New Orleans, LA Roundup: The city that’s got your vibe, whatever vibe it may be!

For the love of all things whatever . . . where in the actual f@#k does one even begin to tackle the mind-blowing magnificence that is New Orleans?! See, when you pick a vacation spot, you usually have a checklist of things you look for: a spot with great food, great drink, great entertainment, a great vibe, great scenery, great history, great shopping, and so on. And usually, you end up picking a spot with 3 or 4 of those and you’re totally happy. But NOLA, amazing NOLA, has ALL of those things. 

What we found most interesting and unique is, no matter what your vibe is, NOLA’s got you. Like, wanna take a bunch of your bachelor bros, fist pump at a club, see some nekedness, chug fruity cocktails from a cup as tall as the average person’s leg, bite heads off some crawfish from a dive bar, and end the night vomiting aforementioned fruity cocktail and crawfish freely all over the street? Well, NOLA is for you! Want to take your loved one for a nice, chill trip filled with classy jazz music, culture, history, perfectly mixed high-end cocktails, and nice, long, multi-course, dining experiences at James Beard Award winning restaurants? NOLA is also for you

Now, as “down for whatever” and fun as we are, we opted for the later, since . . . well . . . we left our fist bumping, cocktail vomiting days somewhere back there in the early 00’s with MySpace and trucker hats. So, with that, what you won’t see in this roundup is anything about the liquid candy crap marketed as a Hurricane, the douchefest that is the techno pumpin’ bars on Bourbon Street, or the number of beads we had to throw to see some boobies, or how to curse your asshat of a boss with hack Voodoo dolls parading as real Voodoo culture. So if that’s the NOLA you’re interested in, we’re probably not gonna be your vibe. We promise it’s not that we’re snobs, and we weren’t above some of the cliché cemetery tours and a little Café Du Monde, but that is just not our vibe, bro! 

Ok, so how that we’ve established that, let us attempt this incredibly daunting round up without overwhelming you. To make it digestible, we’re gonna break it down into drink, food, and entertainment (which covers music, tours, etc.) 

Dranks

See, this is the only place to start, because one does not talk about NOLA without talking about cocktails. It IS the supposed birthplace of the first-ever cocktail, the Sazerac, as well as the Ramos Gin Fizz, the Brandy Crusta, and a bunch more you’re about to see. And, as the birthplace of these cocktails, you better believe they were also perfected there too. Yep, it doesn’t get any better than sipping a perfectly prepared classic NOLA cocktail at a quintessential funky, cool NOLA bar like these . . . 

Sazerac 

This is it, THE cocktail to start it all. The first (debated) official “branded” cocktail consisting originally of French brandy and Peychaud’s Bitters named after Antoine Amédée Peychaud, the Creole apothecary that created it right there in New Orleans. Since then, variations have emerged to include American Rye Whiskey instead of French brandy and a dash of good ‘ole naughty absinthe. And then any combination there of. We were lucky enough to try (and LOVE) it two different ways ourselves . . .

The Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt Hotel

Ok, maybe we’re stating the obvious here, but when trying a Sazerac in New Orleans, you kinda have to try it first at The Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt Hotel. I mean, they DID name the whole bar after the drink after all. And it’s a super bougie, pretty hotel and bar that makes it worth checking out, even if a Sazerac isn’t your jam. Being the historical purists they appear to be, their Sazerac stays pretty true to the original recipe, with Sazerac Rye, Peychaud’s Bitters, sugar, and Herbsaint. As one would expect, this drink was a very well balanced concoction. The whiskey comes through strong, but the anise flavor of the bitters and the Herbsaint (an absinthe substitute) definitely hits you hard. Danny likes the flavor of anise a bit more than Kristien, but neither of us love it, so it was a bit strong for our tastebuds.

SoBou

We have to admit, we preferred this version at SoBou to the original at The Sazerac Bar. In the pic you can see the Herbsaint rinse, which is basically an absinthe-less absinthe-like liqueur (remember that it was illegal for yearssss). The twist in this one though, was they used brandy, which warmed things up and rounded it out, even adding a little sweetness. Maybe it was the brandy, but the flavors combination just really came to together in the most beautiful way in this version, and the anise flavor was delightfully present, but light. 

Ramos Gin Fizz

Since this drink was invented by Henry C. Ramos in 1888 at his New Orleans bar, the Ramos Gin Fizz has became immensely popular and perfected at The Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel. Consisting of Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, lime & lemon, sugar, egg whites, cream, orange flower water, and seltzer, this cocktail is NO JOKE to make. As in it takes 10+ minutes of constant attention, no joke. In fact, back in the early 1900s it was said some bars had 20 bartenders on staff at any time just to handle all the orders. Nowadays, thankfully, it’s not nearly as in demand, but it won’t stop a bartender from making an audible sigh when you order one on a busy night. But, sorry not sorry bartenders of New Orleans, we want everyone to know it is TOTALLY worth the wait and the dirty looks. 

Brandy Crusta 

Originally made with Cognac, this refreshing beverage, invented by Joseph Santini in New Orleans around 1850, has taken on several variations using brandy, bourbon or rye whiskey.  We were lucky enough to get a taste of this firsthand at SoBou, which was especially a treat since it’s not even on the menu. Since this is the first time either of us have ever had this drink, we have no basis of comparison, but, and we have to say, it quickly became a favorite. The way the whiskey comes together with the lemon juice, simple syrup, triple sec, Angostura Bitters and maraschino liqueur is so harmonious, we can’t believe more places don’t serve this beauty of a concoction. Not too sweet, not too boozy, not to bitter: perfection.

Viuex Carre 

Although we (regrettably) didn’t have time to get this iconic NOLA cocktail at its original birthplace, the Carousel Lounge at The Monteleone Hotel, we were very happy to stumble into Bar Tonique at 1AM on our last night. See, from the outside it doesn’t look like much. But inside, inside we were immediately drawn further in like a moth to a flame by the pounding drums, shrieking guitar, and roaring voices of heavy metal music blaring from the speakers as the funky bartender quickly offered us an AMAZING novel of a cocktail menu. And while we were excitedly overwhelmed by all the beautifully boozy options so nicely organized by Cocktails, Sours, Slings, Punches, Succulents, Coolers, Ensembles, and Possets (Google all those definitions btw, super fascinating to learn), we knew we absolutely had to try a Viuex Carre before we headed home. Made up of rye whiskey, cognac brandy, sweet vermouth, Angostura Bitters, Peychaud Bitters, and Benedictine, this cocktail is most definitely in your face but somehow beautifully balanced to not overpower you with its bite. The light fruitiness of the orange and cherry coming from the bitters played really well off powerful herbal flavors of the Benedictine, and the sweetness of the cognac and vermouth helped to round it out. It really was the perfect punch you’d want to enjoy when listening to heavy mental. \m/ \m/

Grasshopper

Where better to enjoy our first ever grasshopper than the very place it was invented, Tujague’s Restaurant, which happens to be New Orlean’s original stand-up bar with a stunningly ornate mirror behind the bar, shipped in its ginormous entirety from France in 1856? Created by the restaurant’s original owner, Philip Guichet, the Grasshopper consists of creme de menthe (hence the green color), creme de cacao, and cream, shaken cold with ice. This creamy glass of heaven far exceeded our expectations, especially Kristien’s, who doesn’t tend to love mint flavored things. Honestly thought, it wasn’t super minty at all, almost the mint level of a nice mint chocolate chip ice cream. In fact, this tasted like a boozy melted creamy mint chocolate chip ice cream . . . and what’s not to love about that?

