Tag Archives: Late Night Dining

Fabrica del Tacos *

 
Gorriti 5062
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Palermo SOHO
(+54) 4833.3534

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The other night Ariana and I were having a serious dicussion as to how long we each planned to stay in Argentina. When I asked for her thoughts on the matter, she replied, “I guess I’ll stay until I miss Chipotle too much…” I burst out laughing, and then realized that there was some level of truth to this statement….yes, that is just how seriously we take our Mexican food.

In fact, I have concluded after all of my travels this summer, that I cannot permanently reside anywhere that does not have good Mexican grub near by. I crave the spice, the tender shredded beef, the cheesy goodness, and last but not least, the guac!! I am struggling here in Argentina to find such flavors, because they don’t really like spicy foods or beans. Your hard pressed to find a bottle of tobasco (I now carry my own in my hand bag…BYOT style) in a country where pepper shakers don’t even make an appearance on the table. This was my defining moment of culture shock. I had never been to a country that seemed to be void of black pepper. To see salt without the pepper was like bread without butter, coffee without the cream, fountain soda without the ice!!! It was all wrong. Some things in the world just go together; salt and pepper are one of them.

Anyways, I had one of my Mexican cravings the other night and I was on the hunt for something gut-dropping and heart-stopping. Ariana had heard something about a little taco stand in Palermo and thats exactly where we headed. It seemed authentic enough from the outside–flashing red christmas lights, reggaeton music, brightly colored walls, ect… But as I have learned, you can never judge a restaurant by its appearance. The food was far from authentic, and far from delicious.

Let me expand upon my grievances with this Mexican restaurant. To start, I ordered the guacamole and chips. The guac was not terrible (in fact, I dare to say it was the best item served that night), but it was rather difficult to enjoy on the stale nacho chips, which were like razor blades in my mouth.

In an attempt to wash it down, I ordered a margarita on the rocks and there was no surprise at all when a frozen margarita slushy arrived at the table–“on the rocks” always gets lost in translation for some reason. The mix was bad, and the price was expensive for the size of the glass–dissappointment numero dos.

The third and final strike though, was my entree, the Tacos Carnitas. Carnitas are one of those things that I order whenever I am unsure about the quality of a restaurant. The meat is so fatty and delicious that it is difficult to make poorly, but fabrica del tacos managed to make them disgusting. In fact, they weren’t even really carnitas, they were shaved gyro meat from the spinning pork cooker (like the ones at kebab places). And this was terrible quality gyro meat at that. I pushed my food around and stole bites of Ariana’s Chicken Flautas whenever I could. The flautas were decent, but I think that might just have been the case because anything would have been an improvement compared to my appalling meal.

Overall, I left the meal feeling cheated out of my 60 pesos (the equivalent of 2 locros and an empanada from La Cocina…sad face). I hate paying for bad food, so I don’t think I will be returning to Fabrica del Tacos anytime in the near future.

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Gigi ****

Steak Chow Fun with Mushrooms and Eggplant Served Over Thick Egg Noodles

305.573.1520
3470 North Miami Ave
Miami, Fl 33127

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When I go to a restaurant for the first time, I usually disclose the fact that I have a food blog and then ask the waiter what the top three menu items are, based on both their personal opinion and customer popularity. I do this for a few reasons; (1) I am hoping that they will try to “buy” a good review from me in exchange for some samples of free food and preferential service (but don’t worry, I am completely honest in my reviews and won’t be bought by a free appetizer!), (2) I really do like to try the signature dishes that a place is best known for, and (3) it narrows down the menu substantially and takes the guess work out of ordering!

When I arrived at Gigi in Midtown for the first time, I went through my usual routine and was happy and surprised to find that the waiter was equally as obsessed with food as I was (keep in mind that this is very unusual). I asked for some suggestions and he lit up, listing off his personal favorites and customer’s top picks. The limited menu is divided into sections labeled: basics, buns, raw, noodles, snacks, and rice bowls (the place is clearly Pan-Asian and Pacific Rim cuisine!).

To start, he recommended the Tuna Roll from the raw menu, which was similar to sushi (minus the rice) with Tuna, Avocado, Cucumber, and Citrus. The ingredients seem so simple, but the flavors are very full and clean. The citrus compliments the tuna, and the thin cucumber casing adds a nice crunch to the soft texture of the tuna and avocado.

