Los Tacos No. 1 in NYC

New York City is a foodie heaven because of how diverse it is. When it comes to food cuisines you can find a huge amount of options spread along just once city block. Still, most of us have our food favorites and tend to stick to what we know when it’s time to pick a lunch spot or dinner date location. But as a foodie, it’s your duty to venture out and find new places you love. Otherwise, you might miss out on some of these hidden gems right outside your door. Besides, are you a really a foodie if you don’t take advantage of all the great food NYC has to offer?

A plate of tacos from Locos Tacos
Los Tacos No. 1 is perfect for the foodies who loves a good taco. Photo by Los Tacos No. 1

1. Los Tacos No. 1

New York has no shortage of great Mexican spots to fulfill all of your taco needs. However, this hidden gem has sat on top of my best tacos list for two years running. Located inside of Chelsea market, Los Tacos has some of the most authentic Mexican tacos that I’ve tasted in the city. It’s a small shop located in a food hall, which means that if you’ve never ventured into Chelsea market, you probably have never heard of it. The set-up of this spot allows for you to watch your tacos being made and then they’re handed to you for your enjoyment.
Price: $
Location: Chelsea Market, 75 9th Avenue. New York, NY 10011 (Multiple Locations)

2. Verde on Smith

Brooklyn’s restaurant industry has been booming over the last few years, but this cobble hill location has been around for quite some time. If you visit during brunch hours, you can try their thick cut brioche French toast or the rosemary potatoes, wash them down with unlimited mimosas and raspberry, mango, or peach bellinis. Outdoor patio seating means you can soak up some sun and fresh air during NYC’s warmer months. They even have big tables for those group brunches we love so much. If dinner is more your thing, their dinner menu is full of Italian goodness.
Price: $$
Location: 216 Smith St. Brooklyn, NY 11201

Verde on smith bubbly

3. Cuba Restaurant and Rum Bar

Delicious Cuban food paired with Cuban inspired drinks? Yes please! Cuba is a quaint restaurant nestled among the busy streets of the west village, which is why many people may overlook it. The name says it all, as Cuba serves up some Cuban favorites such as vaca frita, ropa vieja, and of course mojitos! Upstairs is a bit tight, but no worries, they have another level downstairs with extra seating and its own bar. On some nights, you can enjoy your meal while a live band plays!
Price: $$
Location: 222 Thompson St. New York, NY 10012

4. Lemongrass Grill

I almost didn’t put Lemongrass Grill on this list because I love how low-key and chill even though NYC is always bustling. Located on court street in Downtown BK, Lemongrass Grill has everything that you need in a Thai spot: nice ambience, great appetizers, affordable entrees, and two-for-one cocktails. Yes, TWO-FOR-ONE! The drink special is just one reason you should be visiting Lemongrass Grill soon. The service is always prompt and the appetizers and entrées are delicious. You’re guaranteed to leave full and satisfied. They also have pineapple fried rice that is served inside of a pineapple, so you can eat delicious food in a new way and stunt for the gram (we won’t judge)!
Price: $
Location: 156 Court St. Brooklyn, NY 11201

thai

5. El Jeffe

Have you ever been craving Mexican and Caribbean food, but had to settle on just one of the two? Well fret no more, because El Jeffe has created a menu and dining experience that allows you to enjoy both at the same damn time all without leaving NYC. Fried shrimp tacos, jerk pork nachos, and grilled fish rice bowls are just some of the dishes you can try here. They have frozen margaritas and Mexican beers available to wash down your food too. Don’t forget to order yourself some delicious Mexican corn!
Price: $$
Location: 1483 Fulton St. Brooklyn, NY 11216

 

Mimosaholics Need This List

Do you often find yourself questioning where you should brunch this weekend? Or maybe you’re tired of the same NYC restaurants. This NYC Brunch guide gives you 6 weeks of Food Before Love Favorites that will change how you eat .

Share
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!

Share
eataly-downtown-i-ravioli

As a busy New Yorker, coming across a ravioli bar like I Ravioli at Eataly Downtown is ideal for my day-to-day. While I normally frequent their Flatiron location, I happily accepted an offer from the Eataly team to visit their second location. I had never been to Eataly Downtown so I was excited to see what was in store, literally.

Though I was guided to the bar upon arrival, I loved that there was a pathway on the floors that was leading the way. Now, you never have to worry about getting lost in the hustle and bustle of lunch since it takes you directly to where you need to go. Before approaching the bar, you get to see the chefs making the fresh pasta and the variety of options. Both chefs present on my visit seemed happy to chat about what they were making for the day, and knew plenty about each variation shown. They explained the process and how quickly it would be for me to get my meal. After the chef made a few suggestions on his favorites, I was ready to try them out for myself.

eataly-downtown-i-ravioli-station
Photo by Tanya Maithai

The menu was pretty easy to choose from and so was having a glass of Rosè while I waited. The ravioli comes stuffed and there are a number of sauces available as well so you can pick your favorite day (based by sauce) to come grab your bite to eat. It wasn’t even three sips later, when my order was already up for me to grab. It was really quicker than a New York Minute, which is perfect for someone always on the go. Should you have some time to spare, there was ample seating to enjoy.

I ordered the prosciutto stuffed ravioli with the sauce of the day which was a mushroom, arugula and beef sauce. To my surprise, I was also invited to try the Pesto Trapanese, as well as, the Carbonara sauce over a bed of ravioli. I was already enjoying the pasta I ordered but the Carbonara had come to steal the show. It was creamy, with the right amount of cheese and sauce to compliment it. I found myself digging my fork back and back again into the bowl.

eataly-downtown-i-ravioli
Photo by Tanya Maithai

The best part about the experience at I Ravioli at Eataly Downtown was that you could take ingredients home with you and recreate what you’ve had. From fresh pasta to the sauces, everything is suddenly available to you for the days you won’t have time to run in for lunch. Again, completely ideal for any ravioli lover, especially one who wants to bring the taste of Eataly, home.

Share
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!

Share
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!

Share
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!

Share