DC Scenes.

I spent last weekend visiting a best friend in DC, where I ate, drank, museum-ed, and walked a lot. Here’s a recap.

[But first, a note: Posting on here regularly has somehow become near-impossible for me. I’ve decided to stop beating myself up about it and am instead switching up my expectations. Whereas I used to post weekly, I’m now going to monthly. That said, I hope you’ll keep following along, albeit less frequently!]

Back to business. My weekend started with a pre-train ride coffee at my local bakery in NYC, all dressed up for Breast Cancer Awareness month. I was a fan.

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After three hours on the train — special thanks to Spotify’s “Warm Fuzzy Feeling” playlist for making it as sappy of a trip as possible — I arrived in DC, hungry. Luckily my friend knew a yummy Vietnamese place just close by enough, called Doi Moi. We hurried over to eat // catch up over coconut-crusted chicken skewers, crab fried rice, and fermented bok choy.

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The next day brought unrelenting showers and thus many an Uber pool ride. When we did manage to get out and about on foot, we passed through the National Mall, where I snapped this pic from below the safe cover of my umbrella.

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The weather prompted us to find indoor activities, so we lunched at Union Market and managed a quick visit to the Hirshhorn Museum, pictured below. Though tough to pick what to sample at Union (seriously, options spanned from Japanese-inspired tacos to handmade pasta), we eventually opted to share a stuffed dosa and a falafel bowl. And while our museum visit was short-lived (rainy day + museums = sleepy me), it was fun — and somewhat hypnotizing — to wander the Hirshhorn’s circular structure.

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Saturday evening was a string of less-bloggable moments, including a booze-fueled trip to the Adams Morgan neighborhood. Instead, here’s a photo of the cotton candy skies we spotted at the start of the night:

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With Sunday came sunshine, which we made sure to take full advantage of by walking our way to Georgetown after fueling up with a substantial brunch. The area’s quiet side streets and stately townhouses almost made me feel like I was back in London’s Notting Hill.

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After a stint on a sunny stoop, we slowly made our way back to my friend’s apartment, walking a whopping nine miles over the course of the day. Sleep-deprived but sufficiently satisfied with the weekend, I was more than ready to snuggle into a seat on the quiet car for another soundtracked train ride home.

Special thanks to my hostess for a lovely weekend. I’ll be booking my next trip soon enough.

Last Atlanta Moments (Part II).

Four years in Atlanta taught me a lot. I learned that I can never again live in a city where a car is a necessity and that humidity is no friend of mine. I also learned that life outside of NYC can be way restorative. There’s less hype, in a good way. Lines are shorter, prices are lower, and strangers almost never curse you out for no apparent reason (this happened to me on the subway yesterday…twice).

 I reflected on these lessons during my last moments in Atlanta, most of which were spent eating. Here’s one final recap of my eats in the city that fed me right for four years.

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First, a stop at Krog Street Market. A confession: I’ve only ever tried Yalla at Krog, despite the market’s diverse offerings including Mexican, sushi, and bbq, among others. Alas, Yalla’s freakishly delicious Mediterranean / Middle Eastern fare had me hooked since day one. So sue me. My last-ever bowl from Yalla was heavily lined with thick hummus and labne, topped with Israeli salad and pickles, and finished off with 5 crispy-as-can-be falafel  balls + a healthy drizzle of tahini. I also added fried eggplant, you know, for good measure.

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Later in the week, I ditched Yalla’s fast-casual vibes for a luxe evening at St. Cecilia, where I celebrated my graduation with all things fancy: think prosecco, oysters, and handmade pasta.

Classy affair that it was, the oysters arrived on ice jewels and the just-baked bread with salt and pepper ricotta…

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We also sampled artichoke-stuffed tortellini for the table, before moving on to our mains. I opted for the octopus (as I almost always do when it’s on any menu, anywhere, ever), which came pesto-slathered and with a hearty three-bean side salad. Also, roasted rainbow carrots. Neither pictured, both devoured.

