Last week all of Jose Andres’ restaurants had an epic happy hour deal, running all night at Cafe Atlantico, Jaleo, Oyamel and Zaytina. Half of the Bonus! crew embarked with friends on a frosty, delicious alcohol fueled romp around Chinatown.

Personally I liked Cafe Atlantico the most. The bar was relaxed, the mojitos were superb and the deep red and rich wooden decor was understated, tasteful and inviting.

I liked Zaytinya the least in terms of atmosphere. It was a little cold and sterile, too modern without being inviting. The special drink, a pom fillis, tasted like watered down vodka punch. I’ve had better jungle juice in college, made with cheap vodka, everclear and some kool-aide. The food was outstanding though. First we tried the lamb kabob, which was cooked to perfection, juicy and spicy with a pleasantly spicy pita base. We followed that up with the kibbeh nayeh, which is minced raw lamb with olive oil,  garlic and other herbs and spices. Think of a lamb tartar. Unbelievable. One of the best dishes I’ve ever had. Can’t recommend it enough. Also the Lebanese larger was delicious.

We began the night at Oyamel, which was pretty crowded with a number of Syracuse fans waiting for the big game against G’Town. The margaritas were excellent, and I didn’t sample any of the food, waiting for later in the night. Priorities, people. The aroma was very enticing though; I’ll definitely be back for dinner.

We skipped Jaleo altogether because it was super-crowded. Have to hit it some other time. Just a heads up, Jaleo is continuing the happy hour special all of this week as well, so you might spot the Bonus! bunch there, if you’re lucky.

The bonus of the night happened at Zaytina, when a guy worked up the balls to hit on one of our party goers. He was best described by an acquaintance as a ‘hipster-leprechaun’. He had perseverance, but not much else. Also he couldn’t take a hint if it was hand delivered in the form of a singing telegram. Whoever you were, tiny man, excelsior on your bravado. Better luck next time.

Warm up week was a massive success. Every restaurant was crowded, the drinks and food were outstanding, and the prices couldn’t be beat.

An added Bonus!: two of our female companions left their credit cards at two different restaurants and had to go retrieve them. Silliness is always a Bonus!

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