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!

Cruisers’ Favorites

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.

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).

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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!

Hours

Mon-Thurs  1130am – 230am,  Fri-Sat  1130am – 4am,  Sun  1130am – 200am

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

 

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. 


Plan B – It may just be your Plan A

Plan B

626 Vanderbilt Avenue (Between Park Place & Prospect Place), Brooklyn, NY 11238

(347) 240-2171

#2 or #3 train to Grand Army Plaza station, or B or Q train to Seventh Avenue station

www.planb626.com

One of the most relaxed places to visit along the Vanderbilt Avenue strip.  The manager, Rob, makes sure that everyone is happy and smiling and that they return.  Plan B, located in the Prospect Heights section of Brooklyn, offers a variety of tasty treats including some of the best sandwiches and salads.  Enjoy dining at Plan B for lunch, dinner.  Also, stop by for happy hour 4:00 – 7:00pm.  Plan B is a small venue, offers outdoor seating, ok for any occasion, ok for children (during the days, of course). The atmosphere’s always friendly.

Plan B is also great place for sports viewing. They show all the games (football, soccer, hockey, tennis, etc), and you can count on always having someone to cheer along with.

Hours

Mon-Tues  4pm – 1am,  Wed  4pm – 2am,  Thurs  4pm – 3am,    Fri  4pm – 4am,

Sat  12pm – 4am,  Sun 12pm – 12am

 

The ” Shrimp Po’ Boy” sandwich served with mixed greens and raspberry vinaigrette

Fried Calamari appetizer


Jamaican jerk wings appetizer

Grilled corn appetizer

Turkey Burger with shoestring fries

Turkey Burger with shoestring fries

Garlic Parmesean Chicken Wings with shoestring fries

Garlic Parmesan Chicken Wings with shoestring fries

 

Food

Good (This place is sure to offer a dish you’ll find special enough to come back for) Menu is specific to appetizers, salads and sandwiches.  Our favorites include the Buffalo wings, jerk chicken salad, fried fish sandwich (tilapia), pulled pork sandwich, and calamari.  Rob also enhances the dining experience by altering the menu every so often.  Plan B offers good beer selections (includes beers on tap). They also offer a nice weekend brunch menu.  All-in-all, Plan B offers more than just your standard bar fare.

Service Quality

Good (You’ll come back again) Personal attention from the management is just super.  Be sure to ask for Rob when you visit Fridays during happy hour, Saturdays and Sundays for lunch.

Prices

Cheap ($10 – $30 pp). $20 – $30 will take care of you here.

Décor

Good (Comfortable, creative).  Still evolving as management continues to add sports memorabilia


The Livingroom at The Standard – OH YEA!!!

The Livingroom at The Standard Hotel

848 Washington Street (near West 13th Street), New York, NY

(212) 645-4646

C, E or A train to 14th Street Union Square

http://www.standardhotels.com/new-york-city/

We ABSOLUTELY love this place!  Located in the Meatpacking district, The Standard rates huge in every way.  It’s a regular spot for fun and fabulousness! Even the restrooms are great. Dress casual but be sure to look good.  The entire neighborhood is chic and there’s achance to meet celebs.  This place is a must visit whether you live in NY or are just visiting.  You’ll feel relaxed and part of New York’s elite crowd.  The cocktails here are delicious.  Our favorites are the cosmonaut and Rick Shaw! Favorite menu items are the shrimp cocktail and the turkey club!  Even if you’re not an official part of New York’s elite, the staff here ensures your personal enjoyment.  It’s classic service with a smile.  We enjoy Livingroom at The Standard mostly during a nice afternoon lunch, evening and late night cocktails.


Jumbo Shrimp cocktail

 

The Rickshaw

Turkey club w/crispy fries

 

The Cosmonaut

 

Food:

Higher-end (Excellent preparation, creative and delicious) 

Service:

Higher-end/Splurging (Makes everyone feel comfortable; always pleasant, attentive and efficient. You’re sure to leave 18% or more for gratuity)

Price:

Good ($30 – $60). This is a great spending range for this place. You’ll enjoy yourself

Décor:

Higher-end (Eye-catching, inspires conversation)



Cafe Espanol – Delicioso courtesy of Spain

 Café Espanol 

172 Bleecker Street, NY, NY

#1 or #2 to Houston St., A, C or E to Spring St 

http://cafeespanol.com

In one word…WOW! That describes the entire experience in a nutshell. From the first time we ever walked in and tasted their food, we have been hooked. We’ve been coming here for years and haven’t been dissatisfied yet. The flavors are unbelievable! This is Spanish food at its finest. Reservations are recommended, though walk-ins are usually accommodated. Café Espanol is a great spot for lunch, dinner, and special occasions or for impressing a date. The wine list is good, and their red sangria is delicious. We have a lot of food favorites here including their paella (1 order is enough for two), sizzling shrimp appetizer and our ABSOLUTE FAVORITE IS THE SURF AND TURF – the fillet mignon and lobster just can’t be beat! YUMMMMY! Considering the portions and care in food preparation, the prices are more than reasonable.

