It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

New Yorkers love their neighborhoods. And while I proudly broadcast by suburban Detroit roots, I love Astoria.

A Greek restaurant in Astoria

A Greek restaurant in Astoria (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve built a community around my life in New York. I have my local taverna (Zenon – the best Greek food you’ll ever have . . . ever), my laundromat (Geno’s! Geno and his cousin Ronald take care of my clothes on a weekly basis for $0.65/pound), my coffee shop (Brooklyn Bagel on 30th Ave. – amazing iced coffee and stellar mini whole wheat everything bagels), and of course, my local movie theater (United Artists Kaufman Astoria). Astoria, like many other ‘hoods outside of Manhattan, has the amazing ability to feel as much like a city as it needs to, while still playing the part of a quieter, more suburban locale.

I’m dedicating my summer to getting to know Astoria even better, by perusing the green market, hanging at the beer gardens, and sampling skordalia from taverna to taverna.

If you’ve never stepped foot beyond Manhattan, I highly suggest taking the N/R/Q over the East River and into Astoria.

Places worth trying:

  1. Zenon Taverna
  2. Ovelia
  3. MexiQ
  4. Museum of the Moving Image
  5. Bohemian Hall Beer Garden
  6. Mama Yogurt
  7. The Sparrow Tavern
  8. Vesta
  9. Frank’s Bakery
  10. Brooklyn Bagel & Coffee Company




Vero Midtown [Review]

Image representing Yelp as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

I’ve walked passed Vero many times on my 2nd Ave. treks, and came here for a quick lunch with one of my colleagues after a long schlep back from the west side of Manhattan. I was in the mood for something with goat cheese, and so we opted for Vero as it has several items that fit that description.

I had the chopped salad, my colleague had the tuna tartare and we both had a glass of the watermelon sangria. My meal was delicious. Perfect portion, great fresh ingredients. The salad had currants, red peppers, feta (but I actually think it was crumbled goat cheese), tomatoes, romaine lettuce, and chickpeas and while normally dressed with a lemon vinaigrette, I opted for just some balsamic vinegar.

My colleague’s dish was really well-presented. It was tuna tartare stacked with fried wontons and the garnish was really bright and vibrant.

The sangria was really delicious. The watermelon puree worked really well with the crisp white wine, with floating pears on top.

Only thing I wished would have been different, and the reason I withheld the fifth star when I reviewed Vero on Yelp, is that the salad was not as finely chopped as I would have hoped. Everything else? Wonderful.

Two Drink Minimum

I’ve always appreciated New York’s nightlife . . . from a distance. The whole, “city that never sleeps, bars are open until 4 a.m.” thing seems proper lush, but not proper Kirsch. I’m used to East Lansing — where drinks are $2 and the bars worth going to are suburbanly situated (mere feet apart) — so, obviously, I’ve had some things to get used to.

The benefit to living in a big city like New York, is that there is almost always something to do. And while there are bars and clubs scattered throughout Manhattan, I’ve found that, for the most part, I’m more of a lounge/karaoke bar kind of person. I like to laugh, and I like to be able to hear what’s going on around me — I also don’t like paying more than $10 for a bottom-shelf vodka cranberry.

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