French 75

Also seen in the photo above at Tujague’s, this cocktail actually originated in France, but was brought to NOLA with love shortly thereafter. Made from a simple combo of gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar, this was definitely the lightest of the cocktails we had on our trip. A nice brunch cocktail if you ask us. Not necessarily something we’d order again, as we like our cocktails to pack a little more punch, but it was a nice, refreshing switch up for us . . . plus it cooled us down hella good.

Frozen Irish Coffee

Ok this is the closest to cliche we got with the drinks, but seriously, this stuff is CRACK. Like you think coffee is crack? This is crack ON crack. Like, we had one every single damn day crack. It cooled us down and kept the buzz going . . . plus, we mighta had one or two before breakfast a few times. It’s vacation. Don’t judge.

So, there’s a crazy amount of controversy about who makes the better Frozen Irish Coffee: Molly’s at the Market or Erin Rose. The controversy? Well, many say they’re the exact same recipe, so it’s all in people’s heads. But here’s the thing . . . those people are dead wrong. Look, both say their recipes are proprietary, so we don’t know exactly what’s in each, but we know it’s at least a mind-blowing combo of Irish whiskey, coffee in some form, milk and/or cream, sugar in some form, and of course ice. Beyond that, whelp, your guess is as good as ours. Some say one or both add a little brandy, which we could easily see based off the taste, but no matter what the differences are in the blend, one thing is for sure: Molly’s was much creamier, richer and thicker, and that’s what put it over Erin Rose’s for us. Molly’s was like a boozy dessert, while Erin’s was like a boozy slushie . . . a little too icy/watery for our taste. Oh, and make sure no matter which you get, you ask for a whiskey floater on top. Because, whiskey.

Honestly, we wish we had more time just to get more drinks in because man, does NOLA get ’em right. We highly recommend booking a cocktail tour as part of your trip to get the interesting and fun stories behind the drinks and the bars. We did Doctor Gumbo’s Cocktail Tour which allowed us to get VIP service at a lot of the bars above, in addition to hearing all the engaging history and info that went along with it from a fun and knowledgeable host. And we met some cool peeps (pictured above), too, as we all got drunk along the way! 

Food 

OK, before getting into our dining experiences, let’s start with the few quintessential NOLA foods we had to get, and where we got them. 

Beignets

Are these cliche and touristy? SURE. But come on, it’s FRIED FRICKIN’ DOUGH with sugar. How can you NOT? Now, we got a lot of recommendations of places that have better beignets than Café Du Monde (like New Orleans Coffee & Beignets Co.), but, since we were only going to indulge in them once our our trip, we felt it was our duty to go here. So, really late one night after some drinkin’, we hopped on over to the original location on Decatur Street, which is open 24 hours btw, and got a batch of fresh, hot ones and a frozen coffee to round it out. 

Although we missed the alcohol on the frozen coffees of Molly’s and Erin Rose, Café Du Monde’s was pretty yummy, with the perfect amount of cream and sweetness. 

As for the beignets themselves, they were pretty solid. Have we had better fried dough in its glorious variety of forms? Sure. But, they were nice and hot and doughy with just the right amount of grease to taste buttery but not stain everything they touch. And, there was the perfect amount of powdered sugar to make ’em sweet without hurting your teeth. Definitely worth checking off your NOLA list, but probably not the best beignets you can get for your dough. Haha get it, dough? Ehhh . . .

Muffuletta

So, confession: we almost left NOLA without trying one of these. We just ran out of time and room in our stomachs. But, being the champs that we are, we told ourselves to buck the frig up and do this! We knew from our research that Central Grocery & Deli was THE go-to, so before heading home, we picked ourselves up one to eat on the plane. 

Here’s the thing though, neither of us liked it for one simple reason: it was like eating a SALT SANDWICH. No joke. With marinated olives (salt), mortadella (also salt), salami (salty salt salt), Swiss cheese (surprise, more salt), ham (saaaaaaalt) and provolone (guess what? SALT), it was like a potential stroke layered between two GIANT pieces of bread (which was, actually, pretty great bread). Oooph, as much as we wanted to love this, it was painful to eat.

Pralines

Now, we’ll admit, we’re not big candy people (dark chocolate excluded), but when in NOLA . . . of course, Loretta’s is THE place to go to get your pecany sugary fix, so one (really frickin’ hot) afternoon we decided to go for a walk to pick us up some . . . only to get there and see they were closed for renovation. But, fret not, there’s a little mini Loretta’s in the French Market.  
So, like the good food bloggers we are, we grabbed ourselves one of every flavor available: peanut butter, chocolate, coconut, and of course, original. As far as pralines go, these were as good as they get, with that nice creamy, buttery texture, not grainy like some can be. We’re not the biggest fans in general, but did enjoy a few bites of each. Weirdly, though, each flavor kind of tasted the same as original, so we would’ve liked the ingredients of each of the flavors to come out more. 

Gumbo

In case there was any question, this dish should make it pretty obvious how incredibly committed we were to eating as much of the quintessential NOLA foods as we could. Why? Three words: It. Was. August. Or if that didn’t hit the point home . . . it was hot as balls. Yeah, so while the idea of soup made our sweat glands tingle, when we saw chicken & andouille gumbo on the menu at Cochon, we knew this was our opportunity to seize, and so we did. With it’s beautiful dark, almost black, color, the”soup” base was the perfect thickness, not to rich, not to light. The andouille brought just the right level of smokiness, while the earthy chicken and the bright peppers and onions rounded things out. And, there was just the right amount of rice to make all the other flavors be the hero, too. It was a great balance of everything making it a perfect appetizer to kick off the entire meal, rather than feel like it was a meal in and of itself.

Smoked or Grilled Oysters 

Now, there’s some debate over the supposedly best places to go for these bad boys (is it Felix’s, Royal House, Acme, etc.?), but since, seriously guys, we could only eat so much in this 4 day trip, we decided to get wood fired oysters as part of our dinner at Cochon, which we’ll get into in a few. Until then, please feel free to drool over the pic above.  

