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Help me! I need a vegan and meat eater friendly restaurant!

Do you mean vegan or vegetarian? That's a crucial difference. Many places can offer wonderful vegetarian, but when you eliminate all the animal products, including eggs and dairy, it's a bit trickier.

It also occurs to me that you might ask the vegan in-law outright what kinds of places they like to eat at.

And hey, we have Chili's and Applebee's here in the Big Apple. If they're picky and they like chains, let them eat chains!

Sep 28, 2006
Cara in Manhattan

Tipping: Settle this for me once and for all PLEASE

Pre-tax. Always. And don't let the restaurant "help you out" by calculating the tip for you, as they do in some places in NYC, right on the bill, with the tip at 15%, 18% and 20%, always based on the total including tax.

Sep 28, 2006
Cara in Not About Food

What's the skinny on Coco Roco these days?

I was there about a month ago. My vegetarian friend had rice, beans and a mix of carrots and something green, either string beans or broccoli. She wasn't thrilled with it, but thought the beans were okay. I had a terrific, and enormous, dish of fried mixed seafood with a corn meal crust. It was enough for two or three people, fresh, and perfectly cooked, and it came with a yummy salsa. On the negative side, we had to ask them to turn down the music, and then it was still too loud, and I recall the same experience as another poster with regard to a subtle but unpleasant smell. Overall, despite the good seafood, we left feeling that we wouldn't be returning any time soon. I don't recall bad service, but it was awhile ago...

Sep 27, 2006
Cara in Outer Boroughs

ISO Vegetarian Restaurants in Queens

When I refer to the "two Candles" I'm talking about the Candle Cafe, 1307 Third Avenue at 75th Street, and Candle 79, 154 East 79th Street near Lexington Avenue. Same owners. The Cafe is more casual, Candle 79 is rather upscale. 79 is especially good. There are also a couple of Gobo locations; the one I've tried is on 6th Ave. and 8th St. in the Village, and it's wonderful.

Sep 14, 2006
Cara in Outer Boroughs

Best Mexican with fun atmosphere, good food and amazing margaritas?

Gabriela's is open for business again at Amsterdam and 93rd St. I think they have everything you're looking for.

Sep 13, 2006
Cara in Manhattan

ISO Vegetarian Restaurants in Queens

The food was "cheap" in that it didn't cost a lot. That was a good thing. I agree with you that it's good to be open to suggestions (I often ask for suggestions on this board). I also agree with you that ethnic restaurants should not attempt to cater to the palettes of non-natives. But if a restaurant is offering a dish, it should be well-prepared. Why offer bad food if you have it in your power to offer really good food?

And what comes to the table should be what you ordered. They brought me something I hadn't ordered, without consulting me first. I didn't care for that.

With respect to your question about water, I don't know the answer, you may be right. However, I am pretty used to being given a glass of water without having to ask for it, and as I noticed other customers being given water when they sat down, I assumed I'd be entitled to the same thing.

Lastly, I've eaten at Souen and am not a fan. However, I have had great tempeh dishes at the two Candle restaurants, as well as Counter and Gobo.

Sep 11, 2006
Cara in Outer Boroughs

ISO Vegetarian Restaurants in Queens

I was at Happy Buddha a few days ago, and was really disappointed, since I'd made the trip out specifically for that purpose. I had ordered grilled tempeh with organic vegetables and a miso/ginger sauce. I waited a long time for it, and when it arrived it was slabs of soft tofu instead of tempeh. Apparently, they had run out of tempeh and didn't bother to tell me or ask me if I wanted something else. I didn't want soft tofu, which doesn't agree with me and which I don't care for. The waitress suggested I taste the sauce before rejecting the dish, and it turned out to be thick and gooey with no heat and little flavor. I could not even detect ginger. I rejected the dish and ordered instead a noodle dish with black mushrooms and "soy ham," a mysterious and questionable ingredient with a vaguely sour, unpleasant flavor. The dish was salty and cheap. In terms of service, I had to ask for a glass of water.

Sep 07, 2006
Cara in Outer Boroughs

Rego Park observations- long

Thanks for this 63rd Dr. posting. I've been there more often than usual lately, and have sought out decent food options. Just last night I finally tried Tangra Wok. I was very happy with the food. It would be a great option for mixed vegetarian-carnivore outings, since both approaches are well-represented. The service, however, was bizarrely lousy. A bowl of soup as an appetizer took twenty minutes to arrive, despite my explicit request for it from the waiter, and the place was not crowded. But based on the food, I'll go back. And the waitstaff was friendly, despite the slow service.

One place I didn't see mentioned in the above reviews is the Kosher deli, Ben's, on QB east of 63rd Drive. The place is run-down and seedy, and the food is second-rate. This should be noted, as a warning.

Sep 05, 2006
Cara in Outer Boroughs

Red hook

Does anybody know if bad weather affects whether the vendors show up? I've been planning to go this weekend, but now I hear we're in for a lot of rain. I'd hate to shlep all the way out there on the bus if they don't work during storms.