Hours

Mon-Thurs  12pm – 12am,  Fri-Sat 12pm – 1am,  Sun  12pm – 1130pm

Lobster tail & Shrimps

Lobster Tail & Shrimps

Seafood paella

Seafood Paella

IMG_1368

Tres Leches

 

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

Price

Good/Higher-end (You’ll probably spend $40 – $70 pp for a really great time)  

Decor

Higher-end (Eye-catching, inspires conversation)



Garage – You won’t believe what’s inside

Garage

9 Seventh Ave So. (near Grove St), New York, NY 10012

(212) 645-0600

#1, #2 train to Christopher St – Sheridan Square station

B, D, M, F train to West 4th Street station

www.garagerest.com

 

Mmm….mmm…..amazing! 

Garage is special for so many reasons. The food is deliciously prepared, the drinks are delectable, the service is pristine and the decor is so artistic and tasteful, it provides great conversation during your meal. Garage is great for lunch or dinner.  They also offer live jazz nightly.  You’ll definitely pay upward for a dining experience at Garage. It’s worth the trip for a wedding anniversary or other special occasion/celebration.

The Maryland Crab Cake & Lobster Cake served with mashed potatoes. Absolutely delicious

Calamari appetizer

The Blood Orange Martini

 

Food

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

 

Service

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

 

Price

Higher-end ($61 – $100pp) We found it to be worth every penny. This is what we paid for their fried calamari appetizer, about 2 drinks each, and two seafood main courses.

 

Décor

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


Junior’s Restaurant – more than just cheesecake. Really!

 Junior’s Restaurant

386 Flatbush Avenue Ext (near Lafayette Avenue), Brooklyn, New York

(718) 852-5257

B,Q,N,R to Dekalb Avenue or the #2, 3, 4 or 5 to Nevins Street

http://juniorscheesecake.com

Hands down, one of the BEST places for a good, strong drink!  They don’t offer beers on tap, but have a really nice selection of bottled beers and lots of alcohol.  Everyone knows about Junior’s cheesecake, so we won’t get into that. This place offers so much more.  The bartenders and wait staff are experienced and uniformed.  Also, breakfast at Junior’s is an absolute favorite. Come early to enjoy sounds from the big band era and get treated like royalty.  Junior’s is one of our favorite places anytime – breakfast, lunch, dinner or just for drinks.  Dining is good for families, friends, business meetings and any occasion. We find it’s most crowded on Mother’s Day.  

The menu selection is wide offering mostly old fashioned American fare. We recommend the lobster roll, the salmon club sandwich (swap out potato salad for collard greens or something else), buffalo shrimp appetizer (unique and just delicious), crab cake appetizer or dinner, catfish appetizer or dinner, Buffalo wings, Thai wings.  There’s a lot more to enjoy as well.

By the way, breakfast is served all day, and late kitchen hours (until 1am) are available Fridays and Saturdays only.

Hours

Mon-Thurs  630am – 12am,  Fri-Sat  630am – 1am,  Sun  630am – 12am

Crab cakes topped w/corn salsa, served with mashed potatoes & corn on the cob

20150917_232143

Catfish, mashed potatoes & corn on the cob

Breakfast mimosas

Lobster Roll & Steak Fries

Lobster Roll & Steak Fries

Patrami Omelette

Pastrami Omelette

Pastrami with Swiss & Steak Fries

Pastrami Sandwich with Swiss & Steak Fries

Food

Good (This place is sure to offer a dish you’ll find special enough to come back for)! We can’t get enough of our favorites including the buffalo wings with sauce on the side, catfish finger appetizer, buffalo shrimp appetizer, lobster roll entree, salmon blt sandwich, great burgers (beef and turkey), crab cake entree.

Service Quality

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

Price

Good ($30 – $60 pp) You’ll definitely get appetizer, entree, dinner and some of their famously delicious cheesecake if you spend in this range

Decor

Good (Comfortable, creative)  General atmosphere is pretty festive any day or time of the week.  We love Junior’s during holidays too. The decorations, especially around Christmas/New Year are warm and classic. Mother’s Day is most crowded, and most holidays have a long line for cheesecake, but SOOO worth it!


Randazzo’s – Seafood and sauce beyond delicious!

