Don’t Mind if I DO

Living in New York, you quickly learn the trendy spots that take foodies by storm.  We are always looking for the next best dessert, dinner or brunch spot to showcase and recommend to friends.  With that, I present DO.  The place that actually promotes indulging in as much cookie dough as you like.  Yes I said cookie dough.  You know that childhood favorite thing to sneak a taste of right before the cookie batch made it to the oven.

DO serves scoops of cookie dough of all flavors including classics like chocolate chip and sugar or more fancy ones like gimme s’more or peanut butter snickerdoodle; their creative takes on a classic s’more or snickerdoodle cookie.  They also have a handful of other delightful treats like their cookie dough ice cream sandwich, cupcakes, milkshakes, sundaes and freshly baked cookies.  I decided to try the ice cream sandwich which did not disappoint.  I will say to hurry and take your best picture for your insta or snap before the ice cream melts :-).  So now you can still sneak a bit of the cookie dough before you bake a fresh batch or simply visit DO and order it by the scoop.  It’s DOlicious!!

Powamekka Cafe

imageWhat happens when Tupac envisions his own restaurant and leaves the blueprint for the concept?  Sweet Chick, nestled in the Lower Eastside of Manhattan, brings this idea to life 20 years later and becomes Powamekka Cafe for you to enjoy over a 3-day stint.  It was time for yet another much needed catch up and I’m so happy she suggested going to this.

The cafe was filled with pictures of Tupac from childhood to adulthood, portraits of what I took to be some of his musical influences and even newly designed restroom signs for the “playaz” and “divaz”.  Handwritten notes from Tupac about the restaurant concept, infamous quotes from the artist himself and never seen before poetry also lined the walls of this pop-up cafe.  Classic songs from Tupac flowed throughout and definitely made you feel his presence.  Although I knew this was not going to happen, it felt like at any given moment Tupac was going to appear surprisingly and thank the patrons for stopping by and supporting his vision. That’s just how much the ambiance made you feel his presence even in his absence.

The menu was made up of the artists’ favorite meals so for my entree I went with the meatloaf.  This wasn’t just ordinary meatloaf; it actually was made with duck and short rib.  The dish also came with mashed potatoes and a creamy mushroom sauce.  Delicious is an understatement for this one.  I cannot recall what was in my mixed drink but I definitely picked it solely based on the name “Queen of Cali”.  Overall I was very happy with my experience at this Tupac inspired restaurant and Sweet Chick did a phenomenal job of executing the concept that was laid out for Powamekka Cafe.  Enjoy the pics below.

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LES Kitchen

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The Lower Eastside of Manhattan is the home of some of my favorite food spots.  Let’s add LES Kitchen to that list.  Nestled on Essex St this neighborhood burger spot does not disappoint with their menu.  If I had to put their food in a category, comfort would be the most fitting.  I love a good burger but especially when it has a different touch of something special that the restaurant adds as their little signature.  The house sauce is that special something at LES Kitchen along with the burger and topping combos they offer.  I went with the Truffle Shuffle which had the grilled portobello, caramelized onions, provolone cheese and their house sauce.  Cooked medium and tasted amazing!  My husband went with the Mighty Bacon which kind of gives you the American classic cheeseburger feel since it has the applewood smoked bacon, cheese and their special sauce.  You can never go wrong with a true burger classic.  We also tried the Kitchen Sink fries.  Okay let’s just say the kitchen sink name may be an understatement.  These fries came with cheese, roast pork, ribeye, peppers, bacon, fried egg, and caramelized onions.  I think this was the best part of our meal!  I am so glad I could make it here. It’s a nice little counter serve restaurant that’s serving some of the best comfort food in town.  Please give them a try whenever you’re in the LES.  Tell them I sent you 😊

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BEC

imageAfter my recent visit to LA, I raved about the place Egglsut for their take on a simple breakfast; their bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on a brioche bun.  Well guys BEC is coming as a strong competitor here in New York.  Same concept but their bun has bacon bits and cheese baked on top.  Yes! You read that correctly 🙂

I stumbled across this little gem while venturing in Chelsea for new eyeglasses and immediately jotted it down in my notes to come and check it out later. Well the day had come and I made my way back over to BEC to have breakfast for lunch.  It’s cue and quaint inside with the long wooden shareable bench seating along the wall and other small tables for dining in.  I went with the BEC classic which only seemed like the right thing to do.  The classic has  two eggs, bacon and sharp cheddar cheese on a brioche bun.  Not forgetting the bacon and cheese on top of the bun.  To stay within my breakfast themed lunch, I ordered freshly squeezed orange juice as well.  This sandwich literally melts in your mouth.  They’ve mastered this classic breakfast sandwich and added their own little twist to it.  I love when I find a new restaurant and they exceed my expectations.  Guys please give this place a visit if you’re in the Chelsea area.  You won’t regret it!

