Well, summer lasted for about a week. Now we’re back to gloomy 50 degree days, because, apparently, life is a rich tapestry. Why do I always start these posts by talking about the weather? Because I’m from New England and that’s the most exciting thing we have? Probably.
In any case, here’s what’s been going on with me, since you asked:
I went on vacation to Tallahassee last week, and I brought way, way too many outfits, courtesy of my Away luggage. The carry-ons are inspired—they charge your damn phone! I bought a massive one for my trip to England in July! I know buying stuff they advertise on podcasts is basic, but these suitcases are by far the best I’ve ever owned, and I’m not getting paid to say it!
I’m reading Not That Bad, a collection of essays curated and edited by Roxane Gay and MAN OH MAN is it a fun romp for the whole family. Just kidding, it’s a living nightmare! Girls and women and transfolk endure so much—it’s hard to read about, but so important. The thesis of the collection, in short, is that, as women*, we’re taught to internalize our abuse, to rationalize with ourselves that what we experienced was “not that bad,” when truthfully, any assault is “that bad.” Minimizing our pain and not holding abusers accountable contributes to the perpetuation of rape culture. But you should read Roxane explain it much more eloquently than I ever could. TW rape and sexual assault.
I start class on Tuesday, again (does she ever stop doing school?), so I just spent a small fortune on books. It’s a Recent British Short Fiction class, and we’re reading all things A.S. Byatt and J.G. Ballard. Brits really love going by their initials, huh? (cough J.K. Rowling cough) Because I love you, here’s a pdf of Ballard’s complete short stories—my personal fave is “The Smile.”
This casita is too much. I would simply die to have a guest house. Maybe I should finish my own home renovation before I start expanding…
I am so excited to see this movie that I can hardly breathe. One more week!
My girl Courtney Barnett put out a new album on Friday and it is so freaking good! Plus, the deluxe edition (which hubby definitely bought for me yesterday at Newbury Comics) comes with an adorable tote bag!
A cluttered house is a cluttered mind. I’ve linked to these babes before, but seriously, The Home Edit is pure, unadulterated organization porn. The older I get, the more of an anal-retentive organization freak I become. Don’t let me into your house if you don’t want it cleaned!
I caaaaannnnn’t stop listening to Cardi B‘s Invasion of Privacy. I need to go to Cardi B rehab. My favorite of her songs? Gosh, thanks for asking! Toss up between “I Like It” and “Moneybag.” I mean, come on with this line: “I said bae, it’s a snack / he said it’s a entrée / with them pretty-ass twins you look like Beyoncé.” INSPIRED.
I didn’t wake up to watch the Royal Wedding, because 4am is too goddamn early, but don’t get it twisted—I’m all in. From the pics I’ve seen, I know Oprah and Serena Williams were there, the hats were fierce AF, and Rev. Michael Curry took everybody to church.
My vacation in Florida this weekend was cancelled due to a f***ing Nor’easter, so of course, instead of enjoying myself in the sun, I’m bundled up in the Boston suburbs, miserably freezing my butt off. I did, however, give myself the gift of an extra-long weekend and a bottle of Rosé to comfort me in this dark time. So, when I have to, in the words of poet laureate Marshall Mathers, snap back to reality on Monday, here’s what I’ll be thinking about.
Should I give up paper towels? They’re my green cleaning vice, along with disposable sanitizing wipes.
I’ve been consigning my clothes with thredUP this year, to amazing results. They make it so, so easy to purge your house and get a lil’ cashish in the process. I’ve made over $200 already, with almost no effort!
I’ve been wishy-washy about this for well over a year. Should I finally actually try the Pomodoro Technique? I mean, it is named after the Italian word for tomato, so it’s right up my alley. Time management is NOT my strong suit.
I went on a Society6 bath mat window-shopping spree. I have four in my cart right now: check them out here, here, here, and here. My new bathroom has a black-white-and-grey Parisian-inspired theme, but who says I can’t add tiny rugs to other parts of my house as well?
Vacation is the best, but mostly because I get to read for pleasure! I’m reading Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace and Janet Mock’s Redefining Realness this week. #YQY
Full disclosure: I read Fifty Shades of Grey a few years ago when I was house-bound for a day. I watched the movie a year or so later, because it happened to be free on HBO. Now that the franchise has come to a close (probably), should I just read the other 2 books and watch the trilogy? I love trash, so I could probably spin it into my thesis topic or something.
