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Our San Francisco Favorites

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:

Food & Drink:
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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.

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.

Do:
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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.
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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.

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).

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.

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.

For our complete guide to boutique fitness classes in San Francisco, click here. For our guides to Napa Valley vineyards, and restaurants, click the pink links.

Fun Fall Outings from New York City

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Fall is by far my favorite season and it’s truly a magical time in New York City. I love the changing of the leaves in Central Park, crisp air and going out to watch football. This fall we looked into some great seasonal activities that don’t require having a car.

We spent this past weekend in Westchester picking apples, pumpkins and taking hayrides. We were looking for a farm with a real country feel but not crazy far away. So, we settled on Outhouse Orchards in North Salem, New York. It takes about an hour and ten minutes by train from Grand Central to get there. Once you get to the train station there, call and Uber and it’s about another ten minutes by car. (There is also another orchard just down the block from it called Harvest Moon if you want to hit up two orchards in one day).
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Outhouse was sprawling and had so many different activities to do. We settled on a hayride, a walk through a corn maze (this was a must since neither of us had ever done it) and apple picking. There were still a ton of apples on the trees, so the timing was perfect.

We liked that Outhouse was really lax about allowing us to bring food and alcohol. Before we headed out in the morning we visited our local market and picked up sandwiches, snacks and a bottle of wine. If you prefer to eat there, they have pizza, barbecue and other food for purchase. It was a seriously perfect day and we were back in the city by 6:30pm. Pro tip: arrange in advance for an Uber to pick you up to take you to the train station because that was the one hiccup.
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After, I used my favorite apple crumble recipe here to cook the fruits of our labor.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and while I’m pretty much afraid of my own shadow, I also love being scared. I guess I’m a glutton for punishment. So, on Friday night we went to Blood Manor haunted house.

It was super fun and each room in this warehouse has a different theme, like a scary meat market, a 3D maze, a doctor’s office etc. It clowns abound as do men with chainsaws and other characters that pop out at each and every turn.

Staycation: Andaz Wall Street, Financial District


Last weekend, my boyfriend and I did something we’d never done before. We ditched our Manhattan apartments and got a hotel room in Downtown New York at the Andaz Wall Street.

We decided to fully embrace a different part of New York we’ve never lived or stayed in while also checking out a luxury hotel and doing some pampering. It sounded a little extravagant given the fact that we both have our own places, but from the second we checked into the hotel, any doubts quickly subsided and we fully were into the idea.

The Andaz is super luxe and modern. Our room was ginormous, with towering high ceilings, a beautiful layout and just a really sexy vibe to it. We were provided with high-end C.O. Bigelow toiletries, a free minibar stocked with snacks and soft drinks, a deep bathtub and separate waterfall shower that made for a giant bathroom suite.

I really fell for the design aesthetic and unique touches throughout. Behind the television, for instance, is a bench in front of a vanity with a giant mirror that is perfect for doing your hair and makeup in. We used the entire set up as a salon, workspace and kitchen.

There were other unique touches, too. There is a giant bureau that rotates in four different directions, with an armoir, full length mirror, etc. The lighting options in the room were awesome. One button brought down black-out shades to block out the sun. There is also a “relaxed” setting and other options for mood lighting. The hotel hosts a wine happy hour in the lobby daily from six to seven that is complementary. There is also free coffee, tea, cookies, croissants and muffins in the morning, which is such a nice touch.

One of the best parts about the staycation was being able to wander around a different neighborhood for an extended period of time, and checking off restaurants/bars and other sights off of my local bucket list, but also happening upon cute spots.
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Case in point, on Saturday while we were walking to the subway to go to the music festival, we walked down Stone Street, a charming cobblestone street closed off to traffic in the middle of the financial district. The street is lined with charming bars and restaurants with large, wooden picnic tables outside of each to eat and drink al fresco. It happened to be the street’s annual Octoberfest celebration, so in addition to all of the normal fanfare, they had sausage booths and giant mugs of beer set up. So, we grabbed some sausages, beer and took in the scene, eating and drinking in the sun.

