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Travel Guide: Where to Eat and Apres Ski in Zermatt

Zermatt is such an interesting Swiss ski village, known for great skiing and after ski, but also different types of cuisine, since it is right near the Italian border. We wanted to make sure to have the best, most quintessential types of cuisine and drinks while staying the Zermatt for three nights. Here’s our guide to the best places to eat and grab a gluwein after a long day on the slopes.

Where to Eat:

The beautifully alpine interior of Sonmatten in Zermatt.

Sonnmatten: We had a spectacular four-course dinner at Sonnmatten in Zermatt town. Walking into this restaurant feels like walking into a chic Alpine hideaway. The tables are rustic wood covered in sheep skin, there are sparkling chandeliers and beautiful flower arrangements throughout. They also have a patio out the back that is perfect for après ski decorated in the same fashion in the sun.

The most amazing beed and vegetables at Sonmatten in Zermatt, Switzerland.

We had the most flavorful food at Sonnmatten. We started with the tomato and cream soup that came along with some delicious bread. This was so hearty and warm, making it the perfect starter after being out in the cold all day. The presentation of the soup (and every course) was beautiful. The bread, for instance, had a country plain towel in the bowl. Our water came out in a glass decanter with pieces of oranges and basil in it.

Our next course was cavatelli pasta with mushrooms, truffles and a cream sauce. This was rich and hearty, and the flavors worked so well together. Next was our main course, the most decadent filet of beef with roasted vegetables, potatoes and a peppercorn sauce. The beef was cooked to perfection. It was rare, yet it was so incredibly tender. We inquired about the cooking technique and learned that the beef is slow cooked for six hours, causing it to melt in your mouth once you take a bite. The presentation of this dish was also just beautiful. It came on a giant serving platter and was colorful because of the sliced zucchini and tomatoes and fennel. Finally, we ended the meal with frozen Swiss yogurt with cherry compote, which was a really complex dessert that changed the further down in the pot you reached.

The most traditional looking restaurant for fondue.

Walliserkeller:  No trip to Switzerland is complete without eating fondue. The Swiss are synonymous with cheese, and during our trip to Zermatt, we pretty much ate our weights in cheese. We wanted  a traditionally Swiss experience, so our first night we had dinner at Wallisserkeller Restaurant at Riffelalp Resort (which we reviewed here).The setting of the restaurant was just perfect. The walls were made of stone and wood and the upholstery on the chairs was a rustic red plaid. They had wood sheep cutouts throughout the restaurants.

Fondue at Walliserkeller

To start, we ordered raclette, which is a famous Swiss dish of melted cheese with potatoes and other vegetables. It’s every bit as decadent as it sounds, but it is worth each calorie. Following this, we ordered cheese fondue. (We were really committed to the theme of the evening!). This came with chunks of bread to dip in but I also asked for some pickled vegetables to dip as well. This was everything we wanted and more, even though it was a whole lotta cheese. It was warm and gooey and kinda fun to eat. We should have grabbed the check at this point, but they had chocolate fondue on the menu for dessert. The small pot of rich chocolate came with chopped bananas, melons, pineapple and apples. It was also worth every calorie (sensing a theme?). Luckily we skied 25 miles earlier that day and created a calorie deficit to fill.

The most delicious pasta at Cervinia, Italy’s Chalet Plantorette.

Chalet PlanTorette: On our last ski day in Zermatt, we did a run that I’ve wanted to do for years. From Zermatt, you are able to ski to a lovely ski village in the Italian alps called Cervinia. The run itself is absolutely beautiful and scenic, and one of the added bonuses is that you’ll get to indulge in some amazing Italian food while you’re there.

The love sign on the patio of Chalet PlanTorette in Cervinia, Italy.

We found the most charming Italian restaurant on the slopes called Chalet PlanTorette. The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating. Indoors, there is a full menu with loads of homemade pastas, eggplant parmesan and other classic Italian dishes. The outdoor section is takeaway to sit in the sun, and has pizzas, hamburgers and some items from the Italian menu. We ordered the eggplant to start followed by spaghetti bolognese and gnocchi. Each bite was amazing and the only thing we regretted was not being able to finish our meals because they were so rich. After a very full meal, we skied away back towards Switzerland but not before going out back on the patio where they have a giant Love sign to snap a few photos. It was a very memorable part of the trip.

Apres Ski:

Gluhwein for two at Chez Vrony in Zermatt, Switzerland.

Chez Vrony: This super chic restaurant is on the slopes, so you’ll have to ski to and from it. They have the most elegant of outdoor patios on the mountain where people let their 2pm lunch seating extend into apres ski. We made a 2pm reservation and ordered some burgers, pasta and gluhwein while overlooking the mountain.

The restaurant’s history dates back more than 100 years. It attracts a young but polished crowd sipping rose and apparel spritzs. Luckily it’s a very short way to the ski lift to get to Zermatt village, so you’ll only have to be on your skis for about two minutes when you leave.

Mark Twain Lounge: Located at the Riffelalp Resort, this high end bar has everything you want in apres ski. It’s got rich leather chairs, fur throws and live piano playing each evening. We had some strong drinks and took in the music. You can ski here and take the tram down after a few drinks as it’s very close to the Riffelalp tram stop.

Our Aperol Spritzs at Harry’s Bar for apres ski n Zermatt

Harry’s Ski Bar: Harry’s Ski Bar is an institution in Zermatt. Located in Zermatt town, locals and tourists alike retire to this spot for apres ski. The bar is understated but exactly what’s in order after a day on skis. We came here twice during our short stay for Aperol Spritzs. They have solid drinks (Also try the local red wine) and a good soundtrack and it felt like a really authentic spot.

