So when our friend Esther, who works as the Manhattan Google Places Community Manager, called me up and said “I want to hire you guys to lead a crazy food tour for Google on a Partybus . . .” my head started to spin. Visions of top-ranked Google Searches and Larry Page and Sergey Brin front and center, enraptured with all my knowledge dropping . . . until Esther explained further. It wasnt a tour for Google employees, it was a tour for Google Place Users. Google Places is Google’s new personalized local recommendation engine powered by users and their friends.
Users can review one place a day, or a hundred. The more you review, the higher up in the Google Places rankings you list. And the more reviews you snag under your belt, the more opportunities you catch for awesome activities. And Esther wanted us to create a Foodie tour, which is what went down last Saturday. We devised a Washington Heights and Chinatown Foodie Tour! You might remember Jonah’s Washington Heights blog post earlier this month.
Since Washington Heights is at the waay top of Manhattan, we met our group in Chinatown, where we pickedup some sweet sticky Chinese pork jerky to whet our appetites. Our partybus was waiting for us, along with a few cases of chilled, delicious Sixpoint beer, and off we went to the top of the the island, land of Dominican fried pastries and Venezuelan roast meat sandwiches!
Our party bus, booked through Amex Limo, was a pimped-out sweet 30 passenger minibus with laser lights, a booming sound system, leather couches, beer coolers, a bar for mixed drinks and a party manager along with the driver. Our guest list were 23 New Yorkers, some lifers, some newbies, all users of Google Places and all excited to head towards a ‘hood they’d mostly never been to.
First stop was Cachapas y Mas, a Venezuelan fast food joint on Dyckman street near the Elevated 1 stop. We got the Patacon de pernil, which was succulent roast pork slathered in sauce and slapped between two smashed, fried plantains. Yum! They also tossed in a dozen Shark patties, totally gratis. Shark! Since all the beer was on the bus, we took our food to go and wolfed it down between sips of Sixpoint and Cape Codder cocktails.
After our Venezuelan stop, we went south along Broadway but north to Central America for Salvadoran pupusas at La Cabana Salvadorena, Broadway and W 187th street. Our stop here included a pupusa de queso, con brocoli y zucchini. Pupusas are Salvadoran corn-cakes, stuffed with cheese and assorted fillings, with shredded cabbage coleslaw and crema served on top. We were the slaw-serving master.
From South & Central America we hopped a pretty quick flight to Russia, by way of Moscow on the Hudson, a crammed-to-the-gills Russian minimarket on W 181st street. We picked up some kielbasa, cheese, pickled tomatoes and pickled pickles. Back to the bus and the booze (for the food!) The tomatoes were extraordinary – flavor explosions.
Second to last stop (’cause it was getting late and we were still way the hell at the top of the island) was Empanadas Monumental – an incredible collection of fried Dominican pastries filled with delicacies like Ropa Vieja de Pollo (shredded and sauced chicken,) Lasagna, Pizza, and Carne de Res (beef.) Delicious, fried little pockets of joy. After our Dominican empanadas, we zoomed downtown, back to Chinatown for one last foodie stop. Of course it was one of our favorites which we includ on every LUNY! Noshing tour, the awesomely cheap Tasty Dumpling in Chinatown, for fried-and-steamed pork potstickers.
All this food description making you salivate? Well, although we’re not running another Google Places Washington Heights Foodie Tour, we ARE running a #GooglePizzaBus Foodie Tour! Info can be found here on our website, and we hope to see you on the partybus! Food and drink is on Google!
By Matt Levy