The Charleston Charm

Hello sunshines!

I’m so excited to share my Charleston travel guide post with you all! My best friend and I decided Charleston was the spot for our annual girls’ trip and it was definitely the right choice. I had heard great things about the city and of course watching Southern Charm did make me want to visit too ;). The people were all so nice, the food all delicious, and can’t forget about the long history either. Every single one of our Uber/Lyft drivers mentioned that Charleston was voted the #1 tourist destination in the world for like the fourth or so year in a row by Conde Naste. I had to google this, and they were correct! I’m sharing with you the places we ate at & the tours that we went on to hopefully convince you to book your next vacation to Charleston!


Do & See

Mixology Tour – great way to discover local drinks at local bars on King St. We went to Prohibition (gin based drink w/ white vinegar), Smoke BBQ (Rum/st. Germaines/lime for daily daiquiris hour), Republic Garden & Lounge (gin ale fizz punch bowl). The tour company, Charleston Culinary Tours, also offers food tours if that is more along the lines of your interest!

Shopping on / around King Street – there are many retail chains (Madewell, Urban Outfitters) to boutiques (MOSA Boutique). We were there during tax free shopping weekend! First time I’ve heard of such a thing.

Rainbow Row – 83 E Bay St. Super close to King St. We walked over to Rainbow Row after brunch at Fleet Landing, which was about a 7 min walk. Rainbow Row is a row of colorful pastel houses! I did get 3 mosquitoes bites within 10 mins of taking pics there…not a happy camper about that.

Fort Sumter Tour – if you’re into history or just want to explore Charleston and need a break from eating/drinking the definitely check out Fort Sumter! It is super windy in the ferry to the fort though and at the fort itself so I recommend wearing shorts/jeans and NOT a dress like I did. 30 min ferry ride there, one hour at the fort to explore/listen to a guide give you the background history, 30 min ferry ride back to liberty square. We walked from king street to liberty square and that took about 20 or so mins. You can purchase tickets ahead of time online or at the window prior to the ferry/tour.

Charleston Strolls Walking Tour – we booked our stroll through Bulldog Tours ahead of time. Honestly if we had known it was going to be humid and basically 100 degrees, we probably wouldn’t have booked the walking tour. It was 2 hours and our guide, Ann, who had lived in Charleston her whole life, was an amazing guide. She knew so much history about Charleston and was super enthusiastic the entire time. I would definitely recommend if you would like to learn more about Charleston and want to take a walk, however, so monitor the weather though. There are other Tour options available that we saw, such as the horse carriage Tour, which may have been a better idea given the hot temp since you get to sit! But we still had a great time with Ann and sat for 2 hours inside the AC after the tour haha.

We unfortunately did not make it to Folly Beach or Sullivan’s Island, but it is on our list for the next Charleston trip. Also, Ann, our tour guide from the Charleston Walking Tour recommended that all of us visit the the Old Exchange Building & Provost Dungeon…we didn’t have time to check it out this time around but definitely on the list for next time.


Food & Drink

Five Loaves Cafe43 Cannon St. Five Loaves Cafe offers a half sandwich and half salad option, great for trying multiple things. I had half the Mushrooms & Quinoa “ruffage” aka salad, and half the Mediterranean garden burger on sour dough bread. Just the right amount of food for waking up at 3:30 am and traveling all morning!

Ice & Pan567 King St. Get your Thai rolled ice cream at Ice & Pan! I had the Cookie Monster & Dana got the strawberry cheesecake, both were delish. Also perfect too because it literally started pouring the second after we walked into the ice cream shop.

Magnolia’s185 E. Bay St. Magnolia’s was exactly what I had hoped for in a southern meal. Taste and look-wise. For the appetizer, we ordered the boiled peanut hummus with house made flatbread…the hummus was a bit salty but still tasted different and great combo with the corn that was on the side. We both got the tomato bisque soup too. For entree I got the Smoked salmon…which came with creole grits, shrimp, tomato butter…the taste was just amazing…spicy, sweet, deliciousness. No room for dessert. Dana got the Bourbon fried catfish and she said it was delicious! Both of us ate as much as we could and left as little as possible on our entree plates. I suggest making a reservation ahead of time!

Fleet Landing186 Concord St. It was such a great atmosphere at Fleet Landing! We loved the decor inside! And the restaurant is located right next to the water, so great views too. We choose to sit inside because it was literally 90 degrees outside and super humid. I decided to order a brunch special, the Pan Roasted Crab Cake which came with poached eggs and creamy grits and a biscuit! I don’t each runny eggs so I asked for fried eggs, and the restaurant was super accommodating about that. Also, I’m usually not one to order crab or creamy food in general but decided to go outside of my comfort zone and boy am I glad I did! The crab cakes were amazing and the grits were delish…not too creamy at all! By the time we left brunch around 1 pm, there was a huge line, so I suggest making a reservation ahead of time!

