Kick & Play: Casual Sneakers For The Daily Grind

Sometimes, to get noticed, it only takes a little detail. And contrary to the last few articles, you can also do it without a whole lot of color. Leather is always good, and in this week’s feature, we show two brands not typically known for footwear, but put something fresh into your regular sneaker rotation.

First things first: Volcom – a brand known to be successful in skate, snow, surf, and active lifestyles for the past 22 years – is introducing a full footwear collection this summer. The line will feature high and low-top sneakers as well as boots for both men and women. The full line can be viewed here, but let’s take a look at one of their best pairs.

THE KICKS:

The Buzzard by Volcom

The Buzzard is a playful high-top sneaker with a unique leather-patterned design. The outer shell of the shoe is wrapped in perforated black leather. Similar to the look and feel of Volcom’s apparel, you can see designs of subtle, intentional asymmetry. The Buzzard, along with the entire Volcom line, might be great for your jeans, but these shoes will look great on those summer shorts and rolled-up chinos.

Unlike many other skate brands that release shoes, Volcom also made sure comfort was an important part of each shoe design. The Buzzard will also be constructed with the brand’s Recliner Comfort Foam technology. Volcom’s foam is super soft and makes for a good ride when you’re out all day.

Noteworthy mention: The Buzzard will also be released in a navy leather with a beautiful red sock liner trim.

Volcom Buzzard ($80) and the entire collection will be available July 1st online and at most Volcom retailers.

The Leu by Hotel 1171

The Leu by Hotel 1171

Finding a low-cut, round-toed shoe has come to be quite difficult these days. Most brands have become so enamored with wingtips that a plain round-toe is slowly become a rarity. And when there is one, it’s infinitely more formal than you want it to be.

The Leu by Hotel 1171 just might be that pair. The casual shoe is constructed with aged brown leather and a suede trim. What would almost always end up being a pair of brown shoes for your suit and tie goes casual as the designers at the brand wend with a lightweight rubber sole, making them nearly perfect for jeans and khakis on a daily basis. You can throw them on with the laces loose to go with your camo pants or go dapper with fitted, cuffed denim.

Available at the online Hotel 1171 store, $130.

THE PLAY:

The Chocolate Room, New York, NY
It’s all in the name. Pastry chefs here build killer desserts from scratch and often recommend the perfect drinks to go with your chocolate and baked goods, or their specialty chocolate bars. With the word chocolate infectiously littered throughout The Chocolate Room menu, the go-to here actually hides the chocolate. The Black Bottom Butterscotch is a layer of bittersweet chocolate topped with creamy, succulent butterscotch custard. Oh, and whipped cream. It’s just the right thing to do.

Bottega Louie, Los Angeles, CA.
Yes, their flatbread pizza is fantastic. And like many others who are jumping in on the green trend, Bottega Louie has always done Brussels sprouts, asparagus, artichokes, and kale in delicious fashion. But there’s only one reason we even need to discuss the vaulted ceiling, minimal in design restaurant in downtown LA – the macarons. Arguably one of the best places in Los Angeles, city-goers come for food and dessert or just a pit stop for their pastries only. It’s a win-win here, but something to make any visit here memorable is the earl grey macaron. Buy two to share, four for yourself.

Kara’s Cupcakes, San Francisco, CA.
Cupcakes are personal. No, seriously. Don’t ever ask anybody to share one. It requires making a mess and is just downright rude. Get your own. And if you do, come to Kara’s Cupcakes and indulge. Whether you’re particular about gluten or not, she has you covered. Peanut butter milk chocolate ganache and java are incredible, while the gluten-free chocolate coconut seems like a lie. Lots of flavors to choose from here, but just stop asking to share. It’s not right. The flavor and experience of a cupcake only comes by eating it in its entirety.

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well.

AS

Contact the author of this post at aamir17@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Kick & Play: Finding The Unique Slip-On Sneaker

Casual, conventional loafers and slip-ons are easy to find, but stand-out, unique pairs are not. From clothes to footwear, it seems like every company – from H&M, to Zara, to Banana Republic – is doing the same as the next.

But amid all the generic styles are some that do stand out. Here are some simple pairs that add a touch of flair to your feet.

THE KICKS:

Brooks Brothers Suede Tie Driving Moc (to the left)

Driving moccasins are always good to have – whether as a back up in your closet for those days you aren’t sure what shoes to wear to brunch or as your main dinner party shoe.