If you stay in the area, we came across a local institution that you must visit for amazing, New York style bagels. Just a short walk from the Andaz, is a breakfast spot called Leo’s Bagels. Don’t be frightened by the line, it’s for good reason, because the bagels and their toppings are great. My boyfriend had a really difficult time choosing between the now fewer than 9 times of salmon and lox they had on offer to go on his salt bagel with cream cheese. Oh, for the more carb conscious, they also have flagels and tofu cream cheese spreads.
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One of the most decadent things we did was order room service at 11 pm after a long day out at the concert. And as expected at a hotel such as Andaz, it was amazing. After dancing all day in the sun, we ordered two dirty martinis, a chicken sandwich, seared tuna and buffalo mozzarella with tomatoes. It truly made me feel like Eloise at The Plaza, and something I think we will be repeating at least once every time we explore other staycations.

Cocktails: one of the best cocktail bars in New York City is the Dead Rabbit. And, it just happens to be walking distance to the Andaz. Now, be prepared to wait for a seat at the bar, so put your name down and be patient. The ambiance at this bar is super eclectic and charming (it looks more like a British countryside pub than a bar in the middle of Manhattan), and their cocktails are so creative.
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There is a giant luxury shopping center nearby called Brookfield, that has great shopping, but also great food. France’s answer to Eataly is there, called Le District, that is a French Market, food hall, cheese monger and wine bar. It also happens to be a great date spot.

More NYC Travel Guides:
Manhattan’s Best Boutique Fitness Classes
The Definitive Guide to NYC
The Best Brunches in NYC

How to Spend The Perfect Day in Napa

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I recently spent a week in San Francisco for meetings and wanted to sneak in some fun, so naturally Napa was on the top of my list. Just a little over an hour outside of San Francisco, Napa Valley is the perfect way to spend a day in the sun with some great glasses of wine. To get to Napa (we were staying in downtown San Francisco) we ordered a Lyft, which is about $100 to the region each way. We obviously didn’t want to drive and drink, and Lyft is also a great way to get from winery to winery once you are in Napa (each ride cost us between $5 and $9). Based on suggestions from friends and research, we arranged for tastings at some amazing wineries. Here’s our itinerary for the day:

Our first stop of the day was Grgich Hills Estate, which has a really rich history. It wasn’t until the 1970s when the wine world took the Napa Valley or even America seriously, and the reason the rest of the world now views California as a premier winemaker is because of the man behind Grgich Hills, Miljenko “Mike” Grgich. Mr. Grgich participated in a blind tasting in Paris where some of the world’s most renowned judges tasted wines from around the world. They decided almost unanimously that his 1973 Chateau Montelena Chardonnay was the best, shocking the wine world.
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At Grgich we tried a number of wines in their tasting room. While I’m usually not a big fan of Chardonnay, I really loved all of their Chardonnays which were very smooth. We even got to try to replica of the Chardonnay that won Mr. Grgich the Paris competition. In our private tasting, we also sampled some delicious Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon paired with the most amazing cheeses that really brought out the flavors of the wine. It was a lovely way to spend an hour while also learning about Grgich’s rich history and importance on the Valley.

The vineyard itself was a lot of fun. They have a wine-crushing event currently going on where you can stand in a barrel and stomp grapes and then step onto a Grgich shirt and leave your footprint.
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Our next stop was the famed Corison, which is run by a rockstar female winemaker named Cathy Corison. Corison is known for their standout Cabernet Sauvignons.

A tasting here is a tough ticket to get, so we were really grateful to have a private tasting and also explore Corison’s beautiful grounds. Cathy has a Master’s in Enology from U.C. Davis and her philosophy is to let the fruit speak for itself. We learned during our tour that the vineyard does not use some of the tactics common in winemaking such as adding chemicals to its wine, but instead has more of a purist approach to winemaking.

I really loved the aesthetic of this vineyard. Out back, you can explore the rows of grapes and taste them while taking in views of the mountains. The tasting room is in beautiful barn and their is another teal-colored house with he most charming porch swing.

In the tasting room we had a lovely experience getting to try the complex flavors of Corison’s Kronos Cabernet Sauvignon and other Cabs (Corison specializes in 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, no blends). We also got to try their Corazon Anderson Valley. Tastings run for $55.
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Our third stop was Duckhorn Vineyards, where we had some amazing wine but also a really fun time. We love the layout of Duckhorn and its fun factor. It struck us as a really great place to come with a group of friends or celebrate a birthday.

