Where to eat in Downtown Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

The most important things to me when traveling are: food, coffee, ice cream. I was pleasantly surprised with Downtown Phoenix’s hipster coffee houses, food hall with amazing vendors, ramen burgers, creative cocktails and on and on. Here they are…

WHERE TO EAT: 

Matt’s Big Breakfast, the most popular breakfast place in Phoenix.

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

It was crowded but I got a seat right away at the counter.

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Their bacon is the thing to get. But I really really liked the hashbrown.

Bitter & Twisted — a low-key cocktail bar/restaurant. Easily my favorite in Phoenix.

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Their menu looks like a video game manual:

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You choose based on how strong and how eclectic you want your drinks.

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Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Strawberry “sundae”: zubrowka bison grass vodka with cream, strawberries, chocolate, vanilla and banana liqueurs — LOVED this!!!!!

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This is where you can find the Ramen Burger.

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

It was a cool concept but the ramen part was too crispy for me. Great burger.

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Typhoon chicken: fried chicken and 8 spice salt, bread crumbs, chilies, scallion, garlic and watermelon kimchi lettuce cups. Highly recommended.

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Tiramisu — this was AMAZING (and alcoholic). I would’ve stayed for longer but I was drinking by myself and the place got really busy. Definitely highly recommend this place to anyone visiting Phoenix!!!!!

Desoto Central Market — I actually liked it so much, I came back the next day. It’s a food hall and beer garden and also art space.

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

The outdoor beer garden.

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Plenty of space and seating.

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Get oysters at Walrus & the Pearl!

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Get some baos at Adobo Dragon:

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

The Larder + the Delta:

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

The best thing there? FRIED CHICKEN SKIN PO BOY. It’s just the skin, no meat, but so crispy and tasty!!!

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Pig ear “cheetos”

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Cauliflower — this was my least favorite dish.

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Tea & Toast — I got their black rose latte the first time and loved it! Then I got the “london fog”, which was earl grey with lavender, also really good.

The rest of the space:

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

FOR COFFEE:

Jobot Coffee

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Great iced lattes and music. Now I’m obsessed with Odesza.

Be Coffee & Food & Stuff:

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

The layout allows for shared space with other art companies that want to use it as a venue at night.

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Really loved their lattes.

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Toast with mascarpone and jam… so gooooood.

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

I loved this space.

The Cafe at Phoenix Public Market serves Cartel coffee.

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

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Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

FOR ICE CREAM:

Melt

Phoenix, Arizona (April 2016)

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They have flavors like Trix, banana pudding, lucky charms, etc. all served in a Chinese take-out container with a fortune cookie.

Travelogue: Driving from Vancouver to Seattle to Portland (June 2015)

On the second leg of our PDX-SEA-YVR trip, we drove from Vancouver to Seattle, stopped for a bit and drove back to Portland.

We started off with Vancouver dim sum, which is a MUST. Fisherman’s Terrace is inside the Aberdeen Centre (aka Asian mall) and has some of the best shrimp rolls ever. I really wish New York dim sum could live up to this standard. Maybe in 10 more years.

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You check off a list of dim sum and they bring it to you, fresh. Yes, you can opt for an English list, but I wanted to show off my Chinese.

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The pictures could’ve turned out better, but I was in a hurry to devour.

After a long (but tolerable) queue at the border line, we were back in America.

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The creamiest, best blueberry ice cream exists in Bow, Washington at Bow Hill Blueberry (and I thought I had the best in Maine; I was wrong). It was a random sighting of a blueberry farm — I love exploring the country this way.

We got to Taylor Shellfish Farms in Bow. Also amazing because you get to shuck your own oysters here.

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One of the freshest oysters we’ve had on this trip. They’ve converted me into a West Coast oyster lover. So creamy, so meaty.

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After we shuck them, we chuck them. Really. Into the ground below us.

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Plenty of outdoor seating and picnic tables.

Back in Seattle, we had to try Din Tai Fung as it’s so wildly raved about.

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I was a bit disappointed with the soup dumplings because they’re hyped up to be the best. Yes, the skin was really thin and they were tasty, but there wasn’t enough soup in there for me. The crab meat did not distinguish itself amongst the pork, and we compared it with the ones with plain pork inside.

BUT — everything ELSE was really good!

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Was it worth a 1-hour wait? Perhaps. There’s nothing to do nearby though, since it’s inside a mall (Bellevue location). So we spent some time playing shooting games at Dave & Buster’s.

Back to Portland.

The BEST brunch of the trip at Screen Door!!! (Yes, three exclamation points)

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That was the best fried oyster benedict I’ve ever had. I used to think NOLA was great for fried oysters but WOW THESE ARE HUGE! It came with 3 fried oysters and 2 poached eggs on top of bacon and toasted english muffins. It was perfect.