The rubber sole with a padded sole makes for a comfortable shoe. But this driving moccasin by Brooks Brothers uses suede to give the boat-shoe style pair a really raw, cozy look.

With this loafer, be a preppy with dark brown or grey or evangelize the hipster inside of you with red, bright blue, or bright green (not shown).

Available at your local Brooks Brothers or online, $148.

Y3 Decade

Decade sneaker

Yohji Yamamoto, aka renowned shoe designer for Y3 and Adidas, is always good at sleek design with a standout twist. For his 2013 collection, he unleashes the Decade, a stunning low-cut sportswear slip-on sneaker in black with a deep purple sole.

The shoe is a cool mixture of leather and mesh, surrounded by an elastic fastening system to give a clean, snug fit. The great thing about the Decade is its cushioned insole, which lets you leave the casual kick on your feet for hours and still be comfortable. Perfect for the gym and street running, but great for jeans and dark pants if you want a dark sneaker with a little pop.

Available on the Y3 website, $290.00.

THE PLAY:

Bien CuitWest Village, NYC
At Bien Cuit, you get fresh pastries delivered twice daily – from croissants, to chocolate bundts, to homemade breads and pistachio roulades. My favorites include the almond chocolate croissant coupled with their frothy cappuccino, and their reuben sandwich featuring their famous homemade bread. Woody interior, marble counter, long front windows – this is the perfect spot for a Saturday morning chat, or casual blind date.

Tavern, Brentwood, Ca.
Tavern might be one of the best restaurants in Los Angeles. While Tavern has earned its acclaim and honors, still, nobody talks about it enough. A fine dining experience with a bakery next door, the beautiful space has something for everybody. But their fresh-baked cookies might be the best you’ll have ever experienced. Top that with pumpkin bread pudding, monkey bread, and medjool date cakes, and you have an eclectic vibe of sweets to leave you coming back regularly. Tavern is perfect for brunch, delicious for dinner, but unbelievable for desert.

Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, San Francisco, Ca.
One of San Francisco’s finest characteristics is the city’s openness and diversity. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, is the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Fresh produce, meat, cheese, and pastries come to the city with an international sense of community. Here, city goers are able to try breads, fruits, and creative chocolate flavors and take all types of goods home. While dinners out on the town are always nice, sometimes it’s refreshing to bring home exotic fruits, fresh organic greens, and get creative for a nice hearty dinner at home. The best experience for me at the Farmers Market? Mocha chocolate by Scwarffen Berger.

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well.

AS

Contact the author of this post at aamir17@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Kick & Play: Some Spring In Your Bold-Colored Step

Spring is coming. And if camo wasn’t your thing (as featured last week), then maybe color is. But not just a standard cherry red leather or blue canvas. This week we’re talking creative and daring color.

THE KICKS:

Ronnie Fieg x Asics GT II “High Risk”

Need a pair to stand out? Purple suede on a pair of low lace-ups will turn heads and probably take up a good 20 minutes of conversation at dinner. The Asics GT II, a collaboration with renowned shoe designer Ronnie Fieg, features premium purple suede backed by leather, with trims of red dispersed across the shoe.

The lower-cut shoe is definitely meant to be worn with your pants tucked in. So if you appreciate letting your whole shoe show and have a thrill for rocking bright colors, this limited edition is a must-have in your closet.

Release date and price info are forthcoming, but once they come they’ll go fast, so it’s in your best interest to follow these closely. Stay in the know via Ronnie on his blog for future details.

Nike Roshe Run

Nike Roshe Run

Is purple too much? Try olive green with a hint of orange. Enter the Nike Roshe Run. The Roshe shoe is one of Nike’s newer designs, created by a Nike shoe designer in his own free time. The shoe is named after “Roshi,” a title given to a Zen master. The idea behind the shoe is to be extremely minimal in design and only implement the most necessary features. The design itself is a simplistic woven mesh with an extremely cushioned midsole. The result: one of Nike’s most comfortable casual shoes.

The Roshe Run is from the Nike Sportswear Collection, so it’s meant to be more of a casual running and daily wear kick, as opposed to sneakers for long-distance runners and trainers.

The Nike shoe is available in a multitude of colors, but the newest spring colors feature a dominant color with an inner trim. Three other colors are available (Stone/Volt, Black/Crimson, Anthracite/Mint).

