Out to dinner in NYC

As much as I loved visiting my family outside the city, there are many reasons why New York holds a special place in my heart. The diverse food and restaurant season is one of those reasons! On my first evening back in town, I joined Danielle, Katie, and Leslie for a ladies dinner at the modern Thai restaurant, Kittichai.

Rather than choose a single entree, I opted for two items from the tapas/appetizer menu. It was a little untraditional, but it ended up being the perfect amount of food. My first dish was a mango and green papaya salad with cashew-chili dressing served in a pineapple half.

Followed by coconut chicken with mango salsa, chili-lime hoisin dipping sauce, and lettuce wraps. I was expecting sliced chicken, but the ground chicken and coconut mixture was extremely flavorful.

This place is usually kind of $$$, but luckily we received 30% off through a Village Vines deal. I use this website to make almost all dinner reservations – the discount even applies to alcohol! The only downside is that you sometimes can’t make reservations on the weekend.

After dinner, we popped over to newly opened Victory Garden for chocolate goat milk soft serve topped with maple marshmallows. It was an interesting experience (goat milk soft serve!), but I’m not sure I’d go back. My only gripe – the portion was small for the price.

I had a rough day/night at work earlier this week, but when the man-friend surprised me with dinner at Dirt Candy, I couldn’t help but feel better. We ate a very late dinner at 10pm (it’s tough to get reservations!), but luckily I was able to stay awake through the entire meal. The chef, Amanda Cohen, does such amazing things with vegetables…easily one of the top 3 restaurant experiences I’ve ever had.

By the time I arrived at the restaurant, the man friend had a bottle of wine and jalapeno hush puppies waiting for me…

Oh.My.God. I wanted to eat that maple butter with a spoon. So good! The dinner was a surprise, so I didn’t have my camera with me. I took a few iphone shots, but they didn’t do the meal justice,  so I borrowed these photos from the restaurant (photo credits are linked below).

[jalapeno hush puppies with maple butter photo source]

Appetizer #1: Steamed carrot buns with BBQ carrot inside and cucumber and sesame salad. The man-friend and I split the appetizers, so we could try a bit of everything.

[steamed carrot buns photo source]

Appetizer #2: Celery salad with Oyster mushrooms and cheese curds.

[celery salad photo source]

For my entree, I chose cucmber with coconut poached tofu, shiso galangal sauce, salsify, and hearts of palm. There was some sort of crispy decoration on top – I think it was fried onion?

[cucumber and poached tofu photo source]

I was pretty full by the end of the meal, but still found a little room for dessert. Even my sweet pea and mint nanaimo bar (a cookie-ice cream type thing) had veggies in it!

[sweet pea and mint nanaimo bar photo source]

This was a really fun night, my mood was lifted, and all those veggies left me feeling really good inside. Thanks man-friend!

I continued the veggie consumption at a Whole Foods demonstration, lecture, and tasting on Wednesday night. I’m not vegetarian, but (obviously) really enjoy vegetables and healthy-ish food. The co-founder of Candle Cafe and Candle 79, Joy Pierson led a discussion about the restaurant’s food philiosophy and we were able to sample some signature dishes.

Tomato gazpacho soup topped with avocado slice


Ginger-miso stirfry with tofu, veggies, and sesame seeds (I think this would be a great recipe to use once my CSA veggies start rollin’ in…)


Berry fresca with hydrated chia seeds

All followed up by a few cocktails at nearby Verlaine. My first drink featured homemade cucumber and hot pepper vodkas, passionfruit puree, and lime juice. In retrospect this was probably not the best way to hydrate for an early morning run…

The running this week has been going so-so. I’ve been swamped at work and my nights have been packed with activities – I’m really looking forward to catching up on some R&R this weekend (and, um, finally unpacking!). My best (albeit sweatiest) run so far was a ~7-miler this morning with Maria, Kelly, and Ali. We hit the roads bright and early (6am) to avoid the heat, but I still ended up drenched and dreaming of iced coffee. Despite the cocktails from the night before and less sleep than I would have liked, knowing I was going to have good company during my run helped get me out of bed. Seriously, I could not run in the mornings without these run-dates. Thanks ladies!

Do you have a favorite restaurant in NYC (or elsewhere)? I’m making a list of “must-go places”, you know, in case I win the lottery or something!

  • I LOVE Kittichai! My husband and I spent two years in NYC and went there for valentine’s day one year. I remember it being one of my favorites. I’ll have to remember Dirt Candy for the next time I’m up your way (Top 3 is impressive!) It’s super hot down here in Philly too – no outdoor run for me today, yikes.
    One of my favorite places in NYC is Il Buco in the east village – have you ever been? They have a private wine cellar that you can dine in, which is where my husband proposed – so it’s obviously now one of my favorites. (The food is delish, too!) 

