Cooking with Smoke and Direct Fire at Primitivo in the Garden District

What:

Primitivo @EatPrimitivo At this NOLA newcomer, our waitress explained that there isn't really a theme or nationality that guides the menu Primitivo, just a philosophy. That philosophy is to use local, seasonal ingredients and prepare them in some manner that involves their gigantic open-flame hearth. Smoke is the key to nearly every dish they serve here.

Where:

Off-the-beaten path between the Garden District and Center City 1800 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. New Orleans, LA 70113 [wpgmza id="289"]

When:

Perfect for dude's night out in NOLA.The decor has a masculine German beer-hall vibe with gothic calligraphy typography and distressed wood defining a majority of the aesthetic. Between the huge, hearty portions and very reasonably priced cocktails, this place was made for the bachelor party "nice-meal". While I do really like the place, I wouldn't necessarily tell NOLA first-timers to go on their first trip — there's plenty of other places in the city I think are more essential to go to first (see: Cochon, Commander's Palace, Red's Chinese, Compère Lapin, or Sylvain for example).

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This Cozy, Neighborhood Cocktail Bar is Perfect at Any Time of Day

What:

Two Sister's Bar and Books @2sistersbar The best cocktail spot in Hayes Valley also just so happens to serve up incredibly delicious bar bites.

Where:

Hayes Valley 579 Hayes St. San Francisco, CA 94102 [wpgmza id="259"]

When:

Perfect for whenever you need a quiet bar and a great cocktail. It's an ideal date night spot, works really well for brunch as well, and is excellent for solo dining/drinking too.Their happy hour is also an excellent deal. Don't miss out on that extra special value Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6 pm and Saturday or Sunday from 1 to 4 pm where you can snag $3 draft beers, $5 house wines, a $5 happy hour cocktails, or a $5 happy hour snack.

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Impressive Cocktails and Fine Dining Small Plates with Filipino Flair

What:

1760 @1760SF A well-regarded, two-year-old, high-end restaurant that focuses on globally inspired tapas style small plates.

Who:

New Chef, Carl Foronda, has overhauled the restaurant's entire menu with dishes that include influences from his Filipino heritage.

Where:

Lower Nob Hill On Polk Street 1760 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109 [wpgmza id="285"]

When:

Perfect for a date night or dinner with your parents.

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A Hot, New, Sexy, Southern Date Spot in the French Quarter

Let's face it. If you're in New Orleans, you're gonna end up in the French Quarter. Where you're there to take in the history or to check out the Bourbon Street madness – to drink a hurricane at Pat O'Briens or any of the other drunk-magnet bars – you're bound to end up there.Since you're definitely going to be there, you're gonna need to know of a few great places to eat. Despite it being a very touristy area, there are still many actually great places to eat. There are famed oyster halls like Acme, cheap eats classics like Central Grocery and Cafe Du Monde, and the many famous, super old-school, French dining parlors. But, you can still definitely choose wrong and end up with a really bad meal. If you want something new, exciting, and different, I've got just the place. This restaurant, Sylvain, is a hot addition to the French Quarter dining scene that's perfect for a civilized, sexy, date night full of great Southern food and cocktails.

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Mike Winston’s Top 10 Best Cocktails of 2014

You guys know I eat a ton of food. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I'm also quite passionate about my cocktails. Some would even go so far as to call me a lush.Well, this year provided no shortage of impressive and outstanding cocktails (and obviously food as I've already recapped). And since the end of the year is rolling around, it only seems fair to look back and remember the best of the best cocktails as well. I've even inclcuded a list of ingredients for each drink recipe so you can try to whip them up for yourself at home... if you're particularly talented.Warning: there are some really obscure ingredients in a lot of these, a lot of them are rather complicated to concoct. Also, I don't have any of the proportions for the different parts... so good luck!

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There’s So Much More Than Just Pizza at Pizzeria Delfina in Palo Alto

As an ex-New Yorker now living on the West Coast, I've been trained to go to Italian eateries with low expectations, particularly if they claim to specialize in pizza. I know I've been spoiled by the ease of access to the very best pizza slices in the country, but I've already learned that you can in fact find great pizza in the Bay Area in square slice and Brooklyn-style neapolitan form. Still, I didn't expect much from Palo Alto's Pizzeria Delfina despite its very positive reputation.

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Strong Cocktails and Amazing Bar Snacks at YOLO in Fort Lauderdale
Strong Cocktails and Amazing Bar Snacks at YOLO in Fort Lauderdale

Strong Cocktails and Amazing Bar Snacks at YOLO in Fort Lauderdale

DSC_3235_editFort Lauderdale is a funny place. On one hand it's the place where everyone's Jewish Grandma goes when the Tristate weather is too cold and on the other hand it's a beachy, party-your-face-off Spring Break destination with a clubby nightlife scene. And yet somehow it works as both simultaneously.This visit happened to coincide with most college Spring Breaks, but that wasn't the reason I was in town. I was actually coming for a relaxing weekend, to lounge on the beach with my girlfriend and family and have a quick visit with Grandma. But, as you already know, no matter where I am, I'm going to seek out great food and this trip was no exception. So on Saturday night we headed to the downtown Las Olas strip to a loungey bar restaurant that was seriously called, wait for it, YOLO.

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An Exciting, Sexy, and Modern Italian & American Date Night at Perla

*Editor's Note 6/4/15: Perla has completely overhauled their menu, decor, and have lowered the price point substantially since postingDrop everything, I've got a new favorite restaurant in NYC. On the day we visited, Amy and I were in a celebrating mood. She had just started a new job and I've was just about to begin a new job of my own. On this occasion we were looking to treat ourselves right, to splurge on something extra special.After seeing numerous end-of-2013 lists that included the nearby and recently opened Perla, I knew I wanted to try it out and figured this would be the perfect opportunity to do it. We made a reservation only a few days in advance and were able to snag seats at the chef's counter for a Sunday evening at 6:30. It was a bit earlier than we usually dine, but what the hell, it was a Sunday night anyway.

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