The Brunch-Crawl

Brunch in NYC is a very big thing. It is all about getting together after a Saturday night party, people watching and drinking again. New Yorkers have the habit to keep drinking on Sunday mornings, mimosas or blody-marys, a trend that none of my French friends was able to follow. Brunch menus look like each other in the city. Since the kale, this green cabage is trendy, it is on every brunch menus, like Brussel sprouts, which is another thing French people cannot bear, synonymous of the cafeteria in middle school. However, like any other trend, it might hit France in a couple of years (months?) and you will see soon our “bobos” eat those veggies reinvented for the French palate.

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The NoMad
The NoMad

The NoMad hotel: If you want to impress your parents or a date, the restaurant in this hotel is the perfect spot. Divided into different areas, you can have brunch in the atrium, or by the fireplace or the parlour… Read more

 

 

Le Philosophe
Le Philosophe

Le Philosophe: Another French restaurant that opened a couple of months ago in NoHo. And the NYC food scene created a buzz about this place. What is so fantastic about this place… Read more

 

 

Raspberry tarte
Raspberry tarte

Eric Kayser: It is a bit the war between Uptown and Downtown people, but some of them are almost crying Eric Kayser takes so much time to open its second location at Gramercy… Read more

 

 

Reynard
Reynard

Reynard: Some places decide to change their name to refresh their image. Last August, Tarlow decided to officially change the name of “Reynards”to… “Reynard”. Since I first came to NY in August 2012… Read more

 

 

Coq-au-vin
Maison Harlem

Maison Harlem: Harlem is more and more having nice restaurants opening. Maison Harlem is one of them. Located in the very quiet West Harlem, this French restaurant is a nice place for brunch once you are done with the traditional Gospel church… Read more

 

The Dutch, Soho
The Dutch, Soho

The Dutch: American Soho restaurant own by the same team than the new Lafayette. The venue is bright, with the same snobby atmosphere you find in these trendy Manhattan spots I talked about in earlier posts… Read more

 

 

Parmesan french toast
L’Apicio

L’Apicio: I usually do not go to Italian restaurant for brunch because what is the point of eating eggs when you can have carbonara? However, since we could get a reservation we ended at L’Apicio… Read more

 

 

Clinton St. Baking
Clinton St. Baking

Clinton St. Baking: You probably don’t understand why New Yorkers are ready to do the line for 2 hours to eat but sometimes you just pass the door and you get it. Clinton St. Bakery opens at 9am on weekends… Read more

 

 

Hundred Acres
Hundred Acres

Hundred Acres: Thanks to Open Table, I hopefully skip the 45 minute line to get the precious table. One of the waitress sulks, I don’t care she is not in charge of our table. Some hipsters at the bar, mostly preppies in the venue… Read more

 

August
August

August is a tiny spot in West Village. If offers only a few tables on the front and the surprise comes when you can be seated in the courtyard since it is covered and open all day long. It is really calm so having brunch on weekends… Read more

 

 

Jojo
Jojo

Jojo: one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurants (Chef at ABC Kitchen) in the UES. We go for the $28 three-course brunch with appetizer/entrée/desert, but without the traditional egg benedict or pancakes… Read more

 

 

Café B
Café B

B Café: this traditional Belgium bistro offers excellent dishes like the mussels, the egg benedict with smoked salmon served on English muffins. Try the Egg sandwich, it looks really simple but the combo of fresh baguette, scrambled eggs, avocado and ‘Belgium’ fries is fantastic.

 

 

Alice Tea Cup
Alice Tea Cup

Alice Tea Cup: This UES tea place was my #1 brunch spot for a while. The décor is a bit too kitchy, especially when you are not having tea time with your mother. I came in fall so they had pumpkin scones, which is probably part of the reason why I came so often. The scones are fluffy and look and taste like more an English scone. The egg benedicts are very well one, served with smoked salmon and a buttermilk scone. But the funniest and more typical to order is the afternoon tea presented on a three-tiered stand with scones, sandwiches, desserts, and tea (with a large selection of course). It’s like being in London.

