East Village Nu Hot Spots @TheGarret @Mace @BlackEmperor @MadameVoBBQ

Looking for some new Happy Hour spots, love margaritas, tacos, BBQ and wings? Check out these relative newcomers I hit recently…

The Garret’s slogan is No Bad Days and with their happy hour its possible. We had their Drunken Warrior a pineapple jalapeño mezcal frozen margarita which were far superior to your typical frozen Happy Hour beverage.

On a subsequent visit I had their Brisket Marrow tacos with a pretty spicy verde sauce from their Borrochito kitchen in the back. They were excellent and their classic happy hour Margarita was rock solid. The interior is pretty cool with some rather interesting tables.  

Next up was Mace, which while rated top 50 Cocktail Bars in the World I found a little too chi-chi for me. If you like essence of this/that foam on your snail carpaccio this spot is for you. I had the Cardamon, infused with its namesake in reposada tequila with coconut, mango, and lime juice a twist on a Pina Colada which was pretty good. However their namesake the Mace a combo of Aperol, aquavit, Thai coconut, and beet juice was just too heavy on the beet juice (of note, they are owned by the same group that owns The BoilerMaker in the East Village that’s one of my fave spots).

The Black Emperor…Loved this place. It’s a Korean Itzakaya with very good drinks, great upscale yet very fairly priced Korean pubgrub menu. We shared the tasty Asian style glazed Wings and addictive brown butter fukake Tator Tots. Liked their cocktail list but their Frozen Hunter a great combo of  tequila,  pomegranate and some secret ingredients that rocked had my name literally on it. Very chill atmosphere with an almost Cheers like friendly vibe at the bar. 

While the wings and tots helped we were still hungry and managed to get a walk in table at Madame Vo BBQ. Ordered up Shorts Ribs and Sirloin Steak served with   tamarind, spicy pineapple and fish sauce to dip in. To wrap them up Vietnamese style we ordered the veggie platter with rice noodles, pineapple, green apple, mint and greens. The meat is grilled table-side and if you like Korean you need to try their Southeast Asian neighbors version. To drink Mango Cart IPA and Blood Orange Spritz Cider. They only have one desert that is pretty good especially if you’re bananas for coconut.   

The Garret East is located at 206 Ave A 

Mace is located at 505 West 12th Street

Black Emperor is located at 197 2nd Ave

Madam Vo BBQ is located at 104 2nd Ave  


@TacoDumbo ‘s Nu Soho Surf Shack 

I’m already a big fan of Taco Dumbo having been to the Pennsy location a number of times. So when I saw they opened up a new location right by the 6 train on Spring Street I was psyched since I hit that area often.

After a workout at the nearby Equinox and staving I hit this new Soho location for a late lunch. Aside from Taco Dumbo’s usual tasty tacos including their sushi grade nori ones, this location has a number of items either unique to it or on a new Summer menu. I started with their latest special, Peach Gazpacho. It’s a classic tomato based version with peach to sweeten it a bit and a nice big slice of crisp watermelon radish. 

For my main their Coconut sticky rice bowl was awesome. It comes with shredded yellow papaya, charred broccoli, peas, and pickled cucumber along with a choice of three proteins, tuna or salmon sushi grade or cooked Miso Cod though I love it raw I went cooked Miso Cod and it’s better than most upscale restaurants serving it.

The interior is pretty cool done up like an upscale surf shack with a small bar (they do offer Margaritas and Cocktails) and plenty of tables. Add Taco Dumbo to your Taco joints, Healthy Bowls, and Fast Casual food spots.   

Taco Dumbo Soho is located at 56 Spring Street 

Empanada Mama’s Excepcional Columbian Pastries…Savory y Sweet

A co-worker recently asked me if I liked Empanadas and if so ever heard of Empanada Mama’s. I do, had and as it turned out had a morning meeting near the Hells Kitchen location later that week. 

Empanada Mama has a huge selection of Empanadas to choose from that include aside from the usual suspects, a variety of ethnic versions (Italian, Hawaiian, Greek to name a few) breakfast options, vegetarian and even some sweet ones for desert. 

For my late morning breakfast I was faced with the age old conundrum of what came first…though tempted by the egg options I decided to go Spicy Chicken which turned out to be pretty damn spicy and I love the heat. To go semi-healthy I also got the Spinach and Mozzarella to get in some greens. They come with a good rojo salsa and an amazing verde mojo sauce.

I brought back the Shredded Chicken and the Rice and Beans for my aforementioned co-worker who when asked how they were she responded “like my Grandmother used to make”. For a mid- afternoon snack I split the Dulce con Leche with Coconut and Belgium Chocolate and Banana with my Jefe. 

