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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Spring Food Festivals
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When you think of winter foods, you probably think of hearty chilis, warms sandwiches and slow cooker recipes. But your probably don’t think of Winter Food Festivals. But what if I told you there is so much more to enjoy at the start of the new year? I’m talking all-inclusive Spring food festivals that showcase the best the season has to offer. Not to mention, they happen all before the weather gets too hot to function. Food, drinks, music, entertainment, and in some cases, a great excuse to travel. What more could you ask for? 

Ready to pack your bags and indulge in mouth-watering eats? Get into all the festivals happening across the country in the upcoming weeks:

January

1. Uncorked Food & Wine Festival

Date: January 4-14, 2018
Location: Florida Keys
Join Miami Chef Phil Bryant, Chef Veronica Valdivia and Chef Michael Bertran for an eleven-day festival featuring wine tastings, cooking demonstrations, live music, food and wine pairings, art shows and so much more.

2. Oakland Restaurant Week

Date: January 11-21, 2018
Location: Oakland, California
Oakland restaurants will come together over two weekends for a festival that celebrates diverse yet delicious food offerings. Participating foodies will indulge in lunch or dinner ranging from $10-50.

3. Brewers Fest

Date: January 13, 2018
Location: Portland, Maine
In support of the Maine Brewers’ Guild, more than 50 brewers will come together for an amazing afternoon at the second largest brewfest in Maine. Including world-class beer from world-class breweries, the festival will feature everything from live music to a variety of food from local food trucks.

4. International Chocolate Festival

Date: January 19-21, 2018
Location: Florida
The International Chocolate Festival is the place where you can learn everything you need to know about chocolate, right from the experts. Fine chocolate samples from artisan chocolatiers, lectures on chocolate making and demonstrations from Miami’s master chefs will finish out the weekend.

5. Napa Valley Restaurant Week

Date: January 21-28, 2018
Location: Napa Valley, California
Through multi-course menus for lunch ($20) and dinner ($36 or $46), guests can try out the latest culinary hot-spots or revisit old favorites all week long.

6. NYC Restaurant Week

Date: January 22 – February 9, 2018
Location: New York
A great winter food event to attend if you’re new to the food scene in NYC. New York Restaurant Week is an event held twice a year where participating restaurants offer prix fixe lunches and dinners.

7. Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue Fest

Date: January 27, 2018
Location: New York
The Beer, Bourbon and Barbecue Fest is a full day of the best beers, bourbon, music and barbecue New York has to offer. Plus, admission buys guests a sampling glass to enjoy an all-you-care-to-taste sampling of beer and bourbon.

February

9. LA Cookie Con

Date: February 10-11, 2018
Location: Anaheim, California
Meet thousands of Californians who share in your love for all things sweet, salty and savory at LA Cookie Con. The festival will feature Celebrity Chef Duff Goldman, Founder of MyCupcakeAddiction Elise Strachan and Chef-Owner Ron Ben-Israel.

10. SOBE Wine and Food Festival

Date: February 21-25, 2018
Location: Miami, Florida
This festival is a star-studded five-day event showcasing the talent of the world’s most renowned spirit and wine producers, chefs and culinary artists. It attracts more than 65,000 guests annually to its 85+ events. Guests can expect uniquely crafted events showcasing world-class wine, spirits, food and lots of fun.

11. Food Tank Summit

Date: February 28, 2018
Location: Washington, D.C.
Food Tank Summit brings together some of the world’s most impactful food system leaders. Each event features incredible speakers in interactive panels moderated by top food journalists. There will also be opportunities for networking while enjoying delicious food.

12. Charleston Wine and Food Festival

Date: February 28 – March 4, 2018
Location: South Carolina
Creating an experience that celebrates the area’s rich flavor through the lens of award-winning chefs, the Charleston Wine and Food Festival is a world-class festival featuring chefs, farmers, beverage professionals and artists with distinct culinary personalities.

March

13. Coffee Fest

Date: March 16-18, 2018
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
The Coffee Fest is where passionate coffee and tea professionals meet to receive education, experience new products, and network with others.

14. Battle of Gumbo Gladiators

Date: March 24
Location: Shreveport, Louisiana
The Battle of Gumbo Gladiators serves as an annual fundraiser for Volunteers for Youth Justice. Teams are encouraged to decorate a 10×10 area with a theme to attract more attention and encourage a fun, food-loving environment.
What are your favorite food festivals to attend? Are any of these screaming your name? Share your thoughts in the comments!
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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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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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Common Foods Video with Danielle Fontus
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If certain words such as chipotle, espresso and acai make you nervous, you are not alone. Some foods are admittedly easier to pronounce than others. And some make you pause every time you read them. But we are here to tell you that there is no shame in needing to take a minute and sound a word out before ordering. You shouldn’t let anything, let alone pronunciation, stop you from enjoying what otherwise could be an unforgettable dining experience filled with good food and laughter.

Have you ever decided to be fancy and hit up a restaurant you’ve never been to? You dress up, fully willing to broaden your food horizons. But the minute you get the menu and eyeball a few of the dishes, you regret it all. You don’t know how to say any of the selections or if you even want to eat any of them. All of a sudden you’re back in elementary school with beads of sweat on your forehead as you sound out syllables at the table. It’s not a good look, but it is a common dilemma we’ve all faced. However, it doesn’t have to be. Ordering delicious meals should truly be the time of your life.

And that’s why we’re here: to help guide you through those awkward restaurant encounters. There’s no better time than the present to improve your food vocabulary by learning the real way to pronounce common dishes. We continue our handy guide with the help of our friend Danielle, Creator of the She Dares community. The next time you see one of these items on a menu, you’ll impress your friends and bae by sounding like an expert.

  • Edamame – A boiled soy bean, which can be a snack or appetizer before the main dish

  • Lychee – A white fleshy fruit

  • Chipotle – A smoke-dried jalapeño

  • Espresso – A coffee brewed by boiling water under pressure

  • Acai – A reddish-purple fruit.

     

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