Po’boy

Ok, so we’re only including this one because we want to preempt the (rightfully) angry comments of people asking why we didn’t try one, lol . . . see, after doing a ton of research, we were more than ready to chow down on a delish po’boy from Avery on Tulane, but alas, our craving was completely kicked earlier in the trip when we drove through Biloxi, Mississippi and stopped at Taranto’s Crawfish, Poboys & Seafood, a highly recommended Po’Boy spot. Although really well made (as you can see in the pic above), we quickly figured out that our generally healthier eating bellies couldn’t stomach that much deep fried food anymore. As we finished our drive to the resort in beautiful Fairhope, AL, we both thought we were going to have to stop to hurl every 10 miles. Fun times. Fuuuuun times. Ok

ALRIGHT, so now that we checked all those boxes, onto our AMAZING full dining experiences…

Restaurants 

Cochon

If you name your restaurant after a pig, you better believe we’re going there . . . especially with a restaurant like Cochon that has a worldwide reputation for their wood-fired goodness, Southern flare, and Cajun cooking. Now, we’ve already mentioned the nicely balanced gumbo and the smoky plump-a-rific wood-fired oysters, but there’s so SO much more to bestow upon your tastebuds. The star of the show was, no doubt, their namesake dish, the Louisiana cochon on a base of pickled turnips with crispy cracklin’ on top. The pork was cooked so delicately and had a full-out intense richness to it, balanced both in flavor and texture with the bright turnips and the crunchy cracklin’ that soaked up that mind-blowing sauce. The sides were on-point too, including the over-the-top cheesy mac & cheese casserole. Desserts are also a strong point here with dedicated Pastry Chef Maggie Scales making dishes like pineapple upside-down cake, warm peach pie, or a densely warm and rich satisfying bread pudding that we happily devoured even after such a decadent meal. We also loved that they offered bourbon flights to help accent our dishes! A definite star experience of our trip overall.

Commander’s Palace 

If you didn’t go to Commander’s Palace when in NOLA, did you even go to NOLA at all, bro?! It’s an icon, it’s a must, especially if you’re up for some fancy Southern fare and absolutely spectacular service. How fancy? Well, it’s hard to list off every honor, but here’s a big one and the only one you need: James Beard Best Chef, South winner . . . and it shows. From the beautifully grilled light redfish with the starchy plantains and bright peach salad pictured below, to the perfectly cooked al dente vegetable risotto topped with the equally perfectly cooked brown butter seared Diver scallops, everything was on point. But, what blew us away the most was the impeccable service. They have this uncanny way of making every single diner in their restaurant feel like they’re a VIP, getting the very best table, with the very best staff, and the very best recommendations (which we let flow in the form of amazing wine). Yeah, it’s safe to say this place lives up to the hype.

BTW, reservations are very highly recommended by us, plus you need to be aware of their dress code. Oh, we fancy, huh?!

August 

Speaking of fancy must-sees, August is at the top of that list. Now, confession: we almost didn’t go here for one reason only⎯it’s like that movie that gets SO HYPED UP as the best movie you’ll ever see in your whole godforsaken life that there’s NO WAY it’s ever going to live up to your expectations so you don’t even want to see it and be disappointed. Yeah, that, but a restaurant of course. But let us just say, HOLY CRAP, are we glad we went here, because it truly was the BEST of our entire trip. From the lovely ambiance, the impeccable service, the beautiful wine list and cocktails, and the flawless food. Oooooh the food.

So we’re going to confess, we were far too swept up in this experience to properly document what we had, so sadly that beautiful appetizer you see above with the peppers, onions, basil, and shaved almonds is not on the menu anymore. But from memory we can tell you, it was truly divine– We remember it was such that perfect balance of sweet, savory and spicy that just makes your toes tingle! But even better, and FULLY burned into our memories from its pure amazingness was the duckling with figs, peppers, chanterelles, peanuts, and heavenly foie gras. OH EM GEEEE. The duck was cooked to absolute tender perfection, and the bright peppers with the earthy mushrooms, sweet figs and salty crunch of the peanuts rounded it out, and of course, the melt in your mouth foie gras took it over the top! Ahhh we still dream of this dish. And let’s not forget about the crispy P&J oysters, fried up crunchy on the outside and soft and buttery on the inside (which is no easy feat), resting beautifully on a bed of Louisiana cajun caviar and rich, creamy buttermilk. Mmmmm Then, just when things couldn’t get any better, we ended the nights with minds blown from their “Dirt Cake” cocoa nib panna cotta with a caramel milk chocolate ganache, passionfruit and coconut. Yeah, it was as amazing as it sounds. Add to that copious amounts of wine recommended by our wonderful waiter, and it most definitely lived up to the hype!

Court of Two Sisters

You know what the awesome thing about vacation is? It’s like a non-stop chance to have brunch every day. And you know the best thing about brunch? It’s an excuse to start drinking before noon. But, what makes brunch especially cool at many NOLA establishments is they add a layer of beautiful live jazz. And, sure, there were a ton of spots that we could have gone to for a jazz brunch, but we went with The Court of Two Sisters because we were unfortunately not there on a weekend and they’re the only one to offer one 7 days a week. What also makes this spot a good choice is that brunch is a HUGE buffet, which affords you the opportunity to try any southern, cajun & NOLA-only delicacies you mouth and belly desires. Now, the nature of buffets means they’re just making way too much food at once for it to ever blow your mind, but there were a few gems like the melt in your mouth cornbread, the candied pecan sweet potatoes, and the duck a la orange. And of course, the carving, omelette and dessert stations are usually pretty reliable at buffets, and this was no exception, especially the dessert table featuring Southern classics like pecan pie, Mardi Gras King Cake, as well as home-churned vanilla ice cream to top it off. Oh, and definitely get a seat in the courtyard when you go . . . you’ll thank us.

Brennan’s

So when you talk NOLA breakfast, Brennan’s is usually the first place to come to anyone’s mind, so we knew we couldn’t leave NOLA without trying it. The first thing that will take you away to a magical place is the beautiful pastel decor, dancing into different styles and patterns as you meander from room to room to your table. Second will be the brunch-y cocktails, with so many bubble options from various bottles, to bubble cocktails to simple mimosas made with seasonal fruit purees that made them anything but simple (Kristien knows, she had five, to the point where she can’t remember what her seasonal fruit puree even was). And if you’ve ever wanted to try the funky concoctions that are Milk Punches, this is the place to do it. Danny thoroughly enjoyed the rich, dark creamy Caribbean version with Mt. Gay “black barrel” Rum, Buffalo Trace Bourbon, heavy cream, vanilla bean, and nutmeg, but struggled a bit with the odd combo of Brandy and cream in the Brandy Milk Punch version. And the third magical thing is (of course) the food. Kristien was thrilled with the rich, earthy, indulgent flavors of the creamed poached eggs with mushrooms and crispy onions pictured above, while Danny savored every bite of the more “lunchier” Louisiana bouillabaisse risotto, cooked perfectly al dente with a little saffron and topped with tender jumbo lump crab, littleneck clams and Gulf white shrimp. Oh, and if we were ever going to try the Turtle Soup, it would’ve been here as it’s supposedly amazing, but after watching the staff pull live turtles out of their courtyard fountain (hopefully to clean the fountains, and not for, like, ooooh . . . eating), we couldn’t bring ourselves to do it. Yeah, we’re pretty savage with our meat eating, but when you’ve had one as a pet, wellllll . . .