Available at CaliRoots or select Nike retailers for $135.

THE PLAY:

Buttermilk Channel, Brooklyn, NY
This is easy. Cheddar waffles. Chicken fried in buttermilk. But Buttermilk Channel, this  chic, imaginative eatery, does far more than just damn good chicken. The menu here is full of goodies for a variety of taste buds. Chicken, steak, or steak lovers can find a menu full of charming entrees with assorted delectable sides waiting for you. House pickles are a big hit here while cornbread with lime and chile butter just might put you to sleep before you get home. By the way, the coconut, lime bread pudding with coconut caramel is stupid good.

Masa, Echo Park, CA
A question over lunch this weekend: Why is it impossible to find deep-dish pizza in Los Angeles? Because there is only one place that really serves it: Masa Of Echo Park. Originally a Cuban bakery, this family-owned restaurant serves good baked gems here, but the real reason to visit Masa is the deep dish pizza with fresh cornmeal dough baked daily. From the super fresh buffalo mozzarella to sausage and pepperoni (vegan too!) instilled with secret recipes, their traditional pizzas do the trick. And not to be outdone, but the bread pudding here is unbelievably fantastic. Chocolate, almond, and butter croissants, pan-baked in vanilla custard with caramel? This idea wins. Everytime.

Beretta, San Francisco, CA
When you think Italian comfort food, you think simple pastas and warm mozzarella. Beretta reinvents this idea with thin crust pizza, a tapas-inspired menu, and super creative cocktails. The list of appetizers here is remarkable – roasted beets with ricotta salad, baked polenta, lamb chops with greens and yogurt, and a Dungeness crab you’ll always remember. The menu also includes artisan salami meats and thin crusts pizzas that are worthy of not sharing. A hidden gem on the menu is their squid ink risotto with calamari. Innovative uses of tequila, brandy, bourbon, gin, and scotch turn cocktails into delightful supper drinks or for dessert. Oh, and by the way, house-made gelato can be found here, and is good – before, during, or after dinner.

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well.

AS

Contact the author of this post at aamir17@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Kick & Play: Sneakers Go Camo

With all this snow on the east coast, let’s think warm. It’s time to start planning for spring footwear. And for starters, people love camo. The mixed patterned print has been a big hit for chinos and skinny jeans lately, while camouflage military jackets have always been a good go-to. But this blend of olive green, mocha brown, and black design needs to move downward – to our feet.

Here’s a couple looks that are good for the daily grind – snow and sand – or for that occasional dip in neutral colors.

THE KICKS:

Mercer by Thorocraft

Thorocraft is creative footwear company that aims to build bold pairs of shoes using classic designs with a little flare. The Mercer is a simple oxford that features a light combination sole, laser-cut ventilation, and full-grain woven leather. With an extra-cushioned sole and pig-skin inner lining, the Mercer is a very durable pair. In other words, they are just so pretty.

This camouflage oxford is definitely a rare design, but it gives off such a sleek, and unusual aesthetic that it can be used on jeans for casual wear or even on darker pants for a non-conventional formal look.

Available at the Thorocraft online store, $250.

Air Max 1 Camo Pack by atmos x Nike

Air Max 1 Camo Pack by atmos x Nike

Japanese sneaker company atmos has always put together incredible collaborations with Nike. This Air Max 1 just adds to that reputation. Using the 25-year-old silhouette of one of the most popular Nike sneaker designs, two creative color ways are set to come out this week. The shoe is dressed in a jungle camo print with black snakeskin (right) or a desert storm pattern blended with leopard detailing (left). 

For the hypebeasts, matching shirts and hats will also be available. A good look for dark jeans, but so good for shorts, browns, and those cargos making a comeback.

Available on February 13 at atmos or select Nike retailers, approx. $145 US.

Sahara Desert Basso Chukka Wingtip Sneaker by Del Toro

Sahara Desert Basso Chukka Wingtip Sneaker by Del Toro

In case you wanted more than a solid colored wingtip, Del Toro brings an all-over camo print in suede on a low-cut chukka sneaker. The amber-gum sole really gives this pair a great urban feel as opposed to many low-cuts with white soles. You get a carefully crafted leather lining, amber laces, and Italian-made suede and leather stitched on a wingtip design.

The Sahara Desert Basso Chukka Wingtip Sneaker is a name-full, but rightfully so. There are a lot of fine details built into this pair, and all serve good purpose for both aesthetic and comfort.

