New York City Bites: Minetta Tavern, The Halal Guys and Casellula

When I go to New York City, I’m like a kid in a candy store.   There are so many mouth-watering restaurant choices right under my nose that I get excited and confused all at the same time, not sure where to head first.  Since I was in town for BlogHer 2012 last week, I seized the opportunity to leave the conference behind and cross a few items off my culinary bucket list.  This time around, my husband and I splurged a little and ate a lot.   I was happy with our picks, and wanted to give you all a recap of our foodie adventures:

black angus burger at minetta tavern

Black Angus Burger at Minetta Tavern

bone marrow at minetta tavern

Bone Marrow at Minetta Tavern

Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern
It goes without saying I believe you don’t have to spend a lot to get a good meal. Good, cheap food is pretty easy to find in the city; but there are also plenty of splurges worth the cost. It’s all about value and getting the biggest bang for your buck.   The Black Label Burger at Minetta Tavern is one of them.  At $26, it’s the priciest burger I’ve ever ordered.  With the quality of the meat comparable to a steak where I live, it also puts it in the range of great value.  It was definitely tasty, and as one of my friends described it, “The best burger in NYC.”   However, I think the best thing we ordered was the Bone Marrow.  Rich, salty goodness spread on top of a crispy baguette and shallot coulis (which, surprisingly, reminded me a little bit of cranberry preserves).  The entrees at Minetta Tavern are in the $17-$34 range, which is certainly affordable for a New York City landmark restaurant.

Frugal Tip:  We’ve been wanting to eat at Minetta Tavern for years, but are too short-sighted to place a reservation before we go and can never get in. This time around, we rolled the dice and headed down to the West Village to see if there was room for us at the bar.   With about a ten-minute wait, we sat down.  Often times, you’ll find the hard-to-get-into establishments offer the same menu options at the bar, with little-to-no waiting time. This is also how we got into The Girl and the Goat in Chicago.  Many times, the service you get at the bar is more attentive than the tables.  Not only that, their recommendations are often more honest.  Plus, watching good bartenders mix drinks is a fun performance.

Minetta Tavern
113 MacDougal St. (Betw. Bleecker & W. 3rd Street)
New York, NY 10012

Chicken and Rice from The Halal Guys

Chicken and Rice from The Halal Guys

Chicken and Rice from The Halal Guys
You really can’t go to New York City without trying some street food. It’s easy, cheap, perfect for on-the-go eating and in most cases pretty tasty.  The Halal Guys food cart is the cream of the crop. They’re located in Midtown but move around during the day (see The Halal Guys locations and times), and often the line to get their middle-Eastern fare wraps around the block. Trust me, it’s worth the wait.   You can’t go wrong with the chicken and rice with white sauce:  Basmati rice topped with perfectly-seasoned tender chicken and a delicious white sauce (ask for extra sauce).  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.  If anyone knows of a copycat recipe circulating in the blogosphere,  please let me know.  I know I’ll be craving this again sometime very soon.

The Halal Guys
6th Ave & W 53rd St.
New York, NY 10019

pig's ass sandwich at casellula nyc

Pig’s Ass Sandwich at Casellula

casellula wine and cheese bar

Cheese Sampler at Casellula

Pig’s Ass Sandwich at Casellula Wine and Cheese Bar
We chose to sit at the bar here as well, although there were tables available.  Since food preparation took place behind the bar, we didn’t want to miss out on the action.You can hardly go to a restaurant with a Pig’s Ass Sandwich on the menu without giving it a try.  Everything at Casellula Wine and Cheese bar was fabulous, and yes – it was a great piece of ass.  I’d recommend starting with the cheese sampler plate.  The choices were foreign to us, even though we’ve tried many “exotic” cheeses.  We told our server what types of cheese we like most, and she brought out five selections suited to our palate. All of them were delicious, and the presentation was gorgeous (isn’t the starfruit pretty?).  I had never tried pickled quail eggs, so with that I added another notch to my foodie belt.

Frugal Tip:  Hell’s Kitchen is one of our favorite foodie neighborhoods in New York City. Yelp has lead us to some of our favorite places there, including Kashkaval.  Sort by price to find great places to fit your budget.

Casellula Cheese and Wine Bar
401 W. 52nd St.
New York, NY


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