Paperla Pub: For a high energy (If not a teeny bit fratty) ares ski, Paperla Pub is the spot. This bar has a live cover band nightly that was so much fun to sing and dance to. We stayed here for an embarrassingly long time one night drinking gluhwein, vodka sodas and caramel vodka shots. It made for an interesting morning.

More Travel Guides to Switzerland:

Travel Guide: Zermatt’s Riffelalp Resort

Travel Guide: Zurich

Travel Guide: Zurich’s Hotel Glockenhof

Travel Guide: Zermatt’s Riffelalp Resort

Views from Riffelalp Resort in Zermatt, Switzerland.

We had the privilege of spending three glorious nights at Riffelalp Resort in Zermatt and I can’t stop gushing about the experience to anyone who will listen.

This five-star resort is nestled into the mountains of Matterhorn, providing the best views of the mountain and ski-in, ski-out access. Skiing Matternhorn has been near the tippy top of my bucket list for some time, so the ability to not only ski it but to stay in such a beautiful setting at Riffelalp was the cherry on top.

Riffelalp is pure luxury in every respect, from their attentive staff and service to the beautiful rooms and amenities. Upon checking in, I instantly fell in love with the rustic decor of Riffelalp. The hotel is adorned with four different types of sheep in gold and silver, frosted white and brown. They are a mascot of sorts for the mountain resort, which is known for black-nosed sheep in the warmer months.

As this was a ski vacation for us, Riffelalp was absolutely perfectly situated for us to make the most of our time while in Zermatt. At 2,222-meters up (7,290 feet!), Riffelalp has ski and snowboard rentals on its premises, as well as an amazing building to keep your skis and gear after a day on the slopes. Each morning we’d head to the ski house, put on our gear and literally ski out the door as Riffelalp is located on a run. Within minutes, you are on the slopes, which is just the best way to start the day because it allowed us to get many more runs in. It was also great to have a place to drop off our items at the end of the day before decamping for a drink.

I loved the decor and little touches throughout Riffelalp that made it rustic chic.

Our room was spacious and I loved that the decor from the lobby translated throughout the hotel in a very cohesive way. In 2016, they had a renovation that elevated the style of the hotel, making it a real treat for design buffs. Every which way you turn there is a truly instagrammable image worth capturing.

Riffelalp has 65 rooms and five suites. Our room was on the third floor, just down the hall from their spa. The rooms were stocked with luxury L’occitane bath products, which was a nice touch. The floors in the bathroom have radiant heating, helping you get rid of a chill from the mountains. We had a beautiful patio outside to enjoy our Veuve Cliquot champagne on which was waiting for us upon arrival.

We looked forward to the variety of foods at Riffelalp’s breakfast each morning.

Your stay at Riffelalp comes with breakfast in the morning, which is such a treat and necessary in order to fuel yourself for a day of skiing. Breakfast is located in the Alexandre Restaurant with views of the Toblerone. Each morning we were escorted to a cozy table overlooking the mountain where we watched the sun come up over Matterhorn while eating Swiss cheese and snapping photos of the mountain. Breakfast at Riffelalp is something I will truly miss. There is a massive buffet stocked with everything you could possibly dream of to eat.

We loved the omelette station where I would get scrambled eggs and bacon each morning and my boyfriend would get an omelette and sausage and all of the fixings. I became a huge fan of muesli on this trip thanks to their fresh muesli and toppings such as strawberry granola, goji berries and raisins. There was yogurt, fresh pastries with jams and nutella, the most delicious charcuterie board with Italian cured meats and a variety of cheeses. And, for the health conscious, there were fresh pressed juices each morning. I was a big fan of the spinach, avocado and orange juice each morning.

I was truly blown away by how many activities Riffelalp has on its premises. You could have a truly first-class vacation there without ever leaving the hotel’s premises, if you chose. For those with children, they have a wonderful “Kindergarten” center with a teacher to watch your kids. They have tons of activities on the premises for the children and a children’s dinner each night. There is an amazing bowling alley for guests that we had an absolute ball in one night after dinner. A quick game of bowling turned into two hours of bowling and an intense competition that I’m happy to say I won. There is also a great billiards room for those looking to play a little pool.

In addition to activities, they have several restaurants and bars for everything from classic Swiss fondue to a post-ski warm gluwein (my personal favorite). We’ll go more in depth in a blog post dedicated solely to where to eat and drink while In Zermatt, but Riffelalp has the following on its premises: Ristorante Al Bosco: an Italian eatery with a beautiful sundeck open for lunch and dinner; Restaurant Alexandre: international cuisine serving breakfast and dinner; Restaurant Walliserkeller: A Swiss restaurant serving up classic dishes such as fondue and raclette; The Mark Twain Bar and Lounge: a beautiful, rustic lounge with strong drinks, live piano and a great ambiance.

Alpine chic setting for apres ski drinks

We had the pleasure of experiencing a lot of the food and beverage options at Riffelalp, and all were so well executed and delicious. The first day we arrived we came back from a day of skiing and retreated to the Mark Twain Lounge. I could spend days in this lounge with their fur throws and oversized, cozy leather chairs. We got two glasses of gluwein which turned into four glasses of gluwein and caught up about the day. That night, we had dinner at Walliserkeller and had fondue and cheese overload, but in a good way.

One of the offerings that impressed me the most was Riffelalp’s spa. We’re going to have a separate post just dedicated to the spa, because it’s that exquisite, but we’ll give you a high-level idea of it here. The spa features Europe’s highest outdoor pool that is situated directly facing Matterhorn mountain. The spa is luxury at its finest and it has just SO many options for guests. we spent a ton of time in the heated outdoor pool inhaling the Alpine air and taking in views of the Matterhorn. We also alternated in and out of the amazing treatment rooms, such as the steam room , sauna, organic sauna, whirlpool and grotto. It should be noted that spa access is limited to guests of the hotel.