Chukkas are always a comfortable fit. If Air Maxes aren’t your thing, go with this.

Available at Del Toro’s online store, $325.

THE PLAY:

Max Brenner, New York, NY
An indulgent way to stay warm: hot chocolate. Obviously, the magical bald man that is Max Brenner is well known, but what is terribly forgotten on this menu of perfection is their ChocoPops. Scattered randomly on different menu items, these tiny pops are small, crispy wafer balls dipped in a very rich milk chocolate – miniscule in size but ridiculously filled with flavor. Max has a “noisy hot chocolate” filled with pops to the brim. Or get vanilla ice cream popsicles for fondue dipping with hot fudge, candied hazelnut, and of course, chocopops.  Plus, buy them in packs to take them home for those weekend dinner parties.

Syrup, Los Angeles, CA
For many in LA, an idea of a good Saturday night is a simple dinner followed by a space to just relax and hang out with friends without the loud music and crowded bars. And that’s where dessert + espresso bar Syrup comes in. While this place is open all day and has a breakfast menu full of Belgian waffles and crepes, the go-to here is the sugar-liege waffle – a decadent battercake dipped in caramelized pearl sugars followed by a multitude of delicious options – s’mores, caramel apples, mixed berries, or chocolate. A big win here is their hazelnut latte mixed with nutella. What makes this place even better is their lounge-style seating with couches, and larger tables for big parties.

Philz, San Francisco, CA
While the east coast is dealing with a blizzard, San Francisco regularly gets a glimmer of sunlight. So on the weekend or for an afternoon break during the week, find a Philz and pick up an iced mint mojito, one of the most refreshing coffee drinks you will ever have, and likely only find at Philz. The cold beverage consists of two shots of espresso, a plethora of mint leaves, two tablespoons of almond milk, a little foam, and some sweetener to bring together an amazingly refreshing drink. Philz is known for freshly brewing every cup of coffee individually, making each drink as it’s ordered. Pick a rare brew of your choice or get the mojito. Actually, get the mojito.

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well.
AS

Contact the author of this post at aamir17@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Kick & Play: Dissecting The Wingtip Shoe

Last month, we shared a casual-looking wingtip that was good for that weekend-casual look. This week, we’re going to talk wingtips – but from the dapper, cleaned-up perspective. From the color to the laces, we’re diving into all the pieces of the classiest and most versatile shoe.

Wingtips originally come from the brogue shoe, a style originating from Scotland and Ireland. First used as an outdoors or country-walking shoe, it was not considered to be appropriate for social or formal occasions. Now? It’s perfect.

THE KICKS:

gravitypope: Brown

The art and aesthetic of a brown wingtip is remarkable. It’s the most interchangeable shoe when it comes to work and play. You can throw it on jeans – whether they’re rolled up or not – with socks or without socks. And when you throw it on a suit of nearly any color, it’s game over. My favorite look right now: on a blue suit or tapered jeans.

It’s probably also the easiest color to find, so you can get a good-looking pair at almost any budget.

Available nearly everywhere, but try gravitypope for $175.

Cole Haan: Grey

Cole Haan wingtips

Grey leather might be one of the hardest colors to find when it comes to a well-constructed shoe or boot. If you ever spot somebody with a pair of grey leather wingtips, trust that he or she paid a pretty penny. A more common style, but still a great look, is grey suede.

But the look and feel of a leather grey wingtip is quite stunning. That said, they aren’t a shoe that you can wear with everything. With a pair of dark jeans or pants, this pair gives a standout look. But do be careful: scuff marks don’t look as attractive on grey.

Available at Cole Haan, $248.

Wingtip Colors   

shoe colors

Feeling bold? Many footwear companies are now releasing wingtips in bright colors. From blue shades to bright yellows, there are a lot of ways to personify your outfit by sporting an unusual color. In particular, Cole Haan is a brand that definitely wins this battle, but if there’s a color you desire, it’s out there. Just keep digging.

Laces

shoe laces

Another way to make your shoe your own is to get creative with laces. Just because you have a brown or black shoe doesn’t mean your laces have to be the same. Add a little flare, and change the lace color to something completely contrasting in nature.

Laces available at your local Nordstrom or Forgetful Gentleman, $19.99-$40.00.

