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 Seasonal guides & trends (14)


(NYC) From where to sip cider to the best bars to catch the football game: Fall for Fall with Foursquare's "Ultimate NY Fall Guide"

In anticipation of my upcoming trip to NYC (ahem, tomorrow!), I couldn't wait a second longer to post this outstanding NY-centric Fall guide!  It's got everything, from the top orchards for apple picking to the city's best bars to watch the football game! 

Per the list, below, I've highlighted some of my favorite tidbits...but please find the full lineup *here.*  Enjoy!

Photo found on: offmetro.com.

Where to Watch FOOTBALL

There are 248 Sports Bars in NYC:

  • 54: # of flat screens at The Grayson, the East Village’s new football-watching spot
  • 23: # of stops on the 1 train from Times Square to Bronx Alehouse, the no. 1  sports bar in NYC overall (on 238th Street, in the Bronx)


The Resurgence of CIDER

When American settlers came to the New World, they found barley hard to grow, so they turned to apples for cider. By the 18th century, New England was producing over 300,000 gallons of cider a year. A lot of the apple trees planted by “Johnny Appleseed” didn’t survive prohibition however, and Americans later started planting and eating apples as snacks.  Hard cider didn’t regain popularity, until... NOW!

Union Square Greenmarket

“Sweet cider still out-sells hard cider but hard cider is on the rise.” -Samascott Orchards, Kinderhook, NY

    6 vendors sell sweet cider
  • 2 vendors sell hard cider

Wassail: NYC's 1st cider bar (12 ciders on tap, 100+ by the bottle)

*Wassail (def): The traditional practice, dating back to Medieval England, of singing to the trees to foster a bountiful harvest.



Forget Sleepy Hollow! These are three spooky spots right in NYC:



*As picked by the Foursquare community:



Best apple picking locations by state:

*Did you know that New York is the second-largest apple producing state in the country, next to Washington State?  Peak season for picking: September 1 - October 25



BEGINNER Peebles Island State Park, Waterford, NY

    Perimeter Trail, 1.8 miles
    • FOURSQUARE TIP: “Do the hiking trail around  the island. The walk along the water is beautiful.”
    • POPULAR NEXT STOP: The Snowman, Troy


    Blue Trail, approx. 2 miles, Inwood, NY
    • FOURSQUARE TIP: “Witness the changing colors of the leaves while trailing through the last remaining, naturally occurring, native hardwood forest on the Manhattan Island.”
    • POPULAR NEXT STOP: Indian Road Café, Inwood

ADVANCED Bear Mountain State Park

    Appalachian Trail, 6 miles, Bear Mountain, NY
    • FOURSQUARE TIP: “Beautiful when the leaves change color during the fall. Great Oktoberfest event but don't go during the last two weeks. Mad packed.”
    • POPULAR NEXT STOP: Woodbury Commons, Central Valley

OVERNIGHT Mohonk Preserve

  • High Peters Kill Hike, 7.5 miles, New Paltz, NY
    • FOURSQUARE TIP: “The most beautiful, if not most intense, hiking in Ulster County.”
    • POPULAR NEXT STOP: Mohonk Mountain House New Paltz



Sakuro Martini

‘Nduja Pizza

Pesto Meatball Sandwich

Orange Wine

Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwich

  • Fuku, East Village

Jams Chicken

  • Jams, Midtown East

Wasabi Guacamole and Japanese Pancakes



B & H Dairy, East Village (Now reopened)

  • WHAT TO ORDER: Vegetarian matzo-ball soup

Black Seed Bagels, NoLita

  • WHAT TO ORDER: Bagel sandwich with tobiko spread

Russ & Daughters Cafe, Lower East Side

  • WHAT TO ORDER: Super Heebster: bagel toast, whitefish & baked salmon salad, wasabi-infused fish roe, horseradish dill cream cheese

Sadelle’s, SoHo

  • WHAT TO ORDER: Everything 2.0 bagel with Nova lox

*An outpost of H&H Midtown Bagels is scheduled to open on the UWS this winter



“Comfort Food” is a trending taste in the Fall.  And, speaking of this season...

