Meet me in Montreal

I love and adore Montreal. The city is what I imagine NYC would look like if it was European. There is so much to see, eat and do in Montreal that fitting it into a long weekend seems impossible but is doable if you plan it right! Below are the places I ate at in Montreal. There is a great range of cuisine from classic French, French Canadian to Indonesian. Hope you enjoy the guide below!

1.) Schwartz’s- GO HERE! The line is long but we were sat in 20 minutes so not too bad at all. The classic smoked meat sandwich is shareable between 2 people but if you’re absolutely famished then get one for yourself. The meat is so so so juicy and packed with copious amount of flavor. You can tell the meat was prepared with so much love and boy did I love eating it.

Smoked meat sandwich

Smoked meat sandwich

2.) La Banquise- You’re in Montreal so poutine is a must. We get jalapenos and beef on our poutine which in the end felt too heavy. Getting the classic version is the way to go! The fries and cheese curds were delicious and I definitely picked through the dish to get to just that.

Jalapeno, onion rings and ground beef poutine

Jalapeno, onion rings and ground beef poutine

3.) Le Fantome Restaurant- Le Fantome specializes in New Canadian cuisine and offers a tasting menu. We opted for the tasting and got to try a variety of pastas and meats throughout the evening. I also loved the candlelit space. It’s very cozy, intimate and ideal for a date night or a special celebration.

Lobster and mushroom

Lobster and mushroom

Pasta course (cacio e pepe style)

Pasta course (cacio e pepe style)

3.) St. Viateur Bagel Shop- So I loved these bagels! Also love being able to dip bagels into cream cheese instead of spreading haha. Surprisingly these bagels were soft. Try to get them warm because they’re extra delicious when they’re fresh out of the oven.

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4.) Fairmount Bagel- I personally prefer the bagels from St.Viateur more. The bagels from Fairmount are good but I found them to have a stiffer texture. They do have a variety of flavors for you to choose from though.

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5.) Larry’s- This was one of my favorite restaurants in Montreal. Larry’s is a cozy all day cafe with a definite millennial vibe but most importantly every single dish there is delicious. It’s an eclectic menu where the vegetables are as delicious as the pancakes and somehow the anchovy spaghetti is out of this world. Highly recommend for brunch!

Anchovy spaghetti

Anchovy spaghetti

Scrambled eggs

Scrambled eggs

Pancakes

Pancakes

6.) Le Club Chasse Et Peche Restaurant- This restaurant is known for their game & fish dishes. The cook on the meats were just as we requested. Think tender, juicy and flavorful. The fish dishes here were also good and especially so the lobster.

American Wagyu, mushrooms, whelks, marrow sauce

American Wagyu, mushrooms, whelks, marrow sauce

Broccoli rabe, pinenuts, cauliflower puree

Broccoli rabe, pinenuts, cauliflower puree

7.) Arthurs Nosh Bar- Expect to wait on line here but the wait is worth it, especially for brunch. The menu offers your typical brunch staples but the cook on everything is wonderful, well portioned and packed with flavor. The ingredients are also very fresh like the smoked salmon. You’ll be super full after the meal but also super happy.

Gravalax: smoked salmon, poached egg, avocado, capers, dill

Gravalax: smoked salmon, poached egg, avocado, capers, dill

No Budget Brit’s Schnitzel: chicken schnitzel, whipped honey, french dressing with an added fried egg

No Budget Brit’s Schnitzel: chicken schnitzel, whipped honey, french dressing with an added fried egg

9.) Nonya- We did takeout Indonesian food for our last night in Montreal and it was an ideal way to close out Montreal. I enjoyed the heat in the dishes (not too spicy) and we had a good mix of curries and small bites. The tumeric rice was a standout for me because it was well seasoned. Also loved the shrimp curry that had a beautiful aroma.