The hotel is right off of the stop of the snow train that runs up and down the mountain all day, making commuting home from dinner or shopping in the village a breeze. Zermatt doesn’t allow any full-size cars, so the train is something everyone uses to get around. It’s a charming and efficient way to explore Zermatt.

Riffelalp exceeded our already extremely high expectations and felt like a cozy, luxurious home away from home while we were exploring Zermatt. It is part of the exclusive Luxury Hotels of the World group, and it’s evident why once you set foot into the hotel.

More Travel Guides to Switzerland:

Travel Guide: Where to Eat & Apres Ski in Zermatt 

Travel Guide: Zurich

Travel Guide: Zurich’s Hotel Glockenhof

Travel Guide: Zurich’s Hotel Glockenhof

Our room at the Hotel Glockenhof

In early February, we did a whirlwind 24-hour tour of Zurich. Optimizing our time in the city was essential if we wanted to tackle everything on our ambitious itinerary, so staying in a central part of town was very important to us. With this in mind, we decided to stay at Hotel Glockenhof, a four-star hotel that was walking distance to nearly everything we did while in Zurich. (See our travel guide to Zurich here)

The hotel’s location couldn’t be beat. We were able to walk to Lake Zurich and the ZSG cruise boats within 10 minutes. It was about a 15-minute walk to Old Zurich and Grossmunster Church, and Bahnhofstrasse was just five minutes away. This made navigating Zurich incredibly easy and meant that we only took a taxi once during our stay.

We received an early check in as we had taken a redeye overnight from NYC, so this made the rest of our day run much smoother. We were able to go to our room and unpack, shower and get ready for a day of sightseeing right away.

The concierge and staff at Glockenhof were extremely helpful. We showed them our itinerary, and they mapped out a plan to help us tackle it in an efficient way, which was much appreciated.

Our room was spacious. I loved the standalone tub in the bathroom, which also had a separate shower. We also made great used of the coffee machine in the room, which greatly helped with our jet lag. The room was spotless and modern, and had really cute design features throughout.

There is a beautiful garden restaurant at the hotel, which is a great place to unwind over some Swiss cuisine or a glass of wine.

We had a very early train the next morning to Zermatt, so we weren’t able to have the breakfast that was included in our room. But, the staff of the hotel was nice enough to prepare us both breakfast boxes to go, filled with fruit, sandwiches, Swiss chocolate, water and juice.

The location, staff and value of the hotel were truly extraordinary, and I would recommend it as a great home base for your trips to Zurich.

Travel Guide: Zurich

View from the top of Grossmunster Church in Zurich, Switzerland.

On our way to skiing in Zermatt this February (travel guides to come) we spent a day in Zurich and decided to explore the city. Both my boyfriend and I had only flown in and out of Zurich in the past, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get to know this historic city. While we envisioned this as a quick stopover on our way to a ski getaway, we were both blown away by how much we loved Zurich.

Below, find our guide to all the highlights you must tackle while there. Editor’s note: We really packed our day in so that we could do all of the “must-see” attractions. If you are spending more than one day in the city, feel free to break this itinerary up into two days.

ZSG Boat: Some of the best shots we got of Zurich were from a 90-minute boat ride we did with ZSG. This ferry operator runs daily tours around Zurich on Lake Zurich. We did the shortest one, but there are also three-hour tours and some other longer ones. During it, we saw lovely villages along the shore and braved it out onto the bow of the boat in the cold to get some amazing photos. The tickets were inexpensive at around $15 for each of us. Would absolutely recommend it as a good primer to the layout of Zurich.

Winding streets in Zurich, Switzerland.

Walk Around Old Zurich: One of our favorite things to do in Zurich was to walk around the cobblestoned streets of the old part of town, exploring the buildings and churches dating back to the 1600s. This part of town was everything I wanted it to be: pastel homes with pretty shutters, historic churches ringing their bells each hour, winding cobbled stones hilly streets and more. Make sure to walk across the footbridges to see the city at different vantage points. We got some truly amazing photographs in this part of town. It’s just a few minutes from where the boat leaves you off, so you can walk to it after your tour.

Grossmunster Church: In Old Zurich, walk to Grossmunster Church, which is possibly one of the most iconic landmarks on Zurich’s skyline. You’ll be able to notice it because it has two identical domes. Walk inside the 12th-century church, and buy a ticket for 5 Swiss francs to climb to the top of the tower. Here, you’ll get what it the most unbelievable 360-degree view of all of Zurich. This is something not to be missed. Make sure to go earlier on as the tower closes at 4:30pm. A photo of the view is at the top of the post.

Giacometti scupltures at the Kunsthaus Museum in Zurich

Kunsthaus Museum: A ten-minute walk from Grossmunster brings you to Kunsthaus Museum, which was such a treat to visit. Even before you get entry to the museum there is an amazing work of art outside of it that you can peruse: Rodin’s “Gates of Hell.” The museum does an excellent job seamlessly weaving together old masters with more contemporary pieces. I loved the layout and the blonde, wood floors throughout the museum. We saw some truly fantastic works and artists at Kunsthaus, such as Van Gogh, Monet, Manet, Giacometti (it has the largest collection of his works anywhere in the world) Munch, Warhol, Lichtenstein and others. Both the breadth of the collection and the beautiful ways the museum chose to display it blew us away.

Bahnhofstrasse Street: This road in Zurich is paved with high-end shops such as Chanel and Dior, as well as cozy coffee shops and boutiques. It’s on this street that you’ll find Zurich’s most famous Café Spruengli. Be sure to pop in for coffee and some of their macarons.

