Archives for January 2013

How to Make Saturday Breakfast Sandwiches

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Especially on weekends, when your day should not start until 12 noon at the earliest and should include reality tv, a disco nap, and a chance to go out and embarrass yourself in an inebriated state later that night.

TMI?

Anyway, while on a weekday, instant oatmeal might cut the mustard, that ain’t the way it should be on the weekend, when you actually have time to drink some heavily creamed and sugared coffee, putter around the kitchen, and put together a kick ass breakfast sandwich. Just take a few things into mind.  1. Cheese

Nothing too stinky, nothing too salty. The point of this breakfast isn’t to shock your tastebuds into alertness, it’s to gently wake them up and cradle them as they come into a day that will surely include some beers and baskets of fries. Something with a good meltability is mostly what you want. Some medium sharp cheddar, mozzarella, or even -ssshh- American cheese – works really well here.

2. Pork

Yeah, I said pork. Sorry to my kosher and halal friends. I apologize to the vegans out there. And little piggies…well, you are very cute but also very delicious. I’m never giving you up. Now, I’m flexible as to the type of pork – crisp bacon, soft sausage, scrapple, even thin sliced pork loin. What you want is the natural salty sweetness of pork – it just works really well with the rest of the sandwich.

3. Eggs

Don’t even think about using egg whites here. Just shut up. Scrambled or fried work well. If you fry them, be sure to do it on a medium high heat and finish them by steaming them with a little water under a lid, so the yolks raise up high and get pleasantly gooey whilst the whites are firm. And if you scramble them, be sure to season them well – eggs love pepper.

4. Bread.

Get out of there with your whole wheat, low gluten, fiber-riffic loaves. Don’t throw me a tortilla (not without some refeid beans and salsa, at least). Use a tangy toasted sourdough, a fluffy and airy biscuit, or some rich challah bread. Break out all the stops – you really want a full on, indulgent experience here.

5. Layer(starting with the cheese, so the warmth of the other ingredients melts it)…

it…

 

on.

6. Top with Sriracha, ketchup, or even maple syrup. Whatever floats your boat – this sandwich needs a little something saucy to really get it going.

7. Eat. At least three of them.

Is it Saturday morning yet?

 

Everything is Craveable at Crave Fishbar

Remember that time that a crane fell and totaled an awesome chef’s  ceviche-centric restaurant restaurant?

Well, Crave Fishbar flips the bird to that crane, proving that a reincarnation can be an improvement over the original.

BARELY avoiding making potentially offensive religious joke here.

 Crave Fishbar is on a busy restaurant crowded street in Midtown East. From the outside, it looks like a casual, nondescript restaurant.

From the inside, it is a dark, sleek space with a long bar, several high tables, and a few seats near the window. It’s narrow but well laid out, and is ideal for a first date – cozy but not cramped, romantic but not stuffy.

Bread and butter

Normally, the bread doesn’t really require a comment. This bread isn’t even anything out of the ordinary – no mysterious infusions or meat-laden butter, or anything like that. Just some soft, tangy bread with creamy whipped butter, ready to be spread. Just, in other words, what you rarely get. The bread is often too crusty or the butter is too hard, or there is only one roll when you really want two. This is a nice serving of bread with some sweet butter, and it is all that you really want when sitting down to eat on a chilly night.

Plancha grilled octopus with c Chinese broccoli and a cumin mustard vinaigrette

Up there with Periyali for the best octopus in the city. So tender that it literally cuts with a butter knife, with a very meaty, mild taste that is almost reminiscent of bone marrow. It is just so mild and rich. The broccoli is like a cross between broccoli stems and spinach, with a strong vegetal taste that perfectly counteracts the rich octopus. The vinaigrette is earthy and tangy, with the pop of mustard seeds adding yet another textural difference to the dish. The attention to that detail really elevates the plate.

