I absolutely love how full of super old school places the New Orleans high-end dining scene is. There are tons of these places that remain as popular, famous, and incredible as they were when they opened well over 100 years ago. But, of course, that's not all that New Orleans has to offer. There are plenty of young upstart chefs doing extremely innovative things, evolving the long-standing culinary traditions.
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!
Just because I moved away from NYC doesn't mean I still don't have a few more gems tucked away to tell you all about. One of my more frequented go-to date night spots from my New York days is a tiny Portuguese restaurant located on the western edge of SoHo serving homey, upscale, and unusual food in a cozy, window-lined space that faces out onto the quiet, infrequently trafficked streets. I think Pao! still remains off-the-radar for most people and prior to Union Bar & Kitchen opening, it really was the only viable date night option in the area.
Listen up. I have found my new favorite restaurant IN THE WORLD. This place served me, without a doubt, the best food I've ever eaten. Twice. Both visits were, in my humble opinion — flawless. Where and what is this incredible restaurant, you ask? It's The Cavalier at Hotel Zetta near Union Square in San Francisco and you absolutely must go.
I ate nothing but a salad on the day of this meal. A few days after our Bucket List Date Night at Beauty & Essex it was time for round two. This time, the destination was the much more dude-ly Peter Luger's Steakhouse. I know you're not gonna believe it, but somehow I had never gotten around to eating there before. In fact, I consider myself pretty inexperienced with steakhouses at all. I don't even order steak very often when I'm out. I don't really have a good reason for any of this except that going out for steak is prohibitively expensive so I don't splurge on it much.
If you're looking to watch the World Cup in San Francisco you've certainly got plenty of options. In my mind, the most obvious two would be at home if you want to watch alone or at a sports bar if you want to watch in public. But if you're looking for something a little different and also want a variety of unique food options and even more importantly want to be outdoors, read on! In the shadow of both a highway and a gigantic Costco, in a remote corner of town that could barely still be called SoMa, there's a really incredible place worth trekking to called SoMa StrEat Food. It's a large, triangular outdoor lot that draws plenty of young, hip yuppies for food, drink, and various forms of entertainment.
*Editor's Note 1/30/15: This bar used to have a food menu, but now serves only cocktails This is San Francisco's hot new opening. Near Union Square, at the Warwick Hotel, on the cusp of the truly sketchy Tenderloin neighborhood, famed and well-loved Top Chef contestant Casey Thompson has opened a gourmet restaurant named Aveline and an accompanying cocktail bar called The European. I happened to be staying in a hotel in the neighborhood and stopped by on the opening Friday night. When I arrived at around 9:15 PM it was still a relatively quiet and empty bar, but it wasn't long before it filled out with the who's who of the San Francisco dining scene. I was able to secure myself a seat at the truly sexy bar and ordered myself a cocktail while I looked over the bar menu.
I love new restaurant openings. There's always this energy in the air, an excitement, the mystery of what the gut gamble might uncover. That's why I was so excited to be invited to the soft launch of Union Bar & Kitchen in West SoHo.
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.
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.