Cruising for the full dining experience! Join us as we cruise New York’s asphalt in pursuit of restaurants and bars focused on giving their customers more bang for their buck – coupling tasty, well prepared food and drinks with good quality service! You don’t have to be a member of the royal family to be treated like one!

Latest

WELCOME TO ASPHALT CRUISERS!!!

Just in time for the new season, is a blog created and designed to fill you in on places we think will offer you a “full dining experience”.

ASPHALT CRUISERS isn’t just about new restaurants, great food & cheap prices – it’s about “THE FULL DINING EXPERIENCE”. We get tired of spending our money at places where we get waiters with poor attitudes, watered down or overpriced cocktails, and just an overall bad time. We love New York and all the restaurants available to us, but ASPHALT CRUISERS is dedicated to those that miss service with a smile – the places where they treat you like they actually want you to come back again. We find a lot of good food, but few places exceed your expectations with their service quality.

Join the movement!!!

Before venturing out for your next brunch, lunch, dinner or happy hour, be sure to visit us here at WWW.ASPHALTCRUISERS.WORDPRESS.COM to get the latest recommendations for your full dining experience, and be sure to leave a comment.

Don’t forget to subscribe and look for our exciting updates and surprise giveaways coming soon!

Sincerely,

Harv & Kam

Cornelius – Cocktails, Oysters & History, Oh My!

Cornelius

565 Vanderbilt Ave (near Pacific St), Brooklyn, NY

(718) 398-6662

C train to Clinton-Washington Ave station

www.corneliusbrooklyn.com

Like a couple of youngsters on a first date we, the Asphalt Cruisers, enjoyed an evening of scintillating conversation, a full dining experience containing a flavorful bayou- influenced meal, a brisk walk through the city and even a light dessert at one of our favorite frozen yogurt chains and we still weren’t ready to go home. It was Friday night and we weren’t going to the offices the next morning. And since we’d already traded in the next morning’s jog for a night of hurricanes, tequila shots and food, it was time to find our next venture for the evening. We hopped the iron horse for Brooklyn to find the venue calling us. As we exited the train station and hit the streets, we felt a brisk breeze with a touch of moisture. Unfortunately, this would be our only warning to immediately take shelter. We must have walked only about a block before the sky opened and the rains poured down upon us. We found an awning and tried to wait it out. Twenty minutes later there was no end in sight. We ran awning to awning for several blocks under the pouring rain until we found Cornelius on Vanderbilt Avenue with its wide opened doorways, dark woody interior and lighting that was soft and welcoming.

Drenched, we grabbed two stools at the bar and ordered a couple of stiff drinks to warm us up. Our friendly and knowledgeable bartender gave us a rundown of offerings. Harv ordered the whiskey flights, and I stayed with an old favorite (Bombay Sapphire). We melted into the comfort of our seats, chatted with the bartender some more, watched a bit of the movie playing on the TV and began to mellow out. The place was pretty busy with neighborhood patrons who all seemed pretty easy, free and just chillin’ out. The atmosphere felt rather welcoming, and soon we were ready to order a quick bite. I asked the bartender for a recommendation and he raved about a shrimp appetizer (pictured below; exact name unavailable). It took no time coming out of the kitchen, piping hot and simple. I bit into the shrimp and dipped the soft bread into the juices on the plate. It was just the right amount of everything and a nice follow-up to the bouillabaisse we enjoyed earlier. After we ate it all, we had another round of cocktails, talked with the bartender on various topics including the bar’s history and their unique inventory. Cornelius on Vanderbilt is named after famed New Yorker and Vanderbilt University founder, Cornelius Vanderbilt. The venue offers a variety of tasty bourbons, whiskeys, etc including Woodford Reserve, Rock Hill Farms, Hupson Baby Bourbon and more. Cornelius is a great place to visit for happy hour, dinner, late hang-out. By the way, the bartender couldn’t recall the exact name of the shrimp appetizer I ordered, so when you visit, just ask and they’ll know what you’re talking about.