Cabaret Voltaire: For pre-dinner drinks, we set out to Cabaret Voltaire, the birthplace of Dada and Dadaism. This bar has multiple floors and has a grungy-but-cool feel to it. They are known for their selection of absinthe, but we sipped on cocktails and took in the scene. The patrons seemed like locals, which was nice to observe. It’s worth going for a quick drink before dinner to get the experience.

Dinner at Blindekuh: One of the most memorable experiences of the trip (and probably the most memorable meal I’ve ever had) was dinner at Blinde Kuh (Blind Cow). This restaurant is operated in the pitch dark and is run by blind people. As a result, you experience dinner as if you are blind yourself. After waiting in a hallway looking at a menu, a blind waiter will come and get you and lead you to the restaurant. You hold onto the shoulders of the waiter as it is complete darkness inside and you are seated. The experience was a bit jarring for me at first. It is SO dark inside and you can’t even see your hands or anything in the restaurant. There are no cellphones or light from them and I was pretty much guided by sound the meal. After the first ten minutes, you begin to acclimate and luckily my boyfriend and I are never at a loss for words or conversation, so we spoke the entire dinner like we would anywhere else. Eating the food was challenging, as you can’t see what you are cutting or where your wine glass is, but after enough fumbling around in the dark you get the hang of it. Just two hours away from a cellphone or any light was interesting. We focused much more on sound and taste and other senses. A reservation is required.

Nightcap at Kronnenhalle: This hidden bar is a beautiful spot for a nightcap. The bar’s art collection is really impressive, consisting of Picasso, Chagall and Miro. The drinks are strong and the vibe is really elegant. Editor’s note: our dirty martinis were $25 each, so best to limit it to one drink after dinner.

Ultimate Guide to Brunch in New York City

New Yorkers take their brunches very seriously. And the options are seemingly endless, whether you’re in the mood for farm to table, to boozy, to the brunches where you need to make your reservation months in advance. Brunch is a social event for Manhattanites in and of itself, and can be hard for outsiders to navigate. Years of living here have made us connoisseurs of sorts. Here’s our ultimate guide to where to brunch in NYC. (PS: for most of these spots, you’ll want to make reservations in advance)
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Virginia’s in the East Village is an amazing light-filled brunch spot that is equal parts homey and cool. We went here for a recent brunch and immediately fell in love with the vibe as well as the delicious food.

The brunch menu has a Southern influence, but the dishes are elevated. We started with a stracciatella toast drizzled in honey and aleppo pepper that was delicious. If I were inclined to carbo-load, I would have ordered more of this and had it as my meal because it was so yummy. Then, I had the egg strata with mushrooms cheddar and chives which was satisfyingly salty and decadent. My boyfriend went for the burger, which did not disappoint.

We couldn’t do brunch without some bacon, so we ordered a side of brown sugar bacon that was amazing. A nice perk: during brunch, bottles of wine are half price, which makes it a great place to meet friends or have a brunch date. We also loved the setting with exposed brick and a big window letting sun into the entire restaurant. Virginia’s feels a bit like stepping outside of New York but not sacrificing the quality of food, especially brunch, New Yorkers have come accustomed to.

Israeli lunch at Timna

Timna: If you’re looking for a very flavorful brunch in a cool setting, Timna is it. We ate at this charming East Village restaurant on a recent Sunday afternoon, and we were blown away by how tasty everything we tried was. The menu is a mix of traditional Israeli cuisine, combined with Mediterranean and North African flavors. The menu is set up so that you are given a bunch of starters to nibble on and then you order a main dish and a coffee. It’s very reasonably priced, as it’s a lot of food (we had to take home doggy bag) and is just $25. For $10 additional you can have unlimited drinks, which is a steal in NYC.

Now, onto the food. To start, we were brought a bunch of delightful small plates consisting of delicacies such as: the most delicious falafel, endive lettuce with goat cheese, marinated artichokes and olives, babaganoush, hummus, and warm, fluffy pita to dip into everything. Each dish was better than the next, and could have been a perfect meal in and of itself. For our mains, I had the cowshuka which is an amazing steak dish cooked in a skillet with a poached egg, tahini and tomato and pepper stew. This dish was incredible — maybe one of my favorite brunch dishes ever. The steak was cooked and seasoned to perfection. My boyfriend ordered the shwarma, which consisted of chicken thigh, lamb belly, hummus and tahini. We both left full and happy and will absolutely be returning.

The most delightful brunch at Cocotte in Soho

Cocotte: Located in New York’s Soho neighborhood, Cocotte has everything you could want out of brunch in NYC. It’s got the cutest setting, cool French staff, food that’s presented beautifully and tastes out of this world good. We went on a recent Sunday afternoon and Cocotte just executed on every level.

The inside is small but charming, with chalkboards displaying the day’s specials, rustic wood tables and exposed beams. We started with two coffees as we perused the menu. The coffees were strong and hit the spot on a cold February day. We had the meat and cheese plate to start, and it was to die for.

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Fat Radish: This Lower East Side spot is totally instagrammable and is a complete contrast to the surrounding gritty, graffitied neighborhood. You’ll step inside to a delightfully bright farm to table restaurant, complete with flower pots full of fresh flowers and long wooden community tables. Not only is the atmosphere delightful, but the food is amazing. This isn’t the type of place where you’ll want to stick to your diet. Just trust us and splurge on the lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry jam.