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My last 48 hours weren’t all cocktails and congratulations, though. I spent a sweaty morning hauling boxes to FedEx, driving donations to Goodwill, and disassembling furniture. As you might imagine, my trip to the dump, where my father and I discarded a broken dining table amidst days-old Chinese takeout containers, just missed the blog-worthy cut. Instead, I’ll show you my post-moveout refuel:

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One last biscuit for the road, paired with cranberry-apple butter, an egg white / cheddar / mushroom / spinach omelette + fruit salad from Atlanta brunch institution, The Flying Biscuit. Solid sustenance for the (not so) long journey home.

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And while I can’t say I’ll miss my tumultuous four-year relationship with Delta Airlines, the place it transported me to will forever be cherished.

Thanks for the memories, Atlanta.

SF.

As promised, a recap of a recent long weekend in San Francisco. Though it torrentially down poured for the duration of our visit, friends and I still managed to love every sock-soaked minute of it, damp hair and all.

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Our first evening brought us to dinner at Starbelly, in the Castro. Despite the rain, we were able to sit in the eatery’s covered backyard garden, where string lights and heat lamps made for a perfect hideout for hungry travelers. We shared a quinoa salad pumped up with kale, avocado, marinated beets, and parmesan; grilled broccoli rabe with butter beans in tomato sauce; and a butternut squash / sage / pumpkin seed / goat cheese pizza, below.

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With morning came somewhat clearer skies and lovely views from our stellar Airbnb. (Seriously, check these guys out if you’re looking for a place to stay in SF. Airbnb ranks them as “superhosts.” Probably has something to do with the complimentary granola and Nespresso machine access they provided, as well as the glasses of wine they greeted us with at the door upon arrival. Swoon.)

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When it wasn’t monsoon-ing, we walked SF’s streets (or perhaps more accurately, mountains), stopping at coffee shops and lunch spots along the way…

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{ In the Castro }

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{ At Flywheel Coffee Roasters in Haight Ashbury }

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{ More in Haight Ashbury }

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{ More in Haight Ashbury – lunch of Vietnamese shrimp salad from Dragoneats }

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We also wandered over to the Mission, where authentic Mexican bakeries sat adjacent to hipster coffee shops, new-agey apothecaries, and upscale vintage clothing stores, as seen above + below.

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With SF’s major hills comes hunger. So after careful brunch research, we made our way to Beretta in the Mission. I went for a flavorful pesto frittata packed with veggies and paired with roasted potatoes, greens, and a slice of crispy, grilled bread. Friends opted for breakfast pizzas and burrata toast that were equally inhale-able.

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After finding out that SFMOMA was closed for renovation for the foreseeable future, we headed to the de Young Museum, located in the city’s famous Golden Gate Park. Our visit included a stop in to the viewpoint at the top of the museum’s observation tower, which offers 360-degree views of downtown SF, Golden Gate Park, the Bay, and the Marin headlands (weather permitting, of course).

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Anxious to see more during my last hours in the city, I walked my way through part of Golden Gate Park, where the lush greenery benefitted considerably from the consistent drizzle. I benefitted less; the steady rains eventually led me to (woefully) call an Uber to bring me the rest of the way back to my Airbnb.

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In some way I’m thankful for the unrelenting weather, as I have all the more reason to return for the activities I’d hoped to get to. I’m thinking a walk along the Embarcadero, a bike ride along the Golden Gate Bridge, and another brunch (or three) are in order.

LA la la.

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Remember when I was lamenting midterms and counting the minutes until spring break? Well, now you know why. I was one lucky lady this past week, as I got to spend six days in LA, followed by three in San Francisco (but I’ll leave that for a Part II post).

Here are some of the things I saw, ate, and did — in no particular order — in the city of angels.