  • OHMYLANTA! that food looks BOMBIN’! I was literally drooling on my keyboard…fab…..I don’t have a favorite restaurant here in Dallas, per se, but I’ve been loving tapas style places…so much fun to share small plates!!

  • ilili is by far my favorite restaurant in NYC.  It is lebanese/mediterranean food–everything is delicious!  Special shout out to the warm eggplant appetizer, lamb burger and candy bar dessert.

  • love village vines.  I actually worked with Amanda at PFAW back in the day.

    Favorite places:
    The Modern
    Del Posto
    ABC Kitchen
    Pure Food and Wine

  • Anonymous

    i’ve been wanting to go to ABC Kitchen!!

  • I really liked Community for breakfast or brunch. It’s near Columbia on Broadway.

  • My friend took me to dirt candy for my birthday,and I loved it! 

    A couple of my favorite NYC restaurants are El Parador and Gazala Place. I also love trying out new vegetarian restaurants. 

  • Sarah

    I am a poor college student so all of my favorite places to eat in the city are pretty inexpensive! I really love Veselka on east 9th street. Their buckwheat pancakes are so good! If you’re in Brooklyn the Red Hook Mercado is also a great place to go for cheap yummy food. I never knew what a papusa was before going there (turns out it’s kind of like an arepa – corny cheesy deliciousness!) but I ate one after swimming at the Red Hook pool and it was possibly one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten.

  • Anonymous

    oh my goodness! that papusa from Red Hook sounds delicious. i hope my
    man-friend is taking notes…

  • love that pineapple salad action. and surprise dinners at awesome restaurants. more thumbs up for manfriend! and how dare you ask me what my favorite restaurant is! totally unacceptable question 😉

  • Some great (and sometimes expensive) restaurants I’ve been to: Scarpetta (expensive), Freds at Barneys (must get the fries), Westville, Bar Pitti or Da Silvano, Think Coffee (iced coffee), Grom (gelato), Dojo (cheap, my college place, get the same thing everytime – steamed veggies over brown rice with cheddar cheese and carrot ginger sauce), and Waterfront Ale House nr my school actually has good food.

    I want to try dirt candy and that goats milk yogurt place…did it taste tart or very different from regular frozen yogurt?

  • It’s so hard to pick just one restaurant in NYC! I love Candle Cafe though. And Perilla in the West Village. And Red Cat is pretty delicious. etc. etc. etc. 🙂 

    Here’s hoping our next run won’t be as obnoxiously sweaty! 

  • It’s so hard to choose a favorite place– here are a few of my top picks.

    Covo (like 137th under Riverside Park, down the steps), Community Food & Juice, Good Enough to Eat, Gabrielas (rainbow margaritas), Boat Basin (electric blue lemonade), Stanton Social, Cafe Mezcal, Josie’s, Citrus, and of course….16 Handles 🙂

  • Erin Cochran

    Yay NYC restaurants! My fav places in NYC happen to be veggie: 

    1) Blossom (and Blossom Cafe) http://blossomnyc.com/ Blossom Cafe has this ridiculous (share-size) seitan sandwich that I think I could live off of.

    2) Pukk (veggie thai place) http://pukknyc.com/.
    I can’t recommend this place enough – it’s a really cool little
    hole-in-the-wall place, but it’s RIDICULOUSLY well-priced, especially
    for NYC. Dinner for two with drinks will run you about $40, with tip.
    I’m obsessed with the faux duck there. 

    Dirt Candy has been on my list…thanks for the reminder!

  • I think my most recent favorite is Cafeteria. Mac and cheese eggrolls? Yes please. 

  • Hi! I totally just saw you at the NY Mini cheering! I was so excited! Thanks for your support!  Good luck in future races!

  • Union Square Cafe, actually, and there’s this little cafe on W 84th in a hotel that has these awesome pignoli cookie.

  • Grace @ Balancing Me

    Megan! So nice to “meet” you while I was racing yesterday! I was so taken aback at seeing you in real life that I don’t even know what nonsense I blurted out at you, but thanks for cheering! Hehe.

  • That salad in the pineapple looks amazing!!

    I really need to get out to more restaurants in the city…when someone asks me what my favorite places to go are, I stare blankly back at them.  If you need a restaurant buddy, please let me know!  I’m saving this post so I can hit up some of the recommendations as well!

  • Katie

    I can’t believe you went to Dirt Candy! I REALLY want to go there.  Everything looks so good and fresh… and that maple sauce!

    My restaurant list is out of control right now.  But that’s what money’s for, right?

  • Healthyeverythingtarian

    omg. I NEED that mango papaya salad in my life. that was my absolute fave dish when i lived in thailand. and i also want to hang out with all you NYC ladies. ugh. someday, someday!!

    p.s. hush puppies and maple butter? GENIUS.