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 (88)


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


Need a little summer pick-me-up? Grab your tickets now for Anthony Anderson’s “A Model for Living: The Lifestyle for Beauty"

In addition to presenting 2 custom power smoothies, Anthony will give guidance on:

  • Foods and supplements for cultivating a more beautiful you
  • Planting an organic garden and food forest with permaculture principles
  • The need for urban food forests and community gardens
  • Raw vegan tonics that encourage clear skin and healthy hair, nails and joints
  • Water and wild foods
  • 15 minute physical exercise demo, highlighting moves that provide consistency, fun, and results beyond the physical realms
  • Mental multi-tasking during exercise for self-improvement and time management
  • Tips for wellness and personalized solutions
  • Guided meditations based on gratitude and the idea of Replanting Paradise on Earth
  • Green lifestyle strategies that promote financial freedom, liberation from sickness and inhibitions, and a reconnection with Nature

Visit his official website/blog at www.rawmodel.com to see his online videos, blog, recipes, upcoming tour dates and class schedules.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


A few of my favorite things: TLB's haute list for a cool summer

The Lunch Belle's list of summer staples & new finds.  What's on yours?


Kate Spade: pricey?  Absolutely.  However, if you sign up for email alerts via the website, you will receive sale events.  Pretty often, in fact.  It's the only time that I shop at good ol' Kate Spade.  The reason that I love this brand so much, aside from her classic designs and unapologetic femininity, is because it fits.  I am shaped like a woman, not a stick-figure or a super model, and her clothes are very flattering and forgiving.  It's rare for me to find a clothing brand that I can speak so highly of but, I can say without a doubt that, everyone looks like a million bucks in Kate.  

Lululemon: Best. Workout. Gear. Ever. 

TOMS Shoes: they're affordable, comfortable as hell, are available in every color under the rainbow, and, for each pair that you buy, TOMS donates a pair to a child in need.  Plus, they're a much cleaner alternative to wearing flip-flops for the commute to/from work!


Foodsherpa: this website is like the "Groupon" for foodies.  Once you sign up, you then receive daily email alerts about fine artisanal food products - at a discount!

Sweet corn: raw, boiled, grilled, or incorporated in to Mexi-corn Salsa or Calabacitas, this is my favorite "summer staple" vegetable.

Nectarines: there's nothing quite like a perfectly ripe, non-mealy, juicy nectarine.  'Nuff said.  Only about 6 more weeks to enjoy them until next summer!


  • Avocado Pine Nut Wrap: one of my go-to lunches during the work week.  I love the creamy avocado and crunchy pine nuts cut with the pungent cheese and toothsome veggies.  Filling, too!
  • Edamame Bowl: perfectly salted and portioned.


Beach cruiser (a.k.a. my $95 K-Mart bicycle): it's awkwardly wide, red, rusting from the elements, in need of some serious WD-40 love, and has only one speed but, at the end of the day, my "red rocket" safely gets me from point A to point B. 

Flywheel / Flybarre / Exhale: I have a *very* addictive personality - typically, to a fault.  Cigarettes?  Yep.  Food?  Double check.  Trust me, the *last* thing I ever thought I'd become addicted to was exercising.  Hell, I used to tell my friends that "I'd rather lick a toilet seat for 45-minutes than step foot in a f++king gym."  I'm serious.  Well, that was until my friend, Brette, introduced me to Flywheel back in January.  She begged me to take a class with her and, finally, after much persuasion, I agreed.  Having never "spun" before, I was instantly transfixed on the fact that the entire class was orchestrated in the dark.  That, to me, meant: no one had to watch me sweat and make weird faces, and I did not have to watch anyone else sweat/make weird faces/check themselves out in the mirror.  Also, having an instructor meant: I did not need to try to figure out what the hell it was that I was supposed to be doing at a gym, or have to keep up with the ever-changing "top 40" pop songs for my iPod.  Chuckle all you want, but those are two major factors that kept me far from the doors of any Equinox (even if gyms *do* offer classes...there's not a snowball's chance in hell that they're even half as awesome as Flywheel / Flybarre / Exhale).  I'm more than happy to have someone else take the guess-work out of my workout, even if that means paying a bit extra.  Thanks to Brette, that first spin class has turned in to a 3-4 day/week obsession.  On the days when I don't spin?  I treat myself to Flybarre, which is conveniently located within the same space as Flywheel.  I find 'Barre to be the perfect compliment to spinning, as it is a form of body sculpting that blends yoga, ballet, circuit training, pilates, and strength building.            

Exhale's Core Fusion: when I'm in the mood to change things up, I head to Exhale for their Core Fusion class.  Not only are all of their locations extra posh and zen, but their studios are sizeable.  My venue of choice in NYC?  Their fabulous space, Exhale Midtown, overlooking Central Park.  Nam-ahhhhh-ste.

Weekend retreat just a Metrocard swipe away

Rockaway Beach: an hour subway ride away from the heart of Manhattan - a boardwalk stocked with plenty of solid eats (not just fried clam bellies) - great people watching - and a little ghetto fabulosity make this my ideal stretch of, what I like to call, the "Queens Riviera."


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Get your tickets for Sunday's "fete de pommes frites" on the 'Terrace!


Petite Abeille, celebrating its 15th year as New York City’s go-to destination for Belgian food and beer, and the Belgian-American Chamber of Commerce will host the 10th edition of the "Belgian National Day" at Hudson Terrace: Sunday, July 24th from 1pm until late in the evening (a.k.a. no time given).

Sponsored by Duvel Belgian Ale, the day’s lineup will include:

  • Two concerts, the first beginning at 3pm (Soul of Anabis, ARNO)
  • "Miss Belgium" contest open to women of any nationality
  • Plenty of Belgian food and beer
  • Face painting & balloon sculpting for the kids
  • Auction

Advanced tickets may be purchased HERE!  Prices are $25 for adults and free for children under 12.  *The first 100 arrivals will receive a free raffle ticket.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


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