Since our launch earlier this year thousands of dishes have been reviewed leading to numerous cases of dish envy being avoided. But we knew the experience on the site could be even better, which is why we took your feedback and spent the past few months toiling away on the next version of DishEnvy. Today we’re excited to announce the launch of DishEnvy 2.0!
So what’s new?
- A redesigned homepage that’s more intuitive and makes it faster to do the things you love:
- Over 16 million menu items from around the US to make reviewing and searching easier. Plus you can now search for an item you’re craving even if it hasn’t yet been reviewed on DishEnvy!
- Seamless, one click sharing of your reviews with friends on other social networks
- Restaurants Reviewed pages where you can easily share all your reviews at a restaurant or view the picks of your friends or favorite critics
- Tons of other designs and performance improvements and bug fixes
As you may have heard by now, this past weekend was the First Annual Great GoogaMooga in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. The event was billed as “an amusement park of food & drink” so our staff naturally felt the urge to attend the entire event. Despite (or perhaps due to) having the two of the nicest weather days in NYC’s history, the festival got off to a rocky start that rubbed many the wrong way, especially for those seeking booze (the system of waiting for a wristband, then waiting for tickets to buy beer & wine, followed by lines to use them was an unsurprisingly unpleasant experience). However, once you moved past those unpleasantries, the event became a very enjoyable mix of beautiful weather, good music, wine and food. And Sunday, with less people and several of the kinks worked out, proved to be a glorious day indeed.
You can read about the festival all over the web, but we assume you’re here to learn about what to eat. We discovered some great new dishes and restaurants we’ll certainly be making trips to in the near future. Below is a slideshow of some of our favorites:
DishEnvy Staff Top Picks:
Grilled Bacon BLT @ Landhaus You could call this BLT 2.0. Thick cut, grilled bacon that’s almost a meal of it’s own with fresh tomato and a basil mayonnaise.
Pastrami Sandwich @ Kutscher’s This pastrami absolutely melts in your mouth
The Bee Sting Pizza @ Roberta’s A charred margherita pizza, spiced up with spicy chili and sopressata then topped with just enough honey to sweeten the sting.
What were your favorite dishes at GoogaMooga? Let us know on DishEnvy or in the comments below!
When New Yorkers think of Mexican food, tacos, tortillas, and enchiladas are often first to come to mind. But consider the chilaquile: a wonderful, spicy mesh of cheese, salsa, pepper, and tortilla chips that can be savored at any meal.
Chilaquiles are served as both a street food and a creatively inspired nouveau Mexican dish. These are the two sides of chilaquiles and you can find prime examples of each in Manhattan. We recommend trying Super Tacos on the Upper West Side for the street food style and grabbing the upscale version for brunch at Ofrenda in the West Village.
The Super Tacos version is pure, delightful street food. It is basic but tasty: a bed of softened, hot tortilla chips layered with a very spicy red salsa that gives the chips an unmistakable, tomato-infused kick. A bit of cheese to add flavor and texture finishes it off and the dish is marked by its pleasing mixture of spice and crunch.
Ofrenda’s version is very different; more complex yet no less satisfying. The tortilla chips are layered with a slightly thicker, richer tomatillo salsa that has a mix of rich flavoring and pure heat. There is a lot more cheese, which makes the red salsa cling to the chips and combine flavors. And there is a sunny side up fried egg on top, which transforms the dish from a snack into a full brunch that will get your day off to the right start!
Try them both and share your favorites on DishEnvy!
Ofrenda: 113 Seventh Ave. S., (212) 924-2305
Super Tacos: 96th Street & Broadway, (917) 837-0866
New York is famous for its pizza and the battle over which is best will no doubt rage on forever. It all comes down to personal preference of course, but the first thing you should know is there are 3 basic types in New York: thin, chewy Neopolitan-style, crusty classic New York and thick, saucy Sicilian.
Don’t know what your favorite is? Conveniently enough, you can try all three in one visit to the West Village’s iconic Bleecker Street! Your first stop should be Keste Pizza e Vino (No. 271). There are many different varieties but go for the simple margarita cheese pizza. It has a crust made from a chewy, thin dough that has a touch of honey in the flour and folds perfectly in your hand and the soft Italian mozzarella and fresh tomato sauce blend perfectly together. It is the best example of a true Neopolitan-style pizza in New York.
If you are looking for a more traditional New York pizza, give John’s Pizza (278 Bleecker) a try. Established back in 1929, it has never lost its mojo and still provides one of the best examples of iconic New York style in the Big Apple. The crust is crunchier and flakier than the Keste’s Neopolitan-style pie and the cheese latches onto the pie rather than staying in large, fresh clumps of mozzarella. Unlike Keste’s pizza, where each ingredient stands out on its own before they blend together, eating a John’s Pizza pie is like biting into a jumbled up little slice of heaven.
