Renaissance Interior
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Food Before Love was cordially invited to the Grand Opening party of Renaissance Harlem. As a VIP guest, we helped the restaurant, which opened its doors last year, toast to their official grand opening celebration.

The classy and suave styled restaurant is located in the heart of Harlem and absolutely stands out. The building was previously home to rapper Doug E. Fresh’s restaurant, Doug E.’s Chicken & Waffles. Once Chef Cisse and his co-founder and cousin Chef Cheikh Ali acquired the building, they made it their own. The interior is beautifully designed, lined with brick walls and topped with an uniquely designed ceiling. The intimate yet spacious setting provides a cozy modern eating experience.

Renaissance Interior
Photo by Renaissance Harlem.

Chef Cisse and Chef Cheikh are also the owners of Ponty Bistro, which is just a few doors down. Although born of the same minds the restaurants are polar opposites when it comes to cuisine. Chef Cisse says none of the African French cuisine of Ponty Bistro can be found in the New American menu of Renaissance Harlem. He says it was important to stay in the neighborhood because Harlem is home for him and his cousin. The Senegal born chef has called Harlem home for many years and felt it could use a place like Renaissance Harlem, which infuses the cultures and foods that make Harlem what it is.

The Food

We had the pleasure of sampling a few hors d’oeuvres and cocktails that were reflective of the local culture. To wash down the fish empanadas, Thai chicken wings, and stuffed mushrooms, the chefs served cocktails.

The cocktails were made with liquor from Tambour Original and Kaiso. Two liquor brands Renaissance highlighted during their grand opening. Tambour Original is an African Palm Liquor whose history dates back hundreds of years when West Africans were denied liquor during the European colonization. Kaiso is a potent blend of coconut water, premium vodka and tequila that brings in New York’s Caribbean culture. Renaissance is one of handful of places in NYC where both brands can be found.

Cocktail made with Kaiso.

I’m excited to head back to Renaissance Harlem to taste more of their Harlem-inspired menu. My taste buds got great vibes from this place and I think yours will too!

poco sangria hybird

The holidays are upon us and what better way to bring in the spirit than indulging in a refreshing glass (or two) of sangria!  Yup, today, December 20, is National Sangria Day!

Of Spanish and Portuguese origin, sangria is a fruit infused wine punch consisting of red, white or rosé wine, sweetened with chopped fruit and often mixed with other ingredients such as orange juice, brandy, spices, carbonated soda and other liquors. The different types of sangria are endless!

So, if you are a sangria lover like we are, go check out some of our picks of where you can go celebrate and enjoy some of NYC’s best sangria!

33 Avenue B at 3rd Street, New York, NY 10009

This casual tapas spot in Alphabet City serves a special house sangria and occasional live music with its Spanish plates. Their delicious red or white sangria is $9 a glass or $35 for a pitcher. They even have a version of the classic sangria called the Poco Hybrid – red and white sangria mixed with St. Germain, blood orange juice and topped with champagne. Added bonus: happy hour is every Tuesday through Friday and Sunday 5-8 p.m. It includes $6 tapas and half price signature cocktails.

poco sangria hybird
The famous Poco Hybird is a must try for National Sangria Day, drink up! Photo by Poco.

1460 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10075

With a few locations throughout the city, their Upper East Side location offers happy hour from 3:30-7 p.m. on weekdays including red, white or rosé sangria for $6 a glass or $25 a pitcher. They also feature an impressive six specialty sangria varieties to choose from: the Blanca (white wine, rum white peach, lemon), the Rosada (rosé wine, tequila, cranberry, pomegranate, hibiscus soaked strawberries) or the de Arándano (rosé wine, brandy, cinnamon, cloves, brandied cranberries).

If you get hungry—and of course you will—they have a $40 prix fixe meal option which includes 4 tapas, 2 main courses, churros for dessert and unlimited sangria!

Sangria 46
338 West 46th St, New York, NY 10036

If fruit flavored sangrias are your fav, stop by Sangria 46 to celebrate National Sangria Day. Their traditional red and white options with chunks of fresh fruit, include apple and citrus slices and they also have strawberry, peach, mango and raspberry lemoncello flavors for $7 a glass.

Sangria 46
Fruit and wine, what’s not to love! Photo by @goddess.m1.

Sala One Nine
35 West 19th Street, New York, NY 10011

Come here for the daily happy hour from 4-7 p.m. featuring their half priced signature sangria. Their white version is a favorite of mine and their red uses brandy. Both are great options if you’re craving a strong and fruity pick me up.

Angel of Harlem
2272 Frederick Douglass Boulevard, New York, NY 10027

Lively Harlem mainstay serves up Caribbean cuisine and tasty cocktails. Wednesdays and Thursdays they have happy hour all night! This includes $7 sangrias and a $30 prix fixe dinner! Good thing National Sangria Day falls on a Wednesday this year! When I’m at Angel of Harlem, their white sangria is a must for me.

Angel of Harlem
Photo by Angel of Harlem.

El Kallejon
209 East 117th Street, New York, NY 10035

Such a cozy hidden gem in East Harlem with beautifully crafted cocktails, delicious Mexican small plates and a laid back vibe. Try their $7 sangria during their daily happy hour from 4-7 p.m. The variety of flavors are amazing, specially blended and well presented. If you like a spicy kick try the Kallejon with cilantro and jalapeño. If you prefer a sweeter, more traditional sangria, the red, white or rosé versions are mixed with berries and tropical fruit blends.