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Day one started at the “farmer’s market” at The Grove. Why the quotes? When I hear “farmer’s market,” I expect to see bundles of fresh produce sold by bearded vendors standing under white, tented stands (What? You don’t?). This was not that. Instead, the market offered a plethora of ethnic food options, sweets, and some of that fresh produce I imagined, which my travel buddies and I diligently ignored.

Though there were candied apples galore, pierogies, and Brazilian-style grilled meats among a million other choices, I opted for Mexican (since, California) and also to break my pescatarianism with the above: one chicken mole and one shredded beef taco on homemade corn tortillas + a side of black beans. Would do it again. And again.

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Satisfied, we made our way to LACMA, where we wandered through captivating contemporary exhibits, before plopping ourselves down in the café for a necessary caffeine hit. Museum-induced fatigue is very, very real.

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Other highlights included a trip to the Melrose Trading Post..

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A most nourishing bowl o’ goodness from Cafe Gratitude in Venice…

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A trip to the wonderland that is the Venice canals…

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And a quickie stop in windy Santa Monica…

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More Mexican food at B.S. Taqueria in downtown L.A. (Pro tip: do order the butternut squash tamale and the “duritos” and bean dip, don’t order the “gordo cup” cocktail)…

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And an all pink everything journal session at Espresso Profeta in Westwood Village.

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As if I didn’t cover enough (neighborhood) bases, I also joined friends on a perfect hike (by perfect I mean mostly flat, super scenic, and less than two hours) in Studio City.

Other activities not featured but thoroughly enjoyed included a traditional Persian feast, a visit to a taping of a TV show, phenomenal dinners at Katsuya (we tried both the Brentwood and Studio City locations), and a whole lotta pool time. Needless to say, I returned home feeling indescribably grateful — for old friends, new places, and more.

Check back soon for my SF recap .

PRadise.

When someone recently asked me why I was heading to Puerto Rico for a long weekend, I responded, “Why not?” Perhaps the snapshots below are an even better response, though. Put simply, because sunshine, because time with people I love, and because tacos. That’s all.

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My journey started at one of my very (least) favorite places, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. In just three hours, though, I was up, up, and away above the ocean blue…

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…and within about seven minutes of arriving at my hotel, I’d ordered veggie tacos, piled high with meaty sautéed mushrooms, pickled onions, baby arugula, smashed avocado, goat cheese, and crunchy walnuts. It was at this moment that I realized a lounge chair and towel are my preferred dining table / cloth. I guess you learn something new every day.

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With time to kill before my parents arrived to meet me, I briefly scoped out the hotel…

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…and then promptly returned to the pool.

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The rest of the trip was packed with eats both traditional and tourist-friendly. The traditional included a quickie brunch at Pinky’s, a local hole-in-the-wall discovered and recommended by my sister, who’d been in PR just weeks before us. My parents each ordered the monstrosity featured below, which consisted of ham, cheese, and fried eggs on mallorca, a classic Puerto Rican sweet bread. The breakfast burrito I opted for was less photogenic but similarly colossal, packed with six eggs and a block’s worth of oozing cheddar. Needless to say, I finished the burrito feeling like I was well into my third trimester.

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Less food coma-inducing breakfasts and lunches included this granola parfait with vibrant tropical fruits + shrimp-topped avocado toast at the hotel:

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All other meals out were what I’d call upscale local — aka fancy takes on Puerto Rican classics, including duck mofongo, bruléed plantains, and mashed malanga (a local tuber) from hotspots Oceano and Cocina Abierta.

Though our days were predominantly spent parked at the pool, we managed to make our way to the beach…

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…as well as to Old San Juan, where I snapped away at colorful surroundings.

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We also made sure to stay in town for sunset, where crowds sat along rocks to watch the water swallow dusk.

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And with that + some more pool time, we left PRadise. I returned to Atlanta just three days later, sand lingering in the bottom of my backpack and photos like this one to nostalgically scroll through on my phone:

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As always, ’til next time.