BlackBook Staff Picks: Dining, Drinking, Shopping, & Staying

Here at BlackBook, we pay a lot of attention to where cool customers go out — bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels, you name it. So why not flip the frame and let you see where we go out? Here’s a periodically updated, exhaustive list of hotspots currently favored by everyone at BlackBook, from the mighty bosses down to the humble interns, from the charming local lounges around the corner to the jet-setting temples of luxe living.

EDITORIAL ● Editorial Director/Editor-in-Chief – Ray Rogers, Café Mogador (NYC) – Hummus, crack-caliber coffee, and outdoor patio for primo people-judging and “novel writing.” ● Creative Director – Jason Daniels, Babettes (East Hampton) – Don’t let the word “organic” turn you off . ● Executive Editor – Chris Mohney, Pegu Club (NYC) – OCD cocktail heaven. Pith helmet and ivory cane optional. ● Senior Editor – Nick Haramis, The Jane Hotel and Ballroom (NYC) – Latest smash from Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode gets all Edwardian on the WVill.

● Editor-at-Large – James Servin, The Raleigh (Miami) – The local equivalent of LA’s Chateau Marmont. ● Staff Writer – Ryan Adams, Republic (NYC) – Minimalist fave and only vaguely communist, which is more fun than the full-bore thing. ● Writer-at-Large – Alison Powell, Wurstküche (LA) – Hey, sausages! Downtown hipsters with a secret inner-manly-man are pleased. ● West Coast Editor – Matt Diehl, Cole’s (LA) – The 100-year-old buffet-style cafeteria comes back as something new (but the French dip stays). ● Nightlife Correspondent – Steve Lewis, La Esquina (NYC) – Day and night, eating, meeting and playing. ● Paris Correspondent – Dana Thomas, Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel (Paris) – Posh sips & historic ambiance at the Ritz. ● Assistant Editors – Ben Barna, Tokyo (Montreal) – Buy one for the buff bartender while you’re at it—he’s a starving actor. Cayte GrieveCafé Asean (NYC) Foster Ethan KamerLa Superior (NYC) – Quite possibly the best little taqueria this side of town. ● Editorial Assistant – Eiseley Tauginas, Alta (NYC) – Alta, as in “high,” as in “haute,” at this sexy Village tapas spot. ● Copy Editor – Michèle Filon, Sripraphai (NYC) ● Editorial Interns – Annie Clinton Moto (NYC) – High-flavor food with dungeon loos. Sure, Moto’s for metros, but it’s hot anyway. Delia Paunescu Schiller’s Liquor Bar (NYC) – McNally’s successful entrée into the LES mess. Desiree Pais, Lit (NYC) – Rock bar du jour for hos and bros of the ain’t we the shit? set. Alexandra Vickers, Colette (Paris) – Art, style, music, sex and water.

ART ● Art Director – Amy Steinhauser, Five Leaves (NYC) – Café posthumously funded by Heath Ledger does justice to the work and hype put into it. ● Photography Assistant – Stephanie Swanicke, Brandy Library (NYC) – Highbrow mixology, let us know when it’s time to dust off the antique bottles on the upper shelf. ● Design/Photo Interns – Angela Chen, Dinosaur BBQ (NYC) – Roadhouse bringing southerners to Northern Manhattan. Krista Quick – Ottobar (Baltimore) – What can we say, this place rocks.Jeremy Jones – Tokyo Bar, (NYC) – Schizo décor and food, but decently done all the same.

