Normally I share information with you but in this post I’m turning the tables. I have been asked by a friend to help them find an affordable option when they go to New York City next month; preferably in Manhattan. Clean, safe and if possible conveniently located are what this traveler is looking for so she can extend her business trip to enjoy some personal time in NYC.
Do you have a favorite place to stay that won’t break the bank for a traveler burdened by a budget? Share your favorite suggestions in the comments section below so all may read.
Dos Caminos is a Mexican restaurant with four locations in Manhattan. Last month I met my brother for dinner at Dos Caminos Midtown on a warm summer night. We picked the restaurant for three reasons: it was close to where we were staying; it has a large outdoor patio; and my brother suggested it (I never question him when he recommends Mexican).
The patio provides great people watching and we settled in by ordering cold beers and guacamole, which comes with a huge basket of chips and three salsas: mild, medium (which is fairly smoky), and hot. The menu is divided into sections including: Guacamole ($5-$14), Ceviche ($12-$18), Starters ($10-$13), Tacos ($16-$36) and House Specialties ($18-$26).
Guacamole with chips and salsa for two $14
I found our server both attentive and helpful when navigating the menu. He made excellent suggestions and left us to enjoy our meal together. My brother ordered the Dos Caminos Chopped Salad with grilled steak. While it looked good and he said he enjoyed the salad, I’m fairly certain his favorite part of his meal was the side of sweet plantains he ordered. They were served soft, warm and sweet. I ended up helping myself to a few of them for the sake of this review.
Chopped salad with steak $19.50
After some serious consideration I opted to get the herb-roasted chicken breast served with plenty of rice and beans. The chicken was prepared with its skin and the herbs add a bit of fragrance to the plate when it is first served. The additional side of rice and beans is a bit of overkill but it didn’t stop me from overeating and giving it my best shot to try and finish all of it.
Herb roasted chicken breast $22
While this isn’t the best Mexican I’ve had – it was perfect for an evening outside and anyone looking for casual dining outdoors in this part of town should check it out. Dos Caminos is located on the corner of 3rd Avenue and 50th Street.
Carbone is a tiny unpretentious Italian restaurant located on a relatively quiet (is anyplace quiet in NYC) street in Hell’s Kitchen. This restaurant should not be confused with the swanky restaurant by the same name in Greenwich Village.
Carbone came to my attention while I was searching for places nearby and the 3.7 rating on Zomato seemed to make this a solid choice. Upon entering I was greeted by the owner who only goes by Alessandro and a friendly host who ushered me out to their tiny private back patio. Unfortunately dodgy weather brought me back inside to avoid rain, but the cozy vibe of the place made for a great first impression. This space is probably only 12′ at its widest point and the exposed brick wall gives the impression of a back alley (think Lady and the Tramp).
Roallatine Di Melenzane $13
I ordered a glass of the Montepulicano, which was suggested by the waiter and proved to be much to my liking, followed by the Rollatine Di Melenzane. The eggplant rolls came with the mozzarella cheese still melting on to the plate. This proved to be my favorite part of the meal. The thinly sliced eggplant were overstuffed with ricotta cheese and the tomato sauce was sweet and delicious. I used the bread to get most of the excess sauce and ricotta that oozed out when I cut the pieces to eat.
Pizza Italiano $16
With approximately one quarter of Carbone’s dinner menu dedicated to pizza, I opted to skip the main dishes and pastas and order the Pizza Italiano which is topped with cheese, arugula, fresh tomatoes and prosciutto. When served the cheese and prosciutto smelled wonderful but ultimately it disappointed because I thought the crust lacked flavor. Based on the rollatine and the many positive reviews of this restaurant I wonder if I made a mistake and should have ordered a pasta. One thing I do know is that Tavola, which is located around the corner is the better choice for pizza. However, the cozy vibe and very reasonable price point makes this a place worth considering; just be sure to stick to the pastas.
Carbone’s is located at 331 W. 38th Street between 8th & 9th Ave.
Fleet Week starts in NYC on Monday, May 18 and runs through Monday, May 26. Might be fun to head into NYC for the weekend and personally thank all those sailors who are out in Hell’s Kitchen letting off some steam.