Upland: Located in the Gramercy neighborhood, this new spot has a great feel to it. Tons of natural sunlight and creative cocktails. The checkered runners down the wooden tables also make for a very instagrammable backdrop. The burger is a standout, as are the pizzas. The pastas looked great too, although we haven’t had a chance to try them just yet.
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Santina: This Meatpacking District hotspot is my go-to for lots of different meals, brunch being one of them. We love the Murano blown glass chandeliers throughout and the fun pineapple cups they serve cocktails in. Bonus points: it’s a great spot for a brunch date. Get the Aperol Spritz pitcher and definitely start with their famous Cecina (Mashed chickpea pancakes with your choice of a spread). From their egg dishes to the Swordfish Dogona (my personal fave dish on the menu) you can’t go wrong.

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Jeffrey’s Grocery: This West Village institution has a cozy atmosphere and farm-to-table feel. The food is well worth their no-reservations policy, which can be frustrating at times, but do yourself a favor and wait it out. We went this past weekend and feasted on their burger, which has racket cheese and brisket in the patty, and my friend said it was one of the best he’s had in all of New York City, which is high praise. The fries were awesome as well. I had their corn omelette, which was also delish. Their bloodys looked great, but I stuck to rosé. Go early, drink at the bar and wait for your table to be ready.

Bar Boulud: On the Upper West Side is Bar Boulud, where food is taken very seriously. This is one of my favorite places to go before a stroll through Central Park. The food here is truly impeccable, and this is a bold claim but their ham, gruyere and mushroom omelette is the best egg dish I’ve ever had, period. We also love their steak and eggs, duck confit with potato hash, and literally everything else on the menu.

The Clocktower: Located in an old clocktower (duh!) in the Flatiron District, we instantly fell in love with the feel of this restaurant. It’s set up with rooms of different sizes and lush décor, like their billiards room and the vintage-inspired bar. The whole restaurant feels distinctly vintage and a bit British, in a good way. The food is equally pleasing. We had the full English breakfast and the aged cheddar omelette, both delicious. Oh, and we had the brioche French toast for dessert (don’t judge!)

The Standard Grill: Located in the swanky Standard Hotel, the Standard Grill has a great brunch and even better brunch drinks. We love the outdoor garden seating on warm days and there’s always a good chance you’ll spot a celeb or two. Some of our favorite dishes: the burger, the soft scrambled eggs, fritata, and their waffle. Added bonus, after brunch head on out to their beer garden for drinks after.

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Estela:Two words – “ricotta dumplings.” Just get this dish and thank us later. The egg sandwich at this Nolita restaurant where President Obama has dined is a standout, too. The plates are small, so order a bunch and share them among friends. The restaurant is super cozy.

Locande Verde: This TriBeCa hotspot is one of my all-time favorite restaurants. It’s extremely chic and is simultaneously the best place for dinner, dates, meals with friends and brunch. That is, if you can get a reservation. The food is great. The drinks are strong. The atmosphere is equal parts rustic and sexy. I also appreciate that the menu has something literally for everyone. Feel like carboloading at brunch? Get the paccheri pasta with rock shrimp and calamari. Want something more healthy? There’s steak tartare or Zucchini frittata. Heck, there’s even cold-pressed juices if you’re on a liquid diet. There are also great desserts and sweet dished like lemon ricotta pancakes. You seriously cannot go wrong with Locande Verde.

Mercer Kitchen:In the heart of Soho is Mercer Kitchen which is a super swank restaurant great for a brunch date or brunch with girlfriends over drinks. It’s dark inside, which seems to promote drinking at all hours. The bar is awesome, the food is great. Start with the meatballs and then move on to their burger or egg dishes.

PS: We’ll be adding to this list, so if you have any suggestions, email styleblogger@gmail.com

Travel Guide: San Francisco

We spend a lot of time traversing back and forth to the West Coast, and one of our favorite cities is San Francisco. Between the weather, views, history and buzz around the tech industry, it’s high on our list of favorite U.S. cities. I’ve compiled a list of our must-dos overtime I’m in the area. Be sure to check out other guides we have dedicated to where to eat in San Francisco, where to work out and our guides to Napa Valley!

Do:

Golden Gate Bridge: The iconic Golden Gate Bridge is the ultimate workout (and free to boot). Whether you walk it, run it or bike it, and it is the ideal workout experience because you are surrounded by gorgeous views, meaning your workout will fly by. The trail is 1.7 miles each way, and it is steep at parts. I did stop a few times to take photos (it’s too beautiful not to).

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We spent a night at a new immersive theater experience called “A Night At The Palace,” which was such a fun time. This experience is a mix of theater, lounge, cabaret and gambling, all set in a 1920s speakeasy. I loved that you must dress up in accordance with the time period to attend, so my friends and I set out to find feather headbands, satin gloves, pearls, suspenders and other gear to fit in with the theme. Given the prohibition-era vibe, you check in to the show by meeting on a street corner where a man in a trend coat gives you your “prescription” before being guided to a speakeasy. Everyone stays in character and the decor of the theater looks really authentic and the costumes are so creative.

We stayed at the Palace for around four hours because there was so much to take in. There is a fabulous burlesque and comedy show that is a must-see (make sure to make a reservation) and there is also a casino set up with chips to play roulette, black jack and other games. The experience is very well-executed and you do feel like you’ve been transported back to the 1920s.

Onsen: If you’re looking to relax and unwind, or need a unique date night spot, Onsen is it. This amazing Japanese Onsen (which loosely translates into a resort with a hot spring) has a sauna, steamroom and hot tub in a glam setting that is the perfect spot to decompress and do some self care. We spent two hours rotating between the three and drinking fresh tea and taking cold showers to stimulate our blood flow. It’s going to become a regular tradition on our visits to the Bay Area. We have a full write up about our experience at Onsen here.

Moss-covered redwoods at Muir Woods

Muir Woods: Rent a car and drive 45 minutes outside of San Francisco into an enchanted forest of sorts filled with redwood trees as high as the eye can see. There are also great, scenic hiking trails worth exploring.