Crispy pork belly with pistachio onion relish and roasted squash puree

I don’t care that this is called the fishbar. For all I care, it could be called the porkbar. This is a standout, must order dish. Juicy pork belly, almost sweet underneath its crispy, salty sheath of skin. The squash puree is incredibly warming, with notes of aromatics like cumin and coriander. The best part may be the relish – tangy, bright, and crunchy with pistachios. The pork belly is a very ample piece, and though it might be a bit much for one person, it is ideal to split.

Cauliflower with spicy prosciutto, breadcrumbs. and grana padano

Why don’t I make cauliflower this way? Boiled until it is just tender at the core, then sautéed with prosciutto, chiles, and crispy breadcrumbs. Served with torn basil and nutty grana padano, this dish is craveable in every sense of the word. It is somewhat salty, but that’s what makes it so great – it is the pasta of the vegetable world. Creamy, meaty, salty, just greasy enough…this really couldn’t’ be improved upon.

Crave Fishbar is a total gem. It isn’t cheap,but you know what? You get what you pay for. You could order a bunch of small plates, like my date and I did, or you could go the traditional route with an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. If this place were in Chelsea, it would be the talk of the town and packed every night. Because it’s in Midtown East, it’s still a little under the radar, and as such, you should run there before the secret is out.

How to Make a Pizza

And now to continue pizza making…how did I do it?

By following Pizza a Casa’s recipe:

3 1/2  cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups warm water, heated to about 120 F

(or beer…this is where the Sam Adams came into use. It produced a wheaty, sweet crust that enhanced the savory pizza toppings. It is also conveniently portioned – use one bottle, heat it gently on the stove, and there you have it!)

1 packet active dry yeast

1 T. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for coating Tupperware

1 T. sea salt (not iodized and fine crystal)

1. Mix all the dry ingredients except the yeast in a large bowl.

2. Add the yeast and olive oil, and stir to combine.

3. Now make a mound of the ingredients in the middle of the bowl, add the beer or water to make a moat around the outside, and…

stir …

until the dough forms a mass like this. Mix it with a spoon at first, then with your hands till it just comes together.

4. Then knead it with your hands about 12 times, or until it feels kind of dense when formed into a smooth ball and poked. I think it feels like a lump of Play Doh!

5. Coat a Tupperware with oil.

 

6. Drop the ball in…

and let it rise for about 4 hours, or until there are large air holes in the dough. The dough should double in volume.

7. An hour before you are ready to bake the dough, preheat your oven as high as it will go. If you have a pizza stone, preheat it in there. If not, a cookie sheet will work alright, too. When you are ready, shape the dough into a circle by any means necessary- tossing, pulling, stretching…if you make a hole or 2, just patch it up. Actually, make it into two circles. This dough makes 2 pizza  don’t try to make it into tone or the dough will be too dense. After you form the rounds, top them., transfer them via cornmeal coated pizza peel to the stone (if using a peel)…

and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the crust is stiff and charred in some spots and the cheese is melted. 

8. Serve.

The pizza is absolutely great and FOOLPROOF! Sure, the one I made at homew as a little misshapen, but it was no less delicious. The beer crust is tender but sturdy with large air holes and a floury, pleasantly malt-y aftertaste. I topped mine with spicy tomato sauce (mixed with Sriracha), mozzarella cheese, onions, mushrooms, and pepperoni. When it came out of the oven, I topped it with some olive oil and fresh basil, so the basil gently melted into the cheese and the olive oil pooled inside the garlicky pepperoni rounds. This is pizza that I will make again and again.

 Because it’s so good that it’s not like there are ever any leftovers.

Disclaimer: I attended this class free of charge. I was not required to write about my experience and my opinions are my own and unbiased. 

Asian Avocado and Smoked Salmon Sandwiches and iPad2 Giveaway!

I’ll admit it – I love traditional Superbowl party food.

I love chili as much as the next gal. I can eat a hoagie with the best of them, and I have been known to down enough wings to require a gallon of blue cheese dressing and a bottle of Pepto Bismol.