Aug 31, 2006
Cara in Outer Boroughs

Starbucks in Sunnyside?

Nobody Special, you're referring to The Grind. It's owned by a guy from Texas who has clear ambitions for the space. He's either gotten or about to get a beer & wine permit and will be showing movies in the back room. It's also a restaurant of sorts, selling paninis, smoothies, salads and desserts, and it has internet access, including several computer terminals. Unfortunately, the coffee isn't top drawer, and a hot chocolate I ordered tasted like hot water poured over a mix (don't know if it was, but that's how it tasted). The ambiance is nice and I'd like to see the place survive, but the quality of the main attraction, the coffee, needs to come up a notch.

Aug 30, 2006
Cara in Outer Boroughs

Authentic Mexican in Queens or Brooklyn?

Gabriella's has either reopened already or is about to, at that same location. What I read recently is that they closed the other locations, consolidated their resources and are making another go of it.

Aug 30, 2006
Cara in Outer Boroughs

Starbucks in Sunnyside?

I just noticed that same Starbucks sign myself, walking down Queens Blvd. (me, not the sign) and felt that tingle, specifically related to the exact same caramel macchiato that you mentioned. Funny about that particular drink: so fattening, so expensive, so yummy. So yes, personally, I'm sure that on occasion I will frequent the new Starbucks in Sunnyside. I'm not worried that it will yuppify the neighborhood all that much. As a resident of Sunnyside, I don't particularly notice yuppies moving in as much as I notice many immigrants from all over the planet. This is why I love my nabe.

Additionally, the Colombian diner, El Buen Sabor, just down the street between 45th and 46th on the same side of Queens Blvd., makes a great espresso much cheaper than Starbucks, and offers me wheat-free baked goods to go with, such as pan de yuca, almojabana, arepa de queso or bunuelo. Starbucks can't do that.

Aug 27, 2006
Cara in Outer Boroughs

Does anyone know of any good vegan restaurants in Brooklyn?

I second Second Helpings in Park Slope at the corner of 7th Ave. and 9th St. I notice that LOTS of folks stop in there on their way home from work to pick up a healthy and generously portioned dinner. One of my favorite aspects of this place is the selection of gluten-free baked goods, although they have gluten-loaded baked goods as well. Eating there makes me feel very righteous and hippy-dippy. In a good way, of course.

Aug 27, 2006
Cara in Outer Boroughs

El Jarro (De Mole) Is Great -- Really?

Based on Chowish reviews, I went back there tonight for a second visit. I ate there once when the place first opened, what, a year or two ago? I wasn't impressed the first time around, thought I was tasting garlic powder in the food...anyway, tonight I ate a bland, almost tasteless soup that sounded interesting when described by the waiter, but which turned out to be just some chicken broth with zucchini slices and a bit of squash blossom floating in it for color. If it hadn't been for the little cubes of queso blanco floating in the broth there would have been nothing at all to taste.

I tried an al pastor taco that was generous in size, but tough to chew, and similarly lacking in flavor: no heat, little spiciness, sparse unripe pineapple, barely any cilantro. Al pastor is one of my favorite taco varieties, but this was just a chore to get through. The best of the three things I tried was a quesadilla, also stuffed with squash blossoms, cheese and some other ingredients, with a nicely fried corn tortilla. Also had a very good salsa and tortilla strips before the meal. Nice service too.

I certainly like the prices, and wouldn't mind another visit, but if this place is as good as it gets, some guidance is in order. What should I be ordering?

Aug 27, 2006
Cara in Outer Boroughs

a main that is not a meat, chicken, fish or pasta

What you're seeking is an everyday occurrence for those who eat no animal protein and don't depend on pasta to survive. Check out a good vegetarian cookbook, like the encyclopedic "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" by Deborah Madison. A strictly vegetable main course will not fill you up, in my experience, and then you'll crave chocolate ice cream or pizza in a big way. So you want protein in there someplace. Get it from beans/legumes. The variety is endless, for instance, tofu/tempeh, split or black-eyed peas, lentils, kidney/black/navy/northern/pinto beans, etc.

It's not time-consuming to make beans if you use organic, cooked beans in a can, like from Westbrae or another health food company. I like to combine several things in one pot, for instance, chopped sweet potato and broccoli rabe sauteed with olive oil and garlic until soft, and then add a can of black beans. Surprisingly delicious.

Aug 26, 2006
Cara in Home Cooking

Seeking Enchiladas anywhere in the OB por favor

I haven't tried their other enchiladas, but the enchiladas mole at La Hacienda (north side of Roosevelt Ave. just east of the 61st St. #7 train entrance) are surprisingly good. The place is set back from the street, up the steps. It's worth a shot. If you find something good, let me know. BTW, you can always request "queso extra" and see if that helps.

Aug 26, 2006
Cara in Outer Boroughs