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!

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Our Stay at The Hoxton Holborn | The ELL Blog

Welcome to one of my favorite hotels EVER, the Hoxton Holborn in London! We absolutely adored staying here on the second half of our trip, and would recommend it to anyone looking for an affordable boutique hotel in the city.

The Hoxton’s central location made it extremely accessible (it’s a block from a tube stop), and since its nestled in the hip Holborn neighborhood, it came without the tourist crowds! And if its location wasn’t good enough.. how amazing is its interior?! The hotel has a very urban 70s vibe going on, which I loved (similar to the Ace if you’re familiar with that brand). Since the Hoxton is in a large concrete building, the lobby has exposed concrete walls and white-washed brick, which are complemented by vintage light fixtures and mid-century furniture.  The spacious lobby has several lounge areas that are perfect for taking a break from the city, too. This is where you can also find one of the hotel’s two restaurants, Hubbard and Bell. We grabbed a drink at the bar on our last night there (they truly put the craft in their cocktails), and even ordered dinner to our room for a cozy night in. Their other restaurant, Chicken Shop, is actually located beneath the hotel, and serves up amazing homestyle food (their chicken avo sandwich and apple pie are a must). On the first floor you can also find the cutest nail salon, Cheeky, as well as an AMAZING coffee shop, Holborn Grind — go for their avocado toast if you’re obsessed like me.

As for The Hoxton Holborn’s rooms, I was so pleased at their size. We opted to stay in one of the smaller rooms they offer, and found it to be SO much bigger than our Paris hotel room. When we walked in, they had a “London Chill” music station playing on the radio, which I thought was a perfect touch.  Since it was our wedding anniversary, they had also left us a bottle of champagne and a silver “Let the Good Times Roll” silver balloon on the bed — side note: all hotels should leave balloons when you check-in, it makes you feel really special! The room was beautifully curated, from the pink hashtag pillow on the bed to the wallpaper covered in Charles Dickens’ villains (the author lived in Holborn, and just so happens to be one of my favs). The room was incredibly functional as well, with an armoire that had a pull-out coffee and tea station and the cutest diner-style hotel mugs (traveler tip: buying coffee mugs or something you use on a daily basis from a hotel you love is a great way to keep the spirit of the trip alive at home). They also provided a Holborn neighborhood guide filled with all of the best local spots to eat, drink and shop, which we definitely put to use. One of the best perks of the hotel, however, was their daily breakfast bags. Each day, room service left two paper bags on our front door filled with yogurt, granola, fruit, and fresh orange juice. It was the perfect way to start the day since we could snack while we figured out the rest of the day’s plans!

Above all, The Hoxton Holborn is not only incredibly designed and executed, but it is a wonderful value as well. I don’t think you could find a better option if you’re looking to stay in central London without the crowds. We will definitely be making a return visit next time we’re in the city. If you’re looking to stay in Shoreditch (East London), Amsterdam, or Paris, The Hoxton also has sister hotels there as well!  And good news for those of us on this side of the pond… The Hoxton is opening up a location in the hip neighborhood of Williamsburg in New York this year!

Strawberries and Cream Cocktail

Strawberries and Cream Cocktail | The ELL Blog

Strawberries and Cream Cocktail | The ELL Blog

Strawberries and Cream Cocktail | The ELL Blog

Strawberries and Cream Cocktail | The ELL Blog

Strawberries and Cream Cocktail | The ELL Blog

Strawberries and Cream Cocktail | The ELL Blog

Strawberries and Cream Cocktail | The ELL Blog

Strawberries and Cream Cocktail | The ELL Blog

I don’t know about you, but I think one of the best parts of summer is being able to find the freshest, juiciest strawberries at the farmer’s market. Elliot and I love using them for everything — with waffles for breakfast, muddled in mojitos, and, of course, on top of angel food cake! Now, if you’re as big of an angel food + strawberries fan as my husband, then you will LOVE this new recipe. The strawberries and cream cocktail tastes just like the airy cake in a glass, complete with a perfect frothy top and just a hint of sweetness.

For this recipe, I used Green Hope Organic Cane Vodka  since it’s the perfect accompaniment to the organic farmer’s market strawberries! Green Hope Vodka is 100% USDA Certified Organic, non-GMO and gluten free, so you can feel even better about drinking a cocktail. I always prefer to use locally sourced liquors, too, and all of their vodka is hand-bottled in California and ethically sourced from responsible farming. And if that wasn’t great enough, Green Hope also gives back 1% of sales to the Organic Farming Research Foundation. So basically this vodka is a win-win all the way around 😉

As you probably know by now I’m a pretty big fan of pink drinks (see herehere and here for more pink cocktail inspo), but I personally think this one actually TASTES pink! Hope you enjoy!