But sometimes, just occasionally, I dream of a Superbowl where I don’t have to unbutton the top of my jeans, or where I’m not totally covered in BBQ sauce by the first commercial break. That’s pretty much where the inspiration for these tea sandwiches came from. I needed to know that there would be something in this year’s Superbowl fare that would be a little break from the fried mozzarella sticks but that would still be hearty and tasty enough to tempt all the people at the party who believe that anything that doesn’t include red meat is blasphemous.

If you can get your hands on some hot smoked salmon, be sure to use some here. It is tender but with good heft and a truly smoky taste that compliments the buttery avocado. If not, don’t worry – regular smoked salmon or lox works great, too. And don’t skimp on the ponzu – this citrusy, salty, sauce totally elevates the dish and drives home the Asian flavors.

Asian Avocado and Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches

 Ingredients:

1 loaf sourdough bread, sliced and crusts cut off
2 avocados from Mexico, halved, pitted, and diced
1.5. ponzu sauce
1/3 cup cilantro, cleaned and chopped
1 tsp. sambal olek or Asian chile sauce
1 lb. hot or cold smoked salmon, thinly sliced
1 lb. cream cheese, room temperature
3 scallions, diced

1. Combine the cream cheese, scallions, and cilantro. Set aside.

2. Combine the avocados, ponzu, and sambal olek. Taste for flavors – you may need more ponzu for salt or sambal olek for heat. Remember, though, the smoked salmon is salty, so you won’t want to overdo it here.

3. Spread the cream cheese on one slice of bread.

4. Layer the salmon on top…

5. Followed by the avocado.

6. Top with the other slice of bread, cut sandwich in half, and serve.

This sandwich is so good it may just make you forget that the team you hate just made a touchdown. Sourdough bread adds a tang that echoes the tart ponzu sauce. The herbed cream cheese provides a smooth, rich counterpart to the meaty smoked salmon and the fiery sambal olek. And the avocados are really the crowning touch to this sandwich. They are so buttery, so luxurious, so undeniably craveable that they will have you licking your fingers and tucking into another sandwich in no time.

Of course, I happen to be working with Avocados from Mexico , which is where this sponsored post originated. And, lucky for you…they are hosting an incredible giveaway!

If you enter the Game Day Package Sweepstakes, you are eligible to win one of six prize packages, each including…

16 GB iPad2 and a $100 gift card compliments of AFM
5-speed hand blender from KitchenAid
Cloth tortilla warmer, lemon/lime squeezer, and tortilla press from IMUSA
Signed Muy Bueno Cookbook

Just enter to win via Fritos and Foie Gras on the Avocados from Mexico website, using this link! It is valid until 11:59 PM, Sunday, February 3.

For another opportunity to win, check out Muy Bueno Cookbook and enter via her link. Only entries made on the Avocados From Mexico site via the listed link are eligible for this totally awesome giveaway, so be sure to enter through there!

The winner of my Sweepstakes package will be announced by 9 AM the morning after Superbowl Sunday. Unlike most giveaways on this blog, you can’t comment here as an entry, you must use the provided link. Also, only residents of the US are eligible to enter.

It’s avocados…it’s a giveaway…it’s a way to avoid total gastric reflux this Superbowl Sunday. If this doesn’t sound swell, I just don’t know what does.

Except of course, eating another one of these insanely tasty sandwiches.

Disclaimer: This sponsored post is part of the Avocados from Mexico – Game Day Sweepstakes. This is a working partnership with Avocados from Mexico and Muy Bueno Cookbook.

Pizza a Casa is Pizza School for Dummies Like Me!

This post is going to be a 2 parter…

The first part is about a place you need to go to learn about how to make pizza.

Pizza a  Casa is a G-dsend for people like me who just can’t, despite public claims they make on their blogs, seem to be able to pull it together to make a good yeast bread.

Or, in this case, pizza crust.

Mark Bello has created a pizza school for the yeast challenged  They partnered with Sam Adams to teach us how to make pizza dough with beer, but more on the recipe later.

