Food, Glorious Food

To the best of my recollection, I have not had a bad meal since arriving here.   When looking for an apartment we focused on the Upper West Side (UWS) not realizing the number of great restaurants in the neighborhood.  Between 72nd and 110th there must be a minimum of 100 restaurants.  We have been to maybe 10. We have settled in to 3-4 favorites.  However in the quest to find more options, we’ve now committed to eating at a different restaurant each time we go out.

We were pleasantly surprised to discover one of our favorite places to eat when we would visit NY is right around the corner.

Gennaro– a quaint Italian restaurant about 2 blocks from us.  It started as a wine bar and has eventually grown into a beautiful space that makes me think of Italy.

It’s very unassuming from the front.

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The interior is a bit cramped, but comfortable.

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They serve the BEST gnocchi in the world.  They melt in your mouth and the sauce is so fresh!

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Blockheads– Billed as “authentic, healthy San Francisco-Mexian food”,   their specialty is the burrito.  They offer lots of combinations but my favorite is “naked”, sans tortilla, BBQ roast pork adobo with sautéed spinach.   Thanks to a visit from our Phoenix friends, I am now hooked on their homemade tofu sour cream.  No, really, it is amazingly good.  The main attraction though is the Mexican Bulldog they serve.  It’s a margarita with a Coronita inverted into the glass.  As you drink, the beer flows into the cup and you have a mix of beer and margarita.

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My husband says they’re wonderful.  Me, I prefer their Margaritas, and at $4 each, it’s easy to have more than one.

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Brother Jimmy’s BBQ-“Put some south in yo mouth!” Great bbq food, awesome ribs, served 3 ways, pulled pork, fried brussel sprouts (fav) and the drinks!  OMG their cocktails are awesome!  I love the Carolina Cooler-“A new take on a Brother Jimmy’s classic cocktail- Made with SKYY Vodka, fresh lemonade, blue curaçao and muddles lemons”.

It’s bright blue and served in a mason jar. The Louisville Lemonade is good as well, so good we asked for the recipe! (we’ve discovered it also goes my other “city” names)

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One place has become our go to restaurant, it’s Calle Ocho, serving Cuban food.  It has a great menu and atmosphere.  We have a favorite waiter, “T” (Tico) who is a DJ on the side.  He programs the background music for the place.  He’s very friendly and goes the extra mile to make sure you’re happy.  He and the manager of the place have known each other since middle school.  On Sunday’s they have an amazing brunch with free refills of their amazing Sangria. They have a variety of red and white that are delicious.  Reservations are a must.

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S’Mac– Yes, a place that serves nothing but Mac & Cheese!  Incredibly small place that’s always packed.  They even have gluten free pasta!  My favorite is the Alpine, A Swiss Mac that keeps you coming back for more. Gruyere coupled with its partner in crime, slab bacon. Hard to resist!  It is served in very hot cast iron skillets that keep your food hot until it’s gone.

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And last, but not least is a “Mexican Speak Easy” place in NoLita (North of little Italy).  We discovered this place when a friend visited us from California.  The three of us met up with friends at the top of The Peninsula Hotel where there is a rooftop bar.  Crazy as it was we had a drink there in the middle of winter!  While there we were invited to tag along for dinner at a place known as La Esquina, a “speak-easy” Mexican restaurant.  Off we went on our adventure.

From the front, La Esquina looks like  a run of the mill taqueria.

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Inside is very small, then you notice a person standing in front of a door that says, “Employees Only”.   We gave our name to this person, they check a list and then the door is opened and we go down a steep staircase.  Once down there we are greeted by a hostess who instructs us to “go through the kitchen” to the coat check which then leads to the bar.  Now I must tell you that the pictures of the bar are from the restaurant’s website as we were told “NO PICTURES!”.  This was after our friend is snapping pictures of everything.  The manager came over and asked to see her pictures and was told to delete some!  Wow, they are really protective of what goes on there!  I guess they have famous people come in all the time and the policy is to create an environment where there is no worries of paparazzi.  But I digress…. We walk into a dark, low ceilinged bar with buckets hanging from pipes labeled FIRE.  A bit unnerving!

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Notice the candelabra..and the tequila.  They have more brands of tequila than I knew existed!

We are shown a table and proceed to order some of the best food I’ve ever tasted.  The Mexican Street Corn was out of this world!  Grilled corn on the cob with butter and then rolled in cheese.  Here’s a sample of our order.

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It is a fun atmosphere and the food matches it’s mysterious aura.  We’ve been back a few times and had great food every time.

As we continue to discover new places  I will continue to share.  Bon Appetite!

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