Category Archives: McKenzies Recommenzies

McKenzies Recommenzies: Lupe’s East LA Kitchen!!!

photoI’ve walked by Lupe’s every Monday night for the past 6 years (that’s roughly 312 times folks) and never ventured in… until a few weeks ago for a dinner date with my friend Jason.

After my recent trip home to San Diego, I got a craving for mexican food and Lupe’s hit the spot. Lupe’s serves up fresh LA-style Mexican food in a no frills setting on the edges of southwestern Soho that is open late, serves relatively cheap food, offers quick service and has delicious albeit a little greasy (in a good way!) Mexican food.

The decor is really great with its their bright neon Lupe’s sign, tiny diner style tables squished next to each other, vinyl lined diner booths, and a shrine to the Virgin Mary in the corner.

Order the salsa fresca and tortilla chips…. they are perfectly salted and a heaping bowl of both clocks in at just $1.50. Then go wild with their very large menu where most entrees are served with rice, beans and salad. Since I have a weakness for enchiladas (something about the ooey gooeyness of the cheese gets me!) I went with the enchiladas suizas which come filled with chicken and cheese and smothered in a green chili sauce. They’ve got all your Tex-Mex favorites like burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, chile relleno, tacos, marinated meats, and more.

Lupe’s is a great spot that is down to earth, has affordable prices, great fresh LA-style Mexican food, and friendly, quick service in a neighborhood that can sometimes be too pretentious for its own good. Viva Lupe’s!

Lupe’s East LA Kitchen

110 6th Avenue (at Watts Street)

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Around France in Ten Bites…Part Deux!!!!

IMG_3116* Najac *

Last years trip and blog post detailed my ten favorite foods from the South of France and this years trip consists of the same thing…. with rosé and mashed potatoes getting yet another shout-out! Our vacation included a visit to my boyfriend’s French “family” who summer in Najac, France and we spent the entire trip with them, eating Evelyne’s delicious four-hour long meals, dancing all night to french songs I don’t know (but loved), drinking rosé like it was going out of style, and enjoying the quiet life in the french countryside.

Simply put, it was heaven. We spend our lives in New York running around and this trip was the exact opposite. We had nowhere to be and nothing to do except spend time together and it was one of the most relaxing vacations I have ever been on.

Below you’ll find the ten favorite foods I enjoyed while once again exploring one of my favorite countries in the world. I can’t wait to go back next summer!

1. Aligot

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A dish from the Auvergne region of France (where we were), Aligot is basically mashed potatoes on crack. It’s made of potatoes, butter, creme fraiche or cream, garlic and one of the following french cheeses…  tomme d’Auvergne, tomme de Laguiole or tomme fraiche. When mixed all together, you get something that tastes like mashed potatoes but is much creamier.  The cheese brings a nutty flavor and  the raw garlic gives it a little bit of bite to make something that is both filling and full of flavor. This was the highlight of Alain’s birthday party and it was served with fresh sausage and bread.

2. Bread

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The French are masters at fresh bread and I devoured loaves of it at every meal. Not surprisingly, I gained four pounds in 7 days!

3. Ice Cream

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Creamier than what we get in the USA….I ate nothing but pistachio ice cream (my favorite flavor) while in Najac. Every time I saw an ice cream sign, I headed for the door with a few euros in hand.

4. Fancy French Food

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We treated ourselves to a few fancy meals which were all so relaxed and casual that I was a little bit weirded out. Meals like this in the USA come with crisp white tablecloths, expensive bills, and a dress code but in France you can walk in with shorts and a t-shirt on and have an exquisite three-course meal for just $50!

5. Baguette Sandwiches

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Can’t go to France and NOT eat a baguette…this one came filled with lettuce, ham and cheese and a slathering of whole grain spicy mustard 🙂

6. Home Cooked French Meals

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Evelyne, the Tachet family matriarch, cooked up four unbelievable feasts for our 15-plus people dinners with such ease. Above was my favorite meal she made, with two plump chickens (heads still on) cooked to perfection and served with sauteed ratatouille, and fresh foraged mushrooms (more on that later).

7. Rosé

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Soo much rosé! 120 magnums were consumed over the course of 6 days and we even managed to bring a few bottles back from the vineyard we visited in Caillac.

