Cielo Verde at Playa (Los Angeles, CA)

Roof gardens evokes idyllic imagery of secret  and lemonade sipping parties. But this utilitarian paradise on the top of Playa isn’t for playing. Not open to the public, I was lucky enough to sneak a peek around this organic hydroponic garden supplementing the already enthralling menu (food and cocktails!).

This visit also taught me that, like a cat, I can climb up a ladder but not down. Fortunately the General Manager, Brian, spotted me wavering on the roof and helped me back to the bar.



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Loading Dock (Brooklyn, NY)

Oh sweet fire, keep me warm these winter days

Although I detest these New York winters, nuzzling up in a fur-lined chair (let’s not debate over that, ok) next to the wood burning hearth at the Loading Dock is one of my few snowbound pleasures. This food cart, parked in an actual loading dock of a downtown live-work industrial loft, is flush with all the pomp of the hipster allusion (complete with an art gallery), but none of the dickery.

Makeshift greatness

The working loading dock elevator

My sensible friends let me select our downtown brunch location before embarking on the totally rad Atlantic Tunnel Tour. A perfect chance to show off my “what’s hot now” knowledge, I mean, what’s the point of obsessing over all those food blogs if I don’t get to dazzle people by dragging them to obscure industrial corners of our dismal downtown, secure in my promise of awesome Mexican breakfast!

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Dos Caminos Park (New York, NY)

Dazzling hallowed wooden lanterns

Considering this is an out-of-towner spot, I’ve always succeeded in avoiding the middle class girls night outs mingling with suits who borrow their bosses gold card to take mid-range clients out for margs and apps. Ok, I was dragged here once before and suffered though an off menu vegetarian item I fondly remember as “enchilada slop.” So needless to say, when my Jersey friends made reservations I was… eh… underwhelmed.

All cheese all the time

But my apathy was squelched by the heavy cast iron pan of pure melted cheese that is the remarkable Cazuela De Queso Fundido! You heard me! This ain’t not soupy fondue, it’s a big pan of fillerless molten cheese! Eat it fast before it solidifies… don’t worry, the heart attack is totally worth it!

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Caracas Arepa Bar (New York, NY)

I walked in with my friend’s words ringing in my ears “I was dazzled by the fancy arepas but wish I had ordered something simpler.” The tiny dining room filled up quickly at 7pm on a weekday, and I couldn’t help snickering as my dining companion squirmed while scantily clad girls practically sat in his lap as they wiggling their way between our tables. The host was polite, but his smile was clearly worn by the constant stream of people seeking arepa asylum; and our server was as effective as the cramped space allowed.

I began with the wine cocktail Tinto de Verano ($6), a refreshing sangria-meets-spritzer start to our meal.

The Guasacaca & Chips ($5.75) while affordable, do not live up to the hype… they are nothing more than commonplace guac and plantain/taro chips.

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