Duckhorn’s grounds are picture-perfect. I pretty much had to resist the urge to be on my phone the entire tasting because everywhere you turn is a major Instagram opportunity. Beautiful flowers adorn the grounds throughout and it has this amazingly rustic, barn vibe with aged oak barrels serving as the base for tables and lovely little arches throughout.
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We made a major mistake grabbing lunch at Dean & Deluca before heading to Duckhorn (Although the Dean & Deluca in Napa Valley is legit my favorite Dean & Deluca in the world). I only say it was a mistake because the food at the winery looked awesome. Even though we had just eaten, we got the most delicious pairing of dried fruits, cheeses, cured meats and breadsticks to go with our wine tasting.

We sat on the wraparound porch patio of the stunning estate house while trying a flight of Buckhorn’s best wines and learning about each from the most amazing sommolier — Sam. We adored their Stout vineyard Merlot and Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignons in particular, but everything we tried was fantastic. Tastings start at $35 and our private tasting which included some really special wines runs for $75. I only wish we had more time to explore their grounds and gardens.
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Our final stop (Yes, we did four tastings in one day) was Quintessa. Quintessa’s estate is a bit secluded and has a really cool vibe to it. If you visit, ask them to take you to its highest point on their grounds overseeing their rolling hills — it’s worth the hike. It produced the most beautiful views of Napa that we saw while in the region.
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In a private tasting room, we had the privilege of sampling their Illumination 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, the 2014 vintage (which was our favorite) ad had notes of blackberry and cherry, their 2012and 2011 bottles. All of the wines we tried were complex and really smooth and it was the perfect finish for the day, especially given how beautiful the grounds are.

Quintessa is a newer winery, but they’ve sure learned quick and give a really great tasting experience. Our guide, Joe, was very knowledgeable about each our our tastings and the state of the wine industry in general.

Aside from being great spots to take in the wine and sun, each of the vineyards listed above has their own wine clubs where you get access to special bottles and events.

Hamptons Style Guide

July fourth marks the unofficial start to the Hamptons season, so we decided to pull together the outfits that will be in heavy rotation in our wardrobes this summer from the beach at Gurney’s to Surf Lodge. Think stripes, boho beach vibes and pastels and you can’t go wrong!
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I’ve been eyeing this Misa dress FOREVER. It’s super versatile for any sort of beach vacation, but can personally see myself wearing it for dinner at The Crow’s Nest in Montauk. It’s $370.
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Yasss to everything about this Misa Tunic dress, $317.
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This Tularosa skirt hits on so many trends. It’s fun and frilly, has vertical stripes and has that Hamptons blue and white color combo we are living for.
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Somedays Lovin has a great boho beach vibe but I love their cuts and find them more fitted than some brands. This midi dress is $140.
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This striped dress is super versatile and the color scheme is on point. Also have really been into this square neckline. It’s $169.
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This off-the-shoulder ruffle dress is great from beach to barbecue to a white party. It’s $158.
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The sleeves on this dress from Faithfull the brand are the showstopper, but we also dig the muted striped print. It’s $169.
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The neckline on this Faithfull dress just slays. It’s $169.

Day Trip from Manhattan: Storm King

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As much as I love Manhattan, I itch to get away on the weekends, whether that means heading out East to The Hamptons, going hiking or flying somewhere for a long weekend. So, this past weekend, we decided to get away for the day just an hour and a half north of Manhattan to Cornwall, New York.
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In this upstate town there is a world-class outdoor sculpture garden called Storm King Art Center that is truly breathtaking. Founded in 1960, Storm King is situated on 500 acres of land near the Hudson Valley, and it is home to massive sculptures from artists such as Alexander Calder, George Cutts and Mark di Suvero. The entire place is extremely peaceful (and very Instagrammable).

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There are a few options of getting to Storm King if you don’t have a car to drive yourself. You can take the train, but it takes well over two hours and requires getting a cab from the station. Or, you can do what we did, and take a bus from Port Authority via CoachUSA. For $47 each, you will get transportation right up to the entrance of Storm King as well as a return trip and it also includes your entrance fee to the Center. It’s really great value and gives you more than enough time to explore the entire grounds.

