I pride myself on living in a neighborhood with some of the best restaurants in the city, like the East Village, where I lived for three years, and now Nolita, which I’ve lived in since last August. I’m so obsessed with Nolita’s food that Emporio and Elizabeth have actually become two of my favorite restaurants in the whole city. But last week, I was strolling around Elizabeth Street, checking out the new Billy’s Bakery (!), only to learn that Elizabeth is now CLOSED.
My thinking is that they lost their lease, but who knows. What I do know is that I went to Elizabeth (formerly near Elizabeth and Houston) for dinner late last summer and had some of the best risotto of my life. (The dim lighting made for terrible pictures though.) And I had ventured there for brunch in January and was equally impressed. What’s more, I was so looking forward to heading there for a Saturday night mocktail soon. Relaxing brunch, romantic dinner, snazzy nightlife—man, Elizabeth kind of had it all.
I know it’s kind of all for naught, but I have to share the images from my (more well-lit) brunch from a couple of months ago. Elizabeth, I hardly knew ye.
On a recent bitter cold night, I decided to ditch my usual winter routine of couch + candle + TV/book/computer. Instead, I put my hair in a fancy top-knot bun, snapped on some rhinestone clip-on earrings and headed out to dinner at the vibrant and buzzing Boca Chica, which serves pan-Latin cuisine in the East Village. Even with its dim lighting, it made for a fun, festive and super cheap Thursday night dinner.
Feeling veg: Vegetarian burrito; super quesadilla (super!); garden salad with roasted corn and beet vinaigrette
Feeling non-veg: Chicharrones de pollo (Dominican seasoned and broiled chicken); grilled chicken breast sandwich with avocado and tomato and fried yuca; moqueca de peixe (shrimp and fish in coconut sauce); Argentina chopped steak sandwich with chimichurri mayo; piniones (spicy meat-filled plantain)
You can go one of two ways for brunch: pancakes, omelets and the works or, coffee and a pastry. True, the latter is more of a snack than brunch, but if you’re eating it on Sunday and it’ before 3 p.m., I think that qualifies as brunch. I wanted something light because I had sort of blindly eaten a slice of Lou Malnati’s deep dish the night before. (We had recieved the frozen delivery versions of LM’s at work, and I jumped at the chance to embrace some Chicago here.) That slice and half was a big mistake. Man, the amount of cheese on that thing! The excess could’ve made me lunch for a week. I was not feeling great, so clearly I needed some recovery food the next day. I went for these fairly simple oatmeal raisin muffins.
I know I’m mostly vegetarian and all, but for some reason, vegan meals and restaurants just don’t rub me the right way. In fact, they make me gag. I don’t like seitan. I don’t like cashew sauces. I don’t like sesame meatballs. It all tastes like tree bark to me. I know what you’re thinking: Seriously, what will satisfy this girl if she barely touches meat and doesn’t like vegan food? I have an answer for you, and that’s that I like clean vegetables, dairy and whole grains. So there, that’s what you can feed me.
I think this distaste for vegan cuisine has steered me away from making veggie burgers out of lentils or beans. Frankly, I’d rather have a Morning Star Tomato Basil and Mozzarella frozen veggie burgers (they’re packed with flavor). But somehow, my picky palette was asleep because I made these black bean cakes for brunch this past weekend. And you know what? They were GOOD.
I always feel like the working world is so ebb and flow. One week I’m home at night in time to try a new recipe, see friends, work out and watch any given iteration of Real Housewives. The next week, I’m eating Qdoba at work, cursing those six flights of stairs to my apartment, and I wake up bleary-eyed to do it all over again the next day.
These last few weeks have definitely been the latter. But earlier this week, I managed to come home pre-hunger pangs, on a mission to use the cheese I had stocked up on from Trader Joe’s last weekend. Enter: My tomato basil mozzarella sandwich served with a side of red pepper-tomato soup, also from TJ’s.
Simple and — to borrow the phrase from Sandra Lee — semi-homemade. I’ll tell you what I did:
I love when friends become family, and my bestie from college, Avni, is one of those people. I’ve been to her home, both her siblings’ weddings, and now, I got to go to her sister’s baby shower this past weekend in Brooklyn. Avni did the most faboosh job organizing a Moroccan brunch at Park Slope’s Babouche, where we had the back lounge to ourselves:
There was so much food, and we all ate so much that you would’ve thought all of us were pregnant. In fact, I basically felt like I was “with child” afterward. Definitely needed to walk that meal off. Sorry TMI.
Anyway, I’m sometimes turned off by Moroccan food — not sure if it’s the sometimes-bland vegetable options (if they have anything beyond falafel) or dill on everything (not a dill fan) — but I was bowled over by how well-seasoned everything was. Not only were the chicken skewers the best I’ve ever had (sadly not pictured), but the vegetable tagine actually had flavor, too! Imagine that. I just had to share my bubbling excitement for this place: