Our trip to New Orleans last week was full of what the city had to offer …. lots of eating, lots of drinking, and lots of exploring! We stayed at the Old No 77 Hotel and Chandlery, which was beautifully decorated and had a hip, laid back vibe. It was a great location, right on the edge of the French Quarter and close enough that we could explore other areas of the city. The first day we arrived we walked around the Garden District and meandered down Magazine Street to check out the shops, and then the second day we tackled the more touristy areas in the French Quarter. As always, I collected a list of all of our favorite places we visited along the way!
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It was a pretty glorious long weekend, we packed our bags and headed south to Nashville with two of our friends for some fun. We stayed the Union Station Hotel (it’s an old train station!) and spent the long weekend exploring (aka eating our way through) the city. Researching our trip and sharing a guide to the interesting spots we find in a new city are almost as much fun for me as the actual vacation — so prepare for a very comprehensive recap below!

The very first thing in our to-do-list when we landed was to get some classic Southern food, and several folks had recommended Hattie B’s hot chicken (and the potato salad and pimento mac and cheese also came with praises!). I was actually in pain when we left — not because I felt sick from the food, but because I could-not-stop-eating it was so good. The mac and cheese a bit too saucy for me, but the chicken was awesome — I got the mild because I’m scaredy-cat, Mike got the hot and loved it. Another classic Southern recommendation was the famous Loveless Cafe. If you visit Nashville and aren’t from the area, know that it’s about a 25 minute cab ride outside the city, but SO worth it. I always get nervous that places like this are going to be overhyped but it wasn’t at all, it exceeded my expectations. They are famous for their biscuits and I thought they were delicious, but the star of the meal was the cheesy hash brown casserole. I’m delighted to let you know that my friend Colleen we were traveling with actually ordered the cookbook as we were eating brunch just so we could see the recipe, so they’ll definitely be recreated in the future. Nashville Trip Food We saved our more refined meal choices for dinner, including a stop at Husk Nashville. I had been to the Charleston location before, and loved that the design of the Nashville outpost was similarly in a retro-fitted antique home that was a nod to the city’s heritage. I ordered a roast chicken and it was delicious; the highlight was snagging a bit of my husband’s dessert — a rhubarb tart. We stumbled upon another great restaurant in Germantown per the recommendation of an awesome bartender (more on that later) called Butchertown Hall — it was a fun little surprise that we stumbled upon it and it ended up being so amazingly tasty — we shared carefully crafted cocktails and family-style feast of brisket and homemade sausages. The absolute highlight of the trip was eating at Rolf and Daughters though; I think the four of us said “oh my god” no fewer than 100 times in between bites at this spot. Every dish was phenomenal, the service was impeccable, and we had such a fun time in the lively space (which can sometimes be lacking in nicer-restaurants!). If you ever find yourself in Nashville, please eat here.Nashville Trip Food  2 We did supplement all of this massive meals with a few more casual spots, mostly just to give ourselves a break and digest. We spent one morning in East Nashville and had breakfast and cold brew coffee at Barista Parlor — this place was like a giant hipster playground and I loved it. They had breakfast sandwiches on biscuits and homemade pop tarts! Remember how I said this was one of our smaller meals? We also checked out The Pharmacy in the same neighborhood and enjoyed some burgers and drinks in their backyard beer garden. Nashville Trip Food  3_edited-1 What did you do besides eating you ask? We did visit the Country Music Hall of Fame, and saw Hatch Show Print – the famous music-poster print shop connected to the museum. We also wandered up and down Broadway and checked out some of the famous Honkey-Tonk music spots. There was some shopping too! Whites Mercantile was probably my favorite shop we visited, and I found some fun things in vintage shops. A few other stores I thought were gorgeous — Imogen and Willie and Fuselage. Oh and we stopped into lots of fun bars for cocktails too. Remember that bartender I mentioned earlier? There was a laid-back spot called 12 South Taproom in the eponymous neighborhood where we met the worlds most helpful bartender named Patrick who gave us great local tips, kept our beers full, and talked with us for the better part of an afternoon. Another great spot that I wish we had been able to spend more time at, but was closing early for a private event, was Pinewood Social. I’d seen tons of write-ups about this multi-functional space that’s part coffee shop, part bowing alley, bar, restaurant, and outdoor lounge and was excited to see it in person. The drinks and the decor were almost too much for this instagram-obsessed gal to handle. And then our favorite late night spot that we went to not once, but twice, was called Losers (next to a bar names Winners, can’t make this stuff up) — this dive bar had the coverband of all coverbands playing and we drank and danced until the wee hours of the morning. And with that, we headed back on a plane to Boston and I’m a dire need of a detox and diet, but it was so worth it and so much fun! Nashville Trip  3_edited-1