THE PLAY:

One Girl Cookies, New York, NY
Meet Juliette. She’ll be your best friend. Why? Because she’s a hazelnut cookie. Two hazelnut cookies, actually, with chocolate cinnamon ganache stuffed between them. One Girl Cookies is a very warm, friendly bakery in Brooklyn’s DUMBO and Cobblle Hill, where every cookie is named after ‘one girl.’ From creative ingredients in their cookies to their fun spikey buttercream on cupcakes, this is a must-visit for sweets-lovers.

Millions of Milkshakes, Los Angeles, CA
So Millions of Milkshakes has become one big party that celebrities regularly show up to. But still, they always make it about their shakes, not the crowd. This is one place in LA that really gives you the power to put whatever the hell you want in your milkshake. From the candy to fruit to nuts to powders to fudge, you select a ton of ingredients, pick an ice cream, and watch them blend. Or just go with a celeb’s favorite. Some drinks are simple (Kim Kardashian Shake: strawberries and bananas topped with whip) while some are absolutely insane (The Jabbawockeez Jabba Zabba Wokstar Shake: Nutella, cookie dough,  nuts, brownies, mixed berries, Ferrero rocher, bananas, Reese’s peanut butter cups, swirl ice cream, whipped cream, and gummy bears).  The name isn’t a joke. You can make or drink whatever your heart desires.

Sauce, San Francisco, CA
Sauce is a restaurant with a tagline: Drink. Eat. What should you eat? The dessert sampler. Why? Because it comes with all three magical creations. Cookie dough bonbons with vanilla ice cream. Fresh cinnamon sugar doughnuts with vanilla bourbon sauce. Strawberry sponge cake with Frangelico peanut butter and vanilla ice cream. This late-night café in San Francisco is just what your Friday nights need.

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well.

AS

Contact the author of this post at aamir17@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Kick & Play: Neon Takes Over The Sneaker World

Neon was once a crazy color on kicks you used to only see at the gym. But slowly, the colors are emerging from the weight room, and settling onto sneakers that are paired with every day, going out outfits. And life just got brighter.

Nike, for one, has taken it to the next level, heavily infusing their vibrant, neon-green “volt” shade into all their collections. From the highlighter tones to melon to candy apple red, it’s safe to say that color on your feet is what’s hot. Just do it.  

This week, let’s talk about a couple sneakers that are great in the gym, but also add a little flash to your casual get-up.

THE KICKS:

Nike Lunar Safari (up top)

The Lunar Safari was released just last summer, and ever since, a spectrum of colors has been continuously introduced. The shoe, inspired by the 1987 classic, the Air Safari, is built with all types of Nike technology to give you a lightweight fit and ultimate comfort. The shoe is supported with a Lunarlon sole and Hyperfuse construction (less stitching, more breathability), making it a fantastically durable shoe.

Sport them in the gym or throw them on some jeans. Keep them loose and unlaced and let that color show. There are over a dozen colors available now so if you’re need of a good-looking hybrid shoe, find a color that fits your style.

(Pictured above: Anthracite-Black/Volt, Black/Crimson, Black-Grey/Orange)

Available at Nike, Finishline, Eastbay and most sportswear retailers: $69.99-$109.99.

Adidas + Hanon: Centaur [CNTR]

Adidas + Hanon: Centaur

Adidas is also knee-deep in the color trend with their bright purples, blues, and teals out there. But this collection they’ve created with Hanon – a sneaker collective in Scotland – is just too good. In the spirit of throwback, Adidas is bringing back the 1984 running shoe, the Centaur. The sneaker is built with a gorgeous trio blend of suede, mesh and nubuck with a snug fit to make it a good daily pair.

In addition to the three colors above (red, navy & grey), there’s a limited special edition inspired by Hanon’s hometown called Aberdeen, featuring grey, white and red accents. But really, do the red.

These kicks go well with almost anything casual. Jeans are the norm, but dust these off with some fitted khakis or even a good pair of cords, and you have a really good combination to work with.

Red, grey and navy:  Available February 2 at select retailers: $150

Aberdeen limited edition:Available now at Hanon: $177.84.

THE PLAY:

Since we’re talking about wild colors, I think it’s only fitting to talk about weirdly-colored drinks that are just so good. This week’s play: juice bars.

