Manhattan – NY

Haru Happy Hour 

From: Haru (Gramercy) in New York City, NY 

Haru has multiple locations in Manhattan and the one I visited was in Gramercy. Their Happy Hour at this spot is from 3PM-7PM Monday through Friday and 3PM-6PM on Saturday. In order to get the deals, you must sit at the bar or high-top tables at the sushi bar. Regardless, it is still enjoyable and definitely worth it – IMO (which I just learned means in my opinion.) 🙂

On their happy hour menu, you get to choose from an assortment of beer, wine, specialty cocktails, and sake. They have various appetizers and three rolls: California, spicy tuna, and crunchy spicy salmon. It doesn’t have to stop at the happy hour, Haru is extremely affordable no matter what you get. Plus, you can access them from almost every area in the city since they are also located on the Upper West Side, Times Square, Upper East Side, and Wall Street.

What I loved the most? The vegetable spring rolls and the crunchy spicy salmon. Pictured above is their vegetable spring roll; it was a good-sized portion (came with four) and so full of flavor. The outside was moist and crunchy while the inside’s vegetables complimented each other well.

Otto’s Tacos

From: Otto’s Tacos in New York City, NY
If you are looking for a quick place to grab some freshly made-to-order tacos when in Manhattan, check out Otto’s Tacos. They are an LA-inspired taqueria that makes all of their salsas, tortillas, and marinades from scratch. They are located in both the East Village and the West Village, plus did I mention each of their items are only about $3? You could test a bunch of their tacos and it would be an affordable, plus satisfying meal.

I love having choices when I go to grab some food, because let’s face it, you get three shots in your day to have an awesome meal and you don’t want to waste it on a poor selection. At Otto’s you can choose between carne asada, carnitas, mushroom, chicken and shrimp tacos. So you can feel free to mix and match. Again… each for only three bucks! (Insert shock-faced emoji here.)

The above image is of their carnitas taco which includes a very spicy salsa verde. The pork is well-marinated, tender, and I kind of want to leave work to go there right now.

Red, White and Wings

From: Landsdowne Road in New York City, NY
First and foremost, a big congratulations to Team USA for winning the Women’s World Cup last night with a 5-2 victory over Japan. That was quite an exciting game with three goals scored by Team USA within the first 20 minutes. It helped me relax a bit while I sat and ate my wings.

If you are looking for a good sports bar, check out Landsdowne Road in Manhattan. It’s located on the corner of 44th Street and 10th Avenue. It is an Irish pub and sports bar with a great assortment of comfort food and wall-to-wall TVs for game-watching. Wherever we sat last night we had a prime view of Carli Lloyd scoring goal after goal.

I would highly recommend the mild buffalo wings. They are crunchy, fresh, and not overly-doused in sauce. I also had their avocado salad, which came with avocados, toasted almonds, tomatoes, and crumbled blue cheese over mixed greens that was served with a house balsamic vinaigrette. I also was told the pulled pork was good, so at this point, I am sure that whatever you go for will be delicious!

Fried Calzone.. Emphasis on the FRIED

Fried Calzone.. Yes.. a FRIED Calzone

From: Il Piccolo Bufalo in New York City, NY
This is one of my family’s favorite places to go in Little Italy and there is a reason why (pictured above.) This might look like your classic mutz and ricotta calzone, but it is actually fried. Fried calzones are a specialty my grandmother used to make, but this place brings back great memories of that crispy, cheesy deliciousness. I think it is safe to say that anything fried tastes that  much better, especially when it comes to dough stuffed with cheese. Let’s just say once you’ve tried the fried… baked will get put to the side.

Happy National Burger Day!

: Umami Burger in New York, NY
May 28th 2015 is National Burger Day and I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight Umami Burger as well as the newly renovated World Financial Center. Umami Burger was founded by CEO Adam Fleischman out on the west coast and it finally made its way to New York City (of course it found its way to New York, haven’t we all?) The establishment is currently located in three locations including Williamsburg (Brooklyn), Greenwich Village (Manhattan), and Brookfield Place (Manhattan).

Let’s talk for a second about how amazing Brookfield Place is, which is still also known as the World Financial Center. The entire space underwent a $250 million renovation in the past few years and it looks like it was worth every penny. When you walk through Brookfield Place, there’s eye-catching and unique architectural structures everywhere. It feels… grand! That’s the best way I can describe it. There’s now high-end stores as well as two food courts called Le District and Hudson Eats, which makes you feel you are at the epicenter of Big Apple life.

Getting back to Burger Day… one of Umami’s locations is in Brookfield Place at the Hudson Eats food court (located on the second floor.) The photo above is showing off Umami’s Truffle Burger. If you absolutely love the taste of truffle, this number has truffled aioli, house truffle cheese, and truffle glaze. All of their selections are delicious, but next time I think I am going to get their “Manly Burger,” which has house beer-cheddar cheese, bacon lardons, smoked-salt onion strings, Umami house ketchup, and mustard spread.

*Fun Fact: The definition of UMAMI is “a taste sensation that is meaty or savory and is produced by several amino acids and nucleotides” according to Merriam Webster.