Dat Dog

Sometimes it’s late and night and you’ve been drinking a lot, and ya just need to get down and dirty with some good ‘ole classically greasy rub. Let us tell ya, Dat Dog does the trick. The menu is full of amazing combos of hot dogs and french fries that will nurse any hangover or coat your belly in plenty of grease to start off or end a long night of drinking. Or, if you’re the customizing kinda person, pick your base weiner (duck, bratwurst, alligator, traditional, and more) and then go crazy on the toppings. The dogs had that snap you want, the toppings fresh and flavorful and fries were served up crispy and we got ‘um loaded up too, because why the heck not? Pictured her is their Jimmy’s Chicago Dog which took Kristien back to her trip to The Windy City. Plus, gotta love it: they’ve got plenty of great beer on tap and by the bottle, ya know, in case you decide you’re not drunk enough yet.

Bearcat Cafe

We can’t remember for the life of us how we ended up here at Bearcat Cafe for breakfast one day, way off the beaten path in a sort of hipster Brooklyn looking neighborhood, but we’re glad we did. Mainly because BISCUITS. NEVER. ENOUGH. BISCUITS. when you’re in the south. Hot, ooey gooey nooks and crannies laden, crispy crunchy toasted BISCUITS. With our favorite, sweet and just a tad spicy pepper jelly. And hidden behind those yummy biscuits in the pic is a giant plate of homemade ricotta with local honey, which Kristien refused to share even one bite. But that’s ok, because Danny refused to share his rich, tender, brisket hash with an oozing to perfection egg in a hole. Oh, and the menu is divided up by “Good Cat” with healthier options, and “Bad Cat” with more indulgent options. You can guess which we ordered from. Hey, it’s vacation!

Entertainment

Frenchman Street

If you’ve been reading along and are thinking, “Yep, their NOLA vibe totally sounds like my NOLA vibe,” and you, too, want to avoid the shitshow that is club music bumpin’ on Bourbon Street at night, then Frenchman Street is most definitely for you! 

Picture a typical French Quarter style street lined with bar after bar with the harmonious sounds of incredibly talented jazz musicians gently (and sax-ually) wafting out of their open doors, beckoning you in to come in and dance the night away. Our favorite thing to do was to just pop in to a bar for a song or three, then pop on into another and another and another. And, with no cover charge at most places, you can just do this ’til the wee hours of the night. Though, be sure to tip the musicians please! One of our favorite experiences (see in the video above) was in the lobby of The Royal Frenchman Hotel where there were professional swing dancers just mingling amongst the spectators, spontaneously breaking into magnificent dances right in front of us, while the band did the same, with musicians (instruments in tow) strolling in seemingly randomly off the street and spontaneously playing a song or two with the band, and then, POOF, leaving just as surprisingly. HOW COOL IS THAT? 

Two our our other favorites were d.b.a. and The Spotted Cat. We will warn you, though, while the music and space were awesome at each, the cocktails were not up to our standards at either, being far too sugary sweet for us. Order some beer, wine, or straight-up liquor instead and save yourself from entering a sugar coma.

Preservation Hall 

What a lovely must-see (and hear) treat Preservation Hall is. A quaint little music hall opened in 1961 out of a pure love and desire to bring live jazz performances back to NOLA at a time when the NOLA jazz scene was near death due to the rising popularity of rock n’ roll and “pop.” 

No matter what day of the week it is, you can catch a clappy, snappy, happy little 45-minute jazz performance in an intimate setting, starting at 5PM and every hour after that til the last performance at 10PM (except 7PM for some weird reason). You don’t have to have tickets ahead of time, but it is first come, first serve and you will have a line, so there are definitely no guarantees, so we recommend getting what are called “Big Shot Tickets” ahead of time, which are around $40 (vs. the general admission $20) and get you in ahead of the line and front row seating. Oh, and warning, if you go in summer, it is HOT AF in there, so be prepared with a tall cold drink from a nearby bar to cool you off (see above section). 

Garden District 

If you’re an HGTV addict like myself, you’ll definitely enjoy seeing all the stunning Southern homes in the Garden District as well as street after street lined with picturesque Southern Oaks, Cypress, and Magnolia trees the likes of which you’ve only seen in magazines and magical Instagram photos.  We highly recommend doing a guided tour, like the lovely one we did, since they can give you the architectural history  as well as tell you which celebrities lived where, like our fave, Trent Reznor or even Lestat’s favorite: Anne Rice. And, you’ll get a tour of the historical Lafayette Cemetery as well, which is tough to tour without a guide.  

Haunted Tour

And last, but not least, no trip to NOLA is complete without a “haunted tour” of some sort. For our vibe, we opted for a more historical and accurate tour that explains the truth of Voodoo and the stories that surround NOLA’s eclectic parades, celebrations and culture, rather than one that gives into the folklore and cliché stereotypes. With our tour, we learned a ton of really interesting history about NOLA, the people, the dialect, and the religions and people that played a pivotal role in each. We won’t spoil it for you, but we highly recommend it. 

OK, WOW, that’s a wrap on our beloved NOLA trip! So here’s the sad yet awesome thing . . . we ate and drank as much as we physically could in a mere 4 days (without putting ourselves into a food and alcohol induced comas), and still, we haven’t begun to scratch the surface of what NOLA has to offer . . . including experiencing one of their amazing parades, parties or festivals for any vibe like Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, or the one perfect for our vibe: The New Orleans Food & Wine Experience. Well, we guess that’s just an excuse to go back! 

Waco, TX Roundup: OmNom your way through a home decor pilgrimage

We know this may seem unfathomable, but not ALL of our trips are driven by food and drink. Ok, ok, sure, MOST are, but this one was motivated by something entirely different: Kristien’s love . . . no no no, OBSESSION, with HGTV, and specifically, all things Chip & Joanna Gaines

For those of you that share that passion, you understand why we had to take a 1,600+ mile pilgrimage to their booming Magnolia empire in Waco, TX, but for those of you who don’t (yet) dream in shiplap & giant clocks, let us share with you the glorious allure of America’s favorite farmhouse fanatics . . . and the food they love too!  