  • In the Fall, people search more for pumpkins than they search for ice cream in summer - but beer beats both tastes all year long!  Here are some of our favorite haunts:



  • Corn vs Corn Dogs vs Sweet Corn
    • Of the three tastes, corn is the most popular with a rise from mid-September to early November; corn dogs spike in late October; sweet corn is small and steady.
  • Funnel Cake vs Caramel Apples
    • Funnel cake fervor starts to rise in early July and peters off; caramel apples take off in Fall.
  • Chicken Noodle Soup vs Fried Chicken
    • Chicken noodle soup may be food for the soul—and especially desirable in Fall—but of all soul food, fried chicken is by far the most popular year-round.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle



November means...

Giving back  Whether you donate a winter coat - canned goods - or your time, try to remember those who are less fortunate this season.  Namely, the folks who were impacted by Hurricane Sandy.  Overwhelmed or don't know where to begin?  Here's a good place to start

Falling back  Watching the sun go down at 4pm is kind of depressing - but I can't complain about the 6am sunrise.  Maybe this time change will be the kick-start I need to resume my early morning workouts...

Rock the Vote  If you're a US citizen who's 18 years and older, get out there and vote today!  Can you believe that, at this time tomorrow, we'll know who the next President of the United States is?

Red wine-weather  I hate white wine.  It's sour and pungent and stings my throat on the way down.  Plus, many of the people I know who drink it drive me NUTS.  That's why my wine of choice is a full-bodied cabernet.  And there's not a better month to kick off being a "red wine whore" than November.

Ice skating  This is one of my favorite leisure sports to enjoy during the colder months.  And, finally, the rinks are open!

Starbucks' red holiday cups  I don't know, there's just something about this particular cup series that make me happy.

The perfect excuse to make roasted root vegetables...or Brussels sprouts  Actually, it's the perfect excuse to make *anything* roasted, for that matter. 

Here's a super easy recipe that'll serve 2-3:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 lb. fresh Brussels sprouts, washed and halved
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Method:  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a cookie sheet with foil.  Toss all ingredients together, and season liberally with salt & pepper.  Disperse sprouts evenly on to cookie sheet and bake for 40 minutes.  Enjoy!

The return of 'pop-up' holiday markets  From November 16th through December 24th, enjoy the holiday markets at Union Square, Grand Central Terminal, Bryant Park, Columbus Circle, etc.! 

Asia  I followed him to Hong Kong, and now I'm going to visit him in Singapore.  My cousin, Eric, landed a great gig, so my sister and I are headed that way in about a week and a half.  Then, the three of us will journey to Thailand, before my sister and I finish our trip in Hong Kong.  I'm really looking forward to getting away for an extended amount of time...and eating my weight in dumplings!

Thanksgiving  While I won't be state side for my favorite holiday this year, I will make sure to give thanks for everything and everyone in my life.  And I hope that you will do the same!


What else is going on/kicking off this month? 


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Embracing the fall: A Valentino "puffer" jacket + an apple festival

As we welcomed October this past Monday, I think it finally sunk in that I can no longer wear open-toed sandals - sleeveless dresses - or my beloved white jeans.  Sigh.  Summer *really* is over.  And, while I worship so many things about the warmer months in New York, to be 100% honest, this past summer royally sucked.  So, I've decided to completely embrace the fall... 

What comes to mind when you hear the word "fall?"  For me, it's:  Apples, cute boots, primary-colored leaves in the canopy of trees, 60-something degree days, and closet switch-outs.  In fact, fall in New York is one of my most favorite times of the year, second only to the spring.

Here are some items/day trips/exhibits that I'm currently "falling" for:

RED Valentino Bow-Neck Quilted Jacket  Source: saks dot comStuart Weitzman:  Spats Suede Button Knee Boot  Source: neiman marcus dot comPrada Nylon Dog Carrier  Source: neiman marcus dot comI'm *dying* to have a girl's weekend at the Bedford Post Inn, where we could take complimentary yoga classes (for hotel guests) - embrace the bounty of colorful trees - make a day trip to Blue Hill at Stone Barns - and just relax!  Source: bedford post inn dot comSpend a Saturday at a fabulous orchard picking apples - and pumpkins ~  Source: time out ny dot comCheck out the Andy Warhol exhibit at The Met  Source: met museum dot org...