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Harold’s Meat + Three

imageThere’s a new kid on the block in Lower Manhattan and he isn’t playing fair.  Chef Harold Moore has opened a restaurant called Harold’s Meat + Three and when you dine here, you get just that.  All entrees come with your selection of a meat and then you pick three sides to compliment your selection. Pretty awesome concept!  I had the pleasure of meeting the owner, Harold, before we ordered.  Such a humble guy and very appreciative to hear his restaurant was recommended through great reviews and word of mouth.  To ease our decision making for side dishes, he even let my friend and I add a additional side on the house.  I literally wanted to try mostly all of the side dishes so it helped to add one more to my entree.

While we waited for our dinner, the waiter brought cheddar baked biscuits with a soft butter.  Okay these cn be trouble guys!  Try to only eat one of you can.  As my entree, I had the veal meatballs, recommended by Harold himself.  For the sides, I went with the cucumber salad, Japanese sweet potatoes, grilled broccolini and mac and cheese.  Okay the flavors in the meatballs are undeniably delicious.  I cannot even describe just how great they were and how many happy dances I did at the table.  To balance the sides, I normally try to order at least one cold served dish.  I was glad I tried the cucumber salad which was simply cucumbers tossed in a citrus vinaigrette.  So refreshing!  I also had never tried or even heard of Japanese sweet potatoes.  They weren’t too sweet but had a nice flavor.  The broccolini had a nice grilled flavor and seasoned to perfection.  The mac and cheese literally had just the right amount of cheese and creamy texture that I look for in a good mac.

I love hearing about new places to try and I love even more when I try a place and have nothing but great things to say so I can recommend it myself.  Chef Moore has nailed it with his restaurant and I will definitely be back.  If you’re looking for a nice vibe and good eats, please give them a try.  More pics from my dinner below.

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Kristalbelli

imageWhen restaurant week is upon us, it’a only right to take part in at least one of the restaurants offering a nice lunch or 3-course dinner for $29 or $42, respectively.  I decided to try Kristalbelli.  Perfect for yet another catch up dinner.  Kristalbelli is located in the heart of Midtown Manhattan and serves very authentic Korean dishes. I love the prix fixe menu because you do normally get some pretty good options for a 3-course meal.

My friend and I decided to order different things for the appetizer, entree and dessert so we could essentially try various things.  For the appetizers, we went with the crispy salmon and japchae.  The crispy salmon was the favorite for the table which is salmon sashimi with crispy sushi rice.  The japchae consisted of stir fried glass noodles with beef and seasonal vegetables.  For the entree, I decided to try the wagyu marinated short ribs, a recommendation and highly praised dish from the waiter.  To actually experience the grilling at the table, my friend went with the black tiger shrimp.  You cannot come to this Korean spot and not have an entree cooked right before your eyes on the crystal Buddha belly.  The entrees were complimented with a handful of sides including a fresh salad, Korean potato salad and a boiled egg to name a few.  My favorite was the salad because it was so refreshing and added a nice touch to my short ribs.  I was highly impressed with the short ribs.  Talk about amazing!  That was definitely a great recommendation.

For the dessert, we had the popcorn ice cream and apple rose.  OMG both were delicious!  I never even thought of having caramelized popcorn over vanilla ice cream.  To balance the sweetness, there was salt sprinkled on the top as well.  The apple rose was a nice pastry filled with caramelized apples and cinnamon, served with mascarpone ice cream.  I am so glad I finally made it here.  The food was great and you really get to enjoy traditional Korean dishes served right here in New York.  I’ve always loved the diversity in cuisine in New York.  To top it off, there’s  a nice lounge right upstairs called Juga.  I highly recommend stopping by this little hidden gem for a drink and some nice tunes.  Check out pictures below from my Kristalbelli experience.

