[Dinner AND Brunch] Welcome to the neighborhood, Union Hall!

In case you missed it, Union Hall finally opened up its doors last week. I was skeptical going in but very hopeful that I could potentially find here my new favorite spot.

Spoiler alert: it did not disappoint.

The vibe is super chill and all their menu is based on small plates. I didn’t know this going in, but it’s the same owners as Brass Rail and Stewed Cow. The chef was also in Chopped and well, to me that’s pretty cool. Staff was super nice and you can tell they are excited to work there, which is always a plus.

Enough about people, let’s talk food.

Or wait, let’s talk drinks for a second. They have $5 martinis on Wednesdays! Their dirty martini is actually pretty darn good. I would have liked to have some blue cheese inside my olives but that’s ok, I’ll let it pass. They have great specials every day of the week including $2 Union Brew mugs every. single. day.

Ok, now for food, for real.


They may look like hush puppies, but these are actually french onion soup mac and cheese balls! They even come with their own little broth on the side, delicious. Tip: don’t be afraid to embrace the broth! (Did I say these were great?)


They had three sliders that you could order individually, but we decided to go all out and try the 3 of them out: veggie, turkey burger, and lobster. Brian and I both agreed the veggie slider was the best because the sauce was so good.


I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen plenty of pins on Pinterest and videos on Facebook about the wonder that is cauliflower fried rice. I’ve been meaning to cook it at home but I’m always too lazy. Union Hall is the first restaurant I’ve been to that offers cauliflower fried rice as part of their menu. It was probably the best part of the meal. Plus, it comes in this cute little take-out style box so, totally recommend it.

union hall steak

Source: Union Hall

We also got a hanger steak with blue cheese that made me think why I don’t order more steaks with blue cheese. I love blue cheese or any cheese for that matter, I guess.


That may look like a tall shot of something creamy but it’s actually a mini milkshake! The waiter explained how they have different special milkshakes every day and the day we went in it was fruit loops. I must admit I was waiting for a mini version of those Black Tap shakes that can give you diabetes so I was a little disappointed when it didn’t have an actual fruit loop in it, but boy oh boy, it was SO good. It tasted like those last drops of milk from the fruit loop bowl.

Noooooooooooooow… BRUNCH!

First, they have $2 mimosas! Can’t tell you how they were because I didn’t have one (stupid, I know) but I will be back and can update based on the verdict. Again, $2 mimosas!


Breakfast tacos for the win. Get them with bacon, it was actually quite perfectly crisped. I can get picky about bacon and there’s nothing worse than a soft piece of bacon. (That’s what she said? No? Ok, sorry.) Their avocado toast was ok, but not something to die for. (You should never die for an avocado toast, anyways.) It’s a nice side to share but by no means it should be one of your main plates.


Their skillets were actually really good. If I hadn’t been so full with the breakfast taco I would have killed them all but thank goodness I brought Brian along. We had one inspired by eggs Benedict and the other one had goat cheese and some other great stuff.

There’s still so much I want to try over at Union Hall so stay tuned on my Instagram for future posts. I’m determined to try everything on their menu so let’s see how it goes. 

P.S. Their coffee was pretty good too!

 

 

[Dinner] Casa Apicii

Do I try a new restaurant for a chance of greatness or do I go back to a restaurant I already know and love?

This is hands down my biggest challenge when deciding where to go eat. Sometimes I feel defeated by the realization that I will never be able to eat at every single restaurant in NYC and just opt for a classic spot, but more times than not I go to my ever-growing restaurant bucket list and just pull the trigger. 

Last week I went to Casa Apicii and despite the heat inside their back dining area, had an amazing meal.

casa apicii cocktail cristina nogueras beaches and brie

Let’s start with their house cocktail, the Casa Apicii. Their online menu says this drink is made with vodka, crème de peche, aloe, lemon and bitters… but I could have sworn the menu at the table said something about ginger. I love ginger. Still, whatever it had, it was absolutely amazing. Not too sweet or too bitter, and super refreshing.

burrata cristina nogueras beaches and brie

Next, the burrata. I mean, burrata by itself is already all my little heart needs but for it to come served on top of a pea purée with some crunchy, yet super thin bacon strips? Perfection. All the flavors came together nicely and took the burrata to the next level. Yes, such a next level exists.

pasta cristina nogueras beaches and brie

Last but not least (because let’s face it, am I really gonna have space for dessert?) … pasta! Now, before you go ahead and judge me for what looks like a very plain dish, let me tell you that the pasta was insanely good. It is as thick as pasta can be before it crosses the line to being too thick. It was also perfectly and evenly cooked. I don’t think I had ever enjoyed a pasta this thick. The sauce was not super heavy, yet it was loaded with flavor. Can’t go wrong with a classic! Brian had the pasta alla carbonara but was too hungry to let me take a picture of his plate. Ah, marriage.

