Your Summer Guide to Staying Healthy

The only place with more judgmental glares than Manhattan, is the Hamptons, and they go beyond the disapproving looks you get when you opt for that third scoop of Sant Ambroeus pistachio ice cream. While there’s no quick fix solution to turning your Masda into a Maserati or your Hampton Bay weekend shack into a Gin Lane mansion, with Memorial Weekend around the corner, gear up with these beauty finds and, at the very least, you can wow with your toned tummy and beauty know-how, though you may want to be careful in whose company you bring up your recent butt facial.

When transitioning your bod away from couch potato status, the best place to start is with Mama Mio’s Bootcamp Kits. Don’t be intimidated by the name–these aren’t your local Sports Club LA cardio-pumped Bootcamps. Each kit comes equipped with two or three products (think circulation-promoting hip & thigh cream), to tackle that extra jiggle in your tummy, butt, or boob area along with easy to follow three-to-four minute targeted workouts. Unfortunately, as nice as it would be if we could rely on the likes of non-FDA-approved, Kardashian-endorsed QuickTrim, for quicker or more dramatic results, there’s no way around the fact that some additional form of exertion will be required.

Thankfully, a NASA engineer-turned sneaker aficionado spent 18 months perfecting a sneaker technology, found in the EasyTone, that has been proven in independent university lab tests to help wearers generate up to 28% more butt muscle activation compared to an ordinary sneaker. The EasyTone was conceived as a walking sneaker and it incorporates balance pods into the shoe soles to achieve its effect. There’s also a running version, RunTone, to help tone butt/leg muscles via a similarly pod-accented sole that mimics the resistance you experience from running on sand. Alternatively, Terra Plana’s EVO is a lightweight shoe designed to mimic the feeling of running barefoot. While it doesn’t promise any extra calorie burn, its lightweight, breathable design makes running a decidedly more pleasurable experience.

Step it up an extra notch by adding Polar’s FT 60 into the mix. The heart rate monitor helps you create a training program based on your personal goals, while giving you feedback, as hard as it is to face at times, on how effectively you’re training (intensity level, calories from fat burned…). If all else fails, you’d be surprised at the difference replacing those greasy Lays with some Bear Naked Granola could make.

To that end, if you’re one of many who get hives at the mere though of scheduling gym-time, Shatobu was designed under the premise of “workout you wear.” The compression hosiery has built-in bands that create extra resistance when you engage in your everyday activities resulting in an average of 12% more calories burned. Similarly, you can find temporary solace with Spanx’s compression swimwear which boasts strategically placed ruffles and color-blocked designs for the ultimate in trompe l’oeil beachwear. And, for when you’ve nabbed yourself a summer fling, throw on Yummie Tummie’s Baby Doll. It shapes and camouflages the mid-section without sacrificing comfort or sexiness-appeal.

Once in shape (or at least fashionably sucked in), tackle your body and face’s texture via Clarisonic’s latest system, the Plus, which comes with both a face and a body brush. The device is nothing short of a miracle worker for tackling blemishes (including pesky sweat-induced bumps), and it will leave your skin noticeably smoother after just a single use–trust that you’ll be using this gadget so often that having it engraved might not be as useless of an idea as it initially seems. Post cleansing, slather on some lotions and potions from Mario Badescu, An Oprah and Gwyneth Paltrow-approved line, you can get customized-to-your-skin-type samples gratis when you fill out their online skin analysis.

For those so pale that the only thing they ever got from sitting out in the sun is a burn, Modelco’s SunSponge is ergonomically designed to reach even those hard-to-reach back areas. Just remember that while having more skin than usual exposed makes applying extra make-up tempting, unless you want your face melting in public it’s best to keep it to a minimum. Protect your outer layer via iS Clinical’s SPF 20 Powder Sunscreen, which comes in translucent and medium shades. Besides color and shine, it’ll give your skin protection that’s so comprehensive even those whose skin has recently undergone some nips and tucks can use it. Plus its powder/brush application system makes it perfect for travel.