Sushi Happy Hour

From: Iron Sushi in New York, NY
Do you want a great happy hour deal in Manhattan? Check out Iron Sushi that has locations in the Upper East Side as well as the East Village. From 4-8 PM they offer most sushi rolls, select food items, and wine for $3 each. I went with a party of seven for my friend’s birthday and once 8 o’clock hit, they let us continue ordering the same specials because we were seated before it ended. I will be back just because they do that for their customers, most places will cut you off once the deal ends.

My favorite item I had was the pork dumplings, and look at the portion you get for $3? Don’t worry about judging me for ordering two of them as appetizers, I judge myself. 🙂

They were lightly fried and had a great flavor.

Ferrara’s Pignoli Cookies

From: Ferrara’s Bakery and Cafe in New York, NY
Ferrara’s is a family-owned business since 1892 and just for that I think it is something special. If you are getting dinner in the Chinatown/Little Italy area of New York City, I would highly recommend stopping by Ferrara’s to pick up some pignoli cookies. As a side note, I am a big movie buff so if you have ever seen the classic Moonstruck (featuring Cher and Nicolas Cage), you will see Cher pull up in a parking lot and Ferrara’s is featured in the back. #FunFactOfTheDay

Whether you like movies, Cher, or Italian cuisine, I would definitely stick to pignoli cookies. Pignoli cookies are a delicacy if you enjoy light, almond-flavored treats. The outside is nice and crispy but my favorite part is the soft almond paste that you find on the inside.

Pizza Made Only of Chicken Parm

IMG_7263.JPGFrom: Quality Italian in New York, NY

This might be a bold statement but I think this is my favorite post yet. If I could give out awards, this one would have won for “Highest Yum Factor” of 2014. I am particularly biased because I love chicken parmigiana and pizza, so when those two get married they make the ultimate power couple. Our eyes want to believe it’s a typical pizza, but don’t let the round shape fool you – there’s an entire layer of chicken nestling beneath a mound of melted cheese, sauce, and crunchy breadcrumbs. Let’s start with Quality Italian in general before I get into the cheesy, scrumptious details.

QI is a two-story restaurant in mid-town Manhattan that serves Italian-American cuisine. The decor and atmosphere is intimate, rustic, and so New York. It’s a wonderful place to bring a date for a special occasion or have your food-obsessed family (ahem! like mine) enjoy a delicious meal during the holiday season. I just say holiday season because I am coming back to this same spot to get this same dish with them as soon as possible. I also plan to try out their sister restaurant Quality Meats.

This place lives up to its name as every food item is of the highest quality. We clearly ordered the “Chicken Parmigiana for Two” that we read about thoroughly (as all of us do) on Yelp. It seemed to be one of their signature dishes that not only appeared to taste good but was just such a dining spectacle that you had to experience it for yourself. It came to our table and the guests around us were asking why we were gushing about it and taking pictures… not with each other… but with our meal. When we explained that it was no ordinary pie, they asked, “well, how does it taste?” The only response we could utter was “AWESOME!” The chicken is juicy, tender, and about one-inch thick. It is surrounded by crunchy, crispy breadcrumbs and melted cheese. The sauce itself was NOT overpowering, which I love about a good chicken parm. I want it to be about the chicken and the natural flavors, and don’t need a heavy sauce to obstruct my enjoyment of the first two.

We also tried the side of creamed kale carbonara which was mouthwatering. Even the complimentary bread they give you in the beginning is unbelievable. It’s doughy and has a hint of garlic as it’s (again) not too overpowering. When they give you the olive oil I always sprinkle some salt and pepper in it and then dip that into my bread. With everything we ate, I didn’t feel guilty. I felt that I just genuinely got a wonderful meal made with fresh ingredients, and as we all know, that’s hard to come by these days.


Let’s Do Brunch

From: Nice Matin in New York, NY
Brunch is delightful. You get to fill up on a ginormous meal without feeling as guilty because you can spend the day walking it off. I also want to pretend I give breakfast and lunch an equal opportunity but I know I always show up for some cheese-filled eggs with a side of crunchy bacon.

This restaurant is in the Upper West Side of Manhattan and I’d highly recommend you checking it out for a lovely Saturday or Sunday brunch. What’s pictured above is their Croque Madame. It’s basically bread that has melted Gruyere cheese all over with a fried egg on top and Black Forest ham in the center. I paired it with a side of creamy polenta. The creamy polenta has a rich flavor of Parmesan cheese and lives up to its name.. It’s quite creamy. Everything from here was just so enjoyable.

Fun fact: Chef Andy D’Amico actually was inspired by his visit to Nice, France which is how they came up with the menu selections.

The Forager


From: Sotto 13 in Manhattan, NY
What is the “The Forager,” you ask? This is Sotto 13’s wood-fired pizza and is topped with wild mushrooms, ricotta cheese, chives, and truffle oil. I did some research and tried several pizza selections from this place, but this particular one has… THATYUMFACTOR!

BTW, this place is great for a group brunch. They have an all-you-can drink special (1.5 hours) for $29 per person. You can choose from mimosas, screwdrivers, bellinis, or bloody marys. For food, you can select one of their wood-fired pizzas or choose an assortment of small breakfast plates.