Tag: NYC

Best Brazilian Food in NYC

With the Rio Olympics in full swing, you might want to try and feast yourself on some good, authentic Brazilian food around the city.  Around 46th street is an area called “Little Brazil”, which features plenty of Brazilian restaurants at Times Square-level prices.  But there are plenty of Brazilian joints across the city that offer delicious, authentic Brazilian food, and at much lower prices.  I recently came across an article that discussed some of the best Brazilian dishes in New York City, and where you can get them:

Pao de quiejo: Calling this “cheesy bread” doesn’t do justice to how delicious it is.  They look like munchkins, but instead of sparing portions of jelly, they’re filled with warm, gooey cheese.  
Where to get it: New York Pao de Queijo in Astoria

Picanha: A Brazilian cut of beer, sort of like filet mignon but with more fat.  It’s traditionally served with homemade salsas and a couscous-like side called “farofa”.
Where to get it: Colonia Verde in Fort Greene

Pastels: Sort of like the Brazilian version of hot pockets, but they aren’t cooked in a microwave.  They’re served with just about any sort of filling, from chicken to chocolate.
Where to get it: The Coffee Shop near Union Square

Feijoada: Considered the national dish of Brazil, feijoada is a black bean and meat stew served with orange slices, white rice, collard greens and farofa.
Where to get it: Casa in the West Village

Churrasco: Quintessential Brazilian cuisine, churrasco restaurants feature waiters walking around with swords of meat.  The key here is all-you-can-eat, with waiters carrying around samples of pork, beef and chicken until you’re just about ready to drop.
Where to get it: Fogo de Chao in Midtown

Moqueca de peixe: A traditional seafood stew that originated in Portugal.  It’s simmered with dende oil, green herbs, tomatoes, onions and coconut milk.  
Where to get it: Favela Grill in Astoria

Costelinha de porco: Traditional pork ribs coated in barbecue sauce.  
Where to get it: Berimbau in the West Village

Brigadeiros: Truffle-like treats made with condensed milk, cocoa powder and butter, then coated in sprinkles.
Where to get it: Brigadeiro Bakery in the West Village

Caipirinha: The national cocktail of Brazil, made with lime and the spirit cachaça.
Where to get it: Beco in Williamsburg

Fighting New York’s Rats

Rats are just as much a part of New York City as dollar pizza, an unreliable G train and rising rent.  While most rat sightings are regulated to the subway tracks, these fuzzy rodents can be found on the street, on your stoop or even your apartment.  They’re mostly harmless, but they’re nonetheless alarming, and in some areas pretty aggressive.  And they don’t make the best roommates.  

I recently came across an article where the author attended Rat Academy, a city-run program dedicated to teaching New Yorkers about how to deal with rats.  After finishing the half-day course, you’re given a rat-proof garbage can, in addition to some invaluable tips.  Here are some of those:

1) Contain all garbage in a bin with a tightly-fitted lid.  If it’s open, then the food in your garbage can will attract rats.  

2) Plug up any gaps in the walls, whether they’re on the top floor, ground floor or anywhere in-between.  Rats can climb and can contort their bodies to fit through a hole the size of a quarter.  

3) Wash down sidewalks and areas where you see rats (or signs of them).  Rats use trails of urine and droppings to communicate, which can tell other rats where to find food.  If you can eliminate that trail, it will leave rats in the dark.  

4) Since rats can’t vomit, poison is particularly effective: once they ingest it, they’re finished.  However, rat poison is just as dangerous to humans as it is rats, so make sure that you’re careful when handling it.

5) Rats hate peppermint.  It might sound weird, but spraying peppermint oil is a great way to keep them away.  It isn’t as effective as actual rat repellant, but it’s more environmentally friendly, and cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil can be a great way to drive rats out of hiding and away from your house.  

Free Date Ideas in NYC

New York is expensive; it’s a place where $5 for a beer and $1300/month for a shoebox apartment in a crummy neighborhood are considered “cheap”.  Dating can also be pretty expensive, and going out in New York with your significant other can do a number on your wallet.  If cheap date ideas aren’t cutting it, there are all sorts of stellar free date ideas that are just as fun and easy and they are cost-effective.  I recently came across an article that shared some of these, listed below:

Nature Walk: There isn’t a whole lot of wildlife in New York outside of the zoo (except for rats and dirty pigeons, but those hardly make for a romantic date idea).  Yet any bit of green space can help relax you in the concrete jungle that is New York.  Find urban guides, which can teach you how to identify the different species of birds and insects that can be found in New York’s parks.  