Heading South, it goes without saying that summer inevitably entails some form of below-the-belt care for women, unbeknownst to many however, that very necessary act can result in bikini area discoloration, scarring, and hyper-pigmentation, all of which are treated (along with acne, age spots, and rough skin), by Completely Bare’s Bikini/Bum Facial. Equally as important is your extremities. Tweezerman’s Sole Mates Dual Sided Foot File combines a stainless steel micro‐file for buffing with a nickel finishing file, held together via a magnetic design that incorporates a no-mess, easy-to-empty compartment and built-in anti‐microbial protection to revive your nails from their snow boot hibernation. Post filing, top off your nails with Revlon’s Scented Nail Polishes. Available through the summer, the limited edition scents include “Beach,” “Ocean Breeze,” and “Peach Smoothie.”

Lastly, because summer inevitably entails blunders like mistaking your moisturizer for your sunscreen, don’t forget to keep a Talking Intelligent First Aid Kit, which comes stocked with care packs to treat everything from bites and stings to CPR and burns, each of which have corresponding audio guides.

Surviving the Holiday Party Circuit

One could’ve assumed the 2009 holiday season would turn out to be a Grinch’s delight, but the general consensus — best evidenced by overflowing Facebook-invite sections — the holiday party circuit’s as busy as ever. Besides the anxiety that comes with finding a dozen “festive attire” outfits, dealing with recently expanded waistlines makes getting hyped about seeing all those friends and family members you don’t see on a regular basis all the more challenging. To that end, here’re some quick-fix finds to help enhance your spirits for the nights you’d like to remember and some to ease the mornings you’d like to forget.

Functionalab, a line of health and beauty nutritional supplements (available exclusively at Henri Bendel), has come-out with Immune Health Drops ($30). The soluble drops can be added to water or juice to help boost your body’s natural defenses against all those Crumbs holiday cupcakes and spiked drinks you’re likely consume, while their Energy Tonic, is like Red Bull on speed…drink with caution. If getting cracked-out on Acai and the likes isn’t up your alley, you can go the more traditional caffeine route with everything from caffeinated lip balm, to caffeinated eye creams like the celeb-favored one, Dr. Brandt’s Flaws No More r3p Eye.

For more of a pre-going out zen moment, the hottest selling Christmas gift in Sweden, Nail Mats, just hit the U.S. Basically: a thin rubber foam pad, covered in cotton fabric and filled with plastic disks each of which have a number of sharp spikes on them, the mats aid in everything from decreasing high stress levels to increasing metabolism by causing a high level of endorphin release. The catch? Pain’s the name of the game if you’re a beginner (though even some newbie-users have reported being relaxed to the point of falling asleep). To help sooth the exquisite pain, Bach’s Rescue Balm hydrates lips while calming the body via the same five homeopathic flower essences found in the original Rescue Remedy Spray (plus it’s pocket size so you can bring it along to keep your lips pucker-ready in between dehydrating shots of Patron). Beyond lips, the holidays are big on shimmer and shine, though self-restraint in this arena to avoid looking like the product of one of MTV’s Jersey Shore Guidettes, is strongly recommended.

First, prep the face with an Orlane Lightbox, which in mere minutes helps refresh and sooth skin. Post mask apply a primer like the one from Mineral Fusion to keep the fruits of your preparatory labor in tact and then, because no one (unless maybe they’re pregnant), glows naturally, check-out Sensai by Kanebo’s Platinum Coffret Set (available exclusively, for limited-time, at Bergdorf Goodman, which consists of a velvet party clutch containing platinum shimmer powder, body lotion formulated with platinum particles, and an application brush. Since you’re already at Bergdorf, might as well go all out and stop by the Oribe counter where us plebeians can get our hands on J.Lo’s famous hairstylist’s 24K Gold Pomade for sparkling highlights. Top it all off with some seriously high-impact (we’re talking criss-crossing, side-sweeping, glitter-filled, crystal-topped, multi-colored craziness), faux lashes from Illamasqua.