FASHION & BEAUTY ● Fashion Director-at-Large – Elizabeth Sulcer, China Grill (NYC) -Heaping plates of Asian fusion amid fashionable environs. ● Market Editor – Bryan Levandowski, Bondi Road (NYC) – Wizards of Aus in NYC, we like your style. ● Fashion Assistant – Wilson Mathews III, Per Se (NYC) – Advanced gastronomy at the Time Warner Center. Thomas Keller pulls out all the stops. ● Fashion Interns – Samantha Shaw, Chez Janou (Paris) – Boisterous southern bistro near the Place des Vosges. Julien Blanc, La Esquina (NYC) – Fairly authentic Mexican and one of the city’s best-known “secret” bars. Laura Watters, Café Habana (NYC) – Scarfing roast pork is so much better when Mary-Kate is watching, longingly. Lindsay Abrams, Sketch: Gallery (London) – Quirky soho hot spot. BlackBook magazine Founder – Evanly Schindler, The Smile (NYC) – Earnest Sewn owners take over abandoned Double Crown space for Med-inspired cafe/boutique.

BLACKBOOK MEDIA CORP ● Chairman – Bob Hoff, Guys & Dolls (LA) – Sophisticated sexy in West Hollywood. 7 nights a week. ● CEO – Ari Horowitz, L’Ecole (NYC) – Get schooled in fine French cuisine at this tasty training center. ● Associate Publisher – Brett Wagner, Café Select (NYC) – SoHo café marries Swiss Alpine to downtown design, garners Next Brunch Place status. ● Director of Finance and Operations – Joe Friedman, Lucky Strike Lanes (NYC) – Scenester bowling from the dudes behind Marquee and Tao. ● Corporate Counsel – Drew Patrick of Drew Patrick Law, Dutch Kills (NYC) – Modern-day antique saloon from New York’s cocktail kings. ● Executive Assistant – Bridgette Bek, Motorino (NYC) – Belgian-bred Mathieu Palombino’s Billyburg pizza joint serves up personal pan-sized genius, one pie at a time.

ADVERTISING ● Senior Account Executive – Dina Matar, Gascogne (NYC) – Southern French cooking without the Southern French ‘tude. ● Account Executive – Brian Kantor, Botanica (NYC) – Dive that must be working some kind of Santeria to keep prices down in this excessive nabe. ● Executive Director, BlackBook Access – Gregg Berger, La Piaggia (Miami) – Keep your feet in the sand and your hand on the rosé glass at this waterfront café francaise. ● Detroit Account Executives – Jeff Hannigan, Blind Tiger Ale House (NYC) – Beer bar institution finds new home, devoted crowd. Kristen von Bernthal, Pure Food and Wine (NYC) – Say goodbye to a future of pacemakers and a gut the shape of China. Raw food is real food. ● Midwest Account Executives – Susan Welter, Perennial (Chicago) – This could easily become Chicago’s summer hotspot for years to come. ● Andrea Forrester, Mirai (Chicago) – Thumpin’ music and bumpin’ elbows don’t deter crowds from gathering for some of the city’s finest sushi. ● Southwest Account Executive – Molly Ballantine, Gjelina (LA) – New Venice, new American hotspot takes on Hollywood posturing and tude. ● Northwest Account Executives – Catherine Hurley, 15 Romolo (San Francisco) – Bourbon & Branch without the passwords and financial types. Shawn O’Meara, Suppenküche (San Francisco) – Fun place, hearty food. Check the diet at the door. Sales Coordinator – Claire Pujol, Fat Baby (NYC) – Dank in a clean way. Do not enter without skinny jeans.