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We packed a picnic to eat not he grounds and a bunch of snacks and then set off for the bus ride, which takes 90 minutes door to door. There is also a cafe not he premises if you want to buy food there. We ended up buying wine there, which made the second half of the day a lot of fun.

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This mirror fence was on of my favorite pieces and creates a really fun optical illusion when you take photos in it. If you search Instagram you can see a number of examples of this.
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Vancouver Foodie Guide

Vancouver is a foodie hotspot because of its proximity to the sea and while one a recent trip there, every meal we had was better than the next. Here’s our guide to our three favorite meals.

Tojo’s
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This exclusive, upscale Japanese restaurant is a splurge, but well worth it. The head sushi master, Hidekazu Tojo, is world renowned. He has made sushi for some of the world’s most esteemed people including Prince William and Kate, Steven Tyler, and Harrison Ford. On a recent Saturday, we were lucky enough to get the royal treatment from Tojo himself when we sat down to a private omakase experience at the restaurant.

First things first, Tojo is a lifelong innovator. He left Japan as a young man after learning about Japanese fine dining and began innovating on a centuries-old standard way sushi was made and served. Ever have a California roll? Well, you can thank Tojo. He created the California roll back in the 1970s and was criticized at the time for thinking outside the box. Now, that roll is ubiquitous worldwide.

If you visit Tojo’s, in addition to tried and true classic rolls, you’ll find creations that can’t be found anywhere else in the world, which makes it a truly unique experience.

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We got to watch Tojo in action with his go-to Japanese headband at work behind the long sushi bar. After working diligently, he brought out a platter of creations for us to try. Among those was his famed California roll, smoke salmon, a quinoa (!) roll (yes, you read that correctly), an albacore tuna roll, and a crab roll.

Now, I usually use both wasabi and soy sauce with my sushi, but the quality of the fish as well as the way it was prepared made both of these accessories unnecessary. Let’s start with the salmon roll. Now, heading into this experience, I didn’t eat salmon because I never found it appealing. But, this salmon was world changing. The way the fish was smoked brought out a ton of flavor and it ended up being my favorite dish of the night.

Next, was crab wrapped in egg crepe and topped with fish roe. This was my boyfriend’s favorite roll. The crab has a ton of flavor and the roll it is in is hard to find outside of Tojo’s.

The quinoa roll was so different than anything I’ve ever tasted. It was tied for my second-favorite roll. It had a soybean seed wrap and was filled with quinoa, bell peppers, pickled cucumber, fish, asparagus and other flavors that really popped. It was truly a testament to Tojo’s innovation and his pulse on modern cuisine trends.

The tuna was lightly seared and then marinated in a secret sauce and topped with daikon radish, fresh ginger and onions. It pretty much melted in your mouth and had so much flavor.
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I can’t believe I’m admitting this but even after ALL these rolls, Tojo sent us out two desserts, and we happily ate them. One was a sorbet and the other was an Asian crème brullee, both amazing.

After eating here, I can truly recommend that you make a reservation as soon as you book your flights so that you can guarantee a seat in the restaurant, which is frequently attended by actors, celebrities and politicians. It’s a hard table to secure but worth the effort.

Teahouse In Stanley Park

If you are looking for the ultimate brunch experience, The Teahouse in Stanley Park should be on your “must” list. It’s the perfect way to spend the day and experience several of Vancouver’s tourist activities at once. It’s in the middle of Vancouver’s Stanley Park, which is a beautiful space that I spent a lot of time in during my stay. You’ll see in our prior guide, that we rented bikes to ride around the perimeter of the park and stopped halfway through at the Teahouse for brunch.

The building of the restaurant itself is super charming. It has indoor and outdoor seating, all of which has the water as the focal point. We went for brunch, but am also told that dinner is a great time to go and sit on the patio because it has great views of the sunset.
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After a brisk bike ride in the park where we visited the famous totem poles and saw other sights, we parked our bikes at the restaurant and chose outdoor seating on the patio. After ordering brunch cocktails (mine: a gin cocktail with muddled cucumber, his: a bloody mary with shrimp cocktail garnishing) we set about exploring the menu.