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Oceana Grill

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I’m a huge fan of seafood; so it seems only right to indulge in as many seafood dishes as possible when in New Orleans.  Oceana definitely made this happen with their menu options.  Located in the heart of the historic New Orleans French Quarter, I can’t believe through my many visits to New Orleans I’d never ventured here.  I’m so glad I finally did make it.

To start, the barbecue shrimp were delicious.  It was about 5 to 6 gulf shrimp sauteed in a barbecue based sauce with lemon butter and pepper.  I could literally eat the french bread and use this sauce for dipping as a separate appetizer (hint hint 🙂 )  That’s just how amazing the sauce was.  Gumbo is a must when in New Orleans!   Although the gumbo was extremely tasty and had just the right blend of spices and flavors, I did wish it had more of the extras.  When I think of Nawlins’ gumbo, I think of literally everything imaginably being in this stuff from crab claws, crawfish, okra, beans, rice, etc.  Overall the gumbo still got the job done as far as taste and was a nice compliment to my meal.  I also shared an order of their famous char-grilled oysters.  These were smothered in their zesty garlic and cream  herb cajun sauce, topped with a blend of parmesan and romano cheeses.  The seafood already speaks for itself but each restaurant seems to have a “secret or special” sauce for their char-grilled oysters that I fall in love with. Oceana nailed it!

For the entree, I went with the Louisiana fried oyster platter served with fries, coleslaw and jalapeno hush puppies.  I added a fresh squeeze of lemon to my oysters and boy was I a happy camper.  The seafood is so fresh and just cooked to perfection.  Not forgetting to mention it was a pleasant 70+ degree day so dining in the outside courtyard area made the experience even better.  When near Bourbon, please stop by.  You will not regret it!

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Neyow’s Creole Cafe

imageNew Orleans is home to so many great things.  From the historic French Quarter, to the eccentric beauty of the street art and the musical influence shown by the harmonic tunes played through a saxophone by a local.  Oh how I love thee.  Another important aspect of this culture is the Creole background which is also reflection of the great cuisine you can find here.  Neyow’s embodies a lot of things which I’ve grown to appreciate and love about the city of New Orleans and its food.

I think one of the most popular items are the char-grilled oysters.  I visited once back in November for a friend’s birthday and went back this month for another birthday celebration.  Neyow’s and their oysters were a must for both visits.  I think I fell more in love with them the second go round.  Whatever is used in the sauce and seasoning is very addictive! I ordered a dozen and barely wanted to share two with other people within our party.  For starters, I’ve also tried the gumbo, crab claws and crawfish balls. All were amazing!  The stuffing used for the crawfish balls had the perfect mix of flavor for the crawfish.  Another order to go please?

For the entree, I also double backed and ordered the pasta on the bayou. The fresh gulf shrimp and crawfish tossed in a creamy sauce with penne pasta is to die for.  I remembered uttering “I’m stuffed” but refused to take home leftovers!  I also sampled my friend’s shrimp creole which was equally as amazing.  The spiciness of Neyow’s special sauce and the sauteed shrimp served with a bed of rice was a pure delight.  As if the food wasn’t enough, they are also known for a drink called the ‘Bow Wow’.  Not sure what’s in it but its definitely served with a kick.  Neyow’s has yet to disappoint. If in the Mid-city area and you want the best char-grilled oysters in New Orleans, stop by and tell them I sent you.

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It’s a Caribbean ting

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Caribbean cuisine is very popular in NYC.  So when my friend left the ball in my court to pick the place for our catch up dinner, I was delighted to try Pearl’s.  Pearl’s is nestled comfortably in Williamsburg and is a very nice and quaint restaurant in this Brooklyn area.  Upon entry, you automatically get that island vibe from its decor and Bob Marley tunes that flows throughout the place.  I already knew what I planned to order before coming here.  There’s a specialty dish called the Bake and Shark.  I’d never heard of this but after through research came to discover its a popular Trini street or fast food dish that’s very flavorful, especially once you add the sauces.  Sauces are key.  I also saw popular reviews for the stuffed crab backs and wanted to try those as well.  Sadly, they were out that night; I guess they’re a bit too popular :-).