So, what most of you probably know, whether you’re like us and your house looks like it was decorated with a DVR’ed library of Fixer Upper episodes on pause, or not, you’re probably aware of Chip & Joanna Gaines’s line of home decor products, Magnolia, and their flagship store in Waco, TX aptly named Magnolia Market. But, what even the biggest fans may not realize is the said flagship store is on a beautiful piece of property called The Silos, which features a beautiful lawn to play, Instagram worthy farm-themed nooks & crannies to relax, picnic tables, and a delightful number of nomworthy food trucks serving amazing food just waiting to be explored. Also on the property is Silo’s Baking Co.: Joanna’s beautiful bakery filled with deliciously buttery soft and sweet baked goods. AND, just a little ways away from there is their lovely and charming breakfast and lunch restaurant, Magnolia Table, serving the comfiest of comfort food the South has to offer.

Let us give you the roundup of all that deliciousness. . . 

Magnolia Table

Ok, let’s get this out of the way now: Chip & Joanna are famous. This place is famous. Thus, there WILL be a wait. A long wait. A reeeeaaally long wait. BUT, there are some things you can do to mitigate that. For starters, the earlier you get there, the shorter the wait. We got there around 8:30AM and there was an hour and a half wait. When we left around 11:30AM, there was a 4 hour wait. Second, they take your cell number and give you a fair amount of time to report to the hostess, so you can leave during your wait and check out a nearby shop or two (though finding a parking spot can take a long time, so leave time for that). Three, there’s a little to-go spot attached to the restaurant and a lovely outdoor space with a walk up that serves coffee, baked treats and other beverages, so you can relax, play and enjoy a sneak peak to your meal if you’re just too ravenous to wait. In fact, we did just that. We stopped into the little to-go shop, got ourselves the Silos Baking Co. Bread Basket with some seasonal (pumpkin) and strawberry butter and chowed down on a blueberry muffin (our fave), butter croissant, chocolate croissant, pumpkin bread with chocolate chips, and zucchini bread and chowed down in our warm car like mice in hiding. And then, within 90 minutes as promised, we got the text, the come hither call if you will, to come on in and enjoy. Now, before we get into the food, we will share one disappointment: although friendly (as you certainly hope they would be), the wait staff were easily confused, and not only messed our order up, but also the orders of both tables on either side of us. Kind of a bummer to that magical experience I had hoped for, but we didn’t let it ruin our experience. 

One of the most exciting things on the menu that we wanted to try was the Juice Flight . . . and we’re glad we did. We got to try all four juices on the menu, ya know, like a healthier and nutrient-rich version of a beer flight. 😉 We also got an order of Jo’s Buttermilk Biscuits (soft, buttery, flaky) with a side of sausage gravy. Definitely an order not to be missed. By the time we were seated, we actually could have gone with anything on the lunch menu too, so the choices were tough, but Dan went in with the solid and reliable Farm Breakfast with these awesome house-made tater tots that are another must order (think large and in charge with that crispy outside and potatoey softenss inside). Ya just might wanna order an entire side of them, actually.

The Food Trucks @ The Silos

Oh boy, were we overcome with giddiness walking up onto the gloriously beautiful green lawn at the Silos. For a few moments we stood there looking all around us, dizzied by all the delicious options around us, not to mention the smells emanating from each adorably decorated truck. BBQ, Pizza, Hot Dogs, Sandwiches . . . what are two Omnomivores to do? Look, as much as we wanted to try something from each truck, we wanted to be able to fit into the car to get home, so this is what we prioritized: 

The first order of business was to get to The Alabama Sweet Tea truck for some sweet Southern love. We got the Mason Dixon which comes half sweet, half unsweet… which is 100% our jam. It’s just $2 for a refill, so you can go crazy all day here! The other amazing truck we hit was Cheddar Box which cooks up some amazing grilled cheese sandwiches and mac & cheese bowls. Kristien got the That’s My Jam, a cheesy, rich, and savory explosion of flavors coming from some smoked gouda, bacon jam, thyme, and a fried egg on cinnamon french toast. Dan got the Guac This Way, which was kinda like a cross between grilled cheese and an quesadilla. The pulled pork was fresh and delicate, playing nicely of the fresh guac, the pico, and the pepper jack to stick it all together. We also got some of Chuck’s Gourmet Popcorn because, well, popcorn. We could have picked Kettle, Salted Caramel, or Homestyle, but we went with the Cinnamon Toast which was seasoned just right for a warm, buttery, sweet and inviting pop.

Magnolia Market and Spice Village

Before we move on, there is also Silo’s Baking Co. on the property as well, but since we had already stuffed ourselves full of Joanna’s baked goodness earlier that day at Magnolia Table, we decided to forgo the sugar overload. But we did stop in to peak, and it was as adorable as you’d imagine. We’re not gonna lie, we almost went for a couple irresistible looking cupcakes, but our stuffed bellies reminded us why we maaaaybe should refrain. 

Of course, no trip to Magnolia is complete without some shopping! As I’m sure you can imagine, Magnolia Market itself was packed full of everything you’ve come to know and love about Joanna’s design style, from kitchenware to faux greenery (and real too, in the separate “greenhouse” area), and all-over-the-house decor (plus, yay, we went at Christmas time so there was some holiday decor too). But one other spot in Waco that is a must see is actually not Magnolia, but it’s just as awesome. The place is called Spice Village, and like your trusty spice rack, it’s a little bit of everything awesome, including house decor, toys, jewelry, and clothing, kid and adult. The style is a little Anthropologie (YAS), but without the Anthro prices. Put it this way . . . I bought so many cute things I told the cashier not to give me the total. Um, yeeeeeah. 

BONUS reco: Rodeo Goat Burger 

Ok, this spot is not in Waco, but as you may be incredibly shocked to know (read: sarcasm), Waco doesn’t have an international airport, so you’re gonna have to fly into Dallas or Houston to take this pilgrimage. We opted for Dallas, and before we headed out we took on a night of Topgolf (SO FUN) and burgers at Rodeo Goat Burger. This place is worth mentioning, because, well, LOOK AT DAT JUICY BURGER THO. Yep, everything was on-point here, from their nice list of local craft beer, to their creatively delish cocktails, their even more creative big ‘ole juicy burgers, and yes, the housemade fries and chips.  

See, it’s a big pet peeve of ours to go a great burger spot only to be saddened with soggy bland fries. Well, not here. Those babies came out hand-punched, crispy with a nice outer “bite, and were just salty enough. The chips were also pretty darn good with lots of those crunchy darker parts. Cocktails were also fun, especially the B-L-TX that we had just a few of, featuring blackberries, lemonade, and Texas whiskey. Whhooooeee! Nice balance of flavors with the blackberries really balancing it out. The real highlight were the burgers, though. Kristien got their Sugar Burger (bottom pic) that comes with candied bacon, grilled peaches, caramelized onions, arugula, and jalapeno jam . . . and she had them add goat cheese because, well, goat cheese. Juicy AF and a completely amazing experience with the gentle heat from the jam, the tanginess of the goat cheese, and the sweetness of the peaches. Dan’s burger, The Salted Sow, was also a winner featuring beef and Italian sausage, prosciutto, tomato, basil pesto, fresh basil, and mooz. It was kinda like adding an antipasto plate to a burger, giving the best of both worlds.