Randazzo’s Clam Bar

2017 Emmons Avenue (Between Ocean Ave & E. 19th Streets), Brooklyn, NY 11235

(718) 615-0010

B or Q train to Sheepshead Bay station; B44 or B49 bus to Emmons Ave

www.randazzosclambar.com

Cutting through the chase, our absolute favorites here are their fried calamari, the crab cake sandwich with fries (it’s just sooo good!), and the steamed seafood with pasta entrée.  However, we just can’t enjoy either of these without their signature sliced Italian bread, which is served a little stale and enjoyed while dipping in your choice of mild, medium or hot marinara sauce.  It’s unexplainably yummy, and gives this place a unique, “at home” feel.  Randazzo’s is really festive and is a staple in the Sheepshead Bay neighborhood.  Its bright lighting and the festively loud conversation among the staff and patrons make it great for families, groups of friends and a really casual date.  Good for lunch or dinner.  Randazzo’s offers bottled beers and personal sized bottle wines.  We can’t say enough good things about this place.  The prices are comparable to the menu selections (which means that since you’re getting a great seafood selection, the food is greatly prepared and the service is hassle free, warm and friendly – you’re paying the best price for all of that).  Your visit is almost sure to be a great casual dining experience.  Do check it out.

Food

Good! (This place is sure to offer a dish you’ll find special enough to come back for).  If you love seafood, this is a promise!


Service Quality

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


Price

Good ($30 – $60 pp)


Decor

Good (Comfortable)


Alma 33 – You’re gonna love it

Alma 33

33 West 8th St. (between 5th and 6th Ave) New York, NY 10011

(212) 380-8794

A, B, C, D, E, F or M train to West 4th Street station

www.almanyc33.com



Love love love this place!  Alma 33 is a stylish, dark and sexy venue. Great music plays all the time.  Alma’s menu is Argentinean and Spanish, serves tapas, entrees, great drinks, wine, brunch, lunch and dinner.  We enjoy this place immensely and highly recommend it as a great place for appetizers and/or drinks before dinner.  You’ll also find it great for after dinner drinks and dessert. The Pionono is not to be missed!!! A huge plus is the service!  The owner, Rich, always takes a personal interest in the customers and really wants everyone to have a great experience. We like sitting at the bar.

We love their drink menu and our favorite appetizers include the variety of skewers and empanadas.  When you add the menu selection, exclusive drink menu, wine list, sexy décor, music, festive atmosphere and the top notch services and the prices, you’ll find yourself enjoying an ultimate dining experience without breaking the bank.  Stop in anytime. We like after work/late evening best.

Steak skewers & fried polenta lollipop tapas

Pionono (sponge cake, seasonal berries and cream). It's slammin' and simple every time!

Argentinian flan

 

Food

Higher-end (Excellent preparation, creative and delicious)

 

Service Quality

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


Price

Good ($30 – $60 pp) This will take good care of you here. An appetizer with a drink or two


Decor

Higher-end (Eye-catching, inspires conversation)



Empire Szechuan Village – A little Chinese food, a little Japanese food, and a lot of good times…

Empire Szechuan Village

173 Seventh Avenue South (near Perry St.), New York, NY  10014

(212) 243-6046

#1, 2, 3 train to 14th Street station

www.empireszechuanvillagenyc.com

 

Offers a wide selection of Chinese and Japanese delicacies. All of the dishes we’ve tried have been delicious; makes it difficult to choose favorites. In addition to their wide menu selection, they also offer a wide selection of alcohol and beer and at really good prices! Their decor is quiet and mostly comfortable.  The staff is super friendly (we’ve found we’re not the only ones to get a big “Hey! How have you been? Or, “So nice to see you again!”) The management at Szechuan Empire definitely understands the value of return customers. It’s highly likely that your first visit won’t be your last.

Our only critique on the downside is that it often gets a little too warm in there, especially after a few cocktails.  As far as drinks, while they serve really good cocktails at a really good price, they’re not exactly on par with pairing the cocktail with the right glassware.  I can’t tell you how many times they’ve served me a whisky sour inside of a champagne flute. Lol.  It’s a little funny. We love this place.

 

My favorite is the Seafood Teriyaki dinner. It comes with fish, shrimp and scallops. Because I don’t like scallops, I ask them to swap out scallops for extra shrimp.  YUM!!!!!  Harv really likes the Beef & Scallops dinner.

Food

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

 

Service Quality

Good (You’ll definitely come back again)

 

Price

Cheap ($10 – $30pp) $30 will secure an appetizer, drink and main course for sure!

 

Décor

Good (Comfortable, a little creative)