Not terribly recently, meaning quite a few years ago, it was already starting to become known among native Miamians that locals don’t really go to South Beach anymore. Sobe had started to become a big, bland, overly commercialized tourist trap, and it was starting to attract the type of tourists who like that. Of course, over the past few years we’ve seen businesses stop the downwards spiral dead in its tracks with sophisticated hotels, restaurants, and bars that seem to cater to savvy tourists and locals, alike. It can now be said that while South Beach still has a lot of style, it no longer seems to tower over substance as it seemed to have done in the past. The best part is that a lot of venues have finally come to terms with the economic situation we’re in and now seem to cater to a wider range of patrons, which means more places are more accessible to more of us, and yet they still maintain that glamour for which we continue to go to South Beach. If there is one place in South Beach that can be held as an example of this refreshingly accessible SoBe, it’s WD 555, an expansive wine bar and shop that is worlds away from the stereotypes of the beach and affordable enough to make it a weekly habit.
You’ll sweat bullets, you’ll be red in the face, your eyes will water, and your mouth will burn but chances are you asked for it. This weekend, April 20-21st, join the ‘hottest show on earth’ at Brooklyn’s East River State Park for the First Annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo. The hot sauce industry had its own ‘small jolt of capsaicin’ with the rise of adventurous eaters in the United States. The increase of people searching new, exotic, and often spicy flavors helped trigger an increase in hot sauce production making the hot sauce industry the tenth fasting-growing industry in the country. Just think about how many restaurants now carry Sriracha right next to the ketchup where only a few years ago the red super spicy Thai sauce craved by many was found only in Asian grocers and restaurants.
Let's preface this review by saying that this is some of the best damn pasta we've ever eaten. Seriously. Located in SoHo, Galli opened up in late 2012 and continues serving up delicious Italian comfort food. Envisioned by Steve Gallo, Karen Gallo, and Michael Forrest, this hip downtown restaurant exudes sophistication with an edge. Upon entering, you will find cozy cafe-style seating and a marble bar that's just the right size. Head back into the main dining room, where you will find booth seating and communal tables underneath a fun glass roof, perfect for both intimate occasions and larger parties. But enough about the scenery—what you'll really be feasting your eyes on is the food, and it sure does look just as delicious as it tastes.
DC's Chinatown has a new resident, and with the quality food they are serving, they look to be here for a long time. Daisuke Utagwa’s Daikaya has been wowing its patrons since they opened their doors in February and already word is spreading that Daikaya has the best ramen in the city. Not to be confused with the kind of meal you may find steaming throughout college dorm rooms, this Sapporo-style ramen has a rich and versatile depth. Whereas other ramen can be salty and overpowering.
Chef Daisuke emphasizes balance in his bowls and leaves space for different flavors with which you’ll happily immerse your tongue. A key difference you’ll notice between Sapporo ramen and Hakata-style ramen is the stir frying of the bean sprouts, ground pork, nori, and scallions. This adds a char reminiscent to the flavors you’d find at a barbecue pit. One thing you can be sure of about this ramen is that no ingredient or technique is wasted, from the construction of its broth using pork bone marrow to the imported noodles swirling around the bowl; this is a complete and amusing eating experience.
The third of Zeb Stewart aka Mr. Williamsburg’s impressive drinking and feeding hole portfolio, (think Union Pool and Hotel Delmano), Cafe Colette is the perfect mix of a polished yet informal aesthetic. The bistro, which adopts a mix of French inspired American cuisine, combines painted floors with cement tables and brightly colored walls adorned with quirky black and white photographs, to create a space that feels equally appropriate for lunch, brunch, dinner or drinks.
Lexington Brass: This EMM Group restaurant recently introduced an epic boozy brunch available every weekend. The restaurant offers a DIY champagne kit for groups of two ($50) or four ($85), which also includes a six-course tasting of comfort creations, such as jelly donuts, waffles, and truffle fries. Does it get any better than that?