While most of the above are all luxury "dream" items/weekends, I've decided to take a more realistic approach:  In order to get this season properly kicked off (after all, it is the first weekend in October), some girlfriends and I are headed to Brooklyn this Sunday for an apple festival called Gala Gala Hey!

Sounds fun, no?  Actually, it's just what the doctor ordered.  I cannot think of a better way to end what has been a very emotionally draining, dramatic week.  On Thursday morning at around 8am, a beautiful young woman fell to her death from the 40th-story roofdeck of my apartment building.  My heart breaks for her family and friends, as I cannot possibly imagine the horrendous grief and heartbreak they must be going through.  Coming home (to my apartment building) from work yesterday was pretty solemn and eerie - I just wish that there was something I could do to help, if "help" is even the right word...

Wishing you all a beautiful and healthy fall weekend!


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


Fashion emergency: What is all the rage with...

..."smoking slippers?"  Personally, I prefer to smoke in my flip-flops.  I'm kiddingSort of...

OK, granted, the minimal heel and crushed velvet exterior does look super comfortable - but, really?  They're just so...Hugh Hefner.  No?  I mean, what the hell do you wear these things with and, for the love of god, who was the fashion-house asshole that deemed them 'cool?'  I seriously want to know.

Ladies/gents:  What are your thoughts on fall's hottest - or, shall I say, "hautest" - shoe?  To slipper or not to slipper, that *is* the question.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


A pre-Bastille Day cruise with Chef Marc Murphy

My mom always encourages me to "be a tourist in your own city."  And she's right.  To this day, I'm shamed to admit that I've never been to the following major NYC attractions:  Top of the Rock, Museum of Natural History, MoMa.  And those are just a handful.  Oh, did I mention that I haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate museums? 

So, you can imagine how excited I was to learn about something a little more my style, if you will:  Every Tuesday evening, Benchmarc Events (owned by celeb chef, Marc Murphy) hosts a "Summer Cruise Series," featuring different themes (see postcard, below).  For $60, guests enjoy 2-hour's worth of unlimited assorted cocktails/wine/beer, Chef Marc Murphy's delicious food, and priceless views of NY Harbor.  Now, I don't know about you but, to me, that sounds like the ideal way to "be a tourist in my own city."   So much so, in fact, that two friends and I grabbed tickets for this past Tuesday's Bastille Day-themed cruise!

"Oh, that has to be it," I said, pointing to the line of beautiful people at the NY Waterway Pier (Battery Park City location).  And, sure enough, as we neared, a friendly Benchmarc employee approached and checked us in for the cruise.

While boarding the bi-level, open-air ferry, Nicole, Em, and I were offered ice cold Brooklyn Summer Ale.

How cute - and fitting - is her beret for Bastille Day?At 8:15pm on the dot, we set sail!  Cocktails began being poured atop the ferry's upper deck.     

I opted for the specialty cocktail, the Bastille Blanc:  Lillet, Limoncello, Soda, and Orange. 

We socialized and imbibed as the sun slowly set over Manhattan...

Me and my two Emily'sAnd passed by some breathtaking sites and urban-scapes...

Beautiful lower ManhattanJust after sunset, we headed to the lower deck and filled our plates with an abundance of delicious, French-inspired bites.

Merguez (lamb) sausageBoudin blanc and chicken sausage skewers, baguetteCold vichyssoise soup shots (potatoes, leeks, onion, cream, chicken broth)Croque monsieur!French cheese boardCrudite and fresh breadSweet & savory crepes!For dessert:  Hand-made pistachio macarons with salted caramel, strawberry macarons with dark chocolate (apologize for not having a photo - it was too dark to get a decent shot).    

And the piece de resistance?  Breathtaking (literally), magical views of lower Manhattan and Lady Liberty under the dark night's sky...

Freedom Tower is the building w/ blue lights!God bless America!Me with Chef Marc!

I had such an incredibly fun and delicious evening "being a tourist in my own city," that I've decided to return for July 31st's "Sparkling Wine and Swine" cruise.  As my birthday celebration!  Seriously, is there a better way to ring in (gasp) 32?  I don't think so... 


