New York Brunches at Allswell and Calliope

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When I lived in New York, I swore off brunch. “Brunch is for idiots!” I declared. “You wait forever, you spend a fortune, and for what? Food you can make just as good at home for way less money.”

That’s why there are so many entries on my Breakfast Recipes page: I mostly make brunch at home. But while in New York, this last time around, I ate two brunches so good, they put me in my place. I couldn’t make food THAT good at home.

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Mission Chinese Food and Pok Pok NY

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Before I returned to New York this fall, I started a little folder in my browser called NYFood. I read my EaterNY, my Grub Street, and then bookmarked in my special folder any place I felt like I had to visit. Most prominent among my selections were Mission Chinese Food and Pok Pok NY.

Both restaurants are transplants from other cities: Mission Chinese from San Francisco, Pok Pok from Portland. Both are phenomenons. Both have enormous lines. Yet I told myself these were places I had to visit before returning back to L.A. or I’d be forced to hang my head in shame. Now I can go back to L.A. with pride because I Mission Chinesed, I Pok Poked and lived to tell the tale.

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Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

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The first time that I wrote about Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink (in Miami), I focused on the lighting. In fact, I was so focused on the lighting, I didn’t really write about the meal. Instead, I wrote a post called “When You Can’t See Your Food.” It was very dark in there.

Since then, though, I’ve been back to Michael’s twice for lunch and absolutely loved it. This most recent trip was with my mom and sister-in-law, Tali, (seen above) and as you can see lighting isn’t at all an issue when you’re eating outside at lunch. That’s the time to go.

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Absolute Bagels (And The Best Bagel Of My Life, So Far)

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The journey to the best bagel of my life was a journey of precisely three miles. It started on the Upper East Side, near 2nd Avenue in the 70s, and ended close to Columbia University, on Broadway near 108th Street. I told myself that I could treat myself to a decked-out bagel if I walked all the way to Absolute Bagels, home of what Ed Levine once called “the best bagel in New York.”

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Let’s Not Forget These Other Austin Eats (Torchy’s Tacos, La Condesa, Takoba, Barley Swine, Perla’s, Banger’s, Walton’s, The Counter Cafe, TacoDeli & Elizabeth Street Cafe)

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The day that I flew to Austin, I was coming from Los Angeles in the most convoluted way possible. I started on Sunset Blvd., where I was staying, then drove up to Topanga Canyon, where I left my car with Craig’s aunt and uncle, then took a car service to the Long Beach airport which was about an hour and a half away. By the time the plane touched down in Austin, I was so hungry and tired I could barely move. But I made my way to a cab which took me to the Doubletree Hotel (my first hotel there) which was nowhere near anything that I heard was worth eating. So then I took a cab to South Congress, specifically to Torchy’s Tacos which many of you recommended on Twitter. It sounded perfect.

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Franklin Barbecue

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Some restaurants have a mythology surrounding them. Franklin BBQ, in Austin, Texas, is one such restaurant.

“You have to get there early,” people will say. “They line up starting at 9 o’clock and don’t open their doors until 11.” “It’s because Aaron Franklin carves all the meat by hand and takes his time doing it.” “They’ll ask how much meat you want before you go in so they can figure out when to start turning people away.” “It’s a one hour wait.” “It’s a two hour wait.” “It’s the best BBQ you’ll ever have in your life.” “You’ll want to kill yourself after you eat it because there’ll be nothing left to live for.”

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Uchi

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I was glued to the TV, yesterday, watching hurricane Sandy updates from my Austin hotel room (note to CNN producers: that was cruel how you kept that guy submerged in water during 100 MPH winds) while harassing Craig and Lolita (my cat) over the phone to make sure they were ok. They were, though via Twitter I knew many others weren’t. My instinct was to stay put, to suffer in solidarity, by way of Facebook updates and Instagram photos. At some point, though, I got hungry and wandered out of my hotel.

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