You couldn’t be blamed for low expectations if you wandered into Salvation Taco, the new stylized taqueria located in the budget Pod 39 Hotel. During prime loosen-your-tie-and-slip-off-your-pumps evening hours, the Murray Hill crowd can be as obnoxious as a roving band of SantaCon reindeer. And the place is in-your-face garish, like a party joint imported from Cancun spring break, with bright Christmas lights and a wall covered in fake fruit. But that first impression tells only half the story. With April Bloomfield running the kitchen and Ken Friedman in charge of everything else, this is far from your typical after-work sloshfest. The powerhouse team behind the Spotted Pig and the Breslin is playing against type—like Danny Meyer reinventing the burger shack or Tom Colicchio launching a sandwich chain—bringing their highbrow skills into a new mass-market arena. The venue—as colorful as a Mexican blanket, decked out in a rainbow of thrift-store junk—skews younger than any this team has opened previously, designed to fit the Pod’s youth-hostel vibe. The sprawling space, a happy-hour rec room, features two long votive-lit bars, plush couches for lounging and Ping-Pong tables in glass-enclosed nooks. It is first and foremost a place to imbibe, its Mexicanish finger food mostly designed for easy consumption while clutching an icy cerveza. Bloomfield could have phoned it in for this out-of-her-wheelhouse venture. But instead she’s raising the bar on dirt-cheap Mexican snacks: S
Seeing the sushi master practice in this bamboo-embellished space is the culinary equivalent of observing Buddhist monks at prayer. Counter seating, where you can witness—and chat up—the chefs, is the only way to go. Prime your palate with a miso soup and segue into the raw stuff: petals of buttery fluke; rich eel; dessert-sweet egg custard; nearly translucent discs of sliced scallop over neat cubes of milky sushi rice. Still craving a California roll? Move along.
Venue says: “We offer over 40 different craft beers on draught, over 40 bottles and beer infused dishes!”
This Murray Hill watering hole isn’t just another sports bar. Unlike most neighborhood joints, Taproom No. 307 offers more than the usual suspects on draught. Suds lovers can choose from a glimmering lineup of 40 craft-beer taps and a few casks behind the long oak bar, plus a selection of another 40 to 60 bottled beers that changes seasonally. On a recent visit, bartenders were pouring Lagunitas Brown Shugga’ ($9), Black Hog Delicata Squash Saison ($8) and Downeast Winter Blend Cider ($8). Rare beer enthusiasts will want to check out the Logsdon Peche ‘n Brett ($48 for a 32-ounce bottle) and Stone Old Guardian Barleywine OakSmoked 2013 ($25). All that drinking is bound to work up an appetite, so order up some of Taproom No. 307’s grub. Maybe some poutine ($14) or bay shrimp hush puppies ($11) and a kale-basil pesto flatbread ($14) will hit the spot.
The food-hall boom of 2014 keeps on keepin’ on, with trumped-up grub depots hawking plates from both street-circuit icons and chef-helmed havens (City Kitchen, Gansevoort Market). Joining the ranks is this whopping 12,000-square-foot perma-venture from UrbanSpace, the team behind seasonal streetside pop-ups like Mad. Sq. Eats and Broadway Bites. The 200-seat court plays host to market favorites—Bar Suzette crepes and Roberta’s wood-fired pizzas, including a Vanderbilt-exclusive pepperoncini pie—as well as newcomers like Ovenly, Toby’s Estate Coffee and a fried-chicken project from BrisketTown’s Daniel Delaney.
Like Pablo Picasso, Rauschenberg (1925–2008) was known for his protean output and willingness to experiment outside the box. He was a collagist who used found objects and images in densely packed pictorial compositions and sculptural aggregations that explored the gap between art and life. His work helped to loosen Abstract Expressionism’s aesthetic stranglehold on the New York art scene of the 1950s, and in the bargain, set the stage for Pop Art. His 60-year career is celebrated in this retrospective bringing together some 250 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, sound and video recordings.
There is no place in New York that better welcomes commuters to the Big Apple than this gorgeous Beaux-Arts train station. For the past century, the 44 platforms–the most platforms of any train station in the world–have kept New Yorkers rolling in and out of the city on a constant basis with 750,000 commuters walking through it’s storied halls each day. If you have time before your departure on the MetroNorth, make a day of it with an old fashioned shoe shine from the celebrated cobblers at Leather Spa followed by lunch at Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant. The gorgeous eatery with its vaulted opulent ceiling, which opened the same year as the terminal in 1913, serves a brilliant Bloody Mary, and, as to be expected has quite the extensive selection of oysters from the New England, Mid-Atlantic and the Pacific West regions (typically between $2-$4 per raw oyster). Even if you don’t have time for a meal, give yourself a moment to admire the architecture of the 70-acre complex. While much of the building seems like a throwback, it was seen as a technological accomplishment and when it opened it was one of the world’s first all-electric buildings. The main concourse is the true show-stopper: Stand next to the iconic Grand Central Terminal Clock and look to the Cathedral-like ceiling to admire the constellations, which, according the original owners, the Vanderbilt family, were painted in reverse order as if to see the stars from a divine perspective.
With little ceremony, the chef behind the slender wooden counter blankets your plate with a drift of summer black truffles; you grow giddier with each falling flake. He slides you the dish, and you reach straight for one. It scarcely tastes like anything. But wait. Try one with some of the sweet, juicy eggplant that sits beneath it like a bashful hunk of steak; now the truffle is getting woodsy. Add some grated daikon and mild Japanese ginger and it betrays hints of garlic. Swish the whole bite through the puddle of sake-tinged sauce and the dish becomes downright intoxicating. So it is at Kajitsu, where the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. The restaurant—which recently moved north from an East Village basement to a Murray Hill townhouse—is likely the city’s most accomplished practitioner of shojin cuisine, a type of hyperseasonal vegan cooking that originated in Zen Buddhism, and is at the foundation of the Japanese kaiseki tradition. For those seeking flesh, the closest you’ll get are the seafood and eggs served only at lunch in Kajitsu’s sister restaurant, Kokage, on the ground floor. Upstairs are the dining room—small and bare, with large windows, straight lines and light finished wood—and an eight-seat chef’s counter. You choose from three ever-changing menus—four courses, eight or a counter-only omakase—each paired with sake if you like (they’ll split a single pairing between two people if you ask nicely). These meals unfold at a languid pace—the
Top Chef honcho Tom Colicchio has partnered with Sisha Ortuzar (Gramercy Tavern) to open this New American restaurant. Ortuzar is in the kitchen, dispatching dishes like pork chops with an apple–brussels sprout hash, and scallops topped with hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and kale-pear chutney. The ace seats are near the floor-to-ceiling windows, which provide views of the East River (in warmer months, the patio also offers an impressive vista).
Pit powerhouse John Stage—the Harley enthusiast behind the wildly popular 'cue empire—expands to Brooklyn with this 208-seat Gowanus outpost. A former tool-and-dye factory, this expansive honky-tonk is done up Dino-style, with exposed-brick walls, reclaimed banquette booths and sidewalk picnic tables. An installation of recycled whiskey bottles hangs from the high ceiling, and the bar is a set piece from the Russell Crowe film Cinderella Man, stocked with draft beers from Kelso, Sixpoint and Brooklyn Brewery.
Venue says: “Trivia starts at 8pm on Tuesdays! Grab a bite to eat & some beers and get your quiz on. Check our site for our live music line-up & catering”