Of course, it was an hour wait on a Saturday for 2. Like every other brunch place in Portland.

Also, $2.50 for unlimited Stumptown coffee is great.

After unlimited coffee, we had more coffee.

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Coava Coffee Roasters.

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We ended the trip with more food.

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Nong’s Khao Man Gai. Their KMG sauce is goooooood. The dish didn’t blow my mind or anything, but it was some good juicy tender chicken.

Anddddd that was it! It took me almost half a year to finish blogging about this trip. There were lots of good eats, coffee, and nature. I’m sure I will be back.

Travelogue: Vancouver – Part 1 (June 2015)

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From the previous post, the sunset from BC ferry (From Victoria to Vancouver).

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Stanley Park — like Central Park of NYC, lots of biking and scenic views of water and trees.

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Spent the morning at the park and went to the Lululemon Lab (pictures were prohibited) — got hungry and ate at the nearby Benkei Ramen:

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After lunch, we went to Aberdeen Centre in Richmond — an Asian shopping mall with a food court.

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I love mango drinks.

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My loot from a candy store.

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Really wanted to try these sushi but was too full…

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Next, we drove to Granville Island, which has a ton of shops and food. In Vancouver, you never stop eating.

We came here for one thing: The Lobster Man.

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You pick your own oysters, clams, anything you want and they weigh them — at great prices!

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We walked around the island some more.

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Back at the hotel, we shuck our own oysters.

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We also got live spot prawns.

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From our hotel, we saw the sun set and also to the right (not pictured) was the Richmond Night Market setting up for the next day (for the next post!) — I was pleasantly surprised that it was happening right across from where we were staying.

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At night, we went to Ho Yuan Kee for the famous Vancouver crab with sticky rice. To be honest, I’ve had better in NYC. This was a full day of nonstop eating…

Miami Beach Eats: The Bazaar by José Andrés

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Continuing from the previous post, we crossed over to Miami Beach and took a stroll. We stumbled upon the Holocaust Memorial, which was breathtaking and at the same time a bit eerie at night.

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“The centerpiece of the Memorial is the Sculpture of Love and Anguish, an enormous bronze representation of an outstretched arm, rising from the earth and stretching toward the heavens. The entire sculpture area comprises vignettes of family members trying to help each other in a final act of love.”

It was a stunning and dramatic piece of sculpture.

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Next, we had a reservation at the Bazaar.

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Please excuse the dark pictures.

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This was a classy restaurant; I would recommend making reservations. The reason I came here was for the innovative “gastronomy” dishes. José Andrés is known for his creative fusion plates. On the menu, there is a new world section and an old world section (for the traditional tapas). We picked several dishes and shared.

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“Cubano” in honor of Cafe Versailles.

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Sea urchin and tempura shiso leaves. Whenever I see uni on the menu, I just have to order it. Apparently, we were the first ones to order this new dish. Chef was so excited he came out to ask us how it was. I liked it!

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Special of the day: Lamb that falls off the bones… so good.

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Cuban Coffee Rubbed Churrasco – highly recommended! There’s this foam on top and passion fruit on the bottom. The meat was tender and juicy. I loved this dish.

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Smoked Oysters: ice and smoke, apple mignonette. The foam was smoky!

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Bone Marrow with Caribbean white truffles, florida citrus, capers.

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Dessert was the best part!

Top: “mango bubble tea”- what a pleasant surprise! I loved this!!!
Bottom: “Pan Con Chocolate” – chocolate cream, cocoa crumble, brioche ice cream, and olive oil.

I loved the creativity that they showed throughout the meal.

Travelogue: New Orleans Days 1-2

My first time in NOLA. Of course, we stayed in the French Quarters and did all the touristy things.

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Dinner at SoBou — which stands for “South of Bourbon St.”

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Alligator corndogs.

 

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First gumbo in NOLA.

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There was a rustic yet modern feel.

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Stayed at the bar. The bartenders were welcoming and knowledgeable. There’s a metallic baby in that drink.

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Creative small bites. Yellowfin tuna tartare cones with basil avocado ice cream.

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Foie gras burger: Pan seared Hudson Valley foie gras, sunny side up yard egg, duck bacon, & foie gras mayo on a caramelized onion brioche bun served with pork cracklin’ & a mini Abita root beer and foie gras ice cream float. The ice cream float was my favorite. It comes in a separate glass and didn’t taste like foie gras at all, but I loved it!

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Crispy oyster tacos.

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Crispy chicken on the bone.

The great thing about NOLA is that if you don’t finish your drink at the bar, you can ask for a sippy cup to go.

We ended the night early because we had to get ready for the next morning’s bike tour — a drinking one, nonetheless.