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle


I smell summer! Plus, my "warm weather wish list"

All of this pollen in the air can only mean one thing:  spring may have sprung, but summer is just a couple of sneezes away!  

Since 2008, I've had the good fortune of enjoying many summers in the Hamptons.  Just yesterday, some girlfriends and I solidified our dates for five weekends - spread over the course of the summer - in Montauk.  Visions of bicycling to/fro the beach - lunching on lobster rolls and kettle-cooked potato chips - tanned skin and brightly-painted toes- meeting and partying with new people - play like a movie in my head.  I can't tell you how excited I will soon be to escape the sweltering city heat for Montauk's cool surf and charming turf... 

With all of this talk about the Hamptons, I'll have you know that, despite my geographical location, I'm not so keen on the whole "East Coast prep" look/attire.  I can't help but wonder what would happen if a dude, all decked out in nautical gear and Nantucket Reds, showed up at a bar in Texas.  A beat-down would ensue, no doubt.  Yikes!  So, on that note, I decided to create my very own, uniquely-styled "warm weather wish list." 

Here's to a lottery ticket, a dollar, and a dream!  Enjoy...

Atlantic City's newest resort, Revel - I hope to venture out to this part of the Jersey Shore at least once this summer!

Ray-Ban Mirrored Aviator Sunglasses- If your face isn't round/heart-shaped like mine, I hate you.  Why?  Because you can actually wear these uber-cool shades without looking like an arse.  Maybe Ray-Ban, or one of its competitors, will finally decide to make aviators for folks, like me, with big heads.  Regardless, I desperately need a new pair of sunglasses.


Mason Black and White with Leather Strap Dress - I love the effortless simplicity of this all-in-one dress that, deceptively, looks like two pieces.


Butter by Nadia Strapless Maxi Dress - This brand creates "one size fits all" dresses that, truly, flatter almost any body.


Salvatore Ferragamo's Selene Patent-Leather Tote - Sweet and innocent, especially with that feminine bow.  It's the perfect goodie-two-shoes bag for the bad-girl-at-heart!  And what a great color for summer!


Vix "Betsey" (top and bottom sold separately) -I adore everything about this bikini, from the color scheme and cut, to the details.  Love.


Miu Miu Bow-Embellished Halterneck Bikini (also comes in black) - The scalloping and white bow make this flirty little number mysteriously demure.


Karla Colletto Turquoise Square Plunge-Front Swimsuit - Because, let's face it, ladies, sometimes you just don't want to hold-in your stomach.


Nicholas Kirkwood Pearl-Platform Satin Slingback - Um, seriously, there are no words to describe my love for these shoes.  The pearls?  The platform?  The peep toe?  I can't.  Speechless.  Breathtaking.

Nicholas Kirkwood pumps


Sergio Rossi Crystal T-Strap Platform Sandals - Probably one of the most unnecessary pairs of shoes I've ever come across but, my goodness, aren't they lovely? 


Alice + Olivia Lansey Glitter-Coated Metallic Leather Peep Toe Platform Sandals- Perfect to rock poolside in your swimsuit and/or coverup - or just for a fun night on the town!  Bam.


J. Crew's 4" Chino Short - Shorts are back with a vengeance, so make sure your legs are ready to be exposed!


Herve Leger Cutout-Back Bandage Dress- Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, screams "sexy" like Herve Leger...


Valentino Couture Bow Jelly Thong Sandals - Shut up.  I know.  These exact same sandals make my wish list every year, but why wouldn't they?  They're the cutest flip-flops on the planet and maybe, just maybe, this will be the summer that I finally cave and purchase them.


Rachel Zoe Rachel Bootcut Jeans - White jeans are a must for summer!  I fell in love with this particular cut when I saw Olivia Palermo rocking a pair of bell-bottoms like it was her job.


J. Crew Enamel Bangles - The turquoise and gold color combo screams "summer!"  Imagine how gorgeous these bangles would look against golden, tanned skin?  Sigh.


Ippolita Lollipop 18-Karat Gold Topaz Earrings - Doesn't the blue topaz remind you of the ocean?  'Nuff said.


Until we eat again,

The Lunch Belle