Juice Press, New York, NY
The Juice Press is one spot in NYC that purifies the soul of raw foodists. Empowered on the idea that there is a healthier way of living, the founders of this great juicer believe that everything should be fresh, since frozen and pasteurized juices are depressing. The shop is 100 percent organic, so you get great blends of drinks that are actually good for you and not just full of sugar. The default go-to here: the Dr. Green Juice – a fiery blend of kale, pineapple, apple, lemon, and ginger.

Beverly Hills Juice, Los Angeles, CA
Known for experimenting heavily with juicers in 1975, David Otto, a vegetarian who just wanted to improve his health, created Beverly Hills Juice. The motivation behind his drinks: to heal and energize. The menu is always changing, since they only use organic, local, and seasonal produce. The fan favorite here is the Banana Manna Shake, a combination of vegan ice cream, bananas, and almonds or sunflower seeds. The best drink on the menu though…apple, cinnamon, coconut, and pumpkin. Yeah, like that.

Frapez Smoothie Spa, San Francisco, Ca.
It’s common for most juice shops to have their own juice cleanse programs (Both Juice Press and Beverly Hills Juice have their own). What makes Frapez different is the fact that they pride themselves in their affordable program, and was the original reason why the shop was originally created. The Frapez goal: to share passion and knowledge about nutrition and create a positive and caring business. What resulted was a juicery with health-inspired smoothies, teas, juices made from organic and creative ingredients. Stop here for a consultation on what’s the best cleanse program or get a fresh drink with a kick. All sorts of great drinks on this menu, but if there’s one, it’s the Emerald Matcha, a green tea boost juice with matcha, coconut powder, melon, coconut milk, cashews, vanilla, almond milk and honey.

Walk fresh. drink right. Be well.
AS
Contact the author of this post at aamir17@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter.

Kick and Play: Retro Sneakers For Comfort & Style

Comfort is key. Whether you’re the over-booked weekend eater that has a Saturday schedule of breakfast, lunch, coffee, and dinner or you’re planning on going to Sunday brunch and staying put for half the day, having something on your feet without the worry of tired feet is important.

The easiest solution? Go old school.

THE KICKS:

Vans Rata (to the left)

When a sneaker is too casual for you, allow me to introduce you to a pair of atypical Vans. Known for slip-ons and low-cut lace-ups, the Vans Rata is a unique pair that you can pair with shorts and jeans but still get away with keeping them on at a warm-weather brunch with your non-denim rolled up and no socks.

These Vans have an extra-cushioned sole, and slowly form to the imprint of your foot as you wear the shoe in – a big plus if you plan to wear them regularly. And why not? They work with almost everything. Tired of wearing the same round-toed dress shoe to work and looking ordinary when you meet up for drinks later? This should solve that. If you’re that espresso junkie with your feet up at a coffee shop for hours, the thicker, softer lining on this kick will surely help.

Be mindful of the fact that the Rata comes in a variety of colors and fabrics. But for the best look and comfort, stay away from hemp and canvas, and stick to suede or nubuck (pictured above). They are built better for longer wears, last longer, and give off a much cleaner aesthetic. Good price, great fit, fantastic daily wear.

Available at most Van’s retailers, $60 to $75.

Some recommended finishes: Dachshund brown fleece, pig suede + nubuck

New Balance 1300 series (photo credit: Angel Gonzalez/Vagrant Sneaker)

Nike

I get it. For many people, the consensus is that New Balance shoes are for the 60+-year-olds that spend early weekend mornings doing cardio in the mall. Or the Steve Jobs wannabes.

But the 1300 series changes that. The narrow New Balance sneaker features a rare blend of premium leather, suede, and mesh that results in a good-looking sneaker in almost any color. With its loose laces and popped tongue, the sneakers work with nearly anything, tucked in jeans or cords. The retro vibe on the heel gives this shoe an all-around nostalgia and a perfect addition to all closets.

The best color available now? The grey and navy pictured above, but the good thing about NB is they are always releasing good color combinations on the regular.

Available at most retailers, or New Balance . Find them here. $129.99 to $159.99.

THE PLAY:

Burma Superstar, San Francisco, Ca.
At first glance, Burma Superstar appears a little suspect. A plain dining room with old-fashioned furniture usually is a no-go, right? However, give this low-key restaurant a chance and experience an incredible fusion of Asian food that make long waits and cramped space well worth it. Any foodie – high maintenance or simple – will speak highly of the tea-leaf salad. The renowned salad is a mixture of fermented tea leaves, fried garlic, diced shrimp, and sunflower seeds crafted meticulously to satisfy anybody’s palette with a refreshing, flavorful start to any meal. Other standouts: Samusa soup, coconut rice, sesame beef, and Burmese curries. Easy to get seated for two, but great for big parties if planned ahead.