Raw Tuna Roll with Avocado, Cucumber, and Citrus

Next we got an order of the Grilled Butternut Squash off the snack menu, served with yogurt sauce, spicy vinegar, and scallions. The squash was cooked to perfect with a nice black char from the grill on the edges, yet it was still super sweet. The yogurt sauce was nice and light, so it complimented the dish without over powering it. After polishing off our first round of squash, we went ahead and ordered a second….yes, it is that good!

Grilled Butternut Squash served with yogurt sauce, spicy vinegar, and scallions

We also placed an order for the Grilled Sweet Potato, served with Shiso hollandaise sauce, citrus, and scallions. This dish—also off the snack menu—looked very similar to the butternut squash, but it wasn’t nearly as good! Everyone’s forks attacked the butternut squash until it was gone, and then we slowly picked at the sweet potato….until the second order of squash arrived, of course! There was nothing wrong with the potatoes; they just looked too similar to the better tasting squash dish.

Grilled Sweet Potato, served with Shiso hollandaise sauce, citrus, and scallions

Next the waiter surprised us and brought out an order of Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower for the table to sample. The vegetables were roasted and then tossed with fresh bacon and soy. The reason that I didn’t order them myself, is because I knew that I would compare them to the brussel sprouts served at Sugarcane, which are out of this freaking world! After trying Sugarcane’s version of brussel sprouts, I can no longer enjoy them prepared any other way, and even though the waiter tried to convert me to Gigis, they still didn’t hold a candle to Sugarcanes. They were tasty, but Sugarcane’s are simply incredible. Success on getting some free food though, right?!?

Brussel Sprouts and Cauliflower with Bacon and Soy

For my main dish, I ordered the Steak Chow Fun, which is sliced steak, mushroom, and eggplant, served over thick egg noodles (photographed at top of blog). I was a little surprised by the density and size of the noodles, which were like Italian paparedelle noodles. Most Asian noodles are very thin and delicate, and so this was unusual for me, but the dish was absolutely incredible! The meat was cooked just to my liking; it was very juicy and tender. The sauce that everything was tossed in had a great garlic-soy flavor, and it had the rich consistency of an eel sauce so it adhered nicely to the pasta. The mushrooms were little bites of heaven, it was like finding gold whenever I came across one with my chopsticks!

And finally, just when I thought the meal was over, the waiter brought out a miniature soft ice cream cone for everyone at the table (more free food, yay!) And of course, once the sweetness hit my lips, I wanted more. So, I walked myself over to the bar area and ordered up some cookies: Peanut Butter Chunk and Classic Chocolate Chip. These cookies are enormous and only $2!!!! It’s one of the best food deals that I have seen yet, especially since the cookies are amazingly delicious! I rarely want more than a couple bites of a cookie and I had no problem devouring the entire peanut butter monstrosity. I think my friend’s face captures just how delicious they were!

Miniature Soft-Serve Ice Cream Cones

Peanut Butter Cookie

The Amazingness of the Gigi Chocolate Chip Cookie

Overall, Gigi is an amazing place to grab a bite at any time, and especially late night. They are revolutionizing and redefining drunk-eating by staying open till 5 am on Friday and Saturday nights, and 3 am on week nights. I love everything about this place, and make sure you save room for one of the cookies!!

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Cafeina ****

Hot Passion Cocktail, made with rum, cointreau, fresh passion fruit puree, fresh citrus, and then jalapeno.

305.438.0792
297 NW 23 St
Wynwood, Fl 

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Every second Saturday of the month, there is an artwalk that takes place in the Design District here in Miami. The people who attend are just as interesting to look at as the art, and the alcohol is usually free. This being said, my roommate, Ariana, and I look forward to going every month. It is a nice change from the frat scene in the Grove, and it is probably the most “cultural” event that exists in Miami…sadly. Anyways, this Saturday we decided to grab some dinner at Cafeina before heading to the galleries.

Cafeina is certainly more of a bar/lounge scene than a restaurant (not suggested for a dinner date), but the food is surprisingly delicious! My girlfriends and I sat on a sofa around a low table and got started with a round of drinks—the hot passion cocktail, made with rum, cointreau, fresh passion fruit puree, fresh citrus, and then jalapeno. This drink reminded me a lot of the Chili Passion Martini from the Setai(which is my favorite drink ever) and so naturally, I loved this one too. Anything with jalapeno is good in my book.

