Friday, April 30, 2010
Because it's relaxing.
Because it tastes good.
Because it's a Heine.
Because it helps me tune out the noise.
Because...well just because. Just always remember to keep it in the brown bag so no one knows you're drinking it. Yeah right. TGIF.
Here are the combatants. On the left we have the Pollo Asado Burrito from Dos Toros Taqueria and on the right we have a Chicken Burrito from Chipotle. Both worthy opponents but only one can be the victor and it will be up to me to decide! Let's get it on! Well I am not exactly sure my stomach can handle all this burrito business but damn it I am sure going to try. Actually the consumption of these two burritos happened on separate days as to allow me more time to live my life and not experience a food coma. Over the last ten years or so Chipotle has gone from a small company with a few locations to having over 900 between the US and Canada. Certainly a chain restaurant, it has pioneered the fast casual dining establishments popping up all over the country, and that might be seen as a bad thing. I disagree. Not that we are talking about the healthiest food around but Chipotle does it's best to bring you the best made food it can thru local growers and naturally raised meats (find out more at http://www.chipotle.com/). With only one location Dos Toros Taqueria offers up similar fare, also at a very high quality, to those wanting a bit more of an authentic flavor. This charming location is always packed (as are most Chipotle's) and has a similar structure to the way Chipotle operates, but that is where the similarities end. The difference is the flavor and it's a big difference. At Dos Toros you start by choosing your meat which includes rice, cheese, black or pinto beans, salsa and sour cream. After all the helpings are piled on it's wrapped up tightly in aluminum foil and you're ready to eat. At Chipotle you also start off with your meat choice, then white rice and choice of bean (black for me). Then you are asked your choice of salsa which they have 4 kinds, Dos Toros only one. I like to go mild which is pretty much the same in both places. Then I added cheese, sour cream and lettuce (no lettuce at Dos Toros).At both places I also ordered a side of chips and guacamole because what's another 1,000 calories when it comes to delicious food. Pricing is virtually the same so neither have any advantage there. Of course Chipotle has numerous locations versus Dos Toros one (137 4th Avenue), and there happens to be a Chipotle right across from it on 14th street. Great for comparing. As for the burritos...both are very delicious and fresh and I will continue to frequent both of these fast casual establishments. However the edge has to go to Dos Toros for the fact that their rice is better, which is more traditional mexican brown/yellow rice. I also like the chicken at Dos Toros better with its more smokey flavor. As for the chips and guac I preffered Dos Toros as well because they serve plain chips versus the lime flavored chips at Chipotle. I've never liked lime tortilla chips but I still ate them anyway. So in this contest the victor is Dos Toros, yeah! That should not however discourage anyone from going to Chipotle because their burritos are still a favorite of mine. One thing to remember is that Chipotle's serving size is about twice the size of Dos Toros and can be a bit daunting (and unhealthy). I chalk that up to the tortilla's that they use which are very thick, so if that is a concern for you drop the tortilla and ask for it in a bowl (not available at Dos Toros). For more info on Dos Toros Taqueria please visit their site, http://www.dostorosnyc.com/.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
1. TGI Friday's: Now this lovely establishment was actually started here in NYC but that is no reason to give them any kudos. To me this is my prime offender primarily due to their onslaught of advertising particularly when I am watching football. For example their tag line, which is very annoying, says...'Everyone could use more Friday's!' No not really. How about...'Everyone could use better food so don't come here!'
2. Applebee's: Another restaurant with an annoying ad campaign that states...'Welcome to our neighborhood!' What neighborhood? Are you referring to the 1600 hundred locations in 49 states? That's some neighborhood. Applebee's rates very low in the food quality and taste department pushing their atmosphere, rather than their food, down our throats. Very troubling is their use of memorabilia that they plaster all over their walls (common on this list) to make it feel like a local joint. Of course this is mainly to distract you from the terrible food.
3. Olive Garden: Extremely egregious, Olive Garden (who runs a culinary institute and owns a restaurant in Tuscany) exists here where you can find some of the best authentic Italian cuisine without having to do much research. Thankfully I have never been dragged there for any reason, to me it would be like ordering from Domino's (see later), a cardinal sin that I would be held accountable for eternity. I'm half Italian so I take it a bit personally and the only reason this isn't first on my list is because the advertising isn't quite as bad as the others. However trying to pass off authentic Italian cuisine at a franchise restaurant pisses me off. I really hate the name too.
4. Red Lobster: Almost as bad a name as Olive Garden, how dumb is it to call yourself Red Lobster. It's lobster and it's red. It's food and it sucks! This place is certainly troubling in the north east where great seafood is readily available. I can only imagine the guilt eating at this restaurant in say...Boston!