Café d'Alsace
Café d’Alsace

Café d’Alsace: this other UES café is a great neighborhood restaurant. It has an outdoor place that makes you feel being in France. They have classic from American egg benedicts to the traditional Quiche Lorraine.

 

Jane
Jane

Jane: It is not the Jane Hotel, but it is at least as pretentious as the hotel. Try to book a table ahead on Open Table or the snobby waiters will enjoy having you wait for a long time. Once you pass this first welcome at least you can enjoy the meal. Because they have great crab cake egg benedict.

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Cinco de Mayo

I might be obsessed with some elements and as you probably may have noticed,  tacos are part of it. So when Cinco de Mayo happened, I realized it was another good excuse to have a taco crawl all day. My run in Central Park North in the morning reminded me (just in case I had forgotten) I am actually living in Spanish Harlem, and for once I was pretty happy to hang out in my neighborhood. National Mexican music screaming in the colorful streets, Harlem is great to get coconut ice cream for $1 and huge fresh squeezed orange juice for half the price of the rest of Manhattan.

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Unfortunately, East Harlem is not known to have the best Mexican food in town. Is it because it is mainly made up of Puerto Ricans? I decide to head to the only decent place recommended by most of the guides and foodies: Taco Mix, located on 116th st and 3rd avenue. The line is long, way too long, since we have to wait 30’ to get the precious taco Al Pastor. The pork is sliced to order off a rotating spit and covered with a pineapple that is probably giving only the juice to the meat. No cube of fruit, they are just covered with the traditional cilantro-raw onions mix. If you want to try the traditional Mexican taco, Taco Mix is the place to go.

Toloache 82 is a lot fancier, located in Yorkville. It seems you cannot go wrong with the menu. The guacamole is one of the best I had, the quesadillas are definitely looking original and the black truffle on one of them is really savory even though they won’t feed you. The fish taco is generous, baja-style tilapia with spicy-jicama slaw (Mexican coleslaw-style), topped with guacamole. I would not rate them favorite fish taco but they really worth it (click here for the taco-crawl). Anyway the restaurant offers one of the best Mexican foods in the city, so I would recommend to spend you next dinner out there.

For your upcoming Margarita night, head to Tequilla Park Taqueria. Located on the second floor of the Hudson Lodge, the huge taco-margarita garden is great to hang out, watch people or play the babyfoot. Watch out because your night will cost you a lot with the $16 margarita and the $8 baby-tacos.

Taco Mix
234 E 116th St # 1,
New York, NY 10029

Toloache 82
166 E 82nd St,
NY 10028
(212) 861-4505

Tequilla Park Taqueria
356 W 58th St
New York, NY 10019
(212) 554-6217

Check the Taco-crawl here to get the top 10 tacos in NYC. Bonus, there is a Map!

Taco-crawl

Urban food-crawl is all about getting the best of a single dish or area. My first crawl is dedicated to tacos. Since my first trip to California in March 2012, I’ve been obsessed with this Mexican dish. I would say even more with fish tacos. But the real ones, not those fake crispy tacos you can have at Taco Bell or any other bad Tex-Mex restaurant.

For my friends overseas, what is a good taco? Pork, chicken, shrimp, salmon or even lobster, onions, cilantro, salsa and avocado for the California version wrapped into a fresh homemade corn or flour tortilla. Since I am in NYC I’ve been tracking the best one. This is not California, I agree, but you can still find great options in the Big Apple.

1. Ofrenda
1. Ofrenda

1. Ofrenda:  great spot in West Village, the restaurant is trendy, awesome cocktails, authentic fish tacos made of tilapia baja style ($12 for 2). A go-to!
Ofrenda
113 7th Ave S
New York, NY 10014
(212) 924-230

 

2. Empellon Cocina
2. Empellon Cocina

2. Empellon Cocina, East Village: a whole chapter should be dedicated to Empellon Cocina.  Acclaimed by the press to be one of the best new restaurants in town, I do agree. The tacos are really simple, maybe too much at the first sight with its sea scallops and caramelized cauliflower. A bit expensive ($16 for 2), but extremely tasty,  having sea scallops in a tacos does worth the price.