Bushwick street art tour: The rows upon rows of warehouses in Bushwick and East Williamsburg are home to some amazing street art, with artists turning the bleak industrial cityscape of Bushwick into something truly beautiful.  Guided tours require a reservation, but you can also take a self-guided walk with your camera.

Outdoor movie night: With the summer upon us, outdoor movie screenings at the various parks make for one heck of a date idea.  All sorts of movies play in the parks, from Jaws to Chocolat.  So grab a blanket, sneak in a flask and get ready for the movie!

Central Park Summerstage: Free outdoor live music is one of the few things that could actually be better than free outdoor movies, which is why Summerstage is such a great place to be.  From now until the end of September, there’s live music for every kind of music lover, from rap to opera.  

UCB comedy night: Although you have to pay for the bigger names here, it’s definitely worth visiting for free weekly events.  It’s a bit inconsistent, but at times can be well worth watching!

River to River Festival: From June 16th to 26th, the parks of lower Manhattan and Governor’s Island are alive with music, dance and visual art.  

Wine tasting at Astor Wines: Not only does this East Village spot have one of the biggest wine selections in New York, they also offer classes and free tastings.  If you want to buy a bottle to bring home, the knowledgeable staff will help you pick a winner from their various offerings.  

Great Health Food in NYC

New Yorkers love their late-night Seamless orders and hot dogs washed down with sugary papaya juices (seriously one of the most underrated combinations out there).  Yet there are many health food stores in New York that can help you lead a nutritious lifestyle instead of falling asleep on a weekend night with a belly full of beer and $1 pizza slices.  Yet eating right is a major key to living a long, healthy life.  Here are some of the best health food stores in New York, based off an article that I found on Timeout New York:

Food For Health: This Upper East Side spot carries all sorts of brands that many bigger markets don’t carry, in addition to natural and organic food produce that isn’t nearly as expensive as Whole Foods. There’s organic, paleo and vegan prepackaged foods, a juice bar and even an on-site biochemist!  

Westerly Natural Market: If you can’t find that supplement or rare granola bar flavor you’re looking for, chances are you’ll be able to find it at Westerly.  While the extent of diversity can be a bit overwhelming, there’s also an easy-to-navigate selection in the back of premade foods, a list of 15 soups and a full juice bar.  Prices might be what you expect for a specialty market in Manhattan, but there are also frequent online coupons and in-store sales.

LifeThyme: With a vegan bakery and dine-in seating area, LifeThyme is a place where you can get both lunch and groceries.

4th Street Food Co-op: This small, nonprofit, vegetarian co-op in the East Village receives daily deliveries of fresh produce almost every day, making it an easy place to embrace the healthy lifestyle.  It’s entirely volunteer-run, with members receiving discounts.  Tip: bring containers, since the shop charges for produce bags and jars.  

Sai Organics: If you like free stuff, come visit this family-owned market in Astoria, where you get a free gift for spending $20 or more.  There’s no shortage of take-away premade meals, in addition to a solid collection of bulk food items, a small produce selection and various grocery staples.  

A Matter of Health: Stocked with all sorts of foodstuffs and organic products, this place offers a huge selection for most dietary needs, from Kosher to gluten-free.  Apart from offering staples and specialty items, there’s an impressive selection of take-away items.  

Greenpoint Natural Market: If you live in the hipster Mecca of Williamsburg/Greenpoint, you’re going to want to shop for everything here.  A local hotspot for everything from organic meats to health and beauty products, it also offers an impressive selection of fresh juice and smoothies.

Go Natural Health Foods & Juice Bar: Here in Sunnyside, you can pick up specialty products and homemade meals, such as black bean burgers and vegan chocolates.  Although you can pick up all the standard health-food items here, the best things here are far and away the juices and homemade meals.  

Queens Beer Week

If you like beer, then you’re in for a great treat: the third annual Queens Beer Week is happening this May between the 13th and 22nd, and it’s going to be worth a visit for any beer lover.  For ten whole days, you’ll be able to get your fill of beer throughout one of New York City’s more underrated boroughs.  There are 70 different spots participating that include tours, special brews, tap takeovers and all sorts of special events.  If you’d like to find out more, you can take a look at the venues here.

To start everything out, there’s a Queens Beer Week Kick-Off party on May 14th.  Beer lovers from throughout the New York area will be coming upon the space at LIC Landing for a beer-centric time.  All of the Queens brewers will be there, taking advantage of a captive audience to show off their newest beers, some of which will be created just for Queens Beer Week.  Local food vendors will be there, and this is a ticketed event.  So far, however, the event page hasn’t been created just yet, so you need to stay tuned.