Finally, head to Joe’s Pizza just off Bleecker (7 Carmine St.) Founded in 1975, it’s more of your classic hole-in-the-wall slice joint with no waiters and only a few stools to sit on. While it also makes a well regarded classic NY slice, try the square-shaped Sicilian. The cheese and tomato sauce take a backseat here to the inch-thick crust that’s perfectly blackened on the bottom but is moist and chewy inside.
Why not try all three on your next outing and let us know what you think!
At DishEnvy, our goal is to help you find something great to eat every time you go out. We know one of the best ways to do that is to find people whose recommendations you can trust. So we are beginning a feature where we interview top food bloggers to learn about some of their favorite dishes.
This week we chatted with Lindsay Feinberg aka The Lunch Belle, a native Texan and therefore by default TexMex specialist, who blogs at TheLunchBelle.com. She also hosts the NY Mexican Food Lovers Meetup, the Mexican Supper Club and Mexican-centric walking tours in New York. You can follow Lindsay’s reviews on DishEnvy at TheLunchBelle.
What inspired you to start The Lunch Belle?
I was inspired to start The Lunch Belle, first and foremost, because I am a very opinionated “foodie.” Aside from that, I can’t tell you how many folks would ask me for restaurant/venue advice (such as where to go on a first date, etc.), and I found myself constructing one too many identical email responses. Now, I just send them to my site! But it wasn’t until I began managing the daily catered lunch program at the hedge fund where I used to work, that I really felt propelled to start the website. Why? Because I worked with an equal number of amazing and heinous restaurants and felt that I needed a platform in which to “scream from a mountaintop” about my experiences. Both positive and negative.
Your specialty is Tex Mex and you seem to have hit all the spots in town. What are your favorite dishes you’ve had in New York?
To me, Mexican food is comforting and evokes fond memories of childhood – Texas – and learning how to cook. While there isn’t anything quite like El Paso, Texas, some of my favorite Mexican/Tex-Mex dishes in NYC include:
- Pork Gordita @ “La Poblanita” Cart *only on weekends*
- Pork Carnitas “Cemita” Sandwich @ Café Ollin
- Crispy Shredded-Beef tacos @ Florencia 13
- Chips & Salsa @ Florencia 13
- Mexican Rice @ Great Burrito
- Guacamole @ Barrio Chino
- Salted Cajeta Ice Cream Sundae @ Goat Town
What about elsewhere?
Some of my favorite restaurants outside of my beloved NYC include:
- Juanita’s Taco Shop – Encinitas, CA
- Din Tai Fung – Hong Kong
- A La Petite Chaise – Paris
- Chope’s – La Mesa, NM
- The Meeting House – Amagansett, NY
- Mia’s – Dallas, TX
- Joe T. Garcia’s – Fort Worth, TX
- Chico’s Tacos – El Paso, TX
- The Little Diner – Canutillo, TX
- The County Line – Austin, TX
What can people expect on your Tex Mex walking tours?
From my walking tours, the idea of starting a Mexican food “club” popped in to my head. And, shortly thereafter, the NY Mexican Food Lovers Meetup Group was born! There are approximately 50 members, all of whom share one common love/passion: Mexican food. Once a month, we meet up for brunch at a Mexican restaurant in any one of the 5-boroughs. Past venues have been: El Paso Taqueria, Café Ollin, Florencia 13, and Mesa Coyoacan. Check out the group’s page: http://www.meetup.com/Manzana/.
I know you eat a lot of other great food too – what are some of your non-Mexican favorites in New York?
The best meal that I’ve had in NYC, to date, is the “Bo Ssam” at Momofuku Ssam Bar. Now there’s an experience that will change your life! Also:
- Everything @ BLT Fish
- Everything @ Blue Hill at Stone Barns
- Cake Truffles, Candy Bar Pie @ Momofuku Milk Bar
- Potato Latkes, Pastrami @ Kutsher’s Tribeca
- Everything @ Rubirosa
- Green Chile Macaroni & Cheese @ Good
- Hummus @ Omar’s Kitchen & Bakery
- Everything @ Momoya Chelsea
- Pork Dumplings in Chili Oil @ Café China
- Lobster Roll @ Luke’s Lobster
Do you have any hidden gems you wouldn’t mind divulging to our readers?
Yes! Two of my favorites are: Good and Bridge Café.
While smartphones may not provide the super high quality photos of a DSLR, they’re certainly getting closer. They also come with the advantage of convenience. It’s a lot easier and more discreet to carry your phone to the restaurant than a bulky camera and it makes uploading pics to the web a breeze (You can upload your photos and post reviews directly from your phone on the mobile version of DishEnvy).
But how do you make sure you get the best photos possible when using your smartphone? Well, there’s an app for that (several actually). Below is our rundown of the top iPhone apps that will improve your dish shots:
Instagram (Free) You’re probably familiar with the most popular photo enhancing/sharing app and it’s many effects. However, it doesn’t really give you options to improve the actual quality of your photos and you’re forced to fit the shape instagram prescribes. So while this app has many cool uses, we don’t generally recommend it for your food photos.