Ok, so confession: As you can probably imagine, Dan doesn’t share the same obsession Kristien does with watching white washed walls, wide plank floors and apron sinks come together though the magic of TV. In fact, let’s put it this way, he doesn’t understand how she can watch the same episode of Fixer Upper 32x the same ways she doesn’t understand how he can sit for 45 minutes on the toile . . . errr, ok, we’re not gonna go there . . . but, despite that, Dan fully embraced and appreciated the charming appeal and yumminess of everything Magnolia had to offer. So, don’t worry if not everyone you’d like to take on your pilgrimage shares the same love of TV’s cutest couple. Seriously, though, how can you not? So long as they love and appreciate the tastiness of good ‘ole Texas comfort food, they’ll be perfectly content as you load up your shopping cart with all the farmhouse-y goodness your suitcase can fit . . . though pro-tip, they ship too! 😉

Columbus, OH Roundup: The stranger you never thought you’d fall in love with

What? Did we just declare that you’ll fall in love with Columbus? Ohio? YES, yes we did! See, one thing you should know about us is we have A LOT of heart for promoting small(er) cities like Columbus that people might never have otherwise thought once, let alone twice, about visiting for a vacation.

And yes still, even after saying that, you’re probably still saying to yourself, “Yeah yeah, but seriously . . . Columbus? What the hell made you vacation there?”

Well, if you’ve picked up anything from our Richmond Roundup, or know us from our OmNomCT days, you can probably guess it was craft beer. Specifically, the ***spoiler alert***, AMAZING DogHouse Hotel, the first-ever beer themed, brewery-based hotel in the US, which Kristien booked as surprise birthday gift for Dan! 

But, despite our expectations of the BrewDog experience being amazing, Columbus overall, with its charm, food, drink scene and shopping even surprised us openminded travelers. 

Here’s the roundup . . . 

The BrewDog Experience 

A tour of the journey to and of our room
A tour of the lobby

The best place to start is with the whole reason for our trip to begin with. We gotta be honest… it’s a little intimidating to sit down and write this because it’s so tough to communicate the overwhelming awesomeness of this experience.  From the second we walked from the parking lot we were giddy with joy. See, this isn’t just a beer-themed hotel. It’s also the brewery for BrewDog Beers and their brewpub, DogTap, ALL in one. The property is massive, and the vibe is magical. But more on that in a few. 

Once you take in all the glory of its overall presence, you’ll walk into the DogHouse hotel lobby, which just so happens to essentially be a bar. Yep, you check-in to a glorious combo of a bar/hotel lobby/chill hangout where ’til the wee hours of the night guests can order not only any of their beers on tap, but also choose from a selection of rare and fantastic beers carefully curated by the owners/brewers, and even some local spirits. And, there are a bunch of fun games there too, like Yahtzee and a Ping Pong table, all with a cool view into their sour tanks! As if that weren’t awesome enough, upon check-in you also have the opportunity (if you haven’t done so online already) to choose a beer to have on-tap in your room. YES, that’s right, a tap in your freakin’ room! Yeah, it gets better . . .

You then head on up to your room, which overlooks a section of their brewery facility, packed with more beer tanks and funky graffiti on the walls. This cool, funky vibe carries over to the rooms themselves with a neon BrewDog sign over your bed, sleek industrial like design and… get this.. a freakin’ beer fridge in your bathroom stock piled with BrewDog beers to enjoy in the shower. YES, your own supply of shower beers!!! GAH! Did we also mention the regular ‘ole fridge is also stocked with beers, again, carefully curated by the owners from around the world. We actually got a bottle of Péché Mortel and Zombie Dust. OMG, how we had been searching for those beers and they were finally ours! And get this . . . if you want to bring your pups along, not only are they dog friendly, but right out our window was a huge fenced-in dog park for your pooch to play! SHUT UP! What haven’t they thought of?! 

And although we did, you really don’t even need to leave the premises to have a great time, whether you want to sip a beer sitting by the cozy fire pits outside, play a rousing game of giant-sized Jenga, chill at the DogTap bar by the open gates to the outdoors (weather permitting), sit at a comfy table chowing down on some delish grub, or play one of their many fun games in the back, like table-top shuffle board, old-school video games, or giant Connect 4 and Uno. And yes. We did ALL of that. 

So you’re probably asking, “OK, SWEET, but how was the beer and food?” Ah yes, that is what we do after all. So, let’s do it . . .

Some delish choices on the menu are the nicely cooked, locally sourced burgers (try the Fat Joe, a classic but oh so mmmm), crispy hot wings (we asked for a mix of their traditional and their honey adobo), the beautiful meat and cheese plate (a Kristien fave), and the perfectly doughy, yet crispy medium-thick crust Spicy Meaty Pizza featuring nduja (that’s spicy Italian salami for you non paisanos), spicy pepperoni, habaneros, chili flakes, smashed tomato sauce, and fresh mooz. As for brews, we dug that you could do flights, so we tried Born to Die, Atlanta Milk, RBIC/Swiss, and Elvis Juice. Our favorite was the Elvis Juice IPA that had a tangy citrusy grapefruit bite.

Aaaaand, after all that, we were still able hit a few other noteworthy spots (I mean, we had a 3 day weekend after-all, plenty of time, pleeeenty of time… oooph). 

Hoof Hearted Brewery & Kitchen

Teehee, teehee. If you haven’t already figured out why we’re giggling like pubescent middle school children, say Hoof Hearted out loud a couple times and you’ll get it. Teehee. Ok, all sophomoric jokes aside, this place has some serious cred and deservedly so because their beer is legit! And, we were pleasantly surprised their food was as well. Plus, it’s a great option if you don’t have time to visit their brewery in Marengo.

First off, we really really dug the brews on tap, especially the bold and flavorful IPAs/NEIPAs of Who’d Like to Hold My Clipboard (WHOA, our absolute favorite), the Dorks of Hazard, and L8R Losers. The cool thing about the beer menu is that it changes often, so you’re almost always guaranteed to try something new when you come back. And, the food options are similar, often changing with the seasons . . . like the poke bowl pictured here. A poke bowl at a brewery? Hell to the yeah. It was f’n good and so fresh, contrasting nicely with the al dente rice and the saltiness of the soy sauce. Always on the menu (and solidly great) is your choice of meat or cheese plates, or if you’re Kristien, both. 😉

Watershed Distillery 

Stumbling upon Watershed Distillery was a happy accident after discovering their bourbon behind the counter at the DogHouse hotel and googling it. And man, we’re SO GLAD we did, because the cocktails this distillery (and bar & restaurant!) are mixing up are some of the best we’ve had on our travels. SERIOUSLY, we still talk about it. Here are some of their unique concoctions we drank up (not to mention the bottles of Nocino (Italian walnut liqueur and Old Fashioned we took home) . . .

