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246 East 14th Street
Hotel Tortuga 1 Mexican East Village

Despite the name, Hotel Tortuga is not a place for weary travelers, but a restaurant.  Husband and wife team, David and Jean, opened Hotel Tortuga just a few years ago and describe it as a "cozy throwback to Acapulco 1952." We certainly appreciated their taqueria-style Mexican food with a comfortable atmosphere complete with drawings on the walls and a tin of crayons placed on each table. As for the food - one of us ordered a traditional Mexican dish, Chicken Pozole, which was stewed to perfection and served with lime. We also had a “Room 66” - a vegetarian chorizo burrito (soy protein) with spices and salad wrapped inside… But first thing's first: immediately upon our arrival, we were invited to grab some homemade chips out of a bin along with a cup of salsa and then, of course, we ordered a side of guacamole to complement this. We loved the ambiance, smell, and overall vibe, including David's laid back, yet friendly and helpful attitude.

Hotel Tortuga 1 Mexican East Village
Hotel Tortuga 2 Mexican East Village
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Hotel Tortuga 4 Mexican East Village
Hotel Tortuga 5 Mexican East Village
Hotel Tortuga 6 Mexican East Village
Hotel Tortuga 7 Mexican East Village

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Lost Gem
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Babycastles, randomly named in honor of a Japanese pastry, is a gallery and community venue for video game designers. However, according to Todd Anderson, one of the members of the Babycastles collective, Babycastles is about more than just gaming. It is an “incubator” of fresh artistic thought, a place to go with unconventional ideas to be welcomed by individuals who can see those concepts into fruition without red tape and hefty price tags.Using his own story as a case study, Todd told me about how he moved to New York from Chicago in order to pursue digital poetry, a relatively new genre that plays with the interaction between technology and language (for example, using a keyboard to control the delivery of a poem in the same way a conductor guides an orchestra). Todd turned to Babycastles, inquired about hosting a monthly poetry event, and was met with great support. He found a home for his art, and has been invested in Babycastles ever since.Sharing a building with Hack Manhattan, Babycastles hosts a wide variety of events for all ages including concerts, lectures, game launches, and even yoga. The Babycastles team curates exhibitions that spotlight independent video game designers and define their work in the larger context of fine arts. Oftentimes, custom game cabinets are built to accommodate the works on display.Game creators and other artists are invited to apply for the Babycastles residency program, which allows them to take advantage of the bright, sunlit co-working space and receive inspiration from an artistic community where they can freely test their latest ideas. For an application to the program, check the website; new members are admitted regularly.