San Francisco Travel Diary

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

San Francisco Travel Diary | The ELL Blog

After years of wanting to plan a trip up to San Francisco, we finally made it happen! We took a fall road trip up the coast from San Diego (so we could bring our pup) and even  stopped in SLO along the way. Once we arrived, were lucky enough to stay at the Galleria Park Hotel because of their Instagram #jdvsummersips challenge, and it ended up being the perfect central location for exploring all of the city’s neighborhoods!

Although we were only in SF for less than 48 hour, we made the most of every minute, and I’m sharing all the spots we visited below! Also, the trip wouldn’t have been the same without the AMAZING recommendations from my friend Bridget, who gave us the best local tips and made our little getaway so memorable! If you’re looking for more SF recs, definitely check out her Instagram page.

Spots to Visit in San Francisco

Rambler: Incredible dinner spot near Union Square. Located at the base of Hotel Zeppelin, The Rambler has a modern California-inspired menu and an exquisite cocktail menu. Their ahi tartare and mussels were so yummy, and the salmon plate was the best I’ve ever had!

The Ferry Building Marketplace: Loved visiting this historic building for Saturday morning coffee! Stop in at Blue Bottle for a cup, and wander the weekend farmer’s market outside.

Jane’s on Fillmore: Hip coffee spot with even cuter coffee cups. The line can get pretty long, but worth the wait — plus their avo toast is on point.

Café Reveille: After seeing this spot on Instagram over and over, brunch was a must. The modern café has a fresh brunch menu that includes the yummiest potato pancake dish.

Anina: Looking for a hip cocktail spot? Head to Hayes Valley (fell in love with this neighborhood) and grab a spritz at Anina, a vibrant bar with floral wallpaper and an outdoor patio. They have rotating food stands, and if you’re lucky you can get street tacos from Xingones!

The Riddler: If you love bubbly, put this bar at the TOP of your list. The Riddler is champagne heaven. You can get a glass or bottle to share with complimentary popcorn, or get a fancy order of caviar and potato chips. If you’re feeling bold, order the chambong (it’s exactly what you think it is).

Biergarten SF: Another gem in Hayes Valley. Grab a stein of beer and enjoy the outdoors (luckily it was warm enough when we were there!). You can also order German fare like traditional sausages and pretzels.

Can’t wait till the next time, San Francisco! Where are your favorite places to visit in the city??

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide

After creating guides for several spots in Europe (such as here and here), I figured it was finally time to share one that’s a little closer to home — a San Luis Obispo travel guide!! If you haven’t been to SLO yet, add it to your travel list! This quaint, charming town on the Central Coast has everything you need for a weekend road trip getaway — an incredible wine country, a world famous Farmer’s Market, darling restaurants and bars, and 70 degree weather practically year round.

The town will always have a special place in my heart since it’s where I went to college and met my husband  (we met on the first night at Cal Poly in the dorms and the rest is history). While I’ve always loved SLO, the town is now better than ever! There are so many new restaurants and boutique hotels being added downtown, and entire blocks are undergoing renovations.

Last weekend, my husband and I took a road trip up the coast to visit SLO again, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Below, I’ve put together a San Luis Obispo travel guide below of all the best spots to visit if you’re planning on making a trip to the Central Coast!

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

Granada Hotel and Bistro

Located on Morro Street downtown, this boutique hotel is the ultimate spot to stay in the heart of the city. It’s rustic and intimate atmosphere is the perfect setting for a SLO vacation, and it’s proximity to the rest of downtown can’t be beat. Whether or not you’re staying here,  If you’re looking for an amazing place to grab a cocktail, head to their bistro which has both a cozy indoor bar as well as a romantic outdoor patio. On our recent visit, we were able to sit down with bar manager and Root Elixir creator  Dominique Gonzalez, who shared some of her favorite craft cocktails from the menu. My favorite was the Bodega Punch made with local gin and a Tempranillo cordial, which makes it a bright pink! One of the most intriguing cocktails of the evening,  however, was their Old Fashioned that came with a syringe, sphere of ice, and a small gold mallet! The syringe was filled with whiskey, and the mallet was used to crack the ice and release a maple syrup inside. Whether or not you’re staying at the Granada on your trip, the bistro should definitely be at the top of your list to visit!

