Happy Hour at Rosa Mexicano is a Great Deal!
Heading to Williamsburg for Guac!
After two weeks in Ireland, I was craving Mexican food. The various cuisines that we did try there (Thai, Moroccan, French) were fantastic, though I didn't manage to have any Guacamole and Tacos during my time on the Emerald Isle.
Christine suggested Zona Rosa (http://zonarosabrooklyn.com/), a fun spot in in Burg. I got there a couple minutes early and ordered a Modelo Especial. I drank a lot of beer in Ireland and it has grown on me. Who says you can't change?
We had to get guacamole. I was really glad we did - great portion size and the chips were hot and perfectly salted.
Christine ordered the Tamarindo, made with mescal and tamarind juice. She said it was great! The smoky flavor of the mescal complimented the sourness of the tamarind.
We got two types of tacos to share. On the top, Tacos de Carnitas made with Braised Berkshire pork Mexico City Style and topped with onions and cilantro. On the bottom, Tacos de Carne Asada con Hongos y Queso. The pork ones were FAR better than the steak ones. I felt the steak ones were too fatty in texture. On top, they came with three salsas of various spice levels. I didn't use any of them though.
This is a great Mexican spot. There is ample outdoor seating upstairs but, given the weather, we opted for air conditioning inside!
Xixa is a Williamsburg Gem
Christine and I wanted to meet up for dinner before I head off to Ireland. She RAVED about a spot in Brooklyn and we decided this would be the perfect place for our dinner. Xixa (http://xixany.com/) is located in Williamsburg. The easiest way for me to get there from my apartment is to take the M train to Marcy Avenue. I didn't realize this subway went ABOVE ground - how exciting! When I got off the subway, I took a photo - you can see Peter Luger (the famous steakhouse) in the background!
Xixa has an awesome cocktail list that features many infused tequilas. I asked our awesome server, Allison, for the best way to enjoy the Thai Tea Tequila - she recommended having it on the rocks. Christine got the Apricot Tequila (90% sure...) with the Margarita Cubes - as they melt, they add complex flavors to the Tequila. AWESOME.
The interior of the restaurant is beautiful. I didn't snap a photo of our seating, but the table we sat in was super comfortable - it allows you to relax as you're served dish after dish! I did notice that some of the stool seating looks uncomfortable. I'm not sure I'd want to be in a wrought iron stool - my butt would hurt!
We requested the Chef's Tasting ($45 per person) - typically, you should have 3 or more people to do it, BUT our server was super awesome and let us do it just for 2! Get ready to be blown away by my description of our 13 (!!!) courses!
Our first course was pickled veggies, light, crunchy and served with a tasty sauce. This was a great way to prepare our palates for the richer dishes to come.
Our second course was a wonderfully spiced edamame.I loved it! I think it may have been grilled - it really changed my perception of the veggie from just having them steamed in Asian restaurants.
Our third course was a ceviche course - it was phenomenal! The seafood (shrimp and Hamachi) were super fresh and complimented by the fruits and sauces.
Our fourth course was duck lettuce wraps - I LOVED the duck but wasn't a huge fan of the banana on the side. This is my own issue as I'm not a fan of the flavor (unless it is in Banana Bread, I know. I'm weird).
The fifth course was tempura fried Blowfish - it had a bone in it, so we ate around it like a rib. If you haven't had this, you must try it if you see it on a menu. The fish is moist, meaty and flaky - so good.
Our sixth course was chicken wings - I totally forget the preparation. Can you blame me? At this point, it was all a delicious blur and had to keep track of (the menu updates a lot and I couldn't find all descriptions online). This was the least impressive dish. Still tasty, but not a knockout like the others.
At this point, we needed a new beverage. We both got the Bourbon'd Tequila with Old Fashion Cubes. This was so tasty! I will warn you though, if you take your time on the drink (like we did), the last sip is very very aggressive (all the spices in the cube have melted, so the drink is highly seasoned).