Escuela Taqueria, West Hollywood, Ca
We all love our fancy dinners, but sometimes, dim lighting, good music, and ridiculous tacos are much needed. Enter Escuela, a small taco shop that defines itself both by its look and food. This taco shop takes décor to a new level with an extensive use of chairs and shoes. But the extra attention to detail doesn’t stop there – the tacos here are legendary. Sure, you get your standard chicken, shrimp and carne asada, but poblano chilies, lobster, and a variety of pork and beef options on the menu guarantee one damn good night of food. But it’s the refined and unique attention to your meal that makes this place so rad. All meals come with delightful pickled cactus and habanero coleslaw.  Something else worth mentioning: Cucumber mint agua fresco. Want to make it a party? Bring your own beer, tequila, or wine.

Café Mogador, New York, NY
One thing about restaurants in New York is their revere for authenticity – the look, the feel, and the food. Café Mogador does this with a vibe that screams Middle Eastern – from the bohemian interior, to the rural feel of both inside the restaurant and on the busy outdoor patio. Yes, the café is open for dinner, but bless your soul by having brunch here. Start with a decadent cup of Turkish coffee and indulge with spicy Moroccan eggs benedict, fantastic pastries, maple almond granola, or a pretty amazing frittata. All are big winners at Mogador. And in the event that you haven’t tried eggs with hummus, it’s most certainly always a good choice. Inspired with flavor and energy from North Africa, this is a must-visit brunch spot in New York. And hey, for what it’s worth, there always seems to be good-looking people here.

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well.  

Kick and Play: Shoes. Party. Go.

Lately, I’ve heard many people talk about the struggle to find the perfect boot – the pair that you can throw on with anything and trust it to look and feel good. Sometimes one pair of boots only works with jeans and not your work pants, and vice versa. Meet the pairs that change all that.

THE KICKS:

Wodehouse Chukka by Timberland (to the left)

A brand known for work shoes and a plain look, Timberland introduced the Wodehouse collection a few years ago, and now it lives in its own realm of personal style and function. You get that same lifetime comfort with these Timbs, but look so damn good doing it.

Wodehouse’s super-comfy Chukka boots are a slightly pointed pair with wax-coated laces. They’re built as a mid-top so you can tuck your jeans in for a refined look, or let them hang for that brilliantly messy feel. Blazer, t-shirt, oxford – who cares. They all work.

Available in both black and brown, no pair is the same, since the shoes are hand-finished, full-grain leather with a worn-in aesthetic. That being said, the more you wear them, the better they’ll look. And most importantly, it’ll be your own unique fit. Nobody else’s. Available for $295 at Nordstrom.

Not loud enough? Let’s get wild.

LunarGrand Chukkah by Cole Haan

LunarGrand Chukkah by Cole Haan

For those who want something a little brighter, Cole Haan has taken their partnership with Nike to a new level by recently borrowing their Lunarlon sole technology and beautifully blending it with their very own chukka boot.

Dressed in a soft black suede with a volt (neon yellow) sole, this shoe is definitely a stunner. It’s a pair that you can wear for hours on hours and not have sore feet. With the LunarGrand, you get a great mix of casual aesthetic with traditional feel.

Also available in camel/red, grey/pink and woodbury/orange. Works great on jeans, but get bold with dark chinos. Available for $228, everywhere and here.

THE PLAY:

Smitten Ice Cream, San Francisco, CA

Hey, ice cream is good. But when you taste it at its freshest point, it just might be the best thing ever. No better way to say it, Smitten prides themselves on re-imagining the ice cream experience. Each order is made fresh, and is created from absolutely raw, organic ingredients and liquid nitrogren. Yes, liquid nitrogren. Why? Because it makes the smoothest, freshest ice cream you will have ever had, literally.

Gjelina, Los Angeles, CA 

A staple in the Venice community, the creative fusion-Mediterranean restaurant is perfect for the foodie. Seasonal menus, beautiful people, and all types of energy are here. Hey, it’s LA, right? Atypical from the typical Los Angeles characteristic, the menu is meant for sharing, so the more you order, the better you eat. Known for eclectic array of pizzas, but so good for their grilled goods like corn, shisito peppers, and carrots, Gjelina gives you great food, the LA culture and, likely, a good story. Rock your boots to brunch or dinner, just don’t ask for substitutions.