Shrimp Appetizer

Hours

Mon – Friday 5pm – 1/2am, Saturday and Sunday opens 1pm

Happy Hour

Mon – Fri from 5pm – 7pm (includes $1 oysters, cocktails, beer & shot specials)

Food

Good (This place is sure to offer a dish you’ll find special enough to come back for

Service Quality

Good (You’ll come back again)

Price

Cheap ($10 – $30 pp)

Décor

Good (Comfortable, creative)

The Delta Grill – Savory Creole Flavors in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen!

The Delta Grill

700 9th Ave (@corner of W.48th St), New York, NY

Tel: (212) 956-0934

A, C, E, train to 50th Street station

www.thedeltagrill.com

They say New York is the city that never sleeps – and how can we possibly sleep with all this great food around?! Seriously, we’re fortunate to have such an array of culinary selections, and the Asphalt Cruisers have been really enjoying the smorgasbord of tastes available in Hell’s Kitchen.  So one Thursday evening, in our unending quest to try something new, we made a b-line for 9th Avenue. We cruised a few blocks reading restaurant menus along the way, but it was the chalkboard outside The Delta Grill, which gave us pause.  We’ve never visited Louisiana, but walking in to the Delta Grill made us feel like we’d just stepped into Aunt Nettie’s sophisticated juke joint nestled in the rural comforts of the bayou.

As soon as we sat down, I asked our waitress for the happy hour drink specials. She recommended the hurricanes, so we immediately requested two.  They were a bit too sweet for Harv, so I made the sacrifice and drank both…while exploring their unconventional menu, our very friendly and attentive waitress returned to our table and ran down a pretty long list of appetizer and dinner specials.  It was a tough choice, but we decided to start with the crispy alligator tail served with chipotle sauce and grilled avocado.  This was a great part of the evening’s dining experience.  It was delicious! Never had alligator tail before, and what we loved was that it had its own unique flavor (aka – didn’t taste like chicken), and it was perfectly paired with the smoky flavor of the grilled avocado and chipotle mayo.  Every bite was simply yummy.  Our waitress later returned and asked for our opinion on the appetizer – of course, we gave her thumbs up and requested another round of drinks.  As is typical around dinnertime, the restaurant became increasingly more crowded and this always helps raise the enjoyment of the atmosphere.  So we sipped our drinks, looked around to soak in the venue a bit more, checked out the happy faces of our fellow diners; and then our entrée, the bayou bouillabaisse with oyster rouille en croute arrived.  It was packed with pungent flavor and the oyster rouille was fantastic, especially when dipped in the bouillabaisse broth.  We were really enjoying the deep seafood flavors soaked into the bread.  It was difficult to pull off proper dining etiquette as we cleared the dishes and tried not to look completely ravenous and uncouth.  I tell ya, we were seconds from licking the bowl.  My only critique was that the portion could have been greater considering the amount we paid.  At the end of our entrée, we decided to go out of form and get one more order of the gator tail.  The manager brought this over personally and expressed his gratitude for our obvious enjoyment of that dish. He graciously thanked us for dining and welcomed us back.  The Delta Grill was surely enjoyable and brought a touch of authentic Louisiana to the paved streets of big, bright New York City.

Crispy alligator tail served with chipotle sauce and grilled avocado

Bayou bouillabaisse with oyster rouille en croute

Food

Higher end (Excellent preparation, creative & delicious)

 

Service Quality

Good (You’ll definitely come back again)

 

Price

Good ($30 – $60pp) 

 

Décor

Good (Comfortable, creative)


R.I.P. Heavy D – A True Hip-Hop Pioneer

On a non-dining note, we at Asphalt Cruisers would like to give a special shout out to a great contributor in the entertainment industry.  Mr. Dwight “Heavy D” Myers.  You will be sorely missed.

Rest in Peace.