Oh yeah, I got married. 🙂 (How about I tell you more about that soon?)

Back to Casa Apicii. Great meal, but come prepared to spend a little bit as things add up pretty quickly. Afterwards, you can enjoy a stroll through the neighborhood and admire the gorgeous buildings. Or you can be like me, get on the Path back to Hoboken and accidentally stop by Insomnia Cookies. 🙂

Where I Ate (Stuffed My Face) In Nashville

They say Nasvhille is the new Vegas when it comes to bachelorette parties. This post has nothing to do with that.

Recently, I was lucky enough to be in Nashville for business. Work all day meant dinner was my way to get to know this awesome city, and boy did I eat…

Below I share my main meals in Music City, there’s really something for everyone. Please follow along in chronological order of my trip and no, I am not including Panera meals during the event, sorry.

Biscuit Love

This was the main place in my list. Not only did it come highly recommended by several trusted food sources, but they honor biscuits which is one of the best things in this earth. I went straight to business and ordered the fried chicken biscuit with gravy.

We were told, however, we needed to order the signature plate…

Just by looking at that picture I swear I lose my focus. These little babies are made of fried biscuit dough, lemon mascarpone and blueberry compote. We got to meet the owner and it turns out this was a special recipe her husband use to make her all the time. Talk about true LOVE.

The Standard at The Smith

We stumbled upon this place our first night in Nashville. We were hungry, had no reservations and just wanted to have a nice meal before a busy day ahead. A little off the hustle and bustle from Broadway, The Smith is the only grand townhouse remaining in downtown Nashville. As you walk in you are immediately transported back to an era where sophistication and good quality reigned.

I am not usually a dirty martini fan, but my colleagues said The Standard’s iteration was the best. Blue cheese-stuffed olives? I can get on board with that. Oh, and also, red velvet cookie for dessert.

Martin’s BBQ

I may not be a bbq connoisseur, but my oh my, this may have been the best bbq I’ve ever had. Just thinking back to it makes me salivate again. Fortunately, my coworkers also take bbq seriously and we ordered the Big Daddy Sampler: half a rack of ribs, half a pound of pork, half a pound of brisket, half a chicken, six wings, cole slaw, mac and cheese, french fries and baked beans. Oh, and bread. Safe to say we did some serious damage.

Union Common

Nashville Food Smoked Chilled smoked mussels. At first we were confused at the thought of something that is both chill and smoked. It turns out they smoke the mussels to give them that authentic bbq taste, then they are served chilled with a special hot sauce. The result is an explosion in your mouth that your brain can’t put together. Is it bbq? Is it sea food? It’s a total experience.

Chuy’s

Chuy's Taco Salad

Funky, chill and delicious. That’s how I would describe Chuy’s. This wouldn’t be my first stop in Nashville because it’s a chain, it’s the kind of food that I can find elsewhere and it’s not even from Nashville, HOWEVER, it did not disappoint. It was a nice break from all the smoke and bbq, the ambiance in itself makes it a great night.

The Southern

The Southern Nashville Food Oysters

We ended the trip with one of the places that was on my list to begin with. We definitely recommend reservations. My favorite part? They fly their oysters in fresh every single morning. I personally love that kind of commitment to sea food! They had a nice selection of cocktails, definitely try something a little bit out of your element, you might be surprised!

Due to lack of reservations and time, I was not able to hit all the places in my list. Etch, Husk, Acme Feed + Seed, Loveless Cafe, Pancake Pantry and Rolf & Daughters were also recommended and they will be top of my list next time I am in town!

Here’s to country music, nice people and cowboy boots!

Nashville

[Brunch] Atlanta Brunchin’ Part II

As you know, I was in Atlanta last month. My favorite part was all the food, besides visiting my awesome sister, of course! Seriously, southern comfort food makes my heart eternally happy.