Narrowing down the menu was near impossible because so many of the dishes sounded amazing. With a little help from our waiter, who was amazing by the way, we settled on some Teahouse classics. To start, we had their mussels, which were prepared with tomatoes, garlic, fennel and a white wine sauce. These mussels were ginormous and packed with flavor. Really loved the broth.
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For our mains, I ordered the steak and eggs and he got the duck and waffles. The steak and eggs came with scrambled eggs, a New York strip sirloin and a cabernet demi-glace sauce. It was ridiculously good and I nearly finished it, which is big news for me. The boyfriend’s duck and waffles were equally good, and the amount of food could have fed three people. It came with duck leg confit, bourbon bacon jam, Belgian waffles and a sunnyside up egg. We couldn’t finish all the food even though we gave it a really good try.

I loved the ambiance of the patio. They have heat lamps and blankets if there is a bit of a chill, but luckily for us, the weather was cooperating that day.
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So, while we had raised our white flags and surrendered after brunch, the kitchen sent out not one, but three desserts for us to try. (Sensing a theme here?). We both swore we’d only have a bite of each, but approximately fifteen minutes later there was barely anything left on the plate, which speaks to the skill of their pastry chef. We had the chocolate Milano cake (this was my favorite and I wasn’t even in the mood for chocolate). It had a chocolate mascarpone mousse on the inside and an almond wafer crust. We also had a Tahitian vanilla bean crème brulee (yep, two crème brulees in two days, because vacation) and a lemon tart with candied lemon that had the most perfect lemon curd filling.

Having brunch at the Teahouse was truly a lovely experience. The service was top notch, as was the food and setting. Highly recommend making a reservation and a day of it.

Tuc Craft Kitchen
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In the charming Gastown part of town is Tuc Craft Kitchen, a great restaurant with a rustic feel in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Vancouver. The restaurant has an energetic vibe and communal feel and I really liked the decor with the exposed wood beams and lanterns.

The menu has tons of options. I went solo, so didn’t get to sample a ton, but loved everything I ate. The Cuban style breakfast sandwich was awesome. It could probably feed four people, so might be a good option to share. It had shredded pork shoulder, eggs and tomatillo cream. I went there the day after a wedding so was pretty hungover and craving bacon so I ordered a side of the bacon and wish I could have finished it because it’s exactly what I needed. Definitely appreciated the comfort food after a night out drinking and I’d also somehow gone on a four-mile run that morning miraculously, so felt OK eating carbs :)

Travel Guide: Vancouver

I recently spent a long weekend in Vancouver for friends of my boyfriend’s wedding. I went into this trip not knowing what to expect of the city being that it was my first time there and in Canada in general. We spent three nights, which is the perfect amount of time and had a blast. Here’s my travel guide to the city.

Where to stay: Vancouver has a number of five star hotels and also Airbnb options. For those going the hotel route, the Fairmont, the Four Seasons and the W are all situated in a great part of town and will have all of the amenities you’re looking for during your stay. If you prefer something more local but still high-end, check out the Pan Pacific.

What to Do: Vancouver is known for its natural beauty and it’s a really fun place to be outdoors and very active to take in the mountainous landscape and the water. We spent a lot of time walking around, hanging in the park and riding bikes. Read below for some of our must-dos.
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Rent Bikes and Explore Stanley Park: One of our favorite experiences during the entire trip was renting bicycles and exploring Vancouver’s famous Stanley Park. We rented our bikes from Bayshore Bike Rentals because it is the closest bike rental shop to Stanley Park and has a great array of bikes, helmuts, tandem bikes, etc. to choose from. Also, their rates are very fair, and it you end up late, they will charge you in fifteen-minute increments rather than for a full hour, which is unique among the bike shops in the area. Overall, their staff is great and super friendly.

After picking up two bikes, helmuts and baskets, we set off to explore the park. Now, we live near Central Park so I wasn’t sure how Stanley Park would stack up, but I was blown away by how beautiful it was. The park is TK miles to get around, and the entire perimeter is surrounded by water, giving you the most amazing backdrop for your bike ride. The perimeter of the park is a 6-mile loop, which we biked, stopping along the way to take pictures of the vista and visit different landmarks, such as their famous totem pole sculptures. We took our time and also stopped for brunch at the Stanley Park Teahouse (More on that below and in a separate food post) so the entire loop including a stop for a leisurely lunch took around four hours. It was a lovely way to get acquainted with Vancouver and its scenery while also getting an idea for the area’s topography. There were times that we were biking along the path and could literally smell maple from the maple trees.