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

Scout 2.0 

This charming coffee shop off of Foothill Blvd. is the perfect spot to grab breakfast before starting your day. Their original location is actually a smaller shop nestled downtown, but this larger spot is my absolute favorite. While it can be pretty busy with students during the school year, grab a cappuccino & croissant and settle in for the small town charm.

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

Lincoln Market & Deli

Elliot & I fell in love with the sandwiches at Lincoln Market & Deli during college, and it’s always our first stop when we’re back in SLO. Owned by a local couple, the shop not only makes incredible sandwiches, but they also sell gourmet foods and have a fantastic selection of craft beers. The space, which recently underwent renovations, now has a brand new patio complete with bright yellow umbrellas and stools. Order a Tassajara Delite (personal fav – turkey, bacon, avo and honey-jala sauce), grab a beer from the fridge, and be prepared for complete bliss.

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

Edna Valley Wine Country

One of my favorite parts of SLO is how close it is to wine country! Edna Valley is less than a 15 minute drive from the downtown area, and has nearly 30 tasting rooms throughout the region. One of the best in Edna Valley is Chamisal Vineyards, which was the first vineyard planted in the region. The property has an intimate tasting room within a barn-style building where you can try their “Chamisal Flight” of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs, and the outdoor patio with views of the vineyard is an ideal place to relax with a bottle (they sell bottles of Malene rosé at the tasting room, too, and it’s one of the best I’ve ever tried!) If you’re interested in learning more about the property, I would highly recommend taking one of their tours as well. You get to learn more about the history of Chamisal, and are taken through the winery to a spot that has a 360 degree view of the vineyars! Our guide C.J. provided an incredibly genuine and knowledgable experience that left us wanting to go back next time we’re in town!!

Another one of my long-time favorite spots in the region is the Balieyana, Tangent & True Myth tasting room, which is located within a historic yellow schoolhouse. Since the tasting room houses three different wineries, there are a lot of wines to taste and select from. I love grabbing a bottle of Pinot Gris and taking it outside to the grass to enjoy with a packed picnic! The view is absolutely beautiful and the lawn is pup friendly which is always a plus when we bring Aspen.

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

Mint & Craft

If you’re headed out to the wine region, Mint & Craft is a wonderful place to stop and grab items for a picnic. Recently opened by the owners of Novo and Luna Red (two of my favorite SLO restaurants), this café and mercantile has ready-made specialty wraps, salads and treats that are best enjoyed with a glass of wine! They also carry a range of local products on their shelves, so it’s a great place to stock up on goodies to bring home. Food can also be ordered and eaten on their darling patio on the newly renovated Monterey Street.

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

The Station

This wine bar and shop on Higeura Street is a dream! The Station mainly focuses on imported wines as well as local small batch bottles, which you can either drink in their bar or buy to-go. They also serve coffee, using beans from Santa Barbara’s Dart Coffee Co. The exposed brick, modern furniture, and fun wallpaper make the space an Instagram dream!

A few Other favorites:

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

Sidecar Cocktail Co

This hip downtown cocktail bar and restaurant has one of the best weekly happy hours in the city. Their extensive drink menu, “California craft” cuisine, and cozy vibe make this place another must-visit, even if it’s just for a quick cocktail. If you want some fun entertainment, sit at the bar to get an up close view of their amazing bartending skills!

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

Libertine Brewing Company

San Luis Obispo is quickly becoming a beer city, with new breweries seeming to open each time we visit! While the region is perhaps best known for the Firestone Walker brewery, there are several small new breweries downtown like Libertine,  which has 76 taps and specializes in “wild” sour beers.

San Luis Obispo Travel Guide | The ELL Blog

Madonna Inn

A trip to SLO isn’t complete without stopping in at the Madonna. If you haven’t seen their wildly decorated rooms or the pink floral carpet, pop in for a bit. Their pink champagne cake is the BEST, so head into the restaurant for a slice and glass of bubbly!