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Presidio Park Hike: For a great hike with views of the city and Golden Gate Bridge, Presidio Park has some great trails. We did a two-hour walk that brought us by gilded homes in Pacific Heights, giant redwood trees and a park overlooking the iconic bridge.

Mission Delores Park: While there’s no true equivalent to Manhattan’s Central Park in San Francisco, Mission Delores Park has been described to me as being in its peer group. This 16-acre park is set on a hill offering great views of the city. It attracts a diverse and young crown, equipped with beers, picnics, music and books. It’s a great way to spend a late morning or afternoon like a local.
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Clarion Alley: Down an unassuming side street in The Mission is Clarion Alley, an alley dedicated to vibrant street art that is definitely worth a gander. Many of the murals are politically charged (I loved one that read: “Men, Put Down Your Guns) and many are just colorful and beautiful. It’s the perfect spot to find a fun backdrop to stand against for your Instagram.

Napa: Venture an hour outside of San Francisco to Napa Valley or Sonoma to sample some amazing wines. There are literally hundreds of vineyards to choose from (and some great restaurants). To see our complete guide to a day in Napa Valley, click here.

Where to Primp & Prime:
Cinta: For blowouts, look no further than Cinta’s Blow Dry Bar. I recently had the opportunity to be pampered at Cinta at their Grant Street salon and luckily I had a few meetings and a dinner that evening to show off my shiny locks.

After washing my hair, the stylist applied an amazing Kersastase treatment that is meant to add shine to your hair and cut down on frizz. It lasts two months or so and costs $35 at Cinta. After, I got the most amazing swingy blowout with big waves and lots of volume. Benjamin, my stylist, gave me the most amazing brush curls and lots of height at my roots — something I really struggle to do on my own. They have a great menu where you can pick beach waves, a sleek straight style, or other looks for $45.

I love that the Kerastase treatment has lasted weeks later. My hair is shiny and hasn’t frizzed, which says a lot given the humidity in New York City in the summer. I would totally recommend Cinta to friends or visitors in the area. It’s a great spot to go before a meeting (takes less than one hour) and is super chic. Or, you can have a day of pampering with friends before a big night out.

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Rosewood Sand Hill Sense Spa: For massages, the Rosewood on Sand Hill in Menlo Park is the most amazing and decadent experience. The spa is uber luxe, and the entire grounds at Rosewood are also beautiful. I’ve had countless meals in their restaurant, Madera, and drinks out back on the patio or by their pool.

Their massages are a bit pricey ($165 for 60 minutes), but it’s one of the best massages I’ve ever gotten. After the massage, there is a whirlpool to relax in or you can chill in the garden. They also have a great gym you can access before or after your workout.

Exercise:
Pop Physique: This barre class in San Francisco’s Russian Hill and Mission neighborhoods delivers on every level. The location is ideal, surrounded by amazing restaurants and bars and shopping, meaning you can make your workout social. The studio is flawless and fun, with hot pink barre balls, bamboo floors and fun gear (we love the “Barre so Hard” grippy socks) and most importantly, the class is kick ass. I recently took a class with Maddie and came out sweating. We did a mix of weight work, barre work and core, and your legs will shake throughout, which means your muscles are really engaged. I liked the pace of the class as well because the instructors communicate how long you have left for each move and guide you through the exercises.

Core40: I had no idea what to expect before I went to Core40 for a full-body reformer workout. I left pleasantly surprised (and a bit sore). Located in the adorable Nob Hill neighborhood (but there are a number of locations in SF) is Core40, a light-filled studio filled with 12 megaformer machines that will give you a killer workout. I loved that the class was small in size, and that the instructor went into detail on how to do each move correctly. Even as a newbie, I found myself picking up the moves relatively quickly. We went through a series of exercises on the reformer that worked our core, thighs and arms, doing lunges, resistance work and other exercises. Plus, the music is high energy, which is an added bonus. They also offer a class that is half spin, half pilates which sounded great for those who want to get some cardio.

Read our San Francisco Travel Guides:
Travel Guide: SF Boutique Fitness Classes
Travel Guide: San Francisco’s Onsen
Travel Guide: Napa Valley Vineyards
Travel Guide:Napa Valley Restaurants

Travel Guide: Where to Eat in San Francisco

San Francisco is one of my favorite cities for foodies. It has amazing seafood, California cuisine, Mexican and other diverse options. Below, find some of our favorite restaurants when we’re in the city. For your plans — most require reservations.

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Leo’s Oyster Bar in the Financial District is toward the tippy top of my dining list. The decor to Leo’s is truly spectacular. Think palm-tree printed wallpaper with dripping chandeliers and gold touches throughout. It’s guaranteed to produce the most perfect Instagram post because each place you turn is super cute and harkens back to a different decade.

We recently had dinner at Leo’s and the oysters are the shining stars on the menu, but the crab and lobster cake with bacon was one of our favorite items, and the shrimp cocktail and tea leaf salad was awesome, too. For drinks — trying the “lunch” martini with picked vegetables. Reservations are a must.

Flores: This Marina District Mexican restaurant is equal parts buzzy and delicious. It is also a stark reminder that California Mexican food is infinitely better than New York Mexican. We ate guacamole, halibut ceviche, carne aside and carnitas, all family style, while sipping on spicy skinny margaritas. Would totally recommend it to readers, as the food is packed with flavor and they have lot of options that are low-carb, high-protein. The decor is also really fun and we liked the lively vibe.

Foreign Cinema: This hotspot in the Mission is a great place for dinner or brunch. It’s indoor-outdoor and features a giant movie screen that plays old films nightly while you eat. The menu has a great raw bar selection and lot of shareable, as well as local California favorites and touches, so the produce that goes alongside the main entrees are really on point.