Vintage – Adds a Little Throwback to Hell’s Kitchen

Vintage

753 Ninth Ave (between 50th & 51st St), New York, NY

(212) 581-4655

A, C, E train to 50th Street station

 

After a 15-minute discussion to try and figure out what we were in the mood to eat and where we wanted to go, we knew we wanted a low-key venue, but couldn’t settle on anything else.  We decided to cruise Hell’s Kitchen to find a new happy hour spot.  Ninth Avenue has an overwhelming selection and most places were crowded or offered a bit more than we wanted.  We started at 38th Street and worked our way uptown.  As we cruised 9th Avenue and found ourselves approaching the 50’s, we saw an employee of Vintage standing out front taking a cigarette break. Harv asked him a few questions about the food and recommendations.  The employee, who we later learned was the bartender, graciously cut his break short, guided us to a table and ran down a few selections.  He also whipped out this mega sized cocktail book! It’s the largest drink ‘menu’ we’ve seen, especially for a restaurant this small in size.  I ordered a whiskey drink and I forget what Harv ordered.  We looked through the food menu and didn’t find anything that looked particularly intriguing.  The drinks came and as we sipped and tried to decide on an entrée, we took a glimpse at our surroundings.  The restaurant was becoming increasingly more crowded, which is typical for a Friday night, especially during the nice weather. Everyone looked happy and glad to embark on the weekend.  Vintage offers a small, dimly lit venue and is a lounge type atmosphere.  The front windows were opened wide allowing the natural evening breeze to blow in from outside while exposing the cool red couches and festive vibe from the inside. The bar’s pretty small, so we were glad we chose table service.  As we continued to sip and talk, various wait staff passed by and gave us acknowledging nods and smiles.  Soon, our server came over and took our order.  We kept it easy and ordered a turkey club, which we shared.  We were really more interested in having drinks and keeping it light.   I went to the restroom and had a chance to check out the extended dining area.  Nothing outstanding in the back area, except it offers a slightly wider space, and the restrooms are pretty big too.  Some customers were enjoying their drinks and causing a bit of a raucous in the back – looked harmless, though.   Every Friday night deserves at least a little noise.  Not long after I returned to the table, our food arrived.  The turkey club we ordered was ok; not outstanding, but we did like the fries even better. When done, we decided not to go for another round of drinks.  Felt like cruising the streets some more.

We visit Vintage often and find we like it a lot with no more than a party of four, and happy hour is our preferred time to visit.  We’ve heard a lot of good things about their brunch service, menu and drinks.  We hear it includes unlimited cocktails, and that’s definitely our kind of party.  We’re looking forward to trying it, and we’ll post an update as soon as we give it a whirl.

 

Food

Good (This place is sure to offer a dish you’ll find special enough to come back for)

 

Service Quality

Good (You’ll come back again)

 

Price

Good ($30 – $60pp)

 

Décor

Good (Comfortable, creative)

Winner of the “Dine On Us, Shop on Us” competition is…

Congratulations to Coretta C, the winner of our “Dine On Us, Shop on Us” competition.  

Be sure to subscribe to the blog, pass the word, and you too can WIN!  ASPHALT CRUISERS has the picks for your next great bar or restaurant experience.

WWW.ASPHALTCRUISERS.COM!