This Mama’s Empanadas both the savory and the sweet were all awesome, good sized and filling. This location of note has a full bar and plenty of seating in a tropical like setting. I’m craving some right now just writing this…

Empanada Mama is located at 765 9th Avenue 

@11HanoverGreek Epic Prixe Fixe Lunch

Looking for a great spot for a business lunch in FiDi that is nutritious and delicious? 11 Hanover Greek is a good looking open space with a nice long bar with seats, plenty of tables and a rather disproportionate amount of good looking women to men. 

11 Hanover Greek’s menu is rather large with plenty of a la carte options, but if you’re going for lunch their Prixe Fixe ($31.95) available for lunch is great with a surprisingly large selection to choose from. 

We started with a Village Salad with lots of farm fresh tomatoes, Pita and Hummus and their Greek Meatballs (extra +$4) which are pool ball sized (yet not heavy), topped with tomato sauce and feta are so good they give most Italian joints a run for their money. 

For our entrees we all went for fish, two of us ordered the daily special which was a nice piece of Barumuni over a tasty lentils with feta salad and the Tsipoura (Dorado) was grilled perfectly with olive oil and seasonings. 

We all chose the Baklava for desert out of the three options and it was light, flaky, tasty and just the right amount of sweet. I drank Greek Coffee “sketo” with mine. 

11 Hanover Greek is a great spot for lunch downtown and clearly would be a sweet spot for a dinner or place to get a drink. Add it to your Greek joints, Prixe Fixe Lunch spots, and Business Lunch Downtown lists… 

11 Hanover Greek is located at… 

Tai Thai ‘s Terrific Take-Out 

One of the things I love about NYC’s food scene is that some of the best meals you will eat come not just from upscale chefs but little ethnic joints from cultures around the world.

Tai Thai is such a spot, it’s a little shoebox sized space that is primarily for takeout though they have seating for over a dozen with Thai Action movie posters decorating the walls. Tai Thai’s menu is fairly large with the usual Thai suspects and some house specialties. 

I choose their Yellow Curry Pineapple Fried Rice with chicken and veggies and from the House Specials menu the Jumbo Shrimp Rama (fried shrimp in a spicy peanut sauce with carrots, cabbage and curry rice). Both were awesome and of note, I’ve been to Thailand. The Shrimp Rama was one of the best dishes I’ve had recently. 

Though not located by where I live, it is by both an Equinox I work out at and a good bud lives nearby, so this may just be my new Thai Take Out spot. For those who live in the hood, they offer lunch specials and delivery. Definitely add Tai Thai to your best Thai food, Spicy food, Little Gems and Take Out spots. 

Tai Thai is located at 78 East 1st Street 

8th Street Night Out @LoringPlace @Ardyn @Analogue

Why didn’t Heidi cross the road to get to the other side? Good question since 8th Street between 5th and 6th Aves is loaded with great spots for dinner and drinks. Some quite simply like to stick with their neighborhood haunts while some of us like to explore. For my fellow gastronomic beveragologists Here are three great spots I hit recently…

We started at the Bar At Ardyn. As soon as I saw that the team behind the bar were wearing white button down shirts with the sleeves rolled up to showcase their tattoos I knew that I was dealing with mixologists vs pour n spray bartenders. The Ardyn has a fairly comprehensive selection of house cocktails to choose from. We ordered up the Grapefruits of Wrath (made up of vodka, pamplemouse, fruit and some agave) which was rather refreshing and the Pickled Ramp Martini (Vodka, gin sherry vermouth, dry bitters and lemon oil) a nice spin on the classic with a nod to Bond’s Vesper.

Next up down the block was Analogue that greets you with with very long bar and a cocktail menu to match. This is one of the better cocktail menus I’ve seen recently, which is saying a lot. Here we tried the Gin n Juice (Gin, Luxardo Maraschino, fruit, bitters) and the Dogs Playing Poker (Mezcal, Amaro, Curacoa and Chartreuse) which were both exceptional.

Though I would have liked to try a few more from each bar it was time to eat and we checked in at Loring Place a nice spot for high end takes on causal dining. I ordered a Sazerac while looking at the menu which was done just right.

We started with the Broccoli with mint, orange and pistachio…the kitchen gave us from the Chef an order of sugar snap peas. I don’t know if they always  do this when you order a veggie app but they should. While very good, the portion was very small and rather (read: too much) expensive at $18. Getting another gratis made it semi-reasonable. 

Next up was the Calzone with soppasata. A refined version of the classic, enjoyed it, would recommend it…but again do you want to pay close to double for a smaller more upscale version of a pizza joint standby?

For entrees we went healthy and not so. The Halibut with peas and chiles is a well prepared piece of fish, but Halibut by nature isnt very flavorful so I think a sauce with more to it would have worked better. The Short-Rib over horseradish potato puree was the best dish of the night being very rich and flavorful. A nice Rose went well with them.