Husk76 Queen St. I want to go back already. Husk was amazing and we were both so pleased with everything we ate! Husk changes their menu daily…one for brunch and another for dinner. We got a bottle of Rosè to split between the two of us. I got the heirloom tomatoes appetizers, soooo good…perfectly seasoned and it was so colorful! Also not too filling. For entree, I’m super thankful the restaurant was accommodating because the snapper I wanted came with ham which I don’t eat and they weren’t able to leave out the ham…so I got the snapper with veggies instead, which was actually the fried catfish veggies but since I don’t like catfish, I substituted with snapper and the restaurant allowed me to do that! We also got the grilled cabbage side to share and loved it! Pickled nicely and tasted SO good. Dana’s entree was the Carolina heritage pork and she said it was sooo tender. For dessert, we split a chocolate tart, which had caramel corn ice cream and sorghum (basically popcorn and toffee)…delish!! P.S. we told our Uber driver that we were going to Husk and she was saying reservations are super hard to get! We made our reservations a month ahead of time.

Hominy Grill207 Rutledge Ave. Anthony Bourdain visited Hominy Grill for his travel show, No Reservations. We ordered the fried green tomatoes as our appetizer. I got the grilled eggplant sandwich (w/o cheese) and substituted my side for a homemade buttermilk biscuit….I love biscuits!!!! Dana got the Charleston Nasty Chicken and said she no regrets at all getting it and finished nearly every bite. I ended up putting a fried green tomato into my grilled eggplant sandwich and that was a good call! Love the crunch and tomatoes!


Thanks for reading! What are you favorite spots in Charleston?

Xoxo,

M

A Weekend Getaway to Milwaukee

Hello sunshines!

Over Memorial Day weekend, Mr. Photographer (aka Mr. P) and I drove to Milwaukee for a quick weekend getaway! Milwaukee is only a 1.5 hour drive away from Chicago, so we visit frequently when both of us need a break from the city. Everywhere you go, Milwaukee is just so quiet. It’s still a city, but so quiet and we both need that once in awhile!

I know you’re probably thinking, Milwaukee? Isn’t that just a small city in Wisconsin? Why would you go there? Well, let me tell you why we both love it and why we keep coming back! P.S. Scroll down all the way to the end for details on my outfit! I’m wearing my fun pom pom top three different ways! It was oddly hot during the day when we were there, so I ended up tying a knot with the bottom of my maxi dress so my legs could get some air. Then at night, it got chilly (ugh!) so I changed into my favorite pair of black jeans and brought a military jacket with me since we had planned to sit outside on the patio to enjoy our dinner.

image1.JPG

Reason #1: Lakefront Brewery

Lets just say we’re both obsessed with going on tours at Lakefront Brewery. I think we’ve been on 10+ tours at this point and every time is a blast. Mr. P and I both love beers, and Lakefront Brewery beers are just so delicious! For $10, you can buy a tour ticket which includes 4 tokens and a 6 oz cup for samples. You trade the tokens in for samples of their many, many delicious & award winning beers. My favorite is the “Eye” PA and Mr. P’s is the Fixed Gear. Many hilarious and semi-inappropriate jokes later, we are at the end of the tour where everyone is singing to the theme song of Laverne & Shirley. Why you ask? Well, you’ll have to go on the tour to find out ;)! We usually visit during Spring-Fall months because Lakefront Brewery is located right by the Milwaukee River. So after the tour, we’ll have a couple of tokens left and sit outside in their outdoor seating area and sip beers, stare at the blue sky, and enjoy each other’s company. Of course if you’re feeling hungry, Lakefront Brewery does have food…lots and lots of delicious food, such as Mr. P’s favorite, fried cheese curd! Before leaving, trade in your plastic 6 oz cup for a Lakefront Brewery branded glass cup or $2 off their merchandise (tshirts, etc).

image4.JPG

Reason #2: Food, food, food

So. Many. AMAZING. Restaurants! We love all the places we’ve been so I’m just going to list some recommendations below.

Wolf Peach – we’ve been here for both brunch and dinner and our meals were equally as amazing. Mr. P says he still dreams of their Chilaquiles to this day and is still trying to find a brunch spot in Chicago that can make it as good! Wolf Peach is right on the way to Lakefront Brewing (walking distance), so you could dine here before or after the Lakefront Brewery tour! I also love that Wolf Peach is located inside a cool house, and has a patio with a fantastic view of the city! Reservations on Resy.com recommended!