Bill’s Bar and Burger – Burgers, served up New York Style

Bill’s Bar & Burger

22 Ninth Avenue at West 13th Street, New York, NY

(212) 414-3003

A, C, E train to 14th Street station

16 West 51st Street at 5th Avenue, New York, NY

(212) 705-8510

M, B, D, F train to 47-50 Rockefeller Center station

www.billsbarandburger.com

After cruising through the streets of Manhattan all day enjoying street fairs, window shopping, gallery exhibits, and more, we decided to end the day’s journey in one of our favorite parts of town. We hit the Meatpacking District for a late lunch and chose Bill’s Bar & Burger. We’ve often stopped in, but only for drinks. Today, we dined. We’d been “cruising” the whole day, so we worked up quite an appetite. After a few cocktails, it was time for the burgers. Harv ordered the turkey burger and I ordered the shrimp burger. He loves the lean quality of turkey and its versatility as a burger (almost anything tastes good on it), and I am a shellfish lover. I’m almost always attracted to any dish offering a non-traditional method of preparing it. After reading the description on the menu, that shrimp burger had my name written all over it. As we enjoyed good conversation and glimpses of afternoon sports programming, we noticed the place was becoming progressively more crowded. The surrounding conversations were growing in volume, and so was the background music. The heightened sounds brought along a rapid energy. It was obvious that the evening was setting in and festive energy permeated the venue. The feeling was so New York. Before we knew it, we were talking louder and faster and laughing even more. At the end of a giggle, it was time to refocus on the menu. We needed a side. Our server suggested that we order the cheese fries with gravy. Her exact words were “They’re amazing. If you hate them, you can punch me in the face!” Now, we’re not sure how many times she’s used that line, but given that she looked more like Josie Bissett than Rocky Balboa, we felt safe in her judgment and ordered those fries. Before long, there were three plates in front of us. Each contained a smoking hot medley of color, aroma and sumptuousness. It was all we could do to pause and take pictures. While the burgers aren’t enormous, we thought they were enough to satisfy. Everything was on point – not too little or too much. I dove into that shrimp burger, which was topped with strips of crispy fried onions, flavored mayo…..it was soooooo good! Then a bite of those sinfully yummy gravy fries with cheese. The conversation Harv and I were having, went from verbal to non-verbal communication, enhanced only by the occasional grunt-inspired deliciousness we experienced with each bite. As we swallowed our final mouthfuls, a small crowd started to enter the restaurant. The gust of wind from the opened doorway was like a splash of water in our faces, waking us up from what seemed to be a dream as we looked down at our plates and saw nothing more than dishes. After paying our check, we rose, did that final sigh looking at our empty plates, and thanked our server for such fine service, conversation and recommendations. We then moved slowly to make our exit. After all, why rush to leave that kinda experience? We like this place a lot. We visit often and also enjoy their midtown Manhattan location as well. It’s the same great quality of service and offers a larger venue. It’s great for business lunches and finding a well-to-do hip crowd after work. Always, a good time is had at Bill’s Bar & Burger.

The Meatpacking location is opened Monday – Sunday

Hours: noon – late (after midnight, up to 1am, 2am, 4am)

Check their website for the Rockefeller Center location hours

Turkey Burger

Cheese Fries & Gravy

Food

Good (This place likely offers a dish you’ll come back for)

Service Quality

Good (You’ll definitely come back again)

Price

Good ($30 – $60pp) This amount will definitely buy you a burger with a drink and more

Décor

Good (Comfortable, creative)

SoCo – So Delicious….So Complete….So Brooklyn!

SoCo Southern Fused Cuisine

509 Myrtle Ave (between Ryerson St & Grand Ave), Brooklyn, NY 11205

(718) 783-1936

G train to the Clinton-Washington Ave. station

www.socobk.com

We decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather one evening and find a new place for dinner. As we cruised through the streets of Brooklyn, we came across a few interesting looking dining options, but the brisk breezes of dusk were so inviting we felt encouraged to explore more. On this particular night, the dining venue had to be just right. We must have walked through about four neighborhoods. The next thing we knew we were in the Clinton Hill section, and SoCo restaurant was IT! On this Thursday night, it was the place that had it all going on. Through the windows, we saw a moving picture of taste, art, culture and pleasure. It was speaking to us and told us to come in. So we did. We walked in and were attracted to the energy of this posh, hip, and tasteful venue. We entered and noticed the large Brooklyn themed collage repping Notorious B.I.G. and others, the raised DJ booth, the long bar, and the charming smile of the hostess guiding us to our desired seats at the bar. Instantly, the bartender, and our host for the evening (who we later learned was Brian) greeted us with a warm, polite smile. He welcomed us, asked if this was our 1st time visiting and took us on a guided menu tour to start off our full dining experience. Naturally, we began with cocktails – the French Q.75 and the Butternut squash for Harv (that’s right, “Butternut Squash” drink – and both drinks were delicious)! The cocktail menu is intriguing, unique and well developed by Mixologist, George Duvall. As we looked through the appetizer and entrée selections, the decision was difficult, but we ultimately decided on ordering the wings appetizer, mac-n-cheese side dish, and the Lobster, Shrimp & Grits entrée. (You should know that I chose the wings and mac because the woman next to me seemed to ripping hers apart. Her friend was trying to hold a mild conversation with her, but the woman next to me could barely stop eating long enough to provide any response. I took this as a sign that the food was pretty outstanding, plus she’d already turned around and told me so. LOL). As we waited for our food, we enjoyed the rest of our drinks, and the live DJ continued to spin tunes that had us vibing and feeling alive! We were chillin’ with the beautiful people. Our food arrived without delay and we devoured every morsel. SoCo’s talented executive chef, Kingsley John, has prepared a menu of, what we call, ‘feastive’ treats for the public, and we were glad to reap the benefits of his culinary expertise. We finally topped off our evening with some dessert cocktails, reluctantly picked up our check and headed home. We want to also mention how delighted we were with the fact that they were really busy all night (all seats at the bar were taken, and all tables were full), yet they still provided us excellent service the entire evening. SoCo Southern Fused Cuisine was intriguing, warm and delightful. We, easily, could have hung out there all night; it’s just that cool-a-place. You can now find them in “Cruisers Favorites”. Since our initial visit, we’ve been back and will be back again and again.

