A truly international and rustic cuisine, Peruvian food deserves more acclaim than it receives.Serving up a melting pot of cultural influences including Spanish, African and Incan, yield iconic dishes like ceviche and Escabache de Pescado (fried fish with onion sauce). Peruvian dishes often have bold, complex and vibrant flavor, incorporating ingredients like aji chili and sweet lucuma (a native fruit).
Flavors such as these are proudly served at Brooklyn’s Llama Inn. Don’t let its hipster vibe fool you – the ‘Llama Drama’ (referring to the buzzing atmosphere) is serious about delicious authentic eats, reflecting Chef Erik Ramirez’ favorite nostalgic meals. Chef Ramirez and his staff have done a wonderful job turning a social haven into a full-scale, epicurean, must-visit. One of the stand-out dishes is the Beef Tenderloin Stir Fry. This visually stunning dish matches its aesthetics in taste as it is a beautiful mountain of sliced tenderloin topped with red onion, rocoto (hot chili pepper) and French fries served with a side of avocado and scallion pancakes. The succulent beef is bathed in a luscious soy sauce, perfect for dipping fries or drizzled on a pancake burrito.
It’s difficult to go wrong at the Inn with so many exceptional selections including the refined octopus or spicy pork belly anticuchos (skewered meat). Whether a novice to Peru’s succulent fare or a native, Llama Inn is an unforgettable experience transporting diners’ taste buds to the motherland itself. Hungry for more? Click hereto watch the ‘Llama Drama’ in action on POUR featuring Llama Inn’s iconic Flying Purple Pisco cocktail.
Many people know the Upper West Side, U.W.S. for short, for it’s exquisite museums – MOMA, The Museum of Natural History, the Planetarium and of course Central Park. But remember, this is New York City, one of the world’s food mecca’s and so ANY NEIGHBORHOOD in this city is known for it’s food – The Upper West Side included. I’ve had the pleasure of sampling some new dines and known favorites in this neighborhood.
New to me, but well established to locals is Canteen 82. This superb sushi and Shanghai-centric joint offers fresh, organic ingredients. So many imaginative sushi rolls in this eatery – there’s the Mango Fly Roll filled with spicy tuna and yellowtail fish topped with mango and also the Green Dragon Roll stuffed with sweet potato, shitake mushrooms and cucumber draped with avocado.
I cannot say enough about their succulent pork soup dumplings. These babies are similar to traditional dumplings but include a helping of pork broth inside, so your bite bursts with flavor to seduce your taste buds! You must try it at least once in your life. Unforgettable!
Address: 467 Columbus Ave. (bet. 82nd and 83rd )
Another popular place is Gabriela’s Restaurant & Tequila Bar. No passport necessary, but once your walk under the front trellis your are instantly transported to Gabriel’s back patio in Mexico. Authenticity is taken very seriously here. Especially in the coveted moles served – Poblano (pepper and chocolate based sauce) and Pipian(pumpkin seed and almond sauce). I recommend notable dishes: Empanada de Pollo Organico, a turnover filled with organic chicken, sautéed tomatoes and onions and the Pork Al Pastor tacos.
And you cannot miss the shrimp chimichanga filled with beans, cheese and tomato sauce (pictured) nor the Suizas enchilada packed with chicken topped with Pico de Gallo, sour cream and Green Salsa or you can opted for a mole sauce instead (pictured). No matter what you order you won’t be disappointed. Be adventurous and accompany your option with their delicious sangria or a fantastic margarita. Looking for a brunch option? Gabriela’s offers an unbeatable $13 spread of dishes every weekend and holiday!
Address: 688 Columbus Ave. (at 93rd st.)
One of my favorite places, The Meatball Shop, is one of the new kids on the block (literally). Recently making their claim to the UWS, Owners, Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow have opened their fifth location in Manhattan (sixth overall) which is all the buzz in town. This time, I tried the mysterious yet legendary Kitchen Sink Salad with a quinoas, turkey meatball topped with homemade pesto and vinaigrette dressing. The salad is made up of the chef’s choice of
greens and veggies. Mine included sliced apples, shredded carrots with raisins, sautéed cauliflower, mushrooms, and beets. All topped with extra mozzarella cheese. Absolutely tantalizing! I’ve reviewed The Meatball Shop in a previous post… if you’re hungry for more, read the full review here.