Course seven was a cheese fundido with parmesan chips and shisito peppers - what is there not to love about melted cheese?
Course eight was one of the most adventurous. When you order the Chef's Tasting, you can specific your dietary needs (if you are a vegetarian, etc.) and what you don't like (we were open to bone marrow but didn't want organ meat). The flexibility makes it great to have a different experience each time you go (which I plan to do again!) This course was bone marrow with steak tartare. I've never had bone marrow before and it was lovely! If anything, it is very rich and reminds me of butter. The presentation was beautiful. If you are a vegetarian, it would be horrifying. #meat
Course nine was the highly Yelped! about carrots - they were unlike any carrots I've ever had. It was the combination of the cheeses and lime that really stood out. Delicious!
Course ten was pork belly and pork cheeks. So delicious! The pork had great texture and taste. Absolutely lovely.
Course eleven took us out of savory and into sweet! The churros were awesome and the sorbet served with them was spicy! I enjoyed this one, but not as much as the other dessert.
Course twelve was a carrot tres leches cake with cumin (!!!) ice cream. This was incredible. I wish I could have another one right now. SO GOOD.
Course thirteen was a nibble of almond brittle (I believe). The perfection conclusion!
This restaurant is incredible. The value ($45 for 13 courses!) and quality of food (expensive ingredients!) is unmatched by any tasting menu I've done before - especially in New York City where prices can be very high! Also, the timing was perfect - all dishes arrived at an appropriate time and we didn't feel rushed. The temperature on the food was great - it was hot, so it wasn't sitting. This is an excellent restaurant, one of the best I've been to recently, if not in the last several years. You must come here - RUN don't walk.
Mexican in Meatpacking!
At Stern, I served as a Launch Captain (helped with Orientation for new students) and I got a gift card for the family of restaurants that owns Dos Caminos. I keep forgetting to use it, but happened to have it in my wallet. This was the perfect occasion!
Whenever I get to a restaurant, I check Yelp! and Foursquare for check-in deals. You'd be surprised on how many perks you can get just by "checking in"! On Yelp!, I noticed there was "1 free Prickly Pear Shot" with check-in. I had no idea how big it would be, but I assumed it would be a small serving of the frozen Prickly Pear margarita.
I liked that it was served in a Champagne flute - it seemed more elegant. We didn't want to order any more alcoholic beverages, so this was a nice sweet treat. Naturally, we had to get the guacamole. A visit to a Mexican restaurant without it seems like a sad visit!
The guac here is great, but not as good as Rosa Mexicano. That place is the BEST. We split two tacos. The Carnitas is slow-roasted pork with green chile salsa and pickled red onion. There was an aggressive amount of onion, so I picked some of it off. We also got the Mar y Tierra, with grilled marinated skirt steak, Tecate battered rock shrimp, Sriracha aioli and BACON (!!!!!) guacamole.
It should be no surprise that I preferred the steak & shrimp tacos - who doesn't love sriracha mayo AND bacon AND guacamole? YUM!
This is a great restaurant and if the weather is nice, you can sit outside! I love people watching and seeing everyone dressed up getting ready to go out on the town. Great vibe!
A Mexican Fiesta at Agave
We had an incredible Follies this year - the Torchy Awards! We wanted to take the cast out to celebrate with a fun dinner. Naturally, I was all over planning this event and picking the restaurant. I chose Agave (http://agaveny.com/) because I love this place. The food, drinks and atmosphere are awesome.
We had a 7pm reservation and I arrived a bit early...so I ordered a mango margarita - my favorite here! Gotta love that happy hour pricing! BOOM!
Once we were all assembled, we had to take a group shot! What a beautiful group of funny people - so proud to be a part of this amazing cast!
Naturally, we had to order the guacamole! It is so yummy here and served in an edible bowl. I love that they refill your chips - it is critical to maintain the right guac to chip ratio.
We also got sweet potato fries to split - served with a chipotle mayo. I'm sure you are aware of my love of mayo, so this was so yummy!