Then for food we ordered up a Flatbread, made with artichokes, roasted chicken, tomato sauce, mushrooms, mozzarella, and hoisin sauce. The hoisin sauce was a really nice and unique flavor with the pizza, but I had some problems with the dough. The crust tasted like frozen pizza dough, which is unacceptable at any food establishment in my opinion. It had the cardboard texture of communion wafers that you receive on Sundays at mass. I don’t know about you, but personally, I’d rather my pizza not remind me of the body of Christ!

Flatbread, made with artichokes, roasted chicken, tomato sauce, mushrooms, mozzarella, and hoisin sauce

Next to be served were the Beef Empanadas served with spicy “criolla” sauce. These were awesome! It is hard to screw up anything meaty and fried but he dipping sauce that accompanied these took it to another level! I would definitely order these again.

Beef Empanadas with Spicy Criolla Sauce

Speaking of fried things, we also got an order of the Goat Cheese Croquettes made with homemade guava sauce. I knew I would compare these to the ones served at Sugarcane (which are my favorite and amazing!!), and these actually exceeded my expectation. They were very, very similar and the sauce was equally as delicious. We fork-fought over the last couple bites, and I shamelessly scraped he plate clean.

Goat Cheese Croquettes with Homemade Guava Sauce

Last but not least, we couldn’t resist ordering the Truffle Fries served with cilantro truffle mayo. The truffle oil was surprisingly good quality, considering the bucket of fries was only four dollars, and after polishing off the first order, we got a second! The mayo dip was an outrageous combination. Cafeina gets the value in good condiments and it takes their otherwise standard menu to an elevated level.

Truffle Fries with Cilantro Truffle Mayo

Overall, I really enjoyed the Cafeina experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and presentation of the food, considering it is more of a bar/lounge than restaurant and I thought that the atmosphere was perfect for starting off the night. They had artwork set up in the outdoor area and the people were very friendly. Just make sure that you make a reservation, especially if you want to sit outside!!! They fill up fast!

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El Nuevo Amanecer **

Shredded Beef Quesadilla

212.387.9115
117 Stanton Street
New York, Ny

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Jennifer and I splurged on staying at the ritzy Gansevoort Park Hotel for our girl’s weekend, but found that we weren’t really in the mood for the ritzy hotel nightlife that took place at the rooftop bar. We went up there to find women snobbishly sipping on $25 cocktails, flashing the best of their designer brands and young men standing in circles discussing their plans for the evening, emphasizing how many bottles they planned to buy at the club. Jen and I considered mingling and then looked at each other and simultaneously said, “screw this, lets go dance and drink cheap beer.” So we bee-lined it for the door and took a cab over to Ludlow Street, which is a great little place to go bar hoping. We had a few drinks at Spitzers’ and then went dancing at little club, where we worked up a ferocious appetite.

We exited the club with sore feet and grumbling bellies, so we decided to stop at the first place within sight—a Latin American restaurant called El Nuevo Amanecer. It was one of the few food places still open, and there were an abundance of late night diners inside.

We grabbed a table and looked over the menu while noshing on the complimentary Homemade Tortilla Chips and Salsa. After noticing Guacamole on the menu, we also ordered a side of that for our chips! The chips, salsa, and guacamole were all delicious and definitely my favorite part of the entire meal.

Homemade Tortilla Chips with Salsa and Guacamole

For an entrée, I ordered the Beef Burrito, which I had expected to be shredded meat since the menu read “machada,” but much to my dislike it was like cubed steak. The meat was kind of tough and rubbery, but I was desperate for food and so it didn’t stop me from finishing the entire thing. The burrito was served with Spanish Rice and Refried Beans, and topped with Salsa Verde and Lettuce.

Beef Burrito with Spanish Rice, Refried Beans, and Salsa Verde

Jennifer ordered the Beef Quesadilla with Melted Cheese and Shredded Beef. Hers seemed to be a lot better than mine because the meat was prepared properly. Her was also served with Spanish Rice and Refried Beans.

El Nuevo Amanecer is a decent spot for late night eats because the prices are good, the hours are until late, and they serve alcohol. I didn’t love the food though and wouldn’t go back by choice, however it worked for a drunken food fix last night.