The pizza school itself  on the Lower East Side  is very small with a long counter in the middle where you sit, drink a beer, and learn how to make pizza.

Bello measures out all of the ingredients for you, so all you have to do is concentrate on the technique.

He is patient, funny, and totally hands on. He walks around to each of the 20 or so students in the class, making sure that each one understands how the dough should look smooth, how it should feel rather dense by the time that you are done needing, and making sure that everyone who wants to has a glass of wine or beer.

He explains why it’s important to use finely granulated salt (so it melts better) and how to slide your pizza off your peel onto the stone (the secret is semolina flour). He lets you know that your home oven can produce a wonderful pizza and that your supermarket carries every ingredient you need – no need to invest in olive oil so expensive that it makes you take out a second mortgage on your home.

Best of all…he teaches you how to make some totally delicious pizzas.

Like one topped with ricotta, parley, and crab (he uses canned crab meat and it tastes incredible).  Very light and non fishy). The ricotta puffs up and creates this lightly salty, very creamy topping on a wonderfully tender pizza crust.

Then there is one topped with spicy red pepper and mozzarella paste – kind of like an Italian pimento cheese. The secret here is some Sriracha in the pesto. Topping it with pepperoni brings out the even saltier, spicier tones, and makes those high notes sing.

Or one topped with raw bell pepper, red onion, and basil on a mozzarella and tomato sauce pie. Simple, vegetal, and totally delightful.

Though I took the class for free, I would pay for it again . In fact, I am thinking about taking it again soon. After all, the pizza I made at home did turn out pretty darned well thanks to this class…

To Be Continued…

*Disclaimer – I did not pay for this class. I was not required to write about my experience and my opinions are my own and unbiased.*

Corner Bistro Comes to Long Island City

Let’s say you saw this picture:

You would, of course, think I was in the west village, waiting for a burger at the storied Corner Bistro. This small, rundown bar only takes cash, serves on paper plates, and produces some of the finest burgers in the city. Come here for a beer and a burger, not for any fancy atmosphere. Also, come here prepared to wait. There is always a line out the door and around the block, and though the burgers are fantastic, the wait can often top an hour. Not necessarily what you want when it’s 11:30 pm, you have been drinking since 5 pm, and you just want to sit and chow down.

Back to the original question, by the way? You would be wrong. I was at the new Corner Bistro, in Long Island city.

The new restaurant is similar to the original, but not exactly the same. The place has the same, relaxed, pub feel but is much more of an actual restaurant, with booths, real plates and silverware, and an expanded menu. That means brunch, a credit card machine, and the knowledge that you can come get a burger without waiting until your next birthday. But do the burgers measure up to the original?

Cheeseburger

Oh yeah. And then some. The burger here is just as huge, as juicy, and as backyard-grill good. After all, this branch uses the same grill that they do in the West Village – they just use one that is twice as large so the burgers come out fast and furious. This is similar to the burger at Burger Joint, but bigger. It’s the kind of burger that you dream in the winter, the one that reminds you of summer cook outs. Order it blanketed in velvety American cheese, and enjoy it with the requisite onions, tomatoes, lettuce and pickles.

Oh, and get it medium rare. This place understands how to cook burger to order. This is a big burger – you might feel sick if you eat the whole thing.

Which, of course, I did. Totally don’t regret it.

Wings

From the expanded menu. These are awesome – no other way to put it. Big, meaty drumsticks and wings that are so juicy and substantial that they really serve as a meal. They are crispy on the outside, dunked in a thick, smokey sauce that is sweet and spicy without being too fiery or too cloying. This is just a really good wing – I could easily have eaten the platter of these, if I hadn’t already eaten an entire bovine sandwich (that monster of a burger). Oh, and the blue cheese is rockin, too.

