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.
Primehouse: When you hear the street name “Park Avenue,” what words come to mind…Grand? Expensive? Classy? Rich? These are some of the ones that jump into my head when I hear the prestigious street address, and these are the words I would describe the brunch at Primehouse on Park Avenue. I’m a sucker for celebs, and after I read that Jennifer Aniston her current squeeze, Justin Theroux, were spotted here, it became a desired destination of mine. My boyfriend and I decided to check out their brunch scene, and were completely blown away, both agreeing that it was the best breakfast we have had in NYC. All of the restaurants dotted along this famous street are over the top in some way or form; whether it is the prices, food, or ambiance, you can expect to fulfill that “New York City” experience while dining and drinking on Park Avenue. Primehouse is a perfect example of this famous street’s reputation, makings its presence known by occupying a generous hunk of real estate on the corner of 27th and Park. Walk inside and you will find multiple dining rooms, beautifully pre-set tables, and an atmosphere that reeks of moneyed masculinity. Unlike many small and cramped NYC restaurants, expect to sit at a huge table, even if you’re an intimate party of two. Get comfy in your CEO chair and nibble on the complimentary tasty pastries as you begin the difficult task of singling out your brunch treat. Feeling cocky while dining in this impressive place, I decided to live on the bold side and stray away from my usual selection of Eggs Benedict, and chose the Surf and Turf Hash (although, this was a difficult decision when gingerbread pancakes dressed in sweet maple syrup kept whispering sweet nothings to my carb-loving ear). When my dish arrived, I’m pretty sure my server got a mouth dropping of a reaction from me (this un-cool facial reaction, definitely not “Park Avenue”)…Two perfectly poached eggs sat on top of a huge serving of crispy potatoes. Mixed in with the breakfast taters was onions, peppers, braised short rib and shrimp; talk about making a brunch statement! A creamy warm pommery mustard hollandaise drizzled over this delectable breakfast concoction, creating a flavor combination so addicting and explosive, that you will literally be licking your plate clean (another huge no no on “Park Avenue”). As I left this restaurant I felt as if I had eaten alongside millionaires, dined among the elite, but guess what, the brunch only cost me twenty dollars! Primehouse is definitely the best deal and meal you will ever get on Park Avenue, so take advantage of their brunch while you can, nothing this good is kept untainted in New York for long!
The Final Cut: Twenty dollars will get you a delicious breakfast bread basket filled with an array of warm pastries, an outstanding brunch entrée, and your choice of a brunch alcoholic beverage; Bloody Mary, Screwdriver, Bellini, Mimosa, Campari, or Champagne. This place is too good to be true.
The Nutcracker: New York is a fabulous place to be during the holiday season. Everywhere you look, Christmas has exploded in some form or fashion; whether its music, decorations, or even the hustle and bustle of scarves and woolly hats, this city breathes and sleeps the merry season. Being that Christmas is my favorite holiday, my boyfriend hit a home run when he surprised me with the best present possible, tickets to see the legendary Nutcracker at the world famous Lincoln Center. To say I was ecstatic would be an understatement. Walking up to the Lincoln Center took my breath away; it is beautiful, an iconic image of New York. Entering the David H. Koch Theater, I was giddy with excitement, ready to see an amazing performance. As I settled into my fabulous seat, I scanned the gigantic theater, astounded with the size and beauty. As the curtains drew and the music cued, I was hypnotized. Being that I had never been to a ballet, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I fell in love at first scene. The costumes, music, dancing, sets, kept me mesmerized. A silly smile was plastered onto my face throughout the whole show, a production that felt like it lasted all of ten minutes because it was so enjoyable. If you live in New York City, or have a chance to visit this wild place during the holidays, make this show a must do!
In a few words: The whole experience will have any Scrooge dreaming of sugar plum fairies for days.
Hill Country: Being that I am orginally from North Carolina, and have visited the Tar Heel state every summer since I was seven, I know good barbeque when I eat it. A good rule of thumb for Carolina barbecue is: the messier it is to eat, the better. Texan bbq is a whole other playing field; Texans don’t do sauce, they pride themselves on their dry rub. My boyfriend had told me about a restaurant that served Texas bbq a la carte and I was eager to see what all the fuss was about. The second I walked through Hill Country’s front door, I was hit with an overwhelming scent of wood chips, meat, and spices, making my mouth salivate with anticipation of what I was about to indulge in. We ordered two bottles of PBR ( happy hour special, $2 a bottle), and ventured up to the meat counter. The cool thing about this place is you can order your meat by the weight, so if you’re in the mood to just order one single rib, just order one! We decided to each order pork ribs upon recommendation of the butcher. We then ventured over to the “sides” counter and ordered baked beans with charred ends. Settling into our seats, we started to chowdown on our massive Texan delights. I was apprehensive to eat the ribs without some sauce, but to my surprise, these hunks of meat didn’t need a drip of barbecue sauce.The flavors of the dry rub brought out the taste of this very tender, fall off the bone kind of meat. Note: When eating, be prepared to have meat juice dripping from your chin; thankfully you have a roll of paper towel at hand to clean up the mess. Hill Country is the perfect place to go with a big group of friends to watch a football game, drink some beer, and let your carnivore flag fly. I guess in Texas, everything is bigger and better
The Bottom Line: I will never again underestimate the power of a good dry rub.
P.S. At night, they have live music in their huge mess hall downstairs! Yee Haw!
An Empire State of Mind
A snapshot took of a photograph at an exhibition at the MET
Citi Field, SF Giants vs. NY Mets
A view from the TED offices
Street art on East Houston
Music in the Flatiron
The popular Shake Shack location in Madison Square Park
A view from a bench in Madison Square Park
Nitehawk Cinema: For those of you who aren’t familiar with Time Out New York, get to know it. Time Out New York is a magazine that gives New Yorkers bi-weekly updates on concerts, restaurants, events, festivals, ect. About a month ago, Time Out published an article about gastro-cinemas; movie theaters that serve dinner during the production. T.O.N.Y gave Nitehawk Cinema an outstanding review, luring me to Williamsburg for dinner and a movie! I booked tickets ahead of time and was pleasntly surprised to find out that they were only twelve dollars, a dollar fifty cheaper than going to one of the chain theaters in the city, #stefanawinning! Each cinema room was designed for the concept of dual eating and viewing; with custom tables in-between every two seats, stadium seating, and tons of leg room, there isn’t a bad spot in the house. Here is how it basically works: Before the film, your waiter greets you and takes your order. If you aren’t ready to order, don’t worry, they will serve you throughout the movie! For service during the show, each table has pencils and paper for you to scribble down what you want; whether it’s a beer, cocktail, or food, a server will come by and grab your order then stealthily deliver all of your goodies. No talking to order, means no interruptions! My boyfriend and I got mini fried ham croquette balls that were garnished with dollops of pimento cheese. These crispy nuggets exploded in your mouth, warming up all of your insides with gooey cheese and ham. For our entree, we split a burger with caramelized onions and bold gruyere cheese. The crispy grilled bun held this mouthful of a burger together, enabling each bite to be better and juicier than the next. We thoroughly enjoyed both dishes while sipping beer that was cheaper than a large soda at an AMC theater. Four stars to the genius behind Nitehawk Cinema.
Side Chat: If you are looking for a good first date spot, this is the place to go because the experience will create conversation! See a movie, eat some great food, then head down to the cinema’s bar afterwards and discuss the film and food! No first date awkward interview? Score.