Where to Eat for NYC Restaurant Week – Updated for Winter 2016

NYC Restaurant Week Winter 2016

I’ve written about NYC Restaurant Week plenty of times in the past, but it’s now been almost 5 years (!) since I wrote my first guide to the almost month-long annual event. While much of it still holds true (go for the $$$$’s!), I figured it was worth an update since 1) the pre-fixe dinner is now $38 instead of $35, 2) many of the restaurants are sadly no longer, but 3) there’s a bunch of new, great restaurants available! I’ve rounded up my top picks based on their Restaurant Week offerings, so make your reservations before tables get snatched up. Even if you don’t plan to dine on any pre-fixe menus, if you have an Amex card, you should be sure to register your card as you can still qualify for a $5 statement credit at each meal (up to 4 times!) even if you order a la carte.

This list is by no means all inclusive, so there are certainly other worthwhile restaurants that are part of NYC Restaurant Week. Whatever you do, just don’t do Dos Caminos. You’re better than that :)

ABC Kitchen & ABC Cocina

Because Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Union Square mainstay and neighboring Latin American outpost are both new to the NYC Restaurant Week list for 2016 and offering solid options including a ricotta and egg raviolo, a gorgeous beet salad, and “gooey spicy ham and cheese fritters.” Yes, please.

ABC Kitchen: View Menu | Make a Reservation

ABC Cocina: View Menu | Make a Reservation

A photo posted by ABC Cocina (@abccocina) on


Ai Fiori

Because Michael White makes the best pasta in the city period, and Ai Fiori is always a solid option for Restaurant Week.

View Menu | Make a Reservation

A photo posted by Ai Fiori | NYC (@aifiori) on

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Mexican Street Corn Lime Chicken Tacos

Mexican Street Corn Lime Chicken Tacos

Mexican street corn is one of my favorite things to eat. Take grilled corn, slather mayo and/or Mexican crema, cotija cheese, and chili powder, and squirt some lime to produce one of the most addictive food items created, so much so that I lovingly call it crack corn. It’s referred to as elotes when the corn is still on the cob, and as esquites when its off the cob, like the esquites with avocado I posted a recipe for a while back. For lunch though, I decided to up the protein and turn one of my favorite sides into a complete meal by making these Mexican Street Corn Lime Chicken Tacos. By doing a quick marinade of the chicken in lime juice and chili powder, and serving this chicken grilled along with grilled corn, some guacamole for an avocado-superfood injection, and cotija or feta cheese, you have a taco that mimics the flavors of your favorite elotes in a handheld tortilla.

Meixcan Street Corn Lime Chicken Tacos Close Up
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Superbowl Sausage Kale and Ricotta Football Pizza

Sausage Kale Ricotta Football Pizza

Spicy Italian sausage, kale, and ricotta are 3 of my favorite ingredients to combine. I’ve prepared them in various iterations, from pasta to breakfast pizza, but when the football season started I had a lightbulb moment: football field pizza! With a little extra effort, your standard rectangular pizza gets transformed into this Sausage Kale and Ricotta football pizza with a crispy kale field, ricotta yard lines, and a spicy Italian sausage football at the center, though you could substitute for the sweet variety if that’s your jam. It’s a recipe for a successful Superbowl Sunday and let’s face it – it’s just pretty to look at (aka made for Instagram).

Sausage Kale Ricotta Pizza Up Close

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Easy 5 Ingredient Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Easy 5 Ingredient Slow Cooker Turkey Chili

Freezing temperatures call for hearty, stomach-lining foods like mac and cheese and stews. Since comfort food tends to veer on the unhealthy side though, I love making turkey chili to fulfill my need for a warm bowl of food while keeping my waistline in check. Plus it’s perfect for game day, especially with the Superbowl coming up. The flavor from this easy 5 ingredient turkey chili and ease of preparation comes from using canned diced tomatoes with green chiles and cooking everything low and slow into your slow cooker or Crock Pot. The chiles mixed into the tomatoes pack heat while also allowing you to skip having to buy and prep green chiles separately. Just throw the tomatoes over the rest of your ingredients in your slow cooker, stir, and set the timer for up to 8 hours on low before you go to work or when you’re about to go to sleep. You’ll come home from work or wake up to a wonderful, healthy meal for you to eat or pack for lunch. If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can easily just cook this in a heavy bottomed pot on medium-low heat until the tomatoes break down – though I don’t recommend a “set it and forget it” method since this requires an open flame :)