Carts at State Bird Provisions

State Bird Provisions: I fell in love with the really unique concept of State Bird Provisions. This restaurant has a steady menu of offerings, but a word in advance: only order two items from that menu. The real appeal of State Bird is that servers roll around carts of different dishes that you can choose from to build your meal. While we were there, we picked a ton of items from the carts including: oysters, chips and dip, meatballs, pork belly, burrata and other small dishes. The desserts are killer We got a half piece of the rosemary ice cream sandwich and another half piece of carrot almond cake, that way we were able to try both.

The vibe of the restaurant is cool and has a hint of vintage to it. It’s like a high-end restaurant meets a 50’s cafeteria, but somehow it works.

Locanda: This Mission spot is low-key and unassuming, but the food is anything but. We went here for brunch last Sunday and had a great meal of a breakfast panino, scrambled eggs with the most amazing spicy tomato sauce, hash browns and bacon. We also had pizza bianca with jam. Just typing this is making me want to diet. The Mission area is up and coming, so if you want an excuse to walk around the Mission, Locanda is definitely worthy of that.

Al’s Place: This Mission District restaurant serves out the most delicious food in the most unpretentious of settings. You’ll find no white tablecloths at this Michelin-starred restaurant, but you will find a nightly musical director, really cool decor and the most delectable plates of food.

The vegetables shine at Al’s, which was a turn off for me at first, but it really works. We went as a group of four, so we picked a ton of plates to share so that we could really get a taste. Some of the highlights included: mushroom chawanmushi, brine pickled french fries, squash bouillabaisse, black lime cod with sunchoke curry, duck with peach sauce, etc. All in all, I think we sampled 12 different plates, and each was miraculously better than the one preceding it.

Each dish was so different and packed in a  ton of flavor. We had a few fish and meat dishes, but the vegetables really were great enough to comprise of an entire meal on their own. I can confidently say this is my favorite restaurant in San Francisco having finally eaten here.

 

Travel Guide: San Francisco’s Muir Woods

Giant redwoods in the Muir Woods.

On a recent trip to San Francisco, we decided to get out of the city for the day and do some exploring. We settled on the Muir Woods, a national monument north of San Francisco and unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. This preserved forest is teaming with massive redwood trees that are just stunning to wander in.

In order to get there, we rented a smart car (like the world’s teeniest, tiniest smart car) for the 45-minute drive. This is and of itself was really memorable because my boyfriend is taller than 6 feet, so to see him scrunched inside the world’s smallest clown car was pretty hilarious. On the way, we drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and up a windy hill to find the Woods.

Moss-covered redwoods at Muir Woods

We packed plenty of water and snacks because we planned on doing one of the hikes once in the forest. When we got in, I was just blown away by the sheer size of these beautiful trees. After doing a walkabout at the base of the park which has the main trail, we picked one of the many hikes to get a different vantage point. I think we did about a 3-mile rail round trip, which was one of the less-strenuous ones.

What struck me is how quirt the park is. Living in Manhattan and spending a lot of time in other cities, it can be hard to find a peaceful place to clear your head. It also helped that there is pretty much no cell phone service in the park, so you really can be alone with just your thoughts. I also liked that we hiked, to get some exercise in, as some of the points were a bit steep, which doubled as a tush workout.

If you’re looking for some natural beauty and a nice hike, I would highly recommend Muir Park.

Editor’s note: they just introduced a new policy at Muir that you have to book your visit in advance and pick a time slot, so make sure to reserve one if you are planning on going.

 

San Francisco’s Best Boutique Fitness Classes

One of my favorite things to do when I travel, whether it’s for work or play, is to check out the area’s famed fitness classes. I recently spent a week in the San Francisco area and sampled all of the Bay Area’s best workouts. Here’s our ultimate list to our favorite classes:

Studiomix

The Skinny: Studiomix, located in the heart of SF, is like mecca for fitness fanatics. This 30,000-square-foot space is just beautifully appointed, with loads of boutique classes on all day ranging from reformer pilates to spin class and bootcamp. It’s kind of your one-stop-shop for anything fitness-related, and also has standalone equipment if you’d prefer to workout solo.

There were many things I loved about the space: the boutique, high-end feel of the layout, the saunas in the locker room, the amazing healthy cafe on the premises, just to begin. But what I really loved was the diversity and quality of the classes. During my week in SF, I took three separate ones: TRX, Strength & Conditioning (Which is like a bootcamp) and Boxing. I worked hard in all three and liked the instructors for each of them. I could see myself belonging to a gym like this if I lived in SF because you can switch up your class each day and prevent routine fatigue. I also loved how beautiful the space was and how clean it is.
Cost: $30 for a full day pass, including classes.

House of Air 

The Skinny: I should preface this post by saying never have I ever had so much FUN at a workout. Set inside a trampoline park in the Presidio area, this workout class is unlike anything I’ve ever tried before. We did a beginner class on a rainy Tuesday night and instantly both my and my boyfriend’s moods were uplifted.

Each person in class gets their own trampoline, and after mastering some of the basic jumps, you work through a sequence of different jumps that is choreographed by the instructor at the front of the room. There is very little stopping, so you really build up a sweat and good burn. In addition to reliving your high school cheerleading days by doing straddle jumps, you’ll also work on squats, burpees and other moves that are all the more challenging on a trampoline.
Cost: $22/class

HitFit SF

The Skinny: This high intensity workout class hits on every level. The one-hour class is a mix of TRX moves (Which means I FINALLY learned how to use the incredibly intimidating yellow and black bands at the gym!) and boxing moves combined with weights, kettlebells and bodyweight exercises.

