I left my heart in San Francisco…

Growing up a 90s kid in a house with three young girls, it’s obvious that Full House was constantly on the TV. So it’s safe to say I consider myself an honorary “Tanner” girl and whenever I think of San Francisco the opening credits of the picturesque golden gate bridge comes to mind. “Everywhere you look, everywhere you go…” Bet you started singing it!

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If you don’t know what this is, you’re dead to me.

So naturally, Ray and I were ecstatic when we found out we were placed in the Bay area. What we weren’t ecstatic for was the cost of rent. Good gravy! Last year, San Francisco surpassed NYC as the most expensive city to live in and boy they weren’t kidding.

All costs aside though, San Francisco is a beautiful city full of culture and diversity and the NBA champs. (Go dubs!) There is so much to do and see here, you’ll never be bored and the culinary scene sets the bar high.

I’m going to try and keep this post short and sweet because otherwise I could literally write 10+ pages on this amazing place and ain’t nobody got time for that.IMG_5096

A few of our favorite things (to do!)

One of our absolute favorite things to do in San Francisco was to have a picnic in the park. Our favorite spots were Dolores Park and the Palace of Fine Arts. Just DIY a little charcuterie board, grab a fresh loaf of sourdough bread, and maybe a little rose or prosecco whichever floats your boat and just enjoy the sunshine. Sigh.

Another favorite pastime was sauntering around the mission district. (Side note, sauntering is such an underrated word, don’t you think?) So many great shops and restaurants are in the mission, and it’s actually always a few degrees warmer since it’s farther from the water.  The mission also has beautiful murals all around town to check out and is a fun spot to grab some food and drinks.

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Mission District

Trying to get a little physical? Take a hike through Lands End and the Sutro Baths. It was once a private saltwater pool that dates back to the 1800s and it’s just a scenic place for a little exercise. Honestly, though, you’ll get in a decent workout just walking up and down the 3894758945 hills in the city. I really had no idea how many hills there are and how steep they’d be until we got there. Talk about feelin’ the burn.

We really loved the Musee Mecanique! It’s an old-school arcade, and I mean old-school. They have some of the coolest vintage games, we always brought our friends and family here for a fun time!

Oh! And it’s a little outside of San Francisco, but you have to take the time to check out the Muir Woods. The redwood trees are something that will put your life into perspective and make you question the quality of your own existence. Okay, maybe that’s going a little far, but they really are an incredible natural phenomenon.

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Me questioning my existence.

Of course, you also have to do some other touristy things like checking out the sea lions on Fisherman’s Wharf, walking down the crookedest street in the world–Lombard street, and getting a picturesque shot of the Golden Gate bridge at Battery Spencer or Chrissy Field. I also highly recommend taking the trip to Alcatraz. The audio tour is really intriguing even if you’re not a history nerd like me.

Oh, obviously we went to the Painted ladies as well. Alamo park is across the street and it does give you a beautiful view of the ladies. Fun fact for you is that the ACTUAL house that was used in Full House is NOT a painted lady. Blasphemy, I know right? It’s actually about a half mile walk from there on Broderick street and well worth the walk in my book to see my childhood home.

A Foodies Dream

We were in San Fran for about 4 months and I can honestly say every meal here has been wonderful. There are so many restaurants and the quality and quantity is definitely something worth mentioning.

OH! Fun Fact: The Irish coffee we all know and love today originated in The Buena Vista Cafe in 1952. We went, we drank it, we loved it.

State Bird Provisions is a Michelin star rated restaurant. Need I say more? Well, I don’t but I will anyway because I had one of the best meals I’ve ever had here. The way the run the place is really different too. The chefs make a bunch of different items and then walk around and ask if you’re interested. They have a good ole fashioned menu as well but it was fun to have such a variety of different things!

Next up is our favorite sushi place, Elephant Sushi. It’s a small place that was actually around the corner from us. They open at 6 and there’s ALWAYS a line to get in! We went here a few times, and that says a lot because we could have gone to one of the other 8372562347 restaurants in San Francisco but this place was THAT good.

IMG_5447Dumpling Time- If you like dumplings you HAVE to go here. If you don’t like dumplings, rethink your life choices. This place is awesome. There are so many different types of dumplings here like shrimp and cilantro, traditional, steamed buns and my all time favorite, soup dumplings. They have a massive soup dumpling that literally comes with a straw. Yasssss.

