Sweet potato fries

In light of recent celebrations for National Hamburger Day, we visited Whitman’s with our Burgers Before Love crew. I wanted to talk to you about how much I love burgers. Like really, really love burgers. As a result of that, #BurgersBeforeLove was created, visiting a new restaurant each month to try out the most decadent burger on the menu. Last month, I took my cravings over to Whitman’s in the East Village to try out their popular, Juicy Lucy.

This was my first time checking out Whitman’s but I had previously heard so many great things about it. It is a small burger joint with an all American nautical-hipster vibe. While I waited for the rest of the group, I treated myself to a glass of wine and sweet potato fries. As per their recommendation, I devoured my fries with a side of their house aioli. Seating is limited in their upstairs area but perfect if you’re just stopping in for a quick bite.

Whitmans Exterior

As soon as the crew arrived, we headed downstairs to our table and immediately ordered because we all were starving. There’s more room downstairs for groups but still an intimate vibe. There are tons of burger options, with something for everyone’s taste buds. I stayed focused as I remembered that I came for the Juicy Lucy. Upon ordering, the table dug into a bowl of fried pickles. Though they’re not what I chose to indulge in, I could see they were evenly fried which should make for a great pickle. I could even hear the extra crunch in each bite taken amongst the group. Then, the burgers came.

Whitmans Fries

The Juicy Lucy is deliciously stuffed with pimento cheese and topped with caramelized onions. From the first bite, the pimento cheese explodes from the center of the burger and adds tons of extra flavor. I was not surprised that this burger lived up to it’s name and if I could eat another, I would. It was just that good and I look forward to returning to Whitman’s soon. Before heading out, I ordered the brownie with ice cream but we also had warm cookies and milk at the table. Overall, we enjoyed our burgers and we were stuffed afterwards. I recommend checking Whitman’s out the next time you find yourself with an appetite for burgers.

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Picky's Speed Pie

Hailing from Brooklyn, Picky Eater’s NYC restaurant is quickly becoming a staple of the neighborhood. Most popularly visited for their Trini style barbecue lamb, Picky’s is a crowd favorite. If you don’t believe us, just ask Flatbush. Food Before Love was invited to the Picky’s Eater’s pizza party pop up at Sugarcane in Prospect Heights. Every now again, Picky’s will host a themed pop up event highlighting different foods with Caribbean flavors.

Picky's Pop up Restaurant

Sugarcane, another Caribbean restaurant, is extremely popular amongst the locals. No matter the day of the week. you’ll always find a line outside of Black professionals waiting for a table. However on this particular day, Picky’s pizza made the wait a bit more worthwhile. It became obvious to any bystander, that Picky’s Pop was going overwhelmingly well. We took it to the kitchen to find out what the chef was cooking up and how much pizza we could really bite into. 

Picky's Pop up

Picky’s Pizza Party menu was Island Flavored with choices like Sunday Lunch – callaloo base, topped with shredded saltfish, ricotta cheese and cherry tomatoes. There were options for Vegetarians like the vital Ital Veggie which consisted of pineapple, sweet peppers, onions and tomatoes. Being the jerk chicken lover that I am, Picky put together a speed pie for me. This personal pizza came with shredded jerk chicken, pineapples, and a drizzle of their signature sauce. Talk about hot!

Picky's Speed Pie

It’s not jerk chicken if there’s no heat. The key is to not let that heat overpower the flavor of the chicken. Picky’s made the perfect pizza when he combined these ingredients and he wasn’t stingy. Plenty of chicken adorned my plate and the sweetness of the pineapple helped combat the hotness. However, it was truly the jerk sauce that took the dish through the roof, making it juicy as it soaked into all parts of the pizza. For information more information on Picky’s next pop up, follow them on instagram @PickyEatersNYC and don’t hesitate to RSVP!

Picky's Speed Pie

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Cafe Cortadito Exterior

Our last #MiniMimosaholic took us to alphabet city where we indulged in the amazing Cuban food at Café Cortadito. I have been to Café Cortadito at least 5 times, with groups of friends, with just 2 people, for birthdays and for my birthday. I’ve even attended with Casandra, of Food Before Love, on yet another brunch date of ours. Each time, the food and service is impeccable, and I do not ever remember seeing anyone leave hungry or dissatisfied. The restaurant is small compared to other popular brunch spots so book in advance, and, prepare to wait outside because there isn’t any waiting area inside.

My favorite part of brunch at Café Cortadito is the wide array of bottomless drink options that they offer. They have everything from margaritas to mojitos, sangria, and even beer. The mimosaholic in me always goes for the tropical mimosas which are a fruity twist on the traditional mimosas. This time around, we got a pitcher of the champagne mojitos and although I am usually a fan of mojitos, these were my favorite honestly. The added champagne made it a lot stronger than expected and I found myself babysitting my drink. Next, we tried the champagne margaritas, but these were even stronger than the mojitos and almost difficult to finish. So, trust me and stick to the tropical mimosas or white sangria.

Cafe Cortadito Exterior
Photo by www.cafecortaditolacuisinedecubanyc.com

Now to the delicious Cuban food. I’ve tried everything from the french toast to the lobster Benedict, but opted to try something new since everything I’d had thus far had been amazing. This time around I went for the ropa vieja which is a traditional Cuban dish consisting of shredded/stewed beef and vegetables. This one was not only filling but also super juicy and you could taste so many Cuban flavors going to work as you chew. YUM! A few other favorite dishes included the calentado which was a steak with a fried egg on top, served with rice, and a sweet plantain omelet.

Overall, Café Cortadito is still a spot I highly recommend for brunch, and was a great spot for our second monthly brunch meetup. This brunch ended with some guests talking about the Little Italy in the Bronx, and hosting a #MiniMimosaholic there. So, Bronx followers, be on the lookout, you’re up soon!