Sweet Potato Fries

Sure, you can get the standard crispy shoestring fries here, but why not go for the sweeter side of things? Though I am not often a fan of sweet potato fries, these are quite good – crispy, well seasoned, and fluffy instead of mushy on the inside. These are fresh-cut and it tastes that way – they lack the dull, almost musty taste of frozen sweet potato fries. If you like sweet potato fries, these might be your new gold standard.

Corner Bistro, LIC branch, itself is pretty gold standard. The service is excellent, the prices are just as cheap as the Manhattan ones, and the food is phenomenal. I can’t think of a better place to relax and watch a sports game with a beer and a burger.

Who am I kidding…I wish they would play Bravo on  one of the flat screens while I had a diet Coke with my burger.

But as long as I can avoid waiting in line…it’s still worth the trip!

*Disclaimer: My meal was paid for by the restaurant. I was not required to write a review and my opinions are my own and, I feel, unbiased.*

 Corner Bistro on Urbanspoon

My Five Favorite Restaurant Dishes of 2012

Even though it’s almost the end of January, I still think that it’s the right time to post about the 5 best restaurant dishes I enjoyed in 2012. The competition last year was stiff – I had some excellent travels, a lot of fun right in good ole NYC, and enough delicious dishes to…well…devote a blog to them!

However, after a serious, bracket–style head to head competition, the best 5 dishes of 2012 are here for you to contemplate, to remember, and to hopefully try for yourself in 2013.

Original DB Burger – Sirloin Burger Filled with Braised Short Ribs, Foie Gras, and Black Truffle, served on a Parmesan Bun with  Pommes Soufflées

The best burger of my life, no question. To quote myself: “The first thing I said when I tasted this was “I felt like I have never eaten beef before.” This was SO beefy, with its double hit of medium rare ground sirloin, rosy and robust in taste with the tender short ribs. The short ribs were not stringy or gamy, but cooked until the flavor was mellow and deep against the vibrant ground beef. The bun was soft and squishy, but did not deteriorate from the copious meaty juices. The taste of truffle was delicate but ever-present, savory and heady next to the sweet Madeira in the short ribs. The piece de resistance was, of course, the sizable disc of foie gras, melting and rich. It swam in my mouth, almost dancing, the sweet, buttery component of the dish.” The whole dining experience was top notch, but the burger was undeniably the star of the meal and my burger-riffic year.

Dixie with Homemade Meat Chili and Homemade Cole Slaw

Absolutely the best hot dog I have tried in New England, and one of the best hot dogs I have ever had in my life. It’s so good that it’s worth a trip to Connecticut from NYC just for this relaxed lunch. Quoting myself again: “This is the hot dog to end all hot dogs. The pork and beef frank is succulent as ever, but it is crowned by the chili of my dreams. The chili sauce is thin with a bit of heat, the sweetness of caramelized onions, and enough salt to make the chili taste truly beefy, like a char-grilled hamburger. The cabbage coleslaw is dressed in a thick mayonnaise sauce… I could have eaten a thousand of these.”

Banana Royale

Bananas, coffee chip ice cream, maple walnut ice cream, vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, walnuts, sprinkles

I could quote myself again here, but I won’t. I will just say that a trip to Eddie’s is a tasty trip back in time to an era when ice cream parlors were the equivalent of modern day cocktail bars, with homemade whipped cream, rich ice cream, and a plethora of delicious toppings. The sweet treats here are simple, nostalgic, and every bit as tasty as you remember them to be from the days when you ran after the ice cream man waving your allowance money. The price is right, the service is congenial, and the experience is one that will send your inner diabetic self into a deliriously happy sugar shock.


Squash Carmelle with Mostarda 

Though this meal was 11 months ago, I still remember ever minute of it. The incredibly attentive, friendly service. The complimentary glass of prosecco and the perfectly brewed demitasse of cappuccino. The food that was so varied, so perfectly crafted, so tasty that I still think about it. But there was one dish in the multi-course meal that stood out from all the others. Now, as you could guess, I will quote myself again: “This pasta is the one that still has me waking up in the night, reaching for it. Tender morsels of pasta surround pureed squash so sweet that it’s almost like pie filling. The mostarda sauce is piquant and tart, playing against the sugary aspects of the filling. A touch of fried sage on top adds some crunch, and the whole dish is so playful, so interesting, and so wildly delicious that it is – literally – the stuff of my dreams.” It was then and it still is.