Did you all know that Ivy Park is still a thing at Nordstrom and TopShop? Now that I actually go to the gym, maybe it’s time…(Update: 100% just bought these.)
It’s been 8 months since my long-weekend trip to Atlanta and I can’t believe I haven’t written about it yet! Atlanta is one of my favorite cities I’ve ever visited and I can’t wait to go back. Here’s a field guide from a total ATL rookie!
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport & MARTA
The Atlanta airport is a Delta hub, so the running joke is that if the devil himself had to fly back to Hell, he’d connect in Atlanta. The airport is massive, so big that it necessitates a “plane train” to take passengers between terminals. H-J also has the lovely tendency of switching arrival gates, often to different terminals, which can be a bit stressful.
I, of course, was actually flying to Atlanta, though, so I had a great experience navigating the airport. It’s best feature is that, when it spits you out at baggage claim, there’s a MARTA station right there that can get you anywhere in the city!
MARTA is Atlanta’s answer to the T or Metro, but possibly way better. The trains run frequently, are super clean (as public transit goes) and the lines are super simplified so it’s easy for a newbie to navigate the system. The only downsides are that the trains pretty much only converge at Five Points, so that station is, I’m sure, a nightmare, and that you have to tap your Breeze Card on exit as well as entry, just like BART. MARTA reminds me a lot of the Montreal Metro, just way less confusing.
The W Atlanta-Midtown
The W Hotel in Midtown is conveniently located between the Midtown and Arts Center stops on MARTA. I hopped off MARTA at Midtown, grabbed a cup from Dancing Goats, and booked it to the hotel to relieve myself of the two stuffed totes I was schlepping. I knew the W was a nice hotel, but holy smokes was it swanky! Easily the nicest place I’ve ever stayed, so big ups to my friend, who treated us!
I know the field of working in a hotel is actually called Hospitality, but the staff at the W went above and beyond to be helpful and kind.
They also had a really nice lobby bar, where I finally got to try a Pisco Sour. So delicious–might be my new go-to.
The High Museum
Going to the High Museum was my #1 Atlanta priority and it did not disappoint! Designed by Richard Meier, the iconic AF architect who designed the Getty Center in LA, the High is a bright beautiful building filled with a stunning array of artworks, American, European, and African. I can’t wait to go back—there was an entire wing we didn’t have time to see!
The Margaret Mitchell House
The Margaret Mitchell House was a must-do on my Atlanta list. My best friend (who accompanied me on the trip) and I had a movie-watching club with her dad when we were kids (because we were super cool), and Gone With the Wind was one of the stand-outs. I read the book in high school (so…eleven or twelve years ago….) and similarly adored it. There’s some controversy about the book glamorizing the antebellum period, but, in my extremely optimistic view, it’s a story of a strong woman doing what it takes to survive. Also, Margaret Mitchell was a badass journalist and proto-feminist who died in a car crash, so who doesn’t want to hear about that drama?
We did brunch at Cafe Intermezzo on our last day in ATL, and I have exactly 2 words: savory. crepes. Intermezzo, as the name suggests, has super Italian vibes—there was an Italian movie playing while we were there (I heard it over the speakers in the bathroom, and the female lead sounded exactly like Isabella Rossellini). The food and cappuccinos were to die for, the staff was super nice, and the atmosphere was very European (or so I imagine, as someone who has never left North America). Dancing Goats Coffee Bar
Dancing Goats was located right across from the Midtown MARTA stop, so I popped in on my way in and out of Atlanta. Since I didn’t spend much time here, I don’t have a ton to say, but the cold brew was good, they had bomb green iced tea, and the décor was sparse and right up my alley. More coffee shops need to adopt the minimalist menu trend! I don’t need the calorie count and every flavor under the sun listed. Just tell me lattes are $4 so I can get on with my life!
Revelator Coffee Company
I’m dreaming….of a Revelator cold brew…
Revelator is so nice, I went there twice! Once on the Georgia Tech campus and once at Ponce. They have a super stripped down menu—no frappuccinos up in here! I also heard a rumor that they bought Wired Puppy in Boston, so I’ll catch y’all soon!
TAP: A Gastropub
TAP is so, so good. We went for Sunday brunch and it was (fortunately for us) deserted, so we got to enjoy our mimosas and breakfast quesadillas in peace. Also, we got loaded tater tots, because, let’s face it, when in Rome. Can’t wait to go back and sample the rest of the menu!