Red curry shrimp, dumplings in peanut butter sauce, peanut butter chicken, turmeric rice

Red curry shrimp, dumplings in peanut butter sauce, peanut butter chicken, turmeric rice

Honorable mentions where I could not find the pictures I took of the food: Cadet which has a New Canadian menu and does well on meats and Nhau Bar where the cocktails and ambience are incredible but also has a delicious small bites menu featuring the best shrimp buns I’ve ever had. Can’t wait to be back in Montreal!

This is Nhau Bar by the way. So pretty!

This is Nhau Bar by the way. So pretty!

36 hours in Chicago

My first time in Chicago was during the polar vortex of 2019 and well it was quite the welcome into the Windy City. Despite the weather mishap I did my best to see and eat the best foods the city has to offer although I think I barely scratched the surface of the Chicago food scene. Some of the highlights during this trip included the Art Institute of Chicago and it’s impressive collection, an unforgettable dinner at Alinea and eating deep dish at Pequod’s. Below are the rest of the places I enjoyed eating at during the weekend.

1.) Marisol- The restaurant is located inside of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago which, has awesome exhibits by the way. I ordered the onion, fennel, potato soup with a side of tea (they have many loose leaf teas for you to choose from) which was ideal for a cold day.

Onion, fennel, potato soup with a side of tea

Onion, fennel, potato soup with a side of tea

2.) Alinea- There are not enough words to describe Alinea except that it is worth the money and you will remember this dinner for the rest of your life. I am so happy that we were able to experience Chef Grant Achatz’s vision. I’ve admired him for a long time and Alinea is just proof of his ingenuity. Below are some of the highlight dishes.

Wagyu steak

Wagyu steak

French toast brioche with black truffles

French toast brioche with black truffles

Dessert bomb

Dessert bomb

3.) Portillo’s- This may be a chain but I genuinely enjoyed these Chicago hot dogs. I love the sesame buns and the fact that it is loaded with relish, peppers, and pickles. I prefer these hot dogs to the NYC ones easily.

Classic Portillo’s hot dogs

Classic Portillo’s hot dogs

4.) Au Cheval- We had to wait 45 minutes to get a seat here but I had heard horror stories of a 2 hour wait for this burger. It was a delicious burger but I’m glad the wait was not insane but I honestly don’t think it’s worth 2-3 hour wait. Very juicy and tender burger patty- definitely get the egg!

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5.) Pequod’s- This was delicious Chicago deep dish. We got a small for 2 people and even that felt like too much. Ultimately Chicago deep dish…is absolutely more a cheese pie than a pizza. Sorry I said it but it’s true. However, that doesn’t make it any less delicious. Pequod’s had a great tangy tomato sauce that cuts through the heaviness of the cheese which you’ll appreciate a lot when you’re on your second slice.

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6.) Publican Quality Meats- We went here for brunch and enjoyed the selection of meat dishes that the shop had to offer. Below is the chicken parmesan sandwich I ordered which, was so good! It actually had a bit of heat to it which I loved!

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7.) Doughnut Vault- The doughnut vault is a literal hole in the wall that opens in the morning and closes when the last donut is sold so try to get there on the earlier side. We were able to snag some of their famous buttermilk old fashioned donuts in the afternoon and they were scrumptious. I loved that they were soft and that you can actually taste the buttermilk!

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It was a wonderful trip to Chicago and I’m happy that I got to check out some of the essential Chicago eateries! On my next trip to the Windy City I'd love to explore the surrounding neighborhoods and get a taste of the real Midwestern foods that I know Chicago has to offer. Until next time!

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If your last day in Colorado involves hiking, beer, food then you've done this place justice

On your last day in Colorado I highly recommend visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. No amount of words can do the mountains, the lake and the forest justice so you have to take my word and see for yourself. The Rockies are about an hour and a half drive away from Denver. You'll need to wake up early if you want to see as much as possible because remember this park is gigantic and especially so if you want to see various lakes, do summit hikes and trek towards waterfalls. A great guide to understanding what different options you have (in terms of hiking) in the park can be found here. I also suggest spending some time on the park's website itself to understand what else you can see and do within the park aside from hiking. There is also a tourism office in the town before entering Rocky Mountain National Park called Estes Park. It's a teeny town along the mountainside with a few restaurants, Rocky Mountain souvenir shops and the Stanley Hotel (the inspiration for the movie, The Shining). Stop by the tourism office in Estes Park if you want more maps or need directions for the park.