On another round of Atlanta brunches, today I’m sharing photos from Another Broken Egg, a delicious chain restaurant that left me in a state of happiness and sleepiness, all in one meal.

Baked brie another broken egg

Baked brie for breakfast? Sure, why not? We ordered the delicious baked brie delight as an appetizer. It had apples, pecans and raisins sautéed in a Grand Marnier butter sauce over warm Brie cheese with toasted French bread. YES TO ALL THE BRIE.

Another Broken Egg Brunch Breakfast

Another Broken Egg actually has a really nice variety of breakfast options. You can go healthy, semi-healthy or you can go all out like me and order the Bacquezo. This cream cheese & bacon filled omelette with breakfast chorizo, Monterey Jack & green onions is basically heaven and hell on a plate. I never thought a cream cheese-filled omelette would be so good. I actually could not finish this, but that was honestly the best way to go.

Another Broken Egg City Grits Breakfast Brunch Delicious

Now, here comes the best part. We all know biscuits and home fries are great as sides, but nothing beats a nice bowl of grits. Unless of course, you are talking about  city grits, creamy southern grits, roasted garlic, onions & smoked Gouda cheese, topped with baked bacon, tomatoes & green onions. I mean, I think the picture speaks for itself. I’m gonna go ahead and let you drool for a little bit.

¡Buen provecho!

[Brunch] Cherche Midi

Something is French? I’m bound to like it. Ever since Cherche Midi opened, it’s been on my list.

If I’m not mistaken, the place that was there before used to serve breakfast pizzas that we would order at work all the time. While losing a place like that is clearly devastating, Cherche Midi is a wonderful replacement.

As always, I try to make my brunch experience easier with Open Table, which allowed me to comfortably arrive right to a table reserved just for me. The atmosphere is lovely, with a sophisticated touch that is also highly welcoming and cozy.

Me and my friend started the day with a pot de fromage, a parmesan custard with anchovy butter toast. Although the mention of anchovy threw me off, you could hardly taste it. It was very savory, which I really enjoy at any time, even in the morning. Overall, delicious.

For the main plate, I opted for a classic egg choice. I ordered skillet eggs with tomato, roasted pepper salad and Vermont bacon. Definitely delicious, but I also kept looking at my friend’s eggs Benedict and ended up taking a few bites (duh).

This is a place I definitely want to come back to in order to try even more options in their menu. Service was also great, to me that always makes or breaks a place.

Alert: Potential New Favorite Cocktail

 I love rum. I’m Puerto Rican, it’s sort of in my blood, I can’t help it. When I’m out, my “go to” drink is usually rum with Diet Coke. Don Q or Bacardi, preferably. However, as much as I love Diet Coke, I am trying to cut down on sodas. Rum is not that great either, especially when you want to keep your blood sugar levels on check.

This weekend during my trip to Boston, I stumbled into what I believe has the potential to be my next favorite cocktail: Gin Blossom. The magic happened at the trendy Lolita Cocina & Tequila Bar.

According to their menu it takes: citadelle gin, st. germain, lemon muddled cucumber and raw cane sugar to make this glorious drink. I will definitely try it at home and cross my fingers that it’s not a disaster.


Lolita also had some other great things to offer. Once you are seated, they welcome you with an amuse-bouche of grapefruit granita served over a bowl of dry ice which creates a fun, smokey effect (not successfully captured in the shot above). Obviously, they offer to drizzle it with tequila. Of courseeeeee.

Of all the small plates we ordered, my favorite one was the blackened shrimp queso, “bubbling hot moteray jack cheese, blackened shrimp, roasted poblanos & pico de gallo.” I don’t think I really knew what “blackened shrimp” meant but I’m so glad I went with it.

A lot of food and gin blossoms later, we thought we were done but no, they bring in cotton candy as one last hurrah. Confession: I don’t think I had ever had cotton candy in my life. It never appealed to me. Also, when I was little my blood sugar was all over the place so I learned to stay away from sweets (tragic, I know). Cotton candy is weird, especially when you are having it for the first time with a few cocktails in your system. It was really fun, but not something I would crave. It’s such a tease, you think you are getting something and then it just fades away. So unfair.

So, what did we learn today? Cotton candy is weird and gin blossoms are exquisite. Cheers!

