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Have you been to Nixtamal lately?

I went to Nixtamal recently and I have to say I am really surprised at all the hype this place has gotten, especially for its tortillas. It may be that the specimen I had was not particularly fresh, but I actually think there are now multiple places in dreaded Manhattan that have far superior tortillas to Nixtamal, such as Otto's, Los Tacos No. 1, and, at a much higher price point, Empellon Taqueria. Perhaps this place was revelatory when it first opened, but, if so, things have definitely changed and it is really not worth the schlep anymore for me.

Aug 27, 2014
tjdnewyork in Outer Boroughs

Salinas in Chelsea?

I have to say that they last time I was there I found the food okay but the wine pricing offensively aggressive. As I recall there was a bottle I'd recently bought in the store for about 7 dollars on offer for about 50. A quick glance at the wine list now reveals very aggressive multiples. Maybe it's just me but this kind of thing really turns me against a restaurant.

Jul 18, 2014
tjdnewyork in Manhattan

My report about where I went to eat for a week in Palermo in January

Paradiso was a phenomenal recommendation. I ate incredibly well there. The highlight was a spaghetti with fresh swordfish eggs.

May 31, 2014
tjdnewyork in Italy

"Serious" Coffee Shops in Japan

Oct 12, 2013
tjdnewyork in Japan

"Serious" Coffee Shops in Japan

If you're interested in espresso than Bear Pond should be at the top of your list, as it is completely different than any espresso I've ever had anywhere before. Fuglen should be on the list too, but as much for atmosphere as for espresso.

Fouqet's in Futakotamagawa is also excellent for nel-drip coffee. (The same style as prepared at Irukaya.)

In Osaka go to Mill Pour in Shinsaibashi.

Kyoto has some excellent, excellent cafes, though most of them are not serving espresso. There's one particularly good siphon place around town--can dig up the name. There's a recent and pretty interesting academic book on the subject of cafe culture in Japan which lists many of the best cafes in Kyoto. I used that as a guide.

Oct 11, 2013
tjdnewyork in Japan

Cal Pep, still worth it?

Unfortunately I think that Cal Pep, like many other places in a city that is now constantly overrun by tourists, has really come to depend nearly exclusively on the tourist trade. The upside, for visitors, is probably better English spoken, menus traslated, etc.

The downside, though, is that they have no need to rely on repeat visitors and thus can pretty much do whatever they want.

When you have a local trade, word gets around if you repeatedly burn regulars. When you don't and your visitors are from Buffalo and Buenos Aires not Barcelona, you can pretty much do as you please, especially if you have been included for a decade or so in every list of must-eat at-places in Barcelona.

I actually attempted to go there recently, at about 11pm, noting that they closed at 11:30. The bar was nearly full, the kitchen was hopping, and there was a seat open. We're closed, the guy behind the bar belted out when I walked in. When do you close, I asked. 11:30. It's 11 I said. All of this was in Spanish, not that that should make any difference. We close when we want to, he said.

Hopefully some tourists will get wise to this kind of thing and stop frequenting this place, but if that happens, it will take a long time.

In the mean time, I hope he gets treated the same way when he tries to eat out here or abroad. I personally hate this kind of place.

It's sad because Cal Pep was actually pretty good in the time period you are talking about.

I think some places use the guarantee of foreign/tourist patronage to up their game, refine their craft, expand their reach. Sadly Cal Pep is not one of those places.

Oct 03, 2013
tjdnewyork in Spain/Portugal

Sushi Sagane - Nishi Shinjuku

This is an excellent recommendation, Ninisix, and i really thank you for it. Had a superb meal there last night. Great to find such high quality sushi in a small restaurant on the West side of Tokyo! Very relaxed yet intimate atmosphere. And phenomenal assortment of tsumami and nigiri sushi. The smoked katsuo was awesome. Great place.

Jul 06, 2013
tjdnewyork in Japan

Recommended Kappo in Osaka?

Thanks, looks Kusumoto looks very good.

What do you think of Kigawa?

One thing that seems somewhat distinctive about Nakamura and Kigawa is that they offer extensive a la carte menus. Seems like a lot of the other counter kappo places are prix-fixe only, no?

Oct 31, 2012
tjdnewyork in Japan

Recommended Kappo in Osaka?

Thanks for the Geppa rec anarcist--really enjoyed that place. Very nice guy too.

Any recs for kappo that do more than just traditional Japanese cuisine? I loved Nakamura. I guess Kahala fits the bill.

Oct 27, 2012
tjdnewyork in Japan

Midtown Sushi Lunch Recs?

What are your opinions on who offers the best quality/price for sushi at lunch in midtown? Willing to spend up to say $25 for the lunch special. Or a bit more if there's something amazing.

I go often to Aburiya and I think their lunch deal is great. But obviously no sushi.

Came up with Sushiden and Shimizu as possibilities from this board. Are those the best for lunch? Which of the two? Anywhere else?

Thanks for the help.

Mar 23, 2012
tjdnewyork in Manhattan

Salinas Spanish -- Really!!??