8. Fresh Sardines

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Sardines aren’t my favorite, but when they’re served up just slightly grilled with salt, pepper, and a brush of olive oil, I cannot resist these little guys!

9. Cheese

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Every meal we had ended with a cheese course and I ate every piece that came within reach. I wish I had gotten a photo of the fresh chevre we ate many times but it was so good that it disappeared almost immediately after hitting the table.

10. Fresh and Foraged Mushrooms

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While we were playing golf, a few went foraging for mushrooms (had I known I would have skipped the golf!), and that night we gorged on freshly roasted mushrooms of a variety I do not know and could not decipher in French!

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McKenzies Recommenzies: Smorgasbar!!!

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In an effort to revitalize the South Street Seaport area following the devastating damage resulting from Hurricane Sandy, the Brooklyn Flea Organization (consisting of Smorgasburg, Brooklyn Flea, Central Park Summerstage, Smorgasburg at Whole Foods Bowery and Dumbo Flea) curated a dozen food and beverage vendors to set up on Front Street in the pedestrian-only area of South Street Seaport every day, from 11am-10pm through October!

photo via DNAInfo.com

photo via DNAInfo.com

Food vendors include Asia DogBlue Marble Ice CreamBrooklyn Oyster Party, Brooklyn Soda WorksFondaKelvin Slush CompanyLandhausMilk Truck Grilled CheesePizza Moto and Red Hook Lobster Pound as well as a full bar inside a shipping container serving beer, wine and spirits.

It’s a great place whether you work nearby and want a lunch option that is a little different from Chipotle and Chop’t or if you (like me) want to spend an afternoon or early evening eating and drinking with friends outdoors!

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McKenzies Recommenzies: S’MAC!

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What can be said of the gloriousness of S’MAC that hasn’t already been said? It’s the mecca for mac n cheese in NYC, where they hype is truly justified!

S’MAC isn’t an everyday indulgence (for me at least) but I do find myself there quite often (usually with visiting friends) like last week for my friend Emily’s birthday. See, Emily is pregnant (and visiting from LA) and in talking with her at dinner a week before she said how much she loves mac n cheese and wanted to eat that for her birthday. Naturally, S’MAC was the first thing to come to my mind….but I also enjoy the mac n cheese from Jack the Horse, Artisanal, Westville, and Murray’s Cheese Bar. So on a rainy night last week I treated Emily to a birthday dinner that would satiate she and her growing baby’s craving!

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* The All-American *

The menu is quite extensive with a dozen different cheesy combinations, a build-your-own option, choice of gluten-free or regular pasta, vegan and dairy-free options, and the choice of whether to get breadcrumbs or not (if you aren’t gluten-free… go for the breadcrumbs!). I’m a simple gal and as such went with the All-American, which takes you back to your childhood with a tasty blend of american and cheddar cheeses. Other favorites include the Napoletana (with mozzarella, tomatoes, garlic and basil), and the Four Cheese (cheddar, muenster, gruyere and a touch of pecorino). I can’t keep ordering the same thing (I’ve only ordered those three for the past five years) so next time I vow to try one of their loaded options like the Buffalo Chicken or the Cheeseburger!

If there is one piece of advice I can give you in making your decision it would be on the size of your mac. Remember that your eyes are probably bigger than your stomach. Sure, a nosh size sounds like something for a little kid but it’s definitely enough to feed one person and then some because the serving dish is filled to the top!

The only thing I am not a fan of is the service, which is to say the attitudes of the front counter staff. You’ve gotta give them credit as the last thing I would wanna do is deal with stoners and drunks jonesing for some munchie food, but they could be a bit more friendly to the people who (are sober and) just want to bow down to the mac n cheese gods and enjoy their meal. A smile goes a long way girls….

S’MAC (Saritas Mac & Cheese) 

Two locations (but I’ve only been to the East Village)

  • 345 East 12th Street (between 1st and 2nd Avenue) *East Village*
  • 157 East 33rd Street (between Lexington and 3rd Avenues) *Murray Hill*

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McKenzies Recommenzies: Mulberry & Vine!!!

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Mulberry & Vine recently opened in Tribeca to the delight of many residents and nearby office workers aching for more healthy dining options. Not only is everything local, seasonal, organic, pesticide-free, hormone-free and antibiotic-free…. but they believe in the Michael Pollan 80/20 rule where you diet should be 80% plants and 20% animal proteins.