While its breweries aren’t as iconic as the Brooklyn Brewery further south, Queens is the hometown of an impressive level of breweries, many of them just a few years ld: Barrier Brewing Co. (Oceanside), Big Alice Brewing Co (LIC), Bridge and Tunnel (Ridgewood), Descendant Cider Co (Maspeth), NY Finback Brewery (Ridgewood), ICONYC Brewery (LIC), LIC Beer Project (LIC), Rockaway Brewing Co (LIC), SingleCut Beersmiths (Astoria) and Transmitter Brewing Co. (LIC).  In addition, the borough is home to some of the best beer gardens in New York, such as Studio Square and Bohemian Hall.

UberEats Is Changing the Game

UberEats changing the gameUberEats has been around for a while now, a random food delivery service available within the app Uber.  It’s more or less the digital equivalent of a Reverse Speakeasy, or a secret restaurant inside a bar.  Yet UberEats’ new standalone app, which has just become available in NYC, was recently hailed by Gothamist as a game-changer.  UberEats originally just offered two or three items a day, which it would then deliver to your door at record speed.  Yet now you can scroll through over 100 restaurants on the app, such as Black Seed Bagel, Mighty Quinn’s, Westville, Burger Joint, Bar Primi, Ivan Ramen and Empellon Al Pastor.  Each of these dishes has a crystal-clear image, with wait times ranging from an hour to just a few minutes.

Gothamist placed a test order at 11am two days ago, and in 40 minutes there was a perfect Chana Masala bowl from Bombay Sandwich Co. delivered to Times Square.  Once you order a meal from UberEats, you can track the entire process: when the restaurant accepts it, when it’s finished being prepared, when the courier is on their way, how close they are to you and when the food actually arrived.  It feels almost like Seamless, but you’re so involved it feels like you got it from the restaurant itself.

What makes this even better is that so far there isn’t a delivery fee.  Michael Conti, the general manager of UberEats, has said that when a fee will be implemented hasn’t yet been determined, since the company wants to offer free delivery for enough time to give people the chance to try the app many times.  The UberEats app isn’t just a New York thing, however; it’s already available in other cities, including Los Angeles and Chicago, where the delivery fee is just $3.  Therefore, it’s prudent to take advantage of the no-fee window to try the service out for yourself.  Delivery is currently available anywhere in Manhattan below 100th Street.

Tips For Navigating NYC

NYCWhen you’ve lived in New York long enough, you tend to forget that it can be a pretty difficult place to navigate.  Even if it’s set on a pretty straightforward grid, it isn’t always easy to get where you’re going.  Here are ten useful tips for finding your way around the city, based off an article I found on Timeout New York:

Odd-numbered streets go west, even-numbered streets go east: In addition, odd-numbered buildings are on the north side of the street, while even-numbered addresses are on the street.  On a north-south street, odd buildings are on the west side, even ones are on the east.

The color of a station’s subway tiles can tell you a lot: There’s an entire secret code hidden in New York’s subway stations.

The address of a building can tell you what avenues it’s between: For addresses on the west side, just add the first number of the address (zero if the address is only two digits) to 5 for the lower cross street.  For example, 225 W 37th street (2+5=7) is between seventh and eighth avenue.  For the east side, subtract 5 from the same number for the highest cross street, so 150 E 18th street (1-5=-4) is between Fourth and Third Avenues.

Fifth Avenue splits NYC’s streets between east and west: The reason that the above trick works is because Fifth Avenue serves as the splitting point between the city’s two sides.

Black dots on the subway stop represent local ones, white ones signify express: In case you were curious why more trains stop at white stops.

Use lampposts in Central Park: It can be easy to get lost in Central Park, but most lampposts have a set of numbers embossed on their base, which corresponds to the cross-streets you would be on if the street extended through the park.

The uptown train platform is on the east side of the street, downtown is on the west (for the most part): So you don’t have to waste another swipe.

The major avenues in Manhattan alternate directions: From First to 11th Avenue, the traffic on every other avenue flows in alternate directions.  The exceptions are Third Avenue, which is mixed until 24th street and then travels north, and Fourth Avenue, which runs north before turning into two-way Park Avenue South.

Remembering the order of uptown avenues:  “You can take a CAB back home if it’s Late PM”, an easy way to remember that the uptown avenues are Columbus, Amsterdam, Broadway, Lexington, Park and Madison, going from left-to-right.

Smartphone maps: In case you forget any of this, use the map on your smartphone.