This really was the perfect way to spend a day and something I’ll be recommending to friends who decide to visit the area. The park is also where the famous aquarium is, if that’s something on your agenda while in town.
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Visit Granville Island: Our first full-day in town, we walked from our hotel in English Bay to the ferry terminal to get to Granville Island. This island is just a five-minute boat ride from Vancouver (and costs just a few dollars) and is a wonderful way to spend the day. Here’s a pro tip: skip breakfast before going to the island. We made the mistake of stopping in a shop in Vancouver for coffee and breakfast and were too full to eat in Granville’s famous food market, which has local stalls for goods such as cookies, savory pies, lobster, candy and produce. If we did it over, we would have shown up hungry and sampled the local fare before setting off to explore the rest of the island.

We stopped by the Granville Island Brewery which was a lot of fun. My boyfriend tried a flight of the local beers while I had wine. We also sampled a local favorite called poutine which is essentially french fries in gravy with cheese curds. If you’re usually carb-free, you’ll have to make an exception for this because it’s delicious. For those interested, the brewery also gives tours.

After the brewery, we stopped by all the local artisans on the island. It’s really known for local artists, woodworkers, and other shops that are super interesting.
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Stroll Around Gastown and Yaletown: Gastown and Yaletown are two great areas for shopping, bar hopping and eating and drinking. Both parts of town are walkable and it’s the perfect way to spend a leisurely day strolling around town and happening into their really cute and unique shops. I bought a lot of items I had no intention of buying, from gilded cactus planted to dresses.

In Yaletown, I particularly loved their flower shop, which is where I got the cactus vases. There is also a Soul Cycle there (!) and some really cute shops such as Friend Finds, which has the most delightful accessories.

In Gastown, check out Lululemon’s Lab concept, which has a factory in the back of it. I especially loved a little fashion boutique called Artemesia Clothing which has really unique, feminine designs. I bought an amazing dress there that I plan on wearing this weekend. Just next door to it is a lovely home store called L’Atelier Home which has bar cart accessories, candles and other unique finds. I also loved a shop called Old Faithful, the display is pictured above, that had great home accessories.
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Where to Eat & Drink: It wouldn’t be a BVS Travel Guide without a guide to the best culinary experiences in the city. We sampled a lot of fare, and here are our must-dos. (Also, stay tuned for a more-detailed post dedicated specifically to the restaurants in Vancouver).

Tojo’s: First things first, go and make a reservation at Tojo’s the second you book your trip to Vancouver. It is the best sushi restaurant in all of Vancouver, and that’s saying a lot being that the city has more than 600 sushi spots. Its head chef, Tojo, is named one of the top 10 sushi chefs in the entire world, and he is responsible for creating the California roll. So, it’s only right you pay homage. The food here is amazing and really fresh. Thank us later.

The Teahouse in Stanley Park: We already told you that one of our favorite days in Vancouver was bike riding around Stanley Park. Part of that reason was because we stopped for a decadent brunch at the famed Teahouse in Stanley. The restaurant has the best views of the water and the park, not to mention the sunset. We went for brunch and everything we ate was just amazing and the service was impeccable. They have outdoor seating on their patio which makes you feel like you’re still partaking in the park. Rent bikes and make a reservation here on your trip, you won’t regret it.

Rodney’s Oyster House: Vancouver is known for its seafood and oysters are a staple on many of the menus. Head to Rodney’s for their oysters and bloody mary’s. There is one in Gastown and one in Yaletown, so this could serve as a much-needed break after a day of shopping in either part of town. We sampled a number of their oysters and tried all of their sauces with them. It’s a great vibe and a fun place to go with friends.

Tuc Craft Kitchen: Go and schedule yourself a brunch date at Tuc Craft Kitchen in Gastown. The brunch menu is killer as are their brunch cocktails. I also really enjoyed the vibe of the restaurant which is rustic but really hip with an energetic crowd.

Travel Guide: Where to Stay in Santorini

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Nestled in the post-card perfect hills of Santorini’s Caldera in Oia, is the Andronis Boutique Hotel, a five-star luxury hotel that we had the pleasure of staying in for three nights this July.