It’s a fast-casual concept where you can eat-in or take-out with an extensive menu of delicious sounding and looking salads, sides and main dishes. Choose three cold dishes for $12 or two cold and one hot for $13. You can also add a bed of greens to your combo for just $1 or get your choice of individual sides for $4.50 (cold) or $5.50 (hot).

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The portions are generous and the staff lets you taste anything you want before you make your decision. I went with a rosemary chicken breast, roasted eggplant, tomato and pickled cucumber salad, and summer succotash with roasted corn, red peppers, edamame and parsley. At $13, it’s a little bit more than I usually spend for lunch but I would much prefer spending money on food that not only tastes good, but is good for me!

After an intense morning work-out at Soul Cycle, my friend Stephen and I were starving. But the last thing we wanted to do was ruin all the good we did to our bodies with a greasy lunch and Mulberry & Vine satisfied both of our voracious appetites! The food at Mulberry & Vine is so good, you won’t even notice you’re eating well and being environmentally responsible!

Mulberry & Vine 

73 Warren Street (between West Broadway and Greenwich Street)

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McKenzies Recommenzies: Do or Dine’s Free Hot Dogs!

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Nearly two years ago I blogged about Do or Dine, a new restaurant in Bed Stuy that I predicted would blow up and find cult-like status with their surprisingly delicious foie gras donuts. Two years later and Do or Dine has become a dining destination and while I vowed to be back, I haven’t 😦

Well that stops now….see Do or Dine recently extended their dinner hours (to midnight on Friday and Saturday nights) and to celebrate they’re giving out free hot dogs with kimchi and kewpie mayonnaise from midnight to 2am on those nights! Looks like I’ll be heading to Do or Dine soon and find myself swapping dessert for hot dogs!

Do or Dine 

1108 Bedford Avenue (between Lexington Avenue and Quincy Street) *Bed-Stuy

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McKenzies Recommenzies: Botafumeiro!!!

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On our first day in Barcelona my boyfriend wanted to introduce me to one of his favorite restaurants in the city… Botafumeiro in the Gràcia neighborhood. Beloved by royalty (the King of Spain is a regular), celebrities (their photographs line the bar posing with the owner), the international jet set, power brokers and now…me!

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A classic marisquería (aka seafood restaurant), this place is the home to Barcelona’s finest seafood. Most are stored live in holding tanks you see when you enter the restaurant where you’ll find a variety of fresh and saltwater fish, clams, mussels, lobster, crayfish, octopus, scallops, and a variety of crustaceans some i had never seen before (like goose barnacles)! Most everything is flown in daily from Galicia in northwest Spain (the homeland of the owner), and the menu boasts over 100 seafood dishes with only a few meat dishes available.

We had just come off of two international flights so we looked a little worse for wear but that didn’t matter to the white-jacketed staff who attended to those in the finest suits money can buy and us… in shorts and polo shirts! They care for you as if you are the only people in the dining room and your every need is met.

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Never one to pass up a seafood platter, my boyfriend thought if there was ever a place to order one than Botafumeiro was it. Octopus is one of our favorite things to eat so we ordered the “Galician Style” dish which came with paprika and boiled potatoes (see above). I can say with complete honesty that this was the BEST OCTOPUS DISH I HAVE EVER HAD. The meat was so buttery, so tender that my taste buds nearly melted with each bite. Then for our “main dish” the two of us attempted to take down the seafood platter for two (see below) that came packed with clams, langoustines, oysters, snails, crabs, and some crustaceans I had never seen before! Unfortunately our eyes were bigger than our stomachs and we got through barely half of the platter ;( we really could have used two more people to help us out on this one!

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I’ve read that many people consider this place to be quite touristy and I could see that as it’s very popular in Barcelona. But from what I saw on a busy Wednesday afternoon….it’s a mixture of regulars and people who’ve heard of its reputation and want to check it out (our amazing concierge at the Mandarin Oriental said it’s one of their favorites in the city for seafood). Either way… from the second you enter the doors of Botafumeiro to the time you depart, you’ll experience a meal to remember.

Botafumeiro

Gran de Gracia, 81 – Barcelona

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