MARKETING ● Marketing Manager – Julie Fabricant, Kingswood (NYC) – Creative Aussie eats. Feel like king of the W. Vill woods. ● Partnerships & Promotions Manager – Andrew Berman, Bozu (NYC) – Sunken Japanese paradise. Delectable sushi, incredible drinks. ● Interns – Rebecca Hill, Chicago Brauhaus (Chicago) – One of the last of Chicago’s great German restaurants with live oompah bands and an Oktoberfest menu year-round. Delna Joshi, Hudson Terrace (NYC) – Rooftop pleaser for drunk summer afternoons. Brianne Murphy, Beauty Bar (NYC) – Kitschy theme bar serving up mani/drink combos under a row of hair dryers. Elizabeth Pirozzi, Pink Elephant (NYC) – Gangsters, models, and house. Where one goes, the others must follow. Monica Dybuncio, Cha Cha Cha (San Francisco) – The Haight’s never-ending Caribbean party where Santerias and sangria rule. Emily Pflug Presidio, Delfina (San Francisco) – Overly moussed males, technophiles, and high-class hipsters collide in this local fine dining favorite. Lea Abeyta, The Annex (NYC) – Grown-up newcomer from Dark Room boys. Tiswas Saturday, Interpol’s Paul B holding down Wednesday. Joanna Rubinstein, Bar Breton (NYC) – Fleur de Sel’s tastes of Brittany now available in brasserie form. Marie Baginski, East Andrews Cafe & Bar (Atlanta) – Label toters run amok at Buckhead restaurant-bar and pack the place on Thursdays and Fridays. Megan Kunecki, Blender Theater at Gramercy (NYC) -New indie rocker hosting artists you put on your iPod for show while you’re really listening to “Since U Been Gone” again. Jay Kassirer, The Smile (NYC) – Earnest Sewn owners take over abandoned Double Crown space for Med-inspired cafe/boutique. Suhee Eom, Momofuku Ssäm Bar (NYC) – Chef-of-the-minute David Chang fancies up Korean burritos and gets avant-garde after 6pm. Jaime Marie, Sueños (NYC) – Sweet dreams of organic tequila and make-your-own-tacos really can come true! Rana Razavi, Sanctuary (Miami) – Swank rooftop bar and the promise of hanky panky in the pool.

DIGITAL ● Director of Development – Daniel Murphy, Yerba Buena (NYC) – Petite hot zone with wide range of Pan-Latino small plates. ● Lead Architect – Matt Hackett, Beast (Brooklyn) – Small plates and top brunch, come get lost in Prospect Heights. Developer – Bastian Kuberek, Motor City Bar (NYC) – Front like you remember how to drive and these 8 Milers might let you hang. ● Developer – Dan Simon, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill (NYC) ● Designer – Matt Strmiska, Manuel’s (Austin) – Immaculate cleanliness, smart design, and Wine Spectator-designated mole don’t come cheap even for the downtown lunch crowd. ● Developer – Sam Withrow, Pacific Standard (NYC) – Mellow, big-hearted Slope pub keepin’ it pacific. ● Quality Assurance Engineer – Sunde Johnson, Stone Park Café (NYC) – White on white, Williams-Sonoma, Maclarens, fish sandwiches, and burgers. ● Mobile Developer – Otto Toth, Centolire (NYC) – Mangia, mangia, and then ride up and down in the funny glass elevator until the hostess kicks you out.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS ● Bob Hoff, Guys & Dolls (LA) – Sophisticated sexy in West Hollywood. 7 nights a week. ● Ari Horowitz, L’Ecole (NYC) – Get schooled in fine French cuisine at this tasty training center. ● Eric Gertler, SoHo House (NYC) – Members-only decadent den where you may find scruffy English rockers or snaggle-toothed English bankers. Guess which is more likely. ● Joe Landry, Local (LA) – Anything goes, as long as it’s not beef. ● Irwin Lieber, Fishtail by David Burke (NYC) – Fresh seafood in the UES by celeb chef David Burke. ● Dan Pelson, Marea (NYC) – Hopes for a high tide abound at Michael White’s temple to Italian seafood. ● Barry Rubenstein, Shun Lee Café (NYC) – Haute Chinese and dim sum on a glossy, ’80s-fabulous set. ● Jack Sullivan, Blue Ribbon (NYC) – Bromberg bros brasserie takes care of Soho’s after-midnight crowd.
Brian Wilson Tickets Capital One Bank Theatre at Westbury Tickets Westbury Tickets

Above All Else: Felipe Mendez & Iris Avelar of Brooklyn’s La Superior

On first appearance, the name could be braggadocio. It’s a restaurant that appears to be by no means extraordinary. It’s ostensibly, at most, just another trendy Mexican joint attended to by Manhattan’s social pariahs, following a line of them: La Esquina, Dos Caminos, Rosa Mexicana, et al. But, the thing is, La Superior is far more than that. If God is in the details, the braintrust behind this small, inconspicuous culinary destination are True Believers.

