NY: Bar dining

Blue Smoke, NYC: the burger

Blue Smoke's (NYC) burger, time and time again, gets dissed in various burger "round-ups" (not on that one) and on blogs (here, though) and just about anywhere that people discuss burgers.  So much so that each time I read about someone's thoughts on what is one of my favorite burgers I think "surely this person is going to love it.  surely."  And I'm pretty much always wrong.

My question is: are these people high?  Blue Smoke's burger is certainly one of the best restaurant burgers in NYC.  I'm sticking to that opinion regardless of what the rest of the world says.

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Dos Caminos: pretty colors, lots of tequila


Dos Caminos recently opened their third New York branch.  On 3rd Ave this time, where La Maganette used to live (I'd guess at 50th or so).

I figured it would be another colorful meat market, like the one on Park must be (I've never been).  And I might be right. What I know for sure is that they've got a bunch of nice tequila and some decent pork tacos.  And pretty colors, as the super-megapixel image above so clearly illustrates.

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craftsteak, NYC: batting .500

Update:  Craftsteak has closed and changed concepts.

I'd be remiss in my duties as the self-proclaimed foremost authority on dining and most-things-taste-related (aka, "food bully") if I didn't mention my most recent visit to craftsteak, especially considering how much I enjoyed my first visit a few months ago.   My recent meal can only be categorized as not-so-good.

And it went a little something like this.  Hit it boys...

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craftsteak: New York, NY

Update:  Craftsteak has closed and changed concepts.

craftsteak lives where Frank's steakhouse used to live, on 10th ave at 14th Street.  Frank's was in the middle of nowhere.  craftsteak is in the middle of Morimoto, Chelsea Market, and Del Posto. Times, they be-a changin'. 

My clearest memories of Frank's include a Mark Fuhrman sighting (that detective related to the O.J. stuff back in the day), their enormous and quite delicious shrimp cocktail, and a bachelor party during which an intense case of sun-poisoning kicked in.  That was the most miserable bachelor party you could imagine.

Frank's has since moved around the corner into the Chelsea Market building, and Tom Colicchio moved into its grand old space, bringing with him a total and gorgeous renovation, a bunch of steak from "artisanal producers," a dry-aging room, and a private dining room that seats 40...although I probably wouldn't choose this room for a bachelor party.

With no less than 14 different types of steak from which to choose, you'd do well to review the menu on their website before going.  When I say "different types" of steak, I'm not talking about the typical steakhouse choices, which generally include several different cuts of 28 day dry-aged grain-fed beef and a tasteless filet mignon.  I'm talking about different cuts of steak, several ages of steak, different producers, and hell, different breeds of cow.  So what's the best approach to ordering?  Simple:  get as many people together as you can and order as many steaks as you can and share them.  A steak tasting menu.  What could be better?  craftsteak seems designed for this approach, and they're more than happy to help you sort that out.

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Epstein's Bar, LES: the burger

We ended up at Epstein's Bar in the lower east side the other night.  Word from my friend's roommate was that they have a good burger.  The folks at CityRag agree.  They're smart folk.

Epstein's opened a while back in the old Living Room space.  The Living Room was a tiny little bar, packed with tables, where you could catch some pretty decent music on the right night (for free, no less), like, for example, the wonderful and talented Lauren Hoffman.  Those were the days. 

Somehow, the owners of Epstein's made the same space seem double the size.  They opened up floor to ceiling windows and doors, and put some tables outside.  Perfect for people-watching, if that's your thing.  It's mine.  There's a sizeable bar still, but only a handful of tables inside.  Lower east siders don't need all those tables (and they look just like east villagers did 10 years ago).   And, they have what appeared to be a really good internet-connected jukebox.  And a big flat-screen TV. 

None of that matters.  What matters is that the burger ($7 with bacon, although you can get it for $5 without), is really excellent.

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Naples 45 : the best pizza in Manhattan, almost

And the almost best pizza in Manhattan is...

[drum roll...]

Naples 45.


Whahuh? Naples 45 is big, generic-looking airplane hangar of a restaurant in midtown, catering mostly to midtown office workers' lunches.  It's owned by Restaurant Associates, which is a big conglomerate that owns a bunch of mostly mid-tier restaurants.  So why is anyone going to believe me when I say that they have incredible pizza?  They're not.  And that's fine, as there will be more pizza for me.

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