Crif Dogs: In New York City, hot dogs are as common as the yellow taxi; everywhere you turn you can get one of these street meat meals. If hot dog stands aren’t your thing, and the thought of a dozen Oscar Meyers swimming in a steam bath for god knows how long isn’t causing your mouth to salivate, I would have to say, I’m right there with you. Something about hot dog carts in the city, any city, gives me the heebie jeebies; but since I enjoy a hot dog here and there, I was eager to try the famous Crif Dogs. Tucked below street level on Saint Marks in the East Village is this legendary hot spot. Crif Dogs is always buzzing with people who want a mouthful of explosive flavor in just a few bites.  Walk up to the counter and search the one of a kind menu for a dog that gets your culinary adrenaline rushing. Here are a few of their super original creations, just a sneak peak to get your taste buds working:

Chihuaha: a hot dog wrapped in salty smoky bacon with avocadoes and sour cream

Philly Tubesteak: a hot dog drenched in a yellow cheese sauce and sautéed onions

Garden State: a hot dog wrapped in taylor ham cradled between a slice of American cheese and topped with pepperchinis and mustard

Spicy Redneck:  a hot dog wrapped in bacon and topped with chili, cole slaw and jalapenos

Tsunami: a bacon wrapped dog covered in teriyaki sauce, pineapple and green onion

Having tried a few (ehm ehm) myself, (what?!!!…they aren’t foot longs!), I highly recommend any of these selections! Don’t leave without trying their waffle fries drenched in creamy yellow cheese sauce; a side that is so bad for you, but taste so incredibly good, that you wont realize until afterwards that you have eaten about a weeks worth of calories in five minutes. Right after that calorific fact hits you, you realize, they were worth every guilty bite.

Bottom Line: Crif Dogs lives up to their hype, no doubt.




The Meatball Shop

One Word To Describe This Place: Cool

The Meatball Shop: I was dying to try this place after the glowing reviews I had heard through the grapevine. A restaurant that specialized in meatballs was definitely Facebook check in worthy in my book.  This spot is so popular, that even on a Monday night, the hostess informed us there would be a 45 minute wait. I have to tell you though; their food is worth every second. After we got situated at our seats at the bar, we scanned the menu. The way to order at this spot is to pick your meatballs a la carte and grab some delicious sides to dive into. My friend ordered spicy pork meatballs with spicy meat sauce, and I picked classic meatballs with the classic tomato sauce. The Meatball Shop is no joke, they  know what they are doing. My grandpa makes the best meatballs I know of, but these are an extremely close second! Each meatball dish is accompanied with a slice of foccacia, perfect to help you wipe your bowl clean! For our sides, we ordered sautéed spinach with lemon, and creamy polenta.  The polenta was to die for, I basically wanted to take a bath in it. To top our already perfect meal, we ordered one of their homemade ice cream sandwiches’. Diners get to pick which cookie and what ice cream they want in these monstrous desserts. We went with the brownie cookie on top, and a snickerdoodle cookie on the bottom, with a fist size hunk of vanilla ice cream between the sweet treats.  Perfect combo! The Meatball Shop is basically the best description of the LES; hipsters dining amongst one another in a cozy dark room while old school rap and hip hop bump through the stereo. A perfect New York dining experience!

The Lower East Side

Chit Chat: The Lower East Side is one of my favorite neighborhoods on the island. It attracts trendy and cool people in their late twenties and thirties. Musicians and artists hang out downtown, making this area exciting and unique. Restaurants and bars are like their crowds, original and hip. LES is considered an up and coming neighborhood making it still somewhat affordable for Manhattan. Definitely jump on this cool bandwagon before rents skyrocket, you won’t regret it.

Beauty and Essex: I love this place. I really do. I mean, what girl wouldn’t love a place that gives you a pretty pink glass of free champagne in the bathroom? That’s right, complimentary champagne in the ladies lounge! Hidden behind an antique pawn shop, is a very large two story restaurant, complemented with two oversized bars. I say this because it is definitely a restaurant with a bar, not a bar with some seating to eat. Come here to start your night off with fabulous drinks and some delicious small plates of food. The décor of this place is to die for. Velvet, leather, chandeliers, soft blush lighting; it’s like every girl’s dream room. Grab a seat at the bar if you can, because before you know it, you will be packed in like a sardine in a can, but a very very chic can at that. Next time you are thinking about going to the LES, get dressed up and mingle with New York’s beautiful crowd at Beauty and Essex.

Schillers Liquor Bar: Restaurateur  Keith McNally opened up this lower east side establishment in 2003, and it’s been a popular spot for LES dwellers ever since. Truthfully, I have never eaten anything that was memorable here, but it’s their blended jalapeño margarita that keeps me coming back for more. Schillers is located in the heart of the lower east side, with tons of bars and other places to eat at just a hip skip and hop away, so stop in and grab this delicious cocktail before you head to dinner. What I love about the margarita is the texture of it. Nothing turns me off a margarita more than when it has crunchy bits of ice in it. Schillers blends their tequila delight to a sorbet, making it the perfect concoction to drink on a hot sticky summer Manhattan day. Salute!


