seafood paella
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Recently, a couple members of the Hungry Crew joined me in checking out one of Miami’s seafood hotspots, Rincon Escondido Tapas, located at 2697 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33137. Rincon serves traditional Spanish and Argentinean cuisine in a tapas style and has quite the reputation for their seafood paella.

THE RESTAURANT

Rincon has the classic “hole-in-the-wall” appeal. Everyone knows that hole-in-the-wall restaurants have the best eats. Outside, there is seating on a raised concrete patio. Inside, Rincon is cozy, with small tables clustered about that can be rearranged depending on the size of your party. It also had an eclectic décor. Rincon is perfect for casual dining, no reservation is necessary, unless you want to order Rincon’s most popular dish: the paella. It’s a good idea to call ahead if you want to order that dish. All of their food is made to order and the paella – which comes with either chicken or seafood – takes about an hour to prepare.

THE FOOD

seafood pallea
The paella is a must try at Rincon, but call ahead if you and your party don’t want to wait for this dish. It takes about an hour to prepare. Photo: Rincon 

Rincon’s seafood paella (“Paella de Mariscos”) is a traditional paella with shrimp, squid, mussels, and clams. One order typically feeds two people, but the Hungry Crew and I ate to contentment and had leftovers – which tasted even better the next day. The presentation of the dish was mouthwatering, the aroma was delicious. It was flavorful, but a bit salty. Luckily, we each had a glass of white wine sangria to cleanse our pallets.

While waiting for our seafood paella, we indulged in some tapas. We ordered the grilled squid (Chipirones a la Plancha), cod fish croquettes (Croquetas de Bacalao), and sautéed garlic shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo).

Before the tapas arrived at our table, the owner served us a small bowl of potato salad as a starter. I usually don’t like potato salad that isn’t made by my mother, but Rincon’s potato salad was tasty. It was well seasoned and not overly creamy.

As we were finishing the potato salad, the grilled squid arrived with warm bread on the side. The grilled squid was not big on flavor. However, the oil based sauce that it was served in was delicious with the bread. Next came the codfish croquettes and OMG they were fantastic! The four pieces were just enough to wet our pallets. Shortly before the seafood paella came out, the sautéed garlic shrimp arrived with more warm bread, it was delicious. The shrimp was well seasoned and perfectly cooked with a kick of spice.

 

Grilled squid served in a buttery lemon sauce.

We ended our meal on a sweet note with flan–a creamy custard dessert popular in Spain. It was divine. The flan’s consistency was perfect and was not overly sweet.

BOTTOM LINE

Overall, I would give Rincon Escondido a rating of four out of five shrimp. It’s a great place to enjoy scrumptious seafood in Miami while hanging out with friends or a casual date night.

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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

 

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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 .

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A set table in a sunny room.

Survey any number of my friends and they will tell you going out to eat is my external happy place. New scenery, insatiable dishes that I’d normally be too skeptical to ever try and having an overall fabulous dining experience? That’s what life is all about.

But with every unforgettable night out comes an experience that leaves a sour taste in your mouth. From iffy menu options, to horrible customer service, you name it and it is bound to happen. That’s why it’s so important to cover all your bases to ensure you have the best night possible.

Want to have the ultimate dining experience, no matter where you go? Get into these eight tips you need to turn your night out into an amazing one:

1. Read Restaurant Reviews

Before I make plans to go out to eat, I like to read a few online reviews of the restaurant so I know what to expect in terms of dress code, quality of food and customer service. Yelp! and Eater are two of my go-to sites, they normally have pretty reliable ratings. Be sure to read the reviews carefully, some customers look for any reason to complain. That low rating you see could be the result of something silly, like a guest not getting enough ice cubes in their drinks. Know when to weed out the ridiculous from the truly helpful.

2. Make Reservations

I cannot stress this enough. With the holiday season approaching, restaurants are guaranteed to fill up quickly. And the last thing you want to do is get all dolled up just to find out there is an hour wait – or worse – flat out turned away because there is no availability. Put an alert in your phone days or weeks in advance to reserve a table. Doing this will alleviate stress, and you will get to enjoy yourself the night of.