When it comes to the bod, fake bake with St. Tropez, and then — because your packed party schedule leaves no time for sick days — apply SpaRitual Instinctual Oil to balance your root chakra and energize your mind and body (i.e. it’s formulated with essential oils to ease cold and flu symptoms, nausea, muscle aches, and combat poor circulation). Once you’re on-the-go you can touch-up via Kiss My Face Olive My Body to prevent dry spots. Before heading-out though don’t forget some musk-heavy perfume to lure the opposite sex towards the mistletoe. When it comes to sprays, Tom Ford’s White Suede takes the cake, while Crazylibellule and the Poppies’ appropriately named Le Baton Ensemble Ce Soir, is perfect for touching-up once mid-party-hopping (don’t forget your Listerine…and to thank us when Tom Ford and the Poppies get you lucky).

Once out-and-about, Shobha’s pocket-friendly, unscented, alcohol-free spray hand sanitizers allow you to be discreetly health-conscious while meeting lots of potential flu-carrying party-goers. And, speaking of discreet, don’t forget that with Tom Ford spritzed on your body you might need an extra pair of underwear. To that end Flingz thongs come in packs of 3 individually-wrapped, folded thongs that you can conveniently slip into even the tiniest clutch.

Post one late-night and pre the next, pop into Eve Salon for a Pampermint Pedi. It uses all peppermint products to refresh muscles and sooth the skin, includes a long massage, a scrub, a candy cane, and some all-natural hot cocoa (available spiked—how’s that for some day-time holiday cheer?). For an at-home alternative Soap & Glory has got their Spa Heel Genius Foot Mask, while any diuretic-induced moisture loss can be revived by Oribe’s Signature Moisture Mask and Omorovicza’s Illuminating Moisturizer.

Lastly, NYC’s Jillian Wright Clinical Skin Spa has got a sleep machine that in 20 minutes is said to give the feeling of 4 to 8 hours of sleep, while the Ynessun Spa in Japan claims that drawing yourself a bath peppered with coffee, wine, or faux-noodles dipped in pork broth, can be an effective cure for everything from fatigue to a poor metabolism; just remember to keep your head above water.

Sexy Scents for Aphrodisiac Aficionados

imageWhile scientific evidence is murky, it’s long been touted that certain scents and foods encourage intimacy. When Oprah and Dr. Oz talk about it, however, you know there’s gotta be something to it. The pair discussed findings that suggest a woman’s libido may be enhanced by the smell of cucumbers and licorice, while men are enticed by lavender and pumpkin pie. Even Oprah was surprised at the licorice revelation. Turns out Hershey’s Good and Plenty are especially powerful in this regard. The appeal of cucumber for women can be attributed to obvious below-the-belt shape similarities (similarly oysters, which since the days of Casanova who ate dozens a day, have maintained a reputation as powerful aphrodisiacs). Fortunately, pursuing the olfactory aphrodisiac needn’t involve regular trips to the grocery.

For a cucumber scent, you can lather on Philip B’s Cucumber & Blue Orchid Hand & Body Crème. For pumpkin, try Verikira Naturals’ Spiced Pumpkin Face Masque; not only is it formulated with pumpkin, but it’s got spices which are supposed to “heat” passion. Similarly, Foot Petals Lavender Scented Killer Kushionz and Sally Hansen’s Just Feet Lavender Foot Soak combine the scent of lavender with foot pampering, which the appropriately named Dr. Amen once explained to Oprah “is like foreplay.” Not that most of us need an excuse to indulge in more dark chocolate or vanilla than we already do, but both are thought to contain chemicals that affect the neurotransmitters in the brain (this dates back to Aztec times). For those cutting back on calories, Space NK Bathing in the Woods Candle has an enticing vanilla and spice smell and comes wrapped in a beautiful box (i.e. ready to gift to that special someone), while Dylan’s Candy Barhas enough goodies to cover every last square inch of your body in coco-vanilla goodness (hey, every Romeo has gotta start somewhere).