So I ran by this place a week or so ago and I thought it looked kind of weird/bad from the outside. But I noted the positive reviews posted on the door. Read a few of them online and figured I had to check it out. Thy got two stars from the Times a few months ago. It's a nice space in the back--they open the roof and it's semi-outdoors but warmed by a fireplace. It's not a terrible place at all. It's just not good. And the idea that they got two stars from the Times is frankly ridiculous.

First big problem: the markup on their wine list is completely out of control. They're selling some of the cheapest wines Spain exports, that retail in stores in the USA for $7-$9, for a minimum of $47 a bottle. I know 3 or 4 times the price is standard, but this is really really pushing it. The weird thing is that some of the more expensive bottles have a much lower markup and some have the same outrageous 6 or 7 times retail markup. I would prefer that they just sell expensive bottles that are good value rather than fleecing people on the cheapest wines available from Spain. I was insulted. I guess the assumption is that American wine consumers are not sophisticated enough to observe and/or protest against this kind of BS. The whole thing left a very bad taste in my mouth. Though I must say that the $62 Priorat we eventually chose was pretty decent--and only marked up 3 times over retail.

The food was just okay. I liked the Patatas Bravas a lot, though the potato cubes were way too small. The anchovy/avocado montadito combo was tasty, if lifted from Pinotxo in Barcelona. The pulpo was a bit tough but not bad tasting. The pan con tomate, which they called, strangely, in Catalan pa amb oli, which means bread with oil, when it was obviously meant to be pa amb tomaquet, bread with tomatoes. Nomenclature aside, it was no good. Basically the Spanish and Catalan bread with tomatoes uses a light coating of tomato, usually rubbed on the bread, accompnaied by olive oil and salt. This version was basically grilled bread covered in pureed tomatoes which were not, themselves, very ripe or tasty. The charcuterie trio was mediocre. Meats were too cold and I don't think they were freshly sliced for the plate. There was not enough bread to eat them with. The crujiente was also kind of blah. The dessert was okay: torrijas. I think it would have been better warm. We opted to wait to order mains until we tasted the tapas. The waiter kept pressing us for the mains order. No wonder: he knew after we had the tapas that we'd probably be reluctant to drop $30 - $40 on an entree.

I know there is supposed to be some Basque chef behind this place, but stuff like the pan con tomate makes me really wonder. I can't believe anyone from Spain, or the Basque country, would serve something like that.

I saw this place recommended on this board as an alternative to Casa Mono. It's not even close to Casa Mono by any metric except maybe party people ambience.

I got the feeling that my initial suspicion was correct: it's a place that's much more about the atmosphere and crowd than about the food or wine. Too bad.

Mar 21, 2012
tjdnewyork in Manhattan

Naples Espresso

Wondering which cafes in Naples are considered to have the best espresso. I think the overall average quality here is amazing, maybe the best in the world for me. I've enjoyed Bar Mexico opposite Piazza Dante, and also Cafe Dei Professori near to Gambrinus, as well as countless smaller places. But I'm wondering what other places in this city make truly exceptional espresso.

Jul 07, 2011
tjdnewyork in Italy

Which of the oft-recommended tasting menu places in BCN have a good bar you can eat at?

True, but not the kind of place I'm after. Looking for Modern Catalan, menu degustacion type of places. I know that the idea of those kinds of places having a bar counter to eat at is a bit unusual, but I'm betting some do anyway.

May 26, 2011
tjdnewyork in Spain/Portugal

Which of the oft-recommended tasting menu places in BCN have a good bar you can eat at?

Taking a friend out tonight for dinner and was considering the usual suspects recommended on this board: Gelonch, Gresca, Coure, Sauc, Alkimia.

I was wondering which of these, or other similar, good-value Modern Catalan tasting menu type of places have a good bar counter to eat at. As I recall Gresca and Alkimia do not, though I could be wrong.

Any suggestions? Thanks for the help.

May 26, 2011
tjdnewyork in Spain/Portugal

Barcelona Best-Value Lunch Deals

I don't mean cheap. I mean an amazing price to quality relationship.

I'll start the list with a couple of places I tried and liked:

-Gresca
-Hisop

I have had these recommended for the lunch menu but have yet to try them:

-TOC
-Gelonch

Others to add to the list of must-try lunch places?

May 26, 2011
tjdnewyork in Spain/Portugal

Txakolin in Born (Barcelona) -- Excellent Pintxos

I saw a stray mention of this place on this board and wandered in tonight because I'm staying nearby. It's located just opposite Estacio del Franca in Born. The place really gets going at about 8:45, though it opens earlier, and they bring out a nearly continuous stream of fresh and inventive hot pintxos that is, I think, the most varied in Barcelona. Taktika Berri might have an edge on overall quality, but this place offers more variety. I highly recommend trying their pintxos if you're down this way at around 9pm.

May 25, 2011
tjdnewyork in Spain/Portugal

Where to buy high-quality olive oil and other foodie gifts in Palermo?

Thanks Bugsey. I ended up shopping at a place called Cibus on E. Amari, which had a wide selection of stuff and good prices.