If I had to choose one area in San Francisco to eat the rest of my life, I would choose Little Italy, hands down. Little Italy is in North Beach and is home to some of the best homemade pasta I’ve ever had. There are so many restaurants that have fresh seafood and fresh pasta, we literally ate here at least once a week. A few of our favorite spots? Sotto Mare, The Italian Homemade Company, E Tutto Qua, Baonecci, Piccolo Forno, and Seven Hills are just a few that stick out in my mind as must-eats. Yes, MUST EATS.

Okay, if you’re looking for the best french dip sandwich you’ve ever had then you must check out Dip. It’s in North Beach and it is out of this world. I’m glad I got to try it before I started my new dietary journey because I can attest to the delectableness – is that even a word?- of these sandwiches.

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When I DIP, you DIP, we DIP.

I am so incredibly in awe of this city and I was so lucky to call it home for four months. So here’s to you San Francisco, until next time.

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Road Trippin’

“Because the greatest part of a road trip is not always the destination, it’s all the crazy moments that happen along the way.” 

As our time in Savannah came to an end, we discussed our next destination, the west coast. I always wanted to be a California girl- they’re undeniable; daisy dukes, bikinis on top. Okay, but seriously I have always wanted to visit the Golden State.

We had a couple of different options, L.A, Santa Barbara and San Francisco to name a few. We put in for all of them and then it was just a waiting game, a race to see who’d get back to us first. The winner, San Francisco!

We were elated. Big city livin’ in one of the most sought after destinations in the States, not to mention, FULL HOUSE.  It’s like I could see my childhood with the Tanner family flashing before me.

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So now, it was time to plan our road trip. That’s right. We were going to drive from New Jersey to San Francisco. We looked at a map and drew a line from New Jersey to San Francisco. Okay, we didn’t actually have a physical map because it’s not the 1900’s. What are we cavemen? We Google mapped our route from NJ to San Fran and we were actually pleasantly surprised with how many awesome cities were right along the route.

 

We planned our week long journey across the beautiful U.S.of A with stops in Pittsburgh, Chicago, Omaha, Denver, Salt Lake City, and a TBD. We packed up the car and Nala, downloaded some podcasts and playlists for entertainment and went on our merry way.

First stop, Pittsburgh; home of the Steel men. Growing up, my dad was a Steelers fan so I was really excited to check out the Steel city. (Disclaimer: this is the ONLY Pittsburgh team that is cool.  Suck it, Crosby.)  Anyway, we stayed downtown and we absolutely loved the city. The stadium is right on the water and it’s as cool as it looks on TV.IMG_4288

We checked out an awesome little spot for dinner right downtown called Butcher and the Rye. The interior is awesome, and the food and the drinks were pretty spectacular.

Our next stop was Chi-town. The windy city. Bring on the deep dish pizza and the superstitions about baseball. Side note: I’m not superstitious, but I’m a little stitious. -Michael Scott – Me

Anyway, Chicago is another fantastic city (as long as it’s not winter). We checked out Millenium Park and ate some deep dish cheeseless- yes cheeseless- pizza at the famous Lou Malnati’s.  We also got a drink at The World Famous Billy-Goat Tavern. It was a really cool atmosphere and even though I’m not the biggest baseball fan, you have to appreciate the history.

From there we headed to Omaha, Nebraska. Now believe me, when we decided that Omaha was a stop on our trip, I had no clue what to expect. Heck, I really only knew the name of the city because of good ol’ Peyton. Omaha! Omaha! Hut! Hut!

Omaha had a cute little downtown area. Our favorite place was called Inside the Looking Glass, a Cigars and Spirits shop. Now I know you may be thinking–well, if the best part of Omaha is a cigar shop then it must be pretty lame, right? Don’t be fooled, there’s more to meet the eye here.

If you pull on a special vintage bottle of wine, Voila! A secret passage opens and you’ll enter the Wicked Rabbit–one of the coolest speakeasies that I’ve ever been too. It’s a twist on Alice and Wonderland and the atmosphere is really cool.

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After Omaha, we went on our way to Denver. Driving through Nebraska was so exciting. There were farms, and farms, and farms, and oh! I almost forgot to mention the farms! If it wasn’t for Pat Mcafee podcast and Mariah’s Sweet Sweet Fantasy baby, it would have been unbearable.