On a healthier note, blueberries are said to be a natural aphrodisiac, so adding a little extra va-va-voom to a night might be as simple as spending a pre-date afternoon popping berries. Or forgo the risk of ending up like Veruca Salt and go the thrifty route via a $3.99 bottle of Tone’s Blueberry wash. And at the risk of sounding like a middle-aged housewife by bringing up Oprah one more time, the talk show host deemed acai one of the top 10 healthiest foods. Perhaps unbeknownst to her however, acai berries have been used by bikini-clad Brazilians for years (they’re sometimes referred to as “the Viagra of the Amazon”). Just in time, VitaminShampoo came out with acai berry/guava hair care and Noah’s Naturals launched an acai collection to leave any who dare kissably delicious.

For newlyweds, it’s all about the honey. In medieval times, the sweet stuff was used to make mead (honey wine) and given to newly married couples in the hopes of ensuring a sweet marriage (hence the term “honeymoon”). Inspired by honey and wine, Caudalie came out with Crushed Cabernet Scrub, which not only smells wonderful (if you like Cabernet) and looks yummy (if you’re into almond paste), it’s a great exfoliator, brightener, and softener. Also on the honey train are Thymes with their Gold Leaf collection and Estee Lauder with Sensuous. Lauder actually did a study with Dr Jeanette Haviland-Jones and Rutgers University on the emotions that the fragrance evokes and found that women who wear it reported feeling more confident, sexy, social, and positive.

Of course leave it to Lush to be the bluntest about their aphrodisiac-filled formulations. They’ve got Sex Bomb Bath Bombs, Sex in the Shower Emotibombs, and Flying Fox Shower Gel — Lush says they felt it was their duty, as an eco-brand, to introduce products that encourage people to share showers and conserve water. So don’t forget to follow Lush’s suggestion and turn off running water while you’re soaking up. As they say, it’s important to act responsibly when in the shower.

A Metrosexual Father’s Day Gift Guide

imageFor the most part, men need gender-specific beauty products — their skin is oilier, thicker, and warmer (more blood vessels), and shaving heightens some of these differences by regularly removing surface oils, causing micro-inflammation and dehydration. Men’s skin ages differently from women’s, too, and it can be more vulnerable to external aggressors. While finding a man who will surrender himself to the joys of manicures and facials is still far from commonplace (let alone one who cares about what facial cleanser — if any — he puts on his face), with Father’s Day coming, an occasion presents itself to cajole an overworked dad, husband, or other to find his Adonis within and start exploring the beauty of life without under-eye bags, deep forehead creases, and out-of-control cuticles.

Besides the barebones basics, one thing you’re likely to find in most men’s apartments is a massively oversized jar of some sort of multivitamin/protein powder. Replace the unsightly plastic container (who in NYC even has room for those on their kitchen counter?) with a sleek alternative from Functionalab. Recently launched at Henri Bendel, Functionalab’s Men’s Mix is formulated to support the health of men who are too busy guzzling beers and downing burgers to get their required daily essential nutrients. The supplements come pre-packaged in individually bundled daily packets, each with a significant amount of key nutrients (vitamin C, vitamin E, B complex, etc.); licensed dieticians are on hand at Bendel’s for the full lowdown on specific benefits.

Moving from the inside out, Ren’s has a “Perfect Shaving Kit” which comes with six adorably sized (read: very small and travel-friendly) men’s cleansing gel, scrub, shaving oil, cooling shave cream, after-shave balm, and eye gel — basically everything a man could need (and probably more) when it comes to shaving. Plus, the products are formulated to tackle skin decongestion, excess oil production, puffiness, and countless other facial issues that most men probably wouldn’t know they had until they disappear. For a more essential approach, Space NK Men Blue comes in a dark pouch with an eau de toilette, shave cream, and body wash, all of which have a very manly lime/grapefruit/amber/cedar scent.

As for actual shaving, Zwilling — famous for their kitchen knives — are the makers of Pour Homme Straight Razor Hand, a razor that many metrosexuals have, fittingly, deemed the razor with the closest shave (it’s made with the highest grade, corrosion-resistant stainless steel). Should there be a facial mishap however, Murad’s got Razor Burn Rescue, meant to fight razor burn, irritation, bumps, and ingrown whiskers via a mix of antioxidants and redness-reducing anti-inflammatories (glycolic acid, tea tree oil, vitamin E, panthenol).

