Matzahbrei

(917) 215-1616 • http://www.matzahbrei.com

Yes, an entire restaurant devoted to Matzah brei. It’s almost hard to wrap your head around, because the concept alone sounds about as flawed as the screenplay for Sharknado, but I stand before you in awe as I write this. A dish normally reserved for Passover time is making a strong case for year-long presence, because I gotta say, it’s pretty friggin’ good. Well, depending on which one you get.

For example, the Monica, is awesome. And no, I’m not talking about Monica Geller from Friends. I was always a Rachel kinda guy anyway. No, the Monica of which I speak is made with sautéed mushrooms, spinach, fresh sliced mozzarella and honey Dijon.

Or there’s the Jasmine with eggplant, herbs and tahini, which I also liked. Whereas the Xavier (pictured) with avocado, mango salsa and cheddar jack is actually just eh, even though it looks and sounds like it’d be the best of the three.

But no matter which sammy is your pleasure, definitely do yourself a solid and pair it up with a side of their Sunshine Salad, made with sweet potato, chickpea and tomato, tossed in a date dressing. It’s enough to make the Trix rabbit swear off of cereal in favor of salad, because it really is magically delicious.

P.S. One caveat. If you go to their site you will notice that they don’t open a brick and mortar location until the fall. But until then, if you keep your eye out at food stands like Broadway Bites and Madison Eats, maybe you’ll get lucky.

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The Little Beet

2 Penn Plz. New York, NY 10001 thelittlebeet.com

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So I wasn’t lying when I said I’ve been going to the Pennsy a lot lately. In fact, if I keep it up they might start charging me rent. But until that happens I’m going to continue my trip around the world, through all six menus at all six establishments.

My recent staple being Little Beet, which has pretty decent salads and is one of the healthier options apart from Cinnamon Snail. My usuals are the beet salad with arugula, warm quinoa, goat cheese and chicken tossed in a sherry, shallot dressing. It’s quite good and if you’re feeling like doubling down on the healthy, they have some solid fresh squeezed juices as well.

The other salad I often get is the Miso Chicken salad. Made with chicken, brown rice, romaine, cabbage, soba noodles, pickled Asian slaw and wasabi nori shakes and a miso glaze. It sounds more impressive than it is. But what it is, is exactly what you’d expect, nothing more, nothing less. And it’s sure to hit the spot, assuming that spot is craving an Asian chicken salad.

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Blanche’s Cafe

655 Madison Ave. New York, NY 10065 • (646) 919-4634

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Not that people still shop Donna Karan like they used to, but regardless, this is a nice little hidden gem upstairs inside the DKNY shop on Madison Avenue and unless you are willing to endure the cost, not to mention the wait, at Fred’s at the top of Barney’s, this is really one of the best things going in terms of affordable nourishment amidst the posh midtown shopping scene.

Everything is organic, vegetarian and delicious. From her incredible Peach smoothie to the veggie burger salad or sandwich- in either form it’s way good. But easy good. Nothing you couldn’t source from a Whole Foods and whip up yourself in about 10 minutes, but that’s also tough to do when you are knee deep in your dressing room, surrounded by shopping bags and you get the growlies. Are you gonna run back home and whip up lunch? No. No you’re not. So for an in-store beacon of convenience,  I highly recommend this oasis as a great pit stop during a grueling NYC shopping spree.

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Greens

Fort Mason Bldg. A San Francisco, CA 94123(415) 771-6222greensrestaurant.com

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It’s not the easiest place to find in the world, but seldom do the best things in life come easy, and Greens is easily one of the best vegetarian eateries on God’s green Earth. So, now that I’ve fully conjugated the word “easy” and slid a blasphemous pun in there for good measure, let me top things off with a twist on a dated phrase – Yes, Greens is all that and a bucket of chicken, without the chicken. From the earth-sourced decor with tables that look more like trees to the stunning view of the bay and Golden Gate beyond, you can see that this place takes the whole au naturale thing pretty serious, not that you have to dine in the nude or anything, although an intriguing restaurant concept for certain.

Speaking of intrigue, it is astounding how quickly this place will make you forget all about meat. Just one bite of their grilled cheese sammy with cremini mushrooms, harissa and fontina and you will understand why the Earth is worth saving, apart from the obvious reasons like living here and mankind ceasing to exist.