3. Have A Dining Backup

Let’s say you made your reservation and you’re ready to go, but you suddenly decide you have a taste for Mediterranean instead of the little Italian restaurant where you’re booked. What then? That’s why it’s always smart to have a dining backup. In case your taste changes – and it might – having a backup means you’ll still be able to take advantage of a night out and still have a great dining experience. Choose a backup restaurant that has equally delicious food and doesn’t fill up too fast, just in case you need to arrive last-minute.

A neon sign that reads "Eat What Makes You Happy"
Even if you change your mind the night of, eat what you love! Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash.

4. Prep and Arrive Early

Now that you’ve made your reservation, leaving the house and getting to the restaurant on time is another hurdle to overcome. Whenever I make plans, I swear I’ll have enough time to get dressed, and do my hair plus a full face of makeup. Yet the hour rolls around and I’m stuck standing in front of the bathroom mirror, hair pinned and one eyelash on. Words of caution: don’t be like me. Start getting ready a few hours in advance by ironing clothes and setting out accessories. Whatever you need to do to pull it together. That way you won’t have to rush to get to the restaurant on time. And the bonus is, if you arrive early, you can make any seating changes within the restaurant you may find necessary.

5. Be Adventurous, But Don’t Overdo It

There’s just something about reading menu items that makes you want to try every last one. I know I’m not alone. Each dish described sounds so good and the pictures make your mouth water. You’re thinking, “It’s my night out, let me try something new.” And while it is certainly great to broaden your palette and step out of your comfort zone, there is a chance you won’t like the taste of something even if the picture of the food looks handcrafted by angels. I try to stick to what I know and add a little umph. I love all types of fish and know that I normally can’t go wrong with a seafood dish. It’s all about understanding what you like and catering to that.

6. Alert The Waiter of Any Dietary Restrictions

As I’ve been focused on leading a healthier lifestyle, I know I cannot eat everything I used to. Which also means I can’t have certain foods prepared the way I’m used to. So I have to alert the waitstaff of any concerns I may have early on. Whether an entrée is cooked with dairy products or includes processed ingredients are real concerns for me. Letting the staff know early on gives them a chance to recommend the best menu options and accommodate me throughout my meal.

7. Take Your Time

This is so important. I can’t tell you how many times I have been so hungry that I practically inhaled my food. Minutes later, I couldn’t even tell you what I had just eaten. Taking the time to really savor each bite makes the dining experience that much more enjoyable. You can take in the full effect and really enjoy the dish that the chef has crafted so beautifully.

8. Turn Off All Technology

Sometimes sitting down at a dinner table is the only chance you get to have an uninterrupted conversation and share a similar thought with friends and family throughout the week. You can’t enjoy yourself if you have work emails, text message dings and calendar appointments constantly popping up, disrupting the moment. It’s okay to silence your phone or even turn it off and give the experience your undivided attention. It’s hard to believe, but trust me, the world won’t stop just because you’re disconnected for an hour or two.

Okay, now that you’ve checked everything off on your list, you’re ready to have a worry-free night with great food, great company and even better vibes?

Happy eating!

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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 .

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Chicken Biscuit Odd Bird Atlanta
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Located in West Midtown and usually known for their breakfast and brunch menu, West Egg hosts a monthly dinner pop-up called Oddbird, a “restaurant within a restaurant,” Oddbird takes place on the second Wednesday of the month. Oddbird is known for their chicken sandwiches and chicken biscuits, so I knew that it would be the perfect location for the first installment of Sandwiches Before Love.

When you walk into the restaurant, you are greeted by one of their friendly staff at the counter and the three featured pies for the month. Once you reach the counter, you place your order, grab your silverware and choose a seat at any table.