Fleet Week New York City official events
Posted in NYC
Tagged BosGuy, Boston Guy
This fun filled weekend in NYC includes the Stache Bash kick off party at Julian’s Bar & Grille in the Village on Thursday at 6PM; the CODE + KINK Leather Party later that night at the Eagle. On Friday don’t miss the UnderBear Party and on Saturday the Clone Party (both at Rock Bar). The largest party of the weekend will be The Urban Bear Dance Party on Saturday night at the Slake Night Club.
For more details visit the event’s website www.theurbanbear.com.
Image via Flaunt Magazine
Apparently Million Dollar Listing New York broker (and exhibitionist), Ryan Serhant, has dropped trou and gone au natural in an attempt to get more attention under the guise of needing to sell a property.
I have to admit the article caught my attention and I’d be inclined to check out Ryan’s next open house so perhaps he’s on to something. Like Samantha Fox use to say, “If you have it; flaunt it” – flaunt away Ryan. If you’d like to read the article or see another more revealing photograph of Ryan check out the article here.
Posted in NYC
Tagged BosGuy, Boston Guy
While I am not a fan of staying in Midtown and prefer neighborhoods like SoHo and Tribeca, I often stay in Midtown because that is where my office is located.
Last month when I visited NYC my usual hotel was booked so I had to look elsewhere and ended up staying at the Westin Times Square, which is on 8th Ave by 43rd Street.
Despite the hassle of Times Square which I could do without, the hotel is conveniently located on the cusp of Hell’s Kitchen; a great neighborhood.
This 45-story tower is an impressive property with all the amenities you would want and come to expect from a Westin Hotel. I had no issues with the internet connection and enjoyed my expansive view of Manhattan during my stay. If you are planning a trip to NYC and want to be near Hell’s Kitchen, this is certainly a property you may want to consider. The rooms are spacious and conveniently set up for one to work, relax and enjoy their stay.
Last week I was able to have dinner in Brooklyn Heights and a friend who grew up in the neighborhood took me to Jack the Horse Tavern. I was taken with the converted storefront from the moment I stepped inside; exposed brick, comfortable seating and a warm buzz coming from the neighborhood bar come together to create a fantastic vibe.
The menu includes approximately a half dozen salads and starters ranging from $9-$13 and a protein rich menu that is evenly balanced between land and sea options ranging from $16-$26.
I started my dinner with the Green & Red Baby Lettuce which included Manchego cheese, marinated plums and a Riesling Vinaigrette & Rosemary croutons. The salad was light and refreshing which was exactly what I wanted.
After our first course was cleared, I was served the house duck plate which came highly recommended by our waiter. The meal didn’t disappoint and I’d strongly recommend it to anyone who likes duck. The duck was served on a bed of farro with dried cherries almonds and leeks. Every fork was laden with farro and duck dipped in the sweet cherry-almond coulis.
Since my colleagues all indulged in dessert, I opted to join them with another glass of the delicious Italian red we were sharing, Acquagiusta(I’d never heard of it previously but I’ll be asking my local wineshop – Brix – about it) and ordered the cheese plate. I wish I had taken notes when the chef came out to tell us about the five cheeses but I was still thinking about he duck I’d just finished. However, the meal ended equally satisfactory and my dessert became a communal plate that everyone tried and enjoyed.
Jack the Horse Tavern is located at 66 Hicks Street in Brooklyn Heights. It is worth venturing out from Manhattan to try. After dinner stroll along Brooklyn Heights Promenade to ward off the inevitable self-induced food coma.
This afternoon I returned from a quick work trip to New York City. Despite visiting NYC more times than I can count, I have never really stepped foot off of Manhattan – that is until this trip. A colleague who now lives in D.C. but was raised in Brooklyn Heights suggested we grab dinner there.
We picked up an express train (can’t remember which) from Grand Central Station and were back above ground walking the tree lined streets of Brooklyn Heights in about 20 minutes. We ended up having a relaxing meal at Jack The Horse Tavern; I’ll write a bit more about that in a future post. After dinner we strolled down a few streets (even passing Cher and Olympia Dukakis home from the 80’s film, Moonstruck) to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.