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Buffalo Chicken Football Pizza with Garlic Blue Cheese Cream Sauce

Buffalo Chicken Football Pizza Recipe - Super Bowl RecipesWe are fully into the fall swing, and I for one am not complaining one bit. While others may complain about the cooling temperatures, fall is actually my favorite season for a few reasons including but not limited to: my birthday, Halloween, beautiful changing leaves and trees, less sweating, more sweaters, and most importantly, FOOTBALL. In honor of my favorite sport, I decided to forego my buffalo meatballs with Cool Ranch Doritos breadcrumbs and football-ify things even more by creating this buffalo chicken football pizza. Yes, shaping the dough to make a football-shaped pizza requires a bit of extra work, but it’s football: go big or go home, am i right?

To make this football pizza, I followed many of the steps for my cheesy buffalo chicken pasta with some adaptations. It starts with the same cream cheese base, but the sauce gets upgraded to a wonderful garlic blue cheese cream sauce. It’s incredibly easy, featuring simple sauteed chopped garlic that gets blended into cream cheese, blue cheese crumbles, and milk to create a creamy oh so cheesy and delicious sauce that becomes both the base of the pizza and what is used to make the stitches on the football after baking. You may end up with a bit of extra sauce at the end, which isn’t an issue as you’ll end up wanting to drown your pizza crusts in it. Oh that’s just me? Well then……

Buffalo Chicken Football Pizza Closeup - Super Bowl Recipes

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Pumpkin Mac and Cheese with Italian Sausage

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese BowlCall it biased for being born in October, but fall is my absolute favorite season. From sweater weather to the crisp smell in the air of the fall leaves that are changing into beautiful hues of orange and red, autumn is a magical time of year. And nothing brings that magic to life more than the seasonal return of pumpkins. Yes, the return of fall means every basic chick falling in line for PSLs and posing with pumpkins in an orchard, but can you blame them? Pumpkin is one of the most unique and wonderfully rich and comforting flavors, and so I’ve found ways to include this flavor not only in satisfying my sweet tooth (helloooo pumpkin doughnuts), but in savory meals as well. I’ve made variations of pumpkin pasta several times now, but this pumpkin mac and cheese with Italian sausage is such a perfect combination of flavors that I decided it needs to be shared.

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese Out of the Oven

This pumpkin mac and cheese has the richness you crave as the temperatures turn down thanks to a creamy pumpkin béchamel sauce that gets a mountain of Parmesan, aged cheddar, and mozzarella melted into it to become a cheesy Mornay sauce. The nuttiness of the Parmesan perfectly complements the pumpkin purée while extra cheesiness and meltiness (yeah I’m making up words) is provided by the cheddar and mozzarella. Then there’s the bonus of savory, meaty Italian sausage to balance out the sweetness of the pumpkin. And finally it’s topped off with butter-coated breadcrumbs to provide that crisp crunchy outer layer to go with the ooey gooey cheesiness for the ultimate fall comfort food.

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8 NYC Summer Activities to Enjoy through September

Lobster Joint Rockaway Beach Lobster Roll

Labor Day is one of the saddest days of the year, the unofficial harsh reminder that life is not a beach and we can’t spend every waking minute basking in the sun. But that doesn’t mean we have to suddenly stop enjoying the 80+ degree weather before the official end of the season on September 22. Below I’ve put together a short list of the best NYC summer activities, food, and places to keep the summer vibes going strong until things eventually do transition to sweater weather.

