So, as a New Englander, this literally makes no sense to me, but Tallahassee is cool as hell. It is…so much cooler than Boston? It’s in the panhandle/Northern Florida. It’s not even by the ocean. Why is this place perfect?
I’ve now been down here four times (I’m writing this from Catalina!) and I’m honestly tryna move. It’s February and I’m wearing sandals and a light jean jacket…Heaven.
This trip we drove down St. Petersburg for some beach action and stopped in Manatee Springs to attempt to see manatees (we were brutally rebuffed).
Definitively the best tacos on planet earth. Since last time I was here, they added a caramelized pineapple and pickled cactus option. YOU HEARD ME CORRECTLY. Other classics are the mushroom taco—it’s utterly, stupidly good. It has some sort of pesto—cilantro, maybe?—with toasted chickpeas and cotija. Sarah’s fave is the fried avocado taco—need I even elaborate? Also, their sangria is legit. It…actually tastes like red wine and isn’t sweet. They do a salsa of the day, and it’s always bomb. Their beans! I have to stop talking about Cocinero, or I’ll end up getting tacos a third time.
The BARK is a vegan/vegetarian restaurant in a super cool part of town—the building’s entire exterior is painted with Keith Haring-style murals. They have a limited menu but LITERALLY EVERY OPTION is delicious. Last time I had a Sloppy Jose (a barbecue beans sammie), and this time I had a buffalo tofu sandwich with vegan ranch. Did I mention they bake their own bread?? BARK stands for Bread and Roses Kitchen, after all. I got sautéed garlic kale as a side order and I swear it almost made me believe in God.
Donuts. Epic goddamn donuts. Also, their sandwiches are next level. The decadent grilled cheese has tomato jam on it, which almost sounds gross, but is actually amazing! Next time I’m down in FL, I definitely want to hang out here and write in their outdoor seating!
This was another place we hit up when I came out last May. Super cool—they have random dog murals on the walls?—and their menu changes seasonally, which I love. Not a ton of veggie options, but what we did end up getting was delicious.
Are you sensing that I love tacos? Everything in Tallahassee, inexplicably, has veggie options. We ate here during my May 2018 trip, and we calorie-splurged on queso. So worth it.
I’ve already written about Warhorse but it is my favorite place ever. We did trivia here on my 2nd to last night and it was seriously the most fun! It was audio/visual trivia and one of the rounds was trying to figure out rap lyrics when run through a text-to-speech program in a Scottish accent. No joke. When you’re here, order a New York Sour.
Grasslands Brewing Co.
I’m actually sitting right outside Grasslands right now. At Grasslands, we played Boggle while we drank beer. Truly iconic.
I’ve talked about Proof before, but they have a new location and it’s epic!
Sarah lives right next to this place. We didn’t make it this trip, but we had cocktails here in May. The décor is out of this world!
serving lewks at neko case
WE SAW NEKO CASE, BITCHES! The Moon is honestly one of my favorite venues. It has standing room and tables you can reserve. We were like two feet away from Neko, who was, somehow, even better than you could possibly imagine her being.
I don’t know if getting tattoos is technically “entertainment,” but I find it entertaining! We got tattooed by Luis—follow him on Instagram!
When I went down South last May, we took little day trips to Apalachicola & Thomasville, GA. If you’re ever down that way, check these places out!
We packed a lot into our first week. I’m still waiting until it calms down so I can do wild things like sleep or buy a curling iron. Exciting stuff! Here’s just a tiny overview of a few faves from the last week. Loads more to come!
Pubs & Food
Saturday was the quarter finals of the World Cup and (spoiler alert from several days ago) England trounced Sweden! It’s the first time England’s gone so far in the cup in ages, so the city was abuzz with excitement! We had an impossible time finding a pub at which to watch the match—everywhere was stuffed to the gills with people spilling outside and watching through the windows. They’re playing again Wednesday (against Croatia) and we’re camping out at St. Aldate’s nice and early to watch!
The Covered Market is so, so cool. It’s like a tiny version of Farmer’s Market in L.A.
Pro tip about (at least this area of) England: every. bloody. place. has. vegetarian options. It’s absolutely incredible. Even the morning English Breakfast buffet could please a vegan. Just note that it’s soya milk, not soy! Also, figure out what the hell Pimm’s is before you come here.
Still to try: The Wig & Pen, The Eagle & Child, O’Neills, The Bear Inn, The Oxford Retreat, The Trout
You can’t go to England without making a pilgrimage to Boots. It’s like a Sephora-meets-CVS, and it’s the nearest chemist to school. We’ve been getting our groceries at Tesco & Sainsbury’s. I got a tattoo at Oxford Tattoo and it was the best experience I’ve ever had. 10/10 would recommend. And Blackwell’s! What can I possibly say about Blackwell’s that hasn’t already been said. You remember the song “Almost Paradise“? It started playing in my heart when I walked in. It’s 3 floors of wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor books, and I’m moving in there ASAP.
Cymru for life. These ruined medieval relics are stunning beyond belief. Granted it was about 4,000 degrees Celsius, seeing these living legends was an unmissable experience. Get thee to the land of the dragon!
The Hen & Chickens pub is clearly the local watering hole, and we were so lucky to have stopped in here. We met an Irish ex-pat named Collin and a mysterious vest-wearing Welshman who went by the name of Reality Jones. There is no way to really capture how magical our Wales experience was…suffice it to say that I’m definitely going back, and I’m probably getting a Reality Jones tattoo. P.S. Welsh cheddar and cole slaw sandwich. Iconic.
In my next post, I’ll go off about coffee and food in Oxford (hint: it’s very good).
We leave for England in 4 days! I’m so excited and grateful for this opportunity. I’ve never taken a Transatlantic flight (I’ve only left the country five times, to Quebec and Cancun), so this is a major bucket-list item checked off! As I may have mentioned before, Annie and I will be living and studying at Wadham College at Oxford, but we have plenty of excursions planned (including day trips to Paris and Brussels!)
This is a(partial) list of what we’ll be up to on the island:
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!