MY HAPPY PLACES: NYC RESTAURANTS
Food makes me happy and that's where the majority of my paycheck goes. So I decided to share a list of my go-to restaurants. I make a conscious effort to try all of the best restaurants New York City has to offer and these are the best in my opinion. In choosing my favorites I stuck to three simple criteria: value, experience, food.
MOMO SUSHI SHACK (BUSHWICK)
Japanese is my favorite cuisine so I've tried my fair share of Japanese spots. What makes Momo Sushi Shack stand above the rest is the experience and how the personality of the owner shows in the food. There have been times that I've walked into Momo with the sole intention of just grabbing a beer and I was treated to complimentary sake and entrees. I'm not saying this happens all the time but those are the type of things that show the character and soul of the place. Their intention is to make you happy through food and I feel it everytime. I recommend the handmade vegan gyoza, salmon pastrami, and any and all sushi bombs, rolls and buns. Also always take advantage of the daily specials menu.
Maite is unlike any restaurant I've ever been to for the simple fact that the food tastes better every time I go. It's one of those places where the food has you making love noises. The Columbian-European cuisine is unique and everything on the menu is to die for. Since they only use locally sourced ingredients from the market and from their farmers, the menu options change frequently. So not only are you treating yourself to quality food, you're also supporting the local community. If available, I highly recommend the duck egg arepa, burger, lamp rack, and of course the empanaditas. To put the cherry on top, all the wine they serve is natural.
EXTRA FANCY (WILLIAMSBURG)
Whenever I can't decide on where to eat, I just go to Extra Fancy. I can depend on Extra Fancy for great service, great vibes and great food. If Williamsburg had a boardwalk, this is the food it would serve. The food and ambiance is a perfect balance of high-low which is why the name is so perfect. It's mostly known for it's seafood and I recommend the bowl of mussels (ask for rosemary fries to soak up the broth), fish and chips, and the smoked trout.
HAVE & MEYER (WILLIAMSBURG)
Have & Meyer Natural Wine Bar makes me so happy for so many reasons. The flavors are authentically Italian which always brings back memories of my time in Rome. The natural wine selection is absurd and the staff is super attentive. They all really just want you to have the best experience possible. Come here with the people you love spending time with, stay for hours and order as much wine and food as possible. I recommend the black truffle burrata and prosciutto di parma, the garganelli with smoked bacon & fontina cheese, and the trofie with basil pesto & fresh shrimp.
I'll probably attract some haters because this is New England style pizza but I have to give credit where it's due. If I go two weeks without having Archie's pizza I get withdrawal. It's that good. Besides having awesome pizza, it's a chill spot to hangout late night. They have a full bar and cheap happy hour drinks. My go to pie has pepperoni, onions, tomato, meatball and feta.
BEST HAPPY HOUR:
ZEST NYC (LES)
The happy hour at Zest is insane because of the value your getting. Happy hour is every day between 12pm-7pm. That means every dish costs $3.50 and a pitcher of Sapporo is only $13! I'd probably come here all the time if the food was mediocre but it's not. It's great and authentic Japanese cuisine at a price you can't beat. I recommend you try everything....in one sitting.
SEA WOLF (BUSHWICK)
I love everything about Sea Wolf and what the restaurant stands for. The menu showcases the best of both land and sea with a focus on fresh ingredients that you can taste. I love the simplicity of the the dishes and you can't go wrong with 4pm-7pm happy hour everyday that includes $1 oysters and $1 chicken wings. I recommend the mussels, lobster mac and cheese, lobster roll and fried clam strips.
DINOSAUR BBQ (GOWANUS AND HARLEM
This is a competitive category but I have to go with my upstate roots. I grew up eating Dinosaur in Rochester, NY and I just can't say I've had better BBQ anywhere else (that includes the South). Both New York City locations are massive but you're still likely to wait. Just go to the bar and enjoy their extensive craft beer selection because it's worth the wait.
I can eat Mexican food anytime of the day (including Taco Bell) and there are many great Mexican restaurants in NYC. When it comes to selecting my favorite Ofrenda is a no brainer to me because of it's unique interpretation of traditional Mexican dishes. Aside from that they have the best margaritas I've ever had with happy hour seven days a week from 4pm-7pm. The menu is always changing but you can't go wrong with tacos, mole poblano and enchiladas verdes.