South City Kitchen (Midtown)
Brunch goals, elevated. South City Kitchen was arguably the *most* Southern thing we did during our stay. I had grits, y’all.
We went to The Nook on our first night in ATL. It was right around the corner from our hotel, across from Piedmont Park, and it was the perfect low-key location to get the vacay started. I tried the “Atalanta” plum beer by Orpheus Brewing Company and it was amazing. Also, buffalo tater tot nachos. TOTCHOS.
After 2 days of eating nothing but tater tots and cheese, my body was screaming for vegetables, so we decided on Thai for dinner. Midtown is (apparently) super quiet on Sunday nights, so we had a very peaceful meal on the patio of Tamarind Seed, which, unfortunately, is closed now. I will say, the food was excellent! I hope their renovations go smoothly and that they’re able to reopen!
This place was the dreamiest. It’s located inside the Four Seasons hotel, and it’s probably the swankiest place we went during our stay.
I don’t know that it’s named after The Royal Tenenbaums, but if it isn’t, what a missed opportunity. The cocktails were inspired, the decor was gorgeous,
This bar was around the corner from The W, and it ended up being one of the best spots we hit during our stay. We went after our dinner at Tamarind Seed for dessert, drinks, and the Celtics game. The Verde cocktail was the dreamiest–it had Hendricks, lime, cilantro, and chili pepper–and the Vanilla Bavarian dessert was like key lime pie on steroids. Not to mention that the decor was stunning and modern, and the service was outstanding (although I am highly biased towards people who compliment my glasses). We just intended to pop in for a few minutes, but ended up staying because the TV was playing basketball (which I have never watched or cared about), but as a Boston native herself, my friend was really invested in the Celtics winning (which they did spectacularly in the last few seconds)!
P.S. 5Church contacted me on Instagram and asked to repost this shot, so hit them up on Insta and you might see a familiar handle!
This bar was located next to our hotel, so we decided to give it a try Saturday night around 11, to prove to ourselves that we weren’t 80-year-old women. (We are.)
This is a very cool spot, admittedly, but that was kind of the problem. It was packed, loud, and super dark. I think there was actually a wedding after-party happening while we were there. We were fighting to stay awake after our long day, but we gave our version of “going out to da club” a try, and I have to say the drinks were fab. I got a Negroni, because they were referenced on Master of None, and I actually love the borderline gross bitterness of Campari.
The decor at The Establishment was Old West-inspired–lots of burlap, rope, and barrels. Even the glassware was heavy and ornate, a very nice vintage nod. If I ever make it back to ATL, I’ll stop into this bar during the early evening so that I can actually hear my companion’s conversation.
Luckily, as we were finishing our drinks, the bar TVs started playing SNL, so after the cold open, we rushed back to the hotel to bid farewell to Bobby, Vanessa, and Sasheer.
On our first night in Atlanta, at The Nook, we discovered local brewer, Orpheus Brewing, and their incomparable Atalanta Tart Plum Saison. It was so amazing that even I, who never drinks beer, couldn’t help but order one. A quick Google search let us know that the brewery itself was just across the park from where we were staying, so we set out on Sunday to take one of their tours and enjoy samples of all their varietals. (Can you say varietals about beer, or is that just a wine term?)
Unfortunately, after walking all the way across Piedmont Park to get to the brewery, they were closed for a private event, so we didn’t get to do the brewery tour. Super bummed! This is a must-do activity on my next trip down South!
Ponce City Market
I’d venture to call this the Faneuil Hall of Atlanta. It’s an outdoor mall (think lululemon and Madewell) and an indoor food hall with every type of cuisine imaginable. If I were a local, I anticipate that I’d find myself here a lot. I grabbed a Lyft down to Ponce on my last day to kill some time before my flight, and I’m really glad I checked it out. I ended up having a burrito and a margarita (because I’m predictable) while listening to Throwing Shade, a recent podcast obsession. Unfortunately, it was raining and generally crappy out all Monday, so apart from the umbrella I bought, I wasn’t able to do much shopping.
All in all, Atlanta was a total blast! It’s definitely true that we only saw a teeny tiny slice of what the city has to offer, but that’s just a reason to go back!