So to start I tried the calypso guacamole and chips along with the Trini rum punch.  You can’t go wrong with either guac or a nice drink on happy hour right?  Just an FYI, happy hour is from 4-7pm during the weekdays.  As mentioned above, I went with the bake and shark as the main entree and their sweet plantains.  Let’s just say they’ve nailed their rendition of this classic Trini dish.  I couldn’t get over how sweet and delicious the bread was!  Simply amazing.  The sandwich consists of fried shark with tamarind, chadon beni and garlic sauce, pickled slaw and mango chutney.  The shark was fried perfectly and the mix of ingredients was the perfect combination to exude the intense flavors of this sandwich.  Pearl’s offers a few more sauces you can add to your sandwich to your liking; my favorites were the garlic and hot pepper sauces.

For a split second, I was able to remove myself from the hustle and bustle of NYC and mentally took a trip to the islands for about 2 hours.  Pearl’s is definitely a place to try and I highly recommend their bake and shark.  Take a quick trip to the islands with me by going through the gallery below.

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LA Edition: Part 3

imageLA is a place known for many notable things.  Hollywood, celeb sightings, production and die-hard Lakers fans to name a few.  Whenever I travel, I’m always in search of the best food and LA does a good job of providing new places to try.  Being a foodie at heart, I will always fit in a nice dinner, new dessert place or quick bite to go.  While in LA for the Thanksgiving holiday, I was able to add some new places to my growing list of favorite food spots.  I also came to find out a lot of places are open extremely late or, even better, 24 hours!  One of those 24-hour places happens to be Birdie’s in DTLA.  I made it by here to try some of their delicious donuts.  Another place, famously shown in a John Singleton classic film ‘Baby Boy’, called Lucy’s is also open all day and night and the food here is definitely comforting when its late night.

On this trip, I was actually able to spend a lot of time in Los Angeles.  I didn’t even make it to Santa Monica this time around or Malibu and both are 2 of my favorite hangouts, particularly for the beaches. I did stop by Venice beach, because its only right that you do and had cocktails at Wabi Sabi on Abbot Kinney.   This is also one of my favorite areas and I made a point to enjoy at least an hour or so in the area.  I saw the Farmer’s Market in the Grove on a ton of vlogs so I definitely made a stop there.  The Farmers Market seems like a good place to visit when you’re indecisive about what you want to eat because the market offers a variety of food and different types of cuisine.  I think I grabbed tacos and a horchata to hold me until we made it to the infamous In-N-Out Burger.  In-N-Out is a must try if you never had this before.  The menu is so simple and apparently, the way to go, is animal style for your fries.  Never disappoints.  I also went to another market, Grand Central, located in DTLA solely to try the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich from Eggslut.  Eggslut is a pretty popular sandwich joint, so much, that another one has opened in Venice.  The line was pretty long at the time I went but it was definitely worth the wait.  To go with this, I went to G&B coffee for a nice cup of coffee and later found out this is one of the most popular coffee shops in LA, according to Time Out magazine.

BOA Steakhouse was the choice for the LA finale dinner.  I normally do at least one nice restaurant when vacating here so why not spend it in West Hollywood for that evening?  We started with the blue colossal crab cocktail.  As the entrée, I went with their rib eye and added both mac and cheese and creamed spinach with crispy shallots.  Wayyyyyy too much food to indulge in at once but I couldn’t resist.  Everything sounded so good.  Not to forget the cocktail I had for the evening too.  I cannot recall the name of it but it was a great choice!  To say the least, LA never ceases to amaze me.  The vibe is enough to fall in love with but when you start adding all of the other great things like picture perfect sunsets, countless beaches and warm weather all year;  it’s just a place you never want to leave.  Check out pics of some of the food I was able to enjoy while there.  Until next time LA….

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http://www.eggslut.com (Grand Central Market 317 S Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90013)

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http://www.gandbcoffee.com (Grand Central Market 317 S Broadway Los Angeles, CA 90013)

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http://www.loteriagrill.com (The Original Farmers Market 6333 W 3rd St Los Angles, CA 90036)

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http://www.rockandbrews.com (143 Main St El Segundo, CA 90245)

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http://www.birdiesla.com (314 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015)

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http://www.in-n-out.com (7009 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028)