Calle Ocho
45 West 81st Street, New York, NY 10024

An NYC favorite known for their Latin themed boozy brunch featuring unlimited sangria. Calle Ocho has a large selection of sangrias to enjoy at any time of day! Head to the Upper West Side for your choice of red or white, with flavors such as the Havana Banana (coconut rum infused with banana and lychee) or the Samba (Acaį liquor, brandy and blueberries).

Calle Ocho
Red, white and Rose sangrias are on deck for National Sangria Day at Calle Ocho! Photo by Calle Ocho.

Tio Pepe
168 West 4th Street, New York, NY 10014

This Spanish style West Village mainstay serves up some of the best sangria in NYC along with its signature paella. During daily happy hour, $7 gets you classic sangria in red or white. For a light bite try something from the $7 happy hour tapas menu, such as their chicken and cod fish croquetas, chorizos riojana infused with rioja wine or mussels.

Where are you pouring it up for National Sangria Day? Share with us in the comment below and don’t forget to tag us in all of your boozy Insta photos. Cheers!

New Year

The end of the year is almost here and it’s time to celebrate all you’ve accomplished with loved ones. Our Food Before Love Insiders gave use the details on where they plan to chow down before the new year is here and now they’re sharing the love.

If you can’t make it to these places before the new year, don’t fret, they’ll still be around in 2018. Just know, these places have the FBL stamp of approval!

Robin, NYC Insider

Why: I’ve had K Rico on my to-go list for a while now, because I’m always looking for new spots to add to my ever growing brunch list. K Rico offers a $27 boozy brunch option, which is something you won’t come across often in the midtown west area.
What to order: I’m definitely starting with the bottomless mimosas (duh!), and then the crab cake benedict has my name written all over it.

Simone Bradshaw, Miami Insider

Where: Lil Greenhouse Grill,1300 NW 3rd Ave, Miami, FL 33136
Why: Why not? It’s an awesome restaurant – great food, service with a smile, chill vibe, and lovely people.
What to Order: Mac and cheese, ribs, rib tips, half chicken, collard greens, baked beans, red velvet cheesecake.

Lil Greenhouse Grill
Lil Greenhouse Grill ribs. Photo by mmanrique1428.

Natasha Salter, NYC Insider

Where: Le Rivage, 340 West 46th Street, New York, NY 10036 (between 8th and 9th Avenue)
Why: I’m always on the hunt for an amazing burger and I’ve been wanting to try this little French bistro’s infamous, signature French Onion Soup burger!

Le Rivage
Perfectly seasoned beef, cheese and caramelized onions, this is what dreams are made of. Photo by Le Rivage.

Where: Rice & Gold, 50 Bowery, New York, NY 10013 (between Canal and Bayard Street)
Why: I love Asian fusion cuisine and this is the newest hot spot everyone’s buzzing about. Savory comfort foods are what I crave for the holidays and they specialize in dim sum, dumplings, pho and shareable plates. The perfect place for groups to enjoy a holiday meal.
What to Order: I can’t wait to try the Pho Soup Dumplings, Lobster Fried Rice and the Jerk Roast Duck.

Ariel Ijaduola , NYC Insider 

Where: Dorlan’s Tavern & Oyster Bar,  213 Front St,, New York, NY 10038
Why: The seafood is very fresh at Dorlan’s and it’s in cool area right in the heart of the South Street Seaport.
What to get: Lobster mac and cheese is to die for!
Dorlan's Tavern
Every bite of these cheesy treat is filled with delicious crab meat! Photo by Dorlan’s Tavern.
Where: Nom Wah Tea Parlor, 13 Doyers St., New York, NY 10013
Why: It is the perfect place to satisfy an authentic dim sum craving. It’s cheap and incredibly filling.
What to get: Steamed Dim Sum Sampler so you can try a little bit of everything!

Lauren, ATL Insider 

Why: Most people haven’t heard of 101 Steak in Vinings and that’s a good thing, because it’s still a hidden gem. I’ve been plenty of times and the food is consistently amazing!
What to order: Order the Steak Benedict – 4oz filet, poached eggs, Béarnaise atop an English muffin and served with home fries. Treat yourself to an elevated experience and make that Benedict Oscar which adds jumbo lump crab meat and grilled asparagus (for an additional cost, but so worth it). It is so indulgent and delicious!
101 Steak
Steak and potatoes, a quintessential hearty meal. Get your fix at 101 Steak in ATL! Photo by 101 Steak.

Tameka Jo Pauldo, ATL Insider

Where: The BQE Restaurant & Lounge, Atlanta, 262 Edgewood Avenue, NE
Why: If you love southern cuisine with a modern twist, combined with a relaxed ambiance and jazz music, this is the perfect place.
What to order: I plan to order crispy fried green tomatoes as an appetizer, and red velvet chicken & waffles for my main entree.

Casandra Rosario, Food Before Love Editor-in-Chief

Where: Chef’s Club, 275 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012
Why: Chef JJ’s residency at the Chef’s Club is about to end and if you haven’t booked a reservation yet, this is your last chance to experience it. They’re even including two menu’s to choose from on New Year’s Eve, “99 problems” and “I’ve got 5 on it” for larger parties. How can you say no?
What to get: You might as well end the year with a bang and get everything but we’re loving the Tuna Tartare and the Udon Noodles for sure.

Tuna Tartare Chef's Club

Let us know when you try some of our favorites across the country! Tag us on Instagram and don’t forget to hashtag #FoodBeforeLove. Happy eating!