 

Hope you enjoyed my San Luis Obispo Travel Guide! And special thanks to Visit SLO CAL and Molly Kern for putting together this wonderful trip! x

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

After traveling to London several times over the past five years, I’ve begun to develop favorite spots to explore in the city. On our most recent visit, we ended up selecting staying in both Shoreditch and Holborn, which are home to many amazing local spots for food and drinks. If you’re looking at staying in two different areas while on a trip to London, I would highly recommend these two neighborhoods! They both have an incredibly local, hip feel, and are really easy to access via the tube.

Since I’ve previously shared my favorite spots to stay Shoreditch and Holborn neighborhoods, here are the rest of my recommendations for places to eat and drink in the areas. Even if you’re staying in other parts of London, any of these places listed below are worth a visit!

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Favorite Eats and Drinks around London

Shoreditch Area:

Dishoom Shoreditch: This Indian restaurant is known for having a long wait, but believe me, it’s WORTH IT. The Shoreditch location has an intimate feel even though the restaurant is quite spacious. The eclectic/vintage vibe is carried throughout the space and onto their covered garden patio, which is furnished with soft seating, hanging plants and market lights (I’d recommend a table out here if you can!). The wait is made pleasant with complimentary hot chai tea, and the bar area is the perfect spot to grab a cocktail and appetizer before dinner service. Ordering a range of dishes is highly recommended — and don’t forget the Chicken Tikki Masala, which is England’s national dish! We talked about this meal for the rest of the trip, so don’t miss out on this spot if you want a truly exceptional dinner.

Radio Alice Pizzeria: Located in Hoxton near Shoreditch, this Italian restaurant serves authentic sourdough pizzas in an old Victorian school space. Their chic decor, framable menus, and vintage seating make this restaurant a delightfully Instagramable spot. If you love authentic Italian pizza, it’s definitely worth a stop, too.

The Culpeper: This is one of my FAVORITE places in the city to grab a drink. The four story space is home to a pub, restaurant, and hotel, and is located within a historic building in the Whitechapel/Shoreditch area. The spot is incredibly popular among locals, with people spilling out into the street in the warm summer months drinking Aperol spritzes and beer.

Leman Street Tavern: Another great spot for an evening street cocktail, Leman Street Tavern is just a block away from the Leman Locke Hotel. They have live music on the last Friday of the month, and the space is bustling with locals sipping after-work cocktails.

Hopscotch: If you’re looking for an intimate, hip eatery in the Shoreditch area, head over to Brick Lane and try out Hopscotch. The small kitchen, which can be seen from the dining area, cooks up small plates inspired by British, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors. Food is meant to be shared and comes out on colorful ceramic plates, and a basement “Drinking Den” is available for late night “proper “cocktails. This is also one of the few spots that seems to be open for late night dining!

Holborn Area:

• Drury Lane Bars and Restaurants: This street in the Holborn/Covent Garden area (close to The Hoxton Holborn) should not be missed! It’s filled with local restaurants and bars without the central London crowds. Hot spots to check out include Jar Kitchen, Barrafina, The Sun Pub, Farmstand, and Drury 188-189.

Bread Ahead: Looking for a fun bakery in the heart of London? Bread Ahead is located at Seven Dials, and serves up fresh baked sweets and breads. Their filled doughnuts make for the perfect afternoon treat.

Holborn Whippet: If you’re into craft beer, this public house  in Holborn with an extensive beer menu is a great spot for an afternoon break. Grab a pint and hang out under the awnings outside.

The Chicken Shop: As I mentioned previously in my post about the Hoxton Holborn, Chicken Shop is an incredible spot for rustic, homestyle food! It’s located below the hotel, but can still be accessed from the street. Don’t forget to get a slice of apple pie afterwards!

Frozen Grapefruit Palomas

Frozen Grapefruit Palomas | The ELL BLog

Frozen Grapefruit Palomas | The ELL BLog

Frozen Grapefruit Palomas | The ELL BLog

Frozen Grapefruit Palomas | The ELL BLog

Frozen Grapefruit Palomas | The ELL BLog

Margaritas are always my go-to Taco Tuesday cocktail (ok, and basically my any-other-day-of-the-week drink if I’m being honest). While I love the perfect simplicity of a great marg, sometimes it’s fun to mix things up! This week, I decided to make up a pitcher of frozen grapefruit palomas for our weekly taco fest, and let me tell you these are YUMMY. I’ve become a really big fan of blended drinks this summer, since there’s something so fun about throwing things in a blender and getting a yummy consistency. The fresh grapefruit in the palomas adds just the right amount of tartness, and the tequila is well supported by a touch of sweetness from the agave.