5. Outback Steakhouse: Out of all of the chain restaurants Outback is the one I have eaten at the most, never in the city mind you, but still a thorn in my side. Long ago a place for fellow employees and I to hang out after a long day at work. In this case it was the only place close by....convenient, easy...I know, we're not talking NYC ok! Anyway annoying commercials, of course. Good food, not so much. If you like lots and lots of added sugar and salt this is the place for you (very common on this list as well).
6. Chili's: Ok perhaps it's the king of the most annoying commercial jingles, (that always seems to bounce around in your head) but thankfully Chili's has not ever been a stop in my travels. So I guess I can't say anything bad about it right? There's one in Queens so don't go there to eat that's all.
7. Hooters: Do I really need to tell you a reason not to go here?
8. Domino's, Pizza Hut, Papa John's, Little Ceasars: Obviously these are not restaurants but there's no way in hell any respectable New Yorker with a conscience should ever order from one of these places. Now if you are at an office party and there is nothing else to eat but this stuff (I don't like calling it pizza), DON'T EAT IT! Run down to the corner and grab a slice from Ray's, you'll feel much better.
Hard Rock Cafe
California Pizza Kitchen
Monday, April 26, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
http://www.pommesfrites.ws/, to see what sauces might tickle your fancy. No sauce, no glory.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Immediately I haphazardly rifled through the pages so I could get a closer look at what had lead me to this state of frenzy. 60 wonderful pictures of New York Mag's critics' favorite dishes at places all over the city. From Harlem to Fort Greene. Woodside to City Island. Fried chicken, Meatballs, Sushi, Tacos, Clam pizza and much, much more. Admittedly I had only visited 3 of the locations myself and suddenly I felt a bit inadequate. Honestly I am just an amateur even if I don't like to admit it and often need guidance on where to find good eats. That's what it's all about. Living (or working) in the greatest city on Earth with it's never ending supply of great food and the stories to go with it. It just makes me want to get out there more. Check out http://www.nymag.com/ to read this informative issue.
Monday, April 19, 2010
On the ole' #34 they start off with a fresh Italian roll and pile on what they call 'Hot Salad,' a semi-firey mix of pickled veggies that's actually great all on it's own. Then they layer on their signature breaded and fried Eggplant, which in any other instance I wouldn't eat because I just wouldn't, but here it's amazing. Then a couple pieces of swiss cheese and finally the piece de resistance, the Roast Pork with it's natural jus. The (dare I say) hero is probably too much to eat all in one sitting but you just gotta do it because it isn't the same when it sits for awhile. While I was paying, the gentleman at the counter unfortunately pointed out that if I liked the Roast Pork I should give the (newly written in on the side) Firehouse Special a try. Hmmm I thought....any chance I could eat two sandwiches? Nuts. The Firehouse Special has Roast Pork (of course), Fried Eggplant (of course), Broccoli Rabe and Provolone cheese. Whew! I know what I'm eating tomorrow. Anyway it's about $10.00 for every sandwich at Defonte's and if that seems a bit pricey it's really a misnomer because when something is this good it's easy to know what you've spent your hard earned dough on (besides the uncomfortble lump in your belly). To see their full menu (sans specials) go to http://www.defontesofbrooklyn.com/, and while you're on the site take the time to read about their history, it's very cool. Mangia.
Where's the party you say? It's at Pizza Bash NYC in Union Square that is. Well there is no party actually that's just a rouse to get you inside to buy a slice of really good pizza. Seriously I am a big pizza fan and can be very harsh in my assesments of pizza establishments if they don't live up to the reputation of NYC pizza. Basically it is easy to slap a name on a shop and call it a pizzeria with there being one on almost every block in the city but the secret to success is not in what you make it's how you make it. Now I am no gourmet pizza lover. I don't like numerous toppings or exoctic ones like pineapple, yuk. I am strictly a traditionalist when it comes to eating a triangle; plain, pepperoni or sausage is usually the way I go to get the best read on a particualr joint. It was no different when I stepped into Pizza Bash a few days ago to pick up some lunch. The first thing I noticed upon inspection of the small operation was that it wasn't the traditional looking pizza place and much care had been taken when designing it. There were several high tables with stools to my left filled with folks seemingly enjoying themselves and on the right more stools for those of us who intended to dine alone. In the back I spotted the oven and I quickly made my way there scanning for a plain slice. Two slices and soda, $8.50, a bit pricey but flavor would be the ultimate judge. After devouring the two pieces I am happy to report that it was extremely delicious, high praise I know, but it's well deserved. With it's crispy thin crust, (thinner and crispier than traditional NYC slices) baked in a brick oven, fresh mozzarella and tasty
sauce, it really sets itself apart from most places. As usual with me I could have eaten two more slices but not wanting to be a piggy I grabbed a menu and headed back to work. Currently Pizza Bash does not have a website but there are a few other reviews on the web if you are so inclined. They are located at 42 Union Square East, between 16th and 17th. So stop in and try a slice to see what you think...Hmmm maybe next time I'll try the Pizza Jesse (White Pizza) with some garlic knots, oh man I am hungry...