I ordered the Enchilada Mariscos, stuffed with Gulf Shrimp, Lump Crab, sautéed cabbage, queso cotija and salsa verde. Yummy. I did have some meal FOMO when I saw what Mike ordered: the Duck Enchiladas! I sampled a piece and it was soooooo good. NEXT TIME!
We ordered several pitchers of frozen margs - awesome call. We also got three desserts to share. My favorite was the molten chocolate cake! The banana thing was ok, but honestly, I'm not a huge banana person (unless it is the cupcakes at Sugar Sweet Sunshine!). The tres leches was good too, but nothing to write home about.
You know I love Agave. If you trust my taste, do yourself a favor and visit! Come early for happy hour at the bar, then get seated for dinner.
Agave FOR THE WIN!
Last Friday, Melissa and I met up for lunch at Agave (http://agaveny.com/). The weather was turning around and Melissa researched places near campus that had outdoor seating and lunch specials. I had no idea that Agave offered a Two-Course Pre-Fix Lunch for $14.95! It is served with a fruit-infused margarita "tasting" (image below). We got a pomegranate and mango one. Clearly, this is a smart ploy to get you to order a full-sized one. I already know how good they are, so I was planning to order one anyway.
I didn't snap a picture of it, but for my first course we both ordered the Mother Road Roadhouse Chili. I'm not typically a huge fan of chili, but this was absolutely DELICIOUS! It is a blend of braised beef & pork cooked in Dos XX and Chile. It is served with soft tortillas for dipping. Yum yum yum! The other first course option was a salad. We clearly made the best choice.
For the entrée, there were four choices. I got the chicken wrap, served with mango chutney and sweet potato fries.
My mouth is watering looking at that photo. The wrap was utterly fantastic. The fries were great too and served with a delicious chipotle mayo. I cannot rave about this enough!
Melissa ordered the steak wrap, which was served with regular fries.
Poor Melissa really struggled with eating her wrap. I have no idea why they thought it would be a good idea to cut it up like a sushi roll. All the filling kept falling out! I felt the chicken wrap was much tastier.
When we were wrapping up lunch, we rolled right into happy hour ($6 margs down from $10). You can add the fruit flavor for $1 extra...so worth it! We both got mango!
I love Agave so much! The happy hour, lunch special and brunch special ($27.95 for two-hours of bottomless mimosas, wine or frozen/shaken margaritas) are hard to beat! You're doing yourself a disservice if you don't check it out.
A Chelsea Spot with an Incredible Lunch Special
Napa was cancelled. Only creepy people have reached out to me this Valentine's Day on OKCupid. Where is the silver lining in this sh!tstorm? The silver lining, my friends, is Rocking Horse Café (http://www.rockinghorsecafe.com/). I walked from the subway to meet Melissa for lunch. I also managed to walk through a 2 foot deep puddle of questionable sludge on the sidewalk that I THOUGHT was frozen or at least only an inch deep. This is one of the few situations in which I've been disappointed that something has been bigger than I thought!
This cute Mexican spot has a kick-ass lunch special. For $8 you can get a soup or salad WITH enchilada! I also love that you're greeted with free homemade chips and salsa when you sit down. Many of the uber-fancy Mexican spots don't offer this for free, so I appreciate that.
The chips are delicious, just the perfect amount of salty and not greasy at all. The salsa was smoky and had a hint of spice to it without being overwhelming.
The three soup specials for the day all sounded lovely. Melissa and I both ended up with the butternut squash. A gentleman that was dining next to us gave it rave reviews and Melissa had it before. Two positive reviews was enough to encourage me!
The soup had a wonderful depth of taste to it. I loved every spoonful! The enchilada was the one featured on the menu: Enchilada de Pollo, made with pomegranate charred chicken, pomegranate-guajilo salsa, refried beans and pickled cabbage.
The addition of pomegranate to the enchilada was delicious! It added an unexpected surprise to a typically traditional Mexican dish.