The Brooklyn Heights Promenade was really spectacular; filled with people walking, sitting, talking as well as friends, from all walks of life, making for fantastic people watching. The promenade also has spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline and off in the distance you can see this beautiful statue. If you’ve not visited, I’d recommend checking out Brooklyn Heights. The air is easier to breathe, the vibe more relaxed and the view is tough to beat.
Posted in NYC
Tagged BosGuy, Boston Guy
Cafe El Presidente opened earlier this year in the Flat Iron District on 24th Street. The place is spacious and has an open and casual, beach vibe with vintage looking painted signs and a large open kitchen in the back of the restaurant that looks out on to the dining room floor.
El Presidente serves up some delicious cocktails to try alongside their Mexican menu. The two most popular drinks made with fresh juice include the Paloma; a grapefruit and tequila cocktail served with a salted rim. As well as the Spiked Sandia; a sweeter alternative made with agua fresca – watermelon and tequila. Both proved to be so tempting when we initially tried them at the bar we opted to get them by the pitcher for dinner. That may have proven to be a mistake because while the food was delicious the portions of our main plates were smaller than anticipated and we probably should have had more solids to compensate for the amount of tequila we were enjoying.
I would highly recommend trying the Guacamole Con Totopos. The guacamole was creamy and offset the very light and salty chips. The chips and guac also come with a plate of pickled veggies, salsas and lime and radishes. It was delicious and a good portion for a party of four to share.
I opted for the Pescado a la Plancha Oaxaca – Fish Tacos – which were made with mahi mahi on the night I was there. The plate comes with four tacos. The soft taco shell seemed to absorb too much of the salsa, making them difficult to eat; the taco would tear / rip when we picked them up. However, they still tasted very fresh and my only real complaint was that I was left wanting more.
I liked the vibe and enjoyed the casual atmosphere and would recommend giving it a try. Located just around the corner from Eataly at 30 West 24th Street, El Presidente is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The HK Cafe is located in the heart of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood on the corner of 9th Avenue and 39th Street. The long, narrow layout has modern decor with large windows that look out on to the street. I sat at the 12-seat bar to the side of the main dining room floor. The menu is reasonably priced with soups and salads ($8-$12); appetizers ($10-$16); sandwiches ($11-$14); and entrees ($16-$24).
Unfortunately, HK Cafe’s first impressions was as good as it got. After I placed my order a rowdy party of about eight in the dining room started screaming at the top of their lungs; acting as if some pop star had just walked in from the street. This continued intermittently through the entire evening – some people seated in the dining room left because they were so disruptive so I assume this is what one should expect since the staff did nothing to settle the raucous table.
HK Cafe Fig Salad $12.00
The experience didn’t get much better after my competent and handsome bartender brought over my fig salad. Some of the figs were a bit too dry / hard and the cheese promised in the description seemed more of an after thought since it was barely there.
HK Cafe Burger & Fries $12
For dinner I ordered the HK Burger and Fries. While the portion was large this too was fairly bland. If I wasn’t developing a nervous twitch from all the shouting in the dining room or if the salad had been better I might not have felt the burger was quite so bad, but by the time it arrived all I wanted to do was leave so my impressions of the flavorless burger may be a bit harsh, but I won’t be going back to give it another try.
HK Cafe at 523 9th Avenue / (212) 947-4208
The Ivy Bar & Grill in Hell’s Kitchen opened about a year ago and based on the steady flow of 20 and 30 somethings who streamed in off of 8th Avenue, it remains a popular place to meet friends for a drink or to grab a bite. The place was absolutely packed when I arrived at 7:30 on a Wednesday evening and it proved difficult to hold a conversation over the roar of voices that seemed to press in around me from all sides. However, I liked the look of this long gastro pub, helpful staff and menu that was reasonably priced.
The menu is divided into four categories, with roughly half the options categorized as appetizers ranging in price from $6 – $16; a few salads $10 – $11; sandwiches and burgers $11 – $15; and entrees $14 – $26. I had initially been drawn to the Udon Noodles plate but one look from my waitress when I inquired about the choice gave me no doubt that I’d be better served if I focused on the sandwiches and burgers section so I opted for the Grilled Mahi Mahi sandwich served with avocado, lettuce, tomato, sriracha mayo and salsa verde for $14.