I found Confederacy of Cruisers Bicycle Tour on Yelp. They have tours for eating, drinking, and just plain bike tours around town. They’ll take you away from the French Quarters to other areas that are not as touristy.

 

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Our tour guide was so cool.

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She took us to a local pub. 5 drinks are included in the tour.

We got to the riverfront.

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These are backpedal bikes, which led to my fall -_- We didn’t get to finish the tour because of a little accident… BUT I would still recommend the tour to anyone who is even slightly more agile than I am.

We had to hit up the #1 tourist spot in the French Quarters — Acme oyster house.

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Their chargrilled oysters were highly raved about, but I found them to be extremely anorexic in size although tasty.

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Seafood etouffee with fried crawfish was good, but not worth the price tag.

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Walking around NOLA, you find a lot of balconies that are decorated with beads and shiny balls.

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Love the architecture here.

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Walk east and you’ll find yourself at the French Market. The farmers’ market is not exactly what it sounds; there are vendors that are restaurants selling dishes of food. The flea market is exactly what it sounds like.

 

 

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Selling soaps.

 

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Tshirts.

 

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It’s New Orleans — of course they would sell alligators…

 

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You could find these masks everywhere. I already have one at home from years ago when my friend went to NOLA.

 

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The “farmers’ market” had lots of these little storefronts that sold food.

Next, we stopped by Cafe Du Monde for their famous cafe au lait and beignets.

 

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We didn’t want to linger around and fight for seats, so we stood in line to get them to go. Even THAT took about 20 minutes…

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We passed by Jackson Square, a National Historic Landmark and perfect photo opportunity.

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On the way back, we found many stores that sold pralines and candy. Souvenirs galore!

 

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There are many art galleries on Royal St. Very interesting window displays…

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I ate the beignets when we got back to the hotel. I thought they were overrated but good enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. They’re kinda like fried zepoles in New York.

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I also got a fried oyster po-boy from Verte Marte, a deli on Royal St where you can get anything on your sandwich. It’s very popular and gets crowded. There’s no seating so it’s just a grab-and-go.

After that po-boy, I passed out from walking all day (and eating all day).

Travelogue: Chicagoland Day 3 (Girl & the Goat)

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We started off the day with lattes. Mine was vanilla rose. Spent the late morning/afternoon at Fabcakes.

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Breakfast sandwich in a croissant (Egg, tomato, basil, cheddar, and bacon+$0.75) — delicious.

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Polish Zapiekanka — an open face french bread melt with caramelized onion, mushroom, swiss cheese. It was meh.

After that, we stopped by Portillo’s — a must for tourists to get a chicagodog.

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As per Yelp reviews, we got the Italian beef. The beef was dry and bland and fell out of the sandwich along with 2 slices of peppers.

Our next stop: shopping on Michigan Ave. I love walking down that street, with stores on your right and left. Of course, I had to take a picture of Anthropologie’s storefront.

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We were tired from a day of walking around. It was time to meet my cousin for dinner. I had made a reservation at Girl & the Goat MONTHS in advance because I knew this was the “IT” place.

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They had an extensive cocktail and wine list.

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I loved my cider.

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Started off with raw oysters. There was too much pickled flavor for my liking, but those were some good oysters.

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Roasted beets salad: green beans, white anchovy, avocado creme fraiche, bread crumb. They give you a generous amount of beets, which I love.

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One of my favorite dishes here: wood oven roasted pig face with sunny side egg, tamarind, cilantro, red wine-maple, potato stix. They instruct you to destroy it completely to oblivion…

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Pig and egg: such a wonderful combination.

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Pan fried shishito peppers with parmesan, sesame and miso. Shishito peppers aren’t known to be spicy, but I was lucky enough to get one spicy pepper in there.

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Another one of my faves. Pan roasted arctic char with kohlrabi escabeche, miso-harissa, spiced cashew.

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Diver scallops with sweet curry, sweet onion-bacon, papadum. Very good but pricey — we had to add a third one for an additional cost.

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This one did not work well for me. Confit goat belly with bourbon butter, lobster n’ crab, fennel. The bourbon butter and lobster and crab was an odd combination against the goat belly.

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This was surpringly good and not gamey. Goat carpaccio with smoked trout roe and olive-maple vinaigrette.

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We added another dish because we really wanted to try everything! duck tongues with tuna and black bean poke, crispy wontons, piri piri. DELICIOUS!!! Perfectly crispy and the whole dish came together.

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Dessert time. Our waitress informed us that this was new to the menu. Plantain cake with cream cheese-chocolate chip gelato, passion fruit, left hand milk stout. SO good but we couldn’t finish it.

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We also chose two cheeses; the waitress was very knowledgable and knew everything about the menu!

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The bill for 3 people.

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