View from Mills Lake inside of Rocky Mountain National Park

View from Mills Lake inside of Rocky Mountain National Park

All this talk of hiking the gorgeous Rockies must have you excited but no good hike is possible without a filling nutritious meal. If you're looking to get up early but also in need of a worthy meal check out Snooze AM Eatery. They open at 6:30am and serve all the brunch egg dishes you could possibly want. Their side of hash browns is crisped perfectly and I love their berry jam that comes with toast. You can actually taste the seeds in the jam!

Egg scramble with jalapeños, chicken sausage and goat cheese with a side of sourdough toast and home fries

Egg scramble with jalapeños, chicken sausage and goat cheese with a side of sourdough toast and home fries

Havana Daydreaming Sammie (Free-range house pork, shaved ham, gruyere cheese, homemade pickles and a sunny side egg with Dijon hollandaise, served up open-face on a hoagie roll) 

Havana Daydreaming Sammie (Free-range house pork, shaved ham, gruyere cheese, homemade pickles and a sunny side egg with Dijon hollandaise, served up open-face on a hoagie roll) 

After your hike I highly suggest grabbing a bite to eat within Estes Park. You may have been snacking for fuel throughout your hike but you'll need to recharge for the drive back to Denver. I cannot recommend Nepal's Cafe enough. This cafe is located in the back of a strip mall and run by a Nepalese family that lives in Estes Park. They know just the comfort food to feed you so that you can recuperate from your journey. The fried chicken momos are incredible (comes with a red curry dipping sauce) and their Nepalese coffee is also delicious. 

Fried chicken momos

Fried chicken momos

Once you're back in Denver and in the comfort of your hotel you can finally relax, shower, take a well deserved nap and dream of the beauty that you witnessed today. After you're feeling refreshed you may want to go someplace where you can lay low and enjoy the weather or just people watch. Denver Beer Company is the perfect hang out spot for all of that plus local brew. I loved their raspberry lime shandy and their pretzels are freshly baked, warm and comes with spicy deli mustard that hits the spot!

Local brew, pretzel with spicy deli mustard

Local brew, pretzel with spicy deli mustard

Since this is your last day in Colorado I suggest taking the rest of the late afternoon/evening strolling the city, relaxing in Commons Park or doing some last minute shopping. For your last meal in Denver I recommend Root Down, a trendy farm to table restaurant in the Highlands. Their vegetables are seasonal and truly live up to the hype so don't be nervous to order them. Although I went for happy hour I was so tempted to stay for dinner but regrettably didn't. I hope you won't make the same mistake. Check out their dinner menu- it makes me hungry just thinking about it.

Roasted baby beets, arugula, goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts, sunflower seed pesto

Roasted baby beets, arugula, goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts, sunflower seed pesto

Sweet potato fries with curry lime dipping sauce

Sweet potato fries with curry lime dipping sauce

Colorado lamb slider with harissa aioli 

Colorado lamb slider with harissa aioli 

Leave room after dinner for some ice cream from Little Man Ice Cream. It's a few minutes by walking from Root Down. Not only is the ice cream good at Little Man but you have to see this place. The storefront is a huge milk jug! You can enjoy your ice cream in the ample seating area with string lights hanging above right next to the store. It's very cozy. 

German cake chocolate ice cream 

German cake chocolate ice cream 

It's been a great few days exploring Colorado and the Rockies were the perfect way to close out this vacation. Until next time Colorado! 