If you are planning to spend time in Hell’s Kitchen and want a casual place to grab drinks or have a bite, this seems like a solid option and a place I’m sure I shall return. Have you been here? Let me know what you think of Ivy Bar in Hell’s Kitchen.
The Ivy is located on Eighth Avenue between 55th and 56th street at 944 8th Avenue and is open from 11:30 AM – 4:30 AM seven days a week.
On my most recent trip to NYC I had the opportunity to enjoy a dinner at Benoit NY. While I’ll admit this Midtown brasserie is charming, and I enjoyed my meal, Jules Bistro in the East Village remains my favorite casual French restaurant in Manhattan.
Located on 55th Street between 5th and 6th Ave, Benoit has a cozy bar as you enter from the street. The dining room (as shown above) is colorful with splashes of red, yellow and honey stained wood. The menu is divided into appetizers and main plate with the first ranging in price from $12-$26 and latter ranging in price from $25-$41.
Warm bread is served upon being seated – I wish this was done everywhere. I’ve never been one to shun carbs and happily helped myself while I waited for my drink to arrive. I started my meal with a basic mixed green salad and opted to try the restaurant’s “French Classic of the Month”, Boeuf bourginon for $29 for my main plate.
I barely noticed the salad while I chatted with my colleagues, but the same can’t be said for the boeuf bourginon. The beef was so tender I think I could have cut the meat with a spoon. This classic French dish was also accompanied by pearl onions, carrots, mushrooms and pomme puree. There was hardly a trace of any of it when our server cleared our plates. Sadly as much as I would have enjoyed dessert, I was too full to enjoy anymore, but I left satisfied.
Dinner reservations are recommended for Benoit NY at 646.943.7373.
80 Washington Square East Gallery – New York City
Are you a photography enthusiast? You may want to check out this exhibit in NYC, that runs through February 15, 2014.
DEVOTION is the first major institutional solo presentation of Bob Mizer’s work to be shown anywhere in the world. Bob Mizer, was an American photographer and filmmaker whose work spans five decades starting in the 1950s. He is widely known as a pioneer in erotic male photography, but much of his other work was put aside by Mizer and went unseen until this exhibit in New York City that runs through February 15, 2014.
More information about Bob Mizer: Bob Mizer Foundation
More information about Devotion: 80 WSE Gallery
Provocative image of a young Sophia Lauren dominates Da Noi’s entry
Da Noi which in Italian means from us has a very cozy and welcoming feel as you walk in from 49th Street. That feeling is further reinforced by the attentive and thoughtful care given to all who enter by the manager. As I slid into a chair at the bar, I was introduced to the very friendly bartender, Patricia. She was only too happy to talk to me about the history of Da Noi which has several other locations around New York City and to point out her favorite options on both the dinner and wine menus.
The affordable menu is divided into antipasti ($11-$15), pastas ($19-$23) and meats ($22-$45) and all main plates come with the option of coming as a half plate. After watching a few orders come to the bar I wisely selected a half portion, that proved to be quite large and more than adequate as a dinner portion.
Unfortunately, this is where my glowing review and admiration for Da Noi ends. To accompany what turned out to be a particularly good Malbec, I ordered Da Noi’s Melanzane Afumigate $11.95, which is grilled eggplant with smoked mozzarella and tomato. What I didn’t realize until the appetizer was served was that it also comes in a pool of oil and balsamic. The eggplant acts as a sponge and where a drizzle would probably be delicious the amount of oil and balsamic not only overpowered the flavors of the eggplant and cheese in particular but it also made it heavier and less satisfying overall.
Despite the mezza mezza review of the eggplant I looked forward to my Spaghetti Bolognese (I ordered a half portion for $11.95). However, I found the sauce too sweet for my liking. Also the proportion of spaghetti to sauce left me wondering if the line cook had dumped a full portion of Bolognese to accompany my half portion of spaghetti. I suppose I wouldn’t have minded so much if I had enjoyed the sauce but it wasn’t meant to be.
So I’m quite conflicted with this review and wonder if anyone has perhaps had a different experience at Da Noi. The service was flawless and the space couldn’t be more welcoming, but I found the food average verging on disappointing.
Da Noi Midtown / 214E 49th Street / (212) 754-5710