Welcome to The Lunch Belle, a food website/blog that views the New York City + Los Angeles dining scenes through the lens - and belly - of a highly opinionated, critical, adorably quirky, and culinary-obsessed thirty-something year old.

Just consider me your one-stop NYC - and, most recently, Los Angeles - shop!



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Entries in News you can actually use (91)


"Hop to" this hot deal for 'Lunch Belle' readers!

Life in NYC is trying; it will test every last strand of your patience.  And, just when you think you have it all figured out, the mean streets of Gotham will hurl yet another curve ball your way. 

Have you ever found yourself in one of the following situations?

  • Your apartment (or "space," if you live in NYC) has turned in to a scene from Hoarders, and you're getting to the point where you'd rather be anywhere - even at work! - other than home.  You've considered hiring a maid but, after looking at prices, realized that it's out of your budget.
  • You live in an apartment building without all of the bells and whistles (read: no doorman or maintenance staff), and/or you and "Mr. Fix-it" are no longer dating.  Face it, you need help: installing that chandelier - hanging drapes - mounting your flat screen television to the exposed brick wall across from the sofa - rearranging furniture to make your space more "feng shui" - etc.
  • "Oh, wait.  I have to assemble this IKEA furniture myself?"
  • "I really want the iPhone 4 (or whatever number they're on now), but I don't have time to stand in that god awful line at the Apple store.  Now what??"
  • You're moving to a new apartment and don't want to hire an expensive company. 
  • You need to exchange your current cable box for a newer one at Time Warner, but their hours perfectly match the ones at your day job.  How is this going to work?
  • Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...

Does any of the above sound familiar? 

Just when I thought that I was on the brink of yet another NYC-induced melt down, fate stepped in: I was introduced to Task Rabbit, a company created to make the lives of us on-edge New Yorkers (and folks in Boston, the San Fransisco Bay area, Los Angeles, and Orange County) that much easier.   

What is Task Rabbit?  A service that connects you/me with "rabbits," or employees (all of whom have successfully completed a multi-step application processs, including a criminal background check, video interview, and essay), who can help you get the job done.  Whatever that job may be.  Think Craigslist, minus the "Is this legit?" factor.

How does Task Rabbit work?  Post your desired task on the website, including how much money you will pay for the job.  Now, sit back while "rabbits" make you offers!  And don't worry, your credit card will not be charged until the task is closed.  

Watch the video, below, for a super quick interactive tour! 

So, what's in it for you?  Because you're a 'Lunch Belle' devotee, Task Rabbit is giving you $30 to use towards your first Task!  Considering that each Task typically goes for $20-$30, this is a HUGE deal and savings! 

So, are you ready to make your life a little bit easier?  Free up some time in that busy schedule of yours?  Then click here to get started - and please use the following $30 discount code upon checkout: TLBREADERS 

***FYI: this code is good for all locations that Task Rabbit covers: NYC, Boston, San Fransisco Bay area, Los Angeles, and Orange County, CA***

You're welcome, in advance!


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


I hate Irene, plus a CONTEST update

Dear readers,

Well, I'm speechless.  As you know, NYC was struck by an earthquake (or, rather, the aftershock from an earthquake) on Tuesday, and we're about to be pounded by a hurricane this weekend.  I can't tell you how many "email alerts" I've received from work, my apartment building's management company, and everyone in between about 'how to prepare for Irene' and 'what to expect.'  Where the hell does one buy a battery-powered cell phone charger, anyways?  At your local Verizon or AT&T store?  Your guess is as good as mine.   

For those of you on the East Coast, how are you preparing for the weekend's dismal forecast? 

Here is what I plan to stock up on before the clock strikes 'Irene':

  • Flashlight
  • A couple of jugs of water
  • Non-perishable food items: great excuse to eat chips, candy bars, gummy bears, canned bean dip, spray cheese, and all of the other crap that I *try* to avoid on a regular basis
  • Smut magazines: US Weekly, People, Glamour, and maybe even Cosmo (if I'm feeling extra smut-y)...no time like the present to catch myself up on all-things " Wedding Kardashian" (I know, shoot me)
  • Cash: hopefully $50 will do the trick - the end of the month always kicks my arse.

While I'm the subject of this weekend, I wanted to bring up the contest that I posted on Wednesday.  Unfortunately, due to the impending forecast and the fact that the MTA will be partially and/or fully shutting down mass transit services, Saturday and Sunday's Cool Cravings and Cupcake Cakewalk will be postponed until a later date.  Once I receive the new details, however, I will start the contest from scratch (as only four of you responded - what's up with that?).

Be safe this weekend, dear readers! 