For a gratis shave, Kiehl’s is hosting a shave swap through June 7. Men are invited to trade in their shaving cream (at least a 4oz. size), for a full-size 5oz. tube of Kiehl’s best-selling Ultimate Brushless Shave Cream. To boot, participate in a five-minute personal consultation with a customer rep, and you’ll receive three samples of the Kiehl’s products best suited to your personal skin or hair needs. Moving up the face to hair, while it’s probably true that no badass worth his Harley would ever want to use anything on his coif called “Gimme A Stiffy” Dry Gel or “Slick” Hair Wax, when it comes to humoring a dad’s midlife crisis or making someone feel edgy who clearly isn’t, Badass Hair is the way to go. Then again, there’s always the Trio Gift Set from American Crew — it comes with Daily Moisturizing Shampoo, Stimulating Conditioner, Moisturizing Shave Cream, and a complementary flask.

From a badass (who takes shots in the shower) to reverting back to juvenile superhero dreams, Lush has a limited-edition kit called Shave the Planet. Tailor-made for an eco-dad with a sense of humor, it contains Shave the Planet shaving cream, Cosmetic Lad moisturizer, Bamboo soap, and a Business Time massage bar all wrapped in a comic strip made from 100% post-consumer recycled paper. They’ve also got a charcoal-based facial cleanser, Dark Angel, which is sold by the pound (so when it gets cut, it ends up looking like clumps of charcoal) that works particularly well for men’s oilier skin.

As for male-hand primping, the best place to start is with Sephora’s Cuticle Care Pen and a manly-cure. ROB|B (the first OPI Concept Salon), Dashing Diva, and Bliss have all got ‘em. Bliss even offers “Homme Improvement,” a male version of their signature triple-oxygen facial Improvement.

For those not ready to go public with their need for a facial, there’s always the American Psycho route; remember Patrick Bateman, the horrifyingly sick but undeniably slick serial killer who used a multitude of creams on his face each morning. Lancôme Men’s line is about as comprehensive as one could get when it comes to addressing such precise concerns, with everything from Age Fight for a reduction in the appearance of wrinkles to Exfoliating Microdermabrasion.

Lastly, if there’s one thing men of all levels of metrosexuality care about, it’s their hair. While Philip Kingsley is no MD, he bills himself as the preeminent “hair doctor” and has built a mini-empire on diagnosing and treating hair problems. Proof of effectiveness? One of his “patients” is Howard Stern.

Looking Good on the Go: Beauty Travel Finds

imageAs if airport regulations haven’t made flying these past few years taxing enough, now we have to worry about catching swine flu while crammed in coach. Luckily for the flailing cosmetics industry, a key component to protecting our health is good hygiene (i.e. repeated hand-washing with lots of soap). And a key component to dealing with stress, hair frizz, ghostly faces, and airplane stench is an arsenal of TSA-approved beauty finds.

When a pre-boarding Valium isn’t an option, try a mix of SheerinO’kho’s First Class Flight Mask, which shields and protects skin from the harsh environmental effects of traveling; Bach’s Rescue Remedy, as a few drops of the homeopathic solution directly on your tongue, plus a deep breath, can surprisingly work wonders on nerves; and one of the recently launched travel diffusers from Apothia. Weighing in at 3 ounce, the mini-diffusers come with a cork seal, making them the perfect antidote to airplane odor. Alternatively, Honore des Pres — the newest 100% organic fragrance line to be carried by Bergdorf Goodman — has got a sample spray pack. Given that the fragrances are organic, the scents don’t last long, so you can spritz yourself for aroma relief without angering other passengers.

Now that you’re prepped, relax and block out any screaming babies via elizabethW’s Twilight Kit. The kit contains a lavender liner meant to be placed under your pillow, a silk eye pillow filled with lavender and flax seeds, and a CD of classical music. Can’t you just feel all your swine-flu worries melting-away? Incidentally elizabethW has also got a travel lingerie bag and aroma bags for suitcases.