Saturday, April 17, 2010
http://www.kelleyandping.com/, and take a look at what else they serve.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Update 1:39pm: I forgot to include a link to Rice NY's website so make sure you check it out. www.riceny.com
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
All I gotta say is Oatmeal (Colorful Language) Friggin' Jammie! And I say choose the apricot filled, I could eat 12 of those things. The question is where is the Treats Truck today? You say what's the Treats Truck? Only the (Colorful Language...Again) Friggin' best thing ever to happen to the streets of NYC, that's what. Ok a bit of an overstatement but I am easily excited, especially when it comes to food and damn good oatmeal cookies. Anyway the Treats Truck travels around town setting up shop (mainly midtown) to sell scrumptiously baked goodies from Monday to Saturday. Check out their website http://www.treatstruck.com/ to find out exactly where they will be each day and then RUN to pick up some goodies to stuff your face with, that's what I do. For instance yesterday I felt a rumble in my tummy that only a huge, oversized rice crispy treat would satisfy and luckily for me the Treats Truck was just around the corner on 5th ave and 15th st from 4pm to 6pm. Running with a gait similar to a gazelle, I made my way outside to find the truck exactly where the website said it would be. Be sure to review the menu on their website so you can be prepared when you arrive, that way you won't waste anytime stuffing an Oatmeal (Here we go again) Friggin' Jammie in your mouth even before you have paid. Ok I want to clear something up...the term Friggin' in between Oatmeal and Jammie is all mine and don't want anyone to be disappointed when they arrive at the Treaks Truck and don't see it on the menu. Remember I am the excitable type. Anyway I digress. There's always lots to choose from; for instance the aforementioned (Rice) Crispy Treats (Way bigger than Mom's), the Chocolate Chipper, Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies, Brownies, Daily specials and other stuff. There's also a tray of samples that you can finger if patiently waiting in line. Wait there's more! They also have a frequent customer card that after 10 punches you get something, what that is I can't exactly remember because I'm always too busy stuffing my you-know-what. So like I said check it out, eat some goodies and tell all your friends to give the Treats Truck a try.
Right next door to the lovely Dogmatic is a hole in the wall called Rainbow Falafel & Shawarma, actually they have the same address, 26 E 17th st, but they couldn't be more different. The hole in the wall comment is no joke, it is literally a hole barely big enough for a couple of people to stand and order a Falafel. Mainly for utter curiosity I stopped in to give it a try because it certainly wasn't for it's first impression or by recommendation, not to worry. Since I had never actually had a Falafel, or at least I couldn't remember, I just ordered the first item on the menu which of course is a Falafel. The gentleman behind the counter asked if I'd like some white sauce and onions to which I said sure, I mean why not, and I was ready to go in just a minute.
At first it felt like I could have used a second one since the bag was pretty light but on inspection it was more than enough even though it could've used a bit more of the Falafel stuff. Actually the Falafel part is ground up chick peas with some delicious spices and it was in fact delicious. The important part is there wasn't too much onions and lettuce, so basically no wasted space and that made it more enjoyable. For that reason I will certainly visit again and try something else on the menu. Obviously Rainbow Falafel & Shawarma is not about appearances which I for one am often swayed by the presentation and packaging. However none of that guarantees a good experience and I am happy to say it worked here for the opposite reasons.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Not long ago I happened upon this lovely little restaurant called Dogmatic on 26 E 17th St while out searching for something quick to eat. I don't know if I would actually call it a restaurant, its more like a rest stop, but that's no biggie. With so many choices in the Union Square area it certainly would be easy to miss this little joint especially with the hiddeous scaffolding blocking their entrance. No matter, once found it is truely a delight. A warm atmosphere with a great decor, Dogmatic offers up gourmet sausages in their deliciously unique buns accompanied by tasty sides and their own freshly made soda's. So far I have tried three of the sausages: Lamb, Pork and Beef, and all have been very good. There are also lots of sauce choices that they squeeze into the buns as well, like horseraddish mustard or jalapeno cheddar (the only two I have tried) and I am looking forward to trying the others. They also offer several choices of sides of which I have only had the cole slaw and it was good as well. What really stands out to me and will keep me coming back is the bun, actually a mini baguette, as this really sets this establishment apart. I am a bread fanatic so I put alot of importance in this area and these buns really deliver. Dogmatic has a great website (www.eatdogmatic.com) that you should check out where it offers up alot of great info about how their eats are prepared or grown in some cases, and where you can see the full menu. So the next time you find yourself in Union Square hankering for a bite to eat be sure and give Dogmatic a try, you'll thank me.