Speaking of tequila, if you’re looking for an incredible spirit from another local California company, then let me recommend Greenbar! Based out of the Arts District in LA, the distillery makes the world’s largest collection of craft organic spirits, all inspired by the distillery’s California location. Their IXÁ silver tequila is my favorite, since it’s so smooth and doesn’t have the crazy burn you get with a lot of other tequilas! Greenbar is also exceedingly environmentally conscious as a company, and they go even further by planting one tree per every bottle sold to help contribute to a better planet.

So grab your blender, set out your taco fixins, and get ready for the ultimate Taco Tuesday!

Frozen Grapefruit Palomas (Makes 2)

6 oz. Grapefruit juice (about 1 grapefruit)

3 oz. Silver Tequila

1.5 oz. Agave

Juice from 1 lime

3-4 c. Ice

Lime wedge

Salt

Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth (more ice can be added to thicken). Use wedge of lime around rim of glasses, and dip in salt. Pour cocktail into both glasses, top with lime wedge, and enjoy!

5 San Diego Happy Hours to Try in August

With summer seeming to speed by, I can’t believe it’s already time for another installment of San Diego happy hours! For the month of August, I’ve highlighted bars from the heart of downtown up to La Jolla, including my FAVORITE place for $5 poke as well as the best spot to grab $1 oysters by the pool!

5 San Diego Happy Hours to Try in August | The ELL Blog1.Market Hall

Located downtown at the start of East Village, Market Hall is a gourmet food shop with a fantastic selection of high end products including cheeses, wines, and ready-made meals. The spot also has an onsite bar and restaurant which offers a daily happy hour from 4-9pm. Yep, you read that right — it lasts for 5 hours! And to make it even better, all of their happy hour offerings are INCREDIBLE. Rosé is only $4, and that poké and cucumber stack pictured above is a simple $5. It’s a pretty quiet spot, but definitely worth a stop if you’re looking for some amazing food and drinks at ridiculously great prices.

5 San Diego Happy Hours to Try in August | The ELL Blog

2. Park & Rec

This indoor/outdoor concept in University Heights offers a double happy hour Monday – Thursday from 4-6 and again from 10 til close. Cocktails and wines are $6 each, so you can grab a Pimm’s Cup and head to the back house for a game of corn hole. If you’re more interested in people watching, grab one of the adirondack chairs on the front patio and soak up the neighborhood scene.

5 San Diego Happy Hours to Try in August | The ELL Blog

3. The Pool House

The newest rooftop spot to join downtown San Diego, The Pool House is an outdoor bar at The Pendry Hotel that opens to the public nightly starting at 5pm. Don’t miss out on their “Rooftop Social” during the week from 5-7 when their entire menu is half off. San Diego happy hours don’t get much better than this — oysters are just $1 each, and wines start at $5.50. You’ll feel like you’re staying at a five star resort for none of the cost!

5 San Diego Happy Hours to Try in August | The ELL Blog

4. The Smoking Goat

After getting back from Paris, Elliot & I sometimes (more like always) crave a European atmosphere. Enter The Smoking Goat, an intimate French restaurant in North Park that serves up farmhouse style cuisine. Stop in Monday – Friday from 5-6pm for their nightly happy hour, which includes $4 beers and $5 wines. If you’re feeling indulgent, splurge for the escargot and duckfat truffle fries, which are just $6 each.

5. Catania

Whiskenladle Hospitality’s fifth Italian restaurant, Catania, is perched above Girard street in La Jolla, offering both city and partial ocean views from the patio. Their daily “apertivo” runs from 3-6pm, where you can order discounted cocktails and bites. Authentic appetizers include beef carpaccio, arancini, and a salami plate, while drinks range from wines to simple craft cocktails.

Interested in learning more about San Diego happy hours? Read my previous guides here, here and here!