For one thing, it’s not in Manhattan. Situated in South Williamsburg, far from the Mexican-for-models scene, La Superior is tucked cozily into a nondescript block not five minutes from the neighborhood’s main drags. Aside from a vestibule and their logo painted on a firetruck-red wall outside, the place is hidden in plain sight. Entering, one notices a hungry cross-section of New York’s denizens only a restaurant with legitimately solid, reasonable, accessible food attracts — hipsters, families, culinary tourists, regulars, the occasional wayward, B-Burg celebrity (members of the Rapture, New York rapper Tes Uno) — and the sound of a resident iPod, which, on a noisy Thursday night last week, piped LCD Soundystem’s Sound of Silver through the restaurant. A hand-screened wallpaper (from a friend, it’s explained) and lighting fixtures — bottom-open glass orbs with exposed wiring (intentional, and again: custom made for the restaurant) — adorn the walls and ceilings. If anything, the place has atmosphere.

Owner/executive chef Felipe Mendez (a born-and-bred Mexico City ex-pat, and a DJ, a photographer, and a de-facto designer on the side) and co-owner Iris Avelar (a Bay Area import who comes from a publicity background) are the restaurant’s backbone, and maybe, besides Felipe’s cooking, the restaurant’s strongest asset. Besides being somewhat unlikely restaurateurs, they’re young — Filipe’s 29 — but both have been working in the restaurant business for most of their lives, and both have family roots in Guadalajara, where the desire to cook authentic food only recently unleashed on New Yorkers comes from.

Seated at a table in the back, we take in the restaurant: kinetic, bustling, filled with pungent, strong scents of Yucatan spices emanating from the kitchen. Tonight is unusually busy for Mendez: interview, in the middle of service, for our publication, and, later, the Paper party, where he’ll celebrate his entrance into the Beautiful People 2009 issue (which he proudly sneaks out from a closet to share). But he can’t stop moving, adjusting things, greeting customers. The energy in the place is soulful, and it shows in the food that comes to the table: unlike any Mexican dish you’re ever going to eat, unless, Mendez asserts, you’re going to Mexico City. Avelar finally coaxes him to sit down at the table to discuss what it takes to build a place like this. He can’t stop fidgeting.

I’ve had plenty of Mexican food before. But the recipes you two are turning out La Superior aren’t anything I’ve ever seen before. Felipe: Mexican restaurants in America aren’t authentic. It’s always fusion. It’s Tex-Mex or some kind of food that isn’t Mexican. I have worked at Dos Caminos, Rosa Mexicano and Bonita. I saw what they were serving, and I was like, This isn’t authentic.

It’s an Americanized version of authenticity. Felipe: There’s also a lack of really interesting tastes, because most of the owners of Mexican restaurants in New York aren’t Mexican. When I make something, if it doesn’t taste like my Mom’s cooking, then I don’t sell it. If it doesn’t taste like home, we don’t do it.

What are your favorite dishes on the menu? Felipe: They’re like my babies, like my kids. I really can’t choose.

What ingredients are you using that other Mexican restaurants aren’t? Felipe: We use Mexican cream, we use homemade chorizo, we use fresh corn dough, and we do, like, 15 different salsas. We do everything fresh because we don’t have a large basement, so we have delivery every day for the meals. Our kitchen staff is trained for this kitchen—like the guy who makes the quesadillas, he’s a master of these quesadillas. They say, in Mexico, that the master of the dough makes the quesadillas. If you do it right, it becomes an art.