 

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The Restaurant at the Setai *****

Chicken Satay Skewers with Hot Chili Dipping Sauce

305.520.6402
In the Setai Hotel
2001 Collins Ave (at 20th Street)
Miami Beach, Fl 33139

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My chili lunch turned out fabulous, and I had a second bowl around 8 O’Clock before going out tonight. Ohh, if you’re wondering about how alcohol figures into this ridiculous diet, allow me to explain now. On the carb-slow diet, you are allowed to have 2 glasses of red wine each night, and the drier the red wine the better (so Pinot Noirs, Cabernets, and Merlots over Malbecs, for example). But I don’t feel the need to drink every night, and so I have taken it upon myself to justify roll-over drinks. Meaning that on the nights I do drink, I will allow myself to have 3 because I had none the previous night. This is probably not allowed, but I am in college and there are nights that I will want to be drunk with friends, so I’ve decided to bend the rules a little bit. Also, I find myself getting drunk off of only 3 glasses of wine now because there isn’t a whole bunch of carbs in your belly to absorb the alcohol. That’s definitely a perk on this diet—you become a lightweight that gets drunk fast and for cheap. Certainly is saving me money at the bar!

Anyways, tonight I went with some friends to the Setai for drinks and a bite to eat before going out to LIV. This was my first time eating out on the diet, and it was probably the most conducive menu to my limitations. The Restaurant at the Setai is a Pan-Asian, Pacific Rim restaurant with infusions of Indian, Thai, Chinese, and Malaysian cuisines. So it is a lot of protein and a lot of vegetables, which I can have. To start I ordered the Chicken Satay Skewers, which came with a spicy red dipping sauce. They were delicious, but certainly different because they didn’t come with the traditional peanut sauce. I also ordered the Tom Kha Gai Soup, which is chicken, galangal, kaffir lime leaf, and oyster mushrooms, simmered in coconut milk. This dish is one of my favorites, and I always order it when I go out for Thai food, so it was hard for me to deny myself the coconut milk broth and sticky rice that I normally put it in. Instead, I used my chopsticks to pull out the pieces of meat and the different veggies, leaving behind the delicious, but caloric, coconut milk and rice. The dish was still fabulous though and the chicken was so well flavored from cooking in the broth. It probably would have been the best Tom Kha Gai I have ever had, had I been allowed to drink the broth and eat the rice. But it was still fabulous!

Tom Gha Kai Soup

I did make one little splurge tonight and substituted one glass of wine for a Chili Passion Martini, which is officially the best cocktail that I have ever tasted! It is Captain Morgan Passion Fruit Infused Rum, Ginger Juice, Orange Juice, Cranberry Juice, and Red Chili Seeds. WOW! It is such an exotic flavor with a perfect blend of hot and sweet. I will probably have cravings for this drink in the near future. If you go to the Setai, you must order this martini! End of story. I now it sounds super girly—and it is—but boys, order one for the girl that you are with and steal a sip or two. I promise that it is so good, you won’t care what anyone thinks of you sipping your passion martini (decorated with a cute little red chili pepper!).

Chili Passion Martini

 

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Sir Pizza ***

Sir Pizza Veggie Pizza with a Side of Ranch

305.448.4040
4231 South Le June Blvd
Miami, Fl 33146

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There is something about drinking alcohol that makes me want, or shall I say need, to eat salty, greasy, cheesy food. And since I’m usually waiting in a line 20 cars deep for my Taco Bell on a Friday night, I know I am not alone in experiencing this strange phenomenon. After four years of college, I am led to believe that there is a direct correlation between alcohol consumption and uncontrollable raging hunger. And I am furthermore convinced that drunk hungry is the highest form of hunger that exists. You crave things that normally repulse you (ever seen that Taco Bell meat sober?), and you eat portions of food that could probably feed a family of at least four (fast food bills topping $20 are not okay, considering that each item is around $1…as a general rule of thumb, you should never consume more than $5 of fast food in one sitting).

Now, I had recently managed to curtail my drunk eating habits, not by choice, but because the line at the Taco Bell near my house literally got too long to wait in a cab for. Drunken college students take forever deciding what to order, and that meter just keeps on ticking away. I didn’t have the time, money, or patience for my fast food indulgence, so for several weeks I went to bed with the spins and a growling belly….miserable combination. Then I discovered—drumroll, please—Sir Pizza, which is open until 2 am and regrettably located within 50 feet of my apartment. I say regrettably, because now the only thing on my mind at the end of the night is gooey, cheesy, totally bad for me, and conveniently located at my doorstep. I have to actually smell the fresh pizza cooking on my way from the cab to my apartment. It is a sick joke…like dangling cake in front of a fat kid. Consequently (and as expected), I have ended the past three nights shoving Sir Pizza to my face. My favorite thing to order (aka the only thing to order) is the Large Veggie Pizza with a side of Ranch. The side of ranch is crucial, because Sir Pizza has a little bit of a sweeter tomato sauce (which I don’t like) and the ranch helps cut that sweetness. So yes, you are dipping the entire slice—not just the crust—into the ranch. Ohh, and the greatest part about Sir Pizza is that there really is no crust, because the toppings go all the way to the edge of the pie. I personally, never eat my crust, so this just maximizes the amount of pizza I can eat! The veggies on the pizza include; black olives, green pepper, Spanish onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes. If you can’t find someone to share the pizza with you, it is also available in a smaller 10-inch size…but I say, go big or go home!