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

Photo: someecards


*CONTEST* plus 'Cool Cravings & Cupcake Cakewalk'

*UPDATE* Unfortunately, due to the impending forecast and the fact that the MTA will be partially and/or fully shutting down mass transit services, Saturday and Sunday's Cool Cravings and Cupcake Cakewalk will be postponed until a later date.  Once I receive the new details, however, I will start the contest from scratch (as only four of you responded - what's up with that?).

Are you bummed about the fact that you’re staying in the city this weekend?  Well, cheer up.  Because the team over at Openhouse Gallery, a New York pop-up space, has something very sweet in store for you: allow me to present “Cool Cravings and Cupcake Cakewalk,” back-to-back foodiEVENTS that are taking place this Saturday and Sunday!

Here are the deets:

Cool Cravings: Openhouse Gallery and Clean Plates, the healthy food guide and one of my most favorite websites, have partnered to bring together eight frozen dessert artisans from around NYC, ranging from vegan soft serve – coconut-based and dairy-free ice cream – fruit-filled shaved ice – to all-natural juice pops.  The lineup includes: Brewla Bars, La Cremeria, The Juice Press, Raw Ice Cream Co., The Shaved Ice Shop, The Soft Serve Fruit Co., Stogo, Sky Ice, NibMor, VitaCoco, and Hint Water.

  • Date: Saturday, August 27th
  • Time: 2pm – 8pm
  • Where: 201 Mulberry Street (between Spring and Kenmare Streets)
  • Purchase your tickets HERE!

Photo: The Soft Serve Fruit Co.Cupcake Cakewalk: don’t be fooled by the name of this event – because it ain’t no “cakewalk.”  It’s actually a competition!  Fighting for the title of NYC’s best cupcake will be: Alice’s Tea Cup, Billy’s Bakery, ChikaLicious, Duane Park Patisserie, Robicelli’s, and Sun in Bloom (a Clean Plates-approved vegan/gluten-free cupcakery).

  • Date: Sunday, August 28th
  • Time: 2pm – 8pm
  • Where: 201 Mulberry Street (between Spring and Kenmare Streets)
  • Purchase your tickets HERE!

Photo: Billy's BakeryA portion of the proceeds for “Cool Cravings and Cupcake Cakewalk” will go to Wellness in the Schools, a not-for-profit that inspires healthy eating, environmental awareness, and fitness as a way of life for students NYC’s public schools.

Contest: are you feeling lucky?  Good, because I’m feeling generous!  And since I am so excited about these festivities, I’m giving away tickets to each event.  One lucky reader will receive two tickets (one for themselves plus a guest) for Saturday’s “Cool Cravings” – and another lucky reader will receive two tickets (one for themselves plus a guest) for Sunday’s “Cupcake Cakewalk.”  **FYI: Contest is limited to folks who will be in the NYC area this weekend, 8/27-8/28, and are available on both Saturday and Sunday.**  

So, are you ready to play?  To enter, please send me an email with “dessert” in the subject line: Lindsay@TheLunchBelle.com.  The two winners will be the 7th and 8th emails that I receive!  #7 will get two tickets to Saturday’s event; #8 will get two tickets to Sunday’s event.  Good luck!


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


The Travel Martyr's guide: how NOT to give yourself a stress-induced coronary in the Hamptons

Summer.  The beach.  Sun-kissed hair and skin.  Lazy Saturday afternoons.  I want you to close your eyes for a second and picture/think about those words and phrases.  OK, now open your eyes.  Do you feel more relaxed?  I'm assuming that most of you nodded your heads "yes."  For those of you who didn't, I can only assume that you've just returned from a weekend in the Hamptons.  So did I.

Look, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a sucker for the East EndThe Hamptons is town after town of the most fabulous, unique beach communities in the country, atleast in my opinion.  Where else can jaded New Yorkers, who seem to turn their noses up at any city other than "the city," go to that is: beach-y, green, spacious, nearby, chock-full of fabulous shopping - comparable if not better restaurants - a bar and club scene - etc., etc., etc.  The list literally goes on...and on...and on, people.  To answer my own question, there isn't anywhere else!  Many folks will agree, the Hamptons feels like a tranquil "home away from home."  If NYC is your home, that is.

Photo: Vanity FairWith all of that being said, however, there are some draw-backs about the Hamptons:

  • Traffic on the 2-lane, desperately-in-need-of-paving Montauk Highway
  • Expensive, lackluster hotels (or shall I say "motels"): if you think that there are a slew of 5-star properties out here, think again.  Most "hotels" are about as fancy as your town's local Motel 6.  And, no, I'm not exaggerating.  Here, it's all about the homes. 
  • Yuppie central: this can be viewed as either good or bad, depending on your personal point of view.  If you're in search of a little culture or flavor, you're not going to find it in the Hamptons.
  • Beach parking permits: for most, if not all, beaches, you need a "beach parking permit," or else you run the risk of getting slapped with a $200 ticket, just as yours truly experienced first hand in 2009.  Oh, and bring a wad of cash, because you'll likely have to pay an entry fee just to spend the day at the beach.  Think upwards of $40/car. 