Speaking of suitcases, if you’re looking to avoid checking luggage, skimp on liquids and load up on wipes. Small Flower has sunscreen wipes, Pond’s has makeup wipes, La Fresh has anti-bacterial and inspect-repelling wipes, and most importantly — given that it’s summer and you’re hopefully getting some action — Sweetspot has got on-the-go wipettes to maintain below-the-belt freshness. Similarly, you can opt for solid shampoo and conditioner.

If solid hair care is not your thing, Davines has a mini liquid shampoo and deep conditioner set housed in a reusable zipper pouch, while Barex Italiana has individual mini shampoos, conditioners, and styling products — all of which are color-coded by hair type, perfectly packaged to meet airline restrictions for carry-on, and have flip-top lids so you can just throw ‘em in your suitcase. To top off the minis, Solano has got a blow-dryer that weighs 14 ounces (i.e. 32% lighter than the average professional dryer).

Moving from hair to face, Givenchy’s got Black for Light, a face mask set containing nine individually packaged iridescent black foam capsules. That’s right: black. Sure it’s a little gimmicky, but there’s a fun and totally juvenile fascination that comes with brushing unexpectedly colored foam on your face. Plus there’s no denying the efficacy of the lightweight formulation (the kit also comes with an applicator brush). On a similar note, Lisa Hoffman has a whole line of travel-friendly products, including cleansers, eye creams, toners, and lip serums, all of which come packaged in air-tight, single-use ampoules.

As an alternative to pods, capsules, or ampoules, Hissy Fit’s Saving Face saves space by combining color and hydration with SPF 30 sun protection, while Freeze 24/7 combines their foundations, bronzing powder, and blush with anti-aging properties. For men, Jack Black has got a Jet Set Traveler kit with airline-approved cleanser, scrub, shave lather, and moisturizer.

Of course, you could always get some pre-travel botox and take Ramona Singer of The Real Housewives of New York’s word that getting the injections means you can skimp on makeup …

New York: Top 10 Oddball Dishes That Work

imageIt all started in the Lower East Side back in 2003 — before the skinny-jeaned hipster invasion — when now-celeb chef Wylie Dufresne opened wd-50. Melding science and food, the molecular gastronomer has since inspired many to experiment. Of course, not everyone’s into mad food science, but most chefs like to get a little edgy somewhere on the menu. ● Cookies @ Momofuku Bakery Milk Bar (East Village) – David Chang could get a vegetarian hooked on pork belly, so imagine what the man’s dessert spot can do with a cookie. Among the most drool-worthy: cornflake-marshmallow-chocolate chip, corn, blueberry cream, and compost cookie (so fabulously odd that the chocolate chip, pretzel, potato chip, coffee ground, and graham-cracker crumb-concoction is trademarked). ● Onion soup dumplings @ Stanton Social (Lower East Side – You’ll just have to focus on its deliciousness and put aside the fact that there’s enough cheese in this dish to give you a cholesterol problem.