May 23, 2011
tjdnewyork in Italy

Where to buy high-quality olive oil and other foodie gifts in Palermo?

Pretty self-evident. Traveling to Spain next and need to bring some good gifts for friends. Any suggestions on where to find this stuff and what might be best to bring? Thanks for the help.

May 20, 2011
tjdnewyork in Italy

More Palermo restaurants like Zia Pina (and any of them open for dinner)?

Yeah, I read all his posts. I think almost all of the restaurants he spoke of positively recently were of a different type than what I'm after, with the exception of Zia Pina. Hence the post...

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Zia Pina
Via Argenteria,67, Palermo, Sicily 90133, IT

May 20, 2011
tjdnewyork in Italy

More Palermo restaurants like Zia Pina (and any of them open for dinner)?

Thanks, vinoroma, had a look--great suggestion. Excellent guide.

May 20, 2011
tjdnewyork in Italy

More Palermo restaurants like Zia Pina (and any of them open for dinner)?

Visiting Palermo for a few days. Searched the boards, headed to Zia Pina for my first meal and thought it was great. I want to stick to that kind of home-cooked food and, of course, found this useful Times article from four years ago: http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/07/15/...

It mentions Zia Pina, Rosso Nero, and Padre Aldo. Anyone have more recent experiences with these places or other similar ones? Are there any of these type of restaurants that are open for dinner? Thanks in advance for the help.

May 20, 2011
tjdnewyork in Italy

Anything in Enfield?

Thanks for the suggestion. Ended up at a place called Cricketers--pleasant enough pub with inoffensive food.

May 18, 2011
tjdnewyork in U.K./Ireland

Anything in Enfield?

After a night of hospital food at the hotel in Enfield in search of something...edible. Any ideas? Pub with good food would be perfect. Seen a few on a run through the town but hard to know which of them might be good. Any help is appreciated. Thanks.

May 17, 2011
tjdnewyork in U.K./Ireland

Late Lunch with buzz

There are a lot of great places open for lunch that do a brisk busines between, say, 1pm and 2:30pm and then essentially wind down to closing before reopening for dinner. Then there are restaurants that either stay open all day, even between lunch and dinner, or that have a lingering lunch crowd and so stay buzzing through to the evening. If I'm in search of a later lunch, I want the second type of place so that my lunch companions and I do not feel like the last diners standing. I wonder if others might add to this list of Manhattan lunch places with good food and good buzz, where you can eat and drink late into a Tuesday or Thursday afternoon and feel right at home.

I'll start the list with a few favorites in this category and would very much appreciate other suggestions:

-Balthazar
-Lupa
-Otto
-Casa Mono, sometimes, although other days I've been there it got completely dead in the later afternoon

May 10, 2011
tjdnewyork in Manhattan

Calling vinhotinto75

Thanks, monchique, I enjoyed that place too.

Vinhtinto (and monchique, and anyone else): where do you love in Rio? I'm here now and trying to find some great places after two weeks of superb eating in Sao Paulo.

Mar 24, 2011
tjdnewyork in Spain/Portugal

Calling vinhotinto75

Oh well, thanks anyway. And thanks again for all the Portugal info--it was incredibly helpful and helped make the trip. Man, Brazil is expensive compared to Portugal.

Mar 09, 2011
tjdnewyork in Spain/Portugal

Calling vinhotinto75

Apologies in advance as I couldn't figure out how to send a PM (is there a way?) on this site.

Anyway, vinhotinto, loved your recs for Lisbon so much that I wondered if I might trouble you to provide some favorites for Sao Paulo, since you indicated you spend time in Brazil too. I'm over here now and trying to find the kinds of places you so easily ID'd in Lisbon.

I know this is Spain/Portugal but I couldn't figure out any other way to do this, as you don't seem to post in the Brazil sections.

Mar 09, 2011
tjdnewyork in Spain/Portugal

ISO Armenian "pastrami", aka Basturma...

Welcome to New York. You'll find that we have very little in the way of Armenian food, especially compared to LA. The one place I can think of that probably sells basturma, though, is Kalustyan's over in Curry Hill in Manhattan.

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Kalustyan's
123 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

Feb 15, 2011
tjdnewyork in Manhattan

Destinations for Valentine's Day Special Haters

Nothing annoys me more than the annual obligatory shafting of customers at most of the city's nicer restaurants tonight. There must be a post about this, but I didn't find it. And so my question is: Where do you go tonight for a great restaurant experience where they still willingly serve their normal fare, not some overpriced VD menu?

In the past we have gone to Bar Pitti. Other suggestions? Downtownish preferably, meaning Soho, Tribeca, and Village, would be best. Thanks in advance for the assistance.

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Bar Pitti
268 6th Ave, New York, NY 10014

Feb 14, 2011
tjdnewyork in Manhattan

Tokyo sushi options under 10k yen a head (can be lunch)?

A little more research yielded reports of a Sushi Saito set for 5k. Anyone know if that's still going on and/or have thoughts on Saito vs. Dai San Harumi for lunch?

Jan 01, 2011
tjdnewyork in Japan