Casa Enrique (LIC, NY)

Among the recent recipients of the coveted Michelin star in New York, Casa Enrique is a deliciously unpretentious spot to get your interior Mexican fix in Long Island City without breaking the budget.  The average dinner for two here, with 2 or 3 drinks each, an appetizer, entrees and sides is under $100. That’s a steal by New York standards, and especially by Michelin star-winner standards.

Like a hipster, I’ll just go ahead and say it. We’ve been coming here long before it was a Michelin star winner. It’s just nice to know that other folks agree with me – it is seriously good. Also amazing is their sister restaurant, Café Henri, a French bistro just across the street from the 7 train stop on Vernon-Jackson.

A friendly host or hostess greets you as you walk in and, after you indicate whether you’d like a table inside or outside, you’re whisked to your table. The minimalist décor – white on white, concrete floors, votives and a small vase of understated flowers on each table, is refreshing.

The drinks at Casa Enrique are delicious. Try the Michelada or the Aguachile Margarita if you like spice. If not, there are a ton of fruit-flavored margs and mojitos to choose from.

Michelada with Pacifico Beer at Casa Enrique

Michelada with Pacifico Beer

 

Casa Enrique - Pork puffs

Delicious pork puffs greet you upon arrival. Cannot remember their name!

The service is excellent.

Service here has always been good, but I think maybe the receipt of the star has encouraged the staff to up their game. There just seem to be more servers in general now. That being said, the service is fantastic and friendly, not in-your-face and you’re not stuck craning your neck, looking for someone – anyone – to ask for what you need.

PRO-TIP #1: Eat at the Bar if there’s a long wait to be seated.

The actual restaurant space is pretty small, so if it’s crowded Continue reading

Top 6 Things To Do in Long Island City in the Springtime

Spring is in the air… finally! This morning,  New Yorkers crawled out of their winter dens, stripping themselves of snow boots, misery and wool coats, slapped on a (temporary) smile and ventured outdoors for what seems like the first time in ages to enjoy the balmy 65-degree Fahrenheit, sunny weather we’ve been blessed with on a weekend day. Hallelujiah! Spring is here!
With the better weather comes a responsibility that most weekend warriors will understand. On the two days a week you’re not stuck indoors at your office, if it’s nice outside, you darn well better be outside enjoying it. Let’s be clear, though. You shouldn’t ditch the black boots and long sleeves yet. We’re still in New York and it’s April, and it could very well snow tomorrow … so don’t get too excited.
An old friend we met in Argentina, but just so happens to also live in NYC, came over today and we set out to enjoy the best of what LIC (that’s Long Island City….which, while technically geographically located on Long Island, is very much part of New York City and one Subway stop away from Manhattan on the 7, E or M trains – sorry to blow your mind) has to offer.
So, we took her out to enjoy our favorite weekend rituals for good weather in Long Island City. What are those, you ask? I’m so glad you did!

Here are my Top 6 Favorite Things To Do in LIC in The Springtime:

1.  Visit the LIC Flea & Food

Inaugurating the unofficial delayed start to the season this weekend was the grand reopening of the LIC Flea & Food, a celebrated local food and artisan fair held every Saturday and Sunday during the spring and summer outdoors at the corner of 46th Avenue and 5th Street, just one block from Center Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens.
Tons of food options, tons of artists and craftsmen – making for a few hours of fun at the Flea
Keep your eyes out for a detailed post about the “Flea” in the coming days.
For more on the LIC Flea & Food, visit http://www.licflea.com/ .

2.  Enjoy Gantry State Park

Iconic Pepsi-Cola sign? Check.

Amazing, unobstructed views of the New York City skyline? Check.

Ample room to sit, lounge, stroll and enjoy the waterfront? Check.

Dog park with (what I think is) the best view you can get? Check.

Ferry landing, where you can grab the East River ferry to Manhattan or to various parts of Brooklyn? Check.

 



Trouble finding the park? Walk straight from Center Boulevard towards the skyline. Stop before you fall in the East River. Easy peasy. Continue reading

Review: Try The World

Hubby and I have been subscribers of Try The World since Christmas and recently received our second box – the Venice box – in the mail. So, I thought I’d write a review.

Try the World

Contents of the Try The World Venice Box

“What’s Try The World?” you ask? I have to admit, I was hesitant to sign up for it because I found it via a Facebook ad. Normally, I ignore Facebook ads… and I would say that one out of 2 times I actually clicked on them and ended up buying something, I have been horribly disappointed. Continue reading

Reñaca & Sushi at Sushi Home Beach

Reñaca is your typical beach-side town with tons of highrise apartment buildings and hotels along a beach, but the difference is that they’re all built on hills and on the beaches, you can rent lounge chairs, an umbrella, and anything else for the day (or by the hour). It’s pretty cool. It’s also handy because almost nobody sells beach towels, and the ones that do are surf shops that sell towels by Quiksilver and other brands, and cost about US $50. So, make sure you bring a towel if you go.
We weren’t overly impressed with the area, but the beach is wide and sandy, yet crowded. As you can see, the weather wasn’t cooperating as much as we had hoped.  We had a great lunch at a sushi place there after it got cloudy and too cold to lay out any longer.
Sushi Home Beach was awesome. We were some of the only ones in the place and the staff was really friendly. Our waiter was bilingual but put up with our terrible accents speaking Spanish and walked us through the menu, and gave us excellent recommendations for rolls and side dishes. We started the day off right with some pisco sours (as you do in Chile) and got to work on our rolls.
I recommend the spicy ones and the ones that have octopus. I can’t remember the names. But the piscos are also damn delicious. So go there, if you’re ever in the area.