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The Chef burger Korzo

The last best burger I had was at Korzo. Buried away in Brooklyn. I first learned of this decadence in our Facebook Group. Wanting to give it go, I went by with a friend to see why this was featured on the Chew. I’ve since been back for our monthly bite at nite series where we each indulged in a different burger and enjoyed a few appetizers as well. We made early reservations on both occasions which is really important because Korzo gets packed. The front of the restaurant has plenty of room to maintain the crowd but everyone is trying to get a seat at the tables in the back. Each table is adorned with condiments, including beets which I mistook for BBQ sauce. Luckily for me, we realized this before I poured it all over my fries or burger.

Korzo Chef Burger

We chose the pierogie’s, fried cheese platter and mussels to start and share. This was the perfect idea and helped us keep the bill under $50 for each guest, with drinks. On my initial visit, we also tried dessert which was overwhelmingly delicious. They served us a fried dough plate topped with whipped cream and fruits. Korzo is the place for any glutton.

The Chef burger Korzo

The burger I had both times with no regrets was the chef burger, cooked medium. The burger consist of a dry aged ground steak blend, with Monterey jack, smoked bacon, spicy Hungarian peppers and cognac spiked berry gastrique. The art of the burgers at Korzo is that they deep fry it a Hungarian dough. Instead of being met with a heavy burger bun, you’re biting into a soft, semi-sweet dough that holds all the juices inside. There’s just the right amount of room to squeeze your condiments in and the heat of the peppers stands out immediately. They make about 4 other burgers in this style but the chef burger is my favorite so far. I’ve had a chance to bite two others on the menu and they still don’t compare. If you’re looking for an amazing NYC Burger then Korzo needs to be the next place you go.

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Brunch Meal Essex Restaurant

The Lower East Side is one of my favorite neighborhoods to go to when I’m in the need of brunch. So of course, for the first #MiniMimosaholic we went to the LES staple Essex to try out their brunch. We went on a Sunday around 1:30 and it was pretty packed so I would suggest getting a reservation in advance to avoid a long wait. Essex has a downstairs level which has a few tables and the bar, and we were seated upstairs on the balcony level that was overlooking the bar below.

Mimosas Essex Restaurant

First the drinks. Essex offers unlimited mimosas, bloody mary’s, and screwdrivers, but our table stuck to the mimosas. We all know that nothing is worse than a bad mimosa. Either the ratio is too much orange juice, or the champagne tastes cheap, you know the ones. Well Essex has neither of these problems! The mimosas had the perfect OJ to champagne ratio, that being more OJ of course, and our waitress made sure that our glasses were never empty.

Brunch Essex Restaurant

I was so excited to see that Essex offered my all-time favorite brunch item, lobster Benedict. I have high expectations for my Benedict’s and this one didn’t disappoint. There was a lot of lobster on the dish, and it was very flavorful and juicy. It came with some home fries that were crispy just as I like it. Other guests went for the classic steak and eggs, and based on how quiet the table was once the food arrived, I am sure it tasted great!

Guest Essex Restaurant

Another thing I loved about Essex was that as our 2 hours of bottomless came to an end, our waitress topped our glasses off and let us know we could continue the fun downstairs at the bar. Once down there, we indulged in more laughs and mimosas, which the bartender kept flowing for us for at least another hour. We also ordered some hand-cut French fries which were to die for. It was a great start to our #MiniMimosaholic series!

Brunch Meal Essex Restaurant

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Zengo Thai Chicken Empanadas

It’s been a long time since I last visited Zengo but the memories are still pleasant. This particular occasion, was for the birthday of a dear friend who knows how to brunch in style. It not so easy to find brunches that are this fun in the city anymore, bottomless and with great food. Rare find for sure. Zengo also host private parties on their upper level and the free coat check is a relief. Who wants to get aioli sauce on their jacket?

Zengo Mimosas

The brunch options at Zengo are unlimited so you’re welcome to order everything, which indeed we did. They also have about 8 different brunch cocktails that you’re welcome to switch out as much as you’d like. I recommend you try them all until you find your favorite but note that the bottomless clock starts soon as you sit down. If anyone else is late to the party, they will regret it! There were a few crowd favorites amongst us, especially the Mexican chocolate waffle. Don’t leave without it if you like sweets.

Zengo Shrimp Ceviche

 

We started light with the shrimp ceviche but it was more of a cold salad than anything else. Because Zengo is a Latin and Asian fusion restaurant, the Thai citrus flavors were prominent. Fresh melon adorned the dish but it was really more of an appetizer and we were still left with plenty of room. The sushi rolls were more than enough for everyone and it was perfect that they provided vegetarian options for those who wanted.

Zengo Lobster Chipotle Grits

 

The lobster grits also didn’t have the usual consistency grits should have but it was great for bread dipping. The hints of lobster were surely hints but definitely present. The fried chicken was one of the heartiest thing we ordered and it was a juicy addition to some of the starches we ordered.

Zengo Plantains

Pouring cheese over plantains has been something I’ve been more willing to try since my visit to Bodega Negra. There’s just something about crema fresca or cotija over sweet plantains that gets me going. These are what brunch dreams are made of.

Zengo Thai Chicken Empanadas

Another Zengo favorite were the Thai chicken empanadas. They had just the right amount of spice to them and the sweetness of the mango salsa brought it all together. The empanadas were perfectly fried and stuffed with enough chicken to leave us all full. Because we all got to share plates and Zengo was so accommodating, I’d say it was a great place for a group or occasion.

By the way, if you’re looking for quality prescription glasses online at affordable prices because you want to brunch in style, check out Glasses USA. They have a huge selection of stylish in-house brands and you can find me at brunch, sporting mine. See what they’re offering here.

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