Denver was really cool though. The mountains were really as beautiful as they seem in pictures and they just make you feel so small- er smaller in my case. There are 958723482 breweries in Denver and we enjoyed them all. We also got to check out Red Rock which was certainly a bucket lister.

Salt Lake City was a little different than I expected, but we stayed in a really cool place right downtown. The backdrop of the mountains just makes everything so scenic here.

We also got to check out Arches National Park. And good gravy was this an experience. The park is absolutely breathtaking and pictures just don’t do it justice. It’s one of those things you have to see to really appreciate its beauty.

Okay, enough of the mushy stuff.  Our last stop was booked last minute because we didn’t want to drive another 8 hours on the day we had to move in. We found a quaint little town right over the California state line called, Colfax. It looked like something from the 1800’s, a small mining town. The people were friendly and the best part was our AirBnB host. She was the sweetest woman and she made us apple pancakes for breakfast.

So that’s it. Our crazy adventure across the country. 3,000 miles, countless podcasts, and a few sing-a-longs later, we arrived at our new home, San Francisco.

I think that everyone should take part in a cross-country road trip. Not only is it scenic and soul soothing, but being confined in close quarters for hours at a time is also a wonderful way to see if you are really compatible with someone. If you can endure a cross country road trip without killing the other person you’re with, I’d say you found a keeper. Guess I found mine.

Sonoma; wine not?

Ah, wine. It’s honestly one of life’s greatest indulgences, in my not so humble opinion. So when I found out how close to wine country we’d be while living in San Francisco, I couldn’t help but get all giddy. Like a kid in a candy store or heck even me in a candy store, I get all wide-eyed and frivolous at the thought!

So far, we’ve been to a few different wineries around Sonoma, so that’s where I’ll be taking you today.

When my mom and sister came to visit a few weeks ago, we happened upon Chateau St.Jean Winery and boy did that quickly become a favorite. So much so, that we went back when my brother-in-law and his lady came for a visit. (Shoutout Sean and Laura!)

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Chateau St. Jean

 

The place itself is beautiful with rows of vines and greenery everywhere. And of course, there’s the chateau itself which is equally as beautiful. They have a little area outside with tables surrounded by flowers and even grapevines to just relax and enjoy.

Now to the good stuff, the real reason you go to a winery, un vino. The people working the tasting were knowledgeable and just delightful. We really enjoyed their Chardonnay (and considering I’m a red wine gal myself, that means a lot!) and their Eighty-five fifty-five red. Yum.

Another really nice thing about this winery is there were quite a few others located really close. I’m talking a 5-minute drive. We were able to check out 2 other wineries all within a mile of each other. Ah, wine country.

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VJB Winery

 

VJB winery was a quaint little family-owned winery down the road from St.Jean. It had a little patio area in the middle and it was great because you can get a bite to eat here too! We did a charcuterie board and a small pizza and it really hit the spot after wine tastings.

Alright, so I think this next one really takes the cake in terms of aesthetics. Matanzas Creek Winery is absolutely B-E-A-utiful! Not only is it a cute little winery nestled in the hills of Sonoma, but they also have a lavender garden. Yup.IMG_5089

The garden was alluring so obviously, I had to walk through it. (Oh, watch out for bees, they apparently love the stuff too. Who would have thought? Bees, flowers? DUH.)

Anyway, in addition to the garden where you can relax with a glass of their wine, (which is delicious by the way) they also have a lavender barn! In the barn they have all different goodies made with- you guessed it- their lavender. The woman who was working in there was great and really showed us all the different products and the process of making them. IMG_5092

Not really into the barn? (cough.weirdo.cough) That’s okay, because they have a bocce pit and a corn hole area where you can hangout too. Oh, and if you like chocolate, the lavender infused chocolates were Ah-mazing. No lie. Seriously. Get them.

Ah- so much wine, so little time. Those are just a couple places that quickly became favorites of ours but I’m sure I’ll be adding to the list before we head off to our next adventure. Stay tuned my friends.

Oh, Charleston, we love you.

Ahh, Chucktown. We struck gold when Ray’s work brought us to this lovely town while he did some training. We were residents of this charming city for over a week and we sure made the most of it.IMG_2541

There’s a lot history here, as is the case in a lot of southern cities. (Fun fact, it’s named after King Charles II.) There are also some pretty fabulous restaurants which we obviously had to check out and review as our obligation to contribute to society.

