Dish Gal's guide to getting the most out of life, one meal at a time...

I <3 NY

New York, New York. I've had a loving relationship with the city since I was wee-little-one, visiting my big bro, marveling at the bright lights and his seemingly ultra-glamorous life. With every visit, it was as if I was viewing what I hoped the future would hold for me: great friends, arts and culture, fantastic nightlife, and of course exciting and exotic restaurants.

So when my 24th birthday was approaching, I felt it was only appropriate to head to the city that never sleeps to celebrate. We arrived late on Friday night and started with some cocktails at Jamie's... followed by hours of dancing...and ended with some late night pizza: Ah, New York pizza. Amazing at any hour of the night.

Next morning, we stumbled down to the Lower East Side for brunch at Schiller's, owned by the Balthazar peeps. I thoroughly enjoyed my spicy bloody mary, though did not enjoy its $11 price tag! But somehow it made me feel a little buzzed and a little silly, so I guess it did its job ;)I also really enjoyed my eggs benedict. I decided to lighten it up a bit with sliced tomato in place of the meat, much to the confusion of our waiter. Oh, did I mention I thoroughly enjoyed our tall, dark, and handsome waiter as well? ;)

Jamie's celery in her bloody mary was a little bit suspect though:For my official birthday dinner later that night, we visited another Lower East Side establishment that I had read about, a casa fox, a cozy and rustic tapas restaurant with super-reasonable prices. I had read that they're known for their empanadas, so we tried a sampler ($8). My favorite was the chorizo and manchego, followed closely behind the portobello mushroom and smoked gouda. I loooved the fried manchego cheese with membrillo ($8) (like a sweet jam)- they were like grown-up mozzarella sticks. I also liked the encortido ($4), a salad with shredded cabbage, tomato, scallion, and poblano peppers. Though to my chagrin it reminded me of stuff I can make on my own, but it did inspire me to buy poblanos next time I'm at Shaw's.Beef skewers with chimichurri sauce ($8) were delightfully tender, and plantain chips with guacamole and black bean dip ($4) proved to be a nice change from chips & salsa. But the arroz con pollo ($18) was a big disappointment. When we asked if the kitchen had forgotten the "pollo" part of the meal, our server claimed it was "traditional" that you can't even see or taste the chicken. Huh? Anyone know anything about this? And it came without rice and beans but with the aforementioned plantain chips and salsa. Double huh?

However, we ended with a huge winner: chocolate empanadas with a dulce de leche dipping sauce. Flaky empanadas filled with oozing dark chocolate? Yes, please. Happy birthday to me! Haha ;)New york, you're too good to me.

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