One thing that has remained consistent in my life for the past 20 years, truly the only thing, has been my passionate desire to visit Paris. My father encouraged my brother and me to learn French as children (which worked on me but flopped big time with my brother) by reading us bilingual picture books, and ever since, I have been fascinated by French language, history, and culture. And croissants. Who doesn’t love croissants?
I started taking French in school when I was ten and continued through college. I even took a French film course sophomore year! Jules et Jim, La Femme Nikita—all the classics! I’m pretty sure that my basic existence inspired Childish to rap “I’mma be on these tracks like indie girls on Amélie“. I read (and loved) the book How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are. Trust me, though, Francophilia is hardly a sympathetic condition. Revealing that you speak French at a party is like revealing that you have whooping cough—no one wants to be around you after that. So I’ve been quietly biding my time, waiting for my moment to finally hop the pond and visit la Ville Lumière.
But what’s the biggest obstacle to any dream? Money, honey. International travel is expensive af (or at least it has been presented to me that way), and until a few months ago, I was a broke college student working a retail job. I mean, now I’m a broke prospective grad student working a retail job, so, not much better, but we’ve got that wedding nest egg squirreled away and my credit score is on the rise! #tmi
So, why bring this up now? After 20 years of futile dreaming, why put a Paris trip back on the table? Well…my parents. Let me explain. My mother’s husband has family in Germany, so they recently appended a few days onto their trip to visit Paris. That’s correct—a woman who know zero French words and has no interest in coffee, wine, or fattening food has been to Paris. That was a bit of a dagger in the back, but she deserves to travel, right? She works hard! Then, my dad revealed that this year, he wants to turn 50 in Paris. It has also been his lifelong dream to go there (apple, tree), so he’s in the early stages of planning a trip for his birthday. 50 is a big occasion!
Since I’m the tech-savvy one in the fam (which is a sad, sad reality), I’ve started browsing for flights and AirBnbs in order to help him get a realistic picture of the expense of the trip, and what I’ve found has shocked and delighted me. A trip. To Paris! Is totally doable! You can get round-trip flights for under $600 if you don’t mind stopping in Iceland! AirBnbs go for as cheap as $50/night! I haven’t even begun to factor in the cost of meals, nor have I converted Euros to dollars (the exchange rate is super close right now), but still: with each Internet search I become increasingly hopeful about my chances of making my dreams a reality.
Turns out, the touristy stuff that one simply must do is all super affordable!
There are so many more free or inexpensive things to do in Paris, which is super inspiring to the broke among us! The money saved on attractions can go towards food! According to Pinterest, eating vegetarian/vegan should be a breeze there—for all of my Francophilia, classic French cuisine just doesn’t do it for me!
So, when are we going, guys? Tomorrow? All I ask is that I see Paris before I die, so let’s pack our freaking bags! That might be the most stressful thing of all—how to dress in the world’s most fashionable city. My wardrobe is not worthy!
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these! These Boston winter months have me itching to travel to somewhere warm. It’s actually the first day of Spring today, but the snow on the ground hasn’t gotten the memo. Almost none of these destinations scream “tropical paradise” but all the same they’re far, far away from the Northeast dwelling I’m so eager to escape. So, let’s explore a few more!
[insert sarcastic use of the word “wanderlust”]
#1 on the list this time around is Atlanta, GA. I had no idea it was so cool. When you’re raised up North, you’re taught to kind of roll your eyes at the South. Or at least I was. Civil War hangover, maybe? Who knows. In any case, I hadn’t the foggiest that Hotlanta was blowing TF up. John Lewis? Donald Glover? Stuff Mom Never Told You/Unladylike? I have got to go check out the locale that spawned such greatness.
A cursory Google search will net you hundreds of incredible activities in and around Atlanta. MLK’s home, the Margaret Mitchell House, the High Museum—the list goes on! (Definitely revealing my dorky-ness with those examples.) And food! Pinterest/Buzzfeed and the like have vouched for the abundance of amazing eats in ATL. And you know me—anywhere I can get a vegan or gluten-free donut is great in my book. I can’t wait to check Atlanta out!
P.S. As a person who lives a stone’s throw from Gillette Stadium, even I was rooting for Atlanta in the Super Bowl this year.
I know, weird choice, right? With all the Jeff Sessions nonsense going on, you think I’d be afraid to go near the Cotton State. The Yellowhammer State? Get an official nickname, Alabama!