You have been in a six-month-long battle with the State Liquor Authority to get your license. Felipe: We’ve been waiting for a license. We believe that a good taco goes with a good beer, or nice tequila. We’re going to do some amazing things.

You’ve since both gone in front of the community board and cleared all the paths. Why has it taken six months to solve this problem? Iris: Well, it hasn’t really taken six months. The paperwork actually took a bit longer than we expected—we applied in early January. Felipe: It used to take from three to six months, and now they’re shooting for six to nine months, or even a year.

And you had a BYOB policy for a while, which has since stopped. Felipe: We stopped because they told us to stop. Iris: We didn’t know, and I received a newsletter.

Do you think that has hurt your business? Iris: A little bit, in the beginning, maybe.

If you get the liquor license, what do you intend to bring to the table? Felipe: (Grinning) Oh, man. I really like tequila. We’ll be using house-infused tequila to make homemade, authentic margaritas. Iris: Keep in mind that we will have (a license) eventually. Not going to jinx it, but… we’re going to get it. Felipe: When we do, you’ll know. You’ll hear us screaming about it.

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LA SUPERIOR. 295 Berry St. Williamsburg, New York, 11211. 718-388-5988

Short Stack: Openings

New YorkLuxee opens in the LES. Vegan Japanophiles, rejoice! This joint is run by Tokyo culinary school Vantan and serves up tofu cheesecake, vegan chocolate cakes with avocado mousse, and savory tofu salads. ● Brother Jimmy’s opens an outpost in Murray Hill. Kristin Cavallari plays host. ● Mei Li Wah, formally known as Mei Lai Wah, reopens in Chinatown on the auspicious 8-8-08 date, yellow shirts and red hats included.

Hummus Place opens in the West Village. ● Formerly Kate’s Brooklyn Joint, La Superior — all Mexican, almost all the time — opens in Williamsburg. ● In the East Village, JoeDoe’s doors are finally open.

Los AngelesThe Counter opens its second location in Marina Del Rey, one-upping 31 flavors by offering 70 burger topping options. ● Roy’s Hawaiian opens in Pasadena, making for the 10th Roy’s in California. ● The Kress. Get Sushi-Bombed at Hollywood’s latest four-storied ode to glitz.

San FranciscoBonbon Patisserie is ready for takeout. ● Pho Ha Tien 2 opens in SOMA, ready to thrown down with neighborhood fav Tu Lan. ● Amanda’s Feel Good Fresh Food Restaurant opens in Berkeley. AMGFFR (longest restaurant name ever) offers kid-friendly options — burgers, fries and cookies — as well as grown-up salads and sweet potatoes. ● McTeague’s Saloon opens on Polk Street. Rusty saloon meets micro-brew, the game (pick one) is on every football Sunday.

Miami ● More sushi. RA Sushi opens in South Miami. Try the Crazy Monkey roll.

Las Vegas ● Corsa Cucina reopens as Stratta, self-titled by Executive Chef Alessandro Stratta (of Alex, also in the Wynn). ● Get dirty, err, clean at the 4,500-square-foot restaurant/bar LAVO (Spanish for “wash”) in the Palazzo .

Chicago ● Cajun/Creole Yats opens in the Near West Side ● iCream opens this week, taking DIY to a whole new level. Choose your own flavor, color, and topping. Liquid nitrogen ads to the cool factor. ● African- themed Sikia opens on the Washburne Culinary Institute campus, featuring graduating chefs-to-be. ● Dadaist Duchamp opens on in Wicker Park. Check the sweet off-street patio. ● Marc Burger fits right in with the oxymoronic classy-food-court Seven on State on the 7th floor of Macy’s. ● Ian’s Pizza opens in Lakeview. Odd combos like the mac-n-cheese slice and the steak-and-fries slice give late-night drunken revelers another spot to sop up alcohol. ● Vegetarians get ready: Mana Food Bar is open in Wicker Park.