Camera+ ($0.99) The camera itself on Camera+ is a significant improvement over the standard iPhone camera and includes cool features like touch exposure & focus controls and a grid to align photos. Once the photo is taken, you can crop it, choose from a variety of scenes (including “Food”) and add a number of effects and borders.
Adobe Photoshop Express (Free) As you might expect, Adobe PS Express is all about the photo editing features. In addition to having most of what Camera+ has, you can straighten photos (instead of just rotating 90 degrees) and adjust brightness, contrast and other aspects of the photo with far more precision. The downside for those who like to get fancy is it has a limited number of effects and borders. If you really want the best photo possible, I’d probably take it on Camera+ and edit it here.
NightCap ($0.99) Nightcap increases the iPhone’s shutterspeed to 1 second allowing you to take very good photos in low light. That is, assuming you can hold the camera still for a full second (it’s kind of a fun game if your friends are patient). It’s not a replacement for the flash, but if you’re in a setting where a prolonged bright light isn’t appropriate, NightCap gets the job done pretty well. See the photos below of a jar of salsa with the regular camera and Nightcap.
Do you have another photo sharing app you love? Tell us about it below!
We poured through mounds of food news and posts this week to give you the few that will help you eat something great. Check out this weeks picks below:
- Tired of the same old Wings and Nachos for your Super Bowl Party? Num Pang, makers of numerous highly rated sandwiches by DishEnviers, are offering a 3 foot version of their sandwiches for the big game. [Grub Street]
- A couple interesting slideshows from SeriousEats including their Brussels Sprouts and Eggplant Dishes they love and a sampling of all the new cocktails at Le Bernardin. [Serious Eats]
- Fork in the Road named their 10 Favorite Cupcakes in NYC and gave us five pies to stuff ourselves silly with. [Fork in the Road / VV]
- Pete Wells raved about Parm and it’s Eggplant Parm in his review, which also includes a mouth-watering slide-show. [NY Times]
- We’re excited about the QQ Sandwich @ Quick and Quality Sandwich, a newly opened Banh Mi Shop on the Upper West Side. It’s banh mi and Asian style meatballs. How can you go wrong?
- Ty-Lör Boring of Top Chef Texas Fame will be offering a farm-to-table meal reflecting his classical training in French and Asian cuisine at the City Grit popup from February 6-11th. Tickets for the 5 course meal are available for $75 at City Grit. Tell us your favorites if you attend! [City Grit]
We want to wish all the DishEnviers out there are a Happy Year of the Dragon! Many celebrate by painting their doors red, creating lanterns, attending dragon dances and, most importantly to us, feasting. Should you wish to join the feast, check out some of our favorite Chinese specialties from DishEnvy below.
Know some other Chinese dishes we should try? Post them on DishEnvy and comment below. Be sure to use the “Chinese” tag for easy searching.
Chinese New Year’s food-related links of interest:
Dragon Dishes: Restaurants with modern takes on Chinese favorites [NY Post]
Eater Maps: A Guide to Chinese New Year’s Specials in NYC [Eater NY]
Or learn to make your own soup dumplings [CitySpoonful]
Great food. It’s what we aspire for when we dine out. Great service or beautiful surroundings can only make up for it in the most extreme cases. Yet when looking for a new place to dine, we usually begin our search by looking at the restaurant as a whole. Whether it’s pouring over Zagat ratings, viewing the number of stars on Yelp! or sifting through New York Times reviews, we are taught to first decide on a restaurant and then figure out what we want to order.
But does this make sense? Imagine I told you Fedora is one of my favorite restaurants. Great food and cocktails, reasonable prices, relaxed setting. That’s how most recommendations are done and if you know I’m a food connoisseur, you’d probably consider going there. Now what if I told you the braised duck leg is out of this world. The orange jus is breathtaking. Now you’re probably thinking – I need to go to Fedora. Why? Because you can visualize something amazing you’ll be eating there. You’re thinking with your tongue instead of your head. That’s the power of recommending a dish over a restaurant. And it’s why we need the tools to do so.
Also consider that at all but perhaps the greatest restaurants, there are dishes we will like, dishes we may love and others we will not care for. If the dishes that are great contain ingredients we don’t care for or don’t meet our dietary restrictions, we may often find the restaurant doesn’t live up to its reputation in our eyes (and mouths). Alternatively, if we can make a great meal out of dishes we love at place, why should the fact other dishes are mediocre be a negative to us?
Non-food factors make restaurant-level decision problematic as well. Picture two restaurants with equivalent food except that one is fancier and has more attentive service. Consequently, it receives higher overall ratings from reviewers. It is also costs 30% more. While this premium may be justified when trying to impress a client or the in-laws, you don’t want to drop the extra cash on a casual meal with your friends. When we look at the restaurant as a whole, it’s often difficult to see the true rating based on the experience we are looking for.
So why not begin the search by asking where we can find a dish or two (or three) we will love and then determining whether the service and ambience suit the occasion? It’s time to shift our focus onto finding the right dish in order to find the right place, not the other way around.