Momofuku Milk Bar and Bakery, New York, NY

Let’s call 2013 the year of the cookie. And ice cream. And pie. Is that too much? Momofuku is that creative baker-friend you always wanted. Remember sipping on that bowl of cereal milk after you finished your Cheerios? That’s the milk Momofuku uses to create their fantastic soft serve. If ice cream is too cold, try their famous Compost cookie, made of chocolate, butterscotch chips, oats, graham crackers, coffee, and potato chips. It’s one hell of a cookie. And then…the ultimate dessert – the crack pie, full of butter, cream, brown sugar, more sugar, and corn flavoring to give your palette a hit of salty and sweet. As Momofuku pastry chef Christina Tosi is known for saying, it tastes better “with your favorite someone.”

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well. 

Kick and Play: Shoes. Party. Go.

Starting in 2013, BlackBook will start talking shoes. With dinner parties, brunches, coffee dates, and friendly catch-up sessions, figuring out the right outfit can become an interminable task. And while so many publications spend their word count on what pants, blazers, tie clips, and watches you need to wear, we’re going to focus on the one thing you’ll always need: good kicks on your feet. So shake hands with our new weekly column: Kick and Play.

Whether you love your skinny chinos, tapered pants, or baggy jeans, we’ll make sure we’ve got you covered in the kicks department. And don’t worry; the full spectrum of shoes will be covered. From limited-edition sneaker releases, to wingtips, to boots that won’t make you feel like a storm trooper, BlackBook’s got your back – and feet. Once you’ve explored your shoes options, we’ll give you the top national restaurants, clubs, and bars to sport them. Kick, play, go.

THE KICKS:

Nike Air Jordan 13 Retro (pictured above)

 

Over the past two years, Nike and Reebok have become crazy for the retro trend. On the regular, the sneaker brands are re-releasing some of their infamous pairs of retro Jordan’s, Iverson’s and throwback player editions of sports legends.

January is no different, with a number of classic Jordan sneakers being released this month. On Saturday, January 12th, Nike and the Jordan Brand will re-release the Air Jordan 13 Retro in black and red, which was originally released in 1997. The shoe, inspired by a panther, was designed by famous designer Tinker Hatfield.

What was known to be a sneaker to collect or play in, now brings a bold yet sleek attitude to skinny jeans at the bar, brunch, or that afternoon weekend discovering the city – just don’t let anybody step on them.

Available on Saturday, January 12th at select retailers. $160. Follow @nikestore or your local sneaker shop on Twitter for launch information.

 

Aldo Nocks

Aldo Nocks

A fusion of a wingtip and a casual-laced shoe, the new Aldo Nocks is a great shoe for nearly any occasion. Though it is a little narrow, it looks great on khakis or jeans, dressed down with a t-shirt and hoody, or up with a tucked-in shirt. The Nocks are available in black and brown. To add a little flavor, these shoes have a surprising, electric-blue sole, giving your step a vibrant bounce. $70 at Aldo Shoes.

THE PLAY:
Perch, Los Angeles, Calif.

A fantastic rooftop bar a whimsical French-bistro feel. Great drinks and damn good dessert. Flanked with fire pits, lounge seating, and an eclectic sound of music from DJs and, on occasion, an indie band. Great for post-dinner with friends or a date.

Chile Pies & Ice Cream, San Francisco, Calif.

Green chili pies with apple filling, a ground beef pie served in a Frito bag topped with Fritos, pie shakes. This Mexican-infused bakery has no rules – just innovative sweet and savory pies, and organic ice cream for the purists. Perfect for any meal, any time, anybody.

La Esquina, New York, New York

When Mexican food is done well, it can be a life-changing experience. Enter La Esquina. Translated as “the hideaway,” this location is just that. It starts off as a three-space set-up which is perfect in its own right – a taqueria, a café, and a brasserie + bar. While you should most definitely try all three, the necessity here is to secure a reservation for the basement: an underground seating arrangement with a menu that boasts 200+ premium tequilas and cocktails and, oh yeah, unforgettable grilled street corn, blessed main courses, and an environment that you won’t want to leave.

Book a reservation a week in advance for a guaranteed good seat. Take a girl. Celebrate your birthday. And wear your new kicks.