Chicken Biscuit Odd Bird Atlanta

Oddbird’s menu features 4 different fried chicken biscuits, 4 different fried chicken sandwiches, both regular and Nashville-style hot fried chicken & waffles and The Oddbird – a seasonal fried chicken & waffle option that changes monthly. The menus also offers a featured salad called Eat Like a Bird and a variety of hot and cold side items.

The Oddbird and Chicken Biscuit Odd Bird

Everyone in the Sandwiches Before Love crew decided to order something different. Initially, I had my taste buds set on the Chicken Biscuit #2 with spicy honey and bread & butter pickles….BUT I just couldn’t pass up July’s Oddbird chicken & waffle — fried chicken served with a macaroni and cheese waffle, local heirloom tomato & corn salad and buttermilk vinaigrette. So I did what any dedicated food lover would — ordered both!

PB&J Chicken Sandwich Odd Bird Atlanta

My taste buds were not disappointed. The Chicken Biscuit #2 was spicy and delicious. The biscuit was moist and buttery, and the added crunch of the bread & butter pickles bought the entire sandwich together. The Oddbird chicken & waffle was AMAZING! The chicken was fried perfectly, the tomato & corn salad was refreshing and the mac & cheese was hidden inside of the waffle, so every bite was a surprise of cheesy deliciousness!

One of my favorite items on the menu to suggest for first-timers is the PB&J Chicken Sandwich. A piece of fried chicken on local TGM Bread served with pimento cheese, bacon and house-made tomato jam. The tomato jam is so good, that I’ve been known to ask for an additional side of it to take home with me!

S'mores Blondie Pie Odd Bird Atlanta

Don’t forget when you visit Oddbird, you MUST save room for one of pastry chef Carrie Hudson’s pies! July’s selection included a Raspberry Lemonade pie, Berry Mascarpone pie and a S’mores Blondie pie.

Though it wasn’t my first visit to Oddbird, it was the first visit for everyone else in the Sandwiches Before Love crew…but thanks to the great food and service, it surely won’t be their last! The lovely people at Oddbird are taking the month of August off, but they’ll be back on the second Wednesday in September – September 13th!

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Smoked BBQ Ribs
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Although Lil’ Greenhouse Grill is less than a year old, it has easily become my favorite restaurant in Miami. To share my love and adoration for this place, I gathered my Comfort Food Before Love crew and headed over to Lil’ Greenhouse Grill for dinner at 1300 NW 3rd Avenue.
The restaurant is cozy and the service is spectacular. Our waitress was very attentive and the manager/co-owner, Nicole, was kind enough to explain the entire menu. She also made lovely wine recommendations. My favorite was the Pinotage, a red wine from South Africa.

Nicole explained that the head chef, Karim, is a meat master, so most of us opted for the BBQ Rib Tips as an appetizer. It was a major hit – super flavorful and laid on top of toasted white bread. The combination was so good that it left us all speechless. If you like a little spice, I would recommend the Dreamfire Shrimp. It was very well seasoned and had the right amount of kick.

Smoked BBQ Ribs
Photo by Korey Davis Photography

The entrees are sizable and reasonably priced. From the Half BBQ Chicken (sizable chicken smothered in BBQ sauce), to the Smoked BBQ Ribs (fall off the bone tender, smothered in BBQ sauce, and stacked on a plate), to the Seafood Cake Dinner (flaky fish bound together with imitation crab meat instead of breading so as to maintain a well-seasoned seafood flavor) – you cannot go wrong with any choice you make. Each entrée comes with your choice of two sides. The Baked Mac N Cheese is a must and Collard Greens (cooked with turkey) was the most desired side of the evening.

Mac and Cheese, Collards, Lil greenhouse grill
Photo by Korey Davis Photography

Overall, Lil’ Greenhouse Grill is a great place to grab a bite for lunch or dinner, Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The cozy ambiance, the warm hospitality, and the smooth sounds of old school R&B and soul music coupled with oh-so-good food, make for the perfect dining experience. Visit Lil’ Greenhouse Grill…you will not regret it.

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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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