Empellon Cocina
105 1st Ave
Manhattan, NY 10003
(212) 780-0999

3. La Esquina
3. La Esquina

3. La Esquina, Nolita : go for lunch at the Café. The restaurant is actually way nicer than the outdoor area. Get the fish tacos, really tasty, with red cabbage that makes it taste different ($9 for 2). The corner Deli, a bit tacky, is one of the three restaurants at the same spot. Come by night, a hidden restaurant, La Brasserie, opens downstairs. Reservation 3 weeks ahead though…
La Esquina, Café
114 Kenmare,
New York, NY 10012
(646) 613-1333

4. Dokebi Bar & Grill
4. Dokebi Bar & Grill

4. Dokebi Bar & Grill, Williamsburg: If you are looking for a Korean BBQ place, head to Williamsburg. This restaurant has such good vibes, and the music playlist is so much better than any Korean joint you will ever find in the depressing Korean town. But the surprise is the Korean style tacos. Go for the fish taco, battered white fish, only $4 each, with plenty of other options.  It doesn’t look Korean at all, with its apparent brick wall, modern art wall and its red Vichy tablecloths. If you like kimchi and fish tacos you will love this nice fusion.
Dokebi Bar & Grill
199 Grand St
Brooklyn, NY 11211
718) 782-1424

The Taco-Crawl Map:

Taco-Crawl Map

5. Friedman's lunch
5. Friedman’s lunch

5. Friedman’s lunch, Chelsea. The Chelsea Market reminds me the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The food looks great everywhere, but because it is busy and indoor in the basement, you need to find a cozy place to sit. Friedman’s Lunch offers you the solution. Good quality of fish, plenty, grilled and not fried, with fresh vegetable and covered with a white sauce, the fish tacos is a really good value ($13 for 2)
Friedman’s Lunch at the Chelsea Market
75 9th Ave
New York, NY 10011
(212) 929-7100

6. Brooklyn Tacos
6. Brooklyn Tacos

6. Brooklyn Taco at Donna, South Williamsburg : As part of the Armory show, Donna, the hot cocktail spot in South Williamsburg is hosting Brooklyn Taco each Saturday of March. The venu is fantastic, the bar is relax and the decor elegant and beautiful. Grab a cocktail ($7 happy hour) and a cole-braised pork tacos ($4), promised you will enjoy your night!

Brooklyn Tacos at Donna
27 Broadway
Brooklyn, NY 11249
(646) 568-6622

7. El Toro Blanco
7. El Toro Blanco

7. El Toro Blanco, West Village: I already talked about this new spot, go see the review here.

 

 

 

8. Pinche Taqueria
8. Pinche Taqueria

8. Pinche Taqueria, Nolita: Just like an authentic taqueria, you don’t want to spend to much time in there. Good just to grab a taco and leave. This place got pretty good reviews, but once again I got disappointed since I thought it was not tasty enough (despite the whole guacamole on the top). Tacos are really cheap though ($2.95-$3.95) and you probably feel closer to Mexico than places like El Toro Blanco.

Pinche Taqueria
227 Mott St
New York
(212) 625-0090

9. Takumi Tacos
9. Takumi Tacos

9. Takumi Taco, Street food: Featured at the Brooklyn Flea Market, Williamsburg Saving Banks, and soon returns at Smorgasburg on April 6th, Williamsburg, try these Japanese inspired tacos. I got my spicy tuna taco in a crispy gyoza shell. I would recommend the traditional corn tortilla since this version reminded me the taco bell commercial with its crispy taco.
Takumi Taco at the Brooklyn Flea Market
1 Hanson Place,
Brooklyn, NY

10. El Aguila
10. El Aguila

10. El Aguila: I live in Spanish Harlem, and oddly this is not the best area to get good tacos. Made with industrial tortillas, the meat is not really tender.  I would not recommend the trip, even though I am sure East Harlem has some good suprises…
El Aguila
137 E 116th St # 1
New York, NY 10029
(212) 410-2450

Recently added:
– Taco Mix: East Harlem taco joint
Toloache82: fancy Upper East Side Mexican restaurant
Tequila Park Taqueria:  taco-margarita garden