Tag Archives: Restaurants

The Best Mexican Food Is In…New Jersey?

On a quiet side street in Union City, NJ is a small storefront. Inside: some of the best Mexican food in the country.

La Piedra del Sol is run by a lovely family from Oaxaca, Mexico, a region known for its cuisine. While we often think of California or Texas as the best places for Mexican food in America, I submit this may be the best Mexican north of the Rio Grande.

Chips and salsa are no afterthought here. Everything is housemade.

I first tried this wonderful restaurant on a frigid Valentine’s Day night. The shrimp fajitas oozed flavor. The guacamole was creamy and delicious. Simple chips and salsa were an incredible experience: multiple salsas with deep, rich flavors and crispy tortilla wedges, all housemade.

Guacamole served with flair!

Service is attentive and friendly. Everything is done in-house. As the end of our meal came, the owner sent out a delicious tres leches cake, free of charge. It was moist, milky, wonderful. This happened to be one of the last meals out my wife and I had before COVID, and it was memorable.

I visited again on a recent evening and the food was better than ever. I’m very grateful the shutdowns didn’t force this wonderful spot out of business.

La Piedra del Sol is open every day but Sunday and in addition to wallet friendly prices, it’s also BYOB. If you’re in the area, you’d be crazy not to visit.

Have a great weekend everyone!

More on food:

THE BEST BAKERY IN NYC (IT’S NOT LEVAIN)

I ATE THE BEST BURGER OF MY LIFE OUTSIDE IN THE DEAD OF WINTER

HOW I LEARNED TO COOK

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Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

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The Best Bakery in NYC (It’s Not Levain)

One evening, my wife came home and presented a bunch of small, colorful bags. Inside: some of the most delicious baked goods I’ve ever had.

Their outstanding chocolate chip cookie. Don’t worry, I was gentle.

Eclair Bakery, founded by French pastry chef Stephane Pourrez, is on a side street near the United Nations. Despite eight years in the city, it’s fairly obscure, especially compared to famous spots like Levain. But I’ve never had a Levain cookie as delicious as those from Eclair. They’re moist, chewy, and deeply suffused with brown sugar and butter.

Their namesake eclairs are also the best I’ve ever had. A caramel version I tried had a light, airy pastry filled with rich, smooth caramel cream. It was beautiful to look at and even better to eat!

If you’re in New York City, I strongly suggest giving this under-the-radar spot a try!

More on the NYC area:

THE BEST NYC COMEDIANS YOU HAVEN’T SEEN (UNTIL NOW)

WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE ON LAW & ORDER: SVU

I ATE THE BEST BURGER OF MY LIFE OUTSIDE IN THE DEAD OF WINTER

If you found this post interesting, please share it on Twitter/Reddit/etc. using the buttons at the bottom of the page. This helps more people find the blog! And please leave your comments at the bottom.

Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Restaurants’ Newest Struggle: Finding Workers

Reopened restaurants are finding it increasingly difficult to find workers:

Capacity restrictions and distancing requirements have drastically cut wages for workers like servers, who rely on tips to make up for an hourly wage at or near the federal tipped minimum of $2.13 in many parts of the country, prompting them to find better-paying work. Others shifted to better-paying jobs in fields that boomed while dining imploded, such as retail fulfillment, especially as companies like Amazon and Target pay or have raised hourly wages to $15.

The problem doesn’t just affect independent or higher-end establishments. Fast-food mega-chains like McDonald’s and Taco Bell are pushing to hire thousands of workers in an effort to reopen dining rooms, even holding drive-up spot interviews in parking lots.

More here.

If restaurants are beset by capacity restrictions and closures, impacting your tips, you may be reluctant to return. Especially if you’ve left for a job at, for example, an Amazon fulfillment center, which is never subject to those restrictions and pays a predictable wage. You’re also far more likely to get benefits working for a major company than a small restaurant, which is particularly relevant in the middle of a health crisis.

With e-commerce growing rapidly, I see little incentive for restaurant workers to return. Perhaps the industry will wind up permanently smaller, more automated, or both.

For more on business and the economy, check out these posts:

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Photo: “waiter” by zoetnet is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I Ate the Best Burger of My Life Outside in the Dead of Winter

Find this and eat it!

I celebrated my 35th birthday this weekend! My wife very kindly arranged for a hotel staycation in New York City, along with an outstanding meal. But there was one little problem. All indoor dining is closed in NYC. And it’s January.

I used my winter camping experience to my advantage, swaddling myself in a base layer, down jacket, winter coat, and a fur hat fit for Siberia. We hustled to the Upper West Side.

I was afraid we’d freeze solid, but we arrived at Bar Boulud to find a beautiful outdoor setup. They basically built a building on the sidewalk, with one side open for ventilation. That side faced the sidewalk, not the street, so no wind entered, and we were surrounded by huge heaters that kept us very comfortable. I was encouraged to see every table booked!

We both ordered the outstanding Frenchie Burger. The flavor of the beef was intense, especially for someone like me who rarely eats meat, and it was topped with unctuous pork belly and oozing melted raclette cheese. A triumph! If you’re in the New York area and like burgers, this is a must-have.

As we sipped coffee, I looked across the street to Lincoln Center, where my wife and I had enjoyed ballets and symphonies in the past. It occurred to me that being outside right now was not a hardship, but rather a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. There will be no outdoor dining next January. This beautiful structure will be taken down and never seen again. This was our one chance to enjoy this winter wonderland. And we savored it.

I encourage you to think of today’s situation as not merely negative. To be sure, many are suffering now, and we must do what we can to help. But there are also unique experiences available today that will probably never be seen again. Get out there and enjoy them! Make some memories!

Outdoor dining, even in the 28 degrees we found ourselves in on Saturday, is very doable and really quite fun. We were only slightly chilly, which was quickly overcome by hot coffee and delicious food. The fancier restaurants in particular have amazing outdoor setups that make the experience comfortable and memorable. My friend Jim* recently had a business dinner at Peter Luger Steakhouse in Brooklyn in a private little cabana and found himself entirely comfortable.

Give it a shot and make a happy memory in this unique time!

*Not his real name