The side of couscous salad with peppers and raisins had the spicy-sweet thing going on and only served to make things even more irresistible. Their other salads are fantastic as well. In fact, we were so impressed by Greens we purchased their cookbook on the spot. Not something we often do, which should speak volumes about this place. But please don’t go based on the food mentioned above. The menu is always changing, but in such capable hands, I doubt you’ll go wrong. And if you do, it’s probably your fault.

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The Ultimate Tofu

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Unless you’re a vegetarian or vegan you probably don’t think it’s possible to swoon over tofu. And to be fair, the degree of difficulty is most certainly steep being that it’s basically a flavorless curd brick. But to some, it’s also a blank canvas. Here are two masterpieces painted on that canvas…

Sushi Roku – Santa Monica, CA

In the midst of such a tempting menu filled with stone-seared kobe beef and baked lobster rolls its hard to pull your eyes away long enough to notice the seared tofu appetizer, much less bother to even give it a second thought. But for those who do, I promise you will not be sorry.

Marinated in a wonderfully savory miso sauce and draped in a blanket of shitake mushrooms, the tofu takes on such a substantial flavor you’d almost swear you were eating meat. And this isn’t like when you get “chicken” or “meatloaf” at other places that are a poor man’s version of the original. This dish makes no apologies about being tofu. And then smacks you upside the head for having been prejudice in the first place.

Momofuku Ko – New York, NY

If no one told you there was tofu in this dish, you would never know it, swearing on your life that it was creamy cheese inside those perfect pockets of pasta. But being wrong never tasted so right. And the sweet corn ragu they smother it with will have you dancing like a giddy school girl on prom night- and that’s not just the increased estrogen levels talking either. It’s just that mind-altering good.

Josie’s

300 Amsterdam Ave. New York, NY 10023(212) 769-1212josiesnyc.com

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I have eaten at Josie’s at least 50 times so it’s pretty safe to say I know this place like the back of my tongue. So I guess you could say I’m a fan. That’s not to say that I don’t see Josie’s for what it is, which is good, not great, organic with style. But back when Josie’s first opened, she was the only game in town. Paving the way for the likes of Pure Food & Wine, etc… Therefore I feel the need to give added props to Josie’s for changing the game.

So, after over a decade of faithful patronage here are some of my suggestions:

Always, always, always order one of their beverages. They are all excellent. Their Sangria is better than most Tapas bars. Their lemonades, spiked and non are both fantastic. They have twists on Mimosas, you name it. Just don’t miss out, because this is one of the best parts of dining at Josie’s.

For appetizers I love the Nori rolls (sushi without the raw fish) and the spicy black bean dumplings. For salad, try the Mykonos. It’s a delicious take on a Greek, as the name suggests, but ask them to throw some grilled shrimp on top for a few bucks more. It’s worth it. And the macadamia crusted chicken is another dish I’ve eaten more times than I have fingers.

And for sweets, it’s really only between two for me. Either the Lemon Ribbon Pie or the Apple Crumble. Both are surprisingly good for a “healthy” (wink, wink) dessert.

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Cinnamon Snail

Chelsea, Midtown West- New York, NY 10001 (862) 246-6431cinnamonsnail.com

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It’s pretty rare to see something get a FULL 5 stars on Yelp. And even more rare when there are over 400 reviews to back it up. Well, here are five knives to go with them.

Granted I was VERY skeptical the first time I stood there in line, but as soon as I got a peek through that window at one of their Gouchujang Burgers (pictured), my skepticism was washed away by a tidal wave of salivating anticipation.

This burger, topped with kimchi and sriracha, is a spice lover’s dream! And as far as veggie burgers go, easily the best I’ve ever had in my life. By a wide margin. And man is it filling. You won’t even miss the beefy absence for a second. Even the bun is exquisite. Just awesome.

But a one trick pony they are not. The maple pecan rice crispy treats are also killer! Probably the best rice crispy treat I’ve ever had.

There are few misses however. Their créme brulée donut pales in comparison to The Doughnut Plant. And while some of their other sandwiches are solid, nothing is at the level of the burger. Also, one small gripe. They charge $3.00 for squirt of lemonade that is essentially served in a small coffee cup. One of the cheapest beverages to make on the face of the Earth. That said, it wasn’t bad, but definitely not worth the money.

Consequently, I’d gladly pay double for the burger, because it is THAT good.