However, I guess Mobile is a mini-NOLA in the making! I mean, look at that pretty place in the photo above! I don’t know much much about Mobile, but it seems like they have very cool museums and a thriving arts community. The entertainment district on Dauphin street seems like the place to go for nightlife—give me all of the daiquiris and live music! In terms of wildlife, it’s alligator country! I am deeply, deeply terrified of gators, but for those braver than me, you can visit Alligator Alley and actually interact with the beasties!
And, just like NOLA, where I actually was fortunate enough to travel last year, they celebrate Mardi Grad in Mobile! Pencil me in for a trip on February 13, 2018!!
As promise, Telluride is finally getting a shout-out. I grew up skiing, and I’ve been itching to get back into it. I haven’t skied in over a decade! Revisiting my past love in Colorado, which is basically skier Mecca, would be 2 dope 2 handle. In addition to slopes, it looks like they have a beautiful historic town center, great bakeries and bars, and all around tiny-town adorbs vibes. It’s surrounded by National Forests, and you can stay in literal huts on the mountainsides. Telluride seems like the sweetest getaway spot!
One might say that I am a desert enthusiast. There is, in my estimation, no better climate—dry heat during the day, cool at night. Cacti everywhere. Infrequent rain! It is one of the many absurdities of my life that I am not a desert-dweller. I mean, that view above?! It almost makes me want to own hiking boots. Almost.
I have to admit, Phoenix wasn’t really on my radar, but the lovely authors of the blog New Darlings live there, and they make it seem like a slice of paradise. I’m a sucker for any destination that combines great eats & great coffee with gorgeous nature! I’ll buy those aforementioned hiking boots in order to see the astonishing views on Camelback Mountain, just as long as I can get a cortado afterwards, of course. Phoenix, in addition to its regular art museums, also has a Musical Instrument Museum! That’s a sure-fire way to convince my husband to travel there if I ever heard one! Next winter or spring, we have got to plan a trip!
St. Louis, MO
Did you know that St. Louis has its own signature style of pizza? Move over, Chicago! In all seriousness, St. Louis seems like a really cool, yet totally unassuming city that I truly hope to visit one day. I mean, Jon Hamm is from there!
A good friend of mine went to school in Missouri, and now I’m kicking myself that I didn’t visit. There’s so much cool stuff to do there! The iconic Arch, the *free* zoo and art museum, big name productions at The Fabulous Fox, and of course, the number 1 most important thing about any travel destination: food! I hear that they also have sports games there, but you won’t catch me wasting valuable tourist time watching baseball.
Now to frantically research AirBnBs and plan a long weekend there!
[insert comment about how I only care about Detroit because of Detroiters here]
Okay, now that we’ve gotten that business out of the way, uh, nope! I mean, having a cool TV show about your city certainly helps (see Atlanta above), but I don’t need Comedy Central to inspire me to sojourn to the birthplace of Motown! There’s the Corktown District (which has/had a bar called Bill Murray?!), breweries like HopCat to sample, Historical Museums to tour, and a giant market district.
Maybe when I finally visit, I can append a few days onto my trip and finally see “The Cleve”—any 30 Rock fans in the house?
Santa Cruz, CA
Okay, okay, so I have technically been here before, but I firmly believe that anything you do before the age of ten doesn’t count! Santa Cruz has everything—breathtaking vistas, water sports, farmer’s markets, a cliff walk, a distillery, wine tours! My most deeply-held desire is to move to the West Coast, and Santa Cruz has all the trappings of a perfect place to settle. And it’s less than 2 hours away from San Francisco!
Santa Cruz seems like a perfect, idyllic paradise, and I can’t wait to go back!
Chelsea, you live in Boston and you mean to tell me you’ve never been to Brooklyn? It’s an afternoon’s drive. Ease up! I’ve only been to NYC once, and I didn’t leave Manhattan. That’s right, the girl who has managed to visit Tallahassee, FL twice doesn’t know the first thing about any of the five boroughs. The Beastie Boys are appalled by me. Most of my engagement with the Empire State has been upstate (Syracuse & Ithaca).
Perhaps I’m about a decade behind the “Brooklyn is cool” trend. I think the hipster cities have cycled through Austin and Nashville by now, too. However, there’s still a ton of cool shit going on there! You can catch a show at The Bell House (2 Dope Queens tapes there a lot!), eat at restaurants with obnoxiously minimalist names like Egg and Diner, take a brewery tour, etc. Also, it seems to be where everyone who is “NYC-based” actually lives. Despite the borough and its inhabitants being dragged in that Lana Del Rey song, it still seems like a totally aspirational spot where I can get a great cup of coffee or cocktail—my two main objectives when visiting any new city.