Hours

Unfortunately for the rest of us, SoCo is closed Mondays

Tuesday – Thursday 5:00pm – 11:00pm

Friday & Saturday closed by 2am

Brunch is served Sundays only 11am – 3pm

Live band Tuesday nights and Sunday brunch

Live DJ Thursday nights

Be sure to enjoy the Blueberry bourbon sour, SoCo caramel martini and other delectables.

Bartender Brian: He made our dining experience incredible & he can do the same for you.
Blue Berry Bourbon Sour
Agave Margarita
Lobster, Shrimp & Grits

F-Que WingsF-Que Wings

Mac & Cheese
The French Q.75 & the Butternut Squash

Soco Caramel Martini w/ MarshmallowSoco Caramel Martini w/ marshmallow

Food

Higher-end (Excellent preparation, creative and delicious).

Service Quality

Higher-end (Makes everyone feel comfortable, always pleasant, attentive and efficient).

Price

Good/Moderate ($30 – $60). For a really good time here, this amount can get you an appetizer an entrée and a drink. You can also have just a drink and appetizer for under $30

Décor

Higher-end (Eye-catching, inspires conversation).

Southern Hospitality – Service That Fits it’s Name

Southern Hospitality

645 9th Avenue (Corner of 45th Street), New York, New York 10036

212-265-1000

42 St – Port Authority Bus Terminal (A, C, E)

50 St (A, C, E)

49 St (N, Q, R)

 

1460 Second Ave. (btwn 76th & 77th Streets), New York, NY 10075

212-249-1001

77 St (4, 6, 6X)

68 St – Hunter College (4, 6, 6X) 

www.southernhospitalitybbq.com

While walking around Hell’s Kitchen one weekend afternoon, we looked in the window to explore the menu at Southern Hospitality.  The selections looked sure to please, so we walked in and grabbed two seats at the bar. We got a couple of drinks, asked the bartender for some recommendations, and waited for our orders.  As we chatted amongst ourselves, the bartender came over and started a conversation on some of our menu selections and drink choices.  Before we knew it, another patron walked in, sat at the bar and we were all involved in friendly conversation.  About 5 minutes into that, the free show started – a gentleman with a guitar singing classics. Almost everyone started singing along to the familiar tunes.  Our food arrived shortly after that and WOW! We’d been eating all day, so decided to sample a few items from their ‘sides’ selections. For $5.95 each, we had the dry rub ribs, buffalo shrimp, and the buffalo wings.  Those ribs were soooooooooo good! They were falling off the bone and were juicy and flavorful.  We devoured them.  The buffalo wings and shrimp were also very good, but the ribs were an instant favorite.  The  other patron suggested we come back and try a few of the other items, which we’re sure to do! As we completed our meal, we noticed the place was packed. Everyone looked happy, engaged and energetic.  The singer told Harv that he liked our energy and dedicated a song to us.  We laughed and talked with our awesome bartender a bit more before paying the check and heading out.  We could have stayed there for hours.  Looks like we’ve found ourselves another favorite! 