During the class I was in, we did squats, pulls and other moves on the TRX. We also did overhead thrusters, burpees, squats, lunges and kettlebelll swings. The class goes by incredibly fast because you are constantly moving. I should note that I REALLY felt this workout the next day. My muscles were sore and I felt that I earned our Mexican food after class that night.
Cost: $30/class

Core40
The Skinny: I had no idea what to expect before I went to Core40 for a full-body reformer workout. I left pleasantly surprised (and a bit sore). Located in the adorable Nob Hill neighborhood (but there are a number of locations in SF) is Core40, a light-filled studio filled with 12 megaformer machines that will give you a killer workout. I loved that the class was small in size, and that the instructor went into detail on how to do each move correctly. Even as a newbie, I found myself picking up the moves relatively quickly. We went through a series of exercises on the reformer that worked our core, thighs and arms, doing lunges, resistance work and other exercises. Plus, the music is high energy, which is an added bonus. They also offer a class that is half spin, half pilates which sounded great for those who want to get some cardio.
Cost: First time members can take a class for $10. Classes are usually $35 each.

Pop Physique
The Skinny: This barre class in San Fran’s Russian Hill neighborhood delivers on every level. The location is ideal, surrounded by amazing restaurants and bars and shopping, meaning you can make your workout social. The studio is flawless and fun, with hot pink barre balls, bamboo floors and fun gear (we love the “Barre so Hard” grippy socks) and most importantly, the class is kick ass. I recently took a class with Maddie and came out sweating. We did a mix of weight work, barre work and core, and your legs will shake throughout, which means your muscles are really engaged. I liked the pace of the class as well because the instructors communicate how long you have left for each move and guide you through the exercises.
Cost: $25/class.

Running The Golden Gate Bridge
The Skinny: The iconic Golden Gate Bridge is the ultimate workout (and free to boot). I ran it for the first time on this trip, and it is the ideal workout experience because you are surrounded by gorgeous views, meaning your workout will fly by. The trail is 1.7 miles each way, and it is steep at parts, meaning you’ll get a nice thigh workout. I did stop a few times to take photos (it’s too beautiful not to) but you leave having a nice cardio workout and some killer instagram posts!
Cost: Free.

Pilates ProWorks
The Skinny: In San Fran’s Financial District (with a location in the Marina area, too) is Pilates ProWorks, a studio with a number of different classes, from Pilates to Barre. I recently joined them for their newest class offering, called MatBox, which is a mix of kickboxing and floor pilates. This class is super high intensity and you will leave sweating. Even the warm up is intense — a mix of squats and jumping jacks and burpees. We then moved onto the punching bag, where we jabbed and kneed and learned combinations, while doing squats and burpees in between movements. The class is small, meaning you’ll get personal attention. I also liked how we moved back and forth between cardio and boxing, keeping the heart rate up. We ended with yoga and stretching. Because of all of the movements, the class flies by. I’ve also heard great things about Pilates ProWork’s traditional pilates classes and barre, and if you buy a package or membership, you can rotate between all of their classes.
Cost: $30/class.

Core Studio
The Skinny: If you’re venturing out to Palo Alto or San Mateo, we have you covered. We recently popped into Core Studio for a barre class and got a great workout. The studio offers reformer pilates, barre and spin, meaning you could switch things up pretty frequently. The barre class was small in size so I got a ton of individual attention. I also loved that the class incorporates several “cardio blasts” into the workout, so that you get a tad more cardio than a traditional barre class. We did 45-second challenges that involved squats and jumps and other moves.
Cost: First time members $15

Read the Rest of Our San Francisco Travel Guides:

Travel Guide: San Francisco’s Onsen

What To Wear:

Travel Guide: San Francisco’s Onsen

One of my favorite experiences on my last trip to San Francisco was also the most relaxing. Fresh on the heels from our trip to Japan, I heard of this amazing Japanese Onsen (which loosely translates into a resort with a hotspring). This hip Onsen (which is also what it is named), which also has a restaurant, is tucked away in the Tenderloin area of SF.

Upon walking in, you are greeted by a beautiful bar and people enjoying yuba noodles and gyoza (Editor’s note: we didn’t eat here the night we went, but absolutely plan to on our next trip to SF). If you walk to the right past all of the happy diners, you will find a lovely hostess ready to escort you to their spa.

I have to say, I was blown away by the execution of this restaurant-cum-Japanese bathhouse. It totally works. Once you get to the hostess to check in for your spa time, you are brought into a serene area to change into your bathing suit, robe and slippers.  Then, all the fun starts.  It should be noted, we went on a Sunday evening and made a date night out of this. There are certain times that are co-ed, which makes for a great date. Other time slots are single sex and bathing suit optional.

Next, we walked into the spa area, where you immediately see a heated pool that looks so inviting. Each side of the pool is flanked by a steam room and then a redwood cedar sauna. We spent our time traversing between the three. The communal tub when you walked in is set to 104 degrees. There

I loved the layout and décor of Onsen. The walls are a mix of exposed brick and beautiful blonde wood. They have Adirondack chairs to relax in next to the pool should you choose. There are hanging plants climbing down the walls. We loved the cold tea and spa water set out to cool off a bit, as well as the giant overhead cold shower to aid circulation between each room.

We found the price of Onsen to be incredibly reasonable, especially compared to other bathhouses we’ve gone to like Aire Ancient Baths in Manhattan, which charges $95. By comparison, an hour and 45 minute session at Onsen costs just $35. For those interested, they also have massage treatments that you can book.

Overall, it was absolutely the perfect way to unwind together on a Sunday night (especially after a cross-country flight just the day before). We plan on making Onsen a tradition on our future trips to the Bay Area.