Agave. West Village. Mexican Food

On weekends this place is packed but get there at an odd hour, after lunch say, mid afternoon. What you’ll find is nice venue to relax and enjoy yourself.  By that I mean, grab one of their margarita’s (or in my case, three).  Even if you aren’t hungry try their empanadas and tacos.  I can’t get over how good they were.

My only disappointment is not being able to eat more. Seriously, I wanted more but I was ridiculously full.

agave blood orange
prickly pear margarita

Fresh Empanadas at El Amacen

There’s something to be said about sitting in this cafe and having numerous walk ins order bunches of empanadas to take home. Very good sign.

I saw them making them as the other woman was making my Americano from their beautiful espresso machine. It’s a serious show stopper.  Beyond all that, it is one of my favourite places to hang out sans wi-fi.

But on to the empanadas. Perfect. The dough, the filling – combined perfection. Beef and olive was divine. The chicken was phenomenal but if I had to pick, beef and olive wins!

I’m always amazed how some of the best cuisines from each country are the foods you can walk and eat with.  

 

Palo Santo in Park Slope, Brooklyn

Lured in by the curated entrance, I found myself pleasantly surprised by having to choose to eat cuisine for brunch that wasn’t my norm. Yet, completely if not more satisfied with this food than my go to scrambled eggs, hash browns , sausage and toast.

Break free and try the Chilaquiles de Pollo. Layers of corn chips with braised chicken, cotija, mole poblano and a free range egg on top. The crunch married so well with the savoury sauce and braised chicken.  

A nice alternative instead of toast was the quince cake to start. It tasted like little morsels of vanilla cake. 

Everything in the space was inviting and comfortable including the service.  

quince

Bread Pudding.  Berkli Parc Cafe.

Berkli sits on a busy corner of Delancey street in the lower east side.  Popped in when the weather turned into a nasty downpour one evening.

Walking in, a couple things are clear. One, should I have brought my laptop so I can work on something? Two, they serve alcohol in this wi-fi enabled cafe. 

Every place in mind has a shining star. For me, after visiting several times, it’s been their bread pudding served with vanilla ice cream.  Of course, they have coffee and a myriad of savoury goods but this was a definite favourite.  

fruity cocktail
 

Magnolia Bakery…a treat to crave

After having gained some notoriety from Sex and the City, the original location on bleeker street still is kicking around and selling incredible treats.

However, if there is one thing to try, out of all the goodies in the case, it’s their banana pudding. Hands down, one of my favourite desserts there or anywhere in the city. Might I suggest purchasing the large rather than small container?

  

Also known for cupcakes such as these red velvet and classic vanilla cupcakes. 

The place also has a plethora of merchandise/souvenirs for locals and travellers alike. 

Although there are quite a few locations, this one has the most charm and to be quite frank the most inviting and comfortable of all their shops. Besides, nothing is ever as good as the original. 

Now, don’t get me started on the mad house that is their Rockefeller store!

Mercat del Carmen. A little bit of Spain.

Along queen street west, you’ll find Mercat del Carmen, a cafe and a small Spanish market offering everything from coffee to prepared foods to go.

It’s a small but comfortable space punctuated by the beauty of the tiles that were imported from Valencia. It was what initially drew me into the space. The second, very noticeable decorative item, is the wall sized image of Carmen. No matter where you are, you feel she is looking at you.

The star of course is the food. A measure of any tapas is it the classic tortilla which I am glad to say I was quite satisfied with. They paired it with the perfect set of marinated olives.

I was treated by the cafe, to a sugar cookie covered in dulce de leche. Enough crunch and sweetness to make those last drops of coffee extremely worthwhile.

A delightful spot for an afternoon siesta indeed.

 

 

Cafe Gitane

Nestled among the fashionable boutiques on Mott Street is Cafe Gitane.  A restaurant that extols an interesting combination of flavours: French, Moroccan and Arabic.

This was not what I would usually go for during brunch. However, it was a refreshing change. It’s a comfortable, less curated space than its neighbours.

Coming later in the afternoon after the usual breakfast rush makes it easy to snag a table at this usually busy spot.

Everything we had such great depths of flavour and just the perfect kick of spice. I had ordered the baked eggs with merguez sausages, basil, tomato sauce and cream.  My friend ordered the most popular item: the baked eggs sandwich with merguez sausages, parmesan cheese, chipotle mayo on a french baguette.  Either item are definite pleasers.

A nice extra are the chocolates that come with your coffee.

Great service. Excellent food. An okay washroom.

4****

 

 

 

Buvette. A little bit of Paris in the West Village

Even on a stormy winter day, you still have to wait for a table. That tells you this place is popular.  We were told we would have to wait up to an hour and half but I find that to be a great technique to weed folks out. Instead, we came back in less than an hour and were seated immediately.

A server comes up to your party, takes your name and writes it on the wall.  Efficient.

Sitting there, it definitely has a  very quaint French vibe. Although, I can’t recall places in Paris this packed but I suppose it might be because a lot of Paris looks like this. Oh, the irony.

Despite the hoards of people constantly coming in, the servers are well-oiled professional machines.  Promptly arriving at your table and giving you time if needed to order your morning brew.

When in Rome or in this case Paris, I ordered the classic croque monsieur. It indeed lived up to its melted gruyere cheese and classic ham goodness. The pickles paired so well with each bite. The savoury with the sour of the pickle. A heavenly combination I can still taste. Oh, be warned! This does get rather filling.

Equally as good, the croque madame. Similar to the above dish but comes with a sunny-side egg. So, if you like a bit more cholesterol to your dish, try that one.

The coffee was a wonderful compliment. I should have checked the roaster they used.

Was worth the wait? Yes.

Would I go there again? Absolutely.

5 stars for the service

3.5 stars for the tiny water closet but extra half point is for the architectural details.

5 stars Food