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Sweetgreen

1164 Broadway New York, NY 10001(646) 449-8884 • sweetgreen.com

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While I find the line to get into this place both absurd and unworthy, I do have to say that the food is actually pretty good. Fresh, healthy- Just not worth waiting in that line for. And we’re not talking like Chop’t, whose line actually moves quickly. We’re talking DMV. I mean, c’mon people, it’s salad, not a cronut!

Of the things I’ve had, 3 salads and 3 juices, I can say that all of the salads have been good. Juices, however, are much better at Terri and Juice Press (also in the hood). But of the salads, my favorite is the “wild rice bowl,” with no modifications. It’s so different from anything else in the “fast salad category,” if that subset even exists. Served warm with chicken and apple and goat cheese. It’s better than it sounds. Anyways, all of the salads leave you feeling full and guilt free. If only the experience were aggravation free between the long line and the fact that you have to remember to get your own napkins and utensils.

There is a way to make the line marginally less painful if you order ahead. Then the wait is only annoyingly long as opposed to ridiculously-wanna-punch-someone-in-the-crotch-stupid-long.

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Juice Press

1 W 22nd St. New York, NY 10011(212) 777-0034 • juicepress.com

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The lunchtime staff has to be one of the nicest, most helpful and generous groups I have encountered at a NYC restaurant. You can literally sample about a third of the menu for free. The prices, however, are a bit steep, which may explain how they can afford to give away all of those samples.

That said, the food- er juices, for the most part are very good and very healthy. A few misses, mostly on the food. But some very strong hits. My favorite in the food dept. would be the For the Love of Kale salad. Served with quinoa, tomatoes, raisins and a wonderful dressing that I believe is avocado based.

One the juice side of things, there are several winners. I like the Doctor Green and Doctor Earth the most, but the Fountain of Youth is also good. That said, if you are feeling a scratch in your throat, I highly suggest you rush over to the nearest location and buy yourself a Spicy Citrus. True to it’s name, this thing is so hot it will literally burn through anything you’ve got going on along with a few vital organs. KIDDING! Well, not kidding about the spicy part. But the healing power of this drink is not to be taken lightly. It is an elixir. Helping me escape the clutches of a cold more times than I can count.

On the snacky side of things, they also have some solid choices like the nuts and trail mixes and some of the best kale chips I’ve ever had.

On the skip it list, however, I would forgo the falafel salad. The falafels taste like compressed balls of tofu, which they probably are. And the key lime pie tastes like a slightly sweeter version of the falafels. They are both textbook cases of vegan food over-reaching to be dishes that it simply shouldn’t be and you can taste those limitations as a result. So keep your orders simple and you’ll be happy. Poor. But happy.

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Pure Food & WIne

54 Irving Pl. New York, NY 10003(212) 477-1010 • purefoodandwine.com
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After hearing SO many people rave about this place, expectations were pretty high. Which is always dangerous. That said, it held up pretty well.

First: The garden is very charming. Clean and simple. Perfect on a Summer evening.

Second: The service was very good. Our waiter made some excellent recommendations.

Third: All four entrees we had were spot on. The lasagna (of course), the squash blossoms (my fav), the tamale and the BBQ portobello mushrooms.

Fourth: Both desserts were killer. The peach cobbler was as good as anything I’ve had at a non veggie/raw place. And the chocolate semifreddo was also quite solid.

So, that’s why it got three knives. But why not more you ask? Sounds incredible right? And it was. VERY impressive for raw/non-dairy. So much so that it’ll have you you questioning if it’s really vegan or not. And had that been all we had, I’d probably be throwing out another knife or two. But, things actually got off to a rocky start…

First: The white sangria was terrible! Worst I’ve ever had. They use Chardonay, which admittedly I hate. And what a horrible choice for Sangria, which is supposed to be refreshing! Chardonay tends to have heavy notes of caramel, which isn’t exactly what one would want on a hot Summer’s eve. Should’ve used a Pinot Grigio, Savignon Blanc or Gavi.

Second: All four appetizers where underwhelming. The morels and asparagus were good. But the other three were very blah. And with first impressions being so hard to overcome, Pure was fighting an uphill battle all night. That said, it was a great come from behind performance to reach 3 knives.

And that about sums it up. Great place for a vegetarian date- just skip the apps. And the sangria.

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