Address: 477 Amsterdam Ave.
Shakeshak, a glorious burger joint to New Yorkers. Known for it’s heavenly milkshakes, juicy burgers, dogs and addictive fries, this shack is a grill-grub home for museum tourists and natives alike. Cannot miss the DogMeister- a dog topped with Shack cheddar and American cheese sauce and crispy ShackMeister Ale-marinated shallots. Umm-hmm, sounds great, right? Wash it down with a Caramel shake or a featured beer. P.S. Congrats to ShakeShak for it’s newest location in Flatbush, Brooklyn!
Just got back from an enchanting trip to Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. This suburb outside of Puerto Vallarta boasts the deeply rooted traditions of Mayan Indian traditions which are beautifully shown through its vibrant culture, food and people. Since a picture says a thousand words here is a feast from my foodie experience while abroad. Enjoy!!
You’re probably like me. I love being surprised, especially when it comes to a restaurant like Redwood in Bethesda, Maryland. Located in an upscale area near DC, it’s highly touted and was chosen as the venue for Bravo’s Top Chef season 7 “restaurant wars” – a legendary event and honor in itself. Needless to say, I was slightly intimidated by its score card. Yet, when I was invited to dine there, I jumped at the opportunity. Surprisingly, my nerves were quickly eased. The food and exceptional service lives up to the reputation but it is unpretentious. Although chic and modern, Redwood focuses on wholesome comfort food and doesn’t take itself too seriously. With delicious appetizers like whimsy fried chicken sliders with a chipotle aioli and lightly fried macaroni balls, I knew I was in good hands. This local favorite renewed my faith in fried calamari as well. In the past, I’ve been highly disappointed by calamari if I order it anywhere else other than an Italian eatery. But I was more than pleased here. The flavorful, plump “O’s” are crispy and well-seasoned with the perfect thickness – it didn’t stand a chance for survival!
Known for its commitment to serving the best of traditional and contemporary dishes with local ingredients, the kitchen takes homey favorites such as chicken pot pie or shrimp and grits and refines them while evoking memories of our first bites of these classic entrées. Executive Sous Chef, Sedrick Crawley’s take on custom and modern American cuisine is the perfect balance between familiar and new tastes while leaving diners wanting more. And with an ever-changing menu, it excites me to see what else he has up his sleeve. Chef Sed’s passion for his craft radiates from each plate. Such is the case with the steamed muscle with chorizo and roasted garlic and even the bucatini (a thick pasta dressed with a pork and beef meat sauce finished with the Italian grana padano cheese); both appropriately served in a rustic “mama’s favorite” skillet.
Now, when indulging in such great fare, the occasion begs for a 21+ libation. It’s hard to go wrong with any of the impressive, hand crafted drinks and wine list. (A comfort to know.) I’m a gin girl and my favorite drink was the brilliant Chartreusian 75 which includes yellow chartreuse, simple syrup, and sparkling wine. A tantalizing mixture of sweet and tart…basically it was seduction in a glass.
With delicious happy hours, weekly live entertainment and a menu that’ll thrill your taste buds, Redwood is more than a restaurant… it’s an experience for all senses.
Although burgers may seem like a common meal choice, it is a fantastic pallet for creativity. As long as you have the essentials: a meat or veggie patty and a bun, you’re pretty much covered, but the possibilities of imaginative toppings are endless. Gone are the days of your standard burger with lettuce, tomato, mayo, ketchup and mustard. Now there are exotic choices like spicy coleslaw, pineapple, avocado, and even chilli. Many burger joints honor the mighty burger, but Bobby’s Burger Palace, BBP, is definitely one that holds the American classic in high esteem. Birthed by the renowned Super Chef Bobby Flay, his palace offers an array to sink your teeth into. The simplistic menu lets diners select from 10 different topping combinations like the Santa Fe with queso sauce, pickled jalapenos generously topped with potato chips, or the Napa Valley with fresh goat cheese, watercress (a type of leafy green), dressed with a tangy Meyer Lemon honey mustard. Any combo can be paired with an Angus beef, ground turkey, or grilled chicken breast patty. One fun element you can add is the “crunchified” option – any burger can be topped off with potato chips. If you’re feeling adventurous, opt for the burger of the month. November’s is the Brunch Burger – an indulging mouthful of fried egg, bacon and American cheese, on a sesame seed bun. (No, it does not come with an echocardiogram, but adventure takes risk, right?)