Viña del Mar – Why You Need to Go

Valparaiso’s colorful houses and picturesque hills are amazing, but if you go to the Chilean coastline in this area, you’d be remiss if you didn’t make it slightly north to Viña del Mar (about 10-15 minutes) and Reñaca (about 40 minutes).

Moai head, Viña del Mar
Nifty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They’re easy to reach by bus from Valparaiso (and directly from Mendoza) and a major vacation destination for the Argentines, and particularly, the Mendocinos. Everyone goes to Reñaca during the summer. It’s like what the Hamptons are for New Yorkers. Except this is the Hamptons for the slightly less well-off, where there are no impressive houses and everyone is eating empanadas. And a lot of people have rat-tails, but not in an ironic way.

Still, you must go. I will write about Viña del Mar here, and Reñaca in my next post. You can catch the city buses there that run up and down the coastal road and the ride is scary, but cheap.

Viña del Mar has at least 2 things (other than Entremasas) that you should go see while you’re there. One is Moai from Easter Island. If you take a photo just right, you can fool some fools into believing you actually paid the billion* dollars to fly to Easter Island from Santiago.

The other is the flower clock that they are so proud of. It’s not amazing, I know. But it’s pretty cool. And if you’re going to be there to see the Moai and get some sun, you might as well mosey on over and take a photo. I’m told that they change the flowers every now and then, so the colors probably vary.

Flower clock in Viña del Mar
Son las 12:37, perras.

What’s more, Viña is more like a “real city” in some respects; they have a Lider (Chilean WalMart), good shopping, a (VERY nice) Casino, a boardwalk… the whole nine.  I recommend having a drink on the patio of the Enjoy Bar, which is right across from the casino, at the end of the little street that leads to the boardwalk. They had a drink called the “Quiet Relax”… which is just a ridiculous name for a drink that was strong as hell and unidentifiable. Stick with a pisco sour. They are delicious here.

I also recommend renting one of the 4-person Surreys (bikes with an awning above it) and riding up and down the street. We went a little crazy and drove up to the doors of the casino. It was hilarious, but I think you just had to be there. You should probably do it, too, and let’s see if we can start a trend. If you do, please send me a photo. I’ll post it. I swear.

A stroll along the boardwalk should also be in your cards for the day, as well as a good wander of the shopping streets. We ate at a delicious pan-Asian restaurant that night, which by its name was highly deceiving, as it brings to mind a certain bad-mall-Chinese-food vibe; Wok & Roll.

The menu was a bit all over the place, but we all decided on curries (chicken with green curry for me) as our main dishes, with some sushi rolls to start. The curries were fantastic, especially since we were in Chile. We didn’t have much time to eat because we were catching our bus back to Mendoza in a few hours, so we probably would have stayed longer if we could have. The staff were great and called a cab for us while we were eating so that we could leave as soon as we were done.  If I went back to Viña, I’d go eat there again.

Another notable thing for Expats who are missing the flavors of home is that there’s a bagel shop in town now, run by expats called BagelMania. They had a booth at Lollapalooza Chile, and I was really impressed. Check it out. Update: I think BagelMania is closed! Wahhh!

*Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating.

Restaurant Review – Molokai (Mendoza, Argentina)

I went to Molokai with a friend about a month ago, and I wanted to rave a little bit about it because it was such a nice surprise here in Mendoza. And I have a blog, so rave I will. I’ve been eating at some great places lately, so there are going to be a few posts like this in quick succession. Be prepared.

The food at Molokai is really, really good – and not traditional Argentine either. It’s molecular gastronomy without getting a little too weird about it, if that makes sense. Everything has a foam on top of it, but it’s not overdone or too bold.

The place itself is cool; trendy but not uncomfortable, and a unique setting compared to the same old yellow-tablecloth cafeteria-lighting restaurants they have here in spades.

I think it’s a pretty great deal for the money because the portions are huge and for dinner for 2, it was about $350 pesos including 2 appetizers, 2 entrees and a bottle of wine.

We tried the salmon foccaccia and the pear and roquefort salads for appetizers. They were both huge and really tasty. My friend and I both commented that we’d be happy with just those dishes as our whole meal, if not at least for a lunch.
For entrees, I got the Hungarian goulash, which was pretty awesome considering the spaetzle was perfect and the beef was Argentine beef. My friend had the bife de chorizo with croquettes.

Basically, the food was awesome and the place is really cool, so I’m excited to go back again soon. It’s located at Belgrano 1169, between Espejo and Sarmiento (I think???) in the city center.

Open Monday to Saturday from 8pm to 1:30am.

Update: I think Molokai is now closed. Please leave a comment if I am wrong!