I have been digging through the photos that I took on our West Texas vacation and can’t believe it’s been almost two weeks since we got back. Because I just can’t narrow it down, this recap is likely going to be a multi-part blog post — I need to share the detail of every.single.bite. I ate and lots of fun pictures too. First up: Austin! Austin, despite being about 100 degrees, was totally and completely awesome. We fell in love with the cute little house bars on Rainey Street, browsed through the vintage shops in the South Congress area, and tried many, many tacos to try and nail down a favorite (barbacoa tacos at Torchy’s were the winner!). A few more favorites from our Austin stay were…. IMG_3655.JPGElizabeth Street Cafe. When I was doing research for our trip, I happened upon Elizabeth Street Cafe through Mackenzie’s Austin recommendations and decided to check it out for ourselves! I love the super bright space with quirky little teapots and floral wallpaper, and the outside had a bright pink and turquoise paint scheme that was so cheery and cute. We had the pork belly buns and spicy pork meatball bahn mi — and I couldn’t pass up the macarons in the pastry case when we were leaving — they were delicious!DSC_0001IMG_3732.JPGDSC_0008 copy

Hillside Farmacy. I’d seen pictures of the Hillside Farmacy on Instagram and knew we had to go here. The striped awnings and bright green facade reminded me of our wedding color scheme, so I was sold even before we walked in. We ate here for brunch and I was prepared to go for eggs or pancakes, but then I saw a piping hot skillet of the mac and cheese walk by our table and I had to order some of my own. I am quite glad it did — it was super rich and delightfully tasty (and I washed it down with a wasabi bloody mary, yum!).

IMG_3695.JPGDSC_0016Barton Springs. This place was amazing, I’ve never seen anything like it! Given that the temperatures were creeping  up into the hundreds during out trip, a little respite from the heat was very welcome. It was part pool, part lake, one-hundred-percent refreshing once we jumped in.

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Josephine House. Our meal at Josephine House was phenomenal and the restaurant design was nothing but impeccable. We got there just as the light was fading and I didn’t get any pictures of the interior, but trust me when I say it was gorgeous — take a look at some of the gorgeous pictures on their website. The best part of the meal was dessert: a honey panna cotta with Texas figs and ginger-oat streusel — heavenly. It was just the treat we needed before heading off on the next leg of our trip! DSC_0021

 

I’m back with part II of our West Coast adventure. After we made our way through wine country, we took a drive down to Muir Woods National Park and hiked through the Redwoods (to be fair, it was more of a nature walk  — not a hike. There were grandmas whizzing by me in wheel chairs, but I like to pretend I was a tough outdoorsy chick who hiked!). It was a magical place; not only are you walking through these magnificent massive trees, but just a few minutes down the road is one of the most breathtaking beaches and coastal views I’ve ever seen.  Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSan Fran 5

After our ‘hike’ I earned a tasty dinner at Foreign Cinema — and swooned over the food and the restaurant interior. We spent our last day in the city exploring, including via boat where we circled around Alcatraz and underneath the Golden Gate bridge. Such a fun way to see the city! When our boat pulled back into the docks we saw a massive group of sea lions that just chill all day right at the edge of the pier —  I took about 400 pictures of them and was completely enamored — I mean, aren’t they the cutest? At the end of our trip we finished things off with a Giants game, because I like to finish all of my vacations with hot dogs and beers (and the lovely water views didn’t hurt!).

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Life has been a little crazy lately, which is why I’m posting a weekend review on a Tuesday and including highlights from the previous week. I was in NY for several days last week for work and for fun; my awesome co-workers know me so well and gifted me some very tasty macarons as a goodbye present (I’m starting a new job next week!). And while in NY I also got to visit with family and friends, which meant dinner overlooking Bryant Park, shopping with Mom (how cute are those PJs?) and a trip to the farmer’s market with my sister — where we skated past the veggie stand and honed in on the chocolate-stuffed croissants. I’m back now and  am enjoying a few days off before I start the next chapter, which hopefully includes a little more time for updating this blog! SFTW