● “Ragu with Odd Things” @ Commerce (West Village) – The name says it all. The “odd things” in this hearty, tomato-based dish refer to oxtail, trotters, and tripe. ● Fried apple pie @ Smith’s (Greenwich Village) – We’ve got fried pickles, fried olives, fried asparagus … we’ve even got fried mayonnaise thanks to Wylie Dufresne. So why not apply pie? Plus, it comes with cinnamon whipped cream. ● Solids (edible cocktails) @ Tailor (Soho) – Who wouldn’t want to get a buzz from gin fizz marshmallows, white Russian breakfast cereal, and absinthe gummy bears? ● Foie gras & hibiscus beet borscht gelée with blood orange @ Corton (Tribeca) – The smooth foie gras torchon — encased in a thin layer of hibiscus and beet gelée and served, moon-shaped, with a salad of beet gelée and blood orange — is just one of the many lusciously innovative options at this prix-fixe-only spot. ● Spicy cayenne hot chocolate @ SalonTea (Upper East Side) – In addition to supposedly speeding up your metabolism and improving blood circulation, it aids in digestion; this sure beats the garlic, celery, and beet concoction from the local health store juice bar. ● Frozen desserts @ Fabio Piccolo Fiore (Midtown East) – Anyone who watches Iron Chef on a semi-regular basis knows that nothings gets the judges more excited than ice cream and sorbet experimentations. Taste for yourself what they’re ooing and ahhing about at Fabio where the rotating flavors include fig and honey, cucumber, rosemary, cactus berry, pineapple mint, tomato vanilla, and goat cheese. ● Hamburger spring rolls @ Delicatessen (Soho) – Burger + flaky dough + condiments…could there be a more ingenious combination? ● Eggs benedict @ wd-50 (Lower East Side) – Dufresne has long touted eggs benedict as one of his favorite dishes, so it’s little surprise that his innovative take on the classic stands out: two cubes of deep-fried hollandaise sauce with toasted English muffin crumbs and two columns of egg yolk, each covered with a crispy bacon chip.

New York: Top 10 Middle Eastern Restaurants

imagePasha (Upper West Side) – Though its name often gets it confused with Ibiza import Pacha, the only similarity the spots share is that they’re both perpetually packed. Bargain prices, friendly service, and a quaint atmosphere make the wait for a table bearable. ● Tanoreen (Bay Ridge) – Though Astoria gets most of the attention when it comes to Middle Eastern food outside of Manhattan, this Brooklyn restaurant’s hodgepodge of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean eats puts Bay Ridge on the map. ● Le Souk (East Village) – Sure, the crowd’s a little on the boisterous B&T side, and you’ll come out reeking of hookah smoke. But if you’re looking for some ladies to fill out your harem, this is the spot.

Ilili (Flatiron) – Swank setting, thumping house beats, and a $35 dinner menu that includes two appetizers, entrée, and dessert. ● Halal Chicken & Gyro (Midtown West): Buying food out of a truck, car, or cart is always a smidgen sketch, but the ever-popular Halal Chicken and Gyro cart on 53rd and 6th takes food-cart rice and chicken to a new level – not only won’t you get sick from it, you’ll want it even when you don’t have those low-standard, late-night drunken munchies. ● Ali Baba’s Terrace (Midtown East) – When the weather hits 75, there’s no better rooftop to enjoy Middle Eastern fare. ● Sahara’s Turkish Cuisine (Murray Hill) – Sahara’s takes a healthful approach to Middle Eastern food — all meat and fish are char-grilled without butter, salads are topped with lemon juice and olive oil, traditional cold appetizers like yaprak sarma (stuffed grape leaves) are purchased fresh and cured in-house, and their “rice” is actually a blend of bulgur wheat, minced vegetables, and dill. ● Turkish Kitchen (Kips Bay) – Arguably the most well-known Middle Eastern joint in the city, best enjoyed during weekend brunch hours when you can chow down on unlimited gyros, chargrilled ground lamb patties, chicken kebabs, filet mignon, bulgur pilaf, and more. ● Kebab Café (Astoria) – The chef/owner of this Tony Bourdain-approved spot will get even the most unadventurous to eat (and enjoy) cow’s feet and lamb’s brain. Yes, you can still get your hummus and baba ganouj. ● L’ybane (Midtown East) – Go for the “Imperial Assortment” — essentially a chef’s tasting. About $40 buys you 14 dishes, including chickpea fritters, meat-stuffed pita, hummus, tzatziki, moussaka with eggplant and cheese, and two-day-marinated meat skewers.