Hours

645 9th Avenue

Mon-Thu 12 pm – 11 pm,  Fri 12 pm – 2 am,  Sat 11:30 am – 2 am 

1460 Second Ave

Mon-Thu 12 pm – 11 pm,  Fri 12 pm – 12 am,  Sat-Sun 11 am – 12 am

Melissa will assist you in making sure you enjoy yourself
Smokin’ Hot Wings
Fried Buffalo Shrimp
Dry Rubbed Ribs

Dry Rub Ribs, Blackeye Pea Salad & Mango Margarita

Mashed Potatoes & Fried Chicken

Banana Pudding

 

Food

Higher-end (Excellent preparation, creative and delicious).   

 

Service Quality

Higher-end (Makes everyone feel comfortable, always pleasant, attentive and efficient) 

Price

Cheap/Good ($20 – $60 pp). For a really good time here, this amount can get you appetizers, entrée and a drink or two.  You can also have just a drink and appetizer for under $30 

Décor

Higher-end (Eye-catching, inspires conversation). We like the large words around the venue, the TVs, the wood finish.

Nelson Blue – New Zealand in New York tastes soooo good

Nelson Blue

233 Front St. New York, NY 10018

212-346-9090

#2, 3, A, C to Fulton Street station

www.nelsonblue.com

 

Ooooooh! Nelson Blue is great! We’ve come into this New Zealand bar and grill a couple of times for weekend brunch and for Friday evening after work when we’ve wanted to head near South Street Seaport.  We have loved every visit. The staff here is so great. This establishment has become a fast favorite for us.  Everything on the menu looks like something that will taste delicious. For appetizers, we tried their grilled wings.  I think these are now our absolute favorite wings.  They’re perfectly sized and grilled and seasoned to perfection and have a bit of a tangy and citrusy flavor.  They come with a unique sauce too.  Even the staff really loves these.  We also tried their lollipop grill chop, which is priced by the piece and cooked to perfection.  The final appetizer we tried was the salmon skewer which tasted even more amazing served with their fresh tasting dill mayo.  During the weekdays, you must be sure to try the Fried Egg Club served with a salad. I ordered mine without runny eggs, and I loved every bite of that sandwich.  Harv had the Grilled NZ Lamb Lollipop Chops.  His meal included 5 delicious chops served with a potato and pea cake, and rosemary sauce.  He hasn’t stopped talking about it.  For the brunch (served weekends only), you must try the Salmon BLT which is served with some amazing bacon!  Additionally the Grilled Mahi Mahi sandwich served with arugula, tomato and pickled onions, also comes with a mango chutney that takes this sandwich over the edge! Both of these entrees were served with a salad.

My new favorite drink is their Full Nelson.  It’s a combination of Firefly vodka and lemonade. We had ours with a little extra kick.  Yeah….it’s a really good drink!

Grilled Wings appetizer

Salmon Skewer appetizer served w/ curry mayo (we also had the dill mayo)

Grilled Lollipop Chop appetizer (sold by the piece)

Fried Eggs Club (served with bacon, avocado)

Salmon BLT w/delicious bacon & dill mayo

Grilled Mahi Mahi sandwich served with arugula, tomato, pickled onions & mango chutney

Grilled NZ Lamb Lollipop Chops served w/a delicious potato & pea cake

Make sure you say hello to Michelle. She makes the best drinks & offers great service

 

Food

Higher-end (Excellent preparation, creative and delicious).   

Service Quality

Higher-end (Makes everyone feel comfortable, always pleasant, attentive and efficient) 

Price

Good/Moderate ($30 – $60). For a really good time here, this amount can get you an appetizer an entrée and a drink.  You can also have just a drink and appetizer for under $30 

Décor

Higher-end (Eye-catching, inspires conversation). We love their big screen TVs, showcasing news and sports.