My goal is to travel to at least ONE of the locations from this list, or parts I & II this year. I managed to make it to NOLA last year, as I mentioned—this year I’m thinking Savannah & Palm Springs? Time will tell. Thanks for indulging my travel fantasies!
NOLA is pretty much a no-brainer. I can’t believe it wasn’t first on the original list, tbh. History, music, Cajun food? Sign me up. You can throw your own parade with a police escort in New Orleans! It seems like such a vibrant, colorful city, and by all accounts it shouldn’t be missed. You can even stay in haunted hotels!
I’ve actually missed two opportunities in a row to go there (our cousin’s company hosts a retreat there), due to lack of funds & time. Next year, if they do it again, we’re GOING.
Palm Springs, CA
Okay, so my father is convinced I’ve been here before but I’m pretty sure that’s not true. Fancy hotels? Desert heat? Mid-century architecture? Sinatra? How do I not already live in Palm Springs? Bonus points that it’s only about 45 minutes away from my grandmother’s house. I’ll definitely be swinging through town next time I’m in Southern California…
Louisville is about 3 hours away from Nashville, which might make it a little too far a destination for a honeymoon day trip…but we’ll see.
Omaha & Lincoln, NE
This one’s a twofer, since these cities are only about an hour apart. Omaha has been on my radar for a decade, because it’s famously the home of Saddle Creek Records. You know, as in Conor Oberst? It also gets name-checked in a great Rilo Kiley song, “The Execution of All Things”: let’s go to Omaha to work an exploit the booming music scene.
Lincoln makes an appearance on here because my best friend attended a conference there last year and said that it was surprisingly awesome! I’m also a sucker for capital cities—state house tours, anyone?
Boulder & Denver, CO
So, I guess by now you’ve deduced that The Stand by Stephen King is one of my favorite books. How else would a New Englander have even heard of Boulder?
I included these cities together because they’re about a half an hour apart (sorry, Telluride, you’ll have to be in Part III). Colorado seems like a land from a fairy-tale. I mean, look at that picture. How is that even real? I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Rocky Mountains apart from flying over them, but it’s always been a dream to view them in all of their majestic glory. My knowledge of America’s topography is (apparently) so limited that I’m now realizing that the Rockies feature in at least 2 of my other listed cities.
Boulder is apparently a “hipster’s paradise,” which to me signals coffee, tattoo parlors, and craft brews. I’m in!
Okay, in truth, I only want to go here because of that episode of 30 Rock. And because the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is there. Apart from those two tiny nuggets of knowledge, I’m clueless about the entire state of Ohio. But, as they (definitely don’t) say, cluelessness is the mother of exploration!
I will say, this post was originally written before the RNC, and now with the open-carry laws and stuff I’m a little wary…
I’ve actually been to Pennsylvania three times but never made it to either of the great cities it boasts (Philly & Pittsburgh). I’m something of a history nerd, and Philadelphia is such a historical hub (much like my hometown). I feel like it’s mandatory for every American to the Liberty Bell, or to tour the rooms where the Declaration was drafted.
I’ll pass on the cheesesteak, though.
Walla Walla, WA
Walla Walla is a city in the southeast corner of Washington. One of the colleges I wanted to apply to is there, and it also made an appearance in one of my fave YA novels from my younger days. I can’t say that there’s any specific reason that I want to go there. It’s just one of those names that sticks in your mind, and I’ve heard that Eastern Washington is stunningly beautiful.
Where else should I roam? There’s so much America to explore!
Before you ask: no, we didn’t go to Tim Horton’s. Fun fact, I’ve been to Canada 4 times, and the only Tim Horton’s I’ve ever been to was in upstate NY!
So, full disclosure: we only really hung out downtown (from Sherbrooke to the river). There’s so much more of this amazing city still to explore, but we found some absolute gems!
We stayed at the Gouverneur Hotel at the corner of rue St-Hubert and rue Ste-Catherine E. It’s a prime location—walkable to everything downtown, and right near rue St-Denis, which is a super hip area. Across from the hotel, and visible from our room, is a sweet little park with sculptures, fountains, and an outdoor bar.