There is more to Philly than just cheesesteaks

Philly has an amazing selection of food ranging from Mediterranean food to the classic American Philly cheesesteak sandwich. This past weekend I had a great time exploring the cobblestones of Society Hill and Center City. Philly is that beautiful cross between Brooklyn Heights and the West Village with much cheaper rent! The cafes are cute, happy hour is always in full swing and tasting menus won't always break the bank. Below are a list of some of my favorite Philly finds.

1. Lolita- Really good Mexican food on a very trendy street in Philly. Get here for their happy hour specials for $5 food and drinks. The watermelon margaritas have actual pieces of watermelon and the ceviche is delicious. 

Salmon ceviche

Salmon ceviche

2. Bud & Marilyn- The interior of Bud & Marilyn reminds me of The Smith but the happy hour here may be superior. During happy hour all drinks and food are under $5- and each dish is worth it. As soon as it is 5pm you will find tropical cocktails and their famous frozen rosé (which does run out so hurry!)

Kielbasa with spicy mustard

Kielbasa with spicy mustard

Nashville hot bun- fried chicken, little pickles, ranch, pickle brine slaw

Nashville hot bun- fried chicken, little pickles, ranch, pickle brine slaw

3. Double Knot- Double Knot is a fusion sushi bar that extends beyond sushi. If you want to eat their full dinner menu you'll be lead downstairs where there is another bar, ample seating and dim lighting. It almost feels like a speakeasy. On the menu you will find Japanese scallops, meat and vegetable robatayaki, tempura cheese curds and so much more. We did the chef's tasting which is $55 for 10 selections and 1 dessert and a great way to taste all aspects of the big menu! 

Soy glazed salmon 

Soy glazed salmon 

4. Federal Donuts- These donuts may be the best donuts I've ever had! They're freshly baked throughout the day so they're pipping hot when served. Although they may be smaller in size than some of the donuts that you find here in NYC, the flavors are all there. Simple and humble flavors done right make for some of the best food and that is definitely the case for Federal Donuts. Oh and did I mention they also serve fried chicken? I can't think of a better pairing than donuts with fried chicken.

Cinnamon brown sugar donuts

Cinnamon brown sugar donuts

5. Miles Table- Miles End is on a really nice street in Philly and very busy during peak brunch hours. Who could blame them? The portions are generous, the selection of brunch food is delicious and the prices are great. The brunch menu ranges from various types of sandwiches, your typical egg dishes, salads, pizzas, grilled cheese and much more! 

Turkey club sandwich with chips, avocado toast with 2 sunnyside eggs, potatoes and smoked salmon on the side

Turkey club sandwich with chips, avocado toast with 2 sunnyside eggs, potatoes and smoked salmon on the side

6. Greenstreet Coffee Co.-Greenstreet is a charming neighborhood coffee joint that takes pride in how they brew their coffee. Although I only got the regular iced coffee (pictured below) which, was delicious by the way I overheard the barista explain the nitro brew which encompasses Guinness in the process. It was too late for me to change my order but you should definitely try the nitro brew when you're there!

Iced Coffee

Iced Coffee

7. Kanella Grill- This was my second time at Kanella Grill and thank god I returned. The first time I went I accidentally stumbled upon this place and decided to give it a shot. I am so happy I took the chance because the food is delicious here. I love the spices and wholesome ingredients of all the dishes I've had here so far. The food is light but filling and they truly abide by the philosophy that simple food done right is the best kind of food- and of course I agree! This place is cash only. 

Falafel platter with fries, hummus, tomato salad, pickled vegetables, pita and tzatziki sauce

Falafel platter with fries, hummus, tomato salad, pickled vegetables, pita and tzatziki sauce

8. Isgro's- Upon wandering and getting lost in the Italian neighborhood, we found this 100 year old bakery which serves Italian pastries. We walked in and could smell the fresh cookies being baked, grandmas placing giant orders for baked goods and beautiful looking eclairs. We got the eclair (pictured below) which was huge, generously filled with cream and a had healthy dose of chocolate on the top. It was worth getting lost to find this gem. 

Chocolate eclair with cream inside

Chocolate eclair with cream inside