Hand Ground Beef Tartare with Pommes Frites, Three Minute Egg, Salted Fresno Peppers, and Condiments

Wow, Cleveland, did you surprise me. I came expecting a Midwestern town full of diners and chain restaurants and I was really smacked upside the head and put in my place. Cleveland has some truly wonderful restaurants and food experiences, none better than Greenhouse Tavern. This was one of my best meals of the year, and the steak tartare was…well, I’ll let myself speak for myself:  “The best steak tartare I have had in America. The reason was the beef – hand cut, so there was still some texture and pleasant chew…The three minute egg, spicy peppers, chopped onion, and tangy mustard completed the dish. I can only say that if you like steak tartare, you must get this dish. If you don’t like it, get this dish. Just get this freakin dish.”

In fact, get all of these freakin dishes, and get them soon. Because, before you know it, I will be naming off my five favorite restaurant dishes of 2013 and then you are going to have a whole new slew of dishes that you want to try.

Doughnuttery – Outrageous Doughnuts in Chelsea Market

Chelsea Market has done it again. The old-fashioned Nabisco factory in the heart of the Meatpacking district has a plethora of interesting restaurants and food shops, ever-changing and always interesting. None can be more interesting than the brand new Doughnuttery.

Why, you may ask? Because not only does this small cart make handmade doughnuts on the spot, it makes them in insanely cool flavors.

The doughnuts are continuously made right in front of you, then when they are piping hot they are plucked from the oil…

rolled in flavored sugars or glazes, and…

delivered into your gluttonous little hands. The doughnuts aren’t just special because they are fresh and well made, with an airy texture and light, yeasty taste. It’s because of the glazes and sugars on hand.

How about sugars like PBCP (Peanut Butter, cayenne, pretzel), The Purple Pig (Maple, purple potatoes, bacon​), and Mistletoe (Ginger, cranberry, and sage)? Or perhaps you would like your doughnuts covered in a sugary icing, like the Raspberry balsamic sauce or the Pumpkin beer caramel sauce? Look, you can of course get a plain old cinnamon sugar doughnuts here but why would you? This place doesn’t just exist to give you a quick sugar high, it strives to challenge your tastebuds and expand the way that you think about this classic fried treat.

Cacaoboy with Sea salt, cacao nibs, and black sugar

This is one of the more tame offerings, but even it is so head and tails above your average sugared doughnut that it’s almost laughable. This doughnut is intensely flavored – salty, bitter, vibrant with chocolate, and of course, pleasantly sweet.

The different grains in the sugar provide interesting textural contrasts – a large cacao nib cracks pleasingly next to a melting grain of sea salt upon a fluffy, pliant tuft of doughnut. This is every bit as complex and well crafted as a $15 dessert in a fine dining restaurant.

The Doughnuttery is a welcome addition to Chelsea Market. Grab a half-dozen for a few very reasonable dollars, find a seat in the main thoroughfare and watch the world pass by.

​​​Scratch that…get the full dozen. They go that fast.

Doughnuttery on Urbanspoon

Beef Wellington Sliders with Truffle Aioli

In case you didn’t know, I’m kind of paradox.

I’m the girl who blows money on taxis but wears mismatched socks that I got at a Pic’nSave.

I’m the girl who makes fun of Dungeons and Dragons but loves The Twilight Zone

I’m Fritos and foie gras.

Quite frankly, I love things that are opposites, which is why I created this burger. It’s an uptown meal in a downtown package.

And  that package is so cute and tiny.

That’s what she said.

It’s high meets low, fancy meets divey.

It’s the perfect indulgent meal.