Prune: Being that I am a massive fan of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, I was eager to dine at a place he recommended! On one of his episodes, he took his audience to a number of different places in Manhattan, Prune being the one that “all of the chefs go to after work.” About a week after I saw the show, I headed down to check it out for myself. Mr. Bourdain described the food as  simple but done to perfection. Honestly, there is no other way to describe the food than just that, simple and perfect. None of the dishes are over done. There is no fluff or silly herbs garmenting the plates. Every morsel is meant to be enjoyed. This place is all about the quality of the ingredients, and letting them speak for themselves. Small, but personable, the dining room is basically the mirror image of the food, clean, pristine, and delightful.

The East Village

In A Few Words… : The East Village is a melting pot of NYU coeds, hipsters, goths, and people who just want to experience life in one of the liveliest neighborhoods in Manhattan. With the most amount of bars per square mileage, this is a place where a resident will never be bored. Great restaurants, shopping, and bars, surround you at every turn. The energy in this area is palpable and pretty addicting. Check it out for yourself.

Restaurants: With so many to choose from, there is a lot of competition going on in this hood, so it’s going to be hard to ever make a bad decision. Below are some of my personal favorites.


The Mermaid Inn: This cozy restaurant is a little piece of ocean paradise. It is rare I venture to a restaurant more than once, being that there is always another spot I want to try, but this is a place I have dined at  numerous times, as well as a place I have brought visitors. Anything your order will be amazing, I guarantee it. My personal favorites are the oysters, the grilled Romain salad ,the salmon ceviche, the mini fish tacos, and the lobster sliders. Everything about this place is amazing, especially the happy hour! With a patio out front, as well as a sweet garden in the back, it’s a great choice for a romantic date, or a good meal with a friend!

The Smith: Best Brunch Spot In The East Village. Period. It’s going to be hard for me to ever stop raving about this place, as well as going to it! Where do I even begin? This place is a typical trendy New York spot to eat, be seen, and people watch. The decor is just as good as the food. I love everything from the white tiled walls, to the old fashioned pictures, quaint wooden chairs, and the uber cool unisex bathrooms. I know I know, there are lots of restaurants in the city that have a very similar look, but The Smith doesn’t feel like its trying to be cool, it just is cool. Go on a Sunday, that’s when you can get a free cocktail with brunch. I highly suggest ordering the Croaker. What can go wrong with a thick slab of ham, potatoes, Gruyere cheese, and eggs? Nothing! Top the decadent brunch off with a delicious bloody mary, and you will be content all day!

The Bourgeois Pig: This is a restaurant that does fondue to perfection. Not in the mood for a full on meal? Come to this spot and divulge in some charcuterie and pots of hot decadent cheese. Sit down, relax, and enjoy one of their delicious beer cocktails. A great place to kick back, chill, and chat. The decor is a perfect blend of sultry, sexy, and cozy. Sit bar side at the window and people watch, or get comfy in a big chair at a low table. A great date night spot, as well as a place for girlfriends to have dinner and a catch up. You can’t go wrong here.

Bars: As far as bars are concerned, the East Village has a plethora of choices to pick from. Everything from five shots for $10, to sexy hidden speak easies, this neighborhood will not disappoint.

The Blind Barber: I am a huge fan of speak easies. The whole idea and concept of them is very cool, and something that is a bit unique to New York. This speak easy is different than most I have been to. Hidden behind a working barber shop, is a pretty large bar. Most speak easies are tiny, this place has plenty of space for you to hang out with a large group of friends. At the back of the bar, is its own cozy little library, a perfect place for two to sit and quietly chat. The DJ is perched in a booth, always playing good music, nothing obnoxious or too main stream. The cocktails, well, those are off the charts. If your a jalapeno fan, get the Smoke and Dagger, my favorite cocktail in NYC. Enough said.

The 13th Step: Looking for a fun time, head on over to The 13th Step. A younger crowd inhabits this bar, mostly college kids and young thirtysomethings, so the vibe is, people in the mood to simply, well, get drunk. This bar always has superb drink specials, so on any given night, you can drink for pretty cheap. Televisions line the walls with whatever games are on. Beer pong tables are scattered throughout the bar if you want to something to do. Come here if you want to meet people, or show some friends a good time. Simply put, this spot never fails as a fun night.

McSorley’s Old Ale House: Ah, the oldest bar in NYC, McSorley’s Old Ale House. A bit of a tourist attraction, but somewhere all New Yorker’s should visit for a beer. If you are picky or pretentious, steer clear of this pub, because they only serve beer, and you only have two choices, light or dark. Set up like a proper pub, they are no seats at the bar, so come at an off hour and grab a table. For every one beer, they pour you two, no questions. Don’t be turned off by how dusty this place is, just enjoy it for what it is, the oldest bar in NYC.