Some of the best food we ever had was at Leyla Fine Lebanese Cuisine. It’s a family owned place and they really provide wonderful customer service. The food was just phenomenal and I’ll definitely be stopping by next time I’m in town.

 

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Leyla

 

Looking for a quick bite? We really enjoyed this small Vietnamese place called Bon Banh Mi. They have fantastic sandwiches and really good tacos and it’s super affordable. Not to mention- they have happy hour every day with great beer and sandwich specials.

If you’re looking for a fun night hangout, check out Fuel. It’s an old gas station turned bar with a bocce pit in the back the perfect combination for a good time.

In the morning (or anytime really, I’m not judging) head over to Kudu Coffee and Craft Beer. They have a quaint little courtyard where you can sit and enjoy your coffee or brew of choice.

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Kudu Brews

 

Anyway, be sure to walk around downtown and check out the waterfront. There are tons of shops on King Street if you’re feeling a little shopping spree. Oh, and you have to get some chicken and waffles for breakfast. HAVE TO.

Savannah pt. 3; Thirsty?

There are a ton of watering holes in Savannah but these are definite faves.

The Alley Cat

This place is my favorite cocktail bar in Savannah. It’s a bit hidden down an alley which is part of the allure, but my favorite part of this place is the menu. It’s a newspaper. That’s right, a good old-fashioned black and white newspaper. They have a TON of options and throughout the newspaper, you’ll find a bunch of fun little stories all usually pertaining to alcohol.

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Kids today will never know that elation we felt when we opened our lunch boxes to find a fruit roll up or a Rice Krispie treat waiting for us.  So while they munch on their organic gluten-free sweet potato chips, we can indulge our inner child with an adult beverage with some of our favorite childhood treats! This place has hundreds of fun and funky martinis including Snickers bar, Rice Krispie, and Fruit roll-up.

Rocko’s Lounge

This place has pretty cool. It has more of a 70’s vibe and there’s an old-school photo booth that you have to take pictures in obviously. The drinks are pretty affordable and they often have live music.

Abe’s on Lincoln

So there’s always that one dive bar that you just have to check out and Abe’s is it. Bring a pen, and be sure you add your own picture of Abe to the collection that covers the bar!

Artillery

Another nice cocktail spot. The atmosphere here is really cool, and like most of Savannah, it has history. (Yes, it actually was an old artillery, you’re brilliant.) Anyway, they have little buttons at each table for you to push and the server will come take your order. Pretty nifty; not to mention the drinks are fabulous.

Rocks on the Roof

So the drinks aren’t anything super spectacular but with a view like that, they don’t have to be.

 

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Rocks on the Roof 

 

Savannah pt. 2: Food for days

Food, food, and more food

Savannah is home to around 700 restaurants and we really made it our business to try a variety of different places while we were there. Seriously, I’m not saying that as a hyperbole either. We literally have been to about 40 different restaurants. Don’t judge me. Anyway, there is something for everyone; Check it.

Cotton and Rye

Cotton and Rye is a little ways from downtown Savannah and certainly one of our favorite spots to go. It’s unpretentious and more of a hipster-esq dining experience. The cocktails are great and the food is delicious too. And my go-to food of choice here?  A burger. Look I know, a burger doesn’t sound like “the thing to get” but trust me when I say it was one of the best burgers we’ve had. This is a pretty big deal for me too because if I’m being honest I am not one to eat a lot of red meat, but this burger made the cut and it was just fabulous. They ground their own meat and cure their bacon in house and it really comes together so nicely. Not to mention- you get a whopping pile of fries with the burger. Seriously, SO MANY FRIES.

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Three words. Lavender mocha latte. This place is a must especially for breakfast/brunch while you’re in Savannah. It’s a chic little farm-to-table place that has it all. The Lavender mocha latte is the signature drink here and it is just fabulous. They even have little sprigs of lavender in it! If that’s not your thing then their brunch menu is sure to tickle your fancy. They have everything from avocado toast and brioche french toast with fresh berries, to homemade buttermilk biscuits and gravy with sausage. De-licious.

Tequila’s Town

Okay, if you’re in the mood for authentic Mexican tacos then this is your place. The pastor is a personal favorite of mine and they do not disappoint. OH, and during happy hour there are $2 margaritas! Yup.