My favorite part about the pizza is that it is cut into little squares. Each square is about 3 bites worth of pizza, so you can guiltlessly enjoy several slices (it also makes the pizza much easier to handle…especially when drunk!). Jen and I woke up every morning this weekend with a Sir Pizza box on the nightstand, and I must admit that it is a refreshing change from Taco Bell. My stomach and my clothes both appreciate the break from the ravages of Fire Hot Sauce.

Ohh, and if you’re too drunk to do anything but eat, don’t worry, because Sir Pizza does delivery! I must shamefully admit that there have been occasions when I have paid to have my pizza delivered the whole 50 feet across the parking lot to my apartment. There is nothing better than having your indulgent drunk feast brought to you, while you lay in bed!

All that is left of Sir Pizza 20 minutes later!

 

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Tony Luke’s Cheesesteak *****

Tony Luke’s Cheesesteak with Onions and Provolone

215.551.5725
39 East Oregon Ave
Philadelphia, 19148

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Whenever I tell someone that I am from Philly, they inevitably ask me the question, “Pat’s or Geno’s?” It’s been a highly publicized cheesesteak rivalry in South Philadelphia for about 40 years now. Here’s the history:

Pat Oliviere was dubbed the creator of the Philly cheeseteak back in 1933, serving his sandwiches in the Italian Market in South Philly until he opened up his own place called “Pat’s King of Steaks,” which is still open for business today. His original steak sandwiches were not served with cheese, but Joe “Cocky Joe” Lorenzo made the provolone addition a few years later, and thus the Philly cheesesteak was born! In 1966, Joey Vento sparked some competition and opened Geno’s Steaks directly across the street on the corner of 9th Street and Passyunk Ave. The biggest difference between Pat’s and Geno’s is that Pat’s chops the meat and Geno’s does not. But you can expect the same rough Philly attitude at both spots…whether you’re a local or not. You’ve got to order the right way, or you’ll be sent to the back of the line (which can get pretty long….so just practice you’re order and get it right the first time!). You say the ingredient first followed by “wit” or “witout.” For example, “whiz wit” (translation: with Cheez Whiz) or “onion witout” (translation: without onion).

The classic Philly cheesesteak is with onions and cheese whiz, but I find the heavily processed, fluorescent orange liquid offensive and stick to provolone (there is also the choice of American cheese too).

I am going to withhold any commentary on the Pat’s and Geno’s feud (which tends to be a bit of a tourist trap in my opinion) because I believe that Tony Luke’s is the real deal, serving the best cheesesteaks and roast pork Italian sandwiches in the city. Its a little glass-enclosed area underneath the I-95 overpass with an ordering window and picnic tables (make sure you bring your jacket and scarf in the winter because it gets cold out there!!). Its nothing fancy, but does good food have to be?!?

Ordering Window inside Tony Lukes

My dad and I stop to get a Tony Luke’s steak sanchwich on our drive home from the airport every time that I fly back from school. And we each get the same thing; Cheesesteak with sharp provolone, onions, sweet peppers, and mushrooms. It is juicy, greasy, meaty deliciousness!! I unwrap my sandwich as if it’s a present, rip it into two halves with my hands, and then savor every bite of tender meat and gooey cheese (which is always perfectly melted). There is nothing like a Tony Luke’s cheesesteak, I promise! Once you try one, you will never enjoy another steak sandwich again. Tony Luke’s is also famous for their Roast Pork Italian Sandwich with spicy roast pork, garlic infused broccoli rabe, sharp provolone, and drizzle of gravy. I have never had it, but apparently it’s so good that converts even the biggest cheesesteak fanatics into roast pork eaters.

Forget Pat’s, forget Geno’s, Tony Luke’s is where its at….even Adam Richman from Man V. Food knows that. Below is a clip from his episode at Tony Luke’s. Go for yourself though!

Tony Luke’s Italian Roast Pork Sandwich

 

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