First, can we say how freaking cool their seasonal cocktail menu themes and designs are? When we went, the theme was all about survival, and we’re lucky that we survived after drinking almost the entire menu. Pictured is the Feel Like a Nut which had rye, pistachio orgeat, cynar, lemon, cinnamon, and egg whites for some major frothy body. Dan’s favorite was the Ghost Story that comes out a deep purple color that just pops. It’s made with their own bourbon and Nocino, giving it a nutty nose and a taste that lingers in all the best ways possible. We’ve tried to replicate it at home, but it’s just not the same. Other standouts were Trail Mix, Trust Fall, Smoke Signal, and Teenage Dirtbag. Ok, we drank a lot. Don’t judge.

The Pearl

Having a Sunday afternoon flight means you have just enough time to get in a proper boozy brunch, and boy did this equally cool as it is charming spot do it up right! When Kristien sits down, takes a pass at the cocktail menu and declares we can’t leave til we’ve tried every one, you know you’re in a good spot. And man, we almost did it, and we ate a whole lotta deliciousness too. 

Some major standouts were the soft and savory Jalapeno Corn Spoon Bread that came with whipped butter in a pool of local honey. Just look at that pic up above. Damn son! The octopus (Dan always needs to order this on a menu) was cooked just right and was a nice interlude into our bigger dishes. The Pork Cheek Hash was on point with two perfectly cooked sunny side up eggs, onions, mushrooms, poblano for some gentle spice, and gouda to add a fatty punch.

Drinks were also fantastic like the Duke of Pearl, pictured above, made manly with the green army man and a healthy dose of bourbon, dry vermouth, lemon juice, Earl Grey infused simple syrup, and a floater of freshly cracked black pepper. Other drinks to try are the Bourbon. Bacon. Beautiful. (there’s bacon in the cocktail, duh) and a Ramos Gin Fizz that took us back to N’awlins (check out our NOLA Roundup here).

And yes, we still hit a few other noteworthy spots (I mean, we only had a 3 day weekend after all): 


Wolf’s Ridge Brewing


We stopped at this hip little brewpub  for a flight and a quick bite to eat while we waited to check into the hotel. Decent, drinkable brews, better food, including a fun take on poutine ala chili and (ANOTHER) meat and cheese plate for Kristien (seriously, she has a problem).

Elevator Brewing 

Super cool looking, historical brewey and draught haus worth the visit for the beautiful church windows and bar alone. Beers like the Bleeding Buckeye Red Ale were decent, but cocktails weren’t so much.

 Mouton

This swanky, darkly lit, cocktail bar‘s sexy appeal drew us in as we strolled the super hip Short North neighborhood (see below), and we’re so glad it did. These cocktails were PERFECTION. Pictured are an on-point Old Fashioned and a Whiskey Smash that’s as beautiful in presentation as it is in taste with just bourbon, lemon, simple syrup, and fresh mint.

And, bonus tip, if you do visit Columbus, strolling the shops, restaurants and bars of the hip, fun Short North neighborhood is a MUST. Kristien always “needs” to pick up something from a local boutique when she travels (really, I mean it’s her obligation to support the local economy). Her two favorites were clothing and accessory shops, Chunky Armadillo for their funky boho chic vibe and Thread for their high-quality trendy, yet still classic selection. Oh, and they both have an online store, which to that we say, sorry and you’re welcome! 

Whoa, ok, that was a lot for one weekend in a smaller city! If you’re still with us you can see these are just a few of the many reasons we find Columbus so lovable and we hope you will to. Actually, no. We KNOW you will too, so book that trip! NUFF SAID. 

Richmond, VA Roundup: Go for the craft beer, stay for the rest

Like us, you’ve probably seen Richmond, VA on one of the many “booming craft beer cities” lists popping up in your newsfeed over the past year. Well, being the “will travel for great beer” types that we are, we just had to see for ourselves, so we set our sites (and GPS) on Richmond for a holiday weekend road trip with our beer-loving brother and sister-in-law, Chad and Lindsey. 

To be honest though, none of us really knew what we were getting into. I mean, how much do you really hear about Richmond, VA? We wondered, will there be anything to do in Richmond? Will it have a cool vibe? And most importantly, will they have good food? Well, we’re elated to say the answer is YES, YES, and HECK YES.

So let’s get into the rundown, starting with the breweries, since that is the initial reason for our trip. . . 

Aslin Beer Company

Caveat, Aslin is not in Richmond, but rather about 2 hours North outside Washington, DC, which if you’re coming from the tri-state like us, is perfectly on your way. When we went, they were open for can sales only, so while it’s a no frills experience of standing in line, putting in your beer order (and maybe some cool swag), paying and leaving, it’s worth it because you’ll get you some highly drinkable, highly braggable, highly shareable, highly tradeable, and highly ABVable (ok, we made that up) beers. A. LOT. OF. BEER. as you can see from this picture of Kristien doing some heavy lifting.  

Known for their stouts and New England IPAs, we went heavy on the IPA side of things. A solid brew was You Call That a Knife?, a DIPA dry-hopped with some Citra, Vic Secret and Wamiea. But, we liked Johann Buys a Broat even more for it’s smooth creamy taste, hints of pineapple, and a smooth bite for a 9.4% DIPA. Our favorite from the trip, though, was the Sensei, a double dry-hopped Triple IPA full of citrusy juiciness, which oddly (and so nicely) hid that high ABV well.

Stone Brewing Co. 

Now, if you’re all confused thinking, wait, “I thought Stone was in Cali?”, you’re right, but back in 2016 they opened up this pretty SWEET second brewery, tasting room and company store in Richmond. Now, unlike Aslin, this space is everything you want in a brewery–that iconic industrial look, a big open tasing room, an inviting bar with all the beer taps you can dream of, an outdoor space, games . . . it’s pretty great! And, since their beer is super widely available, you know you can always find a solid pint of whatever you want from good ‘ole reliable Stone. Will it blow your tastebuds and your mind? Nah, but who’s gonna complain about enjoying reliable, quality craft beer in a super cool spot with friends? Not us, nope! 

Because we were already familiar with a good chunk of the menu at Stone, we went with their newer stuff and the exclusive brewery brews. Our favorite from the day was their new (now in cans) take on a NEIPA: ///FEAR.MOVIE.LIONS DIPA. Behind that, we thought the I’m Peach DIPA and the Hop Revolver IPA: Hop #7 w/ Ekuanot were solid choices, too. And, while we thought that the Vengeful Spirit IPA and Idolatrous IPA weren’t bad, we wouldn’t get those ones again.