Watching our girlish figures we decided on just one desert the Tres Leche cake soaked in vodka. It was very good, but cupcaked sized and at $14 much like the appetizers was out of whack price wise. 

Overall I really enjoyed the atmospheres and cocktails at the Ardyn and at Analogue and found Loring Place to be a study in capitalism. I liked the space, food and service but the pricing on appetizers and deserts is fairly high and their portions are small…which at the end of the meal what popped into my head was… “what the market will bear”…

The Bar At Ardyn is located at 33 West 8th Street

Analogue is licated at 19 West 8th Street

Loring Place is located at 21 West 8th Street  

Le Parisien Bistrot, Paris en Le Kips Bay

I was in a carnivorous frame of mind but not up for a full on steakhouse experience…the logical choice, a French Bistro. Le Parisien Bistrot in Murray Hill is a petite sized square jewel box of a space festooned with Parisian posters and Bistro mirrors, the one at the front with a chalk menu on it. 

Staying with the paleo mind set we started with the Filet Mignon Carpaccio with Asagio cheese and greens. I had a glass of the house Bourdeax which for a vin de la maison was rather nice. 

For entrees my bud chose the Steak Au Proive Special which turned out to be a pretty good sized steak cooked as requested with the Au Poive requested on the side…tres bon. 

I ordered up the Pork with Rosemary, Sage and Lemon which aside from being delicious was of a larger portion than I expected, being both classic French Bistro and something different. If this is on the menu I highly recommend it. 

Fuller than expected after the meal we skipped on desert though I will have to come back to sample their Tarte Tartine. Add Le Parisien Bistrot to your French Bistro, Murray Hill, Transportive and craving Steak and or Pork spots. 

Le Parisien Bistrot is located at 163 East 33rd   

@MakiMakiNYC – Sushi Rolls Ready To Go 

Craving some Sushi, but you just want to grab it and go…yet looking for quality fresh fish? Maki Maki does some pretty tasty rolls…they are priced at about sushi bar prices…but as the saying goes you get what you pay for. 

The menu offerings at Maki Maki are limited to Sushi Rolls available as a hand roll or cut into pieces (8) and a few or so sides. Though they do offer over a dozen rolls to choose from that include some vegetarian choices and offer a number of add-ons to customize them. 

They serve the handrolls in a special wrapper (see pic above) to keep the fish extra fresh and the nori wrapper crispy. They are easy to take off and do what they are intended to rather well. 

I tried the Spicy Tuna, Hamachi and Scallion, and the Spicy Scallop as hand-rolls. Though they were pretty good, for true Sushi snobs (guilty as charged) the rolls here will generally not cut it so to speak. I found they all tasted fairly similar. 

Having said that, nights I’m craving Sushi but don’t want to go out for it or wait for it to be delivered I would keep Maki Maki in mind as a viable and enjoyable option. 

Maki Maki is located at 360 Lexington Avenue 

@HiddenPearlBK Tokyo Style Cocktails in Greenpoint

Have you ever been to Tokyo and enjoyed their cocktail culture? Whether to re-experience it or to get a taste of it so to speak The Hidden Pearl located in the back of the restaurant Wanpaku is a great find.

The Hidden Pearl is a petite intimate spot with seating for about 20 between the bar and tables. Cocktails are fairly complex ingredients wise, not the type easy to replicate at home even if you are well stocked.  

The menu is comprised of craft cocktails, highballs, sake, beer, wine and small plates. My new friend, one of my buds and I enjoyed two of their great cocktails the Fireflies on the Water (Apple Brandy, Gin, Verjus, Genepi an herbal aperitif and Orange Bitters) and the The Windrush Generation (White Miso Infused Bourbon, Jamaican Rum, Amaro Nonino, Banana, and Castilian Bitters). 

Add The Hidden Pearl to your Craft Cocktail, Japanese Cocktail lounges, Date Spots and chill spots with friends lists. 

The Hidden Pearl is located in the back of Wanpaku at 621 Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint Brooklyn 

@BoticariosNYC Mexican Happy Hour y Comida

When you go out for Happy Hour do you kinda wish they had some Happy Hour food to go with all your drinks? Boticarios is a great little eclectic Mexican spot with a very good Happy Hour that includes cocktails, beer, wine and some tasty treats. 

The place looks and feels like you’re in a friend’s basement built like a cool lounge with a very well stocked bar. Thus making it good for groups large and small as well as a date spot.

The bartenders are all friendly and at the top of their game. For those that want to go off the Happy Hour menu they have some nice twists on classic cocktails and entrees if a sit down menu is in order. 

Put Boticarios on your Happy Hours, Happy Hours with Food, Tacos, Mexican food and Cocktails lists. 

Boticarios is located at 58 East 1st Street