Goodbye NYC. Bucket List Part 1: Beauty & Essex

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If you didn’t see it coming and haven’t heard the big news yet, Amy and I are relocating from NYC to San Francisco. So, there’s gonna be lots more West Coast eating and writing is on the horizon. But before making the move, we’ve had enough time for us each to pick one last date night spot to cross off of our NYC to-do lists. Amy’s pick was the ever-trendy Lower East Side cool-kid hot spot Beauty & Essex and mine was the shall-we-say more meat-centric Peter Luger’s Steakhouse which you can read about here.

Beauty & Essex is about as trendy as restaurants get in NYC. It’s actually as much a nightclub as it is a restaurant. It’s the kind of place you get decked out to go to drink fancy cocktails and nibble on small plates next to models and the who’s who of the NYC nightlife scene. You shouldn’t be surprised if you find yourself seated near to a celebrity or two — if you can get in. If you’re coming just for evening drinks, there’s likely to be a line wrapped around the block. Amy knew this was where she wanted to go, so she booked a reservation well in advance, so we had no problem getting seated for dinner though getting inside the restaurant was a bit of an adventure in its own right.

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A True Cajun & Creole New Orleans Experience at NOLA in Palo Alto

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For Stanford students, there’s only a few bars that everyone goes to. One of the biggest nightlife hotspots is NOLA, an aggressively Mardi Gras themed bar and restaurant that’s gaudily decorated with scattered dangling beaded necklaces. It’s the kind of place that I’d normally write off at first glance, assuming they’d only be able to make stupidly sweet and strong alcoholic punches and serve shitty bar food, but that assumption would be wrong.

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This Is ‘Murica: Greasy Deep-Fried Bar Bites at St. John’s Bar in Sunnyvale

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Ahhh, the Fourth of July. A time when everyone’s amped up about being an American. But what’s more American than a greasy sports bar where you can get rowdy and drink beer and the entire menu either comes out of a deep-fryer or off a flat-top grill?

You might not expect to find a real salt-of-the-earth sports bar in the Silicon Valley town of Sunnyvale, but somehow a great one does exist. With plenty of outdoor dining and drinking space, many TVs for viewing sports games, and of course some serious greasy-ass deep-fried bar food monstrosities, this place represents American food right. ‘Murica.

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Drink Your Face Off with Bottomless Cocktails & Latin Brunch at Yerba Buena in Greenwich Village

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New Yorkers fucking love brunch. Not only do New Yorkers love brunch, but they love to drink cocktails aggressively while they’re at it. It’s a quintessential part of NY culture, to go out partying ’til 4 AM, wake up disturbingly hungover the next morning afternoon and rely on the old hair of the dog trick to get through the torturous pain that comes with a brutal hangover. And that’s why All You Can Drink brunch was born, to solve this distinctly New York-y problem, but not all AYCD brunch spots are alike.

Some brunches are super expensive, others have mediocre-to-poor food, others have crappy generic cocktails, and others are just too damn crowded to tolerate. When I’m in the mood for an awesomely excessive AYCD brunch, my go-to is Yerba Buena on Perry Street in Greenwich Village.

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For the Best Sushi in Silicon Valley, get Omakase at Sushi Tomi

There are tons of sushi joints in Silicon Valley, especially in Mountain View. A lot of these places are pretty mediocre, but one stands above the rest with its vastly superior fish quality. This place is Sushi Tomi.

As you’d probably suspect with a place of this caliber, the word is out. So any night you try to stop by, you will inevitably need to contend with a line out the door. It’s worth it. You may have noticed that I normally don’t ever wait in lines for food, but this evening we waited a very reasonable twenty minutes for a table for three and were treated to some amazing high quality fish for our patience.

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Flavorful Filipino Fast Food at Lumpia Shack Snackbar in the West Village
Filipino Fast Food at Lumpia Shack Snackbar in the West Village

Flavorful Filipino Fast Food at Lumpia Shack Snackbar in the West Village

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I’ve been pumped for the West Village arrival of Lumpia Shack from the moment I heard about the impending expansion. I’ve loved Filipino food for quite some time as you may have seen previously on Winston Wanders, but my passion has grown substantially while dating my quarter-Filipina girlfriend and eating with her Filipino family. More Filipino food in my life is definitely a good thing.

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Solid Bowls of Ramen & Other Japanese Pub Food near Port Authority at Tabata Ramen

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Hell’s Kitchen, well not really. That chunk of New York City on 9th Ave. between 34th and 42nd tucked away behind Penn Station and Port Authority. It remains one of the seediest corners of the city even after the much publicized Giuliani and Bloomberg crackdowns on the lesser loved aspects of NYC. It’s not often that I find myself in that god-forsaken corner of town, but since I was there, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to check out the ramen and other Japanese pub food at the nearby Tabata Ramen outpost.

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Classic Indian & Pakistani Curry at Shezan in Mountain View
Classic Indian & Pakistani Curry at Shezan in Mountain View, CA

Classic Indian & Pakistani Curry at Shezan in Mountain View

Sometimes I get a craving. A craving that can only be quenched by curry. On this particular evening, after finishing up work in Sunnyvale, I knew it had to be an Indian night. I searched the nearby radius and came across a highly rated Indian and Pakistani restaurant on the main drag in Mountain View called Shezan. Sold.

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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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Excellent Fried Chicken and Ramen at Maru Ichi in Mountain View
Excellent Fried Chicken and Ramen at Maru Ichi in Mountain View, CA

Excellent Fried Chicken and Ramen at Maru Ichi in Mountain View

By this point I think I’ve proven that I’m passionate about ramen. My time in NYC has given me plenty of opportunities to learn what I love and what makes a great bowl. So now that I’m spending most of my time in Silicon Valley, there’s no reason not to hunt for that perfect bowl out here as well.

Since I’m working in Sunnyvale and Mountain View is a short eight minute drive from the office, that always seems like an obvious and easy choice for a post-work meal. Feeling a bit ill and in need of a great bowl of curative soup, I decided to find a good ramen joint in town. After a bit of research, I decided on a shop called Maru Ichi which sounded like it would serve exactly what I needed.

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