I’ve been traveling a lot, both for T+L and to visit some far-flug friends--which means that I’ve been eating a lot, too. Here are some of my favorite recent restaurant discoveries in cities around the country:
NEW ORLEANS The Big Easy may be a foodie’s paradise, but as a
vegetarian I had to look beyond the sausage-heavy jambalaya joints to
find my dinners. Two eateries that offer both NoLa flavor and expanded
menus are Café Atchafalaya and Bennachin,
an East African spot with a Creole kick in the French Quarter, where
all the regional dishes (spicy jambalaya, gumbo, etc.–all of which
derived from Africa originally) can be made vegetarian.
It’s difficult to conjure up a dull weekend in New York, but that task is downright impossible on the first weekend of every month, when the city’s museums—including bastions of high culture like the Guggenheim and the Whitney—host Friday or Saturday gallery bashes with DJ’d music, fully-stocked bars, and, of course, art. My favorite First Saturday ritual revolves around the cultural hub of Brooklyn. New York’s second borough knows how to party, and it’s never better than on the first Saturday of each month. Here, my top picks for a classic first Saturday in the BK.
Chavella’s Start your night with dinner at this pint-sized Mexican nook, with welcoming waitresses and colorfully painted walls. Try the tilapia baked in banana leaves with capers and olives, chicken simmered in mole sauce….I could go on….Get here early—the 11 tables here fill up quickly. 732 Classon Ave., Prospect Heights; 718/622-3100; dinner for two $25.
Brooklyn Museum Arrive here around 9 p.m. to see the scene at its uniquely inclusive best: tri-generational families dancing together to salsa music in the vaulted courtyard, wine-sipping artistes browsing the museum’s permanent collection, and 20-something regulars meeting and greeting in the sculpture-filled lobby. 200 Eastern Parkway, Prospect Heights; 718/638-5000; brooklynmuseum.org; entrance free.
The Rub This famed monthly dance party is only beginning to heat up as the museum bash dies down. It’s challenging—but possible—to do both events. And it’s worth it: DJs at the Rub play only the best old-school hip-hop and pop jams, and the mostly-local crowd comes expecting to boogie ‘til the wee hours of the morning (wallflowers, skip this stop). Southpaw; 125 5th Ave., Park Slope; (718) 230-0236; $5 cover for ladies, $10 for men.
Joe’s Pizza What good New Yorker doesn’t crave a 2 a.m. slice? Stroll to the Brooklyn outpost of Joe’s Pizza where Park Slope’s partiers finish their nights with tasty thin-crust renditions of classics like tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil, or barbeque chicken pizza. After so much dancing, you’ll probably need the extra calories just to make it home—or back to your hotel. 137 Seventh Ave., Park Slope; 718-398-9198; pizza for two $6.