During my visit I paired the Philadelphia burger (provolone cheese, perfectly griddled onions, and succulent hot peppers) with ground turkey. It absolutely rocked my world! I am a lover of spicy food and this lived up to expectations. Far from overcooked, flavorful and quite juicy, my burger was delicious and left me wanting more. It’s hard to imagine Bobby’s winning burgers could get any better, but when you add a side of crunchy, French fries (either regular of sweet potato) the meal is enhanced even more. But wait, it gets even better. The sauces deserve an honorable mention. There are innovative savory sauces like chipotle and jalapeno ketchup, all of which are in keeping with Bobby’s punch-of-flavor personality. Even the fries have their own dipping selections – there’s a secret recipe mayo based dip for the traditional fries where as the sweet potato fries are complimented by a honey mustard horseradish sauce.
Believe it or not, I haven’t even scratched the surface of Bobby’s Burger Palace and that truly excites me. Not sure which burger I will choose next, but I will be sure to try one of their ingenious milkshakes, perhaps the Blueberry-Pomegranate or Mango. Followed by one of the spiked shakes like the Vanilla Caramel Bourbon. With a thoughtful variety of virgin and alcoholic drinks, including a cool frozen cactus pear margarita, BBP knows how to throw down. Then again, would we expect anything less?
Philly Burger: 7.75
Traditional Fries: 5.00
Total: 13.00 w/ tax
May have long lines but typically goes quickly
11 East Coast locations
*Roosevelt Field Mall
630 Old Country Road
Garden City, NY 11530
355 Smithhaven Mall
Lake Grove, NY 11755
So, Cino de Mayo has come and gone. Hope you seized the day for all it was worth! My NYC Mexican/Spanish food crawl was fantastic! First stop was Las Ramblas in the West Village. This quaint, rustic, cantina was the perfect spot to start the evening. Touted for serving traditional Spanish tapas, here are the highlights: ensalada costa brava (tomatoes, onions, roasted peppers, orange segments, & basil w/ raspberry vinegar – a great choice to prepare the palate for further fare), empanadas de pollo (chicken turnovers), savory chorizo con alubias (Spanish sausage w/ cannellini beans & onions) and brochetas de res (Grilled skewers of beef in a tempranillo wine reduction). All of this plus refreshing white peach sangria, brought tears to my eyes. I could have called it a night, but what sense did that make? I hadn’t had the expected margarita, and it was too early in the evening. So, after the first round of noshing, a friend and I did some sightseeing and walked 30 blocks to Penn Station (si, you read it right, THIRTY blocks). Meeting up with another friend, we all journeyed to the Murray Hill area for ‘ritas!
Second stop on the crawl was at Tavern on Third for a classic margarita. Although, the restaurant was not a typical fiesta hang-out, it served up a mean margarita. Strong and ice cold with a wedge of lime – just what we needed to kick off the fun. Afterward, we stumbled, (literally) upon a hole-in-the-wall, La Palapa (3rd Ave. bwn 26 st& 27th st), next to the tavern. There, housed absolutely authentic tacos and burritos bursting at the seams with a choice of juicy grilled chicken, pork, or beef, rice, beans and cheese. Knowing we were only snacking, instead of devouring, we each ordered a $2 soft taco. The best of our choices was the chorizo: finely ground and full of flavor with a pleasant balance between salty and the spicy peppers.
The last stop was Rodeo Bar and Grill I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was an actual rodeo going on there. With live music in the main bar area and celebrations all around we picked a great party spot. Being the nacho aficionado that I am, I dove head-first into the Nacho Grande Platter (pictured right). Each tortilla was beautifully decorated with chicken and black beans, covered by a blanket of magnificently melted cheese. And it got better with pico de gallo scattered on top. Somehow, I have developed a dangerous taste for empanadas (and so have my friends) so it was obvious that we’d have a side of those. Golden brown, fried to perfection, filled with diced red peppers and pollo mixed with Mexican spices, these bite size treats stood no chance. Both dishes were excellent. For this last leg of the trip, we washed everything down with agave’s favorite cocktail – frozen margaritas! (Naturally.) Our flavors of choice were Pomegranate and Mango…