1. Drink on a Rooftop

I’m not going to bother putting a list together on this one since everyone else has already done it. So go read up on one of these lists and fulfill your duties as a NYC inhabitant by having that alcoholic popsicle with a view of the Statue of Liberty, drinking that jalapeno lemonade on top of the city’s biggest museum, splitting a punch bowl in a lush garden oasis, and grabbing a beer with a bunch of hipsters post-Smorgasburg. Whatever you do, just don’t fall into the pool.

Rooftop Bar Metropolitan Museum of Art Jalapeno Lemonade

2. Eat a Lobster Roll Al Fresco

In my mind, nothing tastes more like summer than a fresh bite of a crustacean from the ocean. So when you take glorious lobster chunks, mix it with a bit of mayo or butter, and put it in a nice and portable buttered toasted split bun, you’ve got summer right in your hand, regardless of the time of year. While the weather is still nice though, there are plenty of places in NYC to enjoy a lobster roll out under the sun.

Red Hook Lobster Mac and Cheese

Red Hook Lobster‘s recently opened East Village location is tucked away in an alley off of 1st St. known as Extra Place, which allows for a darling little outdoor patio area. Go for their Connecticut style roll, served warm with butter, or even their lobster BLT, and add their stellar lobster mac and cheese if you’re really hungry.

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5 Fresh & Easy 5 ingredient Summer Salad Recipes

Watermelon Feta Mint Arugula Summer Salad

There comes a point during the summer where slaving away in front of a hot stove or oven has ZERO appeal. With a bunch of fresh fruits and vegetables in season and bikini season also in full effect, the desire of a refreshing salad skyrockets and the stars basically align for producing some kick-ass spring and summer salads. In order to maximize your time in the sun instead of prepping food in the kitchen, I did some experimenting of my own to come up with these 5 summer salad recipes that are insanely easy and delicious and take advantage of just a few simple, quality ingredients.

Each of these spring and summer salads can be made with just the 5 ingredients listed, but you can easily throw in the suggested optional add-ons if you’re an overachiever or depending on your diet (as in, go for the jalapenos if you can take the heat, skip the prosciutto if you’re vegetarian). They’re perfect for a picnic, as a side for your summer BBQ, and on their own as a healthy meal depending on how big you make each serving. Just adjust the ingredients depending on your own tastes (I know people are particular about their salads!)

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Trade Sweat for Swag at the Nike Fuel Box Vending Machine

Nike Fuel Box via @nikenyc

I am a happy, proud Nike+ Fuelband owner, even if only for a few months. Accuracy issues aside, I’ve found that being able to track my daily activity to be a huge motivator to get off my ass and get moving. Just being able to see “GOAL” flash across my wrist after an intense workout at the gym or walking a few miles around the city is enough of a reward for me itself, but I never thought that I would ever be able to actually acquire something of tangible value with my effort. That all changed with the launch of the Nike+ Fuel Box, a Nike vending machine that allows Fuelband users to exchange their Nike Fuel for Nike goods. And the goods aren’t your average freebies: they’re everything from socks to shorts to designer collaborations and Nike personal training sessions valued at over $100 a pop.

Nike Fuel Box Pulso Forte Tight of the MomentThe Nike Fuel Box works pretty seamlessly: just plug in your Fuelband, see your Nike Fuel points rack up and which items you earned enough for, pick your item, and see it drop to you without issues. No stuck items like your average vending machine.
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Easy Caprese Salad

Easy Caprese Salad Recipe This will probably be the shortest post and recipe I’ll ever write here, but it’s pretty fitting for the topic at hand. After all, a Caprese salad is one of THE most simple dishes you can make. It’s a dish that’s so, so simple yet so unbelievably delicious. It’s comprised of just 5 key ingredients: fresh mozzarella, ripe tomato, and fresh basil with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle of salt. While you can certainly add pepper and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, the most basic Caprese salad is still bursting with flavors that make it anything but basic. If you can find a local or homemade fresh mozzarella, even better – it makes all the difference in the final product.

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