The Ordinary Pub

This place is great and we frequently found ourselves here. It’s more traditional pub-like food and atmosphere and they often have live music. They have a fantastic- I mean fan-flipping-tastic chicken and waffle gyro, I highly recommend it! They also have these massive moscow mule cups to share (or not, I’m not judging) and bottomless mimosas for $10 every day. You’re welcome.

Flying Monk Noodle Bar

 

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Pho-real.

 

This place is Pho-real. (I know, I know.) But seriously this place has some pretty great pho. We also really liked the Master Shifu noodle dish (yup, just like Kung Fu Panda, which may or may not be the reason I originally tried it.)  and the Succulent Pig Plate. This place is a must for anyone looking for your noodle fix, or just trying to ease your hangover.

 

Pie Society

On the odd chance that it’s rainy or not a sunny, beautiful, warm day in Savannah (I know it’s very unlikely) Pie Society is the perfect place for comfort food. It’s a traditional British pie shop and they have the best pot pies around! The steak and ale is my personal favorite but the chicken and thyme and the steak and mushroom are close seconds!

The Public Kitchen

I love this place for its modern simplicity. Does that make sense? The atmosphere is very nice and they have one of the best chicken salad sandwiches I’ve ever had! My husband was also a huge fan of their Savannah Red Rice. Definitely worth checking out!

Now, I honestly could go on for another 3 pages of places to eat that are all really delicious. Instead, I’ll list the rest and you can check them out yourself. (Didn’t think I’d do ALL the work did you?)

The Pink House– for the fancy evening

The Sandfly– Three words- B-B-Q

Rancho Alegre Cuban Restaurant – fantastic Cuban food (and great live music)

Treylor Park- Avacado fries to fulfill your avocado fetish

Sly’s- mini burgers of all sorts

Georgia On My Mind- Savannah, Georgia Pt. 1

Oh Savannah- In a nutshell  —Part 1 of 3 Being a Jersey girl, I’m used to the hustle and bustle of the Northeast. I grew up 20 minutes from the city of Brotherly Love and 45 minutes from the shore. We get all four seasons in Jersey, from those scorching hot July BBQ days to […]

Being a Jersey girl, I’m used to the hustle and bustle of the Northeast. I grew up 20 minutes from the city of Brotherly Love and 45 minutes from the shore. We get all four seasons in Jersey, from those scorching hot July BBQ days to frigid 10 feet of snow-can’t-leave-your-house, I just want to cuddle my dog, days.  So when my husband was offered a job in Savannah during the winter months, there were no ifs, ands, or buts, about it– we were going.

And I hate to be all cliche about it, but from the moment we arrived, we fell in love with the place. I mean- how could you not?  Savannah Georgia is one of the most beautiful places in the south, and that’s not just my humble ole’ opinion. Savannah is on numerous lists like “the most beautiful places in the U.S.” and  “best cities in America” and the like. Be sure to check out all the little squares throughout the city, each one is unique and idyllic in its own way. A personal favorite is Forsythe park and obviously, you have to go to Chippewa Square because it’s where Forest Gump sat on that famous bench. Ya never know what you’re gonna git.IMG_2572

In addition, not only is Savannah beautiful, but it’s kind of got it goin’ on. I mean it’s like the beautiful popular girl who’s also really smart and unfailingly kind. I know–unfair right?

There is an immense amount of history in Savannah, literally almost around every corner. From underground tunnels under the city that pirates would use to do their dirty work to the endless amount of ghost stories that’ll give your goosebumps goosebumps. (Savannah also made a list for the most haunted city in America. BOO!) With that being said, checking out the famous Bonaventure Cemetery and Colonial Park Cemetery are a must when here. They even have some walking tours at night if you’re brave enough!

 

And to top it off there are also over 700 restaurants in Savannah. Getting to live here for four months was a privilege and we are definitely keeping this on the list of places we may settle down when it’s time.

Anyway, with that being said, I decided to break up this post into three parts. This was just the gist of Savannah–just the bare bones, the tip of the iceberg, or whatever metaphor tickles your fancy.

Part 2 is going to focus solely on the food in Savannah because there are too many spectacular places to eat to not get its own post. And finally, Part 3 will be about all the fantastic places to quench your thirst, for all you drinkers out there. Stay tuned.