Strawberries and Cream Cocktail (makes 1)

3-4 strawberries

3/4 oz. Cream of Coconut

1.5 oz. Green Hope Vodka

3 oz. Club Soda

Ice

Place strawberries and cream of coconut in a shaker and muddle for at least 30 seconds. Add vodka and ice; shake well. Strain into glass, and top with 3 oz. of club soda. Garnish with a strawberry and enjoy!

This post was sponsored by Green Hope Vodka, and all opinions are my own. 

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two

If you’re looking for some of the most fun and instagrammable spots in Paris, you’ve come to the right place. The second half of my “How to Spend 5 Days in Paris” guide is here, and it’s full of fun spots to eat, drink, and see in Paris’ most picturesque neighborhoods (see the first part of the guide here).

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL BlogHow to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris, Part Two | The ELL Blog

How to Spend 5 Days in Paris: Days 4-5

The second half of our stay in Paris contained even more rosé, cheese, and amazing meals than the beginning! Here are some of my favorites that I highly recommend adding into your itinerary if you’re visiting the city.

• Stroll the shops and cafés on Rue Montorgueil: This pedestrian friendly area in the 2nd arrondisement was by far my favorite part of Paris! Rue Motorgueil is foodie heaven, filled with adorable cafés, shops, restaurants and bars that make you feel like a local. We ended up in the area 3(!) times on the trip since we loved it so much. Some of my favorites include: Matamata Coffee Bar (coffee, sandwiches, and tropical wallpaper), Miss Bahn Mi (a pink Vietnamese sandwich shop), Filakia (amazing Greek souvlaki), and La Maison Stohrer (oldest patisserie in Paris). On certain days of the week, the beginning of Rue Montorgeuil also has an open market.

• Get in line for dinner at Ober Mamma: While researching for our trip, I came across several recommendations for this Italian restaurant in the 11th arrondisement. Ober Mamma is extremely popular with the locals (as are the rest of the Big Mamma group’s restaurants), so waiting in line before it opens is standard practice. Since we were spending just 5 days in Paris, we wanted to make sure and get in on our first try, so we showed up at 6:30 (doors opens at 7). The line was already about 30 people deep, but we were able to get in and grab a table in the front bar area. The food was absolutely incredible, and the staff were fluent in Italian which made ordering so much easier for us after studying abroad in Italy! Homemade pasta is served in copper pots, while their tiramisu is scooped right from it’s baking dish table side. This restaurant is not to be missed if you’re looking for an amazing dinner. The group’s newest restaurant Pink Mamma just opened a few weeks ago, and I’m already dying to go back and try it!

• Head out of the city for tropical drinks at Polpo Brasserie: This oasis on the Seine is definitely worth the bit of a trek outside central Paris. To find out more, read my post on it here!

• Have a balcony picnic with finds from the grocery store: While traveling, one of my all time favorite activities is going to the grocery store. It might seem strange, but I have my reasons! Grocery stores are typically for locals and aren’t catering to tourists, which means the prices are great  and you get to see what it’s like to be a local. We stopped in at one near our hotel and managed to get tomatoes, cheese, bread, and wine for about $12! After grabbing ice at the hotel bar, we took our spread out onto our balcony and people watched. Whether or not you have a balcony, you can easily grab these items and find any nearby park to sit at.

• Find the flamingos along the Seine at Rosa Bonheur: After visiting the Musee d’Orsay (which I recommend if you love impressionist art, or if you just want to see the gorgeous train station), we walked along the Seine and found a bar on the bank with the cutest pink sign. Naturally we had to go in, and grabbed a bottle of rosé and some patatas bravas to have on the deck. This was my favorite rosé memory of the trip since the prices were fair (I think the bottle of Le Saint Andre was about $18) and the wine was amazing — I just wish they sold it in the US! There’s another floating barge with a bar next to Rosa Bonheur too, and they both turn into Parisian night clubs when the sun goes down. Whether you’re looking for an afternoon break or an evening out, definitely check out this spot.

• Discover the islands in the Seine: If you visit Notre Dame, you might not have known you were actually on an island. The chapel sits on Île de la Cité, one of the two natural islands that are in the Seine. My favorite one, however, is it’s next door neighbor, Île Saint-Louis. This charming little area in the 4th arrondisement is connected to the rest of the city via four bridges, and feels as if it is stuck in time. The calm and historic streets are lined with several local shops, including ones that sell cheese, pastries, and speciality foods (where I found the best French olive oil). We grabbed sandwiches and found a group of benches near the water to have lunch. There was a live band playing in the streets above, and it all felt perfectly Parisian.