I look forward to coming back here for brunch or dinner! If you're looking for Mexican with an updated twist, this is your jam!
A Mexican Brunch Immediately Following a Mexican Dinner
One of my closest friends, Courtney, came down from Boston to visit me for the holiday weekend. Since I have been on break from school for about 6 weeks, each day sort of blends into the next, so the holiday weekend didn't seem that different than any other day this break. It was a pleasure to catch up with my friend though!
I looked into some new spots for unlimited brunch. I heard about Crema (http://www.cremarestaurante.com/) and wanted to check it out. The deal is for a $21.95 Unlimited Mimosa Brunch. The price includes an entrée from a list with many good choices, coffee or tea and unlimited mimosas. The mimosas were constantly refreshed, which was nice! I hate when you go to an unlimited spot and you have to hunt down the server for refills. The quality was what you'd expect for the unlimited factor - likely made with a cheaper sparkling wine and some sort of OJ. It got the job done though! The coffee was also nice. While we waited for our entrees, of course we ordered the guacamole.
Honestly, for $12 I thought it would be bigger. There is clearly a "That's What She Said" joke tucked in there. The chips weren't that great either. I love when they are hot and salted - these were cold and just seemed out of a bag. Not impressed.
For my entrée, I chose the Burrito de Mole Poblano, made with shredded chicken, Chihuahua cheese, beans, chipotle potatoes, corn and mole sauce. It was presented in an interesting way.
I don't know about you, but I've NEVER seen a burrito presented this way. It still tasted delicious, I just thought due to the presentation it may have raw fish in it or be for a small child.
My friend ordered the Salad, it looked nice and HEALTHY.
If you go here, skip the guac!
Guacamole is Best Served in Massive Quantities
Last week, I went out to dinner on a date at Rosa Mexicano (http://www.rosamexicano.com/newyorkcity/unionsquare/index.php?action=page&id=1976&group_id=1955&location_id=9). There are multiple locations of this popular chain and we went to the one in Union Square. I haven't been to this location and it much larger than the one in Midtown East - the ceilings are higher and the vibe seems younger in general. There is also one on the Upper West Side. Naturally, we started with the Guacamole. It is delicious! It is made tableside. There are servers at the restaurant that push the Guac Cart around and are busy NON-STOP! People cannot get enough of that green goodness.
After we were happily nibbling on yummy chips and guac, I ordered Frozen Pomegranate Margarita, made with silver tequila, pomegranate and lime juices. My date ordered a Michelada, specifically the Chelita. It is made with Tecate, fresh lime and Tabasco, served over ice with a salted rim. As soon as he tried it, he commented that he hated it. I tried it and agreed. Sometimes being adventurous doesn't pay off.
For my entrée, I got the Chamorro (Crispy Pork Shank). It is a slow-braised "carnitas-style" with chipotle-creamed spinach and red bean-chorizo chili. SO TASTY! It is served with teeny-tiny tortillas to make baby tacos.
The meal was delicious! My date ordered the Chicken Enchiladas - I tried a little and they were good, though a bit limey. I was glad with what I ordered.
There is a Happy Hour here Sat- Thurs from 4pm - 7pm in the Bar Area. Cocktails are $6-$7, Beers are $4 and a selection of appetizers and rotating tacos are $6. I will need to check that out!
Another Solid Brunch Spot!
Last week, Melissa and I continued eating our way through Manhattan. Because it was Saturday, the answer was BRUNCH. The question was: Where? Melissa, the smart native New Yorker that she is, suggested that we go to Dos Caminos Meatpacking (http://www.doscaminos.com/mexican-restaurant-locations/new-york-city). Who doesn't like trendy Mexican food?
I have been to some of the other Dos locations, but not this uber-hip one. Clearly I was excited! Dos Caminos offers a great brunch deal. It is not drink-until-you-embarrass yourself, though you do get one classy cocktail included in the price of your entrée. Agave (http://agaveny.com/) is a great option if you want to drink until you don't remember your name but the food is not as good - know your objective and you're good. Also, both of these Mexican spots take reservations which is fantastic. I don't have the patience to wait for a margarita.
