Cafe Frida – Delicious Mexican Food in New York City

November 6, 2011 § 1 Comment

I have found that some of the best vegan meals I’ve had are at ethnic restaurants – specifically Central/South American, Asian, and Mediterranean. I love the many spices and layers of flavor they create in their dishes – always proving to be truly satisfying. While in NYC, we had gone to the Museum of Natural History  on the Upper West Side and after a morning of whales and dinosaurs were completely ravished. I quickly scanned Foursquare to see what was nearby but nothing was looking very promising. We decided to just walk and see what we could find – one of the many joys of New York.

Just a few blocks away we could see Cafe Frida in the distance. It’s bright interior colors and the name itself called my attention. As a former artist, anything mentioning Frida is good by me. Upon entering I knew we were in for a treat. Mexican music bellowed through the speakers as the diners enjoyed their flavorful plates.

The vibrant orange and pink walls coupled with mis-matched chairs and tables created a warm, welcoming environment. We scored a table by the window and got to enjoy watching the New Yorkers pass us by.

Several items on the menu were vegetarian. They had a nice variety to choose from. If you are vegetarian, there were lots of choices. We started with a trio of salsas, but it was almost too hard to just pick three. We landed on the aguacate, pico de gallo, and mestiza. The aguacate was my favorite. It was a smooth creamy avocado salsa with a nice kick from the chile serrano. The chips too cannot be overlooked – slightly thick and golden, they were delicious and I’m afraid to say we finished the whole bucket – well mostly I finished it exclaiming with every bite, Oh my god these chips are so good, as Luis watched the bucket slowly disappear.

Luis ordered a vegetarian meal of chilaquiles. Chilaquiles is a traditional Mexican dish of tortilla chips baked with tomatillo salsa, a green sauce, and topped with cheese and sour cream. On the side was a fried egg and black beans. I was a bit nervous as he ate it since he hadn’t had cheese or eggs in over a month, but he was OK and said it was one of the best meals he has had. That meal may have pushed him to want to be vegetarian instead of vegan but I can say, since returning home he’s had neither cheese nor eggs so he is still trying to be vegan 🙂

I had the vegetable fajita lunch. The lunch was a $12.95 combo (seriously, you can’t beat that in NYC!) for a salad and your entree. The salad was very nice and I think it had some kind of avocado dressing. I’ve seen recipes for this but never thought it sounded good but after trying this, I’ll definitely give it a try at home.

The fajitas were simply delish. An array of vegetables thickly coated in a nice spicy red sauce which gave them tons of flavor. Traditional Mexican rice on the side finished the dish. Needless to say I cleared my plate, even with the aforementioned empty bucket of chips 🙂

If you’re looking for a vegan restaurant in New York City or just good ‘ol Mexican, definitely check out Cafe Frida. If we lived there, I can tell you we’d spend every Friday night there no doubt – I didn’t try the margaritas, but I’m sure they’d go down easy with that amazing food!


New York City – Museums, Parks, and Vegan Chow

October 8, 2011 § 3 Comments

I know my last post was about a vacation, but trust me, I’m not used to two vacations in a row! In fact, this one seemed to creep up on us out of nowhere and we found ourselves scrambling at the last minute to prepare for our trip to New York. I’d had two solid weeks of travel so all I craved for the weekend was my own bed and snuggling with my dog. But, we were going out of town for something very special – it was the wedding of one of my best friends. Plus, I figured there had to be tons of great vegan restaurants to explore in metropolitan NYC!

Luis had never been to New York but by the end of hour one he was already trying to figure out how we could  move there – oh, and it was pouring down rain! I’ve been to New York City probably 10+ times. I always loved the hustle and bustle but have always remembered it as being too much chaos for me to ever live with. But it wasn’t that way this time. There was still that great NYC energy, but it wasn’t overwhelming at all – in fact, I was really sad when it came time to leave.

If it weren’t for our dog Chloe, I think we’d be trying to figure out how we could make a move there work. I’m not sure she’d transition so well from her big back yard where she can “hunt” all night long to a tiny 500sf apartment. Surprisingly though I noticed there are so many dogs in the city – but where do they potty? This one question bothered me the entire time we were there. I’ve decided the sidewalks must be the lucky spots. If those dogs are happy maybe Chloe would be too?

We spent the weekend strolling through the streets of Manhattan, enjoying the energy all around us. In fact, I would have usually planned every last second but instead left it to chance and we just walked where we wanted and let fate guide us. By accident we ended up at Bryant Park and I think that was my favorite 30 minutes of the trip – just sitting and enjoying the crisp air and children playing on the green grass, even rolling in it.

Our friend’s wedding was in New Jersey. It was a wonderful evening, one of those weddings where you can really see the couple growing old together – complementing each other in every aspect and having little tears creep out the corner of your eye as you hear them say their vows. They wrote their own and I especially loved the line of “I vow to love us some kids into this world, because I know you’ll make an eccentric mom.”

It was in the backyard of the bride’s New Jersey home and had twinkling candles hanging from the branches and mason jars overflowing with flowers on the table tops. It was a perfect evening and I am so happy for them both.

On Sunday we ended up randomly at a market on Lexington while trying to go somewhere else entirely. It was that very market where I actually ate the best thing of the whole trip – street side grilled corn. Simply grilled, a little chile and salt. Hot, spicy, and juicy – so juicy in fact that with each bite a little would squirt and I’d have to make sure I didn’t hit anyone! It was seriously good. I wish I would have snapped a pic before chowing down.

I’m a huge art buff and still can’t believe we left without visiting a single art museum – but we had too much fun just walking and taking it all in. We did pay a visit to the History Museum which was fantastic. Highly recommend the marine and blue whale room on the bottom. In fact, it was pretty hard visiting this museum as a vegan. Some of the content was a bit much for me. I wonder if all museum workers are vegetarian?

I was really looking forward to this trip for the food. Not the usual NYC pizza I would have usually stuffed myself with but good, wholesome, vegan food. I was actually quite surprised at how hard it was to find vegan options in the city. There are certain pockets of town that have more vegetarian options but we always seemed to be in the wrong area. And as always is the case, the vegetarian options were often loaded with cheese making them not vegan friendly. We made it work though. Except for the wedding, I was able to eat vegan the rest of the trip and Luis didn’t do too bad either.

Some of the great meals we had were at Candle79, Cafe Frida, Gallo Nero, Ess-a-Bagel and the aforementioned corn 🙂

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