So, for those of you planning to head out East this weekend, Labor Day, or not again until next summer - grab a pen and take some notes!  I've compiled a short list of my tried and true tips to prevent or, at the very least, lessen your chances of having a stress-induced coronary from some of the triggers that the Hamptons will throw your way.  Just call me your personal "Travel Martyr."

  1. Where are you staying?  Make sure to keep the address and Hamptons town that it's located in on you at all times.  This leads perfectly in to point #2...
  2. Cabs: fares are negotiable - don't ever pay full price.  Always have cash on-hand, as taxis are not equipped with credit card machines, a-la-Manhattan. 
  3. Car rental: bottom line is to pickup and drop-off in the Hamptons, not NYC.  Instead of driving out of Manhattan, take the LIRR/Jitney to Southampton Station.  From there, take a 5-minute cab ride to either the Avis or Hertz agency in town.  On your way home, drop your rental off there, as well!  When doing so, plan ahead: call a cab 3-hours prior to your scheduled LIRR/Jitney departure, and have them fetch you from the rental agency.  Ask to be dropped off at the train or bus station.
  4. LIRR eastbound (train): if you have an hour to spare, I highly suggest that you avoid beginning your East-bound trip at Penn Station at all costs, especially on a Friday.  Instead, take the Queens-bound E train to Sutphin Blvd. and transfer to the Montauk-bound LIRR.  Believe me when I tell you that this will make your commute much more relaxed.  And, take it from me: you're less likely to be provoked to want to beat up a fellow passenger.  Seriously.

I hope I haven't scared anyone.  But, if I have, I'd like to share something that this random gal told me after she overheard me complaining about that infamous two-lane highway: "They choose to keep it small, with only two-lanes, in order to keep away the riff-raff."  Alrighty then. 

Only in the Hamptons...


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle 


Zagat's List of NYC's 8 Best Mexican Restaurants

Click here to see Zagat's "8 Best Mexican Restaurants in NYC." 

Do you agree?  If you don't, then which of your favorite spots are missing from this list?  I want to know!


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


My Lunch Date with Joy Bauer, plus a Summer Slim-Down Challenge

Last week, I had the pleasure of joining author-extraordinaire and nutritionist for the Today Show, Joy Bauer, for lunch.  A handful of her website's partners and other health/food bloggers were invited to Nios, a restaurant that's located within The Muse (a Kimpton Hotel property), to celebrate the launch of her completely revised and updated book, Joy Bauer's Food Cures

In her latest edition of Food Cures, Joy brings readers up to date on the most current science regarding nutrition and diet, and how everyday foods can help prevent, treat, and sometimes even cure common health concerns.  Joy goes the extra mile by providing menus, grocery lists, and recipes for nearly twenty popular conditions, including the most delicious remedies for lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, combating migraines and insomnia, boosting memory, enhancing mood, and much more!

Since Joy was responsible for creating the deliciously light choices behind Kimpton Hotels' In Room Dining menus, it was only fitting that she select the array of dishes, specifically designed to beautify skin and hair - boost mood and energy, for our luncheon:

  • Cocktail: Pomegranate Prosecco
  • Appetizer: Clams "Casino" & Mussels "Rockefeller"  almonds, spinach, cantaloupe and bell pepper relish, guava cubes
  • Entree: Green Tea and Rosemary Spiced Arctic Char  lentil and carrot puree, broccolini, cherry tomato confit, leek coulis
  • Dessert: Espresso and Chocolate Mousse  berries, cocoa nibs

Throughout every course, Joy addressed the audience and explained nearly every ingredient's key nutritional role in each dish.  Although I was only able to stay for the appetizer course, I was thrilled to have learned that my beautifully re-constructed plate of Clams "Casino" and Mussels "Rockefeller" was rich in vitamins, nutrients and, most importantly, flavor.

Even though I had to scoot out on the earlier side of the luncheon, I was able to walk away having met the incredible woman and mentor that I'm proud to say I have the honor of working with (I'm pinching myself as I'm typing this.  No joke.).

Joy Bauer and yours trulyAnd, speaking of health, I wanted to share an exciting challenge to kick off the final two-weeks of summer: I Heart Summer Slim Down.  This two-week plan begins TODAY and includes a combination of exercise and eating tips.  Just think: by Labor Day, you could be a couple of inches and pounds smaller!  Hey, I just signed up, why don't you?


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle

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