The brunch menu has a nice selection of both sweet and savory options, all under $20 with the cocktail and coffee/tea. I continuously battle which to pick - such a huge life decision I know. I ended up with the Machacado Breakfast Tacos ($14) made with beef brisket, scrambled eggs, Vermont cheddar and salsa a la Mexicana. Melissa is a good friend and advised me to order the salsa on the side. This was a good move as I think "a la Mexicana" translated means you may not like this salsa. The taco shells were soft - good news. I felt it would be awkward to have a crunchy taco shell for brunch, it is too early for all the loud munching. The coffee was a bit odd, but of course I drank it.
For my cocktail choice, I chose the frozen prickly pear margarita from the selection that also included a frozen traditional margarita, Bloody Mary, screwdriver, mimosa, Champagne, orange or grapefruit juice. The cocktail was lovely - great level of sweetness without being cloying.
Overall, Dos Caminos is a solid spot. I do, however, take issue with the fact that chips are not brought out with salsa for free. For some reason, that just annoys me. I guess the trendy spots aren't into that.
Hidden Gem for Fajitas Near NYU
Before a night class last week, I caught up with Christine. We wanted to meet somewhere close to campus and I've had good luck at Murphy & Gonzalez (http://www.murphy-gonzalez.com/).
My favorite thing to order is the chicken fajitas. They are DYNAMITE! I mean, look at that photo.
If you're hungry and feeling like Mexican near campus, this pub is a surprisingly good spot for fajitas.
A Cancelled Class Visit Turns into a Mexican Lunch
Last week, my class was supposed to visit Kickstarter on Monday. Due to Veteran's Day, we had to move the visit to next week. Instead of heading right back to campus, we had lunch at Calexico (http://www.calexico.net/).
We ordered guacamole, chips and salsa for the table. The guac was awesome and still chunky - I hate when it's too smooth. I'm still on that low carb kick so I ordered a Burrito Bowl without rice and beans but with extra meat. I chose the Carne Asada. It was delicious! I got the "crack sauce" which is a chipotle something or other.
This is a nice Mexican spot. I would probably check it out again.
Hecho en Dumbo
After exploring Wise Men, the Ladies Drinking League headed to Hecho en Dumbo (http://www.hechoendumbo.com/). The ladies were hungry and tapas WERE NOT going to cut it! While we nibbled on guacamole (a bit spicy), the ladies ordered some Margaritas. We missed Happy Hour (sad face), so I ordered the full priced Hibiscus Margarita. It wasn't as good as it was the first time (don't you hate when that happens?), but I managed to drink it! I highly recommend coming back between 5pm-7pm: such a better deal!
Until Next Time,
Is That a Mango in your Marg?
Sometimes the best way to be productive is to take a break. At least, that is my personal philosophy. The past several weeks have been a tailspin with school assignments, projects, travel and my parents visiting. That being said, I love having a full-schedule, but sometimes a gal needs a break. A time to unwind. Initially, I thought of going home right after class and skipping out on what would be a fabulous evening with some Stern ladies. Katey, Catie, Connie and Sarah are truly wonderful and all members of the Luxury and Retail Club board at Stern. It was nice to unwind with such a great group!
Now, onto the review! I have to admit, this isn't my first time at Agave (http://agaveny.com/). This West Village Mexican gem is a favorite. The Happy Hour features $7 Margaritas (typically $10) with additional fresh fruit puree added for no up-charge (awesome!). I chose mango. I've gotten it before and it continues to deliver! Although the frozen margaritas are pre-made in a machine, they still taste fresh and not full of "mix" or "sugar" like others I have had. I highly recommend it. Also, there is a 2-hour bottomless brunch on the weekends. You can have as many of those Margaritas as you can handle (make sure to have a free afternoon!!).
Now...back to my Brand Strategy PowerPoint presentation!