Beef Wellington Sliders with Truffle Aioli

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. ground beef

1/2 onion, diced and divided

3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

1 sheet puff pastry dough, cooked and cut into 6 equal pieces (3 strips cut in half)

1/4 cup diced mushrooms

1 bunch fresh thyme

3 tbsp. red wine

6 small pats pate

butter in which to sautee

salt and pepper to taste

Truffle Aioli:

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1 tbsp. truffle oil (preferably black)

1. Melt the butter in the pan, and throw in half of the diced onion, and all of the thyme, and mushrooms. Let them cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat, or until the mixture is fragrant and the thyme leaves have fallen off of the stems.

2. Add the wine, sat, and pepper and cook for another 10 minutes, or more if the wine is not yet evaporated. Taste for seasonings, then pick out the thyme stems and discard and take the mixture out of the pan and reserve for later.

3. Combine the meat, the rest of the onion, and the Worcestershire sauce.

4. Form the meat into 6 small patties, then cook in your desired way (I like to turn the heat up medium high, then put the patties in the buttered pan for about 2 minutes, then flip them, turn the heat down, and cover it with the lid so it steams. In another 2 minutes, the burgers will be a lovely medium rare).

5. Make the aioli by…well…combining the ingredients. Try not to lick the spoon too much…this might be the best sauce on the planet.

6. Assemble the burgers by splitting the puff pastry (it will shatter a little…that’s okay!), putting a dab of pate on the bottom, topping with the patty, and topping the whole thing with the mushroom duxelle (yeah, that’s what those sauteed mushrooms are called).

7. Top with the aioli and remaining puff pastry and serve.

These are the ultimate burger experience  Deep and beefy, buttery and woodsy, toothsome and soft and smothered in that incredibly aromatic aioli. These are great with a side salad or some homemade potato chips, and are so tasty that you will have no problem downing three of them all by yourself.

I like to eat these incredibly fatty burgers with an ice cold Diet Coke on the side.

Yet another awesome contradiction.

Oaxaca Taqueria – UWS Street Tacos

Yeah, I still love Mexican food. Nothing new here.

But I don’t love just any Mexican food. I love carefully prepared, authentic Mexican food – juicy meats, homemade tortillas, vibrant salsas.

Mexican food doesn’t begin or end with Taco Bell.*

Oaxaca, an absolute shoe box of a place on the UWS specializes in a few Mexican dishes like tacos, enchiladas, and tortas. The space is extremely small and casual – just a few communal tables, a counter where you order, and a very well priced menu, including lunch specials.

Carnitas Taco and…

Pollo Guisado with pickled onions, cilantro, cotija cheese, avocado lime, and salsa

 These tacos are top notch. Incredibly fresh, with tender corn tortillas and a red salsa that is spicy and a bit smoky with roasted chiles. It has the brightness of fresh tomatoes and isn’t insanely hot, which lets the flavor of the tart, creamy avocado sauce shine. The pickled onions are the most genius addition here – found all over taco stands in Mexico, this crowning touch is ignored a lot at restaurants in the US. The onions are sweet and sour, and bring the entire taco to life, much the way that a spritz of lemon enlivens a perfect piece of smoked salmon. The meats themselves are excellent. The pork is juicy but not overly sauced or greasy. The chicken is, shockingly  even better – what’s the last time that chicken beat out pork?! Stewed with garlic, onions, and spices, it is popping with flavor and very juicy

Rice, beans, and pico de gallo

These are no slouch either! The rice is fluffy and well cooked, with the savory taste of garlic and other aromatics, and the beans are tender but with a bite and smoky, savory flavor. The pico de gallo is made simply but well, with a lot of cilantro to augment the veggies.

Oaxaca gets a big fat A+ from me. Fast, sweet service, cheap prices, and delicious food (that, truth me told, comes in rather small portions.) The UWS is very lucky to have this in its lunch and dinner time arsenal.

Plus, it has a killer wall of hot sauces. They’re playing my song.

*Disclaimer: I freaking love Taco Bell. Those Doritos tacos are unbelievable.