Best Places to Have Lunch in SoHo

This list should actually be called: “Best places to have a delicious and “ok” priced lunch around my old office in SoHo”. I’m no expert, but I know what I like and I know what my wallet doesn’t.  Below are my favorite places to have lunch in SoHo, this list has been in development since I started working in SoHo almost two years ago. Some places are cheaper than others, but one thing they all have in common is they can provide a delicious lunch in less than an hour. This list has been evolving since I started the post, since sadly some places closed.

La Esquina

My all-time favorite is the “Pepito” and fries with chipotle mayo. Note that the fries do not come with chipotle mayo, but I highly recommend you order it for the ultimate experience, you can thank me later. If you can’t really sit down they also have the option to order to-go on the outside, slightly different menu, still amazing.

la esquinaPhoto from La Esquina Facebook

Delicatessen + MacBar 

Every time I go to Delicatessen I fight the urge to order cheeseburger mac and cheese, because why not, right? Their special mac and cheese plates are to die for and honestly, totally worth it. If you are feeling like going against your heart’s desires, then I recommend the award winning pan roasted chicken thigh sandwich with cerignola olive pesto, sweet pepper aioli, burrata cheese & french fries.

macbarSome of the delicious mac and cheese plates offered on the menu! Photo from Delicatessen Facebook

SoHo Park

I’ve been here over 10 times and I always order the same thing, classic cheeseburger. It’s that good. The extra fun thing about SoHo Park is they have an amazing selection of dipping sauces for the fries, roasted pepper aioli is my dipping sauce selection. This place is also fun for outside seating and actually feeling like you’re in a park, so creative of them, right?

soho park nycPhoto by Cristina Nogueras

Salud

This place recently opened and although I have only been there once, I’m planning to return soon. I love their tagline, “a Latin-take on organic”. It’s really what Salud is all about. I had the quinoa veggie burger and I never expected it to be that amazing. The owner was very nice and even treated me and my friend to some homemade brownies that I believe were made with a chocolate he prepares himself. Salud also has a brunch menu, which obviously, I need to try.

saludnycPhoto from the Salud Instagram, the veggie burger I had at Salud looked so delicious, I totally forgot to take a photo!

Cafe Habana

I’m Puerto Rican, so I love everything our neighbors in Cuba have to offer in terms of food. Cuban food hits close to home and always makes my soul happy. This spot offers a variety of Cuban food, with some other Latin American touches as well, including tacos. If I could, I would always go for the skirt steak, but their Cuban sandwich is also delicious and rumored to be one of the best ones in the city. See for yourself!

habanaGrilled corn, so delicious. Photo from Cafe Habana’s Facebook

Emporio

If you don’t like pizza don’t bother coming here, or being my friend, for that matter. With a nice selection of brick oven pizzas, this place is a great place to go with a few coworkers and share some slices during your break. You can also eat the pizza all by yourself, no sharing required.

emporioMy choice of prosciutto and cheese, classic & great – Photo by Cristina Nogueras

Bread

This cute Italian restaurant is as charming during lunch as it is during dinner. I’ve been able to make my way through the menu and I must say, I can’t get enough of it. If you are having lunch there, the tomato soup is a must. Oh, and in case you were wondering, they do have bread and it is very delicious.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetPhoto by Cristina Nogueras

Parm

If you go to Parm, you get the parm. The folks there are extremely good on making these chicken parm sandwiches, so ordering anything else seems like a crime. I have, however, ordered the garlic bread knots and they were very good… followed by a chicken parm sandwich, of course.

parmParm from parm – Photo from Parm’s website

Grey Dog

Looking for a quick, yet nice place to sit down and have lunch? I’ve only been here once, but I had a very delicious sandwich that left me feeling satisfied.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetQuite frankly, I forget what this sandwich was all about, but the pesto was absolutely amazing. – Photo by Cristina Nogueras

Spring Natural

To be honest, this one is making the list because I wanted to reach to 10 and I figured I had to get in a place that was healthy overall, just to ease my guilt. It may be a little overpriced for certain simple items, but after all, it’s SoHo. Their salads are really good (yes, I said that) and the bread they start you with is really good as well.

spring street I’ve tried to kept my photos to what I have tasted, but this looks delicious, could not overlook it! Photo from Spring Natural Facebook

 

What are your favorite SoHo spots? Share them with me below!

Follow @peaceloveanddietcoke on Instagram for more.

¡Buen Provecho!