Rumpus Room – only a 2 min walk from the Intercontinental, where we typically stay. They have an outdoor seating area so you can enjoy the sunshine! Mr. P got a bourbon flight the last time we were there, but we usually get Spotted Cows (beers). Their Salmon burger is off the charts! Salmon burgers are a hit or miss, but this one, I highly recommend…definitely 2 thumbs way up. Reservations on Opentable recommended!

Odd Duck – Shareable plates with dishes for vegetarians, vegans, and omnivores? Sign me up! I love restaurants that can accommodate the fact that I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t like cheese (but not vegan either!) and still offer delicious PLATES (plural) that I can enjoy. A table full of food for Mr. P (aka the omnivore) and I to enjoy and not a plate that we didn’t enjoy. The cocktails were also a big plus! Creative uses of ingredients that we didn’t expect and they were refreshing + delicious. Reservations by calling the restaurant directly recommended!

Ian’s Pizza – this is a LATE night must have snack for us. Ian’s Pizza not only has your typical thin crust cheese pizza but also a variety of interesting ones like the Macaroni and Cheese pizza, the potato tot on cheddar pizza, the buffalo chicken pizza etc. We’ll go get drinks at Water St. (5 min walk from the Intercontinental) and grab Ian’s on the way back to the hotel. Ian’s is conveniently located right next to all the bars on Water St.! Walk right in for pizza, no reservations needed, but prepare for a slight line…it moves fast!

The Knick – brunch in the Knickerbocker Hotel. For me, brunch is not supposed to be super fancy and is supposed to be a hearty meal with plenty of eggs and potatoes. The Knick is that spot for me in Milwaukee. Eggs and potatoes aside, they offer many many many other brunch options too! Also, they have a mean bloody mary! It’s HUGE! Reservations on Opentable recommended!

Reason #3: Milwaukee Public Market / the Third Ward

We just love the Milwaukee Public Market, which is located in the Third Ward, only a 10 min walk from the Intercontinental. We love strolling through the market and looking at what all the different vendors have to offer. We always, ALWAYS get hand-dipped chocolates at Kehr’s Candies, no matter how stuffed we are. Once in awhile if we’re in a seafood mood, we’ll get the lobster dinner (you can get it for lunch too but it’s called the “Lobster dinner”) at St. Paul Fish Company–such an amazing deal….huge, fresh lobster for only $15.95. I won’t lie though, I have no idea how to crack open the shell, so Mr. P has to do it or me 🙂

We love walking around the Third Ward and peeking inside all the stores in the area! There are also lots of restaurants right in area, and we’ll usually hop in to either Cafe Benelux or the Wicked Hop for a beer or Bloody Mary. Cafe Benelux and The Wicked Hop are also options for brunch and dinner!

image5copy

Reason #4: Milwaukee Brewing Co.

If you are staying for more than a night, we suggest going on a brewery tour at the Milwaukee Brewing Co (MKE Brewing) the next day. Smaller craft brewer than Lakefront Brewery, but their beers are very tasty too! Their tours are a bit more “all you can drink.” They don’t limit you with tokens like Lakefront Brewery, but MKE Brewing does have a time limit. Definitely do NOT go without food in your belly because you will regret that decision. My favorite is the O-GII! Also, unlike Lakefront Brewery, MKE Brewing is located in the city center so not near the water, so sadly can’t sit outside on the patio to enjoy a beer.

Reason #5: Brady Street / Water Street

When’s the last time you’ve sat on the patio of a bar during the middle of the day on the weekend and it wasn’t packed to the brim? EXACTLY. Brady Street has a ton of bars and restaurants with nice patios that we love to hit up if we have time before or after the brewery tours (and if we’re not in need of a nap, HAH!).

We’ve only been to Water Street bars at night; it’s relatively quiet during the day, but definitely hoppin’ at night! Plus, as previously mentioned, Ian’s Pizza is right on Water Street, so grab a slice or two on your way back to the hotel post going out!