New York: Top 10 Sushi Spots

Bond St. (Noho) – Though it’s lost some mojo on the hotspot meter, the melt-in-your-mouth sushi and swank décor continue to attract sushi snobs and modelizers alike. ● Sushi Yasuda (Midtown East) – Friendly staff and minimalist looks keep focus on expertly crafted sushi. Dinner will set you back a geisha’s ransom. ● East Japanese (Kips Bay) – Though quality at this mini-chain may not be much better than Food Emporium, for kitschy fun, affordable conveyor-belt sushi spot takes the cake. Sushi discounts on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Yuka (Upper East Side) – Got you covered with their $19 all-you-can-eat deal that won’t have you feeling sick for the rest of the week (just enjoy spicy mayo in moderation).Don’t try and sneak some to your friends, as watchful staff keeps an eye on patrons. ● Blue Ribbon Sushi (Soho) – Loses points for not taking reservations, and the price to indulge in their raw eats will set you back dearly, but there’s no denying that this sushi-snob-approved spot delivers with everything from classic California rolls to more exotic options like the kaki fri made with fried oysters and lettuce. ● Sushi Seki (Upper East Side) – Despite sleepy location, serves stunningly transcendental sushi — in both quality and price – until 3 a.m. ● Morimoto (Chelsea) – In the battle of NYC’s mega-sushi temples — EN Japanese Brasserie, Megu, etc. — Iron Chef Morimoto’s spot comes out on top not only because of the eats, but also because of glossy white interior and not-to-be-missed high-tech bathrooms. ● Jewel Bako (East Village) – Sleek digs and unforgettable omakase dinner make this fittingly named spot a true find; be prepared for stratospherically high prices. ● Sushi of Gari (Upper East Side) – With creations that include salmon sushi with onion cream and roasted tomato, marinated tuna sushi with tofu mayo, and red snapper sushi with arugula salad and fried lotus root, Chef Gari-san is the Wylie Dufresne of sushi. ● Sushi Zen (Midtown West) – Masa and its $400 sushi gets most of the attention, and Nobu gets all the stars, but Sushi Zen trumps them both with fresher than fresh sushi artfully prepared and presented by Chef Suzuki, who is not only licensed to serve potentially deadly fugu, but is the chef often credited with first introducing Americans to sushi.

New York: Top 10 Late-Night Dining Destinations

imageBecause sometimes a diner just won’t do.

10. Rusty Knot (West Village) – For those butter and salt cravings. 9. The Box (Lower East Side) – A memorable meal for sure; whether you trust what’s on your plate and/or feel like eating after watching the show is another story.

8. Pink Pony (Lower East Side) – Always an interesting crowd at the perpetual hipster-cum-starving-artist hangout, where you can order reliable French-Moroccan bistro grub or just linger with a book and coffee. 7. Henry’s (Upper West Side) – A Columbia University fave, this American bistro’s walls are decked out with culinary poster art from Herman Miller Company’s Summer Picnic Series — a relaxing backdrop for some late-night comfort food fare (mac & cheese, warm goat cheese salad, and pressed sandwiches). 6. Delicatessen (Soho) – Rejected from GoldBar? Shunned at Southside? Retreat to this bi-level spot’s subterranean bar, where you can nosh on artichoke dip while a DJ spins (midnight-2 a.m., Tuesday-Saturday) in the background. 5. 718 (Astoria) – I’ve learned that tipsiness and taking the subway aren’t always a good match. Besides lost cell phones, dropped money, and falling down an escalator, there’s a heightened likelihood of missing your stop and ending up in another borough. N or W train-takers, don’t fret; if you accidentally end up in Astoria, sober up with surprisingly affordable tapas at 718 before giving public transportation another shot. 4. Pastis (Meatpacking District): No matter the hour/day, this eatery is so perpetually packed that there’s often a doorkeeper to control the crowd vying to indulge in good eats with a side of people watching. 3. Elizabeth (Noho) – A fireplace for when it’s cold, a back garden for when it’s warm, a cozy front bar, and a whole lot of black give this spot its sexy, late-night, Carine Roitfeld-esque vibe. 2. Jadis (Lower East Side) – Like ‘inoteca only better, because your panino won’t come with an hour-long wait for a table. 1. Cafeteria (Chelsea) – This oldie but goodie keeps reeling in the Chelsea revelers with spot-on comfort food (yet more mac & cheese, fried chicken & waffles), a downstairs bar, and unbeatable 24/7 hours.