Pennsylvania 6: This recently opened restaurant just introduced brunch to its weekend menu. Make sure to stop by mixologist Craig Hutson's Bloody Mary Bar, where you can play bartender and craft your own boozy concoction—start with the vodka of your choice and choose from an array of mixes, hot sauces, stuffed olive, jalapenos, and more. Basically all you could ever want in your Bloody Mary is yours for the taking.
Caffeine overload! Joonbug’s still got the caffeine jitters from attending the 8th Annual Coffee & Tea Festival NYC. We practically traveled the world of cocoa farms and tea plantations. The event was held at the 69th Regiment armory and was jam packed with 60 exhibitors from everywhere, Puerto Rico, India, China, and Africa to name a few. Some non-coffee and tea companies also made an appearance.
Here are the top three unique coffee and tea products Joonbug came across:
- ULIV Java, which makes coffee infused with herbs and teas. The company started when Mary realized that even though she didn’t like green tea, it didn’t mean she couldn’t get the health benefits. She approached her nutritionist friend, Kathleen, and together they created ULIV brand for people who don’t like herbal teas but still want to get its health benefits. ULIVE Lean is one of the products that is blended with herbs known for helping weight loss, increasing metabolism, and burning fat. Check it out, We bought a bag and have been drinking it every morning!
- Stella Artois, infused their beer with tea… ummmm amazing, the tea flavor was subtle but we enjoyed it nonetheless. You probably have to have an affinity for tea to enjoy this product. Since iced teas are such a great drink for a hot day, combine that with beer, and you have a bangin’ summer beverage to drink on a rooftop, balcony, or during those Hampton’s weekend trips with your friends.
- Press Tea, always makes their tea fresh and is pressed like coffee. They were sampling products that will be sold at their store opening this May in the West Village. You can check out a video of how they make the tea on their Facebook. They also make their own cream that is sometimes used to top off your drink. I say always get the cream on top!
When most people think about Haiti they unfortunately think of the devastating earthquake that rocked the island nation and the political and social unrest that seems to have plagued the island throughout its history. Many don’t know that at one time, Haiti was at the forefront of coffee production, before the title was taken by Brazilian coffee producers. Haitain coffee, revered around the globe as some of the best coffee in the world, is currently not represented by any of the consumer brands that coffee drinkers would find at their local market or coffee shop—until now.
Little Italy was thought by some New Yorkers to be a thing of the past as the neighborhood quickly began to shrink. Today, the neighborhood is on the rebound with a reinvigorating Italian restaurant scene that is back serving al dente spaghetti pasta and Italian dishes that made the neighborhood famous. Besides, authentic dishes Little Italy has been known for its delicious pizzas and a new pizzeria, 180, has just debuted to reclaim the neighborhood as the hotbed of Italian fare it once was.
Opening today, 180 is located on the second floor of a tenement building on the corner of Hester and Mulberry Streets at, you guessed it, 180 Hester Street. This wood-burning pizza speakeasy of sorts is hidden but for good reason, the eatery gives diners an authentic taste as well as a little family history as they enjoy their freshly handmade pies. Owned by Louis and Anthony Fontana, Little Italy natives who grew up working in their family’s restaurant Giovanna’s (downstairs from 180), their new joint venture is located in a space that pays tribute to their grandmother who still calls 180 Hester Street home. With only seating for 36, the dining room displays knick-knacks and even a chandelier from their grandmother’s upstairs apartment.
Infuse Your Own Soju: Mono + Mono is launching an amazing 'Infuse Your Own Soju' program that will take place every Monday evening during the month of May. Soju expert and owner, MJ Chung, will guide diners through using fresh fruits and herbs to imbue Korea's national spirit with amazing flavors. All you have to do is make a reservation!
Wine Tasting Dinner: Ooh la la! Crown Group Hospitality will be hosting their first ever wine tasting dinner in a series focused on highly sought-after producers and vintages from various regions. The first dinner will launch April 15th at the Lion, followed by a vintage tasting at Crown on April 22nd. All of the tastings include a five-course pairing menu led by Chef Proprietor John DeLucie.