• Buy fresh flowers at Marché Bastille: This open market has an incredible array of vendors selling fresh produce, meats, breads, cheeses, and flowers. There are strawberries set in pink tissue paper baskets, endless cheese wheels, and tomatoes in every color — definitely a bit of heaven. I also found a bouquet of coral peonies here for just 6 euro, which was half the price of any other penoies we’d found in Paris! The area around the market is filled with specialty shops and cafés too, so I would really recommend visiting if you’re trying to find a local experience.

•  See the colorful houses on Rue Cremieux: Near the Marché Bastille, Rue Cremieux is a narrow street lined with pastel colored houses. It’s incredibly charming, and definitely worth a stop for some vibrant pictures. Get there early if you want the street to yourself since it’s a pretty popular spot to visit!

Fill a box with macarons at Ladurée: A trip to Paris wouldn’t be complete without macarons, and there’s no more iconic spot to get them than at Ladurée. Their Champs-Élysées location makes you feel like a princess, where you can sit and enjoy their signature desserts on a street side patio with a glass of champagne in hand. They also offer a full menu as well, but I prefer to just visit for a box of their perfect macarons.

Skip the metro at the end of the day and walk home: At any time of day, I prefer to be above ground seeing the beauty of Paris rather than in the metro. This is especially true at night when you get the chance to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle! Since the tower is visible from almost everywhere in Paris, I recommend walking back to your hotel at least one night to see the city light up.

Hope you enjoyed this guide to 5 days in Paris! Still more to come on our final days in London, including the incredible hotel we stayed in!

5 San Diego Happy Hours to Try In July

My monthly guide of San Diego happy hours is back (see here and here for previous guides)! For July, I’m highlighting some favorites in Hillcrest, La Jolla, Mission Hills and South Park. Read below to find out where to get the best fish tacos on happy hour, which place in San Diego is making cocktails with their own fruit wines, and where to stop in South Park with the pup for a glass of wine!

1. Hundred Proof

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

This brand new bar concept is located just down the street from the group’s first restaurant Trust (one of my go-to favorites for brunch). With a modern-meets-woodsy vibe, Hundred Proof is a great spot to grab craft cocktails and bites. From 3-7pm during the week, they offer $7 craft cocktails, $6 wines and $5 beers, plus $3 off all food. Their fish tacos were some of the best I’ve ever tried, and they were only $6 for a plate of three! Their marble bar and jackelope wallpaper make it a pretty fun spot to Instagram, too.

2. Fruitcraft

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

Recently re-conceptualized from a winery to a fermentery, FruitCraft in Hillcrest is making some of the most interesting cocktails in San Diego. All of their wines and spirits are made from a range of fruits other than grapes, such as pineapples, pomegranates, cranberries, and mangoes. FruitCraft then uses these to mix up a range of unique cocktails, such as their take on a Moscow mule made with pumpkin wine! While they don’t currently offer a traditional daily happy hour, stop by on the weekend for Sangria Saturdays and get discounted red and white sangrias.

3. Bar by Red Door

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

Located in Mission Hills, Bar by Red Door is the sister concept to their adjoined farm-to-table restaurant, Red Door. The space is filled with hanging plants, modern seating, and plenty of natural light, with a bar menu written out on an entire wall-length mirror. Happy hour runs daily from 5-7, and includes $8 cocktails, $6 wines and $5 beers. They also offer food on happy hour as well, with farm fresh offerings like caprese lettuce wraps and mixed vegetables.

4. Whisknladle

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

Happy hour at this La Jolla gem is everyday from 4-6, making it the perfect spot for a drink near the beach. All libations are $5.55, including select cocktails and house sangria. Small plates are also on happy hour, including a bowl of local mussels and garlic toast. Weekend happy hours are especially hard to come by in La Jolla, so definitely keep Whisknladle in mind if you’re around on a Saturday or Sunday!

5. The Rose Wine Bar

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

South Park is full of great local spots for food and drinks, and The Rose Wine Bar is no exception. The bar has a patio perfect for pups, and they offer an extensive wine list for anyone’s palette. During happy hour (Monday – Wednesday from 4:30-6:30 and Thursday-Sunday from 11:30-6:30), glasses of wine and flatbreads are $2 off, and beer & cider are just $5. Corkage is also reduced to $5 during happy hour, too, so you can pick out a bottle in their shop to share!