped up a similar treat.

109 Avenue A, New York, NY 10009

Harlem Public 

Harlem Public is a cozy neighborhood bar that serves up pub inspired cuisine, including awesome macaroni & cheese (or Mac & Steez, as they call it). If you want to be extra fancy, they throw can throw in bacon, pulled pork, or chicken.

3612 Broadway, New York, NY 10031

Harlem Public Macaroni and Cheese
Photo Courtesy of Rafael H. (yelp)

Mac Shack

Mac Shack is a well known Brooklyn eatery that churns out every style macaroni & cheese you can think of. Feeling like you want to sample them all? They offer daily specials to try out mini portions of any Mac you’re in the mood for.

901 Fulton St, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Enjoy National Macaroni and Cheese Day!

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Cauliflower Tacos Cienfuegos NYC

Eat, drink and be merry…and that’s exactly what we did at Cienfuegos! I hosted my first Cocktails Before Love NYC meet up this week and oh what an awesome time we had.

Three fellow foodies and I, joined by our very own Food Before Love founder Casandra, met at Cienfuegos, located in Manhattan’s East Village. This hidden gem of a restaurant serves up specialty rum cocktails and its famous punch bowls which are paired with Latin inspired small plates.

Ciengfuegos NYC
Courtesy of Cienfuegos

First off, the ambiance and decor was on point. Upon entering you ascend a long flight of stairs and once at the top, you feel like you’ve  been transported into someone’s chic Cuban apartment. Cool blues, ivory and pastel colors, plush furnishings and distressed, wrought iron gates create an intimate, but well spaced atmosphere. On our particular visit we were treated to live music playing urban Latin jazz. After chatting for a bit about ourselves and well, you know, our love of food, we learned that we all had a few favorites in common. We all lust after mac and cheese and we all live for seafood! After that we got right down to it; what should we order??

Guacamole Cienfuegos NYC

Cienfuegos recently revamped their menu to vegan, however we were all excited to try some of the delicious sounding options. Our server, Josh, helped us select some flavorful dishes that we all shared – guacamole with fried plantain chips, cauliflower tacos, black beans and coconut rice and yucca fries with a sweet corn purée sauce – and everything was tasty and the ingredients fresh. Half of us were on the fence about the corn dipping sauce that accompanied the yucca fries though – it tasted familiar, but hmmm we couldn’t quite figure it out. Josh informed us that it was made with corn and almond milk. I actually thought the fries were great on their own, no sauce needed! Overall, we enjoyed our light bites and it kind of slipped my mind that we were eating vegan – except maybe when it came to the cauliflower tacos. Yes, they were good – with spiced, chunks of cauliflower covered in sweet mango salsa, but the carnivore in me couldn’t help but miss a nice dose of marinated ground beef!

Cauliflower Tacos Cienfuegos NYC

On to the cocktails! We gladly took advantage of happy hour, which features a choice between two specialty cocktails for $7 and two half priced sharable rum punch bowls which vary daily. We each started with a round of Cuba Libres and daiquiris on the rocks. We all agreed that these were smooth going down, while still very potent…perfect!

Cocktails Before Love Meet up

For our punch bowl, the MVP of the evening, we  went with the Intro to Awesome – and the name of this drink couldn’t have been more befitting! We were scooping out the bottom of the bowl to make sure we got every drop. Yes, it was that good! The bowls are available in three different sizes, accommodating small parties of two or larger groups like ours. In addition, there is an extensive menu of individual cocktails to satisfy a variety of palates. Containing extra dry rum and Aperol mixed with cucumber, lime, soda and salt, the Intro to Awesome was very well-balanced between sweet and bitter and was so refreshing to enjoy amongst good company on a lovely NYC summer evening!

I can’t wait to return to Cienfuegos and indulge in more of the food and drink choices. Trust me;  if you haven’t checked it out yet, please gather up your crew and go!

Cheers!

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