Upscale, Meaty, Cajun BBQ Paradise at Cochon Restaurant in NOLA
Upscale, Meaty, Cajun BBQ Paradise at Cochon Restaurant in New Orleans

Upscale, Meaty, Cajun BBQ Paradise at Cochon Restaurant in NOLA

Last December, on a two-day trip to New Orleans, I had one of the most incredible meals of my life at Cochon Restaurant. We indulged in a variety of amazing specialties like Fried Alligator, Fried Boudin, Rabbit & Dumplings, Sweet Potato & Hog Jowl Casserole, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie. After spending two days in rural Opelousas, Amy and I drove to New Orleans for a 24-hour stopover and made sure to have a reservation to return to Cochon for another insane meal.

Located in the Warehouse District of New Orleans, only about a 15 minute walk south of the chaos of the French Quarter, Cochon, helmed by executive chef Donald Link, serves up mighty fine, upscale takes on hearty, Southern and Cajun cuisine. Whether you’re in town for Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, or for no particular reason at all, I urge you to make Cochon one of your dining destinations.

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A New American Date Night Spot in NoHo at Bleecker Kitchen & Co.
A New American Date Night Spot in NoHo at Bleecker Kitchen & Co.

A New American Date Night Spot in NoHo at Bleecker Kitchen & Co.

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It’s not always so easy finding a good date night spot in NYC. Often times at the popular places it’s tough to get a table without a long wait, or the menu is super-pricey, or the restaurant focuses more on ambiance than the food itself. I’ve certainly found some great (and unusual) places along the way, but sometimes you want a place that has the ambiance, good drinks, and upscale but accessibly comfortable food. That where’s the newly opened Bleecker Kitchen & Co. comes in. In my opinion, it is a great addition to the NoHo dining landscape which could always use a reasonably priced, quality date night spot.

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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

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Fort 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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Ethnic Brunch with Asian Influenced Barbecue & Cocktails at Fatty ‘Cue
Ethnic Brunch with Asian Influenced Barbecue & Cocktails at Fatty ‘Cue

Ethnic Brunch with Asian Influenced Barbecue & Cocktails at Fatty ‘Cue

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*Editor’s Note: I’m sad to report that this restaurant is not longer open.

On this hungover Sunday morning, we were deciding where to meet up with my parents for brunch. I’m pretty particular about brunch since I don’t like waiting in lines and don’t want ordinary breakfast food I could make myself at home for a quarter of the price. After some quick thinking, Amy and I remembered the excellent dinner we previously had at Fatty ‘Cue and figured their Asian inflected menu would probably serve as a excellent and interesting brunch spot.

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How I Almost Missed Out On an Awesome Burger at Burger & Barrel
How I Almost Missed Out On an Awesome Burger at Burger & Barrel

How I Almost Missed Out On an Awesome Burger at Burger & Barrel

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Let me tell you a story about how one awful waitress nearly ruined a great restaurant for me. On a random, spur of the moment Saturday evening, Amy and I decided we wanted to go out for date night dinner and drinks.

We had each heard nice things about Burger & Barrel and were particularly excited to try Josh Capon’s food because we frequently watch him on TV fixing awful kitchens on Bar Rescue. I also had heard that a few months back at this year’s NYCWFF Burger Bash, Josh’s burger was voted the best in the city. For all of these reasons, Amy and I were excited to experience Burger & Barrel for ourselves.

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Finding the Best Conch in Turks & Caicos

This vacation couldn’t have come at a better time. As the entire country fell into a below-zero deep freeze, I was headed for some sun and heat in Turks & Caicos with my girlfriend Amy and her family.

Day 1:

We were staying at the beautiful Grace Bay Club, right on the incredible beach in Providenciales, Turk & Caicos. Upon arrival, we immediately hit the gym to preempt the impending bodily destruction. I had two missions on this trip. 1) To return with the tan of a golden god. 2) To eat as much conch – the local shellfish specialty – in as many ways as humanly possible.

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City Limits: A Local Watering Hole with Excellent Deep Fried Dishes in Sherman, Texas

An hour north of Dallas, on the Texas-Oklahoma border along the Red River you’ll find a small town called Denison. It’s a small blue collar town where my girlfriend, Amy, grew up.

Over the past two years, I’ve spent quite a bit of time there and every visit always includes trip to neighboring Sherman for a requisite stop at City Limits for dinner and drinks. It’s the kind of place where clouds of cigarette smoke billow indoors and beards, rhinestone belts, and camouflaged clothes are the norm.

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Mike Winston’s Best Bites of 2013

Given the number of insanely delicious things I’ve eaten over the past year, selecting the best of the bunch is a very difficult task. Over on Foodspotting I’ve released a long version that’s over 200 items long which includes every single dish jaw-dropping dish from the last year. Here, instead, I’ve chosen the very best in select categories. In no particular order, let’s begin!
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Bohemian: Secret Door, Secret Phone Number, Japanese Speakeasy
A Japanese Speakeasy Date Night Restaurant at Bohemian

Bohemian: Secret Door, Secret Phone Number, Japanese Speakeasy

I’m gonna let you in on one of New York’s best-hidden secrets. Located in the NoHo area, there’s an unmarked, members-only restaurant that doesn’t even list its phone number publicly. Even if you can manage to get your hands on Bohemian‘s phone number you’ll still need a referral to land a reservation. Seriously, when I called, the first question I was confronted with was “How did you get this number?” However, once you’ve breached their defenses and joined the ranks of their inner circle, you’ll be treated to one of the most interesting, sexy, refined meals you can find in NYC.

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