Where we stay: Intercontinental Milwaukee located at 139 E Kilbourn Ave. The Intercontinental is located right in the heart of the city, and is walking distance to the Milwaukee Public Market/the Third Ward, Water Street, etc. Also, it’s located right by the Milwaukee River, so we always enjoy taking the scenic route on the canal when we walk to the Third Ward area. We’ve also tried staying in Airbnbs in various areas throughout the city, but we both agree that none are as convenient as the Intercontinental.

image3.JPG

My outfits:

Top: Shein – Bardot Print Lace up Pom-pom top // Maxi dress: Zappos – Culture Phit Riena Maxi dress // Jeans: Forever 21 – High Rise Skinny jeans (only $9.90!) and Topshop – Moto Black Joni Jeans // Sandals: Nordstrom – Hinge “Nolan Strappy Wedge Sandal” and Dillard – Sofft “Rio Leather Caged Sandal”

Thanks for reading! Hope I’ve persuaded you to visit Milwaukee! And P.S., if you’ve been to Milwaukee, let me know your favorite spots!

Xoxo,

M

 

Austin (Part 2) – Places to see, eat & drink

Hello sunshines!

SO excited to share part 2 of my LONG Austin post, which is all about where and what Mr. P and I ate & drank and places we knew we had to see.

A bit about the logistics, because Austin doesn’t have Uber or Lyft, we hopped in a cab from the airport it was a quick ~15 mins ride before we arrived at our hotel in the center of the city, the Omni Austin Downtown (on San Jacinto Blvd). We did not rent a car because there were sufficient rideshare apps (we downloaded Fasten, Ride Austin, and Fare) to get us around town if walking was not feasible. That being said, we tried to walk as much as possible.

We did a significant amount of research on all the best food spots from Eater, The Thrillist, Austin food blogs, and recommendations from friends. The restaurants that need reservations are noted below with an asterisk*. Since it was storming & bad weather in Austin the weekend we were there, we knew our agenda would revolve around food.

Saturday:

Our first stop after dropping off our luggage was of course Tex-Mex! Having lived in Dallas a couple of years, Mr. P was super excited about Tex-Mex.

Juan in a Million – 2300 E Cesar Chavez St. Juan in a Million is open from 7 AM till 3 PM in the afternoon and serves breakfast all day during open hours. I got the Huevos a la Mexicana (scrambled eggs with jalapenos and chili sauce, house potatoes, and refried beans), it was perfectly spicy, and Mr. P tried the Don Juan El Taco Grande (he said it was the BEST breakfast ever). Our stomachs were so happy and we were already talking about going back to Juan in a Million for a second meal at some point during our trip.

Capital grounds – 5 min walk on Congress Ave from our hotel. The Capital grounds contain a lot of history and we enjoyed viewing and reading about the history of Texas etc. The Capital building is free to visitors, how awesome is that? The architecture is stunning; the inside was 3 stories tall and all made from marble (or some sort of marble-like material!). We saw the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Texas Supreme Court. It was a history filled afternoon!

Lenoir* – 1807 S 1st St. We came here for dinner and had high expectations because this place was highly recommended from all of our sources! I made reservations about a month in advance, and there were plenty of open spots available when I booked our table. Lenoir was a cozy romantic little spot with a few 4 person tables, a long-shared table in the middle, and some bar seating. Lenoir offers a three-course prix-fixe menu in the categories of Field, Sea, Land, and Dream (dessert). My favorite would have to be the butternut squash chawanmushi; I’ve never had anything like it before. Below are pictures of what Mr. P and I tried! Great spot for date night or girls’ night!

Péché on 4th street for a night cap post dinner. My first thought was this is a super mad-men-esque spot. The drink menu was separated by liquor type. I will say though, cocktails at Péché are a bit more expensive ($15 for an old fashioned, which is what I’m used to for Chicago prices, didn’t think Austin would charge the same).

Sunday:

Hillside Farmacy – 1209 E 11th St. First stop on the agenda for Sunday was brunch! Hillside Farmacy doesn’t take reservations so we had to wait 20 mins for a table. It was unfortunately gloomy and rainy on Sunday so we couldn’t sit outside; on a nice sunny day, though, the patio would have been perfect! Once seated, we got a carafe of grapefruit Mimosas (that came out in a beaker), and I ordered the Sunny Coast (w/o cheese, w/ avocado and scrambled eggs added), and Mr. P ordered the Blueberry Pancakes (they were soooo fluffy). Mr. P has a huge sweet tooth and he kept saying how he had been craving pancakes for the past TWO months (I swear I haven’t been telling him he can’t eat pancakes!!!!!).

Looking back, maybe the carafe of mimosas wasn’t the best idea….oops! I may or may not have taken a 2 hour nap and woken up at 4 pm. The good news was that it stopped raining and the forecast said it wasn’t supposed to storm until 9 pm now! No rain in sight, we headed to the Hope Outdoor Gallery (high on my to-see list) at 11th & Baylor, which was a 25 min walk from our hotel. The Hope Outdoor Gallery is a paint park consisted of street art and graffiti from many contributors.