Andronis Boutique Hotel is in the most prime of locations In Santorini. It’s smack in the middle of the caldera: those white-washed homes in the hills and blue domes that you conjure up when you think of Santorini, and so many of the island’s other hotels aren’t located in this area so they don’t have the idyllic views you come to expect when you imagine Santorini.

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Andronis is one of three hotels run by this boutique hotel group. It is built into the side of the mountain in all white with giant suites carved into the side of the cave, making the hotel part of the beautiful scenery in Santorini. It’s on Oia’s main stretch, meaning walking outside of the hotel puts you in the middle of Santorini’s best restaurants, bars and shopping. And yes, even the famed donkey trail.

We were greeted upon arrival at Andronis with glasses of chilled champagne and the most unbelievable views. This set the tone for the rest of our stay, where the staff went above and beyond to make our trip perfect.
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The hotel itself is beautiful. Think white washed buildings and bright pink bougainvillea flowers growing throughout the archways and walls. Our room blew us away. It had arched ceilings because of the cave and a zen-like atmosphere. An example of the type of luxury service provided at Andronis: there is a pillow menu so that you can specify which type of firmness you prefer best while sleeping.
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The bathroom was a showstopper. Gray stone and a giant shower with a rain drop faucet as well as a swim in-swim out jacuzzi that overlooked the Mediterranean ocean. We pretty much spent the end of each night in the jacuzzi sipping on Greek white wine and Ouzo. The bathroom has luxury, organic bath products and a killer blow dryer by hotel standards. Our room had an amazing outdoor deck with two sun loungers that fit the aesthetic of the hotel: they were light wood and really eclectic-looking. What we loved and missed once we left was that the views from literally any place you stand at Andronis are just breathtaking. This included the views from our terrace.

The pool area is spectacular. There is an infinity pool and a separate pool overlooking the Mediterranean and lots of beach loungers and umbrellas to take the sun on. In another sign of how Andronis knows its clientele and caters to it: Vogue and other fashion and travel magazines are in a basket at the pool for guests to enjoy. The views from the pool are breathtaking and when the sun starts to set, the whole area is awash in a pink/red glow reflecting off of the mountains that is truly beautiful.
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The pool staff is super attentive. From the second you sit down, they are over with chilled bottles of water on ice with lemons and lime. They also treated us to a bottle of their very own white wine. (Andronis also produces its own olive oil!) our first day after we arrived we laid out at the pool and took in the scenery while eating Greek salads from the hotel’s restaurant, and they were the most fresh Greek salads we’d had on our trip. The chef later sent over a Greek yogurt mousse with fresh berries that we are still talking about.

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While we’re on the topic of food, Andronis had the most delicious breakfast buffet, which is included in the charge of your room. The breakfast area has every local delicacy available from spinache and cheese pies to local cheeses and cured meats, to our favorite: The Greek Yogurt bar featuring what they call the “Breakfast of the Gods.” Side note: Andronis has ruined Greek yogurt in America for me. the yogurt at Andronis was a million times better than what we get at home, and I made sure to have the breakfast of the gods each morning alongside delicious fruit and pastry. The breakfast of the gods is a toppings bar for the yogurt featuring everything from pistachios to coconut flakes to raisins and currants. Legend has it that the Greek gods ate this mixture each day to give them their energy. Whether the legend is true or not, it’s delicious.

Fresh-squeezed juices and a bottle of chilled champagne also are in the breakfast room for those who wanted to start the party early (Hint: we did). There is also an amazing omelette and egg menu that is made to order for those wanting eggs. We had every intention of ordering omelette but the Greek yogurt was too good for us to pass up!

The concierge and all of the hotel’s staff were super friendly and eager to help. They made us a reservation at their sister property’s restaurant, Lycabettus (a separate post on dinner there here), and arranged our transportation and activities for us. Aside from the two other hotels, Andronis has a few high-end boutiques in Oia with labels such as Pitusa, and those staying at an Andronis property get a 15% discount on shopping.

What we also loved was that Andronis is the perfect backdrop for any sort of vacation you would like. It has wonderful private areas, such as your own private sundeck (pictured above) and jacuzzis/private pools. Or, you can go to the main pools and strike up conversations with other travelers. It’s in the middle of the beautiful town, giving you access to everything you could want to do when in Santorini.

