You wouldn’t think to find summery vibes inside a dimly lit Bushwick bar, but the hipster Mexican riviera that is El Cortez is a delight. The frozen drinks could stand to be stronger (go for the signature El Cortez instead) but the food is spot on, eschewing the Tex-Mex frenzy of drowning everything in sauce for simple ingredients that burst with flavor. The massive taco salad ($11) is served in a crunchy shell bowl, as it should be, and even the outlier cucumber salad with vinegar onions and cotija could teach a thing or two to the Eastern Europeans who invented the concept. Bonus: The music is the kind of eclectic indie rock selected by the cool camp counselor you spent the summer lusting after. 17 Ingraham St.
The team at Fung Tu has just revamped their menu to massive ravesthis spring and was prepared to show it off during summer’s edition of Restaurant Week. But just days before it was due to start, a gas problem at a neighboring business shut down their lines. No matter — they’re serving a special no-gas menu, including pork belly egg rolls ($13), roasted duck with goji berry gastrique ($29) and fried okra with housemade shrimp paste ($6). Ingenuity deserves respect, but if you need a little extra incentive, they’re also hooking you up with 20 percent off wines by the bottle on Sundays until ConEd hooks them back up. 22 Orchard St.
I don’t know about you, but when I hearWaldorf Astoria, it’s in James Earl Jones’ voice. Until you see the summery rooftop, where a (newly expanded!) garden and beehives supply herbs, veggies and honey for the hotel’s restaurants, bars and even its Guerlain spa. This week, Empire Brewing debuted their second collaborative beer with the Waldorf called The Greatest of Them Ale, a Belgian-style golden brew made with lemon verbena from the garden. It’s available atPeacock Alley, the casual bar/restaurant in the hotel’s lobby.
If you haven’t made the trek upstate toBlue Hill at Stone Barns, you don’t know what New York is capable of growing. Chef Dan Barber is equally interested in the products that get left behind on the cutting board, and proved that scraps can make for a delicious experience with a three-weekwastED pop-upthat collected “waste” from city restaurants like Black Seed Bagels and turned them into fine dining. Now, Barber has debuted a wastED salad ($8.60) being served at allsweetgreenrestaurants in the city. The salad is made with broccoli leaf, cabbage cores, roasted kale stems and “other uncelebrated produce.” Doesn’t sound like dumpster-diving fare to us — which is, of course, the point. So taste the sustainable future.