We managed to fit about .0003% of what I had planned into our three short days in MTL, but what we did get to was pretty awesome. The following is our recommendations for places to go and things to see downtown!
Jardin Nelson is right in the center of Old Montréal and boy oh boy is it nice. My dad treated us to a gorgeous dinner there our second night in town. It was my second time (the first was for lunch 5 years ago), and I got the same thing, but in my defense: savory crêpes with goat cheese! Can you blame me?! This time, we were seated right beside an amazing live jazz band at twilight. It was pretty magical. We ate and drank way too much, and a very merry time was had. A+
I love this place. I don’t care that it’s a chain in Ontario & Québec. I’m sure a real Montréaler would roll their eyes so hard at me right now. I’m a sucker for microbreweries, what can I say? Their blanche ale is my faaaave. We didn’t eat there this time, but last time I was in town I had a poutine there that was a borderline religious experience.
This place is my dream concept for a restaurant. A super limited menu specializing in…shepherd’s pie & poutine? I guess in French the term for shepherd’s pie is “pâté chinois,” which makes zero sense to me and caused some confusion upon entering. “Chinese pâté?” I wondered, ignorant to the beautiful culinary world awaiting me. I got my whole table to agree to order the vegetarian pâté, and we all split a traditional poutine (and a pitcher of sangria).
Breakfast poutine. Poutine matinale. Whatever you call it, it’s poutine for breakfast. Fabergé is the most adorable restaurant in the cutest neighborhood (that I’m pissed we didn’t explore more). We stopped by Fabergé on our way back to the States and I treated us to a fabulous brunch. In Canada, even restaurants have cold brew readily available. Great vegetarian options, lovely mimosas. Can’t wait to go back and eat all the brunch.
Okay, so, Eggspectation is another chain—with locations in Virginia and Maryland for no reason?—but it has a special place in my heart because we ate there on my high school trip to Montréal. I’ve had breakfast there once each time I’ve traveled to MTL, half out of nostalgia, half because they have delicious food.
What you’re ordering: Eggs Florentine and an almond milk cappuccino
If I lived in Montréal, this would be my every day lunch spot. Possibly the best food we had on the trip, and we only stopped into Petit Végo for lunch. I had a tandoori tofu sandwich and Fig got a naan pizza with pesto & goat cheese (which I recreated when we got home—soooo good). Vegetarian/vegan restaurants are my happy place. They also have smoothies and coffee, so it’s really one-stop shopping.
Café 1880 is probably my favorite little spot in Montréal. The aesthetic alone! Almond milk lattés glacés by baristas who actually know what the hell they’re doing (can you tell I worked in coffee-land for way too freaking long?) Oh, and bonus points? They serve carry-out food from a local vegan restaurant. I bought a glass reusable cup so that I can feel like I’m having Café 1880 every day (and zero waste!)
Atom Heart *has* my heart. Much like Aquarius Records in San Francisco, it’s a curated niche store that feels no obligation to carry 27 copies of the new TSwift (no shade, Tay). “Alternative” is kind of a garbage phrase that means nothing, but there’s really no other way to describe the eclectic mix of stuff they carry. The new Marissa Nadler record (which is so good, you guys) was on display, and To Pimp a Butterfly was in the staff recommendations. Fig got quite a few discs there, including a Turkish Experimental Compilation, because Turkish rock musicians from the 1970s rule our lives.
Used record lovers look no further! Fig & I can be snobby when it comes to buying music new vs. used, but Beatnick had a great selection. We actually lost out on the last copy of a Serge Gainsbourg box set while we were there and we’re still not emotionally over it. They play incredible music in-store, and overall the shop tends to favor the ’60s, which is 10000% fine with me!
Admission: we never made it to the Musée des Beaux-Arts. We physically arrived there, but the line to enter was several city blocks long, and neither of us was particularly keen to stand out in the hot sun. I mean, it was free museum day, what did we expect? Luckily, we had the foresight to get to the contemporary art museum much earlier and have our minds blown by exhibits by Edmund Alleyn, Jean-Pierre Gauthier, and Ryoji Ikeda.
Métropolis is a Lupo’s/House of Blues-esque music venue on rue Ste-Catherine E. We were lucky enough to be there when…drumroll please…COURTNEY BARNETT was there! We of course got tickets, because we’re not completely insane! My fave Aussie babe melted our freaking faces off with non-stop rock. One of the best shows I’ve ever seen.