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The Andronis is the definition of luxury and exclusivity. We would gladly recommend Andronis to readers, and have already recommended it to friends!

Boho Chic: What To Wear in Greece:

Visiting Santorini? Check out our Travel Guides:

Travel Guide: Where to Eat In Santorini

Travel Guide: A Day At Sea With Sunset Oia

Travel Guide: Where to Eat in Mykonos

Travel Guide: The Best Beach Clubs in Mykonos

For those who haven’t been, Mykonos is considered the party island of Greece. And it is home to some of the most amazing beach clubs. Think gorgeous people, DJs playing beachy tunes and cabanas to take the sun and drink champagne in. The morning hours are very chill, then comes 4 p.m. and the music turns up, people start dancing and champagne corks sound all the way until 9 p.m. when the sun finally sets.

There are so many beach clubs in Mykonos that picking the right ones is key. You don’t want to end up at one of the fratty, college ones. Check out our must-visit guide to beach clubs in Mykonos below.

Scorpios:

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Scorpios is one of the newest beach club additions in Mykonos and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s got a distinctly Burning Man on the Mediterranean vibe. Think monochromatic shades of tan and sand, wooden cabanas, body painting, hammocks, fire circles and other-worldly slow beats with live drummers, etc.

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Scorpios attracts the “it” crowd. Models, athletes, leggy Europeans, etc. During the day, you can rent a cabana by the beach. It is also the most spectacular place to watch the sun set. We wound up at Scorpios three of our four days in Mykonos, if that’s any indication of what it’s like. At sundown, the percussions pick up, but the vibe is still very mellow as people dance to tribal beats while watching the sun set under strung edison lights.

The dress code: hot bikinis and lacy coverups. Tie-up sandals also encouraged. Feather headbands? Do it.

Nammos:

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Where do I start with Nammos? It was hands down our favorite day in Mykonos and the best party we went to (from what we remember). It may be because our early lunch at Nammos consisted of two glasses each of vodka on the rocks with Greek Salads. We then went shopping at Luisa, Nammos’s store which is stocked with amazing Missoni bathing suits, Eugenia Kim hats and Karen Walker sunglasses. The day got even better when we decided to order a bottle of vodka just for the two of us. So, by the time the party kicked off at 4, you can probably imagine the state we were in.

Nammos attracts a really affluent crowd. There’s a 120,000 pound bottle of Armand De Brigand Brut Gold on their menu, after all. It is also a celebrity hot spot. Once the beats picked up, out came a surprise bottle of Veueve Cliquot for us. That went down quickly as we danced to club music and swam in the ocean. We then wound up at a table that had approximately 16 bottles of rosé for us to drink while we danced and smoked turkish cigarettes and cigars. Next thing we knew, the sun was setting over the ocean.

Parts of Nammos are a blur, but a really, really fabulous one. We’re already talking about going back to Mykonos next summer and recreating this day. I may have lost a really expensive pair of sunglasses, and my friend may have lost her feather headband, but those are small prices to pay for the amount of fun we had. I’d put it high on the list of beach clubs to visit.

Panormos:

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Panormos is a beautiful beach club overlooking Panoramas Bay. The decor is impeccable: Wooden beach loungers, a gorgeous restaurant (pictured above) with views of the turquoise bay, a great shop. and good vibes.

Visually, we thought Panormos was the prettiest of the beach clubs we visited and we liked the chill vibe during the day. There are lots of people in their late twenties and thirties ordering bottles of  rosé and champagne. We loved that it had a very Grecian feel to it — the champagne, for instance, was served in a brass boat surrounded by bunches of grapes and strawberries. There is a DJ and a saxophonist playing to the beats.

Like Nammos, the energy picks up around 4 p.m., unless it is one of the days that they have a night party. In that case it will close around 6 so that they can set up. The restaurant requires reservations, so keep that in mind, as do the beach loungers. Don’t try just rocking up and getting a chair — it’s a bit of a process, so reserve in advance.

Planning A Trip to Greece? Check out our Travel Guides:

Travel Guide: Where to Eat in Santorini

Travel Guide: A Day Sailing Around Santorini

Travel Guide: Where to Stay in Santorini

Travel Guide: Where to Eat in Mykonos