The Veil Brewing Company 

So if Aslin kills it with their beers, and Stone kills it with their vibe, Veil is the spot where both come together in harmonious perfection. You get that quintessential industrial taproom space with lots of community seating, a little store with some cool gear to take home, and tap upon tap of DELISH brews for flights full pours, or growlers, and cans to take on home because you just can’t get enough. 

While we just whet our Triple IPA whistle at Aslin, we were in TIPA heaven at here, going f’n bonkers. Our favorite triples were (in order) Buried Alive, We We Ded Ded and the hazy juicy fuzzy hoppy danky Personvl Personvl Spvce Spvce. But, by far the biggest mindfu©k was IdontwanttoBU which is a 0 IBU IPA with Citra and Mosaic. You just don’t know what’s going on because you get the hops flavor and the juicy pop, but there’s no bitter finish at all. MINDS. BLOWN.

The Answer

We saved The Answer for last before getting into our food experiences since it has both, as the only brewpub we visited. The space itself is HUGE with lots of room to sit, eat, drink, and just enjoy life. There are TVs to watch and retro video games to play, making it super hangout (and even family) friendly. In terms of their beer, we have to say, it was just OK all around. Nothing terrible by any means, but not much that we’re excited about. And unfortunately, same with the food too, and actually the service. Just an overall fine experience, nothing to complain about, but nothing to make us come back . . . well, except for their SUPER COOL limited edition retro video game inspired glassware they release, which we have to admit, we’d totally come back for. 

By far the best drinks were their sours which they have a boatload of on the menu. The Unicorn Joose, with dragonfruit, passionfruit, and guava was all sorts of tropical tangy, while the 2 Scoops: Passionfruit, Raspberry was our favorite for its thick, creamy, tangy, berry bite.

Now, before we get to the food, we only had a weekend to do it up, so we didn’t get to try even 1/20th the hoppy goodness Richmond has to offer.  So, if you’re beer-y senses are tingling and you want more, here’s a nice list of about 30 more reasons to visit. 

Ok, now onto the food . . . oh, the food! 

The Fancy Biscuit

For the love of all things holy, YES. F&CK YES. When you’re even remotely approaching the South, biscuits for breakfast are an absolute must for us, and man did this place not disappoint. Sure, you’ll have to get to The Fancy Biscuit early and wait in line to order, and sure, after you order you kind of have to hover like a vulture for a table, but after eating there, we would’ve happily gone out back and wrestled people twice our size just for a taste of one of their many amazing biscuit concoctions and side dishes.

Pictured up above were our two faves: Got Your Goat and the B&G. The Got Your Goat had their signature fluffy, yet also substantial buttermilk biscuits with plenty of their crispy fried chicken and . . . hell yeah . . . goat cheese. A must order, people. And, how can you not get the classics like the B&G? The use of maple sausage added a nice hint of sweetness to the savory fatty goodness of the gravy and biscuit.

Beauvine Burger Concept 

We were too busy stuffing our faces (and a bit drunk by then) to get some good shots, so here’s their website. 😉

If you find yourself saying, “sure, who doesn’t love burgers, but how different and amazing can another burger joint be?” Well, to that we say HUSH YO MOUTH and get your arse out to Beauvine. The creative burger concoctions they put together here are so amazing that other burgers shouldn’t get to call themselves burgers. In fact, Kristien and Lindsey (who are both goat cheese fiends in case you didn’t notice from their biscuit order) said their burger, the Belle Ringer, was the best they’ve ever had. And the fries? Yep. Crispy, hot and delish as well. But, get this: the last thing you’d expect a burger joint to blow your minds with is cocktails, but they were AMAZING! And as if that’s not enough to sell you, you KNOW we had to end with milkshakes, which, guess what? PERFECTION as well–that perfect level of thick and creamy that makes them slightly tough to sip through a straw but not so hard you pop a vein in your forehead! Now what kind of burger joint do you know that can rock burgers AND fries AND shakes AND drinks? Almost always, one of those four suck. But NOPE, not here.

The star of the night was the Belle Ringer, topped with herbed goat cheese, pickled red onions, tomato jam, and herb aioli. All the flavors came together so well and the burger was cooked just right with a little bit of pink in the middle (they’re served that way by default… you can ask for no pink, but who da faq would ever do that?). We also loved the Irish au Revoir, which is one of their decadent adult milkshakes, with some maple salted caramel ice cream blended with enough Jameson to make you giddy.

Sugar Shack Donuts & Coffee

Did you REALLY think that donuts would last 20 seconds after we opened the box? Psshhh!

When a donut shop is hailed “Best in America” by more than one reputable source, who the heck are we to pass that up? Even if we did have to force ourselves to find room for some Sugar Shack Donuts in our bellies. With just the right level of sweetness, that perfect soft doughiness you crave and a variety of fun flavors like Bacon Maple and Glazed Granny Smith Apple Fritter, they were worth the extra calories. And although for us, the best donuts we’ve had on our travels will forever remain The Holy Donut in Portland, ME, these were pretty high up there on the list.

It’s tough to pick a favorite, like how do you pick a favorite child, but IDK, we’ll go with the Tastes Like a Samoa for starters. How can you really beat coconut, dark chocolate, and caramel? Answer: maple and bacon. Yeah. It’s just an obvious choice at a donut shop, right? Obvious, but always so right.

Lemaire

Our brother and sister-in-law headed back home Sunday, but we decided to stay ’til Monday, giving us the chance to get all gussied up and go out for a nice, intimate, fancier dinner as a palette cleanser to all the fried Southern goodness and craft beer. After seeing great reviews and how gorgeous The Jefferson hotel was, we knew Lemaire was the place. From a stunning ambiance, impeccable service, and fantastic upscale dishes served in the perfect portions, this was the perfect place to end our trip as a couple. Awww. 

We really dug the citrus roasted beet salad with grapefruit, sweet and crunch candied pecans, tangy goat cheese, and tarragon creme fraiche. This is Kristien’s holy grail salad. The yellowfin tuna tartare also stood out to us because of its salty and acidic contrast with an olive tapenade and tomato vinaigrette on top. For apps, definitely try the cast iron seared jumbo sea scallops. The dish really pops alive with a saltiness coming from the country ham and pairs nicely with the fregola sarda (similiar to Israeli coucous).

Ok, with that, we’re gonna go out on a limb and say up til now, Richmond was probably just a blip on your radar, but as you can see from our enthusiasm, it should a lot more than a blip! Richmond has so much more to offer than you’d expect, including a bunch of things we didn’t even get the chance to explore. At the very least, you’ll enjoy walking the streets to see all the cool row homes pictured above, you’ll love the food, and you’ll go gaga for the beer. So, if you love that stuff like we do (and we assume you do since you’re reading this), then go ahead and move Richmond on up to the top of that “must visit” list you got going on in that daydreaming head of yours.