Meze at Zenon Taverna
Meze at Zenon Taverna
Mom was right: The fastest way to your lover's heart is through their stomach. Start this gourmand adventure at Sura (105 E 9th St between Third and Fourth Aves; 212-982-6390, suranyc.com), which is Korean for "king's meal." The Shiitake Jean (vegetarian stuffed shiitake mushrooms, $6--$8) is a popular choice, but the real treat here is the house-infused soju (glass $7, bottle $13), a vodkalike Korean spirit made from rice or potatoes—of the 11 varieties, go for the codonopsis, or tangy ginger. Next up, it's a cultural smorgasbord at Marco Polo Caf (102 St. Mark's Pl between First Ave and Ave A; 212-228-8456, marcopolonyc.com), owned by a Chinese-Italian couple. With entres like the Moo Goo Gai Panino (grilled panino with chicken, caramelized onions, shiitake mushrooms and fontina, $8.95), any combination of food—or people!—seems like a potential match made in heaven.
From raw to rich
At vegan mecca Caravan of Dreams (405 E 6th St between First Ave and Ave A; 212-254-1613, caravanofdreams.net), artful raw-food plates like the Lovers' Salad (a generous medley of avocado, mango, olives, dried cranberries and greens in a balsamic-shiitake dressing, $15--$17) will satisfy Food, Inc. lovers. Creamy hummus is made from almonds, and the Raw Cacao Fudge Bar (dates, Brazil nuts and coconut, $6) is as decadent as it sounds. After a quick ride on the L-is-for-lovers train, cozy up in a back room at Williamsburg's Hotel Delmano (82 Berry St at North 9th St, 718-387-1945), whose menu includes a plate of Stilton, Langres and Meadow Creek wedges ($9) straight from Murray's Cheese Shop. For a sweet finish, try the handmade local chocolates ($4--$8); we're partial to one filled with oats and salted caramel.
Ravenous Hellenic romp
A big fat Cyprian feast awaits at family-owned Zenon Taverna (34-10 31st Ave between 34th and 35th Sts, Astoria, Queens; 718-956-0133, zenontaverna.com). Try the Cyprus Meze platter ($37.90), a generous sampling of 16 appetizers including keftedes (fried pork meatballs made with grated potatoes), beet salad and quail. Pair that with a bottle of the red Agios Onoufrios ($24.95), imported from—you guessed it—Cyprus. Enter the unremarkable shopping plaza on 31st Street, and head straight for Athenian bakery Artopolis (23-18 31st St between 23rd and 24th Aves, Astoria, Queens; 718-728-8484, artopolis.net). Melomakaronas (honey-dipped semolina cookies) and Cretan diples (glazed crackers made from vodka and flour), both $10 a pound, taste great with an espresso ($2). Order them to go and watch the sun set in nearby Astoria Park.
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