 Hope Outdoor Gallery - 11th & Baylor Hope Outdoor Gallery – 11th & Baylor

Daruma Ramen – 612 E 6th St B. We both were craving ramen after walking past Daruma earlier in the day and it was nice and close to the hotel! Daruma Ramen doesn’t take reservations either and when we got there around 7 pm (right after the Packers vs. Cowboys game), there was already a line. The inside was pretty small, maybe a large studio sized apartment. There were 2 communal tables of 8 seats in the middle, and some more individual seating alongside the walls and bar area. Mr. P loved that they were playing Seinfield on TV while we were waiting for our food…it’s one of his favorite shows! Daruma Ramen offered chicken broth and veggie broth, which was perfect for me since I’m a vegetarian :). My suggestion is to pay the extra 50 cents for the spicy chili sauce. While the ramen was delicious, it could have used more flavor that the spicy chili sauce would have added.

Dessert took us to Voodoo Donut – 212 E 6th St, open 24 hours!!! A must try. They have so many creative varieties of cake and yeast donuts. I got an oreo yeast donut that was probably 3,000 calories but worth every bit of it. Mr. P got a fritter, but mine was 100% better :). I’m craving a Voodoo Donut right now as we speak.

Monday:

What’s a vacation without a good workout…am I right?! I do barre two days a week, so obviously had to find a studio that was within walking distance from our hotel. Barre3 ended up only being a 25 min walk (and we got to check out another area of Austin) so I made a reservation for 11 AM Monday morning! I’m usually a Pure Barre girl, but the closet Pure Barre was a 25 min drive. After barre and very hungry, we met up with some family friends that I haven’t seen in 10 years at the County Line BBQ! It was a very scenic drive (NOT walking distance) from downtown to the County Line BBQ—I didn’t realize Austin had so many hills! County Line BBQ was a quick 5 min drive from another must-see on our list, Mount Bonnell, so our family friends drove us there for a quick hike and a few pictures at the peak. Mount Bonnell isn’t exactly a tall mountain, it’s more of a hill, but regardless still a gorgeous view at the peak and we enjoyed it very much!

The weather was still holding up after Mount Bonnell so we walked to the historic district of Rainey Street. Many bars and restaurants, from beer gardens to Indian food, and the atmosphere was great! If we had more time we definitely would have gone back to Rainey Street at night. It was pretty quiet during the day when we went in the afternoon around 4 pm on a Monday afternoon.

Uchi*- 801 South Lamar Boulevard. Dinner at this place was also highly anticipated because it was another highly recommended spot on our list. We did have to make reservations for the spot but ended up going an hour early because were were hungry and were seated within 5 mins; this was a Monday night though so not sure if we would have been seated so early w/o the earlier reservation on the weekend. Uchi is a trendy Asian fusion restaurant. The menu consisted of cold tasting, hot tastings, greens, fried, and then sashimi, rolls, and special chef’s tastings. The brussels sprout was my favorite dish and I could have gotten 3 more orders of it just for myself. It was crispy and caramelized to perfection! Pictures below!

Lick Ice Cream – 100 S Lamar Blvd #1135.  We came here for dessert post Uchi since it was a 5 min walk and I’m so glad we did! They have so many unique flavors! Mr. P and I got one to share, and I totally wish I got my own ;). The flavors we choose were Honey & Vanilla Bean, PB Chocolate Chip Brownie, and Salted Caramel.

Mr. P and I are sleepy people so we really didn’t make it past midnight any of the nights. We like to explore the city during the day and get a nice dinner at night. Can’t stay awake for the parties late at night anymore! We wanted to explore Rainey Street and 4th street some more after dinner but again, too sleepy. There was awesome live music next door to Péché, so it was cool listening to that when we were there for a night cap. Austin, we had an amazing time, thank you for offering all that amazing food & drinks! We can’t wait to come back for more!

Other restaurants and places to check out that were on our list but we didn’t end up going:

Café No Sé*- 1603 S Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704 (takes reservations via Opentable)

Franklin Barbeque (do not take reservations…the line to this place was insane!) – 900 E 11th St, Austin, TX 78702

The Alamo Drafthouse – Ritz (they have a special viewing some nights; one specialty show they do is to have a comedian give commentary during a silly movie) – 320 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Esther’s Follies (comedy club) – 525 E 6th St, Austin, TX 78701

Thanks for reading! Sorry for making ya a little hungry! All this reminiscing about the food we ate definitely made me hungry :). Hope you get some good suggestions for you next trip to Austin!!!

xoxo,

M